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

















July 31, 2012


This Is Winding Up Today It Looks Like: Consider Joining Chuck Forsman's Mini-Comics Sub Service

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Go, Look: Alex Nino Gallery

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Go, Look: From Last Week's Clowes/Ware Event

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Go, Look: Four Color Shadows Gallery

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Librarians: sell your boots. Fantagraphics announced last night/this morning via press release that they will partner with Alexander Street Press to make a complete Comics Journal archive part of that group's online collection, making it available to subscribing academic institutions. That's about 25,000 pages of interviews and general crankiness. I would assume without having a single clue that this is one of those "complete scan from actual copies of magazine/historical archiving" deals, which allows a publication like the Journal to make available work for which it no longer has the rights.

image* the cancellation of a planned mini-series featuring the Thanos character set off a bunch of "we should probably keep an eye on this" alarms about the potential of a lawsuit or other legal challenges/negotiations regarding the cosmic super-villain despite that character being designated as a future Marvel Movie Big Bad.

* speaking of Marvel, the retailer and industry advocate Brian Hibbs analyzes Marvel's "Marvel Now" plans from the perspective that Marvel isn't going as far as it could to reenergize the Direct Market and bring in lapsed readers. That would be interesting 1) if it ends up being true, and 2) what that potentially says about Marvel right now and in the months ahead if this doesn't work as well as it should and blame settles on some sort of perceived lack of decisive line strategy. My feeling on that stuff is pretty much the same as it has been for about 24 months: that whether or not these massive editorial enterprises work or how well or for how long I suspect there's a lot of infrastructure and slow-growth work that needs to be done, particularly by Marvel.

* I'm not sure I know what all of these words mean when placed in this exact order, but Heidi MacDonald has a post up re-running PR from a company/group/effort that's indexing webcomics.

* it's been a while since I looked to see which months have rolled out onto Amazon.com in an advance order kind of way. They're up to about the first week of May 2013. I'm sure it was announced more formally, but I'm not sure I knew that they're collecting the Ignatz book that Gilbert Hernandez did. That series was beautiful-looking, and featured some of the best art of Hernandez's career of making comics that don't get recognized as being super good-looking as much as they should.

* finally, I'm told via e-mail that the kickstarted Magic Bullet #5 came out last weekend. That is a newspaper-style anthology featuring DC-area cartoonists.

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

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Go, Bookmark: Johnny Bacardi Re-Doing His Thriller Site

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I think it is unreservedly a good thing that creators like Matt Fraction and Steve Niles are going to that Aurora, Colorado comics shop for their late-August benefit. I hope others join them and do so in the matter-of-fact way that those initial announcements were made.

image* Eric Buckler talks to Joe Daly. Rachel Walther profiles Matt Silady. Matthew Harrison Tedford profiles Susan Miller. Jack Rico and Ignacio Torres profile Axel Alonso.

* not comics: this "Confessions Of A Middle-Aged Games Writer" post may speak to many of you out there that are still involved with comics in that way.

* it really isn't, you know.

* Sean Kleefeld on ADD and Bill Finger: The Boy Wonder. Andy Oliver on Harker: The Book Of Solomon. Johnny Bacardi on a bunch of different stuff. Rob Clough on some comics by Colleen Frakes. Bob Temuka on a bunch of stuff including Beyond. Don MacPherson on National Comics: Eternity #1. Sean Gaffney on Soul Eater Not! #1. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Justice League Of America: Dark Things. Johanna Draper Carlson on Sakuran: Blossoms Wild. Sterg Botzakis on Gingerbread Girl.

* Joseph Lambert pays tribute to a master.

* everything's coming up Gerber.

* Sean T. Collins dissects the Dan Nadel Vs. People That Don't Like What Dan Nadel Said About Kickstarter thing. At the time I'm typing this -- mid-1984, actually, I wanted to see the LA Olympics -- I haven't read a lot of what was out there. To be honest, I have yet to read the second half of Sean's. I will say I was depressed by the number of people that I saw in my super-brief survey that responded by scrambling for perceived hypocrisy on Nadel's part. That just seems like such a sad, intellectually impoverished way of approaching every single argument. I mean, come on: Gandhi, Dr. King and Lincoln were hypocrites by the Internet standard. The only people that aren't hypocrites by the Internet standard are lunatics, shut-ins and coma victims. There has to be a different way of arguing issues. Maybe every person that makes an argument can "jinx" the hypocrite argument by saying that they're a hypocrite. That way at least they won't be a hypocrite about being a hypocrite.

* not comics: I like to back movies that most people don't like, but I mostly remember this one being deadly dull.

* finally, Frank Santoro's comics sale looks like it was fun.
 
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July 30, 2012


Go, Look: Eating Soup

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RJ Matson Let Go From St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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The editorial cartoonist RJ Matson was apparently let go from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in a purge of 23 employees late last week. The Riverfront Times has a bunch of links on that story as it developed; it always creeps me out that news sources won't be absolutely upfront about changes in a timely manner when they make news like this, and media sources are forced to scramble after tweets and the like. The article notes that whatever supposed money issues caused the latest round of firings haven't had an effect on the bonuses given higher-up folks at the publication.

Matson is one of those anchor talents for that profession, a well-traveled cartoonist who should be in the prime of his career that's published in a ton of prestigious outlets.

One thing that's particularly distressing about this is that the Post-Dispatch has one of the serious pedigrees for great 20th Century editorial cartooning, being the home for both Daniel Fitzpatrick and Bill Mauldin at different times. If I remember correctly, Fitzpatrick won two Pulitzer Prizes some years apart at the publication, and Mauldin won one in the late '50s as part of his return to comics after leaving the field for a time. For a publication like that one not to have a major editorial cartoonist on staff is very sad to me.
 
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OTBP: Providence Comics Consortium

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Missed It: Garry Trudeau On Voter Access Laws

I totally missed last week's run of Doonesbury strips about voter access laws: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

imageI found these fascinating for a bunch of reasons. One is that those strips underline how Doonesbury can flat-out function like editorial cartooning when it wants to: this is basically an issue dissection as opposed to a series of strips that happen to be about the intersection of culture and politics. Another thing that intrigues me here is that I don't think these kind of outsized character strips are Garry Trudeau's particular strength; I think he's usually much better off and more insightful when he processes issues through his exquisite and long-established cast of characters. A third is that I see a bit of prescience at work in Trudeau selecting this topic, at least as he explains himself here -- this is a series of strips that could rotate back into importance if these kinds of laws play a major role in this Fall's elections. A fourth is that I wonder how effective they are as commentary and how Doonesbury exists in that world now; I think you could argue that the strip suffers a bit from what Berke Breathed described as operating in a tidal wave of political and satirical commentary. It could be that people pay no attention to the strip, but just as important the idea that the strip might not matter to people is out there and allows for a "Well, who the heck reads Doonesbury?" response, and sometimes the political dialogue only demand that some response be made, not that it be rigorous or convincing. Some specific stings might generate an article, but for the most part an effort like this might not drive a lot of discussion, or that discussion might end quickly. It's good to see that people are still annoyed at the strip more generally, though.

It looks like Trudeau is kicking off a week of much more self-reflective strips this week, or at least the first couple days of the week. That could be cute. Both this week's strips (so far) and last week's rely on the strip's longevity, albeit in very different ways.
 
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Go, Look: After A Couple Of Weeks

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Zunar's Civil Court Decision Pushed One More Time

Tuesday, as in tomorrow. It was expected on Friday, but the people with whom I talk that shoot Zunar news back and forth noted there was no update which indicated yet another push. I don't know that a lot of people going in expected Zunar's civil suit against the people that detained him for the content of his cartoon books to do well -- in fact I think the political cartoonist himself has spoken in terms of what might come next if the suit didn't work. For some reason, though, the fact that it continues to be pushed back gives me more hope than if there had been a summary decision earlier. I could be completely wrong about that. I wish for a just outcome, and one that's satisfying to this cartoonist.
 
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OTBP: Daddy Lightning

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A Pair Of Requests Concerning Site Content

If you haven't yet, I'd love you to take a look at this site's gallery of comics-maker photos we can't by ourselves identify as well as this year's Collective Memory for mid-July's Comic-Con International, now both archived. The Collective Memory entries have become a lot trickier in the last two years. I think people still access them and use the links, but almost no one sends in links anymore, either their own or others -- I think it's maybe because people tweet and facebook their own offerings to the world of people they care about. At any rate, the San Diego entries have an extra degree of difficulty in that most of what you find, on comics sites and other sites, is Hollywood-centric nonsense. I'd love to have CR link to as many comics-related as possible for some sort of historical resources moving forward.
 
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Missed It: Tom Humberstone On Olympics Ramp-Up

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Comics' Giving Heart -- People, Projects In Need Of Funding

image* the great Steve Rude has taken to crowd-funding for his latest sketchbook project. I like those Steve Rude sketchbooks, and usually buy one when I see them -- I don't really qualify financially to support the project via expensive inducement, but if the book itself is available that way I'm likely to be on board.

* here's a Kickstarter that seems like it might fall under Dan Nadel's description of an eminently commercial project that is going to Kickstarter for some reason other than the fact that it couldn't be done any other way. Not going to pass judgment on such a project here, though. I'll do it in the "Comics' Reluctant Heart" column.

* if you've made it to the cinema to see this new Batman film, you might consider a Hero Initiative donation in the name of the patron saint of neglected comics-makers Bill Finger for the same price as your ticket. You might just consider one anyway. That's not going to change anything as a political act, but it could do a real-world good for someone. Ten people doing that can buy someone insulin for the next few months.

* finally, here's a nice write-up from JK Parkin about the Aurora, Colorado comics shops doing a fundraiser for victim's of that Batman movie-related shooting from several days ago.
 
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If I Were In Vermont, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In New York City, I'd Go To This

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Go, Read: Ivan Brandon On Jack Kirby & Superhero Movies

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the arts writer Robert Boyd points out that at that recent Heritage auction the Frank King went for something like 1/2037th of the Todd McFarlane.

image* historian, TCJ editor and PictureBox publisher Dan Nadel runs down to the post-alternative comics squared circle, clears the ring, takes off his shirt and flexes. That had to be the most entertaining thing to appear on the comics Internet all weekend (if you count Friday as the weekend). You should read it. If nothing else, "sell your boots" is an all-time Journal line, worthy of Groth and Co. in their bomb-throwing heyday.

* as for the arguments themselves, I think all of his criticisms have some merit -- well, maybe not any spinning off of that oddly put and ill-conceived observation about EC's influence on the undergrounds -- even if I'm not sure I'd follow them out to the place Nadel is suggesting we go. I think we'll know more when the work in question is actually published. What I hope right now is that a) people simply won't get mad at Nadel, and b) if they do get mad at Nadel, people won't use that anger to cast about for ways to discredit his arguments rather than engage them.

* the dialogue around kickstarter most reminds me of the early 1990s conversation about self-publishing in comics. Both DM-focused self-publishing and crowd-funding bring with them implied critiques of more traditional publishing strategies. My suspicion is that kickstarter advocates are doing what I feel DM-focused self-publishing advocates did: presenting their way of doing things in a distorted manner that may overstate the value and reach and eventual impact of doing things their way. It's understandable, but that has to get under the skins of those that are using a traditional model that doesn't have that novelty and excitement factor.

* I welcome as much dialogue on these matters as possible, whether it's as funny and explosive as Nadel's Friday rant or not. I imagine that crowdfunding is here to stay and that it will not only have a significant effect on its own -- building on what's already happened -- but will also have a long-term, likely positive effect on other ways of publishing in comics.

* David Brothers on League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 2009.

* not comics: I'm encouraged to see the New Orleans media scene in a massive state of flux because I think it should be fascinating to see what develops after the gutting of that major community's newspaper. I'm a little less impressed with the confession in the linked-to article that people are making announcements about publishing intentions to sort of get the word out and for general publicity purposes. That doesn't seem sober to me in the way that deciding you want to be a region's news voice maybe should be.

* I knew it.

* finally, I love the title here: "Shitty Moments In My Life."
 
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July 29, 2012


So Basically I Know No One That Works In Comics By Sight

These are the head shots from Emerald City Comicon and Comic-Con International I couldn't identify. Can you help?

I fully realize that in some of these the name is right behind them or even on their nametag; I missed those or didn't trust them. I also realize that I've probably put up people I've known for ten years. I put my roommate on one of these things once. I am not visually skilled.

Thanks in advance for the identifications, and thanks to the patient people being photographed.

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George Davis (bearded)

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Paul Friedrich

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Braham Revel

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Chuck BB

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Chuck BB

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Cullen Bunn

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Brian Hurtt

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Matt Kindt

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Jill Beaton

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Ted Naifeh

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Jon Macy (left) and Tom Richmond

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Josh Adams

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Kazimir Strzepek

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Aaron Mew

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Jason Fischer

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Corey Lewis

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MK Reed And Greg Means

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Michel Gagne

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Joe Eisma

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Brandon Jerwa

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Jamie Rich

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Joelle Jones

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Dennis Culver

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Gabriel Hardman

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Michael Cho

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Rich Ellis

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Nidhi Chanani

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Tammy Stellanova

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Josh Frankel

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Jacq Cohen; Ryan Flanders

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Ryan Flanders

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Andrew Aydin

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Holly Golightly

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Kyle Stevens

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Josh Shalek

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Reid Psaltis

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Nolan T. Jones

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Jeremy Haun

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Thom Zahler

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Justin Randall

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Justin Randall

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Steve Stern

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Sal Abbinati

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Ron Marz

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Katherine French

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Jeremy Haun

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Marc Silvestri

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Dirk Manning

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Dirk Manning

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Nate Bellegarde

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Ryan Ottley

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Charles Soule

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Sarah DeLaine

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Chris Houghton

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Shane Houghton

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Jim Zubkavich

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Kody Chamberlain

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Jerry Gaylord, maybe?

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Michael Alan Nelson

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Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning

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Braden Lamb

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Travis Justin Hill

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Joe Corroney

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Michael McMillian

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Ramon J. Perez

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Mike Norton (L), Steve Seeley (R)

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Mike Norton (L), Steve Seeley (R)

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Michael Moreci

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Anthony Diecidue

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Michel Gagne

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Go, Look: Tip Top Comics Cover Gallery

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Go, Look: Assorted Moon-Related Comics

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OTBP: Elephant Ear #1

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Go, Look: 1963 McCall's Magazine Issue Cartoons

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Not Comics: Illustrated Duke Pages

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Not Comics: ERB Art Explosion

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FFF Results Post #302 -- Sous-Estimé

On Friday, CR readers were asked, "Excluding Jacques Tardi, Moebius, Marjane Satrapi, Lewis Trondheim, Rene Goscinny, Albert Uderzo and Herge, Pick Five Cartoonists Primarily Known For Work In The French-Language Market You Believe Have A Potential Bigger Audience For Themselves In English-Language Comics Than They Currently Have In English-Language Comics." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Bastien Vivès
2. Frederik Peeters
3. Anouk Ricard
4. Gilles Rochier
5. Émile Bravo

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Eric Newsom

1. Matthieu Bonhomme
2. Phillippe Berthet
3. Frédéric Rébéna
4. Cyril Pedrosa (Portuguese, but his major comics works have been primarily published in French -- assuming this is OK because of your inclusion of Peeters)
5. Denis Bodart

Even ridding myself of Blain, Alary and Clerc... oh, and Yves Chaland too! I'm leaving a bunch off of this list still. Alexandre Franc. Arnaud Poitevin. Michel Plessix. Floc'h. Argh!

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Chris Mautner

* Blutch
* Marc-Antoine Mathieu
* Chris Blain
* Franquin
* Yves Chaland

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. Ohm
2. Steve Baker
3. Guillaume Bianco
4. Barbara Canepa
5. Boulet

*****

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Trevor Ashfield

1. Zep
2. Baru
3. Edmond Baudoin
4. André Juillard
5. Marc-Antoine Mathieu

*****

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Dan Boyd

1. Blutch
2. Baru
3. Bastien Vivès
4. David Prudhomme
5. Frederik Peeters

*****

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Antranik Tchalekian

1. Guy Delisle
2. Joann Sfar
3. Nicolas de Crécy
4. David B.
5. and I'm going to say Nicolas de Crécy again, because his work is so great, and he's seemingly very little known in the English publishing world

Editor's Note: I usually delete the stunt-answer ones, but I like de Crécy, too

*****

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Brian Moore

1. Émile Bravo
2. Christophe Blain
3. Kerascoet
4. Joann Sfar
5. Boulet

*****

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Fabrice Stroun

1. Marc Caro. Before he quit comics to do movies (co-director of Delicatessen). Late 70s. Pure nasty unadulterated no-future punk comics, up there with Jimbo.
2. Christophe Blain is the most virtuoso French cartoonist of his generation. This lofty statement can easily confirmed by flipping through, in English, Dungeon, Early Years vol. 1 & 2.
3. Igor Kordey should leave bad French genre publishers and come back to US mainstream, super heroes comics. His X-Men were sexy and awesome.
4. Elvis Studio. Mostly non-narrative-with-one-foot-in-contemporary-art stuff. Elvis Road, published by Buenaventura Press is, to my knowledge, their only book available to an American audience. There should be more.
5. Riad Sattouf. Most corrosive and influential satirist, far beyond the sphere of comic book readers. Equal parts Johnny Ryan and Garry Trudeau. Idiotically scorned on your website by Bart Beaty (on puritan grounds, no less!). Brand of caustic humor & host of cultural references probably define the limits beyond which a French book might be, despite of its inherent qualities, untranslatable.

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Enki Bilal
2. Christophe Blain
3. Émile Bravo
4. Marguerite Abouet & Clément Oubrerie
5. Lucien de Gieter

*****

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Roman Muradov

1. Stanislas Barthélémy
2. Nicolas De Crécy
3. Blutch
4. Manu Larcenet
5. Nicolas Nemiri

*****

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Marc-Oliver Frisch

1. Manu Larcenet
2. Manuele Fior
3. Émile Bravo
4. Cyril Pedrosa
5. Baru

*****

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Milo George

1. Fabrice Neaud
2. André Franquin
3. Edmond Baudoin
4. François Boucq
5. Claire Bretécher

*****

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RM Rhodes

1. Joann Sfar
2. David B.
3. Benoit Peeters
4. Zep
5. Christophe Blain

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Éric Liberge
2. Bastien Vivès
3. Baru
4. Eric Herenguel
5. Nine Antico

*****

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Derik A. Badman

1. Vincent Fortemps
2. Dominique Goblet
3. Fabrice Neaud
4. Aristophane
5. Jimmy Beaulieu

*****

I think I may have assembled mine after a conversation with Bart Beaty; I can't remember; "Gilles Rochier" doesn't sound like one that would just pop into my head

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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Robert Crumb Interviewed





Four Comic-Con Videos Made By Marc Mason


Comics And Journalism In A New Era
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Love And Rockets SDCC Panel
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Auteur Theory SDCC Panel
via
 
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July 28, 2012


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from July 21 to July 27, 2012:

1. Moroccan cartoonist Khalid Gueddar detained and questioned for republishing a 2011 that criticized an imam for soliciting a prostitute. Potential legal complications include a hefty fine and jail time.

2. Alternative Comics returns under the leadership of longtime, small-press publisher and distributor Marc Arsenault.

3. RJ Matson was among recent layoffs at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Winner Of The Week
Nicholas Garland. That's one sweet gig.

Losers Of The Week
The syndicate employees that saw this installment of Russell Myers' Broom Hilda and ended up not red-flagging it after the shootings in Colorado; they should have caught this.

Quote Of The Week
"Guess what? You don't get to call yourself underground if you're on Kickstarter. Guess what else? You don't get to call yourself a publisher either; you're just someone who pays a printing bill. Take pre-orders on your site. Sell your boots. Do what you have to do. But don't go begging for money so that you can then give five percent of it to Amazon.com, which is actively trying to put you (!), and the stores you hope to shove this shit into, out of business. I'm all for raising money for art, but it would be nice if there was some sense of proportion. No one needs this anthology but it might do fine 'in the market.' I'm so sick of seeing perfectly viable (viable, but not smart or interesting; viable) comic book projects on there. People can do what they want, but when you're out there hustling dough for your movie-ready zombie-baseball graphic novel, or fucking Cyberforce, or your poorly thought through Garo book, you just look like a schmuck." -- Dan Nadel

*****

today's cover is from the small-press and independent comics scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s

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

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If I Were In New York City, I'd Go To This

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

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If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

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

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Hey, They're Doing Another Short Run Event In Seattle

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July 27, 2012


So Apparently The London Olympics Has An Official Visual Chronicler

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It's cartoonist Nicholas Garland.
 
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Go, Look: Darryl Cunningham On Fracking

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Morocco's Khalid Gueddar Detained, Questioned For 2011 Cartoon

I somehow missed this story about Moroccan cartoonist Khalid Gueddar being detained and questions for six hours on Monday. At question was a 2011 cartoon commenting on an imam accused of soliciting a prostitute; the cartoon was re-run because of a similar incident that came to Gueddar's attention. If charged and convicted of crimes related to the religious content of the piece, Gueddar could be subject to both fines and a sentence. The cartoonist was convicted and ordered to pay a hefty fine in 2009 for depicting a member of the royal family.

The interrogation came during a week of several such actions against journalists in Morocco.
 
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Go, Look: Images From AYA: Young Love Comic

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Albuquerque Comic Con Organizer Files Against Local Law Enforcement For 2010 Incident In Comics Shop

According to local media reports, Albuquerque Comic Con organizer Jim Burleson has filed suit against the Albuquerque police department and four of its officers for a 2010 incident in his then-open comics shop. I think the linked-to article does a fairly good job of establishing the landscape involved in Burleson's claim. At heart was an accusation that toys eBayed by the shop were stolen property. A stolen-property charge was apparently never made, and subsequently a pair of the officers committed egregious on-the-job violations. The police spokesperson denies the charges and says the injuries reported at the time do not match the claims.
 
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Go, Read: Illustrious Reputikus And Rat

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Australian Cartoonist Claims Denial Of Satirical Packaging Gig

This not-exactly-comics story about cartoonist Bill Leak and his desire to do satirical packaging to slip over mandated real-consequence tobacco packaging in Australia intrigues me in a couple of ways. The first is the story as presented by Leak, that he's not being allowed to provide the fake packaging because doing so would interfere with the government's program to use the surface of those products to promote a health message. The second is that the reason given for Leak's withdrawal from these plans is the threat of legal action. I imagine this would be extremely difficult to quantify. I'm also not all the way certain that being able to do what you do without any threat of legal reprisal is a reasonable standard for indicting the state as something that is keeping you from doing something.
 
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Go, Look: Charlie Brown's Newspaper Excursion

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Latest DC Executives Interview At ICv2.com Only Partly Enraging

Milton Griepp at the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com interviewed two of the three heads that is the creative-side boss at DC Comics these days: Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. It's in three parts: here, here and here. Joke headline above aside, I thought it was a pretty good performance for the pair, and that's not been a sure thing with executives from that company over the last 12 months. I didn't groan once.

imageThe good starts with the fact that the pair sound like confident market leaders instead of the guys that run the company that is waiting for Marvel to do something so they can do something like it, which was frequently the default mode for DC Comics for years and years and years. I think DiDio and Lee stay pretty strongly on point in terms of projecting the monthly series as the company's core concern; there's a super-deft answer from Dan DiDio on the company's attempts to keep everything on time and suggesting this was a reason for strong January sales that would get a high-five from any PR director. There are also some nice rhetorical flourishes in there: a call-out to Diane Nelson, the funny and brash move of basically taking credit for other companies' big, recent successes. They admirably don't back away or dissemble on diversity issues, although that question is put to them in the nicest, most flattering way possible.

There's still some bad, at least for me. Dan DiDio starts down the road of "you don't see the projects we back that don't do well," which even in these debased times most people tend not to see as justification for potentially screwing with people or having crappy policy in place as much as the day-in, day-out cost of doing business when you're a publisher. I don't buy their formulation of Barnes And Noble Vs. Amazon.com as replacing Barnes And Noble Vs. Borders, because it's not like Amazon.com showed up when Borders closed and the question put to them by Milton Griepp was about total outlets, not the orientation of the marketplace. I don't trust anyone from DC on numbers, because they fundamentally refuse to divulge them and I think that means they shouldn't be allowed to cherry pick or characterize their numbers for positive spin without at least being jumped on for precise information. I think the notion that the numbers are settling back into old patterns after a once-in-a-generation relaunch maneuver should have been addressed directly. Finally, Lee's assertion that DC must be doing okay with creators rights because people still continue to do awesome comics for DC really needed some unpacking. One, I'd argue that given the disparity in both financial reward and market force companies like DC vastly underperform in terms of their percentage of quality work in the marketplace. Two, this is a weird thing to assert right now given their treatment of what may be the company's all-time best comic and clear evidence their moves with that property are driving people away from DC in both direct and indirect ways.
 
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Not Comics: Valerie Hammond

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Go, Look: Frank Stack's Drawing Book

This could be a Facebook photo album for the ages: cartoonist, artist and educator Frank Stack is putting up his personal files in terms of what constitutes good drawing, after years of avoiding the hassle of Xeroxing these images for his students. I don't even know if that's currently open to the public, but Stack's solid enough on that particular subject you ought to go ahead and make virtual friends with the guy if that's what it takes.
 
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Missed It: Stan Sakai Process Comic From 1991

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For Tripwire's 20th, I'd Like This Roger Langridge Image As A Poster

Or t-shirt, or something. We can put a man on the moon, we can sell a kabillion copies of the bleakest 100th issue of anything ever, we can do this. I'm happy for Tripwire's anniversary, even it makes me feel really, really old.
 
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Go, Look: Mysterious Traveler Stories

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Comics' Giving Heart -- People, Projects In Need Of Funding

* the literary publication Rain Taxi has been reviewing comics for years -- it used to be one of the few such places PR folks had on their press list. Now they're publishing them, as part of a literary journal called Firecracker, but only if it's crowd-funded.

* the cartoonist Nate Bellegarde is trying to raise money for a forthcoming move by selling art.

* as far as I know, Jeremy Eaton is still selling his artwork at Comic Art Collective at half-off prices in order to make up some money that he's missing after losing a client. That guy's originals are really good looking, as I recall.

* DC provides financial remuneration to comics creators for many aspects of film projects done from their characters and ideas, but that doesn't mean that the company has a stellar historical legacy when it comes to rewarding everyone. A ticket-price donation to the Hero Initiative in Bill Finger's name after seeing the new Batman flick isn't going to change the world, but it could do some real-world good. You don't even need to go to the movie. I sent off a check yesterday.

* finally, this project looks sort of interesting. I know nothing about it other than that they seem to be very aggressive tweeters.
 
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If I Were In Oakland, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: A Small Array Of Catwoman Covers

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* superior link-blogger Kevin Melrose follows up on the unfortunate publication of a gunshots-in-the-movie-theater joke in Broom Hilda this week.

image* via Milo George comes the discovery that someone has reposted the original Fort Thunder site.

* Rob Clough on Monsieur Jean: The Singles Theory.

* Kathleen Dunley talks to Seth. Keith Graves talks to seven-year-old Neil Gaiman. Tim Callahan profiles Charles Forsman. Robin McConnell talks to Josh Bayer.

* I came across this nice 20120 array of tiny Rick Griffin images yesterday. I can't "go, look" it at that size, but it's attractive.

* hey, here's a profile of Fluke.

* I enjoyed this piece from Matt Seneca on Arsene Schrauwen, but I have to admit just doing a piece on Arsene Schrauwen is going to make me happy.

* Sarah Glidden draws the southern part of Washington. Jessica Abel draws a cool-looking lady on the El. Other drawings I looked at this morning come from Max, Jason, John Kenn, Matt Madden, Pep Montserrat, Mattias Adolfsson and Paul Hornschemeier. And your art. I looked at your art, too.

* finally, some not comics: t-shirts on sale from Jim Woodring, Jim Blanchard and Basil Wolverton. Is it my imagination, or is the alt-comic t-shirt making a slow but sustained comeback?
 
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July 26, 2012


Go, Look: A Visual History Of The Batcave

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Never-Ending Festival Update: Two Positions Open At Stumptown

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There are two key volunteer positions open at the Stumptown Comics Fest. I think that's a good show, but more importantly, I suspect -- don't get mad at me -- that it's a show that has a magnificent opportunity to become even better seeing as it's the artists-first show in the current ComicsTown USA and one of the five best places in all of North America to live and visit right now. In other words, if you're interested in the festival aspects of comics and that seems like something to be interested in during this best year ever for comics conventions and festivals, this seems like a fascinating opportunity at a time when it's appropriate to buy rather than sell on such a position.
 
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Go, Look: Crier

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You Could Always Spend The Day Reading About Comics

imageSeems like there's a surge of longer material about comics available out there today:

* Chris Mautner provides TCJ with a 10,000-word-or-so interview with Jessica Abel and Matt Madden.

* there's a new digital magazine about digital comics offerings here.

* there's an established digital magazine with academic articles about comics galore with a bunch of stuff on-line here.

* Erik Davis profiles the great Rick Griffin in two parts. My theory is that the initial generation of comic book makers started so young and for the most part survived into such a healthy old age that we're now scrambling to grapple with the generations that have come since because as we're now rounding into that attention those artists are either very old or no longer with us. It's okay to play catch-up as long as we keep at it, keep playing.

* I'm not exactly sure how it got into my bookmarks, but this article on the discovery of Carl Barks by appreciative fans is something you can read the next time you're feeling down about fandom. That was a good thing those comics readers did.
 
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Go, Look: Phil Seuling Convention Art

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SAW Micro-Grants Surge To $300 Per Winner

This brief article notes that a donation has allowed the Sequential Artists Workshop micro-grants to be pushed up to $300 a person; those are going out to two recipients in September. I'm all for cash awards for comics people, and I wanted to mention that one here because 1) hey, cash and 2) I'm guess this means that other can get behind the award and increase it further if they want to. Can't guarantee that, of course, and I have to imagine at some point that becomes a bigger pain than it's worth. But it might be worth an e-mail.
 
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Go, Look: Comics Workbook

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This Isn't A Library: Notable Releases To The Comics Direct Market

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Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's no-doubt largely accurate list of books shipping from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. to comic book and hobby shops across North America.

I might not buy all of the works listed here. I might not buy any. You never know. I'd sure look at the following, though.

*****

JUN121298 UNDERWATER WELDER GN $19.95
This is emerging two-camp comics star Jeff Lemire's latest in the non-superhero realm, and was strongly recommended to buyers by publisher Chris Staros at the big funnybook show. Lemire is carving out a nice space for himself with these sizable graphic novels, which is particularly admirable given his mainstream comics workload. Lemire's "Kid Eternity" revamp is also out this week, I think, in the National Comics title.

imageMAY120623 PROPHET #27 $2.99
Not a big week for serial comics -- and least not obviously so, on a first pass -- but this well-regarded run continues.

MAY120328 SPACEMAN #8 (MR) $2.99
One could argue that this is potentially the most important not-as-successful-as-some-hoped comic since Divine Right. I have no idea if it's any good; I haven't seen a copy, and I haven't read a substantial review of it anywhere, I don't think. It seems weird it doesn't even have penetration with on-line comics reviewers.

MAY120055 BPRD HELL ON EARTH EXORCISM #2 $3.50
MAR128224 HELLBOY TP 03 CHAINED COFFIN AND OTHERS $19.99
MAR128226 HELLBOY TP VOL 10 CROOKED MAN & OTHERS (NEW PTG) $19.99
Your Mignola-verse offerings of the week, albeit heavy on the new versions of old work side of things.

APR120328 ARAGONES GROO THE WANDERER ARTIST ED HC PI
FEB128228 WALLY WOOD EC STORIES ARTIST ED HC 2ND PTG (NEW CVR) $125.00
Two of the fun Artist's Edition book. The Wood is a no-brainer -- if they found a way to paint Wally Wood on the walls of the Grand Canyon, I'd be on the first burro. The Aragones is a bit of a harder sell -- everyone loves that work but Aragones is such a naturally precise artist that watching him be perfect in every panel seems a prospect along the lines of watching those pop bands that sings immaculate pop songs that sound just the same as the recorded offering. I did see that book, though, and I did find it intriguing -- there was some work done on the pages, and the quality of image-making really steps to the forefront when you're looking at comics published at that size.

MAY120763 DAREDEVIL BY MARK WAID TP VOL 01 $15.99
This is very well-regarded superhero comics work by an established, resurgent veteran and a team of talented artists. I read one issue of it, I think, and remember liking it. This may be one you buy in book form rather than wait for the dollar bins -- that being a note about how many books eventually get discounted as opposed to a shot at any of those books' quality. You can really get 98 percent of all serial comics at a reduced price if you wait a while, it seems. Anyway, that's Marvel's most reliable character.

MAR121257 NAOKI URASAWA 20TH CENTURY BOYS GN VOL 21 $12.99
Always worth a look if not a blind buy. No one would look at you funny if this was the only reason you showed up in the shop this week.

MAY121423 CEREBUS THE BARBARIAN MESSIAH SC $45.00
MAY121432 MEANING OF SUPERHERO COMIC BOOKS SC $40.00
MAY121434 SEXUAL IDEOLOGY IN THE WORKS OF ALAN MOORE SC $40.00
I guess these are all from the same company, which is pretty great. I can't speak to the second listed here but the first and third are almost always rich, rewarding subjects. There's an essay on Gerhard in the Cerebus book I look forward to reading.

MAY121304 MARIE SEVERIN MIRTHFUL MISTRESS OF COMICS SC $24.95
Let the Marie Severin re-appreciation begin now and may it become a tidal wave. Her work was a lot of fun, and looks better now than it was regarded at the time.

JAN121111 SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS SC $24.99
Not comics: a book featuring the essay/object pairings organized by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker, which you can read about here.

MAY121319 SAKURAN GN VOL 01 $16.95
I'm not familiar with this artist, even though the publishing history is such I probably should be. The samples look very striking, though, and it was recommended on the Best Of side of things at the manga critics panel in San Diego. It's on my reading desk.

*****

The full list of this week's releases, including some titles with multiple cover variations and a long, impressive list of toys and other stuff that isn't comics, can be found here. Despite this official list there's no guarantee a comic will show up in the stores as promised, or in all of the stores as opposed to just a few. Also, stores choose what they carry and don't carry so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, albeit a while back, try this.

The above titles are listed with their Diamond order code in the first field, which may assist you in finding comics at your shop or having them order something for you they don't have in-stock. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.

If I failed to list your comic, that's on me. I apologize.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: A Profile Of Heroic

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The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Cons, Shows, Events

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By Tom Spurgeon

* if you break down the calendar convention year into Before San Diego, San Diego and After San Diego, we're now obviously in that third part of the year. That means Wizard's biggest show, in Chicago; a very sturdy and well-liked regional convention in Baltimore; the New York Comic-Con with its parties, a strong across-the-Atlantic contingent and mainstream comic-book industry focus; and then three gems of the small-press schedule -- SPX, APE and BCGF. The San Diego Comics Fest, too. I'm sure I'm forgetting something. If I could attend without cost and exhaustion, I'd go to them all, or at least all of them not Chicago and New York, which is weird because I love Chicago and New York as places to visit.

* as the convention calendar has begun to coalesce into a set number of shows, we're also starting to see them pick out 2013 events well in advance of when they used to. WonderCon is still famously up in the air, but if you check out this resource here at CR you'll note dates for shows like Angouleme (later this year, 1-31 to 2-3), Emerald City Comicon (earlier this year at March 1-3), San Diego (back to the weekend it basically had in 2011, July 18-21) and HeroesCon (June 7-9). It looks like Stumptown and C2E2 will share a late April weekend (4-26 to 4-28) but I can't imagine there's a lot of professional or attendee crossover there.

* speaking of forthcoming events, the 2013 version of the International Comic Arts Forum has announced for May 23-25, 2013 at the University of Oregon. Here's a PDF:

icaf_uo_2012_release.pdf

* the MCM people sent out a press release on last Saturday's Manchester Comic Con that claimed 11,300 guests -- double last year's attendance.

* finally, here's more information on this Friday's Dan Clowes/Chris Ware event.
 
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If I Were In Vermont, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: A Mort Meskin Wildcat Story

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* go here for a lengthy profile of Reg Smythe and Andy Capp. I think that's an underrated strip. How underrated is a different question.

image* Heidi MacDonald makes a really good point in this article that longstanding hostile behavior to female customers ingrained in the mainstream companies has become reinforced by the specific role each of those comics companies plays in the overall corporate strategies engaged by their owners. I'm always a little uncomfortable using an economic argument against massively successful corporations when I'm so unsuccessful at such things that I can barely afford my own, meager existence; using imaginary profits as a club even if their existence sounds perfectly logical always sounds a bit dubious to me, too. Still, the preponderance of rational thinking would seem to indicate that there's money to be made by being less horrible, with the advantage that you also get to be less horrible. As MacDonald smartly points out, that doesn't mean it will ever happen. Reforming the mainstream comics companies seems a very dated strategy in a lot of ways: it was not what finally gave us a self-sustaining group of non-childish, literary comics starting back in the '70s; it's not likely to give us a mass of comics aimed at women readers and facilitating the talents of female creators now.

* via Devlin Thompson comes this post featuring found photos of people with comic books.

* Rob Clough on The Clown Show: Cycles. Bob Temuka on Invincible Vol. 14. Greg McElhatton on Bloodshot #1 and Cow Boy: A Boy And His Horse. Christopher Allen on Captain Marvel #1 and a bunch of comics that came out in July.

* I don't exactly pay a lot of attention to eBay sales of comics, but a big chunk of whatever money is raised from this one goes to charity.

* Kiel Phegley talks to Grant Morrison, a Hall Of Fame Interviewee if there ever was one. I guess it's sort of interesting that he's backing away from his regular serial superhero comics work, but as Morrison has always moved around project-to-project in his career, that strikes me more of a story for those comics series rather than for Morrison. That is an A-list creator leaving books; that line doesn't have a whole lot of A-listers working for it.

* this is a great photo of Bagge, Clowes and Todd.

* oh, Shevlin.

* finally, Marc Tyler Nobleman tracks various efforts -- including his own -- to find Bill Finger a credit of some sort in the Dark Knight and related Batman movies.
 
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July 25, 2012


Go, Look: People In King-Cat Tee Shirts Facebook Album

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King-Cat Tee Shirts are one of comics' perfect objects, and everyone should own one. I just ordered one now that I'm small enough to fit into one, and I can't wait.
 
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D+Q Announces Chris Ware's Limited Edition Multi-Story Building Model Portfolio For October

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Here's a bit of non-comics news that is nonetheless of significant interest to fans of the comics medium: Drawn And Quarterly has announced they'll be doing a signed and numbered, limited-edition portfolio with Chris Ware called "Multi-Story Building Model" that they describe as "an absolutely unnecessary addendum" to Pantheon's Building Stories graphic novel. Building Stories is one of the most anticipated books of the 2012 calendar year. The 14 sheets, 1000 copies of which will be sold at a suggested retail price of $79.95, can apparently be assembled into an 11 X 16 X 18 model of the apartment building featured in the graphic novel. That should be something to see.
 
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Oof: This Comic Strip Really Should Have Been Pulled

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There's nothing intentional here, of course: this would have been done weeks ago, and Russell Myers is an honored veteran of the strip field and doesn't trade in anything close to how this might be read. Someone at the syndicate or whatever company they use to process strips on-line should have red-flagged this, I'm thinking. I feel bad for anyone that might read this that has a close relationship with events in Aurora, and I also feel bad for Mr. Myers.

thanks to twitterers and e-mailers that brought this to my attention
 
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Alternative Comics Returns: Ted May's Injury #4 Looks To Be First Out Of Gate; New Sam Henderson

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Longtime industry fixture Marc Arsenault of the iconic distributor and small press publisher Wow Cool will apparently announce later today through PW his manning a newly relaunched Alternative Comics. Although it's a good bet details will appear in that article, the first release from the new company seems to be the recently, independently-kickstarted Injury #4, which was the subject of a flier distributed Arsenault at San Diego and part of a mailing received by this site. The cartoonist Sam Henderson, whose Magic Whistle was I believe the most prolific comics title during Alternative's initial run, was also featured prominently in that flier. Whether or not the latest Injury is published by the newly-refurbished company, or co-published by the company and Injury Comics, or simply distributed, is a bit less clear. One project mentioned on the flier indicates that the company will co-publish. Arsenault is a well-connected, effective small-press distributor and one assumes a variety of approches are on the table.

Alternative Comics was founded by Florida lawyer Jeff Mason. Mason started Alternative in 1993 as a grad student to facilitate the publishing of Indy Magazine, and expanded to include formal comics publishing by the late 1990s. Alternative was a key publisher for the second-generation alt-comics makers. In addition to Henderson, Alternative in its first incarnation published works by Jon Lewis, Rich Tommaso, Nick Bertozzi, Jen Sorensenand Graham Annable. Alternative published the best-known (and perhaps only) Monica Lewinsky comic, Monica's Story, and was one of several comics publishers to donate monies raised via comics done about 9/11.

Alternative was a significant presence at the Small Press Expo and early MoCCA Festivals before slowly withdrawing from the scene about five years ago. Significant cartoonists in the last several months of Alternative's first go-round were Tommaso, K. Thor Jensen and Joel Orff.

CR contacted Tommaso, who said that he has not been in contact with the line about new work but that Arsenault had sent him a note saying he was warehousing previous Alternative efforts 8 1/2 Ghosts and Perverso (both 2004).

Alternative Comics was also a contributor to alt-comics' presence on-line, including the extremely ambitious web magazine iteration of Indy, which was edited by Bill Kartalopoulos. Kartalopoulos told CR this morning that he had no idea if Indy Magazine was part of the new endeavor, noting that the copyright to each contribution to the version he edited was held by the writer who submitted it.

With today's biggest alternative comics companies focused on the bookstore market and longer works, including high-end reprints, I would assume there's potential space for a company focused on serial publications and one-offs. This is doubly true given the amount of talent out there, and the ability to connect with fans via small-press and 'zine shows of which there are many right now. Arsenault has excellent, interesting taste; he was early on Al Columbia, Steven Cerio and Simon Gane. I look forward to what comes next. This article will be updated with information supplied in the formal release notice.

Update: The article at PW has since appeared. The deal between Arsenault and Mason does include backstock. The Sam Henderson to debut this Fall is Magic Whistle #12 and it is scheduled for launch at this November's Brooklyn Comics And Graphics Festival. Future work is planned from Kochalka, Karl Stevens and Cerio. Arsenault plans to make the backstock available through Diamond and Last Gasp. Arsenault's plans include digital editions, starting with Josh Neufeld's Titans Of Finance, already available.
 
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If I Were In Vermont, I'd Go To This

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Go, Read: Crime World

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July 24, 2012


Go, Buy: Jeremy Eaton Lost-Client Art Sale

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good guy, fun cartoonist, tough times, half-off
 
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Zunar's Civil Court Decision Pushed, Expected Friday

After delays from May to June and then June to sometime in late July, the decision in cartoonist Zunar's civil suit is now strongly expected to be announced Friday. This article does a nice job of explaining the basics. This could be a potentially major step in the cartoonist's attempts to find some sort of legal satisfaction out of the horrible and unnecessary harassment he faced due to publication of a politically inexpedient book. I'm not sure anyone expected this suit to turn out in Zunar's favor, so I don't think it's a crushing disappointment if he loses. While it would be great if he won -- for the recognition alone -- I'm not even sure how extensively he could be rewarded. It's worth noting there's also an extra-legal component to the matter, such as the difficulties that can arise in finding publishing partners when you've been targeted by a government this way.
 
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Go, Look: A Bunch Of Comic Book Ads

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Missed It: 25th Anniversary Of Naji Al-Ali's Murder

It was July 22. I'm not sure you can do a post about Al-Ali without some sense of political commentary seeping in, but the linked-to post does a pretty good job of measuring that cartoonist's impact a quarter-century later by marking reaction to this anniversary. One of comics'/cartooning's most fascinating careers.
 
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Go, Look: Jack Kamen Splash Pages

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* above is the cover image for the Renee French/PictureBox limited Fall release debuting at SPX. It looks nice, doesn't it? She'll be there for the debut.

image* the cartoonist Rich Tommaso released this cover image on this Facebook page, although I'm not sure everyone can see it or not there so I dragged it onto here.

* did you know there were new issues yet to come of the Joe Casey/Mike Huddleston effort Butcher Baker, The Righteous Maker? I don't think I did. I thought it was done. It figures that a mainstream title that demented and odd might leave some of us -- well, me, anyway -- befuddled as to when or if it was ending. Anyway, Casey was handing out cards at the San Diego Con encouraging everyone to just wait, and there'd be more to come.

* Warren Ellis would like to publish your three-panel comics.

* sad to hear that Amazing Facts... and Beyond! has ended.

* you may have to squint to join me in seeing this as publishing news, but I'm sort of super-intrigued by this list of books that the Stuart Ng people brought home from Comic-Con a couple of weeks ago:
Chris Sanders - Sketchbook 1X
Eric Canete - Dedicace
Terry Dodson - Bombshells 6
WETA Workshop Artists - White Cloud Worlds - with an illustrated bookplate signed by 8 WETA Artists
Tony DiTerlizzi - Wondla Sketchbook Vol. 2: The Heroes of Wondla
Neufundland Comics
Francisco Herrera - Art n Out Sabotage
Humberto Ramos - Magic Box 2
Eric Powell - Sketchbooks 2 3 4
Bruce Timm - Naughty and Nice 2012 Teaser
Pascal Campion - Papa C'est Moi
Sean Galloway & Ryan Benjamin - Table Taffy 1 & 2
Sean Galloway - Octocheeks
Zdenek Burian 2: Prehistoric Man
Jason Felix - Mail Order Monsters
Stan Sakai - Usagi Yojimbo Sketchbook 7 8 9
Matteo Scalera - Some like it Rough
Michael Golden - Alchemy Sketchbook
Phil Mendez - I Can't Bear It
1000Tentacles Portfolio
Robh Ruppel - Familiar Vices 2
Robh Ruppel - Dime Novel Dames
Daren Bader: 100 Drawings
The Art of Daren Bader
Titmouse 1 & 2
Animal Nature: The Art of Joe Weatherly, Vol. 2
Gary Gianni and Ray Bradbury - The Nefertiti-Tut Express
Jennifer Chang, Daniela Strijleva, Katy Wu - Round Robin 3
Michael Cho - Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes
Art of Daxiong Collection
Art of Walter Gatus
Art of Tae Young Choi
Richard Peter Han - Sprocket & Gear
Mark Brooks - Groundworks
Ben Caldwell Sketchbook 16
John Nevarez - Bits & Pieces 4 & 5
Frank Cho Calendar 2013
Dean Yeagle - Mandy Statue
Blacksad: A Silent Hell
Big John Buscema: Comics and Drawings
Darwyn Cooke - Parker: The Score
Mars Attacks - Signed & Numbered Edition
David Mazzuchelli Daredevil Artists Edition – Signed & Numbered Edition
Wally Wood EC Stories Artists Edition - Second Edition
Udon - Capcom vs Marvel - Limited Hardcover Edition
Dave Stevens Comics & Stories - Variant Cover Edition
Phil Hale Empire - Limited Hardcover Edition Signed
Eric Canete - Encore
That's a heck of a shopping list, and a reminder as to how much stuff gets published in terms of art books and the like related to comics, not just comics.

* good news: Kate Beaton intends to publish those long-form comics she's been doing. They've been really good, so that's something to look forward to.

* finally, there's a new Dame Darcy book coming out next month from Henry Holt. It's text with illustrations as opposed to comics, but I'm always happy to see new work from the Dame.

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Go, Look: Hank Ketcham Gag Cartoon Gallery

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Missed It: John Jackson Miller's Case For Optimism

I liked this short piece by numbers-cruncher/writer John Jackson Miller that unpacks a few reasons why you can look at the overall comics marketplace right now and come away with positive feelings. I think it's measured and rational -- qualified, even, in specific ways. I share Miller's basic recognition that there are things out there that can be seen as positives. It's always a little bit difficult for me to endorse such impressions outright because I'm not sure I share the same definition of a healthy market that others might. Then again, why in the hell should anyone be expected to endorse a certain view of a marketplace?
 
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If I Were In Vermont, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: John Stanley In Our Gang #19

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* UTEP has apparently started a collection at their library in the name of the Hernandez Brothers. That's awesome. You should read the articles and if you're a fan, see if you can help.

image* Oliver Sava talks to Darwyn Cooke. Jason Thompson profiles est em.

* this may be the funniest review I've ever read. It's like a review by one of Ted May's characters.

* Rob Clough on Moose, Rust Belt. Todd Klein on Justice League #9 and Green Lantern Corps #9. Kate Dacey on Polterguys Vol. 1. Johanna Draper Carlson on Seraphina. Rob McMonigal on two works by Box Brown.

* check out this Michael DeForge SPX poster. Because this is Michael's first year, he has to buy everyone's drinks.

* Dave Thorne, RIP.

* Robert Boyd talks about the 30-year anniversary of Love & Rockets; he's been on board for 29 of them.

* I hate it when I'm sitting at my desk tripping over my Batman villains and thinking, "If only I could have this information presented to me in some sort of easy-to-remember, spatial format."

* no words are bandied in an appraisal of this project.

* get in those Dragon*Con media applications. I don't think I've ever seen an article about Dragon*Con, come to think of it, but I'm sure they exist and I'm sure media attends that show doing media things.

* not comics: why do I think some mainstream comics editor out there is going to find a way to make this a lips-to-ass technology?

* if most people edit interview transcripts with a sharp razor blade making fine cuts, welcome to the Conan-style appraoch of the Guardian and the horrible things they did to a Dan Clowes piece. That's just awful. Sheesh.

* speaking of interviews, here's a rolling one starting up with Dave Sim. I interviewed Dave Sim once; he has a lovely voice.

* finally, a one-stop shopping article if you've ever wondered what the words "Stephanie Brown" mean.
 
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Comics Is Always Less Depressing When Joe Sacco's Around


 
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July 23, 2012


Go, Look: Two More Rounds Of Cartoonist Photos

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Comics' Giving Heart -- People, Projects In Need Of Funding

* that Garo tribute book kickstarter slipped past the halfway point over the weekend and looks to be on its way.

* here's someone trying to fund a comics library at a high school via IndieGoGo. I thought that people might want to contribute; I also wonder if it wouldn't be easier for this guy to build his library via people sending him books.

* the Don Rosa-related fundraiser is at about 150 percent right now.

* finally, Micah Wright is back.
 
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Go, Look: Bungle Island

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Not Comics: Chuck Dixon On Film Compensation From DC

CR spends a decent amount of time and energy discussing unfair and/or unfortunate policies in place in comics, particularly mainstream comics, when it comes to the final dispensation for the massive amount of profit that is generated in other media from ideas first put forward by comics creators. It behooves the site, then, to drive some attention to this Chuck Dixon piece about DC's compensatory practices when it comes to rewarding creators for comics properties and ideas used in DC Comics-related movies and TV shows. While perhaps not an ideal outcome for all of the creators involved, and keeping in mind that profit isn't everyone's sole motivation when it comes to these matters, DC paying people for ideas and character used in movies like the new Batman film strikes me as a set of policies and and approach that in its current form is a generally good thing, reasonably executed, and much appreciated by many of its beneficiaries. If nothing else, it's preferred over not paying them anything.

Note that no one appears to be financially crippled by this arrangement: there does indeed seem to be enough money to do this. Note also that by choosing this policy over one whereby they grind out the absolute last penny that could be theirs if they went after it with enough energy, DC kneecaps the argument that corporations are somehow inherently bound by their core nature to always pursue the most exploitative behavior imaginable in every single instance.
 
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Missed It: Trash The Block

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One Last Summary Post On The Summer's Big Funnybook Show

I think this will do it for primary posting related to San Diego's Comic-Con International. I'm fully aware that most people get tired of posts about that show roughly four days before the show starts, as well they probably should. However, I think there was a fair amount of actual comics news at the show. As a lot of it gets lost in a haze of "I'm having fun/this is what it all means/here's the hype directly from the panel's mouth/here's some stuff not really comics that we have to report for some reason/costumes-costumes-costumes," it seems unfair to further obscure actual news developments by waving one's hands and declaring the whole thing over and done with, at least without an attempt at an accounting of what happened. So let's give that a shot as we sing the comics year's halfway point to sleep.

* I think it's important we note the passing of Twilight fan Gisela Gagliardi. My understanding is that Comic-Con is deferring to an expected police briefing on the matter, but that seems to me like an odd place to leave things and I'll continue to report on that as it develops. I'm primarily interested in any review of line policy or the like, because I know they're pretty rigorously self-critical there.

* This site guessed at some meta-stories here, and I think those predictions turned out to be pretty fair ones. If you're looking for storyline-type approaches, I think you could start there.

* Publishing-news wise, there were several announcements worth noting at the show. D+Q announced an Art Spiegelman book for 2013, and will be the first publisher to do a book-with-spine in partnership with young talent Michael DeForge. Neil Gaiman is doing a Sandman series with JH Williams III. Image announced a slew of series roughly modeled on recent hits like Saga and Fatale, including books from Matt Fraction (with Howard Chaykin) and Greg Rucka and a renewed line from popular writer J. Michael Straczynski. (CR spoke to NYT feature article profile recipient Publisher Eric Stephenson here and here.) Fantagraphics, Top Shelf and I believe Oni were among those publishers announcing significant digital initiatives or developments in same. Darwyn Cooke and IDW announced Cooke's next Parker book will be The Handle. Top Shelf named Nate Powell as the artist on March. IDW announced three new Artist's Edition books: Xenozoic Tales, Gil Kane-era Spider-Man, MAD. PictureBox announced a book from Blutch and an Anne Ishii-produced, Chip Kidd-designed tome of Gengoroh Tagame's gay bondage porn. AdHouse is working with Jim Rugg again; PictureBox will be releasing a limited-edition Renee French book for SPX. Kate Beaton confirmed at her panel she's looking to do a book of her recent, excellent, longer pieces. Informal news abounded: Jaime Hernandez suggested a lot of his Locas characters would return in future Love & Rockets stories, Linda Medley's return to Castle Waiting will result in a revamped Volume Two, the talented cartoonist Josh Cotter may be done with comics for now, Duncan The Wonder Dog Vol. 2 may be ahead of schedule, and so on. All in all, there was plenty of comics publishing news to be reported. I'm sure I've missed a ton here.

* The Eisner Awards were shorter than I think most folks expected, and every recipient in town seemed to show up to pick up their awards. Dylan Williams, perhaps the first major figure of the post-alternative generation to pass away when he died last September, was included in the honor roll. Bill Blackbeard made the Eisner Hall Of Fame. Writer Mark Waid won I believe his first awards from that program. Ditto James Kochalka and his kids-comic award. Full list of winners in context with nominees, all linked, here.

* As for the show itself: attendance remains at the full capacity level it's been for a few years now, basic logistics seemed to continue to improve, badge integrity issues continued, more of Hollywood and related businesses descended on San Diego proper as opposed to confining themselves to the show (and made it a bit harder for comics entities to find purchase at prime locations), and it seemed to these eyes at least that higher-end buyers for published material may have been weaker this year.

* This site's daily reports are gathered here; the summary analysis was here.
 
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Go, Read: Caroline Sury Interview

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Comic-Con Resources Two: Best Of/Worst Of Manga Lists

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One of my favorite panels every year at Comic-Con International is the Best Of/Worst Of Manga presentation. This is where a group of devoted manga readers and critics sit in front of a crowd and talk about comics for as long as their allotted time allows. I like this because a) I enjoy listening to people talk about comics to an audience that wants to hear about them, b) not being immersed in that corner of comics I tend to learn about some work with which I'm unfamiliar and that looks intriguing, c) all of the panelists are usually funny.

It's mostly because of reason "b" that I am happy Deb Aoki made available to me this year's lists for further review and consideration. The panelists this year were Aoki, Brigid Alverson, Chris Butcher, Shaenon Garrity and Carlo Santos.

Best New Manga for Kids/Teens (released between July 2011 - July 2012)
* Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi (Kodansha) -- Chris B., Carlo S.
* Princess Knight by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical) -- Chris B., Carlo S.
* A Devil and Her Love Song by Miyoshi Tomori (VIZ Media) -- Deb, Brigid
* Jiu Jiu -- Brigid A.
* NonNonBa by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly) -- Shanenon (also selected for grown-ups by Chris, Deb)

Best New Manga for Grown-ups (released between July 2011 - July 2012)
* Sakuran by Moyocco Anno (Vertical) -- Brigid (also picked as most anticipated by Chris B. and Shaenon)
* Message to Adolf by Osamu Tezuka, (Vertical) -- Shaenon (also selected as most anticipated by Carlo)
* Various Titles by Natsume Ono (VIZ Media) -- Chris B.
* Durarara!! By Ryohgo Narita, characters by Suzuhito Yasuda, art by Akiyo Satorigi (Yen Press) -- Carlo
* The Drops of God by Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto (Vertical) -- Chris B., Deb

Best Continuing Manga Series for Kids/Teens (has had at least one new volume released in the past year)
* Wandering Son by Shimura Takako (Fantagraphics) -- Shaenon
* Cross Game by Mitsuru Adachi (VIZ Media) -- Chris B., Deb (also selected as manga you should read by Shaenon)
* Chi's Sweet Home by Konami Kanata (Vertical) -- Chris B., Deb
* Blue Exorcist (VIZ Media) -- Deb, Carlo
* Arisa by Natsumi Ando (Kodansha) -- Brigid

Best Continuing Manga Series for Grown-ups (has had at least one new volume released in the past year)
* A Bride's Story by Kaoru Mori (Yen Press) -- Shaenon, Deb
* 20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media) -- Chris B. Carlo S.
* No. 5 by Taiyo Matsumoto (iPad only) -- Chris B.
* Dorohedoro by Q Hayashida (VIZ Media) -- Deb
* Saturn Apartments by Hisae Iwaoka (VIZ Media) -- Brigid

Worst manga of 2012
* none -- Shaenon
* none -- Chris
* My Girlfriend's a Geek by Pentabu and Rize Shinba (Yen Press) -- Deb
* Is This a Zombie? By Shinichi Kimura, art by Sacchi, characters by Kobuichi Muririn (Yen Press) -- Carlo
* Kobato by CLAMP (Yen Press) -- Brigid

Manga You're Most Looking Forward to Reading (due to be published between August 2012 - 2013)
* Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio (Fantagraphics) -- Shaenon, Deb
* Kitaro by Shigeru Mizuki (D&Q) -- Chris B., Deb
* Strange Tale of Panorama Island by Edogawa Rampo and Maruo Suehiro (Last Gasp) -- Deb
* Thermae Roma by Mari Yamazaki (Yen Press) -- Deb, Brigid
* Barbara by Osamu Tezuka (Digital Manga) -- Deb
* Message to Adolf by Osamu Tezuka -- Carlo (also selected as best new for grown-ups by Shaenon)

Manga You'd Most Like to See Published in US (never been published or licensed by a US publisher)
* Atagoul by Hiroshi Masumura -- Shaenon
* Sunny by Taiyo Matsumoto -- Chris B.
* Chihayafuru by Yuki Suetsugu -- Deb
* We are the Beatles (Boku wa Beatles) by Tetsuo Fujii and Kaiji Kawaguchi -- Carlo
* Futa ga Shira by Natsume Ono -- Brigid

BONUS ROUND (if we have time): Under-appreciated Gem / Manga You Should Be Reading
* Cross Game by Mitsuru Adachi -- Shaenon (also picked as best for kids/teens by Deb, Chris)
* To All Corners of the World by Fumiyo Kouno (JManga) -- Deb
* Kitchen Princess by Miyuki Kobayashi and Natsumi Andō (Kodansha) -- Carlo S.
* Breathe Deeply by Doton Yamaki (One Peace Books) -- Brigid

* Makeshift Miracle: The Girl from Nowhere by Jim Zub and Shun Hong Chan (Udon) -- Chris B.
* Random Veus by Jeffrey Chamba Cruz (Udon) -- Chris B.
* Sengoku Basara: Samurai Legends by Yak Haibara (Udon) -- Chris B.
* Captain Commando by Kenkou Tabuchi and Kotomi Tobashi (Udon) -- Chris B.
 
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Missed It: A Cartoonist's Worldview

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Comic-Con Resource One: Jamie Coville's Panel Recordings

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Jamie Coville has a tremendous number of panel audio recordings up from panels at this year's Comic-Con International. We're still at least a few years away from formal recordings and/or digital memberships to the convention, so this may be the only chance to shared in the magic. Or the tragic, depending on the quality of the panel. He also has a recording of the Eisners, which thankfully doesn't not include a running tally of blood-alcohol contents , for those of you who were hoping to listen to some of the panel

You can go to this page for an easy launching point for all the recordings. Panels/presentations caught by Coville include:

* A Tribute to Richard Alf
* Bleeding Alliance of Beat Reporters
* CBLDF: The Fight To Defend Manga
* Comic Book Entrepreneurs
* Comics Arts Conference Session #10: Focus on Steve Englehart
* ComicsPro: Retail Optimism
* comiXology Open Discussion: Everything Digital
* Digital Comics Price Fight
* Full 2012 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards
* How to Get News Coverage
* Spotlight on Gilbert Shelton
* Spotlight on Geof Darrow
* Spotlight on Larry Hama
* Super Secrets: Lifting the Curtain on the Man of Steel
* Ted Naifeh and the 10th Anniversary of Courtney Crumrin
* The Fine Line of Inking
* Will Eisner and the Graphic Novel
 
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If I Were In Vermont, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: A Brief Sampling Of Heros The Spartan

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* at least one newspaper pulled a Dark Knight Rises-related cartoon over the weekend because of the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Talking about Batman seems to me an odd way to process what happened, particularly at this juncture, but this Sean T. Collins piece on having to do just that offers up some ideas worth considering. I know that there are probably a bunch of editorial cartoons out there using Batman imagery -- probably even a crying Batman or two -- but I'm avoiding those for as long as I can.

image* Ben Towle doodles. John Kenn draws. Matt Madden works in wash. Roman Muradov overdoes it. Mattias Adolfsson makes some prints.

* here's a big, long article about women in comics that focuses on the lack of women creators in modern superhero comics and the repellant storylines and depictions that are at times embraced by that corner of the industry. I find the tagged name for the article funny because really, you can keep good creators down if you want, and companies do it all the time. Other than that, I found it interesting there's no mention of Marjane Satrapi when it comes to providing an example of creators that are female and successful and just making their own comics, as I think that mentioning Satrapi in such pieces was required by law as little as 12 months ago. The fact that you can write this article multiple times and use different names for the positive examples every time out is both encouraging and, in that such articles might indeed be written anyway despite this army of counter-examples, sort of weird and depressing.

* Susan Myrland talks to Andrei Molotiu. Sierra Nicole Rhoden talks to Darryl Holliday and Erik Rodriguez. Frank Santoro continues profiling a growing army of new talent.

* not comics: congratulations to Thomas Herpich and Jesse Moynihan.

* what Captain Marvel means to her family.

* Charles Forsman on process.

* David Brothers on recent Conan comics. Rob Clough on the comics of Benjamin Marra. Bob Temuka on Cor!! Annual 1979. Dan Morrill on Saga #1. Greg McElhatton on Bloodshot #1. Sean Gaffney on Wonder! Vol. 2. Sean Kleefeld on Nevsky. Grant Goggans on The Rabbi's Cat Vol. 2. Johanna Draper Carlson on Archie Archives Vol. 6. Sterg Botzakis on My Friend Dahmer.

* here's a piece I've yet to read on Dr. Seuss and the Holocaust. I believe the gist of it is that as a cartoonist he was early on the subject when a lot of people avoided it.

* finally, I don't know if this Facebook photo of 1980s alt-comics makers in Devo hair is visible to anyone that looks, but it's pretty great.
 
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July 22, 2012


CR Sunday Interview: Jessica Campbell

imageI've known Drawn and Quarterly's Jessica Campbell for a few years now, seeing her at various comics-related shows and occasionally having reason to work with her in some capacity. She's resigned her position with the Montreal-based art comics publishing company in order to go to grad school. I think people like Campbell are the backbone of North American comics. It's been my pleasure to know several such folks throughout the years: people that aren't involved in a creative capacity with the comics, at least not primarily, but contribute to the day to day functioning of the industry in hundreds of ways.

Campbell, a talented painter and one of the funniest people in the alt-comics part of the comics world, was nice enough to do an exit interview with me about her time at D+Q. It struck me while talking to her how little I know about that publisher, its culture and inner workings. I greatly enjoyed our talk, and I wish Campbell the best in all future endeavors. Comics will miss her. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: Jessica, let's first talk about your leaving. Where are you going? What's ahead? What was that decision-making process like and what finally spurred you to make that decision? Did you always think you'd be there for a certain period of time and then leave, like a lot of comics publishing people, or did you think you might stay around longer than this?

JESSICA CAMPBELL: I started working at D+Q right after I turned 21, first as an unpaid intern, thanking God pretty much every day I didn't get fired. I don't think that I even went to the restroom for the first three months, let alone considered how long I was going to stay. So, no, there wasn't really a conscious plan or anything.

I moved to Montreal to go to art school -- I trained as a painter -- and spent most of my time in school working part time at D+Q and then full time once I graduated. I'm leaving now to go to graduate school at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, which I in part decided to do now because my life here is really comfortable and I could easily see myself staying here forever without ever really trying to make a serious "go" of painting.

I might very well end up back in publishing at some point, but I thought, why not get myself in to an obscene amount of debt first?

SPURGEON: [laughs] I remember back in Fall 1998 I told Gary Groth and Kim Thompson I was going to leave Fantagraphics and then I stuck around until like March 1999. I remember that being a weird time. What has the time been like for you since announcing your departure? Has everyone been nice to you? Have you been able to gain some perspective on the time you've spent at D+Q?

CAMPBELL: This is going to be a boring answer, but everyone here has been so unbelievably nice to me since I announced that I am leaving. Peggy [Burns]'s been emailing people she knows in Chicago to ask for advice on where to live, where to hang out, etc., Chris [Oliveros] asked me to let him know if there is anything he can do for me, and Tom [Devlin], of course, has been making flippant comments that I think secretly mean that he is going to miss me. It's mostly weird being here while knowing I'm going to leave because there are a lot of projects that I'd like to work on for D+Q that I'm not going to have a chance to. I mean, my whole life in Montreal is in a strange state of flux right now because I know that I'm leaving, and D+Q is just a part of that.

imageSPURGEON: I don't know much about your comics background, except that Peggy Burns told me you loved them. So what were you interactions like with comics growing up? Were there specific comics you read, or cartoonists you followed, that meant a great deal to you?

CAMPBELL: I read a lot of newspaper strips as a kid, particularly The Far Side and Garfield. I related a lot to Garfield. So sassy! Always giving everyone the what-for! My dad one day came home with two garbage bags full of Archie comics from a garage sale, which was great. I also used to read the Herman and Doonesbury anthologies we had lying around the house, though I found Doonesbury pretty impenetrable as a child and hated Herman. At one point I found my dad's Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers stash/weed stash and was scandalized.

I had this one Family Circus comic that I carefully cut out of the newspaper and saved as a kid. It was one of the ones with a map of the neighbourhood featuring Billy's footsteps going all over the place. I remember thinking that I didn't "get" the joke and then saving it so that I could look at it again when I was a little older, in the hopes that I would "get" it then. Anyway, I would unfold it every few years, still not find it funny and put it back in the box until my next attempt. I think one day I realized that the joke was just "kids!"

This is all to say that I didn't start getting seriously in to comics until I was a teenager and worked in a bookstore. My best friend, Alex, was into comics and her dad had a huge collection. I think she was the one who got me into Neil Gaiman's Sandman, as well as Dan Clowes and Love & Rockets and more that I'm not remembering. The Ghost World movie came out when I was 16, and I loved it and pretty much fell in love with Dan Clowes. When I finally started working at D+Q a few years later, my dream was to get to meet him, which I finally did in an embarrassing turn of events that Pascal Girard immortalized.

SPURGEON: Is there any story to how you ended up at Drawn and Quarterly?

CAMPBELL: Not really. I think some friends were digging around in the trash around the D+Q offices late one night and found some discarded proofs or something, and it prompted one of them to say to me, "Hey, you should work for Drawn & Quarterly!" [Spurgeon laughs] which I honestly hadn't considered up until that point. Then I applied for an internship and kind of worked my way up to where I am now/just kept showing up.

I worked in bookstores for several years before D+Q (Munro's books in Victoria, BC and Paragraphe in Montreal), and had gotten increasingly interested in comics, though I knew relatively little about them compared to what I know now (which is still probably relatively little compared to everyone else in the industry). I know that, when I started, I was eagerly anticipating Paying For It (that was to come out five years later), and I'd been a big Chester Brown fan since I had a dream about I Never Liked You as a teenager. Don't worry, though, it was an "above the board" dream.

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SPURGEON: It's been mentioned by this point, but what is your arts background? I know that you're a painter; I've seen and enjoyed the on-line reproduction of some of your paintings. Did that intersect with comics at all?

CAMPBELL: I am mostly a painter, that's what I studied in school, though I've also dabbled in some other arts like installation or telling-jokes-and-calling-it-performance-art (calling it "performance art" is a secret way to get out of having to be funny). I moved to Montreal to go to art school in 2005 and started working at D+Q the next year, ultimately stretching out my degree in a way that I think might only be feasible in Canada.

I've never really made comics, though I very briefly and ill-begottenly tried them for like a week until I gave up, declaring it "too hard," and went back to painting. One time I tried working on a fake submission that I was going to send in to Tom Devlin as a joke, but it started turning in to like 40 hours of work for a B to B+ joke, so I again gave up. My painting, however, is definitely influenced by them. For instance, a lot of my work is of interior home spaces has an isometric perspective that, in part, comes from Chris Ware's work (the other influence being, of course, video games). Since I work mostly with interior spaces, the kind of work that influences me tends to be related to that. I love Amy Bennett's painting, and she's married to the cartoonist Jonathan Bennett, so that's kind of a tangental comics connection.

Seeing Lynda Barry talk about art production -- painting, drawing, writing, comics, etc. -- really impacted me. Definitely partly her exercises, but also this idea that we've kind of naturalized the idea of art-making as being something that should be left to professionals, when creative production is something that is, in fact, integral to mental health. I met Lynda Barry at a point in my life when I was maybe a little exhausted by the arts, generally, and she completely renewed my enthusiasm.

imageSPURGEON: Does it help working with cartoonists to have a sort of artistic background yourself, if only to garner some perspective on what they might be going through? Are there any ways you see the kind of art you pursue being flat-out different than the experience that comes with being a cartoonist?

CAMPBELL: One of the things that makes D+Q such a great place to work is that Chris Oliveros is a cartoonist and comes to publishing from an artist's perspective. I think this means he's really interested in producing the books that the artists want, in giving them as much room as he possibly can to do whatever they'd like (I imagine this is probably true of working with someone like Eric Reynolds at Fanta, too). Anyway, I think Chris' attitude really sets the tenor of the whole office and we've all been trained to defer to the artists as much as is feasible, which is wonderful. As far as my personal artistic background is concerned, I guess I'd think that it makes me better at things like colour correction or whatever, and of course I'm genuinely very very excited to get to work with so many talented and interesting artists, many of whom I've studied in school.

SPURGEON: Someone told me that you once escorted Lynda Barry around on an initial comics-related PR tour -- in fact, I think this might have been something you did fairly early on in your time there. First of all, what is Barry like to work with on that fairly focused level? She seems like a fairly intense individual in random encounters. What is that kind of work like? It doesn't seem like there's a lot of structure to working with an artist on something like that, and I wondered how you approach supporting someone in that way.

CAMPBELL: I went on a mini tour with Lynda in 2008, after I'd been at D+Q for two years.

SPURGEON: [laughs] Whoops.

CAMPBELL: I'd been to shows before, but I'm pretty sure that was my first time escorting anyone around by myself. It was a week before I was going to go to the Arctic for the summer, and I was unbelievably stressed out and nervous, terrified that I would offend Lynda somehow and ruin her relationship with D+Q. It was only my second time in NYC and I think I got to her hotel an hour before our meeting time and just kind of nervously circled the block until it was time to meet. When we finally met up, she said "I can't believe I'm finally seeing you in person!" and got me to spin around so she could "have a good look," which kind of immediately put me at ease.

Lynda does have a big personality. I remember, for instance, Chris coming back from meeting her for the first time when she was at CCS and being totally awestruck. I think he said something like "She hummed 'You Are My Sunshine' in front of the whole auditorium, and, even with her mouth closed, she managed to fill up the whole room and enrapture everyone." which I can definitely vouch for. But when you spend time with her one-on-one, she has this way of making you feel totally valued and interesting. It's not just with me, as someone who was escorting her around for a week, but for every person who gets a book signed by her or goes to her workshops or just meets her. I don't think it's disingenuous, either. I think she actually is really interested in people, and it comes through in her interactions as well as in her work. It's part of what makes her work so relatable and beautiful. She's definitely unlike anyone else I've ever met before, and thinking about her makes me hurt a little bit because I love her so much.

SPURGEON: This may sound like sort of a rudimentary question, but what is the D+Q office like? What's the culture there? Is it a quiet office, a chatty office, a close office...? I don't think I have any idea beyond projecting how you guys come across when you're on the road together. Has it been a good place to work?

CAMPBELL: As I am writing this, we are all sitting in silence working on various things. The office tends to be fairly quiet, though Tom, Peggy and I are all loud from time to time, with Chris, Tracy [Hurren, production manager], Julia [Pohl-Miranda, editorial manager] and Ann [Cunningham, controller] maybe a little quieter. We work in a big loft space and Tom generally plays music, which is great except for sometimes when he's on a "complete BeeGees catalogue" kick. We email each other a lot. Like, all day long I am e-mailing Tom who sits, oh, about five feet away from me. I make it a personal goal to try to crack up my coworkers, to varying degrees of success, and we all agree that the gold standard of office jokemanship is when you get a knee-slap out of the chief.

We are all friends, and I think we all get along well. Obviously we spend a lot of time together and I'm a deadly combination of "sort of a bully" and "very sensitive" so it's pretty much a miracle that there isn't a ton of explosive conflict all of the time. And as far as I can remember, Tom's only made me cry once (though you might want to check this number again before you run this). Chris is maybe the kindest person I have ever met in my life, and he's a thoughtful and caring boss. I have never had a better boss in my life, nor do I expect to ever have a better one in the future. He's incredible.

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SPURGEON: One thing I know you've done, and probably the only place we've ever interacted, is at shows. Can you talk a little about supporting D+Q and working a booth at places like San Diego? Are there specific memories you have, particularly memorable encounters or days you spent doing that kind of work. What are D+Q fans like face to face?

CAMPBELL: San Diego is a strange show for us because 90% of the people there are not interested in the kind of work that we put out, and like every third person is some Hollywood guy asking you to pitch him -- though I've actually felt this less in the past few years. I like to go because it's just totally mind blowingly different from my normal life, and while the majority of people there don't maybe care about what we do, the D+Q fans who do go are always really excited to see us and fun to interact with. Last year was interesting because we had advances of Kate Beaton's book, which brought different people to the table, people who may not have read our other books but who were so enthusiastic and kind about Kate, even after we sold out of her books (which happened quickly). Our readers are, as a whole, great, and any kind of negative experiences I've had at shows are few and far between.

One time I saw a furry come face-to-face with a golden retriever right in front of our booth at SDCC and I wasn't sure whether they'd kiss or fight one another, so that was a pretty great moment. My favourite memory might have been from SDCC last summer when, after a series of escalating dares, Anders Nilsen, Brian Ralph, Tom Devlin, Tracy Hurren and I all broke on to a pier and went swimming in the disgusting downtown San Diego harbour.

imageSPURGEON: I'm not sure how much you can talk about a place like D+Q in terms of it being part of the traditional comics industry, but certainly the wider industry of which you're apart shares a reputation as being a place that can be tough for a woman, a maybe not-always-friendly arena in which to work. Is that fair? Do you have perspective on that kind of general industry characterization? You guys have always had a lot of women on staff and published through the company, but that's not the case for everyone.

CAMPBELL: I should start off by saying that there's rarely a week where I don't talk to someone about how amazing it is to work in such a feminist/queer friendly/radical environment. Not that the numbers necessarily have anything to do with it but there are seven of us in the office, two men and five women, and comparable numbers for our bookstore, and that's without even mentioning all of the diverse artists we get to work with. I have no idea about other publishing houses in the biz, but D+Q does feel remarkable compared to some of the other places I've worked over the years.

The industry-at-large is something that feels somewhat unknowable to me and to which I can't speak completely intelligently. I mean, it consists of a broad swath of works/people/companies and the area I'm familiar with is, relatively speaking, fairly small. However, as "being unable to speak intelligently to something" has never stopped me before, here I go!

A few years ago when I attended a panel discussion between Dan Nadel and John Carlin (curator of the "Masters of American Comics" exhibition), moderated by Robert Storr, I was struck by how much of the conversation revolved around the role of women in comics. I was already familiar with the controversy surrounding the fact that Carlin's exhibition, created with the explicit intent of solidifying the "comics canon," had not included any female creators, though this controversy had at points felt blown out of proportion. Then, upon being asked directly about his chose to omit female cartoonists, Carlin claimed that to include any would have been "tokenism." Certainly he acknowledged that there exist and have existed female cartoonists, though he said (perhaps I am paraphrasing slightly) "there has never existed a female Milton Caniff." What he meant, really, was there has never been a female "master" of American comics (a telling choice of words to be sure).

His position is not dissimilar to what was for a long time the status quo in art history, and something I once read by art historian Nanette Salomon, that "the 'exceptional' woman artist may be one of the most insidious means of undermining the likelihood of women entering the creative arts,"* seems particularly relevant to both Carlin and the medium. In comics, as in art history, when women's artistic production is described, it is very often qualified by their sex, thus highlighting its otherness and exceptionality. By consistently qualifying the work of female artists by their gender, one implies that somehow the fact of her gender is remarkable. The implication is that her femaleness is her handicap and that her work does not fit in to the history of art but is, rather, an anomalous exception to it.

The canon of comics, still new and somewhat amoebic when compared to the canon of art history, seems very much predicated on the idea of artistic lineage and the "mentor/prodigy" relationship perpetuated by traditional art history. Carlin's statement about the impossibility of a "female Caniff" highlights another point of Salomon's: that comparing all female artists to some kind of greater male counterpart does them a disservice. This idea, that women artists must always be tied to a male artist, reinforces a binary system where one is always prized over another. This, too, hints to why I was so disappointed by the discourse surrounding Carlin's exhibition. Certainly, there was a level of outrage at his lack of inclusion (no female creators, one black creator and only two female historians in contrast with around thirty white male creators and historians), but the strategy that people used to deal with this was to provide a list potential female creators who could have been included. This form of rebuttal ultimately kind of reinforced binarism, since it was refuted by exhibitions supporters by comparing these female creators to their superior male "counterparts."

Primarily, what disappointed me about this "canon constructing" exhibition was the notion that we need a comics canon based on the model of art history at all, and that, though this canon is being constructed in the 21st century, it must incorporate all of the biases of its predecessor in other media, in lieu of adopting contemporary or alternate strategies.

I should say that I don't mean to pick on John Carlin here, by any means, but this particular exhibition seemed to be symptomatic of some underlying issues about the way that we talk about women in comics, or that we talk about "women in comics" at all. The dialogue seems often to focus on the symptoms of what is actually a systemic problem, and I wonder if there might be more productive way of addressing these issues beyond having a "Women in Comics" panel at every convention.

As far as being a woman working in the industry goes, it is, for the most part, wonderful. In work as with my normal life, my "gender" is not something that I consciously think about very often. However, I will note that going to big mainstream shows, particularly ones that are more Hollywood/pop culture and less comics, can be somewhat disheartening. Perhaps this goes without saying, but I usually end up feeling marginalized at these shows in way that I do not at the other small press shows, craft fairs and book festivals that we attend. While at first surreal and amusing, the scantily-clad women hired to be ogled and seem to be symptomatic of something darker and ultimately propagate inequality, naturalize it. Frankly, I think that what these egregious displays of female objectification/gender imbalance are most guilty of is masking or drawing attention away from more surreptitious ones. A joke or subtle comment seems minor in comparison to a man motioning to a woman a third his age in a bikini and yelling into a megaphone "this is why you don't get married!," yet these jokes and subtle comments are what ultimately shape societal convention and personal opinion.

[* Salomon, Nanette. 1998. "The Art Historical Canon: Sins of Omission" in D. Preziosi ed. The Art of Art History: A Critical Anthology, Oxford University Press, New York.]

SPURGEON: I enjoyed your participation in a recent Robot 6 roundtable about books you're reading. What is your comics reading like? How much of that are you going to maintain now that you're no longer going to be doing that kind of work day to day? Do you have favorites of the work you've encountered while there?

CAMPBELL: I'm a terrible comics reader. I read comics long after they've come out and in no discernible order. I'll read the new Love & Rockets (actually those are pretty much the only thing I'm guaranteed to read immediately as they're released), and then I'll read some Peter Arno collection, then I'll read a pile of mini comics… It's really contingent on whatever I have access to at any time. Beyond just reading books in any order, I actually am pretty sure that the mechanics of my reading are all wonky. I've noticed, for instance, that I'll read all of the word balloons and then go back to look at the images, which is probably pretty wrongheaded. But I can't help it!

imageMy bad reading is the reason why, when I first started getting in to comics, I couldn't read Chris Ware's work. I remember I just couldn't figure out how to read them, and they made me nauseous to look at because they were so beautiful and complex. I had this really visceral reaction to them, and it took me another few years of reading more straightforward, black and white comics before I could back to them. Of course, when I was finally able to read them, they were a revelation. Beyond just being beautiful and moving works of art, they changed how I read, in a way that I think Acme 20 summarizes nicely. Throughout the telling of Jordan Lint's life, the drawing evolves to mirror his changing experience or interpretation of the world, and at the end of the book, it completely breaks down, mimicking his experience of death. It is impossible to read this book the "bad way" that I'm inclined towards. It's like Chris Ware teaches you how to read, creates a new way of reading, and then ultimately tears it all apart.

I also love Seth's work, particularly George Sprott, to the point that my coworkers have kind of a running joke that I'm always trying to push it on people at the conventions. It's beautiful and well-written and inventive. I've often compared Seth to Borges (which maybe he would hate but thankfully the cartoonist don't tend to hear us selling their work at the shows); there's something about their work that I find really relates, the mock objective tone, the interest in/obsession with literature, a melding of fact and fiction... It's hard for me to pick favourites, but I guess Seth's work is probably what I find myself recommending the most.

SPURGEON: You mentioned early on your work with bookstores. Is that experience pertinent to how you operate with the publisher? Is there anything about what bookstores do with comics that you wish more comics publishers knew?

CAMPBELL: While I was a book buyer for a few years, my comics knowledge was definitely spotty. While I was at that store (2002-2005), I watched it grow from having a single GN in the store (Ghost World) to having a proper graphic novel section for which I was the assistant buyer. I'm sure this isn't true for the majority of book buyers, and certainly not for comic shop peeps, but I always felt kind of like I was groping around in the dark trying to find out about books, what we should carry, what was new, etc. We were still placing all of our orders via fax and picking books directly from catalogues, and I imagine that ordering/keeping on top of things nowadays is a little easier.

The GN sections at both bookstores where I've worked have been weird, missing a lot of things and/or including a lot of things that maybe shouldn't be there. For instance, we would have been a lot more likely to buy graphic novels by novelists or literary adaptations than we would be to carrying a book by a new cartoonist. And, as everyone in comics know, distribution is always an issue. Since I was ordering French comics, I was going through different channels than a lot of retailers in North America, but I remember spending months trying to figure out how to get books by L'Association in the store, and most book buyers probably don't have the time to do something like that. Not that I have a viable solution or anything. Having a retailer database helps, being in direct contact with the stores. Oh, and one time McSweeney's sent us (Munro's) a pizza, which pretty much endeared them to us for life.

(Dear God, this is terrible advice. "Send everyone a pizza"? What is that?)

SPURGEON: I believe you read French, and that you have some interest in some of the French cartoonists and the way that industry operates. Is there any secret or key to getting more translated French-language work over with North American readers? Is that even a fair question?

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CAMPBELL: Hm, I don't know if I really have much insight in to French comics or the industry or whatever. I started an extremely unsuccessful French comics section at the bookstore where I worked as a teenage, but I think I just ordered things willy-nilly, based on whatever the Fichtre (a wonderful Montreal comics store that unfortunately closed down a few years ago) website recommended. I ambitiously ordered an encyclopedia of French comics around that time and decided that I was going to study it and really learn everything there was to know about that world. Now that encyclopedia rests at the bottom of a (much-begrudged-by-my-mother) cardboard box in my parents' basement, along with all my other broken dreams.

Some book sell better in English, some sell better in French and I pretty much don't understand why. I know that there are a lot more fantasy comics in the French industry than there seem to be in English, and that there are some stylistic differences (their comics seem to be sexier, the drawing is often looser, maybe?), but I think I would have a hard time characterizing this accurately.

SPURGEON: If you could have a brief chat with the Jessica Campbell that walked into D+Q the first day from the perspective you have now, is there anything you'd want her to know?

CAMPBELL: Sometimes Tom will make you cry, but know that it is he who is really hurting on the inside. Also, though you may not believe it now, crotch-hugging Dan Clowes will, mysteriously, not get you fired, so, have at it!

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* Jessica Campbell
* Drawn And Quarterly

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* photo of Jessica Campbell in 2010 by Whit Spurgeon
* Campbell in high school with her close pal
* a Campbell painting
* a Campbell 'zine; this has to be terribly funny
* Campbell at a San Diego with the actor and comedian Judah Friedlander
* Campbell at an Ignatz Awards ceremony
* from Chris Ware's ACME Novelty Library #20
* Campbell crotch-hugging Dan Clowes
* image sent to me by Campbell, as is (below)

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Not Comics: Stanley Kubrick Photographs Chicago, 1949

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Go, Look: Steranko/Shadow Gallery

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Go, Look: Justice Traps The Guilty #6

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Go, Look: Troops Of Doom

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FFF Results Post #301 -- Snapshot IV

On Friday CR readers were asked to "Name Five Comics That Collectively Fashion A Snapshot-Like Image Of Comics Right Now." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Ant Comic, Michael DeForge.
2. AvX: Versus #4, Various Creators.
3. Are You My Mother?, Alison Bechdel.
4. Little Orphan Annie Vol. 8, Harold Gray.
5. One Piece Vol. 63, Eiichiro Odo.

*****

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Steven Stwalley

1. Double Barrel, Zander and Kevin Cannon
2. Billy Hazelnuts, Tony Millionaire
3. Forgotten Fantasy, Edited by Peter Maresca
4. American Elf, James Kochalka
5. Morty Comix #2418, Steve Willis

*****

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Matt Emery

1. Saga #1, Fiona Staples, Bryan K Vaughan
2. Nancy is Happy, Ernie Bushmiller
3. Museum of Mistakes, Julia Wertz
4. #16: Sixteen, Steve Ditko
5. 2000AD #1792, Various Creators

*****

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David S. Carter

1. Batwoman, by J. H. Williams III et al.
2. Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
3. Yotsuba&!, by Kiyohiko Azuma
4. Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
5. Kevin Keller, by Dan Parent et al.

*****

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Michael Buntag

1. SuperMutant Magic Academy, Jillian Tamaki.
2. Jerusalem; Chronicles from the Holy City, Guy Delisle.
3. The Walking Dead #91-100, Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard.
4. Little League, Yale Stewart.
5. Sailor Moon (Kodansha Comics Editions), Naoko Takeuchi.

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. July Diary 2012, Gabrielle Bell.
2. Spot of Noir, Lilli Carre.
3. Lou #5, Melissa Mendes.
4. Samson: Milwaukee's Biggest Celebrity, Kelly Froh.
5. Supermutant Magic Academy, Jillian Tamaki.

*****

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Marc Arsenault

1. Secret Prison 666
2. Sullivan's Sluggers
3. iZombie #28
4. Daredevil #16
5. Popeye #3

*****

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Adam Casey

1. Batman - Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo
2. Adventure Time - Various creators
3. Revival - Tim Seeley, Mike Norton
4. Daredevil - Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, et al
5. Before Watchmen - Various creators

*****

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Dave Knott

* Hark! A Vagrant - Kate Beaton
* Justice League - Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, and Scott Williams
* King City - Brandon Graham
* Cul de Sac - Richard Thompson
* The Walking Dead - Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn

*****

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Shannon Smith

1) Brad McGinty's Battle Zoo webcomic.
2) Batman 11 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
3) Adventure Time 5 by Ryan North, Mike Holmes and a bunch of other people
4) The digital A Heart of Stone Work by Box Brown at The Whole Story
5) Gabby Schulz's Gordon Smalls webcomics

*****

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Jason Green

1. Fatale, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
2. Before Watchmen, various
3. Saga, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
4. Marvel NOW! Point One, various
5. Happy!, Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Bandette
2. Casanova
3. Walking Dead
4. Batman
5. Star Trek/Dr Who Assimilation

*****

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Robin McConnell

* Prophet - Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple Giannis Milonogiannis
* Thickness - Ryan Sands and Michael Deforge ed.
* Making of - Brecht Evens
* New York Mon Amour - Jacques Tardi
* Girl Apocalypse - Angie Wang

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. God and Science, Jaime Hernandez.
2. The Walking Dead #100, Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard.
3. July Diary, Gabrielle Bell.
4. http://www.eatmorebikes.blogspot.com, Nathan Bulmer.
5. Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, Chris Hedges & Joe Sacco.

*****

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Antranik Tchalekian

1. Saga #5, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
2. RASL #15, Jeff Smith
3. Jerusalem: Chronicles of the Holy City, Guy Delisle
4. Hark! A Vagrant, Kate Beaton
5. Adventure Time, Ryan North and various other creators

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Avengers vs X-Men #8 (with Alan Davis variant cover) by Jonathan Hickman, Olivier Coipel & Jim Cheung
2. Babymouse for President by Jennifer Holm and Matt Holm
3. Naruto, Vol. 57 by Masashi Kishimoto
4. That: A Shelly Winters Adventure by John Allison
5. The Only Living Boy, Vol. 1 by David Gallaher & Steve Ellis

*****

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Mark Haven Britt

1. Prophet
2. Fatale
3. Jerusalem
4. Saga
5. Wolverine & the X-Men

*****

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Scott Cederlund

1. Prophet by Brandon Graham & various
2. Rasl by Jeff Smith
3. Pogo, Vol. 1 by Walt Kelly
4. Love and Rockets New Stories by Gilbert Hernandez & Jaime Hernandez
5. The Mire by Becky Cloonan

*****

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Brian Somebody-Or-Other

1. Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire -- Probably the height of comics at the moment. So well constructed and executed. Tough to imagine a better book this year.
2. AvsX -- To me, everything that is wrong with the Big Two right now. Event driven storytelling and editorial mandate. The characters are lost.
3. Saga -- The rise and rebirth of Image comics. There are so many amazing comics coming out from Image (and other companies as well), but I think Saga has to represent for Image on my list.
4. Walking Dead #100 -- Difficult to imagine that a creator owned comic could be the biggest selling comic of the past 15 years. Not to mention spawn a hit tv series. The Walking Dead is the crossover hit that comics have really been waiting for. And it is the culmination of so many years of independent and creator owned comics building in strength and quality.
5. Order of the Stick -- It was a toss-up between this and Sullivan's Sluggers. Both books represent the power of Kickstarter and a dedicated fanbase to turn a dream in to a reality. But I have to go with Order of the Stick because it, once again, demonstrates the power and popularity of webcomics. People flocked to the Kickstarter out of a love for the comic and as a way to say thank you for years of enjoyment. Any comic, web or print based, would love to have that kind of dedication and following.

So, there you go. Not sure if that is what you are looking for. But it is what comics look like to me right now.

*****
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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Some Sort Of Blank Slate Promotional Video
via


Genuine Nerd Toby Radloff Explains Fracking
via Wayne Alan Harold; thanks, Wayne


Something Joann Sfar Did


A Super-Cute Fan Made Superman Animated Video


An Out Of Step Arts Panel From HeroesCon 2012


John Lees Wins Best Writer At The SICBAS




Three Jeremy Eaton Videos
 
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July 21, 2012


CR Week(s) In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from July 7 to July 20, 2012:

1. Josue "Justiniano" Rivera pleads guilty to child pornography charges. He may receive up to two years in jail.

2. Comic-Con International concludes in San Diego Sunday. Some 125K-130K in attendance. Logistically successful show unfolds under shadow of attendee Gisela Gagliardi's passing while crossing a nearby busy road on the Tuesday before the four-day weekend.

3. Some sad lump of a desperate, selfish person shoots up a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado during an early screening of the new Batman movie, Batman: The Dark Knight Rises. Several are killed; several others are wounded. While by far the biggest story in memory with a comics-property element to it, the way this site approaches comics news it's hard to see the bulk of what happened or the thrust of it as a comics-related story. There are some tangential elements: I'm hearing that a couple of newspapers decided not to use Dark Knight imagery in editorial cartoons, while a select host of ding-dogs out there -- pro and con -- turned this horrible tragedy into a referendum on Batman and thus their own contempt for/adoration of a superhero character. That kind of thing. So while standing in close proximity to a story isn't the same as being a story, the story itself is so humongous and orientations within comics are such that it bears mentioning.

Winners Of The Week
Your 2012 Eisner Award winners.

Losers Of The Week
Oh, let's make it any of the publishers that maybe wanted to do the first book with young talent Michael DeForge. And I'm just saying you lost this one, not that you're losers. It's a rhetorical mechanism.

Quote Of The Week
"Some people think that digital and print are at odds, but I think they're highly complementary of each other. All I can go by is the data that I have. I see increases in digital books at the same time as I see increases in print books. People like to have options, a choice in how they consume entertainment. The great thing about digital is you don't have to lug a shortbox with you on vacation to read comics. I think a lot of people feel that way. I think there are a lot of people that are buying print and digital as opposed to one or the other. I know comics are being torrented. Walking Dead is our most torrented book, but it's not dropping sales." -- Eric Stephenson, Image Publisher

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today's cover is from the small-press and independent comics scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s

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

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

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July 20, 2012


Go, Look: The Kid

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* did everyone except me know that Milton Knight, Jr. has a new Hugo out this summer? Here's a preview.

image* Koyama Press announced its Fall 2012 titles this week, and since I lost the e-mail press release, I'll draft behind Heidi MacDonald's earlier post of same. It's a new Lose from Michael DeForge, a new collection of short stories from Julia Wertz and something called The Big Team Society League Book Of Answers that involves talented Toronto people. I think that's quite the fine line-up, and I look forward to reading all of these works. DeForge is a potential generation-defining talent and Julia Wertz makes me laugh. Whatever I get from Team Toronto is a bonus. My understanding is that Koyama will be well-represented at this year's Small Press Expo.

* not comics: cartoonist and illustrator Jeremy Eaton has launched a YouTube channel for his animated work.

* this isn't exactly comics, but I didn't know until I ran into Mike Baehr in San Diego that Cathy Malkasian has a big ol' on-line shop.

* speaking of Heidi MacDonald like we were a few entries up, she went with the tweet over the Facebook posting from Box Brown about him doing an Andre The Giant book for First Second, which means she didn't have to sit there and wonder how to report something that wasn't going to show up when people hit the link. So much I can learn.

* I bookmarked this Christopher Allen analysis of Marvel's forthcoming line refashioning, but haven't read it. Christopher Allen is always fun for me to read. As I've written before, I think Marvel doesn't have a lot of room to maneuver with something like this in terms of a) having to respond to what DC is doing, b) having to respond to what DC is doing but still use the creators they've come to trust, c) not being able to replicate exactly what it is DC is doing. So all the stuff they've announced sounds like it lines up with those principles.

* finally, I'm happy to see Domino Books has released their fifth book: Space Basket. All hail Domino Books.

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Go, Look: Calling Out

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Comics' Giving Heart -- People, Projects In Need Of Funding

* been a while since we checked in on various crowd-funded projects and projects-in-hoping. Micah Wright's Duster should be able to surpass the small amount it has remaining here in the next few days. That P. Craig Russell video project rallied in super-hardcore style to more than meet its goals. I'm pretty sure the Penny Arcade guys could run a kickstarter to buy themselves solid gold shoes and it would get over.

* these folks were nice enough to write in and ask for some attention to their ambitiously-budgeted project.

* whoa, a big Bob Burden project, already completely funded. And that name: John Scudder -- one to be remembered, it looks like.

* finally, it's hard for me to imagine a more adorable project than a comics tribute to Garo.
 
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Go, Look: Basil Wolverton Is Always Fun

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Collective Memory: Comic-Con International 2012

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this article has been archived
 
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Just A Reminder That Gabrielle Bell's July Diary Continues

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Not Comics: Shooting Massacre At Late-Night Batman Movie Showing

Here. I don't have anything to say about this, nor can I relate it to comics in any way that enlightens, educates or provides insight. It's heartbreaking and awful. I am certain you will find plenty of coverage, commentary and discussion at sites that more directly and routinely engage superhero films as an aspect of the comics themselves. My deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of the victims. All prayers to everyone involved.
 
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If I Were In Vermont, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: John Stanley Little King Stories

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* so apparently there's still no answer from the Moscone Center on WonderCon? I think I would sever that relationship if I were them. That's just... that's just not acceptable in this day and age with so many convention centers out there. If anyone from Moscone Center wants to talk, you have my previous inquiry. If for some reason you don't have said inquiry, you can always reach me through the site.

image* Sarah Morean on Only Skin. Shannon Smith on a bunch of mainstream comics. Todd Klein on Aquaman #9. Rob Clough reprints a piece on books by Ivan Brunetti and Peter Bagge. Sean T. Collins on Batman: Earth One. Bart Croonenborghs on Dirk's Big Bunny Book. Johanna Draper Carlson on Princeless: Short Stories For Warrior Women #1. Sterg Botzakis on Level Up. Doug Zawisza on Daredevil #15. Matt Seneca on Untold Tales Of The Punisher Max #2.

* that movie about CCS continues to play the festival circuit, which is a big deal for a movie like that but isn't something that makes it friendly to track. You can go here to see if it's playing anywhere near you, though.

* I thought these t-shirts that tell a comics story across four different designs were super-clever and kind of pretty-looking, really. You can rarely do better than throwing money at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

* a bunch of you sent me this link to a Steve Rude process post, which means someone out there likely had it first (and recently). So sorry to that person. On the other hand: Steve Rude process post.

* not comics: I can't be the only person that finds every article about newspapers and paywalls terrifying.

* I think we should all pay attention to the Kickstarter campaign Top Cow is running for one of its comics. I'm really uneasy about publishers using that mechanism, and I'm not even sure I can explain all the way why. It's almost like that I feel the old model of doing things is being circumvented, somehow. Like these publishers are switching over to that mechanism because they're not doing the other one well, not because the new one presents specific opportunities. I'm not sure, I'm really inarticulate on the subject and I need to firm that up because that moment in history is here. What makes it difficult is there are things I'm thinking about trying to crowdfund, too, which I'm not sure should make my opinions suspect but it should make them open to extra self-scrutiny. No one out there has one of those cartoon gag islands where I can mull this stuff over for a couple of days, do they?

* I love that creators like Kelly Sue DeConnick and Jeff Parker are doing things like Jeff does here in terms of making his case and asking for direct action on behalf of his book. I wish that the publishers were doing more to not just promote these books -- there shouldn't be room for a creator's "New Title 101" on any book from a publisher because that should be out there already -- but to rebuild and improve the infrastructure that allows for people to come to titles without having to ask people to double down. I would also like there to be one Hulk book, starring The Hulk, but maybe that's just me.

* Scott Thill talks to Grant Morrison. Frank Santoro profiles a bunch of nice folks.

* finally: thanks, Sean. I've been looking for a graphic like that.
 
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If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

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July 19, 2012


Go, Look: Crown Barber Shop

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

Soyini A. Hamit at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has an excellent write-up here on news that Jabeur Mejri will not see Tunisian courts overturn a sentence related to posting cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad on Facebook. As Hamit explains this is both a completely understandable development given the violent objections against certain kinds of art from various Islamist groups and the country's constitutions, but also slightly surprising in that some alleviation of these harsh restrictions was expected in the post-Ben Ali era. As has been widely reported and as is mentioned here, a television executive was convicted in May for showing the animated film version of Persepolis. It sounds like a bad situation, spiraling into a worse one, and demands our attention.
 
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Not Comics: On The Bart And Co. Clip Art Collection

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Comics Made Me Somewhat Less Fat

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By Tom Spurgeon

What follows are a few, brief notes on my recent weight loss. I'd written a longer and much more humorous essay, but certain friends of mine have convinced me to do something with this other than toss that up on the site -- probably a serialized, book-length version of Comics Made Me Fat, starting in January.

I hope that you'll forgive the dry nature of what follows. I also hope that the week after Comic-Con you'll forgive the massive indulgence of engaging an issue like this one. My hope is that something in here might encourage someone.

1. So I got sick last year. I had a simple, treatable infection that was misdiagnosed twice: first as allergies, then as a double hernia. By the time it was properly diagnosed I needed to have emergency surgery during which, at great risk to my life but with no other choice, they cut about a coffee thermos' worth of flesh out of my body (the wound measured 13" x 5" x 5" five days later).

I was in a coma briefly, in the hospital for two weeks, left the hospital with a significant double-digit mortality rate figure still hanging over my head, was away from work for a month, worked part-time until year's end and nursed a wound that didn't close for three and a half months. I'm still not back at full strength. It may recur.

2. I wasn't sick because I was overweight. The weight was a factor in my recovery. When I went into the hospital I was in the middle of a period of weight loss -- nothing likely to have stuck, but a down period nonetheless. My desire to lose weight greatly intensified because of the new health realities I faced. I knew it would be easier for me over the next several months if I could get rid of as much excess weight as I could. So that's what I did.

3. I weighed 436 pounds in January 2011. (This was not my heaviest. I hit 513 in 2004.) Being in my 430s was pretty much the top end of the range of weights into which I had settled the last few years. If you saw me at a comics show from about 1996 on, I probably weighed between 370 and 435 pounds.

4. I weighed around 390 at TCAF 2011, and got to about 380 pounds right before I was rushed to the hospital for surgery in June. My weight in the emergency room was 376.

5. I left the hospital at about 355. I was 310 by mid-September. I was 250 by Christmas. I was down to 235 at Emerald City Comicon. I weighed 205 pounds last week. I haven't weighed this little since 1983, my freshman year in high school.

image6. I feel great, considering. People are very kind to me about it. I like the way I look now, I guess, although I was so fat for so long that I think I may have believed that any return to fighting trim would have also made me 23 years old again. I still have that fleshy, Boardwalk Empire head. I have a thick torso. I have a lot of extra skin. There's a lot of work left to do. Losing weight isn't always the same as getting healthy.

7. Don't get me wrong, though: I'm enjoying this.

8. Being alive is good, but let's not discount the shallow, surface joys, which are many. It's fun to wear normal people's clothes, and after an adult lifetime fighting not to ever catch myself in a reflective surface let alone a photo it's nice to occasionally stop and see what I look like and to open those e-mailed jpegs.

9. Two things stand out from that perspective. I'd say the second best thing about losing the weight from a cosmetic standpoint is that I'm no longer an imposition on people: on planes, in vehicles, wherever. I'm deeply sorry about that. I broke a toilet seat once. I routinely collapsed chairs. The best thing about losing the weight from that more cosmetic standpoint is that I no longer have to maintain a narrative that I'm losing weight. If you've never been fat for years and years you might not know how much time and energy that takes; I don't think I knew until I stopped. The way I am now, I don't have to have a story about recently losing 30 pounds or what I'm going to do about my weight in the next six months. I don't have to get upset if someone thinks I don't weigh what I'm saying I weigh. Perhaps more fundamentally, I can tell people my actual weight.

10. I'm much more deeply embarrassed that I let myself get that way for so many years, that I didn't fight it more, than I am relieved that it may have ended.

11. That said, I enjoyed every bite. More to the point: I took every bite. I did all the swallowing. I skipped every sit-up. I avoided every set of stairs. I always parked as close to the grocery store as I could. And so on. It's likely that I have a biological disposition towards overeating and even more likely that I have a giant suitcase full of hangups and emotional difficulties that helped frustrate any and all earlier efforts to do anything about it. But let's not bury my responsibility in buzzwords and gentle excuses. That was my fat, and my fault. I take full responsibility for that aspect of my health, and I die a little bit inside for anyone that doesn't.

12. Let me also point out that one of the reasons I enjoyed all that food is because eating is awesome. In many ways, habitually overeating is maximizing the awesomeness of food. We live in amazing times when it comes to chowing down. I think I would rather only read comics published through 1974 than have to shop at grocery stores and eat in restaurants that were conceived of, planned and/or executed by that same calendar year. I had some incredible meals along the way. I miss eating when I work, that sensation of being as stuffed as possible and working at full capacity. I miss cheesecake. I miss a massive meal out with friends. I miss it all.

13. At the same time, it's not like I can say I didn't get my lifetime's allotment of fruit pies, Mountain Dew and Doritos. I get to eat the other foods now.

14. I said "may" in #10 -- despite the fact that all my friends I worried to death last summer just cringed -- because I honestly don't all the way know that I'll keep it off. I hope so. I plan to, and I think I will. I think this in a very matter-of-fact way. I need to. At the same time, there are 20 years of photos out there that indicate I won't. Many of them are google-able. So we'll see. The same way that in the early days of comics culture on the Internet every writer that published one comic seemed to have a column about how to make it in comics, so too is the past littered with folks giving weight loss advice and/or testimony that soon ballooned right back up to 400-plus pounds.

15. So I ate less and I exercised more.

16. Sorry.

17. I don't want to suggest that eating less and exercising more is easy, and if you've ever treated a friend's or family member's struggles as easy just because they're not your own you should maybe reconsider that and apologize. Most of us eat out of the personality that defines the rest of our lives. I ate like a comics person might eat. The same part of my emotional and intellectual make-up that has me owning three rooms' worth of comics is something that had to be negotiated when it became important I stop buying $40 of processed food at the grocery in the morning. My desire to always maximize the amount of pleasure I'm receiving, the thing that kept me reading comics when other kids dropped them, made it more difficult for me to commit to healthier living. Comics culture also encourages a sense of being smarter than the room. I wanted to lose the weight, but I wanted to lose the weight with the exact minimum effort and giving-up necessary for me to still lose the weight. I spent 25 years trying to out-clever my own body, and the entire concept of dieting. Needless to say, I never found that sweet spot.

18. I made three mental adjustments the day I came home from the hospital. The first was that I was going to lose as much weight as I could rather than find the way to eat as much as I could while still losing weight. The second was that I was no longer going to make enjoying my food my sole priority when it came to eating. The third was that I was going to lose the weight in ten-pound increments and only ever think about it that way. The first adjustment was important in terms of kneecapping my avoidance tendencies, my habit of putting the weight loss off indefinitely. That second adjustment was important because it allowed me to treat the food I ate as necessary for survival. This kept me from trying to find a way to lose the weight by only eating foods I like -- "eating foods I like" was off the table. The way I see it, if at some point you make an objection to eating something that's going to help you lose the weight because it's not that thing you prefer you're probably not ready to lose the weight. You should prefer the food that will help you do that more than the food that makes you feel the absolute best according to some other standard. The third mental adjustment is important because I'm way better at doing a series of short tasks than accomplishing a longer one. You may be different.

19. Here's how I eat. I have three meals a day. I drink a full glass of water at and between each meal. I eat either half of a pickle or a hardboiled egg an hour before bed. My total non-vacation calorie consumption is around 1650 calories. I try to have half my food at every meal be vegetables, but also include some sort of obvious carbohydrate, some protein and some fruit. Sweets except for fruit I've cut out entirely. When I fail to get a certain kind of food in what I'm eating, I have it as a liquid in conjunction with the meal.

* a half-glass of orange juice = a serving of fruit
* a half-glass of low-sodium V-8 = a serving of vegetables
* a half-glass of low-fat milk = a serving of protein

I try to eat as little fat as possible. I know full well that some nutritionists object to low-fat food items as a matter of principle; I use them.

I try to eat my meals spaced about as equally apart as was possible for me to manage, with at least two hours between dinner and bed, and 30 minutes after my late-night snack and bed.

That's it.

Here's how I exercise. I walk for 45 minutes the first thing I get up in the morning and for the same amount of time starting approximately 15 minutes after each meal. I do not have the time to do this. I do it anyway.

About six months ago I began to do some minor weight-lifting. I go four times a week. Each day is a different major body group: arms, shoulders, chest, back. I come in every so often on a "day off" and on those days work out my lower body.

I do five different exercises, three sets, eight repetitions.

That's it.

20. I know how obnoxious something like #19 can read, but I think deep down every one of us in the Mulligan Stew generation and forward knows what to eat and what not to eat, and deep down what constitutes good exercise and what's bullshit. It's only when you start trying to negotiate having to do the boring parts of getting a little bit healthier that cheats creep in and make everything more of a chore.

21. Like I wrote earlier, I have a lot of work left to do, physically and otherwise. I could stand to settle in at 195-205 as opposed to 205-218. I look like a shar-pei shirtless; I may or may not continue to get that elasticity back. I could get sick again. I'm still the smallest and weakest guy at my gym, although admittedly my gym is full of deranged, extras-from-the-gang-episode-of-Quincy looking dudes and, ironically, law enforcement types, any one of whom could probably beat the shit out of a tractor. I have the core strength of a moloid. And as this starts to round into full effect, at some point I have to try and fix the rest of my crappy life.

I'll write about all of this stuff next year to full and hopefully much more humorous effect, but I wanted to get a first salvo out there while people are asking about it. I never thought I'd weigh under 300 pounds again. I don't have a trainer, I don't have a dietitian, and I have the self-discipline of Robert Downey Jr.'s character in Less Than Zero. But I did this, and you can do something similar. Although hopefully not too similar, because that means you're in trouble, just like I was. I'm in less trouble now.

*****

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Go, Look: The Bear Boys

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If I Were In Milton Keynes, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: Sophia Foster-Dimino

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Marc Arsenault has perhaps discovered the greatest comics-friendly airport bookstore of all time.

image* Bob Levin on Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons. Rob Clough on Leo Geo And His Miraculous Journey Through The Center Of The Earth. Sean Gaffney on One Piece Vol. 63, Alice In The Country Of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz Vol. 1, Olympos, Hetalia: Axis Powers Vol. 3 and Attack On Titan Vol. 1. Grant Goggans on Underwater Welder. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Flowers Of Evil Vol. 1 and Wolverine And The Black Cat: Claws Vol. 2. Paul Gravett on various newer works.

* I couldn't find a second or a third comic I liked in the small press/artist's alley sections of Sand Diego Con to make a fourth "Three Books You Could Buy" article -- I tried, I swear -- which means I didn't get to recommend the CBLDF's "illustrated story on a series of t-shirts" effort described here.

* Ryan Holmberg profiles Osamu Tezuka's relationship to American comics.

* some nice person at MTV Geek talks to Alex Cox.

* hey, we're a nation of strident morons. Seriously.

* someone suggested I scroll down to the numbers reprinted in this article, particularly the ones related to various Vertigo comics, and yow. Those aren't good numbers for anything with corporate support -- and thus corporate overhead -- and a lot of those numbers seems to be careening down the charts in terms of burnout on title not just Vertigo-related. What's curious to me about that is that it's not like the overall numbers have declined, which leads me to believe we have a market that favors early-issue numbers in some demented way that doesn't really have a thing to do with content of the same, and that the DM may either depend on or being subject to a constant priming of issue numbers in order to keep afloat. Okay, I hear you laughing, because everyone already knew this, but I'm not sure I knew that-knew that. It strikes me as a fundamentally sick market that does that, and one with not enough in terms of a raw readership. It also strikes me as one susceptible to mass on-line migration at some point.

* Fantagraphics rounds up a bunch of coverage of Los Bros Hernandez.

* Penny Arcade would really like to go ad free.

* finally, Paul Gravett digs into the British comics boom for an article on two decades' worth of adventure comics. It was apparently for an exhibit.
 
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July 18, 2012


Go, Look: The Best Comic-Con Photo Gallery So Far

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This Isn't A Library: Notable Releases To The Comics Direct Market

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Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's no-doubt largely accurate list of books shipping from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. to comic book and hobby shops across North America.

I might not buy all of the works listed here. I might not buy any. You never know. I'd sure look at the following, though.

*****

MAY121295 AMERICAN ELF VOL 04 SKETCHBOOK DIARIES JAMES KOCHALKA (MR) $24.95
We should all jump the gun and start appreciating James' work again right now as opposed to waiting until someone tells us it's fashionable to do so. These are really big books of really intriguing, very influential comics.

imageMAY120986 ROGER LANGRIDGES SNARKED #10 $3.99
MAY120053 BPRD HELL ON EARTH DEVILS ENGINE #3 FEGREDO CVR $3.50
MAY120012 CONCRETE THREE UNEASY PIECES ONE SHOT $2.99
MAY120019 FATIMA THE BLOOD SPINNERS #2 $3.99
MAY120061 RESET #4 $3.50
MAY120608 GLORY #28 $2.99
MAY120624 SAGA #5 (MR) $2.99
MAY120994 ADVENTURE TIME #6 $3.99
Super-solid work for comic-book comics in the store, especially if you're a fan of what I affectionately call "genre comics." I didn't even look at the Marvel and DC stuff because I'm not angry at me today, and I'm sure there are some of those worth picking up, too. That Glory artwork by Ross Campbell gets more and more good-looking, I think. What a weird design sense to inflict upon Image superhero comics fans. Plus Peter Bagge and Gilbert Hernandez!

MAY120023 DARK HORSE PRESENTS #14 $7.99
This is a comic book, too, really, but gets its own entry because it is out of the usual price range for that kind of offering. I'll always look at it to see who's featured. I'd buy this one for the Steve Rude alone. No one my age that lived between the coasts doesn't like Steve Rude.

APR121303 OOKU INNER CHAMBERS GN VOL 07 (MR) $12.99
MAR121062 WANDERING SON HC VOL 03 $19.99
These are you two solid manga offerings today. I have yet to catch up with either series' last efforts, so it's been a while. Also, I need to stop using the world "solid."

FEB121042 ADVENTURES OF VENUS HC $9.99
I think children's comics benefit from stand-alone collection more than most because it enables you to get on the wavelength being offered a bit more fully than in a serial comic book. So while I'll miss this Gilbert Hernandez work appearing next to back-up shorts featuring slightly inappropriate Rick Altergott comics, I think this book works super-well. I forgot how charming those comics are. This is also a good one to buy in anticipation of his forthcoming autobiographically-oriented work. Price point kills, too. Yeah, buy that one.

MAY121156 BLOODY CHESTER GN $18.99
Haven't caught up with this one yet, but Mark Siegel was "NBA basketball player that shoots a lot" confident about his forthcoming offerings and I'm a sucker for acts of personality that tell me what to do.

MAY121182 NOT THE ISRAEL MY PARENTS PROMISED ME GN $24.95
I like that Harvey Pekar still has work coming out because this puts him first in line for a hologram version.

APR121171 SMURFS GN VOL 12 SMURFS VERSUS SMURFS $5.99
APR121172 SMURFS HC VOL 12 SMURFS VERSUS SMURFS $10.99
These Smurfs book are super-solid, and work far better at a size reduced from the French-language album format than I ever thought they would.

MAR121060 JACK DAVIS DRAWING AMERICAN POP CULTURE HC (RES) $49.99
Mike Baehr said in casual conversation -- which I think means, "Oh yeah, use this on the site as if I gave you an actual quote" -- that this book did extremely well for Fantagraphics at SDCC. Really handsomely mounted book featuring a great cartoonist.

MAY121294 WORLD WAR 3 ILLUSTRATED #43 (MR) $7.00
Let's end with another comics work that should be getting our attention again after all of these years, even if it's not yet the right time to get back to appreciating it.

*****

The full list of this week's releases, including some titles with multiple cover variations and a long, impressive list of toys and other stuff that isn't comics, can be found here. Despite this official list there's no guarantee a comic will show up in the stores as promised, or in all of the stores as opposed to just a few. Also, stores choose what they carry and don't carry so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, albeit a while back, try this.

The above titles are listed with their Diamond order code in the first field, which may assist you in finding comics at your shop or having them order something for you they don't have in-stock. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.

If I failed to list your comic, that's on me. I apologize.

*****

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Go, Look: Chris Ware's SPX Poster In This Greatest Con Year Ever

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Egad.

I don't know if anyone's stopped to make this observation, but this could be the greatest year in cons and festivals in the art form's history, and not by a slender margin. Heroes celebrated its anniversary in what was basically a multiple-day hug; Emerald City solidified its place as #2 regional con; Lucerne and San Diego and TCAF seemed more than solid during a run of such years for each show; Angouleme had Spiegelman's stupendous exhibits; there seems a metric ton of festivals with only MoCCA having a year about which anyone's complained to me. Throw in that University Of Chicago symposium for the ages and it's hard not to see this as the best year ever for people gathering into different places with comics as the organizing principle. SPX, Baltimore, New York's Drink-A-Con and BCGF are all still forthcoming.
 
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Go, Look: In Praise Of Little Things, Part One

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Course Correction: Fantagraphics Rolls Out Digital Kupperman

imageI think I may have misapprehended an element of the new Fantagraphics digital partnership, which is enough to move this news of Digital Michael Kupperman out of the Bundled column where future releases will no doubt be announced and into its own post. I thought that we were getting Love & Rockets New Stories back issues now, with volume 5 from that series in September at the same time the print version hits stores, with the exploitation of the publisher's massive catalog to follow. It looks instead like we'll be getting launches starting now, so fire up those credit cards.

Kupperman's a great choice for someone to go early in their rollout for a lot of reasons. He's super-funny, of course. But it's more like Tales Designed To Thrizzle is a classic alt-'90s one-man anthology and that's a format I think might have some traction on digital it really doesn't in the current marketplace -- that's not even the Direct Market's fault, incidentally, but more that the DM needs a bunch of a kind of work to have some success even on scale something can be a success there and these kinds of comics aren't really done anymore with the regularity they used to be. Also, Kupperman's work looks super-attractive in print, which while that sounds counter-intuitive to its digital chances, is actually a vote for the print version having its own sales momentum that digital won't all the way overlap.

Anyway, you can buy issue #1 here and issue #2 here.
 
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If I Were In Vermont, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Matt Huynh

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* you may laugh or you may cry: Robert Boyd draws some lines under screwed-up pricing in the most recent Heritage auction.

image* Greg McElhatton on Wild Kingdom, Batman: Earth One, Jerusalem, Revival #1 and Anya's Ghost. Bob Temuka on Fatale and Neonomicon. Robert Clough on Bubbles & Gondola, new comics from Rob Kirby and a bunch of anthologies (1, 2, 3, 4). Don MacPherson on Batman: Earth One, Infernal Man-Thing #1 and The Walking Dead #100.

* someone was going to make this joke sooner or later.

* I can't be the only person to look at posts like this one and think, "Wow, Neil Gaiman looks sort of exactly like JH Williams' rendition of the Dream character."

* whoa, I totally missed Billy Tucci doing some sort of promotional comic for Blackwater. David Brothers gave me a window on it here by pulverizing an ugly rhetorical trick used in its defense. A couple of people made jokes with Tucci as a the punchline in San Diego that I thought was funny because it meant that people just were randomly hating on the same dude; this makes much more sense.

* Bruce Canwell has more with the greatest comics issue of the day: the use of the word "butthole" by Archie characters decades and decades ago. The answer seems to point to something really butthole.

* I don't know, maybe the solution here is to reorient yourself away from depressing, corporate-owned superhero comics. The only thing you're costing yourself is that you then won't make a living doing that exact character you love, if it's that exact character you love. I mean you can still draw that character, if that's super-important to you, you just don't get a job doing them because the job doing them involves a weird, debased standard. (I also have to admit that there's something that sounds a little bit on-the-nose about the whole scenario described, so I'd take it with a grain of salt.)

* David Brothers analyzes the "you said you wanted this and now that we're giving it to you it behooves you to buy it" school of comics marketing.

* finally, my answer to this question is "because a lot of people like superhero movies and not as many like superhero comics." The comics culture's weird passion for being able to figure stuff out, to unlock the secrets, to nail down some construct that reveals the truth, gets more annoying every year.
 
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Go, Read: Sean T. Collins On Los Bros Hernandez

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A lot of writers-about-comics wrote about the Hernandez Brothers over the last several days in recognition of their 30th anniversary being celebrated at Comic-Con International. The one series I've read since returning home is Sean T. Collins' fine series of posts at his personal web site. They're also lavishly illustrated, so you get that as part of the fun. He also has a resource about reading the books that might be helpful to some of you thinking about taking that particular plunge.
 
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This Is The Business That Put Me Into The Business

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If it hadn't been for the downtown Muncie, Indiana pawnshop B&B Loan Office selling back issues in the 1970s, I never would have come within a mile of working in the funnybook industry.
 
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Go, Read: Jaime Hernandez's Thirty Memories Of Comic-Con

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July 17, 2012


Comic-Con International 2012: A Few Notes

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By Tom Spurgeon

1. Someone died. Her name was Gisela Gagliardi, she was from New York, she was an accountant and a Twilight fan, and she made a deeply unfortunate decision darting into traffic, a decision for which she paid everything.

2. I think it's important that we remember Ms. Gagliardi in a prominent position in our summary reportage on the show. I believe this should be the case mostly because I think human life trumps both publicity and the fitful yet poignant celebration of art that San Diego Con provides. I also believe it should be done because comics at its worst adopts a consumer's myopia where everything is colored by whether or not one's own appetites are being met, and how, and to what extent. What happened Tuesday to this woman and fan may not have anything to do with things you and I value or choices you and I might make, but they were important to her just as she was important to somebody.

3. I thought this was a fascinating show on a lot of levels, likely colored by the fact I had a great time. Man, I had a blast. I saw and spent time with close friends, I laughed a lot, I got to meet and talk to some of my art heroes, I was able to conduct a fair amount of necessary business, I met new people I like very much, I received tag-team life advice from two completely different couples I admire, and I spent five days deeply engaged with the fruits of the mighty comics art form. They gave the site an award. Freaking Bill Blackbeard got in the Eisner Hall Of Fame. Everyone was nice to me about my no longer hating myself in a specific way that shaped and defined my appearance. I felt okay at the end of the show, which wasn't the case at my first two attempts at post-surgery convention-going (I thought I might die in Brooklyn during a panel). It was a near-ideal weekend of its type, all things considered, using a measure of pleasurable experiences rather than a rigorous standard of peak ones.

4. The central dilemma of writing about something like San Diego Con is that you want to make strong choices in terms of what it all means, but doing so is ridiculous. It's not blind men describing an elephant by touching an isolated part of its body; it's blind men discussing the quality of being enjoyed by an elephant after touching an isolated part of its body.

5. Let me unpack that one a bit. A thing I enjoy about San Diego is that it takes place in this bewildering array of Things I Could Never Enjoy. I don't understand the costume impulse. Lines give me the hives. I don't want to take endless photos of people dressed up as superheroes. I would never willingly spend an hour watching trailers and then listening to people stumble through worshipful questions of celebrities because I figure there will be plenty of that in Hell. There's relatively little in San Diego I would take home with me were it free. And yet I don't have any more right to decide what that show is all about than the first-time visitor from Staunton, Virginia that wants to buy some steampunk art and maybe be in the same room as Jensen Ackles. It's good to remember that.

6. I'm also as I get older more and more impressed with the basic logistical aspects of the show: the fact that the whole thing works as well as it does. Stop and think about what they're trying to do for a second and then remember the barely restrained chaos and potentially heaving collapse of your average 45-person school field trip, or, hell, getting eight people to dinner at any random funnybook convention. I know, right? It's hard to believe how quickly you get processed through press registration now; the only time any security guard stopped me to make me do something weird I said "no thanks" and went through the door I wanted to go through anyway -- without being tased. It's not comics-festival attentive there in terms of finding help when you need it, but it's not bad.

7. That said, I heard a number of complaints about arbitrary policies concerning lining people up -- particularly on Wednesday -- and a lack of attention paid to helping exhibitors with significant booth lines on the show floor.

8. I think I was right to guess the driving comics industry story would be digital. Fantagraphics made an announcement that was a very loud thing snapping into place, particularly for that corner of the market. I agree with Image publisher Eric Stephenson that we're likely to see more cycles in how people approach digital publishing, but I also think making choices and actually executing policy is a much more fruitful development than imagining one and talking about it.

image9. My hunch from reading these things on the faces of people and talking to those around them is that Los Bros Hernandez had a very good show. If that's true, I'm thrilled. I loved their panel. I love that Mike Allred came to pay tribute, and a lot of other faces I know were in attendance. I greatly enjoyed spontaneously talking about them with so many people during the weekend. There always seemed to be attention to their signings. Their books and t-shirts sold well. There was enough publicity about their 30-Year Anniversary I'm hopeful they can receive even more attention through SPX and APE. Positive stories are good stories, too. Was it a top five story of the show in terms of the overall crush of the PR campaigns for mega-corporation owned properties, this stuff that passes for news now? No. But it was up there with the top comics stories and the bottom-line reality of the attention was encouraging. As a fan, I'm grateful to so many of my peers for writing about them in the last several days.

10. There was a lot of talk about where people are in their careers and where they're going, worked into a bit of a frenzy by recent attention to creator's rights stories. It's interesting to me the kind of shorthand you get now because you can talk about these things on-line first. At any rate, I think more and more people are looking to become islands unto themselves and that this is a good thing -- maybe the only potential good thing. I did sense some hurt about the excesses of the conversation so far, but I'm also encouraged by the fact that comics sort of had a conversation about this, and that it continues.

11. I've hinted at this elsewhere, but I think there may have been a noticeable diminishing of monied comics buyers. The people that flashed down to San Diego day-of to buy a bunch of stuff are way gone, but I think until the last couple of years it was possible to plan a San Diego vacation a few months out like you might plan other things. A lot of people did okay sales-wise, but no one I talked to killed and some people were hurting. A common thread seemed to be higher-end items. Lots of potential reasons for that, but when I think of who was missing from this show among the dozens of people I know that attend and things like the mostly empty restaurants I could never get into before this year, I wonder if it's simply becoming too difficult for a certain kind of fan and buyer to attend.

12. I intensely disliked the fact that there was a lot of evening programming that was just like daytime programming but in the evening. This has been creeping up on attendees for a while now, but is full-blown ridiculous now. Plus the way the programming is done you sort of agree to do these things before someone comes back at you with the time.

13. I think comics is getting its act together a bit in terms of using the weekend to drive attention to certain publishing projects. Bunch of interesting stuff announced this weekend if you go to those sites that cover these things as opposed to those that cover Iron Man movie footage and then whine abut the lack of comics at Comic-Con. We heard about a slew of "we're not stopping with the new series" Image stuff, Gaiman/Williams Sandman, Spiegelman at D+Q, an Anne Ishii-produced giant book of gay bondage porn, Oni and Top Shelf among others with significant digital content announcements, and so on. Marvel treats the weekend as a movies-related toilet announcement wise, but they're suffering a bit from always counting on content and Jack Kirby's mighty IP God Machine talents to make up for doing all the small things correctly, so if they want to continue down that path, fine. The best moments for me at recent shows have involved people sitting around and talking about comics to an audience eager to hear about them, and there was a lot of that this weekend if you looked.

14. My big suggestion for the Comic-Con International people is that they revive "San Diego Comic Con" as a brand, make it a 10-6 show within the show (in soft ways, not hard ways), restrict the comics label they use for programming to things actually about comics, sell memberships on a staggered schedule that only allow for access to comics stuff for people that want those (color the badges differently), then turn around and sell any extras as general tickets at an inflated price with the CBLDF and Hero Initiative getting the difference.

15. While I have some of you Comic-Con folks -- well, maybe -- the one question I hear all the time from other people in terms of how the show goes now is why all the panels aren't recorded.

16. It's worrisome to me how many fewer younger cartoonists in which I'm interested choose to attend this show now. I don't know that my concerns are significant, but I do have them.

17. My impression of Trickster is that this year's space was much less amenable to the kind of lightning-in-a-bottle goodwill feel that the off-site indy-comics driven venue had last year, but that there's still enough of a strong desire for that kind of thing they were fine. A bunch of people endorsed the food, actually, although that wasn't a part of my stops over there.

18. People still go to the Hyatt.

19. One thing that you remember at conventions is that there are so many cool, smart people working in comics that aren't creators or editors or publishers -- the three groups that probably get the most attention on a regular basis. I hope there are ways I can drive more attention to that fact in the weeks ahead.

20. Too much attention has already been given to people quitting Comic-Con after this year, basically pros for whom the show doesn't work right now. I expect a few more people to engage this year's "I'm out" class as if they're the first ones. In actuality, people have been checking out of that show for years; it's not a new thing. Adapting to a show that's changed this much is going to include a component of people walking away. I still find it an incredibly useful industry and fun comics show, and I think others can, too. The things that have worked best about the convention the last five years have come from people striving to improve what goes on there; I think Comic-Con itself could take a lesson from that and become more active in shaping the comics portion of their show.

21. It was an honor to meet and talk to Gilbert Shelton, one of the greats. It was fun -- and instructive -- to watch a Kate Beaton panel. I enjoyed talking to Alison Bechdel and sitting down with Eric Stephenson and catching up with folks like Matt Fraction and Craig Thompson. And so on. I've written in the guide about how bad I am when it comes to making introductions, but it's such an underrated great feeling when you make one that's brand-new that you never would have guessed hadn't happened before, when comics becomes more connected despite the hammering insistence from so many that things stay as atomized and exploitable as possible. God bless the five-day funnybook hang-out.

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Go, Look: Sunny Gho

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Go, Look: Francesco Francavilla

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

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* so I guess Neil Gaiman and JH Williams III will be doing a Sandman mini-series. I guess this is likely to be a pretty good comic and a potentially great one, and it's informative to have a project announced like this without the troubling specter of the original creator howling in pain that it's being done. I wish them good luck. I'm not sure I personally have any interest in reading more Sandman, but plenty of people are going to be psyched, and I will be talked into picking it up if I hear of a superior comic.

image* Rob Clough on Fallen Words. Greg McElhatton on Godzilla #1-2 and Swamp Thing #11. Doug Zawisza on Spider-Men #3.

* hey, it's the Agents Of Atlas.

* what a great headline.

* there's always this thing in comics where we forgive asinine pricing because retailers have it tough and because people are in the end responsible for what they choose to pay for things, but it doesn't make it any less asinine.

* Kieron Gillen has apparently launched a process blog.

* Graeme McMillan looks at Marvel's curious abandonment of Comic-Con International as any sort of a publicity platform for anything. I have to think that Marvel is leaving millions of dollars on the table counting on another round of clever, modern interpretations of those great Jack Kirby characters to compensate for doing the hard work parts of publishing.

* Mark Kardwell talks to Kek-W.

* finally, Paul Tobin made comics about the limitations of the superhero genre, but only as currently expressed in modern mainstream comics.
 
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July 16, 2012


CR Newsmaker Interview: Eric Stephenson, Part Two

imagePublisher Eric Stephenson has to be the first person I've ever talked to from Image Comics to bring up Nobrow in post-interview chit-chat, one of many surprises for me in the following conversation. I wanted to talk to Stephenson because of Image's recent successful run re-building their line from a mixture of homegrown, perceived-as-Image-talent creators and inviting established comics-makers to play in their potentially rewarding sandbox. Individual series such as Saga and Walking Dead seem able to compete with just about any corporate-owned individual series out there in terms of pulling their weight on the shelves. The line is as creatively strong as it's ever been, and outstrips several periods of Image's history by a wide, wide margin. They have the #1 comic book (for this century) on the stands, and they had the most interesting mainstream comics publishing announcements of the just-concluded Comic-Con.

Stephenson and I talked on a Friday afternoon in a crowded Omni Hotel lobby. A first part to this interview appeared yesterday.

*****

TOM SPURGEON: You're having a really good summer, but this isn't Image's first trip to the successful publishing ball. Your history isn't without its negative points. Do you have institutional memory available to you? Do you worry about repeating past mistakes?

ERIC STEPHENSON: Oh, I do. When people moan about print runs being too tight, about books selling out, that's exactly because of that. We could print with wild abandon and wind up being stuck with a lot of comics. I think being careful with print runs is in everybody's best interest, so that we don't get into the situation of 15-17 years back.

It's a constant worry. There's a lot of stuff going on with the books that are ordered very well. Sometimes it's like "Okay, I understand why that was ordered very well, and I understand why that was ordered very well. That one did a little bit better than I thought it would." I don't want there to be a backlash. I want people to order what they can sell and I want people to buy what they want to read.

SPURGEON: Your announcements... yesterday [laughs] were widely varied. You have books from people like Greg Rucka, Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin, established pros either establishing themselves at Image or returning after an absence. You also have a Jay Faerber announcement. Have you had any feedback from creators that have worked at Image the last several years, any feedback from those creators that indicates worries they may not always have a home there.

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STEPHENSON: It is something I think about. "Worry about it" isn't the right way to characterize it. Let's use Jay as an example; Jay is a good friend of mine.

SPURGEON: I think of Jay Faerber as an Image guy.

STEPHENSON: Jay's been doing comics with Image since 2001 with varying degrees of success. When Near Death came out last year, it's been reviewed very well, people have generally positive things to say about it. But it definitely hasn't sold at the level of a Fatale or a Saga. And I don't worry about that, but it's one of those things where I'm like, "What's the problem here?" I think Jay does good work; that particular book is one where Ed Brubaker and Brian K. Vaughan are saying, "Man, I wish I was doing this book." But somehow it doesn't translate over. So it's less of a worry and more of a curiosity. Is there a point where we can start to transition guys like that, so that there next project does the same as these others?

SPURGEON: The initial Image run came during a period where the market was very different. How committed can Image be to wider industry reform? For instance, there was much greater coverage 20 years ago. My town had a shop then; it doesn't now. How much can Image contribute to those kinds of issues, to general industry health?

STEPHENSON: Whether you're a publisher or a retailer, everybody is a part of the community and has a stake in this. When Diamond announced their retailer outreach for opening new stores and helping existing ones grow their businesses, and we signed on for all of that. They want to incentivize new business, and I think that's a very important thing. We believe in growing the direct market. Comic stores are really unique in terms of the service they provide. You can get a comic digitally, or at a Barnes and Noble, but to have someone speak to what exactly you're looking for -- there's nothing left like it. People that don't have a comic store in their town, I think that's sort of horrible. [Spurgeon laughs] I'm not saying that as a person that just like comics. You ask a question in a comic book store, you don't get a rote explanation. They can share the material with you, and refer you to other stuff. People that run comic book stores, for the most part they're doing it because they love it.

Part of what we do is make good comics, and we want to be the best version of Image Comics. But part of what we do is create a sustainable market. It has to be a part of what we do. Things like Saga and Walking Dead and Fatale, these are things that people want to return to. People can recommend these things to their friends, even people that don't read comics. As opposed to tailchasing events, these yearly spike makers, but who's going to be talking about AvX ten years from now.

SPURGEON: Question about bookstores. I know that at first when you add books by major talents to your bookstore offering, there's something to a few titles standing out because those books receive special attention relative to the overall offering. The Fatale book was competing with more volumes of good material than the first Chew trade was; the Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios book that's you have planned will go to trade with a lot of recent Image success stories on the stands near it. How hard is it to transition to a point where you have a lot of successful titles up and down the sales spectrum, and that you're not just getting a bounce because of the rarity of a specific prestige book project against a backdrop of less ambition, less successful series? Can your current strategy keep more and more creators happy?

STEPHENSON: On difference is that we're pushing our books a certain way; we're pushing Image Comics in terms of the different titles being awesome. DC and Marvel have things they need to push to bookstores, like Marvel with Avengers right now. When we put a catalog together, we're thinking, "Here it all is." People respond to what they respond to, but it's not for lack of pushing.

SPURGEON: Does a Walking Dead help? Are there specific ways the success of Walking Dead helps with the rest of your line?

STEPHENSON: I think it opens doors.

SPURGEON: Sure, but what does that mean when people say that something "opens doors"?

STEPHENSON: I'll give you a concrete example. In the UK there was a chain that didn't want to work with Diamond, but they wanted Walking Dead. They had to get an account with DBD. Now they're ordering some of our other works. They were completely cut off. Do we have a huge saturation of that chain? No. But we're in there. I think that that goes for just about everything.

I was telling someone this morning that Borders originally passed on Walking Dead. They weren't interested in a lot of what we did. But then they finally got on board with Walking Dead a little further down the line and then they started to think in terms of other things. Success always tends to create more success.

SPURGEON: What is the next major challenge in digital? Do you see anything specific that needs to happen in the next six months? How comfortable are you with that end of the publishing mission?

STEPHENSON: Some people think that digital and print are at odds, but I think they're highly complementary of each other. All I can go by is the data that I have. I see increases in digital books at the same time as I see increases in print books. People like to have options, a choice in how they consume entertainment. The great thing about digital is you don't have to lug a shortbox with you on vacation to read comics. I think a lot of people feel that way. I think there are a lot of people that are buying print and digital as opposed to one or the other. I know comics are being torrented. Walking Dead is our most torrented book, but it's not dropping sales.

SPURGEON: So if there are no immediate hurdles, if it's all about making the current model work, are we settled into the way things are going to be?

STEPHENSON: The app we've worked out with comiXology has worked out very well for us. But is that where we're going to end up with this stuff? Probably not. There was a Friendster, and then there was MySpace and nobody used Friendster. Within a couple of years MySpace was a graveyard and everyone was on Facebook. I think where we are right now is a fine place to be, but we're in the beginning of this.

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SPURGEON: Be honest. Do you have a market share number in mind for the end of the year?

STEPHENSON: Nope. It's funny, people are kind of obsessed with that number. I think for 2009-2010 we were the #5 company, but we did better each of those years than the year before. We're fortunate in that since I've taken over as Image publisher, we've grown. Does the market share reflect that? Not always. I'm not sure who that number matters to, because no matter the company -- IDW, DC, Dark Horse, Image -- it's more important that the company is moving in the right direction, that it's growing.

SPURGEON: I think people are interested in that specific number because of what that says about your moves and their effectiveness relative to other moves made by other companies. I also think it could be really good. It may be a sit up and notice moment.

STEPHENSON: Something that people should pay more attention to in terms of that number is where Marvel and DC's market share relative to the rest of the market. That says more about where we're going in terms of the kinds of comics people are reading.

imageSPURGEON: What was the last good comic you read that has nothing to do with Image?

STEPHENSON: I blogged about this recently: Baby's in Black.

SPURGEON: The Arne Bellstorf.

STEPHENSON: Yeah. It's a book about the Beatles in Hamburg. I'm a big music fan and big Beatles fan. It's funny because a couple of different people recommended that book to me and I resisted and I couldn't tell you why. I went to Ed Brubaker's signing at Meltdown when Fatale Vol. 1 came out, and they had it there, and I picked up and read a few pages and I realized it was a book made especially for me. The thing I loved about it, too, was that I've read tons of Beatles books and individual Beatles' books, but it's such a good snapshot of those times that you can read it if you're a Beatles fan or not. It doesn't pander to the Beatles fans. It's going to tell the story in the best way possible.

*****

* Eric Stephenson
* Image Comics

*****

* visual from Saga one of Image's new hits
* cover from Jay Faerber's most recent series
* a triptych of recent Image cover images
* from Baby's In Black
* from Fatale (below)

*****

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*****
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Go, Look: More Mike Lynch-Compiled Cartoonist Photos

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Go, Look: Ronald Searle And SJ Perelman

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Notes From The 2012 CCI Floor

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By Tom Spurgeon

The following are notes and observations gathered on the floor of Comic-Con International 2012 in San Diego, California. For immediate reactions to what's going on from hundreds of people, I recommend an appropriate search or multiple such searches on Twitter. For mainstream comics and panel coverage in general -- this being a key event for publishing news announcements -- I recommend Comic Book Resources ComicsAlliance and The Beat.

*****

* on Sunday my own time management foibles began to catch up with me, and I missed the first two hours of the show.

* two of the more important tips offered in the CR Preview Guide came into play this morning. The first was signing up for your hotel's points/rewards program, because doing so allowed me to check out far more quickly than I could have if I hadn't joined up. The second was allowing time for processing bags at the hotel desk if you're doing so. I'm going to change this next year to add a suggestion that you check your bags early in the morning if possible; my group ended up carrying around bags when our hotel failed to provide speedy processing of this task.

* had one of the fancy hotel brunches. The dearth of con-goers in venues that used to be jam-packed is really noticeable this year. I've sat in at least three only halfway full restaurants this weekend where I rezzo-ed up because in previous years they had been stuffed to the rafters.

* I know it was Sunday and I'm dead tired because one of those poor security guards asked me if I wanted to enter the convention center three doors down and I said, "No," and went in the door I selected. I mean, it seemed a totally stupid, arbitrary request, but I usually try to make those guys' job as easy as possible. That's got to be one suck-o gig.

* no idea why beyond a general bargain-shopping assumption, but the comics-dealers end of the floor was super jammed-up Sunday morning, to near-intolerable levels. I hope that in a year where a lot of comics pros have decided they're not getting out of San Diego Con what they need, that various comics retailers that have stuck it out at the show.

* I found myself missing the Lee's Comics spinner rack.

* it's also worth mentioning that a lot of folks in other areas of the floor were reporting some lightness in sales, too. I'm not sure exactly what's going on there. My hunch is that a certain kind of consumer may have been greatly diminished this year, but I'm not certain.

* one thing I didn't see that I thought I might was a lot of physical-location targeted digital sales -- like if you stopped by the Fanta booth you'd have available for download right there or receive a code or whatever to download a specific comic related to their announcement that weekend. Or whatever. Maybe that was going on and I didn't notice.

* it was nice to talk to Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker and Shelton Drum briefly at the Fantagraphics booth during a Los Bros signing. It's nice in general when pros come out for other pros, and I wish we saw more of it. It strikes me that rather than a focus on grousing over who's criticizing whom in what fashion that doing things like showing up for anniversary panels and key signings could become a bigger part of what industry folk do. I mean, it's mind-boggling to me that if you were a cartoonist and had a chance to meet and purchase something from Gilbert Shelton you wouldn't have done that this weekend, no matter how busy you were. I mean, I get that there are always going to those few that aren't interested and that everyone is a special, unique flower with passions and beliefs not my own, but you'd think it'd be more people than not that would want to meet one of the Rushmore underground cartoonists.

* Matt Fraction upon meeting Eric Reynolds for the first time: "You look just like Peter Bagge's drawings of you."

* my impression is that Jaime, Gilbert and Mario had a good show. I sure hope so. The t-shirts were a hit, too.

* "I gotta go pick up this one toy for my kid" is the new "I gotta go find this person I met last night."

* talked to a very confident Mark Siegel -- confidence in First Second, I mean, he wasn't challenging people to arm-wrestling contests or anything.

* I shared a cab with Eric Reynolds to the airport. He told me funny and slightly distressing stories of BEA. My usual strategy of jumping in the cab line at the Marriott was foiled by people just parking on that driveway in the most spectacularly self-indulgent and rude way, but there were plenty of cabs nearby.

* best geeky/funny story I heard all weekend was from Scott McCloud. He knows the one.

* saw Kiel Phegley at the airport, and we compared notes about on-line publishing. I hadn't known they'd had some beat reporter shake-ups at CBR recently. Phegley is apparently now engaged, so congratulations to him. He has less than a year in the writing program he's doing; I hope comics doesn't lose him.

* I am grateful that my brother Whit was in attendance, with his friend Dawn Alden, even if he had to find out the hard way that Comic-Con swag is never as fun the moment you get home.

*****

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Go, Look: Gunshow

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

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Missed It: Some Lovely-Looking Irv Novick Art

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July 15, 2012


CR Newsmaker Interview: Image Publisher Eric Stephenson, Part One

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*****

imageI'm happy to make Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson the CR interview subject for Comic-Con Weekend 2012 -- both today and tomorrow.

I think Image Comics has had a fascinating year thus far. You could argue that the big news of this year's show is that publisher's resurgence in terms of individual comics' sales (Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard putting their Walking Dead at #1 for the month of the show), aggregate sales (a potential huge leap in market share by the end of 2012) and the supportive culture's imagination (creator-centric comics as a way to more sustainable, long-term profits and a bigger cut of individual efforts that hit with that audience).

Stephenson is the man on point for a lot of his company's recent success, and I appreciate how unafraid he's been to press issues in a way that could be seen as impolitic. We talked Friday afternoon a bit removed from the convention. I greatly appreciate his making the time for me. Due to poor time management on my part, this interview will appear in two parts and be archived as one. The second installment should appear tomorrow morning. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: When I look at what you're doing, I wonder how much you conceive of it in terms of a continuity and how much you conceive of it as a break with some of your predecessors. Because I see a lot of what's happening with Image now as a continuation of the policies Erik [Larsen] and even Jim [Valentino] were doing as far as focusing on creator-driven work and refocusing the line on those kinds of works as opposed to classic Image brands.

ERIC STEPHENSON: I see it both ways. I see it as a continuity in terms of what Jim and Erik were doing, and I see it as a continuation of the original purpose of Image was. That was to bring more people into the world of creator-owned comics. Those guys didn't just set out to make a company for themselves. They very much wanted it to be a lot of people joining them. I feel like... until a couple of years ago there was a major focus on finding new talent. What we're trying to do now is trying to get more well-known writers and artists to do work for us.

SPURGEON: What is something specific you bring to the table for that part of the mission, then? What is in your skill-set that makes you suited for this phase of what the company wants to do? Are you particularly suited for talent recruitment? Or maybe that package sells itself?

STEPHENSON: [laughs] I think it's a little bit of both. I think the package sells itself, and I think that having books like The Walking Dead and now Saga and things like that make it even easier for the package to sell itself. They're sterling examples of successful books. On the other hand, I'm not bashful of talking about what our strengths are and why I think it's important it's important to do new, creator-driven comics. And I'm also not sorry for talking about that.

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SPURGEON: There's an idea I've heard floated where the Image model is being pushed as a positive, as a positive way to go at the issues out there swirling around in terms of creative rights. That it's nice to have Image there -- Ed Brubaker and I talked about this a bit -- to point towards in terms of there being a model that works in a way that gets around some of these issues. It may not work for everybody, but it's a model that works. Do you feel like Image provides an answer to some of the questions out there, at least for the creators you're bringing in?

STEPHENSON: For some of the questions and some of the creators. I don't think it works for everybody. There are guys I've talked to that are very happy to do other people's characters. They're like, "I love these characters. It's been my lifelong dream to draw and/or write these characters. I'm happy doing this. I think it's great what you guys do, but it's not for me." Obviously for those guys, they might draw an Invincible someday or something, but we don't work for them. But for people that do have other aspirations than drawing or writing their favorite characters, I think we offer an important option.

SPURGEON: Given the nature of your writing on creator's rights topics, do you think you have an impact by virtue of existing? That the model is there as an alternative, is there a positive effect on how they're being treated because there is that option? Do you think about it in those terms.

STEPHENSON: I do -- well, yes and no. From the time Image was formed in 1992, a lot of changes were made at Marvel and DC as a result. Like Icon would not exist without Image Comics. That absolutely would not be there now. It is a reaction to what we do. Some of the deals in terms of page rates and what people are offered at Marvel and DC is I think very much in response to the fact of Image. In the '90s, different Image people were paying a lot of money to come and work on stuff. Marvel and DC responded. I think it changed the playing field. On the other hand, things have almost become worse in other respects.

Let's just go Before Watchmen. There was a detente between Alan and DC that seems to have chipped away over the last several years. That's obviously because there are different people in charge at Warner Brothers and DC. Look at something like that you can't say that creator's rights have advance to the point where that couldn't happen, because it did. If you look at what's going on with the Kirby Family and their ongoing battle with Marvel, we're almost outside of that. It's not like that somehow Marvel has been guilted into treating them any differently. So there are things that have improved because of Image, but at the same I think there's still a lot of stuff that needs improvement.

SPURGEON: Maybe you can speak to this directly, because you work at a company that has made firm decisions to treat their creators a certain way. And you're a company, a business, you're not set up in order to fail. I imagine you're making these decisions with a positive outcome in mind just like any other company. I wonder if you could speak to that defense that is made that companies have to do these things because all companies are by their nature perpetual exploitation machines.

STEPHENSON: This is one of my favorite things to talk about. If you go back to Before Watchmen, and people say, "Warner Brothers is a company and how do you expect them to act? They're in business to make money, they own this property, what do you expect them to do? Just not exploit it?" I think that's a ridiculous argument. One, Ed brought this up in his interview, but DC trumpeted Watchmen as an advance in creator's rights. The book was more successful than anyone ever imagined: Alan, Dave, the people at DC at that time. They decided, "Okay, we have this loophole here and we're going to keep this forever."

You would have to talk to Alan directly, but my perspective from what I know about him and what I know about Dave and what I know about the situation is I think if DC had gone to them at the time and said, "Here's where we are. We said we were going to give this back to you at a certain point. Now we're in a situation where that doesn't make any sense. Let's find a work-around for this." I tend to think those guys would have been more receptive to that than just, "Hey, we're going to make sure you never get this back."

That would have served both Alan and Dave's purposes, and the company's purposes. I think it's possible to be -- for want of a better word -- a moral company. You can make money without fucking everybody over at the same time.

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SPURGEON: I want to ask after Walking Dead #100 selling in astounding numbers. I wondered if you could talk about the cooperation from retailers on that. It's not like just putting product out there, just putting out what people want, automatically means the market is going to respond. There has to be some building of a relationship between Image and retailers. Have you done work that you think is paying off now that the numbers are as high as they are? The Saga numbers have been pretty incredible, too.

STEPHENSON: In terms of outreach... I think we have a good relationship with retailers, but like with Walking Dead: we've done a really good job of keeping the books in print. In terms of building a relationship with retailers, they've got something they can sell, and we're making sure we can get it to them. There are numerous incidents since trade paperbacks have become a driving force in the market where something big hits and then it's out of print almost immediately, for whatever reason there was not a large enough quantity. I think we've managed Walking Dead really well in terms of just making it sure if you want it in paperback, hardcover, whatever, you can get them. The retailers can order Walking Dead with confidence.

In terms of Saga, I got to the ComicsPro thing, we sit and retailers tell us... I always ask them, "How can we help you?" Everyone has a different opinion. With out books in particular, I think they don't want to be on the hook for stuff. There have been incidents in the past where they've been burned. In the very early days, things were ordered with wild abandon, and they came back and bit not just retailers but the whole industry on the ass. They wanted to know how we determine what the sure things are. Obviously, you put Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples on a book that's a textbook sure thing, but there are book we've done in the past with big names on them that didn't do well. They needed reassurance. Listening to the feedback from retailers, the thing we came up with was, "We're going to make the first three issues returnable if you order them at a certain level."

On paper, it's a really little thing. But I think it helped a lot of people say, "I'm going to take a greater interest in this, because I won't be on the hook for this."

[Part Two Will Appear Tomorrow; I Apologize For This, And Hope You'll Stick With Us]

*****

* Eric Stephenson's Blog
* Image Comics

*****

* image from Glory #25
* Image anniversary logo
* photo of Stephenson this weekend by me
* three of the books featuring high-profile mainstream comics writers: Fatale, The Manhattan Projects, Saga
* three more high-profile series for the company: Morning Glories, Chew, America's Got Powers
* three different formats for Walking Dead
* from the effective ad series
* from Prophet bottom
* cover image for Glory

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Floc'h Illustrateur

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Go, Look: Francois Avril Dessinateur

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Notes From The 2012 CCI Floor

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By Tom Spurgeon

The following are notes and observations gathered on the floor of Comic-Con International 2012 in San Diego, California. For immediate reactions to what's going on from hundreds of people, I recommend an appropriate search or multiple such searches on Twitter. For mainstream comics and panel coverage in general -- this being a key event for publishing news announcements -- I recommend Comic Book Resources ComicsAlliance and The Beat.

*****

* breakfast of a bagel with cream cheese and coffee in my hotel room while I type... I think it's an insult to actual hard work to call writing about funnybooks hard work, but con coverage for everyone is a bit more labor-intensive than it used to be, for sure.

* one thing that intrigues about Comic-Con this year is how adaptable the participants have been in terms of what they can expect out of the show -- for instance how publishers constantly adjust the stock they have on hand from year to year as the profile of the consumers change. It's been weirder for press to do this because of the emergence of so many organs, the changes in the kinds of news provided, and the sweeping technological issues.

* speaking of adaptations, one of my favorite moments in con history took place on this day when a longtime retailer/publisher showed me the support hose he wears at long shows like this one, declaring that and the arch supports he has in makes all the difference. For some reason this seemed like a fish-has-feet moment.

* I have a half-baked theory based on mostly empty restaurants of the over $15 entree kind and the kinds of customers certain folks said were visiting or not visiting their booths that we may have a slow bleed-off on a kind of customer a bit more devoted than the old, now long-gone "I think I'll go to Comicon today" person with tons of random cash and "I have to be there" devoted fan of a specific genre or movie. I've had no surprise encounters with folks I know down here, which is really, really odd.

* another thing I heard from a few publishers is how important having creators on hand can be to a booth entire, how it drives traffic to backstock for those creators and makes people linger over books offered more generally

* I went to the panel for the 30th anniversary of Los Bros Hernandez. I made fun of Gary later on for covering the hell out of 1982-1984, and he laughed, so I guess he won't mind if I say the panel didn't get too deeply into the L&R run but mostly concentrated on the early material. Fantagraphics made their comiXology announcement at the end of the panel. It was a good panel generally, though. The questions from devoted fans ranging from Mike Allred to a girl named Maggie seemed to embody something I've heard all weekend: that the Hernandez Brothers have made art the last three decades that have made any number of lives better.

* I'd say well over 200 people at that Los Bros panel, in one of the rooms in the boonies.

* I never knew that Rand Race was based a tiny bit visually on Johnny Comet. Makes sense, though.

* it was nice to see Mario Hernandez win an inkpot. That's a fun award because I can't imagine another opportunity exists for many comics folks to share an honor with Osamu Tezuka.

* I was completely unable to say "Osamu Tezuka" in the bar at 1 AM this morning.

* I did a spotlight panel with Brecht Evens. He's very articulate and funny. The new book is due in August, and I'll hopefully run that interview then. I liked hearing about how some of his artistic leaps came from getting practical advice from mentors and peers.

* Evens has been a hit all weekend: fun guy to have around. Like most European cartoonists that visit the show, being at a show like this one holds its own fascinations -- Evens mentioned, for instance, this was the first time he'd ever been in a sizable convention facility of this type. I don't know why that comment stuck in my head, but it did.

* the crowds were insane. It was a typical Saturday that way.

* had a dinner with a large group of people and it actually worked out well. So don't always take my advice.

* I still don't understand the costumes thing, either the people wearing them or the desire to take photographs of them. I'm grateful for the Silver Surfer with the mini, five-year-old Silver Surfer I saw, though, as I could make my "his villain is Dr. Child Services" joke.

* Zander Cannon is the only guy I think may be here that I know into whom I haven't run yet. I think I missed Rob Goodin, too. I talked to Jeffrey Brown, which to my regret I almost never do. He expressed a lot of gratitude over some of the gigs he's been getting lately. I'm happy for him.

* ran into Eric Shanower and talked a bit. That guy is always super-nice to me. Ran into Darwyn Cooke as well.

* I guess the CBLDF auction went well; it did not get over until well after midnight. I think they're having a good show. I forgot that Ryan Matheson was at the con until typing "CBLDF" for the first time this morning. Crap.

* another thing I did today was stop by the Best Of/Worst Of Manga panel, which I adore because I know and like all the participants but mostly because it's people talking about comics while other people are eager to hear them talking about comics. Shaenon Garrity is quite good on panels like that one.

* I think I could spend a few hours talking to Conrad Groth and getting his impressions of various cartoonists. That just sort of sounds fascinating to me, given that he's literally grown up in that milieu. Plus he seems smart. Everyone I know likes seeing him interact with his dad at this show.

* ton of folks were nice enough to say something positive about this site's Eisner win. I appreciate the sentiment. I saw James Kochalka holding his on Saturday; he had a broken one replaced, apparently. I think there were a few broken ones. Most of the folks to whom I spoke greatly appreciated how quickly that show unfolded.

* in a brief conversation, Chris Schweizer strongly endorsed this year's Trixter site as an eating destination.

* got to talk to Mike Baehr a bit Saturday night, and noted that it's nice to have that weird, Fanta-shorthand for certain things that with other folks have to be explained.

* I think this round of Image-related announcements is strong enough you could argue they'll win the mainstream-comics momentum element of the show. Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin on that kind of project is an interesting pairing.

* I'm not sure that comics people know all the way what to do with Comic-Con and other shows like it, but I thinking they're sort of rounding in on it. With fewer comics people than ever, it almost seems like a smaller show than in previous years. Like you pay attention to fellow travelers with other groups because you don't have as big a group of your own.

* embarrassing moments made a run at blissful ones today, but we're still ahead of the ledger on the latter.

*****

these reports will continue all weekend, unless you're reading the one that rolls out on Monday in which case it's the last one; maybe skip a close reading of these photos, as they're from a previous show

*****
*****
 
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If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This

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July 14, 2012


Chip Kidd Announces Volume By Gay Bondage Manga Master Gengoroh Tagame Through PictureBox

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Designer and author Chip Kidd announced today that he'll be designing a collection of works featuring Gengoroh Tagame to be published in Spring 2013 by PictureBox Inc. Kidd will design the volume, to be called: The Passion Of Gengoroh Tagame: Bara Master. Edmund White will contribute the introduction.

PictureBox describes Tagame's work as legendary in its press material, noting the high pass-along rate of non-translated works in those communities interested in bondage and pornography. This will be his first North American collection, after seeing publication in several European markets. This will be the first English-language collection for the cartoonist.

The book will be oversized, and feature ten short stories from the 15 or so years. It will also feature an original, never-before-seen work commission by Kidd for this collection.

Translator and producer Anne Ishii brought the project to the attention of Dan Nadel at PictureBox when she was translating Kidd's personal collection of Tagame material. Ishii will provide translation for this book in addition to serving as producer; Graham Kolbeins is working on what Nadel calls "providing cultural context."

"I'm very excited about this book," Dan Nadel told CR "I'd never heard of Tagame, and wasn't even aware of his work, but as soon as I saw it I could tell that both the drawing and the storytelling were extraordinary. There's a velocity to the narratives and highly personal intensity to the drawing that comes through immediately. The more Anne showed me the more I began to think of Tagame like I would the other artists I publish: a sui generis talent, delineating his vision via comics. It'll be a stunning object when it's all done."

Nadel says he hopes to count on the scanlation/downloading community for support, as well as advocates for Tagame like Kidd and retailer/festival organizer Chris Butcher. While the publisher notes it's a different kind of book for his house, he hopes his readers will trust his taste and try out the book, and that working with the talented cadre of involved editors might lead to some market penetration not usually availalble to the publisher.
 
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Fantagraphics Announces Digital Comics Program With comiXology: Love & Rockets New Stories First Up

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Fantagraphics announced today that they've entered into a digital distribution agreement with comiXology and will make available the first four issues of the Hernandez Brothers Love and Rockets: New Stories comic to kick off that new deal. The fifth issue of the the title will be released on the digital platforms utilized by comiXology on the same date as the print release of the book hits comics markets this September. The plans are for Fantagraphics to start releasing work from its massive back catalog and very active front catalog that same month. They will also apparently makes use of the the digital distribution company's most up-to-date high-definition technology to ensure publication clarity.

I think this is a pretty big deal, as Fantagraphics is one of the few companies placed within a segment of the market where they operate in a way that them simply doing something has an impact (as opposed to a smaller company taking the lead, where I think there would be a much bigger wait-and-see component). They also have a humongous back catalog that seems to me loaded with potential for use this way because a) they're compulsive publishers b) it's material doesn't compete with present material because they're not an IP house, and c) material from a 20-30 year span is of interest arguably concurrent with comics of their type being made right now. Bring on Dalgoda! Bring on Big Mouth!

I also think it's wholly appropriate that Fantagraphics is kicking this off with the Hernandez Brothers and Love And Rockets, certainly the first major project they published there at the company (although not the official first project they published) and obviously a mighty contribution to American popular art. Long live Los Bros.
 
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PictureBox To Publish "So Long, Silver Screen" From Blutch -- Cover Design By David Mazzucchelli

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PictureBox Inc. announced this morning they will be bringing the 80-page graphic novel So Long, Silver Screen by the cartoonist Blutch to North American, English-language audiences. The cover design will be by the comics artist and cartoonist David Mazzucchelli.

The graphic novel, which PictureBox says is the first full-length book to be published in North America from the influential and award-winning Blutch, will appear in Spring 2013. The work is made up of a series of interlocking short stories that go back and forth between history, theory and vignettes -- guest appearances from Burt Lancaster, Jean-Luc Godard, Claudia Cardinale and Tarzan among others.

Blutch made his comics debut 25 years to the release of the planned book in the legendary anthology Fluide Glacial. He was awarded the Angouleme Grand Prix, perhaps the highest honor in cartooning, at the conclusion of the 2009 show.
 
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Go, Look: Six Days In Paris

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Your 2012 Eisner Award Winners

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The winners for this year's Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards were named last night during a lavish ceremony held in conjunction with Comic-Con International in San Diego. It was a bunched-up as far as nominations went, with Marvel, DC, IDW and Fantagraphics within two total nods of one another.

This year's judges were Brigid Alverson, Calum Johnston, Jesse Karp, Larry Marder, Benjamin Saunders and Mary Sturhann. They did the nominees list. Voting for the winners was open to industry professionals for an extended period of time.

Big winners last night were Jim Henson's Tale Of Sand, Darwyn Cooke, Mark Waid (his first Eisners ever, I'm pretty certain) and Ed Brubaker. Congrats to all winners and nominees.

Winners in bold.

BEST SHORT STORY
* A Brief History of the Art Form Known as Hortisculpture, by Adrian Tomine, in Optic Nerve #12 (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Harvest of Fear, by Jim Woodring, in The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror #17 (Bongo)
* The Seventh, by Darwyn Cooke, in Richard Stark's Parker: The Martini Edition (IDW)
* The Speaker, by Brandon Graham, in Dark Horse Presents #7 (Dark Horse)

BEST SINGLE ISSUE (OR ONE-SHOT)
* Daredevil #7, by Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera, and Joe Rivera (Marvel)
* Ganges #4, by Kevin Huizenga (Fantagraphics)
* Locke & Key: Guide to the Known Keys, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
* Princeless #3, by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin (Action Lab)
* The Unwritten #24: "Stairway to Heaven" by Mike Carey, Peter Gross, and Al Davison (Vertigo/DC)

BEST CONTINUING SERIES
* Daredevil, by Mark Waid, Marcos Martin, Paolo Rivera, and Joe Rivera (Marvel)
* Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)
* Rachel Rising, by Terry Moore (Abstract Studio)
* Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli (Marvel)
* Usagi Yojimbo, by Stan Sakai (Dark Horse)

BEST LIMITED SERIES
* Atomic Robo and the Ghost of Station X, by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener (Red 5)
* Criminal: The Last of the Innocent, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Marvel Icon)
* Flashpoint: Batman -- Knight of Vengeance, by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso (Vertigo/DC)
* The New York Five, by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly (Vertigo/DC)
* Who Is Jake Ellis? by Nathan Edmondson & Tonci Zonjic (Image)

BEST PUBLICATION FOR EARLY READERS (UP TO AGE 7)
* Beauty and the Squat Bears, by Emile Bravo (Yen Press)
* Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking, by Philippe Coudray (Candlewick/Toon Books)
* Dragon Puncher Island, by James Kochalka (Top Shelf)
* Nursery Rhyme Comics, edited by Chris Duffy (First Second)
* Patrick in a Teddy Bear's Picnic, by Geoffrey Hayes (Candlewick/Toon Books)

BEST PUBLICATION FOR KIDS (AGES 8-12)
* The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold, by Sholly Fisch, Rick Burchett, and Dan Davis (DC)
* Amelia Rules: The Meaning of Life . . . And Other Stuff, by Jimmy Gownley (Atheneum)
* The Ferret's a Foot, by Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie Yue (Graphic Universe/Lerner)
* Princeless, by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin (Action Lab)
* Snarked, by Roger Langridge (kaboom!)
* Zita the Space Girl, by Ben Hatke (First Second)

BEST PUBLICATION FOR YOUNG ADULTS (AGES 12-17)
* Anya's Ghost, by Vera Brosgol (First Second)
* Around the World, by Matt Phelan (Candlewick)
* Level Up, by Gene Yang and Thien Pham (First Second)
* Life with Archie, by Paul Kupperberg, Fernando Ruiz, Pat & Tim Kennedy, Norm Breyfogle et al. (Archie)
* Mystic, by G. Willow Wilson and David Lopez (Marvel)

BEST ANTHOLOGY
* Dark Horse Presents, edited by Mike Richardson (Dark Horse)
* Nelson, edited by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix (Blank Slate)
* Nursery Rhyme Comics, edited by Chris Duffy (First Second)
* The Someday Funnies, edited by Michel Choquette (Abrams ComicArts)
* Yiddishkeit: Jewish Vernacular and the New Land, edited by Harvey Pekar and Paul Buhle (Abrams ComicArts)

BEST HUMOR PUBLICATION
* The Art of Doug Sneyd: A Collection of Playboy Cartoons (Dark Horse Books)
* Chimichanga, by Eric Powell (Dark Horse)
* Coffee: It's What's for Dinner, by Dave Kellett (Small Fish)
* Kinky & Cosy, by Nix (NBM)
* Milk & Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad, by Evan Dorkin (Dark Horse Books)

BEST DIGITAL COMIC
* Bahrain, by Josh Neufeld
* Battlepug, by Mike Norton
* Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, by Tony Cliff
* Outfoxed, by Dylan Meconis
* Sarah and the Seed, by Ryan Andrews

BEST REALITY-BASED WORK
* Around the World, by Matt Phelan (Candlewick)
* Green River Killer: A True Detective Story, by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case (Dark Horse Books)
* Marzi: A Memoir, by Marzena Sowa and Sylvain Savoia (Vertigo/DC)
* Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Vietnamerica, by GB Tran (Villard)

BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM -- NEW
* Bubbles & Gondola, by Renaud Dillies (NBM)
* Freeway, by Mark Kalesniko (Fantagraphics)
* Habibi, by Craig Thompson (Pantheon)
* Ivy, by Sarah Olekysk (Oni)
* Jim Henson's Tale of Sand, adapted by Ramón K. Pérez (Archaia)
* One Soul, by Ray Fawkes (Oni)

BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM-- REPRINT
* Big Questions, by Anders Nilsen (Drawn & Quarterly)
* The Death Ray, by Dan Clowes (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Richard Stark's Parker: The Martini Edition, by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)
* WE3: The Deluxe Edition, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (Vertigo/DC)
* Zahra's Paradise, by Amir and Khalil (First Second)

BEST ARCHIVAL COLLECTION/PROJECT -- STRIPS
* Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim, by Alex Raymond and Don Moore, edited by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)
* Forgotten Fantasy: Sunday Comics 1900-1915, edited by Peter Maresca (Sunday Press)
* Prince Valiant vols. 3-4, by Hal Foster, edited by Kim Thompson (Fantagraphics)
* Tarpé Mills's Miss Fury Sensational Sundays, 1944-1949, edited by Trina Robbins (IDW/Library of American Comics)
* Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse vols. 1-2, by Floyd Gottfredson, edited by David Gerstein and Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)

BEST ARCHIVAL COLLECTION/PROJECT -- COMIC BOOKS
* Government Issue: Comics for the People: 1940s-2000s, edited by Richard L. Graham (Abrams ComicArts)
* The MAD Fold-In Collection, by Al Jaffee (Chronicle)
* PS Magazine: The Best of Preventive Maintenance Monthly, by Will Eisner (Abrams ComicArts)
* The Sugar and Spike Archives, vol. 1, by Sheldon Mayer (DC)
* Walt Simonson's The Mighty Thor Artist's Edition (IDW)

BEST US EDITION OF INTERNATIONAL MATERIAL
* Bubbles & Gondola, by Renaud Dillies (NBM)
* Isle of 100,000 Graves, by Fabien Vehlmann and Jason (Fantagraphics)
* Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot, by Jacques Tardi and Jean-Patrick Manchette (Fantagraphics)
* The Manara Library, vol. 1: Indian Summer and Other Stories, by Milo Manara with Hugo Pratt (Dark Horse Books)
* Night Animals: A Diptych About What Rushes Through the Bushes, by Brecht Evens (Top Shelf)

BEST US EDITION OF INTERNATIONAL MATERIAL -- ASIA
* A Bride's Story, by Kaoru Mori (Yen Press)
* Drops of God, by Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto (Vertical)
* Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Saturn Apartments, vols. 3-4, by Hisae Iwaoka (VIZ Media)
* Stargazing Dog, by Takashi Murakami (NBM)
* Wandering Son, vol. 1, by Shimura Takako (Fantagraphics)

BEST WRITER
* Cullen Bunn, The Sixth Gun (Oni)
* Mike Carey, The Unwritten (Vertigo/DC)
* Jeff Jensen, Green River Killer: A True Detective Story (Dark Horse Books)
* Jeff Lemire, Animal Man, Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (DC); Sweet Tooth (Vertigo/DC)
* Mark Waid, Irredeemable, Incorruptible (BOOM!); Daredevil (Marvel)

BEST WRITER/ARTIST
* Rick Geary, The Lives of Sacco and Vanzetti (NBM)
* Terry Moore, Rachel Rising (Abstract Studio)
* Sarah Oleksyk, Ivy (Oni)
* Craig Thompson, Habibi (Pantheon)
* Jim Woodring, Congress of the Animals (Fantagraphics), Harvest of Fear in The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror #17 (Bongo)

BEST PENCILLER/INKER OR PENCILLER/INKER TEAM
* Michael Allred, iZombie (Vertigo/DC); Madman All-New Giant-Size Super-Ginchy Special (Image)
* Ramón K. Pérez, Jim Henson's Tale of Sand (Archaia)
* Chris Samnee, Captain America and Bucky, Ultimate Spider-Man #155 (Marvel)
* Marcos Martin, Daredevil (Marvel)
* Paolo Rivera/Joe Rivera, Daredevil (Marvel)

BEST COVER ARTIST
* Michael Allred, iZombie (Vertigo/DC)
* Francesco Francavilla, Black Panther (Marvel); Lone Ranger, Lone Ranger/Zorro, Dark Shadows, Warlord of Mars (Dynamite); Archie Meets Kiss (Archie)
* Victor Kalvachev, Blue Estate (Image)
* Marcos Martin, Daredevil, Amazing Spider-Man (Marvel)
* Sean Phillips, Criminal: The Last of the Innocent (Marvel Icon)
* Yuko Shimizu, The Unwritten (Vertigo/DC)

BEST COLORING
* Laura Allred, iZombie (Vertigo/DC); Madman All-New Giant-Size Super-Ginchy Special (Image)
* Bill Crabtree, The Sixth Gun (Oni)
* Ian Herring and Ramón K. Pérez, Jim Henson's Tale of Sand (Archaia)
* Victor Kalvachev, Blue Estate (Image)
* Cris Peter, Casanova: Avaritia, Casanova: Gula (Marvel Icon)

BEST LETTERING
* Deron Bennett, Billy Fog, Jim Henson's Dark Crystal, Jim Henson's Tale of Sand, Mr. Murder Is Dead (Archaia); Helldorado, Puss N Boots, Richie Rich (APE Entertainment)
* Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules! The Meaning of Life... And Other Stuff (Atheneum)
* Laura Lee Gulledge, Page by Paige (Amulet Books/Abrams)
* Tom Orzechowski, Manara Library, with L. Lois Buholis (Dark Horse); Manga Man (Houghton Mifflin); Savage Dragon (Image)
* Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo (Dark Horse)

BEST COMICS-RELATED JOURNALISM
* The AV Club Comics Panel, by Noel Murray, Oliver Sava et al.
* The Beat, produced by Heidi MacDonald et al.
* The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, and The Comics Journal website, edited by Timothy Hodler and Dan Nadel (Fantagraphics)
* The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon
* TwoMorrows Publications: Alter Ego edited by Roy Thomas, Back Issue edited by Michael Eury, Draw edited by Mike Manley, and Jack Kirby Collector edited by John Morrow

BEST EDUCATIONAL/ACADEMIC WORK
* Alan Moore: Conversations, ed. by Eric Berlatsky (University Press of Mississippi)
* Cartooning: Philosophy & Practice, by Ivan Brunetti (Yale University Press)
* Critical Approaches to Comics: Theories and Methods, edited by Matthew J. Smith and Randy Duncan (Routledge)
* Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby, by Charles Hatfield (University Press of Mississippi)
* Projections: Comics and the History of 21st Century Storytelling, by Jared Gardner (Stanford University Press)

BEST COMICS-RELATED BOOK
* Archie: A Celebration of America's Favorite Teenagers, edited by Craig Yoe (IDW/Yoe Books)
* Caniff: A Visual Biography, edited by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)
* Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising, edited by Rick Marschall and Warren Bernard (Fantagraphics/Marschall Books)
* Genius Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth, designed by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)
* MetaMaus, by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)

BEST PUBLICATION DESIGN
* Genius Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth, designed by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)
* Jim Henson's Tale of Sand, designed by Eric Skillman (Archaia)
* Kinky & Cosy, designed by Nix (NBM)
* The MAD Fold-In Collection, designed by Michael Morris (Chronicle)
* Richard Stark's Parker: The Martini Edition, designed by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)

*****

RUSS MANNING PROMISING NEWCOMER AWARD
Tyler Crook

BOB CLAMPETT HUMANITARIAN AWARD
Morrie Turner

BILL FINGER EXCELLENCE IN COMIC BOOK WRITING AWARD
Frank Doyle, Steve Skeates

WILL EISNER SPIRIT OF COMICS AWARD
Akira Comics, Madrid, Spain; The Dragon, Guelph, Canada

HALL OF FAME
Rudolf Dirks and Harry Lucey were Judges' Choices; Bill Blackbeard, Richard Corben, Katsuhiro Otomo, Gilbert Shelton

*****
*****
 
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Comics Comics Comics: Three Comics To Consider Buying Today At San Diego Comic Con

The Comics Reporter will be doing a few stand-alone articles about material available for sale at Comic-Con International. You should definitely consider buying anything profiled that way. I thought there might also be room for a recommendations-in-brief piece each day of the big show about stuff that's out and if not brand-new, then at least something I haven't seen yet.

I don't mean these posts to be taken as a shot against all the other great stuff out there. I'm sure I'll be buying some of that material, too. It's just that San Diego Con has always been a comics show for me and for this site. There's some great stuff out there for your consideration. Let's spotlight a few.

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1. Underwater Welder, Jeff Lemire
I'm going to do all Top Shelf books today because a) I'm running late, b) I'm going to run late tomorrow, too, if I try to exclude things from these lists and craft a more broadly-based, political one, c) they're an advertiser and I'll emotional thinking about my advertisers for the last year in particular of rough going here at CR, d) this is the one that Chris Staros picked as something he wanted me to look at. Jeff Lemire is the kind of comics-maker about whom editors, publishers and publicists will start waxing rhapsodic for no particular reason.

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2. American Elf Vol. 4, James Kochalka
It's not what it used to be at San Diego when Rory Root was a presence and you could go to the Comic Relief area and pick up pretty much all the Eisner-winning works, you wanted, plus tons of other material from Eisner winners. You can still do a little bit of that. James Kochalka won an Eisner last night for one of his kids' books, but his main body of work the last several years is the American Elf webcomics, of which this is the latest volume.

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3. Blindspot #2, Joseph Remnant
Hey, it's a comic book! Hey, it's a comic book by a new talent! Hey, it's a comic book by that guy whose art on the Cleveland book probably just made that -- and not the few books before or after -- our goodbye to Harvey Pekar!

If you're at Comic-Con and a comics buyer, I hope you'll think of checking out one of the above works. If you're at Comic-Con to see the Supernatural panel and to attend the Masquerade -- and god bless you -- maybe you could try a comic book as a way of paying tribute to the roots of the show you're enjoying. For everyone else, I hope some of these are books you might enjoy in the near future. Three more suggestions tomorrow.
 
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Go, Look: At Home With The Searles

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Notes From The 2012 CCI Floor

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By Tom Spurgeon

The following are notes and observations gathered on the floor of Comic-Con International 2012 in San Diego, California. For immediate reactions to what's going on from hundreds of people, I recommend an appropriate search or multiple such searches on Twitter. For mainstream comics and panel coverage in general -- this being a key event for publishing news announcements -- I recommend Comic Book Resources ComicsAlliance and The Beat.

*****

* a couple of things from Thursday: the projects that IDW was announcing for its Artist's Editions were a Gil Kane Amazing Spider-Man, an assortment of comic-book era MAD stories and a Xenozoic Tales. Also, I spent an hour sitting at I think Joe Keatinge's Image Comics station shooting the shit with Gus Norman and meeting people like Nathan Edmundson. That was super-nice, a real highlight of the show for me. I met Norman at my first Comic-Con and he's one my favorite people in comics.

* mark the time at 6:45 AM in a coffee shop when I heard the first downtown San Diego resident express bafflement and frustration over having so many people roaming around their neighborhood.

* someone suggested that the way that the city of San Diego has endorsed the convention, with all the window displays and employees wearing wacky superhero t-shirts, is a weird thing to experience if you're not soaked in the superhero/junk culture side of the medium. Like it's weird to be sitting in a steakhouse and have your server wearing a superhero t-shirt. It's almost like you feel bad for bullying this person into wearing clothes they might not like.

* the mainstream publishing momentum side of the convention is just dangling there for Image to seize with a strong panel today.

* watching Michael Davis moderate a panel made me feel like Nat King Cole slipping into the back of a James Brown concert to watch someone else perform in ways that are just totally beyond my skill set. Davis made a good point at that panel that working with experienced comics people as opposed to trying to insinuate yourself into the comics industry as a total outsider seems to be a pretty good strategy.

* it's not crowded in the comic-book half of the convention floor. It's also kind of mellow, like everyone knows what they're doing now and how they want to do it. It's a ripened crowd: not old, but experienced. People even seem better at the kind of stop and photograph think that used to clog lanes for hours and hours.

* saw Eric Reynolds at the show, and then talked to James Kochalka. The gang's all here. To me, my various old-person comics friends!

* it was interesting to talk to James, because I think he's at one of those moments in his career where his work is kind of being taken for granted, a couple of years before there's a resurgent of interest in what he's doing. Maybe the Superfuckers cartoon will change that. Anyway, I told James my favorite memory of him was at this weird comics show somewhere meeting him and asking him if he was working on a comic book and he told me that he'd keep doing stories for the comic book but got impatient not being able to see them done and would just make minis out of what he had and then had to start over.

* went to see Charles Brownstein's basic presentation on comics and first amendment issues. I really enjoyed that talk, and I think Charles has worked hard on it. I most enjoyed the way he treats William Gaines' testimony at the congressional committee hearings, that he touches on the Paul Mavrides case, and the disdain with which he describes projecting the sex acts of drawings of fictional creatures onto something that may have an impact on real children.

* I attended the Kate Beaton panel and holy crap, she is really, really good at that. She read a bunch of her cartoons, showed some work-product historical pictures and took questions. That's the first alt-comics panel I've ever been to where people held up "I love you" style signs. Her ceiling is way, way out there. She's also super-nice and is very accommodating to folks given the level of crazy attention she gets.

* had an interview that will go up tomorrow. I hadn't done that in San Diego since 1996, but I wanted to get a certain industry figure on the record at this moment in time.

* I really, really, really enjoyed moderating the anniversary Prince Valiant panel. RC Harvey, Gary Gianni, Mark Schultz and Thomas Yeates are all super-nice, articulate, talented comics-makers and they were pretty straight-forward and honest about the joys of doing that particular strip -- THE comic strip, in a sense -- and the frustrations of things like newspapers' falling fortunes and the physical space afforded Prince Valiant on the Sunday page.

* the questions were pretty amazing from the audience at that panel, including a gentleman in charge of Hal Foster's library, who read out loud a dedication from Ray Bradbury to Foster -- stupendous to hear that.

* Gary Gianni is apparently doing the Game Of Thrones calendar for next year, which should be pretty great-looking.

* 75 years young, Harvey has moved from Champaign, Illinois to Denver -- he grew up in Denver.

* my moments of direct pleasure are outpacing my cringe-worthy moments almost 2 to 1, which if it holds up would be a record for a convention. My recurring faux pas this time seems to be in asking people to do things that are sort of rude to ask but not realizing that aspect of my request until like ten minutes later.

* walked a bit with Tom Neely, who described Comic-Con as the place his film and television industry composer brother has four panels and two press junkets and he himself isn't all the way sure he fits in.

* tried to find the Monkeybrain party but failed. I don't know what any of those folks look like, and none of the potential balcony gatherings looked like what I thought a Monkeybrain party would look like. Sorry, guys. I also thought it would be good to leave before the amazingly pleasant-seeming Michael Emerson standing at the nearby bar burst into song or something (he just looked happy to be interacting with folks).

* the ladies of Drawn and Quarterly gave my brother/photographer a lesson on how to shoot people in the most flattering way. I think this may help end the super-unflattering-photo era of this site.

* ran into John Siuntres again outside the Hilton on my way back from not finding a cocktail party and bumped into Chip Kidd as well. Kidd is promoting a few books, and giving out a really cool strip mini of Building Stories work. It was nice to pay him a compliment on that TED talk that all my friends liked to death.

* went to the D+Q / Fantagraphics publishing season panels. It was sparsely attended, but a good chunk of people were reporting on the content of what was discussed. I talked to Calvin Reid later, and we agreed it was super-nice to sit in a room at SDCC and see awesome-looking covers and hear people talk about great comics. Also, with Julia Pohl-Miranda, Jacq Cohen, Eric Reynolds and Tom Devlin, that might be the most generally attractive-looking person panel to ever represent alt-comics at any anything.

* D+Q is doing one more John Stanley Library book, and that looks like it.

* the Lilli Carré book that Fantagraphics is doing looks immense and beautifully designed.

* to a question-asker, Eric Reynolds says the plans right now for Castle Waiting are to publish the rest of the comics Linda Medley wants to do in the present storyline and then to re-publish Volume 2 with those books included. What happens after that is anyone's guess.

* had a nice dinner about twenty feet away from Guillermo Del Toro over at the Omni. Not sure why more people don't eat at that little chain steakhouse they have in there seeing as it's so close to the Eisners.

* wait, now I see why: a train blocked the street and we had to take the footbridge after waiting a bit and we were late. Then we got lost looking for the event itself, because I am stupid and tired.

* the Eisners were a lot of fun for me. They were super-short this year by Eisner standards. Jonathan Ross was very funny; the Battlestar Galactica people were Hollywood-pretty. I think everyone at the show who could be there to accept awards was there. I wish there had been a ramp for Bob Clampett winner Morrie Turner, although it was great to see him win that award and the part of the speech where he said we should applaud what he had just said about being a speaker at the first Comic-Con was very sweet and funny.

* the mic needed adjusting every time out, and made a comical Warner Brothers cartoon creak every time this was done.

* I can't remember an Eisner where Will Eisner was tweaked, even affectionately. That was fascinating to me.

* I can't tell you how glad I am that Charles Hatfield won an Eisner for that Kirby book he did, Hand Of Fire. I got to publish Charles years ago at The Comics Journal. Plus his family was there and one of his mentors/role-models, Rusty Witek. Good on him. He needs to tell me how to get one of those Hand Of Fire t-shirts, though.

* James Kochalka gave one of the more amusing speeches in recent memory, and it was his first win. First win -- wins -- for Mark Waid, too. Diana Schutz pointed out that the Mighty Kim Thompson was the translator behind three of the translated book nominees, in three different languages. That is sort of amazing, really.

* Ed Brubaker laughs very loud. The Jim Henson comics project people seemed the most fired up. Presenter George RR Martin was adorable. Gilbert Shelton seemed genuinely touched. There were a lot of sweet moments, generally. Dylan Williams was rightfully and respectfully included in the memorials, which went to a video package over a fully narrated slideshow package. So good awards, I think. Nice to talk to Diana Schutz, Craig Thompson, Stan Sakai, Roger Langridge (who looks fantastic) and a bunch of other people after that show.

* the best moment of the Eisners for me was Bill Blackbeard's entry into the Hall Of Fame, which is something I really wanted to see happen and wrote about a bit here as I could during the voting period.

* people still go to the Hyatt, apparently, although except for a brief chat with a few of my peers I felt way too old to tough that one out for more than a quarter hour. (I dropped someone off.)

* like most comics-related evenings, this one ended with eating ice cream across from Gary Groth, talking about Bob Burden.

*****

these reports will continue all weekend, unless you're reading the one that rolls out on Monday in which case it's the last one; maybe skip a close reading of these photos, as they're from a previous show

*****
*****
 
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If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This

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

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Happy 8th Birthday, Jog The Blog!

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July 13, 2012


Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* a little love for the inking of Klaus Janson.
 
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D+Q Announces Publishing Deal With Michael DeForge For His Ant Colony Book

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Montreal-based publisher Drawn & Quarterly announced today it has acquired world rights to Ant Colony by the 24-year-old Toronto cartoonist Michael DeForge. This is the work that has been serialized as "Ant Comic" since Fall 2011. Deforge is considered one of the major emerging talent on the North American independent comics scenes, and this will I believe be his first publication of this type.

D+Q Publisher Chris Oliveros puzzled over/marveled at the young cartoonist's work in the press material assigned by the publisher to this announcement. "Michael DeForge is one of those rare talents who emerge, out of the blue, with a fully formed and singularly unique vision," said Oliveros. "When I look at his work I sometimes wonder how it was formed, and then I think I can see the influences of several disparate cartoonists over the years, from Mark Beyer through Marc Bell. But ultimately Deforge's work can't be pinned down so easily; his striking visual sensibility and peculiar sense of humor is entirely his own."

DeForge grew up in Ottawa. He made his full-length comics debut with Lose #1, which won the Best Emerging Talent category at the 2010 Doug Wright Awards. He has since published two more issues of that comic with #1's publishing partner Koyama Press. Clients have included The Believer and Smoke Signal.

As is the case with all D+Q books (although with details sometimes predetermined by the nature of the contract and acquisition), Ant Colony will have FSG distributing it in the US, Raincoast handling that in Canada, and Samantha Haywood negotiating international rights.

CR spoke to the cartoonist about the signing.

*****

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TOM SPURGEON: Michael, can you describe how this deal came together? I know that you're extremely prolific -- why this project in this format with this company?

MICHAEL DEFORGE: I got to meet Chris Oliveros and Tom Devlin at a TCAF a few years ago and I gave them a bunch of my comics. I think Peter Birkemoe introduced me. A week or two later, Chris sent me a nice e-mail saying he liked the comics I had given him and that D+Q would be open to looking at any submissions of book-length work I might have down the road, so long as it didn't interfere with the ongoing projects I have with Koyama Press.

It wasn't until recently that I began trying to write longer comics. When I started Ant Comic, I didn't intend it to be one long narrative. I was initially talking to some college papers and alt-weeklies about possibly serializing the strip on a weekly or biweekly basis in addition to running it online on my site, so I wanted each strip to be relatively self-contained and something people who didn't follow the paper week to week could understand. I wanted to treat each comic like drawing one giant Sunday page. Anyway, all the papers I was talking to ultimately flaked out or turned the project down, which I probably should have expected. Once that happened, I realized I didn't have to treat each installment as an individual episode, and could spin longer stories out of the strip. As I kept going, I started thinking more and more about Ant Comic as a finished book, and thought it would be worth pitching to D+Q.

TOM SPURGEON: I know it's probably not always comfortable to have people drive attention to your age, but I wondered how you might relate to a company that's about as old as you are, as opposed to how creators that are in that Seth/Chester Brown/Joe Matt generation might see D+Q. What are your impressions of the company? What stands out for you in terms of books they've done that you've liked, or their general approach to things?

DEFORGE: I came across issues of Louis Riel and Peepshow in my local shop in Grade 8, and those comics ended up becoming a really big influence on me in high school. D+Q books were what first introduced me to the concept of "alternative comics" and the idea that there was this whole tradition of Canadian cartooning that I was completely unaware of up until then. I realized pretty early on that that was something I wanted to plug into or be a part of in some way when I started drawing my own comics. (Even just in really dorky ways -- when I moved to Toronto for university, I was really excited to visit The Beguiling and 10 Edition Books, just because both stores happened to be mentioned in Peepshow. My first apartment ended up being directly between those two stores.)

imageSPURGEON: Has it been difficult to find a print partner, to find print outlets generally that pay? I apologize for being so blunt but I know there's a big difference right now to getting your work seen -- which seems easy to do -- and securing a deal with maybe an expectation of reward for what you're doing. Is this a crucial deal for you, something you think is important to work, or do you even think in those terms?

DEFORGE: My experiences so far tend have actually tended to be positive -- Koyama Press is very generous with all the artists they publish, and I'm sometimes able to make back printing costs of the mini-comics I self-publish. There obviously isn't a ton of money going around in comics, but I'm lucky enough that it hasn't yet interfered with my ability to work. I have a day job in animation -- which I love -- and before that I was doing freelance illustration, and before that I was dishwashing -- in all three cases, I've been able to make the time to still draw comics on the side. I feel very privileged in that regard, that it's something I don't have to think about.

SPURGEON: As someone with a lot of experience with different types of publishing even at this point in your career, are there areas where you feel more strongly about directing aspects of a book like this than others? For instance, are you comfortable with designing your work or is that something you want to work with them? Are you going to tour and do PR in support of this project, and is that something you like?

DEFORGE: I haven't had any conversations with D+Q about design yet, but I would be totally happy and open to working with them on that! I haven't actually designed a "book" book before, so I would be eager to defer to the experience of people who are smarter than me and actually know what they're doing. It would all be very new to me, which of course is dually exciting and anxiety-inducing. D+Q has such beautiful design and production work on their titles, and I'm basically clueless.

So far, I've been enjoying working in a number of different formats with a number of different people, so I haven't really settled on one way of working -- there are instances where I like having total control over a project, and there are instances where I enjoy collaborating with an editor or designer or publisher.

As far as PR, they haven't talked to me about it yet -- I would be open to anything, so long as it didn't conflict with my job!

SPURGEON: You know, Michael, I think of you as someone I see out on the road. How important are the experience you have at shows and small-press festivals in terms of making art? Are there downsides to that kind of constant string of shows one is able to do?

DEFORGE: I'm bad at corresponding online, so I have a lot of friends in comics who I really only get to talk to when we're in the same city. The people I've met through cons have been pretty important to me, which is one of the reasons I still like traveling to them. The two people in comics I work with the most are Anne Koyama and Ryan Sands, who are now also two of my closest friends -- I met both of them through TCAF.

I also have an easier time finding new work through shows than I do online, just looking through blog posts or Tumblr streams or whatever. I just got back from CAKE, and I can't believe how many new comics I brought back with me from artists I'd only met that weekend. So I like shows for that, too.

2012 will be the most shows I've attended in one year (CAKE, SPX and BCGF -- and TCAF, of course, but I don't have to travel for that) and I think that's probably my limit. I know people who attend much more than that, but I don't have the disposition for any more travel than that -- I can get kind of anxious about it, and still do enjoy working at my desk most of the time.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Serge Clerc Dessinateur

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Notes From The 2012 CCI Floor

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By Tom Spurgeon

The following are notes and observations gathered on the floor of Comic-Con International 2012 in San Diego, California. For immediate reactions to what's going on from hundreds of people, I recommend an appropriate search or multiple such searches on Twitter. For mainstream comics and panel coverage in general -- this being a key event for publishing news announcements -- I recommend Comic Book Resources ComicsAlliance and The Beat.

*****

* they changed the Westin Gaslamp lobby. I don't usually notice these kinds of things, but the look of the place was improved like 10,000 percent.

* I'm thinking that the McDonald's just north of Horton Plaza becoming a Panera Bread is indicative of something, but I couldn't tell you what that is.

* I had a really ridiculous-looking short-rib has at the Marina Kitchen in the Marriott in the company of Scott Dunbier yesterday morning. It was like a Frank Quitely drawing of a delicious breakfast.

* I really enjoy Scott Dunbier's company, and I think he's done a great job with IDW on their Berke Breathed initiative and on their Artist's Edition books. Dunbier was quick to deflect the success of those Artist's Editions onto to the artists, and while on one level he's right about that, on another level it's hard for me to imagine that project coming to fruition under someone who didn't have Dunbier's connection in the creative community and the original art world.

* I have to admit I don't remember which projects he told me about for that line are in play as news or not, and my panel about bookstores was scheduled directly opposite of his so I didn't get to see. I'll catch up on that by weekend's end, though. I want them all, basically. I saw someone's Groo edition at the show, and while I wondered after a Groo book because it's hard for me to imagine there's much fun in watching Sergio Aragones be perfect every panel, I was engrossed in reading that one, too.

* what I'm saying is, if comics projects had Q ratings, that Artist's Edition line would be the Olsen Twins circa 1991. It breaks people, pushing them into buying strategies they didn't know they had.

* Thursday at SDCC is "find out exactly who you've angered and why" day. Friday is "find the people and hopefully they'll accept your apology" day. Saturday is "start to make good on that apology day." Sunday is your day off.

* Comic-Con is the place where you're equally confused over maybe walking by Eric Roberts at 10 AM and maybe walking by Roger Fletcher at 10 PM.

* met up with Charles Hatfield in the Marriott lobby. I always like seeing Charles, one of the nicer and more talented writers I published back in the TCJ days. I liked his Jack Kirby book Hand Of Fire. We talked a bit about fantasy books, and how the kids are, and the panels he's doing at the show. I also got to meet his lovely missus. It was a nice, calm, rational, adult 25 minutes.

* and then I went to the show floor.

* oh, I'm just kidding. You know, I don't know if it's just me being less of a lumbering super-mammal or just the places I tend to explore, but I thought the con floor was very, very negotiable on Thursday for a Thursday.

* always nice to see Gary Groth, even if it's just standing about 50 yards away talking to Eddie Campbell.

* saw Alex Chun at the Go Comics booth (I think that's where I saw him), but when I turned around he was gone!

* went over to talk to Charlie Kochman at Abrams. He said they're having a solid year -- he doesn't count Wimpy Kid in that estimation, because the Wimpy Kid books always have a good year. The Clowes and the Dahmer books have done well for them. The Dahmer book is, as I suspect, continuing to garner a lot of interest because it's an affecting work that people are catching up to on a subject that might not be automatically attractive when you first hear about it.

* the main reason I went to Abrams was to maybe look at anything they have for Frank Young and Dave Lasky's forthcoming Carter Family book, and I was NOT disappointed. They brought out an unbound version of the final book, and I got to look through it. It's handsomely mounted -- there will be a CD of radio performances -- and at first look this may be the Dave Lasky book we've been waiting for him to do for years and years now. I hope it is, anyway. No better guy than that David Lasky. At any rate, I really appreciate them making that book available to me, and I look forward to talking to Dave for CR close to its release this Fall.

* stopped by the Becky Cloonan panel. She talked about using her burst of self-published material as little writing showcases and training opportunities, which seems to me eminently smart. Very attentive, enthusiastic crowd in a not-small room.

* my great honor to meet Gilbert Shelton and talk to him for a CBLDF panel. I really enjoyed watching him interact in absolutely gracious terms with his fans. He said some interesting things in our conversation while he drew -- two nice marker drawings, one of his oldest character, one of one of his newer ones. I thought him talking about how censorship informed the undergrounds was intriguing, how it gave them something to push back against, and how he endorsed this with other cartoonists even though it might not have been a big part of the work he was doing. Anyway, what an honor.

* my new idea is that they need to snake the long lines for movie stuff through the backs of rooms with comics panels that fewer people are attending, like a line for a Disney World ride.

* did a bookstores panel with Alison Bechdel, Matthew & Jennifer Holm, Kate Beaton, Nate Powell, Jason Shiga and Brecht Evens. I think that's everybody. I thought it went well considering the number of people up on stage and how that sometimes makes it hard to make sure everyone speaks. All of those panelists could do three hours on anything they'd want to talk about and I watch that panel. I liked best the acerbic answers to the question of how bookstores communicate legitimacy to certain audiences.

* saw Scott McCloud's work in progress on a tablet he let me use. It looks really sharp. He's about 200 pages in, and the pages I saw look to make considerable use of bleeding images all the way out to the edge of pages. He's work directly with Mark Siegel on that one, and was highly complimentary on how Siegel would praise, then constructively criticize.

* a ton of people I know where extremely complimentary of Heidi MacDonald's panel with Kate Beaton and Lynn Johnston.

* hung out with Gus Norman at the Image table, and met a few of those writers and their events coordinator. The morale over there seems really high right now, which is understandable.

* Margaret Atwood is here.

* the blogging panel I was on went fine, I think. I was totally baffled by the number of people there, although more than half were apparently squatting that panel to get to a gaming one afterwards. I didn't know they did panels after 7 PM. I thought it was weird there was a panel at 7 PM. It was nice to see all of my peers in one place, folks like Michael Dooley, Brigid Alverson and Deb Aoki. I got to meet David Uzumeri.

* Douglas Wolk is apparently no longer writing much of anything for ComicsAlliance.

* my brother was the best journalist in the room, as he got booted for taking photos and not sitting in a chair to do so. Fight the man! Someone needs to vote "the fire marshal" the most powerful person at Comic-Con. I saw fire regulations cited for not letting my brothers take photos from weird angles, the way a line was being formed outside of Room 32, and, oddly, someone not getting being able to seal the deal date-wise at the Trickster thing later that night.

* it may be my imagination, but I've never seen so many empty tables at such a significant number of the more expensive restaurants.

* went to the CBLDF party, and enjoyed myself despite not knowing barely anyone. Got to meet Eric Stephenson. Met Joseph Remnant, who did the Cleveland book with Harvey Pekar. He's cooking up a comics web site project with Noah Van Sciver. You should go buy his book at the Top Shelf table; it's very entertaining, very accessible to non-comics readers, too.

* Gary Groth was highly complimentary of Joseph Lambert's new Helen Keller/Anne Sullivan book. I concur.

* Jen Vaughn seems like she's been at Fantagraphics for ten years, she seemingly fits in so well. She and Jacq Cohen divulged their secret formula for a cocktail that looks like booze and has no alcohol content. I'm not saying this gave them an advantage, but I think CR may be doing a full week devoted to Mr. Twee Deedle in September. Not sure how that happened.

* it's nice to be back in San Diego, although I apparently only know about 1.5 percent of the people who work in comics.

*****

these reports will continue all weekend, unless you're reading the one that rolls out on Monday in which case it's the last one; maybe skip a close reading of these photos, as they're from a previous show

*****
*****
 
posted 12:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Becky Cloonan

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posted 12:40 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Comics Comics Comics: Three Comics To Consider Buying Today At San Diego Comic Con

The Comics Reporter will be doing a few stand-alone articles about material available for sale at Comic-Con International. You should definitely consider buying anything profiled that way. I thought there might also be room for a recommendations-in-brief piece each day of the big show about stuff that's out and if not brand-new, then at least something I haven't seen yet.

I don't mean these posts to be taken as a shot against all the other great stuff out there. I'm sure I'll be buying some of that material, too. It's just that San Diego Con has always been a comics show for me and for this site. There's some great stuff out there for your consideration. Let's spotlight a few.

image1. Freak Brothers Omnibus, Gilbert Shelton
It was my great fortune to meet and talk to Gilbert Shelton yesterday at a CBLDF drawing panel. This is the book he mentioned when I asked him about any signings anywhere. He claims not to have a North American publisher at the moment, with Rip Off finally fading into the sunset. I can't imagine a better purchase, though, both for the value involved in this presentation, the fact that Shelton is even at this show, and to mark 2012 in one's memory. If you could get it signed, that seems like it would be a wonderful thing, too. A pantheon-level cartoonist. Shelton appears today at Last Gasp from 2:00 to 3:30 PM; that's #1616.

2. Dal Tokyo, Gary Panter
I know, I know, it's sort of boring to pick a prestige Fantagraphics title like this one, and it's not like Gary is here or anything. Still, it's hard for me imagine a better, more important comic making its debut at this show and I'm trying to get over the notion of only recommending comics that catch some sort of big-time marketing hook or novelty current as opposed to just being awesome comics. This is the kind of book that has peers, not betters. Fantagraphics is at 1718.

3. Narbonic Perfect Collection, Shaenon Garrity
I want to make a point of selecting a couple of books you can pick up at a couple of comics charities. I'd love for you to buy anything at one of these places that intrigues you, of course. I'll do the CBLDF's obvious offering tomorrow, but today I thought you might want to pick something up at the Cartoon Art Museum booth that isn't one of their 18 billion fun drawings. If you buy Shaenon Garrity's best-known comics work there, you'll be getting something I completely missed despite it coming out last year, you'll be getting something that was kickstarted, and you'll be making CAM point man Andrew Farago happy. I think this is also something you can target for purchase over at the Trickster site, although while I know Garrity has been over at the not-a-charity indie-comics promoting location I'm not exactly sure if this is something she's selling there. CAM is located at booth 1930. Trickster is up on J street, right before 8th.

If you're at Comic-Con and a comics buyer, I hope you'll think of checking out one of the above works. If you're at Comic-Con to see the Supernatural panel and to attend the Masquerade -- and god bless you -- maybe you could try a comic book as a way of paying tribute to the roots of the show you're enjoying. For everyone else, I hope some of these are books you might enjoy in the near future. Three more suggestions tomorrow.
 
posted 12:35 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Sweatshirt Weather

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July 12, 2012


D+Q Announces Acquisition Of Art Spiegelman's Co-Mix

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Drawn & Quarterly announced today it has acquired North American and UK rights to Art Spiegelman's Co-Mix: A Retrospective Of Comics, Graphics And Scraps. The book was acquired for the Montreal-based publisher by Publisher Chris Oliveros.

Co-Mix: A Retrospective Of Comics, Graphics And Scraps is an expanded English-language version of the bilingual edition published by Flammarion. That work and the proposed one featured full-page reproduction of the cartoonist's artwork, comics and preliminary sketches.

The D&Q initial publicity statement describes the 64-yeard-old cartoonist, artist, editor, publisher and historian as "leader of, and an inspiration for, alternative comics artists throughout the past three decades." Oliveros describes Spiegelman in that same release as "hands down, the most influential living cartoonist."

The work began as a major museum retrospective appearing first at Angouleme during his recent presidency and moving to the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The show version will continue on to Cologne, Vancouver and New York City over the next several months.

Co-Mix will be distributed in the US by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, in Canada by Raincoast and in the UK by PGUK. Matthew Bloomgarden of the Wylie Agency represented Spiegelman in negotiations.

I think this is a great get for D+Q, of a potentially fascinating project. Several people that saw this in its exhibit form told me it was the best of its kind they'd ever witnessed. It's also worth noting that while Spiegelman is most closely affiliated with his own RAW Books and the Pantheon graphic novel efforts, he's actually worked with a surprising number of publishers over the years, particularly in the late underground period.
 
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Go, Look: Metropolis Journal

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Notes From The 2012 CCI Floor

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By Tom Spurgeon

The following are notes and observations gathered on the floor of Comic-Con International 2012 in San Diego, California. For immediate reactions to what's going on from hundreds of people, I recommend an appropriate search or multiple such searches on Twitter. For mainstream comics and panel coverage in general -- this being a key event for publishing news announcements -- I recommend Comic Book Resources ComicsAlliance and The Beat.

*****

* there were a few pre-show publishing announcements that went out earlier this week that I think maybe properly belong in this column -- or at least they're the kind of thing I would have run as announcements on the site were they to come out today. One was First Second announcing the publication of something called The Ren without a link to a posting of the story on-line, even on their blog, which I always find a little weird this far along in the age of Internet. Anyway, that's by Joseph Illidge, Shawn Martinbrough and Grey Williamson. A second was the launching of Binary Publications (or maybe Binary Publishing, or even Binary Press), which is a Gary Reed line devoted to books about pop culture. On Tuesday, MAD announced its 60th anniversary volume from Time-Life. The new Neil Gaiman kids' book deal apparently includes a work with cartoonist Skottie Young.

* here's one from the afternoon before the show's Preview Night: comiXology and Bongo will launch a bunch of Simpsons comics on a related, targeted app to coincide with Bongo's Thursday morning panel. That's the first in-show announcement of what I'm guessing will be a metric ton of digital-related announcements.

* so I rode down on the train from Los Angeles. The line to board was very, very long, and even though I was about ten people back from the front I almost didn't get a seat -- I'm still now sure how that works, but it happens a lot. It was mostly a Comic-Con crowd, but of the younger-than-35 age group as opposed to families, or pros, or even, really, hardcore-identifiable fans.

* Union State in LA has added a few shops and generally updated its front lobby from 1978, and I'm glad.

* I was in line behind the BOOM! employees. I could tell they worked together because nothing else really connected all the members of the group, and I figured they were in publishing because they were bringing extra boxes of books. I guessed BOOM!, and confirmed. I was awash in intense nostalgia over 15-18 years ago when I was a twentysomething headed off to Comic-Con with a bunch of my friends/co-workers, that sense of excitement but also wanting to stay cool about it that I sensed from these nice folks.

* Ross Richie apparently won't be at the show for a significant length of time because he may be a daddy soon and wants to stay around home, which is the best reason to miss a comics convention.

* I met and saw and talked to a lot of young women working in comics, really impressive young women. I don't know if that was by chance or what.

* downtown San Diego looks more developed than ever, and there will still whole blocks cordoned off for construction. I swear to God that ten years from now there will be streets stuffed with buildings shooting up into the sky, like in Inception.

* first person I saw that I knew but I'm not 100 percent sure it was them: Maggie Thompson. First person I know that's who it was: Chris Staros. First person I know that I talked to: Denis Kitchen. Kitchen says he's completed the Al Capp biography he's been working on for a while now and that should be out next year. I look forward to reading it.

* I saw Anthony Bourdain saunter through the little Starbuck's lounge at the Marriott, unaccompanied, looking very tall and projecting a celebrity's "please don't approach me" forcefield. He's there to promote his comic.

* I thought the registration went as smoothly as I've ever experienced it. I was through the line in less than three minutes, although this is the first time I remembered my bar code. Unlike past years, I even received decent directions from someone on the far western end as to which building housed the registration area I needed.

* as organized as I thought the registration process was, I don't get what they do with people waiting to get into Preview Night and I'm not sure they do either. There were people being asked to line-up upstairs, people left to kind of cluster outside, people in the inner hallway anyway. I tested random site and security people as to what was going on and got different answers from all of them.

* they are still giving out giant bags, and those giant bags still cut in totally unflattering fashion across the bodies of some of the overweight people in attendance.

* I saw two people waiting for people to bring them con tickets they had apparently purchased (my standing around led them both to approach me). I hope that works out for them. I think.

* at one point during the day, D+Q's Tom Devlin expressed total bafflement over some of the nearby, parking-lot exhibits and how they worked. I didn't have a good answer for him, but I assume they just attract spillover traffic.

* no one asked to look at my ID past the registration process.

* Preview Night is kind of a weird thing from the part of the convention in which I'm interested because a lot of focus is on exclusives being offered by various merchants, but it's also enjoyable because it's a way for publishers and professionals and press to kind of ease themselves into the weekend. A lot of relatively languorous conversations.

* a Fantagraphics representative told me they moved a lot of Love & Rockets material during Preview Night, which is always a great thing to hear. I hope they have a big weekend. There's a run of t-shirts on-hand, and two people volunteered in conversations on other parts of the floor about how they were excited to pick up some Los Bros stuff this con.

* speaking of Fantagraphics, I was surprised to see the Dal Tokyo book. It looks great. I also really liked the design on the second Buz Sawyer volume, a really atypical image being used.

* ran into Mark and Gina at First Second. They both seem to be doing well; Mark says the company has performed extremely well this year across the board. They have a ton of authors in attendance. Siegel's own Sailor Twain is out this Fall; it's one of two books I carried out of there yesterday evening.

* the other book I carried out was the new Eddie Campbell, who was anchoring the tail end of the Top Shelf table with a lot of enthusiasm. He described a bit the project in which he's involved that was part of the list of Alan Moore projects listed by Gosh! the other day at the Moore signing. It's not official-official, so I'll respect, but it sounds like Campbell should have a really interesting work about comics coming out this winter.

* ran into John Cunningham at the DC Comics booth. I hope at one point I can interview him about his work there at the company, which I think is some of the more important done in terms of an industry sense. We stood and looked at the new DC booth, which is big and airy and features a really boss-looking Frank Quitely Batman and Robin panel in the art it uses. It's been quite some time since DC changed their look.

* long, enthusiastic line at the Darwyn Cooke Wednesday night signing.

* I'm starting to run into comics podcaster prime John Siuntres at shows the way I used to run into Tripwire's Joel Meadows. I love anyone with that cool radio-voice.

* had a long talk with the writer Joe Casey, who told me he's finished with the penultimate Godland issue, which will be bigger than usual and features color work with which he's extremely happy. Joe was my entry point into my current conception of creator's rights as a thousand-cuts issue rather than one featuring the occasional career decapitation, so it's always good to touch base.

* talked to Charles Brownstein briefly; he says the CBLDF is doing really well and that he really likes the current staff and board a lot in terms of implmenting some of his long-term plans for the charity. There's a state of the CBLDF article here.

* met the writer-about-comics Sonia Harris and liked her very much. Very profane and funny. Smart.

* in putting together yesterday's AdHouse announcement, I pumped Chris Pitzer for some specific news about his company's artists. One piece of good news is that Duncan The Wonder Dog's second installment is preceding slightly ahead of the announced schedule for it. One piece of unfortunate news is that the young and very talented cartoonist Josh Cotter isn't working on anything right now and has no plans to; he's following his artistic muse elsewhere for a while.

* the Pascal Girard color art pieces available through The Beguiling are really, really pretty.

* had dinner sitting next to John Pham, whose recent comics are hugely under-appreciated. He's still making time for comics, though, which was incredibly heartening to hear.

* speaking of dinner, not a lot of people are yet taking my advice about veering east from the Gaslamp in order to find dinner places with seats open; I had dinner with a group of eight or nine over in that part of town that was seated immediately just 20 minutes after Preview Night shut down. Although it is weird to have a nice sit-down in the part of town where just a decade and a half ago we were parking our cars for free and walking through sidewalks full of bums to get back to the more civilized neighborhoods.

* the one piece of publishing news I noticed when I got back to the room is J. Michael Straczynski reviving his creator-owned imprint at Image.

* since I'm old, I was asleep by 1 AM.

*****

these reports will continue all weekend, unless you're reading the one that rolls out on Monday in which case it's the last one; maybe skip a close reading of these photos, as they're from a previous show

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Bechdel Testing Comics

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Comics Comics Comics: Three Comics To Consider Buying Today At San Diego Comic Con

The Comics Reporter will be doing a few stand-alone articles about material available for sale at Comic-Con International. You should definitely consider buying anything profiled that way. I thought there might also be room for a recommendations-in-brief piece each day of the big show about stuff that's out and if not brand-new, then at least something I haven't seen yet.

I don't mean these posts to be taken as a shot against all the other great stuff out there. I'm sure I'll be buying some of that material, too. It's just that San Diego Con has always been a comics show for me and for this site. There's some great stuff out there for your consideration. Let's spotlight a few.

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1. The new Rick Geary book is out, and it's another installment in his series on major murders from the last two centuries: Lovers' Lane: The Hall-Mills Mystery. These are super-solid, stand-alone books from an honored comics-maker, and a perfect con pick-up. The publisher is NBM; they're at #1528. Geary is actually signing at that booth today from 10:30 to noon and again from 4:00 PM to 5:30.

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2. Sarah Becan, a mainstay of the Chicago small-press scene, has her collected Shuteye for sale at Comic-Con. She is splitting time between the table M-04 and DD-07.

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3. Rich Tommaso's The Cavalier Mr. Thompson is a kickstarted book being represented at the convention by Fantagraphics. There aren't a ton of copies on hand, so I wanted to say something early in the weekend rather than late. It's one of the works that the generation-two alt-cartoonist serialized on-line. I heard three different people on the floor waxing rhapsodic about Tommaso's natural-born cartooning sensibilities. Fantagraphics can be found at 1718.

If you're at Comic-Con and a comics buyer, I hope you'll think of checking out one of the above works. If you're at Comic-Con to see the Supernatural panel and to attend the Masquerade -- and god bless you -- maybe you could try a comic book as a way of paying tribute to the roots of the show you're enjoying. For everyone else, I hope some of these are books you might enjoy in the near future. Three more suggestions tomorrow.
 
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If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: All My Cats

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* as we kick into the Comic-Con weekend, there's still plenty of good, other stuff around the Internet. Case in point: one-time industry veteran and still occasional writer-about-comics Robert Boyd has a piece up on Joe Sacco and Joost Swarte. How astounding a year is it to have at least three books out from that pair?

image* Sean Kleefeld has advice for following Comic-Con International if you're not attending, mostly by building/gathering together tools to allow you to follow it in explicit fashion. (You of course don't need to do anything other than follow CR for the next several days, though.)

* here's a poster comic by Javier Hernandez about Steve Ditko.

* here's a comic about the M16A1 rifle.

* Paul Di Filippo on LOEG: Century: 2009. Robert Boyd on a bunch of different comics. James Romberger on a bunch of different comics. J. Caleb Mozzocco on three new books from Drawn and Quarterly.

* Oliver Sava talks to Mark Waid.
 
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July 11, 2012


Top Shelf Kicks Off Their Comic-Con Weekend By Announcing Nate Powell On The Graphic Novel March

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Kicking off what looks like a big weekend for comics publishing news, Top Shelf announces today that Nate Powell -- an Eisner award-winning cartoonist and special guest of this year's Comic-Con -- will draw the graphic novel autobiography March by civil rights icon John Lewis.

If this link isn't active right at this moment, it should be at some point today. They should have a preview booklet with a 13-page excerpt to pass out at the Top Shelf booth today (that's a rough image from it below); that's also a company that tends to make itself as readily available as possible to the media.

Powell will work with John Lewis and Andrew Aydin on the book. Lewis is a US Congressman, serving since 1987. He was a chairman for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and was a key player in the US Civil Rights movement. This will be Nate Powell's second time around illustrating events of the 1960s time period, after The Silence Of Our Friends.

March should see publication in either 2013 or 2014.

The Powell-to-March news kicks off a strong weekend for the indy/alt publisher perhaps most invested in convention appearances as a contributor to the bottom line. Top Shelf will officially debut two Jeff Lemire books, The Underwater Welder and Lost Dogs, James Kochalka's fourth American Elf book, The Lovely Horrible Stuff from Eddie Campbell and Wizzywig from Ed Piskor. This will also mark the official festival debut for League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 2009, which enjoyed a 20K-plus initial sell into direct market shops and has been generally well-reviewed. (I enjoyed that one, too.) Top Shelf says it will also debut animated footage from Kochalka's SuperFuckers cartoon.

Jeffrey Brown, Powell, Lemire, Campbell, Kochalka and Piskor lead a healthy Top Shelf creator contingent. They're located at #1721.

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Go, Look: End Of April Comics

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PictureBox Inc., Renee French Announce Limited Edition Book To Debut At SPX

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Renée French and publisher PictureBox, Inc. have announced a limited edition book to be released by the publisher and first available in September at Small Press Expo. : To be called Bjornstrand, the book will run 24 pages and be 5 X 7 dimensions-wise. There will be only 300 made, with each one signed and numbered by the artist.

Various Bjornstrand panels are currently being serialized by French through her web site. I would assume the character is named after Gunnar Bjornstrand, but I forgot to ask.

At any rate, new Renée French and new PictureBox Inc. offering are always worth noting; the two together makes this a potentially nice project, indeed. I also think limited edition books like this are going to come to dominate the art-comics market more and more in the next few years.
 
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Go, Look: Girlmountain

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AdHouse Announces Immediate Availability Of Jim Rugg Notebook Drawing Volume

imageAdHouse Books has for Comic-Con season made available a limited edition Jim Rugg volume for immediate purchase. The book -- which is firmly within the Richmond-based comics publisher's art book tradition, consists of 48 pages featuring the notebook-style drawing through which the cartoonist recently returned to the joy of making art for art's sake.

Described by the cartoonist as work that that vacillates between celebration and satire, Notebook will be limited to 300 copies in an Exclusive Limited Edition. It will cost $30, and is spiral bound.

An exhibit of Rugg's notebook drawings was held in Los Angeles starting in May. Entitled "Notebook Nerd," the exhibition was well-reviewed; you can see photos from the show here. Some of the reviews noted that unlike with similar exhibition, Rugg wasn't necessarily drawing from any sort of deep obsession with specific subject matter, including drawing elements of pop culture or trashy art with which he had only a second-hand relationship.

Rugg's popular Afrodisac stand-alone volume was published through AdHouse; he has also appeared in the company's line of themed anthologies.
 
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Go, Look: Chicago Is My Kind Of Town

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A Brief Set Of Predictions About This Year's SDCC Stories

Comic-Con International gets underway tomorrow, with the Preview Night kick-off -- really just a fifth day for the show at this point -- getting things underway at approximately 6 PM ET. It's an obviously huge event weekend in what is shaping up to be a huge year for comics festivals and conventions as a way to present the art form, propagate the culture and sell its commercial products.

We'll be on hand starting later today. It struck me while thinking about the show last night that there seem to be some clear issues going in. Here are my guesses as to what stories will develop at the show.

1. Somebody Died
I wish for multiple reasons it's a story that never happened, and I'm sure it will settle into the background a bit over the weekend. I still think that the death of a Twilight fan Tuesday, a fan waiting in line during the ramp-up to the show and its movie panels, could distinguish 2012 from any four or five versions of the event before or after this year's iteration. It will be what my 71-year-old mother sends me an e-mail about before the show ends. There will likely be some bad, accusatory writing about how the death could have been prevented because expressing opinions that make some narrow band of rigid sense out of things that don't is what comics and junk-culture fans do almost automatically now. In the same way that recent creator's rights discussion have mixed with things like certain comics professionals dying near-penniless to make for industry-wide reflection on Just What The Hell All Of Us Are Doing, I think we'll see something similar with this poor fan's death, the huge contrast between the extravagant indulgence of our cultural wallows and what that can cost us. I hope that at least for the next few days, though, we remain targeted on the specific tragedy for this lady, her family and her friends.

2. Seriously, What Are We All Doing Here?
The discussion of professional ethics, obligations and opportunities engendered by the twin issues of Before Watchmen being done of Alan Moore's howl of protest and the fact that each company's arguably biggest property is part of a lawsuit from the families of their creators has transformed itself into a wider opportunity for self-reflection. There's going to be some really sloppy declaration-making and line-drawing at some late-night conversations over the weekend, but I think it's healthy to have a self-awareness of the cost of committing to making art for a living in a society with significant commercial demands on everyone. It's going to be one big dormitory hallway at 3 AM during Finals out there.

3. It's More Of A Festival Now
In about two years' time we've seen an explosion of events outside of official convention activities, both the after-hours type and the licensed programming site. It makes sense: when the convention itself starts to fill-up, there's bound to be spill-over. I think this makes for a better show even if I also understand a bit of the standard "you're just drafting behind us" sentiment that some traditional con folk have as to this kind of thing. Anyway, I think it's instructive how quickly the convention has adjusted to the existence of all of these things to do out of the convention center even as the convention center has seemingly extended its schedule into the evening hours a bit. That this coincides with an increasing desire by comics culture to make a better show of the weekend is a big bonus, too.

4. Los Bros Hernandez At 30
I can dream, can't I? I know that there's going to be more total ink spilled about each and every TV show holding forth on its next season in one of the big halls, or whoever cleverly crafts a tweet-able moment there the way Andrew Garfield did by popping up in a Spider-Man costume a year ago; that's just the way the culture is oriented now. Still, I hope that there's a small minority of writers, professionals and fans that rallies around the astounding career feat of Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez in this forum for appreciation. These are creators whose run as top practitioners of their art form is something that doesn't happen anywhere all that frequently. They made comics that people stood up and noticed in 1982; they made some more comics like that last year and should again this time out. I'm honored to be going to a convention where they're appearing.

5. Digital
I think the weight of publishing announcements at the show is going to mark a clear industry tipping point in favor of the reality of digital publication. It's intriguing in that no specific commercial model has really seized that market, at least not yet, so you're like to get a wide variety of ideas and concepts. I'd be surprised if this show didn't contribute to what should end up a summer with a dozen significant digital publishing announcements.
 
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Go, Look: Spider-Man Up Close

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Comics Comics Comics: Three Comics To Consider Buying Today At San Diego Comic Con

The Comics Reporter will be doing a few stand-alone articles about material available for sale at Comic-Con International. You should definitely consider buying anything profiled that way. I thought there might also be room for a recommendations-in-brief piece each day of the big show about stuff that's out and if not brand-new, then at least something I haven't seen yet.

I don't mean these posts to be taken as a shot against all the other great stuff out there. I'm sure I'll be buying some of that material, too. It's just that San Diego Con has always been a comics show for me and for this site. There's some great stuff out there for your consideration. Let's spotlight a few.

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1. The fifth volume of Love and Rockets: New Stories is newly available as Los Bros Hernandez celebrate their 30th year as Comic-Con and comics industry institutions. This can be had at the Fantagraphics table, which is #1718. Taking the new L&R and going back to your hotel room and devouring it cover to cover is one of my favorite things about the last few years of the show. God bless the Hernandez Brothers.

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2. The new Parker book from Darwyn Cooke is out. I'm a big fan of Cooke and of this series. IDW publishes the series, and Cooke will be signing copies tonight in the kick-off role for IDW's entire con weekend. IDW was considering not having con weekends at one point, so to see them putting a book like this front and center is a great thing. Their table number is 2643.

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3. Two cartoon-driven calendars from Kate Beaton are out, and Ms. Beaton is in attendance at the show. She's apparently not attending a lot of shows this year, so that's a great thing. I would walk briskly -- don't run, because being a security person isn't a great gig and those folks need no extra grief, but definitely walk with deliberate speed -- to the D+Q table (that's 1629) sometime soon after the Preview Night doors open and pick one up before they're all gone. I can't imagine these not selling out.

If you're at Comic-Con and a comics buyer, I hope you'll think of checking out one of the above works. If you're at Comic-Con to see the Supernatural panel and to attend the Masquerade -- and god bless you -- maybe you could try a comic book as a way of paying tribute to the roots of the show you're enjoying. For everyone else, I hope some of these are books you might enjoy in the near future. Three more suggestions tomorrow.
 
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Go, Look: Looking For DC

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Please Consider Seeing My Panels At Comic-Con

If all goes well, I should be at San Diego Con this weekend. I'm lucky enough to be moderating a few panels and sitting on one. Here are the places I know I'll be, each with the appropriate description from the programming guide.

*****

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* Gilbert Shelton Drawing Panel
1:00-2:00 (Thursday) CBLDF Master Session: Gilbert Shelton: With his creations The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Fat Freddy's Cat, and Wonder Warthog among others, Comic-Con special guest Gilbert Shelton is a master of establishing iconic characters and presenting them in scenarios that underscore his expressive cartooning abilities. Get a rare glimpse into the drawing process of this master of the Underground Comix movement, hosted by Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter. The pieces created in this Master Session will be auctioned off at CBLDF's Art Auction on Saturday night. Room 11AB

*****

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* Bookstore Panel
3:00-4:00 (Thursday) Graphic Novels: The Bookstore Crowd: The comics world looks at "mainstream comics" as the superhero crowd, the ones available in comic book stores every Wednesday. But the real mainstream comics and graphic novels are in bookstores and created by a whole different crowd, one that lacks, for the most part, capes, powers, and spandex. Comics journalist Tom Spurgeon (comicsreporter.com) talks to Comic-Con special guests Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant!), Alison Bechdel (Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama), Brecht Evens (The Making of), Jennifer and Matthew Holm (Babymouse series), Nate Powell (Any Empire), and Jason Shiga (Empire State) about their popular graphic novels that appeal to a more diverse audience in bookstores all over the world. Room 23ABC

*****

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* Comics Blogging Panel
7:00-8:00 (Thursday) Bleeding Alliance of Beat Reporters: Andy Khouri of Comics Alliance, Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool, Heidi MacDonald of The Beat, and Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter represent the four most influential and popular blogs in the comics industry. Join them for a one-time-only chat about the changing role of comics news, how they run their sites, what makes news, and what makes a rumor. It will be either a love fest or a slug fest. Moderated by Douglas Wolk (Reading Comics). Room 23ABC

*****

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* Prince Valiant Panel
3:30-4:30 (Friday) 75th Anniversary of Prince Valiant: Seventy-five years ago artist Harold R. Foster partnered with King Features to tell the epic adventures of Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur. After years of working on Tarzan, Foster wanted his own strip to write and draw, with his own characters fulfilling their destinies according to him. Today the strip is still going strong. Writer Mark Schultz, artists Gary Gianni and Tom Yeates, and comics historian R. C. Harvey talk to Tom Spurgeon about the enduring legacy of Foster's creation, still present in the Sunday funnies and more popular than ever in reprints of the original strips. Room 8

*****

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* The Eisner Awards
8:00-10:30 (Friday) Syfy Presents the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards: The 24th annual Eisner Awards (the "Oscars" of the comics industry) honor comics creators and works in 28 categories. Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront

*****

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* Brecht Evens Spotlight Panel
3:30-4:30 (Saturday) Spotlight on Brecht Evens: Award-winning cartoonist, visual artist, and musician Brecht Evens is a Comic-Con special guest from Belgium. Evens will talk about his graphic novels, which have achieved wide acclaim across Europe and North America, including his latest book, The Making of. Room 8

*****

Everyone please travel safely. If you're where I am, I'd love to meet you.

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: World Of Will

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This Isn't A Library: Notable Releases To The Comics Direct Market

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Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's no-doubt largely accurate list of books shipping from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. to comic book and hobby shops across North America.

I might not buy all of the works listed here. I might not buy any. You never know. I'd sure look at the following, though.

*****

MAY120522 WILD CHILDREN ONE SHOT (MR) $7.99
As this is the summer of Image Comics -- or this generation's summer of Image Comics or whatever -- let's lead with an Image one-shot from its growing creative bench. Riley Rossmo has always seemed like one of those cartoonists just looking for a hit on which to blossom. Anyway, one reason we go to the comics shop is to find new comics by new talent, and for many folks this will qualify. For others it will be a hundred miles away from any reason they read comics, and that's okay, too.

imageFEB120313 RICHARD STARKS PARKER THE SCORE $24.99
The third of Darwyn Cooke's adaptation of Richard Stark's Parker material: a high-skill, high-pedigree project, like a shiny car with fins parked next to a fleet of Pintos.

MAY128003 THIEF OF THIEVES #1 5TH PTG $2.99
I think they just threw this one in there so it looked like Kirkman was making fun of other creators.

MAY120478 WALKING DEAD #100 CHROMIUM ED (MR) $9.99
MAY120469 WALKING DEAD #100 CVR A ADLARD (MR) $3.99
MAY120470 WALKING DEAD #100 CVR B SILVESTRI (MR) $3.99
MAY120471 WALKING DEAD #100 CVR C QUITELY (MR) $3.99
MAY120472 WALKING DEAD #100 CVR D MCFARLANE (MR) $3.99
MAY120473 WALKING DEAD #100 CVR E PHILLIPS (MR) $3.99
MAY120474 WALKING DEAD #100 CVR F HITCH (MR) $3.99
MAY120475 WALKING DEAD #100 CVR G OTTLEY (MR) $3.99
MAY120476 WALKING DEAD #100 CVR H ADLARD WRAP (MR) $3.99
This is your #1 comic book of the month and has to be the most depressing #1 comic book of the month of the last 20 years not a DC comic book event prominently featuring the rape and murder of a Nora Charles/Pam North stand-in. Anyway, 100 issues of a serial comic book is quite the achievement, and I hope its creators enjoy the cash windfall no doubt coming their way because that's what the Image deal does really well.

MAY120635 AVX VS #4 $3.99
This is the latest issue of Marvel's latest event series, and just about the only thing reliably flying off the shelves in the Might Marvel Way if the various mainstream-oriented pundits are to be believed. I think it's gaining momentum as a story with a lot of those readers, which is something Marvel really needed.

MAY120990 ADVENTURE TIME MARCELINE SCREAM QUEENS #1 MAIN CVRS $3.99
This is your comic playing the role of "big hit in the small pond of well-received comics featuring work from creators whose talent is such you wish they could sell more of their own work, although complaining about that when they're doing a perfectly fine comic like this seems ungenerous." You know the kind of comic I'm talking about.

DEC110990 KIRBY GENESIS #8 $3.99
Eight Issues! Holy crap, I'm completely behind on this endorsed-by-the-heirs series. Have I missed anything?

MAY121133 TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE #8 (MR) $4.95
I can't imagine there's a better single-issue buy out there; Michael Kupperman is one of comics' funniest people, and probably its most consistent right now. That Mark Twain book he did was a gift for a half-dozen of my friends, and he's a better cartoonist than a prose writer.

MAR120053 BLACKSAD SILENT HELL HC $19.99
It's not a series that I follow, but I know that a lot of readers have a great deal of affection for the Blacksad series, and I imagine this week will be all about that book dropping for a ton of folks.

*****

The full list of this week's releases, including some titles with multiple cover variations and a long, impressive list of toys and other stuff that isn't comics, can be found here. Despite this official list there's no guarantee a comic will show up in the stores as promised, or in all of the stores as opposed to just a few. Also, stores choose what they carry and don't carry so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, albeit a while back, try this.

The above titles are listed with their Diamond order code in the first field, which may assist you in finding comics at your shop or having them order something for you they don't have in-stock. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.

If I failed to list your comic, that's on me. I apologize.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In New York City, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: Eat, Sleep Sniff

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Andrew Fulton alerts my presence to this opportunity to get a mini-comic from Australia every month for about the price of seven superhero comic books.

image* Barry Moser profiles Flannery O'Connor as a cartoonist. Jog talks to Richard Corben. Someone from 1979 interviews Steranko.

* missed it: Karol Krauser was the lost Superman.

* Lane Williams writes on the Avengers Vs. X-Men event series Marvel is doing right now. It may be a mistaken impression on my part because I don't have a large enough sample, but it seems to me that some fans that pay close attention to that stuff are coming around on that series.

* Lee Konstantinou on Are You My Mother? The Mindless Ones and their commenting crew on LOEG: Century: 2009.

* this week's Eisner Awards have added Tricia Helfer, Samuel T. Anders and Debi Derryberry to a presenters line-up that already included Lynn Johnston, Jonathan Ross and Phil LaMarr. The better the presenters, the worse I feel the next day about my drunken heckling.

* hey, it's a new Oliver East comic.

* Tim O'Shea talks to Aubrey Sitterson. Josh Bell talks to Ian Brill. Chris Arrant talks to David Macho.

* Dean Haspiel will be appearing at his drawing table for much of San Diego Con weekend.

* Michael Grabowski reminds us of the remarkable consistency shown by Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez over their long careers.

* not comics: Seth gives better gifts than you do.

* finally, if I had to live the part of my life that involves enjoying comics over again, I'd make room for collecting sketches and commissioned drawings and original comics art. Doesn't something like this look fun, like it'd be awesome to have something like that waiting for you at a show?
 
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One Day Remaining Until Comic-Con International 2012

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This year's Comic-Con International will take place July 12-15, with a Preview Night on July 11 -- that's tonight!

In the ramp up to the event, we recommend this site's "By The Numbers" guide and twitter feed, the Comic-Con web site, the Comic-Con twitter feed and fellow bloggers The Beat and Mark Evanier. Just about any of your favorite comics- and pop culture-related sites should have some coverage of the show.

We hope to see you there.
 
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July 10, 2012


San Diego Union-Tribune: Woman Waiting In Line For CCI Twilight Panel Killed While Crossing Street

The story from the U-T, including a first reaction from spokesman David Glanzer, is here. What seems to have happened is that a 53-year-old fan, identified in subsequent twitter activity as "Gisela G," was struck and hit by a car in the crosswalk on Harbor Drive near the convention center. She had been waiting in line since Sunday for a place in the convention's Twilight panel, and was crossing against the light when she was struck. The article says that the line was being relocated and the fan was trying to keep up with her place in it.

The driver was a 67-year-old man.

David Glanzer sent CR the convention's official statement: "While we have not received an official briefing from the San Diego Police Department, it is our understanding that an individual was fatally injured while crossing Harbor Drive in Downtown San Diego. It is with tremendous sadness that we offer our heartfelt condolences. Our sincere thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved in this tragic incident."

Glanzer also sent along information about the line-switch that preceded the accident. Apparently it was not a switch-up in the line order as might happen as a way to keep people from lining up too early -- making the last first, and the first last -- or anything where the victim, because of the way the line was going to reassembled, might have felt the need to hurry in order to maintain her place in it (beyond, perhaps, feeling a need to be in the line when the move was made). Instead, it sounds like it was a simple reorientation from a line at the convention center to a line at the Hilton.

"The line was facing the wrong direction," Glanzer wrote. "So if you were the number one person in line you were facing the convention center. The line was moved in a U formation so that first person was moved (and those behind followed) so that they were now facing the Hilton area. They still have the same space in line, just facing a different direction."

A twitter conversation including links to a memorial fund can be found here.

CR extends our condolences to the victim's family and friends.
 
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Go, Look: Caitlin McGurk On Basil Wolverton

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Analysts Weigh In On June 2012 DM Numbers

The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has offered up their usual array of lists, estimates and analysis regarding the performance of comic books and graphic novels in the Direct Market of comic and hobby shops, this time for June 2012.

image* Overview
* Analysis
* Top 300 Comic Books
* Top 300 Graphic Novels

My favorite numbers cruncher John Jackson Miller at The Comics Chronicles has posted his analysis of the month here and here.

I'm probably the worst provider of analysis on this kind of thing of anyone that attempts regular analysis of this type, and this paragraph won't likely dissuade anyone with a similar opinion -- but it seems to me that the market as currently organized is functioning pretty well right now. It's doing what it's designed to do, to the limits of that design, and any criticism comes more from analyzing the limits of those aims in terms of breadth and ambition more than it does a genuine lack of good news. Shops are buying into selling the $3.99 comics to the point that with Before Watchmen beginning to show up most of the cheaper titles are scared out of the top slots. The market has pushed several of its strong serial sellers over the 100K mark, while there are two graphic novels that sold over 20,000 copies, which is even rarer and may be more important.

Given the dire state of things in the first half of 2011, these numbers are going to carry with them super-positive connotations moving forward into a second half where the numbers from last year won't as dramatically flatter what's going on in 2012 in a direct, month-to-month way. Marvel's whatever the hell they're doing should provide another can of slammed-down Mountain Dew in a way that raises the market's blood sugar for that season, and DC's stronger, more assured grasp of the bookstore market should see them do well in terms of getting the New 52 and then eventually the Before Watchmen books into as many hands as have a demand for them.
 
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Go, Look: The Bissette/De Haven Freaks' Amour Print

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MoCCA Suffers Setback With Loss Of Physical Space

The Museum Of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) in New York City abruptly announced the closure of its physical space, with their only statements on the matter being a brief release and some follow-up tweeting assuring folks that a physical space will return. The statement was:
The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA), New York City's only cultural institution dedicated specifically to celebrating the comics medium, will be closing its physical location effective immediately.

The SoHo museum, currently at 594 Broadway, recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. While the physical space is closing, plans are afoot to continue MoCCA in a new and exciting incarnation. An announcement of MoCCA’s future arrangements will be forthcoming by the end of July.

Current memberships will be honored at the new venue, as will table renewals for MoCCA Fest 2013.
The relevant tweet declaring a new venue will be announced by the end of July is here. Heidi MacDonald notes here that word was abrupt enough to have only reached people with events at the space a few days ago.

Mike Dean has a story up on the museum at its 10-year mark here that led to an old-school comments tussle that should be read all the way through if the subject interests you. I don't think it's out of the bounds to suggest that there are some controversial elements to the museum in terms of its breadth of support, and that I'm wondering if I'll get an unpleasant e-mail just for writing that seems to me a big part of it.
 
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Drew Friedman Adds Harvey Pekar To Portrait Series

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Go, Read: Remembering The Big Story That Wasn't

That super-smarty Michael Cavna at Comic Riffs recalls that last year saw one of the most bizarre comics new stories in history: the nearly instantaneous, trouble-free and non-havoc causing phaseout of one of comics syndication's Big Three.
 
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Go, Look: Jon Vermilyea Gallery At Juxtapoz

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Go, Look: Recent Sotheby's BD Auction

I'm not one for staring at the art offered in the latest auction of comics art, but I don't tend to notice the big sales of French-language industry comics art at all. I thought this a pretty intriguing bunch of stuff for sale.
 
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Go, Look: Noir De Mars

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I don't know much of anything about the bulk of the Beatles' appearances in the comic strips, but I'm fascinated there are apparently enough of those appearances to make for a giant book. Depending on the quality of the book, that could be a nice Christmas gift for a couple of my friends. I can write that here because they don't read my comics blog.

image* NBM will be publishing the Tanino Liberatore book Le Donne through its Eurotica imprint. I'm not sure why there isn't a bunch of Liberatore on the market right now; he seems perfectly suited to current tastes.

* Joe Kubert has had a pretty magnificent career and it's nice to see him still be honored for that career by his longtime home DC Comics.

* Grant Morrison's plans for a bunch of alternate-universe DC titles are beginning to shape up.

* I'm not sure I all the way know what Marvel liquidating a bunch of its books really means. It could be clearing the decks for a more sensible books program, it could be routine housecleaning, it could be the beginnings of a withdrawal from a certain kind of commitment to bookstore and direct market retailers. It's super-freaking creepy, though.

* Stephan Pastis has a kids book coming out. That should be worth a look: Pastis is talented and likely future Reuben winner.

* I hadn't noticed this until she pointed it out to me, but Sarah Morean is reviewing mini-comics for a site called IndieReader. I've liked her reviews in the past, and will add this column to my regular link-checks.

* finally, it's good to see that The Comic Book History Of Comics sold out despite its crappy introduction. I have PR that says Shark King from Toon has gone back to press as well, although I can't find an outside, confirming link. Boy, that book is pretty.

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Go, Look: Elmer Wexler

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Go, Read: Bob Levin On Ed The Happy Clown

Bob Levin is probably my favorite writer about comics, so to see him engage with one of my favorite all-time comics works, Ed The Happy Clown, is a real treat. Mostly, I'm just glad we're getting more Bob Levin pieces. I can't imagine too many better tonics for the days of hype ahead than to drink deep of this kind of interaction with an actual comics work.
 
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Go, Look: Coffee Spoons Comics

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Not Comics: Joy Ang

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Paul Karasik reports on the link between Eisner awards and donuts. CR supports all manner of comics-related donut research.

image* Marc Maron talks to Tony Millionaire. Phil Hampton talks to Tommy Lee Edwards. Gil Roth talks to Diana Renn and Paul Di Filippo.

* never saw this Jaime Hernandez drawing of Enid Coleslaw before.

* yikes. I would stay far, far away from doing business with that guy.

* missed it: The Cerebus Art Collection has launched. That could end up being interesting; I'm always intrigued by how Dave Sim engages with his audience.

* so Marc Silvestri is going to fund a project on Kickstarter and then give away the content for free. I'm all for people trying out different things, but I really don't think anyone has anything figured out yet, which makes the tone kind of odd to me. I'm not sure why the Age Of Internet is also an era of Bold Proclamations About The Way Everything Is Going To Work Now, but it's certainly turned out that way. Comics has been counter-intuitive given some of those declarations to the point you'd think people in comics would be hesitant to make them. They're fun, though; maybe that has something to do with it.

* here's a piece at Popehat that seems to agree with my general opinion on the Donna Barstow affair that from what little I know about copyrighted material and its use, posting something as an illustration for a discussion of that something pretty much falls under fair use, even if the discussion is strident douchebaggery. Maybe I'm missing something, I don't know.

* finally, it would be fun to serve Jim Lee food.
 
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Two Days Remaining Until Comic-Con International 2012

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This year's Comic-Con International will take place July 12-15, with a Preview Night on July 11.

In the ramp up to the event, we recommend this site's "By The Numbers" guide and twitter feed, the Comic-Con web site, the Comic-Con twitter feed and fellow bloggers The Beat and Mark Evanier. Just about any of your favorite comics- and pop culture-related sites should have some coverage of the show.

We hope to see you there.
 
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July 9, 2012


Go, Look: Gingerland

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Comics' Giving Heart: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

image* stellar, concise write-up here about efforts to help the writer and Lobo co-creator Roger Slifer. Please consider joining me in making a donation.

* not surprised that an Amy Reeder project was pretty quickly funded (although I'm sure they'd still love your support). I'm somewhat surprised that Micah Wright's project here hasn't met its goals yet, although I think that one's within funding distance and should make it, at least according to how these things tend to play out. (That doesn't mean they can't use your support right now, though.) Reasonably surprised that a P. Craig Russell-related project hasn't reached its goal yet; I'm not intimately familiar with the project in a way I can make an appraisal that way, but I wonder if there's some generational disconnect there, likely audience to funding mechanism.

* the Trickster fundraising effort is headed into its last few days, what with the space opening this week. I've written this before, but those strike me as useful premiums if you've already spent however many grand to go to California in an attempt to get into making comics.

* I asked via twitter for suggestions of projects to consider that might get lost San Diego Con week. Here's one called The Cabinet.

* finally, a project related to the great Don Rosa might have met its goal by the time this post rolls out. If not, it's close.
 
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Go, Look: La Belle Illustration

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Xeric Announces Final Round Of Comics Grant Repicients

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The Xeric Foundation has named its last run of comics-related grant recipients. Begun in 1992 by Peter Laird, the charity split twice-yearly grants between Western Massachusetts charities and money intended to foster first-books and self-publishing projects. The charity's wind-down was announced a year ago, with Laird citing the avenue of self-publishing on-line as one thing helping to make the print-driven charity somewhat obsolete.

This looks like about three times the usual number of winners, which is classy and a pleasant surprise in a way not unfamiliar o long-time followers of the Xeric program. Among the winners with whom I'm familiar are Laura Terry and Aidan Koch. Nearly $75K was targeted for dispersal.

* Oak, Max Badger
* Old Man Gloom, Arwen Donahue
* In the Sounds and Seas Vol. 1, Marnie Galloway
* Tiny Bangs, Olivia Horvath
* The Blonde Woman, Aidan Koch
* The Professor and the Paperboy, John Malta
* Ci Vediamo, Hazel Newelvant
* Dear Beloved Stranger, Shih-Mu Dino Pi
* How I Made the World, Liz Plourde and Randy Michaels
* Usagi Jane And The Skullbunnies, Benjamin Seto
* Castle Wood, Darin Shuler
* Sea Change: A Choose-Your-Own-Way Story, Caitlin Skaalrud
* The Reptile Mind, Bernard Stiegler
* Overboard, Laura Terry
* Polterguys, Laurianne Uy
* Look Straight Ahead, Elaine M. Will
* Wild Child, M. Young

Notable winners during the grant's history include Megan Kelso, Jason Lutes, Adrian Tomine, Tom Hart, Jessica Abel, James Sturm, Gene Yang, Jason Shiga, Anders Nilsen, Jordan Crane, Derek Kirk Kim, Lauren Weinstein and Jeff Lemire. Thank you, Mr. Laird.

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Go, Look: Lamar Abrams

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Not Comics: Newspapers Saddled With Pension Obligations, Too

David Carr ends this article about the fate of newspapers with a strong endorsement of great journalism as being key to newspapers' future -- a declearation that despite its ringing, defiant quality is wholly unconvincing after the long description of the Miyazaki-type crumbling beast that makes up the bulk of the article. He brings something to the general discussion I hadn't considered: newspapers is also another shrinking industry having to deal with giant pension obligations from when the business was much bigger and routinely profitable. Event then, the most distressing material might be in just how feckless some of the more ballyhooed alternatives to a bunch of dead wood tossed on a doorstep have turned out to be. I suspect there's also an element of people simply not valuing local information anymore, at least not the way they used to, but I'm not even sure how best to express or explain that.

Any significant number of bankruptcies in the newspaper industry would of course have a potential major impact on the newspaper comic strip.
 
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Not Comics: Some Thornton Oakley Illustrations

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A Plea To My Peers: Please Consider A Comic-Con Related Article About Los Bros Hernandez

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If you're registered as press at Comic-Con International or otherwise employed in writing about pop culture, I ask you to please consider an article on the 30th anniversary of Love and Rockets, by Jaime, Gilbert and Mario Hernandez. These are great cartoonists and certainly don't need me to say as much in order to garner a bunch of interest, but I'm worried to death this astounding story might be lost in the wave after wave of material about which one may write at the show. I hope no one minds me gushing about them a bit as a reminder of all they've accomplished.

imageI believe the initial volume of Love and Rockets is one of the five best comics series of all time, a list that includes such works as MAD Magazine, the holy scripture of modern counter-culture. I further think the length of time that work has stayed near the top of comics art is an amazing thing for both comics and the popular arts more generally. Love and Rockets' primary creators Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez are very different cartoonists each of whom sits squarely in the pantheon of modern comics-makers, while inspiration and older brother Mario is a vastly underrated talent and an almost ridiculously over-qualified third contributor. Together, the Hernandez Brothers have created some of the best stand-alone comics works of all time: Blood Of Palomar, The Death Of Speedy Ortiz, The Love Bunglers, Wig Wam Bam and Poison River among them. Their characters are among the comics medium's most poignant and memorable. Theirs are stories that have shaped lives, and mine would be poorer for their absence.

One thing to remember about Comic-Con International is that at its heart it's a comics show. It's vital for the medium we love -- and, really, for the way Comic-Con informs all the different media for which we have affection -- that we treat San Diego as a place where Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez have been in attendance more than 25 times each more than we treat it as a place Steven Spielberg has been to once. Both Jaime and Gilbert remain vital, exciting cartoonists, with collections and new work out for this year's show. Gilbert's much-beloved kids' character Venus is finally available in book format, while Jaime's beautiful God And Science sits more than comfortably with the best half-dozen superhero stories of the last ten years.

Los Bros will also have a new volume of their Love & Rockets: New Stories available at the show. Comics from the previous volume was among last year's most critically-lauded work.

An article about Los Bros Hernandez might conceivably cover their immense and thrilling body of work, their influence on independent and alternative comics, the vital role that Comic-Con has played in their careers, even their continuing, ambitious slate of new work. If I can be of any help at all in brainstorming ideas or putting you in contact with someone in a way that facilitates coverage of these great American artists, I'd be more than happy to do what I can. If you're not a writer-about-comics and want to do a comics-related article, I can't imagine a better, more honorable window into all that comics has become in the Comic-Con era than Los Bros Hernandez.

The Hernandez Brothers will be attending a 30th anniversary panel on Saturday at 1:30 PM in room in room 24. They'll be signing -- well, I'm not sure yet. But I imagine most days at the Fantagraphics table and occasionally elsewhere. Gilbert Hernandez has a new series out from Dark Horse and will be signing there on Thursday at 2 PM. I have to imagine they'd be amenable to interviews or other types of press-drive contact -- their PR person at Fantagraphics is -- one of the most pleasant people on the planet and someone with whom you'll have fun working.

Comic-Con has a lot of different meanings to a lot of different people; no one's show is the same. I maintain great comics remain the show's greatest and most unique offering to the world of pop culture. There is no greater expression of the growth of comics as an art form over the last three decades than Love & Rockets and the Hernandez Brothers. Please consider affording them your time and attention, and making them a part of your coverage. If you already were, and thank you, I hope you'll take a second look at what you have planned and see if there's maybe a bit more to be done. They deserve it.

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Go, Look: Aisha Franz On Flickr

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Go, Look: Simon Gane's Art Sales

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the British Comic Awards are a go. I like the rigorous focus and the limited number of honors that will be given. That's a thriving, deep scene that deserves some home-grown recognition. They're modeling after the Doug Wrights, too, which is intriguing all by itself.

image* the great Tony Fitzpatrick on arts festivals. It's not about comics, but with lines like "It's prom night for the assholes" it's hard for me to care.

* Henry Eudy and J. Chris Campbell talk to Brad McGinty and Rob Patterson. Robin McConnell talks to CF and Keenan Marshall Keller. Reed Tucker profiles Steve Ditko. Andy Burns talks to Christopher Golden. JP Fallavollita talks to Matt Kindt.

* I don't care for sites like the one discussed here, but on first glance I have to imagine that posting work and then discussing it is protected speech -- unless there's something I'm not seeing.

* Dominic Umile on Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. That's a fascinating book; there's something about seeing Sacco's work in that context as opposed to one he fashioned solely for himself that's super-instructive.

* here's some sort of social hub/comics culture site some 55 days away from launching.

* Paul Martin, Nipper fan.

* not comics: our old industry pal Joel Meadows is celebrating a 20-year anniversary on his Tripwire effort; part of that celebration is this editorial about the spread of comics-hero culture onscreen. There was a time in the mid-1990s that it seemed every single time I went to a convention I saw Joel there -- I liked Tripwire's role as a kind of glossy Amazing Heroes for that time period.

* like thousands upon thousands of folks out there, veteran San Diego Con attendee and foundational member of the Direct Market system Joe Field gets ready for this year's show.

* Heritage Auctions is gearing up for one giant sales at the end of the month.

* finally, I totally missed Irish Comics Appreciation Week over at ICN. In fact, I don't think I've been accessing that site as much as I should be.
 
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Three Days Remaining Until Comic-Con International 2012

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This year's Comic-Con International will take place July 12-15, with a Preview Night on July 11.

In the ramp up to the event, we recommend this site's "By The Numbers" guide and twitter feed, the Comic-Con web site, the Comic-Con twitter feed and fellow bloggers The Beat and Mark Evanier. Just about any of your favorite comics- and pop culture-related sites should have some coverage of the show.

We hope to see you there.
 
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July 8, 2012


CR Sunday Interview: Rob Salkowitz

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*****

imageI met the writer and consultant Rob Salkowitz at this year's Emerald City Comicon through mutual acquaintance Ellen Forney. We spent some time subsequent to that initial meeting sitting in the back of a meeting room watching a panel and making wisecracks at a low-enough volume nobody could hear us -- I don't remember which panel. You meet a lot of nice, smart people at comics conventions; what struck me about Rob was I saw him later in the weekend at a fairly downbeat, post-show event where I didn't have the energy to talk to him or his lovely wife for any sustained period of time, and he was still nice and smart. That's a good sign. Conventions can be tough.

Salkowitz has written a book about pop culture industries using comics as its basis and Comic-Con International as its laboratory. Because it's structured around a single CCI weekend and all of the things Salkowitz encounters in the experience of it, from the hotel reservations day through the end of the show and the last "Dead Dog" party, Comic-Con And The Business Of Pop Culture at the very least provides significant insight as to how a pair of reasonably casual, all-the-way-grown-up comics fans organize their Comic-Con weekend: what they emphasize, what they attend, how they spend their time. It's a serious book, though, one with a great deal to say about what Comic-Con means in the wider sense of giant business entities grappling with an oddball event and its specific-culture peccadilloes. I press Salkowitz on some of the wider lessons and observations during the genial conversation into which we both relaxed below. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: One thing stands out about your past with comics that gets mentioned in the book: you were reading The Spirit and writing letters to it at ten years old. Were you a weird little kid, Rob, or just one with uncommonly advanced taste?

ROB SALKOWITZ: I was totally a weird little kid, but in this case, the credit for my early exposure to The Spirit belongs to my dad. At some point it dawned on him that I was going to read comics whether he liked it or not, so he decided I should at least read good comics. He remembered The Spirit from when it ran in the Philadelphia Record when he was a kid. He found a copy of the Warren magazine (#13, if I recall correctly) at a used book store and brought it home for me. I thought, "hey, this is pretty good!" The art was nice too. At that point, it was all over: I was hooked.

SPURGEON: Can you talk a little bit more about your re-entry into comics, what spurred that on? Because it seems like you pretty wide-ranging taste in comics, although I'm not sure how deeply involved you are with any one facet. What are your consumption habits like?

SALKOWITZ: I mostly lost interest in comics in the early '80s when I was a teenager. I read maybe one or two books -- Frank Miller's Daredevil, some stuff from Eclipse, that kind of thing. I wasn't cool enough to have discovered Love and Rockets. In college, a guy who lived down the hall bought Watchmen issue by issue when it came out and people would pass it around the dorm until it was beat to rags, but that was about my only experience with comics between, say, 1982 and 1996.

I got back into it for good in the mid-'90s when I was travelling somewhere and had some time to kill, so I wandered into a comic book store. That got me vaguely interested in what was going on again. I was working as a freelance writer and got a gig doing capsule summaries for Comic Base, the CD-ROM cataloging program. They sent me all kinds of stuff, from obscure Golden Age book to cool undergrounds I'd never heard of to absolutely horrible professional wrestling tie-ins and crap with holographic covers. That was sort of a crash refresher course in comics.

These days, my regular reads are a mixed bag. Art-wise, I love everything that Eric Powell, Guy Davis and Steve Lieber do. I try to keep up with the better graphic novels. I really dug Petrograd, for example, and can't wait to read Eddie Campbell's new book. I'm enjoying DC's new All-Star Western. I'm also strangely addicted to Dave Sim's Glamourpuss. You know that cliché about not being able to look away from a car accident? In that case, it's literally true. [Spurgeon laughs]

Mostly, though, I rely on the guy at my local comic shop (Chris Casos at Comics Dungeon in Seattle). He knows what I like and has impeccable taste. A lot of what I wrote in the book about the invisible benefits upsell and cross-sell at the point-of-sale is based on people like him. I can walk in intending to buy one book and walk out with an armload. I don't think you can establish that kind of trust with an online recommendation engine and I think the industry will really take a hit if it lets great direct market stores go down.

imageSPURGEON: I'm curious about the nuts and bolts of how this book came about, so I hope you don't mind a slow walk through the process. First, when did writing about Comic-Con as a prism for discussing entertainment media generally coalesce in a way that you thought suggested a book? Because I think we've all had ideas about how Comic-Con is a cultural signifier in a lot of ways, but not all of us write books.

SALKOWITZ: I'd been writing books and papers on the future of the workforce, the future of digital media in the global economy, young entrepreneurs, and all that. Denis Kitchen, who's become a very close friend over the years, kept needling me to use my "futurist super-powers" to write about comics. To me, "write about" means "write a book," because that's pretty much what I do these days. Eventually I said fine, if you can find a publisher, I'll do it. Denis is an agent; finding publishers is what he does. So we worked up a proposal and started taking it around, mostly to business and non-fiction presses because that's my background.

McGraw-Hill jumped on it instantly. They have no footprint whatsoever in the pop culture space, so everything I wrote was new and interesting to them and their traditional readership. And it turns out that all the conversations that have been taking place within the comics-watching community and seem familiar to us are incredibly eye-opening when removed from specific "nerd-media" context and presented to mainstream business types.

SPURGEON: Second, can you talk about how you decided to make a trip to Comic-Con the framework on which the book would be organized? Because certainly you could have gone with a lot of different organization principles there.

SALKOWITZ: My original outline had nothing to do with Comic-Con. It was built around scenarios and that sort of thing. And it was really dull. Even Denis, who's in my corner, wasn't thrilled. We had dinner the night before Comic-Con trying to figure out how to salvage it, then the Con took over, as it tends to do. I knew I was researching a book, so I kept my eyes open and took lots of notes, but I didn't know the book would be about the Con itself at that point. On Monday morning after it was over, I woke up with the light in my eyes and an insistent voice in my head saying "ORGANIZE THE NARRATIVE STRUCTURE AROUND THE CON!" Suddenly, everything snapped into place. It solved every problem I was having with the material and it helped us sell the proposal at light speed. I wrote the first draft in about ten weeks.

SPURGEON: Third, I wondered how you approached the process of turning that specific 2011 trip into the book. Did you know going in that this would be the one that would become a book? Did you take notes? Did you keep a journal? Did you work backwards? How much outside corroboration did you count on in terms of keeping honest your own perspective?

SALKOWITZ: If I'd thought of using the Con itself as the narrative structure beforehand, I would have gone about things in a much more systematic way, and strangely, I don't think that would have worked out as well. This may sound like a cop-out, but I do not claim to be a journalist, and when I try to act like one, I tend to look foolish compared to the pros. I am a business analyst, which is a slightly different set of skills. I do research, I do interviews, I seek out various perspectives, but it's more about applying different frameworks and trying to understand the bigger picture. On a few things, I spoke to a few super-knowledgeable people to get some basic facts and context, but I wanted this to be more of a point-of-view piece at the end of the day.

SPURGEON: To develop that last one a little bit more, you do fold in your wife's viewpoint and the viewpoint of a pair of other family member, but not to any significant extreme. What was the purpose of accessing those points of view but only in a limited way?

SALKOWITZ: My wife Eunice is a full partner in terms of comic geekdom; her viewpoint is part of my experience and I can't honestly represent myself on the subject of Comic-Con without including her. As for the section on casual fans, I used Mic and Emily because I don't have that "innocent eye" anymore and felt it was important to have those sorts of voices represented. If comics wants to broaden its audience to encompass enthusiastic comic-adjacent fan constituencies, these are the folks they need to reach.

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SPURGEON: Another thing that I think distinguishes your viewpoint is you have a relationship with Batton Lash and Jackie Estrada. Do you worry that their unique perspective on the show and the Eisner Awards may color your own? It seems like you're aware of this in terms of how they might have viewed the Trickster effort, for instance.

SALKOWITZ: As you know, probably better than most people, everyone involved in comics has strong opinions about lots of things. Batton and Jackie are friends; lots of people mentioned in the book by name are people I know and like, are knowledgeable about certain parts of the industry, and they were all incredibly helpful and generous with their time, so I wanted to fairly represent their points of view. That said, I don't agree with them about everything, and I tried to tease that out in subtle ways when it was important. Also, I intended those "After Hours" sections (the BOOM! Studios party, the Eisners, Trickster and the Dead Dog Party) to be a little less formal and more subjective.

SPURGEON: Speaking of the Trickster effort, you describe it as a backlash, and while there are elements of that to anyone wanting to do an event outside of the show, why did you decide to describe it that way rather than, say, a natural spillover that occurs with arts festivals into alternative venues?

SALKOWITZ: I think the backlash element was fundamental to the way Trickster marketed itself, at least in that first year. You can't walk two steps in the Exhibit Hall without someone belly-aching that "Comic-Con isn't about comics anymore." It was a savvy move to tap into that, while at the same time also doing a very affirmative event that had a lot of substance in and of itself.

SPURGEON: This is kind of a rudimentary question, but it's one that bears asking, I think, because it kept coming up while I was reading the book. What exactly is the primary audience for a work like this? Is it people familiar with Comic-Con that might be interested in this application of that experience, or is there a business-type audience that will see this as a quirky way to get at various theories. I'm guessing the latter, but I want to hear from you.

SALKOWITZ: Heh... I guess we'll find out. When I pitched the book to McGraw-Hill, with their traditional business focus, I emphasized there's an appeal to creative professionals in all industries; people in media, marketing, publishing and other decision-making roles. Comics are doing something right to have completely taken over the pop culture space in the last decade, but it's really complicated, and about as fascinating as anything happening in business today.

Fundamentally, though, Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture is the story of an industry and passionate community of fans and creators that went in search of attention, prosperity and respect. It’s about what happened when they found it, and it’s about what happens next. Years from now, when all the dust around today’s controversies has settled, I hope the book still holds up as a snapshot of a pivotal moment in comics culture and a way to think about issues of change and continuity in any kind of creative industry.

imageSPURGEON: How strongly do you believe that what gets termed "comics culture" -- this idea of geek culture with comics as a kind of pure, binding force within that wider conception -- really belongs to comics? I wonder sometimes if something like the reflection of comics readers or their interests on something like that Big Bang Theory TV show has anything to do with comics at all, or if it's just a facile use of comics that gets played back on the culture in a giant, funhouse mirror way. Is that even important?

SALKOWITZ: I think there's a core personality type that's attracted to comics culture and identifies with it so strongly that they become a "fan" rather than just a consumer. They want to participate at some level, whether by drawing their own comics, hosting a podcast, dressing in a costume, or just becoming a know-it-all nerd. Whether this fan personality trait is activated by superhero comics, by manga, by Twilight novels, by collecting action figures -- that's just a matter of taste. It's the attitude and the intensity that matters.

Big companies look at Comic-Con and the fan energy there and say, "I wanna get me some of that!" The whole project of creating "fans" for products is the hot thing in marketing these days. A lot of these entities think the easiest way to tap into the rabid fandom of comics fans is to represent, in some superficial way, affinity with the cause. Most of them get that wrong, because they don't really get the relationship between comics and its audience. That said, even a mass-market show like Big Bang Theory has moments when it demonstrates a pretty sophisticated understanding of the psychology of nerds; of why smart and sensitive outcasts are drawn to the whole nexus of comics culture. I dare say Big Bang Theory offers a more sympathetic portrayal of nerdom, than, say, Kevin Smith's Comic Book Men, even though Smith has spent his whole career trying to prove he's one of the tribe.

SPURGEON: Can you unpack the idea of transmedia storytelling in a way that doesn't make me want to go back to bed for three days? I'm trying to understand what you see as the specific value of the notion; it always seems buzz-wordy for the sake of being a buzzword to me. I also always feel like that notion is being explained to me by people who have a real interest in seeing that notion get over so they can pick up business based on their expertise in it. If my interest is in art, and the expressive content of comics, what should I know about the word "transmedia" beyond what seems like an easily graspable and surface understanding that some properties find life in a variety of media?

SALKOWITZ: Talk about transmedia without sounding boring or like a slick PR guy... man, this is a tough interview! It's true that the concept of transmedia is nothing new. Lots of properties from Sherlock Holmes to Dracula to Snow White have been done in different media for over a century. What's new today is that the process is being managed more strategically. The owners are trying to achieve something bigger than just sell you the next movie, book or t-shirt because you happen to like comics. They want to create stories that sprawl, by design, across all these different channels. And now, with devices like iPads, they can provide all those different experiences on the same platform.

To a great extent, the push toward transmedia storytelling is a byproduct of consolidation in the industry. The same few giant companies own all the big characters and all the various media channels. They're finally getting smart about how they are pushing those characters and stories out into different versions. They're trying to unite audiences for the characters in different media, so they're creating webcomics that fill in the details of a weekly TV series, or a Web app that adds new content to digital comics, or getting gamers who like Arkham City into the theatres to see Dark Knight Rises. That's basically what it's about.

I agree that it's more a business issue than anything to do with the art. There are some interesting new potential storytelling possibilities for comics and comic-themed stories: I thought the Star Trek mini-series that IDW did a year or two ago, which filled in some of the story gaps from the JJ Abrams movie, was a good, well-conceived and well-executed example. But by and large, most of the stuff out there strikes me as contrived and way too clever for its own good. It's like everyone wants to draw with the new crayon in the box. Before long, we'll have a better understand about what really works aesthetically and what's just a gimmick.

SPURGEON: One of the things that was depressing to me about things on Comic-Con like the recent Morgan Spurlock documentary is that I still see a pretty strong arts-comics show. I see Comic-Con more as a place where the Hernandez Brothers have appeared for decades than it is a place Steven Spielberg appeared once. So I appreciate you engaging that side of the show. You seem to think that art-comics are a bit more insulated from the general thrust of global business interest in comics than others believe. Is that a fair characterization? Do you really feel like there's an element to art-comics culture that's actively hostile to the thrust of general entertainment culture to the point they don't have any investment in its success or failure?

SALKOWITZ: I think one of the biggest mistakes that outside observers make about the business is to conflate the expanding commercial horizons of the comics genre with the expanding artistic horizons of the comics medium. At Comic-Con, it's an easy mistake to make because everything is under one roof, for better or worse. The art side of comics is driven by different dynamics and appeals increasingly to a different audience. Their success isn't necessarily assured, but it depends much more on creators producing good work (and getting recognized for it) than on the box office returns of the latest Spider-Man movie. Independent creators looking to digital distribution have a bunch of problems to solve, but at least they don't have to worry about pissing off retailers the way the mainstream publishers do. There are fewer externalities and fewer dependencies.

SPURGEON: Another underlying notion that I wanted to ask you about is I wondered how you felt about an arts industry presenting itself in this way, this kind of flea-market aspect to Comic-Con. Because that's become so powerful that other groups either through participation at Comic-Con (the film industry) or reform of their own institutions (prose publishing and BEA) are adopting that commercial aspect. Do you ever find it weird or noteworthy the fundamental notion of an industry's primary showcase being a big ol' flea market with supplementary programming? Where might that express yourself in this work, do you think?

SALKOWITZ: Well I did a whole section on the collectibles dealers in the book. I revised that section a few times because I am quite conflicted about it. I'm a collector myself; I like the old books, I like flipping through dollar bins, I like haggling with dealers. It's an association that comes from going to Cons in the 1970s when I was a kid. By my lights, the flea market is part of the experience and part of the culture. But we've already established that I'm weird that way.

The fact is, every subculture and every trade show and consumer show has its quirks. If I ever did a book about car shows or gun shows or insurance sales conferences or whatever, I'm sure I'd discover things that seem much stranger to the outside reader than anything that goes on at Comic-Con.

imageSPURGEON: Your digital section is almost ruthlessly even-handed and equitable. It's one of the parts of the book that feels more like survey than analysis. Do you think it's remarkable at all that comics' digital outlook still has such a Wild West aspect. Should we expect it to be more settled than it seems right now? Having spent a lot of time at least detailing the landscape, do you have a specific desired outcome in the way comics is going to approach that material? You describe the kind of extraordinary reluctance that companies have in moving forward because of the perceived risk to the DM; how do you feel that is best negotiated?

SALKOWITZ: I'll take that as a compliment, because I feel strongly that the whole digital debate would benefit from some ruthless even-handedness and equitability. In one of my earlier lives, I helped launch a digital book publishing venture, back in 2000. We looked into doing digital comics, particularly back issues that were in the public domain, and that's when I stumbled onto the whole pirates-with-scanners scene. People were doing these "zero-day scans" of brand new books -- titles that maybe sold five or six thousand copies were getting hundreds if not thousands of downloads. It didn't seem fair to the creators or healthy for the industry.

Later, I did some work with Microsoft, so I had a TabletPC and mostly ended up using it to read comics. This was 2003 so we're not talking about a fully elegant user experience, but I figured sooner or later, they'd get the technology right and comics would play a big part in any future content strategy. I tried talking to folks in the comics industry around that time and they looked at me like I had two heads. I got the impression they just didn't want to deal with any of it.

Luckily these third parties came along to solve some of the problems. A company like comiXology isn't a publisher, isn't a content owner, doesn't have any relationships with retailers to maintain, so they are free to build a better mousetrap. I don't love everything about the current digital distribution model and I felt like I spent a fair amount of time analyzing the different approaches and pointing out the problems that might lie ahead. But given the hand they were dealt in terms of the existing industry partners and the requirements for content security, I think they've done a very good job turning a potential fiasco into a raging-hot business. I also applaud them for taking the step to create the digital storefront program for retailers. The fate of the direct market is not really comiXology's problem, but the company seems sincerely sympathetic to the issue, rather than just cheerleading for the demise of brick and mortar like some of the others in the space.

That said, it remains a tricky issue for me. I have a Kindle Fire; my wife has an iPad. I like the convenience of the digital reading experience and I'd love to not have stacks of new comics around because space is running low. My local comic shop has a comiXology storefront, and every so often, I ask the owner, "will you make any money if I buy digital through your site?" And he squeezes his fingers closely together in the universal "not so much" sign. So I don't do it. I don't do Netflix either, because I like my local video store. The people who work at those stores are my friends, my neighbors, my fellow nerds. If the physical spaces closed down, my life would be poorer in ways that no amount of digital convenience could compensate for. I may not feel that way forever, but I like that I still have a choice. I want to keep having that choice.

SPURGEON: Talk to me about scenario planning as a serious discipline in the kind of the work you do. I'm interested in its backbone, what separates your various scenarios for the future of comics from the kind of late-night noodling people might indulge in sitting at the Hilton bar in San Diego at 2 AM. What makes good scenario planning distinct from sloppy or haphazard applications of same?

SALKOWITZ: Scenario planning may seem like noodling, but there's a real discipline to the methodology. The backbone of the approach is the concept of uncertainty: that there are some outcomes we can't predict. Will comics continue to reach the mass pop culture audience, or will we see a retreat back to the old nerd niche? We don't know. We can guess, we can speculate, but if we make an assumption and it's wrong, almost everything predicated on that assumption is wrong too. Will the business climate in the entertainment industry continue to be dominated by the big corporate players, or will we see some kind of grass-roots storyteller uprising enabled by digital distribution? Again, we can't know for sure. But the picture sure looks different depending on how that works out.

In my experience, having a sense of the possibilities bounded by uncertainties gives you a much broader and more all-encompassing way to see the future. You don't get blindsided by being overconfident; you can make sense of changing events more clearly. It lets you get above a tactical, reactive posture where you're trying to parse out every new twist and turn. I've worked through this process with technology companies, automotive companies, office furnishing companies, energy companies, governments and schools. So why not comics?

That said, typically when we do formal scenario planning sessions with corporate clients, there's a whole process of convening discussion groups, identifying uncertainties, building out the scenario descriptions, role playing, etc. It's a collaborative process. In the book, I basically set some stakes in the ground as points of discussion and then built around it, as I'd do when creating the final report; it's similar, but definitely an abbreviated version of the process. Honestly I'd love to do a full-on scenario planning workshop with 20-30 stakeholders in the comics space. It would be fascinating. Maybe for the sequel...

SPURGEON: How do you deal with the notion that people are going to have when they read your various scenarios to basically Abe Simpson the whole bunch of them, to say, "Well, what we're really going to see is a bit from columns A, B, C and D." How is making distinct scenarios more important than positing a future that blends those scenarios in different ways?

SALKOWITZ: I think it's highly likely that the "real future" will blend elements from several scenarios. It's not like I have a crystal ball in my office and can say for sure that x, y and z will definitely happen. But the value of scenario thinking is to expand your horizons. When the Avengers movie racks up billions of dollars worldwide, it's not easy to picture the Infinite Crisis or Ghost World scenarios I talk about in the book, where comics decline as commercial drivers. It's a forecast against the grain. But unexpected stuff happens. One day, disco was the hottest thing in music and the next day it was a bad joke. In 1999, the economic, political and military situation of 2002 was almost literally unimaginable unless you were willing to consider extremely contrarian scenarios. But being unimaginable didn't stop it from actually happening. Things go well until they don't. You always have to account for change, even if the change is unpleasant or inconvenient.

Here's another example. My colleagues and I did some work in the mid-'00s where one of our scenarios involved the failure of the Euro currency. This is when the Euro was trading at $1.55 and it seemed farfetched to forecast what we called "Continental Drift." We didn't rate it as a very likely outcome, but we told our clients they should at least consider it in their planning. Not everything in that scenario came true, but we did put it out there as a possibility, and if the clients did their strategy right, they'd have a contingency plan for what's going on right now. That's all I'm trying to do in the book: expand people's perceptions of what's possible going forward, so we don't fall into the trap of assuming something is inevitable just because it looks likely at the present moment.

SPURGEON: How fragile on your constructions, do you think? My hunch is that if you wrote this book a few years ago, say, that the idea of the emergence of an iPad device might weigh more heavily on how things develop in terms of digital comics in a way that the reality of it now makes it more easy to deal with as a concept, if that makes any sense. Are there events out there that you think might weigh on the future of comics significantly that simply haven't been brought to bear yet? If you could see one part of comics' future in order to better describe the entire future, what would you want to know?

SALKOWITZ: To me the most exciting possibility in comics this decade is increasing globalization. Here in the US, the artistic and commercial potential of comics has been pretty well institutionalized and contextualized by the culture, but in many emerging countries, comics are still dangerous. They're politically and culturally disruptive. The social and economic conditions are right for the artform to really connect with those societies in interesting ways, for new geniuses of the medium to emerge. They have the same potential for huge impact as they had in our Golden Age or Underground eras

If that starts happening in young, dynamic and diverse global markets like India, Africa or the Middle East, we may see comics take a huge step forward in unexpected directions. That's part of what's behind the Expanding Multiverse scenario I talk about in the book. You've been tracking this scene for years, so you know exactly how much great material is out there and how diverse and interesting approaches are emerging from every corner of the world. To me, that's worth watching more than the next announcement about "augmented reality" or other flavor-of-the-month mini-trend.

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SPURGEON: It's interesting to me that you call for transmedia development in terms of properties not previously bound to traditional formats in a summer where we're seeing huge, cross-platform success with things like Avengers (50 years old) and Batman (70-plus years old). Am I understanding what you mean by allegiance there? Is there any advantage to properties being developed with multiple platforms in mind as opposed to properties being exploited in that direction?

SALKOWITZ: The comics from 50 or 70 years ago were not necessarily developed with transmedia in mind. We're stuck with those properties because they are well-known and owned by the same people who own the studios and media channels used for the large-scale distribution of the content. But it's problematic, both artistically and commercially, as we've seen.

The paradox of developing legacy comics properties into other media formats is that their core audience responds to them first as comics, and comics have certain characteristics that are hard to reproduce in other media. When you read a superhero story drawn by Jack Kirby, for example, Kirby's giant style steamrolls logic and overwhelms our normal experience of reality. You don't ask why Galactus wears a mask that covers his eyes, as if he were trying to protect a secret identity. You don't question the physics of Captain America flinging his shield to knock out 10 guys at once. It just works. It's unspeakably cool because it's drawn that way.

Movies are visually literal and are much more distracting when they don't follow the rules of ordinary experience or depart from their internal logic. Producers have to appeal to fans who want to see the source material represented on screen exactly the way they remember it from the comics, but also create something that makes visual and narrative sense to people just there to see a movie. That's why every comic movie is a roll of the dice, even when it has nearly unlimited special effects budgets, star power, and sympathetic creators associated with it. Avengers was a hit. Green Lantern was a miss. Sin City worked but The Spirit was a catastrophe, despite similar approaches. Hollywood hates that unpredictability.

Moving forward, creators have the opportunity to think transmedia from the start and to tell stories that can scale if they have to, or remain rooted to one medium if that's the intention. I think we'll get better stories and more consistently successful productions if creators -- and publishers -- make those choices strategically.

SPURGEON: I thought it was interesting you end with a call-out to the Days Of Future Past storyline in X-Men where the characters wonder if their actions in the story changed the dire future that story portrayed. The truth is the future in those comics never arrives, dire or utopian, because the nature of those comics is to avoid the future as assiduously as possible and extend the present for as long as profit allows. Could that be true of comics as well?

SALKOWITZ: If it were only about the internal dynamics of the comics industry, I'd say yes, absolutely. But we're in a new world now, where forces like digital distribution, transmedia, globalization, platform convergence and collaborative co-creation of content are affecting everything. Comics can't hide in their niche anymore -- they have to engage these trends and find ways to adapt, despite their profoundly sentimental, nostalgic and small-c conservative fan and business culture. How well comics can handle that transition is the big uncertainty. If they do it right, the potential is unlimited; but because of stuff we all know about how the industry is, there's always the possibility that everything will come crashing back to earth in a flaming wreck.

My small contribution to the dialogue is to highlight those choices from a business perspective and clarify to fans and other interested parties exactly what's at stake. It's not just a creative conversation, or a fan conversation, or even a business conversation anymore. It's a conversation as big and insane and unruly as Comic-Con has become. That's what I tried to capture in the book.

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* Comic-Con And The Business Of Pop Culture, Rob Salkowitz, McGraw-Hill, hardcover, 9780071797023, July 2012, $27.

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* cover to the new book
* publicity photo of Mr. Salkowitz provided by the author
* Salkowitz with Denis Kitchen
* four basically contextual photos of past Comic-Cons by Whit Spurgeon
* promotional cartoon for the book featuring art by Steve Lieber (below)

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Go, Look: A Few More John Byrne Avengers Splashes

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Go, Look: Super Doomed Planet Comics

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Go, Look: Daniel Krall

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Go, Look: Stephanie Buscema

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Go, Look: Cartoons And Comics From Reamer Keller

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Go, Look: Hilary Allison

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Go, Look: Hominids

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If I Were In Ann Arbor, I'd Go To This

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Four Days Remaining Until Comic-Con International 2012

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This year's Comic-Con International will take place July 12-15, with a Preview Night on July 11.

In the ramp up to the event, we recommend this site's "By The Numbers" guide and twitter feed, the Comic-Con web site, the Comic-Con twitter feed and fellow bloggers The Beat and Mark Evanier. Just about any of your favorite comics- and pop culture-related sites should have some coverage of the show.

We hope to see you there.
 
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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


A Mini-Documentary About The Origins Of FCBD
via e-mail from Joe Field


Comic Foundry At The 2006 Eisners
I have no idea what made me think of this


Magic Whistle: The Movie







Not Exactly Comics: A Series Of Panel To Panel In Same Place Transitional Sort-Of But By Definition Not Really Comics
via








That Guardian Video Of Ali Ferzat From About Three Weeks Ago


Some Sort Of Comedy Video Related To Before Watchmen
via


A Time Lapse Video Of People Lining Up For FCBD I Totally Missed A Couple Of Months Ago
via
 
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July 7, 2012


CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from June 30 to July 6, 2012:

1. The launch of Monkeybrain throws the spotlight on any number of recent efforts from publishers to find a way to make material for on-line serial publication and profit from it. It's not just that launch but the group of them, seemingly all at one; a conversational game-change for this year's SDCC and beyond.

2. Marvel announces a line-wide relaunch of various titles, believed to be their "response" to DC's New 52 initiative but probably just as reasonably characterized as a response to their own anemic recent sales outside of the Avengers Vs. X-Men event.

3. Comic-Con International swells as an organization and cultural event to the point that PR and publishing announcements and general chatter begins more than a week away from its arrival, a sign of just how important comics shows have become to the general culture surrounding the art form.

Winners Of The Week
Your 2012 Harvey Awards Nominees

Loser Of The Week
The major comic book industry awards for not seeing to it that Jaime Hernandez was nominated for something in the year his stories in Love & Rockets: New Edition Vol. 4 was widely acclaimed as perhaps the best work in a long career. That's a strange disconnect there, and not the kind you see as frequently as you used to.

Quote Of The Week
"[Alan Moore] makes two basic arguments, both convincing. The first is that fully realizing the power and value of the Watchmen brand and characters requires leaving them alone. The story is powerful because it is complete, loved because it has integrity, and by now exhausted. Best to leave it all alone: This is an old comic, launched the year Lena Dunham was born, and any energy spent humping its corpse would be better spent on something that might be relevant to someone somewhere." -- Tim Marchman on Before Watchmen

*****

today's cover is from the small-press and independent comics scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s

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If I Were In Ann Arbor, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This

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Five Days Remaining Until Comic-Con International 2012

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This year's Comic-Con International will take place July 12-15, with a Preview Night on July 11.

In the ramp up to the event, we recommend this site's "By The Numbers" guide and twitter feed, the Comic-Con web site, the Comic-Con twitter feed and fellow bloggers The Beat and Mark Evanier. Just about any of your favorite comics- and pop culture-related sites should have some coverage of the show.

We hope to see you there.
 
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July 6, 2012


Go, Look: The Illustrated Press

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Marvel's Axel Alonso Made Me Laugh This Morning

Marvel editorial point-man-in-chief on changing the price of Marvel's comics under the Marvel Now relaunch/soft reboot/not-what-DC-did-at-all-because-our-involves-Wolverine initiative: "There shouldn't be any unpleasant surprises on that front." Couching this response in terms of "You can rest easy prices won't be going up" instead of "No, we're not going to back away from $3.99 price points because short-term gains are more important than -- WHAT WAS THAT NOISE? IS SOMEONE HERE TO FIRE MORE PEOPLE???" is pretty great. I hope it was said -- or at least will be read -- with a sense of humor.

Anyway, as I've written a ton of times in the past, price increases in mainstream comics are particularly dangerous because the damage they do is indirect. There's almost never a 1:1 effect in terms of raising prices/losing sales. What you have is a bunch of general damage, such as people leaving the habit of buying comics because their $20 a week buys them four comics instead of six. This means a bunch of comics get dropped, not just the more expensive ones, and the culprit is obscured. In fact, the damage is spread out in a way it's hard not to look at the $3.99 comics and think, "Hey, they're doing okay because everything is hurting; plus we get a $1 more per issue sold for those books." If you were a super-villain making a trap for an entity like Marvel's publishing wing, that's the trap you'd set.

I'm not sure I've seen Marvel give an alternative explanation for why aspects of their sales started to weaken across the board when they did if it's not the general and indiscriminate damage caused by things like haphazard price increases and long-term inattention to structural issues like a trade program that feeds serial sales and coverage. I'd love it if they did get to what is going on, even if it were something out of left-field like "we know it's piracy" and stated how what they're doing now addresses those problems. There's some potential irony in that we seem to have an indirect solution -- goose the content -- for problems that may be concrete, while there's no mechanism for acknowledging that there are indirect problems as well.
 
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Go, Look: Sara Pichelli

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Go, Watch: An Interview With Ali Dilem

Treat yourself to this interview with Algerian cartoonist Ali Dilem, particularly if you're burnt out on the convention season's over-saturation of hype and product manipulation as news. The "first drawing" story that kicks off the piece is astonishing because of the reveal in terms of what that phrase actually means -- it's so hard to imagine making art in that context.
 
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Go, Look: Mark Morales

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Your 2012 Will Eisner Spirit Of Retailing Award Nominees

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The retailing community awards, honors and education program the Will Eisner Spirit Of Retailing Awards has named its initial list of selections. They will be pruned to a finalists lists and a winner announced at the Eisner Awards on July 13. Congratulations to all the stores named.

* Acme Comics, Greensboro, NC
* Akira Comics, Madrid, Spain
* Bosco's, Anchorage, AK
* Bridge City Comics, Portland, OR
* Challengers Comics + Conversation, Chicago, IL
* Collectors Corner, Baltimore, MD
* The Comic Bug, Manhattan Beach, CA
* Comix Experience, San Francisco, CA
* The Dragon, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
* Dragon's Lair Comics & Fantasy, Austin, TX
* Drawn to Comics, Glendale, AZ
* Green Brain Comics, Dearborn, MI
* Happy Harbor, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
* Jesse James Comics, Glendale, AZ
* Legacy Comics, Laredo, TX
* Packrat Comics, Hillard, OH
* Pop Culture Paradise, Tempe, AZ
* Shazam! Comics, Santiago, Chile
* Things From Another World, Beaverton, OR

I'm not sure there's a whole lot that jumps out at to me on that list. There are three stores from the wider Phoenix area, a traditional comics retail hotbed that's seen better days. Comix Experience and the TFAW in Beaverton are high-profile stores -- there are three our four from the next tier down, too. There are also two not-North America stores, which delights the audience at the Eisners. Seriously, those would win the audience award every single time.
 
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Go, Look: Nathan Edmondson's Blog

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Steve Bissette Reminds Of One Convention Dark Side

Steve Bissette has a post up reminding fans to keep a lookout for artwork of his that was stolen years and years ago. It's worth a reminder heading into San Diego season that while there are many great and honorable art dealers out there, there is also a lot of art with creaky provenance in terms of when it started to be sold. Tread carefully, and hopefully we can one day reunited Mr. Bissette with those lovely-looking originals.
 
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Go, Read: Closing Time Chronicles

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Go, Look: John Tyler Christopher

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I can't ever get enough of articles that look at how the newspaper comics strip page developed over the years.

image* I totally missed this site of Official Handbook re-dos. Luckily, artist Michel Fiffe tapped my shoulder and pointed it out to me. That's his Dr. Strange.

* totally missed this great picture of Robert Crumb reading the late Harvey Pekar's Cleveland book. I wonder what he thinks of the art by Joseph Remnant.

* Paul Gravett profiles Lebanese cartoonist Joumana Medlej.

* Mark Evanier writes a longish post about his final preparations for this year's Comic-Con in San Diego. As Evanier notes in his own way, in the end it's a comics show and there are limits to how much one should stress over events at a comics show. Speaking of Evanier, I liked his piece on Andy Griffith, and agree with his note that he was tremendously generous on the eponymous TV show in terms of giving focus to his fellow actors. It's hard for me to think of four or five stars at that level that did that, and fewer yet that did so when they could have done quality work with the extra scenes and attention.

* that's a fun cartoon from a great cartoonist.

* Chris Butcher comments on Andrew Wheeler's recent list and criticism of same.

* not comics: Abhay Khosla does a brief write-up on the television show Person Of Interest. That was a show I watched with a family member this past year -- when we're in the same town my family and I like to pick television shows to watch together -- and I enjoyed watching it, even though it's certainly no abiding work of television greatness. But good acting solves a lot of problems and mindless TV isn't a sin. I'd add to Khosla's appraisal that the Jesus guy works on that show in part because he looks like he can move effectively and has a commanding voice (voices are underrated with action stars in the post-Cruise world) and that I suspect that a lot of that show's fans don't really care about the "mythology" of it as much as the show's makers might want us to believe.

* World War Hulk feels like seven or eight years ago to me, not five.

* I think I've read my lifetime's allotment of Phantom comics, but I like this drawing.

* it's difficult not to think that it'd be fun to have all the old character in the public domain when you see a profile like this one.

* not comics: more involved short films in the next round of Marvel-related DVDs sounds like a smart idea to me. I don't even think it has to have future-franchise possibilities.

* finally, I'm kind of full up on "go looks" right now, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't start paying attention to Bully's Detective Comics related tumblr. That's going to be pretty great.
 
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Six Days Remaining Until Comic-Con International 2012

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This year's Comic-Con International will take place July 12-15, with a Preview Night on July 11.

In the ramp up to the event, we recommend this site's "By The Numbers" guide and twitter feed, the Comic-Con web site, the Comic-Con twitter feed and fellow bloggers The Beat and Mark Evanier. Just about any of your favorite comics- and pop culture-related sites should have some coverage of the show.

We hope to see you there.
 
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July 5, 2012


Hey, All Right: Gabrielle Bell Is Doing Another July Diary

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site generally; entries 1, 2, 3
 
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Missed It: A Major Comics Editor Of Modern Era Moves On

Alan Gardner caught this, for which I'm glad because I sure didn't. He says that Lee Salem has given up the basics of his connection to the Universal Uclick editorial department by formally relinquishing his Editor title to concentrate on the developmental duties of his syndicate presidency.

Salem started with Universal in 1974; he famously came to comics not as an insider working in sales or for a cartoonist as an assistant but as someone with a more literary perspective -- Salem had intended to become a teacher. He enjoyed a broad range of hits. While Doonesbury had been in place for a few years by 1974 (that was the strip around which the syndicate was built), I think Salem gets credit at one point or another for Calvin and Hobbes, Cathy, For Better Or For Worse, Bloom County, The Far Side and The Boondocks. Salem was also one of those responsible on the syndicate end for cartoonists retaining their copyright. That was frequently explained to me when I briefly worked in comic strips as not the big issue that you might think it is because of the nature of how the contracts work, but I imagine it felt like a big deal to comics-makers -- it did to me -- and certainly it facilitated cartoonists like Bill Watterson and Gary Larson retiring their strips the way they did when they wanted to do so. Salem's editorial run also includes the vacations policy that cartoonists like Garry Trudeau have utilized, another high-profile change in that business from its traditional roots. That's a very noteworthy career: certainly one not finished as of yet, just entering into a different phase.

Gardner writes the same memo suggests that John Glynn -- the long-time acquisitions and development person there -- will assume an "Editorial Director" title. He's been there about a dozen years and is well-liked by a lot of the newer talent with which he's worked.
 
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Go, Look: Life Goes To The Funnies

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Charles Carreon Drops Lawsuit Against Matthew Inman

Via Gary Tyrrell comes word that attorney Charles Carreon dropped his lawsuit against Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal late Tuesday afternoon. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's story accurately gauges the temperature of the wider cultural room by calling the suit bizarre. Not only did it seem Inman was perfectly within generally acceptable moral rights not to be totally overjoyed that his work was being adopted and re-employed wholesale, but part of Carreon's legal-action campaign included trying to block a charitable effort that grew out of the back-and-forth -- maybe not exactly the most kind-hearted charitable effort, but a charitable effort nonetheless.

Tyrrell also directs our attention to this analysis, which notes that there were small eddies of weirdness created by the filings that may not go away immediately.
 
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Go, Look: Elizabeth Breitweiser

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Chris Pitzer Announces End Of AdHouse Distribution Business

Chris Pitzer of AdHouse Books has announced his intentions to bring to a slow close his distribution business, AdDistro. He cites structural improvements in how some of the major players he carried -- NoBrow, Koyama -- are being made available to comics fans. That squares up with my memory that the veteran boutique publisher made that move at a time when a lot of self-directed efforts in terms of carrying obscure comics material were careening off the road, flipping over and exploding A-Team style. Pitzer is still carrying a bunch of the material, and I can't imagine a nicer thing than to thank him for these last couple of years by liberating some of those comics from the company. Small- and micro-press distribution is an intriguing endeavor that seems to exhaust those that try it even when they're not focused elsewhere as Pitzer obviously would be with his more direct publishing efforts. It's a vital, necessary gig, though, and it's always welcome when someone wears that hat -- even if it's only a temporary, paper one.
 
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Go, Look: Barfight

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One Reason Why Comics Fans Still Think About Bill Watterson

Bill Watterson turns 54 today, years and years after leaving Calvin And Hobbes of his own volition. When Charles Schulz turned 54 it was late 1976, and he still had 24 years or so of Peanuts left to do. Spike and I think Rerun Van Pelt were basically brand-new characters.

I think Watterson leaving Calvin And Hobbes when he did under the conditions he left it is a wonderful story and a great, fitting ending to a remarkable comic strip -- one that was well-regarded and well-liked in a way few strips are ever admired. Just because fans want more doesn't automatically mean they deserve to get more. Still, that's so many years it's easy to sympathize a bit with those fans. I hope Mr. Watterson is having a great life, and I remain grateful I got to be a young comics fan when his strip was in the newspaper. I still remember the publicity packet, and my older brother urging my newspaper editor father to give it a second look.
 
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Go, Look: Rise Of The Geeks

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The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Cons, Shows, Events

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By Tom Spurgeon

* this weekend is Kids Read Comics! That's a very well-liked and obviously specifically-focused show.

* San Diego. San Diego, San Diego, San Diego. That's not this weekend, but next weekend. It's already dominating inboxes and comics conversation. You should see a couple of big newspaper-style pieces on the show this weekend, and several of moderate size. I think the programming looks pretty strong: there's a lot of straight-up comics programming, including spotlights with Kate Beaton, Alison Bechdel, Gilbert Shelton and Los Bros Hernandez (on the occasion of their 30th year) -- that's a whole show right there. I'll be talking to Gilbert Shelton at his CBLDF master-drawing appearance, talking to a bunch of successful cartoonists about their bookstore profiles, hanging out with my peers for an hour as we count tumbleweeds blowing through the empty hall, chatting about Prince Valiant with his modern creators and old-school writer-about-comics Bob Harvey and, in my last formal obligation of the weekend, talking to the super-talented Brecht Evens. I'm greatly looking forward to it. My attempt to grow a "Prince Valiant" 'do for the show has not gone well.

* the talented and popular cartoonist Raina Telgemeier covers the recent ALA conference here. (whoops, I had her in San Diego in an earlier draft of this column; I have no idea if she's going or not, and she's certainly not on any of the above panels!)

* SDCC on the horizon means the Eisner Awards is peeking at us from the vantage point of that weekend's Friday evening. They've sent out their official press release, which you can read in its entirety here. SyFy will sponsor the program this year. Presenters will include regulars Phil LaMarr and Bill Morrison, returning hero-presenter Jonathan Ross (his appearance with Neil Gaiman a few years back was maybe the awards' most memorable moment), franchises-of-the-moment drivers Robert Kirkman and George RR Martin (!) and comics-makers like Lynn Johnston. I will never lose an award in better company.

* the Eisners PR notes that the ceremony will get underway at 8:00 PM -- with seating to begin at 7:45 and the front area open to pros and VIPs at 7:00 PM. This is to get the awards completed in as timely a fashion as a combined slate of 28 categories, the memorial portion of the evening and four related honors (Bill Finger, Spirit Of Retailing, Russ Manning, Bob Clampett) makes possible. A few of my friends have joked about how Comic-Con pushing a bunch of its programming into the 7 PM hour -- Monkeybrain's panel, for instance, is in that time slot this year -- constitute a "War On Dinner," but that's just good-natured joshing, I swear. Food will be consumed, I'm sure -- there are comics to discuss and celebrate. I hope to see you there.

* finally, SPX has announced Francoise Mouly as a guest. That's great to hear. Toon's had an extremely interesting last 18 months or so.
 
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If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Jeremy Haun

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* a picture of the deal that the Siegel families may have had waiting for them before litigation started has begun to take serious shape. This is important because the floating assertion that it's the litigation screwing up an equitable settlement over Superman a) could be true, I don't yet know enough to say, and b) is certainly believed by a large number of comics professionals to be true. Rather than surging to a fake-legalistic pinning down of what that means, I suggest for now people just read the linked-to article and take in all the words.

image* Dan Nadel, who has written extensively on underground/outsider perspectives mainstreamed into comic books, write a bit here about where 1980s indy fantasy comics might fit into that framework. One thing that sort of fascinates me about those comics is how quickly they've disappeared. It is easier to find most Golden Age comics than it is to find stuff that was everywhere 25 years ago.

* Martin Eden of Spandex provides a short history of gay and lesbian superheroes.

* Russ Simonini speaks to Brian Chippendale. Smoky Man talks to Chris Weston. Jim Rugg and Jasen Lex interview Keenan Marshall Keller.

* Daryl Cagle posts a number of Andy Griffith-related cartoons from folks who syndicate through his site.

* I've got Eldon Dedini fever, and, let's face it, a cure would be a curious allocation of healthcare resources. So why not enjoy it?

* Michael Buntag has been posting photos from various San Diego cons. Ben Morse is telling some celebrity- and coworker-driven stories here.

* Sonia Harris draws comparisons between Alison Bechdel's Are You My Mother? and the Pixar movie Brave. A better blogger than I am would make a funny joke here about something, I'm sure, but it's the holiday and I'm a bit tired.

* not comics: I haven't read that many reviews of the Amazing Spider-Man movie because I'm not that interested in seeing the Amazing Spider-Man movie, but here's a reasonably engaging piece. I assume it's a quality movie; there are good people involved and that's great source material.

* not comics: here's J. Chris Campbell's 4th of July offering.

* Augie De Blieck, Jr. on Daredevil: Born Again.

* I don't always find it necessary to read all the articles about an issue about which I've already learned the basic, but I do tend to make time for Milton Griepp on mainstream publishing news. He covers the new Marvel publishing initiative Marvel Now! here, and underlines some of the structural things they're doing with the comics, which is pretty fascinating even if you don't like those kinds of things or those kinds of comics.

* only in comics would the desire to only read awesome comics be examined for the downside of what that means to less-awesome work, but I understand what the writer is getting at. One of the reasons it's important that comics have a wide audience and not just an audience base with a wide audience base's buying power is that more comics survive with more people buying them because there are more access points that might tickle an audience than a select few. I'm not sure that sentence scans, but there you go.

* finally, Periscope Studios sent out a press release and everything in announcing that Grace Allison was joining their studio.
 
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Seven Days Remaining Until Comic-Con International 2012

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This year's Comic-Con International will take place July 12-15, with a Preview Night on July 11.

In the ramp up to the event, we recommend this site's "By The Numbers" guide and twitter feed, the Comic-Con web site, the Comic-Con twitter feed and fellow bloggers The Beat and Mark Evanier. Just about any of your favorite comics- and pop culture-related sites should have some coverage of the show.

We hope to see you there.
 
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July 4, 2012


Go, Look: Various 4th Of July Related Comics Things

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* a "hero history" for the Uncle Sam character, whose power involves rolling up his sleeves; here he engages the dire menace of bears

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* one of Ethan Persoff's great "Comics With Problems" posts, this time out featuring a nightmare scenario for America

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* a comics adventure for Miss Victory, one of dozens of poorly developed patriotic superheroes out there

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* very strange Declaration Of Independence comic made from stock images

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* Dustin Harbin on the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson

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* a selection of Herbie images from "George Washington's Teeth"

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* a complete Yank & Doodle adventure; one may argue that the delight on that gleeful pervert's face is also American

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* imagery from Captain America's Bicentennial Battles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

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* what the Join Or Die cartoon looked like in its original context

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* lovely patriotic images gallery including a few comics-related ones at Golden Age Comic Book Stories

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* the Otterloops watch fireworks
 
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Go, Bookmark: The Australian Comics Journal

I would love for this to be just like The Comics Journal except run by a pair of hulking Australian stereotypes rather than Tim Hodler and Dan Nadel, but I'm also happy for what looks like focused coverage of a scene that baffles me to the point I wonder if there's really a scene or just a collection of scattered cartooning elements.
 
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Go, Look: Jeremy Sorese

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Scott Henson, 1960-2012

imageThe editorial and panel cartoonist Scott Henson died on June 26 after a lengthy and involved battle with heart disease. He was 52 years old. Henson had one of the more remarkable backstories in cartooning history. A trained neurosurgeon whose patients included the paralyzed actor Christopher Reeve, Henson moved into editorial cartooning and then a syndicated newspaper panel strip after beginning to suffer the effects of the heart disease that would eventually claim his life.

Henson was educated at Fairmont State University, West Virginia Tech and Marshall University. He took his residency at the University of Virginia Medical Center.

The medical practitioner's move into editorial cartooning came via the Charleton Gazette and Charleston Daily Mail in the 1990s. Henson had apparently done some medical illustration work while a practicing surgeon, and then illustrated a book project done with his father when practicing medicine became impossible due to his illness. A fan of classic MAD artists, Henson had an accomplished visual style reminiscent of the MAD story strips and traditional editorial cartooning more generally almost from the start, a remarkable thing given that this was a second career. Either winning or simply placing highly for a national award through the Scripps Howard Foundation -- the brief biographies out there seem to differ if it was a win or not -- put Henson on the radar of the syndicates.

Natural Selection, featuring a title and a pseudonym taken from the life and work the British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, launched in 2000 with Creators Syndicate. The press material indicates he was 39 when the panel launched, which would have put the debut in the beginning of that year. There's also a mention here and there that the feature didn't drop until that Fall. The Sundays ran until 2002 and the dailies until 2007, when the cartoonist's health difficulties had developed in a way that kept him from doing the feature. It continued -- and continues -- to be featured on the syndicate's site as an on-line offering in reruns.

Henson is survived by two children, two brothers, a granddaughter and his parents. He was cremated and buried in a private ceremony.
 
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Go, Look: Lessons At Beagle Lake

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a few folks sent this to me, which likely means someone else prominent had it first; sorry, prominent person
 
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This Isn't A Library: Notable Releases To The Comics Direct Market

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Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's no-doubt largely accurate list of books shipping from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. to comic book and hobby shops across North America.

I might not buy all of the works listed here. I might not buy any. You never know. I'd sure look at the following, though.

*****

MAY121293 WIZZYWIG HC (MR) $19.95
This is Ed Piskor's book about proto-hackers, which is about as good an idea for a graphic novel exploration as anyone has had in years and years. That is one fascinating sub-culture, and, if you must justify your spending this holiday indoors looking at musty pulp, a uniquely American one.

imageMAY120455 POPEYE #3 $3.99
APR120319 ROCKETEER ADVENTURES 2 #4 $3.99
APR120543 INVINCIBLE #93 $2.99
MAR120491 MORNING GLORIES #20 (MR) $2.99
MAY120631 THIEF OF THIEVES #6 $2.99
APR121098 CASTLE WAITING VOL II #17 $3.95
APR120649 INFERNAL MAN-THING #1 $3.99
MAY120704 MUPPETS #1 $2.99
A very odd week in comic-book comics: Roger Langridge work still be published by Marvel and Roger Langridge working with Tom Neely on a full-length Popeye story. A few of the popular Image serial comic through which that company is gathering together more and more of a market share. The latest Castle Waiting book. The Steve Gerber/Kevin Nowlan Man-Thing collaboration. Another one of the Rocketeer comics. I probably don't have to tell you there's nothing more American than Popeye, the Muppets or swamp monsters.

NOV110943 DREADSTAR OMNIBUS TP $29.99
This is apparently the first several issues of the Dreadstar comic book, which my memory tells me started out as a kind of science-fantasy book about the nature of intractable war as a determinant for society and moved more and more into more traditional superhero-driven space opera. I was more interested in the former than the latter as a kid, and kind of moved away from the series pretty quickly, but it was certainly around for a long time and had several fans.

MAR120054 TARZAN THE JESSE MARSH YEARS HC VOL 11 $49.99
These are always wonderful to see; there's something vital and pretty and unaffected about Jesse Marsh's art, particularly consumed in big bunches.

APR121121 PARIS SOIREES HC (MR) $69.95
Another handsome-looking Humanoids book, I think of work that's been seen in bits and pieces in anthologies. I'd definitely pick it up and look it over, even at that extravagant price.

APR121305 5 CENTIMETERS PER SECOND $18.95
This is the obvious manga pick-up-and-look-at of the week, a stand-alone from Vertical of a manga that came after the career-making animated film work by Makoto Shinkai from around the middle of last decade.

APR120984 LEONARD STARRS MARY PERKINS ON STAGE TP VOL 10 $24.95
APR121262 NARUTO TP VOL 57 $9.99
I'm trying to figure out which is the more impressive market achievement: that we somehow have ten volumes of Mary Perkins On Stage/On Stage or that we have 57 volumes of a popular manga franchise and that this seen as a routine thing.

APR120983 ADVENTURES OF BUCK O RUE TP $29.95
No, wait, the way more amazing thing is that we have any volume at all of Dick Huemer's early '50s western comedy strip. You can see here it's a good-looking thing. I hope it's a good read.

APR120949 SKETCHBOOK ADVENTURES OF PETER POPLASKI HC (MR) $25.00
MAR121311 IDLE HANDS ART OF COOP HC (RES) (MR) $50.00
MAR120883 OTHER SIDES OF HOWARD CRUSE HC (MR) $24.99
Big week for books I had no idea were coming from artists with fervent fan followings, or at least the hints of one. The Howard Cruse in particular I'd seek out were I in a comics shop today. My memory is that his short work tends to be pretty strong, but I honestly have no idea exactly what works would be in a collection like this one. I believe the Poplaski may have had a previous life.

FEB120863 I TOLD YOU SO HC (MR) $17.99
Finally, a new book of Shannon Wheeler's New Yorker submissions. I think it's nice these have a second life as more than a curiosity posted to a blog at some point. I think Boom! is a good partner for Wheeler on works like this one. I've seen a couple of covers on this one, so I hope the one below is the one that's out there.

*****

The full list of this week's releases, including some titles with multiple cover variations and a long, impressive list of toys and other stuff that isn't comics, can be found here. Despite this official list there's no guarantee a comic will show up in the stores as promised, or in all of the stores as opposed to just a few. Also, stores choose what they carry and don't carry so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, albeit a while back, try this.

The above titles are listed with their Diamond order code in the first field, which may assist you in finding comics at your shop or having them order something for you they don't have in-stock. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.

If I failed to list your comic, that's on me. I apologize.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Bookmark: FF 365

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Go, Look: An Eerie Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* my hunch is that today's "must read" is this Tim Marchman article driven by an interview with Len Wein about Before Watchmen. There are several interesting things to note there. One is that between Marchman and Alex Pappademas we have two new writers about comics untethered to any traditional writing-about-comics outlet. Another is that his bafflement as to the ethical constructions being used is pretty routinely funny. Another is that DC has a PR person in the room when a reporter speaks to a veteran like Len Wein, which strikes me as pretty amazing, anyway. Another is how complimentary Marchman is of aspects of what he's reading while kind of down on the whole enterprise, which strikes me as a reasonable reaction to reading some of those comics.

image* so DC is turning the Joker's introduction into the New 52 into a bit of a "look at this" event, particularly in that this is being done by Scott Snyder, the big breakout talent of the initiative thus far. Ideally, this is the way that the revamped-series effort would work: press derived from big storylines and the talent they want to get over, not #0 issues or splitting a bunch of talent off of the line to do some ill-conceived event series. That's only my opinion, of course, and one that comes without ever having run a successful publishing anything.

* Joe Gross reviews a bunch of comics. Rob Clough on mini-comics adaptations. Bob Temuka on Hate Annual #1-9. Grant Goggans on The Underwater Welder. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns. Bart Croonenborghs on Portugal. Johanna Draper Carlson on a variety of comics.

* so I guess a pre-arranged PR release through Entertainment Weekly confirms Marvel's plans to do a relaunch of their books. It's a weird thing to do something like that. Any time you break with the prime mid-1960s Marvel period by editorial-directed group think as opposed to individual creator effort I'm going to be a bit suspicious of the results. That's not historically Marvel's best strategy, although you could pull at the definition of those words and claim otherwise, I guess. I imagine those books will do well, though. Marvel has a lot of talented people working for them so the books are likely to be well-executed even if they sound kind of labored concept-wise. Also, there are a lot of fans with a lot of goodwill where Marvel is concerned that want to be told which books are important so they can buy and enjoy them. The danger is that after the novelty aspect of the move passes, those comics will no longer communicate that they must be purchased, and that this settling back into old habits is exacerbated by the fact that such a move is also a jumping off point for certain fans. I still maintain that there are deep structural issues involved here that you can game around with shiny content but only for a limited time.

* this strikes me as such a reasonable and personable pre-CCI post that it almost looks like some sort of anachronistic accident. Maybe that's just after ten days now of being pelted by bombastic e-mails, I don't know.

* finally, it's that time of the year when artists are at home working on commissioned art works ahead of Comic-Con International. Or just drawing Rogue because it's fun. Or adding to the growing body of Wolverine meets Freddie Mercury literature.
 
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Eight Days Remaining Until Comic-Con International 2012

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This year's Comic-Con International will take place July 12-15, with a Preview Night on July 11.

In the ramp up to the event, we recommend this site's "By The Numbers" guide and twitter feed, the Comic-Con web site, the Comic-Con twitter feed and fellow bloggers The Beat and Mark Evanier. Just about any of your favorite comics- and pop culture-related sites should have some coverage of the show.

We hope to see you there.
 
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July 3, 2012


Missed It: A Marc Bell Gallery

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Swann Foundation Announces Its 2012-2013 Fellowship Winners

The Caroline and Erwin Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon at the Library of Congress has named the five fellowship winners for the forthcoming academic year. The fellowships include access to the foundation's holding for research purposes.

One of the projects seems most directly related to comics and cartooning. Sadam Issa from the University of Wisconsin will use his fellow to support research into political cartoons in three Palestinian newspapers from 1948 to 2009.

Three of the projects being supported seem to have significant tangential comics/cartooning elements. Harvard's Rhae Lynn Barnes will be building a bibliographic database of minstrel show guides, which includes a number of cartoons about black life in America during her chose 1860-1965 timespan. Jill E. Burgajski from Northwestern will be looking at graphic art as a part of her study on the beginnings of the cultural Cold War in the 1940s. Julia Langbein's sudy of Salon culture caricature in the mid-19th century will seek to look at that visual art form's place within the wider contest of French popular art. Langbein is at the University of Chicago.
 
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Not Comics: Andy Griffith, RIP


the first seven minutes make up my favorite scene in any television comedy; note how generously Griffith gives focus away to the transcendent Don Knotts but still gets the best moment with a single instance of disbelieving silence; I once stopped and watched this scene in its entirety on the floor of the San Diego Comic Con; there were about six of us, transfixed; after it was over, we smiled and looked at each other and then went back to our days; RIP
 
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Comics' Giving Heart -- People, Projects In Need Of Funding

image* that Cerebus-related crowd-funding project got over in a big way. I'm not surprised; it seems Dave Sim is perfectly suited for that kind of funding effort. I also think the premiums were good on this one. The book itself seemed like a worthy project and priced at a decent point you could just enter into it that way, and all the extra stuff being offered seems to have fairly hit the sweet spot of certain Dave Sim fans for all the extras that a focused Dave Sim is able to generate. That should also be a project worth following just to see how Sim approaches a new way of publishing. His approach to Direct Market publishing was certainly one of the most influential.

* this fundraiser for a project encompassing the early works of Don Rosa looks well on its way to meeting its goal. That seems like a good project to me. Those are fun comics, they are very far removed from the North American market at this point, and Rosa's an important creator who should have as much work as possible in print.

* that ambitious-looking Silver Cord fundraiser looks like it could use some attention from any interested fans. This P. Craig Russell-related project could also use a push although the amounts here seem eminently achievable if there's even a modest amount of interest.

* Zach Roberts and Russ Burlingame are trying to do a photos-book related to SDCC. That's different.

* finally, this Amy Reeder project seems well on its way to full funding.
 
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Go, Look: Another Golden Age Descent Into Madness

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* so what if somebody published a new volume of M. Jean work from Dupuy and Berberian and I didn't find out about it until Stuart Ng's newsletter made note of it? It's an astonishing thing to be following comics in thiis era of the rampant pretty good: so many quality efforts hitting the market that some of them can be passed over without your realizing it until weeks or even months later. Sheesh.

* Rich Johnston pulls out Alan Moore's publishing plans from material prepared in support of a recent signing.

image* Post-It Monsters has a British publisher, which means this earlier iteration is now lost to the shadowy world of collectibles and used book buying. Actually, that's not a very shadowy world, but sometimes it's hard to find stuff there.

* not comics: D+Q will publish Tavi Gavinson's Rookie Yearbook One this Fall. If phrases like "2008, when she was 11 years old" freak you out, stay far away from that announcement.

* Jog notes that Glamourpuss will end with the 26th issue, and the Alex Raymond material will be finished and published as an OGN. That's too bad; I like comics series.

* plans for a Marvel soft reboot/relaunch are apparently rounding into shape, by which I mean they're beginning to move into the PR phase so people are beginning to know about them. If Bendis can reignite interest in the X-Men books after his success in putting the Avengers-related titles at the top of the Direct Market charts, he'll cement his already pretty guaranteed spot as this era's most popular and effective mainstream comics writer. It's a pretty tough gig that Marvel engages here because they can't really outright mirror what DC did in terms of engineering a total reboot and I think they like their creators, particularly their writers. The key will be making these jumping-on points without crippling certain titles that transform any changes into jumping-off points. I think there's enough of an audience out there that is looking to be told which books to buy that this kind of thing can work. Then again, I'm not completely uncertain that most of Marvel's difficulties with midlist and below aren't structural in nature, and that's a company that has some real problems confronting those kinds of problems.

* that Hawkeye comic book is likely to be ridiculously pretty. It'd be nice if there were a greater chance for something that handsome to get over with the superhero comics reading audience as something other than a well-liked book with better buzz than sales. I'm not saying that's automatically what this is, but it's hard to imagine a lot of left-field hits developing from this calcified of a market.

* just to cement this column's identity as a place to go for slightly outdated and decidedly cursory mainstream-comics news, so I guess there's maybe going to be a Fall event for Marvel organized around the idea of "war." That seems a place they've gone a bunch of times -- both event series and the idea of war. Then again, they usually don't repeat things like that unless they work. (Since I wrote the rest of this entry, this has been revealed as something related to an effort featuring the Punisher character.)

* it makes sense that Baby's In Black would have multiple publishers in multiple countries.

* hey, another King Of The Flies volume.

* Paul Dini will be writing a very personal Batman story. I know people in comics accept that kind of line as a matter of course, and I get it, I swear, but it still looks weird when I type it out.

* hey, this is nice: Gene Yang is going to do more Airbender graphic novels for Dark Horse. I'm all for quality genre comics, and Gene Yang is a talented individual.

* finally, they didn't launch with the industry-member churn the Monkeybrain people managed to work up, but CO2 Comics announced a shift this week into print comics a bit more heavily, which they describe here. I'm always on board for more Steve Lafler, a veteran comics warrior of the most noble kind.

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Go, Look: I Struck It Rich

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Your 2012 Harvey Awards Nominees

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The Harvey Awards, named after the late, pantheon-level cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman and recognizing achievement in comics and sequential art, have announced their 2012 awards nominees. Congratulations to them all. They are:

*****

Best Letterer

* Chris Eliopoulos, Fear Itself, Marvel Comics
* Laura Lee Gulledge, Page By Paige, Amulet Books
* Todd Klein, S.H.I.E.L.D.: Architects of Forever, Marvel Comics
* David Lanphear, Secret Avengers, Marvel Comics
* Jason Shiga, Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not), Abrams ComicArts

*****

Best Colorist

* Elizabeth Breitweiser, Captain America And Bucky, Marvel Comics
* Francesco Francavilla, Black Panther: The Man Without Fear, Marvel Comics
* Sunny Gho, Artifacts, Top Cow
* Dave McCaig, The Magdalena, Top Cow
* Dave Stewart, Hellboy: The Fury, Dark Horse

*****

Best Syndicated Strip Or Panel

* Bizarro, Dan Piraro, syndicated by King Features Syndicate
* Cul De Sac, Richard Thompson, syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate
* Doonesbury, Garry Trudeau, syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate
* Mutts, Patrick McDonnell, syndicated by King Features Syndicate
* Pearls Before Swine, Stephen Pastis, syndicated by United Feature Syndicate

*****

Best Online Comics Work

* Battlepug, Mike Norton
* Bucko, Erika Moen and Jeff Parker
* Delilah Dirk And The Turkish Lieutenant, Tony Cliff
* Gronk, Katie Cook
* Hark! A Vagrant, Kate Beaton

*****

Best American Edition Of Foreign Material

* Adventures Of Herge, Drawn & Quarterly
* The Killer Volume Three: Modus Vivendi, Archaia Entertainment
* The Manara Library Volume One: Indian Summer And Other Stories, Dark Horse
* Onward Toward Our Noble Deaths, Drawn & Quarterly
* Single Match, Drawn & Quarterly

*****

Best Inker

* Laura Lee Gulledge, Page By Paige, Amulet Books
* Mark Morales, Thor, Marvel Comics
* Sal Regla, The Magdalena, Top Cow
* Joe Rivera, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Jason Shiga, Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not), Abrams ComicArts

*****

Best New Series

* Angel & Faith, Dark Horse
* Animal Man, DC Comics
* Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Last Mortal, Top Cow
* Ozma Of Oz, Marvel Comics
* Rachel Rising, Abstract Studio

*****

Most Promising New Talent

* Nick Bradshaw, Astonishing X-Men, Marvel Comics
* Nathan Edmondson, Who Is Jake Ellis?, Image Comics
* Laura Lee Gulledge, Page By Paige, Amulet Books
* Justin Jordan, The Strange Talent Of Luther Strode, Image Comics
* Sara Pichelli, Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel Comics

*****

Special Award For Humor In Comics

* Kate Beaton, Hark! A Vagrant, harkavagrant.com; print edition by Drawn & Quarterly
* Evan Dorkin, Milk And Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad, Dark Horse
* Jeff Kinney, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, Amulet Books
* Roger Langridge, Snarked, kaboom!
* Lela Lee, Fairy Tales For Angry Little Girls, Abrams ComicArts

*****

Best Original Graphic Publication For Younger Readers

* Anya's Ghost, First Second
* Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, Amulet Books
* Fraggle Rock, Archaia
* Mystic, Marvel Comics
* Ozma Of Oz, Marvel Comics
* Snarked, kaboom!

*****

Best Graphic Album Previously Published

* Big Questions, Drawn & Quarterly
* Dark Tower Omnibus, Marvel Comics
* The Death Ray, Drawn & Quarterly
* Echoes, Top Cow
* PS Magazine: The Best of Preventive Maintenance Monthly, Abrams ComicArts
* S.H.I.E.L.D.: Architects Of Forever, Marvel Comics

*****

Best Anthology

* Dark Horse Presents, edited by various, Dark Horse
* Flight #8, edited by Kazu Kibuishi, Villard Books
* Jim Henson's The Storyteller, edited by Nate Cosby, Archaia Entertainment
* Shame Itself, edited by Tom Brennan, Marvel Comics
* Someday Funnies, edited by Michael Choquette, Abrams ComicArts

*****

Best Domestic Reprint Project

* Blackjacked and Pistol Whipped: A Crime Does Not Pay Primer, Dark Horse
* The Comics: The Complete Collection, Abrams ComicArts
* Definitive Flash Gordon And Jungle Jim, IDW
* Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse (The Floyd Gottfredson Library), Fantagraphics
* Walt Simonson's The Mighty Thor Artist's Edition, IDW

*****

Best Cover Artist

* John Tyler Christopher, Artifacts, Top Cow
* Marcos Martin, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Paolo Rivera, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Mark Simpson (Jock), Detective Comics, DC Comics
* J.H. Williams, Batwoman, DC Comics

*****

Best Biographical, Historical Or Journalistic Presentation

* Alan Moore: Storyteller, Universe Books
* The Comics Journal, Fantagraphics
* Genius, Isolated: The Life And Art Of Alex Toth, IDW
* Government Issue: Comics For The People, 1940s-2000s, Abrams ComicArts
* PS Magazine: The Best of Preventive Maintenance Monthly, Abrams ComicArts

*****

Special Award For Excellence In Presentation

* Jim Henson's Tale Of Sand, designed by Eric Skillman, Archaia Entertainment
* PS Magazine: The Best of Preventive Maintenance Monthly, selected by Eddie Campbell, Abrams ComicArts
* Richard Stark's Parker: The Martini Edition, designed by Darwyn Cooke, IDW
* Someday Funnies, edited by Michael Choquette, Abrams ComicArts
* Walt Simonson's The Mighty Thor Artist's Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier, IDW

*****

Best Graphic Album Original

* Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not), Abrams ComicArts
* Habibi, Pantheon Books
* Infinite Kung Fu, Top Shelf Productions
* Jim Henson's Tale Of Sand, Archaia Entertainment
* One Soul, Oni Press
* Page By Paige, Amulet Books

*****

Best Continuing Or Limited Series

* Atomic Robo And The Ghost Of Station X, Red 5 Comics
* Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, Amulet Books
* Echoes, Top Cow
* Rachel Rising, Abstract Studio

*****

Best Writer

* Joshua Fialkov, Echoes, Top Cow
* Laura Lee Gulledge, Page By Paige, Amulet Books
* Jeff Lemire, Animal Man, DC Comics
* Jason Shiga, Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not), Abrams ComicArts
* Mark Waid, Daredevil, Marvel Comics

*****

Best Artist

* Paolo Rivera, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Chris Samnee, Captain America And Bucky, Marvel Comics
* Jason Shiga, Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not), Abrams ComicArts
* Craig Thompson, Habibi, Pantheon Books
* J.H. Williams, Batwoman, DC Comics

*****

Best Cartoonist

* Kate Beaton, Hark! A Vagrant, harkavagrant.com; print edition by Drawn & Quarterly
* Jeremy Haun, Pilot Season: The Beauty#1, Image Comics
* Jeff Kinney, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, Amulet Books
* Roger Langridge, Snarked, kaboom!
* Comfort Love & Adam Withers, Rainbow In The Dark
* Craig Thompson, Habibi, Pantheon Books

*****

Best Single Issue Or Story

* Daredevil #7, Marvel Comics
* Echoes #5, Top Cow
* Ganges #4, Fantagraphics
* The Homeland Directive, Top Shelf Productions
* Jim Henson's Tale Of Sand, Archaia Entertainment
* Optic Nerve #12, Drawn & Quarterly
* Zorro Rides Again #1, Dynamite Comics

*****

I'm not sure there's anything super-newsworthy here. That seems like a lot of nominations for Marvel, Top Cow, and Amulet/Abrams -- at least at first glance. In fact, that feels like a metric shit-ton for Amulet/Abrams. I'm not suggesting chicanery, not even a little bit, but as a professionals-only voting process you traditionally see these kinds of swings and clumping year to year from this awards program. What else...? Huh. No Jaime Hernandez after no Jaime Hernandez at the Eisners, either. He did some astonishing work in 2011, and it's too bad the two major comic book awards programs did not recognize those comics.

This is the seventh year the Harvey Awards ceremony will be held in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con, where they've found a nice home. The ceremony is scheduled for September 8. More information including details on how to vote and by when, are available here.

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: A Creepy Gallery

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Go, Look: More 1957 Esquire Gag Collection Pages

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Chris Mautner gets his "writing feature articles about comics for a mainstream audience" thing going with a piece on the weirder corners of Spider-Man's long history.

image* Rina Ayuyang and Thien Pham talk to Dan Zettwoch. Martyn Pedler talks to Michel Fiffe. Tucker Stone on the Carl Barks books Fantagraphics is putting out.

* on the other hand, you could argue that anyone that chooses to fight like this is totally terrifying.

* Greg McElhatton on Anya's Ghost. Don MacPherson on The Loxleys And The War Of 1812. Sean T. Collins on The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 2009. Greg Burgas on Daredevil: Season One.

* not comics: in case you were wondering, they're using the modern Guardians Of The Galaxy over the older the one for that movie thing they're doing.

* I've never heard of this book, either.

* another ancient L&R advertisement posting, another reason to fall in love with one of the great, sustained artistic efforts of our time.

* Gary Tyrrell pulls together all the programming at San Diego Con of particular interest to webcomics fans.

* finally, retailer and industry advocate Brian Hibbs posts a list of his store's best-selling comics and another list of its best-selling books for 2012 so far.
 
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Happy 4th Of July!

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posted 9:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Nine Days Remaining Until Comic-Con International 2012

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This year's Comic-Con International will take place July 12-15, with a Preview Night on July 11.

In the ramp up to the event, we recommend this site's "By The Numbers" guide and twitter feed, the Comic-Con web site, the Comic-Con twitter feed and fellow bloggers The Beat and Mark Evanier. Just about any of your favorite comics- and pop culture-related sites should have some coverage of the show.

We hope to see you there.
 
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July 2, 2012


Go, Look: Peepers

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posted 9:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Harvey Awards Nominations Out: Marvel, Top Cow, Amulet, Abrams

I'm not going to get a chance to look at this year's Harvey Award nominations before I put them up and link them up tomorrow morning, but on first glance it seemed like Marvel, Top Cow, Abrams and Amulet were more represented than they might be if I were building a list by chance or drunkenly pulling names from a hat. Also TCJ was the only journalistic enterprise in that category, which was dominated by book efforts. Congrats to Tim and Dan and their crew on the awards-nom two-fer first year out.
 
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Go, Read: Frank Santoro On Samurai

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Go, Read: An Interview With JT Waldman

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posted 3:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this is nice: a library-focused graphic novels contest where people win collections of graphic novels for their libraries.

image* Sean Witzke on Heavy Metal Vol. 1 #1-2. Tucker Stone on a bunch of stuff. The Mindless Ones launch into LOEG: Century: 2009. Rob Clough on some minis. Sean T. Collins on Interiorae. Paul O'Brien on a bunch of X-Men related comics. Stergios Botzakis on Canterbury Tales.

* Mark Millar loses me with the stuff after the first phrase of the second sentence, but I know what 70,000 pre-orders means. That's really good in today's market.

* here are 50 comics and characters that resonate with LGBT readers. I can't even imagine the grousing that an article like this must have spawned, and I'm too fearful to look.

* not comics: a lot of folks in the comics realm are linking to this Manohla Dargis/AO Scott piece on superhero films, but I thought it was kind of a scattered mess, without the compensating virtue of any really strong, stand-alone points. I guess if you need a primer as to the various things people have been asserting about superhero movies for ten years or so now, that's a decent place to start. I'll be reading some of my comics from the Silver Age Of Marvel.

* John Siuntres talks to a whole bunch of people. Frank Santoro profiles a bunch of new talent. Rodrigo Baeza profiles Artie Simek.

* kids today, I swear.

* Christian Sager on the new crowdfunding realities.

* finally, this not-comics piece on the culture of "busy" by Tim Kreider wasn't written with comics in mind, but it applies to the comics-world big time. In comics, you're not only busy, but you must constantly tell everyone how busy you are in glorious, world-conquering fashion.
 
posted 3:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Ten Days Remaining Until Comic-Con International 2012

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This year's Comic-Con International will take place July 12-15, with a Preview Night on July 11.

In the ramp up to the event, we recommend this site's "By The Numbers" guide and twitter feed, the Comic-Con web site, the Comic-Con twitter feed and fellow bloggers The Beat and Mark Evanier. Just about any of your favorite comics- and pop culture-related sites should have some coverage of the show.

We hope to see you there.
 
posted 3:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
July 1, 2012


CR Sunday Interview: Matt Madden And Jessica Abel

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*****

I interviewed cartoonists and educators Jessica Abel and Matt Madden a few years ago for their first comics textbook Drawing Words And Writing Pictures. I received an "incomplete," having recorded the piece in a way I couldn't retrieve its content. I'm grateful for this make-up opportunity on that book's sequel, Mastering Comics. As we dicscuss below, the second book is a much more complicated beast than the first, engaging a variety of aims without much of a road map in terms of what a second book of this type might do. It's hard to imagine a more substantial, serious effort, and I think it should be obvious they've more than achieved one of their goals: to create a book that can be taken off the shelves and accessed for several years. Mastering Comics is also a book from which people without any desire to do comics may learn, which I think is a remarkable feat. I can't imagine this particular assignment falling to a more capable pair. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

imageTOM SPURGEON: Am I right in thinking that you guys were going to move at some point? Did I miss that?

JESSICA ABEL: You haven't missed it yet. In August, we're moving to France.

SPURGEON: Wow. Well, that's nice. [slight pause] I hope that's nice.

ABEL: That is nice. It's scary, but it's nice.

MATT MADDEN: We're doing the residency at Angouleme at the Maison des Auteurs. That's this program they have... any authors that publish in France can apply. Sarah Glidden is over there right now, and Nathan Schreiber. Do you know him?

SPURGEON: I know Nathan a little bit -- more like I know of Nathan. I knew Sarah was over there for some reason, but I wasn't sure what for.

MADDEN: This residency has been around for about 10 years or so but it feels like it's only recently been discovered by people in the U.S. Ted Stearn is going to be there for a little while, overlapping with us.

ABEL: Another cartoonist, Jeremy Sorese, introduced himself to me in Chicago at the comics thing, but I had to run away so I didn't really talk to him. He'll be there most of the time we're there.

SPURGEON: Will you have duties you're expected to perform?

ABEL: We have to present our work at the end, I think. We'll probably do a couple of public talks. There's not very much in the way of requirements.

SPURGEON: This book is very, very impressive. I have all sorts of nerdy book questions. The first one obviously is what was the reaction to the first book that drove the conception or idea of doing a second one?

ABEL: That's a slight misunderstanding of how the second one came about. Originally the first book was going to be 30 chapters long. We realized somewhere in there that that was a really stupid idea. We proposed to First Second that we split it in half. They were like, "Great. That sounds fine."

MADDEN: A lot of it was a done deal before the first book was out.

ABEL: The conception was a done deal, the book wasn't done by a long shot. The idea of "here's what the second one will be," changed a little bit, but we pretty much knew what we wanted to cover in the two books from the beginning.

SPURGEON: One thing that's interesting to me about the two books is that the distinction is made between basic class and advanced class instead of, say, "craft" and "story," or all the other ways you might have been able to break it down. Whose idea was to break it down in that fashion?

MADDEN:. That's a really good point. We didn't initially talk about "here's the craft book and here's the story book," although that is one way we've talked about the difference between the two, certainly. We've struggled a bit with trying to figure out how to talk about this new book in a cohesive way. It kind of goes all over the place and covers a lot of different bases. It's advanced for us as writers. [laughs] Advanced book writing. DW&WP is pretty straightforward. It's literally by the numbers. There are 15 chapters and we walk you through a lot of craft, the fundamentals of storytelling, the language of comics. It certainly has its tangents and divergences as well, but it's pretty straightforward.

Mastering Comics is no longer obviously a straightforward path. It's more meandering, and there are multiple streams: the idea of professional practice, and getting your work published and seen, along with how to do perspective, and how to do coloring in Photoshop and by hand, all the while talking about finding your voice and developing longer works.

ABEL: In the first book, we do talk about production. We try to always keep a focus on the idea that you're producing this with an eye towards reproducing this. Always. From the very beginning. Maybe not the first four or five chapters but as soon as you get into any kind of layout and inking, you're talking about making a book, right? That's already a focus. We know very well from teaching students who are in their first year of learning comics, that's as far as they're able to conceptually go. Making a minicomic at the end of doing a bunch of comics is tough the first time you do it. We want to say it's a great ending point for you; we wanted that first book to be achievable and dominatable. People can do it and learn it and really, truly master it -- unlike the second book, which is not about finishing mastering it but continuing mastering it. [laughter] But you can master those beginning skills.

When you've moved on, and you're doing some deeper thinking about comics: you've self-published in one form or another a few times, you've seen how it works, you figure out the difference between an original and a reproduction, you're able to conceptually broaden your idea of what you're doing to include all different kinds of production and career concerns as well as broader artistic matters.

imageSPURGEON: Is that what makes this more difficult, then, that you have more concerns, more to grab onto? I'm kind of after what makes this less straightforward -- is it just that there's more to cover?

ABEL: Fewer answers.

MADDEN: There are fewer straight answers. We talk about inking and using pens and brushes. In the first book, it's like, "Here's how you hold the pen. Make sure it's pointing this way. If you can't get the ink to flow, trying shaking a bit out on the paper and dipping into the blob. Draw straight lines. Draw diagonal lines." It's very clear stuff and you can say this is how you do it and this is right or wrong. This will work. This won't work. In the second book, we have more tool stuff -- like using q-tips and fingerprints for inking -- but we're also talking about how to use different inking styles to express mood or the subjectivity of characters in your work. We show a lot of examples from our work and other artists, like the way Joann Sfar shifts registers from realistic to doodly on the same page or the way Jaime [Hernandez] spots blacks. None of these represent the "correct" way to do something, they're just examples of things that work.

ABEL: I wanted to add one thing to what Matt is saying. As sort of a clue to this, look at the critique appendix in the first book and the second book. A critique appendix is designed for classroom use or for group use so you have some questions to guide you when you're doing critiques of your work. In the first book, they're very detailed. "Here's stuff to look for, here's stuff to talk about." The second book is more like "Well, you know what you're doing. Talk about it. Have fun." There's a little bit of detail in there -- there are a couple of specific critiques -- but mostly there aren't any because there's very little we can tell you to say. It's all open-ended.

SPURGEON: When the first book got out there and you got to see how people were using it, how much did that have an effect on how the book was written? Were you surprised at all at how people used it? I know that you suspected certain kinds of use, but what was the reality?

ABEL: I think the one thing that was surprising to me, anyway, was how much interest there was from people that aren't cartoonists, on the literary end of things.

SPURGEON: In terms of getting a grasp of what's involved?

ABEL: Pepole really enjoying the book, getting a lot of out of it, understanding how comics work. I don't think there are a lot people assigning as a textbook for non-drawing classes, though there are some. That doesn't happen that often. But a lot of teachers are reading it and getting ideas for what they can incorporate into the classroom. A lot more of that than we realized was out there. We've become aware of this whole community of educators that are trying to incorporate comics in all kinds of classroom uses. It's not our main interest, it's not specifically what we're doing, but it dovetails nicely with what we're doing. It's definitely something that affected our thinking a little bit.

MADDEN: Basically we didn't change much. We weren't really able to accommodate certain things. One teacher recommended that the second book have less writing in it [Spurgeon laughs] because he saw his undergraduate students weren't necessarily getting as much from the writing as from the examples. Stuff like that. The amount of time you're likely to spend on a given page. Point taken. On the one hand you're like, "What, are these kids too lazy to read." But brevity is always good in an instructional book.

ABEL: We are not people who can speak briefly. [laughs]

MADDEN: We tried. We cut a lot of stuff out of this book. Every chapter has multiple revisions and edits. I especially am looking for ways to make it shorter and cut stuff out. Everything in there has to be there, I feel it's solid stuff.

Another issue is, and this one I feel really bad about but there's no solution for it, but we get occasional complaints from older readers -- and I'll count myself among them -- that the font is kind of small. [laughs] It's ten-point, or something like that. That's just a matter of how much stuff we need to fit in there.

ABEL: The cost would go up if it were longer.

MADDEN: It was too late to re-conceive the whole thing.

ABEL: There's probably more stuff about writing comics. We had that in there, but we did a little bit more on that and focused on that a bit more because of what people were interested in. Partly because it was already conceived when we did the first book, it evolved in an organic way. It's definitely not the same book it would have been if we had done it in 2008 or whatever. It's mostly a reflection of itself rather than the world.

MADDEN: People responded really well to seeing different kinds of art in there, which was something we were already doing but was an encouragement to do more in the second book: a lot of art in there, and a lot of different kinds of artists.

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SPURGEON: It's very airy, with a lot of white space.

MADDEN: That's Danica Novgorodoff -- she's also a cartoonist. She's the designer. When we first started doing Drawing Words, she was the in-house designer at First Second.

ABEL: She became the designer on Mastering Comics freelance.

SPURGEON: Is there a reason you wanted it easy to read that way, or attractive that way, as opposed to making it shorter?

ABEL: I guess you could have smaller margins or something. I don't know how much shorter it could really be. The airy design is something we really like a lot. It's fun to frustrate cartoonists who are like, "My art could have been in there!" Mostly it just makes it pleasant to look at.

MADDEN: More manageable, too.

ABEL: It's inviting in a way. A book like this is hefty stuff; it's not a light-summer read. If you make it beautiful to look at, it's more tempting to get into.

SPURGEON: Do you have an editor, or do you do all of that yourselves?

MADDEN: We do that for the most part ourselves. For both books we had a kind of freelance editor/academic advisor. One was a college friend of mine named Bruce Cantley who does textbook editing and copywriting and then another woman, Mika De Roo, who's worked in that field before. They were doing close line-readings of our stuff for clarity. Neither of them are comics people. We wanted to have some eyes outside of comics geekdom, that wouldn't let stuff we take for granted slip past. Their background in editing textbooks helped us with organization, ideas on headers and subheaders, things like that. Early on we had a lot of back and forth.

ABEL: They both had a lot to say about content in terms of making things clearer. They had stylistic difference in terms of what they cared about, but they were really helpful in terms of helping us speak to everybody.

imageSPURGEON: The thought of doing something like this seems terrifying to me. You can't fudge your way through any of this. Was there any section where one or both of you felt inadequate, where you felt you needed to do some homework to do a specific chapter?

MADDEN: Webcomics is a big... an area that neither one of us has a huge amount of experience with. We had to do research on that. We had an intern, Matt Huynh, who did a lot of research on blogs and articles and finding out what information and books there are about webcomics.

ABEL: Beyond that, just talking about various digital publishing platforms, how do you talk about that stuff?

MADDEN: Particularly in that it's still developing -- talking about tablets and smart phones and stuff like that. In that case we tried to say as little specific as possible. New things are happening so quickly that it seemed like were setting ourselves up if we made a definitive statement.

ABEL: What evolved out of writing that was just talking about "platforms": that's the way one talks about this. It's not saying, "This platform is what you want to do, and this is how you do it." Rather, we wanted to create a set of questions and concerns that could guide a cartoonist through assessing whatever platforms exist when they're reading the book. It was tough to come up with the way to describe that.

SPURGEON: Now how much of this is talking to your network of friends, how much is seeking out specific people? The conclusion on platforms, how did you get there?

ABEL: We both got there ourselves. It sort of comes out of the writing. The research is mostly on-line. We might ask a question via e-mail of somebody.

MADDEN: In general, we're always in dialogue with our peers, particularly the cartoonists we teach with at SVA: Tom Hart, Nick Bertozzi and Jason Little are people with whom we talk about comics.

ABEL: They weren't reading our drafts or anything.

MADDEN: No, but Nick Bertozzi and Tom Hart and I have talked quite a bit about digital platforms, and that has found its way into the writing.

ABEL: There's also conceptual stuff that we go over here, like narrative structures and what is a comic and closure... we both think that the McCloudian definition isn't complete. How far do you want to go into the theoretical end of things? That's really challenging. And we had to negotiate each one of those things on its own.

I do most of the first drafts about writing and the narrative arc -- I drafted that and Matt gets into it later. We've been criticized for teaching the traditional narrative arc. But we feel you need to learn this. I understand the criticism, but the person that said this said "Why aren't they teaching modernist writing?" I feel students need to know what something is before they break it. The narrative arc is such a straightforward thing in some senses. Students understand it intuitively, but need to learn how to apply it to their work, and that's a huge, ongoing job. So I don't want to ask them to do a ton more than that initially, though of course I hope they learn to see its limits. That's a tough one.

MADDEN: Given my own tastes for work that is experimental and formalist, I feel a shortcoming of both books is they don't push the envelope as much as they could as far as the outer limits of what comics can do. I think we've done our best to try and fit it in various places and talk about that there are different ways to approach making comics. Again, it's a difference between talking about something in a practical way as opposed to the open-ended "well, try it and you can see." What's good and problematic about the narrative arc structure in screenplays and creative writing is that it's a system that is very clear and it has a formal structure to it that is very solid, actually, and it works. You find it underlying the vast majority of storytelling whether it claims to be traditional or not. It's straightforward to explain and talk about. Once you get off that path it's amorphous -- that's maybe even a later book. We haven't really figured out a good way to talk about it.

ABEL: We can do it on a case by case basis in a class, but how do you teach making experimental work? You can give a series of exercises, but you can't give rules: that's the nature of it. We talk about constraints and show how that works.

MADDEN: I think we did a good job of putting a lot of creatively challenging activities in the book. We have a poetry comics assignment, a portrait comics assignment, these are non-linear ways of approaching comics. Mastering Comics is meant to be a practical handbook and resource. I get a bit wary when I see descriptions of the book that are, "Oh, their new book on theory and practice." It's not really a theoretical book. I would not want to submit this to an academic journal for review. It would get ripped to shreds. That's not our goal. We're not trying to present some overarching theory of how comics work and what they are. It's meant more as a resource for people to make stuff with. That's a very different set of concerns than a theoretical framework.

ABEL: The overlap is where it becomes difficult for us. Because you do need some of that stuff to make it work.

MADDEN: As a practitioner, I think everyone needs to know what the narrative arc is and how it works. No matter what art or narrative art you're doing. Even non-narrative art. It's a structural element in a huge amount of Western narrative art.

ABEL: And Eastern, too.

MADDEN: And Eastern, too. I think that's a principle as a practitioner, no matter what your end goal is, whether you want to be a screenwriter or whether you want to do non-linear poetry comics. Coming at it from a theoretical standpoint, you might throw it out from the get-go. That's an imposed structure from outside, and the author's intent doesn't matter. You're coming from a totally different academic standpoint. Maybe in context there's no need for something like talking about the narrative arc. It's a very different approach to talking about the art form.

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SPURGEON: How organic a process was it for you to collect and employ the samples you use? I'm looking at page 234, and there's a [David] Mazzucchelli and a [Frank] Santoro and bunch of panels from Matt. Do you have this at your fingertips?

ABEL: It's very difficult, actually. It's very, very challenging. We do know a lot of the work. A lot of it is out of our bookshelves. But a lot of stuff isn't, and it took incredible effort -- mostly on the part of two interns, Hilary Allison and Li-Or Zaltzman with me -- taking trips to the library, scanning panels to try out, to see if this works or that works, to try and get a diversity that doesn't necessarily reflect our taste and our collection.

That particular page? Not that hard, right? That's an easy one [Spurgeon laughs] because if you're discussing Pantones you're going to put in "Discovering America."

MADDEN: The panels I did show the process, and Frank had done Cold Heat pretty recently when we were working on it.

ABEL: Cold Heat we put in initially because I was under the impression that he was using Cyan and Magenta for it, but then Matt pointed out he was not. He was using Pantones that are sort of similar. It kind of undermines the reasons for using it. We used it anyway, because it was a nice panel. It's another nice panel. My hope was to print it in the original cyan and magenta and make it more of a transparent example, but that's not what ended up happening.

Look at the rest of the color comics section, and you get to stuff that was really difficult to pin down. Especially when you get to computer color. The hand-colored stuff, a lot of that's just out of our bookshelves. We just look through and think, "This is a good example."

imageMADDEN: We have a Mutts; I don't even know where we found that.

ABEL: Hilary found that in the library. Some of these are scanned from the books but in many cases they're originals from the artist. So tracking down Patrick McDonnell's studio, that was this incredible process.

On page 208, that Dave Stewart panel, I was calling around and asking, "Who is a great semi-mainstream colorist we can use." So I asked other colorists, people at Dark Horse and through that process I got in touch with Dave Stewart. He was recommended to me by other people, and he is really fantastic. Then I had to find something that showed what I wanted to show... it was really difficult.

SPURGEON: When the first book came out, that seemed like a heady time for comics art education. It seemed like there was a lot going on in New York publishing as well. Has the context changed for the arrival of this book?

ABEL: I think we're a lot more cautious now about what the outlook is. The recession hit just about when the book came out. The global panic was like three months later.

MADDEN: When were working on the first book and building up to it coming out, it was like, "Oh yeah, great times." We've never been jump-on-the-bandwagon, over-the-top optimists about stuff. I'm always aware that bubbles pop.

ABEL: And being an artist is being an artist. It's not easy.

MADDEN: Even in the best of times, being a creative person of any sort is an iffy proposition.

ABEL: But there were a lot more possibilities at that point.

MADDEN: Yeah. And stuff has scaled back a lot, so that has changed things. But on the other hand, I still maintain, and I don't think this is being overly rose-tinted glasses about it, that comics' status in culture, in North America, has reached an upper level that's it not going to come back from.

ABEL: Yeah.

MADDEN: That part is not a bubble that's going to deflate. People aren't going to stop reading comics that started reading them ten years ago when they saw Jimmy Corrigan at their local bookstore. There's an uptick in the size and variety of the audience that read comics and want to make comics...

ABEL: Look at this conference that was at University of Chicago just now, where 17 top cartoonists are on panels all day and all these academics are super-excited and it's a major, major event. It wouldn't have happened ten years ago. When I was talking to Hillary Chute, she was saying that when she was hired four years ago the search committee said, "We've been interested in comics for over ten years." [Spurgeon laughs] That's our time horizon. Comics are entering the academy like brand new, practically. It's happening all over the place. So it's an interesting and good time for comics education. Studio education is different, and we still don't know where that's going. But I think it is growing.

SPURGEON: What do you mean by "studio education"?

ABEL: Making them as opposed to reading them.

MADDEN: The study of comics sector of education is moving a lot faster than art schools or even community colleges are introducing comics-making classes in their art departments or creative writing departments. That's a larger goal of these two books, to provide ready-made textbooks and handbooks that teachers and students can use. So even a smaller college or art school where there's not a local famous cartoonist they can bring in to teach class, someone with a bit of gumption to give it a try, who appreciates comics even if they haven't made a bunch themselves, can use our books to teach class.

SPURGEON: Do you get any pushback from other cartoonists the way I've heard them grump sometimes, where they're like, "You can give them those two books, or you can lock them in a room with a pile of paper. They'll become a cartoonist or they won't." Comics has a long tradition of the opposite of these books -- the suck it up and learn it yourself school.

MADDEN: That's how we learned.

ABEL: That's exactly why we did these books. Because that sucked so much. It was so not fun not to know things and not know where to find out.

In terms of pushback, though...

MADDEN: Nobody's come up to us at a convention and said, "You guys are full of it. Why are you trying to teach people comics. You're giving away our secrets."

ABEL: When established cartoonists read it, there's usually something in there that's new for them. Not necessarily a lot, but ways of thinking they hadn't encountered before. It's like reading the mind of a different cartoonist. So mostly they like it for themselves, so we don't have a lot of problems with that. I'm sure there are people that are teaching a class and see the book and are all, "Hmm... I think I'm just going to use Understanding Comics." They don't want to get on our bandwagon -- which I understand.

imageSPURGEON: Was there anything that was particularly gratifying to you to have out there?

ABEL: All of it. [Spurgeon laughs] If I had had my book in 1991...

MADDEN: ... look out, world.

ABEL: Well, I don't know about that. But it would have saved me so much time and heartbreak. Maybe the thing that would have helped me the most in some ways was the time management and talking about the artist's life. I was so totally not functional that way. I worked very slowly, mostly due to constant procrastination, and didn't get anything done. I had no community, nobody doing it around me, so I was just doing it in a vacuum.

SPURGEON: How much of you guys using the book is rolling out the book? Are you doing seminars? Do you immediately assign the books?

MADDEN: Mastering Comics is too new. We're taking a sabbatical, so it may be a while before we teach a class where we would assign it. But Drawing Words we started assigning in most of our classes, because it's designed to be that extra resource.

At SVA, I do an ink drawing class, where I'm teaching the stuff about nibs and brushes. We do a lot of comics assignments. I have a mixture of cartooning majors and illustration majors and people in other departments. So I'm like, "Buy Drawing Words and Writing Pictures. If you don't know how to make a comic, if you don't know how to lay out a page, if you don't know what a narrative arc structure is, read that book. Look at the Krazy Kat and Popeye pages." I'll have them read stuff.

In terms of the material in there, with Drawing Words and Writing Pictures probably 85 percent of it was stuff we had already classroom tested and done a lot. Since the book came out we've tried to make a point of doing activities we've dreamed up -- sometimes we've needed activities to practice a certain principle or technique and we just made one up on the spot without having a chance to really try it. Fortunately, the ones we've tried out have worked out very well.

In Mastering Comics it's more like 50/50. There's a lot of stuff in there where there are activities and assignments where we don't really know and we haven't had time to test.

ABEL: We've been using chapters from Mastering Comics for years in class. We've been bringing in stuff that's in progress -- like the stuff on perspective, we've been teaching that for years. Immediately after Drawing Words and Writing Pictures came out, we were like, "Should we assign this? That's kind of weird." [Spurgeon laughs] But we needed it, so we assigned it. I didn't want to make handouts of all this crap. That was the alternative.

SPURGEON: Have the books been received differently in other markets?

ABEL: I don't think anyone has seen it.

MADDEN: At MoCCA we met this Caravan Of Comics, this whole troupe of Australian cartoonists. They came to our table; they were awesome. They said they had been teaching workshops, like in Melbourne, using DW&WP -- I had no idea it had made it that far.

There haven't been any foreign language editions out yet. There's a slow-brewing Italian edition that actually changed publishers at one point. I'm not even sure of the status on that. There's a Brazilian edition theoretically out this year.

ABEL: I think there's a different attitude about comics education in Europe, too. Once we're there, we'll be able to see better. I was in Finland last winter for a comics education seminar. People mostly haven't heard of the book but they were like, "Wow, I need that." I had only brought ten copies and they flew. I sold out really quickly.

MADDEN: This was about making comics.

ABEL: As it turns out, they do that a lot in Finland. Comics-making. Now I know. Drawing Words and Writing Pictures was popular once they knew about it, but I don't know that word has gotten out.

SPURGEON: Do you think this book is something that people can discover on their own, or do you think of the book as something people have been eased into?

MADDEN: Like the web site you mean?

SPURGEON: Yeah. Like how much do you feel that material is necessary, how much do you feel that you have to make the case for the book? Or do you feel it's just out there now?

ABEL: The first book doesn't need that much explaining. You're going to learn the skills of making comics. Period. It's not that difficult to explain. If you sit down with the first couple of chapters, you'll get it.

The second book, conceptually, for us even, we knew what was in it and we liked what was in it, but trying to put it together -- what's the elevator pitch for this? It's tough. It's tougher to pin it down. I don't know yet whether people are going to be able to get it on their own or not.

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SPURGEON: I do think it's a book people can return to. It's not like this is a "that's the week I spent on that book" kind of book. I have to imagine this is something that's going to be a companion for a lot of people for a while.

MADDEN: I think of it as being a desk reference. If you're working on something and you're like, "Oh, crap. I'm stuck on this perspective problem." Or how you scan stuff the right way.

ABEL: The technical stuff, even the more structural, conceptual stuff -- for me with the writing books I've read, if I get stuck I might read somebody's book about writing scenes. It can help me get rolling again. And I hope our book does that for people as well: a tool. You sit down and read the section about composing whole books and jump in to your project again, thinking, "This is how I can solve this problem in my own book."

SPURGEON: It works as a book. It's not something where you go, "I'd like that information, but I think I'll take a class." Or "I can scrounge this stuff on-line someplace." You've made a case through the book that this needs to be a book; that this is something useful to have in that form.

There's no question. I'm just talking now.

MADDEN: We have come to realize that there is another audience for these books, that there's enough stuff in there to enlighten even a casual reader that's just into comics or learning about comics. Certainly, hardcore fans can find interesting tidbits.

ABEL: New ways of looking at things.

MADDEN: It can enrich the way you read comics. There's this more practical point of view, a more nuts-and-bolts point of view that is really compelling to readers as much as artists. I know from workshops that people are always fascinated to learn about what nibs are and what kinds of lines they make. [Spurgeon laughs] And that's part of comics, it's part of the visual language: these weird, arcane tools that a lot of us still use to do this stuff.

ABEL: I think, too, that it's not just arcane knowledge for the reader. I think it informs reading. I would really like to see more people who aren't making comics reading these books, because I think they would get a context for their reading that they don't have now. To be able to look at Jack Kirby's work, and say, "I understand something about the process of how this was put together. He didn't ink it. Somebody else inked it. So what does that mean about the visual language here."

MADDEN: My favorite observation about Kirby, and I think this is mentioned in Mastering Comics, is that his drawing is so incredibly dynamic that you assume he must be the origin of all these crazy page layouts with diagonals, this sort of Image Comics look at its most extreme. But if you go back and look at most Kirby you'll see that he uses a six-panel grid more often than not. It shows you how much of that energy he was able to pack into just the panel composition across a single page, a half-page spread, a full-page spread. I'm really fascinated by that: the power that he's able to draw within the grid system.

ABEL: That may be geeky, but I think that this is one of the problems with comics literature education now. Not a lot of the teachers are equipped to talk about what the images are doing. They can talk about plot and character and all this good stuff., but are they talking about how the image composition actually tells the story? And that's what this is: that's what this art form is. To ignore that, then all you're doing is basically cheating. You're getting your students to read by giving them something that's cool-looking, but you're not really talking about the work.

MADDEN: Anecdotally we hear that pretty often from undergrads who read Maus, Persepolis, or Fun Home in a college class.

ABEL: They talk about the relationship between Art [Spiegelman] and his dad.

MADDEN: They talk about the relationships, they talk about the actual writing, but they rarely get into the visual rhetoric and the way the comics language is used.

SPURGEON: Is that because we've borrowed the language from a discipline that's more developed. Or is it that it's just hard?

MADDEN: It's hard. There's a comics literacy you need to learn and practice. A lot of people that haven't grown up with that practice don't even realize they're missing something. As much as comics are accepted now in the academy and the general public, many people are reading the stories and thinking, "This is a heartbreaking tale of the Holocaust." There's so much more there when they look at not just the drawing, but the way composition is used, the way the page turns and spreads are used, the tension between the writing and the drawing. That's all stuff that has yet to be mined in our culture. That's culture catching up to comics, not the other way around.

ABEL: I think the faculty that are teaching this stuff at the college level often are literature faculty, and they don't have training in talking about the visuals. They may even be intimidated by it.

MADDEN: It's a challenge for comics in the humanities and in education in general. Comics is great because it's so multimodal and interdisciplinary, but that also makes it a real challenge for teaching. There are very few teachers that are able to straddle the many domains comics inhabits.

ABEL: There are some. There are some great teachers who really deal with all the aspects of comics. But students, too, aren't trained to talk about this stuff. They don't have the language.

imageSPURGEON: I wanted to end with Chapter 15, which I liked very much as an exercise in rhetoric. It was straightforward and to the point and it had all that stuff in it that people ask first that they probably shouldn't ask until way later on. It then ends with a happy image.

There are appendices that follow this last chapter, but did you put any thought into how the book would end with this last chapter. The brevity of it puts it into perspective, even. I wondered if that was intentional.

MADDEN: Now that you're saying that, I'm noticing the chapter is framed by the beginning of our character Clay looking on in fear at a giant contract in front of him. Which is scary but also implies you might get a big book-publishing contract. But it ends in a very celebratory mode, but a very modest one: a self-organized mini comicon with a bunch of people on the floor on blankets. The message there is do it because you love it, not because you expect to make money.

ABEL: It doesn't matter if you get a giant contract, go ahead and do it anyway. This is something we can offer that comes out of our background in minicomics in the '90s when there was no money in this, when you did it with friends and formed relationships through this art form. You did it because it was worth doing. There's a super-American DIY spirit: you don't need government funding to do a mini-con.

MADDEN: The book is 300 pages and we have one column of one page called "Career Paths In Comics." [Spurgeon laughs]. "You could maybe have a career in comics. Here's some ideas, but concentrate on the rest of the book first."

SPURGEON: That's what struck me, because if you do a presentation on comics, those kinds of questions dominate. So placing that chapter where you did and how you did really underline how magnificently complicated the making and reading comics can be.

ABEL: We put in a little section on copyrights, just guidelines about how you might think about it. This is one of the things that people will ask on the first day of comics class. "How do I protect my thing with copyright?"

MADDEN: "I have my webcomic and I want to make sure it's copyright-protected. I have something on my DeviantArt site I think someone is going to steal and make a movie out of it."

ABEL: There are other priorities.

*****

* Mastering Comics: Drawing Words & Writing Pictures Continued, Jessica Abel and Matt Madden, First Second, softcover, 336 pages, 9781596436176, May 2012, $34.99.
* Jessica Abel
* Matt Madden

*****

* cover to the book
* Matt Madden sketches France
* a Blutch example from the book; there are no easy answers
* the airy design of the book on display
* digital
* page with color examples
* the Dave Stewart example discussed
* even without her book, Jessica Abel turned out all right; an illustration by the artist
* I just sort of super like this "doodling as a warm-up" page
* facing a big contract isn't a totally bad thing
* loosely image from the book (below)

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Enis

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Go, Look: Lewis Wayne Gallery Holdings

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OTBP: Les Portes Du Possible

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Go, Look: Two Great Jack Davis Illustrations

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1, 2
 
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If I Were In Seattle, I'd Go To This

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11 Days Remaining Until Comic-Con International 2012

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This year's Comic-Con International will take place July 12-15, with a Preview Night on July 11.

In the ramp up to the event, we recommend this site's "By The Numbers" guide and twitter feed, the Comic-Con web site, the Comic-Con twitter feed and fellow bloggers The Beat and Mark Evanier. Just about any of your favorite comics- and pop culture-related sites should have some coverage of the show.

We hope to see you there.
 
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FFF Results Post #300 -- Then And Now

On Friday, CR readers were asked, "The First Five For Friday was launched on October 29, 2004. That was a long time ago. Discuss your life then and now as follows:
1. The first thing that pops into your head in terms of a big change in your comics reading life since that date.
2. The first thing that pops into your head as something that hasn't changed about your comics reading life since that date.
3. The first thing that pops into your head in terms of a big change in your personal life since that date.
4. The first thing that pops into your head as something that hasn't changed about your personal life since that date.
5. Which of those first four things surprises you the most, and why?
(Also, suggest/send/link to an image to illustrate your response.)

This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. I actually got back into reading comics in 2004 after a few years of not reading them much at all, mostly thanks to the freebies knocked loose by doing this site. This includes all sorts of unlikely discoveries, including many comics I've flat-out enjoyed, comics that I wouldn't have come close to reading without CR.
2. I am still a terrible comics collector, with massive holes all over my "collection."
3. At one point in 2004, I weighed 513 pounds. Today I weigh 210. I don't know that I'll always keep it off. I want to, but I have 20 years of evidence that says I might not. Still, it's a big change and the most obvious one that leaps to mind just because that year was the year I can recall being over 500 pounds.
4. I'm still in Silver City, New Mexico.
5. The weight. I had become resigned during that year that I would never see 300 pounds again, and I probably wouldn't see 350 for very long.

*****

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M. Emery

1. The bulk of my comics reading is reprinted or translated material.
2. I still spend way too much on comics.
3. I moved to Australia, the land of comics plenty, and settled down with a beautiful lady who supports my interest in comics. When we met as teens over twenty years ago I drew her a comic for her birthday.
4. I still leave the house as little as possible.
5. Number one. The Internet during the last several years has really opened my eyes to comics material produced the world over. After living at the bottom of the world for most of my life where comics are scarce it has been amazing to suddenly have access to so much more. Lots of catching up to do.

*****

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Trevor Ashfield

1.) I take the Image Comics listings seriously now as a potential source of good comics.
2.) I can't shake the habit of buying monthly "floppy" comics even though I find the collections so much more satisfying reads. I guess I just gotta check out what is shiny and new!
3.) I became proficient enough in French to qualify as "bilingual" under the standards of the Canadian public service .
4.) I still live in the same apartment.
5.) The most surprising is # 2 because I was sure, years ago that I was winding down monthly comics purchases. But a weekly habit of 40 years is hard to break!

*****

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Patrick Ford

1. The comic book shop I had been buying comics from since 1984 closed, and there are no comic book shops near me.
2. Robert Crumb, and Jack Kirby are still my two favorite comic book creators.
3. Everyone is eight years older.
4. Same wife, kids, house, job.
5. I guess the comic book shop closing, I was surprised it held on as long as it did,

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. By the end of 2004, I finally stopped visiting the comics shop weekly, something I had been doing at least since getting my driver license 19 years before. The end of Cerebus some months before is the particular mental landmark that led to this, but the gradual disappearance of the "alt-comics pamphlet," the hour round-trip to the closest store, and the birth of my first child all contributed to this.
2. I still collect obsessively when I latch on to new things to collect, and I have real difficulty trying to prune the collection even slightly.
3. I now have two children.
4. I still live in the same small home.
5. I expected to be living in a larger, more traditional house by now. One with room for both growing children and a growing collection of multi-volume archival books of classic comics and strips that I collect obsessively and fail to prune well.

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. I no longer read every comic in each week's haul on that day, or sometimes even during that week. Lately I am behind a month on some series.
2. I still buy new comics each Wednesday from the local comics shop, and I still read the bulk of them that day.
3. The biggest change in my personal life since that date is the birth of my daughter, who is now almost 4 years old. She's the biggest reason my comics-reading habits have changed.
4. Something that hasn't changed in my personal life is that I am still married. At the risk of being obvious, even marriage wasn't as big an adjustment as fatherhood.
5. Item 1 surprises me the most. My Wednesday haul is as big as it's ever been, and I'm still pretty interested in everything, but there's no longer as much urgency to read it all in one big sitting. I'm surprised because it used to be such a ritual, like my day wasn't complete until the last new comic was read, and now I let it slide into Thursday or even the weekend. (And that's ironic too, because I've been getting the weekly hauls since new comics came out on Fridays.)

*****

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Milo George

1. I rarely keep comics after reading them now; not counting stuff I worked on, I only have a handful of comics keepers on my shelf six years after a flood destroyed my library.
2. I still prefer Ben Reilly, and you would have too if you could let go of your childish love for whatever crappy post-150 issue of Amazing Spider-Man was your jam. Also, it's not Ben's fault editorial "lost the plot," in every sense of the phrase.
3. Dating is exponentially easier now.
4. I'm back to being an underemployed resident of the Pacific Northwest, and still exceptional at evading complisults about my Journal run from strangers I encounter at gatherings.
5. Dating! I would make an "It Gets Better" video for awkward 20something guys if I could think of a way to do it without sounding like a creep. As poorly as it reflects on our society, The Crossing is a real thing; sorry ladies.

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Almost exclusively an online experience for me now. I prefer it that way (I can browse while working; ah, the glories of multi-tasking...) and my shelves are no longer crowded with books I rarely open or long boxes I open more rarely still.
2. I still say Joe Martin is an underappreciated genius.
3. Got rid of a large life draining external parasite.
4. Still married, still got the hots for my wife.
5. I'm surprised how easily I've abandoned paper. I still love the feel and heft of a good book, but for content I'll go to a screen anytime.

*****

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Jeff Flowers

1. The first thing that pops into your head in terms of a big change in your comics reading life since that date. That I buy very few stapled comics these days. Almost everything I buy is in book form.
2. The first thing that pops into your head as something that hasn't changed about your comics reading life since that date. I still only buy creator owned comics. I feel that it is morally wrong for creators not to hold the copyright for the things they create.
3. The first thing that pops into your head in terms of a big change in your personal life since that date. For the last two years, I have had almost daily episodes of light-headedness and heart palpitations. Despite some very through medical testing, no cause has ever been found for this. I finally went to a shrink this year, who put me on Prozac. It hasn't stopped my symptoms but as least now I am not as scared about them.
4. The first thing that pops into your head as something that hasn't changed about your personal life since that date. That I have been lucky enough to be employed continuously through some very tough times for our country, even though I had to change jobs.
5. Which of those first four things surprises you the most, and why? I am surprised to still be alive, as I thought for sure that I was going to die when I started having my medical symptoms, but I am still here and I hope to be reading comics for many years to come.

*****

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Chad Nevett

1. I buy new comics every Wednesday. For the longest time, I'd go to the shop once or twice a month because I was young and didn't have much money, but, since the beginning of 2008, I've gone to the shop every week.
2. I still buy everything by writers like Joe Casey, Warren Ellis, and Grant Morrison.
3. I am going to get married in October this year.
4. I spend a big chunk of my time either reading or watching something, obsessing over the areas of popculture that I love to the point where it's a little weird.
5. Getting married. In 2004, even having a girlfriend seemed like a longshot and, now, I'll have a wife in a little over three months.

*****

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Tony Collett

1. That I get my comics from a mail order place (DCBS) instead of going to the comics shop every week.
2. That I'm still into comics. Currently 41 years without a break.
3. That I went from a job I hated and massive credit card debt to a lot less debt and on the cusp of getting back into the daily workgrind again.
4. That I'm still married to my wife Kathy.
5. The job and debt thing. Two things that I thought I would be stuck with until I die are both out of my life, and I'm not looking back.

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Reading comics on the iPad! Love it! And with the exception of books by Spieg, Ware, and the few others who engage in the physicality of the object, I greatly prefer it to the print version.
2. I'm still way, way behind in my reading of comics... and books, magazines, etc. But, happily, thus it will ever be. Looking forward!
3. Personal life change somewhat obliquely related to comics reading: long story short, thanks to my 2005 "Education of a Comics Artist" book I've become a design history instructor and a weekly columnist for Print magazine's online edition, covering comics, etc.
4. Still investigating, marveling, learning, etc.
5. The iPad. Pre-iPhone, I was a "Paper Then Now and Forever!" guy.

*****

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Matt Silvie

1. 2004 was the last year I helped out on the editorial side of things with those special editions of The Comics Journal. That one from that year was the manga and Vaughn Bode one that was released in 2005; Sadowski did really amazing work with the art direction on that one.
2. I'm still selling ads for The Comics Journal.
3. Biggest personal change since then would have to be the girlfriend situation.
4. I'm still living in Seattle.
5. I'm not surprised by any of the above.

*****

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Aaron White

1. I no longer buy comics every week, or even every month (see #3 for reason)
2. I get frustrated by comics shops that are mostly about superheroes.
3. I got married.
4. I'm a lazy slob who tightens up if I'm held accountable by someone whose respect I crave.
5. I never expected to find a woman who'd have me.

*****

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Shannon Smith

1) In 2007 I launched file under other and dove head first into reviewing minicomics. That inspired/informed/changed about 95% of the rest of my reading as well sending it in an exact opposite course from where my reading had been focused.
2) Still a fool for cheap 70s Marvel comics and/or the Essentials collections.
3) Can't really put it into one single event. More of a life changing phase. Between Dec. 30 2006 and July 15 2007 I had a 2nd kid, changed jobs (retail to IT including intense night classes to learn IT) and moved my family from suburban Atlanta to ultra rural (I see cows out my window) southwest VA.
4) Family.
5) Number three. That seven month phase of my life is an unbelievable blur. I was very happy in my job (manager at Borders) and my life in Atlanta and would never have imagined moving back to the place I spent 17 years trying to get out of. But, I had some sort of Spider-Sense of impending doom, saw an opportunity and escaped. And of course, Borders is gone now.

*****

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Rob Clough

1. After a lifetime of reading superhero comics, I pretty much quit them all in 2005 and liquidated years of collecting.
2. I still have catholic tastes, which has aided me as a critic given that I review nearly everything thrown my way. My love for minicomics continues unabated.
3. I got married to a lovely woman named Laura and we have a firecracker of a daughter (Penelope, photo attached).
4. I've had the same job since 1990.
5. Having a child is not something that had been a goal of mine, but rather something that started to fall into place for me after the death of my father in 2008. It's been a hell of an adventure.

*****

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Justin J. Major

1. I no longer read two newspapers' comic strips every single day.
2. I still feel like Marvel and DC are actively, spitefully alienating me.
3. Death stepped up and reasserted that Entropy will always, always win.
4. My family is still the tops. The TOPS, man!
5. I could never have imagined that I would go days and days without reading the funny pages. A decade later and I still miss Sparky.

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. The first thing that pops into your head in terms of a big change in your comics reading life since that date.
Volume. I used to buy a lot more comics -- trades, manga, single issues -- but now? Not so many. Why? Money, space, changing tastes. The fact that my disposable income is better spent on making my own comics. I look back on those golden years, or the boxes they filled, with a mixture of fondness and astonishment: fondness for all the books and anthologies that I found so inspirational, and astonishment that I could put up with some of the more egregious titles for so long.

2. The first thing that pops into your head as something that hasn't changed about your comics reading life since that date.
My LCS (Another World, Wolverhampton). They have been very patient with me and my increasingly erratic visits, holding my books for longer than some shops might deem necessary. They don't have much in the way of back issue bins, but the Sale shelf has been a source of some a-mazing manga (Erica Sakurazawa! Monkey Punch!). Best of all, they have been very supportive of my small-press efforts. A supplementary source has been the discount bookshop in the adjoining shopping centre, from whom I have bought a good 70% of my trades over the last decade (from Love and Rockets through to GoGo Wonder Woman).

3. The first thing that pops into your head in terms of a big change in your personal life since that date.
I became a small-press comics creator. Had to teach myself to draw to do it, and that's led to frustration, joy, heartache, triumph, televison, upholstery and crippling injury to my drawing hand that will require multiple (small) surgeries to correct, if it ever truly does. It also got me off my arse and out of the house, to comic shows and craft fairs, and led to adventures and friendships that wouldn't have happened otherwise.

4. The first thing that pops into your head as something that hasn't changed about your personal life since that date.
My ponytail is still ridiculous. Superstition keeps the barber at bay. The split ends haunt the girl who tames my mighty beard!

5. Which of those first four things surprises you the most, and why?
I guess I always knew I was going to end up making comics, right from 6th Form/University. What I didn't count on was how much I was going to miss being able to draw them. Look after your hands, kiddies. Look after your hands.

*****

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Jones

1. I only read comics with hard spines now -- you know, comic books that are *real* books (surely this will be #1 for lots of people, right?)
2. I'll still buy new Chris Ware, day of release, sight unseen
3. Only a few, terrifying days away from having a baby
4. Still married to same, long-suffering woman
5. Reading comic-book *books* only. It was inconceivable in 2004 that the Australian dollar would reach parity with the US (or even higher!), and that it would thereby become %one zillion more affordable here to buy nice books from the States.

*****

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Michael Russo

1. I've gotten back into reading Marvel and DC titles, and that has meant that I'm picking up more comics on a regular basis. For a while I was all about indies and not following whatever the most recent permutation of the X-Men were up to, and happy not to be bothered. I followed a bunch of DC books up until the change the the new 52, and am currently enjoying a lot of the Marvel headliners every month (or sometimes twice a month). I still read a lot of stuff from smaller companies, but there's been a lot of bleed between the two areas in that time too. But there used to be weeks that I would leave the store empty handed, or happy to have gotten one or two things. Now it's more like five or six things a week and sometimes more.
2. There are perennials that I will pick up, just based on the name of the creator, and that hasn't changed and probably never will. Ware, Clowes, Seth, but also Chaykin. Others have been added to the category (Fraction) but the category has always been there. I feel that it's important to support creative people and let them make their own journey, to just go along for the ride.
3. Had a son. Thought about Kirby for some part of his name, but opted for a presidential tribute instead. And now we look at comics together and he's a fiend for imaginary match-ups. I think he's mainly about Iron Man, but Captain Marvel (Shazam!) has been making inroads since the spring.
4. Still with my wife, since 1989 (married 2006).
5. It would be funny, I think, to say that it's more strange to me to be reading Marvel titles on a regular basis than to have had a son, but it's having had a son that's the most strange, or new, or different. Plus, the truly odd part of the first thing is only apparent from the perspective of my life in the nineties.

*****

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Richard Thompson

1. I don't grab the Washington Post Style section every day and read every strip in its three pages of comics, beginning with my least and ending with my most favorite. For one thing, the Style section is now down to two pages of comics. For another producing a daily comic strip can make reading them every day seem too much like work.
2. I still read an lot of comics, though maybe now it's by osmosis.
3. That Parkinson's thing. Simultaneously, the thought pops into my head that the number of people I count as good friends has grown enormously
4. Life still seems like a daily slog through deadlines; dreary at the time but kinda fun in retrospect.
5. I honestly don't know, because I sure didn't plan any of it. Probably the bit about all the good friends.

*****

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Paul Stock

1. I rarely read them at all, and then only the odd Simpsons, Archie, Hate annual, the odd thing here & there.
2. I still devour Previews
3. Massive stroke 2008. Permanent left arm/hand paralysis makes it very hard to handle books, turn pages.
4. Still a struggle trying to make a living as an ethical comics retailer.
5. #3: I didn't expect to be left in half. Sometimes I think half is worse than none (dead).

I still kinda miss Rory (Root). He was struggling to get around when I last saw him in Feb 2008, but he didn't seem to be at Death's door, yet he was gone just a few months later.

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. The number of comics items that I began purchasing via the internet; I had a better income in 2004 and could afford to buy some deep pocket comics items I had my eye on (Like an original Harvey Kurtzman page from Jungle Book)
2. I still tend to seek out the weird and arty, single creator comics works; I didn't get into comics until the late 80's, when I began taking my little brother to a comics store, and I started my reading of comics with Jim Woodring, Chester Brown, Julie Doucet and Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol, the first serial comic I followed on a monthly basis.
3. I moved from Los Angeles to Wisconsin in 2008; obviously not having access to the stores like Meltdown, Giant Robot or Family means that I have to rely on web stores for most of my current purchases.
4. I'm still a collector; records, books, movie posters, comics. I wish I could control this collecting impulse, but I guess having a nice copy of He Done Her Wrong is better than being addicted to the cocaine.
5. I'm surprised about living in Wisconsin, surprised at how much I love the quieter world of the Midwest. No traffic, less stress, friendlier people and all the cheese curds a man could want.

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. My main source for comics these days is the public library, which I would never have seen coming.
2. Undergrounds are still a big blind spot for me. I stayed away from them because my earliest teenage impressions were that they were full of nothing but dope, sex and violence and I was scared off. For all I know that's what most of them were, but in the 80's I got into a lot of comics that were inspired by the Undergrounds and I only have a cursory knowledge of that material. I've barely read The Freak Brothers, fer chrissakes, haven't cracked Binky Brown, and have a very ambivalent attitude towards Crumb's non-Weirdo work. Too bad the library doesn't have runs of Zap, et al.
3. The birth of our daughter, Emily, in 2005.
4. Finances...
5. Emily. I never thought I'd actually have a child, because I thought I'd be a terrible parent based on my family history and where my head was for most of my adult life. Even in 2004 the question was still up in the air as to whether we'd start a family or not, with the clock ticking and 40 looming. I certainly never pictured myself years later at Heroes Con with a little cosplayer in tow, requesting her first sketches all by herself and finding a copy of Adventure Time #3 to fill the hole in her collection. Crazy.

Evan sent a link to this photo; which looks like all rights reserved; you should go look at it, though -- Dorkin and his daughter and Roger Langridge at Heroes

*****

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Marc Sobel

1. By far the biggest change would have to be the completion of my Love & Rockets books, which I started a little over five years ago. Immersing myself in the Hernandez Brothers' wonderful series literally changed my life.
2. I still prefer floppies to GNs and I still obsessively bag and board everything.
3. In the last five years I have experienced the biggest emotional highs (welcoming my two sons) and lows (losing my brother-in-law) in my entire life.
4. I am blessed to have a wonderful job and great wife who have been stable parts of my life for the last five years.
5. Definitely the Love & Rockets books. The fact that they are being published by Fantagraphics is very exciting and I can't wait for fans of the series to read them.

*****

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Joe Keatinge

1. The first thing that pops into your head in terms of a big change in your comics reading life since that date.
November 15th, 2004 was my first day employed in the Image Comics offices. While I had worked as a color flatter and other small gigs before then, it was my first Big Deal Job in the industry. Working alongside guys like Eric Stephenson and Erik Larsen as well as every single person to walk through the door as a Production Artist or Accounts Manager to anything else changed my life in every single way -- in a lot of ways professionally, a lot of other ways personally. As a reader, it changed the way I look at comics. Seeing how the sausage is made definitely affected how I look at the industry. Not necessarily in a bad way. Just differently. I was aware of everything going into comics - not just these amazing, passionate creators, but what it takes to be one of them. How hard it can be. How great it can be. How horrible it can be. How there's not a better job on the planet. How there's days it's nothing but rough. I saw what it takes to make them happen. I saw the good and bad that goes into their production. Looking at a lineup on the new release wall had this additional layer of viewing them not just as this desired art object I've had a lifelong love with, but also a commodity in an industry.

2. The first thing that pops into your head as something that hasn't changed about your comics reading life since that date.
I love comics just as much as I did when I was a kid. This medium is so beautifully brilliant and I still get a charge out of heading down to the comic shop. Yeah, I see the business behind them now, but it doesn't matter. I love comics more than anything else besides human beings.

3. The first thing that pops into your head in terms of a big change in your personal life since that date.
April 30th, 2010 was my last day employed in the Image Comics offices. I've been freelance ever since. That stands as the most significant, massive change in my life in every single possible way. The first several months were scary as Hell, but over time -- especially after my move to Portland, OR where I finally found a creative community I truly connected with -- it became the best possible thing to ever happen to me. I loved my time behind the scenes at a single publisher, but working now primarily as a writer with multiple companies feels truly right to me. I am very thankful for being here, now.

4. The first thing that pops into your head as something that hasn't changed about your personal life since that date.
I will still stop whatever I'm doing to head to the comic shop every Wednesday, despite wherever I am.

5. Which of those first four things surprises you the most, and why?
Definitely 3. That transition was, like I said, pretty damn scary. I am extremely relieved its gone the way it has so far. I started completely unsure about my future, unsure as to if it would even still involve comics on a professional level. Now I'm making my entire living writing comics full time. I'm a lucky, grateful dude.

*****

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Victor Edison

1.) In 2004 I was a 26 year old "fan boy" visiting the comic shops every Wednesday and picking up my favorite titles, most of them involving grown men punching each other. Now I only buy trades on amazon.com and my tastes revolve around "slice of life" or biography works. (Alison Bechdel, Chris Ware, Chester Brown, etc.)
2.) I still prefer paper to digital (we'll see if this holds true for the next 8 years).
3.) In 2004 I was living in an apartment in NJ that I shared with my friends from art school. Now I'm married with a kid, living in Japan.
4.) I still draw comics in my free time.
5.) Obviously, the changes in my personal life surprised me the most. When I was 26 I thought I'd be a "comic rockstar" touring the country on the convention circuit, not settled down living a life in another country with a job that has no relation to comics at all.

*****

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John R. Platt

1. I'll go months without reading a comics in pamphlet form. I tend to let them stack up (and up and up) and then work my way through huge chunks of the pile when I can find an all-too-rare free afternoon.
2. I still buy every issue of Usagi Yojimbo. Last year I re-read the entire series from the beginning (and then caught up on the previous two years -- see above) and enjoyed every single page of it. My appreciation for this comic continues to deepen every time I read it.
3. We moved from New Jersey to Maine, which not only placed us into a slow-paced, rural environment, it also, for the first time in my adult life, put me more than an hour away from the the closest comic shop. I remember making previous decisions about where I lived based on how close they were to nearby shops (always plural). Weird. (Of course, on the rare times when I get down to Portland I head straight to Casablanca Comics. What a great store, probably my second favorite of all time.)
4. I'm still with the same lovely woman.
5. That I'm not a widower. The last few years have, at times, been tough on my partner's health. Many a night I have dreaded going to sleep, not sure if she would be alive next to me the next morning. But now she is coming back, maybe stronger than ever. She's my real-life hero.

*****

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Mark Coale

1. In 2004, I probably bought 20+ DC comics a month. Now, with Scalped ending next month, it will be zero.
2. Still buying Usagi Yojimbo after all these years.
3. Lived in VIrginia, now live in Delaware.
4. Still not publishing my magazine on any kind of regular basis. (1 issue since 2004)
5. I don't think I would have believed it if you told the 2004 me that I would not only be buying zero DC Comics, but I would actively loathe the company (not the creators themselves) and use my persuasive skills as a writer to convince people to stop buying their products. I also wouldn't have believed how easy it was to go cold turkey with the reheat, after 35+ years of being a loyal company fanboy, touting the strength's of the underdog (as much as one could be being owned by Time Warner) against the Marvel juggernaut.

*****

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Alan David Doane

1. I read almost no floppies anymore. Buy mostly trades and hardcovers.
2. Still eagerly await every new Alan Moore release.
3. The entire focus of my career changed from one aspect of the business I am in to another. Went from radio news anchor, writer and editor to copywriter and production director.
4. Still married to my wife Lora.
5. #1. I watched almost everyone I knew switch to "waiting for the trade" and never thought I would make that transition. But I have.

*****

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David Brothers

1. Buying an iPad turned digital comics from an awkward thing I read sometimes into a vital part of my comics-reading experience. I take it everywhere now, and I'm never far from my most favorite comics.
2. I'm still buying more books on a monthly basis than is probably wise, and certainly more than I can keep up with in any reasonable fashion.
3. Between now and 2004, I moved to San Francisco and began my career in earnest. It was my first time on my own, my first time living in a real city since 2002, and clear across the country from home.
4. I'm still trying to get a handle on my sense of fashion, constantly trying new things and flashing through newfound personal fads.
5. The move to San Francisco surprises me the most. In 2004, I was stuck in a rut, to put it kindly, and sleepwalking through life.

*****

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Domingos Isabelinho

1. I'm reading mostly graphic novels instead of pamphlets now.
2. I still largely prefer alternative comics.
3. I'm a blogger now.
4. Basically my life is just the same.
5. What surprises me is the fact that I'm still a blogger. Usually I never stick to the same thing for long if I don't have to. On the other hand I just did half of The Crib, so, nothing's really new under the sun.

*****

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Mike Everleth

1. I don't go to a comic book shop regularly anymore. Aside from one brief visit about two weeks ago, I haven't spent serious time in a comic shop in what feels like years.
2. I continue to be fascinated about what's going on in the world of mainstream superhero comics and like looking at news websites about them. However, whenever I read any -- e.g. when I take GN collections out of the library -- I usually find it a completely unsatisfying experience.
3. I've had a string of very different jobs since then in ways I wouldn't have expected my career to have gone.
4. I'm still very happily married to the love of my life.
5. That I don't go to comic book shops anymore. I used to go weekly come hell or high water for well over a dozen or more years. The fact that I don't care abut reading new comic books anymore would shock the shit out of a younger me.

*****

thanks to all that participated and thanks for the many kind personal notes

*****
*****
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Thank You For Reading The Comics In Series Form Posts

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Yesterday saw the final post in a series of entries on Comics I Read In Series Form In The 1980s. It was designed to run for the month of June, and help me ease my way back into writing about comics. Thank you if you read any of them. I'm beginning to suspect that reading comics in comic book series form may be a special thing for the medium in the same way that opening night at a theatre, a beautiful movie house during a matinee, an attractive book bought and carried around with you and listening to the radio in a living room near a fire while doing something with your hands, the way all of these special delivery system can be. It's also an experience I no longer have, and I wanted to think out loud bit on how I consumed comics when I was most passionate about them and how this had an impact on how I perceived them, then and now.

Here are links to each post in the series, if you want to go back and read them at some time. I could probably do about another 30, and I may do more for a future project involving expanded entries.

* X-Men
* Yummy Fur
* Nexus
* Mechanics
* Thriller
* Watchmen
* Mage
* Ronin
* Zot!
* American Flagg!
* Flaming Carrot Comics
* Elfquest
* Somerset Holmes
* Daredevil
* Cerebus
* The Badger
* The Saga Of The Swamp Thing
* Dalgoda
* Anything Goes!
* Elektra: Assassin
* Reid Fleming, The World's Toughest Milkman
* Epic Illustrated
* Miracleman
* Hup
* Legion Of Super-Heroes
* Myth Adventures!
* Border Worlds
* Mai, The Psychic Girl
* Richie Rich: Million Dollar Digest
* Mister X

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posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The Comics Reporter Video Parade


ALA Conference Comics Video 01 -- Cecil Castellucci


ALA Conference Comics Video 02 -- Faith Erin Hicks


ALA Conference Comics Video 03 -- Chris Giarrusso


ALA Conference Comics Video 04 -- Dave Roman


ALA Conference Comics Video 05 -- Raina Telgemeier


ALA Conference Comics Video 06 -- Dave Roman 02


ALA Conference Comics Video 07 -- Derek Kim, Gene Yang, Thien Pham


ALA Conference Comics Video 08 -- Gabrielle Bell


ALA Conference Comics Video 09 -- Jen Wang


ALA Conference Comics Video 10 -- Alexis Fajardo


ALA Conference Comics Video 11 -- Keith Knight


ALA Conference Comics Video 12 -- Matt Dembicki


ALA Conference Comics Video 13 -- Anthony Del Col


ALA Conference Comics Video 14 -- MK Reed


ALA Conference Comics Video 15 -- Nathan Hale


ALA Conference Comics Video 16 -- Bob Boyle


ALA Conference Comics Video 17 -- Christina Strain


ALA Conference Comics Video 18 -- Jacob Chabot


ALA Conference Comics Video 19 -- Darren Gendron


ALA Conference Comics Video 20 -- James Burks


ALA Conference Comics Video 21 -- Jerzy Drozd


ALA Conference Comics Video 22 -- The Houghton Brothers


ALA Conference Comics Video 23 -- Tom Kaczynski

brought to my attention via an e-mail from Kat Kan
 
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
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