Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

June 29, 2015

Go, Look: The Marriage Defense

posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Goodman Presents Fun With Flags

posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink

Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding


By Tom Spurgeon

* it looks like Steve Rude and Mike Baron will be launching a Nexus project through Kickstarter. That will bear watching. I'm greatly fond of that comic as it was a big one for me in my early teens; something that kept me interested in reading comics. I'm also a fan of Steve Rude's work more generally, its Andrew Loomis in a Sunday Supplement properties. I also wonder if it's not time for a project at this point in its creative cycle to reach out directly to fans, as it may not have a wider marketplace appeal that enables it to get over hurdles being published that way. Very intriguing.

* Mike Peterson digs deeply into recent conventional wisdom on the idea of crowdfunding, with some helpful links and a superior summary of Brian Hibbs' most recent article on same. He notes that Hibbs seems to be saying that if you exploit your core fandom directly, there's no occasion for anyone else to exploit that fandom in a way that can lead to a broder sales success.

* Matt D. Wilson's collection-enabling Kickstarter has a few hours left. It has made its goal, but that doesn't mean you won't want to participate.

* finally, I requested via Twitter if anyone had any favorites out there. Here's a Mike Ploog crowdfunded art book recommended by Mike Meltzer. That's crushed its initial goals but I imagine people just might want that one. He had a very interesting and slightly out of step art style... a style that was served by mainstream comics because at that point there were very few safe harbors for cartoonists that wanted to work in comics.
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Vintage Johnny Hart BC Strips

posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: A Bunch Of Posts On Money And Cartooning

I'm only now catching up on recent discussions of money made in the comics industry. Heidi MacDonald had two good summary posts here and here. The three primary sources from which she's working, all worth their own read, are this one from Brian Churilla, this one from Kieron Gillen, and then any number of articles on this new site.

imageIf you're thinking of making comics a significant part of your life, you should bookmark the Sktchd site to read a bunch of stuff there and then work your way through Heidi's articles going back and reading all of the linked-to pieces.

It's very, very tough to make a living in comics. Several people that want to will, with a few exceeding their expectations. Many more people than that first group, people that want to make a living or become successful just as much as that first group of people, they will not make a living, with a few barely seeing any return at all.

Some of it is just the way things are. Some of it I feel is not. My hunch for a long time has been that the talent of the people making the comics has outstripped the talent of the non-creatives who are the primary folks responsible for fashioning an industry that can reward that talent. What you have left is an assemblage of people doing okay to great: superior talents and/or talents that had good timing in terms of finding something that works; those who were present for a moment in history that matches up with a market opportunity; those inclined towards a genre effort that speaks to a specific cultural need, a few with something undefinable that resonates with people in a way that can't be denied. Everyone else is in survival mode. Because some of the traditional structure is exploitative, a good deal of the best talent out there serves that system rather than another, more equitable one.

I think it behooves all of us who choose to stay here to work very hard to help fashion comics industries that are much more ruthless in terms of truth telling, but also a lot more ambitious in terms of bottom line. We need the same push on the non-creative side these next ten years that we've seen on the creative side for the last 35. The dozen or so non-creatives whose talent and accomplishment exceeded their position in the years between the Direct Market's creation and the Digital Market's creation needs to in this next cycle much better match the hundreds of unique and intriguing artistic voices that this art form fosters in increasing numbers.

I worked in the comics industry at the tail end of a period where the whole thing might go right in the toilet on a month to month basis. What a lot of leaders from that generation did to keep the industry alive and give us multiple, esteemed generations of cartoonists is a remarkable thing. A cartoonist in a home making comics largely directed by their own artistic impulses, that is a victory. It always will be. The fact that things seem to be getting worse for almost everyone 10 to 20 years younger than that generation, that we still talk of young cartoonists that are in their late 30 and early 40s because we're waiting for their careers to progress, this indicates to me a troubled landscape onto which the desire comics-makers will have to work in comics rather than pursue opportunities in other industries and media will be bled from them multiple cuts at a time.

There's a ton of work work yet to do: maintaining, building, rebuilding. It won't be easy, and it may be impossible to see through without a hefty dose of self-criticism followed by real action that shows some people the door and affords the most capable new talents a seat at the table. We need to start doing better.
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Steed's Holiday

posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

I Don't Follow The Charts But I Did Notice The Complete Eightball Hit The Top NYT Slot

imageI don't pretend I understand let alone trust the NYT comics charts, or really any charts that aren't backed up by royalty statements. I assume that with books like Scott McCloud's The Sculptor up there and Raina Telgemeier basically living there that books that chart are at least doing pretty well and potentially extraordinarily so. Therefore I was happy when someone e-mailed me that the Clowes collection The Complete Eightball hit the top slot. I would like for people to buy that book. It's really good, and it's put together with a lot of integrity and care.

I don't know what the percentage is of reprint projects charting, even though it looks pretty strong on that linked-to chart. I'm glad in this age of immediacy whenever people seem happy to indulge themselves with books across a wide spectrum of ages.
posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink

If I Were In Seattle, I'd Go To This

posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Rainbow Boy

posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink

Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Steve Ditko answers a kid's letter. There's a lot that's admirable about the way Steve Ditko conducts his professional life.

image* Joe Gordon on Airboy #1. Todd Klein on Positively 4th Street. Rob McMonigal on Murder Mystery Superfan. James Kaplan on The Disciples #1.

* this article from retailer Brian Hibbs is interesting because it looks at Kickstarter through the prism of a bunch of assumptions derived from his role in the marketplace. In other words, I think it's more interesting as what a retailer thinks of as being wrong with a crowd-funded project than what people that are really invested in crowd-funded projects would think of as being wrong.

* here's a site to watch, and I can't remember how I found out so apologies to that person: Helene Parsons has written gags for several cartoonists; I don't know that I've read much from someone working that very specific cartooning job.

* that is a couple of honorable, dignified human beings trading books right there.

* Ken Parille on that recent New Yorker cover from Chris Ware to which many people had a strong, mostly negative reaction.

* I would never think of dissecting a superhero line based on the looks given the characters, but that's a perfectly reasonable give how much the look of a character reflects the general creative direction of one of these properties. It's hard for me to remember a good run of a superhero comic where the character also looked ridiculous.

* finally, Andrew Wheeler talks to Asaf Hanuka. John Parker profiles Alex Toth.
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink

Happy 65th Birthday, Bobby London!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Happy 61st Birthday, Bo Hampton!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Happy 65th Birthday, Mike Richardson!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Happy 64th Birthday, Don Rosa!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

This Site Is Undergoing An E-Mail Change

This site is now The hotmail and yahoo import mechanisms for gmail are kind of untrustworthy, so a full and direct switch is probably best. If you're been e-mailing, that should still work as we've redirected to the gmail account.

I didn't think I'd ever have to change again, but there are some regional office and networking things here in Columbus that gmail makes easier. Thanks for your patience.
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink

June 28, 2015

Go, Look: Murder Mystery Superfan

posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink

The Thing I Owe Garrison Keillor

So I hear that Garrison Keillor has a retirement plan now. The author and radio host will be phasing out of performing duties on his traveling stage program Prairie Home Companion and turning things over to a musician named Chris Thile.

imageKeillor's art is not art I like. I don't have a lot of patience for the kind of humor and sketches that his show provides. I don't like the surface qualities of most of it, its construction and delivery, and I reject its underlying message of a superior Midwestern Anglo-Saxon temperament and way of looking at the world. While Prairie Home Companion features talented musicians, it doesn't do so in a particularly flattering way other than the size of the audience to which they're delivered. My dad had me read a couple of his books maybe 25 years ago, and I cared for them even less.

Garrison Keillor was useful to me, though, when I was trying to sort out my own relationship to art. Keillor is nearly universally hated and ridiculed in both my age group and in those below; he is equally despised in what is probably my most accurate placement on the alt-culture tribal landscape. He's a great punching bag, too: pompous-seeming and omnipresent within his world, but also insulated and mega-successful. I've taken my fair share of shots and I bet some of them were funny.

The thing is, my mom's a fan. A great thing about the last ten years of my life is I got to hang out some with my mom as an adult. This meant a lot of things, its own essay's worth, but it included taking her to movies occasionally and maybe driving her someplace after church. There was a PHC movie we saw together. I didn't care for it; she loved it. And of course Keillor's show is all over the radio airwaves on Sunday afternoons so driving in the car in the mountains to a restaurant we both liked or down the highway to Las Cruces and its clothing stores there was a lot of that show we listened to together.

I liked it less the more I listened, but the bile and kind of easy, alt-culture triumphalism with which I lorded over the show as a cultural object seemed increasingly silly and labored and ungenerous given my Mom's honest, not thought-out pleasure in the man's work. So I checked myself. What I found out is that over time my opinion didn't change of the work but it was nice to be free of the expectation that I would punch the performer right in the kidneys every time he lumbered out onstage. I even came to respect the fact that he was employing multiple "dead" forms of media (prose, radio, concert-hall performance) to personal advantage even if I cringed a tiny bit in aesthetic displeasure every time I heard the name "Guy Noir" (I cringed just now typing it).

We say "some art isn't for you" a lot. We say it mostly, I think, in order to justify the consumption of frivolous art for which we have an appetite even though someone else -- sometimes an imaginary person -- might disapprove. It's a gift we provide others so that we may receive it in return. We rarely flip that phrase around and explore what it means for the people who are simply not on board for certain kinds of art, that have values that run contrary to the work of specific artists. The big thing for me over the last ten years for which Keillor was illuminating was in my being able to uncouple my personal presentation -- this kind of consumerist stance where I'm defined in certain public spaces by my collective likes and dislikes -- from my interactions with art itself. Those interactions as a whole have become sharper and I think less dependent on cultural shortcuts; the opinions accumulated and the insights collected are more entirely my own. I did this with a lot of things, not just Garrison Keillor, but he was in there, too. I'm grateful, and wish him a happy transition into the retirement of his choice.

image from the Chris Monroe comic strip, an intersection of interests that I think is justified for use here; any objection and I will gladly take it down; you should go read the strip
posted 5:10 am PST | Permalink

So I Guess There Is A Pride Sale At Comixology Submit Today

I know people get frustrated when I randomly point out sales and I apologize but hey 50 percent
posted 5:05 am PST | Permalink

Comics Workbook Presents Its 2015 Composition Competition


It's a bit different this year, so pay attention. I always like looking at the comics that result. First prize is cash; second/third prizes involve significant credit allowances at Copecetic Comics.
posted 5:00 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Embarrassing Moments

posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

If I Were In Melbourne, I'd Go To This

posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink

If I Were In Perth, I'd Go To This

posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink

If I Were In Miami Beach, I'd Go To This

posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink

Happy 32nd Birthday, Ian Brill!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Happy 71st Birthday, Philippe Druillet!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

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