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
















May 31, 2013


Go, Read: The Real Mermaid

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Political Cartoonist Rob Rogers Donates His Thomas Nast Award Money To Cartoonist Rights Network

It's a pretty straight-forward story, caught by Alan Gardner here: Rob Rogers donated his prize-winnings from this year's Thomas Nast Award to Cartoonist Rights Network International. I believe that would be $1000. The Nast prize is from the Overseas Press Club -- it is for international affairs coverage -- so there's a legacy there in terms of supporting those who work in places not North America. Gardner's article indicates the money will be put to use in support of a Syrian cartoonist's struggle not to be deported to that tortured country. Hooray for Rob Rogers.
 
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Go, Look: Hey Kids! Shakespeare!

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Bundled Extra: Doonesbury To Go On Summer Hiatus While Garry Trudeau Works On TV Project

imageGarry Trudeau's Doonesbury will go on hiatus from June 10 to Labor Day, according to Michael Cavna over at the Washington Post. The reason is so that Trudeau can work on his television show Alpha House.

I'm a selfish enough comics fan to want as much work of that kind from Trudeau; I think Doonesbury is a great strip, and still frequently a very interesting one. I am happy for his opportunities in television -- Trudeau's television work is vastly underrated, and a lot of good work of the last twenty years has resembled what he has accomplished in that medium.

It strikes me how much comics has changed in the last 30 years that Trudeau was the first cartoonist for whom a sabbatical of this kind worked and he may also be the last cartoonist for whom this strategy works.
 
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Go, Look: Dave Cockrum's X-Men Design Work

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this has to have appeared via either Bendis or Brevoort for me to get something this old e-mailed to me; cool stuff, though
 
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Atlas Comics In Chicago Announces Closure

Atlas Comics in far western Chicago has announced its closure due to losing its lease. Its last day will be June 29. They plan on operating as a full-service store including new comics shipments through June 26. It has been open at its current location or a quarter century.

Owner John Stangeland has inking credits with various mainstream comics companies, and was the owner of Titan Comics before launching the current retail establishment. I imagine anything that can be done to help that store with the liquidation of assets -- say a trip out around CAKE weekend -- would be appreciated. I hope to provide more coverage.
 
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Is Richard Floethe's Summer Holiday A Great Lost Comic?

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Exhibition In Qatar Throws Spotlight On World Cartooning

There's a small report up here on a political cartooning exhibition in Qatar and thus about political cartooning in general. I'm never sure how much credence to give statements made in those sorts of pieces; there's something being sold, if only the legitimacy and importance of the show itself. Still, I'm taken with the notion that political cartooning has benefited in some way, if only in stature, by the incessant attacks against it since about 2000. If nothing else, it's a bracing tonic through which to interpret the more careerist struggles of North American image makers.
 
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If I Were In Denver, I'd Go To This

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

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

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OTBP: PEOW! Studio Books

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* James Bacon visited the Steadman exhibit at The Cartoon Museum and tells us about it. With art.

image* Shannon Smith referred to this as the greatest drawing of all time, and indicates it was briefly an internet-thing while I was off collating my punch cards or something.

* Bill Boichel reviews Dash Shaw's two newest major works. Corey Blake on World War 3 Illustrated #44.

* I guess the hook to discuss this cartoon is the option for editors to use "jerk" or "bitch." I also find the cartoon fairly fascinating as political rhetoric, but I'm not sure I can articulate why.

* I have a bunch of stuff in my bookmarks folders that I'm not sure what to do with, so I'm going to list a bunch of them here: the guests and exhibitors list at the forthcoming, potentially awesome CAKE; a tumblr for Submissive Guy Comics; video reviews of Wow Cool-purchased material; a photo from a lovely-looking Kim Deitch exhibit; Dustin Harbin makes a t-shirt; advice on how to use social media by Joey Manley; new work from Noah Van Sciver.

* a Gil Kane layout and final page from his Amazing Spider-Man run. Perhaps the page from that run -- arguably from that series.

* Lois Lane: Dog Murderer.

* not comics: a very cute piece of comic strip trivia.

* I'm glad Alan Gardner caught this because I sure didn't: I guess the attempts that everyone rolled their eyes at to make the valued Times-Picayune print newspaper a thrice-weekly with a major on-line component pulled a Vinko Bogataj. They're scrambling plans to get some of that readership back and to fight off the other publications that have made inroads into that market. Good for New Orleans. That was a dumb idea and seemed largely unnecessary to boot.

* Paul Gravett talks to Russell Willis. Team Inkstuds talks to Eric Reynolds and Philip Nel. Christopher Irving and Seth Kushner profile Bryan Lee O'Malley.

* I love how this review of X-Men #1 introduces the characters according to their creators. Kudos to Greg Burgas. Plus I found that part of the review super-fascinating.

* finally, I just saw this horrifying page in the comic in which it appeared via a friend.
 
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Happy 61st Birthday, David Anthony Kraft!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Dean Haspiel!

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May 30, 2013


Go, Look: Yeah

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New York Times Profiles Karen Berger, Vertigo Comics

imageThis New York Times profile of Karen Berger fascinated me, and I'm not all the way sure why. I don't always read these kinds of profiles on a regular basis, so maybe its construction got to me in a way that wouldn't faze the average Times reader. It's also admittedly a certain kind of writing that isn't exactly concerned with depth or nailing down analysis, so it could also be that it's just a bad mix with my sensibilities.

I initially wrote like five graphs about this piece, but that seemed a little over the top. So let me say it just seemed to me very right-now comics. The "Mother" in the headline struck me as an odd way to describe a publishing executive that happens to be female, particularly in that one of the points of the piece is that she was a same-age peer of many of the line's most important creators. I would imagine that it's there to facilitate the material where she talks about her sons' reading habits, but I really don't know. The piece also seemed light on nailing down her specific contributions, which I always think a shame. Grant Morrison's analysis of Vertigo hit me as odd. One, contrasting a 2013 comic book to a 1993 comic book is like comparing a modern cable mini-series to Roots: different times, different worlds, different sales expectations. Two, it seems to me a writer that just did a very Vertigo-seeming project with Image could speak more directly to why that happens than talking in vague terms like "tricks." For his part, Dan DiDio comes across as slightly ungenerous with others' accomplishments and kind of a crass, big-picture guy -- then again, his strength as a publishing figure is that he doesn't seem to care much how he's perceived.

I hope that Karen Berger is enjoying her time between major gigs. She's stuck by describing the move away from Vertigo as a positive designed to bring her new opportunities; what those opportunities end up being should generate a lot of interest. I know I'm eager to see what they are.
 
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Go, Look: Some Primetime 1970s Mike Kaluta Art

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If You Try To Kill A Political Cartoon, It Becomes Stronger

I can't imagine the rather simplistic cartoon in question using currency imagery as commentary on a Canadian loan controversy would have gained a lot of traction without what is apparently a formal request by the Bank Of Canada to rescind the cartoon for use of that imagery. That seems the kind of thing built to trigger all sorts of articles, and comments on blog like this one and, well, a billion others, many with significant readerships. It looks like the attempted slapdown came out of left field rather than being part of cartoonist Dan Murphy's master plan to drive attention to his point.
 
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More Comics About Disreputable Shitheads, Please

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Al Nisbet Editorial Cartoon Accused Of Racism

Here is the cartoon; here is an article about the accusations of racism and how the public official that would be in charge of negotiating that issue politically views its racism under the legal terms for same. It looks like that the cartoon itself doesn't have an on-line iteration. Apparently Nisbet did another cartoon for another client along the same lines right after the one being discussed here ran.

That seems to me a pretty rotten cartoon, as it counts on familiarity with deeply unfortunate stereotypes to communicate its blunt and rather nasty point. The discussions of its racism seems to be less about the cartoon and more about the overlapping standards people bring to such discussions.
 
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Go, Look: Beacon Lights: Cosey

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Book Expo America 2013 Starts Today

Their site is here. I remain slightly astonished how little this event seems to have remained mainstreamed into comics' DNA. I attended one of these ten years ago where I came to believe BEA might eventually replace all of the comics shows in terms of it being the primary focus for bookstore-oriented comics publishers seeking a public platform for their work and their authors. I don't get that sense now. Maybe it's me; maybe all of the news is happening there. I'll cover it via playing catch as best I can. I'm sure that there will be at least one, perhaps two, major comics authors on hand. I'm certain that a bunch of publishers will do very well there pushing their comics-related material -- I think the NBM group sees a lot of real value out of what they do at the show, for example, and First Second has a definite presence. I can't imagine Abrams and Pantheon don't do a lot of work there as well. The panel descriptions I've seen this year and last seemed very New York publisher dominant in terms of the talent involved: nothing I'm desperate to hear about content-wise, although I guess you never know.

I'm convinced BEA 2013 will be a great weekend for a lot of people. There's also a bunch of stuff to learn from prose publishing, particularly in the shift to digital which I have to imagine is a big part of these shows now. I just don't know many folks outside of hardcore New York people really see BEA as a grand comics weekend, and that once seemed in the offing.
 
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Go, Look: Comics & Embroidery

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* that good man David Lasky will be attending a festival in Serbia.

* Chris Pitzer and AdHouse Books went to Phoenix, and Pitzer brought back a bunch of photos.

* interesting show weekend: London, Munich, Copenhagen, San Francisco and Denver. Denver was a show that last year performed ahead of expectations, although as a result expectations are higher now. I have to imagine there's a captured audience in that region that would like a show to attend.

* I think it's safe to say that the bulk of attention within professional comics-making ranks is on Charlotte, with the indy crowd more specifically looking forward to Chicago. HeroesCon is a big, big, show, one of the special ones really valued by its attendees and exhibitors.

* Tommi Musturi wrote in to remind CR readers that the Helsinki Comics Festival pays for free exhibitor space and provides lodging for out of country guests: "We offer international exhibitors a free sales spot either in the main festival tent or in the Small Press Heaven, and provide accommodation during your stay in Helsinki. You can register as an exhibitor by emailing our coordinator Maura Manninen at . If you need an official invitation for funding your visit to the festival or have any questions, please contact us!" That sounds kind of awesome, actually.

* at HeroesCon, with their QuickDraw, there will be prizes.
 
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If I Were In Munich, 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 London, I'd Go To This

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

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

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If I Were In Las Vegas, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: More Diana's Diary

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I almost never cover French-language comics awards away from the pre- to post-Angouleme window, but here's one that has a distinguished sounding name at least.

image* Sean Gaffney on Cross Manage Vol. 1 and Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Vol. 11. Rob Clough on a bunch of different comics. Don MacPherson on X-Men #1. Erica Friedman on Kira Kira no Natsu Manga. Kelly Thompson on X-Men #1. Richard Bruton on The Green Bean. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on Silence and Co..

* not comics: I'm not sure where I got this -- Sean Kleefeld, probably -- but I always thought that they should go ahead and color-blind cast all of these superhero movies whenever it seemed like a good idea.

* breaking down the credits on Alarming Tales. I love blogging that explores stuff like that.

* Jordan writes about some of the comics he recently gave away, as a series of insights into the kinds of comics he's been collecting and why. I'd love to be able to do this but I get so many comics in the mail now I'm afraid there is no discernible pattern in my actual buying of funnybooks.

* finally, Todd Klein recommends a blog.
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Kevin Eastman!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Mike W. Barr!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Tom Galambos!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Mark Price!

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May 29, 2013


Go, Look: Jim Rugg On Flickr

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Guest Post: David Brothers On Working For ComicsAlliance And Not Owning That Work

The writer David Brothers sent along a short piece in response to comments made by me regarding my astonishment that writers at the currently-defunct, maybe-to-return ComicsAlliance site didn't own their work. I wanted to run it full here, and appreciate Brothers letting me do so. -- Tom Spurgeon

By David Brothers

I wanted to drop you a note replying to your remarks about ComicsAlliance in the TCAF post, and talk about it from my point of view, as ex-CA staff. I should probably emphasize that my position in no way reflects the ideas of anyone but me, too. This is not a counterpoint so much as a co-point, because I do agree with you, but here's where I was and am coming from:

I came to comics reviewing by accident, after getting recruited to review video games while in college. I started out being paid in video games, then in early access to games, and then in early access to games plus $10-$15. At the time, that seemed plenty fair, since the going rates for games at the time was between 50 and 60 bucks. Also, I was maybe nineteen and eager to be published, because that seemed like a way out of a rut that I was stuck in.

When the time came to start reviewing comics, first at PopCultureShock (where I worked pro bono, but got convention perks) and then at ComicsAlliance, the rates were around the same, so it felt right. The material perks weren't as fancy or expensive, but I think liking comics + wanting to be published + being able to write quickly made it seem like a fair deal to me. I never hacked it out, but I write quickly enough that doing a single post at CA netted me a little more than minimum wage for that one piece, in terms of time invested compared to money gained. Plus, I was working for people I like and who I feel genuinely made me better -- I owe Laura Hudson, Andy Khouri, Joe Hughes, Caleb Goellner, and even Chris Sims -- don't tell him -- a lot. So the fun of getting to be part of a clubhouse containing some of the best thinkers on comics was great, and the trust they showed me was even better. I got to do a bunch of anti-commercial stuff that wouldn't sell anywhere else in comics and they had my back every single time, even when I pissed off a PR person and got them angry phone calls.

But, and I say this with no animosity or judgment whatsoever, I do realize that the pay wasn't great and signing over my rights wasn't wise. I became aware of it a couple years back, and if I was writing something that was too personal or important to me, I kept it for 4thletter! instead of donating it to AOL. I didn't hold back on my AOL work, but the things I loved beyond belief or wanted to keep control of, like my Black History posts or the various Frank Miller explorations, I kept to myself.

I was surprised when I went to a mainstream outlet, The Atlantic, and they said their going rate was $100 per piece, plus you retain your rights after a certain amount of time has passed. I was paid well at CA, well enough to be happy with what I was doing. I've written for a few other non-comics outlets recently and been paid on a similar scale.

I don't think I was not-smart when I first started getting paid to write about comics, but I am definitely smarter now. I didn't have the experience then that I do now, but there still aren't many -- any? -- resources for new writers-about-comics to check out to see what their peers in other fields are being paid. There's also the rookie conundrum. Can I get away with asking to change a contract or will that sour the deal? Back then, my thought was "I need this job more than I need ownership." From here on out, I know to ask the question first. Sometimes people say yes.

I'm tremendously thankful for my time at CA, and while I sorta wish I'd educated myself about ownership and such before I spilled close to half a million words for AOL, I'm grateful for the learning experience, too. I'm glad it was one I was prepared to handle, rather than a surprise. I'm glad that I had people behind the scenes going to bat for me time and time again, instead of someone trying to exploit me. I paid attention to their efforts, and I've learned. I'm doing backmatter for an OGN this year, and I made it a point to retain copyright and reprint rights. From here on out, I'm going to endeavor to own what I create, or if not own it, make sure that I gain a lot in exchange for losing those rights.

I hope that other writers about comics, maybe ones who are not quite so established or thinking of getting into the business, can learn from my mistakes -- however incredibly enjoyable and fulfilling they may be -- and make sure to own their work and fight for the pay they deserve. I understand the other perspective, the business perspective, but I think as a creative person, any trade you make needs to be one that you personally benefit from in a tangible way. I didn't know that when I started my freelance career ages ago, but I'm very aware of it now.
 
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Go, Look: Covertly And By Snatches

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Daily Cartoonist: Barney & Clyde Strip Pulled By Post

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Alan Gardner notes here that the Washington Post pulled a recent Barney & Clyde strip -- a feature prepared for syndication by the group bearing their name and featuring the writing of one of their columnists. I don't know how anyone involved expected that one to get over, but I get not thinking something is going to be bad and then finding out people are freaked out about it.
 
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Go, Look: Clown-Clown Comics

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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.

*****

DEC121115 GOOD DOG HC $16.99
Hey, it's a new Graham Chaffee book. We haven't seen one in years and years. I'd make some clever wisecrack about this being a stand-alone graphic novel and the former being something that wasn't, but we're at a stage now where even the people that reappear after a decade-plus were working in that format before they booked. It's the story of a dog, and Chaffee does dogs very well as you might remember from "The Most Important Thing." If you go to the comics shop to buy stand-alone work from quality creators, you can buy this and go home.

imageAPR130986 IN KITCHEN WITH ALAIN PASSARD INSIDE WORLD OF MASTER CHEF $16.95
You can buy this, too, actually. New Christophe Blain should be a big deal for comics lovers -- it's a significant event for a growing number of them, anyway. This is a journalistic-style piece which involved the cartoonist observing the Chef in the title while that man was at work. It should be very intriguing to see how Blain's style is employed here. It's not a style I'd think of when I'd think of documenting something.

SEP120255 ABSOLUTE TOP TEN HC $99.99
FEB130225 WATCHMEN THE DELUXE ED HC $39.99
JAN130115 STAR WARS OMNIBUS WILD SPACE TP VOL 01 $24.99
A bunch of Alan Moore, including his career-defining work in a new format -- I think I'm perfectly happy with my old one, but I get it -- the best of his later run of superhero comics, and I think a smattering of Star Wars things in the volume mentioned. Double-check on that one if you're interested in buying solely for that reason, but I believe there's some work of his in there for Marvel UK.

MAR130473 MORNING GLORIES #27 CVR A EISMA (MR) [DIG] $3.99
MAR138122 MORNING GLORIES #27 CVR B FRISON (MR) $3.99
MAR138123 MORNING GLORIES #27 CVR C GUILLORY (MR) $3.99
MAR138124 MORNING GLORIES #27 CVR D MARTINBROUGH (MR) $3.99
MAR138125 MORNING GLORIES #27 CVR E MCKELVIE (MR) $3.99
MAR138126 MORNING GLORIES #27 CVR F PITARRA (MR) $3.99
MAR138127 MORNING GLORIES #27 CVR G RIOS (MR) $3.99
MAR138128 MORNING GLORIES #27 CVR H WARD (MR) $3.99
Someone's getting a soft re-launch. I never understand what the fuck is going on in these comics, and I sort of like it just for that reason. It's like talking to a friend that's decided you and she will only speak in gerunds and seeing how long you can keep it up.

FEB130492 X-MEN #1 NOW $3.99
MAR130950 ADVENTURE TIME ANNUAL #1 $4.99
MAR130048 BPRD VAMPIRE #3 $3.50
MAR130026 KING CONAN HOUR O/T DRAGON #1 $3.50
MAR130253 ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #1 $3.99
MAR130295 WAKE #1 (MR) $2.99
These are the other standard-format comic books of an adventuresome, perhaps even costumed variety that leap out at me today. The X-Men is the Brian Wood all-female version. The Adventure Time strikes me as a way you might sample those books without a strenuous commitment. I'm not a reader, but there are some fun people that work on those books. The two genre books from Dark Horse come from two product areas that seem to be working for them: Mike Mignola and Conan. I would imagine the Superman book is most appealing for its Jeff Parker/Chris Samnee effort. And Wake is I believe Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy doing an honest-to-god classic Vertigo series. Enjoy that while it lasts.

imageMAR131155 ASTRONAUT ACADEMY RE ENTRY GN $9.99
MAR131157 ODD DUCK GN $15.99
These are the kids books that leap out at me this week, although I'm not sure if one or both of them has already been offered through the shops. They seem to come out way earlier than other books in review form because of the various outlets for writing on work like that. The Odd Duck one might be of interest for its pairing of Cecil Castellucci and Sara Varon, both of whom had previous comics work with a number of fans. My memory is that that one is offbeat and charming.

NOV121173 CAT ON A HOT THIN GROOVE TP $35.00
Primetime Gene Deitch and the kind of clearing out of a corner of comics' great attic that Fantagraphics seems to do so very well these days.

MAR131224 JOURNALISM TP $22.00
I thought this along with Dal Tokyo and the Chris Ware was the book of last year, Joe Sacco's collection -- with smart introductory work -- of a bunch of not-exactly-long-form non-fiction pieces that lets you compare and contrast how his style and approach change subject to subject. I've read it like 10 times. If you don't have one, buy one.

JAN130812 LIO TP VOL 02 MAKING FRIENDS $9.99
I always enjoy looking at these books when I get them. This is one of those strips I've never happened to see in a paper, though. That's weird only in that it's my understanding that it's pretty successful.

APR130995 OBITUARY MAN GN (MR) $15.00
This book at the Blain and the CF would be the ones I'd gravitate towards if I were looking at my stop in the comics shop as a chance to explore cartoonists that I liked but of whose specific works I was only dimly aware. This is Philippe Girard, and I guess the plot hinges on the very nice high-concept of a man that benefits from speaking at strangers' funerals. Or that's close to it, anyway. I'd love to see one in the shop.

MAR131187 TOMMYSAURUS REX GN VOL 01 $10.99
MAR131188 TOMMYSAURUS REX HC VOL 01 $19.99
I don't know if this is a re-release or re-publication of the Doug TenNapel work, but I bet this is the most popular of his many graphic novels of recent vintage. I would love to see someone smart and engaged write about TenNapel's graphic novels, because I don't always have a natural grasp for what he's doing and I think there's something interest about his displayed facility.

OCT121242 JEFFREY JONES DEFINITIVE REFERENCE HC $39.95
NOV121346 JEFFREY JONES DEFINITIVE REFERENCE SC (MR) $24.95
MAR131449 SUPERMAN HIGH FLYING HISTORY SC $17.00
APR131376 BOYS OF STEEL THE CREATORS OF SUPERMAN YR HC $16.99
Books about comics, including two on the Superman myth one would guess were timed to show up around the same time as the Big Blue Boy Scout strides into theaters for another go-around there.

MAR131258 MERE GN (MR) $19.95
This is the latest CF book, a collections of various comics and proto-comics made in a months-long search for a specific quality of comics to emerge from various tweaks in how they were created. CF is a very interesting cartoonist.

*****

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 because I hate you.

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Go, Look: Charles Burns Believer Portrait Gallery

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Bundled Extra: Yam Books Announces Jeremy Onsmith Book

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Yam Book announced yesterday first on Facebook and then through e-mailed press release their intention to publish Diminished Returns, a collection of comics and related art by cartoonist Onsmith. Onsmith is Chicago-based and widely published in anthologies and self-published minis, from where this group of comics will be culled. It is due in Spring 2014.
 
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If I Were In London, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Go, Look: Rocke Mastroserio

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Top Shelf scoring a Bill Clinton pull quote for its forthcoming John Lewis book is a notable get.

image* Todd Klein on Legion Of Super-Heroes #19 and World's Finest #12. Rob Clough on a bunch of different comics. Don MacPherson on Green Lantern #20. That's an even stranger comic book if you read the written tributes interspersed throughout as part of the funnybook narrative. Justin Giampaoli on X-Men #1. Johanna Draper Carlson on Mrs. Weber's Omnibus. Grant Goggans on Judge Dredd -- Day Of Chaos: The Fourth Faction. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Avengers Assemble.

* a two-week hiatus for One Piece, notable because it's One Piece and because of the thought that anyone would notice a two-week hiatus on a North American comic of any kind is fairly hilarious.

* yeah, they should be able to move some of these.

* David King is having a garage sale. I like that David King; I think he's a criminally under-appreciated cartoonist. We should all go and try to appreciate his garage sale items. It's the least we can do.

* Kevin Maguire and Valiant are now cool.

* Gabe Roth has the comic shop blues.

* Michael Cavna talks to Reuben winner Brian Crane. I have almost no experience reading Pickles, Crane's strip, and at some point I'll have to rectify that. Steve Sunu talks to Rick Remender. Susan L. Rife profiles Nick Cardy.

* Brandon Graham tells it like it is.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco makes the very astute point that the Invincible Iron Man series is the rare Marvel effort that kind of works as the comic book go-to for the Iron Man films.

* finally, here's Bhob Stewart with the full text of an historical article he wrote about the lettering used in EC Comics.
 
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Happy 39th Birthday, Aaron McGruder!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Jim Salicrup!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Larry Marder!

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May 28, 2013


Go, Read: Quinception

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Not Comics: A Few Notes About Comics-Related Movies

* an adaptation of a comics work won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival this year. I have to imagine that would be a lifetime highlight for any creator to whom that happened. The comics work on which that film is based is called Le Bleu Est une Couleur Chaude, and was published by Glénat. It should be published in English soon one imagines with some sort of reference to the color in the title. Creator Julie Maroh's very nice note in reaction can be found here. I hope a lot of people read that comic and trust that will be the case now.

* I hadn't realized that the Jeffrey Jones documentary was available for digital download. I plan on catching up to that one myself.

* although I remain dismayed by the fact that their gravity-bending success hasn't engendered an open policy of reasonable reward/bonuses for the original creators and significant contributors, something I think is securely within their abilities to make happen, I am sort of in awe of the success of Marvel's film wing right now. An article like this one fairly underlines where they are right now: a unique brand that's company-centric to the point that an actor making his debut in that line of films is enough to generate a piece of entertainment-style news. I'm not sure that we've seen a precedent for it, and one reason I think Marvel has been so successful is that the team that has run them in this era has on a certain level valued Marvel more than Marvel in previous incarnations ever valued themselves.
 
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Go, Look: Mike Dawson On Tumblr

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I'm not sure if this is a formal announcement, or just the first time I saw it and/or it registered with me: the next two artists featured in Youth In Decline's Frontier solo anthology are Hellen Jo (#2) and Sascha Hommer (#3). Those are great choices.

image* I haven't been over to Amazon.com in some time to look at what companies have told that bookseller in terms of what's coming and when. The "when" isn't always accurate with these things, but the "what" is usually pretty solid. It's been a while, so a long list of creators and projects caught my eye: Matt Dembicki, Wilfred Santiago, Noel Tuazon working with Eric Hobbs, MK Brown, Blexbolex, Seymour Chwast, Jim Rugg illustrating Courtney Taylor-Taylor, Roman Muradov, another EC book, another Buz Sawyer, a Ramona Fradon art book, a Johnny Hazard collection, a third big book in my beloved Secret History series, Stan Sakai with a 20th (!) volume and, of all people, Charise Mericle Harper.

* speaking of Amazon.com, I can never quite tell what's going on when a book like this one show up listed, but I hope it means someone is doing an edition over here and that is just the placeholder.

* Rich Johnston write that at the Phoenix convention he heard that DC will be doing a Booster Gold comic. I guess that's an okay character... as I recall his thing is that he's a) from the future, b) in it for the cash, so you get time-traveling stories and stories about the heroic impulse or whatever. There are much worse basic set-ups. That's not a character that has a nostalgic pull on me, and only in superhero comics does that make it more difficult to gauge a character's appeal.

* finally, The Beat has a preview up for Michael DeForge's The Boy In Question. That one is from Space Face Books.

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If I Were Near Angouleme, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: America's Best Comics #2

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Canadians recommend comics.

image* Avengers in pods.

* John Kane on a bunch of different comics. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on The Incal. Michael Buntag on Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search Vol. 1. Kelly Thompson on Savage Hawkman #20. James Bacon on The Earthbound God. Colm Creamer on Ten Grand #1. Richard Bruton on The Grinning Mask #3.

* not exactly comics: an exhibit based on the publication Yeti sounds like it would be a potentially awesome exhibit.

* Bob Temuka writes a bit on how getting a car changed his comics consumption habits. That happened to me, too. Actually, the first place I drove was the local comics shop, as before I got my license that was something I had to convince my Mom to do for me because it was way, way out on the highway.

* Noel Murray talks to Matt Kindt.

* Shannon Smith talks a bit about New Comics Day.

* what Sean Kleefeld is working on these days.

* finally, Brian Bendis with some writing advice.
 
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Happy 43rd Birthday, Tony Consiglio!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Lynn Johnston!

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May 27, 2013


Comic-Con By The Numbers: 170+ Tips For Attending CCI 2013

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this article has been archived
 
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Go, Look: Unicoroner

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A Few Memorial Day-Related Links

* the annual Cagle site round-up of Memorial Day cartoon links.

* a comic Jonathan Baylis and Tim Ogline put up last year.

* a gallery from Cartoon Stock.

* a cool-looking 1917 illustration celebrating the holiday.

* Herblock's 1942 cartoon.
 
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Go, Look: If Lisa Hanawalt Had A Time Machine

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Comics By Request -- People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* the talented cartoonist Michael DeForge recommends a crowd-funder for a project of which he's a part; his being a part of the project makes it worth your consideration.

image* Carol Lay has a full-blown kickstarter going. I don't know if she's the biggest alt-/arts-comics name to do one of these with this kind of ambition, but she certainly would be up there. I like Carol, and I like her work.

* only 14 days left to raise 80-plus percent of the money necessary to build a library a statue of the Incredible Hulk.

* I hope this Nix Comics project finds backers.

* the Schuiten/Peeters translation process is chugging right along.

* Batton Lash has cruised past the goal set for his next comic, but you can still clamber on board.

* Clifford Meth is in a similarly flush situation in terms of monies asked-after for his next project, but there is more than a month of time left for you to jump on board if the premiums are something in which you'd be interested.

* also: Shaenon Garrity and Jeffrey Wells.

* finally, please consider buying some of that sweet Etsy Store art and comics from David Lasky so he can make it to San Diego this year.
 
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If I Were In Gainesville, I'd Go To this

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Go, Look: Jesse Santos Splash Pages

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Floating World made this list of Portland-area cultural hotspots by being the most Portland-y of that city's many fine comics shops. I agree with that assessment-by-feel.

image* Matt Madden interviews Blutch. Alex Dueben talks to Lisa Hanawalt.

* feel better, Mike Baehr.

* Shaenon Garrity on A, A'. Justin Giampaoli on various small press titles and various titles, period. J. Caleb Mozzocco on various comics-shop comics. A bunch of different critics weigh in on The Bounce #1.

* not comics: congratulations to new degree recipient Bill Kartalopoulos.

* that is Paul Karasik art on this slideshow presentation.

* Chris Arrant profiles Shawn Cystal.

* finally, the FPI blog has a bunch of stuff up about articles concerning comics and other expressions of art.
 
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Happy 59th Birthday, Mark Wheatley!

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May 26, 2013


Brian Crane, Rick Kirkman Share This Year's Reuben Award

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Alan Gardner is where I went for the news when I got up this morning. Brian Crane (Pickles) and Rick Kirkman (Baby Blues) will share this year's Reuben Award, the NCS award for Outstanding Cartoonist Of The Year. I thought it might be Kirkman's year as a well-liked veteran with a mega-successful strip; Crane's strip is extremely well-saturated into that market as well. The other nominee was Stephan Pastis. The last time the award was shared was in 1968 when it was split between Johnny Hart and Pat Oliphant.

The award and the NCS Divisional awards, were given out during a ceremony last night in Pittsburgh during the NCS annual meeting.

Bernie Wrightson, Chris Ware and Jen Sorensen were among division winners, which follow in bold:

TELEVISION ANIMATION
* Todd Kauffman, Executive Producer -- Sidekick
* Alberto Mielgo, Production Design -- Tron: Uprising
* Rich Webber, Director -- Aardman Animation Studios, DC Nation

FEATURE ANIMATION
* Rich Moore, Director -- Wreck-It Ralph
* Joann Sfar, Director -- The Rabbi's Cat
* Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Director -- The Secret World of Arrietty

NEWSPAPER ILLUSTRATION
* Mark Brewer
* Bob Rich
* Dave Whamond

GAG CARTOONS
* Roz Chast
* Sam Gross
* Mick Stevens
* Jack Ziegler

GREETING CARDS
* Bill Brewer
* George Schill
* Jem Sullivan

NEWSPAPER COMIC STRIPS
* Brian Basset -- Red and Rover
* Jeff Parker and Steve Kelley -- Dustin
* Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman -- Zits

NEWSPAPER PANEL CARTOONS
* Tony Carrillo -- F-Minus
* Dave Coverly -- Speed Bump
* Hilary Price -- Rhymes with Orange

ONLINE COMICS -- SHORT FORM
* Graham Harrop -- "Ten Cats"
* Jonathan Lemon -- "Rabbits Against Magic"
* Michael McParlane -- "Mac"

ONLINE COMICS -- LONG FORM
* Vince Dorse -- Untold Tales of Bigfoot
* Meredith Gran -- Octopus Pie
* Pat N. Lewis -- Muscles Diablo: Where the Terror Lurks

MAGAZINE FEATURE/MAGAZINE ILLUSTRATION
* Barry Blitt
* Daryll Collins
* Anton Emdin

BOOK ILLUSTRATION
* John Manders
* John Martz
* Dave Whamond

EDITORIAL CARTOONS
* Clay Bennett
* Michael de Adder
* Jen Sorensen

ADVERTISING AND PRODUCT ILLUSTRATION
* Luke McGarry
* Ed Steckley
* Wayno

COMIC BOOKS
* Amanda Conner -- Silk Spectre
* Evan Dorkin -- House of Fun
* Bernie Wrightson -- Frankenstein Alive, Alive!

GRAPHIC NOVELS
* Derf -- My Friend Dahmer
* Joseph Lambert -- Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller
* Chris Ware -- Building Stories

I'm not sure if it's the first year it was done, but doing the nominations and the winners I kept noticing that comic books were split into "comic book" and "graphic novel" categories, while there was also a short-form and long-form division on on-line comics.
 
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Go, Read: A Squeak From The Void

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Go, Look: mm? wait

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Go, Look: Ward Sutton On Star Trek

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

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

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Happy 36th Birthday, Raina Telgemeier!

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Happy 74th Birthday, Herb Trimpe!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Nick Bertozzi!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Dave Roman!

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Happy 46th Birthday, James Kochalka!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Marc Arsenault!

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FFF Results Post #336 -- Memorial Day Edition

On Friday, CR reader were asked to "Name Three Characters (1-3) And Two Comics Creators (4-5) Whose Deaths Affected You." This is how they responded.

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Scott Dunbier

1) Elektra
2) Phoenix
3) Phyllis Wallet
4) Archie Goodwin
5) Al Williamson

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Alexandra DeWitt
2. Jim Corrigan
3. Gwen Stacy
4. Will Eisner
5. Tony DeZuñiga

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1) Jones, the old lizard who "is ready not to be any more" in the "Mossy Sparks" strip in Vaughn Bode's Deadbone
2) Gwen Stacy
3) Captain Marvel (no, not that Captain Marvel, the other other Captain Marvel)
4) & 5) Here I'm going to beg an indulgence. It has been my pleasure and privilege to be friends with many wonderful comics creators, and to say the deaths of Steve Gerber and Jack Kirby wracked me with grief and sorrow would be an understatement. But I know people who the general public does not know -- John Dorman, f'r instance -- who had brief comics careers before settling into animation or fine art, and their deaths affected me just as much as Steve and Jack's. Ultimately, however, I'm going to have to say the two deaths that affected me the most were those of George Caragonne and Mark McClellan, both of Penthouse Comix, whose passings left me utterly psychologically devastated in a way no others have. In no small part this is because of my close proximity to both during those days, my deep friendship with Mark, and my empathy / pity for George as he slowly but surely destroyed himself and the magazine he built. Not a day goes by when I don't think of any of the five men I just mentioned, but while I've made my peace with the passings of Steve, Jack, and John, the ghosts of George and Mark still haunt me.

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. Ben Parker
2. Kid Miracleman
3. Tonantzín Villasenor
4. Mark Gruenwald
5. Steve Gerber

*****

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Mark Waid

* Gwen Stacy
* Jean Grey
* Rond Vidar
* Mike Wieringo
* Julie Schwartz

*****

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Sean T. Collins

1. Roger the Homunculus
2. Jordan Wellington Lint
3. Tonantzin Villasenor
4. Seth Fisher
5. Dylan Williams

*****

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Trevor Ashfield

1. The boy in "The Kid's Night Out" (Giant-Size Man-Thing # 4)
2. Elektra
3. Gwen Stacy
4. Wally Wood
5. Gil Kane

*****

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Rodrigo Baeza

1) Balder
2) Raven Sherman
3) Gwen Stacy
4) Steve Gerber
5) Roberto Fontanarrosa

*****

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Joe Schwind

* Melvin Mole
* Bertha Cracken
* Joe Schumacher
* Reed Crandall
* Jack Jackson

*****

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Fred Hembeck

1. Hyper-Man (Action Comics 265, 1960)
2. The Caveman from Krypton (World's Finest Comics 102, 1959)
3. Superman ("The Death of Superman" Superman 149, 1961)
4. Raoul Vezina
5. Cara Sherman-Tereno, both good friends of mine and under appreciated cartoonists

*****

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Steve Murphy

1. Gwen Stacy
2. Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell)
3. The Ancient One
4. Jon D'Agostino
5. John Buscema

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. May Parker (the elder)
2. Tulip O'Hare
3. Gwen Stacy
4. Mike Wieringo
5. Mark Gruenwald

*****

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D. Alexander Cox

1. Pirate the Rabbit in WE3
2. Roger the Homunculus
3. Pa Kent in ALL-STAR SUPERMAN
4. Charles Schulz
5. Jean "Moebius" Giraud

*****

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William Burns

1. Dick Davenport
2. Andy Lipincott
3. Grills
4. Charles Schulz
5. Seth Fisher

*****

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Jamie Coville

1) Neil Gaiman's Sandman
2) Barry Allen Flash
3) Aunt May
4) Jerry Robinson
5) Wes Alexander

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Stinky
2. Tonantzin
3. Bran Mak Mufin
4. Dave Stevens
5. Jack Kirby

*****

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Chris Duffy

1) Jean Grey
2) Farley
3) Adam Warlock (70s)
4) Charles Schulz
5) Steve Gerber

*****

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John Platt

1. Farley the dog
2. Roger the Homunculus
3. Evelyn Cream
4. Will Eisner
5. Steve Perry

*****

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Marty Yohn

1. Manhunter (Goodwin/Simonson)
2. Boy Blue (Fables)
3. Cleo (Jeff Smith's Rose)
4. Joe Kubert
5. Charles Schulz

*****

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Gil Roth

1) Everyone in the Fantastic Four
2) Elektra
3) Stinky
4) Edward Gorey
5) Charles Schulz

*****

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Matt Emery

1. Agent 355
2. Judge Giant
3. Jonah Hex
4. Dylan Williams
5. Jim Shepherd

*****

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Danny Fingeroth

(1) Ma Kent
(2) Pa Kent
(3) Pamela Hawley
(4) Harvey Pekar
(5) Jerry Robinson

*****

I deleted a couple for not following the format and a couple for not providing a name. I know in the latter case many of you figure I should probably know your name based on the e-mail or on the nickname, but early in the morning when I do these that isn't always the case and I just keep going. Sorry!

*****

from a suggestion by Scott Dunbier; thanks, Scott

*****
*****
 
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May 25, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


MoCCA Fest Video: Art As Mission


MoCCA Fest Video: Art As Passion


MoCCA Fest Video: Bill Griffith


MoCCA Fest Video: Art On The Edge


MoCCA Fest Video: Art As History


MoCCA Fest Video: Art As Profession


MoCCA Fest Video: Ryan Sands Talks To Jillian Tamaki
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from May 18 to May 24, 2013:

1. Michael George, the prominent Pennsylvania retailer and convention organizer convicted of murdering his then-wife in his then-Michigan comic book store, lost an appeal round. One imagines he'll keep on filing, although I guess there's a chance he won't.

2. More content restrictions concerning a very specific way to receive digital comics content, all focused on sexual content.

3. Regional language dispute causes portion of comics art page in French to be covered up for display in region where many folks apparently prefer Flemish to the point that even seeing French in a sponsored exhibit could be deeply upsetting. An artist withdraws their work in protest over the treatement of the art.

Winners Of The Week
Your 2013 Glyph Awards winners.

Losers Of The Week
Fans of Drawn!, as the iconic illustration and comics imagery site calls it a day.

Quote Of The Week
"Annie is adopted again, this time by a slave-driving couple who make her life miserable. She runs away, accompanied by her only friend, a large orange-colored dog named Sandy, whom she acquired in January 1925. The two eventually take refuge at a farm owned by the poor but kindly Mr. and Mrs. Silos. But Annie is no burden to them: through hard work and her own ingenuity, the eleven-year-old waif is able to contribute to the couple's welfare and happiness. After a few months, though, 'Daddy' Warbucks finally locates Annie and takes her and Sandy back to live in splendid comfort with him. Thus did Gray inaugurate the cycle of separation and hardship, rescue and reunion that framed Annie's adventures and the quest motif that animated them throughout the strip's run. Separated from 'Daddy,' Annie must find the means of survival; through her unflagging perseverance, she always does." -- RC Harvey

*****

today's cover is from the all-time series Classics Illustrated

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

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

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Happy 58th Birthday, Ken Avidor!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Sal Velluto!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Marc Hempel!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Terry Nantier!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Stan Sakai!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Barry Windsor-Smith!

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May 24, 2013


Go, Look: A Birdsong Shatters The Still

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Missed It: Michael George Denied Appeal

I missed it, though it's pretty straight-forward: the convicted former retailer and prominent convention organizer Michael George was denied an appeal, an appeal that sounds to me a bit like throwing everything including the kitchen sink that someone might find not-right about that extraordinary cold-case trial and its second round. I imagine it likely the appeals will continue. One thing that was galling to someone in that area to whom I spoke was how agitated George was about saying he was wronged when he declined to testify on his own behalf, which isn't a continuity I necessarily ascribe to, but there you go.
 
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Go, Look: Classic Milligan-McCarthy Comics

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Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

I was super-intrigued that Victor Navasky apparently chose not to reprint the Jyllands-Posten Muhammed cartoons in his book of reviews and essays about various political cartoonists and related issues. It makes sense to me, but not for the reasons cited: I'm not sure seeing the cartoons is as necessary as it was when that story broke. I don't mean that in the "it's google-able way" but straight up the value of seeing that work. That was always a key element of that story to me: seeing these images at that time seemed like it would have been a key step in letting people know about the sheer lunacy of what was going on, and was absolutely justified -- nearly every news organization blinked.
 
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Not Comics: Alex Schomburg Science Fiction Illustration

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ComiXology Removes Digital Titles From iOS App In Order To Adhere To Stupid-Ass Apple Policies

Superior link-blogger Kevin Melrose has a nice summary post up about the latest moves made by comiXology to comply with Apple's assholular policies considering adult and "inappropriate" content. I guess the silver lining here -- and this is one dim-ass silver lining -- is that the removals do seem to be based on sexual content rather than expressions that someone might see as sexual simply because it comes from folks outside of a very narrow, conservative self-conception.

(To be clear, I get this from comiXology's end and don't get it at all from Apple's; a couple of people have written me to say that it's about the lack of controls that this particular avenue offers, but I'll have to look into that a bit.)

This kind of thing seems like an extraordinary waste of time in this day and age, and deeply unfortunate to the point of my wanting to go back to bed. The idea that companies had to do this out of some sort of understandable, justifiable self-preservation due to the small-p political landscape seems like a canard now; I don't know a lot of reasonable people that would restrict access to material that might have sexual content that adults might want to read. I don't know what to do with this kind of thing other than mock it, wait it out, take my business elsewhere and communicate that to the people involved. So stupid. My apologies to the artists involved for having to live on the same planet as the people making these decisions.
 
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Go, Look: More Joker-Oriented Splash Pages

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Actually, I Post About Sales All The Time

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There's one at Fantagraphics this weekend. Buy early before their backstock is depleted.

There is a ton of worthy material on there, but the ones that jumped out at me as books for which I have some measure of special affection are this Trondheim, the Sorel, this Tyler, this Beto, the Kikuo Johnson, this Bob Levin essays book, the Rosenkranz, the Daly, the Mattotti, the Malkasian and oh my goodness the Schrauwen.
 
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Go, Follow: Adrian Tomine Prints

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details and how to buy here
 
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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

image* a second volume of Danger Country will apparently be up on StudyGroup12 sooner rather than later.

* Heidi MacDonald at The Beat points out that how the purchase of Tumblr is a big comics story, too, because of the number of people using it as a primary platform to both get noticed as comics-makers and to process comics and comics imagery.

* I have to assume I made this a stand-alone post between the time I'm typing this (Monday afternoon) and the time this rolls out (Friday morning) but Drawn.ca RIP. That was a mighty, mighty, on-line source for comics-makers and visual artists.

* it's for her print comics, but apparently Becky Cloonan has a successful web-oriented sales portal for that self-published material.

* it looks like you can get at non-Naruto Masashi Kishimoto work via some digital something or other. This is the kind of hard-hitting, technologically forward reporting this recurring post provides.

* I've been saying they should do something like this with the Legion Of Super-Heroes material at the very least. At this point, however, it might be better if they just tried everything that way.

* finally, Ben Templesmith will provide the cover to Warren Ellis' next e-book.
 
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If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Nobody

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Heidi MacDonald reminds that it is NCS weekend. Break out the tuxedos! It feels like Rick Kirkman's weekend to me, so let me apologize to Mr. Kirkman right now because I'm always wrong.

image* Jeffrey O. Gustafson on Feynman. Tom Bonderant on the Green Lantern-related comics of Geoff Johns. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Green Team #1.

* Michael May suggests that selling out isn't necessarily a bad thing if what you care about is the comics rather than the intellectual property shared by the comic and the movie/tv show. I think he's right. One of the reasons I think tireless work on the behalf of comics is worthwhile is that I would like any money to be made elsewhere to be additional money rather than the primary money made. I wish we valued the contributions of comics-makers independent of their success elsewhere, even on matters in which they have little say. Comics has greater honor as a creative endeavor than we routinely afford it.

* not comics: someone is making a documentary about Michael Netzer; I would watch the heck out of that.

* Mike Munzenrider profiles Kevin Cannon and Zander Cannon.

* not comics: this is a cute story about a little girl answering Marvel trivia questions. The superhero universes and all of their detail -- and none of the distressing adult emotional complications of other similarly complex soap operas -- remain vastly appealing to smart young people. It's one of the best arguments that the continuity heavy superhero comics should be reasonably kid-friendly as opposed to that approach ghettoized in their own lines.

* I would have to imagine that there's room for someone to do something with the disco dazzler; I wish those options weren't almost always to fold a character into some team book in a serious, adult, macho way, but I wish for a lot of things.

* hey, someone is living the dream I had every night from ages 11 to 13.

* finally, I haven't seen anything like this Boulet cartoon since Solano Lopez showed up on Saturday of SDCC 1995 with homemade cookies.
 
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If I Were In Phoenix, I'd Go To This

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Carmine Infantino Would Have Been 88 Today

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Happy 65th Birthday, Alan Zelenetz!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Wimbledon Green!

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May 23, 2013


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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* looks like Motor City was something of a hit. It's a good time for cons, in nearly all of their various incarnations.

* it's ICAF and Phoenix and Vancouver this weekend. Keep an eye on Vancouver... that's a town everyone should want to visit, and could potentially begin to draw major arts- and alt-comics traffic from Portland and Seattle. I know I'd love an excuse to visit in future years. I also thought their space last year was really cool.

* here's an ICAF preview.

* and here's a Fantagraphics Photo Set From TCAF. Still collecting those links.

* finally, kudos to MECAF on their fifth anniversary show last weekend. Here's a report from José-Luis Olivares.
 
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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: Gengoroh Tagame Tour Photo Set

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Gary Tyrrell passes along word from Fred Gallagher that he's feeling better after a recent surgery to correct a general condition.

image* Sean Gaffney on Negiho: Mahora Little Girls. Sean T. Collins on the superhero comics of Kate Beaton.

* when I was a kid, the anti-Batman was Superman.

* here's a list of 42 webcomics you need to read.

* it's always fun to look at a gallery of mainstream comic book images. There are always about five or six pretty good ones in such an array.

* the writer Matt Fraction takes a look at Bob Kane's grave. There's a funny story someone told me once that I can't quite remember about Stan Lee being at another funeral and walking around trying to find Kane's last resting place.

* the Library Of American Comics site has a longish piece up on the "Moon Maid" contests.

* I've seen people talking about a Jason mural but I've never gone to look at it until now and whoa. Yeah, that's nice. I really like the space Jason has carved out for himself in North American comics; I don't have a sense of how he does in any of the European markets

* holy crud, what a great episode of SMMA.

* Matthew Brady has been writing about One Piece in short bursts at his site. I'm glad when someone writes about that comic because it's super-popular and I don't quite understand it.

* so I guess Comics Observer runs suggestions for new readers based on the comics that come out every Wednesday...? That's nice. I wish I'd thought of that. It's always tricky to find that balance between comprehensive coverage and focused recommendation.

* finally, I greatly enjoyed this piece on sometimes comics artist Ray Houlihan, and would have even if he weren't at times a comics artist. The visuals are lovely.
 
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If I Were In Phoenix, I'd Go To This

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Happy 62nd Birthday, John Bolton!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Mike Deodato!

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May 22, 2013


Go, Look: Glorious Jack Kirby Art From Captain America #210

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Your 2013 Glyph Awards Winners

This year's winners of the Glyph Comics Awards were named last weekend in conjunction with Philadelphia's East Coast Black Age Of Comics Convention. The nominees slate was very independent-comics oriented, which to my memory was a break with how previous years broke down. It's always nice to see veteran Jerry Craft pick up an award.

Winners in bold:

STORY OF THE YEAR
* The Call; Steve Broome
* KOBK; C. J. Johnson, SMACK!
* Monsters 101; Muhammad Rasheed
* Shadowlaw; Brandon Easton and Scott Kester and Ryo Kawakami
* Ultimate Comics Spider-Man; Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Samnee and Kaare Andrews and Mark Bagley

imageBEST COVER
* Indigo: Hit List 1.0; Richard G. Tyler ll
* Jaycen Wise; Richard G. Tyler ll
* Night Stalker; David Miller
* Shadowlaw; Scott Kester and Ryo Kawakami
* Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #6; Kaare Andrews and Mark Bagley

BEST WRITER
* Steve Broome, The Call
* Brandon Easton, Shadowlaw
* C. J. Johnson, KOBK
* Keith Miller, Tri-Boro Tales
* Muhammad Rasheed, Monsters 101

BEST ARTIST
* Jacob Newell, Origins Unknown: Point Of Authority
* Jerry Gaylord, Fanboys Vs. Zombies #1-9
* Charlie Goubile, Corsairs
* Chris Samnee, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #6
* Richard G. Tyler ll, Jaycen Wise

BEST MALE CHARACTER
* Bomani, H.O.P.E.; Raymond Ayala and Rafael Desquitado and Jacob Elijah Hallinen and Kim Jacinto
* Dashawn, KOBK; C. J. Johnson and SMACK!,
* Miles Morales, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man; Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Samnee and Kaare Andrews and Mark Bagley
* Mort, Monsters 101; Muhammad Rasheed
* Jaycen Wise, Jaycen Wise; Richard G. Tyler ll

BEST FEMALE CHARACTER
* Christina, KOBK; C. J. Johnson and SMACK!
* Larue Dalcour, Corsairs; Daniel McNeal and Charlie Goubile
* Dyana, Night Stalker; Orlando Harding and David Miller
* Indigo, Indigo: Hit List 1.0; Richard G. Tyler ll
* Tia & Zari Jenkins, Surpurbia; Grace Randolph and Russell Dauterman

RISING STAR AWARD
* Raymond Ayala, writer, H.O.P.E.
* Steve Broome, writer and artist, The Call
* Brandon Easton, writer, Shadowlaw
* Sharean Morishita, writer and artist, Love! Love! Fighting!
* Willie Smith, writer and artist, Blackguard: Psycho Therapy

BEST COMIC STRIP OR WEBCOMIC
* Ant; Julian Lytle
* Blackguard: Psycho Therapy; Willie Smith
* Blackwax Boulevard; Dmitri Jackson
* The Call; Steve Broome
* Mama's Boyz; Jerry Craft

FAN AWARD FOR BEST WORK
* Ascended: The Omega Nexus; Roger Reece and Jerry Reece
* Origins Unknown: Point Of Authority; Victor Dandridge and Jacob Newell
* Shadowlaw; Brandon Easton and Scott Kester and Ryo Kawakami
* Ultimate Comics Spider-Man; Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Samnee and Kaare Andrews and Mark Bagley

*****
*****
 
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OTBP: New Comics #1

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Catching Up With Syrian Cartoonist Ali Ferzat In Norway

There's a profile of the exiled Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat up on CNN here. It's kind of a odd article in that some of the flourishes confuse -- I'm not sure if you see a bloody man on the side of the road in the early morning you would process him as someone out of favor with the state for his cartoons before deciding "no thank you" on a pick-up -- but there are some details there I'm not sure I knew. For instance, the article says that Ferzat left the country not out of general political concerns but mostly for therapy, and that it was Kuwait that he went to first (some reports had Egypt).

I'd love to know what Ferzat thinks of some of the current particulars in that country's horrifying internal struggles, but I can understand why a profile would stick to the cartoonist and gallery owner's own, compelling story.
 
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OTBP: Murray The Bird

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Billy Ireland Cartoon Library Confirms Current Location Closing Dates, This Fall's Big Festival

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum has posted its official closure dates in anticipation of their move into nearby Sullivant Hall, a fine reminder that this is about to go down. I think that's a big deal as the new space is like 10 billion times more impressive and roomy and geared towards the public. It's basically a shut down of all satellite program immediately, limited access for scholars by appointment through mid-summer, and then a full shut down until mid-September. The big coming out party is in November, and I urge comics fans looking for something to do in the Fall that were maybe going to go to Brooklyn to think about that one. We should all go pay respect to Lucy Shelton Caswell in some way, I think.
 
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Go, Look: The Jake Wyatt Riot

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Not Comics: David Simon Explains Journalism's Fall

Jonathan Korman pulls a David Simon quote out of a comments thread on his own site and presents it as a mini-primer on the fall of journalism. I certainly agree with its basic sensibility, that the pursuit of maximum profits has made that field more difficult and certainly much more depraved. Then again, no one really liked the journalism story arc on The Wire.

The difficulties facing newspaper publishing are of interest to comics fans because of the newspaper strip's role within that wider enterprise.
 
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Go, Look: A Pair Of Bad Girl Comics

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Gold To Paola Rivera, Silver To David Petersen In Comics Category Of Spectrum Fantastic Art Awards

The Tor blog has the results up for this year's Spectrum Fantastic Art Awards, held in Kansas City in conjunction with the recent Spectrum Live event.

In the comics category, Paola Rivera was listed as having won the Gold for Daredevil #10, while David Petersen was cited for the silver for page 19 of Mouse Guard Black Axe #4. The category was rounded out by offerings from Jennifer Meyer, Joao Ruas and Rivera again. Other names familiar to comics fans, including Charles Vess and Sam Bosma, received awards at the ceremony in non-comics categories (book illustration and editorial art, respectively).
 
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Go, Look: Vintage Bob Powell

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By Request Special: Jack Kirby Book By Jeremy Kirby

Here. It's close to being funded, but it hasn't been pushed over the top yet. The author is Jack Kirby's grandson, and the book sounds like it would be an enormous book solely from the amount of unpublished direct material to which it potentially has access.
 
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Go, Look: More From Boulet In New York

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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.

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FEB131250 IVAN BRUNETTI AESTHETICS MEMOIR HC $25.00
The happiest surprise of the year: an Ivan Brunetti volume that reminds us how much fun Brunetti is as a cartoonist and that he's done enough non-Schizo work to fill an entire book. This came out of left field for me.

imageMAR131353 SUNNY HC VOL 01 $22.99
Taiyo Matsumoto has hung around just a tiny notch below widespread, across-the-board acceptance and regular new-book anticipation in North America, and it'd be nice if he could be nudged into that place. I think every one of his books is worth one's consideration, and I'm dying to see this one. That's a nice-looking, striking cover, too.

MAR131426 DRAWN TO NEW YORK ILLUS CHRON OF 3 DECADES IN NYC $29.95
A new volume from the illustrator and occasional cartoonist Peter Kuper, about his city of residence. That sounds really good, and certainly something at that price point I would want to hold in my hands before buying.


FEB130274 STAR TREK JOHN BYRNE COLLECTION HC $49.99
I've always enjoyed the John Byrne Star Trek comics I've read, although I think I may have only read the Gary Seven stuff he's done. Still, there's a nice-looking cover for this one and 12-year-old me will rest easier the more John Byrne settles into a Lion In Winter run of quality comics gigs.

MAR130444 BOUNCE #1 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
MAR130589 SEX #3 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
MAR130907 OCCUPY COMICS #1 $3.50
MAR131253 SIXTH GUN #31 $3.99
MAR130050 LOBSTER JOHNSON SATAN SMELLS A RAT ONE SHOT $3.50
MAR130196 BATMAN INCORPORATED #11 $2.99
MAR130224 GREEN LANTERN #20 (WRATH) (NOTE PRICE) $7.99
MAR130017 MIND MGMT #11 $3.99
Two Joe Casey-written comics kick off the week in standard serial comic book format works. Casey is an interesting cat, and certainly doesn't waste time or aesthetic territory in exploring specific notions in adventure comics form. I assume the Occupy Comics work is what it is, and I imagine that there's a joke to be had about comics' usual timeliness. I'm including the Sixth Gun work because that's a solid title and has been slowly building its audience over a long period of time -- I wish that comics had a dozen more like it. The Lobster Johnson is Kevin Nowlan, so I will snap this one up the next time I'm in a comics shop: he's arguably the most interesting of all occasionally working mainstream comics artists. The Batman Incorporated is arguable DC's best regular series title -- I think it's leaps and bounds above most of what they put out, and I'm not the biggest fan of Batman. The Green Lantern is writer Geoff Johns' last issue on his near decade-long burst of writing on the character -- a major achievement in those circles in that he resuscitated the character as a top ten presence sales-wise. Finally, I'm astonished to see Mind MGMT on an 11th issue already.

MAR130159 GREEN TEAM #1 $2.99
A significant portion of me is glad that DC does books like this every now and then, but when I put on my cynical "Lord Of The Basement" hat and pontificate from a business sense development by staring in comics general direction with pieces of Hot Pocket in my bear, I have to say I don't get the strategy for something like this within the wider line in even the same way I see some of Marvel's shots at books off the beaten path in terms of a place for talent development and a way of generating character ideas to be employed up the line in certain team books. I guess it's about developing certain properties for viable use. I like the idea of money as a superpower, even if it's used as bluntly to mean that money is buying superpowers.

MAR130981 BLAKE & MORTIMER GN VOL 12 ATLANTIS MYSTERY $15.95
MAR130982 LUCKY LUKE TP VOL 29 GRAND DUKE $11.95
MAR130983 LUCKY LUKE TP VOL 30 DALTONS ESCAPE $11.95
I like that classic mainstream French-language album series seem to be showing up in comics shops on a regular basis now, although how many shops actually invest in a little BD corner of their stores I could not tell you. I would smother-hug with extra money if my store did, for sure.

JAN131224 SCOTT PILGRIM COLOR HC VOL 03 $24.99
This the latest in the color version of the Bryan Lee O'Malley decade-definer from the 00's. I know some young people that are picking these works up for the first time this way.

OCT121247 WALLY WOOD EERIE TALES OF CRIME & HORROR DLX SLIPCASED $69.95
OCT121246 WALLY WOOD EERIE TALES OF CRIME & HORROR HC $39.95
NOV121348 WALLY WOOD EERIE TALES OF CRIME & HORROR SC $24.95
I'll look at anything Wally Wood, one of the great visual artists working in comics in the 20th Century. And you really have to look at the stuff, too, because not all of it is of interest to every comics fans unless "Wally Wood" is the only organizing principle about which they care.

APR131204 KRAMERS ERGOT HC VOL 08 (OCT111193) (MR) $32.95
MAR130425 TORPEDO TP VOL 03 [DIG] $17.99
These are the two books that jumped out at me as already published -- I think the Torpedo is out in the form listed here -- books where if you don't have them already you should probably consider picking them up now. God bless your store if either is on its shelves.

MAR130992 MY DIRTY DUMB EYES GN (MR) $22.95
FEB130982 PROPERTY HC (MR) $24.95
There's been some significant turnover at Drawn and Quarterly the last few years, something that doesn't get tracked because of the general feeling that a certain kind of cartoonist is always at home there and a few other places. A new Rutu Modan book and a first major book from Lisa Hanawalt say a lot about the company's current state of being.

*****

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 because I hate you.

*****

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

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

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Whoa, The Second Volume Of The New Monster Is Out

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* there's a lengthy catch-up with Mike Diana here. It seems stupid from the vantage point of 2013 that people were once so horrified by Diana's art, which was clearly full of pretty basic symbolism and taboo-tweaking; it seems downright insane that 20 years ago people were being prosecuted and convicted for making art like that.

image* Matt Derman on The 'Nam #8. Justin Giampaoli on The Massive #12. KC Carlson on Walt Disney's Donald Duck: The Old Castle's Secret. Grant Goggans pokes around more Legion Of Super-Heroes. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Batman, Incorporated's first volume. Richard Bruton on Blood Blokes #3 and Thunder Brother: Soap Division #5. Kelly Thompson on Batwoman #20.

* Rob Clough takes another look at mentoring as practiced at Center For Cartoon Studies.

* Chris Mautner would like to see Swan collected. I always think of that stuff as already collected the way it's published, but I'm all for that material showing up in whatever form Chris would like.

* Alex Dueben talks to Peter Bagge. Steve Morris talks to Kate Brown. Casey Gilly talks to Kieron Gillen. I guess there's something in that Gillen interview about people objecting to a scene where teenagers are shown having casual sex...? That seems totally bizarre to me at this late date.

* not comics: here are some robot benches from J. Chris Campbell.

* finally, every time you think the comics industry sucks balls, it may help to remember it used to suck mega-balls.
 
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Happy 44th Birthday, Mimi Rosenheim!


 
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May 21, 2013


Go, Look: Hypnotic Midday Movie

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Iconic Comics/Illustration Site Drawn.ca Calls It Quits

John Martz has announced the winding down of the site Drawn! on his tumblr. That was for its entire run a significant site, and by coming on-line in 2005 was particularly in those days when such things were possible a huge traffic generator for a lot of visual artists and comics-makers that were featured there -- think of it as the equivalent to stand-up comedians playing certain late-night variety and talk shows in the 1980s and 1990s. I enjoyed it a lot and stole from it more than most.

I would imagine that this is another sign we're in a potential transitional period for on-line culture as it intersects with comics. We're starting to see institutional alterations take hold as companies re-think their incentive models for that kind of work; some self-generated efforts are beginning to cycle out just in terms of what people are doing with their lives; anything that starts now does so in the context of social media efforts as opposed to the landscape that existed in the early 2000s. I don't know where we end up with all of this, but I do know it's something of a shame just for fans of this kind of material that certain efforts won't be with us when we arrive. Thank you to the Drawn! people; I hope they all have a terrific time doing whatever each one wants to do with the time this frees up moving forward.
 
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Go, Look: Tramp Stamp

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* this isn't exactly news, not at this point in their production schedule, but I think this the best-looking of the Tardi series covers to date. We live in an amazing reprint era that it's possible Fantagraphics' excellent treatment of these works isn't front and central in our thinking at all times.

image* Doug Wright Award winner Nina Bunjevac covers Taddle Creek #30.

* it's about a week old now, and we've linked to it in the random news before now, but this interview with Mike Richardson and Joe Casey takes on the work Casey's doing with some of that company's costumed adventure characters. I think that's a fair description of those characters.

* let's hope this is the first in a series of such ads, hotter and hotter as they go.

* as a fan of the original Rocketeer comics that see that character and that world as tied into the unique expression of creator Dave Stevens, I don't really have an interest in what IDW has been doing with various sequel series. Ditto The Spirit and Will Eisner. Still, I think that IDW has done what seems like a pretty good job of working with the Stevens family and putting out quality comics set in the late cartoonist's world -- it strikes me as an honorable enterprise even if it's one in which I have little interest in the resulting content: the same relationship I have to something like the Leslie Turner Captain Easy.

* Steve Morris looks at the end of the latest run for DC's Amethyst character, the kind of character you'd think would find an audience if the market were just adjusted like two degrees towards greater rationality.

* Marvel has apparently canceled their Red She-Hulk title. I'm not sure why there needed to be a Red She-Hulk title. I sort of like comics where I can't figure out why they exist.

* finally, I found the news that writer James Robinson is leaving DC Comics to be interesting on a lot of levels. I like Robinson, I think he did a lot of good work for that company, and I think that's a company that can ill-afford to lose any talent at all. I didn't really understand his Earth 2 title, but I was surprised by how much I liked his recent Shade mini-series that DC collected. Robinson had a real talent in terms of carving out space in DC's "universe" that allowed for dramatic stakes based on something other than Amanda Waller showing up and the whole thing being plugged into some line-wide storyline about whether or not the DC comics icons are awesome and why. I think that's a real lost art, and given that these are entire worlds, I wish that more creators could create little worlds within the bigger one. I wish him luck in whatever he does next, and would love to see him return to his creator-owned work.

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Seriously, Buh: Jesse Marsh Draws A Big Spider

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ComicsAlliance Hints At Sequel That Will Be Awesome But Maybe Super Pisses Off Fans Of The Original

Here. I like Joseph, and I enjoy reading a lot of their writers; it'd be nice if they could get something going.

just to be clear: that title is a joke about using Dark Knight imagery, not a sign that I think a new CA would actually infuriate fans
 
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Go, Look: 40x

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Placeholder: I Completely Screwed The Pooch On ECBACC Festival Coverage For This Year

Make up for my error, which will be rectified as soon as possible, by looking at the PW story on the targeted-audience show that took place in Philadelphia over the last weekend.
 
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Let's All Look At A 2008 John K Post On Owen Fitzgerald

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Comics By Request -- People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* this is another edition of the column that runs on Mondays; I had a few more of these to post where I didn't want to wait a week.

image* that nice man and indy comics veteran Batton Lash has launched a second crowd-funder, this time in support of a 112-page book of work that was previously featured on-line at SupernaturalLaw.com. This seems a natural place for someone like Lash to land, allowing him access to his scattered by fervent fan base in a way that's much more efficient than leaving that in the invisible hands of the direct-market mechanism. Here's the link to Werewolves Of New York, which Lash writes in his PR is the longest story he's ever done. He has many cute incentives, tied into his overall theme. I think he'd get there without this site's help, but I enjoy Lash and wanted to pass this along.

* Clifford Meth, who does an enormous amount of work on behalf of older comics-makers that find themselves either in trouble or in need of a specific form of advocacy, has a crowd-funder up for a book that features conversations with many of those creators and others besides.

* I'll pull one from yesterday's run of requests: David Lasky is trying to raise money via original art and publication sales so that he can attend the Eisner Awards in support of his nominated Carter Family book. There is no better guy in comics than that David Lasky guy. Also, he hasn't aged in 20 years, so I'm hoping that by posting this he'll pass on eating a part of my soul.

* finally, someone is translating Schuiten and Peeters. Or wants to. Always worth a check-out when that work is mentioned.
 
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OTBP: Adapt #1

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Go, Read: A Short Essay About Bill Finger

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* in case you missed it, TCAF Director Chris Butcher responded to Sunday's TCAF 2013 report here, and cartoonist/former con organizer Dustin Harbin added commentary here.

image* Chris Marshall talks to Fred Pierce and Hunter Gorinson. Ryan Ingram talks to Graham Chaffee. Some nice person talks to that good man Pat Moriarity. Josie Campbell talks to Geoff Johns.

* not comics: hey, I suppose congratulations are due Keri Butler and Gabe Fowler.

* DC's co-op advertising plans have long seemed like a pretty good deal... I've always thought there was a good son/favorite son thing with DC and Marvel and the shops with DC doing all of these responsible things so that shop owners can then spend the money saved on carrying more Marvel titles. This isn't backed by anything except a wild hunch and cynical nature, however. Anyway, I'm glad DC does that for the shops that can use that kind of thing.

* not comics but also comics: Cracked points out some of the uglier truths underlying basic superhero stories.

* Jennifer Cheng on Fatale #14.

* a commenter on Graeme McMillan's blogging efforts for Newsarama comes close to articulating a universal truth of comics blogging.

* finally, Tom Bondurant takes the time in his solicits report to kind of take the temperature of modern Legion Of Super-Heroes fandom, one of the most celebrated and oddly impotent in terms of hit-making ability of all the superhero comics fandoms.
 
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Happy 47th Birthday, Mark Crilley!

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Happy 69th Birthday, Kim Deitch!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Neil Kleid!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Gary Reed!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Sammy Harkham!

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May 20, 2013


Go, Look: The Adventures Of Kitty Cobb

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Dick Locher Announces Retirement From Political Cartooning

Scott Stantis has a very sweet and succinct piece up on Dick Locher announcing his retirement from political cartooning. Locher left his gig doing art for the Dick Tracy strip in 2011. Stantis notes that Locher was an accidental political cartoonist, securing the gig in his early forties after years of work assisting Chester Gould on Tracy. He won a Pulitzer in 1983, ten years into what became a distinguished 40 years in that business, now much faded in terms of number of cartoonists and political pull from even those days. Mr. Locher is a very well-liked man, and I imagine everyone wishes him well in whatever he'd like to do with the extra time freed up by leaving this gig. You can read his political cartoons work here.
 
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Go, Look: Pursuit

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Political Censorship Of Schuiten/Peeters Art Causes Kamagurka To Withdraw Work In Solidarity

I'm not sure I have this all the way right, mostly because it's hard enough to track people being really strident and stupid in one's native language. But I guess an exhibition of comics art in Belgium contained a page from L'Enfant penchée by Francois Schuiten and Benoit Peeters, and that this page was censored because it contained French-language text, drawing the ire of a separatist group that would prefer everything be in Flemish. This then caused Kamagurka to withdraw his work in solidarity, as well as a lot of discussion over whether this was right, who owned the art in question, and the nature of comics art in the first place. It seemed pretty interesting to me even if I'm not grasping the particulars -- maybe worth a translated read for you, or a read en Francais if you're able.
 
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Go, Look: Early Jack T. Chick Comics

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Go, Read: Tim Hodler On Demise Of BCGF

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Here. As I thought it might be, it's a smoking article with a lot of heart and things to think through. I could pull some quotes, but you should really read it over there.

My initial takeaway is that people in comics poo-pooh formal structures and the like, but it seems like a clear sense of who owned what and why and how and where it was going could have maybe helped here, and this was something that was an overall, even potentially overwhelming positive for a lot of the folks involved. Then again, maybe it's good not to bind everything together, and this was just a personality conflict and set of philosophical differences that was going to define this show's demise just as it strengthened the show's first initial years and the whole thing was inevitable. It's hard to say.

Sitting on this post for a weekend, my slightly more considered takeaway is that New York is a tough nut to crack for comics festivals in terms of the money involved, and that comics festivals are pretty tough that way more generally. As we develop more shows and better shows the cost issue is going to raise its head a lot.
 
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How About A Little Monday Morning Golden Age Madness?

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Comics By Request -- People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* everyone's favorite cartoonist David Lasky is trying to sell some art to raise the funds to go to San Diego and attend the Eisner Awards ceremony where his Carter Family book is nominated. No nicer man than that David Lasky, and his art looks pretty great, too. If nothing else, you might drop $16 and get three issues of Boom Boom -- that's almost what a non-rare comic book costs today, and they're pretty much all terrible.

* Shaenon Garrity and Jeffrey Wells have a kickstarter going for the next Skin Horse print book; they've already doubled their initial goal.

* the writer Greg Rucka talks about recent crowd-funding efforts and the phenomenon in general.

* that veteran on-line effort Jerk City has enjoyed a successful crowd-funding effort here.

* finally: Rob Liefeld, crowd-funder.
 
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If I Were In Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

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

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If I Were Near A Computer, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: John G. Fantucchio Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* here's Anne Ishii with an all-time anecdote about traveling with Gengoroh Tagame.

image* Rob Kirby on Heads Or Tails. Brian Gardes on Time Samplers. Michael Buntag on Julio's Day. Richard Bruton on Largo Winch Vol. 12, Reads #3 and The Whale House Vol. 2. Kelly Thompson on Gambit #12 and The Dream Merchant #1. Michael Aushenker on The Property.

* not comics: dating advice from Kelly Sue DeConnick.

* if I had a refrigerator where I put comics up because I recognized an element of it from my own life, this comic might go up. Also, one of those S. Clay Wilson ones.

* Shawn Starr talks to Ryan Sands. Hannah Means-Shannon talks to W. Maxwell Prince. Karl Keily talks to Max Brooks. Kiel Phegley talks to Axel Alonso. JK Parkin talks to Mike Norton. Chris Arrant talks to Sean Murphy. Jake Tapper talks to Garry Trudeau. Yolanda Johnson Bryant talks to Kerry G. Johnson.

* a salute to Mike Mignola via convention badge.

* here's a profile of comics made about artists.

* I assume they mean the financial success of Netflix and not the widely-criticized, low-grade contempt side of Neflix.

* Sean Kleefeld writes about symbol re-appropriation and applies it to iconic, big-company superhero characters.

* I have this theory that comics t-shirts follow the trend for elaborate costumes at shows in a double helix pattern way.

* finally, Brian Hibbs makes an addition to last week's "Tilting" column on mini-series sales in DM shops by noting the worst-case scenario.
 
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Happy 55th Birthday, Jane Wiedlin!

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May 19, 2013


CR Sunday Feature: Several Notes On TCAF 2013

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By Tom Spurgeon

* so: TCAF.

* I think that was a really good show. Really good. I think it's pretty clear that TCAF is one of the crown jewels of comics festivals right now, worldwide, and a contender for the overall crown. A really good TCAF means something.

* although, you know, a lot of the comics shows have been at least pretty good or admirable in some way lately. So I hope no one takes it the wrong way when I say I don't think TCAF 2013 was a transcendent show, by which I mean I didn't run into a mass of people who told me they had a sense of it being a special weekend for themselves, their peers or both. It didn't have the sense of being a happening. SPX 2012 did. TCAF 2012 did. Comics has a feel for that kind of thing.

* I did run into more than a few people for whom TCAF 2013 was deeply and personally meaningful, and may we all be damned straight to hell if we ever look at a lovely weekend in a fine city celebrating the comics art form in a jaded manner.

* there was a lot going on, a lot of interest to comics, its attendant culture, this show and shows more generally.

* I'll save you the goofy details of my Byzantine travel itinerary this time, but let's just say I was a chariot ride and something involving a rickshaw away from mode-of-travel yahtzee. It took me 34 hours to get home, which I'm pretty sure gets most people to the Arctic Circle and back.

* rather than my usual moaning about regional air travel and the lack of a solid travel infrastructure otherwise, here's the one thing I want to impress upon TCAF travelers these days and in the future: PORTER AIRLINES.

* Porter Airlines, Porter Airlines, Porter Airlines.

* the regional Porter Airlines offers travel to and from Toronto and the cities it serves (Chicago, New York via Jersey and others, including several in Canada) that kicks the ass out of the regular airlines about 85 percent of the time. Not all of the time -- so let's not get Internet indignant if it doesn't work for you -- but most of the time, and sometimes significantly. My round trip New Jersey to Toronto was $60 each way. $120! This made flying to New Jersey and then flying to Toronto about $400 cheaper than it was for me to fly straight into Canada, and much less of a hassle than any plane/car/bus combination I heard about from others.

* Porter flies to the little island south of downtown rather than Pearson, which means a ten-minute cab ride after a short, free ferry rather than a 60-minute or more odyssey from airport to hotel door. Customs was a three-minute wait. It maybe that the other airlines muscle into this space, but for now Porter has that airport all to itself by virtue of having been early to bid on its use.

* Porter also offers free drinks and food in their lounge, and their female flight attendants wear pillbox hats. Any airline that reminds one of Kurt Schaffenberger should receive all of our business. And no one was on my damn plane.

* I have no idea if the bargains continue next year -- I assume this is one of those heavily supported airlines where the service offerings may fluctuate greatly -- but just the chance they are around and offering these kinds of savings and decent service should put it into your bookmarks folder 355 days in advance.

* first comics person sighted: Warren Bernard. He says that SPX has many more guests to announce, and gave me his stint-in-current-position bucket list in terms of guests he'd like to have at the Expo. It's pretty awesome, and I bet most if not all of it happens.

* my friends and I stayed at the Marriott Bloor Yorkville, which I think was the main convention hotel. One of them, anyway. It was a massive, near-Soviet lump of a hotel engorged into every nook and cranny of a major city block.

* again, this should probably go without saying, but whereas I usually don't give a crap where I stay, it actually made a tremendous difference to be that close to this particular show. TCAF is a consumption-oriented show, where buying things is a main attraction, so the advantage of being able to dump books and other material back in your room was all by itself worth that particular hotel choice.

* the hotel itself was about 20 percent better than my best guess for it from reading TripAdvisor and scouting it out a couple of days beforehand. My room was huge and well-appointed, the television was huge even though the only sport ever show was hockey, the Internet was free (they charged and then removed the charges), and the bed was reasonably comfortable. The hotel bar was kind of not good -- too small, too expensive, grumpy service -- and a couple of times I received happy Canadian-style directions at the front desk that were the opposite of where I needed to end up, but that was about it in terms of negatives.

* it was even in the same block as a small grocery store with a salad bar (gasp), across a side street from a decent breakfast diner, right across the street from a serviceable pub, and ten feet away from the subway. That last one was important Sunday when the weather turned very Flash Gordon, featuring a lot of bizarre hail followed by flashes of sunshine. So I think that hotel worked. I have stayed in other hotels up there, all nice, though, like the Delta Chelsea.

* I got in on Friday noonish and crossed the street to sit with Robin McConnell while he finished lunch -- he was the only person to answer my tweet asking if anyone was around. I always wanted to do one of those tweets. Robin does the Inkstuds podcast/radio show out in Vancouver and is writing majorly detailed con reports here. Nobody likes that guy.

* I enjoyed being eased into TCAF that way… I sort of like those first few moments of a big comics show where you start to see the comics people -- who sans costumes all pretty much look the same at every show, sorry to burst any alt/indy self-perception bubbles out there -- and the people you recognize and there are museum shows to see or afternoons to spend preparing/writing material. It's nice.

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* I met with Team D+Q at their end of their welcome to TCAF dinner, which also roped in Fantagraphics' PR folks Jen Vaughn and Jacq Cohen as well as festival special guest Jaime Hernandez. I sat at the Peggy Burns/Tom Devlin end of the table and they both looked happy and healthy. I didn't eat anything. I sometimes have a hard time eating when I travel, except for furtive snacking. I can't be the only one.

* it was my great honor to interview the Hernandez Brothers to kick off the festival. I think it went well despite my being reduced to best-of-1998 computer technology in support of the slides I had quickly scanned to replace the presentation I had originally purchased. It was at the library, so there were actual AV people there, so it went fine despite their might efforts not to openly guffaw over the computer equivalent of a pinhole camera made from a quaker oats container.

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* I could not respect those Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez more in terms of their contributions to comics and their achievements in the alt-comics realm. They have been ridiculously good for a ludicrously long time, in a way that confounds logic, almost in the same way that two Rushmore-level living cartoonists are related by blood.

* one thing that's funny about the Hernandez Brothers is that despite the two of them being around long enough and frequently enough I think there's a bit of taking them for granted as convention and festival guests, there's also a major generational sweet spot starting with my generation and moving maybe 10 years younger where those guys loom so large as artists a bunch of us shut down around them. I came to work for Fantagraphics in 1994 and met Jaime and Gilbert in 1995… I don't think I said half a word past hello to either one of them before they accosted me at a BEA in 2003 and basically made fun of me for never talking to them. I have heard about people physically running away from them, people getting off of elevators early to avoid being alone with them for the last several floors, and people not being able to speak to them when they got up to their tables. I met several cartoonists at the show still way too intimidated to introduce themselves.

* in a way I think that's awesome, because I think we should treat excellent artists whose work holds meaning for us in a special way. It's a tremendous privilege to get to spend time in their company, or to attend their lectures and panel presentations, to meet them at a signing and say thank you.

* one thing I thought interesting about Los Bros in terms of their legacy when I was conceiving of questions for them: I think we may not give Gilbert Hernandez enough credit as a key figure in the development of the graphic novel. It strikes me that the years 1992-1995 are seen in a conventional wisdom sense -- I think they are, anyway -- as pretty key in terms of a burst of longer books. These were probably the books that were started when Maus became a success, or when enough of the 1980s discussion of longer-form, serious works began to bear fruit. It's not like there weren't longer works before the early to mid 1990s, it's more like the books that came out in that period seem to be part of a continuity with the efforts of today. In other words, books like Our Cancer Year and Stuck Rubber Baby feel like volumes that could come out this year from a major publishing house -- I don't think you can say that of, say, something like The Sacred And The Profane. Gilbert's serial-to-GN run of Human Diastrophism/Blood Of Palomar, Poison River and Love and Rockets X gives him three (three!) huge, formidable books during that time period, all of which hold up as compelling books today.

* I also think to a lesser extent Jaime and Gilbert were important to the kids comics movement by both doing them expressly (Measles, Whoa, Nellie!) and by championing kids comics art and storytelling during a period where most comics people through their terror of being mocked severely distrusted that kind of work, that whole approach to making comics.

* Chris Butcher gave a few comments about the show's 10th year to open up the interview; he's quite comfortable speaking in public, and you can't always say that about comics people.

* great crowd, nearly full, a 40-person line for the signing afterward. Gilbert pointed out Ken Steacy to me.

* so I had a blast talking to Jaime and Gilbert. I found a lot of their answers interesting. For example, Gilbert said that his short story "Frida" was a fill-in story for one that fell through, and that Kim Thompson was helpful in helping it take its final form. He also admitted to a bit of hubris involved when the first Love And Rockets series ended in terms of his confidence in readers following him to his subsequent projects. Jaime talked about not wanting to change his characters' hairstyles that frequently for fear that he'll run out of hairstyles for them. He also said that the sequence with Maggie in "Love Bunglers" where she's really overweight and visits Ray's family was a scene that was added quickly but after the wider story was conceived of because the story needed those pages.

* one set of answers from Los Bros that made me laugh is I got to ask them what they might give people as a first work -- something that seems to come up a lot. They gave total Hernandez Brothers answers: straightforward and funny. Gilbert basically said the question never comes up; Jaime said he gives them a newer book because he has copies of those on hand.

* for what it's worth, my suggestion for where to start with Los Bros is start with whatever is closest to you. Both Gilbert and Jaime engage themes and create works that kind of thwart traditional starting and ending points -- that's frustrating for some, but I think it gives you leeway to kind of enter into their wider works wherever you'd like. Jeet Heer pointed out a bit later in the weekend that Gilbert's new Marble Season and Julio's Day are both fine first books for an intimidating, prolific artist.

* anyway, I super-enjoyed talking to them about comics and hopefully that presentation or at least its audio will be available in a couple of different places moving forward. It was great to see TCAF fawning over Los Bros in their 31st anniversary year, which gives me hope that they'll be treated in more and more venues as the living legends they are as opposed to solely getting various anniversary bumps. It's a privilege to be reading comics when Los Bros are making them.

* I never made it to the packed and apparently sexually charged as only the first con after a long winter can be sexually charged opening night party. I stayed huddled with the older cartoonists in the hotel bar, accepting into our midst various folks spinning away from the loud, social gathering and either on their way back home or pivoting to another event. It was extremely nice. I love a good bar-con chat.

* sitting between Seth and Gilbert Hernandez, two great talkers, struck me as what going to dinner with Gil Kane and Burne Hogarth must have been like for the comics reporters that came before me, except maybe slightly less voluble and slightly less likely to use words like "voluble." The idea of meeting people at these shows was a recurring item of discussion, actually, how short the industry history is for comics and how as late as 15 years ago you could still meet scads and scads of creators who had been in key positions very early in the comic book form's development. I still think the work is primary, and that we probably privilege these personal encounters way more than we should, but for a certain kind of passionate reader and more importantly for young cartoonists kind of casting around for a connection and ways to conduct themselves, I think those encounters can be crucial.

* a correlative to those discussions was the idea by the cartoonists from about 40 to 55 years old that they were in a different position now than they used to be at these shows. I heard a story second-hand about a cartoonist who decided to go to bed early so they could be more present -- their choice of word -- with any young cartoonists or readers they might meet at the show later that morning. Comics isn't exactly known for its tradition of responsible, adult actions, so hearing a lot of cartoonists I know from their younger years talk about what they do in that way was fascinating to me.

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* the one younger cartoonist that entered the room upon whose work the older cartoonists instantly remarked, in a positive way, was Michael DeForge.

* another thing that kept coming up all weekend was how culture is consumed now. The difference, most people in my proximity seemed to think, came down to a combination of availability and the opportunity to immediately contextualize what was just consumed -- if nothing else, these things allow artists to power through influences and other works of art in a terrifying propulsive rate, and maybe even gain greater domain over those things because they're being processed through your own sense of artistic worth rather than against some sort of institutional backdrop: you're the one that found this stuff, after all. The Hernandez Brothers are really interesting to hear talk about that stuff because part of their story was how strongly they fixated on the best of the comics available to them, how oriented towards the work they were even in their punk music days. Allowing something to have power over you because it's unfamiliar and strange may give us different art than allowing everything to have power over you because you're a consumer of peak experiences. It's a thought, anyway.

* lots of good talking at TCAF generally. That brisk Canadian air makes everyone 12 percent smarter. Not a lot of industry stuff, although people were quick to point out that a lot of opportunities from the last five years or so are rapidly drying up, or are becoming less lucrative even in terms of the basic, tiny advance a lot of folks get.

* Ivan Brunetti showed up and immediately started apologizing. Chip Kidd stopped by. Ivan immediately apologized to Chip. Mark Siegel and Paul Pope have very nice man hair. It was the only time I spoke to Siegel all weekend.

* there weren't a lot of complaints about set-up although some folks thought that the upstairs space being used for the Hernandez Brothers and a subsequent signing put a lot of pressure on those exhibitors to get their setting up done before being freed for the evening.

* I had breakfast the next day with Andy and JP from Biff Bam Pop! It's cool to meet peers and I was happy they reached out. The amount of personal satisfaction they get from doing that site but also doing it professionally made for a lot of interesting conversation, and Andy talked about it being a calling-card for day jobs he's had, the displayed ability to work on-line and do social media. We also complained about access issues at the big companies, because that is required by law. Anyway, thanks guys.

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* Saturday started early (10 AM!) and the crowds were solid almost from the start and sort of ludicrous by mid-afternoon. I was told by a lot of people they thought it was a just a few percentage points slower than 2012, but then again, there was more off-site stuff so maybe that's a wash. I wasn't there to compare. It seemed a tiny bit heavier than my memory of 2011, but I remember very little of that show.

* the Reference Library space is everything you hear about in terms of it being a big and mostly pleasant series of rooms and areas in which to look at comics. My friend the photographer Amy Beadle Roth loves TCAF above all other comics shows in part, she told me, for being better able to function in a space like the library as opposed to a hotel ballroom or other public exhibition area. I get it.

* the volunteers are actually better than I remember, and everyone I talked to praised them all weekend -- a couple of folks wondered after some of the flow decisions and how the volunteers were asked to police certain doors and hallways in a way that seemed unnecessary, but there was no criticism of the volunteers themselves. If TCAF has a legacy in terms of comics shows -- if comics shows are a big enough thing to have a legacy -- that extra solicitousness towards exhibitors from the volunteers might be the thing.

* I attended the show without doing a whole lot of research first -- by which I mean a kind of basic game-planning -- in part because I'm lazy but also in part because I wanted to see how certain things hit me without scouting them out in advance. This was actually super-useful.

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* one thing I noticed and liked was that PictureBox and Gengoroh Tagame were set up in the main first-floor, big-room aisle and nobody gave a shit. Tagame's book is potentially hardcore, like potentially long-talk-with-your-friend-who-picked-it-up-and-dropped-it extreme, but it's presented in a classy manner befitting the quality and historical importance of its content and Tagame seemed like a nice man that enjoyed meeting readers and potential readers. It seems kind of silly to mention this, I know, but we're not far removed -- or maybe not removed at all -- from a time where material that is ostensibly of direct interest to young people gets displayed in a way that seems super-skeevy and depresses you on behalf of those kids in attendance and the industry in general. In other words, I like how professional and matter-of-fact TCAF is about the material on display, and about trusting its exhibitors to present in a way that's above-board and keeps to the spirit of the show. It makes you wonder not how TCAF can be so friendly to more adult material, but why other shows aren't. Death to curtains.

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* the upstairs area, featuring a lot of material aimed at young people and bubbling up from Internet culture, was busy all weekend. It was so packed by mid-afternoon Saturday people weren't allowed in, which is astonishing given the size of that space and the distance from the door -- Jaime Hernandez didn't even know there was an upstairs until Sunday. I met some happy exhibitors up there.

* I met less happy exhibitors in some of the other spaces. There was a room behind the main room in which some of the European comics-makers and their distributors were set up that I might not have learned about at all if I hadn't gone searching for a water for someone. I was that close to missing it. The sense of the room was that this was at best an "okay" location, and that maybe this should be been reserved for speaking or a special presentation or even more of a gallery show (there was a virtual show in there that I didn't understand and avoided). Granted, on the flip side, I'm not sure that a random art exhibition room always works, either. At this show, even, a bunch of Finnish art in a room at the Marriott left the impression of some sort of earth-ending disaster leaving a room of art without people more than it seemed like a vital display. As for the extra room at the library, someone said that that particular bit of real estate was used a a special signing room one year, which sounds like it would work. I'm pretty sure there were some deeply disappointed exhibitors in there, even if they didn't say so outright. No easy answers.

* I also honestly didn't notice the small press people snaking around away from the main floor and over by some windows until late Sunday. I spent the last 40 minutes over there. There was basically an entire show's worth of exhibitors in this part of the library. I didn't talk to anyone else that didn't see this area, so it could just be me being old and forgetful, but I was really taken by surprise how many folks were in this area I thought was filled with actual library patrons. So my guess is that really explicit signage could be an item of discussion for TCAF moving forward.

* Jen Vaughn mentioned that a copy shop across the street from the library seemed to do a ton of business and that she herself printed up a second saleable run of her minis, of which she ran out by end of Sunday. I always thought there was an opportunity for someone to set up a booth this way at an event like this one, but across the street works, too.

* watching Vaughn sell her comics about menstruation to various men is pretty hilarious; you can tell she has a pitch that works. She was in a pretty good location; right on a traffic corner; it does seem that the truism that the corners get more play than the middle of rows held true at TCAF 2013 a bit. I know I missed some people entirely and when I checked my map after the show it seemed like they were smack in the middle of long rows.

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* Peter Birkemoe was wearing a kind of jacket/shorts combination Friday upon which several people commented. Chip Kidd was also dressed in a way that people took notice. A lot more men dressed nicely than I remember from 2011 and certainly more that way from what I recall of this year's MoCCA. It's nice when people dress up at these shows, mostly because comics has such a long history of not taking itself seriously that it's good to capture the surface elements of that, anyway.

* the matching jeans vest from Team D+Q amused a lot of people, although I'm afraid to encourage this trend as I feel it all may end at a San Diego with everyone from Fantagraphics dressed in gas station overalls.

* there was a lot of discussion about health issues, some from the ongoing wave of concern people have been expressing about Kim Thompson, other conversation emanating from more direct personal experience. As I noted at MoCCA, 2009-2011 were brutal years for the funnybook industry in terms of the number of people getting seriously sick. I got teased a bit for talking about the fitness of comics people at MoCAA and a couple of other recent shows, but I'm sort of fixated on the idea of comics as a lifelong commitment for which there may be less of a driving financial motivation and more of a general approach to what you're doing and how this has an impact on your life, and how people feel that work in that world seems important.

* to look at it another way, whenever cartoonists talk about banding together they always construct that argument in terms of union-style negotiations over pay, but it seems to me that may be a dead issue -- if you couldn't start a union-type set-up back when those worked more regularly and when there were salaries and page rates of the kind worth fighting over, I don't know why you'd think one would work now. And yet it also seems to me the other traditional functions of guilding up -- a kind of repository of practices and examples in terms of supporting artists and maximizing opportunities and living conditions -- is right there for someone or several someones to make real over the next decade or so. In that light, health issues seem to me a major concern, as do other pretty basic ideas of how to best enable folks to continue to do the work they love to do.

* so let me say that everyone at the show looked like they were in fantastic shape except for Lisa Hanawalt.

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* I guess Raina Telgemeier was sick in a way that eating bread helped -- that's a very Clifford Odets solution to stomach ailments, and I totally approve -- so everywhere I saw her she was chomping on a big loaf of bread. I sort of liked not knowing what was going on with her, so that I could entertain the possibility that Raina was just a weird lady with a strange bread fetish.

* there was some con crud going around, the fast-acting kind -- fast-acting con crud being superior to slow-acting con crud -- and a number of people were knocked out by later Sunday. Karl Stevens got so sick he couldn't make it to the show, which is too bad, as I think his book could have done well there.

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* I thought there were a bunch of solid books on display this weekend, although nothing jumped out at me as a "book of the show," a construction I never liked and one that a wide-ranging show like TCAF tends to thwart. At a show where you could have four or five completely distinct experiences that never overlapped, thinking one book might break down the barriers seems unlikely. But comics goes deep these days. I directed a lot of people to the Tagame. More than a few people I knew discovered Nina Bunjevac's work at the show, and the Tin Can Forest comics. Matt Bors sold out of the Life Begins At Incorporation books he brought to the point that The Beguiling easily snapped up the smile pile of what was left -- that retailer does that with a lot of what's on display in the manner that Bud Plant and Last Gasp used to do this in San Diego. It's very helpful not to have to return home with material, and helpful to the shop to avoid the hassles of standard distribution avenues. Julio's Day didn't make it but Children Of Palomar did; D+Q had Marble Season and My Dirty, Dumb Eyes in terms of new work; SelfMadeHero and Blank Slate had a near avalanche of material.

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* I mean there was a lot of stuff to see. Ryan Sands debuted his line and sold a bunch of that. Tom Kaczynski had the David B. he had once hoped to launch at Stumptown. Conundrum had new Joe Ollmann and some others. A lot of people charged over to buy the new issue of Lose when they heard about it. The Blutch books moved, as did work from CF. The new Spiegelman from D+Q was super-handsome, and I was surprised that wasn't a bigger deal at the show. The Eric Lambé was beautiful-looking.

* so it was a really solid publishing show, and I think one area the show can improve on is something that's actually up to me and people like me to make a bigger deal of these launches and recent releases and publishing news. I was only able to find a few items in terms of actual announcements tying into the focus of the show, like Chris Pitzer announcing a Farel Dalrymple book. I hope there will be more in future dates, the same way that San Diego Con gets used that way now.

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* hey, let's talk about the elephant in the room. Let's talk about the programming.

* we'll go positives first. There were some good panels at the show. In fact, there were several. For instance, I liked the Lisa Hanawalt/Kate Beaton conversation quite a bit. Just to see two no-nonsense younger, prolific, devoted cartoonists laughing with one another makes for a super-positive experience. They're both smart and funny and unapologetic about their creative choices. What's laudable about a lot of the younger cartoonists is how no-nonsense they are: the list of things about which most cartoonists under 35 don't give a shit, traditional comics backwaters, is heartening. I very much liked the Gilbert Hernandez panel I saw, a version of the talk he's been giving on tour about the kids comics that inspired him, and the how and why of the ways they've worked on him. You can actually see poses straight out of Love and Rockets in figures drawn by Owen Fitzgerald, say. I liked the two Chip Kidd panels I saw: the Maurice Vellekoop discussion and the Gengoroh Tagame spotlight. The Tagame was very well attended with a diverse-seeming crowd, and Anne Ishii and Kidd are both very funny and charming. It's good to see that Vellekoop will be doing a comic with Pantheon.

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* what else...? I caught some of Dash Shaw's presentation and Shaw is a much better public presenter than I might have thought as I see him as kind of a soft-spoken guy: it's clear he's really worked at it. Shaw has some interesting ideas about comics, stuff he admits to getting at from obsessing over ideas in ways that maybe weren't originally intended, such as using a "dead line" to avoid adding creative emphasis to a visual depiction in a way that takes away from the reader's ability to interpret what they're seeing. I'd love to watch 90 minutes from Shaw on his comics work, and I'm not even the natural audience for his animation.

* so yeah, if you attended panels, you probably found some good ones.

* oh and love love love that there was a fifteen-minute buffer between panels. You could get to different panels, and the panels themselves weren't squeezed off of the stage.

* and... let's talk about the negatives.

* hoo boy.

* straight up: a significant number of people were aggressively not pleased with the execution of the panel slate. Let me just talk about what I heard directly from exhibitors and professionals, and then add a few comments of my own.
+ many of the panels were announced and communicated to moderators and professionals significantly late in the process. Lateness was a bit of a general trend for TCAF 2013 I'm told, particularly stuff that rolled out near the show itself. One industry pro that didn't attend told me they were bored enough and curious enough in the office to compare the PR from 2012 to this year's and it seemed like everything was a bit later this year, or at least that was their impression. It's understandable -- the show has grown. Still, a lot of the panels-related lateness moved past the annoying stage right into the aggravating, and, some folks believed, was downright detrimental to that aspect of the show.

+ for instance, one industry professional did not know they were moderating a panel until they saw their name in the program listing a few days before the show. They hadn't been asked, had little to no familiarity with the artist involved, had no time to prepare anything, and had to withdraw at some significant personal embarrassment and modest since of dismay.

+ two other people told me their first reaction upon seeing something similar was to cancel, but they didn't have the guts.

+ one set of panelists were told five minutes before the panel they were supposed to be on the panel, and when snapped back with a WTF? were told that someone else at their company had been e-mailed about their involvement a couple of days earlier. Not them, someone else. Not a couple of weeks earlier, a couple of days.

+ I know I was never contacted or confirmed in terms of my arrival in town or told where to go for the Los Bros panel event. When I got there the AV guys -- super-nice -- told me they had been waiting for me, but I had no idea this was the case and certainly would have given up sitting around at dinner making jokes about Reg Smythe to head over to the library ten minutes earlier. Similarly, on Sunday morning I had to track down where my panel was, which is of course fine but isn't exactly the kind of solicitousness the show displays in other ways. I was told there was one panel where only a single announced panelist arrived.

+ one person found out about their panel involvement getting off of the red eye flight Friday morning, which I imagine was personally annoying in that the flight time could have been used for preparation.

+ several people found out about their panel involvement too close to the show to prepare basic materials of the kind that people generally like to prepare for such a thing. For example, there was a design panel with Chip Kidd, Tom Devlin and Jim Rugg -- a weirdly disparate selection of designers to begin with -- with no visual material to go along with their discussion. At least that's what I was told.

+ a few professionals expressed me to resentment about preparation they had to do very close to the show itself. In other words, there was stuff they could put together, but they now had to do so the Saturday morning before the show, or for an hour after lunch. The stress of this was also mentioned.

+ I was told of one moderator that didn't know how to pronounce the panelists' names, and didn't seem knowledgeable of their work at all. Most of the moderators seemed really capable to me, though.

+ several comics industry folk expressed to me for the purpose of hoping I would say so here that they thought there was an over-involvement of creators with a First Second connection, and that these panels were at times given pride of place over other panels. I honestly haven't checked who did what at TCAF past Chris Butcher and Peter Birkemoe in an administrative sense, hoping that it keeps me from being swayed by running across the name of someone I liked in providing impressions for this article. I assume, though, a First Second-related complaint means someone at First Second -- probably Gina Gagliano -- was involved in some significant way with programming.

+ I don't know how to parse such complaints all the way out, although I guess if someone wants to say these are beyond the pale wrong I'll go back and count creators across the entire panel slate; that might be one entry point. My first look shows that there isn't a high preponderance of those creators in panels overall.

* as a criticism, favoritism on panels is very much a feel thing. I'm not sure it's something you can prove in Internet court. I tend to ignore it at other shows, when someone will randomly say something along those lines. What I can tell you is that these complaints were rampant at this show -- in my circle, anyway -- which seems to me its own problem. One specific thing that was cited at me by two different people was a series of workshops where the hosts seemed to be primarily aligned with First Second, including three in one location right in a row. I guess that would also put on the table whether those moderators -- as was the case with me and Los Bros -- benefited from more advance word.

+ I stopped counting between 25 and 30 the number of people that sought me out to complain to me about the way programming was executed, which is an astonishing number to me. I probably got about 40 such complaints, and maybe got three more about other things the entire show. Seventy-five percent of the people saying something said so in an apologetic way. No one seemed to be axe grinding. A couple of people thought that programming was executed so poorly in a way they felt like TCAF itself and its good name was being used as a way to indulge some poor practices (a good-looking date that's 45 minutes late because they can be), that people would be more likely not to flip the fuck out at being listed in a program without being directly consulted because they love TCAF. Others expressed the idea that they were so many good people on hand, so many competent comics folks, that this saved a lot of what could have been disastrous about these kinds of hassles.

+ TCAF aspires to be the best show, and we have a high standard for programming now. A show like that shouldn't have to count on comics people rallying to the festival's aid to do something free and excellent last-minute and without a decent chance to prepare. The programming slate was executed in sub-par fashion.
* so there was that. I'm happy to run whatever response anyone would like to send, particularly about perceptions that anyone might think super-unfair or running counter to fact. Please note that this article has mentioned a lot of the programming was good, and that I have very little time to argue things with you off the record.

* my own panel experience was reasonably positive. I did a much better than average blogging panel on Sunday morning -- "Is Comics Blogging Dead?" in the bar space up the street, which was nice because they had coffee. It had been a long night, so I might have been grumpier than usual. Brigid Alverson asked solid questions, which isn't easy with that kind of wonky subject matter. She couldn't have known about the panel for much more than a week or two, at best -- I didn't -- so good on her. Alverson's a pro, and she was also not covering the show for anyone, so I think she was a great choice. Erica Friedman showed up in the audience with a passionate mini-speech about the need for writers-about-comics to support the efforts of those younger or perhaps more traditionally disenfranchised from the mainstream of discussion than they themselves are. I think there are some things we can do there.

* I don't think comics blogging is dead, incidentally, or at least it's not a question in which I'm interested. It's more like I wonder if comics blogging was ever really alive. You tell me if it's more startling AOL canceled a comics blog or that they ever had one that facilitated the majority at least four writers' livings. I know my answer.

* to my mind, blogging is just a technology/strategy for delivering content, and only briefly was also a mini-phenomenon in and of itself with its own culture and its own distinct adherents for those unique qualities. If blogging is dead, it passed on in a room of the hospital far, far away from the important things in comics.

* media usually doesn't get interesting until a version of it keels over, anyway. Heck, comics itself is an older medium that sort of died in its mass-media formation a long time ago; it's still around, still useful, still viable, or at least will retain a semblance of those things moving forward. I figure blogging will function the same way. I also appreciated that on the panel there wasn't a rigorous defense of playing to the PR needs of these super-corporations as if those capitulations were an actual live-or-die thing as opposed to a choice one makes in terms of how they want to have one of those sites operate. That's different from a few years ago.

* I think there's a dialogue to be had in general over how much consideration we should give to people simply wanting to make a living at doing something like writing about comics, and what that should entail. I remain sort of baffled and horrified that the ComicsAlliance people were signing over content to AOL for anything more than a six-month period and don't own any of that work. I'm always confused by why people work for $5 or $10 article payments or for free when the rewards don't seem much greater and perhaps even less great than publishing yourself, especially for people that don't seem like they're in an interning phase of their careers any longer. People getting paid somehow and who should and why is another broad, particularly unpleasant topic. We need to have that discussion, though.

* the panel made me realize I'm very lucky to be able to do CR, and I'm thankful to you in helping me along.

* I'm ahead of myself. Saturday night. There was a lot to do in terms of satellite events this weekend, which I think is wholly healthy. The way that certain on-line comics creators created line fever in a way that some of their print counterparts didn't, the fact that you could go through this entire show latched onto, say, Taiyo Matsumoto and not give a shit about any alternative-comics anybody seems to me hugely healthy. The thought that for a lot of people this is a kids' comics show I find delightful. It's another thing TCAF does very well, make the various comics camps seem like unique tentpoles all their own.

* so with a lot of stuff to do and go see on Saturday night I chose to attend the Doug Wright Awards.

* The DWAs started a bit late in part because of a fire alarm.

* I thought this year's version was a good little awards show, although several people I spoke to felt it went on for a very long time. Scott Thompson was a fine host. In particular he was very funny with the extemporaneous insult portion of those duties, shifting away from traditional DWA target Chester Brown and onto administrator Brad Mackay. The thing they do with animations of the best books nominees bringing the host into the visual world of those comics was pretty great. Dave Collier, Nina Bunjevac and Michel Rabagliati won awards. Those are three vastly under-appreciated comics veterans, and seem to be nice people on top of that. It was fun to see the Chartier material. Good show.

* the anecdote-emergent highlight was a major David Collier acceptance speech that involved one of Collier's notoriously loopy stories and comedic, physical-comedy asides. This was followed by Thompson doing the disapproving host thing with all of that behavior, including telling Collier that his behavior was probably what kept him from ever getting an award in the past. It was a very memorable scene, one of the comics awards-show moments for the ages. Mackay told me just the other day he wasn't sure Thompson was kidding at all about getting Collier the hell off the stage, and wanted the show to move along. This strikes me as even more amusing.

* I hadn't noticed until I arrived, but D+Q didn't have a nominated book/artist. I don't think they were on hand.

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* went out after the DWAs with a group of people to the primary hosting bar space. Sent Michael Kupperman ahead of me to do an older-man intelligence report; he came back waving his hands and muttering "Abort." The olds moved down the street to a restaurant where Joe Ollmann's daughter was working. Someone bought me a beer. At one point I had Kupperman on my right, Seth and Spiegelman in front of me and Ivan Brunetti to my direct left. That was a fun conversation. Art Spiegelman told a Sol Brodsky story. Seth opined about how young cartoonists form influences. Ivan laughed a lot.

* so of course I left.

* it was nice to spend some time later that evening at one of the karaoke places with some of the emerging generation of comics-makers, people like Ryan Sands, Michael DeForge and Sarah Glidden, albeit if comforted by the proximity of same-age or almost same-age peers like Peggy Burns and Paul Pope. I don't know those younger people very well, and, hell, maybe I shouldn't. I don't know. Maybe I should hole up somewhere and start assaulting the whole bunch of them outside-in in order to maintain a more distinct critical voice. I honestly couldn't tell you if I'm better off with my current strategy. But I did have more fun, and you learn things about comics by hanging out with cartoonists.

image* the cartoonist and artist Paul Pope gave me a hat, which was very nice of him. It was cold out and I was desert-dressed. I always love seeing Paul Pope. Pope is in an interesting place in that aspects of his public personality might play differently twenty years ago than they do now. I don't know Paul all that well, but as hinted at earlier I suspect he's beginning to feel the eyes of younger cartoonists on him a bit, and what he does with that should be intriguing.

* people were still having amazing shows. It was nice to talk to one cartoonist in their forties for whom TCAF 2013 was a transformative show in terms of the amount of time spent interacting with a peer group from whom he felt disconnected. I do think there's a good "vibe" at these shows, now, maybe even one that's realistic about the potential rewards and responsibilities of making this art form a part of your life.

* then again, maybe not. We could all be fooling ourselves.

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* so Sunday was nice enough after the blogging panel. I tried to see as much of the show and as many of the people there as possible. Ran into Art Baxter of all people at a random table upstairs. We talked about Philadelphia cartooning, and the emerging scene there. Talked to a number of cartoonists I either barely know or just don't know that well, like Kevin Cannon.

* as Sunday wore on, a lot of people described strong although not extraordinary sales. Some people talked of more modest results. My hunch is that there was a lot of spread-out activity -- any number of books from which to choose -- and that buying crowds might have been down a bit from the previous year. My friend Gil Roth said that his perception was that the show was a bit less crowded, whether or not this was true or not. Gil's knowledgeable about comics but in no way an insider so I trust his perspective on things like that.

* another thing that Gil said I sort of found fascinating is that he thought that this year was good in a way because there weren't a lot of alt-comics stars on hand. He said this while admitting he knew there were plenty of alt-comics start on hand. But I get what he meant in terms of not feeling this. I wonder if there isn't some work to be done in terms of focusing how certain top guests are presented to the crowed. Someone like Gengoroh Tagame, with the benefit of Anne Ishii and Dan Nadel both working up ways to present him, seemed to have a pretty clear sense of what the show could do for him and was therefore to execute with that in mind. I'm not sure there was a similarly sophisticated idea of how Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly were to be presented, if that makes any sense. Should that be up to the show or to the publishers or to the creators or all of them? Two different people suggested to me late night that a guests liaison might be something TCAF could employ -- or better employ -- in future years just so there's a direct way for creators, particularly the special guests, to construct a better weekend for themselves... with TCAF's help.

* Koyama Press sold a lot of the new Michael Deforge. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to work with them. Everyone still loves Annie Koyama.

* AdHouse sold out of their Boulet books. It's been great to see Boulet at all of these shows. I heard a rumor he went out to buy a suitcase to carry home books. He told me directly that when he found himself on the road with a bunch of convention-sized dollar bills, he went and bought an iPad rather than try to convert the money. He seemed super-happy by this, and it occurred to me that for someone used to working in the French comics industry, convention cash might just seem like found money rather than an alternative means of making any bit of money at all.

* Sam Hiti gave me a lovely movie-related poster, and said he's think of a self-publishing sequel to his beautiful looking children's book, Waga's Big Scare.

* one of the publishers -- maybe a Hic and Hoc person? -- told me they were in publishing "trying to find something to do that they loved." That one stuck in my head a bit. Sometimes you really don't know what that might be.

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* TCAF s the kind of show where David B. attends and he's just another world-class cartoonist. My goodness. Here he is not remembering having met me. That's Glyn Dillon confusing him.

* there was a lot of chatter in my direction about current cancer patient and Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson, wishing him the best, talking about the array of things he does very well.

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* I had a nice conversation with Dave Lapp, who reminds me of a slightly dotty neighbor on a British sitcom.

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* also spoke to David Collier and his family. Very glad that guy won an award. He was wearing his trophy derby -- or one like it -- all day.

* I ran into Oliver East quite a bit off and on, right next to Fantagraphics and selling the lovely-looking new book Swear Down. He frightened a couple of my friends with how quickly he was able to work up a signing image to go in the front of a purchased book. It was great to meet him. It was his birthday Sunday. One thing he mentioned is that unlike other shows his work sold the entire weekend, and by Sunday's end that meant either a near sell-out or an actual one, depending on how you want to count The Beguiling swooping in to snap up a few extra copies. East was not the only one to note how folks were continuing to buy even at 15 minutes before close.

* East did some walks while in town, so hopefully there will be comics to come from that.

* speaking of people drawing in books like we just were with East, one cartoonist made a funny comment that they wanted to start demand couplets from poets when they get something of theirs signed. I never thought of it that way before. That is kind of odd. Matt Bors used a stamp, which makes up in satisfying sound what it lacks as a personal touch.

* spoke to Ulli Lust and Justin Hall briefly, not at the same time although in pretty much the same place on the floor. Was happy to see Josh Neufeld, another mid-'90s guy. Saw Theo Ellsworth for 15 seconds. Stood next to Chris Oliveros talking about Peter Bagge.

* it was a good show.

* ate at the astonishing Lai Wah Heen several blocks away on the second floor of the Metropolitan Sunday evening and hope that everyone visiting Toronto got to take advantage of the city in some way. I talked to a couple of industry friends that were just attending rather than working this show -- a flattering sign for any comics show when someone in comics just goes -- and I was amused by how relatively lost each one seemed in terms of filling the days.

* the afterparty was extremely pleasant. I showed up super-early because I'm old. Everyone was tired. People danced. I went there on that one subway car that is just one long, creepy-ass car instead of a bunch of cars in segments.

* so apparently CF wasn't allowed into the event after he was caught carrying a large bottle of booze on his person. If nothing else, this allowed Dan Nadel to make that strange laugh he has when someone does something odd. I told one cartoonist who replied that "I guess "C.F." stands for 'Cool Fucker'," which made me laugh. His book sold well that weekend. CF actually reminds me more of 1990s cartoonists, when there was a greater connection to a kind of art-making and culture that was more clearly at odds with the mainstream thrust of things rather than a subversion or even endorsement of same. I'm not sure how to articulate that idea, but it strikes me that CF would have fit perfectly into a lot of the underground-conscious first alt-comics generation even though his work has largely different concerns.

* the space in which the party took place was a pretty typical performance style bar -- stage up front, bar in the back, soundboard in-between. The ladies bathrooms were lauded; the men's bathrooms caused shudders.

* even Canadian bouncers are nice.

* there was an odd, tall, TCAF volunteer with blonde hair that kept walking around with a weird, beatific smile. Gil and Amy Roth noted he looked like Jim Gaffigan on acid. It was generally cool to see the volunteers standing around.

* Joseph Lambert's dancing impresses everyone but Joseph Lambert. "I'm not that good," he told me. "He's the best dancer I know, in or out of comics," a former CCS classmate told me.

* next shows that people are excited about are CAKE -- which I think has a chance to really establish itself in its second year -- and Autoptic, the one in Minnesota this August. One person mentioned already looking forward to SPX. A couple of folks spoke wistfully about the yearly trip to HeroesCon in Charlotte.

* almost no one spoke about San Diego -- the Bros and I did, and one of the D+Q artists I know is attending talked to me a bit about it. That's interesting to me, but not surprising given that it doesn't seem like it registers as a big deal for the younger generation the way it still did for mine. I don't think that's a bad thing. I don't really believe in judging comics shows based on whether or not they serve a specific conception of comics, let alone whether or not they serve specific artists. Different comics shows work for different people and different realms of comics in different ways, and that includes San Diego. I think if anything what we're seeing now is that people are trying to figure out ways to best utilize each show, to maximize what they get out of it. San Diego is high risk/high reward and I think people are figuring it out as the context for it has changed with all of these other shows out there right now. It's still the one I need to do. One reason why news of BCGF's demise -- a possibility talked about openly at TCAF -- was distressing is that a lot of people had figured out how to use that one.

* another thing no one has really talked about yet is what the swell of shows is going to do via our expectations for them as attendees and working professionals. I already get the sense it's getting way more difficult to convince people to attend, let alone do something for the show, just with a promise of an airplane ticket and a hotel room. I wouldn't be surprised at all if this gets super-competitive down the line.

* back at the afterparty bar, I caught up with some people I barely saw during the show proper, like Charles Brownstein and Caitlin McGurk. Brownstein made a funny comment about how we latch onto weird cultural signifiers at shows as if it's a big thing: "Look! The cartoonists are dancing! Cartoonists dance now! We live in a time where cartoonists dance!" I used Jim Rugg's encyclopedic knowledge of comics to pull him into a conversation or two with a cartoonist I knew he'd at least know who they are. Talked New York of the last 25 years with Michael Kupperman and Paul Pope. Felt older at this party but not in a bad way, which is good, because I'll be even older at the next one.

* Ed Piskor mentioned he signed a contract with a Japanese publisher for his forthcoming book on hip-hop.

* speaking of which, it was nice to see the Japanese language-speakers catching a big, extended hang at the party.

* I actually walked the mile back to the hotel that evening. Freezing, but I needed the walk and it's a nice city in which to hike around, even in the middle of the night. Plus: I am super-cheap.

* ended up in nearby lounge/restaurant Burgundy's for last call, the only place open in the general neighborhood. It was a perfect setting for a last drink or two. I will always give my last dollar to any person with an accent that needs to buy a drink, although I remain baffled to this day that anyone cutting it close to the bone money-wise would want to spend that time at a funnybook show. I probably thought differently 20 years ago.

* the day after a comics show always feels like the last day of summer camp, albeit without a bunch of counselors standing around with that "hooray, all you shits are leaving" looks on their face. I found myself wondering how most cheaply to go from hotel to airport and then remembered I'm middle-aged now and I can certainly just afford to jump in a cab -- or at least I should be able to, which is the next best thing. So I did. Maybe I'm not so super-cheap.

* that was a really good show, just strong and sturdy and with an excellent audience that wants to buy things. It's a pleasure to interact with those people. The organizers are great, the volunteers are great, the space is lovely and the talent on display is kind of awesome. The satellite events and the ability to mainstream gay and lesbian expression in a way that baffles a lot of shows seem to me special strengths, too. Toronto is a lovely city to visit for a few days.

* I'd like to see better signage and perhaps more creativity applied in terms of where people are set up, I'd like for there to be well-executed programming that doesn't burden as many people as seemed to find it a hassle this year, I'd like for more of the guests feel they are there with a distinct purpose in mind, I'd like to see it treated as a publishing news spotlight on the best creator-driven comics has to offer in the second half of each calendar year. I would like a pony, too.

* I hope TCAF settles in for the long run, and I hope I'm attending them for as long as it makes sense for me to do so. I had a lovely time.

*****

TCAF Director Chris Butcher responds here.

*****

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FFF Results Post #335 -- Accessorize

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Favorite Non-Superhero Character Articles Of Clothing." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Jughead's Hat
2. Charlie Brown's Shirt
3. Jimmy Olsen's Bow Tie
4. Mr. Tawky Tawny's Green Jacket
5. Cerebus' Vest

*****

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D. Alexander Cox

1. Tintin's spacesuit
2. Groo's Tunic
3. Jimbo's loin cloth
4. Mammy Yoakum's boots
5. The awesome Napoleonic cape on John Carter in the Jesse Marsh comics

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. Krazy Kat's Bow
2. Peculia's Ragged Dress
3. Marlys's Glasses
4. Dream's Inky Cloak
5. Bacchus's Captain's Hat

*****

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Matt Maxwell

* Howard the Duck's cigar - HTD
* Rudy the chimp's hat and bow tie - RUDY the early 80s newspaper strip
* Alice the Goon's flower-topped hat - POPEYE
* Joe's weaponized cat - KING CITY
* Jaeger's armbands - FINDER

*****

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Alastair Tervit

* Devlin Waugh's dressing gown.
* Dennis The Menace's black and red jumper.
* John Constantine's coat.
* Buster's cap.
* Zombo's pouch.

*****

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Niel Jacoby

1. Dick Tracy's Watch
2. Kamandi's Jorts
3. King Mob's nipple-ringed tank top
4. Monkey D. Luffy's hat
5. Judge Dredd's boots

*****

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Ben Schwartz

* Sluggo's beatnik beret
* Tubby Tompkins' jacket and shorts combo
* Roger Kaputnik's ascots
* Don Martin bent shoes
* Oliver Warbucks' sparkling diamond tie-pin

*****

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Jones

1. Black Jack's ribbon bow tie
2. J Wimpy Wellington's shirt
3. Captain Haddock's captain's hat
4. Tubby Tompkins' disguises as The Spider. They call him The Spider, see, because he spins a web.
5. Tubby's cousin Chubby's identical-to-Tubby-only-smaller outfit.

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Scott McCloud's t-shirt
2. Judge Dredd's helmet
3. Gilgamesh Wulfenbach's waistcoat
4. Roronoa Zoro's haramaki sash
5. Funky Flashman's hair

*****

imageMatt Silvie

Chuck Forsman

1. Baron Bean's pants
2. Buddy Bradley's flannel shirt
3. Moominpapa's hat
4. Officah Pup's uniform and badge
5. Mr. Natural's moo moo

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Popeye's chief cap
2. Daisy Duck's hair bow
3. Snoopy's flyer's cap
4. Snork Maiden's umbrella
5. Bruno Brazil's trenchcoat

*****

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Scott O. Brown

1. John Constantine's trenchcoat
2. Leonidas's red cloak
3. Jimmy Corrigan's sweater-vest
4. Pogo's striped shirt
5. Popeye's sailor suit

*****

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Eric Newsom

1. Snuffy and Weezy Smith's headwear
2. Tintin's plus-fours
3. Buddy Bradley's yellow plaid shirt with rolled-up sleeves
4. Ray's Speedo and medallion
5. The shoes of any Don Martin-drawn character


*****

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John Platt

1. Ms. Tree's stylish trench coat
2. Mike Mauser's less-stylish trench coat
3. Uncle Scrooge's spats
4. Hot Stuff's diaper
5. Alanna Wolff's power suit

*****

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1. Doofus' stolen underwear (aka "stinkies") collection
2. The Happy Fisherman's fish
3. Bearded Windbreaker's windbreaker
4. Feldman's hat
5. Wimpy's tie

*****

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Chris Duffy

1 Tubby's hat
2 Wimbledon Green's cape
3 Howard the Duck's tie
4 Patty-Cake's green dress
5 BC's pelt tunic loin cloth thing

*****

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Brad Mackay

1) Archie's "R" sweater
2) Nipper's red-and-white striped shirt
3) Pigskin Peters derby hat
4) Walt Wallet's weird little sailor hat
5) Snoopy's flying helmet, goggles and red scarf (as his World War One Flying Ace alter ego)

*****

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Matt Emery

1. Sam Slade Robo Hunter's cap
2. Rogue Trooper's boots
3. Possum Von Tempsky's military uniform
4. Dan Dare's formal spacefleet uniform
5. Judge Dredd's helmet

*****

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Katie Skelly

1. Kei's leather pants, Akira (Otomo Katsuhiro)
2. Valentina's over-the-knee boots, Valentina series (Guido Crepax)
3. Black Jack's ribbon tie, Black Jack series (Tezuka Osamu)
4. The Black Queen's eyepatch, Barbarella (Jean-Claude Forest)
5. The Rider's helmet, Night Business #3 (Ben Marra)

*****

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Mike Pfefferkorn

1. Scrooge McDuck's broadcloth coat
2. Woozy Winks' green polka-dot shirt
3. Tubby Tompkins' sailor hat
4. Lois Lane's pillbox hat
5. Hans von Hammer's flying ace helmet & goggles

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Donald Duck's black sailor outfit
2. art spiegelman's vest
3. Snoopy's flying ace headgear
4. Joe Sacco's glasses
5. Dum Dum Dugan's bowler

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. Jughead's S shirt
2. Toco's sleeves
3. Powerhouse Pepper's striped turtleneck
4. Harvey Pekar's stained t-shirt
5. Sluggo's hat

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. The Black Spy's hat
2. The Blackhawk jacket
3. The Little King's crown
4. Wendy the Witch's hooded witch robe
5. Toco's sweater

If Ma Hunkel wasn't a superhero, wearing a pot on her head would be the all-time #1. Maybe.

*****

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Justin Colussy-Estes

1: Monkey D. Luffy's straw hat
2. Popeye's sailor's cap
3. Corto Maltese's captain's cap
4. Army Shanks's knit cap
5. Sailor Moon's hair baubles

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. Mary Jane Watson's chainmail dress from the cover of Amazing Spider-Man 59
2. Jesse Custer's metal collar tips
3. Judge Dredd's shoulder eagle
4. Dennis The Menace's stripey jumper
5. Franklin Richards' 4½ T-shirt

*****

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Jamie Coville

1. Spooky's Derby
2. Freewheelin' Franklin's Cowboy Hat
3. Ogami Ittō Gi
4. Jesse Custers Clerical Collar
5. Ms Tree's Trench Coat

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. Groo's Cassette Tape thingee (across his chest)
2. President (of Ylum) Tyrone's Rocket shoe/foot
3. The World Famous Lawyer's Bowler Hat
4. Spaceman Spiff's goggles
5. Happy Hooligan's Tin Can

*****

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Marc Sobel

1. Mister Natural's robe
2. Constantine's trenchcoat
3. Little Nemo's pajamas
4. Corto Maltese's hat
5. Izzy Ortiz's nun habit

*****

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Art Baxter

1. Moominpappa's Top Hat
2. Gwen Stacy's Black Hair Band
3. Toco's Extra-Long Sleeve Black Shirt
4. O's Owl Head Fetish Mask
5. J. Wellington Wimpy's Bowler

*****

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Eric Knisley'

1. Edwin Jarvis' striped pants
2. Howard the Duck's polka-dotted tie
3. Mister Natural's robe
4. Mickey Mouse's two-button pants
5. The Spirit's hat

*****

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Marty Yohn

1. Linus's blanket
2. Charlie Brown's shirt
3. Calvin (and Hobbes') Spaceman Spiff googles
4. Yosemite Sam's hat
5. Arlo and Janis's black negligee (Janis's, not Arlo's)

*****

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Dave Knott

* B.D.'s football helmet
* Spider Jerusalem's sunglasses
* Arzach's hat
* Mr. Natural's robe
* Professeur Tournesol's bowler

*****

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Isaac Cates

1. Jimmy Corrigan's Superman sweatshirt (borrowed from his dad)
2. Wimpy's little derby
3. Pogo's little referee shirt
4. Krazy's ribbon / bow tie
5. The curtain Eddie Campbell drapes over himself in Graffiti Kitchen when he's pretending to be the Apollo Belvedere, if I'm remembering the scene right.

*****

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Scott Dunbier

* Opus' bow tie
* Charlie Brown's zigzag shirt
* Mina Murray's scarf
* Enemy Ace's overcoat
* Cheech Wizard's hat

*****

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Michael Buntag

1. Snoopy's World War I Flying Ace Aviator Goggles and Helmet
2. Chiyo Mihama's Penguin Suit
3. Miura Hayasaka's Cardbo Suit
4. Sakaki's "Chiyo-chichi" Hat
5. Phoncible P. "Phoney" Bone's T-Shirt

*****

modified slightly from a suggestion by Stergios Botzakis; thanks Stergios

*****
*****
 
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May 18, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Rebecca Dart Interview


A TCAF Video Diary Entry


Matt Kindt Signing Something At TCAF


A TCAF Recap


David B. At TCAF


TCAF Time-Lapse Video


Interview With Tom Kaczynski At TCAF
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from May 11 to May 17, 2013:

1. A Mike Peters cartoon was reworked by a publication so obviously it hurts one's teeth -- a common practice in this day and age of digital manipulation. Whether or not the attention driven to your issue balances against being criticized for this kind of activity, no one likely knows. Meanwhile, it's impossible to have a bad cartoon, the cartoon must be unfair.

2. The Brooklyn Comics And Graphics Festival, a successful arts- and alt-comics show that's been running since 2009, calls it quits.

3. The Bill Finger Award will go to Don Rosa and the late Steve Gerber this year, throwing another spotlight on the resuscitated issue of creators rights.

Winner Of The Week
Your Doug Wright Awards winners.

Loser Of The Week
Our wallets, as another publisher to watch launches.

Quote Of The Week
"Maybe that's why they never gave you an award before." -- my approximate memory of Doug Wright Awards host Scott Thompson to the cartoonist David Collier after Collier's rambling, chaotic acceptance speech.

*****

today's cover is from the all-time series Classics Illustrated

*****
*****
 
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Congratulations To The CCS Class Of 2013

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The people on stage with you today stand right alongside the knowledge in your head as your greatest resource moving forward. May all your debuts be ACME #1s, and may all your contracts be more Kane than Kirby. Good luck. Please write. And draw.
 
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If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Kansas City, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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If I Were In Saint Paul, I'd Go To This

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Happy 41st Birthday, Gabrielle Gamboa!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Arthur Suydam!

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May 17, 2013


Everyone Should Plan To Go To This Hellen Jo Show; Also: Please Stop Using Only Facebook For Events

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So I just made a joke tweet about the artist Hellen Jo, using the time-honored construction of future generations judging us if we don't support that fine cartoonist and illustrator. People got worried. I think what happened is that the hosting store only used a non-accessible facebook page as the sole events page -- at least the only one I could find -- so when people couldn't get to it, it came across as worrisome.

So 1) please stop doing that, events-hosters. Not everyone is on Facebook and certainly not everyone is on your like list. 2) Everyone please plan to go to the above Hellen Jo show, because her work is really potent and funny and I think under-appreciated. The end. Sorry, Hellen. Sorry, everyone.

Extra apologies if this is just me not knowing how to link stuff, which is highly likely.
 
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Don Rosa, Steve Gerber Win 2013 Bill Finger Award

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The Bill Finger Award committee headed by Mark Evanier announced today that Don Rosa and Steve Gerber will receive this year's award.

Don Rosa is best known for his work on the Disney duck comics, the exemplar of which is the 12-part The Life In Times Of Scrooge McDuck, an act of spirit and love based on various clues about the life of the Carl Barks character as dropped here and there over several years worth of comics publications. Rosa was a noted collected of comics -- he remains one, I believe -- and created Carl Barks-reminiscent work of his own before starting on the various ducks comics.

Like Rosa, Steve Gerber got his start in fan publications and made quality work of his own although his best-known and mostly highly regarded material was done for a corporate publisher. Gerber enjoyed several quirky and creative runs on various mainstream comic book series but remains best known for the co-creation of and subsequent series writing of Howard The Duck, a small publishing phenomenon of the 1970s and a distillation of various expressive elements of underground comics through the absolute mainstream; Gerber's work holds up on its own merits, too, sad and mournful and funny.

I believe Rosa's win is the first time the Finger Award has gone to a writer that is equally well known as an artist.

The award was instituted in 2005 at the behest and due to the hard work of the late Jerry Robinson. One living one deceased writer are selected. Its basic function is to recognize the contributions of writers that have yet to receive their proper due. The award will be given out at this year's Eisner Awards ceremony the Friday night of Comic-Con International weekend.
 
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Go, Look: Frank Brunner Splash Pages

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Second-Day Notes On The Demise Of BCGF

imageIf you missed it, late yesterday the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival announced its demise. This caught of lot of folks' attention for a number of reasons. First, conventions and festivals are super-popular right now, at least in terms of people trying to throw one, so someone taking a step in the other direction is worth noting. Second, that particular convention had been successful -- at least according to surface measures -- and popular. Third, New York shows are always interesting in and of themselves because New York is a major media center and the longtime capital of Comics USA; there should be shows in New York, massive and popular shows, but the degree of difficulty in pulling this off is immense. So those are three: I'm sure there are other reasons.

Reaction on twitter to news was immediate and generally laudatory in terms of assessing the event's brief history. As I imagine these things go, a show upon which people came to count -- I know of a couple of books that had already targeted the show for their debuts -- moving from a going concern to an "era" in the past made everyone in the small press, arts and alt comics worlds feel slightly older.

There are a couple of things worth noting the day after.

One is that apparently Tim Hodler is going to file a report, which is good because he was in the loop fairly early on and knows all the major players -- primarily the co-founders Dan Nadel, Gabe Fowler and Bill Kartalopoulos. That allows me and people like me to play catch for a while, at least until Tim files. If it's a good, we can maybe let his article stand as the one of record.

A second is that a lot of people are asking who benefits, which I think a fairly intriguing topic. I would imagine that a bunch of people/events could.
a) if a similar show comes from one of the co-sponsors and fill roughly that same calendar space, I think memories of BCGF are positive in a way that exhibitors and attendees would give that one a whirl.

b) I know that a bunch of folks are committed this year to the festival of cartoon art in Columbus, Ohio being held in conjunction with the opening of the new Billy Ireland spaces. That's actually been one of the cooler shows of the last several years, what they've done there every other year without the facility event to hang this stuff on. It's been primarily strip-oriented, but that's going to change a bit with this one. You might not get exhibitor interest, or creators that operate as exhibitors, with that one in the same way -- there's no small press room for folks to set up and sell things, as far as I know -- but if you're a fan like me looking for a comics-related trip between SPX and Angouleme, that would seem to fit the bill. Plus I like Columbus. So I'll be there.

Plus maybe if enough people show up we can convince Jeff Smith to host a cookout.

c) there's another festival in the same general neighborhood as BCGF. It's small, but a lot of early comics shows stay small for quite some time before something happens to make them grow. An operating show means an option for people in the borough to exhibit locally that might now be more attractive, and an infrastructure that could maybe move into an open Fall slot.

d) SPX potentially becomes that much more important for people that might not be bothered to go if they could just stay closer to home and hit Brooklyn. While the rest of us slept, Warren Bernard likely wrote a position paper on New York fan outreach.

e) NYCC might get a slight boost from those of us that want to travel to New York in the Fall under the auspices of a working comics weekend, even if the thought of spending a bunch of time on the floor of the mainstream- and con-culture oriented Reed-run show makes us queasy.

f) APE is suddenly in a much better position to become a more significant capper for the year in small press, and a trip to San Francisco is probably one of those experiences out there closest to a trip to Brooklyn if you were going to BCGF just to go hang out in a cool city for a couple of days.

g) TCAF. I'm sure TCAF wins in this scenario somehow, because TCAF usually just wins stuff. I guess they could maybe rope in one of the co-organizers into a more active role up there...? I don't know. They'll do something with this if there's something to be done.

h) MoCCA -- if this show fits into the Society Of Illustrators plans moving forward -- and I suspect it does for the short term at the very least -- I imagine they might get a slight boost from simply being a New York show and thus attracting a few of the folks for whom BCGF was their sole local comics show to attend. I know it would become more important for me to hit MoCCA if I had fewer chances to just get to New York, even for a little while. I suppose with TCAF in the Spring MoCCA might also consider a Fall date if one were suddenly open this way, but that's pure conjecture on my part.
I'm sure there are others. The thing about shows is that they're not only relatively successful right now as a group but they traditionally provide opportunities for non-comics makers to be involved in a significant way in the world of comics -- something that a lot of folks want. I have to imagine that all of these interests will coalesce into something similar as the departed show, but even if they don't, there will be a real impact felt in that creative milieu.
 
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Bundled Extra: Oily Comics Makes Move Outside Of Its Mini-Comic Format With Josh Simmons' Habit #1

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Oily Comics Publisher Chuck Forsman has announced a full-sized, more comic-book type comics work debuting at this year's CAKE show: Habit #1. Josh Simmons is the main talent on display here, this time working with collaborators such as Wendy Chin and Karn Piana. The format is 7 by 8.5 inches, 52 pages in black and white with color covers, $5 cover price.

Simmons seems a good choice for something like this: he's a compelling, prolific talent whose work seems suited to publication outside of on-line postings and book collections. He also has a pretty solid relationship with Fantagraphics for the latter, giving Forsman's mini-comics house an opportunity to work in a slightly different way. I also think that CAKE should end up being a solid show for debuts like this one. Simmons plans to be on hand.

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Fred Funcken, RIP

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* is that a tweaked look at Newsarama? That looks slightly new to me.

image* MonkeyBrain launches a Gabriel Hardman comic.

* I greatly enjoyed reading this post from Gary Tyrrell about Team Foglio's use of crowd-funding mechanisms, if only because it's more of a piece from someone that covers the on-line comics world more than it is someone that's focused on the ins and outs of things like Kickstarter. It would seem something perfectly suited for that kind of campaign.

* this is so obvious it's almost silly to point it out, but it seems that a lot of what comiXology is offering right now in terms of sales is focused on tie-ins to wider media, like the Iron Man and Star Trek movies.

* finally, here's a PR-driven story on the launch of a new webcomics aggregation app.
 
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Go, Read: An Interview With William Stout

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Collective Memory: TCAF 2013

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this article has been archived
 
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Go, Look: Pantropic #1

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via
 
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Go, Read: Brian Hibbs On The Serial Comics Mini-Series Format

imageThe retailer and Direct Market advocate Brian Hibbs has a short piece up on the mini-series format, by which I think he means a short run of comic book issues with a limited publishing scope, something that is only supposed to run four issues, say.

It's a nice, compressed look at the different issues those retailers balance when presenting work to the public, and the way the North American comic shop market is beginning to resemble the French-language bookstore market a bit in one sense: that it's brutal for specific concepts to stand out because of the sheer volume of material out there. This is doubly, even triply true of concepts that are more tossed off than considered and planned. I think what he's saying along those lines supports a theory I float here as a kind of general, driving market force: that readers right now want to be directed to the books that matter, and there may be relatively very little consumer exploration underneath the bigger umbrella of sales. At any rate, it's worth a quick if you're interested in those kinds of issues at all.
 
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If I Were In Kansas City, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: A Day With Linda Turner

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* it's been so long since a Graham Chaffee book came out I can't remember if I bet on this ever happening or against it ever happening and with whom I made that bet.

image* Sean T. Collins on Baby Bjornstrand. Brian Gardes on KOMA. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Suicide Squad #1. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on Ultimate Spider-Man. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong.

* the cartoonist Frank Cho was temporarily banned from Facebook.

* Chris Randle talks to Lisa Hanawalt.

* not comics: again, it's not really my area, but I don't think there's anything wrong with Wonder Woman as a TV show or a movie. I image there are probably some fears about the slam-dunk nature of such a property, in an era where people are looking for slam dunks. Still, as far as just making a good show or film out of this material, it seems to me some pretty good writers could find a few season's worth of stories just drawing from the long history of that comic book and all the potential of her iconic status. I would certainly watch one where Josh Holloway did constant slow burns as Steve Trevor.

* finally, this just seems like something that ComicsAlliance would have been all over. Probably not the first place my mind should have gone there, but there you go. Friday!
 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Brigid Alverson!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Jake Parker!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Brandon J. Carr!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Dan Zettwoch!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Michel Fiffe!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Dave Sim!

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May 16, 2013


Festivals Extra: BCGF Calls It Quits

Here. This has been around in rumor form since right before MoCCA weekend.

This is too bad. BCGF was a really good show. If you never went, the Gabe Fowler/Bill Kartalopoulos/Dan Nadel organized event took place on two floors of a church and in a few satellite locations depending on the year. It was a one-day show, curated to excellent effect, and was well-liked by a lot of young cartoonists who appreciated going to New York and locals who appreciated staying home. It was both a model show when it comes to North American free festivals and an example of a show that took on the characteristics of its environment to solid effect. It was very Brooklyn.

The 2011 BCGF was my first trip out of the house after I was sick, so it will always have a special place in my heart.

I have to imagine that someone out there -- perhaps even one of the BCGF co-founders -- will step up with a festival-style comics show for the second half of the calendar year. It just seems too solid an opportunity given the popularity of comics shows right now. You could even posit that today's news might be better for New York area arts- and alt- shows in the long term. As much as last year's BCGF was thrilling, there did seem a clash between the down-home Brooklyn casualness of the show room and the ambition of the programming and off-site tracks.
 
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Go, Bookmark: The Infinite Corpse

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This project looks like a ton of fun, and for whatever reason its launch was one of those stories I kept spacing. Please catch up if you haven't been way ahead of me.
 
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Go, Consider: A Personal Plea From Pioneers Press

I wasn't aware that a group of former Microcosm Publishing collective folk had gone their own way, first as another company bearing the name "Microcosm" and now as Pioneers Press. I do know that whatever their name they distribute some comics and some 'zines with a tangential relationship to comics. I certainly recognize the tone of a personal plea like this one. Here's one way to access some of that material. Here's another. As much of a blast as I have going to a funnybook shop and buying works there, the experience of ordering from a small press and 'zine distributor is right up there in terms of the great retail experiences.
 
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Go, Look: Sophie Yanow

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* here's a lengthy recent-cons report by Robin McConnell. He's likely going to do a heroic TCAF report if he hasn't started one already, but this is the stuff from earlier in the year.

* nine weeks from today people will be trudging to the San Diego Convention Center for the first day of Comic-Con International. Whoa, the year's fly by when you're older.

* from my perspective this part of the year seems to have a big chunk of people orienting themselves towards HeroesCon (mostly mainstream/classic genre-driven indy folk) or CAKE (alt- and arts-comics talent). I think CAKE has a chance of being a special show this year: great neighborhood in a great city with a lot of fine cartoonists working an expression of comics that's never had a show like that, all at a great time of the year to visit. The surge for Heroes over the last five to ten years may be one of the best stories in comics.

* it's one of those unsettled weekends for shows, with no monster show around which the rest might rotate although Detroit's Motor City Con certainly has that kind of pedigree and there's a show in San Jose that looks ambitious. Maine has captured a lot of folks' attention in terms of indy/alt people, and Jeff Smith showing up there has got to be seen as a coup. There are events in St. Paul and Philadelphia; the latter is an important show both for its specific focus and that it's a specific-focus show.

* big illustration show in Kansas City this weekend.

* finally, what a bunch of people keep telling me is the best comics shop in the states right now has a launch event this weekend. Someone please take photos. I'm not used to hearing about a whole lot of events there; then again, Pittsburgh isn't a city that is going to attract homegrown efforts. I do expect if things continue that it could be a really key stop for people between the East Coast and the Midwest on signing tours.
 
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Missed It: KCR! Comics Awards Throws Focus On Kids Comics; Your 2013 Nominees

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Here. Sounds good to me. That's certainly an awards niche that was destined to be filled given the leaps and bounds in terms of the waves of product being offered in that area.

The nominees are:

Favorite Graphic Novel (Adventure)
* Legends of Zita The Spacegirl, Ben Hatke (First Second)
* Giants Beware!, Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado (First Second)
* Amulet: Prince of the Elves, Kazu Kibuishi (Graphix)
* Hilda and the Midnight Giant, Luke Pearson (Nobrow Press)
* Cardboard, Doug TenNapel (Graphix)

Favorite Graphic Novel (Humor)
* Lunch Lady and the Picture Day Peril, Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Random House)
* Bird and Squirrel, James Burks (Graphix)
* Mal and Chad: Belly Flop!, Stephen McCranie (Philomel)
* Squish: Captain Disaster, Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Random House)
* Dinosaurs in Space, Pranas Naujokaitis (Balloon Toons)

Favorite Graphic Novel (Non-Fiction/Myth)
* Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad, Nathan Hale (Abrams)
* Hades, George O'Connor (First Second)
* Little White Duck, Na Liu and Andres Vera Martinez (Graphic Universe)
* The Shark King, R. Kikuo Johnson (Toon)
* Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, Joseph Lambert (Hyperion)

Favorite Comic/Novel Hybrid
* Big Nate Goes for Broke, Lincoln Pierce (Harper Collins)
* Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel, Jeff Kinney (Abrams)
* Dragonbreath: When Fairies Go Bad, Ursula Vernon (Random House)
* Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers, Dav Pilkey (Scholastic)
* Dork Diaries: Tales of a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All, Rachel Renee Russell (Aladdin)

Favorite Comic Book Series (Licensed)
* Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise (Dark Horse)
* Adventure Time (Boom)
* My Little Pony (IDW)
* Garfield (Boom)
* Sonic Universe (Archie)

Favorite Comic Book Series (Original)
* Reed Gunther Volume 2, Shane and Chris Houghton (Image)
* Snarked!, Roger Langridge (IDW)
* Sergio Aragones Funnies (Bongo)
* Super Dinosaur, Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard (Image)
* Road to Oz, Eric Shanower and Skottie Young (Marvel)

Favorite Cartoonist/Author
* Kazu Kibuishi
* Jennifer and Matthew Holm
* Jeff Smith
* Jeff Kinney
* Ben Hatke

Favorite Webcomic
* Cucumber Quest, Gigi D.G.
* Nemu*Nemu, Aurdra Furuichi and Scott Yoshinaga
* Nedroid Picture Diary, Anthony Clarke
* Ellie on the Planet X, James Anderson
* My Sister, the Freak, Dani Jones

Favorite Comic Book Hero
* Zita the Space Girl
* Lunch Lady
* G-Man
* Spider-Man
* Iron Man

Cutest Comic Character
* Babymouse (Babymouse)
* Super Diaper Baby (Super Diaper Baby)
* Strong Strong (Zita the Spacegirl)
* Fone Bone (Bone)
* Hamisher (Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye)

Best Hair in Comics
* Lunch Lady (Lunch Lady series)
* Marie (Giants Beware)
* Cowardly Lion (OZ series)
* Hilda (Hilda and the Midnight Giant)
* Maggie (Friends with Boys)

Grossest thing in Comics
* The Big Toe of Drool (FangBone! Third Grade Barbarian)
* Rat tails (Little White Duck)
* Man-Eating Frog Monster (Reed Gunther)

Special Award for Excellence in Drawing Delicious-Looking Food
* Chinese New Year Cooking (Little White Duck)
* Spaghetti Mountain (Mal and Chad: Food Fight!)
* Phantom Ice Cream Truck (Nemu*Nemu)

Winners will be announced June 23.
 
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Go, Look: Laura Red Ink

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

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

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

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OTBP: Future Shock #4

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the writer Grant Morrison makes a case for a special quality of comics: their soap opera quality. He means superhero comics, but this has long been true of certain comic strips and is true of the alternative comics efforts of Los Bros Hernandez. I think it's a strength, sure.

image* Todd Klein on Dial H Vol. 1. I thought that one far more interesting than the bulk of DC's books from the last couple of years. Rob Clough on a bunch of mini-comics. Jordan Smith looks at a Kurt Busiek run on Action Comics. Brian Hibbs takes a look at a bunch of different comics. Jason Azzopardi on Seth's various Dominion City works. Sean T. Collins on Chloe. Henry Chamberlain on The Grove Nymph. Paul O'Brien on various X-Men related comics. Johanna Draper Carlson on Happy-Go-Lucky Days Vols. 1-2. Richard Bruton on Reads #3 and The Whale House Part Two. Sean Gaffney on Zero's Familiar Vols. 1-3.

* Jordan Smith writes about giving comics away. I love giving comics away.

* via Sean Kleefeld comes a link to this article on why people quit comics when they quit on a favorite superhero character or title. Kleefeld also dug up this piece from Marc Tyler Nobleman on the cover design process for Bill The Boy Wonder.

* the folks over at The Hooded Utilitarian have put together a list of the best comics criticism of 2012.

* here's a lengthy, fun post on 1990s DC Comics. I'm quoted in there as dismissing all of these comics in a mean, funny way; I'm sure if I said that I wouldn't mean what I'm said to have said as anything other than a cutting remark. Everyone comic is someone's favorite comic and every period of and organizing principle for comics is where someone's fondest memories lie.

* finally, Bob Temuka employs a catalog for a trip back in time to look at 1970s comics merchandising.
 
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Happy 61st Birthday, Chris Browne!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Rick Altergott!

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Happy 12th Birthday, Savage Critics!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Daniel Goossens!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Chester Brown!

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May 15, 2013


Bundled Extra: Koyama Announces Its Fall 2013 Titles

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Publisher Anne Koyama and Publishing Assistant Ed Kanerva of Koyama Press announced that house's Fall 2013 titles today. The season for the established, well-regarded, small press publisher will include books by Cole Closser, Jon Vermilyea and Ryan Cecil Smith. Those three books -- pictured above -- join the previously-announced Alex Schubert work Blobby Boys, an image for which ends this post. Ryan Cecil Smith's self-published works have provided no small amount of fascination for me in recent months, and I

So that makes their full season the following:

* Little Tommy Lost: Book One, Cole Closser, 9781927668016, softcover, 72 pages in color, September, $15.
* Blobby Boys, Alex Schubert, 9781927668023, softcover, 52 pages in color, September, $10.
* Fata Morgana, Jon Vermilyea, 9781927668030, softcover, 48 pages in full color, November, $15.
* S.F. #3, Ryan Cecil Smith, 9781927668009, softcover, 60 pages in black and white, November, $10.

I think that's an interesting group. Closser is a CCS graduate, and it's intriguing to me to see those cartoonists place early major works. Vermilyea is all over the place right now in terms of illustration and animation, but has kept a hand in with comics, and so getting a full book from him is a noteworthy thing. I don't know much about Schubert although the first thing that pops into my mind is that he's been a reliable web presence -- I honestly don't even know if I have the analytical skills and knowledge of that world to figure out if it's true.

I think this also gives Koyama books to tie into SPX (the Closser and the Schubert) and a pair of books to tie into whatever show action there is later in the year (BCGF has yet to announce, and there's room for a couple of shows in that part of the calendar, so I don't want to make any assumptions). I also like the fact that these are tweener-sized works and around the same price. That would seem a pretty nice convention purchase, really, and something that stores should be able to get behind in terms of carrying these works.

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Helen Fontana Bechdel, RIP

Condolences to the cartoonist Alison Bechdel on the loss of her mother. Bechdel's relationship to her mother was the subject and focus of her most recent, challenging and admirable book.
 
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Go, Look: A Bunch Of Tony DeZuniga Original Art

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Daily Cartoonist: Mike Peters Cartoon Reworked

Alan Gardner has a disgusting example of a cartoon reworked by a magazine in order to make it say the opposite of what its cartoonist -- in this case Mike Peters -- intended. I know that re-contextualizing material is a thing, and I am a fan of that when it is done well. This is different and it is gross and it is not fair to Mr. Peters. It's just sort of unnecessary, too -- on what planet does it serve the issue you believe in to make other people who don't support it look like they're supporting it?
 
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Go, Look: Dennis The Sullen Menace

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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.

*****

I'm still trying to find ways to list items that are showing up in comics shops through mechanisms other than the traditional Diamond Comics weekly shipping list, because I think those are a big deal for a lot of comics shops, bigger in that initial offering than the first Diamond fulfillment. So let's put the new Ivan Brunetti book top of blog -- keep an eye out for it, or at least keep it in mind. Jog says it might be out in better comics shops, and Jog's new comics column is way better than mine.

imageJAN131397 COMIC BOOK CREATOR #1 $8.95
I'd like to welcome back my longtime peer Jon Cooke to making magazines about comics with some regularity. I look forward to seeing what he does.

MAR130046 BPRD HELL ON EARTH #107$3.50
MAR130024 CONAN THE BARBARIAN #16 $3.50
MAR130053 EDGAR ALLAN POES FALL O/T HOUSE OF USHER #1 $3.99
JAN130584 FATALE #14 (MR) [DIG] $3.50
FEB138644 SEX #2 2ND PTG (MR) $2.99
JAN130613 THINK TANK #7 (MR) [DIG] $3.99
MAR130603 AGE OF ULTRON #8 $3.99
MAR130653 FF #7 NOW $2.99
This is an interesting group of genre adventure comics in the traditional comic book format, including three of Dark Horse's better avenues for serial comics-production (Mignola, Conan, Corben), the Brubaker/Phillips book, a Joe Casey second printing, Matt Kindt, the latest Marvel event series, and the Matt Fraction/Mike Allred offbeat superhero effort. It's not a bad time to be going to the comics shop at all if this is your thing.

FEB130917 MARK WAID GREEN HORNET #2 $3.99
Please oh please god let this be a comic about Mark Waid being the Green Hornet. Actually, this isn't my kind of thing and I have negative interest in the Green Hornet character, but Waid's on a really strong, confident run right now and he's an under-valued maker of mainstream comics in terms of his general influence on that part of the field.

MAR130946 ADVENTURE TIME MARCELINE & THE SCREAM QUEENS TP VOL 01 $19.99
FEB130825 ADVENTURE TIME ORIGINAL GN VOL 01 PLAYING FIRE $11.99\
The fact that these Adventure Time series are coming out in trade form now pretty regularly provides another opportunity to a) try them out for themselves, b) maybe provide them to a younger reader -- I know the AT stuff has fans up and down the actuarial charts -- that wouldn't be interesting in comic book format comics.

FEB130888 BLAKE & MORTIMER GN VOL 11 GONDWANA SHRINE $15.95
There's actually a fair amount of European-style albums hitting the markets where comic shop owners might buy one or two of those things (or more, who knows?). I can't say as I'm a fan of a lot of this material, this series included, but I'm a fan of it being widely available in deeply-stocked comics shops.

OCT121086 WANDERING SON HC VOL 04 $19.99
This is the Fantagraphics series from Shimura Takako, and focuses on gender roles and their relative fluidity in a group of young people. This one hasn't really clicked for me yet, not in a way where I'm reading the new volumes with great anticipation, but it has loads of fans, anything Matt Thorn does in manga is worth noting -- ditto Fantagraphics as a manga publisher.

FEB130807 BLEEDING COOL MAGAZINE #4 (MR) $4.99
I don't always read Rich Johnston's site -- there's just not a lot of confluence between our two views of comics -- and I don't believe I've read an issue of the print magazine, but I respect he's putting work out there in print and I'd totally look at one in a comics shops were I to run across it.

JAN130796 BAZOOKA JOE AND HIS GANG HC $19.95
This is an Abrams book about some of the more ubiquitous 20th Century comics. I like books like this, but mostly as Christmas presents. Still, I find those comics sort of interesting -- the idea of them doubly so -- and I'm sure the book will be handsomely mounted.

MAR131301 FROM HELL COMPANION SC (MR) $29.95
I can't imagine there will be a more compelling read on comics out this year than this book about From Hell featuring one of the very best writers about comics, the artist and comics author and From Hell co-creator Eddie Campbell. I know next to nothing about this work, and I want to buy one.

*****

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 because I hate you.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Sally's Sweetheart

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

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Not Comics: Michael Kupperman's Kids Book Postings

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* super-delighted to see this photo of that great man of comics, Kim Thompson.

image* Scott Cederlund on MIND MGMT Vol. 1. Andy Oliver on Welcome To Your Awesome Robot.

* I think I may be among the last people to drive attention to this photo array from the Hateball tour of 20 years ago, but that's a really, really fun photo set.

* James Bacon talks to Rian Hughes. Some nice person from the DWAs interviewed Michael DeForge, Eric Kostiuk Williams, Patrick Kyle, Michael Comeau, Nina Bunjevac, Jesse Jacobs and Tin Can Forest. Nicole Rudick talks to James Romberger and Marguerite Cook. James Romberger talks to Michael DeForge. Daniel Glendening talks to Mike Richardson and Joe Casey. Will Scott talks to Krystel.

* not comics: I like Joe Quesada's t-shirt here. I'm also fond of Dan Parent's color choices here. That's right, I'm going to do links like this all the time now.

* Chris Mautner takes the opportunity provided by the publication of Bazooka Joe And His Gang to write a bit about nostalgia as a driving force for our interactions with art, particularly comics art. I would imagine that there are some potential problems when nostalgia sort of takes over publishing programs, or aspects of them, to the detriment of art being made. I do wonder in the future what cartoonists and comics-makers from my childhood that will hold any interest at all for those that didn't read them when they were 12 years old. I think it's already happening a bit in that it's much easier than it used to be to buy comic books that aren't tied into a specific, ongoing property no matter who does them. I would also imagine that the way a lot of younger artists and art fans seem filter everything as available to them because they anchor that stuff to the present via an interest in themselves provides a different way for the past to be accessed.

* "I'm the best there is at what I do, and what I do is get shit on by birds."

* finally, Avengers Assemble is very much not canceled.
 
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Happy 75th Birthday, John Fantucchio!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Stéphane Blanquet!

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Happy 77th Birthday, Ralph Steadman!

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May 14, 2013


Go, Look: Doug Wright Awards Scott Thompson Video



The special video the DWAs makes where they stick the host -- this year the actor and comedian Scott Thompson -- into the works nominated for best book went off with a couple of mess-ups at the show itself. So I hope you'll watch it here because a) it's fun, b) it suffered a technical glitch when played at the show that didn't reflect the hard work of the video makers. Please pass and post around!
 
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OTBP: Highway 62 Revisited

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Steve Benson Cartoon On GOP Attacked As Out Of Bounds

imageHere's a good summary article on complaints received concerning a Steve Benson cartoon comparing GOP policies to Ariel Castro, accused of keeping women as slaves.

I'm always a bit fascinated by the kind of rhetoric employed in these cases. On the one hand, of course all cartoons are open to criticism. This include criticisms of distortion via excess and plain old impropriety. I'm also sympathetic to the point that criticism of content is necessary in a world that tends to view these things through a default mechanism of relativism where all opinions are equal simply by being opinions.

On the other hand, a lot of these complaints have less to do with the outrage about the actual crucial element involved and exist more as a sort of opportunistic defense of a set of polices one feels are correct or that represents their own "team."

In this case, I don't see how this is out of bounds or an exploitation of the women involved. I'm not sure it's the best, most enlightening cartoon, though.
 
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Go, Look: King Kegler

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* in holy freaking crap news, the gentleman that does the Ronald Searle tribute site is apparently working on a book reprinting Searle's travel comics for Holiday. He could use some help.

image* in much less fun news, DC cancels another four of its comic book series, including its latest version of Legion Of Super-Heroes. The Legion title strikes me -- and I imagine a lot of people -- as a sleeping giant in terms of basic, appealing concept: teenage superheroes of the future. I don't really think that it's as simple as the hardcore fandom of that title always pushing that comic book into revisiting past ways of telling stories, because I distrust simple answers. I do wonder if they wouldn't be better off right now trying something more ambitious than usual in its next iteration. I always thought that title might be a great place to do something with open-sourcing, but I've thought that long enough that this seems like a cutting-edge idea from 2002 now.

* "Angela" seems like a super-goofy name to me and the character seems super-ordinary, but we're in a publishing phase right now where the original Image kids generation is capital-rich thirty-something so I'm not going to understand moves publishers make in that direction. It's a big reason why I wasn't good on predicting the New 52 books.

* Marvel unveils its latest "event" series books and look.

* I love "Summer Of..." promotions because it always makes me think of George Costanza wearing sweat pants.

* finally, one thing I caught at TCAF that I totally missed in the formal announcement stage was a new memoir (!) by Maurice Vellekoop at Pantheon in 2015. It's to be called My Three Parents and deals with Vellekoop's relationships with each of his natural parents and a key figure in his life, an out art-school professor. I think that sounds potentially really good. Vellekoop's an interesting talent that hasn't made a ton of really compelling comics due to his deserved and wildly successful career as an illustrator. I'm really happy when publishers use their resources to help get work from creators that left to market forces and in some cases their own devices we might not otherwise see. I have a postcard but no scanner until later this week. So for now let's use a chunk of this beautiful Vellekoop illustration as a placeholder.

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Go, Look: Dan Adkins Mini-Gallery

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

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Go, Bookmark: The Cartoonist Studio Blog

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Matt Kindt extols the virtues of a life making comics. I always used to joke I had a slightly better job because I just read them, which is easier.

image* always a bunch of stuff going up on the Alan Moore World site.

* Rob Clough on Drawing Comics and Mastering Comics. Todd Klein on Snarked Vol. 3. Grant Goggans on more of those Legion Of Super-Heroes comics. Kelly Thompson on Uncanny X-Force #4. Richard Bruton on Holiday.

* I don't think I've ever seen Loco Luke before.

* Dominic Umile profiles Matt Kindt. Some person I can't tell who interviews Gary Spencer Millidge. Dan Nadel talks to Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell.

* finally, I'm a little confused by this Ng Suat Tong review of Hawkeye: I mean, of course someone with higher standards is going to like a Hawkeye comic less than someone without those high standards.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Francois Avril!

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Happy 54th Birthday, David Chelsea!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Bob Wayne!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Joe Field!

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Happy 89th Birthday, Brad Anderson!

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Happy 30th Birthday, Sarah Morean!

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Happy 28th Birthday, Jonny Negron!

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May 13, 2013


Go, Look: Atelier Sento

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Your 2013 Doug Wright Award Winners

imageVeteran comics makers and the publishing house Conundrum Press dominated the 2013 Doug Wright Awards, held Saturday night in conjunction with the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. Conundrum books won two of three awards works-driven awards. The show was hosted by the comedian and actor Scott Thompson, and featured the biggest crowd for that particular ceremony to date: a bit over 300, according to program estimates. An extended speech by David Collier and Thompson's faux exasperation at its length and weirdness was the program's entertainment highlight. Albert Chartier was inducted into The Giants Of The North hall of fame. Both the awards program and the hall of fame program focus on Canadian comics.

This year's winners, in bold:

BEST BOOK

* Lose #4 by Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)
* By This Shall You Know Him by Jesse Jacobs (Koyama Press)
* The Song of Roland by Michel Rabagliati (Conundrum Press)
* Pope Hats #3 by Ethan Rilly (AdHouse Books)
* Wax Cross by Tin Can Forest (Koyama Press)

*****

DOUG WRIGHT SPOTLIGHT AWARD (AKA "THE NIPPER")

* Nina Bunjevac for Heartless (Conundrum Press)
* Brandon Graham for King City (Image Comics)
* Patrick Kyle for Black Mass, Distance Mover, Wowee Zonk #4
* George Walker for The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson -- The Porcupine's Quill
* Eric Kostiuk Williams for Hungry Bottom Comics

*****

PIGSKIN PETERS AWARD (EXPERIMENTAL/AVANT-GARDE COMICS)

* Hamilton Illustrated by David Collier (Wolsak & Wynn)
* Hellberta #2 and "Sir Softly" from s! #12, by Michael Comeau
* Michael DeForge, Larry Eisenstein, Jesse Jacobs, Mark Laliberte (editor), Marc Ngui, Ethan Rilly, Tin Can Forest and Magda Trzaski from 4PANEL, a special comics feature in Carousel Magazine #28, 29
* Ginette Lapalme for "So, what should we do with ourselves?..." from Wowee Zonk #4 and "Little Stump" in s! #12

This year's jury was Joe Ollmann, Pascal Girard, Jonathan Goldstein, Natalia Yanchak and Julie Delporte. It is the program's ninth year.

I was happy to see all four recipients win. It struck me as a group of under-appreciated yet well-liked and respected cartoonists.
 
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Not Comics: Louise Bagnall

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Go, Look: That Ben Jones Simpsons Comic

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Archie Wins The Comics-Related GLAAD Award For Its Kevin Keller Material

Here. I think that's a nice thing, although I've always been a bit baffled by the focus of that award on work leveraging a very specific coverage area in the general North American media landscape.
 
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Go, Look: Operation Vaporizer

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Comics By Request -- People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* these people were nice enough to send me a link to their Kickstarter. They've been around for years and years, apparently. It won't hurt you to look.

* for whatever it is worth, I had far more people talk about crowd-funding at the weekend just past's TCAF in terms of something they won't even consider than something they're considering, the first time the balance has gone that way in about two years.

* here's another crowd-funding campaign about which I was alerted via e-mail. It seems like they're in that make-or-break phase in terms of getting over the halfway point in time to close things out successfully in the last few days.

* I don't really contribute to crowd-funded projects after some recent, poor experiences with doing so, but I'm sure I'll get back to doing so at some point. This is the kind of project that might interest me.

* this DC Comics charitable effort has timed out, raising more money than originally hoped for.
 
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If I Were In Montreal, I'd Go To This

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

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Not Comics: Spring-Heeled Jack

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Wilfred Santiago, in the midst of work on a Michael Jordan book, posted this Michael Jordan promotional comic by Dave Stevens.

* not comics: Charles Hatfield remembers Ray Harryhausen.

* Todd Klein on Grandville: Bete Noire.

* not comics: J. Caleb Mozzocco writes about Iron Man toys. He does note something I felt just watching a bunch of commercials: the Iron Man armors in this new movie seem pretty unattractive, at least to me.

* finally, one of the Sports Illustrated blogs has a piece up on Slam Dunk and the passion for basketball it helped ignite in Japan. I always thought that comic was pretty interesting just for the super-deliberate pacing of its serial aspects.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Lloyd Dangle!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Diane Noomin!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Frank Santoro!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Marv Wolfman!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Andrew Pepoy!

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May 12, 2013


CR Sunday Interview: Ryan Sands

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*****

imageI first became aware of Ryan Sands through his blogging about a variety of subjects, primarily manga. I started paying greater attention to him when a cross-sections of people whose opinion I trust talked of Sands in terms of his being a nexus point for and emerging generation of young creators and comics-maker -- someone whose opinion mattered. I greatly enjoyed Thickness, the comics anthology he co-edited with Michael DeForge. He worked as a translator and editor on the new Suehiro Maruo book, The Strange Tales Panorama Island, newly arrived from Last Gasp after years of publishing delays.

Sands latest project made its public debut over the weekend: a full-fledged publishing imprint called Youth In Decline. Its first offering is Frontier #1, featuring the work of Uno Moralez. Sands sees the title as a rotating showcase for younger and international talent maybe a step or two removed from the more traditional hardcover showcase. I don't think I've ever had the chance to talk to a publisher this new and this deliberate in their thinking. I enjoying watching Sands carve out space for himself, and look forward to what he does with his publishing house.

If you're at TCAF today, please consider going by Sands' table so he can get out there and shop. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: A classic way to begin an interview like this, one that gets turned around really quickly, would be to talk about what you're doing right now in preparation for TCAF. You and I are talking on the Monday evening preceding that show. This is a big weekend for you. How's it going?

RYAN SANDS: My living room looks like a warehouse. There are stacks of print-outs, stacks of books. A paper-cutter. Duct tape. I'm sort of assembling everything and flying out to Toronto on Wednesday.

I will say this is the first time I haven't felt totally stressed out before a major show. I'm benefiting from actually planning ahead for the first time, which is pretty exciting for me. There's a way to do it without having to pull all-nighters and tearing your hair out, or at least not more than usual. I printed the first issue of our debut book, Frontier #1 with Uno Moralez -- I printed all of it myself at a little print office I have in the neighborhood.

I find myself figuring out these publisher 101 things that everybody else already knows. Like not collating it and trimming it and stapling it all myself. [Spurgeon laughs] Some really important layout and printing tricks: like not having every single page in a signature be a different color. [laughs] It really feels like the least stressful show for me in a while, which is strange because it feels kind of like my debutante ball coming-out party. [laughs]

SPURGEON: So what constitutes the perfect ball for you? If this weekend has worked, what has gone right for Youth In Decline?

SANDS: I think the ideal thing would be get rid of all the books by mid-day Sunday so I can walk around and actually pick up all the awesome stuff that's debuting this year.

I've been tabling and attending cons, usually with my San Francisco/Bay Area friends like Hellen Jo, Calvin Wong and Derek Yu. We've been doing this as a grasp, but literally our approach has been to stuff a backpack full of stuff, toss everything on a table, and then fall asleep behind the table and hope that some people that already know about the work will come by.

imageThis time I'm really just bringing a couple of things. I'm bringing the first issue of Frontier as well as an animated print set. It so happens that this is the same month that The Strange Tales Of Panorama Island, by Suehiro Maruo, which is a book I worked on over the last few years for Last Gasp as an editor and translator, is also coming out this same weekend. So I'm really just bringing a few things to the show, and I hope that people walk away very excited about Uno Moralez work specifically but also excited about the few releases -- I have a modest release schedule for the rest of the year, but I'm hoping this will be a first shot across the bow in terms of the direction I want this micro-publishing company to go.

SPURGEON: So it seems like you want to generate buzz, move some books, and see if your conception of what might sell at a show works. Is that a fair way to put it?

SANDS: Yeah, I think that sounds right. The show schedule that's rolled out over the last few years, it feels very packed month-to-month as a creator or a publisher or a fan. There are a few major shows every quarter, it feels like. They serve very well as deadlines. So in one sense this is the end of three or four months of works, and it will be exciting to sit behind the table and see if other people think this work is as interesting as I do. Is this type of book, are these types of objects... are my tastes validated? [laughter]

I think TCAF in particular brings in a very interesting mix of international creators, and art school kids, and the general public. A pretty broad scope of people in terms of their interests and what brought them into the library that day. So if a book does well at TCAF, you've hit something, a zeitgeist or whatever, in terms of sensibility or whatever.

SPURGEON: I mentioned I was interviewing you to a friend, and that you were publishing now, and this person's response was, "Wait, wasn't he publishing before?" This is a more ambitious ramp-up, and you've drawn a line between what you were doing before and this major project. I wonder about the distinctions you're making. Do you see what came before as a preface? Was that you goofing around, and this is the more serious work now? Do you even call what you were doing before publishing?

SANDS: I definitely was publishing books. I would have thought of myself as editing, editing anthologies, mostly, or editing 'zines. The production side of it was always an afterthought. We self-published and printed the Thickness anthology by hand, mostly to save money.

There's not really a change in terms of my taste and the kinds of things that interest me. Comics for me was and remains a hobby. I have a full-time dayjob -- like a lot of folks. That said, I was doing a lot of projects in order to collaborate with my friends and artists I was excited about. Use whatever value I add to get these things done and completed and out into the world. It sort of wasn't accumulating or adding up to anything in a sense.

This is very mundane, but I found people that would like one thing I did would ask me about other projects, because I always had about two or three different things up in the air. I literally didn't have one name or one URL to tell them to google afterwards. I found myself in the position, which is really flattering but strange, when one person that liked one thing I put out had no idea I was writing the blog Same Hat! Or was doing translating work on the side. It really is the idea if I only have 20 hours a week after work to put into these projects, at night, I really want to give it a little more direction and really have a go at it. Both in terms of the scope of the projects, but also really just pick a few projects and a few artists to start with, and see how well they can do if I put my effort into a few things instead of being so scattered.

SPURGEON: What is the nature of the publishing impulse, then, for you? Certainly you could have done something like Ryan Holmberg, who has carved himself out a space as an editor and project organizer at PictureBox. You come from that kind of background, you have those skills, you could certainly find a publishing to partner with. So what is important to you that you become a publisher?

SANDS: I've been wrestling a little bit with that myself. Just trying to figure out what does a publisher do, and especially what a micro-publisher does. There's probably 30 different people with risograph printers in the United States. There are a lot of people that are self-publishing.

I guess the main distinction for me is that I don't need capital or the financial support of a publisher, only because I've been able to take my own savings from my dayjob work and make a short, modest list of projects come to life. I think for me, I have a lot of connections, friends of friends, through the Bay Area, through the manga side, and I'm hoping that as a publisher I'll be able to build upon that goodwill and those connections to make interesting projects happen.

SPURGEON: It seems like you've thought about this, and that you feel there are certain things a publisher should do. I was wondering if there were negative examples you saw out there, publishers where you were like, "I don't want to be that kind of publisher." Or is it just building towards what works for you? How much of an outside-in study did you make of what's out there?

SANDS: I'm definitely familiar with a lot of the other publishers. Especially outside of comics. I worked on Google books for most of my formative, post-college 20s. So I saw a lot of the changes in the publishing industry, the fiction and non-fiction, trade book side of things. When I call myself a publisher, it's using vocabulary that's clear to other people, rather than saying something like, "printer/curator/all these other semi-self aggrandizing and strange words."

I will say that having some friends that are comic book artists, and writers, you do get a sense of just how vastly undervalued the work can be. A lot of that is a reflection of how hard publishing and print media can be -- especially in the last decade. I've had conversations with friends, and I've garnered an amount of good will, even when just self-publishing by paying a small honorarium or page rate to folks. It's interesting how many people will want to work with you, or get excited and pat you on the back, for being one of the "good guys," when the bar is so painfully low.

SPURGEON: Simply by paying people, this puts you in a percentile of publishers that would probably not reflect well on the overall publishing landscape. Is that a way to put it?

SANDS: Sure. That sounds right. It's an interesting question to ask what exactly a publisher does, when the barrier to self-publishing something that looks good, even if the story and art aren't, but just the production values... is very attainable. If you're not just paying for the printing costs up front, especially when somebody could just do a kickstarter, I guess the question is what does a publisher do?

I hope for me it's modestly just connecting people into collaboration and a world of being next to other interesting work. The main goals for I have for the first publication -- I can talk about that...?

SPURGEON: Please do.

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SANDS: The first flagship book for Youth In Decline is pretty simple. It's called Frontier. It's a monograph anthology. It'll be one artist per book, and coming out quarterly. My projects, particularly the ones I was editing with Michael DeForge, moving from anthologies where it was one artist per page on some theme and to, in Thickness, short stories, but a little bit longer than I think is common in these Indy anthologies -- 10 to 20 pages rather than four to eight.

I'm really excited about the opportunity to give one artist 32 pages and see what sort of monograph or collection of work we can come together that will work very well as a narrative object. Specifically I want to use it as a venue for up and coming artists that aren't at that point in their career, either in terms of exposure or their work, where they aren't ready to tackle a full hardcover graphic novel. International artists -- Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. And small sorts of asides, uncommon projects from more established creators.

SPURGEON: How much are you working with the artists? Or is that up to the artists. On Frontier #1, is that work that you just got as is, or was there an editorial process -- might you even use an outside editor? Are you even interested in there being a developmental process for the work you publish?

SANDS: If there's no editorial input, whether it's directly edited or telling a creator yes or no about certain choices they want to make, or framing a project and sort of putting it in a creative context... I think if you're not doing that sort of editorial, curatorial work, then you're really just paying the printing costs and then doing marketing.

The role I see for editorial with Frontier is both choosing artists that cover a lot of different thematic elements... different voice. [laughs] Specific to this book I worked with a translator and had a lot of long exchanges with Uno Moralez, the artist. He's a full-time illustrator in addition to the mysterio gifs work that he does. He didn't want to be completely hands-on in terms of the page to page flow of the book. But we had discussions about the scope of the book. I did the layout and pacing of it, and then worked with him to choose which works to feature, which to leave out.

imageSPURGEON: Give me an example of a specific choice that you made in that issue. Was the sequencing of stories yours?

SANDS: Generally speaking, for this book we wanted to show the variety of work he has up through his livejournal and tumblr sites. It was a combination of narrative works that we wanted to highlight, some of his splash images and illustrated pieces, and also some of... one challenge was how to work the feel of his animated gifs into the pages. So there are a few pages where we used a couple of stock colors or actual layout to show off the gif-work as well.

He hasn't been in print except for a short piece in Chameleon 2, the book that Jonny Negron and Jeremy Baum put out. In one sense, really, it is a print collection, bringing this strange phantom of the Internet -- I think a lot of that is literally he doesn't speak English. Many people I talk to don't know who's doing this work but they've seen it on tumblr. He's not that hard to get a hold of if you're willing to find someone that speaks Russian. I like the idea of capturing a ghoul. [laughter] And then being like Ghostbusters and putting into an ecto-containment unit. You can hold it and look at it for the first time.

It definitely was a bit of a challenge to wonder if this is something that works off-line. Hopefully the people will like the printing and the way we present the work.

SPURGEON: Is there something you're specifically passionate about with print? You just explained why in this book's case that print works, why it's an interesting effect applied here, but in general it seems to me you have a background with a certain kind of publishing most print comics publisher would love to do well. You seem comfortable on-line, even. And now you're not only working with print, you're being very hands-on, very do-it-yourself, assemble-it-yourself. Why that kind of publishing endeavor?

SANDS: I think one piece of it is that I want to really learn this process and this business from the ground up. I started off making copies in a Kinko's and now I have a Risograph printer where I'm learning sort of how to disassemble and clean and control the production myself. I think that a lot of this, in particular having this not be my primary source of income, like many people I spend all of my day on-line. I think that's true of everyone, but I work at a tech company and have been in the belly of the beast of first digital books and now on-line video working at YouTube. So for me personally, it's very cathartic and interesting to work in the realm of physical objects.

I'm not wedded to Risograph printing in the long term. For future books, using off-set and other ways, whatever is most suitable for the artist and their project. But there is something very satisfying about being a publisher that can do layout, printing and sort of understand the process from top to bottom. [laughs] I'm sure I'll get tired of it very soon. But now I find it very interesting.

SPURGEON: That's not an uncommon impulse. The underground publishers I think had printing operations. A lot of the first alternative guys, like Gary Groth, some of them even studied printing. Certainly a lot of people get into publishing through design, which has a hands-on element. It's not like what you're doing is unheard-of, but the extent to which you and someone like, say, Zak Sally, wants to reclaim that part of the production seems interesting to me.

SANDS: I'm still trying to figure out... I'm using the word "publisher" especially now because it's a thing that people understand. I'm just now starting to understand what it means. It's so easy to set up a web site. I don't see the barriers other than minor technical ones, to creating e-pub files, or creating a decently well thought out web portal with good user experience. At that point, what value are you exactly adding as a publisher? Because that stuff is very learnable.

I think that there are a lot of artists that don't want to bother with any of that, but I guess I'm placing myself directly where I can do interesting work and add value. Creating like a new... there's a lot of technology and there are starting to be some interesting sites for on-line web content. It doesn't really feel like a place... I don't feel the excitement there for me. [laughter]

SPURGEON: I want to revisit something. We talked earlier on about the money thing, where you find a place for yourself, but you come from this culture, the culture of comics. There has to be some worry that you have -- and I think we may have some common ground here -- just in terms of participating in the culture of exploitation, the casual exploitation which comics has imbedded in its DNA. Is that a way we can get at what you're doing? You have to know artists that are not only pleased you're paying money but are also angry that others aren't.

SANDS: This is my scene and my world. I came into comics through Marvel and then later through manga and then self-publishing and 'zines at Bay Area festivals. I'm trying to think of a way to put it... I'm very familiar with the complaints of artists. But I don't have any aspirations to be an artist myself. So I've sort of taken in a lot of complaints from those that just want to do creative work. And a lot of them don't want to have to deal with this part of the process.

Hearing those impulses from friends who do amazing works but don't really know or aren't concerned with how to get it to people, and then also simultaneously hearing -- it's a small scene, you know, and some of the worst offenders are actually putting out interesting work. But it is sort of shocking when you hear how big a venue -- in the illustration world and in comics itself -- how many of them get away with paying through exposure or through free copies of books. When they do pay, they don't pay on time.

imageMy ambition is pretty small for the first year or two. And I'm interested to kind of put my money where my mouth is. It's easy to talk about this stuff on Twitter [laughs] and complain, "Oh, this publication doesn't pay its contributors" or whatever. I've been tangentially familiar with the economics of it through my day job. And through my friends. I'm exciting about the challenge of figuring out how you make it work.

I will say that when I first started self-publishing anthologies and 'zines I found myself sort of wandering around asking how you finance it. It was not a very popular topic. [Spurgeon laughs] I was looking for repeatable case studies and business models I could actually follow. The ones that I heard were not super-motivating. [laughter] Specifically like -- and god bless these folks for doing good work -- but having a trust fund or other money you didn't earn yourself and using it for vanity projects. God bless people like that for using the money to promote friends. The other is to sort of get lucky -- or being smart -- and having one book that blows the roof off in terms of sales and then using that money to fund... that's a classic publishing model. Like Viz, for example, what Viz did in the late '90s, take the money from Pokemon and put out Uzumaki. Or just applying for grants and looking for fundraising that way. It's something that I'm really interested in learning about. I have a naivete about how all of this works, especially around marketing and promotion. But I do think putting my head out and planting a flag in the ground -- unless you're actually doing it you don't have legitimacy to criticize and complain about the way things go. So I'm hoping to learn how this really works and be as ethical and helpful as possible to my creators and artists.

SPURGEON: You've talked a lot about process, if only indirectly. I saw you speak at MoCCA Festival -- you were interviewing Jillian Tamaki -- and you talked about one thing you liked about your on-line efforts is that you could kind of run things past people and see how people reacted to them and see how your taste intersected with other people. You've sort of described some of your publishing impulses in the same way. Where does that come from, this desire where it's not a monolithic creative impulse that you'll force down people's throats?

SANDS: That's interesting. I hadn't thought about projects in that sense. Working on-line and kind of living on-line, especially Tumblr -- and Twitter -- allows you to get a feeling of what people are interested in. I'm not interested in a lot of things a lot of people are. [laughter]

SPURGEON: I would think that the fact you notice this might make you different than a lot of other publishers. I can't imagine a lot of the other publishers paying attention to which of their Tumblr posts hit with people and which ones don't.

SANDS: I hadn't thought about this too much, but it's less that I am looking for validation or finding where to go based on what people respond to in a very linear, one to one way. I posted this picture of Doraemon playing baseball with Bart Simpson and everyone loved it and that's where my next project will live. [Spurgeon laughs]

I think it's more that if you're talking about stuff that everybody likes, knows about and agrees is cool, you're not really adding much to the dialogue. Alongside all of this stuff I've been writing a lot about horror and independent manga -- less lately, but especially a couple of years ago. A lot of that came from living in Japan. I had a Japanese studies major... and an econ minor, although I never use that. Although maybe I'll have to now that I'm forecasting sales. [laughs] Thank you, Mom. She's an accountant, so she'll be proud of me for that. [laughter]

I think the most satisfying posts and blogs and writing are not the ones where everyone is "we already know and love that all of the time" and not the ones where I'm talking to an empty room because I'm the only that's interested in this one really weird inside joke. The most exciting work of any kind is when you strike a chord with someone and you also can sort of teach and learn. Writing a post about this '70s Japanese theater journal that was the first ever English-language publication of manga, predating Barefoot Gen by a few years. Sort of seeing a comments thread spiral out of control with excitement. People start posting stuff I get to read and learn about. I think in that sense, a lot of our shared cultural history and contemporary world is very diagrammed, covered and mummified as we're speaking. Finding the areas where people sort of don't quite know what they're looking at or haven't quite gone down that path, that's very exciting. And I think that's the main thing that's about living and working on-line.

SPURGEON: How do you negotiate the fact that in comics the publishers have personalities? In one way, that's another way exploitation can happen. You can accuse the publishers of using artists to get themselves over, or to make themselves look good, or to simply find a place for themselves in a social fabric that has meaning for them. Are you comfortable with putting yourself out there, with people having your personality in mind when they negotiate these books?

SANDS: I don't think my personality needs to be in mind.

SPURGEON: Your taste, then?

SANDS: I worry that a lot of the things we're talking about sound a lot grander than my actual ambitions. [laughter]

The projects that I'm planning aren't radically different than other micro-publishers are working on these days. It's an extremely exciting -- everyone says this, but it's a super-exiting time to be around narrative art and comics. I see myself stepping up out of self-publishing half-assery [laughs], picking a few projects and really pushing them out there into the world in the same way that Koyama Press or Oily Comics and many other folks are doing with their artists. In that sense, when you're not a giant company or even a medium-sized company, you really are sort of selling... what you have to offer is only your taste.

Even on the small scale I'm publishing, it's quite the investment -- of time, but also money -- to really pick a few books, or pitch a few books to creators directly and say, "This is a project I think is valuable, and I think is wroth x-thousand dollars and x-weeks to put out in the world." The thing that is sort of exhausting about print anything is that by the time you get the thing done -- even if you work quickly and print it yourself -- it's many months after the work was completed. You have to believe in the work you're putting out because you have to live with it and talk about it and sell it for many months.

I'm super-excited about the small handful of things that are coming for this year. I don't have a grand plan, and the scope is very small for now. I'm excited to see how the economic realities of promotion and product work, and I'm very curious as to where my tastes go. Maybe it will turn into a t-shirt company and get rid of these goddamn comics. [laughter]

SPURGEON: Has your taste developed? Is this a different company than it would have been three years ago?

SANDS: Definitely.

SPURGEON: What's the latest thing you've latched onto that we'll actually see developed through the company. What's the latest change in your own taste?

SANDS: My primary inputs are manga, body horror and science fiction. But I'm mostly excited and influenced by the potential of this generation -- you were kidding me on your site about talking about "the youth," but I really do see a generational change in the speed and fluency with which creators are now incorporating and assimilating influences.

I remember a time if someone had the same interests on livejournal that was very indicative of them doing the same amount of longbox hunting or digging through the VHS bins at their local video store. Now you can completely familiarize yourself with most forms of comics but also art, video, games and it's really more about how the speed with which upcoming artists sort of turn over influences.

I also think that there are a lot of weird, arbitrary barriers between the European comics scene and the extended [laughs] on-line indy comics world.

SPURGEON: Am I right in thinking that your entry point into the European comics scenes is the Latvians? Why do I connect you to them?

SANDS: I guest-edited an issue of kus!

SPURGEON: Right.

SANDS: I've only been to Europe twice ever in my life. When I was there in 2006 I went and attended the Frankfurt Book Fair. I kind of have the propensity to latch onto people. [laughs] I had heard about and seen work that Reprodukt was doing. I literally on my lunch break, in my suit, wearing a dorky trade show badge introduced myself to the Reprodukt guys and bought a handful of their books. The easiest way to learn about these things and meet people is to shell out five bucks for their mini-comics. It's the easiest way to make friends and the best way to earn their goodwill. At that show I met Christian who works for Reprodukt and --

SPURGEON: That's Maiwald?

SANDS: Yeah, that's right. Christian Maiwald. He's a friend of mine. By the end of the night I was drunk at an Indian restaurant with Max. [laughter] Listening to them talking about Donjon and Picasso. I was able to go back to Berlin on vacation and met up with Christian again. He took me to an indy-comics drawing night. It was very similar... I should probably say not dissimilar [Spurgeon laughs] to the kind of hangouts that we do here.

I think there's that thing that happens where you don't know about a manga until it becomes popular enough for Viz or maybe if you're lucky Vertical or PictureBox to license it. But there's a whole world unseen, an ecosystem that exists below that level. Not being able to speak Japanese, not being able to speak German, that's a very real barrier. But it's pretty flimsy, in my opinion. It's really that hard to connect with those folks. With my resources, there's no way I could publish the new Otomo manga myself. Or do it justice in terms of distribution or promotion. But there's no reason that I can't publish the Lamar Abrams of Japan. Or, maybe if I'm lucky, the Michael DeForge of Thailand. [laughs] You know what I mean?

In the same way we were able to, mostly through friends of friends, and specifically through Anne [Ishii], we were able to license a Tagame short story for Thickness. We just barely beat them out the door in terms of being one of the first places to publish them in English. There are very real barriers, and you have to be careful about stepping on people's toes. Not interfering with ongoing relationships that people have developed. It's kind of shockingly easy if you're willing to find someone that speaks the language, treat them well, and offer them something that's not insulting in terms of compensation. A project worth biting into.

Other than the generational, the up-and-coming cartoonists I mentioned, that's the other thing taste-wise that's a more recent development. I try to read as widely as possible, but the stuff next to my bed isn't big hardcover books from the known names in the comics scene. It's a shitty Xeroxed collection of Thai comics, a French edition of Little Thunder, who is a Hong Kong illustrator. A bunch of mini-comics from names I pulled out of different issues of kus!

I used to talk about everything I was into all the time. That's how I existed on social media. I said this on Twitter, but you have to be like the deejay that doesn't tell you about the awesome song they're going to play until they drop it at 1 AM. You have to sit on your best tracks so that people don't steal them. I think that's one thing that's strange in terms of publishing. If these barriers are as flimsy as I think they are in terms of raising capital and connecting with folks, then what differentiates you other than your taste?

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SPURGEON: Before I let you go: why the hell did Panorama Island take 1000 years to come out?

SANDS: [laughs] That's a good question.

SPURGEON: I hope you have a good answer.

SANDS: It was a very challenging translation project. I got in over my head. I had a lot of other projects and life stuff going on. It wasn't... there were some challenges with the work itself and some of it was just scheduling and time issues. It took a hell of a long time, and there were a lot of fits and starts with it.

SPURGEON: It's a very attractive book. I was astonished it had come out, finally.

SANDS: I was hoping we went through enough cycles in terms of anticipation and sadness that it would be off of people's minds to be a very nice, welcome surprise.

SPURGEON: I think you may get exactly that reaction.

SANDS: It would have been a bummer to have waited this long for the book, the diehard fans, and have it be a normal-sized tankubon softcover manga. That was part of the planning that Colin and the Last Gasp folks had in mind. Let's give folks something exciting to see, that's really an all-out object in terms of beautiful production. I hope this doesn't encourage people to start checking, but I think it's literally the first thing I've ever seen where there are no production gaffes, typos or surprises.

SPURGEON: Gauntlet thrown!

SANDS: It's always a bummer. I'm sure there's stuff in there I would have worded differently, in the touch-up and adaptation. But it's nice to hold something and be really pleased with it as a tactile experience.


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* Youth In Decline
* http://www.samehat.com/
* Same Hat! Tumblr
* Ryan Sands On Twitter
* Electric Ant Zine
* Thickness

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Go, Look: Pepper Comics #2

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Go, Look: Peggy And Pops

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Go, Look: Fibber McGee And Molly

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Go, Look: Some Smoky Stover

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

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

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Tom Armstrong!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Cat Yronwode!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Andrew Farago!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Moto Hagio!

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May 11, 2013


As TCAF Launches, D+Q Announces Full Slate Of Forthcoming Canadian Comics Releases

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Drawn And Quarterly Publisher Chris Oliveros announced titles from seven Canadian cartoonists over the next two years in conjunction with the launch of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.

The list includes three volumes by the prolific young cartoonist Michael DeForge, and the long-awaited -- well, by me and a lot of the other fans of the on-line iteration -- collection of Super Mutant Magic Academy.

* Palookaville 21, Seth. Fall 2013.
* Ant Colony, Michael Deforge. Winter 2014.
* On Loving Women, Diane Obomsawin. Winter 2014.
* Everywhere Antennas, Julie Delporte. Spring 2014.
* The Collector, Pascal Girard. Spring 2014.
* First Year Healthy, Michael Deforge. Fall 2014.
* Stroppy, Marc Bell. Fall 2014.
* Super Mutant Magic Academy, Jillian Tamaki. Spring 2015.
* Leather Spaceman, Michael Deforge. Spring 2015.

Oliveros said he made the announcement due to the Canadian nature of the Toronto festival, in addition to its growth and increased influence.
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from May 4 to May 10, 2013:

1. Thai prime minister sues a cartoonist in another world incident of sitting politicians utilizing the courts against artists and writers, including cartoonists.

2. FCBD throws attention on surge of activity through Direct Market comics retail.

3. TCAF launches in Toronto, a heavy-hitter in the North American convention scene; publishing announcement early in weekend include ' by Tomine, a new gay erotic manga survey book, a giant offering from Farel Dalrymple.

Winner Of The Week
Cory Mathis

Loser Of The Week
All of us, that media companies like Marvel have no interest and no compelling reason that matters to them to pay intellectual property creators at least some sort of money despite staggering windfalls from their efforts.

Quote Of The Week
"I am very proud of what I've been able to accomplish with ComicsPRO over the years, and prouder still of my colleagues, all of them. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I've been given to work with all of you, and I look forward to seeing how you continue to improve our market. Thank you for everything you've done, and everything you've given me." -- Amanda Emmert

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today's cover is from the all-time series Classics Illustrated

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

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If I Were In Fort Wayne, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Athens (Ohio), I'd Go To This

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

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

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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Short Run Video


The New Zealand Comic Scene


Simon Moreton, Warren Craghead and Simon Moreton Talk Comics


Howard Kurtz Talks To Garry Trudeau


Milton Caniff Draws


Feggo Profiled


Gengoroh Tagame
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Matt Feazell!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Brian Heater!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Russell Lissau!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Alex Fellows!

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May 10, 2013


Your 2013 Manning Award Nominees

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Comic-Con International has announced the 2013 nominees for the Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award. They are:

* Rem Broo, The End Times of Bram and Ben (Image)
* Craig Cermak, Voltron, Year One (Dynamite)
* Bryan Coyle, Babble (Com.x)
* Paul Roman Martinez, The Adventures of the 19XX (self-published)
* Russell Roeling, Wasteland (Oni)

Cermak and Martinez are previous nominees. These awards have been given out since 1982 -- Steve Rude, Jeff Smith and Eleanor Davis are among past winners. This year's recipient will be honored at the Eisner Awards ceremony on Friday night of Comic-Con International.
 
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PictureBox Reunites With Ishii, Kolbeins And Kidd For Massive

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On the eve of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, Dan Nadel and PictureBox have announced Massive: Gay Erotic Manga And The Men Who Make It for Spring 2014. The book will reunite the team of Anne Ishii, Graham Kolbeins and Chip Kidd that together facilitated the new The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame, making its public debut at this weekend's festival.

The advertising copy will give you an idea of what they're after.
"Big, burly, lascivious, and soft around the edges: welcome to the hyper-masculine world of Japanese gay comics. Massive is the first English-language anthology of its kind: a collection of manga from the most talented and influential artists in the gei komi genre, including legendary gay mangaka Jiraiya, Gengoroh Tagame, Takeshi Matsu, Seizoh Ebisubashi, Go Fujimoto and Kazuhide Ichikawa.

Massive goes beyond simply translating the artists' work, offering an intimate, in-depth look at an essential (but criminally overlooked) queer culture that challenges and transcends stereotypes of gender and sexuality. In addition to comics and illustrations, Massive features some of the first photos of these artists; background information providing cultural and historical context; and first-person interviews about what it's like to be a gay erotic artist in Japan.
The tentative line-up for the book is Jiraiya, Gengoroh Tagame, Takeshi Matsu, Seizoh Ebisubashi, Go Fujimoto, Kazuhide Ichikawa, Guy Mizuki, Inu Yoshi, Fumi Miyabi, Kumada Poohsuke, Noda Gaku.
 
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Go, Look: Joe Ollmann Diary

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AdHouse Books Announces Major Farel Dalrymple Collection

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Chris Pitzer Of AdHouse Books announced this morning in conjunction with this weekend's TCAF event a 232-page hardcover art book called Delusional, to feature the comics and drawings of Farel Dalrymple. I believe this one is due this Fall, its debut to coincide with September's SPX show. It should measure 6x9, and will have both black and white and color pages.
 
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Go, Look: George Clark Originals

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Not Comics: Michael Kupperman's Book Cover Postings

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Collective Memory: FCBD 2013

imageLinks to various items related to Free Comic Book Day 2013

This entry will continue to be updated for as long as people

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Links Either Institutional Or General
* Official Site
* Facebook
* Twitter
* FCBD Hashtag
* FreeComicBookDay Hashtag

Links Generated By This Year's Event
* Action Librarian
* Agents Of Guard

* Bleeding Cool
* Books Galore

* Capital Gazette
* Cleveland.com
* Comics Blog
* Comics Reader
* Comic Store West
* Comic Vine

* Dave Hooper
* Downtown Comics
* Drew's Views, News And Reviews

* FPI Blog 01
* FPI Blog 02
* Forbidden Planet

* Huffington Post

* James Silvani

* J. Caleb Mozzocco

* Komikero Dot Com
* Kovaleski

* Las Vegas Sun
* LA Times

* Madison Patch
* Mark Bertolini
* Midland Reporter-Telegram
* Midlife Crisis Crossover
* Mike Hawthorne
* Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin
* MTV Geek 01
* MTV Geek 02
* My Comic Post

* Robot 6
* RonReads

* Scott Andrew Hutchins
* Secret Identity Podcast
* Sean Kleefeld
* Smash Comix
* SuperKasey

* The Art Of Jeremy Dale
* The Comics Reporter
* The Comixverse
* The Daily Courier
* The Kennett Paper
* The Mary Sue
* The News-Herald
* The Press-Enterprise
* The Rebel Yell
* The Review
* The Twisted Geeks
* The Western Front
* The Yeti Speaks
* This Is Local London
* TM Stash

* Unleash The Fanboy

* What'Cha Reading?
* WhatCulture

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Go, Look: Antonine Maillard

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Some More Random Notes On A Friday Morning

* I liked this brief post on San Diego con badges, mostly for the old San Diego con badges.

image* bunches of people arriving in Toronto today for this weekend's TCAF show. I'll be running a few comics publishing news stories this weekend -- the first one ran top of blog yesterday -- but I don't know that I'll do one of those full festival preview things telling you to go to certain parties or whatnot. Hopefully you'll keep an eye out for books like Theo Ellsworth's new Capacity above, maybe go to the Los Bros thing tonight I'm moderating/helping host and maybe go to the Doug Wright Awards tomorrow -- all stuff you can access from the TCAF site. Other than that, shop around, see a panel (I'll be at the blogging wake Sunday morning) and enjoy Toronto. I'll have a report and a Collective Memory up by early next week. Travel safely.

* Peanuts by Shultz.

* the Short Run show has a video now.

* like many folks, I enjoyed this Paul Pope Q&A when it came out several days ago. I just kept it a secret.

* this is Dave Lapp's contribution to the TCAF art show.

* not comics: astonishing to me that noted fantasy fan Dylan Horrocks has taken this long to read Little, Big. That fantasy prose fans seem to have never read that book baffles; it's a top three work of that kind.

* not comics: Abhay Khosla writes about the idea that if you build it they will come and tell you how awesome you are.

* Jonathan Baylis sent along links to previews like this one for work he'll have available at this weekend's TCAF.

* TCAF from an indy publisher's perspective.

* finally, speaking of Horrocks, I enjoyed this superhero picture he drew.
 
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OTBP: MisterHayden Comics Vol. 1

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Go, Look: Mandarin Covers

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posted 2:27 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Schulz And Herriman Among 2013 SOI Hall Of Fame Inductees

I think this is fairly straight-forward: the Society of Illustrators, recently making news in the world of comics by becoming MoCCA's safe-haven adoptive parent, has a Hall Of Fame. This year's inductees include all-time cartoonists Charles Schulz and George Herriman. Hard to argue with that.
 
posted 2:26 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Sure I Was Aware That Trina Robbins Had A Blog

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posted 2:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* I always wonder if there aren't a billion sites like this one out there; I had fun just taking a walk through work I hadn't seen before, from creators with which I wasn't familiar. That used to be a bigger part of on-line comics 10, 12 years ago.

* a major piece of comics-related on-line news for the week was found in this publishing announcement for Alternative Comics taking its catalog to comiXology. It's exciting to still be in a time where every single major decision by various publishers in ever category is news all by itself.

* I missed this piece from the great Gary Tyrrell dissecting the recent Stumptown awards from a webcomics-centric point of view.

* finally, here's a profile by PW of digital strategies employed by Fantagraphics.
 
posted 2:20 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 2:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
I Love Jack Kirby's 1970s Captain America Art

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posted 2:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Kevin Furguson talks to Gilbert Hernandez. Some nice person at KNPR talks to Gilbert Hernandez. JP Fallavollita talks to Oliver East. Zainab Akhtar talks to L. Nichols.

* so I guess there is an Amazon.com graphic novel bestsellers list now; actually, that's probably been around a while and is just now being employed the way is being employed here. I think.

* not comics: here's an article about recent lady movie superheroes. I would imagine the reason they don't have lady superhero movies is because dudes are reluctant to go to action movies starring ladies. I mean, that just seems pretty straight-forward to me. Maybe I'm wrong, who the hell knows?

* this article where a dude yells at multi-million dollar companies is a delight; it's like a band playing a medley of 20 years of Internet grousing.

* not comics: nice band name.

* Rob Clough on a couple of mini-comics anthologies. Todd Klein on Age Of Bronze #32. Justin... Giampaoli, maybe? on Burning Down The House. J. Caleb Mozzocco on the FCBD comics.

* finally, here's a video profile from The New Yorker on Dash Shaw; this went up on Tuesday, and I'm building some posts a few days ahead of time, so you've probably seen this by now. Still, that's a pretty good get.
 
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Happy 56th Birthday, Kola Fayemi!

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May 9, 2013


Drawn And Quarterly Kicks Off Weekend Of Arts Comics Publishing News With A New Optic Nerve

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I'm not certain how much publishing news there will be over the weekend at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, but Drawn And Quarterly let slip a nice one to start the extended weekend out: there will be a 13th issue of Optic Nerve. The all-time alternative comic book by Adrian Tomine will release a new issue in conjunction with this Fall's Brooklyn Books Festival, where Tomine will be a special guest.

As much as Adrian Tomine has had a lot of success packaging his work into books, I think I love that material best as issues of Optic Nerve, and I hope the series never goes away. The last issue was published in September 2011.

above, mock cover supplied by D+Q
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Cory Mathis Wins $5000 Listener Young Cartoonist Award

The New Zealand Listener and the New Zealand Cartoon Archive named Wellington cartoonist Cory Mathis the inaugural winner of its Young Cartoonist Award at a function in Auckland. Jeff Bell and Toby Morris won $500 each; Mathis took home a $5000 prize. The contest called on "works displaying an understanding of political and social situations and their contradictions and complications, and especially showing a talent for drawing effective cartoons." Judges were Chrisl Slane, Tim Pankurst, Pamela Stirling and Ian F. Grant.

The cartoons can be found here.
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Daggers Drawn

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posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Texas Comics Shop Gives Cash To Struggling Family

One of the majorly overlooked aspects of the Free Comic Book Day promotion is that many shops use it as an opportunity to raise money for charity. One shop in Laredo, Texas, raised money for the family of a young girl diagnosed with leukemia. I don't have much to say about it except I think it's nice that they did that, and I wish the best of luck to the afflicted family. If you're someone that likes to give money to causes this might seem a pretty nice one to jump onto late.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Rare Creature

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posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Collective Memory: FCBD 2013

imageLinks to various items related to Free Comic Book Day 2013

This entry will continue to be updated for as long as people

*****

Links Either Institutional Or General
* Official Site
* Facebook
* Twitter
* FCBD Hashtag
* FreeComicBookDay Hashtag

Links Generated By This Year's Event
* Action Librarian
* Books Galore
* Comics Blog
* Comics Reader
* Comic Vine
* Dave Hooper
* Downtown Comics
* Drew's Views, News And Reviews
* Forbidden Planet
* J. Caleb Mozzocco
* Komikero Dot Com
* Kovaleski
* LA Times
* Mark Bertolini
* Mike Hawthorne
* Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin
* MTV Geek 01
* MTV Geek 02
* Robot 6
* RonReads
* Scott Andrew Hutchins
* Secret Identity Podcast
* Sean Kleefeld
* Smash Comix
* The Art Of Jeremy Dale
* The Comics Reporter
* The Comixverse
* The Twisted Geeks
* The Yeti Speaks
* What'Cha Reading?

*****



*****

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*****
*****
 
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Not Comics: Amazing Alex Raymond Promotional Illustration

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posted 5:30 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* it's all about TCAF right now. Events are going on in Toronto already, and the formal kick-off is tomorrow night. I hope to see you there. Someone please work out with me at the Marriott.

* there's also an event in Athens, Ohio this weekend.

* here's an article previewing the forthcoming Maine Comics Arts Festival way ahead of time. That makes sense as conventions become more ingrained that we see different article strategies than listings and maybe a preview right before the event itself. Jeff Smith is a nice get for that show.

* HeroesCon is the next really, really, really big show that will take place: their guest list is always an awesome thing to behold.

* I honestly can't remember if I linked to Sarah McIntyre's con tabling advice before now, but it's awfully cute and pretty timely so I'm not worried if this is a repeat.

* finally, if you're in Toronto tomorrow night, please join me as I talk to those great cartoonists and better human beings Los Bros Hernandez. Don't tell Christopher Butcher, but I plan to ask questions filled with baffling minutiae until I am booed off of the stage.

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

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posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Gerbilman

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posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Michael Netzer is thinking of Kim Thompson.

image* J. Caleb Mozzocco offers up a recent-book driven review round-up. Richard Bruton on Don't Be Fooled By The Rocks.

* always happy when a new comics shop opens up.

* Paul Gravett profiles Sarah Lightman. Someone at RadioNZ talks to Dylan Horrocks.

* everyone keeps sending me this New Yorker article on the cosmology of cartoonists, and for some reason I keep blowing it off. It's a pretty cute little article, too.

* Heidi MacDonald on the growth of graphic novel sections in libraries.

* not comics: this Winsor McCay advertisement to which Buzz Dixon sent along a link is indeed awesome-looking. Also awesome, as Dixon notes, is the idea of American intelligence unshackling itself in order to embrace the smoking of cigarettes.

* finally, Mark Evanier looks at a claim made by Howard Chaykin in his piece on Carmine Infantino.
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 50th Birthday, Ty Templeton!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 44th Birthday, Walt Holcombe!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
May 8, 2013


Dan Adkins, RIP

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posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Gary Panter Autobio Comic

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posted 8:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: A History Of Atlas War Comics 1950-1960

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posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Jason Blanchard Replacing Leslie Bowser At Diamond

According to an e-mail distributed early Wednesday afternoon, Friday is to be the last day for current AD/PR Manager Leslie Bowser. Bowser will be replaced as a primary press contact for this and so I would assume others by Jason Blanchard. We wish Bowser the best.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Michael Kupperman's Pulp Pages Postings

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posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Collective Memory: FCBD 2013

imageLinks to various items related to Free Comic Book Day 2013

This entry will continue to be updated for as long as people

*****

Links Either Institutional Or General
* Official Site
* Facebook
* Twitter
* FCBD Hashtag
* FreeComicBookDay Hashtag

Links Generated By This Year's Event
* Action Librarian
* Comics Reader
* Comic Vine
* Dave Hooper
* Downtown Comics
* Drew's Views, News And Reviews
* Forbidden Planet
* Komikero Dot Com
* LA Times
* MTV Geek 01
* MTV Geek 02
* Robot 6
* RonReads
* Scott Andrew Hutchins
* Secret Identity Podcast
* Sean Kleefeld
* The Comics Reporter
* The Comixverse
* The Twisted Geeks
* What'Cha Reading?

*****



*****

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*****
*****
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: All About Iron Man

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posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Amanda Emmert's ComicsPRO Goodbye

Departing ComicsPRO Executive Director Amanda Emmert has a farewell note up at that retailer organization's blog; it's worth a read if you're interested in comics retail. Emmert is an underrated industry players, well-liked and respected by a variety of shop owners stretching back to the first-generation crew. Certainly the recent success a lot of shops have had in stabilizing individual proprietorships, expanding into new locations and building their overall market makes this a time when one can step down from such a position with a sense of a job well done.
 
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Go, Look: Cartoon Guide To Florida

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posted 5:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
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.

*****

JAN131108 YOURE ALL JUST JEALOUS OF MY JETPACK HC (MR) $19.95
Neither Kurt Busiek nor I is right about everything, but as I recall we're both fans of Tom Gauld and we're right about enough stuff that our overlapping tastes should be worth a peek from you. I think these are funny, smart, classy cartoons.

imageMAR131303 WE CAN FIX IT GN (MR) $14.95
Sometimes you want to go to the comics shop and buy a book where you don't really know all that much about it; this would probably be mine this week if I were near a comics shop. This is the latest Jess Fink, and the dirty robot story Chester 5000 was cute enough I'm going to look at whatever she's up to for the next few volumes.

FEB131124 SANDCASTLE GN $19.95
MAR131156 NOTHING CAN POSSIBLY GO WRONG GN $16.99
Of course, another reason to go to the comics shops is to buy high-end material in your favorite genre, and you don't find as classy a two-fer as this little grouping most weeks. Sandcastle is Frederik Peeters, meaning those who can't figure out why Blue Pills wasn't the next Persepolis have another chance to dive into the artist's work. The second book here is drawn by Faith Erin Hicks, the kind of comics lifer where our ability to keep her and put her to good use is the kind of thing on which an entire generation of the comics industry will be judged. So: literary comics/teen comics, take your pick.

MAR131158 RED HANDED FINE ART STRANGE CRIMES HC $26.99
Matt Kindt is wonderfully prolific, and this First Second book, apparently an oddball detective story told with Kindt's increasingly well-known patterned narratives, is yet another option in a very strong week for look-and-perhaps-buy stand-alone volume buying.

FEB131117 SLAINE GRAIL WAR GN (MR) $29.99
MAR131235 SMURFS GN VOL 15 SMURFLINGS $5.99
MAR131236 SMURFS HC VOL 15 SMURFLINGS $10.99
MAR131234 BENNY BREAKIRON HC VOL 01 RED TAXIS $11.99
Two general series I don't buy although I like when I see them are the various 2000 AD spin-off series -- the latest iteration of which are all pretty great right now, too -- and the Smurfs material from NBM. That last book listed is a shot at another Peyo series, which would have a high curiosity factor from me.

MAR130905 SNAKE PIT GETS OLD GN (MR) $16.95
I haven't this material in years, but it's straight-up of the kind that people tend to say exists everywhere when really it's only a few dedicated souls that are making enough work there to engage a reader over the long-term.

JAN130602 PROPHET #35 [DIG] $3.99
MAR130595 WALKING DEAD #110 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
This may be the weakest week in a while in terms of genre adventure comics. I guess the Brubaker/Phillips WW2 issue of Fatale comes out next week, so this I'd probably stick with Teams Brandon Graham and Robert Kirkman. I like some of the Marvel stuff okay, but I have a hard time figuring out which X-Men book is which, particularly when they don't have the same creative teams all the time within a specific title.

MAR130989 LIBRARY CHIHOI HC (MR) $20.00
Here's another title from Conundrum Press' strong Spring; it's awfully nice-looking, but while I can see one staring back at me from the bookshelf I haven't read it yet. If you're in Toronto, I believe the cartoonist Chihoi will be on hand; certainly the book will be.

MAR130993 PAYING FOR IT GN $19.95
MAR130994 PLAYBOY GN (NEW ED) (MR) $16.95
If you don't have these two books by Chester Brown, and you're an adult reader of comics books with an eye towards material other than adventure comics, these are two must-haves.

MAR131167 WALT DISNEY DONALD DUCK HC VOL 03 CASTLES SECRET $28.99
Finally, I hope we don't forget these Carl Barks books continue to roll out, in sturdy enough editions I don't mind keeping them next to the tub (the covers actually don't get soaked even sitting in a tiny bit of water; I wouldn't test that, though). There's something fun about reading comics that are about people constantly trying to make a living, set in a time when a lot more folks worked the same job the summer after high school until age 65. It's a testament to Barks' skill that the title story doesn't turn into an exercise in tedium.

*****

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 because I hate you.

*****

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

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posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Rene Bouche

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posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Dan Kois On My Dirty, Dumb Eyes.

* check out the Seth glamour shot, taken with a 1940s style camera using the skeletal hands of Weegie. Okay, those last two things probably aren't true. Nice photo, though.

* love for One Piece.

* I missed the passing of Debra Boyask.

* totally missed this story. I'd love to be able to afford an ombudsman for this site, and am working on it. Luckily, right now nobody wants to hire me for much of anything so potential conflicts of interest aren't exactly a major concern.

* Chris Sims reminds that if you liked CA stuff, better stop reading this site and go save yourself copies. Also, fuck AOL owning all that stuff. Sheesh. There is no reason on planet Earth that any site needs an exclusive on your stuff for more than six months. It should go back to you or be shared at that point.

* not comics: Abhay Khosla reviews the #1 movie in all the land.

* finally, Bully justifies the Comics Internet by running a month full of crotch shots.
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 50th Birthday, Robert Boyd!

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I hope this person doesn't mind the use of their photo in making a link to their interview with the onetime comics industry veteran and arts writer
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 40th Birthday, Hiromu Arakawa!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 35th Birthday, Kevin Colden!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 45th Birthday, Matt Madden!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
May 7, 2013


Jesse Santos, RIP

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posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Domitille Collardey

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posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
It's Never A Bad Thing To Give Money To The Hero Initiative, And Iron Man 3 Affords That Opportunity

Last summer when the Avengers movie came out a few folks used that as a springboard to send some money to the Hero Initiative, comics' foremost charity when it comes to alleviating some of the suffering and difficulties of comics creators as they become older. The movie made ten figures; the charitable effort... well, it definitely cleared four. When you make over a billion dollars there's always a sequel. When you make a few thousand, people tend to forget it ever happened.

imageI hope that some of you out there will consider making a donation to the Hero Initiative on the occasion of the third and apparently very successful Iron Man movie. Some people gave a ticket's worth of money during the Avengers thing; some gave a random amount as a kind of tip to maybe get money to a few folks responsible for what they just enjoyed that weren't going to see anything otherwise.

I don't hold out any hope -- and I never did -- that such an effort will ever steamroll into tens of thousands of dollars raised and that all the donating folks could eventually cross their arms and nod like superheroes themselves over a job well done. There's no sticking it to a billion-dollar movie. Most people don't have any inkling that there are comics creators behind a lot of these creations, or that maybe the industry these things came from was constructed in a way where creators maybe don't receive money when something they made becomes a worldwide phenomenon, or adults participating in something with their eyes open is in any way a concern for anyone other than those adults, or how this could all possibly be something where some sort of counter-action is required just to give folks a proper burial or some dignity in how they conduct their lives when they get older and perhaps sick. We are more than ever a people convinced by the bottom line, and the ink on paper that gets us there. It may be that we imagine ourselves rewarded in the same way, if not now than eventually.

So there's no great victory to be won by tossing ten bucks to a charity. There's just ten bucks to that charity. But that's a good thing as well. Four people doing that is enough to buy someone their insulin. And 200 people doing it can make a huge difference in someone's life. Those are important stories, too. Thank you for even considering it.
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Battle Of The Juke Boxes

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posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Please Update Your Phone Numbers For The Comics Reporter

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Actually, it's just my phone. But it has changed. It's here.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Michael Kupperman's Pulp Covers Postings

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posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Collective Memory: FCBD 2013

imageLinks to various items related to Free Comic Book Day 2013

This entry will continue to be updated for as long as people

*****

Links Either Institutional Or General
* Official Site
* Facebook
* Twitter
* FCBD Hashtag
* FreeComicBookDay Hashtag

Links Generated By This Year's Event
* Downtown Comics
* LA Times
* MTV Geek
* The Comics Reporter

*****



*****

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*****
*****
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Beautiful Old Comics Reprinted

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posted 5:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Top Shelf announced a pair of summer books last week in I believe the exact ten minutes I was not able to get up word of those books in a more timely fashion. The first three names recommending Rob Harrell's Monster On The Hill series -- a book series -- are Neil Gaiman, Jeff Smith and Richard Thompson. So that's pre-sold to me, anyway. That's all-ages and 192 pages. I think they could do well with that one. God Is Disappointed In You has a strong high-concept and I say that as not particularly a fan of high concepts: a re-telling of the Bible where each book is boiled down to its funniest, most distressing core. That features art by Shannon Wheeler, who has had one of the more interesting alt-comics careers in terms of his non-Shannon Wheeler written projects for sure. Anyway, a couple of people have in the last week wondered out loud in my direction after Top Shelf's output, so there you go.

image* that great cartoonist Richard Thompson is hard at work assembling material for The Complete Cul De Sac, due as early as this Fall. That should be something to behold. I'm very glad that that work is going to receive a strong, comprehensive printing and that Thompson is going to be involved as heavily as it looks like he's going to be involved. That was a great comic strip.

* John Kerschbaum has work appearing in MAD. I have to imagine that's still a fun freelance get that first time around. And subsequent times around.

* here's a preview of RM Guera on Judge Dredd.

* Ben Towle has a look at a cover for the next Maakies collection, in that great series by Tony Millionaire.

* finally, I somehow missed this cover for the forthcoming Jim Woodring book.

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

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posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Abzernad

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posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* there are a couple of slots left in Paul Karasik's summer workshops.

image* here's a bunch of short reviews from Derik A Badman about comics he read in April. Rob Clough reads a bunch of diary comics. Todd Klein on World's Finest #11. Johanna Draper Carlson reviews one of those DC Entertainment video adaptations of comic book material. Grant Goggans takes on more newer Legion Of Super-Heroes material.

* from Dean Mullaney comes this article about an exhibit featuring the works owned by former prominent retailer JR Riley.

* I would imagine this shouldn't make any difference.

* Deb Aoki talks the manga market in broad strokes as part of the Deconstructing Comics series on comics markets, a series in which I took part a few weeks back.

* Valerie Gallaher predicts the future; it reflects a very mainstream-centric view of comics, but there's some interesting analysis in there.

* Shannon Smith floats the notion that Twitter makes it easier for fans and readers to express their displeasure over corporate policies.

* there's an interesting, short post here from Ryan Holmberg about the effect of manga on alternative comics in India. If that doesn't just sound like an interesting article right out of the gate, I don't know what would.

* finally: Princess Captain America.
 
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Happy 62nd Birthday, Rick Veitch!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Michael T. Gilbert!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Box Brown!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Roberta Gregory!

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Happy 71st Birthday, Tony Auth!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Kevin Scalzo!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Eraklis Petmezas!

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May 6, 2013


Go, Look: Superman... A Criminal?

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posted 12:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Blutch Passport Difficulties End North American Tour

imagePictureBox Inc. Publisher Dan Nadel has announced the cancellation of all planned North American events for the cartoonist Blutch, including an appearance at this weekend's TCAF. PictureBox recently published what I believe is the first significant translated work from the artist widely available domestically, So Long, Silver Screen. It's certainly the first stand-alone work from Blutch in English.

Thomas Ragon of Dargaud described to CR a tortuous experience for the author in trying to secure the paperwork necessary to travel.
"Blutch needed a new biometric passport, his previous one having expired. The normal procedure was too short.

"There is one procedure possible to obtain a new passport in emergency, at a specific place in Paris. Now, we enter the Kafkaian side of this ridiculous story.

"Two different persons in the administration in charge, on two different occasions, didn't mention where he should go to complete this procedure. Now he can't do anything because he doesn't have the old passport, and he can't get it back either because his file has been misdriven at the crucial time... He should be here if those two persons would have done their job. And of course without an incredible concours de circonstances where every info never arrived, or just too late."
Nadel told CR they hoped to bring the artist over at a later date, but that such plans are even a distance off from the discussion phase, let alone their execution.
 
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Go, Look: MB37

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posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Thai Cartoonist Sued For Prostitute Post About Prime Minister

This is the most succinct of the wire stories I've read about Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra filing a complain with Dusit police to charge cartoonist Chai Rachawat with libel and defamation over a statement made on social media.

The post itself uses the word prostitute to draw a distinction between a prostitute and the evil person the cartoonist believes the prime minister to be. I'm not exactly sure how you can libel someone by calling them evil -- that seems like a judgement call to me more than some term that can be disproved -- but I don't really know how the law works. I am sort of terrified by the thought of a law restricting free speech via the special target of computers in any part of the world, and a ten-year sentence for criticizing a public official via a summary term like that is high lunacy. I'm also, as always, discouraged by the worldwide trend of several years running now whereby elected officials using a court system in which they're almost certainly likely to find some special favor to beat on their country's cartoonists.
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Harp Of Death

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posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Lance Fensterman: C2E2 2013 At 53K Attendance Mark

There's a fairly substantive little interview with Reed Pop's Lance Fensterman currently up at the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com. It's mostly post-their recent Chicago show. Fensterman reports their 2013 attendance on C2E2 at 53,000, up from 40,000 last year, with the number of exhibitors up as well. In a way that confers some additional authority to the positive figures, Fensterman also reports a mixed bag of sales from a targeted group of non-comics related vendors sporting an urban moniker and that New York is already out of four-day passes with staggered sales to come. A mini-section on security matters might interest a few of you as well.

Chicago is a great comics town, and like Seattle it's a great mainstream comics city while also having an alt/arts community of significance. So it should be no surprise that an audience might eventually begin to build for a Reed show there despite some of the infrastructure/culture impediments I think a show at McCormick Place initially presented (it's a bigger psychological chore to go to a show all the way near downtown than I suspect show organizers realized). DC Comics seems to have invested in establishing a presence there in a way that's begun to pay off for them. The next few years should be very interesting in terms of the Spring mainstream comics show season, particularly if Comic-Con settles into Anaheim.
 
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Go, Look: Shakespeare-Themed Cocktail Napkins

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Collective Memory: Free Comic Book Day 2013

imageLinks to various items related to Free Comic Book Day 2013

This entry will continue to be updated for as long as people

*****

Links Either Institutional Or General
* Official Site
* Facebook
* Twitter
* FCBD Hashtag
* FreeComicBookDay Hashtag

Links Generated By This Year's Event
* Downtown Comics
* MTV Geek
* The Comics Reporter

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Go, Look: Boulet's US Tour Part One

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Comics By Request -- People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* Nix Comics is doing a fundraiser for this comic about the struggles of small retailers. Nix is the Columbus, Ohio outfit that's taking a severe locals-first strategy and only occasionally working outside of their regional area. So if you're in that region, I hope you'll pay close attention to what they're doing.

* I'm posting this about five days before it rolls out, so I bet this Andy Ristaino project is over the top, but either way you should check it out if you haven't yet.

* this high-profile Watson and Holmes crowd-funder is winding down over the next few hours.

* here are two non-publishing projects: a Hulk statue for a public library, which I just find sort of odd; a person raising money to be sent to a comics convention, which you used to see a lot more of.

* the writer-about-manga (and other comics) Deb Aoki likes this project, and that's good enough for me.

* here's a crowd-funder recommended by a CR reader, an effort that apparently caused someone to put up a fake crow-funder with the same imagery. Drama!

* finally, I didn't realize that DC was raising money for its charitable efforts through one of the crowd-funding sites. I'm not sure that means anything, but there it is.
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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Go, Read: Comics Retirement Home Plot In Gasoline Alley

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the third Iron Man movie opened up to a bunch of money. I wish they would use some of it to provide bonuses to the creators, but I'm not holding my breath. I may talk about that at greater length at some point today or tomorrow. At any rate, Marvel rules movies now. This is interesting for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being that the movie-strategy is one of two great distinguishing characteristics of post-'90s bankruptcy Marvel. The other is smart, high-end, quality licensing deals.

image* Grace O'Connell talks to Aaron Costain. Rob McMonigal talks to Jamal Igle. The Doug Wright Awards people talk to Jesse Jacobs, Tin Can Forest and David Collier.

* not comics: I could watch old footage of thriving mid-20th Century newsrooms all freaking day.

* I enjoyed this bounce back through five-year increments of the X-Men comic book, just to see what changed and when. They really settled into a specific mode of storytelling for about 20 years there.

* Kevin Cortez on The Golem Of Gabirol.

* I liked this piece from Bully on DC purchasing another company's Dr. No story when the movie hit.

* I'm not a fan of the character and he certainly wasn't a part of my childhood in any way, so I think I can say with some fairness that this redesign of He-Man is super-boring. The one thing I think those characters have is a kind of weird, random, fussy, low-grade design quality. They look like fucked-up toys that you find in a random bag of toys at a shitty supermarket when your family is own their way via station wagon to Disney World. This re-design doesn't come anywhere close to that neighborhood of appeal.

* finally, a Milt Gross form letter.
 
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Happy 65th Birthday, David Michelinie!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Craig Fischer!

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Please Vote In The Nominating Round For The Harvey Awards

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May 5, 2013


CR Sunday Interview: Anne Ishii

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Anne Ishii is a writer based in New York City. She may be best known to comics fans for her time at Vertical, helping fashion a market for adult-themed literary manga back when whether or not that would ever happen was still in doubt. Since leaving that company in mid-2007, Ishii has worked a series of gigs outside of comics on behalf of a number of wide-ranging projects. In just the last six months this has included writing work at her own Ill-Iterate and her shared-site Blasian, driving attention to the 2012 installation Architecture For Dogs, penning a Slate piece on Eddie Huang's book and acting as a public point person for the recent film series They're All So Beautiful. Ishii is also a talented translator, bringing with that gig a skill-set that would prove to be deeply useful in both instigating and executing her current comics-related project.

Ishii is a driving force behind the publication of PictureBox's brand-new The Passion Of Gengoroh Tagame: Master Of Gay Erotic Manga, on which she has a producer credit. It's a formidable book: visually powerful, directly engaging and stuffed with forcefully-told stories. It makes its formal debut at next weekend's TCAF, with Tagame on hand; a slew of New York City-based events are planned for the week after the big Toronto comics show. I'm grateful Ishii had the time to talk with me during a busy week of pre-show preparation.

I encourage everyone in attendance at next weekend's festival in Toronto to stop by the PictureBox booth and check this book out; it's something to behold. Ishii may even have merchandise on hand. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

imageTOM SPURGEON: I think maybe a way to approach a first question is ask after this specific project's provenance, how Passion came into being.

ANNE ISHII: This goes back to when I was still working at Vertical. I was slowly -- not slowly, really -- making my way out. Chip [Kidd] came to me personally with his collection of books by Tagame and said, "I love this guy's work, and I wish I understood what was going on in them. Can you translate some of this stuff for me?" My eyes felt like they popped out of my face [laughs] when I saw this content, not the least of reasons is that I didn't know Chip was into stuff like this.

The nature of it was so novel to me. We spent the next year just kind of talking about it. My translating it for him came in various levels of formality, from my actually translating it into a script, to just kind walking him through and telling him what the plotlines were. He really wanted to do an English version, some official version of it. He'd written English fan mail to Tagame's e-mail. We learned later that at that precise moment when Chip wrote in, Tagame was going through a bit of a depressive funk so he wasn't in any condition to answer publishing queries.

Years passed. Chip was like, "What's the deal? Is this guy interested in an English-language edition?" Because it's in Spanish and in Italian and in French at this point. A couple of years ago I met Graham: the editor, Graham Kolbeins. He does a lot of queer media stuff. He had expressed an interest in doing an editorial piece on gay Japanese manga artists. Not specifically Tagame, but Tagame came up. And the extent of his research was so broad that I actually suggested to him that maybe we should be talking about doing a book rather than you just doing an article on this stuff. When I put Graham and Chip in touch with each other, the three of us all came into the same room and said, "Yeah, let's do something like this if someone's willing to publish it and we can get these artists." Then I wrote Tagame an e-mail and this time he was very eager and willing. Tagame deserves a producer credit on this book, too, as through the course of working with us has introduced us to so much and has given us a completely open look at the gay Japanese manga scene, as it were.

I had a short list of publishers I wanted to approach about this. Dan [Nadel] was both willing and eager. I love PictureBox, so that was a no-brainer. That's the long... [laughs] that's probably a longer version than you wanted.

SPURGEON: No, that's perfect for us.

There's a bunch of stuff that comes up in that response. You mentioned other books... how is the PictureBox book like the other editions that came out? It has to be at least a little bit different for the inclusion of the story "Class Act," which was commissioned. But other than that, is
Passion basically what was released in Tagame's name in the European markets?

ISHII: No, this is very different. So what makes it different is what has happened in the past with the Italian and Spanish editions. To lump them into one translation bucket, those were direct adaptations of Japanese graphic novels. They took Japanese editions and just swapped out the language. What we did was a) the format's larger. It's about 125 percent of the original Japanese format that Tagame's used to; b) we looked at pretty much his entire canon or oeuvre -- you can make up something pretentious there [laughs] -- and while we obviously didn't pore through every single one we looked at what was available digitally and what was available rights-wise and what Tagame thought were his better stories before we made our selections. The three of us, we each picked the ones we wanted. Then, to make it new, Chip had always wanted to commission a story. So that seemed like a natural extra bonus thing to add.

SPURGEON: The second question that I have off of that original response is you talk about how Tagame could have received a producer credit distinct from his creator credit. "Producer" is how you're credited on this work; it's not a word that tends to be used with comics projects. I was wondering if you could talk about that title, and maybe draw some distinctions in what you did as opposed to the other people whose names are on the books.

ISHII: It's probably just egotism, but it's because the book involved so many moving parts between the production, the rights -- which were sort of tied up in different places because we sort of pulled different stories out of different things -- and then managing Chip, Graham, Dan and Tagame; all of those things. I guess my producer credit is due to the fact I sort of agented the book and then also translated and made sure everyone was communicating with each other. I borrowed this term from what I understand film producers go through: budget, schedule, development, overseeing -- and the one thing I did not do is anything creative. So it would have been unfair to call myself an editor or anything like that. Really I just kind of made sure everyone was heading to the same place. To that end, Tagame was an integral part for sure.

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SPURGEON: Credit is fascinating in publishing, both comics and prose, because sometimes who does actual work on books is not how we credit or even conceive of people working on a book. Even when we know better, sometimes we'll say, "That person really did the work," but we don't make sure that's reflected in a title or credit. You've been around publishing long enough I have to think you've seen this kind of thing go on. Was it important to you to find a credit that fit what you did, just in terms of the statement that makes?

ISHII: Yeah, absolutely. Titles are so weird. Because I spend so much time working in marketing and other things -- sort of what I would call "Business Service" -- and for so long, regardless of industry, titles are always something that come up. In the business world -- not to tell you anything that everybody doesn't already know -- your title comes with a lot of different rules and even pay structure. So for those reasons, I think titles are more important than they really should be. Every piece of media has a million different fingerprints on it, and I'm sure each of those people would like to be identified. Even once this comes out, there will be things like, "Oh, I was the inspiration for that story." I actually don't even know the interns that work for Dan, but they should certainly be credited in some way.

I think the reason why "producer" was important to me is when I look at a lot of copyright pages in books, I know the title page is really the most important part. Wherever you can find real estate in a book is important, purely from a business standpoint. Not to sound grotesque about it, but I work for myself, and this is something I want to continue to do. It's only for those reasons I want to be called out. If I had some other amazing career that didn't require me to depend on this [laughs] I wouldn't care so much.

I think it's actually sort of symbiotic. If I give myself an important title, I think I'll work harder, be more present.

SPURGEON: There's a casualness to comics publishing that can work to the detriment of the people that do the work. There's an expressed, shared ethos that you shouldn't care about those things. You see a shrugged-shoulder reaction, "Whatever you want to call yourself."

ISHII: Yes! It's funny you should say that. If the Eisner Awards are any indication, I remember being floored the first time I saw that and the number of awards that are given out and how it's segmented. An equivalent awards show in Japan doesn't get as detailed, I would say.

SPURGEON: Now when you say this is something you want to continue to do, I'm not exactly sure what that means. Where does this book fit into your plans? This isn't our first interview; you certainly used to work in comics full-time. At the same time, this isn't something you've done a lot of since; it's been a while. Is this something you want to do, these kinds of publishing projects?

ISHII: A friend of mine who I'm actually working with over the summer on a different project had a really good point about what is a project. She made this point that for some people the project is the end product, the project is about getting something done. For a lot of other people, a project is a process. For somebody like me it's definitely important to have an end product, but it's much more important just for my career to be able to say I can be part of a process. So in that sense, maybe a more accurate title would be "project manager." But "producer" has that implication of producing a product.

Yeah, I want to do more of these producer-role projects, where it's as much about the process. For example, I wouldn't call myself just a translator. If that were the case, I'd only be working on the language of the content. There's so many more interesting things to do than wait for an editor to call me with a book they want in English. That's kind of it, I suppose. I want to package things.

SPURGEON: So what was particularly satisfying to you about the process of putting together the Passion book?

ISHII: I think a large part of it is that I knew it was something that brought pure joy to lot of people that hadn't seen it before. Including Chip, right? He was so excited about seeing this in English. He's the first person that I know of -- I'm sure there are others -- that wanted to make this available to the rest of America.

When I showed the original content of it to people, and met other people that knew about his work, they were only ever really excited. Everyone was just like, "When is this going to be in English?" I find that hugely ironic, because to me porn really isn't about narrative. [laughter] I thought it was really awesome that people wanted to read these stories. Part of the satisfaction for me was to give something that was going to be really exciting. I'd be lying if I said every single book I publicized or worked on was exciting. This one, I knew it was going to have an audience. It felt more like a social service, a public service.

I guess I have not enough meaning in my life. [laughter]

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SPURGEON: You've talked a couple of times now about the power with which the work hit you. In fact, according to the introductory material, Chip discovered this work after picking up and looking at it for only a couple of seconds. There is an obvious punch to Tagame's comics. What kind of hit you about the work right away?

ISHII: [pause] Well, I think obviously the graphic nature of the content. And something about it being so outrageous, it was like listening to rap with parental advisory labels on the covers for the first time. It felt like that. It was like, "Oh, my god: dick. So much dick. So much anus." [Spurgeon laughs] It's so graphic. It's visceral: you look over your shoulder, you know?

Another thing -- and this is something we talk a lot about internally, and I hope it makes itself more obvious. It's big Asian dudes. And I had never seen that. Ever. Besides maybe sumo wrestling. Depictions of Asian are by and large small, skinny, effeminate. So that was really exciting. I just felt, "Wow. Big, burly Asian dudes."

As far as the artwork, there was something distinctly Japanese about it. There were only a handful of stories that I had seen that were in a Japanese period setting. Plenty of them were set in quote/unquote western settings. I kept confusing the settings and I kept referring his work as being very Edo and classic Japanese. I said that without realizing actually not even the majority of his narratives are set in classic Japan. I just sort of thought that because of the style. There's something very classically Japanese about it.

SPURGEON: Is there anything that revealed itself in the work as you translated it, something that you maybe didn't see at first? Is there a way your appreciation of it deepened as you worked with the material?

ISHII: The language he uses is really interesting. I find it actually arcane. Without getting too anthropological about it, the Japanese language does have so many layers. It can be as casual or as formal as it needs to be. There's this third axis in Tagame's writing that's a play on characters -- by characters I mean the ideographs. It's a very arcane usage of a lot of letters, even in the modern settings. Maybe that's why I kind of assumed it was classical Japan, because the language is... multi-layered. Those are things I didn't appreciate until I dug deeply into the production and the translation.

imageSPURGEON: So where does Tagame's work -- and I realize this may be an impossible question -- fit into what is available in terms of porn in Japan? Is there a lot more work like this, or this very distinct and idiosyncratic within that context?

ISHII: I can't pretend to know a lot about gay erotica in Japan. But I have seen enough of it to be able to contextualize Tagame. I'll borrow the description from the opinions of the real expert. There's another artist named Jiraiya, who is really popular. In my mind I feel like Tagame and Jiraiya are kind of the mom and dad of gay manga in Japan. Jiraiya is more about -- pardon the expression -- happy endings. [laughter] His stories have to end on a positive note because the last thing gays need is more torture and sadness and self-doubt.

He said something really interesting, that Tagame is the undisputed progenitor of this genre. Tagame's work is actually in a weird way open to a much wider audience. In other words: straight people, women... his audience is quite diverse. Whereas Jiraiya's work, because of how much more about fraternity and positive feelings and positive depictions of healthy male bodies, his audience is almost entirely gay men. He actually doesn't know any straight people that are really into his work. I'm sure that's an exaggeration, he probably does have straight fans. But I see what he's saying. Something about what Tagame does isn't even about being gay. It's not about homosexuality. It's about desire and the darker side of desire. It doesn't fit into a sexual category to me; it's about desire. Once you think about it that way, Tagame totally evades category. He stands out.

What's interesting to me is that it inspires so many people to do gay comics. I think a really important part of that is that Tagame is somebody that has made a stand-alone career out of this. He doesn't have a day job. This is what he does. Do you know what I mean? Everybody else, as far as I know, is working as a graphic designer or something similar somewhere else, and does this on the weekends. He's been able to make a career out of it.

SPURGEON: Before I forget, it seems to me that the comics themselves are pretty straight-forward formally. Is that a fair thing to say? Could that be part of their appeal? They seem... accessible. There's nothing about the way the stories unfold or the way the comics move that seems obtuse or arch or dependent on complex storytelling solutions. They seem easy to understand.

ISHII: Yeah, I'd agree. I think you're totally right. There are a couple of tricks in form that I think are pretty interesting. I didn't really catch this until a couple of reads. Flashbacks have a black background. There are details he forces you to call out. He does a lot of flashbacking. That's one little trick.

He might disagree, but I don't think he's a formalist. It is straight-ahead, but most of his writing... it's serialized first. He talked a lot for the next book about the relationship between artists and editors. I don't know how tight that relationship is in the US, but I know that you basically get serialized in a magazine. That's something with which you collaborate with an editor. Then they compile them into collections. There's a commercial need.

SPURGEON: The thing that's interesting to me about this work's relative accessibility is that you are forced to confront what he's talking about; there's nothing that gets into your way. There's no way to settle on some obtuse reaction to the building blocks of formal presentation distinct from content. He's in-your-face that way.

What I liked about that is the effect on tone. There's a lot that's funny in
Passion, but it's not processed the same way I think a lot of American erotic comics prefer to be processed -- there's an earnest quality that comes through. He's not joking around with this stuff. You're never laughing at what's going on even though there's an outrageousness to what you might be seeing. It's never disconnected from some serious, human engagement with ideas about desire and, say, violation. Is that a fair reading?

ISHII: Oh, yeah. I agree. I think he would say that his work is as much about making you ask questions as it is provoking a reaction, a physical response. I would say that there are as many question marks as there are boners in his work, for sure. [laughs] That's something I think he's very deliberate with. He has very specific back stories to each of his mangas. It's calculated. There's something about that that's very in tune with the BDSM culture he's from. The ritualistic aspects of provocation and reaction, the roles people play, how far is too far. He's kind of poking at the boundaries, and he's asking you to be part of his experiment in a way.

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SPURGEON: I don't want to get too deeply into a direct reading of an individual story, because I think that's always best left to the reader. But there's a story in Passion called I think "Arena"...?

ISHII: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

SPURGEON: That is an amazing story.

ISHII: I know. [laughs]

SPURGEON: I think that's the stop and stare. I think that's the belle of the ball.

ISHII: [laughs] I completely agree. I thought that was an incredible story. I think for me what made it so powerful was that it's so inter-textual: there's America, there's military, there's boxing vs. karate, there's Street Fighter, my God, which I find endlessly hilarious... it's one of the only stories I saw with as diverse a cast of characters.

It's kind of like... this is a really shitty analogy, but I remember seeing La Bohème, and there's a famous scene where everybody is on the street. Like Carnival. In the production I saw, they actually brought in a fucking horse. [laughter]

SPURGEON: That's a great point.

ISHII: I was like, "Oh, my God. A real horse. A live horse just walked onstage at the Metropolitan Opera. What?" My mind started to think, "Oh my God, they had to feed it in the back. [laughs] How did they bring it in...?" That's kind of what I went through when we were editing "Arena."

SPURGEON: You're right in that one thing that is remarkable about that story is that it has all of these layers, all of these things going on. All of these individual narratives -- there's like 15 stories you could have wrung from that material just by isolating different lines of erotic inquiry. To build on your other point: you say Tagame is a deliberate artist. So this wall of effect, this tapestry of effect, that's likely deliberate, too. It's specific, anyway. How does he intend that to work, do you think? Is it that these layers play off of one another? Do they build one on another? What effect does he get out of this tightly-woven, really intense layering of narratives?

ISHII: Like a lot of literature, I suppose it forces you to slow down. There are stories I won't forget inside that one story. I think it's just the tools of a good storyteller. Maybe in experimenting with so many narrative threads, he's rendered it literary.

I don't know, I'd like to know more about the story, too. Between that and several other stories, there's a lot of voyeurism and his personal proclivities not withstanding I think that's interesting, too. Not as a motive for eroticism, but I had taken for granted until reading this the idea of being watched by a bunch of people. That's sort of pornography, isn't it? It's being read by a bunch of people. I don't know. There's something weird about a bunch of people watching the same sex act. A lot of his stories touch on that.

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SPURGEON: To pivot off of "Arena," that's such an obvious anchor piece for this book, but is there one that you're happy that is in there that's maybe not as bold. Is there a story you'd send someone back to re-read, one that you liked quite a bit?

ISHII: I'm looking at the book... because I feel like looking at gay porn. [Spurgeon laughs]

"Country Doctor" is a perversion of Japanese cultural history, but it's interesting how he incorporates an animistic element. I think it scratches a couple of different itches. I think anyone looking to this as a Japanese book, and not just gay or Tagame or Chip for that matter, this is proto-Japanese. I think it was "Missing" that was really interesting also. It was called "Missing" in the original Japanese, too. It's a play on the idea of being missed and also being absent. I guess the the play on the transitive and intransitive meaning of "Missing" is interesting from a linguistic point of view. "Arena" is really sort of the centerpiece. But yeah, "Country Doctor" as well.

SPURGEON: Other than the fact the story he commissioned is in there, have you given any thought to this being a Chip Kidd book? Where might this book stand in terms of Chip's career, and how might we see Passion in the context of how we receive and process Chip's career?

ISHII: I think it's a culmination of a lot of things Chip is about, without it being his. While he's certainly worked on other gay content and he's gay, there are so many different iterations of that lifestyle that may or may not be pertinent to anything.

This represents his passion for comics. This represents his passion for Japan. And Tagame as a singular artist. I have a weird perspective on it because Chip knows everything about comics, but when we worked at Vertical together, there was quite a bit of a learning curve for him with manga. He knows tons about it, of course, but at the time we were learning about a lot of it together. I have a distinctly manga background, if anything. It was interesting to learn it together, I guess. If that makes sense. To see this book with his name on it and my name on it represents an education. I don't know how else to put that.

SPURGEON: You're bringing Tagame over to North America: first to TCAF, and then for some New York City events the week after. You're either managing or working with Dan Nadel on the PR end of this book. Can I ask you a couple of questions about that?

ISHII: Yeah, sure.

imageSPURGEON: Are there specific challenges in placing a book like this with its audience? I don't even know if you feel like you're creating an audience here, or if it's just about finding where those people are.

ISHII: This will never be blurbed by the Tibet House. [laughter]

You know what it is? I have yet to show this book to anybody that has the guts to tell me they're appalled by it. So what's happened is that everybody has said they loved it. They might be lying. I say that I like things that I don't sometimes, to get people off of my back. I think the beauty in a book this obscene, this technically obscene, is that if it offends you, it will be so offensive you're not actually going to care. It's not uncanny. It's just pure. I think its spectrum is pretty narrow.

I don't think this will be a nationwide bestseller. The people that like it are going to love it and the people that are fascinated by it are going to own it as an artifact. So that's the market. That's how I'm thinking of it strategically.

It's not just for gay people. It will be for people in the BDSM community, for sure. It will also be for women who are into depictions of men. Sex is sex is sex.

Having said that, with the PR stuff, Dan and I sort of agreed that it was going to be hard to get straight-ahead book reviews of this. Having said that, a lot of people want to talk about Tagame, and our role in making this book. That's what I hope is the vehicle for this book, a discussion about the publishing process, so that more books like this get published. I know a lot of people are interested in something like this, but they're afraid there's not enough of a market for it. I think by talking about how the book was done, people will do more books like it. If that makes sense.

SPURGEON: It does. That kind of takes us full circle. There is an element to a lot of the work you've done in comics that you're not just presenting an original work but providing an argument for more of that work. There's a social service aspect to it.

ISHII: Yes. Exactly. I have to keep reminding myself that there are things in this book that will freak out or offend people. It manages not to be about politics. It manages not to be about hate crimes. There's violence in here, but it's not anti-gay. My agenda might have just been to see more iterations of different kind of Asian male corpulence and corpulence in general. So in that sense it's also a social service from my point of view.

SPURGEON: Is there a specific misconception you're worried about?

ISHII: About the book?

SPURGEON: The book is very direct. If you push back against this book, you're pushing back against the content of this book.

ISHII: Right.

SPURGEON: Is there a way this book can be processed about which you worry?

ISHII: I hadn't really thought about this. One big misconception I'm definitely worried about is sometimes when I talk about this without showing the content, a pretty common, sort of knee-jerk reaction I hear is, "Well, Japan is the country where you can buy used panties in a vending machine." Right? I hear that a lot. That there's something more perverted about Japanese popular culture.

I wouldn't want this to be put into the same category as panties in a vending machine. As long as people know that these things don't exist in the same place. If you go to a bookstore in Tokyo and find Tagame's book, you'll see that they're packaged like [Roberto] Bolano books. They're beautifully packaged. That's because he's respected. Not that there's anything disrespectful about panties in vending machines, per se, [laughs] but I wouldn't want anyone to think this was just some simplistic, pulp artifact.

SPURGEON: Chip Kidd talks about this a bit in his introduction. He brings up the Tom Of Finland comparison -- specifically, that it's not apt, that Tagame is a very different artist, his own artist. And I would imagine there's a fine line between granting someone that individuality and seeing them as a specific creature of culture. But Tagame strikes me as a world artist.

ISHII: I do think that his holding hands with us, an Chip in particular, sets the context in a really positive way. If we had just done something like the Europeans, and repackaged something that had existed in Japanese, it would have been out of context and left to flail on its own with American readers. I think it helps that Chip and Ed White wrote prefaces. It's not so isolated.

*****

* The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame: Master of Gay Erotic Manga, Gengoroh Tagame and Anne Ishii and Graham Kolbeins and Chip Kidd, PictureBox, softcover, 256 pages, 0984589244 (ISBN10), 9780984589241 (ISBN13), April 2013, $29.95.
* Gay Manga!
* Anne Ishii on Twitter
* Anne Ishii Site

*****

* other than the cover, art for this interview is split between imagery from "Arena" and "Country Doctor." The jpegs were supplied by Graham Kolbeins. Thanks, Graham.

*****

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*****
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Go, Look: My Dad's Favorite Comic Book Was Daredevil

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Go, Look: Lurid, Violent And Racist Kids Comics

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Go, Look: New Stories #116

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

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

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If I Were Near Purchase, I'd Go To This

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Happy 46th Birthday, Adam Hughes!

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Happy 81st Birthday, Stan Goldberg!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Mart!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, David Lloyd!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Éric Ivars!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Joseph Remnant!

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Please Vote In The Nominating Round For The Harvey Awards

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FFF Results Post #334 -- Love For Viz

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Series From Viz You'd Recommend." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Detroit Metal City
2. The Drifting Classroom
3. Dr. Slump
4. Death Note
5. Dragonball

*****

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Jamie S. Rich

1. Revolutionary Girl Utena
2. Maison Ikkoku
3. the Junko Mizuno fairy tale books
4. Mai the Psychic Girl
5. Nana

*****

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Dustin Harbin

1. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
2. Dragonball
3. Pluto
4. Gogo Monster
5. Vagabond

*****

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Michael Peterson

1. 20th Century Boys
2. Phoenix
3. Vagabond
4. Oishinbo
5. Full Metal Alchemist

Restraining myself to one title per creator, for the sake of my sanity, still made this a ridiculous exercise.

*****

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Dave Knott

* Dorohedoro
* Vagabond
* Monster
* Bakuman
* Phoenix

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. Uzumaki
2. Pluto
3. Saturn Apartments
4. Tekkonkinkreet
5. Cowa

They lose points for not picking up Cromartie High. Everyone loses points for not picking up Cromartie High.

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. 20th Century Boys
2. Phoenix
3. Monster
4. Pluto
5. Nana

*****

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Scott O. Brown

1 -- 20th Century Boys
2 -- Pluto
3 -- Monster
4 -- Uzumaki
5 -- The Drifting Classroom

You can never have too much Urusawa.

*****

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Aaron Costain

1. Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind
2. Oishinbo
3. Uzumaki
4. Children of the Sea
5. No. 5

*****

thanks to all that participated

*****
*****
 
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FFF Results Post #333 -- All Dead And Gone

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Defunct Sources Of Material About Comics You Enjoyed." This is how they responded.

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Comics Interview
2. Rocket's Blast Comic Collector
3. Journalista
4. Amazing Heroes
5. Nemo

*****

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Dave Knott

* Egon
* Comic Art
* The Steranko History of Comics
* Comics Comics
* Submedia

*****

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Patrick Ford

1. Nemo
2. Graphic Story World
3. Cartoonist Profiles
4. Inside Comix
5. Harvard Journal Of Pictorial Fiction

*****

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Andrew White

1) Indie Spinner Rack podcast
2) Comics Comics
3) Next Issue! (thenextissue.blogspot.com)
4) The Comics Journal Message Board
5) Livejournal

*****

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Gerry Alanguilan

1. Philippine Comics Review
2. Marvel Age
3. Comics Interview
4. Wizard
5. Hero

*****

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Tonyefa Oyake

- Indy Magazine
- Bud Plant (catalogs)
- Hogan's Alley
- Comic Art (by publisher M. Todd Hignite)
- Escape

... and honorable mention goes to...
- Comics Scene

*****

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Christopher Brown

1) The Comic Reader
2) FantaCo Chronicles
3) Comics Scene
4) Comics Buyer's Guide, when it was a weekly newsprint paper
5) Dick Giordano's Meanwhile columns

*****

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Shannon Smith

1) Journalista
2) The Comics Interpreter
3) The Comics Journal as a semi-monthly magazine
4) Marvel Age
5) Comic Book Artist

Side note: Comic Shop News is still going but I miss it. None of the shops within an hour of me carry it. But is it the last/most read print magazine/paper about comics in the US?

*****

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Bert Duckwall

1. Wizard- a guilty pleasure in the 1990's, a joke in the 2000's
2. Hero - another guilty pleasure in the 1990's
3. The Comics Journal- Tell Gary that that magazine is dead with that once every 14 month bullshit $30.00 price.
4. Comics Scene-the most missed of all of these
5. Marvel Age- when I was in grade school, I use to read these for hours.

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Comics File Magazine
2. Marvel Age
3. Comic Book Marketplace
4. Comics Feature
5. Hero Illustrated

*****

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Mike Pfefferkorn

1. The Comic Reader
2. The Barks Collector
3. Amazing World of DC Comics
4. Comics: The Golden Age
5. Mediascene

*****

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Tim Callahan

1. Amazing Heroes
2. Title Bout by A.K.
3. Savantmag
4. Comics Comics
5. Comics Interview

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Michael Fleisher's Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes
2. Maurice Horn's World Encyclopedia of Comics
3. Graeme McMillan's Fanboy Rampage
4. Dick Giordano's Meanwhile... columns
5. Amazing Heroes' Preview Specials

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Grimmers: The Harvard Journal of Pictorial Fiction
2. Cultural Correspondence
3. Cartoonist PROfiles
4. Funnyworld: The World of Animated Films and Comic Art
5. Fanfare: The Magazine of Popular Culture and All the Arts

*****

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Steven Thompson

1- Amazing Heroes
2- Hero Illustrated
3- The Comic Reader
4- TBG
5- The Menomonee Falls Gazette

*****

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John Platt

1. Comic Culture
2. Indy
3. Comics Scene
4. Comic Book Marketplace
5. Evan Dorkin's mail newsletter

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. Comic Art Magazine
2. Don Rosa's Information Center
3. Book Introductions by Bill Blackbeard
4. The TCJ Message Board
5. Nemo: The Classic Comics Library

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Crash
2. The Comics Reader
3. Comics Scene
4. Marvel Bullpen Bulletins with Stan's Soapbox
5. George Olshevsky's original Marvel Comics Indexes (Spider-Man, Conan, etc.)

*****

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J.E. Cole

1. Ninthart
2. Artbomb
3. Optimum Wound
4. Pulp magazine
5. Come in alone

*****

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Mark Mayerson

1. Graphic Story Magazine
2. Graphic Story World
3. Funnyworld
4. Comic Book Artist
5. The Comic Reader

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. Dave's Long Box
2. Amazing Heroes
3. Comics Collector (Kruse Publications version)
4. Don Markstein’s Toonopedia
5. Gone and Forgotten

*****

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Chris Duffy

1. Nemo
2. Comic Book Artist
3. Direct Currents
4. Comics Reader
5. Journalista

*****

topic modified from a suggestion by Adam Casey; thanks, Adam

*****
*****
 
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May 4, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Scott Stantis At C2E2


Some Sort Of Cowboy Henk Trailer


The Guy That Played Peter Allen Promotes Free Comic Book Day


Jack Ohman Interview


Ann Telnaes Profiled
 
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It's The Wonderful Day Called Free Comic Book Day

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If you're near a funnybook shop I hope you'll stop by if you haven't already for Free Comic Book Day. There are a lot of good comics available. I liked the Fanta Prince Valiant, both the D+Q books, the flip book depicted above and the 2000 AD. I'm sure I'm forgetting a bunch of awesome ones.

I love comic book stores, even the ones -- maybe especially the ones -- that don't flatter my own precious, overworked conception of what comics can and should be. I love retail spaces, and I like the option of going and looking at things. A comic shop is the place that comes closest to having all the comics, which is an idea that still thrills me even if it's more true collectively than individually at this point. I've never had a comic book shop that played a social role for me, not even the tiniest bit, but I know that's important for a lot of people and comic book shops do that, too.

This has been a good program for them, and comics can make more and more significant use of quality programs on which to build a bigger place for itself in the pop culture firmament. Comic shops have totally been kicking ass lately in a general sense as well. So all respect. I hope you'll visit one if you have one.
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from April 27 to May 3, 2013:

1. The AOL-sponsored blog ComicsAlliance shuts down, ending three full salaried position and one major contracted services deal in an already small field for industry-related journalism.

2. Controversy generated by Jack Ohman's cartoon critical of Texas business and oversight deregulation continues into a second week.

3. Convention season gets into the heart of the Spring season with twin shows over a single weekend: Stumptown and C2E2. TCAF looms.

Winners Of The Week
Your Stumptown Awards winners.

Loser Of The Week
Texas Governor Rick Perry, comics critic

Quote Of The Week
"Just as well, I draw too many old couples on the couch in front of the TV." -- Daryl Cagle

*****

today's cover is from the all-time series Classics Illustrated

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

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If I Were Near Oxford, I'd Go To This

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

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If I Were Near Oxford, I'd Go To This

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

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Geoff Grogan!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Alé Garza!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Shaenon Garrity!

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May 3, 2013


Go, Read: Love For Krypto

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Go, Look: Joywell

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Collective Memory: C2E2 2013

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this article has now been archived
 
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Go, Look: The Men Behind The Cardboard

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Collective Memory: Stumptown Comics Fest

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this article has now been archived
 
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Go, Read: Laura Hudson, Jim Rugg, Tom Orzechowski On Iron Man 3

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Someone E-Mail When They Build A Newmatic Man

I'd say building a 80,000-volt Thor hammer is the worst idea I ever heard, but I was around for the birth of Tekno Comix.
 
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Go, Read: Simon Harwood And Police Accountability

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* Darryl Cunningham is serializing his forthcoming financial crisis book's section on Ayn Rand at Act-I-Vate.

* Brigid Alverson would like you to know that Mark Millar is wrong about digital comics. I kind of think Millar is wrong, too, but he's right about a general comics strategy in so many ways that his being wrong about digital comics doesn't seem all that important except in how someone might apply that component lesson to themselves.

* Team Manga Bookshelf seems excited about the digital availability of the Twin Spica series. And why shouldn't they be?

* finally, Valerie Gallaher has left her position at MTV Geek for professional opportunities.
 
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If I Were In Vancouver, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Beverly Pardee

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the comics-friendly Edinburgh International Books Festival has announced a comics prize.

image* Grant Goggans has continued his look at Legion Of Super-Heroes comic books with a lot of comics that I haven't read yet. Tom Bondurant on The Movement #1.

* while I've been grousing and will probably continue to grouse until I fall over dead at the lack of imagination big companies like Marvel show at times in rewarding and respecting their intellectual-property creators, that doesn't mean that those buildings are full of orcs that 24/7 spew misery over the professional landscape. I like the writer Matt Fraction and I take it from this piece that working at Marvel on the Iron Man character has been great for him. I'm happy for that.

* speaking of Fraction, Graeme McMillan points towards his Hawkeye work as a potential oasis of sanity in the vast, crazy desert that can be Marvel's books program. I have about a half-dozen casual-reader-of-comics friends that love that title. I like it, too!

* someone aborted their Kickstarter, which I guess is the newsworthy part, but my mind while reading this had a tougher time wrapping itself around some of the numbers being bandied about. Mostly, I'm trying to figure out how a comic that needed that amount of money to get off the ground even works at a small publisher.

* Dave Richards talks to Jonathan Hickman. TJ Dietsch talks to Marc Silvestri. Hannah Means-Shannon talks to Jen Furguson.

* there's some reasonably interesting stuff here. I think it's fine to ask the question of whether or not a site like CA represents a wise expenditure for its media empire owners. I know that I bristled slightly when I see what people with established blogs say they "need" to run a site. Then again, I don't know that we know this to be the case, and people swear the model for that site worked -- just not enough that some other motivation and resulting strategy of killing it dead couldn't gain traction.

* not comics: this just strikes me as odd. It's not like I hate the character, either, but it's like having a statue of Ronald McDonald outside your library. Which is probably the case somewhere.

* finally: Zachi Telesha, RIP.
 
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Happy 74th Birthday, Dennis O'Neil!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Derek Kirk Kim!

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Happy 86th Birthday, Mell Lazarus!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Mark Coale!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Bill Sienkiewicz!

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May 2, 2013


Go, Look: Ian MacEwan's Pop Jellyfish Site

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Several Notes On Stumptown Comics Fest 2013

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By Tom Spurgeon

* here are a few notes about Stumptown Comics Fest 2013, held in the great comics city of Portland, Oregon over the weekend just past.

* to be clear about something right up front: I accepted the offer of a hotel room from the convention organizers for the majority of my stay at the show. I did this once before, with a WonderCon about a half-decade back. That is not an ideal situation -- and we're working on more ways to make CR profitable enough this isn't an issue -- but in both cases my intense curiosity about the show and the perceived value of my being able to see and process a specific event up close seemed to hold greater weight than the possibility I might spew forth biased, compromised bias. So I hope you approach what I write on Stumptown 2013 with a healthy dollop of skepticism -- I hope you always do that, actually. I can assure you there was no discussion in any way about content to be generated or duties to be performed, and I was left entirely on my own to shape however I wanted to coverage the show. I was on two panels, and in both of those cases I was contacted by the panel organizers and asked to get on board pretty last-minute. I was left alone.

* so: Stumptown.

* I flew into Portland on the Wednesday night preceding the show. Portland is the current best North American city for comics and comics makers. It is the capital of Comics-Land. If there is ever a great summit for comics, it ideally takes place in Portland. I love all the other comics cities big and small, too, every single place where one or more comics things exists, from White River Junction (CCS) to Muncie (Mark Waid, Jim Davis) to Columbus (Billy Ireland, Cartoon Books) to New York (Marvel/DC East; an army of creators) to Chicago (CAKE, a slightly smaller army of creators) to Seattle (Fantagraphics, ECCC) to LA (vital shops and DC West and clusters of talent). I really do. I still think Portland is up top right now in terms of breadth of talent, the store-and-company infrastructure, and the general quality of life available to comics people. Most cities would be better off becoming more like Portland than Portland would be better off becoming more like those other cities.

image* That last signifier is the key, really: the general quality of life that Portland offers a comics-maker. I think Portland gets a lot of its deserved praise by being an awesome place for comics people to live. Things like the effectiveness of its public transit or the way that older people have a functioning role in the city's culture are as important as any single group, person or institution that has a direct, trackable relationship with a longbox. As a result, the community of comics-people kind of organically arises from the general artistic community, and the benefits of the specific grouping of comics-makers, fans and thinkers-about become a bonus to the benefits of just living in one of the great places to settle down. You read about comics people interacting in Portland and it's always somehow less dramatic than the interactions you read about in other places. No one is holding onto each other for dear life in Portland. They have things to do. Stories from other North American cities involve intense encounters and astonishing leaps in artistic development; stories about paths crossing in Portland are frequently of the "Wow, you can't go to dinner without seeing another comics person somewhere in the damn restaurant" variety. I think this flatters a lot of what's individualistic and independent about many comics-makers, and also acts as a crucial hedge against the frequent desire to wrap yourself in a comics blanket so tightly you can't breathe.

* and Portland really does seem a great city, with a comfortable vibe and enough money both old and new to keep things interesting. There are roll-your-eyes Peter Pan elements, but they seem less furtive and unpleasant than they do in other cities. Portland often gets talked about as a lost borough of New York City -- Brooklyn West -- but one way it's a lot like New York for cartoonists is that the economics of it are slightly oppressive if you don't have your shit together. There are no easy day jobs in Portland and no real way to avoid having some sort of income over a long period of time. As a result, people that tend to be there to make comics are making enough from their comics that this is either their job or something that is decidedly Not Their Job. There are few people hanging around the margins of full-time comics creation there. Comics people in Portland don't mess around, because they can't.

* I wanted to see Stumptown this year because the conventional wisdom on it among comics people fascinates me. What a lot of people have described to me over the last couple of years is a show that is firmly stuck between competing self-conceptions. Stumptown's past is a kind of creator-oriented small press show of the SPX variety, so it has that firmly encoded into its DNA. At the same time, the success of Emerald City Comicon right up the road has provided Stumptown with a competing model for growth and development and general affection. What many comics-makers and devoted comics fans have told me is that Stumptown fluctuates between embracing its small-press identity and making a stab at a wider, perhaps more mainstream audience. Who doesn't love SPX? Who wouldn't want ECCC's reviews?

* I also get the sense that as a slightly older show -- 2013's edition was the 10-year -- Stumptown is bound to have some growing pains and middle-aged identity issues. One way this gets expressed by local cartoonists to whom I spoke is that the show "isn't Portland enough," by which they mean it doesn't reflect the natural strengths and quirks of the city and cartoonists around and through whom the show exists. I find show development way more fascinating than starting a new one.

* Stumptown exists in a completely different context now as opposed to where it stood its first few years out of the gate. There are a dozen arguably similar small-press shows now, including those that are around the same age (TCAF) or even younger (BCGF) that, I'd say, enjoy much greater status in the national small-press community. There are also a number of Portland shows with which Stumptown has to compete for the imagination of local comics fans: there's one from Wizard, one which partners directly with Emerald City called Rose City Comic Con, and 2013 will a second version of The Projects effort which is playing around with the format of such shows in a way that seems very Portland. The convention calendar nationally is also more crowded, and this has an effect here. You definitely had people staying home in order to get ready for TCAF in a couple of weeks. C2E2 at the very least probably drew some press people that might be here otherwise.

* anyway, I'm not sure that's accurate or fair, but that's what I was hearing and feeling. I hope that sets the stage.

* any trip to Stumptown should probably include a couple of days just enjoying the city: as a comics city, as a city-city, or hopefully both.

* flying into Portland was great -- it's always at least pretty great, at least for me, and that's a lovely, mid-sized airport -- and getting to my hotel was absolutely no problem. I spent $2.50 on public transportation and walked a few blocks, including past a bread factory. I think that's about a $25-$30 cab ride. In comparison, my journey from airplane to hotel room for BCGF took about three hours and involved enough different modes of transportation to build a travel montage in a mid-1970s James Bond movie.

* a bunch of the comics people were put up at the Jupiter Hotel on Burnside about five blocks away from the convention center. That place was super-Portlandy, or at least satisfied my outsider's conception: a converted motor lodge with beaucoup faux hipster flourishes like an art gallery, vintage signage, hard plastic furniture and a pretty good place to see concerts right on the property. I can't remember ever announcing I was staying at the Bethesda North Marriott and having people tweet back at me about the Bob Mould shows they went to there. The Jupiter even had soap that was apparently ecologically sound by having the middle cut out of it, although I have to say that cutting a hole in one's soap strikes me as something prisoners do more frequently than Earth-firsters. Strangely sexual washing bars aside, I thought that was a great hotel for singles and couples to spend a convention weekend, and I'd be happy to stay there again.

* apropos of nothing, one thing I like about going to conventions now is all the stupid stuff that no one should really like, like actually getting a chance in the morning to watch cable TV. I think that stuff is all fun. I never watch more sports on TV than early in the AM doing this site from a comic book convention.

* there are a lot of fun, interesting comics people in Portland.

* had a birthday breakfast (his 38th) with Milo George, who is in the Managing Editor Of The Comics Journal club with me and about two dozen others at most: fewer than Heisman winners or astronauts, more than living presidents. It's a fun club, but boy, there are dues. I'm glad Milo's found the occasional comics vehicle with Study Group 12 Magazine. Comics is better for his involvement.

image* I had lunch with Steve Lieber, Jeff Parker and Colleen Coover on Thursday -- they all work at Periscope Studio in a downtown building. Paul Tobin -- who wrote for me 100 years ago at The Comics Journal and for whom I age so he doesn't he have to -- sent his regrets from a satellite writing location. I had a great time. We gossiped a bit, but nothing that would get anyone in trouble and nothing that will be repeated here. Steve Lieber ate the healthiest. Steve, Jeff and Colleen all strike me as comics lifers, or people that will give it their best shot. When I asked if any of them were looking to get out -- that was a pretty common question 15 years ago -- they all looked at me as if I had taken off my shirt and was shaving the bat signal into my chest hair.

* believe me, I know that look.

* I don't think I've ever talked to Coover at any length. She seemed genuinely excited about the four Eisner nominations that had come her way for Bandette, and was making plans to go to San Diego that she probably wouldn't be making otherwise. She asked me if the on-line comic's nominations in categories that weren't strictly for digital comics were a first for that program, and I suspect without knowing that this may be true.

* it's interesting to me that people sometimes bag on the Eisners but it's still the one most people get a little excited about, one of the checklist things for a career in comics in a way the bulk of awards aren't.

* I ran into Paul Guinan at the Periscope office. He seems very busy, and spoke of being happy with his experiences at Abrams. The people that are happy at Abrams always seem super-happy at Abrams. I met several people at Periscope for a first and/or second time, and got free comics from Erika Moen including a preview of her new feature. It seems like a fine place to work, and I encourage any comics-makers to weasel an invitation and stop by to see it.

* I walked around a lot. The famous "city block of books" bookstore Powell's has a much, much bigger comics section than it did when I used to visit in the mid-1990s. I did not find the trashy comics Europorn I had been hoping to unearth, however. The change in Powell's mirrors the overall folding in of comics people into prose book culture. Gilbert Hernandez had just done an engagement there, a list of authors on a stairwell told me. I bought myself a copy of Tony Fitzpatrick's great poetry book, The Hard Angels, which I've only ever been able to purchase there.

* I didn't even think of going to Reading Frenzy, which used to be my post-Powell's stop of old. They're an absolute institution, too, so that doesn't reflect well on me. I would have been out of luck, anyway; they're currently closed, with a re-opening planned for on down the line. Everyone should visit when they're in Portland, and someone please visit twice because I didn't get to.

* I had dinner Thursday and then lunch Friday with two great local Portland comics-makers that did not have plans to do anything with the show itself: Joe Sacco (Thursday) and Craig Thompson (Friday). Sacco and I talked over wine about getting older in comics, the Chicago conference that was held last year, mortality, religion and Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy. We really did talk about CBP; Sacco expressed that its satirical aims were way beyond his still-developing skill-set at that point. Thompson and I talked travel and life in Portland and mutual acquaintances. I hope they won't mind me revealing that much of our individual conversations. It was great to see both guys again, for a little while. Although I saw them individually, I'm told they hang out.

* I saw a chunk of art from Thompson's next work, a 300-page kids' book of family adventure/space opera Dave Stewart is coloring and that Scholastic will eventually publish. It's pretty gorgeous, as you might expect. There's a lot of chicken fat in there, which I think is a strength for that kind of material: it's fun to pore over pictures with creatures and equipment as much as it is to fly though a narrative from plot point to plot point. We both talked about the relative dearth of North American science fiction comics of a surpassing, easy-to-remember nature, which never made any sense to either of us.

* Craig Thompson makes comics under an image of an angry and potentially disapproving God.

* two things that kept coming up with a lot of cartoonists and comics people that weekend that stick in my head: the physical cost of making comics, what it does to your hands and back and neck and general health, and the thought that now that so many of my direct peers in the whole post-alternative group are now in our mid-forties that there's a third act out there for us to settle into, changes to be made in how/where we live and operate both within comics and without. I see a lot of people casting about for new roles, and some physical ailments that may decide some of those issues for us.

* we also talked a lot about how time speeds up when you get older just in terms of how you interact with other comics people. I saw five people or see this weekend where I measured the last time I saw them in terms of a decade or so, all without blinking. These were people I used to see every other week, or at least five-six times a year. One of the reasons that comics communities have to become more than a feedback loop for self-validation or a place to find people to date/spend time around is that our lives pull us away from the easy intimacy of relationships that make that a good way to spend our days and hours.

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* the weather was beautiful Stumptown weekend, astonishingly so. Jeff Parker said that when the weather works in Portland it's an almost unbeatable place to live, and I have to agree with him. First time for everything. I walked everywhere, leaping the occasional homeless person like a taller, fleshier Mario.

* people in Portland are super-pro Portland. I've known Landmark Forum participants less passionate about their way of life.

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* a party at TFAW's NE Broadway location was going full-swing by the time I got there Friday evening before the show. Bill Willingham told me the signing that preceded it went very well. I recognized a few of the industry types, and David Chelsea, but that was about it. Met and talked to Ian MacEwan, and was hugely grateful he introduced himself.

* I was told later that TFAW has an interesting place in the Portland comics community because it's the only shop that carries the classic comics-shop gaming/pop culture array. That's very flattering to the average Portland comics shop, although I don't like to cast aspersions that way. I like all the comics stores, including ones that don't necessarily sell things in which I have an interest.

* was grateful to see James Kochalka, and we walked together to our next, mutual social engagement. We talked about his boys (ages nine and five now; whoa) and some of the backlash that his Superfuckers cartoons have generated with certain YouTube watchers. It cracked me up to think of James Kochalka of all people being processed as some sort of mean-guy counter to the new lack of cynicism in things like Adventure Time when 20 years ago he was basically comics' Patient One in terms of hopeful, non-sarcastic comics work.

* a party I attended at Brett Warnock's house was equal parts Michael Martens/Jim Valentino/Bob Schreck and Dash Shaw/Farel Dalrymple/Jen Vaughn. That's a fun kind of party -- a replication of the classic comics bar scene or those 1980s room parties that's on the wane these days as comics has become bigger and its component camps have begun to spiral away from one another.

* it was nice to see Allison Baker from Monkeybrain -- also still pretty psyched about the Bandette Eisner noms. I hope she won't mind me writing she recently had spinal surgery and seems to be recovering super-well; she was a whole different person in terms of energy. Comics' most distinctive laugh. Like I mentioned in the MoCCA report, comics people sort of took it on the chin over the last few years healthwise, or at least it seems that way. I'd never met Martens before: he talked about the Capital City days. I got to see Warnock's famous basement comics library/funnybook man cave, now a bit gutted in anticipation of a potential move. I got to talk to Douglas Wolk and Matt Bors. Bors was sporting the finest Image Comics t-shirt I've ever seen on an Herblock Prize winner.

* we all look at our phones now.

* Charles Brownstein looked surprisingly not exhausted for someone that travels way more than I do. He may travel more than anyone in comics, even with Alex Cox taking on so many of their cons now, now that I can't think of anyone that does a plane commute as part of their work schedule.

* one nice moment at that party was looking up and seeing James Kochalka drawing with Warnock's son. Warnock had his niece making mixed drinks. Family affair.

* the show itself started the next day mid-morning at the Oregon Convention Center. That is… well, it's a convention center. There was a ceramics show and a bead show on either side of Stumptown (Becky Cloonan bought some nice-looking pottery at the former). The parking lot filled up by mid-afternoon that first day. It didn't strike me as a particularly well-appointed or well-staffed convention center, although all of those aspects were fine. Some of the water fountains didn't work; none of the more corporate, storefront-style food vendors enticed me. There was wi-fi in the lobby area, which was nice. The bathrooms were clean and plentiful.

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* so yeah, as might be expected in a modern convention center, the show was in a big room without windows. The room didn't have a lot of character. The concrete floors -- I think maybe Dark Horse was the only booth that had some carpet -- would have been savage towards people's feet and backs if people had been there another day, and I saw some tired, sore people on Sunday for sure. A few people spoke longingly of the show's Doubletree days for its windows and overall charm; a few people spoke disparagingly of those days for the low ceilings and all-around increased rumpled feeling that the show had back then.

* I was actually surprised that the convention center wasn't so far away from everything as I'd heard. This wasn't the SPACE show at its Ramada, or the old Chicago show in that intensely weird non-town of Rosemont. Stumptown was right off the main commuter train to the airport, and about five blocks from the Jupiter Hotel area, which was filled with the kind of bars that have pinball machines and try real hard. I walked a couple of blocks on Saturday mid-afternoon with a friend and found a perfectly respectable young-person stuffed brewery-style pub with some genuine neighborhood character. There aren't a lot of shows that can offer that at all, really.

* I'm also not convinced the convention center vs. local hall argument is all that important when you're a show that charges for admission. I mean, there's foot traffic and there's destination traveling, but there's rarely foot traffic that just randomly decides to drop $10 or whatever to step inside for a few moments. Maybe in New York. So the thought that you're going to plop the show down in some neighborhood and generate foot traffic out the wazoo seems sort of a moot point with certain models in most cities; I'm not sure it's fair to compare an actual convention in an actual convention center with either the memory of foot traffic that may or may not match the reality or with a projected, fantasy amount of foot traffic in a made-up location in one's head. I've also never figured Portland for the kind of place where people won't leave their neighborhoods for something: it's a West Coast metropolis; people like to drive. While I love free festivals the best, I'm not sure it's the only strategy that works.

* one thing that didn't communicate on the floor map is that the shape of the room was funny. Folks were let into the room at an "upper" corner, say 1 PM on a clock, and the shape of the room moved traffic away from the stuff along the "upper" wall of it, the 1PM back to 11 AM range, where the CBLDF and Fantagraphics were. Staring at a wall all weekend must have been emotionally tough, too -- I'm only sort of half-joking about that, I would have found that really depressing.

* so I don't know... I love shows that take on the character of the city they're in, but moving to a bigger space where more people from outside of town can easily access it is a choice, not a surrender. You have to live with elements of the choice no matter what that choice may be. I'm not certain anyone has ever suggested a "perfect" place to have it, either. There's no going backwards, at least not for a while, and if the show ever shrunk to where it could fit in that early space, I would expect the show to be on the way out.

* by the way, shouldn't Greg Stump be a guest of honor every year at Stumptown? Can we make this happen? I bet if your name was Charlie TCAF, Butcher and those guys would work something out.

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* there were a lot of solid cartoonists on hand, and the strongest aspect of the show was how it reflected Portland's indy/alt split in a natural way, just by virtue of who was in the room. I kept returning to the Floating World table-trifecta, that was basically Brandon Graham, Farel Dalrymple, Zack Soto, Francois Vigneault, Benjamin Marra, Jason Leivian. That was a mostly-locals table: Graham being regional and only Marra coming out from the East Coast. The Sparkplug table was stuffed with material, and Emily Nilsson was there; it was great to see her as well as Tom Neeley, both of whom are excited about the full transfer of ownership to Virginia Paine. Marc Arsenault was sharing a booth with Karl Stevens; they had an advance copy of his next book, Alternative Comics' first big one in a while. I liked what was being offered by some of the end-of-row more featured guests: Becky Cloonan gave me a copy of her Eisner-nominated The Mire; Matt Bors had piles of his new work Life Begins At Incorporation on hand. Boulet had nothing in English but it was fun to look through some of his French-language books.

* there was a micro-publisher tabling with Sparkplug that had, of all things, a full-color Victor Cayro book that actually keeps the margins of his work intact for a fuller, more densely wonderful Victor Cayro experience. That was the closest I came to a "didn't expect to see that" experience.

* I was happy to see Hope Larson, whom I hadn't seen since a HeroesCon where I tried to walk away from her table with a then-new copy of Chiggers without paying. I was happy to thank her for all the gifts I'd been able to make of her work to kid daughters of close friends, kids that are all grown up by now.

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* Alec Longstreth was on hand as well, and seems to have adjusted to life outside of the intense ferment of White River Junction. He's been gone from there about a year.

* there were maybe three comics shops on hand as shops (as opposed to Floating World, which focused on its publishing arm); that's what I remember, anyway. Two of them were offering discounted comics; the third (TFAW) was focused on a general trades set-up, a mini-Mile High if you get the San Diego convention floor reference. I'm sure I'm forgetting someone. I like the idea of curating or focusing retailers in terms of what they offer, although most retailers are pretty good at sussing out what sells for them at shows over the years.

* so maybe other than the Khayro, there weren't really any discoveries there for me. When I asked cartoonists and comics people and guests to recommend things, there was a lot of "you've of course already seen" qualifiers and even a lot of right-brain "love how they're set-up" speeches that weren't really comics-focused. If people were flipping out over one or two or three comics, I don't know what they were.

image* I bought a copy of the Tom Kaczynski-published Jon Lewis True Swamp book for a gift. Kaczynski had a mock-up of the forthcoming David B. book he's doing; that looked pretty amazing. That's a book that could have dominated this show had it been ready. I think Kaczynski's well on his way to becoming a model micro-publisher, and his own work is apparently doing well in its European trade/album iterations.

* one of the things that was weird about Stumptown is that I was just tired enough I wasn't really systematic in my wanderings so I hit a lot of the same booths a number of times and other booths not at all. This suggests flow issues. For example, the Intruder guys from Seattle were there, but I didn't see them until Sunday night a half-hour after the show had shut down when they walked by me typing in the lobby. Other folks it seems I saw 50 times.

* come to think of it, I should probably apologize to the 50-time folks. It's not like I was buying much of anything.

* James Kochalka told me on Friday night that at shows "everyone gets a hug or a high five" in part because he doesn't want to disappoint anyone that comes to see him that's excited to do so. He told me on Sunday afternoon that one person whom he high-fived expressed open relief not to be hugged. This made us both laugh.

* I don't get the sense that anyone killed at the show. Traffic was slow both mornings, pretty decent by late afternoon. Some folks were comparing traffic to the old days and the smaller space, which probably distorts things a bit. I was told in passing by different festival people that they felt attendance was slightly up by their count. This was not the mood of the room. It seemed okay to me, not dire, and maybe at its most busy later in the day on Saturday.

* a lot of individual reports I got from folks were positive with qualification: "This is about what I expected to do because the book I hoped to have here wasn't here" or "I did fine, but I was a guest/am local and that helped greatly with costs" and even one "I love Portland too much to care." However, I checked with about a half-dozen vendors of the kind that would keep records they could check and other than the CBLDF -- Charles Brownstein said they were slightly down -- all of them said they did roughly the same as last year; two were surprised when they mentioned this, but mention this they did.

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* that's a lot on commerce. Let's talk about the rest of the show. I thought the programming was okay. I saw about four panels, and participated on two. I regretted most missing the Dylan Williams memorial panel, which I'm told was fun although attended mostly by people in that specific circle of friends and acquaintances. Lots of photos of Dylan giving the camera the finger, I heard. Francois Vigneault did a great job with the Boulet panel -- the French artist's sheer facility kind of makes for a fun panel no matter what, I think. As noted at ECCC, the writer and publisher Chris Roberson is really, really good on his feet, and is an effective and powerful promoter for his own endeavors. It seemed like there was a big appetite for DIY and practical-advice panels.

* the blogging panel on which I participated was weird because I think it was supposed to be a kind of Laura Hudson + current CA people reunion panel but instead became a more general news panel where none of us could talk about the weekend's big piece of news: that CA had been shuttered. There was some talk about blackballing and the fear of not having publishers cooperate with your site, which the panel felt wasn't all that significant a thing except for that fear. Laura Hudson described having an app on her desktop that measured traffic in either real or almost-real time, which sounds terrifying. We talked death-threats and rape-threats, or the lack thereof. Graeme McMillan was once actually threatened with an ass-kicking right on the floor of a con, which cracked me up. Who would want to fight Graeme McMillan? It'd be like cuffing your best friend from kindergarten to the floor.

* again at that panel there was a real thirst for practical knowledge, like where one might find a list of writers-about-comics to which one can submit PR and review material. It's probably weird that we didn't really know.

* it's always great to see Graeme, and Douglas Wolk and Laura Hudson, all of whom are peers, fun writers and nice people. Maybe not Douglas on that last one. I'm not sure I trust that guy: it's the hair.

* I do get the sense we're about to settle into a new paradigm from comics coverage, with the CA news being a primary event. It's hard to imagine anyone investing in a staffed set-up like CA had.

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* the Spain Rodriguez panel on which I participated was lightly attended so Kristy Valenti and I just sort of collectively encouraged the wonderful Patrick Rosenkranz speak at length on a subject of which he is by far the master. He was excellent; I learned a ton that I had forgotten and he has a nice voice, even.

image* it was great to see Patrick, who not only signed but sold at least a couple of books that weekend. With the underground generation at an advanced age, my heart kind of breaks that a lot of what he'll be doing the next decade or so is memorial panels like that one. We sorely under-appreciate the bulk of the underground as cartoonists with a wide array of comics and material, and we undervalue Patrick as a writer about comics.

* oh, and I really, really liked a Meathaus panel on Saturday -- Brandon Graham, Becky Cloonan, Dash Shaw, Farel Dalrymple. That's a group of comics-makers that emerged at a time when I was not very actively engaged by comics, or at least comics of that type. The idea of a group of comics-makers anchored around the illustration success of some members while other took a longer, more comics-oriented path to working careers really fascinated me, as did Marc Arsenault's history of cartooning crews at SVA that served as an introduction. Arsenault gave that speech in a near-meltdown level public-speaking panic, third act of a half-hour of a sitcom stuff, but the content was super-solid.

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* there was a bit of an ECCC feel to the room, too, with folks like Matthew Southworth, and the Oni Press guys, and Steve Lieber, and Brian Hurtt, and Ales Kot, and Greg Rucka and so on. It's always good to stand around and chat with Southworth, who mentioned he was up for an award on Saturday evening, "but even I would vote for the Blacksad guy." I'm not sure I ever saw Eric Stephenson or Moritat or Jim Valentino at the show, but they were around at the parties.

* it's also always nice to see the Dark Horse staffers circling through the place, like Diana Schutz and Philip Simon and David Scroggy. I passed by Brian Bendis briefly, or at least I assume that was Brian. The last one of these I went to, Brian was actually set up there.

* as is the case with every recent show, folks were extremely concerned about Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson and his ongoing battle with cancer. A lot of love for Kim there and at the other shows from people who know him, and a lot of respect for him from those that don't.

* oh, and before I forget: the food in Portland is generally amazing, although I seemed to find myself on some sort of strange, all-Reubens diet. More quality of life stuff there.

* I saw David Lasky at the show; Lasky was a dear, see-him-around town friend from the Seattle days. I went through a period of working at Fantagraphics where my favorite moments of the week were lunches out with Lasky and Evan Sult. That guy hasn't aged at all. It's discouraging. I think he even had the same glasses on, which makes me think he's basically built a localized Somewhere In Time field around himself, where nothing of the present day is allowed to touch his person.

* this is less focused than usual, isn't it? It seems that way. It was that kind of show. It's that kind of town.

* the energy at the hotel during the awards ceremony and the fun that some folks had at what I'm told was an extremely long Gridlords show at an alternative location Saturday night seemed to be more amenable to a lot of folks than the show itself, but the show itself didn't enrage anyone, or drive anyone to despair, the way I always seem to find someone like that at a show. I don't think anyone had an unpleasant time, or at least no one had an unpleasant time they were willing to communicate to me as an unpleasant time.

* that said, of all the shows that I've been to in the last year or so, this seemed the one where a natural direction doesn't present itself, where some basic identity issues, some primary elements of execution and even a general energy boost might be more at issue as opposed to "how do we maximize and channel what's special here?" the way other shows seems to be straining at any and all restraints.

* a few things kept coming up again and again from people in attendance and people outside the show. One was what seemed an alarming distance from the show by a lot of local comics-makers and cartoonists. Even at MoCCA, as battered as that show has been, those who chose not to attend this year's version at least seemed aware it was going on. I'm not sure everyone I talked to in Portland really did; I know that two people that came out to see me at the show, comics readers, didn't even know why I was coming to town until I told them. Another thing that came up was the idea that people either wanted to make Stumptown too mainstream-y or too weird and artsy, a complaint whose direction depended on the orientation of the person to whom you spoke. The other, and this was a repetitive drumbeat of an old horror-comic story variety, the kind that could drive you mad, was that a bunch of people felt the show was marketed and promoted in ways that could be vastly improved.

* let's talk more about that last one. PR complaints in comics are tough, for a lot of reasons. One is that you can kind of google around and find a couple of people in charge of this, so you're not really criticizing a strategy as much as maybe also being critical of people directly. That's always tough. I can say that despite the saturation of complaining, I liked the people from Stumptown with whom I worked directly. Another reason PR criticism can be prickly is that people often confuse marketing and PR -- how you orient a product in the marketplace and how you drive attention to that product. A lot of times if the show is unfocused or doesn't have a strong identity, all of the publicity skill in the world will make little difference. Still another hitch is that many people have an unsophisticated view of what PR can do to the point that's it's almost treated like a magic spell by which showers and waves of attention fall on things, with money to follow. Finally, there's the fact that most people process how these things work squarely within their own interests: when someone says they don't feel the show was effectively promoted, this is probably less an abstract theorization than a gut feeling that they themselves were not effectively promoted. It's human nature.

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* my hunch in staring at the place for a weekend -- and I could be totally wrong -- is that a lot of work can be done that kind of goes beyond PR and into marketing and even into what the hell kind of show Stumptown wants to be. I think they could use a real bottom-to-top inventory based on what works and what doesn't and how they see themselves in both that marketplace and the general convention scene. It seems like the wide array of artists, Portland itself, DIY elements, a creator-driven emphasis and the show's own past are potential strengths. It seemed to me there were way too many below-the-main-guest guests for publicity to naturally coalesce around certain figures. James Kochalka and Matt Bors had to tell me they were guests with whatever discounts/benefits that accrued to them. I wouldn't have known -- not that this was a secret, it was just not forcefully presented. The guests at SPX or even a San Diego in any one year, I can usually pick those out and in fact I remember a lot of shows' past years by the guests. I didn't even know from my own casual interaction with the show that James Kochalka was going to be there. I'm also not sure they work closely enough with their guests. I think Bill Willingham is a fine guest to have and to even build things around, but I never got the sense that it was Bill Willingham's show. Does that make sense? I also never got the sense that the local media was as engaged as they could have been -- although I'm sure opportunities are limited there -- and I really sensed from store owners that their own ability to directly reach customers was not at all utilized.

* so my advice, which is sort of ridiculous because I know next to nothing about shows, would be to pick things apart a bit. Select or re-commit to a basic mission statement with maybe two or three sub statements: "Stumptown is the comics show of Portland. It is there to promote creator-driven expression and DIY comics-making." Something like that. Use the focus provided by that statement to settle some arguments, like whether or not the show will be moved from the convention center. Reach out to all of the people on the other side of any arguments to assure them they're still vital. Think in terms of what few elements would make that weekend distinctive for an exhibitor/creator, and fun/memorable for an attendee. Focus on a guest list that reflects the show's mission statement in an easy-to-comprehend way: use Portland to attract out of town guests, if only one or two. Then and only then go to all of the local cartoonists and all of the local comics people one by one, big or small, and have end result-driven conversations about what you can do to get them involved: any local cartoonist not wanting to attend might be convinced to do a signing or an off-site event or even just lend their name to some part of what they're doing. After all of this is in place, you can work on presenting these things to everyone: the press, the local comics readers, the national comics readership and community. I'd thin up the awards -- they're not memorable, and could use one or two anchor prizes, and they should be conceived of in terms of how they aid the show, not as a show appendage. I'd steal liberally in terms of how other shows are set up flow-wise and in ways of providing things to do that aren't buying stuff/sitting in on panels. If you don't know which panels were best attended this year, find out immediately so you can build on what worked. Think of involving the entire city in some basic, festival-approved ways -- I had no idea what was going on that weekend even well into the weekend, and I'm not sure why there isn't a signing or reading series in the days and weeks preceding the show. Think in terms of a special event each AM and PM for five days. Don't overplan, but don't be afraid of making some choices and sticking to them. And then hope to god this clicks with an audience, because you never know.

* Portland is a jewel of a city, and its strengths as a comics destination emerge from the fact that it's a great town in which one can easily find multiple places and roles for comics. Here's the thing, though. Portland doesn't need a comics community to be a great city. Comics Portland doesn't need Stumptown to be a great comics town. I think that makes for a strange energy, one unlike any other festival. Stumptown has a lot of the same possibilities recently resurgent shows had a few years back, in a place everyone should want to visit, in an era where even the not-special shows are a lot of fun. There's definitely work to do. Getting to start from a largely positive place should be seen as an opportunity, not as a reason to avoid engaging the future.

* I was too tired and too in need of writing a freelance piece to hang out on Sunday night, mentally acknowledging I need to make my way back to town if only to bend elbows with Patrick Rosenkranz. I stayed at a Ramada near the airport that could have doubled as a museum of 1970s signage. I had fish and chips in the hotel bar and watched a Golden State Warriors basketball game. I flew out of the city at 5:30 AM, surrounded by people on their way to Mexico via Phoenix. They smelled of liquor and forced merriment.

* I had a very good time. Thank you, Stumptown. Thank you, Portland. Thank you, strange soap and plastic furniture and amazing food. Thank you, friends.

*****

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*****
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Go, Look: The Frank Frazetta Famous Funnies Covers

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OTBP: Studygroup Magazine #2

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Go, Look: Ernie Bushmiller Gallery

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Go, Look: Matt Fox Weird Tales Covers

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The Great Roger Langridge Would Like You To Look At -- And Look For -- Some Of His Original Art

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There's no working cartoonist I like more than Roger Langridge. He's asked everyone that can to take a look at some original art images of his and ask yourself if you've seen any of it on sale anywhere. Even if you haven't, at least you get to look at a lot of fun Langridge art. I hope this issue resolves it with as little muss as possible.
 
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Fire Hits Open Space Art Gallery In Baltimore

A two-alarm fire ravaged the Open Space art gallery in Baltimore at night on April 30. It was a difficult fire, and required a great deal of effort to put down.

Open Space has a number of comics-related ties, including cartoonists as original co-founders, comics-related shows and cartoonists as curators.

There's apparently a Facebook page where they've been making calls for help, but damned if I can find the thing. I'll update here when I can with that link and information.

Update: Here it is; and here's the plea.
 
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Go, Look: Early Iron Man Being Awesome

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* looks like I'll need to rewrite this year's booze section in the SDCC how-to report: beer is big in San Diego.

* this weekend everyone furiously sleeps to rest up from last weekend's Stumptown/C2E2 and prepare themselves for next weekend's TCAF. Con season. It's never-freaking-ending.

* voting for the Eisner Awards is ongoing.

* that Lakes show has finalized its guest list. Steve Bell is among the last round announced.

* finally, here's a comics-style report from a Scandinavian con about Scandinavian cons.

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If I Were In Cincinnati, 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: Joe Rabon

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* good on Nick Anderson for doing a cartoon on the ridiculous sight of people castigating a cartoonist for doing his job.

image* J. Caleb Mozzocco on My Boyfriend Is A Monster Vols. 7-8. Rob Clough on a bunch of different comics. Todd Klein on Swamp Thing #19. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Black Bat.

* not comics: some tweets are crueler than others.

* here's a list of youth-friendly comics published in the calendar year 2012. I remember liking the Kikuo Johnson, the Faith Erin Hicks and the Chris Schweizer quite a bit; I'm sure there are others I liked a lot I'm now forgetting.

* appraising Valiant.

* industry veteran KC Carlson remembers 1993. It's not exactly the 1993 I remember, because I was not reading a lot of these same comics. In fact, I remember being almost violently repelled by the mainstream and genre-focused independent comics of that era. I had this very sweet store owner in Lancaster, Pennsylvania that would always save me the high end stuff so I'd buy it, too, but it was very hard to read.

* Brigid Alverson talks to Darryl Cunningham.

* Chris Mautner would like to see Grip collected.

* finally, some professionals continue to fume against Dragon*Con, even as one-time driving force and multiple-time accused pedophile Ed Kramer mounts another round of legal defense with money that he makes from that show's success. I had actually wondered how long until that show's reputation as a kind of "sexy con" would start to bleed over into this story. It seems really straight-forward to me that Kramer using convention money to avoid going to trial is a bad situation. I guess that it's tough on the people that enjoy that show, and the other people that profit without the legal possibility of their being horrible monsters, but sometimes situations are tough. I'm not sure why there's anger at the lawyers, though.
 
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Happy 69th Birthday, Howard Cruse!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Scott Stantis!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Jerry Scott!

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May 1, 2013


Go, Look: Stick Angelica

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Go, Read: Jacob Weisberg On Amazon And Sales Tax

It's sort of not-comics, but the implications of this article in terms of the long-standing back-and-forth between the on-line retailing giant Amazon.com and brick-and-mortar bookstores and comics shops seem pretty clear. What always scares me about policy-shaping articles like this one is that this policy was shaped in opposition to an almost ravenous primary function of government as it relates to business: tax collecting. It makes you wonder about other areas of undue influence or possible unfair policy that don't have such a strong force placed opposite.
 
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Go, Bookmark: The DWA 9 For 9 Interview Series

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Go, Look: Chuck Forsman Original Art Sale

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Go, Look: Strange Tales #87

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Seattle's Capitol Hill Neighborhood Gets Comics Shop

I'm always happy to see a comics shop opening, like this one in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Seattle. It's right next to the Dick's on Broadway. This is my old neighborhood, from about 1997 to 2002. The last actual comics shop was probably the famous Fallout Records and Comics a bit down the hill; when Evan Sult worked at Bailey Coy in the early part of the 2000s they had an aggressive comics section for a while.
 
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Go, Look: Tales Of Suspense #1

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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.

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FEB131026 3 NEW STORIES ONE SHOT $3.99
Here's a novelty and fine-sounding comics besides: the talented Dash Shaw doing an honest-to-god alternative comic book format comic.

imageMAR130988 GREY MUSEUM GN $20.00
This is one of the promised Conundrum Press TCAF debuts. You can see a preview here.

MAR130019 47 RONIN #4 $3.99
MAR130049 ABE SAPIEN DARK & TERRIBLE #2 $3.50
MAR130015 MISTER X EVICTION #1 $3.99
MAR130573 INVINCIBLE UNIVERSE #2 [DIG] $2.99
FEB138534 SEX #1 3RD PTG (MR) $2.99
MAR130600 AGE OF ULTRON #7 $3.99
FEB130568 HAWKEYE #10 $2.99
This week's genre comics in comic book format offers up kind of a mixed bag within that not-necessarily expansive definition of what comics fall into that territory. This includes a Stan Sakai comic, the latest attempt at a secondary title ensconced in the universe presented in the comic book Invincible, and both Marvel's latest crossover installment and that company's best-reviewed current book.

JAN130122 KORAK SON OF TARZAN ARCHIVES HC VOL 01 $49.99
DEC120331 JACK KIRBY OMNIBUS HC VOL 02 $39.99
Two collections of material where I'd prefer the original comics. The Kirby material is required for every collection in one form or another.

MAR130426 MICHAEL KALUTA SKETCHBOOK SERIES SC VOL 04 $9.99
I'd certainly look.

MAR131159 ASTRONAUT ACADEMY ZERO GRAVITY GN $9.99
Ditto this. I'm actually not sure where this stands in the Astronaut Academy array of titles.

JAN131169 CASTLE WAITING HC VOL 02 DEFINITIVE ED $29.99
I'd be happy to have this material in a definitive edition, but I didn't have to pay for this edition or any other.

FEB131023 COMPLETE CRUMB COMICS TP VOL 05 HAPPY HIPPY (NEW PTG) (MR) $19.99
I have the old printing, but I can't imagine not having it -- so if you don't, you might want to check this one out. I would have to imagine that this is one of the must-have albums in that series.

DEC121117 PETER BAGGE OTHER STUFF TP $19.99
I've become a serious fiend for Bagge's work lately. While this book is probably the fifth or sixth I'd take off of a shelf, all things considered, that still makes it really, really good.

JAN131377 GARY BASEMAN DOOR IS ALWAYS OPEN HC $45.00
I would also look at this one, just for the name in the title.

DEC120481 JACK DAVIS EC STORIES ARTIST ED HC PI
Finally, here's a timely reminder that Jack Davis may be our greatest living cartoonist.

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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 because I hate you.

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Happy 64th Birthday, Tom De Haven!

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

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Go, Look: Robert Barker

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the good folks at World War 3 Illustrated have put Magdy L Shaffee's first comic for the publication work up at their tumblr.

image* Sean Gaffney on Unico. Robert Kirby on some different comics. Sean Gaffney on Bunny Drop Vol. 8. Rob Clough on Windy Corner 2. Todd Klein on Resident Alien Vol. 1.

* I'm not exactly sure what this is, but I think it's a way to put in for a free comic book. You have to have a Goodreads account.

* I don't know that I've ever seen a Reid Fleming page up for sale on eBay.

* Drawn and Quarterly has some nice photos up from a recent Tom Gauld signing. Gauld is a really fun cartoonist, and I'm glad he's going to do San Diego this year. Or at least he's scheduled to do that one. I really liked the book.

* Regina-area media reacts to the "news" that they were done blown up in some Avengers comic.

* the comments at this Robot 6 post about the departure of the ComicsAlliance site are an interesting read. I was dismayed by a number of tweets that went right to the personal relationship one had with the site rather than the people involved -- I mean, I get it, but in many cases I thought professional peers would have a greater degree of sympathy than a snap-appraisal of the site's utility. I bet that was half of the people that get to write about comics for a full-time living.

* K. Sturgess talks to Darryl Cunningham. Steve Sunu talks to Sam Humphries. A bunch of people at C2E2 talk to Patton Oswalt.

* finally, we take Ben Katchor for granted.
 
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Happy 46th Birthday, Chris Pitzer!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 57th Birthday, Phil Foglio!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 57th Birthday, Tim Sale!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 38th Birthday, Matt Silady!

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Happy 73rd Birthday, Alex Niño!

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