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

















July 31, 2013


Go, Look: The Original Quimby Mouse Cartoon

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Festivals Extra: Deadline For Seattle's Short Run Is Today

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Here. At least that's what Janice Headley told me.

I wish I could attend; that sounds like a good, growing show to be a part of.
 
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Go, Look: Chris Kuzma

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Go, Read: Jim Lee, Dan DiDio Interviewed At ICv2.com

Part one of Milton Griepp's interview with DC honchos Jim Lee and Dan DiDio is here; the second part is here. Like many comics executive interviews, it frustrates and intrigues.

The frustrations come from the direction and spin of analysis, of the explanations that accompany answers. If there is really less editorial direction from DC than there was 10 years ago -- Lee and DiDio's answers diverge a bit here, even -- then there is a massive group delusion settled in on the comics professionals I've encountered, all of whom seem to talk of nothing else when the company's name comes up. It seems to me there is plenty of speculation driving a certain kind of variant cover, whether or not these efforts are successful and also aside from some variant cover stunts that might be genuinely "we would like to give you an option of buying this cool cover over here." I also don't think you'd find widespread agreement that DC's talent pool is deeper now, not in a significant way for retailers hoping to find more ways to sell not-top-of-line DC books. I think there's a perception that maybe not as many odd professionals from the 1990s are being employed so that DC's talent pool has a chance to grow if they select the right new talent. Also, and I know this probably sounds mean, but getting behind Vertigo once a Sandman work is scheduled does seem sort of like the team general manager that names himself coach when a monster #1 draft choice is in the bag. I have no idea if Before Watchmen numbers were as sunny as described here, but if this was their optimal outcome I'm even more stunned than usual this was found worth doing. And so on.

I do appreciate that DiDio and Lee make themselves available to certain members of the press like this. The interesting parts to me involve the characterization of numbers being super-up and the degree to which they're comfortable describing how their readers are coming to their digital comics. I'm also intrigued by Lee's answer about the diversity of creator choices being a nice thing.
 
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By Request Extra: Tully Mills Will Draw Your Pet

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Go, Read: Political Cartoons In Germany

This isn't the most insightful analysis as to the particulars of editorial cartooning in Germany, but if it's accurate there are some interesting broad strokes noted. I would say the eye-opener is that the author claims German editorial cartoons aren't in any significant way migrating to on-line media there, which could be a problem. He also paints a picture that is the opposite of that form's decline in North America by suggesting that the talent that wants to do this has dried up -- at least I still have the impression that talent outnumbers opportunity in North America. In general, though, where print is strong and vital, so are editorial cartoons. Where it's not, they're not.
 
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Go, Look: Doom Carousel

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GroupThink: What Do You CR Readers (Or Anyone Else Out There) Want From Comics Industry Coverage?

imageOne of the things that's come up a bunch in my vicinity over the last 21 days is the state of comics industry journalism, what's good about it and what isn't. That seems like a good enough reason to ask CR readers what they would like to see from the various publications, individuals and sites that are devoted to covering the medium.

I'm usually pretty kind to industry journalism. I think comics is fairly well covered in a lot of ways, particularly relative to writing about other art forms and their businesses. There is at least one thing I admire about all of the major groups and efforts devoted to comics in a journalistic way, and there is a lot that I feel is genuinely laudable about most of the brand-name locations.

That in mind, and with the obvious caveat that I'm in this specific line of business, I'd like to see a few things happen:

* more rational discourse about and coverage of the newspaper strip business. I think that may be one area where were better served 10 years ago with some of the coverage we had then, although that may be a completely unfair generalization.

* more site-sponsored, long-form journalism, particularly from the sites that are sites (TCJ, CBR) and that have some resources to devote someone to generating material on their own rather than in reaction to the news.

* more formal obituaries as opposed to personal reminiscences. I love personal reminiscences, particularly when they have something to say about the person that passed more than the person that's do the reminiscing. Still, I think the first draft of history is in those obits.

* fewer people working for free or for fiendishly reduced rates. I think this has an impact on everything, from the expectations we have for the quality of work that we do to crowding the marketplace in a way that makes it hard for specific folks to get over enough that what little money there is might be used to support their work.

* ownership of articles by article-writers as the industry standard, except perhaps when salaried work is involved or unless a specific deal for a specific run of columns or articles is worked out, for instance a run of news briefs for which there is likely no secondary market.

* a vast reduction in use of the word "exclusive" and of search engine optimization tactics more generally. The term "exclusive" shouldn't be used for gift-wrapped content; that word implies an achievement in securing a story greater than being the recipient of one. I also believe that all news organizations should offer original, unique content on a regular basis. An in-text "exclusive" quote from anyone other than Steve Ditko should probably be skipped.

* more writing to a general audience from our knowledgeable insiders.

* no coverage of any story that could be a story at the Daily Bugle or Daily Planet.

* I wish more writers who wrote for group sites were more careful to build up an identity of their own that the work for other sites fed into. We shouldn't have to cast around when someone quits a group blogging gig for wherever they landed; we should have a primary destination to find that out that's with us because the column had been sending us there all along.

* greater up-front participation in news stories by the major industry players and a generally more respectful attitude towards those that risk participating. At the very least, I and I'm sure others could take a pass on most of the angry e-mails from folks hoping to direct coverage by strongly asserting you should have known to better present their point of view by some sort of magic osmosis. If you object to something but aren't willing to go on the record, barring some pretty extraordinary circumstances it's difficult to take your objections as seriously as you likely hope we will.

* a better understanding of what "off the record" means. It's something you work out in advance with someone, not a morning-after pill or something you trumpet as a kind of magic spell while saying whatever. You also can't declare other people's information off the record, even if that information is about you. There's also a difference between off the record, background-only and use for non-attribution.

* a greater attention to comics works. Certain cartoonists putting out certain works should be the backbone of coverage.

* wider attention to the issue of creators-in-need. I love charities, but there is a lot more to so many people needing to ask for money than any charity can or should be expected to handle.

* to please stop using the word "comics journalism" for journalism about comics as opposed to its less weird use as meaning "journalism in the form of comics." That's just odd.

I can do better at all of these things, too.

What about you? What do you think? What would you like to see from comics industry-related journalism five years from now along the above lines or in any way you'd choose to express anything you see as important? Do you agree with any of the above? Disagree?

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Go, Look: SecretComix.com

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Go, Look: Cody Pickrodt

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Sedition Charges Dropped Against Leslie Chew

Wire reports rolling through the various Internet collection points Monday indicate that Singaporean cartoonist Leslie Chew will not be charged for sedition as local officials initially sought concerning cartoons created in 2011 and 2012. He will, however, be tried on four lesser charges of contempt of court. Chew, real name Chew Peng Ee, publishes the "Demon-Cratic Singapore" Facebook page. He was arrested in April for possible offense under the Sedition Act. Chew had been offered a chance for charges to be dropped in return for an apology but refused. Apparently, the cartoons in questions criticized the Singaporean judiciary. An initial hearing is scheduled for August 12.
 
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Go, Look: Keren Katz

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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.

*****

JUN131314 INCIDENTS IN NIGHT GN VOL 01 $19.95
This is Good-Looking Week at your local funnybook store, and there's likely no better-looking comics-maker out there right now than modern master David B. Here he's presented in loving fashion by Tom Kaczynski. David B. is one of those talents that really hasn't found the expected audience for his work, stretching all the way back to the days when Epileptic was presented as the ACME Novelty Library of the French-language market in terms of it being a visually accomplished, context shattering work. I think Uncivilized is a good match for the cartoonist on a work like this one, and hope it moves copies. It is certainly the kind of book you want to be seen reading in public, being so handsome and all.

imageJAN131107 KITARO GN $24.95
You could build an entire trip to the funnybook shops around almost ten of this week's books flying solo, not the least of which is this Shigeru Mizuki work. It is, as I recall, the Mizuki work, the one from the first sentence of the obituary. It is also the foundational yokai manga comic and is arguably one of the dozen or so key works of any kind from its home industry's history. You want to have this book, a collection of charming stories mixing little-kid adventures with bold, horror-character design, in the library.

MAR130074 BURROUGHS TARZAN SUNDAY COMICS 1931-1933 HC VOL 01 $125.00
Hal Foster is on the Mt. Rushmore Of Cartoonists That Make Handsome Work. I know folks that even prefer Foster's work wit the Tarzan character to the later Prince Valiant material, and the originals I've seen of this work -- about four or five over the years -- are really gorgeous and rarely feature rub-out points. At the same time, Tarzan is one of those iconic characters that always seems to me in danger of slipping into a period of irrelevancy. I don't see a lot of deep affection for the concept. Still, I have to imagine it's Foster fans that will be driving customers to a purchase at that price point.

MAY130973 BLUFFTON MY SUMMERS WITH BUSTER GN $22.99
This also looks beautiful, a graphic novel from the author of Around The World featuring a plot about a period of childhood reminiscence featuring Buster Keaton that would seem to have been grown in a laboratory for the express purpose of driving this kind of graphic novel from a kids' book illustrator. I certainly want to look at the thing.

MAR131252 CAPOTE IN KANSAS HC (MR) $19.99
Even the re-releases have an attractive art element, as this is early material from the artist Chris Samnee, enjoying a surge of popularity in the mainstream comics world. It's always fun to visit Dick and Perry, even tangentially.

JUN131066 OPTIC NERVE #13 (MR) $5.95
MAY130158 BATMAN INCORPORATED #13 $2.99
MAY130155 BATMAN ANNUAL #2 $4.99
MAY130260 WAKE #3 (MR) $2.99
MAY130040 BPRD VAMPIRE #5 $3.50
MAY130558 IT GIRL & THE ATOMICS #12 [DIG] $2.99
MAY130567 MORNING GLORIES #29 CVR A ESQUEJO (MR) [DIG] $3.50
APR138313 MORNING GLORIES #29 CVR B EISMA (MR) $3.50
APR138314 MORNING GLORIES #29 CVR C HUANG (MR) $3.50
APR138315 MORNING GLORIES #29 CVR D KELLY (MR) $3.50
APR138316 MORNING GLORIES #29 CVR E LEMIRE (MR) $3.50
APR138317 MORNING GLORIES #29 CVR F MELLON (MR) $3.50
APR138318 MORNING GLORIES #29 CVR G WAITE (MR) $3.50
APR138319 MORNING GLORIES #29 CVR H ZARCONE (MR) $3.50
MAY130570 SEX #5 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
MAY130664 DAREDEVIL #29 $2.99
MAY130666 FF #10 NOW $2.99
MAY130951 ADVENTURE TIME SUMMER SPECIAL 2013 #1 (NOTE PRICE) $4.99
Hello, comics. There are really only two super heavy-hitters here. A new Adrian Tomine comic is an event, and it's always stunning to see how few of them there have been in the last twenty years. This was a pair of stand-alone stories, and I think the bigger of the two will drive some conversations. Grant Morrison ends his lengthy run of Batman serial comic books with the Batman Incorporated issue, which has all of the groovy '70s elements that one has come to expect from Morrison's approach. I have next to no interest in Batman, but Morrison's comics have been intriguing to read because of how determined they are to be odd. DC is doing another run of annuals I can't remember anyone clamoring after, but I imagine this Batman one will sell well given the presence of writer Scott Snyder. Snyder's Wake series seems to me to have slowed down an incredible amount with this issue, although maybe I'm imagining things. Hey, there's the Mignola universe offering, followed by it Girl And The Atomics, a comic I'd say was doomed to fail -- at least eventually -- but worth noting for publishing almost as many issues as Optic Nerve. I'm sure it's entertaining; most of those comics. I'm batting .250 on cover artists for the latest issue of Morning Glories, which crushes my average at knowing what the hell is going on in that comic book's story. In short order, you get the well-liked writers Joe Casey, Mark Waid and Matt Fraction on the next three -- I'll eventually catch up to all three books. I am not reading the Adventure Time comics because I don't see them, but that's a comic for which some sort of summer issue makes sense.

imageMAR130299 ANIMAL MAN OMNIBUS HC (MR) $75.00
There aren't a whole lot of superhero comic books I still own, but I have this series in a box somewhere. I greatly enjoyed reading it as it was coming out. It was tough to find alt-/art comics where I was going to school, so it was nice to have this kind of humane, inventive mainstream work to consume. I'm perfectly satisfied with owning this in comic-book form, but people are fond of this particular DC format.

APR130378 WORLDS OF SAM KIETH HC VOL 01 $49.99
My understanding is that this is much more of an art book than a collection of art and photos and the like, but Kieth is one of the great talents of mainstream comics over the last quarter century, so if you love that realm of comics I assume you'll pick this up and check it out.

MAY130447 AGE OF BRONZE TP VOL 03.B BETRAYAL PT 2 (MR) $18.99
Eric Shanower's latest trade is another one I collect in comic book form but I also recognize that it will likely enjoy a longer life and perhaps even a grander, more widely-disseminated one, in book form. I'm glad this series exists; if you described to me in the abstract, I'd say there was no in hell this got past 10 issues, let alone multiple trades.

MAY130459 INVINCIBLE TP VOL 18 DEATH OF EVERYONE [DIG] $16.99
Eighteen Invincible trades is a fine achievement when, in the case of Robert Kirkman, you're talking about series #2 by any reasonable measure. I do enjoy the work, though, and I'm kind of confused by how long it's enjoyed this easy, soap-opera groove when almost no one else has found that place with their superhero big two equivalents.

JUN131155 MARK SCHULTZ XENOZOIC COMPLETE NEW PTG TP $39.95
JUN131154 MARK SCHULTZ CARBON SC VOL 01 $24.95
It's hard to describe to people that operate in the comics market of today just how titanic a presence this comic book was once upon a time; I'm not sure what happened where it's faded a bit in at least the public discussion of its merit. I would imagine that the kind of craft chops on display are less of an issue -- or perhaps this style is less of an automatic slam dunk -- with the more diverse comics audience of right now. Couldn't tell you, though. It's a good one for the expansive comics library, though, that's for sure. The second book listed is more recent work in art-book form. Schultz does a lot of art work considering how solidly he's repositioned himself as a writer in certain realms of comics-making.

JUN131316 SAMMY THE MOUSE TP VOL 02 (MR) $15.00
Zak Sally is a fine, natural-born cartoonist and I love the feel of these Sammy The Mouse comics. It's too bad that they're becoming known almost more for their tortuous publishing mini-history than for the work itself, but it's easy to change that by just diving into this work's pages.

MAY131315 FRAZETTA SKETCHBOOK SC NEW PTG $24.95
Well of course there'd be something Frank Frazetta-related out this week. You can't have Handsome Week without Frazetta.

MAR131163 MULLINS GOLDEN AGE BASEBALL DRAWINGS HC 1934-1972 $35.00
I thought this work was fairly stunning when I saw it, and I can't say that I'm all that familiar with a lot of Mullins work. Like a lot of the comics this week, I don't go very deep with the legendary sports cartoonists. I thought this a super nice-looking mounting of this work, and I hope it's not forgotten.

MAY131146 GHOSTS AND RUINS HC $22.99
Finally, Ben Catmull's latest finally hits the shelves this week. I seem to recall seeing elements of this work at an BCGF table or something similar several months if not years ago. This is illustrations and text, but gathered around a central theme and sort of a set of general aesthetic considerations it certainly works as comics. Definitions are a dull thing with which to fool around with a book like this in one's lap, though. I hope to talk to Catmull at some point soon.

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

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Go, Look: Cookie

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* John Ronan is teaching an on-line comics history course next month, and that has to be a good time.

image* Richard Bruton on West: Autumn Dusk. Benjamin Rogers on three different books. Matt Derman continues his look at books from the year of his birth. J. Caleb Mozzocco provides notes on a couple of books he reviewed elsewhere. Paul O'Brien on a bunch of different X-Men-related comics. Kelly Thompson on Justice League Dark #22 and The Hunger #1.

* I guess this is basically a commercial for me to link to this, but I like Johnny Ryan and Johnny Ryan is featured over at Altamont Apparel.

* Justin Crouse was announced as store manager at Heroes Aren't Hard To Find. Congratulations to Mr. Crouse.

* not comics: grateful to see Kazu Kibuishi wrap up his Harry Potter illustration work with the last cover and the boxed set; I thought he did a nice job with that gig as much as I have any sort of refined feel for that kind of material. These hand-engraved covers for a different set of Potter books are super-nice. It make sense that there would be multiple versions of a series like that, with art used as a distinguishing characteristic. I still have my 1960s Tolkien hardcovers that I got as a kid, and I've never seen an edition I liked more.

* one of the great joys of the on-line world right now is how much original art gets posted and gets paid attention to if it's already been posted because of the desire of certain collectors, creators and comics fans to produce links and scans as part of their on-line presence. Tom Palmer inking Gene Colan was always pretty interest. Sinnott and Palmer were the two guys that did a ton of inking where the pages and covers were powerful in a way that aided rather than distracted from really good pencil-artists.

* Jessica Campbell would like to introduce you to the drinks she'd like to drink.

* Sean Kleefeld goes to the MCA Clowes exhibit.

* I'm guessing I've linked to this International Times site and its comics-content before, but just in case I haven't, here you go.

* Rob Clough profiles Brecht Evens.

* finally, Kelly Sue DeConnick on how to get started writing comics. And Christopher Jones with a don't-forget.
 
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Happy 38th Birthday, Alex Holden!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Jog!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Leinil Francis Yu!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Gary Barker!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Nate Powell!

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FFF Results Post #344 -- Scary Folks

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Characters From Comics That You'd Be Frightened To Meet." This is how they responded.

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Sean T. Collins

* Borneo (Love and Rockets)
* The Joker (The Dark Knight Returns)
* Tabatha (The Diary of a Teenage Girl)
* The Governor (The Walking Dead)
* Pompeii (Duncan the Wonder Dog)

*****

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Joe Gordon

1) The Corinthian from Gaiman's Sandman
2) Kevin the creepy cannibal serial killer from Sin City
3) Judge Death from Judge Dredd (at least early Death, before he became kind of black comedy relief later on)
4) Rasputin from Mignola's Hellboy
5) Lucy Van Pelt from Peanuts. Seriously, she can be pretty damned terrifying.

*****

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Andrew Mansell

* Vermin (Captain America)
* Infectious Lass (Legion of Substitute Heroes)
* Harry Potter (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen)
* Kid Miracleman (Miracleman #14)
* Joe Btfsplk (Li'l Abner)

*****

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Chris Duffy

1. Lobo (Lobo series)
2. Sea Hag (Popeye)
3. Nancy Reagan (Yummy Fur)
4. Red Skull (70s Kirby Captain America)
5. Denny Eichhorn (from his comics)

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. Doomlord (photostrip version) (The Eagle)
2. Cartilage Head (Achewood)
3. Deena Pilgrim (Powers)
4. The Hulk
5. Morning Bright (Smax)

*****

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M. Emery

1. Monster (Stray Bullets)
2. Judge Caligula (Judge Dredd)
3. Any character from Al Colombia's oeuvre
4. Werewolf Jones (Megg and Mogg)
5. Daemon (House of Daemon from Eagle Comics)

*****

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Michael Buntag

* Edward Hyde (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen)
* Sir William Gull (From Hell)
* Johan Liebert (Monster)
* Negan (The Walking Dead)
* Salvador "Sal" Crow (RASL)

*****

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Steven Stwalley

1. Everett True (by Condo)
2. The Snoid (by Crumb)
3. Captain Pissgums (by Wilson)
4. Whim (by Woodring)
5. Reid Fleming (by Boswell)

*****

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Dave Knott

* Kid Miracleman
* Johan Liebert (Monster)
* Jei (Usagi Yojimbo)
* Cannibal Fuckface (Prison Pit)
* The Uh-Oh Baby ( Cul De Sac)

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Darkseid (The New Gods)
2. Dracula (Tomb of Dracula)
3. Trigon (The New Teen Titans)
4. Despair (The Sandman)
5. Etrigan (The Demon)

*****

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Jeff Flowers

* Baron Karza (Micronauts)
* Lord High Papal (Dreadstar)
* Dark Phoenix (X-Men)
* Galactus (Fantastic Four)
* Kid Miracleman (Miracleman)

*****

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Marc Sobel

1. Pogeybait
2. The Frogmouth
3. Frank Castle
4. El Borbah
5. Julia Wertz

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. King Shark (Suicide Squad)
2. Gesche Gottfried (Gift)
3. TheCorinthian (The Sandman)
4. Bug Boy (Dokumoshi kozo)
5. Rocker Gang (La Nuit)

*****

topic suggested and examples provided by Sean T. Collins; thanks, Sean

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July 30, 2013


Go, Look: Insect Bath

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Go, Look; Maybe Buy: Little House Comics Has A Store

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Five More Notes About Before Watchmen

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By Tom Spurgeon

I have a few more thoughts about DC's Before Watchmen project.

The cycle of DC Comics mini-series based on characters and creations of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in their award-winning late '80s graphic novel finished its initial serialization several weeks ago. It has since moved into the hardcover trade availability phase of its publishing life cycle. The project made this transition without a great deal of attention or hype. There was certainly nothing to match the intensity and buzz of the original series' last issue nor did we see a sequel to the furious back-and-forth that came with the announcement of the new books' publication. The last comic book to be published was even slightly out of order. A once-promised final wrap-up issue was abandoned somewhere between idea and execution. The new trades are handsome but were not mentioned to me by a single person at Comic-Con International as something they were reading, anticipating, or even looking to buy.

I've already written on Before Watchmen. I consider the following a companion piece to this essay. That is a grander essay. As it was written with the kind of anger that makes you focus, it is likely more right-on than the following summer reverie has any chance of being. I stand by the content of everything I wrote in that one, urging only that everything I wrote be considered in its appraisal.

There are additional things to be said, however, upon the project's completion as a serial work and its move into this new phase. Let's try five.

image1. I'm Glad We Tried To Talk About Before Watchmen
As predicted, the furor over the Before Watchmen project became part of the hype cycle for the project as both a publishing effort and a wider, corporate strategy of property management and career advancement. It was at the very least exploited as such: I know I've seen my fair share of "controversial" designations accompanying various press efforts on behalf of the books. That said, I am convinced there was significant value in a huge swathe of comics professionals and devoted readers using the publishing event as a springboard to talk about issues of creators rights, the expectations we have for corporate behavior, and the choices made by creative people. I think that's a positive no matter the end result of these conversations. I don't believe this discussion was limited to twitter and a few message boards. I suspect it was a sprawling affair and will continue for a long while. I know that I encountered fevered talk about this topic in bars and on the phone and via e-mail months and months into the series itself. I spoke to someone at length about Before Watchmen while in New York City a full year after the project was announced. It was referenced in a panel I moderated this year at Comic-Con International.

I believe it is precisely because people are wrong about the immutable nature of corporations as policy-shaping entities, and because human decisions really do matter, that it's worth having these discussions whenever and wherever we can. That we're nearly a quarter-century removed from the last flurry of talks on these matters made it absolutely vital to revisit these conversations in a significant way. We live in a very different world now in terms of what we tolerate and what we have come to believe is not only possible but a "right" to be exercised -- by individual artists, corporations and consumers. Before Watchmen has helped a lot of us sort the players and the possibilities. I hope the conversation continues.

2. The Comics Community Can Sort Of Suck At Discussing Things
Many of the weaknesses of the current professional community and those groups' attendant pathologies were on full display over the last year or so, particularly in the three or four months after the initial announcement.

The most worrisome trend to my mind was a too-easy conflation between supporting a policy or business outcome and supporting the creator that makes them. That several creators and their proxies saw the criticism of Before Watchmen as a personal attack suggests a greater embrace of the idea that we have personal brands, a business-operation conception of ourselves as creative people that fosters binary relationships: we are either supported or assaulted. It behooves us to get to a place where someone sees a criticism of a policy or outcome as something other than something aimed at their inner being, or praise for a comic book or professional stance as something other than an overture of lifelong friendship. We should have a greater conception of ourselves as people, as creators and as a professional community than as a collective jumble of personae in various stages of getting over.

The critics of Before Watchmen, myself included, were frequently sanctimonious, arrogant and cruel. One way I think this was displayed came about as an unfortunate result of the Internet-based, transactional culture that serves as the vehicle for a huge portion of these discussions. There's so much equivocating and jockeying for favor in a shared space like the comics community's on-line sphere that stronger statements tend to be rewarded. You're more likely to traffic in the currency of attention that serves as a reward on-line if you state that something is flat-out evil than you are if you parse out the good and the bad, the horrifying from the simply unfortunate, the execrable from the rote or dull.

I think you see the danger inherent in this kind of thinking in the way that arguments around the treatment of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster have developed. If your arguments for better treatment of those creators and their families depend on Superman's dads being wholly-victimized young people that only ever made $200 from the character and due to the aggressive depredation of evil businessmen became the kind of sad individuals that might try to borrow money from you in a public toilet, to find out that that pair made some bad choices, to discover they spent a great deal of money after making a not-insignificant amount, and to learn that family members sometimes wanted more than was allotted them and expressed this in indelicate terms, this is all going to be an assault on a precarious position you've embraced without really needing to. You've sacrificed a much more powerful and positive stance -- that we can do better by the creators of this marvelous and wealth-generating character -- for an extra three percent of rubbing someone else's face in something.

So yes, there was a flip side to some of the astonishingly unkind statements made by some creators involved with the project, and the generally crass underpinnings of arguments used in its defense. Just about everybody involved got a chance to say something that may cause someone else to cringe. That's not to draw moral equivalencies between any sets of positions. It's to point out that expressing these issues in total, pitch black and blinding, bright white is in service to sentiments and strategies that may have little to do with clarity and rational thought. They may be satisfying, but we rarely learn anything.

Let's work towards a greater and more generous conception of the truth. Yes indeed, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons failed to sign contracts that match up to what we might hope for someone to sign given the clarity of hindsight and our ability to make fictional versions of ourselves suffer the hardship of choices we never have to make. Moore and Gibbons also sometimes make comics that aren't awesome. Moore in particular is given over to occasional, ungenerous statements about fellow artists. Moore also looks odd, and has views on religion that can make him seem a strange figure. Watchmen itself is a book a number of folks believe is great but it's not a perfect work; there's no reason to think it can endure a thousand small cuts and indignities and maintain the power it once had. We don't rightly know the pressures felt by the individual creators or even by the executives involved to work on these prequel books. I know I've done some things that weren't optimal because of pressures internal and external. I assume you have. We should extend that potential point of sympathy to our comics makers whenever we can.

imageThere were some positives to Before Watchmen as well. Those books employed a lot of creative people including some of whom I'm fond. I'm certain Before Watchmen made some money for shop owners that have a tough row to hoe generally. Some of the creative efforts were laudable. I thought Amanda Conner's art on Silk Spectre was an eye-opener; I have no idea other than maybe speed issues why she isn't rotated in on major books with that company. Darwyn Cooke falls out of bed making entertaining and fun-to-read comic books, and his solo work here was compulsively readable. Jae Lee's art on the Ozymandias series was lovely in a lot of ways, and any way it wasn't, Steve Rude's art turn on a Dollar Bill one-shot was. Len Wein let folks know there's no reason we shouldn't be reading more comic books by Len Wein.

So yeah, there was some okay stuff in there. I thought some of the comics were lousy and unimaginative, too, and some of the creative contributions either unfocused or outright cynical. I thought some of the comics dragged on for much longer than paper-thin plots demanded. I thought as a whole they were at best pretty ordinary DC Comics of the last twenty years variety, despite several flourishes of craft and the underlying strength of some of the character designs and concepts. The Before Watchmen comics frequently felt as cobbled together and furiously last-second as rumors had it they were. They felt like assignments. Nothing about anything that was good in those comics depended on mining Watchmen.

There was a better outcome for Watchmen than Before Watchmen.

You don't have to argue the 100 percent failure of something in order to be critical of it. High moral certainty dependent on an overlay of fantasy sounds like a worldview that the original Watchmen would pull apart and criticize.

We can have better discussions, talks and debates where the end result is more significant than winning a point by shouting the loudest and saying the most nasty things into empty space. We too frequently settle for spinning around and accepting some high-fives when the point should be to educate each other and change the way things are done. We are a clever people, and there is room to argue about things that falls somewhere between slamming the recently deceased and a kind of imperious "you're with me or against me."

There is a better outcome for the comics industry than Before Watchmen.

3. Watchmen's Reputation Felt The Impact Of This Ill-Conceived Attempt To Create Work In Its Wake, But May Not Suffer As Greatly As Some Feared

I do think these books, like the movie version -- which I thought a ham-fisted misfire and unintentionally funny throughout, although also with a few laudable moments of craft -- will have an effect on how many see the original work, if only by setting up in close creative proximity to that work. When the original work asks a question, and we've been given an answer elsewhere, it's almost impossible not to at least remember that answer. It's a risk of doing that kind of art. I never wanted to know what happened to the characters in The Last Picture Show, but I have a sense of it. It's Hayden Christensen under that black helmet. Jake Gittes will recover from the ending of Chinatown to eventually get hired by Jake Berman. TS Garp looks like Robin Williams, at least a little bit, and the Comedian played touch football with the Kennedys.

One surprising thing about Before Watchmen was how badly the needs of these series were served by what Moore and Gibbons did in the original work. Characters created for a novel, or a specific story, no matter how entertaining, are not necessarily fodder for franchise creation. Unlike characters such as Superman and Sherlock Holmes, whose reasons for being are tied into pretty basic themes and concepts, the Watchmen characters were more complicated creations that refer to older comic books as much as the broader concepts behind them. These characters really only fully exist in the realm of that story; they are elements of that story. When people point out in the ongoing game of Internet Gotcha that Moore and Gibbons considered outside projects once upon a time, they miss the wider point that in the end these never fully materialized, and that this was a positive. It would take a much grander and more clever project than this one to repurpose these characters in a way they have anything close to the full impact they fostered in the original Watchmen. It's something an Alan Moore might have been able to do, but even then I'm not so sure.

It's hard for me to think of any of the characters that came across as more compelling for there being Before Watchmen than as they existed in the original book. You might be able to make that case for the second Silk Spectre character, as I'm sure some people found that character more appealing in the Cooke/Conner series than they did in the original work, but I'm not sure more appealing equates directly to better and those takes are so fundamentally different that it could have been someone else entirely. That would still be a rotten batting average. No, Watchmen works as the whole it was intended, and pulled apart it was so many metal parts on a stretch of black velvet. You could see them, but they hardly moved. Give me the watch; let the rest scatter to the floor. We forget sometimes that part of the graphic novel revolution wasn't just about getting the medium over with a different audience or some rough idea of being taken more seriously, but about a range of expression through that forms that yields an effect denied serial comic books and their undying, continually-published nature.

4. Before Watchmen Was A Subtle But Significant Event In Terms Of Creator Migration And Career Development

I think in addition to hundreds and hundreds of individual artists and creators and industry people confronting on their own terms what they think about these matters, the general context has changed for similar projects and situations heading forward. Those that push back are going to push back even harder now. In the same way the industry and the art form benefited significantly by certain creators washing their hands of the 1980s mainstream comic book industry as much as they could in the wake of Marvel's conduct concerning Jack Kirby's original art, the industry and the art form will be changed by the decisions made by creators as to how to orient themselves to the kinds of businesses according to how they conducted themselves with Alan Moore. This is true of those that broke with that kind of work entirely -- the Chris Robersons and Roger Langridges -- and those, I think more significantly, that began to plot a career strategy other than commitment and trust in corporate entities. Image Comics, the second-tier mainstream publishers and even Marvel may be the biggest winners where Before Watchmen is concerned.

I think this is where the break with past policy weighs in, the notion that even something so long ago accepted as a status quo, as was the case with the DC impasse with Moore and Gibbons on Watchmen material, can change when the companies change. You usually see this in a positive way, actually, when it's argued that present-day companies are no longer directly responsible for things done years ago by previous regimes and should be given the benefit of the doubt. And it's true that the deals and respect afforded modern creators can sometimes dwarf that of what was given to creators fifty to seventy years ago. The flip side of the horrifying arguments that corporate entities are somehow agents of their own and operate independently of the men and women that make them up is a sense of real-politik about the nature of the scorpion swimming on a creator's back. One reason we find things like Before Watchmen dismaying is that so much of what's been great about comics in the time since the original series has been partly the result of contracts that wouldn't allow this project to happen. And now that there are more models that are profitable within that realm of comics making, more of the best creators should move in that direction.

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5. Comics Has An Exploitation Problem

At one point it was suggested to me that it was weird to read site after site, many of whom do not pay their contributors or who pay them very poorly, hammer comics pros and companies as being exploitative for an endeavor where those involved were relatively very well paid. Ditto criticism over industry practices that made the project possible from entities that also utilize work-made-for-hire.

And you know what? I think there's something to that. I'd suggest that Before Watchmen and the discussions that followed did a lot to throw the spotlight on how comfortable people have become in treating artists less than optimally up and down the entire spectrum of comics-making.

Certainly the level of collective comfort with exploitation at the high end of media creation plays a significant role in how we consume the resulting art. I think that's a big driver when it comes to herding those arguments into the most narrow, legal terms possible -- which is a fine stance, except that when creators attempt to employ the legal mechanisms available to them it's suddenly seen in a different light by many of those same people. Corporations being aggressive using the law, well, that's just what corporations do. A family trying to secure a greater legacy for their patriarch using the same laws, that's greed. A corporation trying to curry favor in the professional community is a breath of fresh air; a creator trying to sow the seeds of dissent against certain publishing practices, that's just sour grapes. Comics people are major sensualists, and god help any construction that stands in the way or threatens to complicate our unfettered enjoyment of something we love.

My feeling these days is that comics is soaked in exploitation, and that this deserves to be confronted in every corner of the industry. We should do this not as a way to excuse or legitimize the more egregious instances but because 1) it's usually always a bad thing, 2) we might learn of specific instances that can be treated or helped in a way that the grander examples cannot be budged, 3) one way to change a culture is to change some of the culture with an eye towards the rest of the culture following suit.

To make things perfect is usually impossible, and there's a self-indulgent aspect to screaming at the weather. To make things better is continually possible, and can start with your own actions. It's also a lot more difficult.

We should pay people. We should not except in rare circumstances own anyone's work but our own. We should not assume a universal currency where exposure and training and team-building are equal to pay and prestige and positioning. We should not utilize anything anyone creates outside of the terms they establish for it or that the entity to whom they cede control has established. We should not participate in mechanisms that encourage these practices.

imageThis isn't moral browbeating. CR has done a terrible job with this in the past, and will likely struggle with these issues in the future. We can all do better. If enough of us try, if enough people put aside the idea that our own success has moral force, then some will succeed at treating creators and other makers with greater respect and to greater reward.

I would also love to see a broader discussion of whether or not it's worthwhile for anyone to go to a publisher and take a less than optimal deal. That includes all of the publishers, not just the ones that publish comics CR readers don't like. That includes the fairness of a limited return on the time and effort spent, not just ethical misfires in contractual language. We need a realistic dialogue as to the fine line between helping people and enabling them. That can be exploitation, too. I'm not sure we even have a broad idea of what a good deal is supposed to look like.

We also might begin to question our consumption of art and make more informed choices as to what we're buying and how and how that has an effect on the creator involved. That doesn't mean you have to join Steve Bissette in his boycott of all things Marvel, or purge your hard drive of the 500 movies you have on there (although seriously, maybe it's time we purged our movie hard drives), but I hope that if you're the kind of person that reads a giant essay on a comics commentary site that you have a semblance of the same sophistication with your buying habits that Bissette brings to his own. Embracing the consequences of our own behavior is one way to fight against the notion that we're all victims scrambling in and out of the feet of major corporate entities that matter. Making a few changes doesn't mean that you'll succeed, and almost no one is allowed a lifetime of optimal choices. I'd consider writing work-for-hire comic book scripts on Jack Kirby's skull if that were the only way to help a family member or a close friend. But doing better shouldn't be about maintaining a perfect record so as not to receive grief on the Internet from someone playing the hypocrisy card. It should be about a collective effort to form a basic standard that favors the best possible outcome for art and the people that make it as opposed to relegating all of that to secondary status behind what's allowable, what someone or some collection of force will allow us to do, what we can eke out, what we can justify by plugging it into our personal stories.

I doubt I'll ever be convinced that Before Watchmen was an awesome project. I don't think it was evil; I think it was sad. That was a lot of talent aimed at books whose nature allowed only the tiniest chance that remarkable art would result; talent that probably could have gone to bolstering the new superhero comics line or that could have been pushed in the direction of their own, similar achievement. So much of it smacked of parody -- they really did a Dollar Bill comic book! With Steve Rude art! -- that the whole thing was hard to fathom. The result was an all-time target-rich snark environment, and it's still difficult to grasp just what snapped in the way comics approaches such matters that it was suddenly here in our midst. Hopefully, we learned something from it, from all of it, and the better outcome here will mean more of us come around to the notion that all the hot air in the world matters less than a concrete step in a forward direction. Comics' famously low threshold for participation is an opportunity and a responsibility; we should see to both. The best legacy imaginable for Before Watchmen might be a generation of spiritual sequels and passionate discussions and applied industry practices whose connection to this misguided project is felt, never seen.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Monkey Rope Press

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A Brief Update On The Condition Of S. Clay Wilson

imageReceived this letter from S. Clay Wilson's caretaker and guardian angel Lorraine Chamberlain.
I was thrilled to see your blog entry about Patrick's biography of Wilson. Perfect timing, as the San Diego Con gets fired up. Thanks for doing that.

However, I'm concerned about your mention of Wilson's "mysterious health issues" from which he is recovering. I'd like to be more specific so people won't assume he is fairly well now, and even able to draw. He had a traumatic brain injury in 2008 which put him in a coma for weeks and left him severely impaired. (the mystery is whether or not he fell numerous times, or was mugged.) While he was able to draw fairly well for a little over a year afterwards, he has been in a steady decline for over three years now. He can do nothing for himself, and has aphasia, which leaves him unable to talk except to answer Yes or No to a question. When he asks me something, it's very hard to understand what he is saying, since he mostly uses wrong words for everything. Last year, he had emergency surgery to install a shunt in his brain, as fluid was building up in there. He has not been the same since, and has additionally become quite frail and unsteady on his feet. Mostly, he watches movies. I try to keep him moving around, and take him out in the back yard sometimes on a sunny day, but we live a very isolated life now. He can no longer draw at all, and is easily confused by the simplest things. Friends rarely come to visit, although he usually enjoys seeing them. (Since he used to be such a motormouth, many are startled or uncomfortable with how quiet he is now. They aren't used to getting a word in edgewise!)

I try to keep him cheery and clean and feeling loved. It's a 24-hour-a-day job.

I made a website for him where people can read updates, look at photos & drawings, and donate to the Special Needs Trust I set up for him. The address is www.sclaywilson.com. Please take a look at it! Next week I plan to put another Paypal button on there, so people could "subscribe", and donate an affordable, monthly amount without having to think about it. I have to go to the Apple Store and get someone to help me install the "subscribe" & "unsubscribe"buttons, since the instructions are maddeningly complicated. (They helped with the "donate" button last time.)

I hope you will add this information to your blog. Feel free to edit it down, if you need to. I just feel it is very important for people to understand the reality of this heartbreaking tragedy.
Yeah, the only mystery I was talking about is exactly what happened to Wilson, not his condition. My bad. I should have been more careful in the phrasing. I hope you'll visit the web site. Wilson is an important American artist.
 
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Go, Look: Emi Gennis

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CBLDF: South Carolina Values Group Criticizes Fun Home

imageSomething called the Palmetto Family Council has launched an attack against the book Fun Home being selected as the class book for incoming freshmen at the College Of Charleston. As the article by Betsy Gomez explains, the use of Fun Home in this way is a fairly common practice at a lot of schools: pick a book that the incoming freshman might all read in order to have a shared experience to discuss upon their arrival. It's a way of reinforcing that schools have an intellectual public life in addition to the standard classroom/social schism. As I recall, comics like Alison Bechdel's award-winning memoir have played this role before at other schools, usually without incident. I would imagine that picking a graphic novel of obvious literary value is a way to offer the students something distinctive for that particular experience, but I can't be sure on that one and it likely differs school to school and year to year.

The attack on the book is ludicrous and without merit, and that's even before you get to the notion that suggesting people read a book and engage its ideas is something a school somehow shouldn't be doing every damned minute of every damned day. My primary impression isn't so much that this is a reminder of some undercurrent of anti-comics prejudice but a sign that anyone that comes at comics like this one in this way with those arguments in these times is likely to look like a dumbass.
 
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Go, Look: April Malig

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Susceptible

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Creator: Geneviève Castrée
Publishing Information: Drawn and Quarterly, hardcover, 80 pages, February 2013, $19.95
Ordering Numbers: 9781770460881 (ISBN13)

imageI think the primary virtue of this dense, at-times fascinating work that slipped out from Drawn And Quarterly mid-winter comes from the fact that its author tells the story of her dysfunctional parents without processing what they did through her own neuroses. For those used to reading "Here's how my parents are messed up, and here's what that's done to me," it may seem at first like we're only getting half of the story here. Approximately two-thirds of the way through the volume, at a point past the reader stops bracing for a lengthy and self-involved confessional that will never arrive, Susceptible makes a strong case that we maybe shouldn't automatically process the shortcomings of others as fuel for our own bad choices and hang-ups.

Susceptible is also a compellingly-drawn work, with tiny figures captured either against the backdrop of the white page itself or floating in an area accompanied on all sides by a deft contextualization of the characters' immediate surroundings. Placing the figures in relation to the author's depiction of herself forces our attention on how these events break across her mind and heart without the cartoonist ever having to to say so. Those scenes put on overt, physical display how these events both happened to the author, yet also took place far from her inner core. Susceptible feels plainspoken in a way that runs counter to the flourishes of the art and the book's hand-lettering, with Castrée employing a voice that says "look at this" over and over again, page to page, scene to scene, without ever demanding we interpret what we see to her advantage. I loved its quiet insistence.

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Go, Look: Caroline Picard

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Go, Look: Barry Bruner

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Leslie Stein is working on an Oily Comic. I hope it's okay I show it here. I want everyone to buy it. She's great and those minis are a lot of fun.

image* Sean Gaffney has a round-up of licensing announcements from San Diego earlier this month.

* sad news from Derf Backderf that his The City, an almost quarter-century veteran of the alt-comics strip world, will no longer appear in Cleveland's Plain Dealer publication.

* the writer Gail Simone will take on scripting duties for Dark Horse's Tomb Raider series.

* here's an interesting model: curated graphic novel delivery.

* if you want to see why people will miss the late Kim Thompson, check out all of the books that Amazon.com has spit out with a May 2014 date that have Thompson's fingerprints on them if not an outright credit. That's an astonishing list of comics. I'm sure that there's a very good chance we don't see some of those books.

* we're apparently getting more Resident Alien, so that's good.

* I believe this is the first time I've seen something out there that indicates The Complete Cul-De-Sac will be pushed into 2014. My understanding is that Richard Thompson needs more time with the annotations. God bless that good man Richard Thompson.

* finally, that talented young cartoonist Joseph Remnant will apparently have a new issue of his one-man anthology Blindspot out for SPX. Now's a good time in general to jump on-line and check out your favorite small-press creator's on-line headquarters and see what they have coming up concerning that show.

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Go, Look: Please, Don't Give Up

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Go, Look: Paul Revere, Jr.

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I greatly enjoy these super-thorough reports from Ben Katchor's NYC symposium series that run in The Rumpus. The latest features the cartoonists Meghan Turbitt and Katie Skelly. I think it's great that so many cartoonists are so good right now at presenting their work in public.

image* Todd Klein on Green Lantern: New Guardians #19. KC Carlson on The Star*Reach Companion. Johanna Draper Carlson on Plugged In: Comics Professionals Working In The Video Game Industry. Richard Bruton on The Festival. James Bacon on The Shining Girls. Kelly Thompson on Batman And Robin #22. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on various comic books. John Anderson on Blue Spring. Josh Kopin on various comics.

* Matt Bors told Jake Tapper that editorial cartooning is dying, which is good because I think a lot of us assumed it had already died.

* sold.

* completely missed this post about DRM over at The Beat, and it seems like people might want to read that before this week's digital comics column.

* I know of one group that will always be solidly behind an Anthony Weiner in office: editorial cartoonists.

* the great Paul Gravett on comics and medicine. I'm not sure if I've totally figured out the whole comics and medicine thing, but I will always read what Paul Gravett posts.

* speaking of foundational comics bloggers, congratulations to Gary Tyrrell on his 2500th post. And Mike Sterling may never need to post again.

* Jack Kirby was a great character designer, particularly when he was plugged into The Source during the 1960s and 1970s. There's no reason why the Galactus design should work on any level, and sometimes it looks a little goofy. But for some reason, a lot of artists have had a good time working with it in a variety of styles.

* finally, I always enjoyed these serialized issues of Paul Grist comics. More than the trades.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Tom Ziuko!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Chris Sprouse!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Dan Nadel!

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July 29, 2013


Go, Look: Math-You-Land

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Not Comics: Vermont Downtown Tax Credits Program Has An Impact On White River Junction, CCS, Comics

James Sturm points our attention to this article, detailing the latest round of downtown business grants targeted at Vermont communities. White River Junction, and thus The Center For Cartoon Studies, stands to benefit. It's not exactly glamorous news, but that comics institutions of all type avail themselves of all the public funding possible seems to me like an overall positive. Also, the program sounds like a DC comic book title.
 
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Go, Look: Mita Mihato

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Go, Look: Leslie Perrine

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Missed It: Warren Ellis On The Impulse To Give Up

Here. That's good advice. I find it helps to imagine the person that would be made happiest by your giving up and then doing it to spite them.

Ellis is not a big fan of Tumblr culture, though, apparently. Hard to blame him.
 
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Go, Look: Wolfen Jump

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A Pair Of Quick Conventions-Related Notes

The 2013 iteration of Comic-Con International in San Diego took place about 75,000 years ago; a lot of folks take their vacations this week rather than last week so as to handle that initial burst of post-con activity, so our best to those folks. We're still on our own. There should be a roll of pictures at the bottom of today's postings I'm hoping you can help with via e-mail. Also, I went ahead and put photos into the collected version of that weekend's daily notes, if you want to look at some comics people or read/re-read a bunch of sloppy observations from a tired person. I like a bunch of those pictures, like the Eric Reynolds and Groth/Stone and the Bob Harvey.
 
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Go, Look: Josh Bayer

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

By Tom Spurgeon

image* Tom Neely is having an art sale, and I hope you'll go over there and check out what he has to offer. If I get home before it ends, I will join you.

* the Projects 2 kickstarter has to be in its final stages by now. It'd be nice if that one makes it.

* always nice to buy something from Johnny Ryan, if you're so inclined.

* I enjoyed this post from Ken Eppstein about the crowd-funder they recently did on behalf of one of their books.

* Rob Clough would like to recommend a few projects/endeavors.

* the author of this crowd-funded project tweeted its link at me the other day; it may be funded by now.

* haven't tooled around indiegogo in a while: the Norm crowd funder is firmly in its stretch goals phase; the Stonewall Riots comic book is rounding into its final stages; this modestly-aimed one caught my eye; and then there's this classic web-to-print project.

* I hope that there's enough information here for you to figure out this mini-comics subscription drive. I was given a press release, but CR is primarily a link blog and I have a really hard time using press releases. I just want a link and an image!

* some of you might be interested to know about this documentary seeking crowd-funding.

* finally, I don't know that I've seen a lot of component-materials crowd funders, so this one for some script writing from a comics standpoint caught my eye. Although I have to say, most people I know just use a word processing program. Or a sketchbook.
 
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Go, Look: Things I've Seen And Heard

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Go, Look: Rich Buckler Cover Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* there's some push back against the push back about Comic-Con some ten days in the rear view mirror now. That's like 10,000 years in Internet time. Still: Corey Blake spotlights comics stories, including a few I've completely missed out on. Megan Byrd tells the haters to shut up.

image* Kelly Thompson on Batman: Li'l Gotham #2. Rob Clough on Best American Comics 2007. Justin Giampaoli on a bunch of different comics. Johanna Draper Carlson on Stan Lee's How To Draw Superheroes. Kelly Thompson on Avengers Assemble #17. Sam Costello on The Strange Tale Of Panorama Island.

* Scott Edelman documents an extremely old -- but very high-profile -- case of logo theft.

* not comics: Kevin Melrose walks us through a significantly-funded Kickstarter project that pulled a Vinko Bogataj, and I can't imagine a better, more thorough tour guide.

* I love this particular face that Robert Kirkman occasionally makes in photos. Neil Gaiman has this great face, too, that he employed at the Eisner: kind of a Buster Keaton combined with Harpo Marx just-about-to-gulp look.

* a reminder that Samuel Beckett and Ernie Bushmiller were pen pals.

* I don't even know what the hell is going on here, but I sure do love me the Super-Sons. There's something about the ubiquity of Superman and Batman -- sort of an assumed dominance, really -- that made all sorts of stupid things make sense. It's Superman really -- he's super-everything; Batman is just like the not-exactly-Superman control group.

* have to imagine that any Johnny Bacardi tumblr tage with "Thriller" in it will yield a bunch of fun stuff.

* this artists drawing Batman with eyes closed thing was in a bunch of places last week, but I'm just now catching up because, unlike Batman, sometimes I fall down on the job.

* finally, trouble for the Paul Conrad Chain Reaction Statue is one of the enduring, recurring stories in comics.
 
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Happy 59th Birthday, Lovern Kindzierski!

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Happy 30th Birthday, Nick Gazin!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Baru!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Ted May!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 39th Birthday, Gail Simone!

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Can You Identify These Comics-Makers And Industry People?

So my brother Whit takes a bunch of photos every year at the various conventions he attends, primarily Comic-Con International. I am sometimes at a loss for who people are. Can you help? And I know some of these have contextual clues, but when that happens it becomes doubly important not to get it wrong. Thank you. And thanks to all these nice people for posing for my brother.

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001 -- Chris Rupp

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002 -- Jeff Keane

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003 -- Rick Kirkman

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005

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006

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007 -- Andy Smith

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010 -- Stuart Sayger

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015

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016 -- Stanley Lau

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017 -- Scott Zambelli

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018 -- Joe Phillips

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019

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020 -- Ken Christiansen

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021 -- Joe Benitez

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023

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024 -- Ryan Odagawa

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025 -- Brian Buccellato

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026 -- Jeremy Dale

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027 -- Mike S. Miller

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028 -- Humberto Ramos

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029

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030 -- Jeff Martinez

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031 -- Whitney Pollett

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032

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033 -- Scott Williams

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034 -- Richard Friend

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035 -- Tony Washington

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036 -- Joel Gomez

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037 -- Beth Sotelo

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038

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040 -- Chuck Wojtkiewicz

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041 -- Anson Jew

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042 -- Benton Jew

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043 -- Anson and Benton fJew

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044 -- Michael Dooney

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045

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048 -- Thomas Yeates

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049 -- Franchesco

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052 -- Durwin Talon & E. Guin Thompson

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054 -- John Van Fleet

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056 -- Scott Hampton

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061 -- Brandon Peterson

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062 -- Scott Beaderstadt

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063 -- Scott Benefiel

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064 -- Scott Benefiel

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065 -- Rich Koslowski

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072 -- Jeff Balke

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073 -- Norm Rapmund

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074 -- Todd Nauck

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075 -- Chris Moreno

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078 -- Jacob Chabot

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079 -- Georges Jeanty

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July 28, 2013


CR Sunday Interview: Charles Forsman

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Charles Forsman's formidable, nascent comics presence is split between his cartooning work and his publishing/distribution efforts. Forsman was born in 1982 and raised in Pennsylvania. A high school dropout, he returned to school first at community college and then as part of the second class to matriculate at The Center For Cartoon Studies. His mini-comic Snake Oil won the outstanding comic and outstanding series Ignatz Awards at the 2008 ceremony.

This month sees the Fantagraphics publication of The End Of The Fucking World (TEOTFW), a deliberately-paced study of two teenagers adrift in an alternatively empty and disappointing world. That work was originally serialized as a series of eight-page mini-comics through Forsman's successful Oily Comics minis making and distribution network. I think it's an intriguing debut, almost like watching a percussionist or other music-maker attempting to play with only the most rudimentary version of his chosen instrument. TEOTFW is a spare work, providing heaping dollops of emotional turmoil for whatever it lacks in rendered, drawn detail. I'm grateful Forsman took the time to speak with me, and wish I had a photo later than 2008. -- Tom Spurgeon

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imageTOM SPURGEON: Am I right in thinking that The End of The Fucking World is the first thing you've done of this size and scope?

CHARLES FORSMAN: That's been published.

SPURGEON: Did you even expect this one to end up in that form? Because notably this was a series of mini-comics first. Were you aiming towards a book collection while you were doing the minis, or is that something that kind of locked into place after you did a bunch of the work?

FORSMAN: This one was sort of an exercise to do something completely different and have a little more fun again. What happened is I finished this book Celebrated Summer -- I guess a few years ago now. Fantagraphics is reprinting that one later this year. Those pages are really dense [laughs] and there's a lot of hatching involved. I wanted to do something I could draw fast, sort of the opposite of that project. Something cheap: $1 comics. That's kind of how it started.

I did not plan for it to be collected or anything. The reaction to it after three or four issues... people seemed to really like it. Publishers told me so. [Spurgeon laughs]

SPURGEON: Did that change how you approached the story at all? Did you perhaps start seeing it as a single piece more than as a series of vignettes?

FORSMAN: I think so. It was probably a good thing, because it forced me to become serious about where I wanted it to go. It was a probably a combination of things: the reaction from the readers, stores ordering it, and people wanting to publish it. I think it forced me to figure out what I wanted to do. Part of me wanted to keep it going forever. [laughs]

SPURGEON: You probably could have, too.

FORSMAN: I don't know if I was ready to do something like that. I think it was good. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.

SPURGEON: Something we don't talk about in terms of comics a whole lot is a work suggesting to the creator what it's about in the process of the creator bringing it to life. That's a pretty common way to discuss writing a play or working with prose. A fairly common model for less labor-intensive forms, at least in terms of the basic building blocks of it, is for a creator to just starting working away and afford the material itself some sort of voice in how it's shaped after a certain point. Were you surprised by anything that happened with the book during its creation?

FORSMAN: The seed of the whole thing started with a feeling. I had a time and a place and teenagers; I had this sort of vague, mid-'80s feeling that [laughs] I tend to put into a lot of my work. And I had a little bit of violence and sex. The characters definitely ended up taking it where it ended up. I think I enjoy that a lot when I work. I tend to leave things open quite a bit. I don't want to say I'm totally improvising, because I had a rough plan as to where it was going. But I definitely leave it open when I write. Things are changing even when I go from pencils to inks.

SPURGEON: There's a simplified art style here that you talked about being a bit easier for you -- or at least it was different. Was there a conscious choice to match that basic artistic choice with your writing? Was there a similar writing style that you employed here? For instance, where you making bold, quick choices, or were you cutting down dialogue? I don't even know how you write, Chuck, just more generally. How did you write this piece?

FORSMAN: I sort of do very short, little paragraphs in my sketchbook, as far as the story goes. I did this thing issue by issue, so I knew what had to happen in that issue, and then I would write small phrases for each scene that needed to get done. I needed to have this feeling, or have this character get to here. And then I map it out in thumbnails. Then I write it in pictures and then I put in dialogue.

imageSPURGEON: What do you mean by wanting a feeling out of a scene? I'm not used to hearing that in terms of comics, either. What would be an example of how you wanted to convey a feeling?

FORSMAN: Oh, man, let me flip through the book.

SPURGEON: I'm going to put you on the spot a bunch of times like this, Chuck. Make you check back to the work.

FORSMAN: [laughs] It's funny. I feel like I say that a lot. This project in particular, there's a lot more story than I'm used to in terms of their being a plot and things moving along. I'm more focused on getting certain feelings across. Let's see: I'm looking at issue #3, and the scene where they break into a professor's house. There are quick panels of them watching TV, looking at his bookshelf, looking through his photos. Like that. To me, that gets across the feeling of what a teenager would do if he broke into someone's house. They would eat and look through -- I'm sure everyone has had that experience, being left alone in your own home or in your friends' house. You start snooping. So for me, trying to get that sort of thing across is more important.

SPURGEON: So it's a particular circumstance or impression of a way of looking at or experiencing things you're talking about, rather than a specific emotion you want to convey. You're not saying you want them to be sad pages. It's more like scene work.

FORSMAN: Maybe feeling wasn't the best word -- it's just the way I think about it. I tend to think of the way the characters are feeling.

SPURGEON: No, I think that "feeling" communicates. Now what made this story event-centric for you, then? Did the length of the serial, or the fact that it was in component parts, have an effect in the way you needed to show something?

FORSMAN: It was definitely that it was serialized. I had never done that before. I had to do it every month, and I only had eight pages to get across whatever I wanted to get across. It forced me to make each issue satisfying. I wasn't thinking about it that consciously. But even just in terms of having a bit of a cliffhanger, that was new to me. I really started to enjoy it. I feel like I really took to it. [laughs] Maybe that just comes from watching a lot of TV.

I really enjoyed building something with smaller bricks. I guess that's how I've always thought of comics, breaking it down into scenes. Even when I'm just doing one book. I also like to mix the bricks up a bit. I've done a few things like that, where I'll mix the scenes up so that the time line is no longer linear. I think that's more interesting for the reader, to make them work a little bit.

SPURGEON: I have no idea what your range of influences might look like. I do know you have an atypical path to comics. You left them for a while and came back, which is something you see from a lot of people. But that you ended up in school for comics, and maybe in school at all, is surprising given the direction of your life at one point. You talked about this a bit in Rob Clough's massive Oily Comics-focused interview at TCJ.com. It's also true that because you attended CCS, you would have had an opportunity to become immersed in a lot of different comics once you came back to them. What is the constellation of your major influences? Are there people that were particularly eye-opening to you when you started to practically apply your skills?

FORSMAN: I think the big one at school was probably Chester Brown. He was a big thing. Sammy Harkham, too -- he was big for me in part because he was closer to my age. Those two, and the really old newspaper cartoonists. I was really into [EC] Segar and Frank King at that time.

SPURGEON: Can you talk a bit about your experience processing these cartoonists while in school? It sounds like you would have had the opportunity to become immersed in these cartoonists -- I've heard CCS students describe their experience in terms of there being nothing to do but make comics, experience comics and socialize with cartoonists in that small community there. So were you seeking out stuff and reading it? Were you tracking down things you heard about in class? Were you receiving ideas from classmates?

FORSMAN: You become very close to your classmates. I was lucky in that we had a nice core of people; we really got close and I trust a lot of their opinions. I worked in the library, so I was around a lot of stuff and I would pore through it. It was all about trying on different costumes. Every assignment or project I felt I tackled in a different way. I hadn't really drawn comics that much before I went there. I had to cycle through all of that stuff, just to get through it and figure out what worked for me. There was a lot of experimentation. It was weird. I had railed against going to school for so long, but I was really open to it when I was there.

SPURGEON: I had a potentially similar experience in that I went to grad school in a field for which I was not previously prepared. I remember feeling super-far behind everyone else. Did you feel that scramble to catch up? Do you feel like that had an impact on how you process the comics you read?

FORSMAN: Yeah. I constantly feel like that. [laughter] That I'm always catching up. Yeah. I went to community college before CCS for about a year. I hadn't done any school since I'd dropped out of high school five or six or seven years before that. That was a really great experience. I had the fundamental courses, like Intro to 2D Design. For other people, that class was probably second nature to them. For me, it opened my eyes, just these simple things about design I kind of had a clue to, but no one had ever spelled it out for me.

CCS: everyone says you get out of it what you put in, and I feel like I worked harder there than I ever worked in my life. Unless you count flipping pizza. That was a hard job. [laughter]

SPURGEON: There's working hard and then there are hard jobs.

FORSMAN: I think CCS was the first time I was able to put hard work into a creative outlet like that. I'd always wanted to. In comics, I never grew up with any friends that read comics or did comics, so I didn't have any examples in front of me. CCS was the first time I was able to be around people that were doing it, and to justify doing it myself.

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SPURGEON: You still have a 717 area code cell phone. Central Pennsylvania. A bunch of folks I would imagine are going to go at your personal teenage experiences in the next few months and how those might apply to this work, but I was equally interested in The End Of The Fucking World's strong sense of place. Did you think about Pennsylvania when you did that book, your experiences there? I spent some time there, and that always felt like a potentially isolating place to me. There's a lot of physical decay in the downtowns.

FORSMAN: The time I spent growing up there works itself into every story I do, particularly the stories about teenagers. I would agree with that. I wouldn't say it's physically... the part of Pennsylvania I grew up in was booming. Where I lived, we were sort of on the edge between suburbs and farmland. My 20 years there I saw the farms taken over by more and more suburban housing. But it is still isolating. I think I always hungered for community, which I never felt. I lived in Mechanicsburg, but miles outside the actual town. Me and my friends, we'd always go into town and hang out or skateboard or whatever, probably because we wanted to get to a city. [laughs] In reality, the town was really dead, but it was something different than what we were used to. Definitely Pennsylvania has a big influence on me. I think about it a lot when I write these stories. It's what I know.

SPURGEON: Do you consider a work like this one a purposeful indictment of that place, or those kinds of places? Because what you have here is a milieu in which these kids lose themselves, and they uncover this horrifying thing that ends up pursuing them. It's not exactly the kind of thing you'd slip into a realtor's catalog. [Forsman laughs] Are your feelings about that place this coarse, this hard? Do you really think these are places to be indicted to the level you do so here?

FORSMAN: No. I can't say I've ever thought of it as that I'm indicting a place. I was very disappointed with my teenage years. [laughs] I had kind of a rough time. It wasn't awful or anything, but I think I grew up too fast. I was forced to grow up a little too fast. I became very cynical, I think. I wasn't happy being the age I was at the time I was and in the place I was. I hungered for something different all the time. It's very easy to get forgotten. I was yearning for something. I wanted to do something different, but there were no adults I could connect to that might say, "Hey, you can do this!" That might help me out. It was more like, "You have to get into class and be like everyone else." [laughs] There's no other choice. And that's disappointing in a way. Even though I couldn't articulate what I wanted, I knew I wanted something different. That's very frustrating. I am very frustrated when I look back on those times.

SPURGEON: The depiction of the adults here is certainly bleak, Chuck. [Forsman laughs] There's not a prince or princess among them. It's sort of a rigorously negative portrayal of adults.

FORSMAN: With the Satanist stuff I hinted at, that certainly wasn't something I experienced in my life. [laughter] I've read about, or seen on TV programs, that in the '80s there was this rash of Satanists Taking Over stories: "Daycare Centers Filled With Satanists Abusing Children." I'm attracted to this idea of there being underground evil in these mundane places. I like that idea.

SPURGEON: Certainly there's an element of hyperbole in there, but all of the adults are spectacularly awful. Her dad is horrible, and gives them up. The security guard has a bit of creep to him. The guy in the car has a little bit more of creep to him. [Forsman laughs] I'm not sure there is a positive adult role model. Her mother doesn't seem like much of a peach. She's not fully there.

FORSMAN: I think it speaks to the way I felt as a teenager, a way a lot of teenagers probably feel. It's probably not true at all. There are probably adults in these kids' lives that are positive and trying to help them. But sometimes when you're at that age, you're in your way. You demonize adults at that age. You see them as squares or whatever.

SPURGEON: Did that make it difficult for you to be in an academic setting like you were for a few years? Steve [Bissette] and Jason [Lutes] and James [Sturm]... you also did an internship at Drawn and Quarterly. Comics people are sort of like adults, some of them. Was there a process for you to learn to trust people?

FORSMAN: [pause] Well, between high school and going to CCS I changed a lot. I was out in the workforce [laughs] and learned what it was like to have no money. I learned what is like to be an adult really quickly. I think I had changed my tune about a lot of that stuff by the time I went to school. By the time I went back to community college I was hungering for it. I realized that I probably couldn't do what I wanted to do on my own. I needed help.

James Sturm, I call him my second father. I've never told him that. He was a huge influence on me and a big force in my life. All of the teachers there... I said I never had a sense of community, but there I sort of found it. It was the first time I felt a part of something. I'm a pretty shy person. I don't talk a lot. I tend to keep to myself. I think it helped to be in an environment like that where I was forced to interact with all of these people I would have been too scared to otherwise. But when you're paying for it, you tend to take advantage of it. [laughter]

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SPURGEON: We mentioned that you talked to Rob Clough about Oily Comics in very thorough fashion. One thing I wondered is if the perspective you've gained by publishing mini-comics and distributing them has changed any of your attitudes towards the art you yourself are doing. I have to imagine that just having an idea of the realities of the audience might be something that makes you look at things differently than one of your peers that isn't involved in that way. For that matter, do you think in general that cartoonists your age have a realistic perspective on such matters?

The reason I ask you that second question is that comics has such a low threshold for participation -- you can just show up and start doing them -- and such a high threshold for doing them in a way that might provide a sustainable living or might help put you in a position so as to not be a drag on your doing more of that art.

FORSMAN: Hm.

SPURGEON: I kind of wondered what you thought about that. [pause] You know, I guess that's more than on question.

FORSMAN: I hope I can remember them all. [laughter]

SPURGEON: Sorry about that. I guess I just wondered if you'll approach what you do differently for having more of a sense of the reality of the business.

FORSMAN: I think... I was lucky enough to intern at Drawn and Quarterly and work for some other publishers. Building a business like Oily on my own, even though it was sort of an accident, I think I have a better sense of how little money there is in it and how tough it is. I think at the most Oily has maybe 500 customers. You know? I've definitely been taken aback by the reaction, the questions people have when they approach about it. I think people think I've figured something out and as a result I'm this rock star in a sense or something -- well, not a rock star. [laughter] They act as if I've figured something out. But in reality, it's tiny. It's been successful, on my little scale, and it's worked out well and I get great feedback. I think young cartoonists think comics is bigger than it actually is. I don't think that's a bad thing. It's good to be a little ignorant, especially when you're starting out.

SPURGEON: The reason I asked is that this is a common indictment of CCS students or cartoonists more generally under 35. They talk in terms of vague ideas of a book deal or some sort of sustainable model based on scoring a book with Top Shelf or Fantagraphics, and these are not victory lap moments: they can be key moments, but moments that don't bring with them any immediate relief from the struggle of being a working artist.

FORSMAN: Yeah. I understand all of that. In school, it felt like there was sort of a choice. You could become the kind of cartoonist that would go for doing a memoir and score a big New York book deal or whatever -- especially then; it felt like a lot of that was happening when I was in school.

SPURGEON: I always thought that was good timing on James' part.

FORSMAN: Yeah, it was. [laughter] Or you could do sort of your own thing. Or you could be James Sturm and do a little bit of both. He has his personal stuff with D+Q, but he also does this stuff working with Scholastic and Hyperion and all of that. It takes a little bit of savvy to be a James Sturm. I'm not sure I have that. I think I ended up choosing to do my own thing. It's not smart money-wise, but it's what I always wanted to do. I want to follow this path until I give up and take a dayjob.

imageSPURGEON: A structural question about TEOTFW: you play around with page format a lot. I don't know how instinctively you're creating in terms of those elements. This book's climactic scene you switched from a single-panel page to a two-panel page to a three-panel, to six, and then finally more -- a classic nine panel. You run through these very different grids.

FORSMAN: The way I usually work is in my mind I set up those panel structures. "I'm only going to use these three or four set-ups." Whether that's one-panel or two-panel or four-panel. I do think about it. It depends on the scene. Some scenes, I think about it a lot. When I'm doing it very tiny, when I'm laying these things out, I'm only beginning to see the page.

SPURGEON: Okay.

FORSMAN: When I say that, it seems ridiculous to me. [laughter] I don't know, it's hard to describe. I've done enough pages where it's beginning to be second nature to me, the timing. The climax of the book that you talked about, it's very important it start out with larger panels and that they get smaller.

SPURGEON: There's a build in the energy there.

FORSMAN: It's something I think about. I just don't talk about it in real life. [laughs]

SPURGEON: The sound effects: you'll do them a variety of ways. You use this striking effect where you drop certain sound effects against black backgrounds, and then place them in a bold way that limits the width of your tiers. How intentional was that? Was that about emphasizing the noise, or language, or was that about limiting your space at all? Could it have been about isolating the words?

FORSMAN: My friend Sam Gaskin did a book -- Sugarcube -- that was about being diabetic. He did that in there, these empty panels that were just captions. I think that's when I thought about doing that. In their own panel, it reads more poetic in a way. Their thought don't always match what you're seeing on the page -- very rarely in fact. I kind of wanted to make that distinction a bit more prevalent. You know there are two tracks going here.

SPURGEON: I thought the dialogue was strong in terms of it being appropriate to the narrators. Was there a process with that at all, in terms of how you worked with that material? Did you pare it down at all, check certain kinds of phrasing? Was it difficult to speak in those voice for a length of time?

FORSMAN: The way I work is like a lot of cartoonists: there are a lot of steps in getting to the final page. I was able to pare it down that way. I run the dialogue through my sketchbook, I'm just sort of projecting myself into their shoes. Whenever I go back to it, I'm editing. For space or because they just wouldn't talk like that. I appreciate dialogue. My brother was a big film guy and still is and exposed me to a lot of film when I was a kid.

SPURGEON: Was there someone in that world that still sticks to you, Chuck?

FORSMAN: Film-making wise?

SPURGEON: Perhaps in terms of the the dialogue work employed.

FORSMAN: This is kind of embarrassing, but when I was a kid I was really into Kevin Smith. [laughs] I haven't watched those movies in a long time. Quentin Tarantino is a big one for a lot of people my age. There seemed to be at that time, the early '90s, a focus on the guys that wrote flashy dialogue.

SPURGEON: Just noticing an element of film like that can be a big deal. You said once that you liked Sam Kieth's artwork when you were a kid in part because it was so heavily stylized and clearly the product of an idiosyncratic approach to art. It wasn't so much that you were experiencing a surge of aesthetic agreement with that art. It made an impression for simply being different.

FORSMAN: Oh, definitely.

SPURGEON: One last big thing that popped out at me from the book: the humor. Is that a natural inclination of yours? I'm intrigued by your decision to have so much that is funny in this material given how dark a lot of it is.

FORSMAN: I'm always kind of surprised when people see the humor. Humor for me is a big deal. One of my biggest influences was Peter Bagge. When I was a teenager and stopped reading superhero comics, I was really into Hate. I've always wanted to do a funny comic, but I don't think I'm naturally that funny. [Spurgeon laughs] So I'm slightly terrified.

In a really serious story I feel like I have to put humor in there. I feel like I have to balance it off. Some people have told me I'm undercutting myself -- that by ending this story on a poignant note and then tossing in a joke on the last page, I'm failing to sustain a mood. I've just made a joke of the whole thing. That probably speaks to my personality more than anything else. I love humor. It's something I consciously think about. I want to have it in there. I'm worried about being taken too seriously. Humor is a good way to do that. It brings the readers guard down a bit, too. Really serious, depressing stuff can be oppressive on a reader; I think it's good to lighten things up.

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* The End of the Fucking World (TEOTFW), Charles Forsman, Fantagraphics, softcover, 176 pages, 9781606996676, July 2013, $19.99.

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* an isolated visual from TEOTFW, showing off how spare the cartooning is here
* cover to the new collection
* one of the pages from the sequence where the two kids find themselves in a home; also shows off his isolation of words into black-backdrop panels
* visual from a recent print
* cover to one of the Oily Comics-published minis
* from the climactic sequence
* image from early on in TEOTFW (below)

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posted 1:12 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: 40 Days In The Desert

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Go, Read: A Message From Pete Toms

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Go, Look: Truth Zone 73

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Go, Look: Mouse Breath, Conformity And Other Social Ills

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Go, Look: Sean K.

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

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Miriam Libicki!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Jon J. Muth!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Will Pfeifer!

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Happy 68th Birthday, Jim Davis!

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Please Note That This Week's Five For Friday On Scary, Intimidating Characters Will Appear Later On

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I have to work myself up to doing this; these people are terrifying
 
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July 27, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


The Fashion In Comics Panel From TCAF 2013


Steve Breen Drawing Caricatures In San Diego's Little Italy Neighborhood


Frank Quitely


Memoir Panel From SPACE 2013


Chris Britt Profiled


Mahmoud Kahil Profiled


Zapiro On Maus
 
posted 1:21 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Week(s) In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from July 13 to July 26, 2013:

1. Comic-Con International comes and goes as both the biggest North American convention with a significant comics component and the convention whose context is the most altered by the proliferation of shows that has taken place in part because of its massive success.

2. The Beguiling will move, perhaps the biggest and most significant retailer relocation of all time, and certainly the biggest since Lambiek did so.

3. The Eisner Awards honor an array of comics and comics-makers, including Saga and Chris Ware.

Winner Of The Week(s)
Let's say Trina Robbins -- she was on hand to see her own Hall Of Fame induction at the Eisners, and was funny to boot.

Loser Of The Week(s)
The Beguiling. Hey, they'll be fine, but that's a crew that already had a lot on their plate. They will likely turn it into an overall good, but I wouldn't want to trade to-do lists with anyone up there.

Quote Of The Week(s)
"They want to run like a TV show does, where you have a staff of people, and there's some sort of show-runner, and everyone's contributing, and the end result is this sort of thing. Not a lot of creative fingerprints on it. Writers and artists are interchangeable. I think that shows in the quality a lot. I think there is a contempt for the creators in a lot of ways." -- Chris Roberson

*****

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

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

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

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Happy 75th Birthday, Pierre Christin!

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July 26, 2013


Go, Look: Chris Schweizer's Character-A-Day

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Daily Cartoonist: Jeff Parker Retires From Florida Today

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Alan Gardner over at Daily Cartoonist caught that Jeff Parker is retiring after a little more than two decades doing cartoons for Florida Today. Parker is one half of the team behind the hit strip Dustin, and will spend time working on that feature. He cites workload.
 
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Go, Look: It's Always Winter In Space

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By Request/Festivals Extra: 2nd Iteration Of Portland's Projects Festival Languishes Far Below Goal

imageThe Kickstarter campaign for The Projects II languishes far below its hoped-for return with three days left to raise the money. Like Joss Whedon television show, small press festivals tend to accelerate in quality with a second crack at things, so one hopes that Portland-area and Portland-visiting cartoonists and comics-makers and fans of both species might consider contributing. I did not attend the first and will not attend the second, but I love the Portland comics community and I am a big fan of conventions/festival that break with formula. This show's decidedly non-commerce driven approach certainly qualifies.

They have their program up here.

The main page is here.
 
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Go, Look: Carrie Neumayer

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Go, Look: The Onli Studios Site

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Collective Memory: Comic-Con International 2013

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this article has been archived
 
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Go, Look: Jess Worby

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* the very funny Ian Boothby and the talented Nina Matsumoto have launched Dr. Sarcophagus on-line. Hopefully I'll have "go looked" that one before now. Boothby and Matsumoto won the 2009 Short-Story Eisner for "Murder He Wrote" in that year's eligible Simpsons Treehouse Of Horror comic book. I am always happy when there are more comics from Boothby.

* the French-language news clearinghouse site ActuaBD.com covers the comiXology run through major European comics-publishing deals.

* Matt Bors writes about the digital version of his Life Begins At Incorporation.

* I haven't explored it myself yet, and I would imagine that a "Go Look" has appeared on this site in the time between my writing this sentence and this post rolling out, but Wolfen Jump looks like the kind of place you could lose yourself for a while or so just looking at the comics. That's an on-line magazine, basically. I will likely be posting links to individual contributions, too, and already have with the Emily Carroll.

* Rich Tommaso promises new features at his site, and I liked that site already.

* Dead Pig Collector has a digital release date.

* one of the ways this sad, little column is way, way behind where it should be is I have no defined strategy for perusing sales charts. It seems to me like maybe the Amazon/Kindle charts should be a priority, but until I get it down, you can read analysis of one over at The Beat and get the lay of the land.

* finally, Jeffrey O. Gustafson suggests that the internationalization of the digital The Private Eye comic is its most important trait.
 
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If I Were In San Francisco, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Fay Ryu

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this will eventually show up in one of the "Collective Memories" -- maybe by today -- but Tony Isabella is going to write about his SDCC experience at length starting here.

image* Rob Clough looks at a pair of this summer's serial comic books and Interiorae. Timothy Callahan on 7 Against Chaos. Todd Klein on Saga Vol. 1. Justin Giampaoli on various comic books. Sean Gaffney on Happy Hustle High Vol. 1. Greg McElhatton on Lobster Johnson: A Scent Of Lotus #1. Johanna Draper Carlson on RASL.

* not comics: James Kochalka would like you to know about his local arts celebration, for which he did a map.

* I continue to enjoy the July Diary for this year by Gabrielle Bell, and this post talks about the art sale she's doing to pay some bills -- I hope you'll consider supporting her.

* for some reason, like two months later I stumbled across this post that I believe would allow me to buy TCAF-related gear and festival-related items. That's so nice I can almost forgive myself for using the word "gear."

* the nice folks over at the Heroes site recommend Gamma. That looks like a super-cute book.

* love for a Spokane comic book shop.

* finally: that's a nice Robert Crumb illustration. I always stop and stare at Crumb.
 
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Happy 38th Birthday, Brannon Costello!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Bob Pinaha!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Lawrence Watt-Evans!

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July 25, 2013


Desert Island's Gabe Fowler Announces First Comic Arts Brooklyn For November 9, 2013

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Here.

People have e-mailed me to say that e-mails have gone out on this, so I hope I'm not jumping the gun. My apologies if I have to change something here. I'm also told that Paul Karasik is involved, which if true, is a huge boon. That guy is smart, and one of those super-connected, lifeblood-of-comics dudes.

Gabe Fowler is one of the three folks that run the Brooklyn Comics And Graphics Festival with Bill Kartalopoulos and Dan Nadel; that festival called it quits earlier this year after a successful, heavy-buzz 2012 show.

Having a major small press event in New York in the Fall is important to the general festivals/convention calendar for several reasons. One, it's another New York show, and that's a thriving local scene and one that's obviously important to comics. Two, it's a later-Fall show for that specific community, a community for whom the shows are very important. Three, Fowler's involvement would seem to have a better chance to establish some continuity between this event and the Brooklyn show that was.

I know I want to go.

Update: Official PR
OR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 25, 2013

FIRST ANNUAL "COMIC ARTS BROOKLYN" FESTIVAL ANNOUNCED TO FEATURE PAUL AUSTER, ART SPIEGELMAN AND DAVID MAZZUCCHELLI

The first annual COMIC ARTS BROOKLYN (CAB) organized by Desert Island will take place on November 9, 2013 at Mt. Carmel Church in Williamsburg. Programming will be directed by Paul Karasik and take place at the Knitting Factory, featuring Paul Auster, Art Spiegelman and David Mazzucchelli, who will appear together for the first time to discuss their important work City of Glass: The Graphic Novel. Additional guests to be announced.

CAB is a curated exhibition of some of the best local and international artists and publishers working in comics, graphic illustration and fine art: from the cutting-edge underground to the established, respected artists in the field.

Desert Island was the founder and lead organizer of the annual Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, which ran successfully for four years.

Programming director Paul Karasik brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the show, including his tenure as associate editor of Raw Magazine in the 1980s.

WHO: More than 100 artists and publishers from the United States and Europe, including:

Paul Auster
Michael DeForge
Lisa Hanawalt
David Mazzucchelli
Art Spiegelman
Adrian Tomine
...and many others to be announced!

WHAT: THE FIRST ANNUAL "COMIC ARTS BROOKLYN" FESTIVAL

WHERE: Exhibition: Mt. Carmel Church, 275 N 8th St, Brooklyn, NY Programming: The Knitting Factory, 361 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY

WHEN: Saturday, November 9, 2013, 11 AM to 7 PM

Contact: Gabriel Fowler, Desert Island, 718-388-5087; comicartsbrooklyn@gmail.com

Desert Island
540 Metropolitan ave
Brooklyn NY 11211
(718) 388-5087
http://www.desertislandbrooklyn.com
So there you go. Karasik will do the programming. That should be good.
 
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Go, Look: James Turner

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What The Writer Of The Best Modern American Fantasy Novel Said About The Greatest Living Cartoonist

Here; it's around the 46:00 mark. One of the reasons I will argue that particular cartoonist as the best living -- as opposed to some super-worthy contenders like Jack Davis and Jacques Tardi -- is exactly this kind of cross-cultural influence.
 
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I Love Going To The Comic Book Shop

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Where: A Shop Called Quest, 175 N. Indian Hill Rd, Claremont, CA, 91711.
Total Spent: around $24
Notes: I pretty much limit myself to Marvel's comics in most comic book shops because a) that's what most shops have, b) I can get my hands on a lot of the other things these shops have through alternative channels. This is a nice shop, a sterling neighborhood store. About halfway through my time there a group of 15 high school-aged ladies came in and read through a bunch of books with about three of them making purchases.
 
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Go, Look: Talya Modlin

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I Love Going To The Comic Book Shop

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Where: Blastoff Comics, 5118 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA, 91601.
Total Spent: $12.95 (I imagine there was a pro discount; or maybe I stole one of these).
 
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Go, Look: Most Ancient

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Go, Look: Rachel Calderon Navarro

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Go, Look: Alden Viguilla

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* the Portland-based The Projects has programming up and a reminder about their Kickstarter. I'll try to focus on the latter part of that in its own post, but hopefully you'll check it up out from here.

* I was trying to figure out where mainstream comics pivots after San Diego, and I guess it's a combination of the Wizard event in Chicago, the Baltimore show and New York Comic-Con -- it depends on your orientation. I would love to do the Baltimore show at some point; that's kind of the third leg in the Fun Regional Shows pyramid right now. Update: more than a few of you said I swung and whiffed on this because I forgot Fan Expo Canada. That is indeed a very big show.

* got this mass-mailed note from the Manchester comic convention people.
Apologies for the mass mail-out, but just thought you might be interested in the attendance figures for Saturday's MCM Manchester Comic Con, which saw a record high of 19,340 visitors. This compares to c.11,300 at last year's Manchester show, which was itself a record figure. Last weekend's show also achieved a significant boost in advance ticket sales - a massive 138% higher than in 2012.

Due to the soaring popularity of the MCM Manchester Comic Con, next year's event will be extended to two days: 26-27 July.
The numbers that conventions are getting these days are pretty amazing.

* so I guess there may be a MorrisonCon 2? I like the idea of both high-end conventions and personally branded shows, so I want this to happen even though I can't imagine attending given all the other shows I need to see.

* finally: Autoptic, Autoptic, Autoptic.
 
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Go, Look: Hisashi Eguchi Tagged On Tumblr

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Go, Look: Anujink

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* missed it: Bob Temuka's 101 great things.

image* James Bacon talks to Alys Jones.

* Kelly Thompson on Batman And Robin #22. Sean Kleefeld on Look Straight Ahead. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on the Percy Gloom volume. Doug Zawisza on Wonder Woman #22.

* Colleen Doran shows off some tools of the trade.

* RC Harvey profiles Helen Hokinson. I sure do love me some RC Harvey. That guy was writing about past-era cartoonists when practically no one was writing about past-era cartoonists.

* not comics: who hasn't written this headline?

* Andrew Weiss profiles one of the delicious-looking, barely-professional looking efforts that surfaced in the early 1980s as the comic shop model began to take hold.

* finally, the Ink Panthers interview one of my favorite people in comics, Tom Hart.
 
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Happy 43rd Birthday, Jon Lewis!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Dan Shahin!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Ray Billingsley!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Ted Benoit!

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Happy 72nd Birthday, S. Clay Wilson!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Alex Wald!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Chip Bok!

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July 24, 2013


Go, Look: Anthony Meloro

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posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Matt Madden, Jessica Abel Re-Up In France

Here. It's a fine report on two cartoonists' time in the midst of one of the great world cartooning traditions, and their decision to re-up on some of the institutional support available to artists in that realm of comics. Here's a link that Madden sent along to a piece about the recent cultural honor he received. It is freakishly adorable.
 
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Go, Look: Hugbox

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Go, Look: Pranas T. Naujokaitis

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Go, Look: Dre Grigoropol

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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.

*****

MAR131257 LAST O/T MOHICANS HC $22.95
I would buy this for the Ryan Holmberg essay all by itself, which I'm told is going to make everyone else that writes about comics green with envy and force us all to work a little harder. This is the first book in a cool-sounding manga line from PictureBox, and I want every volume.

imageMAY130771 CUL DE SAC TP MIGHTY ALICE GOES ROUND & ROUND $9.99
MAY130772 PEARLS BEFORE SWINE BEGINNING PEARLS TP $9.99
I like this project: kid-friendly, kid-focused collections starring various top-level syndicated comic strip talent. That seems to me a fine strategy for collection, and I miss Cul De Sac so much I'll take any excuse to get back into that world. Not that I need an excuse. Just look at the cover: Alice Otterloop is an all-time comic-strip character. The Pearls Before Swine version interests me because I wonder which strips get into such a book.

APR130076 CREEPY PRESENTS STEVE DITKO HC $19.99
Steve Ditko anything is a must-look, even if you already own all the individual issues. One great thing about comics is that even if you prefer individual comic book issues a collection is welcome in terms of maybe diverting buyers away from the individual comic books. Ditko is the greatest living mainstream comic book creator, right?

MAY131178 PORCELAIN A GOTHIC FAIRY TALE GN (MR) $19.99

MAY130015 DARK HORSE PRESENTS #26 (MR) $7.99
This was the most recent best-anthology winner at the Eisners, although getting to 26 issues on an anthology in this market is pretty much its own reward. I've enjoyed the issues I've read okay; I can imagine a life I might have lived where this would be an anchor title I'd buy in terms of keeping track of certain creators and a certain approach to comics.

MAY130065 GAMMA ONE SHOT $2.99
MAY130038 LOBSTER JOHNSON SCENT OF LOTUS #1 $3.50
MAY130189 ALL STAR WESTERN #22 $3.99
MAY130295 ROCKETEER SPIRIT PULP FRICTION #1 [DIG/P+] $3.99
MAY130546 BOUNCE #3 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
APR131035 MARK WAID GREEN HORNET #4 $3.99
MAY130667 HAWKEYE ANNUAL #1 $4.99
This isn't the strongest of all the recent pretty strong weeks for serial adventure comic books, but it's pretty typical in terms of the range of books available within that descriptive. The Gamma is Ulises Farinas from Dark Horse Presents, and I have to imagine it's something to behold. That's the high-curiosity one for me. I'm always interested in noting something new from the Mike Mignola fantasy universe, and I occasionally check in on All Star Western and Justin Norman's art. I haven't been following the newer Rocketeer material, and I'm not sure I'm interested enough in that character and that setting to want non-original-creator stories, but it seems like IDW has done right by the family there and I'm sure those comics are solid. Joe Casey's recent writing reign-of-terror continues; his stuff is really idiosyncratic and odd right now. A Mark Waid Green Hornet comic book sounds like it could be pretty good; Waid's in a good writerly place right now. Finally, the Hawkeye annual features art by Javier Pulido, and I may go pick that up myself at some point today.

APR130228 CAMELOT 3000 TP $19.99
I made the world's worst Camelot 3000 joke the other day, which some people still understood because despite it being about 30 years in the rear view mirror this book made a hell of an impression of those of us that wanted something different than the same old superheroes but weren't quite ready to dive underground or even cross the cafeteria and sit and the cool-kids indy table. That's a terribly constructed sentence to throw at any book, and I haven't read this material in years, but I'd certainly look at it in a shop today.

MAY131234 ASTERIX OMNIBUS HC VOL 07 $27.95
MAR131242 ASTERIX OMNIBUS SC VOL 06 $19.95
On the super-dumb, 200-item plus version of my bucket list, I want to sit down with all the Asterix work and figure it out. That was one that never quite made a impression, although I enjoy the designs and I like the thought of it. I also like any series that has a movie and those of us in North America never see the movie.

APR131312 ILL GIVE IT MY ALL TOMORROW TP VOL 05 $12.99
Speaking of series with movie adaptations, this strikes me as the best of the more standard, broad-audience manga series with a volume out this week. I always thought that title was a strong selling point; who doesn't like that title? I haven't read a volume in a while, but it's about a mid-life career man changing directions with some minor ambition to become a manga artist. It's the kid of sweet spot for humor that you'd think people would do all the freaking time, but don't.

MAY131277 MONSTER ON THE HILL GN $19.95
This is Rob Harrell's new stand-alone from Top Shelf, with a well-pedigreed selection of endorsements and generally pretty-looking art. While the focus at Comic-Con was on March, and it should have been given Congressman Lewis' presence, I talked to a few people that picked this one up just from flipping through it at the TS booth.

MAY131147 DANIEL CLOWES READER SC (RES) $35.00
This is the Ken Parille-edited book containing a bunch of Dan Clowes short stories and a selection of essay from a variety of academic perspectives. I have enough confidence in Parille that this should be a model of its kind -- I've only just started into it myself.

*****

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

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Go, Look: Drew Alderfer

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Ernesto Priego would like to welcome you to a new era of The Comics Grid.

image* I can never get enough of that Cousin Granpa.

* Rob Clough on a bunch of mini-comics. Sean T. Collins on July Diary 2013. Justin Giampaoli on Dollmatrix. Greg McElhatton on Letting It Go. Johanna Draper Carlson on Buzz! and A Boy And A Girl. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Superior. Paul O'Brien on various X-Men related comics. Richard Bruton on Judge Dredd: Day Of Chaos -- Endgame and Mouse Bird Snake Wolf. Kelly Thompson on Avengers Assemble #17. Sean Gaffney on K-On! College.

* not comics: Jog on the film Only God Forgives.

* still greatly enjoy the new July diary comics from Gabrielle Bell.

* not comics: this short article at Foreign Policy provides the basic outline of Japanese nationalist objections to the newest Miyazaki.

* finally, I always enjoy these cover-spotlight articles they run at The Cool Kids Table.
 
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Happy 34th Birthday, Mark Andrew Smith!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Steven Stwalley!

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Happy 78th Birthday, Pat Oliphant!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Robert Greenberger!

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July 23, 2013


Go, Look: Sophie McMahan

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A Few, Final-ish Thoughts On Comic-Con International 2013

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By Tom Spurgeon

Here are a few over-arching thoughts about the 2013 version of Comic-Con International. I may add to them a bit over the next few days, although I doubt I'll do another post. I'd love any letters or responses from anyone that attended the show -- or didn't -- and would like to add something to the conversation. We should run a collective memory every day for the next few days, too.

* I thought that was a good show, solid and entertaining; it was very pleasant to attend. I don't know if there was anything in terms of the way the show unfolded that would distinguish this show from those in past years, at least not structurally or con-news wise. I always have a good time, and the show is always terribly useful to me, and this version was both of those things.

* I was struck by talking to a few of the regular attendees how many worlds-within-worlds there are at the show. Like at one point I was told it was a big weekend for a group of film industry professionals that I'd honestly never heard of before -- and my brother is a Los Angeles-based actor. This was always the case at Comic-Con. In 1995 I was struck by the fact that there were people that showed up and just table-top gamed the whole four days, and in 1998 I was amused by this whole vaudeville-like Star Trek cosplay circuit. There are just more worlds now. Mark Gruenwald would be very happy with the theory of it, anyway.

* it's somewhat odd to go to the show as you get older. Your relationships deepen, and you really value sitting down to a meal or having a moment with folks you might only see once or twice a year, these folks that had you grown up down the street would have been your friend for life. When you're younger, you tend to blow past that part of it. Conventions in general and this one in particular are basically Old People Events, too. Let's be honest. You walk around, you socialize, you stand in line, you watch people lecture, you eat nice meals, you have a few cocktails, you might even meet someone. They are cruises on land, with Felicia Day your Julie McCoy.

One big difference for me being older, and as someone that covers the show, is the nature of the exhaustion involved. I turned a corner recently where I simply can't remember everything that happened the day before when writing my daily notes. Those are more like "Flashes of Information From My Decrepit Mind" than true "Notes From The Floor" now. I didn't get more than five hours sleep any single night , and on the Tuesday before the show I stayed up straight through -- I drove to the Tucson airport for a 5:30 flight and it is three hours away. I was a little cranky and a little out of it at various points all weekend. It's a strange thing. I actually have to recover sleep-wise for a couple of days now, and ten years ago I'm not even sure I even believed anyone really had to do that.

* I talked to a bunch of merchants this weekend, in the guise of someone who was obviously attending the show -- like maybe I had a badge on -- and as someone who didn't who expressed bafflement about everything going on. You sometimes get interesting opinions tossed your direction if you play the role of the curious outsider. Nobody buried the show, which I think is a first. My two cab drivers were even nice. In fact, most of the people I talked to were positive about the weekend, and that wasn't the case even a half-decade ago. The niceness of the con attendees was cited a number of times. Some folks -- including a couple of hotel concierges, including my own -- noted that it's actually a light weekend in terms of certain services because people at the show tend to have very focused agendas. If I got one thing that I thought worth noting it's that some were surprised by the year-to-year capriciousness of what audiences responded to. One merchant set up to sell packaged lunches whose business killed with that offer in past years barely sold a one, and couldn't figure out why. Some of the restaurants were full, but others were very empty, to an alarming level for a mid-summer weekend. And so on. I think like a lot of con-goers there, the merchants are adjusting to a fairly major, ongoing change in what kinds of audience show up at these events.

* I think that's the big story, actually, that the audiences are different than they used to be. It was a little bit light for a lot of comics folks on the convention floor business-wise. Well, to be more exact, the business being done ranged wildly, but the overall consensus was that it was off a bit. My general hunch is that the mid-sized indy publishers did very well, smaller publishers and single-creators booths did a range of business but mostly okay, alt-comics and indy publishers of a certain size were noticeably but not disastrously down (there were exceptions) and back-issues retailers were a bit down more generally. These aren't hard and fast distinctions. It also felt light, like there was a notable lack of traffic. This was true during the day and even, as more than one person pointed out, true at the end of each day when the con floor cleared more easily than at any time in recent memory. The busiest day I saw on the comics end of the floor was Sunday, which was weird.

* the other big, more general story is that the context of such shows has changed. Comic-Con International doesn't need to be everything for all the comics people, not anymore. More importantly, comics people are starting to get better at figuring out how to use the array of shows put before them. There was a tremendous amount of distaste on the floor for attitudes and opinions of hand-waving "Comic-Con isn't about comics anymore" proclamations. The counter-opinion seemed to be that Comic-Con is what it is: a specific kind of comics show in a very specific pop-culture context and the pressure is on the comics companies to figure out how to make use of the show. We're kind of out of the era where you can just kind of show up at any show, including that one, and have that world kind of bend itself in your direction. I heard a lot of reports from my media peers that for the first time certain publishers reached out to them for coverage on the floor, which is an astonishing thing considering how long that show has been around. I know I'm still figuring out how to best use that particular weekend. This should get better.

Once you turn that corner, the problem becomes cost: the comics show there is high-quality, and can go program to program, guest to guest, with a lot of what's out there. It just costs a lot to go there. I only spend more on Toronto of the North American shows, and I have very little to pay for other than myself and a per diem for my photographer. Something I noticed in a very basic way that I hadn't really thought of before is that the book sales may not be primarily important for all publishers. I mean, duh, but it took me several years to figure this out, I guess. Some have books there just to facilitate any curiosity on the behalf of folks on hand and to mitigate, rather than match or exceed, the show's costs. I would imagine that we're going to start seeing some fairly complex strategies enacted in future years at this show. Image Comics, with its Expo making San Diego a place to catch some of the interest generated two weeks earlier, has one approach. Archaia, with its volunteers working the aisles and the related programming to drive people to their store, has another. We'll see more.

Conventions are a strength right now, and they can be a strength for publishers, professionals and press; we just have to figure out a variety of strategies that make this happen. I think comics will get there.

* it was a big Kim Thompson show in terms of public and private affirmations of his crucial role in the development of an entire expression of comics. I was happy about that. While Kim had become an every-other-year guy at San Diego about a half-dozen years ago, his work was very important to him. To see so many of his peers and fellow-travelers express so much admiration in his direction… I don't know if that's important, and it had to be a chore to constantly catch those sentiments all weekend after an exhausting summer already, so I felt for the Fantagraphics folks, but the absence of praise for Thompson would have made me sad.

* I wondered out loud a bit if there were some Boston Marathon bombing-style fears at the show. When the security started herding people to different front doors, I thought this might be a part of it, but I'm told that was just a glitch in their instructions. I only had one encounter with a security person of the weird and slightly unpleasant nature that didn't involve me walking in a door, when one guy asked me and Johnny Ryan and Eric Reynolds and Steve Weissman to step out of an aisle. That one was only absurd in that there was little to no traffic in that aisle save for that security guy, but hey, you don't want to be a jerk to some poor guy doing his job. Other areas of the floor were nutso, of course, traffic-wise and some of the temporary aisle-making the security did seemed to me a good idea. In general, people like taking photos of celebrities and people in costumes. Celebrities in costumes, were one to know of their existence, would probably stop the show dead.

* I was glad to see Fanfare/Ponent Mon and Rebellion doing well or at least reasonably so at the show; Rebellion in particular had a bunch of stuff to sell and thought they would get rid of most of it before the wholesalers swooped in end of day. That's actually one of the better shopping opportunities, the Rebellion booth, because a lot of those books are only available via the high-shipping option of mail order from overseas.

* it seemed like the backroom aspect of the show is more alive than ever -- not just the informal late-night shmoozing, which seems to me to have become Balkanized into a dozen different locations rather than one or two, but the actual setting-up-meetings part of the show. I even take meetings now, sort of, and I'm a slacker with almost no business agenda and very few clean shirts that sport collars. In an informal sense, just being able to hit twenty or so publishers with a little face to face time is an enormous boon, and I'm not sure there are many shows that offer that specific opportunity. I think the show will continue to have value that way, and that value may intensify.

* the value of the convention behind the convention is one reason I continue to greatly dislike the creep of the show in terms of it reaching into all corners and all times. It's not like I don't understand why people want programming at 8 PM -- it's tough to satisfy everyone's desires and PR requirements. It's a real culture clash for comics, though. I don't care if people don't get to all the parties they want, but some of those events -- the publisher cocktail hours for instance -- are important for coverage, and just in general it's nice to have room to let the show breathe a bit so that meetings and interviews and encounters and everything can be scheduled or allowed to happen without there being a formal time-clash. I also think that comics people are using their panels to drive follow-up attention to their signings and their booths, and it's hard to do that when you can't ask people to stop by until the next day. I know I'll probably get a couple of e-mails defending this -- not for publication e-mails, probably -- but I'd love to see a less is more approach in terms of formal convention schedule for the comics core.

* programming in general is more sophisticated than ever, which is why the lower-end panels seems to stick out like a sore thumb. One thing I think might help is if the con was able to turn the corner in terms of fuller recording of these panels -- if you're preparing something people will continue to see, it might put more pressure on you ensuring a quality end result. I say this as one of the worst moderators in comics history, so not in a judgmental way, I swear. I enjoyed talking to my blogging peers, but I think were I to moderate that one again I'd pull the trigger and do it along with a slideshow presentation and would pre-interview the participants so they could prepare. As far as anything that came out of that panel, was happy that some of my peers talked about the money issue: The Beat doesn't pay anything right now after doing $5 an article previously, and this is a significant concern for Heidi MacDonald, while Graeme McMillan is a talented writer that owns none of the comics writing he's doing, which I think abominable. Also, I guess the people that employ Rich Johnston pay a small salary to certain writers in lieu of per-article pay...? That's kind of interesting. As far as the make-up of the panel itself: It's always nice to chat with Rich Johnston. It was fun to meet Tony Isabella. I had never met Alexa Dickman, and was generally impressed by her forthright, articulate responses.

* I'm hoping to sort out the publishing announcement slate by next Tuesday's Bundled, although nothing blew me away right off the top of my head in the manner of Fantagraphics doing the EC Library, say. Almost nothing but the typical -- and potentially true, at least one of them should be just percentage-wise -- talk of certain mainstream talents migrating was able to penetrate my consciousness in a rumor-sense.

* this was the year I saw no celebrities in casual, off-hand moments (of the running into that guy from that one TV show in the bar variety); this was the year I did not visit the Hyatt; this was the year I thought I had more than made it on time to the Eisners but failed again, this was the year I did not attend a single panel Saturday or Sunday because I was busy. Also in the space of a single convention year I've gone from "love the site" to "love your twitter" to "I stopped following you on twitter" which probably doesn't bode well.

* I'm told the CBLDF did well. Oh, I also get the sense that BOOM! did very well, although I never formally checked in.

* thank you to everyone that helped me out, said nice things about the site, or was nice to my brother. I apologize to everyone that might have suffered from my scattered, clumsy, exhausted nature. It was nothing personal.

* finally, another item of interest from my perspective is how quickly talk of the show fades; individual conventions, including the biggest one in North America, just don't penetrate as deeply as they used to. We're less than two decades removed from the only coverage coming six weeks or so later in various comics publications, and ten years away from a three-week flurry of fevered blogging about such shows. The independent folks were already talking about Autoptic by Sunday; I caught two people making plans for Baltimore and NYCC not even halfway through the weekend.

And so we join them.

*****

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*****
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Go, Look: Mickey Z

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Assembled Extra: Manga Comics Manga Launches

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Veteran writer-about-comics-and-manga Deb Aoki has launched a new web site, Manga Comics Manga. She has a pair of pieces up now on manga-related news from Comic-Con International. I had a brief discussion with Aoki at TCAF about the changing landscape of on-line coverage -- that some of the structures and institutions that came up several years ago might have changed or be exhausted or looking to do something else. Whether some of that discussion applies to this effort or not, I'm glad to have Aoki around offering her analysis and news writing skill.
 
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Go, Look: Goat Fucker Comix

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Go, Look: Molly Brooks

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I haven't been by Todd Bak's site in a while, and it could be that my poking around what some of the micro-publishers for Comic-Con weekend related news has meant some information has worked its way into other publishing news reports, but Bak's apparently been posting from his forthcoming Wild Man volume pages like the above.

image* looks like we're going to get a major work out of Diana Tamblyn, which is a happy circumstance. I look forward to seeing it. That Facebook post indicates multiple volumes.

* a really nice get for Fantagraphics announced at Comic-Con through... Robot 6 maybe: Simon Hanselmann's Megahex.

* Brian John Mitchell continues to make mini-comics and would like you to know about it.

* the Painkiller Jane property co-created (I think) by Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada is settling in at Icon with Palmiotti directing its creative fortunes. That's had a television iteration and seems like a strong enough concept it could get another shot there; I'm not sure how a comic would do in this market.

* the writer Peter Milligan is apparently taking a series to Dynamite. There are a lot of people taking series to smaller publishers these days. It makes sense; there's an economic element to these things, I think, and what can be sold where and where one's audience is. The writer James Robinson announced a similar move a bit earlier.

* here's a quick round-up of recent license acquisitions by Seven Seas.

* I would be interested in reading more Howard Chaykin Shadow comics; I'm interested in almost everything Chaykin does during this late-career prolific run of his.

* Presspop is releasing The Death-Ray in Japanese.

* I was reminded the other day that Kevin Huizenga remains a devoted mini-comics makers and has these new books available.

* finally, Sarah Horrocks offers a sneak peek into content from the forthcoming Hecate Snake Diaries Vol. 2.

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Go, Look: Julia Gfrörer

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Go, Look: Estrella Vega

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Mike Dean asks "Who Owns The Man Of Steel?"

image* I missed this Todd Klein reviews of Dark Horse Presents #21 and The Flash #20. Rob Clough on some Steve Lafler comics and a bunch of minis. Justin Giampaoli on Men's Feelings. Greg McElhatton on Sunny Vol. 1 and Darkroom: A Memoir In Black And White. Johanna Draper Carlson on Dance Class Volume Five: To Russia With Love and I'll Give It My All... Tomorrow Vol. 5. Grant Goggans on some more of those Legion Of Super-Heroes comics. J. Caleb Mozzocco on various kids' picture books. Colm Creamer on Daredevil #27. Richard Bruton on The Suitcase. Kelly Thompson on Uncanny X-Force #8.

* Team Dollar Bill talks to Ashley Holt. I can't remember if I linked to this Jason Heller talk with Jeffrey Brown yet, but what the hell? It's sure to be good enough that I can link to it twice.

* love for Ted Jouflas.

* enjoyed this Sarah Horrocks piece on Red Sonja #1. I'm under-read on Horrocks generally, so I wanted to pull this link out of those up top.

* Michael Buntag has some interesting shelf-porn up.

* since it's already out I can't really put it in the publishing news column, but this Willard Mullin book has a lot of beautiful cartooning in it. It does seem a bit odd that with the decline of the National Pastime in terms of seizing the widespread, public imagination, we're at a stage where a bunch of cartoons about baseball seems as esoteric as, I don't know, all those car-culture cartoons of the '60s seemed by the mid-1990s.

* finally, Sean Kleefeld would like to present to you a convention booth idea.
 
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Happy 66th Birthday, Mike Vosburg!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Kelley Jones!

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July 22, 2013


Go, Look: Dakota McFadzean

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Notes From The 2013 Comic-Con International In San Diego Floor

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By Tom Spurgeon

The following are a few notes and observations gathered on the floor of Comic-Con International 2013 in San Diego, California. For immediate reactions to what's going on from hundreds of people, I recommend an appropriate search or multiple such searches on Twitter. For mainstream comics and panel coverage in general -- this being a key event for publishing news announcements -- I recommend Comic Book Resources ComicsAlliance and The Beat.

*****

* it struck me on the train that this is the first San Diego Con I ever attended where I never went to the Hyatt. I can't tell if I'm old, the Hyatt is dead, people don't go to bars as much as they used to or all of the above. Or I might be increasingly lazy.

* I have a sense that more and more people are just kind of squatting where they are, so that when it comes to late night they're drinking in the various hotel lobbies rather than all making their way towards one or two of them...? Does that make sense? Like all the late-night options for drinking seemed stuffed with people, not just one or two.

* I enjoyed staying at the Hilton Gaslamp. Staying that close to the show is indeed super-nice, although as I recalled (it's been a while since I scored a room at any of those hotels) it makes leaving the immediate convention center area that much more daunting. My room was a good one, too; I could see the run of the convention center from my windows and it was freaking huge. I'm also fond of the breakfast buffet concept maybe once during such a weekend for speed rather than the ability to punish my body with hash browns. Although, as far as punishments go...?

* I still miss Rory Root.

* Larry Marder had this great description of why he does more business on Sunday than any other day, calling Sunday the day for "kids and shy people." Marder was set up in that small press section that's on the south side of the show nearer the alt-indy section, and if you stop and think about it it's pretty amazing someone with his small-press pedigree is set up over there. He's selling a lot of craft items now, and they're all pretty fun. I'm not sure I've seen the latest run of trade collection on those books, either.

* Marder seemed perfectly sanguine about his audience becoming younger, kind of a mirror response to something Jeff Smith pointed out in his panel -- neither man intended their work to be seen that way, but it is, and well, that's sort of cool.

* the one mainstream comic about which I was asked "Is that actually good?" more than any other: that Batman '66 one. Second place: Saga.

* I never notice Kids Day in terms of what it's like to take a kid to Kids Day. People ask me about this, too. My one memory of kids from the show was a family where the mom and the dad had wrapped their arms train style around the kids in the middle to battle through the Saturday crowds, more of a terrifying than heartwarming image. But I do know that kids go there and enjoy it. Something to look into. If anyone does this and wants to send me an e-mail, that would be awesome.

* stopped by a lot of booths and talked to industry representatives about their show. I don't remember doing that before. Both what I heard and the fact that I've never done that before are something I'm thinking about today for my final, brief report tomorrow.

* literally nothing that happened in the show business end of the con penetrated into discussions in the comics world... I can't remember that ever happening before. I guess a Superman/Batman announcement and that fun actor that played Loki showing up in character were the two pop-culture moments from the show...? I'm not entirely sure. Maybe the fact that Avengers 2 will feature Dickish Robot Overlord Ultron in a verison of that latest Marvel event series. It does seem that 2015 is shaping up to be the movie year that sprang from my 11-year-old head Lathe Of Heaven style.

* talked to some folks in the train line on my way to Los Angeles. Talked to a guy who works with something called the Art Directors Guild; they had either three or four panels at the show, I don't remember. There are worlds within worlds within worlds within worlds at that thing.

* also talked to two people who had come down for Comic-Con but didn't have tickets and didn't attend any of the show. They just went to parties and outside exhibits and had a couple of meetings. For a watcher of that con, this is like finding a mythical woodland beast.

* the funniest thing I heard from a vendor on Sunday was one who told she did extremely well at the show but felt like she couldn't tell everyone about it because she didn't want to make them feel bad if they had done less well.

* no one ever smiles and tells you you can't enter a restaurant because it's been shut down for a private party and they're sorry for the inconvenience. It's like they're instructed to let you know that you're not invited to this thing you just heard about three seconds ago and you should definitely feel bad about this. Which I guess is part of the point of having a private party.

* it was great to see Steven Grant and I hope you're enjoying what might be his final run of columns.

* can't remember if I mentioned this, but I caught Steven Weissman reading a comic solely because it was autobiographical and he heard some of his friends appeared in it. Now that is a very specialized reading strategy.

* I was going to make a joke about stopping buy Publisher X to do my yearly introduction to the new PR person, but I think that company has really only had like three PR people in their entire existence so that would be unfair. I like the shape of that joke, though.

* talked to Chip Mosher briefly Sunday, who made a couple of very funny jokes about how not to write press releases for the comiXology European initiatives that use the phrase "conquering Europe." They are doing very, very well that comiXology.

* talked to Ed Chavez at Vertical. San Diego is an odd show for them because, well, it's an odd show for everyone right now but also because they have a different "season" than other folks displaying at cons and San Diego comes right between two really heavy traffic-and-interest shows for them.

* I really enjoy the part of my Comic-Con weekend that allows me to see a whole bunch of panels in succession, or at least parts of them, but that tends to come way early in the show weekend now.

* okay, on second thought entering Comic-Con weekend by staying up the entire Tuesday night before hand probably wasn't the best strategy.

* I am still wearing my Supernatural cape.

* it was good to see folks like Sergio Aragones and Robert Williams looking healthy and happy.

* it was good to see everybody, really.

*****

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Go, Look: Noel Franklin

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Go, Look: Meghan Turbitt

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Go, Look: Alexandra Beguez

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

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* there's a documentary film project about the great Gahan Wilson seeking crowd-funding here that has a just shade under $50K goal and about 25 days left at the time you're reading this. I'd like to see such a film, and if you are with me on that, you might want to look that one over.

* the veteran comics-maker Michael Jantze has met his initial goals with his crowd-funding project, but has a variety of stretch goals available for you to look over and perhaps decide to donate.

* if you've ever wanted some Johnny Ryan art, now would be a good time to purchase some.

* it's not comics, but the hardcore nerd in me is fully behind this Jeff Dee project drawing stuff from Empires Of The Petal Throne.

* you just sort of knew going in that Kris Straub was in a position to crush any kickstarter goal.

* finally, I'm all for paying people what they might earn doing a Marvel and DC book, and I hope this project goes off, but seeing a $200,000 kickstarter for 150 pages of comic book still makes me stand up and notice. Do Marvel and DC really sink that much into individual comic books? I'm not asking aggressively; I honestly don't know. For all I know, it's a lot more. Also, I should probably know that.
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Colleen Frakes

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* not sure that I ever ran a link to this Sean T. Collins review of Edie Fake's Memory Palaces.

* "my friends went to comic-con and all I got was this set of real Wolverine claws."

* learning stuff from Cathy Malkasian.

* this came up early last week and I missed it and it's not really comics, but I like that Geoff Boucher notes the lightness in Alan Moore's criticisms of the idea of a TV show based on the "League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen" concept he co-created.

* I always enjoy reading comics from Julia Wertz, so that she's going back and publishing excerpts from a work that likely won't be published the traditional print way is all right with me.

* team Deconstructing Comics takes on RASL.

* some of the Superman-related things in Cleveland could use some super-assistance.

* Dominic Umile profiles Becky Cloonan. Susan Miller talks to Daniel Clowes. Matt D. Wilson talks to Tim Leong. Michael Cavna talks to Rob Salkowitz. Juliet profiles Jackie Ormes.

* go, look a Kate Beaton twitter comic.

* finally, Michael Dooley profiles the show of female comics artists that took place in San Diego at the same time as Comic-Con; he includes, as always, a ton of art.
 
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Happy 29th Birthday, William Cardini!

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July 21, 2013


CR Comic-Con 2013 Interview: Allison Baker, Chris Roberson

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*****

Allison Baker and Chris Roberson are Monkeybrain Comics, the digital comics publisher whose Bandette (from Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover) won this weekend's Eisner Award for Best Digital Comic. Roberson's background is in writing, both prose and comics, while Baker has had and still enjoys a career in film and political media. They launched Monkeybrain Comics in 2012 as a place to facilitate Roberson's on-line comics work but quickly expanded it to include a variety of work from comics-makers they personally enjoy. Roberson's move to a variety of publishing avenues and away from working at DC Comics was a significant news story during a volatile 2012 in the mainstream comics world.

I wanted to interview someone involved in digital comics for this year's Comic-Con spotlight. I sat with the couple for about an hour on convention Saturday on a balcony of the Hilton Bayfront's bar. I'm grateful for their time. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

imageTOM SPURGEON: The night before we're speaking was the 2013 Eisner Awards. Bandette won Best Digital Comic. The nominations themselves were a big deal for you as well. I wondered what was important to you and to Monkeybrain about that specific recognition. Was it that the work had penetrated in a way that reached a specific audience? Because obviously it's a good comic, it's Eisner-worthy without the imprimatur of an actual nomination. There couldn't be doubts about that. So what was it about that recognition that was good for you guys?

CHRIS ROBERSON: It was pretty multi-faceted. On the one hand, just the fact that it reflects a certain level awareness. We thought we'd spend the first year, at least, just out there beating the bushes and letting people know we existed. It was really gratifying to get that recognition. And... it's a great comic. But also the fact that Colleen was nominated along with artists that are working in print and that the comic was nominated for Best New Series without any qualification.

Allison has been making the point that digital is just a delivery system; it's not a different medium. We're rapidly approaching a point where there's no longer going to be a reason to make that distinction.

ALLISON BAKER: I said that on a digital-first panel yesterday, and everybody on the panel agreed with me: Hank Kanalz, Mark Waid, Jeff Webber from IDW. I said I thought the nominations meant we're moving past talking about digital comics as digital comics, and just talking about them as comics.

SPURGEON: So you think we've started to reach that saturation point. I suspect that a lot of people reading this haven't made that commitment yet. What is that has helped some of us turn that corner? Is it just the ubiquity of appliances? Do we have a certain set of delivery mechanisms we didn't have before. Is it just the fact that we have so many tablets now? What helps us break down those distinctions.

ROBERSON: I think we're seeing similar things in other media. I missed all of the announcements, but I believe House Of Cards scored several Emmy nominations. I see a lot of parallels there. In large part I do think it's the proliferation of the devices. Everybody carries these incredibly complicated computers in their pockets now. A lot of people are reading comics on their phones in addition to the tablets. We here anecdotally all of the time about people discovering digital comics they can read while sitting on a plane or riding a train or something.

BAKER: Technology in general has completely changed the way we receive our entertainment.

SPURGEON: You've hit your one-year anniversary. You received the Eisner nominations and the win last night. You indicated that this might put you ahead of schedule a bit. Or at least this signified that potential. Where did you think you were going to be? And is there a snapshot of where you are? I mean, is there a plan?

ROBERSON: No. [laughter] Our plan when we launched is try not to embarrass ourselves and to try and do right by the creators we're working with. Allison originally built the model as something for me to self-publish the stuff that I and my collaborators would do. Then we realized there was an advantage, a strength-in-numbers type thing, to opening it up to our friends.

BAKER: Everything was an accident, I think. There was no plan.

SPURGEON: Describe to me something that was an accident. Was that someone who came to you, say?

BAKER: What happens with projects that come to us or people we went to initially having the time to do thing with us they want to do with us a year ago... I just figure out the best way to promote that. We're just doing it as we go along, because there's no reason to have a real publication schedule or a deadline to hit because we don't have to solicit anything. I don't want to do press on anything until it's available for sale. When a project comes to us, we then figure out the best way to do that project.

SPURGEON: One of the reasons it's been argued comics has done relatively well in terms of media enterprises as a bunch of them have recently collapsed is that comics has an ingrained structure. You kind of know where you're going with comics. You might read a newspaper comic every day, or buy a collection once a year from Andrews McMeel. You might even follow a strip on two collection tracks. And of course there's the comics shop with their regular Wednesday release schedules. You're replicated some of that, but is it hard to find that structure, that element of a backbone for what you're doing? I ask because as you note, other media are trying with things like binge-watching on TV, to dismantle their own inherent structures. Is it important to you to develop an infrastructure of expectation? Is it difficult?

ROBERSON: It's been a process of... I don't want to say "trial and error" so let's say "experimentation." We've tried things on different days and promoting them in various ways. Since the digital market is growing out of the Direct Market -- we found that structurally there were advantages in borrowing elements of that model. People have been trained to get new stuff on Wednesdays. I know that DC is trying to do something with different days.

BAKER: They're doing something every day of the week, I think.

ROBERSON: We've found that we got the most attention doing it on New Comics Day. I think that might possibly change over time. I think it's interesting because I see the Direct Market as constituted, I see it as this lifeboat that saved the shattered remnants of the newsstand market in the '70s and '80s. I think the digital thing is going to replicate that model for a long time.

BAKER: What digital does is bring the newsstand back into the equation.

SPURGEON: Because of...?

BAKER: Because of the accessibility.

ROBERSON: But also the immediacy. We don't do months of promotion ahead of time, we don't have sneaks, peaks and plot development shit announced. People can just pick up having no idea what something is or what's going to happen next. What I do like, though, is that my reading tastes are fairly catholic. I like that as time has gone on our line has become more and more diverse in terms of the things we offer. Just getting Jen Vaughn's book in there... I think we're starting to get something that more closely resembles my bookshelf in terms of the variety of it.

SPURGEON: You're a writer. The first reaction to confronting working with an arts business is to think of you as a longtime worker who is now grasping at the means of production. But you were involved with previous distribution models in some ways.

ROBERSON: We were a traditional off-set small press for ten years.

SPURGEON: So it's not like this kind of thing is brand new to you in the most general terms. Is there a significant advantage to having done this kind of thing before as opposed to starting cold?

BAKER: The entire model where we have no capital risk is built on the fact that I didn't want to do that again. [laughs]

ROBERSON: We lost a succession of shirts over the years. And built up not a staggering amount of debt but an amount that would make people gasp on Oprah if we were getting financial advice. We didn't have a boat to show for it or anything, it was just a bunch of books on the shelf.

BAKER: We had a bunch of books. Yay! [laughter]

ROBERSON: We wanted to do comics for a very long time, but there's just so much capital risk involved even in printing the damn things.

BAKER: That's before page rates for artists, even.

ROBERSON: We just couldn't make it work. So we spent... I think it was about a year... we spent every night out on our patio with drinks talking about how you could do it. How to do things better. We are never going to go out of business. There's no risk. We'll continue to do this as long as we want.

BAKER: The only risk we've put out there on the table is our time. The same with the creators.

SPURGEON: And who cares about your time?

ROBERSON: Well, it's fun!

BAKER: It's not my time and my money. It's just my time. [laughter]

ROBERSON: Other people might play videogames. Or take vacations, things like that. [Baker laughs]

BAKER: Or sleep.

ROBERSON: We dick around with Adobe products for fun.

BAKER: Whee!

SPURGEON: So you think you can do this for as long as you want. You've talked about your creators a bit. Can we talk about your first year in terms of what this has meant for your creators? How successful is it for the creators? Can we ballpark that? Like is anyone making over $20,000 yet from their comics?

ROBERSON: No. Oh, God no. [Baker laughs]

SPURGEON: What is a realistic expectation for a creator?

ROBERSON: The money has been modest. But it's constant and growing. I've yet to come up with the best way to phrase this, but everything that's been published so far generates money every month. Every chapter, every issue, has generated some amount of money.

SPURGEON: That's not an insignificant thing in comics. The catalog model, like Fantagraphics used in the 1990s, one of the advantages is that someone like Jaime Hernandez is almost always earning for the first work he did in comics however many years ago. If you accumulate work, you can make some okay money there... it's the predecessor to the Internet's long tail.

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BAKER: The first issue of everything we do will always be the best-selling issue of that title. It sells every single month. Someone always starts. We recently got numbers for May. We did a sale and a promotion for Amelia Cole when the first issue in the second volume came out, on that issue and issues from the previous volume. Every issue sold the same amount.

SPURGEON: Huh.

ROBERSON: With a variance of maybe like a dozen.

BAKER: It was a big number, double what it normally does. When we started, no one could predict what the numbers would be. They have been above and beyond what comiXology ever thought we would do.

ROBERSON: For three months now our total income has bounced up about 50 percent a month. March April May, April was 50 percent greater than March and May was 50 percent greater than April. That's not going to continue every month.

SPURGEON: So what market mechanisms need to fall into place for this enterprise to be more profitable for the creators?

BAKER: It's time to build, and time for the market to grow more significantly. We're not the only monetization piece for the creators. When they sell their print collections through another publisher, that's another monetary stream for them.

ROBERSON: They keep all the media rights and all that stuff, so if they make a TV show or do merchandising or whatever...

BAKER: Making t-shirts. It's the same model as a lot of webcomics and mini-comics except the one exception is that you're making some initial money on-line.,

ROBERSON: So rather than serializing it for free on a web site and selling a collection afterwards, there's a little bit of money coming in every month.

BAKER: And then you get it under umbrella, which hopefully means more people find out about it.

SPURGEON: Do you see that in terms of a simple trade-off, then, when you contrast it to the free serialization model. You're simply getting a little more money during that process? Is that the benefit. Do you have suspicions that the free model may not be the panacea for everyone that is sometimes suggested of it?

ROBERSON: I like the free model. But I think it can be problematic. It's easy to lose track of those things. And there's so much great stuff. I adore what StudyGroup does, but it's difficult to keep up. Tom Scioli, guys like that. Using comiXology, I guess you can get it in satisfying chunks -- to use Heidi [MacDonald]'s term. But now there's some money, too. Now that comiXology has instituted a subscription model, you're even alerted as to when the new work shows up -- it does that work for you. And it means a bit of money during the serialization process.

BAKER: We're doing very well with their subscription service because apparently our customers very loyal. [laughs]

SPURGEON: How is your relationship with comiXology different than when you started?

BAKER: There's like a million more people working there now.

SPURGEON: They've grown incredibly rapidly. Has that meant better service? Do you have fewer nerds or are you more needy now?

BAKER: I have more of a support system. I have a very open communicative relationship with them. I feel like everything they do to make their reading experience better helps me.

ROBERSON: They're fairly tireless, too. The one thing they have to offer is a positive experience -- because there are other ways to get digital comics, and there are new ways coming out all of the time. But they are just continually refining that system.

BAKER: Really it's a tech company that's learning to do book sales. Which is completely different. It's a very weird combination of things going together. Explaining to tech people that here is something that this is why something needs to be organized this way because people find things this way can be a very difficult process.

ROBERSON: But they're very responsive to all that. There's no combativeness to it. They're very supportive. One of the things that Allison and I discussed very early on is that we would be given them this catalog of fairly great material. That helps them become not just an adjunct to the Direct Market. It helps them become real digital distribution on their own in I think a competitive way.

SPURGEON: You said that you guys handle the PR.

ROBERSON: She handles the PR.

SPURGEON: What is different about promoting digital comics? What works? It's a very different thing than print comics, which, as you pointed out, have a completely different release structure around which publicity is generally built. I don't know what works.

BAKER: Doing something? [laughter]

SPURGEON: Well, that is a comics thing, isn't it? Just trying something can sometimes be a daunting, near-impossible task.

BAKER: It is just sending out for review every single issue that comes out every single week for review.

ROBERSON: Allison has been tireless in establishing a relationship with the reviewers and the press. It's her. It doesn't have to be some sort of corporate bullshit. It's her talking. That comes across. So when she had spinal surgery [Baker laughs] she could include a note at the bottom: "Please excuse any typos; I'm on drugs." [laughter] So much of the press and PR that comes out of the big companies is such odious shit.

BAKER: Most people that work in PR offices like that are so overwhelmed with everything they have coming out. These are my babies.

SPURGEON: There's a lack of structure in that world, too, that I think is increasingly frustrating for PR people trained in the classic elements of that job.

Chris, you're a baby when it comes to writing comics.

ROBERSON: My first comic was cover-dated four years ago this month.

SPURGEON: I remember thinking you were five years in at best, if that. So is knowing all of this about process, how the sausages are made, is any of that helpful to the writing. Or is that completely separate. Because of lot of creators choose not to engage with some of the business aspects of the medium in which they work in order to protect the writing part of what they do.

ROBERSON: I wrote novels before. We ran a small-press publishing company before my first novel came out. I've always been obsessed with the inner workings. I had an agent for a while and hated it because I wanted to be in control, at least be involved.

BAKER: We handled all those deals anyway, and handed them over and he screwed them up anyway. [laughter] That didn't work.

ROBERSON: One of my dissatisfactions in working with the larger corporations -- really just DC; I was only dissatisfied working at DC -- is that so much was kept at arm's length and there so much unnecessary segmenting of information. We're all the same team. I like on the collaboration side for everyone to be involved and I like for everyone to know the business side if possible.

SPURGEON: Your public decision to not work with DC and to move forward with your work in a certain way, there's a political aspect to that. It's been a while. There used to be a very specific way of thinking about creators' rights in the '80s and '90s that found expression in the 2000s as more a general near white-hot contempt from companies and their functionaries towards creators. A culture of contempt. It made me wonder if there's something about the way corporations are set up that engenders a kind of segmented, we-know-better, editorially directed nasty place to work. This leads to breakdowns along the way. What do you think of the implicit criticism element of your vocational choices in recent years?

ROBERSON: I've seen more and more people... my objection was never my treatment. I had a fine relationship with my direct editorial people. It was larger cultural concerns. It's a culture that's arisen -- at least at DC -- that treats writers and artists and talents, not creators. They want to run like a TV show does, where you have a staff of people, and there's some sort of show-runner, and everyone's contributing, and the end result is this sort of thing. Not a lot of creative fingerprints on it. Writers and artists are interchangeable. I think that shows in the quality a lot. I think there is a contempt for the creators in a lot of ways.

BAKER: There's o respect for them, I think that that's fundamentally the problem.

ROBERSON: If you go to the web site it says that Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 2011. You have to fucking dig to find Siegel and Shuster on that goddamn thing.

BAKER: A little respect goes a long way.

SPURGEON: It wasn't unique to you, is what you're saying. Did you get people that expressed solidarity whether or not they could join you in changing the direction of their careers?

ROBERSON: Virtually everyone I talked to at least agreed with me on the treatment of creators. A lot of them did not agree with me about the Watchmen thing specifically. I talked to a lot of people.

BAKER: It's just gotten worse. [laughs] I mean, there are a lot of people leaving.

SPURGEON: So where do you think that ends up? What's the end game there? Do you hold out any hope that things like what you're doing right now serve as a corrective for those places?

ROBERSON: I think so. In the early '80s, the rise of things like Pacific and First forced the larger corporation to behave better. For a large part, that as Jenette Kahn coming in from the outside and saying, "Why are you doing this? Why are you behaving this way?" I don't think that anybody that's done corporate comics in the last two decades has any illusions that they own anything they do or any of that. It's a job. But all of the safeguards that were put in... creator equity and money... has been eroded over the last ten years. All of the hard work that Paul Levitz and Jenette Kahn put in.

SPURGEON: You know, one of the first times I noticed you two was watching how you set up at this show -- you have kind of a salon set-up away from the action, on this balcony at this hotel bar. It's almost like you're a remote location and the show comes to you. Even though the floor has changed a lot and the audience has changed a lot, the back-room aspect of it seems still pretty vital. It seems like if you're a person that comes here to do meetings, you're probably doing at least as many meetings as you did back in 1994.

ROBERSON: Yeah, yeah.

SPURGEON: So what is a show like this for you at this point? Is it useful in terms of doing interviews like this one, taking meetings, touching based with the Monkeybrain creators?

ROBERSON: Originally, there was just a socializing aspect of it that appealed to us. Until we moved to the capital of American Comics in Portland [laughter] we didn't have a very big social circle in Austin. That leads to business. I did an interview about the new titles at Monkeybrain with CBR the other day, and they asked us how all of these books came to us. I realized as I answered that I met this person at San Diego and I liked their book. And that was basically the answer for every one. We don't make much money for our piece. We take a very small percentage. We want to work with people we like. If the biggest superstar in the world wanted to do a book with us and they were an asshole, we wouldn't do it. Even if it meant more money.

SPURGEON: Because life's too short?

ROBERSON: Yeah. I just don't want to be associated with assholes. I've done it before.

SPURGEON: This interview's over. [laughter] So how big is too big, then? What does this look like two years from now.

ROBERSON: [groans] [laughter]

SPURGEON: So you're putting together this list of titles, and they have a certain impression in the marketplace. Since they're your friends, and you like what they do, you'll likely work with many of them on a continuing basis. You're building a line. Can that change now? Or is there creator development. How many non-asshole big creators could you handle if there was interest? You said you're not planning, but do you think about those basic development terms? Do you think about an outcome? Could you do four times the number of comics you're doing now?

ROBERSON: No.

BAKER: I don't think that all of the series we have going will continue going. There's a structure where they're intended to be about six issues.

ROBERSON: The way we're structure now we have two things a week coming out.

BAKER: I'm really trying not to go to three, because we usually get both of them on the front page of comiXology, and that's important for new people coming into it.

ROBERSON: There are limitations as to how much time we can put into it. We're not going to grow exponentially in terms of the number of things we can do. We'll reach the point when we're full-up. And then somebody will send something awesome and we'll add it to the schedule anyway. [laughter]

BAKER: He's always like, "This is really good." And I'm like [moans]...

ROBERSON: It's the worst.

SPURGEON: I would have to imagine if the issues sell more, people will want to publish more frequently, too.

BAKER: The digital market is growing; we don't know where it will end up, but it's growing exponentially now.

ROBERSON: If it got to the point where it was a day job for you [indicating Baker]... right now it's nights and weekends.

SPURGEON: One of the reasons I wanted to talk to you is that I suspect that what you guys do is generally a mystery to most comics readers, particularly of the kind that might use CR. I like the fact that there isn't a rigid plan you're enacting, that you're focusing on doing the next thing.

ROBERSON: Yeah.

BAKER: Rigid is for suckers. This market is changing so rapidly that anybody that things that the things are working right now are the way that things are going to be working five years from now is completely fooling themselves.

SPURGEON: It sounds like you have an orientation and principles more than you have a business plan.

ROBERSON: What's nice is that we only work with people we like.

SPURGEON: People you like.... and Jen Vaughn.

ROBERSON: [laughs] We love Jen. Jen is one of our favorite people.

BAKER: I talk to Jen all of the time.

ROBERSON: They text inappropriate things to each other all of the time.

BAKER: It's awesome. [laughter]

ROBERSON: It's been more than the strength in numbers thing we originally envisioned. It's... a team. People consider themselves on the Monkeybrain team.

BAKER: It's really cool to see the creators support each other's books on-line. This wouldn't be able to work without social media.

SPURGEON: Let me ask you, then, about social media. How right-brained were you in terms of knowing that you had to fold social media elements into what you were going to attempt. How did that approach develop over the past year?

BAKER: So comiXology came to the forefront in terms of figuring out who was going to be the main digital distributor in comics. They kind of won that race. We watched that happening. We saw that the digital market was trying to grow. With the advent of social media coming together at the same time, it was possible to do this. Before it probably would have died on the vine.

SPURGEON: Since I'm old, explain to me in basic terms what you mean there, what social media means for a site like yours in immediate, practical terms. Is it just that you're able to better communicate with all of the people that you need to communicate to?

ROBERSON: It's all of it. The mistake that a lot of traditional marketing people make is viewing twitter, say, as merely promotional. But instead it's a conversation where everyone speaks with the same volume regardless of their size. It's down to the people listening whether to pay attention or not. I mean, I guess you can pay to promote tweets, but I always just tag that as spam.

SPURGEON: That seems very effective if you want people to hate your stuff.

ROBERSON: I hate that stuff. We're on twitter constantly. We can promote the stuff but also interact with the readers; creators can interact with the readers...

BAKER: It humanizes everything. We're creating a relationship with the readership. We're all people, and a lot of time people forget that corporations, that's all made up of a bunch of people and personalities. On the most basic level we're all just people. When you humanize something, I think it becomes more powerful.

ROBERSON: It amuses us when people -- readers -- on twitter refer to Monkeybrain as if it had any existence outside of the two of us. "Monkeybrain is doing this." [Spurgeon laughs] Someone asked us when we got the Eisner nominations if there were high-fives in the Monkeybrain offices. I said, "If you mean the two of us in our living room, then yes." [laughter]

SPURGEON: That would be "high-five." Singular. You know, I guess that's flattering, but also weird, that once you put a name on something it suddenly has an office and a support staff and like a bowling team.

ROBERSON: That's how a lot of people think of everything. Whether we're talking about Time Warner, or AT&T or the Hilton.

SPURGEON: Are you fan of rational discourse in comics, the kind of demystifying or even debunking of the assumed process? There's a controlling aspect to letting certain assumptions reign free, to not having information out there.

ROBERSON: Oh, yeah. I think I was ruined by Fantagraphics as a child by Amazing Heroes and then later the Journal. I was obsessed by that stuff. I wanted to know the minutiae and the history and everything that was going on. I said at one point to [the notion of] "before the Internet we didn't know anything," that no, I knew everything. I knew when things were going to come out. I knew who was doing what. It's because I studied those things like the Torah. Can I call Kurt Busiek one of my idols?

SPURGEON: Sure.

BAKER: Yes.

ROBERSON: Because that guy has such encyclopedic knowledge but also a keen awareness. He's tireless on the Internet; he'll get into stupid flamewars and be the voice of reason endless. His thoughts on copyright extension and public domain are so lucid. Nothing infuriates me more than low-information voters arguing shit on-line. [Spurgeon laughs]

SPURGEON: Do you have competitors?

BAKER: I don't think of any other publisher as a competitor. We're all in this together. The more we help each other, the better off we all are.

ROBERSON: We all do such different things. Somebody was asking me about Mark Waid's Thrillbent the other day. We realized very early on that he was doing something that looks similar on the outside but is really very different. What Mark is doing is experimenting with the form. We're experimenting with delivery and distribution. There's a lot of that kind of thing. I don't care. I just read great comics. If somebody takes a book elsewhere... we can mention one, the Keatinge thing. That was already announced.

One of the titles that was announced last year at our panel in San Diego was Joe Keatinge and Ken Gehring on a book called Intergalactic. For a variety of reasons, that ended up at Image. Keatinge is doing another book for us that will be fantastic. It was an immediacy of money thing. The artist needed more money than long-tail digital would allow. So we happily returned the rights to them and they're doing something else instead. I don't see that as a problem. I see that as something that happened.

SPURGEON: When Image started and found some success there were suddenly some Image-looking entities out there. So if Chimpbrain pops up three years from now...

BAKER: I would think, "Isn't that adorable." [laughter]

SPURGEON: And they're on the balcony over there -- [Roberson laughs]

BAKER: We need someone to do more books so we can have great comics.

SPURGEON: You're not worried about the migration aspects that come when models settle in.

ROBERSON: It's not so much a business for us as a public service. Most of the money goes to the creators and they retail all the rights. It's a thing we realized we could do and have fun doing. But yeah, I don't care about competition at all. I just want to read great comics.

BAKER: We knew that comiXology's Submit existed for a while, and it's launched. It needs to exist.

ROBERSON: We can direct comics that aren't suitable for ourselves in that direction.

SPURGEON: Do people come to you and ask for advice?

BAKER: Yeah. We learned a lot about how to sell books that people don't know anything about. I try to share that with the Submit program because I think a lot of those books are very similar.

ROBERSON: The con bar conversation for years was that the Direct Market has developed so that it would be impossible for Mike Mignola to launch Hellboy now. Or Kurt Buisek to launch Astro City. Companies won't take the risk. Sales attrition month to month makes it almost impossible to launch a title. But digital sales are cumulative; things can find an audience over time. Bandette wouldn't have existed if we didn't ask for it.

BAKER: They've been wanting to do this book for years.

ROBERSON: They had an idea to do something like it, but they went off and did it because we asked for it. And yay!

SPURGEON: What do you like about Paul, writer to writer. I think Colleen's virtues are better known and more immediately apparent. When Paul ends up on your virtual bookshelf, what about it appeals?

ROBERSON: Paul and I have similar influences and similar tastes. He used to do the Marvel kids stuff. I like that he does a bunch of different things. He can do very charming kids adventure stuff but then he can write creepy-as-shit stuff like Colder a book at Dark Horse. He sent me his prose novel a few years ago. He sent me his manuscript and I sold it for him.

BAKER: Well, I sold it.

ROBERSON: Okay, okay. Allison sold it. [laughter] I just like this stuff.

SPURGEON: So it''s not a thematic agreement. When you mention that he works in a different genre, I thought of a similarity in your work where you're willing to work within the confines of a genre, happy to find a place for yourself. Is that how you approach work as a creator and as a reader?

ROBERSON: It's something I like in all media. There's a musican named Yoko Kanno who has done a bunch of work for animation. My favorite album of hers is Commercial Jingles, songs that she's written for various advertisements. It's very charming. Every one is different. She inhabits a different style. I don't like to read just one thing. I'd be miserable if I wrote just one thing. I know lots of writers that are happy occupy a patch of ground but that would just bore me senseless.

SPURGEON: Do you worry about building a line in terms of moving people from one title to another?

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BAKER: I like reading Bandette and I like reading High Crimes and they are two completely different books. I don't think anyone's taste is in one spot. I don't think we can recommend something to someone that way.

ROBERSON: The advantage is that our price point is such you can easily sample anything, and at worst you've spent less than you would have on a candy bar.

BAKER: The price point was a very conscious decision. I feel like nobody's going to be upset if they spent a dollar and it wasn't for them. They'll just move on.

ROBERSON: Unless they're a horrible person.

BAKER: That's why you get a blowback with the bigger companies and higher prices. These characters people have a relationship with.

SPURGEON: Did you get any blowback for under-pricing the market, driving down the overall price point.

ROBERSON: A little. But we're not selling you a 22-page comic for 99 cents. We're selling you a charming 10- or 11-page thing. So the price drives the form in a lot of ways, rather than here's the form and let's figure out what to charge for it.

SPURGEON: A 100-page book at 99 cents doesn't make sense for anybody.

BAKER: You can't do a 22 page book for 99 cents.

SPURGEON: Is it just more for you right now?

BAKER: We'll probably try some other things.

ROBERSON: In the beginning it was flattering creators didn't laugh at us. We had no right for anyone to believe that we could do this. Now that we've done it, a lot of people that we talked to are more interested.

SPURGEON: You got all the dumb creators. Now you'll get the smart ones.

ROBERSON: It's more like we're getting the risk-averse.

*****

* Monkeybrain Comics

*****

* photo of Roberson and Baker from the interview session, Hilton Bayfront, 2013.
* three covers of titles, hopefully contextually clear and relevant
* one of the many iterations of the Monkeybrain logo. [below]

*****

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Go, Read: Are You Noble?

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Missed It: Boulet At MoCCA 2013

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Odd, Affecting Michael DeForge School Dream Comic

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Go, Look: Siegel, Shuster Mini-Gallery

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Notes From The 2013 Comic-Con International In San Diego Floor

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By Tom Spurgeon

The following are notes and observations gathered on the floor of Comic-Con International 2013 in San Diego, California. For immediate reactions to what's going on from hundreds of people, I recommend an appropriate search or multiple such searches on Twitter. For mainstream comics and panel coverage in general -- this being a key event for publishing news announcements -- I recommend Comic Book Resources ComicsAlliance and The Beat.

*****

* I'm going to move some of my observations about specific events that took place on Saturday during Comic-Con into the combined-weekend that will roll out tomorrow. It was a very busy day for a lot of people.

* the sheer size and crush of people on the floor and at the various outdoor checkpoints is still staggering to behold. I try to cross the length of the floor at least once depending during the weekend. It took me an incredibly long time to do this on Saturday. The main culprit was a bunch of TV people showing up at one of the bigger booths which meant that there were suddenly a hundred cameras pulled out of various pockets to document this important event.

* there were also some big costumes that took up a lot of space. I think at least in my crowd there was 100 percent certainty that costumes were down overall, but there were several good-looking ones. I was not prepared to see fewer costumes on the floor, although, come to think of it, I wasn't really prepared for this element of the show to explode as much as it did.

* I ate breakfast with IDW's Scott Dunbier Saturday morning. I don't really have anything to report there, but I wanted to frighten Dunbier for the 1.5 seconds it took him to figure out I wasn't going to say anything after he initially scanned and found his name. I think he's enjoyed the increased profile that's come with those successful Artist's Edition books IDW has been doing.

* also, standing with Scott across the street from the convention center and having traditional comics folks stop and chat reminded me again of the comics-as-an-island feeling I first sensed last year.

* I have a hunch that this has been a very successful show for the smaller, independent companies like BOOM! Or maybe it's just been good for BOOM! My thinking is there may be opportunities for some of these companies to combine selling books with a sort of meeting-con going on throughout the weekend. In fact, it seems the face-to-face opportunities at the show have stayed pretty vital. It's a good show to arrange some face time.

* spoke with Steven Weissman at some length about how people are reacting to Barack Hussein Obama in book form as opposed to the serial. Talked to Paul Hornschemeier about moving to Boston after a dozen years in Chicago.

* one of my standard pieces of advice, that you can wander East in the gaslamp and lose the crowds quickly, doesn't really apply anymore. There are people everywhere.

* I have to say, I have yet to see a glimmer of excitement behind any book discovered at the show. There's a ton of great material to be had, but none that people seem to be rallying behind.

* had a long talk with Steven Grant about his last comics columns and about San Diego more generally. We agree in general principle on a lot of the latter; it's a show we both enjoy.

* Johnny Craig is this year's great cartoonist that keeps coming up in a variety of conversations.

* saw Coop on the floor and spun around and headed the other direction for a while to talk with him. He's a get-in, get-out Comic-con attendee at this point, but he said he thought sales were quite good considering the minimal investment he makes in getting down here from LA. We agreed that disappointing young people is the quiet joy of the getting older crowd.

* there was a lot of affection on the floor from various folks for new Eisner Hall Of Fame member Trina Robbins.

* the Prism display looked humongous to me, but part of that just may have been their taking up a facing-aisle position instead of one bending around a corner. I enjoyed a brief conversation with Ed Luce.

* Andrew Farago told me Cartoon Art Museum was ahead of the game fundraising wise at this show.

* heard great things about an Eisner panel made up of various comics heavy-hitters of the late cartoonist's acquaintance. Gary Groth told me there were about 70 people in the room for the Fantagraphics/D+Q forthcoming comics presentation, which is way more than a similar panel last year. I do think that in general the attendance at comics panels is way up from a decade or 15 years ago, particularly for smaller publishers and the artists they serve.

* there was always great sadness in someone's voice when they told me they were going to be on any panel that started after 6 PM. Just saying.

* nothing like an ebullient RC Harvey standing on the street handing out multiple business cards when you ask for one.

* Saturday night provides the greatest range of comics-folk activities: a few comics-people parties, some invites to bigger-media sponsored social events, folks grabbing dinner and going to bed, and the afterparty-as-party hotel bar scene.

* I still don't detect the binding element to this year's show.

*****

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

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Mark Parisi!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Bill Knapp!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Garry Trudeau!

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July 20, 2013


Fantagraphics Announces Semi-Mysterious New Project From Award-Winning Cartoonist Joe Sacco: BUMF

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By Tom Spurgeon

imageThe Comics Reporter has learned that journalist/cartoonist Joe Sacco has a new work planned with Fantagraphics Books. The book will break with the sometimes-somber, intellectually engaging journalism comics for which Sacco is best known, and feature fiction and work that is humorous in nature. Details of the book are set for discussion today at the Fantagraphics publishing panel at Comic-Con International. Their official description of BUMF.

BUMF will go where it wants to go and do what it wants to do. The first issue prays tribute to those brave men and women who buggered the Kaiser, to our leaders, and to Group Captain Joe Sacco, who led the first 1,000-plane raid on the Pashtuns.

Sacco published his groundbreaking Yahoo and Palestine series with the publisher; he later placed a short story in Zero Zero and has continued to do collections with the publisher. He earlier both edited and contributed to the humor magazine Centrifugal Bumblepuppy. Sacco was also at one time a Fantagraphics staffer. The two publications through which Sacco first established his reputation as a journalist working in the comics form also came from Fantagraphics: the collected Palestine, and Safe Area Gorazde. Sacco has worked with a variety of publishers in recent years, including Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, Nation and Metropolitan. A physically immense multiple-plate panorama called The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme is set for release from WW Norton later this year.

Eric Reynolds told CR, "I consider Joe not only one of the greatest cartoonists who ever lived, but one of my closest friends in this goofy business. So of course I'm thrilled to be doing a new book with him. I'm super excited to see him work in a different mode, too, focusing more on humor and fiction."

The work is planned for publication in 2014.

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photos supplied by Jacq Cohen at Fantagraphics
 
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Go, Look: Dr. Sarcophagus

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Floating World Comics Unpacks Forthcoming 2013 Publishing Season: Eng, Bak, Gfrörer And Alden

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By Tom Spurgeon

Bearer of one of the more compelling track records for a micro-publishing, Floating World, working out of the retail and gallery space of the same in Portland, Oregon, has informed CR of its immediate publishing plans. Having just dropped Kilian Eng's Object 10, they'll next move to Island Of Memory Vol. 1 by T. Edward Bak. The collected version to include that work is set for publication by Drawn and Quarterly down the road. That's actually one of my favorite works of recent vintage, at least the bits and pieces I've seen here and there. I'm glad there will be a way to get into it that allows for an easier on-ramp for prospective buyers.

A collection of Julia Gfrörer's mini-comics will follow, to be called Ariadne Auf Naxos. No details were provided. The book after that is a prospective new project from cartoonist Sam Alden, which doesn't even have a name as far as I can tell.

The nature of the way comics-making talent and the industry that serves them have each developed in relation to one another make the contributions of tiny publishing operations crucially important in keeping people at work and getting their comics into folks' hands.

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Go, Look: Eroyn Franklin

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Hic & Hoc Officially Announces Return Of Humor Anthology

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By Tom Spurgeon

Matt Moses of Hic & Hoc officially confirmed with CR this weekend that they've announced a second issue of their well-liked funny-comics anthology. Joe List and Lizz Lunney will co-edit The Hic & Hoc Illustrated Journal Of Humo(u)r Volume Two: The United Kingdom to arrive in September. It will contain work from 25 British small-press comics makers, including but certainly not limited to Becky Barnicoat, Gareth Brookes, Stephen Collins, Joe Decie, Luke Pearson and Philippa Rice. Jon Boam supplies the cover.

The book will retail for $10.

Lunney is the author of Depressed Cat; Joe List is best known for The Annotated Weekender and Freak Leap.
 
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Go, Look: Eric B. Rivera

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Fantagraphics Announces Re-Packaging Of Woodring Classic

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By Tom Spurgeon

imageFantagraphics Books is set to announce later today its repackaging and republication of one of the seminal books of alternative comics publishing, Jim Woodring's The Book Of Jim. While details on how that material is to be re-presented and the exact specifications of the resulting book are yet to come, Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds told CR that it's the work in Book Of Jim that will be at the heart of the new effort. He called the effort "overdue."

The Book Of Jim was published during the first great explosion of literary comics in book form in the early 1990s, hitting the stands in 1993. Four issues of the Jim comic book were published from 1987 to 1990; most of the material from that series, including several illustrated prose pieces, made it into the trade volume. The repackaged collection is set for 2014; Woodring's latest work, Fran is due in October of this year from the same publisher.

"What I recall most fondly about the Jim material is how it exploded the idea of autobiographical or journalistic comics for me," critic Joe McCulloch told CR "Typically, the American traditions for autobiography in comics had bent toward the acutely confessional (Justin Green) and unfettered everyday experience (Harvey Pekar). What Woodring did better than anyone was promote the idea that the subconscious, the imaginary, and the dreamtime state were perfectly valid terrains for autobiographical exploration - a character of the Jim comics that gave even their most fictive entries an intense personality. Plus, it’s great comedy. Funny mind, that Woodring."

Woodring's Jim material ranked at #71 on The Comics Journal's list of best cartoonists of the 20th Century. A full list of work in the original collection can be found here.

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Go, Look: Manatee Power

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Your 2013 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Winners

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What follows are a list of this year's Will Eisner Comic Industry Award nominees and winners, with the winners in bold within their appropriate category.

The Eisner Awards were held last night in conjunction with Comic-Con International; Saga was a big winner, nailing down new and continuing series awards and a spinning-globey thing for writer Brian K. Vaughan. The late Fantagraphics co-publisher Kim Thompson was remembered in several acceptance speeches and asides, including those from Diana Schutz and Neil Gaiman.

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners.

*****

BEST SHORT STORY
* A Birdsong Shatters the Still, by Jeff Wilson and Ted May, in Injury #4 (Ted May/Alternative)
* Elmview by Jon McNaught, in Dockwood (Nobrow)
* Moon 1969: The True Story of the 1969 Moon Launch, by Michael Kupperman, in Tales Designed to Thrizzle #8 (Fantagraphics)
* Moving Forward, by drewscape, in Monsters, Miracles, & Mayonnaise (Epigram Books)
* Rainbow Moment, by Lilli Carré, in Heads or Tails (Fantagraphics)

BEST SINGLE ISSUE (OR ONE-SHOT)
* Lose #4: The Fashion Issue, by Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)
* The Mire, by Becky Cloonan (self-published)
* Pope Hats #3, by Ethan Rilly (AdHouse Books)
* Post York, by James Romberger and Crosby (Uncivilized Books)
* Tales Designed to Thrizzle #8, by Michael Kupperman (Fantagraphics)

BEST CONTINUING SERIES
* Fatale, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)
* Hawkeye, by Matt Fraction and David Aja (Marvel)
* The Manhattan Projects, by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra (Image)
* Prophet, by Brandon Graham and Simon Roy (Image)
* Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)

BEST NEW SERIES
* Adventure Time, by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb (kaboom!)
* Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain)
* Fatale, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)
* Hawkeye, by Matt Fraction and David Aja (Marvel)
* Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)

BEST PUBLICATION FOR EARLY READERS (UP TO AGE 7)
* Babymouse for President, by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Random House)
* Benny and Penny in Lights Out, by Geoffrey Hays (Toon Books/Candlewick)
* Kitty & Dino, by Sara Richard (Yen Press/Hachette)
* Maya Makes a Mess, by Rutu Modan (Toon Books/Candlewick)
* Zig and Wikki in The Cow, by Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler (Toon Books/Candlewick)

BEST PUBLICATION FOR KIDS (AGES 8-12)
* Adventure Time, by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb (kaboom!)
* Amulet Book 5: Prince of the Elves, by Kazu Kibuishi (Scholastic)
* Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse, by Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos (Archaia)
* Crogan's Loyalty, by Chris Schweizer (Oni)
* Hilda and the Midnight Giant, by Luke Pearson (Nobrow)
* Road to Oz, by L. Frank Baum, adapted by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young (Marvel)

BEST PUBLICATION FOR TEENS (AGES 13-17)
* Adventure Time: Marceline and the Scream Queens, by Meredith Gran (kaboom!)
* Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, by Joseph Lambert (Center for Cartoon Studies/Disney Hyperion)
* Ichiro, by Ryan Inzana (Houghton Mifflin)
* Spera, vol. 1, by Josh Tierney et al. (Archaia)
* A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle, adapted by Hope Larson (FSG)

BEST HUMOR PUBLICATION
* Adventure Time, by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb (kaboom!)
* BBXX: Baby Blues Decades 1 & 2, by Jerry Scott and Rick Kirkman (Andrews McMeel)
* Darth Vader and Son, by Jeffrey Brown (Chronicle)
* Naked Cartoonists, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)

BEST DIGITAL COMIC
* Ant Comic, by Michael DeForge
* Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover
* It Will All Hurt, by Farel Dalrymple
* Our Bloodstained Roof, by Ryan Andrews
* Oyster War, by Ben Towle

BEST ANTHOLOGY
* Dark Horse Presents, edited by Mike Richardson (Dark Horse)
* No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, edited by Justin Hall (Fantagraphics)
* Nobrow #7: Brave New World, edited by Alex Spiro and Sam Arthur (Nobrow)
* 2000 AD, edited by Matt Smith (Rebellion)
* Where Is Dead Zero?, edited by Jeff Ranjo (Where Is Dead Zero?)

BEST REALITY-BASED WORK
* Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, by Joseph Lambert (Center for Cartoon Studies/Disney Hyperion) TIE
* The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song, by Frank M. Young and David Lasky (Abrams ComicArts) TIE

* A Chinese Life, by Li Kunwu and P. Otié (Self Made Hero)
* The Infinite Wait and Other Stories, by Julia Wertz (Koyama Press)
* Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me, by Ellen Forney (Gotham Books)
* You'll Never Know, Book 3: A Soldier's Heart, by C. Tyler (Fantagraphics)

BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM -- NEW
* Building Stories, by Chris Ware (Pantheon)
* Goliath, by Tom Gauld (Drawn & Quarterly)
* The Hive, by Charles Burns (Pantheon)
* Unterzakhn, by Leela Corman (Schocken)
* You'll Never Know, Book 3: A Soldier's Heart, by C. Tyler (Fantagraphics)

BEST ADAPTATION FROM ANOTHER MEDIUM
* Chico and Rita, by Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal (SelfMadeHero)
* Homer's Odyssey, adapted by Seymour Chwast (Bloomsbury)
* Richard Stark's Parker: The Score, adapted by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)
* Road to Oz, by L. Frank Baum, adapted by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young (Marvel)
* A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle, adapted by Hope Larson (FSG)

BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM -- REPRINT
* Cruisin' with the Hound, by Spain (Fantagraphics)
* Ed the Happy Clown, by Chester Brown (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Everything Together: Collected Stories, by Sammy Harkham (PictureBox)
* Heads or Tails, by Lilli Carré (Fantagraphics)
* King City, by Brandon Graham (TokyoPop/Image)
* Sailor Twain, or The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel (First Second)

BEST ARCHIVAL COLLECTION/PROJECT -- STRIPS
* Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim, vol. 2, edited by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)
* Mister Twee Deedle: Raggedy Ann's Sprightly Cousin, by Johnny Gruelle, edited by Rick Marschall (Fantagraphics)
* Percy Crosby's Skippy, vol. 1, edited by Jared Gardner and Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)
* Pogo, vol. 2: Bona Fide Balderdash, by Walt Kelly, edited by Carolyn Kelly and Kim Thompson (Fantagraphics)
* Roy Crane's Captain Easy: The Complete Sunday Newspaper Strips, vol. 3, edited by Rick Norwood (Fantagraphics)

BEST ARCHIVAL COLLECTION/PROJECT -- COMIC BOOKS
* Crime Does Not Pay Archives, edited by Philip Simon and Kitchen, Lind & Associates (Dark Horse)
* David Mazzucchelli's Daredevil Born Again: Artist's Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
* Wally Wood's EC Stories: Artist's Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
* Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Old Man, by Carl Barks, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
* Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby's Romance Comics, edited by Michel Gagné (Fantagraphics)

BEST US EDITION OF INTERNATIONAL MATERIAL
* Abelard, by Régis Hautiere and Renaud Dillies (NBM)
* Athos in America, by Jason (Fantagraphics)
* Blacksad: Silent Hell, by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (Dark Horse)
* The Making of, by Brecht Evens (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Monsieur Jean: The Singles Theory, by Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian (Humanoids)
* New York Mon Amour, by Benjamin LeGrand, Dominique Grange, and Jacques Tardi (Fantagraphics)

BEST US EDITION OF INTERNATIONAL MATERIAL -- ASIA
* Barbara, by Osamu Tezuka (Digital Manga)
* A Chinese Life, by Li Kunwu and P. Otié (Self Made Hero)
* Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)
* Nonnonba, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Thermae Romae, by Mari Yamazaki (Yen Press/Hachette)

BEST WRITER
* Ed Brubaker, Fatale (Image)
* Matt Fraction, Hawkeye (Marvel); Casanova: Avaritia (Marvel Icon)
* Brandon Graham, Multiple Warheads, Prophet (Image)
* Jonathan Hickman, The Manhattan Projects (Image)
* Brian K. Vaughan, Saga (Image)
* Frank M. Young, The Carter Family (Abrams ComicArts)

BEST WRITER/ARTIST
* Charles Burns, The Hive (Pantheon)
* Gilbert Hernandez, Love and Rockets New Stories, vol. 5 (Fantagraphics)
* Jaime Hernandez, Love and Rockets New Stories, vol. 5 (Fantagraphics)
* Luke Pearson, Hilda and the Midnight Giant, Everything We Miss (Nobrow)
* C. Tyler, You'll Never Know, Book 3: A Soldier's Heart (Fantagraphics)
* Chris Ware, Building Stories (Pantheon)

BEST PENCILLER/INKER
* David Aja, Hawkeye (Marvel)
* Becky Cloonan, Conan the Barbarian (Dark Horse); The Muse (self-published)
* Colleen Coover, Bandette (Monkeybrain)
* Sean Phillips, Fatale (Image)
* Joseph Remnant, Harvey Pekar's Cleveland (Zip Comics/Top Shelf)
* Chris Samnee, Daredevil (Marvel); Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom (IDW)

BEST PAINTER/MULTI-MEDIA ARTIST (INTERIOR ART)
* Brecht Evens, The Making Of (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Juanjo Guarnido, Blacksad (Dark Horse)
* Teddy Kristiansen, The Red Diary/The RE[a]D Diary (MAN OF ACTION/Image)
* Lorenzo Mattotti, The Crackle of the Frost (Fantagraphics)
* Katsuya Terada, The Monkey King vol. 2 (Dark Horse)

BEST COVER ARTIST
* David Aja, Hawkeye (Marvel)
* Brandon Graham, King City, Multiple Warheads, Elephantmen #43 (Image)
* Sean Phillips, Fatale (Image)
* Yuko Shimizu, The Unwritten (Vertigo/DC)
* J. H. Williams III, Batwoman (DC)

BEST COLORING
* Charles Burns, The Hive (Pantheon)
* Colleen Coover, Bandette (Monkeybrain)
* Brandon Graham, Multiple Warheads (Image)
* Dave Stewart, Batwoman (DC); Fatale (Image); BPRD, Conan the Barbarian, Hellboy in Hell, Lobster Johnson, The Massive (Dark Horse)
* Chris Ware, Building Stories (Pantheon)

BEST LETTERING
* Paul Grist, Mudman (Image)
* Troy Little, Angora Napkin 2: Harvest of Revenge (IDW)
* Joseph Remnant, Harvey Pekar's Cleveland (Zip Comics/Top Shelf)
* C. Tyler, You'll Never Know, Book 3: A Soldier's Heart (Fantagraphics)
* Chris Ware, Building Stories (Pantheon)

BEST COMICS-RELATED PERIODICAL/JOURNALISM
* Alter Ego, edited by Roy Thomas (TwoMorrows)
* ComicsAlliance, edited by Joe Hughes, Caleb Goellner, and Andy Khouri
* The Comics Reporter, edited by Tom Spurgeon
* Robot Six, produced by Comic Book Resources
* tcj.com, edited by Timothy Hodler and Dan Nadel (Fantagraphics)

BEST COMICS-RELATED BOOK
* The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist, edited by Alvin Buenaventura (Abrams ComicArts)
* Marie Severin: The Mirthful Mistress of Comics, by Dewey Cassell (TwoMorrows)
* Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, by Sean Howe (HarperCollins)
* Mastering Comics, by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden (First Second)
* Team Cul De Sac: Cartoonists Draw the Line at Parkinson's, edited by Chris Sparks (Andrews McMeel)
* Woodwork: Wallace Wood 1927–1981, edited by Frédéric Manzano (CasalSolleric/IDW)

BEST EDUCATIONAL/ACADEMIC WORK
* Autobiographical Comics: Life Writing in Pictures, Elisabeth El Refaie (University Press of Mississippi)
* Comics Versus Art, Bart Beaty (University of Toronto Press)
* Crockett Johnson & Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children's Literature, Philip Nel (University Press of Mississippi)
* Lynda Barry: Girlhood Through the Looking Glass, Susan E. Kirtley (University Press of Mississippi)
* The Poetics of Slumberland, Scott Bukatman (University of California Press)

BEST PUBLICATION DESIGN
* Building Stories, designed by Chris Ware (Pantheon)
* Dal Tokyo, designed by Gary Panter and Family Sohn (Fantagraphics)
* David Mazzucchelli's Daredevil Born Again: Artist's Edition, designed by Randy Dahlk (IDW)
* Mister Twee Deedle: Raggedy Ann's Sprightly Cousin, designed by Tony Ong (Fantagraphics)
* Wizzywig, designed by Ed Piskor and Chris Ross (Top Shelf)

*****
*****
 
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Notes From The 2013 Comic-Con International In San Diego Floor

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By Tom Spurgeon

The following are notes and observations gathered on the floor of Comic-Con International 2013 in San Diego, California. For immediate reactions to what's going on from hundreds of people, I recommend an appropriate search or multiple such searches on Twitter. For mainstream comics and panel coverage in general -- this being a key event for publishing news announcements -- I recommend Comic Book Resources ComicsAlliance and The Beat.

*****

* Friday I heard a lot of talk about the show itself. While no one reported dismaying levels of traffic, and a few vendors told me they were doing very well, the perception from a lot of folks to whom I spoke on hand to do at least some business was that things thus far had been slightly down. Further, I talked to some individuals who spoke openly of not seeing a book or element of comics that excited them. This made a lot of my conversations "state of Comic-Con" ruminative.

* as I think perceptions may change over the weekend, I don't want to get into my own hunches on what they're saying and what I'm seeing, but I think I heard every standard theory as to what's going on, from the over-sophistication of comics fans in terms of purchasing elsewhere over time what used to be an experience for which they saved up to the lack of sophistication from said fans when it came to engaging with comics at all. I want to see how things play out Saturday and Sunday for sure because I had the sense that Friday was different than Thursday.

* it does seem reasonably easy to negotiate the comics section of the show, and particularly so in comparison to the other parts of the show. Gilbert Hernandez also noted something that I saw the first two days of the show: people left more easily near the end of the day. I wonder if that's not a legacy of the stuff surrounding the convention center, in that maybe a group or a few individuals plan on hitting some of those things at the end of the day.

* I haven't really heard back about the superiority of any single choice among the on-the-street things to do, but it does seem this was the first year where what I saw out in the various parking lots and spaces next to hotels sort of attracted a general traffic of people standing and sitting around near the things. They no longer seemed solely like something someone might do on their way to something else.

* I'm still hearing about security at times limiting where people can walk into the show, non-exhibitors in particular. That seems odd to me, and I'm not quite sure what's going on there. I mean, it's not a big deal in any way but that there has to be a confrontation at all between a security person and anyone just trying to walk into the show for which they're badged up seems like a psychic drain on the place. Seems like a hiccup somewhere. Like I wrote before, security seems much more engaged person-to-person.

* had breakfast with Charles Hatfield and Douglas Wolk, who are near-same-age peers and thus had similar con experiences. Douglas spoke about switching to a limited time-wise interaction with the show, which is something I am seeing a lot more of: just coming in Friday and leaving Saturday evening, or something similar, to reduce costs and the potentially exhausting exposure to all that is going on. We all talked about the rapid decline in freelancing rates, and discussed the perspective of academics like Hatfield on the kind of alternative accruing of cultural or professional capital in which their kind of writing may sometimes trade.

* talked to Team Fanfare/Ponent Mon; they have a new Taniguchi out (the latest Botchan volume) and another one squarely in the works. They also had some small-press I think British comic student material that looked interest. One comic made use of die cuts page to page to use visual elements of preceding pages as parts of new images, which was sort of fascinating to process.

* they're having a good show, incidentally, and cite a move away from one of the more obscure portions of the floor to a more standard post in the small-publishers section as a big positive. Makes sense. Anyway, if you're at the show and looking for a few comics that you maybe haven't seen discussed to death, head over to that booth.

* so apparently there's a multiple-hundreds-of-pages Farel Dalrymple book coming from First Second?

* First Second seemed to have very solid signings from what I could tell, and are nice enough like most of the veteran publishers to wrap their traffic around their booth first. Signings seem super-weird at this show: some signings from people that usually attract a pretty big crowd ended with very little or even no traffic. I honestly couldn't tell you if that's just a thing where a capricious and changing audience matches some artists' profiles better than others, or if there's maybe even a relative lack of sophistication in how others get the word out about this kind of thing.

* the Love & Rockets covers book is gorgeous-looking; Fantagraphics apparently actually used a ton of preexisting productions piece that were still in the office to put the issue together, including stuff for that iconic first L&R cover.

* here's a question that came up twice in completely different contexts: does anyone know why original comics art isn't subject to laws about the value and re-sell of paintings? Granted, this is the first time I've heard of such a thing, so I may be describing it poorly.

* I'm not hearing any specific buzz from the showbiz section of the show but I'm not in any position to hear such buzz. Usually something penetrates in a "did you hear?" fashion, but not this time around, not yet.

* caught the bulk of Ellen Forney's Marbles presentation. Many of the questions seemed to come out of a place of deep personal connection to the issues raised in her treatment of her bi-polar diagnosis.

* one of San Diego's natural advantages has been on display all weekend: 65 to 75 degree weather in a week where much of the country is 30 degrees hotter. I have never seen the back-porch area of the convention center stuffed with so many folks.

* one aspect of Comic-Con I suspect still thrives is the hands-on meetings portion of what Comic-Con does. I talked to multiple people with ambitious retailer meet-and-greets, for example.

* got to catch up a bit with Chris Staros at Top Shelf, asking him if he was willing to release print-run figures on the first volume of March. The congressman John Lewis is signing later today and Staros would love to see folks turn out -- that would be a great gift purchase for a lot of folks back home if not yourself, and it would be nice to see a book like that have a real-world expression that reflects overall interest.

* my afternoon panel schedule was humor in comics, Kim Thompson and Jeffrey Brown. The humor in comics panel with Lisa Hanawalt, Ellen Forney, Jeffrey Brown and Tom Gauld talked a lot about creative issues in making that kind of work, from the perception from others that making funny comics is an unending source of delighted guffaws at the drawing board to the comics-makers' influences (such as Lisa Hanawalt's affection for B. Kliban's work). The Kim Thompson panel featured more than a few anecdotes I hadn't heard yet about the late art-comics industry prime mover, and an absolutely hysterical postcard from Thompson to Ware on the eve of Jimmy Corrigan's serial publication. That was very well-attended: I saw Charles Brownstein, R. Fiore and Charles Hatfield in the audience. One person even pointed that one thing he admired about Thompson was the care and attention he paid to Fantagraphics' admitted money-maker Eros Comics. Gary Groth also pointed out something I hadn't thought about: Thompson's mysterious relationship to reading prose. The Jeffrey Brown spotlight featured the announcement -- not sure if it's the first one or a subsequent -- of a Jedi Academy comics-and-prose book featuring a rough take on the approach used by Brown to good effect on his Leia and Luke with Daddy Darth Vader books. Brown is a thoughtful, articulate cartoonist.

* Peter Birkemoe had the coolest-looking Sunny t-shirt on underneath a suit.

* so apparently Mario Hernandez has a prose book coming out featuring a Latina teenage crime-solver? I want to see that.

* I still detect a relative slack level of business in any restaurant that requires sit-down service more than 400 yards from the railroad tracks.

* one difference in this year's Eisners as opposed to previous versions of recent vintage is that instead of a large crowd that diminished by the ceremony's end, there was a modest crowd that stayed around pretty much the whole time. I mean, there was bleed, but not the "Whoa!" of previous years' events.

* I thought that was a solid show: no more overlong than any typical show (people are always going to find awards shows long), a lot of funny people getting awards (Chip Kidd, for one) and giving them (Jonathan Ross/Neil Gaiman; Michael Davis), a video sketch in the middle of the retailing award where such a break is sorely needed pacing-wise; a lot of happy awards winners. Grateful for this site's win. Happy to see Milestone acknowledged via presenter.

* I was also happy to see so many people give shout-outs to Kim Thompson from the podium.

* I'm not sure anything was super-surprising; I don't think I predicted Michael Kupperman would win, but it's not like it wasn't deserving. It's good to see a wider awareness of Michael Kupperman mainstreamed a bit back into comics' wider talks about who's good and funny and why.

* was honored to accept Sean Howe's award for Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, and read his lovely statement:
Thank you for this tremendous honor.

I'd like to thank the dedicated scholars of the past and present, for ensuring that the historical details of the comic-book medium, and its attendant industry, are never forgotten. There's still a wealth of information about our heritage that resides exclusively in dusty old files, curling mimeographed fanzines, and shoeboxes filled with photos, many of which are hopelessly neglected in garages or hoarded in basements. If you feel a shudder of recognition at that description, there are bright-eyed staffers at comic research libraries that would love to hear from you.

I'd also like to express my gratitude to those generous souls who shared their memories with me, who entrusted me with their stories and opened my eyes. It's always been my hope that this book would serve as a reminder that credit should always rest with the men and women behind the comic books. No company has ever created a comic book, or a character, on its own -- for that you need the creativity of individuals. I know you know this, but... sometimes we forget. Sometimes there are very enthusiastic consumers who will excitedly name the holder of a trademark but have no idea who sat behind a desk or a drawing table in 1966 and just let their imagination wander.

Maybe it's not too late to change that. Thanks.
* it was a nice evening for that awards program. I mean, just Mort Meskin and Spain Rodriguez getting into a Hall Of Fame is nice.

* more if I can get back here.

*****

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

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

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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Prison Pit Comic Con Teaser


A Movie About Pia Guerra


Charles Addams Profile Feature From An Older DVD Set


Comics Waiting Room Interview With Ming Doyle


Comics Waiting Room Interview With Steven Grant


Comics Waiting Room Interview With David Baron


Black Nerd Passion


Tom Tomorrow Herblock Prize Acceptance Speech Excerpted
 
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Happy 42nd Birthday, Benoit Ers!

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July 19, 2013


AdHouse Books Announces, Releases Details On Early 2014 Release: Katie Skelly's Operation Margarine

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By Tom Spurgeon

imageThe Richmond, Virginia-based publishing house AdHouse Books has announced Operation Margarine by Katie Skelly as a release for April 2014. The book should debut at that year's MoCCA Festival, or a similar arts-focused comics show. This is the follow-up to the Nurse Nurse collection published by Sparkplug Comic Books in 2012 to fulfill one of the final publishing contracts negotiated by the late Dylan Williams.

"I'm very excited to work with AdHouse as I've always admired their beautiful books and eclectic eye for comics work," Skelly told CR.

The initial ad copy for Operation Margarine indicates a different direction from the well-received science fiction of Nurse Nurse: "Trouble tuff girl Bon-Bon and rich girl runaway Margarine make a motorcycle escape from the mean streets of the city to the desolate roads of the desert, holding their own against the elements, biker gangs, and each other." The Operation Margarine book will be 104 pages and cut to roughly the same size as the Sparkplug collection. It will list at $9.95.

Of Skelly's work in Nurse Nurse, critic Rob Clough wrote in June 2012, "Skelly's use of gesture and body language drives each panel, with character poses that almost look cinematic in their dramatic nature. The overall effect is a breezy, lighthearted, relentlessly strange and amusing narrative that must be accepted by the reader on its own terms."

Katie Skelly is based in New York City. A contributor to the Thickness anthology co-edited by Ryan Sands and Michael DeForge, Skelly has self-published two mini-comics versions of installments of the Operation Margarine story, with more to come. The book will be reworked to some degree from its publication in mini-comics form.

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Go, Look: Ian McDuffie

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Fantagraphics Announces Massive, Multi-Volume S. Clay Wilson Publishing Project Starting In 2014

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By Tom Spurgeon

imageGreat news from the underground comix historian and writer Patrick Rosenkranz in time for Comic-Con 2013: he's apparently finished his massive work on the seminal underground artist S. Clay Wilson and there is a rough shape for how the book will be released by the publisher Fantagraphics. "I've been working on this Wilson biography retrospective for two years now and have finally completed it," Rosenkranz wrote to CR. "There will be three volumes of approximately 300 pages each, and volume one is on Fantagraphics' summer 2014 production schedule."

Like many of the prolific underground cartoonists, Wilson did a massive amount of work for publications that survive only in ways that the artists themselves, historians like Rosenkranz and perhaps some art collectors can pull from the clutches of oblivion. The publisher and the author submitted a few random samples which appear above and below.

"I thought I knew a lot about Wilson when I started this project but I didn't know the half of it," Rosenkranz told CR. "I interviewed his college mates, girlfriends, colleagues, drinking buddies, collectors, and publishers -- more than 60 people from all phases of his life. The biggest surprise was the sensitive 'hot house flower' hidden behind the bluster and bravado. This will be the definitive portrait of the boldest and baddest of the underground comic legends."

Wilson is a key figure in the underground comix generation specifically and in comics more generally for the matter-of-fact way in which he engaged severe content and this influence his work had on his peers. Wilson is also a highly pleasurable cartoonist to read, and terribly funny. He has in recent years, after a still-somewhat-mysterious physical health mishap, been in long-term recovery.

"S. Clay Wilson was one of the most original and provocative of the underground cartoonists, who may have been the most catalytic and liberating influence on other artists such as R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman, and Spain Rodriguez," Gary Groth told CR via a statement supplied to Comics Reporter by Fantagraphics. "His place in what may be the most influential movement in the history of comics is hugely important and these three volumes will be the most comprehensive collection of his work ever published."

I greatly look forward to these books.

*****

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*****
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Go, Look: Sophia Draws

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Jeff Smith Drops Hint During His CCI Spotlight Panel Of New Smith-Created Bone Work For Scholastic

The cartoonist Jeff Smith in the "state of Bone" portion of his spotlight panel at Comic-Con International on Thursday afternoon, suggested that he has been in talks with Scholastic about the possibility of new Bone material. He wouldn't say either during the panel or directly afterward what that meant except to note that a) it wouldn't be a sequel to the massive fantasy epic; b) it would be something on which he'd do all the work himself. Given how well that work has done for Scholastic and the general affection with which it's held, that could be a big story if it develops. I also thoroughly enjoy it when panels turn in that kind of compelling direction.
 
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Hic & Hoc To Publish Amy Jean Porter's Spider (Comma) Man

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By Tom Spurgeon

The emerging small-press publisher Hic and Hoc has announced their plans to publish Amy Jean Porter's Spider (Comma) Man, which they described in press copy provided CR as "a tale of arachnids and text messages." Porter is best known for work she's placed at McSweeney's: the collaboration with poet Matthea Harvey Of Lamb and a series of animal drawings bearing banner-names like "North American Mammals Speak the Truth and Often Flatter You Unnecessarily" and "Birds of North America Misquote Hip-Hop and Sometimes Pause for Reflection." Publisher Matt Moses told CR that Spider (Comma) Man is the artist's "first foray into long-form sequential art." The book is planned for a September release in a limited run of 200 copies. They will be co-printing with Guy Pettit of Flying object as well as Sean Knickerbocker and Alex Bullett of Good Pals.

No price has been determined.
 
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Go, Look: Sam Schultz

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Notes From The 2013 Comic-Con International In San Diego Floor

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By Tom Spurgeon

The following are notes and observations gathered on the floor of Comic-Con International 2013 in San Diego, California. For immediate reactions to what's going on from hundreds of people, I recommend an appropriate search or multiple such searches on Twitter. For mainstream comics and panel coverage in general -- this being a key event for publishing news announcements -- I recommend Comic Book Resources ComicsAlliance and The Beat.

*****

* so, Thursday.

* ran into Craig Yoe at the Marriott on my way to breakfast. He's very happy with his recent run of books, and he's a new daddy again, which I'm not sure I knew.

* had breakfast with the cartoonist Jeff Smith. Our one discussion that might have some resonance here was about the nature of going to conventions itself, the familiarity it breeds, the sense you never left. Smith admitted to a surge of affection for the San Diego Con as he flew into the city and saw the convention center from the plane, and called the city the "capital of comics" during the five days or so of the show. He's been almost every year since he started in comics. There is a bit of gravitas to the San Diego show that doesn't quite yet exist for the others, although you're starting to see similar sentiments from people for places like TCAF, Heroes, Emerald City, NYCC and SPX. I don't know if it's the size and scope of the overall event kind of transferring some energy into the comics side of things or what; I couldn't say. But it's definitely there. I think the big-tent aspect to it may play a role. There is something extremely useful to a show where you can walk over and see all sorts of people from various aspects of comics as opposed to solely people in your camp.

* Smith also noted an under-reported regular hassle of the show: the sheer number of people working various limited-space walkways makes getting from one place to another a kind of hassle. Having the movie and games stuff in non-convention center locations only seems to increase the expand the area where you're likely to be blocked by people watching things. Those choke points are the only infrastructure let-down of the facility, it seems increasingly clear.

* a security person tried to tell me that everyone had to always enter the same door where they registered for the entirety of the show, but her supervisor was nice enough to walk over and correct the person working under her. Hey, it happens. Someone mentioned something I think may be true: the Boston Marathon bombing has to be a scary reference point for anyone throwing an event right now. I had people tell me they thought there were more security people because of that event, but I couldn't tell. The individual security staffers did seem more generally willing to engage with people around them, which I think is always a positive.

* the hall traffic was reportedly extremely heavy for folks on the eastern end of the convention center, and relatively modest from the first group of pure comics people all the way west to a new-ish gaming section. But solid all around, I thought.

* my favorite thing at the show so far, at least to gawk at: very pretty Farel Dalrymple Prophet original art. That stuff was super-attractive in a way that doesn't even come across in the final, printed version.

* programming started promptly 30 minutes after the show opened and wouldn't stop until well into the evening. I'm not a fan of the comics panels extending past 6 PM because I think that particular industry culture counts on some room to breathe at night if only for informal meetings and event attendance, but I'm in something of a cranky minority on this.

* ran into Don Rosa, who was buying comics. Don Rosa buying comics at comics conventions, specifically comic-con, is one of the great things in comics. I love that he came out of and remains a part of comics fandom in that way. Rosa talked about trying to find complete sets of a lot of comics, and that as he's an older man now he prefers sets that are made up of comics in fine condition or better. It was an amazing list, and in a small enough font that he can't be experiencing a down period in terms of his eyesight right now.

* went to the 25 Years Of The Eisners panel, and it was very old school: folks talking and sharing stores; then more people from the audience sharing stories. I enjoyed it, and the audience did as well, although in my case I'm a huge mark for panels about very focused elements of fan culture, of which a long-running awards show is one. Denis Kitchen reminded everyone to dress up if they could stand it, and he always has at that awards program, so he's more than allowed.

* I was once again reminded how amazingly Scottie Pippen-/Howard Schnellenberger-like Joe Ferrara's voice is.

* sat in on Mark Waid interviewing Chris Samnee at his spotlight panel. I've seen Waid do the moderation thing a few times: he's very good at it. Did not know that Samnee was not even of driving age when he started to get his first professional work. He doesn't seem too much older than that now. It's nice when an artist and a writer in that world of comics get along as well as Waid and Samnee seem too. He's one of the more interesting artists in mainstream comics; I think I own most of the work he's done there, and look forward to more. It's also nice when there are slight adjustments for allowable styles to let an artist who is not 100 percent settled into the commercial tradition of the moment to get work, although that seems like so little to ask it might make me more mad than grateful.

* I told the librarian and Columbia University comics point-person Karen Green that I thought there were fewer costumes this year, and she agreed with me. It could be that we're just not seeing them, but the last two of these shows I attended it felt like every third person was in some sort of get up and here it seemed like 1/15th of the folks. Like it was noticeable when someone was wearing a costume, and that had stopped being the case the last few years here. I'm not seeing any trends with the costumes themselves, except maybe for a few more young men in Doctor Who outfits than ever before.

* caught a bit of Gene Deitch's animation panel. Deitch is very lively and funny and it's hard to believe he's the age he is. The practicalities of the various animation projects he's done and how low budgets and quick turnarounds have driven some of the most fruitful creative choices.

* ran into Miriam Libicki and her family set up in the small press area. She has a ton of t-shirts, and I don't think I've ever noticed her having a bunch of t-shirts before. She is one of my favorite comics exhibitors.

* it may be that I'm a bit chunky this year -- and people have been nice about that -- but this seemed like the healthiest overall crowd I've ever seen at Comic-Con, in the sense that the folks themselves seemed fitter and more frequently outright in shape than in past years. That's a relative term when you're talking Comic-Con folks vs. the rest of the world, but still. I've seen maybe two or three folks that just looked like physical wrecks, and I'm used to seeing about two dozen such folks by this time during the show. In the mid-1990s I would have seen more Klingons in bad shape than I have people entirely this time out.

* Tucker Stone is here, I guess subbing in a physical-presence way for a very pregnant Jennifer De Guzman at Image Comics. As much as his writing can be scabrous -- I almost enjoy reading them or listening to them on the various podcasts he's done -- Stone is really good on his feet on shows like that, and works hard to fulfill folks' needs when he's working a comics show or at the Bergen Street Comics store in which he's invested. We talked a bit about having higher expectations for non-comics makers working in the comics industry moving forward, that those of us in the other industry roles could be better at what we do as a general rule.

* two books I enjoyed seeing in the alt-comics realm were the Brian Ralph Reggie-12 collection at D+Q and the Willard Mullin baseball book at Fantagraphics. I hope the Mullin doesn't slip under the radar; that's a cartoonist where it's just nice to have a bunch of his work under one cover.

* saw a few more panels. Todd Klein noted that Dave McKean's panel let us all in on the secret of how much work -- even comics and related work -- that Dave McKean does, even though we might tend to think of him as a not particularly prolific artist. I loved a bunch of tableaux he showed from a restaurant for which he's done some artwork.

* Tom Gauld is awfully good on his feet, working his way through various samples of his work and the influences for and methods behind Goliath. It's always great to see cartoonists read their work like that; it's not the primary way I'd choose to experience someone's material, but there's usually an insight or two, even if it's just in the way they move from panel to panel, the speed and rhythms involved. Gauld read the initial sequence between the giant and his shieldbearer.

* at the Tom Gauld panel there was a father and daughter (I checked) two rows in front of me with two generations of comics t-shirt and I really liked that. It did seem like parent with 'tween/teen, both male and female, was enough of a attendance pairing that it was one of the standard units you'd see at panels and on the floor.

* Jeff Smith says RASL "rassle" like Dusty Rhodes. Okay, maybe not like Dusty Rhodes. But it's not a z-style s sound, is what I'm saying.

* watching Smith back in 1997 or 1998 do his panels was a revelation in terms of how good he was on his feet and how much the fans liked him, how generally professional the presentation was. Now it's much more standard to have people present in the manner Smith does, but it's still fun to watch him work. There was a lot of affection for Smith from the various crowd-members. He was slightly delayed in doing some Make-A-Wish related work right before the panel, and people applauded Smith getting his mic turned on and his presentation set up.

* there was a bit of noteworthy, by-surprise news at the panel, which I'm going to pull out into its own post, but I liked that he just slipped something in there like that.

* Smith later laughed that an involved scene he chose to read from RASL might not have been the best choice on his part. I thought it was a good scene, and the bounce and pacing that Smith intends with that comic is something to experience.

* Smith noted that both halves (RASL; Battling Boy) of a one-time anthology he and Paul Pope were going to do together will arrive in collected form in September under separate covers having enjoyed a much different path to publication than originally planned. Smith praised Pope and a bunch of other cartoonists he reads right now, a list that included Jim Rugg and Kate Beaton.

* one thing I didn't know: Smith based the face of the lead in RASL on Kamandi. Because, you know, Kamandi.

* Smith should have a buy fall between the September releases of RASL and a Bone-related Artists Edition from IDW, followed by the launch of his webcomic in November. Smith is I think a little bit uncertain as to his specific on-line release strategy with the webcomic, but he's settling into a rough plan at this point.

* ran into Justin Norman, who laughed a lot when he kept mentioning a project he thought was something only he knew about only to have people say over and over "Oh, I knew about that." I think he's one of the most reliable artists in mainstream comics right now. He told me that Kim Thompson's passing was an additional shame in that no one else would likely ever give us more Gil Jordan in translated form.

* actually, a lot of folks kept telling Kim Thompson stories yesterday; it was a good day that way.

* it was good to see David Brothers working in the Image booth. He seems very much at home there.

* loved seeing the grab-bags and pogs (!) that New England Comics is apparently selling wherever they are. Tempted to buy one myself.

* the Rebellion folks said their Preview Night was crazy. I bought several volumes of 2000AD material for a friend that would rather not pay to have it shipped from Amazon UK.

* talked to Scott for a few minutes on a range of subjects from Habibi to Joshua Quagmire to his own forthcoming work. He says he's recently moved past page 400 in the forthcoming First Second work, which is pretty incredible. We talked about one thing that's kept coming up a lot this weekend: establishing a firmer beachhead for comics fiction for adults in the book market. Both of McCloud's girls are in college now, which is amazing to me, and both are in attendance at the show.

* Steven Seagle's shirt... not the quietest shirt.

* saw Ellen Forney, whom I always enjoy. She showed me a queer anthology in which she and some other artists I know took a part, noting that she liked its orientation towards bisexuals because apparently that is an expression of human sexuality perhaps under-served by the bulk of the work in that realm of comics. She seemed to be enjoying herself. It's been interesting to see folks that aren't at the show every year to get impressions from a slight remove.

* I was grateful for the dozen or so folks not there for the next hour's videogame panel who made it to the bloggers presentation I moderated during the dinner hour 7-8 PM. I thought the discussion, which ranged from various blogging issues (whether or not a failure to pay your bloggers makes you a weaker witness to comics' exploitative practices) to comics issues (the potential for entire generations lost to financial life-damage moving into their old age). I was impressed with Alexa Dickman, a person on stage with us for her Ladies Making Comics that I hadn't met before that panel.

* I saw an angry con-goer take out their frustrations on a piece of signage. So did some security folk, who are nice about setting the piece back up. It would have been nice to see that person confronted and thrown out, but that didn't happen.

* had a nice dinner with a bunch of folks, including Gilbert Hernandez (with his family), Lisa Hanawalt and Noel Murray. The brutal financial outlook for most avenues of comics-making and the difficulties in having a real dialogue about those things was an item of discussion, along with some flat gossip ranging over a couple of decades.

* with a big chunk of my evening already gone I missed the Scholastic cocktail party, which I heard was a huge success. I did make it to the CBLDF cocktail party. Saw Zander Cannon there, whom I like very much. Met a digital comics distributor I apparently misunderstood in an on-line exchange a while back. Saw Joseph Remnant, Steve Geppi, Jaime Hernandez, I think maybe Pia Guerra for a half-minute, Charles Brownstein, Kiel Phegley, Joseph Hughes, Ed Brubaker, Glenn Hauman, Sonia Harris, Peter Birkemoe, Rob Salkowitz and a bunch of other folks. It was fun talking about the early 'zine days with Gary Groth; it's amazing how all of those guys knew each other from such an early age when their only connection came via the post office.

* got a report on this year's HeroesCon from Shelton Drumm and his wife Linda: moving to the fuller-sized space was the big story this year, and he's grateful to have room to grow the show a bit moving forward. It was nice to introduce Drumm to a few folks who enthusiastically conveyed either how much they enjoy that show, or how much they want to attend.

* ran into the very busy Chris Butcher on the street about 1:50 AM. He seemed... well, somewhat less busy than he might have been had I seen him earlier in the day. He had fulfilled about a half-dozen social obligations. Thursday night is like that for comics folks in that it's the night most of the smaller cocktail parties take place.

* read the latest Optic Nerve to put myself to sleep. Comics are the best.

*****

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Go, Look: Jen Tong

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

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

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Go, Look: Danielle Chenette

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Milton Griepp (I'm guessing) talks to Jack Katz. Fiona Duncan talks to Lisa Hanawalt. Alex Dueben talks to C. Spike Trotman.

* I went to this page expecting by the title to read a parody comic, so I started reading and I was laughing and then I realized that without knowing it I was reading the comic being parodied rather than the parody.

* Andrew Mansell on Star Wars: Purge. Rob Kirby on The Understanding Monster Vol. 1. John Kane on a bunch of comics. Rob Clough on a bunch of comics. Jog on the late-period comics of Steve Ditko. Sean Gaffney on Oresama Teacher Vol. 14. Sean Kleefeld on Frank And His Friend Collectors Edition Vol. 1. Johanna Draper Carlson on Zits: Chillax, Beginning Pearls and Ghostbusters Vol. 5. Richard Bruton on The Silver Darlings. Sarah Horrocs on So Long, Silver Screen.

* not comics: this guy looks like he's having fun.

* pretty much every Hulk comic as I remember it.

* Warren Craghead drew his family.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco writes about Mark Millar's use -- noting that its Mark Millar's characters' use -- of the word "retard." He also writes about DC's crossover "Trinity War" for ComicsAlliance and made me laugh with his line about the hats.

* jumpstart that comics career. In 2009.

* when I was a child, I loved features like this one. The relative complexity of all the different characters and false starts was enough to engage the clever parts of my brain, but it was about people in costumes beating other people up so there wasn't a lot of unpleasant subtext to bum me out or confuse me in my undeveloped social state.

* not comics: I am totally stealing JR Williams' backpack. My backpack has a $200 computer, an E-Man comic, three socks and a bunch of Hostess apple pie wrappers.

* finally, it's not what it used to be, but I like that there's still love for the various X-Men teams, even and perhaps especially modern permutations of same. I'm not really a fan of anything in that way, but I always thought the most appealing part of fandom is when it pushes people to make their own art response. That can quickly get weird, but I like the idea of it.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Jamal Igle!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Bob Burden!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Rupert Bottenberg!

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Happy 51st Birthday, John Kovaleski!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Richard Pini!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Luke McDonnell!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Terry LaBan!

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July 18, 2013


Massive Toronto Real Estate Deal Has Iconic Comics Shop The Beguiling Location On "Chopping Block"

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By Tom Spurgeon

An interesting story broke here about the implications of a significant downtown Toronto business real estate deal on one of the great North American comics retailers of the last quarter-century, The Beguiling.

I spoke to Beguiling owner Peter Birkemoe -- on-hand at Comic-Con International to run the astounding original art sales that the shop does in San Diego -- about the implications for his much-loved store. What he told me is that he was resigned to the store having to move to a new place, and had long been aware that most successful retail establishments to have the kind of beneficial relationship with their landlord/property owner that the Beguiling has long enjoyed with their own. While he told me he had little choice but to look on the opportunity as a positive, Birkemoe noted that the store enjoyed a lot of advantages. There would be a bit of time to see to the store finding a new physical retail foothold and this wasn't a chains-on-the-doors situation. They were successful enough that a move won't wipe them out. He has a team of accomplished, mature employees in place that he likes very much and trusts. There is a great deal of local goodwill from customers of the store and from Toronto generally that should ease any transitional issues just in terms of making sure that business stays steady. Birkemoe also articulated a sense of relief that he had taken a pass on any moves of recent vintage that might now complicate the staggering inventory-move requirements of relocating the store.

One thing on which Birkemoe commented that intrigued me is the fact that the Beguiling spin-off shop Little Island Comics becoming its own store was due in part to the space limitations that the current location has. A move to a new location for the parent store might include replicating for the home store some of the things that have worked about that move into kids-focused retail, or could even bring that material -- or that entire retail entity -- back into the main store in some fashion. It's still early. In addition to the pain of any forthcoming move, Birkemoe reiterated how well the store has been served in its current location by being in a cool neighborhood, and by being accessible by a number of personal transportation options. Any new location has to hold out the hope for some of the same.

So while it looks like there's a ton of work to do, it doesn't seem that one of the half-dozen mightiest shops on the entire continent is in any significant danger. Let's hope for the best move possible. If Birkemoe needs folks to hand-walk inventory to a new location, I'd consider making the trip just to pitch in.

A more formal statement should arrive on the Beguiling web site soon.
 
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Major Eleanor Davis Short-Story Collection Announced

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By Tom Spurgeon

imageFantagraphics Books is set to announce its intention to publish a short-story collection by the rising art-comics star and illustrator Eleanor Davis. Davis was featured prominently in the Fantagraphics anthology MOME, and is a widely-published commercial illustrator. She has also made comics for Little House Comics, the mini-comics and small publishing imprint she co-owns with husband Drew Weing. Her web presence can be accessed in various places such as here and here.

Although specifications of the book have yet to be decided, it's likely that Davis' comics for MOME will be prominently featured. Davis had comics in volumes 7, 8, 9, 11 and 22 of that publication.

"[Davis is] an artist who demands that readers see conflicts from varying points of view and especially from the point of view of children," the critic Robert Clough wrote to CR in a short note. "Many of her short stories have been about children seeking authenticity in the face of corrupt or uncertain authority. Davis is also fascinated by the dark roots of myth, working in a fantasy setting to get at the fears and uncertainty such stories originally served to examine and stir up. I'd describe her art style as earthy, with no idealized figures and the use of a frequently smudged line. Even in a mass-market book like The Secret Science Alliance, her characters have a wonderful griminess that spotlights her deep understanding of how to depict children in a way that looks and feels authentic."

Contacted by CR Davis gave a bit of the book's background and noted that there will be some new work in there as well. "About 4 years ago I decided to stop trying to do personal work -- 'my art' -- for money," she said. "Like every other cartoonist ever I vaguely thought I should do a graphic novel, but instead since then I've been mostly dicking around in sketchbooks and posting stuff online. After a while I realized that sort of ephemeral, small, fluid voice is basically all I need -- I suspect I'll never do a graphic novel, I'll never have a cohesive style or a thesis or any major theme to my stuff. That's when I decided to write Gary asking if Fantagraphics would be interested in putting out a collection of my work. It'll have my older Mome shorts and a lot of my newer weird sketchy stuff, most of which you can read online. I'm working on new-new stuff for it, but I'm not sure how much I'll have.

"I feel a huge gratefulness and relief that all that scrappy work will be collected into some sort of whole. It seems strange to me that other people will be reading it as a whole, but I'm thankful for it. The strange, tenuous, co-dependant relationship between creator and reader is odd. I am glad every time I feel a connection to an artist I like, or to a reader who likes my art. It's a strange, dried-out, distant connection, a crackling lonesome connection like a voice heard from the other end of a shitty phone line or inside a deep, deep well. But it's still a connection; it's real."

The book is due in 2014. Gary Groth will edit.

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Go, Look: Peter Bergting

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Retrofit Comics Releases Full Fall 2013 Schedule: Roman Muradov, Ze Jian-Shen, Sophia Foster-Dimino

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Retrofit Comics, the small-press publishing line that recalls the glory-days of comic-book format alt-comics publishing with similarly-formatted works from younger creators, has announced its Fall 2013 schedule. In September the illustrator Roman Muradov makes what I believe will be his substantial, under-one's-own-cover comics-making debut with a 56-page work called Picnic Ruined. If not, it's still welcome. That book will debut at that month's Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland. Muradov is an intriguing young comics-maker and I very much look forward to that title. The description offered by series organizer Box Brown calls Muradov's comic, "a drunken night of ruminations on obscure writers, prepuces, car numbers, pornography, streetlights, indigestion and other issues in wispy washes and dreamy inksmears."

October will see the debut of Keep Fresh by Ze Jian Shen, described as "about a girl at a take out store who gets a mysterious package from a motorcycle man." That one will be in Chinese with English translations, which is a trick one sees in some European comics but not many originating with a North American publisher. In November, Alhambra by Sophia Foster-Dimino drops. That's a horror story "about a young girl influenced by Junji Ito, Kazuo Umezu, & similar folks."
 
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Go, Look: Zach Mason

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Titles, Details Released On Fantagraphics Partnership With Tony Millionaire On Sock Monkey Material

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By Tom Spurgeon

imageFantagraphics has released publishing details for and for the first time -- I believe -- officially acknowledges that it is the new home for the comics material created by Tony Millionaire with the Sock Monkey character.

The publishers has planned a 344-page volume called The Sock Monkey Treasury: A Tony Millionaire's Sock Monkey Collection. Eighty pages of that work will be in four-color. This collection includes the eight comic-book issues published under the "Sock Monkey" name by Dark Horse, the "Inches Incident" mini-series, the Uncle Gabby graphic novel and the Glass Doorknob storybook. That will come out in late in 2013.

Spring 2014 should see the publication of a new storybook, called Sock Monkey In The Deep, Deep Woods.

"Tony Millionaire's Sock Monkey is one of the great characters in comics," Fantagraphics Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds told CR. "I've been reading these books to my daughter since she was three. She has an antique Sock Monkey given to her by Uncle Tony himself. So it is not without a large dose of personal pride that we have acquired these books."

The Seattle-based alternative comics and collections publisher has enjoyed a lengthy relationship with Millionaire, publishing books gathering his Maakies alt-weekly strip, the Billy Hazelnuts all-ages work and a book of his drawn portraits.

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Go, Look: Rob Funderburk

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Assembled Extra: Digital Publisher Monkeybrain Comics Celebrates One-Year With CCI Content Drop

imageThe digital comics publisher Monkeybrain Comics celebrated its one-year anniversary (actually, one year and 16 days) with a major roll-out of new comics titles on their site, including series by veteran creative teams such as Phil Hester/Tyler Walpole and Anina Bennett/Paul Guinan. The series in question are:

* Avery Fatbottom Renaissance Fair Detective #1, by Jen Vaughn, $.99
* Captain Ultimate #1, by Benjamin Baily, Joey Esposito, and Boykoesh, $.99
* Detectobot #0, by Peter Timony and Bobby Timony, FREE
* Dropout #1, by Phil Hester and Tyler Walpole, $.99
* Heartbreakers #1, by Anina Bennett and Paul Guinan, $.99

"Working with Monkeybrain -- working with Chris and Allison -- is a dream come true," cartoonist Jen Vaughn told CR. "They are honest, impeccable and encouraging. What more you ask for?"

Monkeybrain was founded by Chris Roberson and Allison Baker. They have a pretty full weekend at Comic-Con planned between this offer, their usual away-from-con salon-style meet-and-greet hosting, at least one panel about the company, and a presence at the Eisner Awards for their series Bandette.

this article did not roll out until 9 AM ET; it was then back-timed into this slot to facilitate the desired arrangement of today's articles
 
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Go, Look: Dumb

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Notes From The 2013 Comic-Con International In San Diego Floor

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By Tom Spurgeon

The following are notes and observations gathered on the floor of Comic-Con International 2013 in San Diego, California. For immediate reactions to what's going on from hundreds of people, I recommend an appropriate search or multiple such searches on Twitter. For mainstream comics and panel coverage in general -- this being a key event for publishing news announcements -- I recommend Comic Book Resources ComicsAlliance and The Beat.

*****

* first thing: a note riffing from an aide in yesterday's preview piece. There apparently won't be a Kazuo Koike panel at the show this year, and I'm told that can be the case for a lot of late-additions, particularly those that are sponsored relatively last-minute by publishers. I do know some people that have interviews, and I'm very jealous. I missed that opportunity.

* so: San Diego.

* I don't know that I have a whole lot of hardcore travel notes this time out. I'm going for the entire show this year. so that meant an early morning dash to the Tucson airport. There were two young ladies who took both flights with me that chatted excitedly of anime. On the LA to San Diego leg it was almost entirely adults and almost entirely folks who were con bound. The flight attendant was amused. There is something very cool about a show so big that you can start to encounter it in an airport parking lot shuttle 2000 miles away.

* there's one thing I always mention in the SD guide I wanted to underline because it's been a while. If you're coming in on a small plane and use the small-plane terminal at the San Diego airport, get out to the cab stand as soon as you can -- there are not a lot of cabs going to that terminal, so it can take a while. I was first, was there 11 minutes, and there were about nine groups behind me. Yikes. It's also a good place to combine rides, but no one was going my way.

* there is also about a five to seven dollar difference if you go deep into downtown, to the hotels near the convention center, as opposed to staying up around Broadway. So if you're a walker, or you need to buy something at Ralph's, you might consider an early dump-off. That's not a lot of money to save, though, now that I think of it. Still, if a move to over $20 spent is something you want to avoid, that's one way to avoid it.

* the San Diego downtown was relatively sleepy for the Wednesday before, I thought. I would not have guessed this a show day. There was a lot of last minute-construction on the outside displays in the various parking lots; those exhibits go up very quickly, as do a lot of hotel decorations. (The Hilton Bayfront was not decorated in this fashion, a sign of either the relative entertainment economy or the "cursed" nature of that particularly ad venue.) There were a lot of folks walking around generally. I saw two different carloads of con-goers finding parking in the street 2-3 blocks away from the show, which I hadn't seen in a dozen years. I don't know if you can even park there but I know that by 9 AM Thursday, there will be no such parting available.

* hadn't been down to Seaport Village (west of the Marriott and Hyatt) in years, but went to do some targeted shopping for a relative. It's a cute little shopping center, the kind of place my Mom would visit, and that walk down from the Marriott along the water is kind of pretty. Lot of joggers, I bet, early in the morning. There were a lot of non-con people down there, at least as far as I could tell, mulling around during lunchtime.

* the popular breakfast mainstay Buster's Beach House was packed. Everywhere else I saw looked pretty wide open for Wednesday lunch.

* the Hilton Gaslamp doesn't have refrigerators in their room, at least none that I can find. That's interesting. My room is much bigger than the room I had last time I was here, too. The nice lady at the front desk told me that it's a good weekend for them, and the biggest complaint is from people that thought they had a certain kind of bed arrangement reserved but did not.

* another line of con advice to stress: you really want to be up on the top floors if you plan on being in a hotel anywhere near the trolley line. Those bells are very loud. They don't go at all hours, but they certainly go at some sleeping hours.

* it seems like every downtown business is con-outreach oriented now. That was not the case even five years ago.

* my first sighting of a comics person I recognized: Terry Nantier. I don't know that there's anyone in comics I've seen more frequently over the last two decades at these things about whom I know less. I always enjoying seeing Nantier, though, an I've been enjoying a lot of NBM's kids' books recently, the translated material.

* the neighborhood grocery store Ralph's is loaded for bear: ton of discounts, extra deli food, outside vendors along the west side of the store. I think they have competition downtown now, which would make some outreach understandable.

* the Fantagraphics set-up trio of Jen Vaughn, Jacq Cohen and Kristy Valenti wasted no time in blowing me off for lunch. Thanks, ladies.

* the press registration line was really long, but I got through it in about 40 minutes. I just texted the whole time, mostly to press people not in the line yet about how doomed they were if they didn't get down there immediately. I also saw Charles Hatfield and met his kid. That was nice. The con volunteers and registration people work really quickly inside and this kind of amorphous shape they have in terms of the final set of tables that prints out the badges really keeps the line jams to a minimum. I'm not sure how that it is, but I think the shape of it may keep a linear jam by encouraging people to kind of settling across an array of tables. Once I was inside it was literally like 25 seconds to get my badge.

* but yeah, a lot of press people. I'm of two minds about the number of press people. I love the con's commitment to non-traditional media, but I never get the sense that the coverage out there really reflects this enormous number of people supposedly working the show.

* I saw some folks linking to this essay by Mike Gold about Comic-Con. I guess that piece unpacks a certain mindset people have about the show. I don't know. I went to those Chicago shows back in the day; I really liked them. I think the comics part of this show kicks the crap out of those shows in terms of scale, breadth and depth. It also always seems weird to me when articles like that appear on sites that seem to routinely cover a lot of that stuff.

* so: Preview Night.

* I have to admit that I'm one of those that doesn't all the way get Preview Night. I think it's popular, I think it has its uses, and I think if they didn't have it there would be a hole in the week. I also get opening a show at night rather than at 10 AM. That said, I suspect -- suspect -- that it's one of those things, if not the major thing, that kind of wears people down over an already-long weekend. They're stuck with it now, of course.

* it was nice enough: there wasn't a ton of heat in the small-press, indy and alternative sections where I spent the bulk of my time, but there was a reasonably solid flow of people. I spoke to Jeffrey Brown, who seems to be enjoying the success of those Star Wars books he's been doing. He told me that while he doesn't know if any of his books will ever be as appropriate to the moment as Clumsy was, the new book is awfully good and he's proud of it.

* Jackie Estrada has a line-up of presenters and a way of doing the Eisners in structural terms (no proper host except for a voice speaking over the proceedings; video-only memorial section) with which she seems really, really happy. Here's an Eisners note that may interest only me. The three biggest North American comic book publishers are apparently holding parties at the same time as the awards, which has never happened before that I can remember.' I would imagine Friday has become a popular day for such parties because Saturday may fall to entities with more money to spend on such things...? There's also that Friday you don't have people bailing on the weekend quite yet the way you might Saturday. Anyway, I thought that worth noting.

* First Second's Mark Siegel and I talked about the forthcoming softcover for his Sailor Twain and the limitations that adult-themed comics fiction seem to enjoy in the book market. Kids fiction and adult non-fiction has a firmer hold, that seems like a reasonable argument for sure.

* saw Bob Harvey and Steven Grant at a distance. Grant was talking to Steve Leialoha. I'm happy for Grant that something he wrote will be a late-summer movie with something of a high profile -- the Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg vehicle Two Guns -- and hope it provided a payday and leads to more work. He's been a comics lifer.

* a bunch of different talked to me about what a loss not having an anchor retailer for that whole section of the floor in the way that Comic Relief and the larger Bud Plant presence used to play that role. There are very few places to send someone to find a book if the publisher isn't somehow on hand. I saw two different publishers unable to direct a customer to a place to buy a book by one of their cartoonists published by a company not at the show, which has to be frustrating. I can't even imagine the commitment necessary in terms of skill-set and flat-out cash to have that kind of retail presence, so maybe this is like hoping the skies would rain $20 bills for a couple of hours every morning.

* unlike last year, when there table seemed loaded with brand-new books, there is not a lot of new Fantagraphics material on hand. I wonder if that will make a difference in sales. I directed the writer Andy Burns -- who recently sold a pop-culture related property book so congratulations to him -- to the paperback Los Bros Hernandez. I hadn't seen the Gene Deitch, the Love & Rockets covers book or the Willard Mullin baseball book. The Fantagraphics staffers described the office mood as upbeat but admit that the summer has been a bit wearying with the passing of Kim Thompson and all that means for that company. The next big project up may be the just-sent-to-press color Sunday Peanuts volume, which I think should do very well for them.

* met Carol Burrell, who is now seven months into her comics-related gig at Abrams (she came over from Lerner, I believe). She seemed very nice, very settled into the new job.

* ran into Calvin Reid, who kindly stood in place and accepted peer-to-peer grief from me about particulars of his recent comics coverage. I always enjoy laughing with that guy, who is one of the fitness-forward folks of the last few years. He was one of a few to traverse to the far end of the hall where the pop-culture type stuff was, or he at least knew and feared that realm's existence.

* first secret-book-of-show mention: there's apparently something just out featuring work by Heinrich Kley at the Stuart Ng booth that two different people mentioned to me as something they hadn't seen before but enjoyed.

* a lot of folks on the show floor were still talking about Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story book, particularly when there was room to stretch the conversations out a bit.

* there seemed a general feeling about optimism in terms of using the relative stability of comics right now -- even if by stable what that means is simply certain folks settling into specific areas of struggle -- to find some long-term solutions for some longstanding structural issues facing the industry. People seem ready to work, which is nice.

* love the 2000AD-loaded Rebellion booth. What a great booth.

* briefly commiserated about my Indiana hometown with former one-time graduate student/local professor Steven T. Seagle.

* don't remember meeting Dirk Wood or Duncan Rouleau before yesterday evening. Or Shelly Bond. That also may be the longest I've spent in the convention center without accidentally running into Gus Norman.

* ate a nice dinner and went out for hotel bar conversation for an hour or so before bed. Talked movies and prose fiction with Gary Groth, who had dinner with Gene Deitch. Gene Deitch! Ran into the CBLDF's Alex Cox, who is scheduled to become a father right around New York Comic-Con. He said that he ran into a physically-rejuvenated-by-hip-surgery Sergio Aragones.

* ran into Denis Kitchen walking up the street right before heading back to the room; he was walking back to the Marriott with his daughter and seems genuinely excited to have an imprint at Dark Horse in a way that frees him up for the editorial direction and book-making that he enjoys.

* I talked to an inordinate number of people fussing with their permanent collections in terms of how many comics to keep, which ones, in what form and where to put them in terms of where they live. This makes sense with the enormous run of books available to everyone right now. The way that people are politically guarded now, and very conscious of how they appear, also came up a few times in different places.

* it was nice to see the writer Paul Tobin, on hand in support of Bandette's multiple Eisner nominations. It's nice to see people take that stuff reasonably seriously. I know how silly industry awards can be, and awards for art generally, but really the only value stuff like that has is the value that folks bring to it.

* I always enjoy seeing Kiel Phegley from CBR and think he does a good job generally. It was funny to see him recall to Gary Groth having interviewed him once upon a time for an article about Robert Crumb that appeared in Wizard.

* walked past the folks sleeping outside. I'm sort of deeply fascinated by that impulse -- it seems a strange mix of early twenty-somethings of the kind you'd expect to be there and folks into maybe even their fifties that you'd never think would do that kind of thing. I'm not even sure there's a specific thing that people are anticipating from the "show biz" side of the con, or if this was just sort of baseline attendance. God bless people and their enthusiasms.

* this Comic-Con seems like a nice show so far, with a very positive but not excessively wild mood. There's nothing content-wise that's driving anyone's excitement, but there seems a general acknowledgment that there are positive things in the field right now and some elements of deep potential in terms of working in this industry right at this moment. Or maybe everyone is simply settled into effective coping mechanism. Who knows?

*****

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Go, Look: Dailen Williams

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posted 1:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Andrés Vera Martinez

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posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Tyrell Cannon

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I nearly missed this: Shel Dorf nominations are open.

image* Sean Rogers profiles Michael DeForge.

* the cartoonist Nate Powell is right I think in that I imagine the March book will do well generally and that premium offerings with that title will sell out quickly.

* I don't remember ever seeing these two photo-covers for Marvel adaptations of movie musicals.

* there's a Tim Sievert take on Prince Valiant here. I would totally love a resource that told me where to go look at various comics artists doing copyright-challenged comics. It's intriguing to me to see artists apply their styles to character with strongly established "home" styles because of the chance you might get to see the original work with new eyes. It's problematic in a way, because my interest seems to super-fizzle after that. It's like when Seth drew the X-Men for that one issue of Coober Skeber: I liked it, but I didn't have any desire to see more.

* Roger Langridge is posting a convention's worth of sketches: here, here, here, here, here, here and here. There are probably even more posts up on that site by now.

* not comics: here are some Zak Sally illustrations for sale.

* finally, Richard Sala and a pair of classics.
 
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Happy 33rd Birthday, Wes Molebash!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
July 17, 2013


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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FEB130037 ADVENTURES OF DR MCNINJA OMNIBUS TP $24.99
MAY130024 BLOOD BROTHERS #1 $3.99
MAY130039 BPRD HELL ON EARTH #109 WASTELAND #3 $3.50
MAR130047 BPRD HELL ON EARTH TP VOL 05 PICKENS COUNTY HORROR $19.99
MAR130025 CONAN HC VOL 14 THE DEATH $24.99
MAY130066 CONAN THE BARBARIAN #18 $3.50
MAY130017 DREAM THIEF #3 $3.99
MAR130091 GATE 7 TP VOL 04 $10.99
MAR130021 LEGEND KORRA ART ANIMATED SERIES BOOK ONE AIR HC $34.99
MAY130058 STAR WARS DARK TIMES SPARK REMAINS #1 $3.50
MAY130064 STAR WARS DARTH VADER & NINTH ASSASSIN #4 $3.50
MAY130029 STRAIN THE FALL #1 $3.99
FEB130020 TO HELL YOU RIDE #5 $3.99

DC COMICS

MAY130263 100 BULLETS BROTHER LONO #2 (MR) $2.99
MAY130190 ANIMAL MAN #22 $2.99
MAY130204 BATMAN 66 #1 $3.99
MAY130162 BATMAN AND CATWOMAN #22 $2.99
MAY130208 BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED #18 $3.99
MAR130269 BATMAN THE DARK KNIGHT HC CYCLE OF VIOLENCE (N52) $22.99
APR130221 BATMAN THE DARK KNIGHT TP VOL 01 KNIGHT TERRORS (N52) $16.99
MAY130171 BATWOMAN #22 $2.99
MAY130170 BIRDS OF PREY #22 $2.99
APR130261 BLACK ORCHID TP (MR) $16.99
MAY130255 FABLES #131 (MR) $2.99
MAY130182 GREEN LANTERN NEW GUARDIANS #22 $2.99
MAY130243 HE MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE #4 $2.99
MAY130103 JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #6 (TRINITY) $3.99
MAY130106 JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #6 COMBO PACK (TRINITY) $4.99
MAY130121 JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICAS VIBE #6 $2.99
MAY130198 LEGION OF SUPER HEROES #22 $2.99
MAY130146 SUPERGIRL #22 $2.99
APR130230 SUPERMAN PHANTOM ZONE TP $14.99
MAR130280 TALES OF BATMAN ARCHIE GOODWIN HC (RES) $39.99
MAY130118 WONDER WOMAN #22 $2.99

DC COMICS/DC COLLECTIBLES

APR130286 BATMAN BLACK & WHITE STATUE BY RAFAEL GRAMPA $79.95

IDW PUBLISHING

MAY138225 X-FILES SEASON 10 #2 [DIG/P+] $3.99
MAY130375 COLONIZED #4 [DIG/P+] $3.99
MAY130307 DINOSAURS ATTACK #1 [DIG/P+] $3.99
MAR130395 DOCTOR WHO CLASSICS #3 $3.99
MAY130344 GI JOE A REAL AMERICAN HERO TP VOL 07 $19.99
MAY130337 GI JOE SPECIAL MISSIONS #5 [DIG/P+] $3.99
MAY130369 HALF PAST DANGER #3 [DIG/P+] $3.99
MAR130343 JUDGE DREDD CAM KENNEDY COLLECTION HC VOL 01 $49.99
MAY130367 MARS ATTACKS TP VOL 02 ON ICE $19.99
MAY130289 ROCKETEER HOLLYWOOD HORROR HC $21.99
MAY130288 ROCKETEER HOLLYWOOD HORROR HC DM ED $21.99
JAN130459 STRANGE WORLD OF YOUR DREAMS COMICS MEET FREUD & DALI HC $29.99
MAY130301 TMNT ADVENTURES TP VOL 05 $19.99
MAY130299 TMNT VILLAIN MICROSERIES #4 ALOPEX $3.99
MAY130356 TRANSFORMERS MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE TP VOL 04 $19.99
MAY130353 TRANSFORMERS REGENERATION ONE #93 [DIG/P+] $3.99

IMAGE COMICS

MAY130541 APHRODITE IX #3 CVR A SEJIC [DIG] $2.99
MAY130542 APHRODITE IX #3 CVR B FINCH $2.99
MAY130543 APHRODITE IX #3 CVR C BASALDUA $2.99
MAR130558 ARTIFACTS #29 [DIG] $3.99
MAY130418 ELEPHANTMEN #50 CVR A QUITELY (MR) [DIG] $5.99
MAY130456 GLORY TP VOL 02 WAR TORN (MR) [DIG] $14.99
APR130541 INVINCIBLE #104 [DIG] $2.99
MAY130477 KAFKA HC [DIG] $29.99
NOV120571 NON HUMANS #4 [DIG] $2.99
MAR130586 PROPHET #37 [DIG] $3.99
MAY130430 REVIVAL #12 [DIG] $2.99
MAY130431 REVIVAL TP VOL 02 LIVE LIKE YOU MEAN IT [DIG] $14.99
APR130479 THINK TANK TP VOL 02 $14.99

MARVEL COMICS

MAY130659 A PLUS X #10 NOW $3.99
MAY130687 ALL NEW X-MEN #14 NOW $3.99
MAY130607 AVENGERS #16 INF $3.99
APR130726 AVENGERS ACADEMY TP FINAL EXAMS $19.99
MAY130614 AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #17 NOW $3.99
APR130725 AVENGERS ASSEMBLE BY BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS TP $29.99
MAY130696 CABLE AND X-FORCE #11 NOW $3.99
APR130727 CAPTAIN AMERICA BY ED BRUBAKER TP VOL 04 $19.99
MAY130681 DEADPOOL #13 NOW $2.99
APR130732 DEADPOOL BY DANIEL WAY COMPLETE COLL TP VOL 01 $34.99
MAY130665 FANTASTIC FOUR #10 NOW $2.99
APR130631 FF #9 NOW $2.99
MAY130652 IRON MAN #13 NOW $3.99
APR130728 MIGHTY THOR AND JIM TP EVERYTHING BURNS $19.99
FEB130617 MMW DOCTOR STRANGE HC VOL 06 $69.99
MAY130637 MORBIUS LIVING VAMPIRE #7 NOW $2.99
MAY130618 NOVA #6 NOW $3.99
MAY130704 POWERS BUREAU #6 (MR) $3.95
MAY130684 SAVAGE WOLVERINE #7 NOW $3.99
NOV110592 SCARLET #7 (MR) $3.95
MAY130635 SUPERIOR CARNAGE #1 NOW $3.99
MAY130604 THANOS RISING #4 INF $3.99
MAY130655 THOR GOD OF THUNDER #10 NOW $3.99
MAY130670 THUNDERBOLTS #13 NOW $2.99
APR130734 ULT COMICS SPIDER-MAN BY BENDIS PREM HC VOL 04 $24.99
MAY130622 ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #25 $3.99
MAY130694 UNCANNY X-FORCE #8 NOW $3.99
APR130724 UNCANNY X-FORCE TP VOL 07 FINAL EXECUTION BOOK 2 $19.99
MAY130596 WHAT IF AVX #2 $3.99
MAY130703 WOLVERINE MAX #9 (MR) $3.99
FEB130616 WOLVERINE MAX TP VOL 01 PERMANENT RAGE $17.99
MAY130697 X-FACTOR #259 $2.99

COMIC & GRAPHIC NOVELS

APR131309 07 GHOST GN VOL 05 $9.99
MAY130922 ACCELERATORS #2 $3.99
MAY130960 ADVENTURE TIME #18 MAIN CVRS $3.99
APR131164 ALEXANDRO JODOROWSKY SCREAMING PLANET HC NEW PTG (MR) $24.95
MAR131273 ALICE I/T COUNTRY CLOVER CHESHIRE CAT WALTZ GN VOL 05 (MR) $13.99
MAY131312 ARCHER & ARMSTRONG (VU) #11 REG PEREZ $3.99
MAY130812 B & V FRIENDS DOUBLE DIGEST #235 [DIG/P+] $3.99
APR131163 BEIRUT 1990 SNAPSHOTS OF A CIVIL WAR HC $29.95
MAY130968 BRAVEST WARRIORS #10 MAIN CVRS [DIG] $3.99
MAY131171 CARTOON INTRODUCTION TO STATISTICS HC $30.00
MAY131170 CARTOON INTRODUCTION TO STATISTICS TP $17.95
FEB130931 DAMSELS #8 $3.99
MAY131204 DANCE CLASS HC VOL 05 TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE $10.99
MAY130935 DAY MEN #1 [DIG] $3.99
APR130768 ELDRITCH TP VOL 01 $17.95
APR130870 EXTINCTION PARADE #1 LEATHER CVR (MR) $14.99
MAY138147 FARLAINE THE GOBLIN #1 $5.00
MAY130846 FATHOM ELITE SAGA #5 CVR A MARION [DIG] $3.99
MAY130847 FATHOM ELITE SAGA #5 CVR B CALDWELL $3.99
APR130834 FIVE COLOR COMICS #1 (MR) $8.95
MAY131317 FLOWERS OF EVIL GN VOL 06 (MR) $10.95
MAY131385 GFT GRIMM FAIRY TALES #87 A CVR LAISO $2.99
MAY131386 GFT GRIMM FAIRY TALES #87 B CVR QUALANO $2.99
MAY131387 GFT GRIMM FAIRY TALES #87 C CVR PANTALENA $2.99
MAY131372 GFT UNLEASHED TP VOL 01 $15.99
DEC121111 GODDAMN THIS WAR HC (RES) $24.99
MAY131020 GREEN HORNET LEGACY #39 $3.99
MAY130801 GUNNERKRIGG COURT HC VOL 04 MATERIA $26.95
APR131226 GUNSLINGER GIRL OMNIBUS TP VOL 07 BOOK 15 $11.99
MAY131295 HARBINGER WARS (VU) #4 PULLBOX WRAPAROUND $3.99
MAY131294 HARBINGER WARS (VU) #4 REG ZIRCHER $3.99
MAY130938 HELLRAISER DARK WATCH #6 (MR) [DIG] $3.99
OCT120908 HIGHER EARTH #8 MAIN CVRS [DIG] $3.99
APR131227 I DONT LIKE YOU AT ALL BIG BROTHER GN COLL ED VOL 03 (MR) $16.99
APR130764 KILL ALL MONSTERS VOL 01 RUINS OF PARIS $11.99
JUL120747 KILLER HC VOL 04 UNFAIR COMPETITION (MR) $19.95
MAY120839 KILLER OMNIBUS TP VOL 01 (MR) $24.95
MAR131227 KOLCHAK NECRONOMICON SC $23.95
APR131228 MAYO CHICKI GN VOL 03 (MR) $12.99
MAY131215 MYSTERIOUS STRANGERS #1 REG ED $3.99
MAY131216 MYSTERIOUS STRANGERS #2 $3.99
MAR131298 NUMBERCRUNCHER #1 $3.99
APR131084 PLUME #5 $3.99
MAY130762 PRINCELESS TP VOL 02 GET OVER YOURSELF $14.95
MAY130986 RED SONJA #1 CVR A AMANDA CONNER $3.99
MAY130987 RED SONJA #1 CVR B FIONA STAPLES $3.99
MAY130988 RED SONJA #1 CVR C JENNY FRISON $3.99
MAY130989 RED SONJA #1 CVR D COLLEEN DORAN $3.99
MAY130985 RED SONJA #1 MAIN NICOLA SCOTT $3.99
APR130774 ROGUES #3 (MR) $3.99
MAR131036 SHADOW YEAR ONE #4 CVR A WAGNER $3.99
MAR131037 SHADOW YEAR ONE #4 CVR B ROSS $3.99
MAR131038 SHADOW YEAR ONE #4 CVR C SAMNEE $3.99
MAR131039 SHADOW YEAR ONE #4 CVR D CHAYKIN $3.99
MAY130924 SIMPSONS COMICS #204 $2.99
MAY130823 SONIC UNIVERSE #54 REG CVR [P+] $2.99
MAY130803 STORYTELLER GN $14.95
APR131040 THE SPIDER #13 $3.99
MAR131259 WALRUS GN $19.95
SEP121024 WARLORD OF MARS #26 (MR) $3.99
MAY131211 WATSON AND HOLMES #1 $2.99
APR131230 WORLD WAR BLUE GN VOL 01 $11.99

MAGAZINES

MAY130677 CARS MAGAZINE #15 $4.99
MAY131423 COMIC SHOP NEWS #1361 PI
MAR131447 DC SUPERHERO CHESS FIG COLL MAG #35 GREEN LANTERN WHITE BISH $16.00
APR131387 DC SUPERHERO CHESS FIG COLL MAG #36 DEATHSTROKE BLACK PAWN $16.00
MAY131454 HORRORHOUND #42 $6.99
MAY131411 JUXTAPOZ #151 AUG 2013 $5.99
MAY131484 LOCUS #630 $7.50
MAY130678 MARVEL SUPER HEROES #10 $4.99

BOOKS

MAY131494 CRUCIBLE STAR WARS HC $27.00
MAY131316 FRAZETTA SKETCHBOOK HC NEW PTG $39.95
APR131305 MELANCHOLY OF MECHAGIRL NOVEL $14.99
APR131150 OVERSTREET COMIC BK PG HC VOL 43 SUPERMAN $35.00
APR131152 OVERSTREET COMIC BK PG HC VOL 43 X-MEN $35.00
APR131149 OVERSTREET COMIC BK PG SC VOL 43 SUPERMAN $29.95
APR131151 OVERSTREET COMIC BK PG SC VOL 43 X-MEN $29.95
MAY131465 STAN LEES HOW TO DRAW SUPERHEROES SC $24.99
APR131442 STAR TREK FAQ 2.0 EVERYTHING TO KNOW ABOUT STNG & BEYOND $22.99

*****

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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posted 1:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
A Few Quick Notes On Attending Comic-Con International 2013

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I still very much enjoy going to San Diego's Comic-Con International, which kicks off later today with its Preview Night. I still think Comic-Con a great comics show, too, and that it's a very good one for me. You get a lot of debate on this from certain camps that are perhaps no longer specifically served by the way Comic-Con has developed -- or that feel they're better served elsewhere. Some of those are honest differences of orientation. If you can't stand the waves of junk culture that are a part of that show, or the rabid fandom from other media that have little to do with comics, you're not going to like Comic-Con. I also think that some of it is structural. The emerging publishers of the last ten years are for the most part super-resource light, and their models have never depended on them ramping up to a point where they can boast resources of a certain kind. That's made it very hard for a lot of them to even attempt Comic-Con at this point in that show's development, or to find a way to use it to their advantage once they're there. I also suspect, as I do with a lot of things, that a bit of criticism of Comic-Con International comes from folks that feel more valued elsewhere and project their personal experience on the show entire.

* I like it, though. I find it very useful. There's a lot of things I enjoy about it. The core comics show is solid. There are a ton of creators and industry folk from the mainstream and independent comics world, many of whom do work I value. There's a pretty good hardcore alt/indy crew, although it's downsized a bit over the last few years. It's a big enough group you won't see everybody, but a small enough group that there's a thrown-together feel, a kind of forced interaction with most of the other people in that little camp that may not have been there in past years. You're glad to see certain people when they walk into your panel room. There are people who almost always show up -- Los Bros, Johnny Ryan -- and people that are this-year-only, like Ellen Forney and Lisa Hanawalt and David Lasky. Those are all interesting cartoonists and smart, nice people. Well, except maybe Hanawalt.

* there are more people in the panel rooms for alt/indy material, by the way, at least that's been my overwhelming anecdotal experience. I did panels 15 years ago with two, three people in them and panels that maxed out at 40 or 50 for artists I'm pretty sure could pull 200-300 under the current set-up. I don't know if that's just the math of it, or if an audience of genre fans more generally is kinder to certain expressions of comics than an audience of hardcore superhero comic book fans maybe used to be. I honestly haven't a clue.

* the Comic-Con people are comics people at heart, or at least that's always been my impression. Between their efforts and some of the bigger companies with an interest in bringing people in, the Comic-Con guest list usually yields one or two truly want-to-meet folks from Europe, and some older cartoonists that I might not see otherwise. It will be fun to see programming with Kazuo Koike if that happens. I'm fascinated by Jack Katz, the old-time mainstream cartoonist turned wild fantasy comic pioneer. I look forward to seeing Tom Gauld and what he's up to.

* Comic-Con is also an industry show, and I like industries. I think there's a structure and a shorthand and a solidity to industries that can be very useful for art and creative types. I know that some people find industries to be exploitative by nature, and they certainly have been and can be. And yet I suspect that's an impulse that doesn't necessarily need a structure to run rampant. In fact, I'm sure there are businessmen that would love it if they could pay hobby amounts of money for everything that people make. There's an assumed commonality of interest when you're in the same industry -- a common ground in which direction a lot of people make a yuck face, but usually comes down to people being treated fairly in pursuit of the best possible work they can do. I think that's a start to something good rather than something bad, and I like seeing and interacting with tons of people I'd never, ever see with their forearms covered in paint at an experimental festival.

* another thing I like about Comic-Con is that there are shitloads of people there that freakin' love Comic-Con. One gigantic fallacy that informs a lot of industry-publication writing about comics shows is they forget that 90 percent of a show takes place in the hearts and mind of attendees rather than the shared social calendar and mutual admiration society of professionals. I don't know that I love anything not a family member enough to wait in line for four hours to get closer to it, and a lot of these folks do. It's the nice part about being around Comic-Con people. Thousands of those people there that feel that way about comics, too, men and women that just melt the fuck down if you point out that the person that just walked past the both of you is Ed Brubaker or Teddy Kristiansen or Cathy Malkasian.

* Comic-Con is also a very good webcomics show, and given the fact that comics aren't really movies or TV and prose at all, the mostly-print-comics people are likely to feel as close to the webcomics folk at Comic-Con as there any place on earth. The thing is, they don't need anyone's approbation at this point. It's a great place to check in on a lot of what those folks are doing, and their presence is a message to other forms of comics that there is a chance to connect at shows like this one to readers in a major way.

* I like looking at old comics art of all kinds and I like buying $1 comics, and as much as the commercial aspect of that convention has changed a ton in the last several years that stuff is all still there to be had. There is something deeply pleasurable about the act of sifting gems from the sea of forgettable commercial pap that really can't be duplicated in any other kind of setting, including that of small press, creator-sells-to-you-directly shows.

* speaking of which there aren't a ton of exclusive products for sale comics- and art-wise except in the variations of a project sense. In other words, it's much easier to find a comic book with a special cover than a comic book special to Comic-Con. However, the image up top comes from a Geof Darrow art book described here and there are definitely some gems like that to be had. That's before you get into original and custom art, where unique purchases abound. I like making those kinds of purchases when I can afford to make them.

* so I'm looking forward to the next few days. I hope to get a lot of work done, and lay the groundwork for a lot of things this site can do better. I hope to see a lot of friends and laugh a lot. I hope to learn a bunch of things each day. And I'm holding out for an entire weekend free of people in costumes blocking my aisle. I don't think I'll get that last one.

* back in the 1990s, people of my generation used to describe Comic-Con as a reward for a year's worth of work -- there weren't many shows worth attending, that one was potentially the most fun and your employer helped you get there. You get older you realize that working in a great arts industry is its own reward, and that going to a goofy comics show every now and then can a reminder of that and perhaps a useful experience in and of itself, too.

* come say hi to me if you see me. I'm a little more stout than I was last year, about 30 pounds right now (28 this morning, but I'm hitting Las Cuatro Milpas for lunch today, so that's not going to last) but my health is pretty great and I feel fantastic. Don't be afraid to make fun of me for my chub; I deserve it. If you're reading this and see me, I'd like to see you. If you have no plans for dinner or one of the 18 billion cocktail parties that are happening at that time, I'm moderating Heidi MacDonald's comics blogging panel at 7 PM Thursday. In whatever way you'll be nearby this next half-week, I hope you have a good time.

* I'm going to concentrate on comics news this weekend, with some really fun publishing announcements covered, a daily round-up of what I can find out on the floor, and an ongoing post connecting to comics-related news in brief. Regular features are suspended for a little while: no Assembled; no CR Week In Review; no Five For Friday. Most of the site will be up as early in the morning as I can stand it to give full-day coverage to certain stories. There will be a Eisner results post with links and with winners placed in the context of the other nominees early Saturday if not Friday late, an interview with a key-to-comics-right-now figure on Sunday, and a Collective Memory starting next week. I hope you find some of the coverage I'm able to provide useful. I wish I could do more. Thank you so much for any time you spend here.

* one last thing, and the most important if you're going: stay safe. San Diego is a city; there are city-type dangers. There are creeps in any group of human beings that numbers in the six figures, and thus creep-type dangers. A poor lady from New York named Gisela Gagliardi lost her life last year, and I'm sure she arrived in San Diego as hopeful for a great time as any one of us that's ever gone or ever will go. She was struck by a car. There is very little that will happen the next five days that is worth being miserable over, and nothing worth risking or losing one's life. Keep your wits about you. Have fun.

*****
*****
 
posted 5:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Anna Bongiovanni

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posted 5:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Some Random Comic-Con Related Links Heading Into The Weekend

There is a flood of pretty good writing out there about this weekend's Comic-Con International. It reminds me of 1999 when some writers and I commiserated in an e-mail group over the fact that no one would accept a pitch from any of us regarding any aspect of the show. Here are a few recent ones that caught my eye of the many things out there, recent enough they weren't folded into regular coverage:

* the writer Steve Morris advises bloggers to use the event to get themselves over.
* a Jim Zub re-run on how to pitch if you're a comics writer.
* three graduate students are planning to hit the comics conference that goes on during the convention.
* Wired on convention etiquette. It's all good advice. "Don't be a creep"/"don't tolerate creeps" is basically it, but it's fun to see them move through various permutations.
* Comic-Con as seen through the eyes of USA Today.
* Comic-Con as seen through the eyes of Huffington Post.
* art events according to the Union-Tribune.
* the Beat has a group twitter account devoted to the con.
 
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Go, Look: CM Butzer

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Go, Look: Gina Wynbrandt

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posted 5:05 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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

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posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Hawaii 1997

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posted 1:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* PW talks in mostly positive fashion about comics retail.

image* I remember being totally freaked out by Kim Thompson's 1983 review of Ronin. It's a really good one. Thompson had a way of engaging material like that that could only come with a fearless confidence in his take on its context. Thompson knew where everything came from, so he had no problem saying where something was going.

* if you attend the Team Cul De Sac panel at Comic-Con, you'll get a pro membership to GoComics.com.

* Bill Baker talks to David Sandoval and J. David Spurlock. JK Parkin talks to Ron Randall. Jog profiles Steve Ditko.

* the Robot 6 folks select favorite Monkeybrain titles here. I have to admit, I'm under-read on Monkeybrain titles that aren't Bandette.

* I can't tell who did this profile of Dori Seda, but I'm always happy to read about Dori Seda.

* Rob Kirby on The Understanding Monster. Sterg Botzakis on Hell Yeah Vol. 1. Greg McElhatton on Herobear And The Kid Special #1, Letting It Go and Sunny Vol. 1. Christopher Allen on Hawkeye Vol. 1. Vik Gill on Hyper Toast #5. Evan Henry on Henchmen. Jason Clyma on Ballistic #1. Karen O'Brien on Superman Unchained #2. Andy Oliver on Deep In The Woods.

* finally, this is just terrifying.
 
posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 75th Birthday, Hermann!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 37th Birthday, Brian K. Vaughan!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Ned Sonntag!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 38th Birthday, Jeffrey Brown!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
One Day Until Comic-Con International 2013!

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preview night tonight; everyone party safely
 
posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
July 16, 2013


Bundled Extra/Let It Begin: Optic Nerve #13 To See Comic-Con Debut In Advance Of July 31 Store Drop

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Drawn and Quarterly sent out word this morning that they will have copies of Adrian Tomine's Optic Nerve #13 on hand at this weekend's Comic-Con International. The latest comic book in the lauded series will then hit more widely with a store drop on July 31st with a launch event scheduled for Bergen Street Comics on August 1.

One of the great things about Comic-Con International for attendees is that you find yourself stumbling across a few comics that you didn't know were coming out. Last year I witnessed a number of comics fans and creators agog that copies of Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo were on hand. I like this sort of thing, although always, always, always: if you've ordered it to buy from someone closer to home, I urge you to honor that commitment. Still, I think it's an overall good. Ideally you'll buy one for friend, pick up your copy at the corner store and then get a third copy to have signed at one of Adrian's signing. Optic Nerve is the last of the traditionally-pedigreed, comics-format alternative comics from that golden era of the early to mid 1990s, and we should cherish every issue.
 
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Go, Look: Typical Batshit Iron Skull Adventure

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

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posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
By Request Extra: Maybe Buy Some Stuff From Johnny Ryan

imageThe cartoonist Johnny Ryan will be appearing at the Fantagraphics booth doing signings mid-afternoon on Friday and Saturday. Ryan's one of those cartoonists that makes great use of Comic-Con International despite the fact that the show has in some ways shifted away from the kinds of folks that might be into the comics that Ryan does. Those of his fans still on hand usually get access to a bunch of new work: published, self-published or in the original art category. Prison Pit is really a Comic-Con book in a lot of ways; it's the first place I saw it, and how enthusiastically the volumes have been received by that series' fans has been most apparent at an event like that one. So if you're around, you might consider making a point of checking out what Ryan has on display. If you're not, Ryan also has a super-active on-line presence; his originals are extremely attractive.
 
posted 3:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Steven Weissman Art Sales Site

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posted 3:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Buzzfeed Allows Reader-Contributor To Post Matt Bors Work To Site; Won't Pay The Invoice Bors Sent

I think this is fairly self-explanatory. Matt Bors put up a hugely popular cartoon on CNN.com about people blaming the millennials generation. A very-active-on-social-media person put the entirety of the cartoon up on part of Buzzfeed's site. Bors sent them an invoice. The cartoon was taken down. Bors won't be paid for the publication. Digging into to the rules, it seems that this site uses a bunch of enabled readers to generate material. If I'm reading the article correctly, Buzzfeed won't pay Bors because they took it down when they learned what happened and it really wasn't them that posted it in the first place; they won't censure the person who did post the entire work because no detectable maliciousness was involved.

Sometimes I think we're past the point where posting something over someone's objection is seen as an arguable thing, but this set-up and the march through goofiness that it engendered fairly proves me wrong. I'm actually not all that upset by re-uses in personal blogs, or people digging into material that way, because I think there's an automatic re-contextualization that takes place. But just re-publishing an entire work isn't just automatically pathetic, I think it's clear that publishing it on a site like that one put that re-published version in direct competition with the original, published version, and speaks against Bors right to be able to place the work wherever he wants. That should be his right, it really should. In this case, my hunch is that the person that did it was more delighted by the extra attention driven their way than frustrated by not getting to show this work to people.

There is probably something deeply ironic about someone in that generation doing this to a cartoon that seeks to divert complaints away from people from that generation, but I'm not the guy to figure that out and I'm sure there are plenty of older people -- including probably that site's operators -- involved.
 
posted 3:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: RGWY Comics

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posted 3:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Various Avenues For Viewing Trayvon Martin Cartoons

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There are a few tried-and-true ways to look at cartoons about the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin verdict. I always like looking at Matt Bors. And Tom Toles. Doonesbury is in re-runs this summer, which is too bad -- although immediate cartooning isn't a possibility for Trudeau, he can get there in something like two weeks. Oliphant doesn't tend to do quick-hitters, and this doesn't strike me as an issue that flatters what he does well, but he does have one up. And then there's Cagle's round-up of various cartoonists doing something on a specific issue. And the US News And World Report slideshow. They're actually more in one direction than I thought.
 
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Go, Look: Ruby Thorkelson

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posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Looks Like They Keep Moving Back The Zunar Appeal Hearing

The latest says September 30. I'm not sure why the case keeps getting delayed; it certainly didn't seem to provide much in the way of degree-of-difficulty issues in previous iterations. I wish the Malaysian cartoonist the best possible outcome here; he has certainly stayed busy despite this overt malfeasance directed his way.
 
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Go, Look: Brian Schrank

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Go, Look: Lara Antal

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posted 12:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Studygroup Posts The Stores Stocking Their Books

I would have to imagine a list of the stores stocking booksfrom Studygroup would be a pretty good list of stores, stores with a deep appreciation of the vast array of comics available to consumers and the resources to present some of them to their customers. I wish more publishers would release this sort of information, too.
 
posted 12:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Evan Palmer

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posted 12:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Secret Acres has announced the release of Brendan Leach's graphic novel Iron Bound for September's Small Press Expo. This is the follow-up to Leach's well-received Pterodactyl Hunters In The Gilded City. It is apparently a "gritty, authentic account of street gangs and life in the margins of Newark, New Jersey's Ironbound district at the start of the '60s." The book will then be available to stores in October. It will run 252 pages and have a flex-disc record, retailing for $21.95. A book release party will be held September 6 at Bergen Street Comics.

image* Matt Fraction will be writing an Inhumans comic book series for Marvel, working the artist Joe Madureira. They'll be pivoting off of a "houses" concept familiar to pop culture consumers at this moment because of the success of Game Of Thrones. Fraction is a really good mainstream comic book writer and the Inhumans material is the most undeveloped of the primetime Jack Kirby (with Stan Lee) concepts.

* I sort of forgot about this piece of news: a publisher doing a bunch of TV-related comics titles. This doesn't seem to me like a new thing, except for maybe the nostalgia angle. Given the age of comics audiences and the way the TV audience has fractured in the years since the 1980s, doing a bunch of comics from that time seems reasonably bright to me. There are probably more people conversant with and fond of Saved By The Bell than with and of Bunheads. It's also hard for me to imagine wanting to read any of them, but that may just be me. I never read any of those Married With Children books, either.

* here's a preview of Grant Geissman's soon-will-drop biography of Al Feldstein.

* so there will be a Samurai Jack series from IDW with Jim Zub writing it. That makes sense; he's a solid pro. What doesn't make sense is that it has somehow been 12 years since the cartoon show on which the comic is based initially came out. It seems like half that amount of time has passed.

* Darryl Cunningham is beginning to serialize a work on the banking crisis, which means that Darryl Cunningham will eventually publish a work on the banking crisis.

* I'm happy to see John Byrne making new superhero work; Byrne is the sort of creator that was so popular in his expression of comics that I want them to be able to work there whenever they want.

* the great David Lasky notes that his mini-comic on Ulysses has been reprinted in the Graphic Canon series.

* another piece of Marvel news is a round of Marvel Knights line stuff featuring work from indy artists, I guess? I suppose that's what it was there for initially, too... I always get lost in Marvel's various layers of overlapping branding. Cute design on the books, I guess.

* Sean Gaffney talks us through some publishing news from Anime Expo, and God bless him for that.

* finally, forgive me to post as publishing news something that's just been published, but I haven't been keeping up with the Bergen Street efforts and missed out totally that they're doing their second compendium of Michel Fiffe Copra material. I've really liked that work.

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posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Joe Tallarico

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Go, Look: Ben Bertin

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posted 12:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* so Fantagraphics is doing digital-only releases now? I did not know this.

image* Rob Clough on My Dirty, Dumb Eyes. Kevin Cortez on The Outliers. Andrew Weiss on some early issues of Amazing Heroes. Rob Bricken on Saga. Lauren Davis on The Young Protectors. Gavok on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Rob Clough on a bunch of different mini-comics. Bob Temuka on a pair of superhero series helmed by older mainstream creators. Matt Derman on Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters #1-3. Sean Gaffney on D.Gray-Man Vols. 1-3. Johanna Draper Carlson on Strobe Edge Vol. 5. Kelly Thompson on Hawkeye #12 and Adventure Time: Candy Capers #1.

* the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is on the move, and they have a lot of a stuff.

* that's a lovely piece of Bagge/Blanchard poster art. Ditto this Jack Kirby page.

* the writer and comics historian Mark Evanier is rounding into his final few posts before San Diego, where he will moderate 1,072 panels as Mark Evanier Red and Mark Evanier Blue.

* Boulet visited RISD and was confused by the movie-ready status of its student population.

* Doug Dorr talks to Kevin Cross.

* Johanna Draper Carlson argues that we won't get good industry journalism until people are willing to pay for it. I don't know, I guess that's true. While more money doesn't = better journalism, you need at least some money to have any sort of journalism at all. I would maintain that we can also get better journalism for the money we're paying right now. I know CR could be a lot better; it brings in enough money to be much better than it is, anyway.

* Jim Woodring is wonderful.

* finally, there's a lengthy article here about that wonderful comics-maker Al Wiseman, including a ton of art.
 
posted 12:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 43rd Birthday, Pierre Wazem!

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posted 12:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Two Days Until Comic-Con International 2013!

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posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
July 15, 2013


Go, Look: Some Lovely Millie The Model Comic Book Art

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posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
I Guess The Latest Zunar Case Is Being Adjudicated Today, Maybe?

I've sort of lost track of when the court decision may come regarding Malaysian cartoonist Zunar's suit against his government for unfair practices regarding their detention of him and seizure of his book a couple of years back, but the latest e-mail I received said it might be today. So keep an eye out for that. I greatly admire the cartoonist pressing his matter legally, even though he's made public statements in the past that he doesn't expect a positive outcome. The idea that his books represented some sort of rationally-conceived public danger is ludicrous.
 
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Go, Look: Astrodog

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posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2013 Harvey Awards Nominees

imageThe 2013 Harvey Awards nominations were announced early today via e-mail. It seems like a pretty solid group of conventional-wisdom favorite: Chris Ware, Hawkeye, Saga and the like; with creators and titles doing recently well. There are only three names on the ballot that strike me as likely to have benefited from direct campaigning, which is something you can do with an open nominations process. It just is. That doesn't strike me as a bunch, though.

Congratulations to all the nominees, including my pals and peers in the Journalism category. These are held during Baltimore Comic-Con weekend.

*****

Best Letterer

* Joe Caramagna, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Chris Eliopoulos, Cow Boy: A Boy And His Horse, Archaia
* Todd Klein, Fables, DC Comics
* Jack Morelli, Archie, Archie Comics
* Chris Ware, Building Stories, Pantheon

*****

Best Colorist

* Laura Allred, FF, Marvel Comics
* Matt Hollingsworth, Hawkeye, Marvel Comics
* Tito Pena, Archie, Archie Comics
* Ed Ryzowski, Gutters, the-gutters.com
* Fiona Staples, Saga, Image Comics

*****

Best Syndicated Strip Or Panel

* Cul De Sac, Richard Thompson, Universal Press Syndicate
* Dick Tracy, Joe Staton and Mike Curtis, Tribune Media Services
* Get Fuzzy, Darby Conley, United Feature Syndicate
* Mutts, Patrick McDonnell, King Features
* Pearls Before Swine, Stephen Pastis, United Feature Syndicate

*****

Best On-Line Comics Work

* Bandette, Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover
* Battlepug, Mike Norton
* The Dreamer, Lora Innes
* Nimona, Noelle Stevenson
* Sheldon, Dave Kellett

*****

imageBest American Edition Of Foreign Material

* Abelard, NBM
* Blacksad: A Silent Hell, Dark Horse
* New York Mon Amour, Fantagraphics Books
* Sharaz-De: Tales From The Arabian Nights, Archaia
* Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys Vol. 22, VIZ Media

*****

Best Inker

* Steve Ellis, Only Living Boy, Bottled Lightning
* Jonathan Glapion, Batman, DC Comics
* Klaus Janson, Captain America, Marvel Comics
* Mark Morales, Avengers Vs. X-Men, Marvel Comics
* Bob Smith, Life With Archie, Archie Comics

*****

Best New Series

* Adventure Time, KaBOOM! Studios
* Hawkeye, Marvel Comics
* New Crusaders: Rise Of The Heroes, Red Circle Comics
* Revival, Image Comics
* Saga, Image Comics

*****

Most Promising New Talent

* Jerry Gaylord, Fanboys Vs. Zombies, BOOM! Studios
* Dennis Hopeless, Avengers Arena, Marvel Comics
* Ryan Jampole, Mega Man, Archie Comics
* Mark Mariano, Happyloo, MyPalMark.com
* David Nytra, The Secret Of The Stone Frog, Toon Books

*****

imageSpecial Award For Humor In Comics

* Chad Lambert, The Possum At Large 10th Anniversary Craptacular, Old School Comics
* Ryan North, Adventure Time, KaBOOM! Studios
* Dan Parent, Kevin Keller, Archie Comics
* Chris Sparks, Team Cul De Sac: Cartoonists Draw The Line At Parkinson's, Andrews McMeel
* Jim Zub, Skullkickers, Image Comics

*****

Best Original Graphic Publication For Younger Readers

* Adventure Time, KaBOOM! Studios
* Amelia Rules: Her Permanent Record, Simon and Schuster
* Cow Boy: A Boy And His Horse, Archaia
* Drama, Scholastic
* Superman Family Adventures, DC Comics
* The Shark King, Toon Books

*****

Best Graphic Album Previously Published

* Alien: The Illustrated Story, Titan Books
* Archie: The Married Life Vol. 2, Archie Comics
* Cursed Pirate Girl Collected Edition: Volume One, Archaia
* Heads Or Tails, Fantagraphics
* King City, Image

*****

Best Anthology

* Dark Horse Presents, various, Dark Horse
* District Comics, Matt Dembicki, Fulcrum Publishing
* Once Upon A Time Machine, Andrew Carl, Dark Horse
* Team Cul De Sac: Cartoonists Draw The Line At Parkinson's, Chris Sparks, Andrews McMeel
* Womanthology: Space, Mariah Huehner, IDW

*****

Best Domestic Reprint Project

* Best Of Archie Comics Vol. 2, Archie Comics
* Came The Dawn And Other Stories: The EC Comics Library, Fantagraphics
* Crimes Does Not Pay Archives, Dark Horse Comics
* David Mazzucchelli's Daredevil Born Again: Artist's Edition, IDW
* Pogo: Bona Fide Balderdash Volume Two: Walt Kelly's Pogo, Fantagraphics

*****

Best Cover Artist

* David Aja, Hawkeye, Marvel Comics
* Steve Ellis, Only Living Boy, Bottled Lightning
* Jenny Frison, Revival, Image Comics
* Adam Hughes, Fairest, Vertigo Comics
* Fiona Staples, Saga, Image Comics

*****

Best Biographical, Historical Or Journalistic Presentation

* Alter Ego Magazine, TwoMorrows Publishing
* Jack Kirby Collector, TwoMorrows Publishing
* Team Cul De Sac: Cartoonists Draw The Line At Parkinson's, Andrews McMeel
* Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, HarperCollins
* Robot 6, Comic Book Resources

*****

imageSpecial Award For Excellence In Presentation

* Building Stories, Chris Ware, Pantheon Books
* Cursed Pirate Girl Collected Edition Vol. 1, Jeremy Bastian, Archaia
* David Mazzucchelli's Daredevil Born AGain: Artist's Edition, Scott Dunbier, IDW
* Team Cul De Sac: Cartoonists Draw The Line At Parkinson's, Chris Sparks, Andrews McMeel
* The Art Of Betty And Veronica, Victor Gorelick and Craig Yoe, Archie Comics

*****

Best Graphic Album Original

* Building Stories, Pantheon
* The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song, Abrams ComicArts
* My Friend Dahmer, Abrams ComicArts
* Richard Stark's Parker: The Score, IDW
* The Underwater Welder, Top Shelf

*****

Best Continuing Or Limited Series

* Batman, DC Comics
* Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Hawkeye, Marvel Comics
* Locke and Key, IDW
* Rachel Rising, Abstract Studios
* Saga, Image Comics

*****

Best Writer

* Matt Fraction, Hawkeye, Marvel Comics
* Joe Hill, Locke And Key, IDW
* Tim Seeley, Revival, Image Comics
* Scott Snyder, Batman, DC Comics
* Brian K. Vaughan, Saga, Image Comics
* Mark Waid, Daredevil, Marvel Comics

*****

Best Artist

* David Aja, Hawkeye, Marvel Comics
* Greg Capullo, Batman, DC Comics
* Mike Norton, Revival, Image Comics
* Chris Samnee, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Fiona Staples, Saga, Image Comics

*****

Best Cartoonist

* Jaime Hernandez, Love and Rockets: New Stories, Fantagraphics
* Jeff Lemire, The Underwater Welder, Top Shelf
* Terry Moore, Rachel Rising, Abstract Studios
* Chris Ware, Building Stories, Pantheon
* Adam Withers and Comfort Love, Rainbow In The Dark, uniquescomic.com

*****

Best Single Issue Or Story

* Batman #12, DC Comics
* Building Stories, Pantheon
* Hawkeye #1, Marvel Comics
* Locke And Key: Grindhouse, IDW
* The Mire, BeckyCloonan.net
* Saga #1, Image Comics
* Tales Designed To Thrizzle #8, Fantagraphics

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: AJ Poyiadgi

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

By Tom Spurgeon

* it looks like the film director Cory McAbee has already met his initial goal with Rabbit, but some of you might want in on the crowd-funding offers.

* here's what I saw that caught my eye while browsing Kickstarter.com: an attractively colored image on top of this successful crowd-funder; James Owen with one that's doubled up its initial goal; one by Peter Cline that's very close.

* not comics and barely applies: I don't remember what I was listening to, but I laughed during one of my podcasts this week when a fund-seeking filmmaker responded to the idea that he might want to pay for his film project himself by saying, "Yeah, I don't want to do that."

* finally, Robin Snyder has the latest Ditko up. I know people that used to joke about whether or not Ditko would accept crowd-funding.
 
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If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Cara Bean

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* a bunch of you sent in this lovely cheap-eats style eating guide via e-mail, so my apologies to the site that had it first (that's usually how that happens, anyway). Just to know there's an option across the street from the super-packed Richard Walker's Pancake House is worth noting. I have to imagine that burger place will be freaking killed traffic-wise with that kind of food and that location; I bet The Mission does a little better because of Comic-Con folks' unwillingness to walk too far east.

image* Rachel Edidin on Hawkeye #11. Jody Arlington on A Matter Of Life. Ng Suat Tong on Utsubora. Sean T. Collins on Chloe.

* Robin McConnell talks to Steven T. Seagle. Graeme McMillan profiles Kilian Eng.

* the longtime space for the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library is now closed in anticipation of their big grand opening this Fall at a glorious new space. Goodbye, slightly claustrophobic and hard to find space.

* comics blogger prime Mike Sterling talks about a weird shipping/storage thing that happened to one of his shop's comics and suggests that the Superman titles are rallying slightly after a mostly dismal New 52 start. The Superman titles I read that weren't by Grant Morrison in this new run of DC Comics, they were really, really forgettable and kind of tough to read. I did read the Snyder/Lee and it was easy to read and passed the time just fine. I think those guys are solid pros. Individual comics still tend to work in short bursts for DC; it's their ongoings that have been a problem. That's just not a very deep character or talent pool.

* Brian Michael Bendis writes about Orson Scott Card.

* not comics: occasionally comics-maker Matt Maxwell has a free prose ebook for you.

* Bruce Canwell revisits some 15-year-old footage featuring comics coverage.

* eighty percent of the characters look pretty good this way.

* not comics: people complain when I link to Abhay Khosla anything, but I liked the way this short piece on the Pacific Rim film veered into the "nerd cause" idea and never really rolls back out on the highway again. I also find that kind of thing bizarrely compelling. For what it's worth, I once saw a Penelope Ann Miller the weekend it opened, the one about the wine bottle with the guy from Diner.

* here is what looks like the first part of a Jared Gardner survey of Franco-Belgian comics in North America. That should be good.

* that's a great-looking cover.

* finally, here's the Fantagraphics signing schedule for Comic-Con. I assume there are a bunch of signing schedules up on the company sites of your favorite publishers. Robert Williams is going to make it down, which is nice. I think it's interesting that while the show goes until 5 PM, the signings top much earlier than that -- it really is a short day for a lot of exhibitors, and I don't think that's ever going to change after such a long weekend.
 
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Happy 43rd Birthday, Kelly Sue DeConnick!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Chris Cilla!

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Three Days Until Comic-Con International 2013!

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July 14, 2013


CR Sunday Interview: Maris Wicks

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*****

Maris Wicks is the artist behind the latest First Second effort in conjunction with comics-maker-about-science Jim Ottaviani, Primates. It's the story of three influential and widely-known field researchers in the area of primate studies: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Biruté Galdikas. Because of their shared experiences and through the patronage/instigation of Louis Leakey, Ottaviani and Wicks blend the three very different stories into a broader saga about the costs and pleasures of practicing hands-on science. The New England-based Wicks lives with her partner of several years, Joe Quinones, and their cat. She is working on a follow-up solo project with her current publisher, and has one of comics' more interesting day jobs – Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: Maris, I'm not sure how much I know about you. I'm reasonably familiar with your work. I remember that you were in Superior Showcase, and I've seen some science-y mini-comics of yours. I'm totally unfamiliar with your background, however, as it pertains to comics. [Wicks laughs] I don't know that I know your origin story, where you came from, how you ended up doing comics that place so very high on the New York Times graphic novel bestseller's list. Is there a reasonably short version of your story, one that you might tell at a cocktail party?

MARIS WICKS: I can give you the relatively short one. My degree, my undergraduate degree, is in illustration. I went to the Rhode Island School Of Design. When I graduated in 2003, I was like, "I don't know if I want to do art." [laughs] I actually trained -- this is partly the long version, but I'll keep it short -- I trained to be an EMT. I thought I wanted to work on an ambulance. I observed for a while and I was like, "Fuck this. I can't do this. This is too stressful." [laughter]

I really liked education. I'd been teaching kids for my part-time jobs since -- summer camp stuff. I did a year of AmeriCorps, which is basically governmental volunteer work. You get paid a living wage and an educational award to help pay off your loans or to put towards future education. I worked at a children's museum, and it was basically a year of working full-time for them and learning a lot about museum ed. I was like, "I like this like science as full-time stuff." I worked a bunch of environmental ed. stuff, and when I moved to Boston I ended up working for the aquarium: the New England Aquarium, as an educator. So there's all this weird education stuff that I really liked because I liked teaching kids. But I didn't want to be a classroom teacher.

The whole while that was happening, I was doing minis and editorial stuff. The first big published thing was for AdHouse. It was actually for Project: Romantic. I liked minis, I was doing the zines not purely as a hobby, but I had a full-time education job because I need to pay the bills. The reality after graduating was like... yeah. I worked on a farm and did a bunch of weird stuff. [laughter] The first year of working at the aquarium I started doing more science-y minis, quick stuff. I was kind of like, "Oh, I want to do science comics. That's my 'dream'."

A year into working there, First Second approached me about submitting samples for the script for Primates. I nearly pooped my pants because it was like, "This is what I want to do!" And it was less intimidating because it was written. I was still trying to build my confidence as a writer, so it was nice to be able to work with a script. Not only was it science-y, but Jim [Ottaviani] was one of my favorite writers in comics since I started going to SPX and MoCCA and things and learning about all of those wonderful things.

SPURGEON: What is it you like about Jim's writing?

WICKS: Bone Sharps was the first thing I picked up. I was actually a longtime fan of Zander Cannon's. I read his stuff when I was 14 or 15. Most women I know got into comics... not through the back door, but through indy stuff. So I followed a lot of Slave Labor. I always bought Negative Burn. This is the mid- to late-'90s. I followed Evan Dorkin. I didn't read a Batman book until college. I picked up Batman: Year One and I was like, "Oh, this is really awesome." [laughter] I cut my teeth on all of that in my early twenties, which is actually a good way to do it.

When I picked that [Bone Sharps] up, I loved the storytelling, I loved the way it jumped around, I loved the humor in it. I liked the way his dialogue was written. And I just love science. I made the choice to go to a full-time art college but I was torn. I really liked chem and bio and thought I might want to do that. But then I was like, "Oh, I really have to get a scholarship." It was a good choice. I felt like I abandoned science, but it came back in a different way.

SPURGEON: I imagine First Second's interest in pairing you up with Jim was due to your science-related mini-comics. But do you know why they had you try out rather than just offering you the gig? Was there something about what you were doing where they might not have known you wanted to do a long comic? Did they want to see something specific in the art? What do you remember about your tryout?

WICKS: They were basically like, "Submit what you want." It was very open-ended. There were a bunch of artists trying out for the book, and they said they would get back to us in a couple of weeks to a few months.

I thought they were looking for a good fit. I didn't have a track record of doing long-form work. I feel like that may have been the case. I thought maybe the content, but that was weird because First Second didn't know about any of my science education background until as recently as this past year.

SPURGEON: [laughs] Okay.

WICKS: When we started working on articles for Primates they were like, "Oh, you're fairly well-versed in this stuff, especially when it comes to talking about conservation." I had been at the aquarium for almost six years. They are different fields, because I'm primarily marine bio, but I do know some of the language because my job is to talk to the public not just about animals but about ecology and habitat loss, all of these things that in the bigger picture are attached to primates and the primatologists' stories. It's weird that it's very organic. Or maybe I can just see the connections. But I didn't advertise myself as the science cartoonist.

I didn't know if I was going to get the book; I tried my hardest to turn around my samples in a week or two to be like, "Look, I can do this fast." The reality of the book was... not as fast. [laughter] When I started I was working full-time, but I eventually dropped my hours. Now I just work one day a week. I'm a weird, permanent part-timer. They've been great about being flexible with my hours at the aquarium to allow me to do art.

SPURGEON: The obvious thing that leaps out about your basic approach to the material is that you've employed a cartoony style, a simpler style than many in terms of the rendering and detail. Was there any apprehension or anxiety or your part about presenting First Second with that approach? I think it's distinctive and strong, but I can imagine some people going a different direction with this material. Did First Second have to be convinced at all that this style would work?

WICKS: That's something I thought about when I gave them the samples. I looked at pictures of each of the women, and Louis [Leakey], and the primates they studied. I was like, "I'm just going to give them my interpretation because anything other than that would not be honest to myself." If they like it, they like it, if they don't, if they want something more realistic, they don't. When they said yes, I was like, "That's awesome."

I don't think we explicitly had this conversation, but I was like, "Oh, this is cool. I get to draw this in my style." My thumbnails are really tight. My pencils are really tight -- for the submission process and for editing. But even preliminaries: I did model sheets for the characters at different ages because they show up at so many different ages throughout the book. There was no, "Draw them more realistically."

The way I draw resonates with me. I know that cartooning is sometimes seen as an ugly word in the world of illustration, but I proudly wave my cartoony flag because there's something nice about abstraction and the accessibility that the abstraction of cartooning allows, I think. I'm personally as a reader distracted when something is too realistic. As Jim says, Primates is a real account but a fictionalized account. So it's kind of nice to be able to make it into a -- to see the world through cartoon-colored glasses. [laughs] It doesn't seem weird to me, but I didn't question it because I did rely so heavily on photo reference. I felt the honesty of trying to portray them my way was the undercurrent even though they're very abstracted.

SPURGEON: Was there anything you particularly enjoyed drawing in Primates? Was there something that you got to draw that you knew would make for a good day at the drawing board?

WICKS: My favorite part of the book -- and I know I'm not supposed to pick favorites -- was the last part, the Biruté Galdikas part. I really liked the jungle scenes. I got into drawing her foliage. I liked drawing her, and I liked drawing orangutans. "I like these ones; they're orange." [laughter] It was very basic.

Really the whole book was a pleasure to work on. Jim gave me a three-inch stack of photocopy references that he had compiled while he was doing research. So I was pretty well served. When he had a specific problem -- "There's a telephone on Leakey's desk; it's this phone" -- he would give me a picture of the phone on-line. It was helpful.

There were a few scenes, especially in Galdikas' part, that were in Indonesia where I could find pictures of the city but they were from the '80s and I couldn't find anyting prior to that. I was like, "Well, I'm going to draw this city minus all the weird '80s style cement buildings that are in it." So there was a little fudging on my behalf of trying to use photo references but use them appropriately. Taking an educated guess as to what to put there.

SPURGEON: Jim once wrote a little bit about his process, saying that when he gets art pages back from an artist, he puts aside his own script initially to look over what's going on on the page itself. Was there any back and forth between yourself and Jim apart from the formal editorial process? Were you getting feedback directly from him as you went along? Or was your primary relationship with his script?

WICKS: Jim was always in the loop when I submitted stuff; he was in the loop on the editorial process. From the inks to the colors there were a couple of jumping around changes -- rearranging panels and drawing a few new ones to help the flow of storytelling. When we were jumping between 20 years, sometimes it was a little choppy. So we ironed that part out. That was an active process with him and Calista [Brill], who was our editor.

There's only one scene where I drew something that was not the way it was written in the script. There's a scene were Biruté and Rob, her ex-husband, are leaving for Borneo and they dash off-panel. I made them dash into the next panel holding a map and everything. Jim said, "I didn't mean for this to happen but it looks good. Happy accident." [laughter] There were some tiny, tiny minute things.

Jim and I are both big nerds, so when we did have conversations on the phone or over e-mail it was us nerding out. Not even Primates stuff, just, "Oh this is exciting. Did you hear this science news?" [laughs] He was really good about sending me videos and articles, and I would do the same thing about Primates-related stuff. I think there were even a couple about animal cognition, which we talked a little bit about. He had written a short thing about Biruté Galdikas in Dignifying Science, the anthology he wrote about women scientists. So any time we had the chance, we would nerd out about stuff.

It was a relatively organic process. I really enjoyed it. Besides working with maybe a few editors and art directors on very rare occasions... it was a really awesome process with him and with First Second. Everything. The cover design even. It was all very fun.

imageSPURGEON: There was a scene late in the book, I think with Dian Fossey, where she pantomimes the hanging of poachers.

WICKS: Yes.

SPURGEON: That scene was apparently redrawn; it was worked on a bit.

WICKS: We wanted to get that scene right. I can't remember... I did a couple of versions to make it fit the effect of what Jim wanted. I don't remember it being, "Oh no, this is horrible." It was just like trying it a few times. The end result was better than what I had originally tried to get the point across.

That scene is weird. It half makes me chuckle but it's also kind of creepy... I don't know. It's weird. She had a very specific personality. We talked about it at the beginning. Jim was like, "I'm not sure if it's okay, but she was a pretty heavy chain smoker. So anytime you want to throw in her smoking a cigarette, that's totally okay and it's part of her gruff, partly-jaded..." I mean, I didn't know her personally, but she seemed downtrodden yet somehow really passionate. I think it says in my research, and this may be in the book, that she felt more connected to gorillas than she did other human beings. There are parts of that that we wanted to get across -- her passion, but also her dissatisfaction, her frustration with human beings, especially in their treatment of these animals.

SPURGEON: I liked that there were off-putting moments in your portrayal of her. There were parts of the depiction that were unflattering, even unpleasant.

WICKS: Like tying up a poacher.

SPURGEON: That one stands out.

WICKS: I think that's a point worth mentioning. Whenever you have environmentalists, there is a fine line between what is acceptable and what is too far. Eco-terrorism might be an over-used word, but when does it become... ? It's hard. You have to look at the big picture. I get kind of defensive talking about stuff like this, but when is it all right to kind of break the rules? "Hey, people need to pay attention to this." And that might mean illegal things.

I think a terrible example of this is actually Whale Wars, [laughs] that show about the guy that left Greenpeace and he funds his own boat and they attack Japanese whaling boats. I completely think that countries that bend the rules of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, that's not okay. But I don't think the solution... I don't think that's the right solution. I think there are ways that aren't negative ways to get across environmentalism and conservation. So it's something that I was thinking about in the background whether or not it comes across in the book. Based on my aquarium experience, I think about these things.

SPURGEON: One thing that connects the three women whose lives are detailed in Primates is they're not exactly on track to do the kind of work they end up doing. They do go back and get degrees, but at the start there's a real lack of traditional credentials. I don't know that it's controversial for most people, but I'm sure it was controversial in that world. And you don't ignore that in the book, this element of dispute over the outsider aspects of the work they were doing. This is particularly true of Goodall and Fossey, that they were not initially credentialed the way other researchers might have been.

Do you have any thoughts on that element of the book? Because you're also doing what you're doing from a passion for it rather than as the next step on a credentialed path. Do you have any extra sympathy for the characters, that they fell in love with a certain kind of research, a way of working to which everything else then kind of caught up?

WICKS: Yeah. I think in the case of especially Goodall and Fossey, there were no women in that field to begin with. It would be almost unheard of. You went to school for science when you were a woman back then and you ended up being a science teacher or a nurse. That is what was happening in science fields for women. I'm not sure there was any other way for them to get into it.

Part of the refreshing thing for younger readers reading this is that yes, times have changed, and you go to school for this if you're going to be doing field research and data analysis. But all it took for them was passion and interest, and out of that passion and interest grew not just a career but a life... a lifestyle that changed them.

I totally understand where Leaky goes to Goodall, "If you want people to take you seriously, get your PhD. Go back to Cambridge." Which is so funny. Nowadays it's very, very different. You get your undergrad, and you get your masters, and then you do your doctoral stuff. The playing field is not level. There are a lot more women in science. There are more hoops to jump through -- not even more hoops to jump through: you just do it. Science is a limited field, and there are a lot of people going after these jobs. There are different standards for how to do it. But I think it was very worth mentioning that Goodall I think didn't even finish college before she was like, "I want to go to Africa." [laughter]

The work that they did... so much of science is data analysis and field research. What's sad to me is at the end, where Biruté is talking to another young PhD student and he's like, "Yeah, I can't wait to get done with this and I can get a nice tenure-track job." Oh. That's sad. [laughter]

It's like that in every profession. There are teachers that are unhappy being teachers, and there are teachers that are really passionate and want to be there. I think you're going to find that in every profession. I liked that the women in that book are like, "I am doing my dream job and it is awesome and I want to do this the rest of my life." I feel like young people, more than ever, whether it's girls or guys, need to be inspired in science. I feel like it's the dark ages of science in that we teach it so that it's not fun after elementary school. I'm in elementary schools all the time for my job and I'm like, "Aw, middle-schoolers, why don't you like science? It's super-fun." They shut off, and in Mass. we focus on standardized testing like a lot of other states. But why shouldn't you like this stuff? It's awesome. [laughs]

SPURGEON: One of the other virtues of Primates in the way that it presents these lives is that there's a deglamorizing of what they did. This takes place in the traditional way, where you see the struggles that each woman went through. But there's also a kind of a subtle portrayal of the amount of time they had to put in. The time spent to get these certain observations -- there's an honesty about the commitment level necessary to do this kind of work. I thought that a real strength of the book. Was it important to you to show these lives as lived? Do you think that's also important for young people to see?

WICKS: I got into the fact that they're outside and in the environment of the animals they're studying. A lot of times we tend to think of science as taking place in a laboratory or in a controlled setting. The quiet parts of the book also allowed other parts of the book to be louder. But I think that was valid to point out in the world we live in where everything is so convenient, and you get things now-now-now on the Internet, that data and good research means thousand of hours. There are aspects to things that we study or things that we do in our lifetimes that we're not going to be able to speed up, because that's not reality.

I don't want to discourage people from being scientists because they have to log 25,000 hours of research... [Spurgeon laughs] but I think it's refreshing. So much of growing up in the public school system you don't spend a lot of time outside. Since I've been in elementary schools, there's been a big shift in curriculums for elementary school kids. Instead of focusing on the rain forests or the coral reefs, a lot of what they learn first is about their backyards and their local habitats. Afterwards they learn about other ones and they can compare and contrast. I think that shift is really interesting. One, it creates good observations and critical thinking skills, because you're learning about stuff around you. Two, it helps to foster a connection to the place that you live whether it's an urban environment or a rural environment or coastal. I think that's something that's really interesting, that shift in curriculums. People really thinking about what's going to make the biggest impact, especially on elementary school age kids. I think that those two things are correlated.

Have you seen the Look Around You videos? [laughs] I always think of that in my head... that's a parody, but I think that's important to mention in the book. It's funny because Primates is about them doing fieldwork in exotic places around the world compared to where they grew up. It's still that fostering of caring, and being there, and being present. Again, sorry -- tangent.

imageSPURGEON: No, that's perfect for what we do. Now the color palette... was that left entirely up to you? Was that all you? Did Jim make any contribution to that? Can you talk a bit about selecting colors for the book?

WICKS: Jim's directions, and this was at the very beginning of the book, he had directions for the colors of the narration boxes and for the colors generally during each story. He said Goodall should be vibrant greens because she's fresh and young and the habitat she's working in is also vibrant greens. Fossey should be gray-green or a blue-gray green, just because her story is a bit more somber. The Borneo part of the story for Galdikas was to be saturated with yellow-greens and oranges for the thick jungle. Narration boxes, I think Jane's was a sandy color, Galdikas was a gray, and I think... I think Jane was blue, actually.

This was my first time coloring a large-scale print book. I sought coloring advice from Alec Longstreth. He was the fellow that colored Aaron Renier's Walker Bean story for First Second. I really liked his colors on that. He gave me a bunch of pointers about coloring in CMYK, about keeping black out of every color. So every single color you see in Primates, there's no black. It's all consisting of Cyan, Magenta or Yellow. Alec expressed to me that you would get truer colors because it would not get muddied in the printing process because you would not be using any black. This actually happened. I had started coloring pages and sent them to First Second and they were like, "This is too muddy." And I was like, "Oh no, what do I do?" [Spurgeon laughs] I e-mailed Alec and I was like, "I need your Jedi wisdom, please." It was great. He gave me a few sample pages of Walker Bean, and gave me a couple of paragraphs. It was invaluable. I've been meaning to make a blog post about the coloring process. There were hardly any tweaks that needed to be made after I started coloring that way.

It's weird. My partner Joe Quinones also works in comics. When he watches me color, he's like, "I hate how you do that." He colors in RGB and converts it. When I want to color I drop it and I open the color palette and then I basically make the black go away and then compensate in Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. He's just like, "I don't understand why you're doing that." I'm like, "But my colors, they come out okay." It gets very technical from a Photoshop standpoint.

I was very happy with the way the colors came out with the book. I was worried because I hadn't done much. I had done a book for Tugboat Press, which was a kids' book. The colors were really muddy. Part of that was we did an organic printing process on that paper with non-toxic ink. Not that I don't think that should happen, because it's important to think about those things, but I think that was a lot harder to navigate. "Oh, it's so dark. What happened?"

SPURGEON: Wasn't Tugboat using a non-traditional comics printer, too?

WICKS: Yeah, he was trying to use a local... more environmentally friendly techniques. And it's weird, because we got proofs for that. The proofs looked nothing like the printed versions. Both Greg [Means] and I were like, "Aww..." [Spurgeon laughs]

It still worked out! We just had a second printing on it, not through Tugboat but through Tanglewood Press, which does distribution for kids' books. That was part of the reason Greg Means at Tugboat got that one off the ground. He wanted to publish it in the hopes that it would get picked up by someone else -- which is not the way things usually work in publishing. But it ended up working, and it did well for the second publisher.

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SPURGEON: The lettering in Primates -- were there also directives with an opportunity to play around with the execution? I don't even know that I noticed that each narrator was linked to a different text style until the scene where all three women were at a conference together and the lettering was placed right next to one another. Until then I was using visual clues to figure out who was talking and when. Once I noticed that the lettering itself was an indicator, I thought it a really nice effect.

WICKS: That was again part of Jim's direction. We talked about that really early on. When I sent him character sketches, with each character I lettered my recommendation of what their font should be based on the tone of the dialogue. First Second was like, "That's great."

I was also really stubborn and said, "I want to hand-letter this book." [laughs] I feel like I'm biased. In college I had David Mazzucchelli as a professor and I remember him being like, "Hand-lettering is the best. Always hand-letter if you can." I was like, "Yes, yes, I must do that." [Spurgeon laughs] In retrospect, it was very hard for editing, later editing that happened. I would have to go back. It wasn't that long of book, but 130 pages of finding what needed to be changed, all of the lettering is 1200 dpi bitmaps on top of the art. It made it a little hard for me, but that was a sacrifice I was willing to make because I'm stubborn.

SPURGEON: Do you remember a quality of one of the women that led you to a specific conclusion about the font to use? What kind of factors were involved? How do you represent a personality in a font?

WICKS: With Jane, I picked a -- not benign -- but a very simple upper case/lower case. Again, she was the youngest of all three of them. Any time I could use cursive for her journal notes, I would. I feel like she was out there with nothing. She had a pen, and a lantern and some food. [laughs] Pen and paper. With Fossey, she had more cover. She had a cabin. She had cattle and dogs and chickens. Jim was explicit about her font being a messy typewriter font. I think I tried to match Courier as best as possible with a computer typewriter font. With Galdikas, I pretty much used my own handwriting. All caps. I feel a little more with her because she has her master's that it's clean science notes. Note taking in a legible handwriting way. Jane wasn't illegible, but she was British! I wanted her to have nice, cursive, handwritten notes. I wanted there to be a properness to her research. Not that there wasn't for Galdikas -- plus all caps would stand out from typewriter and from upper case/lower case. It would differentiate it. I think Leakey also got a pretty basic sans serif upper case/lower case; his wasn't too different from Jane's.

SPURGEON: You talked about roping Alec Longstreth in at one point, and we've discussed your relationship with Jim and with your editor. But seeing as this was such a long work for you and not something you'd attempted before, did you ever seek out outside feedback?

WICKS: The only other feedback I sought out on a regular basis was from my partner, Joe. We're in the same house and have been for ten years. We do go back and forth. It's like having a studio. I proofread his stuff; he proofreads my stuff. We give each other art direction. It's nice because he's a different set of eyes from indy comics -- it's not that he's seeing it through superhero eyes, but he's seeing it through a different lens.

SPURGEON: Superhero eyes might be helpful, actually.

WICKS: X-ray vision is pretty rad. [Spurgeon laughs] Other than that... I'm trying to think if there's anybody I gave preliminary stuff to. I don't think I did.

SPURGEON: Was there a way you coped with doing a longer project? Was there ever a dark night of the soul where you despaired finishing something of that size? Some folks says that step up in page count is really tough.

WICKS: I think one of the hardest parts was just trying to manage a non-comics job and doing comics. That meant that three days of the week I was at the aquarium and four days a week I was working on Primates. If you do the math, that means no weekends. Which is a lifestyle I'm completely content with. I get to talk to you at 1:30 PM in my pajamas. I have no regrets. I've been awake since 8:30 doing work, but there's a casualness in place. Joe and I talk about this all the time, that it's hard to shut it off. We sort of want to keep working. You hit a stride at 2:30 in the morning and you're like, "I want to keep going. I'm having a good day." Granted the only thing we have to provide for other than us is our cat. I think things turn out a little differently when there's a tiny human being in the picture. So no. A lot of it was just patience.

Sometimes the editing would take a long time. I was very explicit when I set up my schedule -- which I didn't keep -- that we had a very open communication with First Second and I would re-evaluate after every major hurdle. After I finished the thumbnails -- which were super-tight, I almost did little scribbles to represent how many words I'd put in each caption and we're talking business-card sized drawings of each page -- I cleaned them up, scanned them, and sent them in. "If there's anything that stands out, I want to know now before I go to pencils." They have a lot of books on their plate. So a lot of time might pass in between. And it wasn't bad. I had other editorial small stuff going on. A lot of it was patience and being organic. Their mantra isn't the longer it takes the better but that if it needs extra time to be good, that's okay. Because the book had so much factual representation of places, and of characters, during the editing process I wanted to make sure there were no glaring problems. That meant looking at it with a lot of scrutiny. For Calista, who has a ton of other books, it had to be overwhelming.

I was really explicit about thumbnails getting the full editorial process, pencils same thing, inks same thing. Part of it was covering my butt, to prevent any huge edits that might happen later. There's a tiny bit of stuff that happened after the color proofs came out, stuff that we had to re-arrange, but really it wasn't a big deal. By streamlining the process and having those checkpoints, for me, and also for them, it made it go as efficiently as possible. Yeah, I'd love to be faster. I think every artist would love to be faster. But I never had a "I'm never going to finish" moment. I was like, "Persevere, get it done, be patient."

SPURGEON: I assume you're a different cartoonist now in some ways just for having that many more pages done. It seems like there's a point in the development of a career where cartoonists will change a bit with every hundred or two hundred pages. But are you different now in a way that's noticeable to you? Is there something you can do now that you couldn't before? Are you a more confident writer now for having worked that closely with a strip you enjoyed and admired?

WICKS: Confidence in writing was definitely built; I'll talk about that in a moment. But having a physical book and looking through it... I read Primates a bunch of times, but I haven't read it since it came out officially. I read proofs in February. I kind of want to read it again. This past year was really hard because I finished it last April. Last May. So it's been a year. Waiting and waiting. "I can't wait until it comes out because it's been so long."

I totally respect the fact that First Second spends that full year. They warn you. "When it finishes, it's not coming out for a year." They put a lot of effort into PR. This one specifically they were barking up three trees. They were barking up the science tree, they were barking up the library tree, and the school tree. This book can fit neatly into any of those categories. It's cool that they did that. It's cool that we were reviewed in Nature and in Orion. We're also in the all-ages sectors and in the comics sector.

The other thing I did right after I finished Primates is, "What am I going to work on next? I want to keep doing comics. I like this." So I put together a pitch for First Second and submitted that to them at the end of August last year. The book got approved, so the project I'm working on right now is Human Body Theater, which is a 240-page comic book about the human body. So I think maybe there's a little bit of self-punishment there. "133 pages? Forget that. I'm doing 240 now." It's funny, when I asked them, I was like, "I'm just going to write this script; is there something I have to keep it under page-count wise?" And they were like, "No more than 240." I'm like, "Okay. I got that." [Spurgeon laughs]

The way that ended up working is I had talked with Jim. "You want to work again? I had a nice time working with you." I was throwing out ideas. He was like, "These ideas are great, but why don't you write them yourself." That extra kick in the pants was the confidence that I needed. "Oh. You think I'm an okay enough writer to do this."

I struggled in high school. I failed English one year. "I am failing my mother tongue. This is horrible." By the time I hit college I was like, "Oh. Hey. Writing is kind of cool." Because comics kind of combined words and pictures so neatly, that was kind of, "This is what works. This is how I feel comfortable telling a story." So fingers crossed that the new book I'm writing is okay. I have a wonderful editorial team and because it's the human body I'm going to have a consultant with a bunch of consonants after their name in the medical field to handle the factual stuff that it's tackling. That's how I've changed as a cartoonist and writer.

SPURGEON: You know, Maris, that's all I have. Did I miss anything you were dying to talk about?

WICKS: One other side project I think worth mentioning -- and this is another weird writing thing -- is that a year or two ago, Mark Chiarello at DC asked Joe Quinones and myself to pitch a Batman: Black and White story. He asked the both of us for the story, but what Joe and I ended up doing is brainstorming and then I wrote the script and Joe did the art. So that was like never in a million years did I think I would ever get to write a Batman story. They just announced that was coming out.

SPURGEON: That kind of brings it full circle for you.

WICKS: The reason why Mark asked is that he had all of my minis. Joe had worked with him before on Wednesday Comics. He knew us as a couple, and I gave him my minis. "This is what I do." It was flattering that just through my mini-comics work, that was enough cred to be a writer.

I had a wonderful time. That story comes out in November, in either the first or second issue. I secretly love superheroes. And I wanted to work with Joe. We're collaborating on an Adventure Time story as well. Just one of those background things that's like, "Oh, this will be fun."

*****

* Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas, Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks, First Second, hardcover, 144 pages, 9781596438651, 2013, $19.99.

*****

* the cover image
* the hanging sequence discussed
* one of the color pages
* some of the lettering in Primates
* discovering the direction of one's life (bottom)

*****

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

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Happy 79th Birthday, Gotlib!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Alex Cox!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, JK Snyder III!

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Four Days Until Comic-Con International 2013!

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FFF Results Post #343 -- Light Reading II

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Publications You've Enjoyed Reading About Comics." This is how they responded.

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John Vest

1. Amazing Heroes
2. The Comics Journal
3. Comixscene
4. Cascade Comix Monthly
5. The Comics Interpreter (particularly the Hernandez brothers issue)

*****

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Eric Reynolds

1. The Comics Journal
2. Amazing Heroes
3. I Like Comics
4. Crash
5. Eighty-Six

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. Hogan's Alley
2. Nemo: The Classic Comics Library
3. The Comics Journal
4. The Jack Kirby Collector
5. RBCC/Comic Reader

*****

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Andrew Littlefield

1. Fantasy Advertiser edited by Martin Skidmore
2. The Imp
3. The Comics Journal
4. Escape magazine
5. Squa Tront edited by John Benson

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. The Comics Journal, especially #81 because of Gaines and EC
2. Back Issue, especially #52 because of their feature about Gerry Talaoc
3. Comixene (Vol. 1), especially #16 because of the first German printing of Hermann Huppen's short story "Massacre" from "Abominations"
4. Reddition, especially #55 because of a large bulk of information about Fumetti
5. The special comics issue by Vice from 2006, edited by Johnny Ryan and The Vice Guide to Comics

*****

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Gary Dunaier

1) The Comic Reader (Mike Tiefenbacher, Jerry Sinkovec)
2) Collector's Dream (George Olshevsky)
3) The Comics Journal
4) Marvel Comics Index (the original ones, published by George Olshevsky)
5) Overstreet Comic Book Price Update

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. Graphic Story Magazine
2. The Comics Journal
3. Nemo
4. Hogan's Alley
5. Comic Art

*****

topic suggested and examples provided by John Vest; thanks, John

*****
*****
 
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July 13, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Ali Dilem Interviewed


Lee Holley Draws


The Daniel Clowes Reader Previewed


Ali Ferzat Interviewed


Comic-Con Prep Video


Nate Powell Interviewed


The Kevin Keller It Gets Better Video
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from July 6 to July 12, 2013:

1. Dragon*Con announces a split with accused pedophile and co-founder Ed Kramer.

2. Amazon.com announces a comics line, focusing on adaptation of prose works from genre authors and a digital serial followed by multiple-platform collection.

3. Columbia announces acquisition of Al Jaffee archives, signaling their continuing presence in the research library acquisitions and holdings game -- with a focus on New York City area comics-makers, it looks like.

Winners Of The Week
Your 2013 Swann Fellowship winners.

Loser Of The Week
Exhibition security in Germany.

Quote Of The Week
"Abdel-Ghani says that the ex-president's character was inspiring to even a semi-professional caricaturist. 'Terms like the monkey and his master, or fingers manipulating Egypt, invented by Morsi, were themselves inspiring caricatures that did not require any effort from the average cartoonist,' he says. 'Indeed, Morsi and his clan were a strategic treasure for cartoonists and Facebook commenters alike. This funny and yet depressing performance of the presidency and its futile government was one good reason behind the cheerful spirit of millions of Egyptians during the last catastrophic year.' Thanks to the seemingly endless economic crisis and political conflict in the country even after the second wave of revolution, he noted, cartoonists might have more material than at any previous time in Egyptian history. 'And despite all this depression, people have been laughing more than they ever did in their lives.'" -- Al-Ahram Weekly

*****

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

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Bluewirecut

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

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

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

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Happy 71st Birthday, Mike Ploog!

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I've also seen information that indicates Mr. Ploog could be 72 today
 
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Happy 57th Birthday, Paul Karasik!

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Happy 82nd Birthday, Ernie Colon!

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Happy 71st Birthday, Tom Palmer!

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Five Days Until Comic-Con International 2013!

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July 12, 2013


Go, Look: Todd Klein Looks At Old DC Comics Offices

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If nothing else, go look at the photos and art assembled
1, 2, 3, 4, 5
 
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Festivals Extra: Second Iteration Of The Projects Announces Details

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The second edition of The Projects -- the workshops- and events-driven comics festival in Portland, Oregon -- has announced its guest list and the basic shape of the show here. I'm going to have to take a couple of days and process that material. I didn't attend the first one, so I don't have an easy frame of reference in terms of what has changed. I am super all for comics festivals that a) try to play around with the basic structure of comics shows, and b) seem to reflect the city in which they take place in some ingrained fashion. I think both of these standards apply to The Projects.
 
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Go, Look: Truth Zone 84

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Missed It: Columbia University Announces Al Jaffee Archives Acquisition

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The [deep breath] Columbia University Libraries/Information Services' (CUL/IS) Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML) [exhale] announced earlier this week that it has acquired the archives of cartoonist Al Jaffee. Jaffe is best known for his relationship with MAD; but has had a long and varies career in a variety of comics expressions. The archives will join previous acquisitions/donation such as the Chris Claremont archives, whose arrival in 2011 marked what the press release is calling a "push" to acquire such collections.

The press release describes the the first phase of the archives that will arrive at the university thusly: "... artwork for Esquire and Playboy magazines, notebooks of ideas for Humbug and Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal, press clippings, tracings for cartoons in The Moshiach Times, fan mail, photocopies of strips never offered for publication, biographical materials used for Mary-Lou Weisman's biography Al Jaffee's Mad Life, photographs, and more."

Columbia has only been in the comics collection and acquisitions business in serious fashion since 2005; Karen Green is the point person over there. Having that material available for study in one of North America's absolute best research libraries is quite something.
 
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Go, Look: Jesus! Be Careful!

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Missed It: Marvel Would Apparently Still Prefer That The Ghost Rider Matter Be Decided By A Judge

I was surprised when I read articles at the end of June that indicated the Ghost Rider case brought by Gary Friedrich against Marvel Enterprises Inc. would be going to trial in November with what looked like a New York jury. It turns out that a piece that came out about a week ago through Law360 pointed out that Marvel would still prefer the case decided by a judge. Getting a judge would be considered a victory for Marvel, or at least I'd have to imagine it would. A response to the request will be filed in early August. A really strong decision by a judge was vacated in what I take it was pretty surprising fashion by an appeals court, leading to the new trial -- it seemed to have turned on the appeals judge not to be convinced that Marvel's blanket assumption through later paperwork of all rights was appropriate to the elevated standard the court has for giving up the crucial rights involved. I actually don't tend to invest moral force into cases like this -- they turn on points of law, and the law is what it is. I would like to see Friedrich compensated as much as seems reasonably just for him to be compensated rather than for as little as the law allows. This may get us there, and deal a blow to the entire practice of sweeping rights grabs that took place for a couple of key decades in comics' development.
 
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Go, Look: Boulet Visits New York City, Washington DC, Pittsburgh

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More On Egypt's Cartooning Culture Post-Mohamed Morsi

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There's a nice piece popping up on the wires that contrasts the current reality facing Egyptian cartoonists after years of rule by Hosni Mubarak where satirical voices were severely discouraged despite that region's reich tradition of illustration and cartooning and work. The array of factors amuses: not only must cartoonists negotiate the wider reach of TV and rebuild their long-lost audiences via social media, at times the comedy of errors on display was so unbelievable to many of that country's practitioners of opinion-via-art that it was difficult for them to participate in the national dialogue. It's nice to read any article that has the kind of natural context where other political leaders can be note for their silly speech-making rather than their US-based foreign policy profile.
 
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Go, Look: Curse Of The Lizard Queen

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

image* I suppose this word of Amazon.com's digital serialization of comics into digital and print collections, covered earlier on the site in a specific post, was the big news of the week. I think that there may be significant results from that effort. For instance, it may codify certain ways of making and distributing comics just for the size and importance of that publisher/bookseller. The comics themselves are from a corner of the medium -- big-author translations -- that I've never really cared for.

* I've missed a bunch of noteworthy announcements for the comiXology service; I'll chalk it up to my lingering suspicion of PR, but I think we both know it's a combination of laziness and my inability to process digital comics news with any regular effectiveness. They're going to sponsor an element of the Trickster salon at Comic-Con, which I think is a nice place for them to throw support. They've added series subscriptions and discounted bundle packs to their service, which is something I have to be honest with you and say I thought they already had. My theory with a lot of this stuff is that the more roads as get people to buying comics, the better, as long as there aren't long-term consequences for any initiative. I can't imagine a deleterious outcome here. I totally missed that they signed a bunch of French publishers in their ongoing European initiative, although it made sense given their big signings that some of those dominoes would fall eventually.

* Gary Tyrrell continues his admirable, detailed focus on webcomics' presence at Comic-Con International in posts like this one and this one. It may look at first glance that the detail of those posts is just Tyrrell's monomaniacal focus on webcomics at work, but Comic-Con has become a fairly big show in terms of its webcomics presence -- I sort of assume that major players in that world will be there every year now, and I don't always do that for a lot of expressions in print comics.

* finally, Bandette heads into next weekend's comic-con as the flagbearer for a certain kind of digital comic enjoying crossover critical success. There's a new one out. I enjoy that series when I see it on my computer -- it's one of the few comics I guy -- and getting into it right now makes you part of that wider conversation as well as providing you with a fun comic to read.
 
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If I Were In San Francisco, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Check Out The Colors On This Mandrake Comic Book

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* J. Caleb Mozzocco on Batman/Superman #1. Chris Beckett on Superior Showcase #2. A bunch of comics critics on Hawkeye #11. Chad Nevett on What If...? AvX #1. Rob Clough on Meathaus #8. Bob Temuka on Fables and American Vampire. John Kane on a bunch of different comics. Sean T. Collins on The Offering Part One. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of different comics. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on the Dan Dare comics written by Grant Morrison and Garth Ennis. Richard Bruton on Naming Monsters. Henry Chamberlain on Sheltered #1. Paul O'Brien on a bunch of different X-Men related comics. Kelly Thompson on Quantum and Woody #1.

* Johnny Ryan is selling some cool-looking original art here.

* I will never be so old and jaded that I don't appreciate a nice little graphic novels section at a bookstore. Okay, I'm already that old and jaded, but I shouldn't be. There's a time in my life when I would have flipped out over the worst comic book shop, and there are other times that I would have fainted at the site and what every other Borders offers up comics-wide, and I probably shouldn't all the way forget that.

* never see a lot of comics industry related photos from about 1970-1985, for some reason.

* Clay Fernald talks to Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks. Robin McConnell talks to Sam Alden. Alex Dueben talks to Joe Sinnott.

* Mike Deodato Jr. draws Shang-Chi. I always liked that Bruce Lee was a character in the Marvel Universe.

* finally, that's a lot of money for a comic book, even (especially?) for one sealed in plastic.
 
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Happy 43rd Birthday, Phil Jimenez!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Jon Vermilyea!

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Happy 29th Birthday, Mario Candelaria!

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Happy 30th Birthday, Meghan Turbitt!

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Six Days Until Comic-Con International 2013!

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July 11, 2013


Matt Madden To Receive French Cultural Honor Today

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I think this means he has to fight you if he ever hears you say that BD sucks. Anyway, that seems sort of cool, right? Congratulations to Madden.
 
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Go, Look: Menemsha Bike Ferry

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I Have Seen Part Of The Future, And In It A Lot Of Comic Stores Are More Fluid Than Traditional Ones

Something struck me about this article just in terms of a kind of store we might see in the future: more fluid, growing out of other interest, maybe abandoned when those interests change, sharing space with other types of retail expression.
 
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Go, Look: The Dungeon!

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Go, Read: New Yorker On Egypt's Political Cartooning Culture

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An article about Egypt's political cartoon culture right now is here. As you might guess, it's kind of chaotic. Some papers have been closed down entirely, others are re-purposing cartoons and Facebook haunts everything. There is a pretty thriving editorial cartoon culture in that entire region of the planet -- that's something that made processing the Danish Cartoons Crisis difficult, incidentally, because a lot of western media pretended that entire countries were unfamiliar with cartooning.
 
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Go, Look: Pretty Darwyn Cooke Batwing #24 Cover Art

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Not Comics: Apples Loses Major Decision Re: E-Book Price Fixing

Publishers Weekly has a reasonably concise write-up here on a court decision going against Apple for facilitating e-book price fixing in a series of move asserted generally to have been caused due to the portentous, Mordor-like shadow cast by Amazon.com's aggressive pricing strategies. It sounds like the evidence was such the legal play by Apple was to try and convince the court not to see it as a case that represented behavior so egregiously against the spirit of the law that motivation wouldn't be taken into account. The article predicts Apple will use legal means to put off having to pay various penalties despite there being little hope that the legal maneuvers themselves will work. I couldn't tell you exactly what this specifically means for comics, although the proximity and overlap issues here should be fairly apparent.
 
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Go, Look: David King Has A Store

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Bundled Extra: Atomic Robo Kickstarter Immediately Funded

According to this article at Rich Johnston's Bleeding Cool site, it took approximately two hours for an Atomic Robo-related crowd-funder to meet its goals. I don't know that that's news, particularly, but I thought it wouldn't hurt to occasionally spotlight one of these comics crowd-funders that meets with strong success. The formula here seems to be: known quantity + property familiar to the kind of folks that might fund something like this given a chance + modest goals + not skimping on the incentives. I go hot and cold on crow-funders, more for their general effect on what gets published than as an indictment of people finding a way to publish, but I would imagine some folks being happier that this one exists than they would be if it didn't.
 
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The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Cons, Shows, Events

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By Tom Spurgeon

* San Diego, San Diego, San Diego. One week and five hours from when this post rolls out, Comic-Con International will be in full swing.

* Michael Dooley previews the comics-conference side of next week's convention in San Diego with a bunch of interviews and art.

* I haven't heard a lot from the Trickster people -- that's the salon that sets up in San Diego's downtown and runs a store and some art-related activities and generally serves as a social club for (mostly) indy-comics type talent throughout the weekend -- but they have a web site and it's slowly filling up with information about their plans. I am super all for spin-off events and similar

* if anyone out there has any suggestions for a blogging panel I'm moderating in San Diego a week from today in the evening, a panel that Heidi MacDonald put together, I'm nailing that down in the next 24 hours. I'm sure we'll have plenty to talk about, I just figured it couldn't hurt to ask. If things get slow, I'll just start randomly screaming at Graeme McMillan.

* finally, here's a Leah Moore comic about attending a recent show in London.
 
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If I Were In Gainesville, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Pocket Comics #1

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* here's a nice post about efforts to mount a Searle show on the West Coast, efforts that include a Searle tribute art auction.

* Emily Nordling on Genius. Kevin Cortez on Alternative Comics #4. Andrew Weiss on Dragonsword. Matt Brady on various mini-comics.

* here are the Eisner nominees that are women.

* go, look: Gary Panter draws and writes about the books that had an influence on him. Or something. That's how they describe it, anyway. It's pretty cool. The Billy Ireland folks find some Charles Pearson.

* Johanna Draper Carlson pivots off of Juliet Kahn's article to pen a few words about fashion as an element in comics. They're both fun to read. I have a suspicion that the move away from clip morgues has had an effect, and that the disposable nature of most comic books facilitated a tradition where this stuff isn't strongly emphasized.

* not certain I've ever seen this photo of Steranko and Kirby before, although I feel like I should have, if that makes any sense.

* Rob McMonigal talks to Dave Wachter and James Andrew Clark.

* not comics: that's a lovely illustration by Laura Park.

* someone put a link to this Munoz/Sampayo interview on Tumblr where people started e-mailing it to me. It's always worth a read.

* Ken Parille has written about the color red in ACME Novelty Library #19, which I've just re-read.

* Michael Kupperman + Quincy = comedy gold.

* finally, Rina Piccolo writes about living creatively.
 
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Happy 45th Birthday, Dirk Deppey!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Mark Zingarelli!

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Seven Days Until Comic-Con International 2013!

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July 10, 2013


Go, Look: Tobias Schalken

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Go, Read: Rob Tornoe On The State Of Syndicated Cartooning

imageRob Tornoe's pieces for newspaper industry bible Editor & Publisher are always full of legitimately hard-won detail, and that's certainly true of this latest on the state of syndication as it relates to the sale and dissemination of comics through serially published outlets like newspapers. Not only does Tornoe wrest from King Features how many folks are subscribing to their DailyINK enterprise (approximately 11,000), he notes that they actually use a variety of strategies including the sale of a big package of strips to run through newspaper sites directly. I always thought that the advantages to newspaper cartoon-content providers eschewing a firm investment in one strategy over another would be avoiding the downside of a full commitment in one direction (such as free content potentially sabotaging a chance for limited-edition work sold to a tiny, intense fanbase) and giving them a chance to latch onto something that presented itself as a workable solution if that happened. What this article suggests is that there's a third advantage in simply presenting a variety of solutions that benefit different entities in a number of ways. Sounds smart to me.

A potential jaw-dropper here is confirmation that no one is launching new material. This wasn't a secret, but it's stunning to kind of take into full account. It seems like a basic market readjustment. The sole 2013 launch, King Features' Take It From The Tinkersons, is already at a potentially profitable 75 clients; Dustin, a little over three years old, has reached 300. Tornoe notes something that never occurred to me: that the United/Universal merger may have doomed new strip launches because the combined company suddenly had twice the material to sell. Not only is a massively reduced slate of new strips a key business move, but it also has an effect on content. When you're launching multiple strips in a year, it seems logical that a few stabs in the dark can be attempted. One launch every 18 months, that isn't as likely. You're also able to better develop the material you have before syndication; I don't think in-house development has been a natural strength of syndicates in the last 25 years. While comic strips and editorial cartoon markets have changed in massive fashion the last few years, syndication does still provide a lot of folks with careers making comics, and should never be ignored simply because it's several decades removed from its golden age.
 
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Go, Look: Kids Comics Awards Photo Round-Up

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Go, Read: Rob Salkowitz On Amazon.com's Jet City Comics

I quite liked the writer and consultant Rob Salkowitz's piece on the announcement of a comics line from Amazon.com; I think it's about as good a piece as possible given how early we are in that line's development and how the execution of the publishing imprint will play a much bigger role than the declared-for-PR intentions. Salkowitz makes a nice point or two about Amazon.com general business practices, too, like their willingness to forgo profitability if it means establishing themselves in a marketplace the way they want and their ability as someone that controls all phases of production to avoid some of the hiccups that might be out there waiting for a standard publisher. I'm not sure that I see its focus on bigger-name independent properties as a middle-road as much as an expression of a very specific kind of middlebrow aesthetic, but I'm generally more cynical than he is when it comes to expressions of taste. Anyway, I'm not sure that's necessary reading given the nascent state of the publishing line, but if that's an area in which you're interested I sure haven't encountered a better one-and-done piece.
 
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Not Comics: Texas Poster Art Collection Digitized

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Assembled Extra: Matt Bors' Millennials Piece Leads To New Assignment

I'm not sure if editorial cartoonist Matt Bors' Facebook posts are open to the public or not, but he indicates here that his piece for CNN.com on millennials and their media coverage was a big-enough hit he's been asked to do another piece, this time on unpaid internships. Bors is one of those guys for whom you can imagine a mainstream audience but it just hasn't materialized yet; maybe this gets him some of the way to that more significant fanbase. The fact that any editor has to be convinced of how top-line, well-executed comics can do as opinion pieces seems insane to me given what we know about on-line publishing for the last 15 years.
 
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Go, Look: Camodad

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Not Comics: A Book Publishing Consolidation Story Primer

I don't have a sophisticated sense of the book publishing world, but this New York Times article on the state of that industry post Penguin/Random House merger seems like a decent to me -- it would get people through most dinner-table discussions of that world, I bet. While the general trends strike me as true -- at least as far as really broad, sweeping statements are true -- I would also suggest that there's an element of institutional self-perpetuation that tends to have an impact on the state of every arts-related industry, and we're seeing some of that in prose publishing in broad terms as well. That's why you occasionally get deals where a publishing house offers next to nothing -- they will even depend on your to provide your own marketing -- but still demands a sizable chunk of what you're giving them if it hits.
 
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Go, Look: Matt Bors On Millennials Op-Ed

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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.

*****

MAY131143 EYE O/T MAJESTIC CREATURE GN VOL 02 $19.99
This is the work of cartoonist Leslie Stein, collected from her very modestly-formatted serial comics work. Stein is a very intriguing cartoonist given over to work that's specifically and idiosyncratically taken with elements of human character and relationships. There's a great deal that's visually appealing about her chosen style, too. If you go to the comics shop or hit Amazon.com or stop by convention tables looking for newer work from a distinct, creative voice, I'd encourage to check this one out.

imageMAY131161 GENIUS GN $17.99This is the latest collaboration between Steven Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen, in the works for a long while now, about a scientist in need of the workplace boost that could come from inspiration and insight and the enormously tentative and sideways link to Albert Einstein that might just provide what he needs. It's a dour work, an exploration of a really specific mindset and circumstances, which is something comics does very well.

MAY130027 TRUE LIVES O/T FABULOUS KILLJOYS #2 $3.99
MAY130576 WALKING DEAD #112 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
MAY130663 DAREDEVIL #28 $2.99
MAY130656 INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK #10 NOW $3.99
This seems like sort of a light week for higher-end comic-book format genre comics. The top one is the Gerard Way/Becky Cloonan work whose first issue sold really well for a comic book publisher not in the top three and actually for any comic book publisher period these days. Walking Dead is as reliable and can be counted upon as, well, you know... the bottom two are Mark Waid-written Marvel Comics; Waid's recent work with that company has been well-regarded by fans of that sort of material. I might just look at the mini-comics rack were I in a comics shop, though.

MAR130265 BEFORE WATCHMEN COMEDIAN RORSCHACH DLX HC (MR) $29.99
MAR130266 BEFORE WATCHMEN NITE OWL DR MANHATTAN DLX HC (MR) $29.99
This is the other half of the Before Watchmen hardcover bookstore release, collections of two series each grouped by writer. I read most of this work in serial form and while I preferred the former to the latter it's not by a whole lot and I don't have a lot of affection for any of the work collected. I think these books are presented in smart fashion, though, and are handsomely mounted; maybe they're something you enjoyed.

MAR130252 HARLAN ELLISONS 7 AGAINST CHAOS HC $24.99
A stand-alone collaboration between Harlan Ellison and Paul Chadwick, two very distinct creators each with a respective fanbase that's probably in one this one without having to be convinced. It's end-of-the-world science fiction, although I'm not sure how rigorously that definition might apply for those that make strong distinctions within the various genres -- in other words, it sounds more fantastic than rooted in science, but that could be my poor reading of the advance PR. The commercial copy uses the words "alien seven samurai." Checking back on the book, Ken Steacy is also involved, which is another inducement for a number of you, I'd bet.

APR130686 HAWKEYE #12 $2.99
MAR130726 HAWKEYE TP VOL 02 LITTLE HITS NOW $16.99
Two from the successful Hawkeye series, which found a new level of general critical praise with #11's dog-focused formal play issue. I like when Marvel has a good superhero series out that doesn't plug into continuity in a strict or unfriendly way; it gives me something to buy in the comics shops that don't carry much of anything beyond Marvel and DC comic books. I can imagine these trades doing pretty well, too, although one of my friends thought the shift away from David Aja's art for an issue or two very jarring when they were buying it this way. At any rate, I'm sure there are a lot of decent Marvel books right now because they have a pretty deep bench of fun creators, but it's hard for me to tell them apart, so I'm happy for Hawkeye.

JAN131167 AMAZING ENLIGHTENING TRUE ADV KATHERINE WHALEY HC $29.99
If you were going to only buy one book this week, this would be my choice -- a lengthy, illustrated story set in the wider Waldo-verse that occasionally slips in and out of comics-making like a formal version of the tenuous hold on reality maintained in a lot of cartoonist Kim Deitch's work. It's an amazing-looking thing, too; Deitch has to be like 70 now, or right there on either side of it, and the craft chops haven't left him. It's as handsome a book as he's made.

APR131086 ANIMALS WITH SHARPIES HC (MR) $16.95
I don't know too much about this one but I think I liked the last little D+Q book from creators Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber, 2011's Constructive Abandonment. I also always enjoy just looking at these more directly art-book type books from that publisher. Comic shops are great like that.

MAY130977 BLAKE & MORTIMER GN VOL 14 CURSE OF 30 PIECES OF SILVER PT 2 $15.95
MAY130981 VALERIAN GN VOL 03 LAND WITHOUT STARS $11.95
MAY131320 WOLFSMUND GN VOL 01 $12.95
Two things I always consider: the latest in higher-end mainstream BD as more and more of those series are brought here in album form; anything new from Vertical. I know next to nothing bout the latter, although adding this sentence after I published this form and checked out what Joe McCulloch wrote at TCJ means I learned it was a take on William Tell and that there are already multiple volumes in Japanese. I don't know if I've seen that particular bit of folk legend used in a comic book series before.

MAR131169 JASON LOST CAT HC $24.99
Your remember-Kim-Thompson book of the week. I'm not sure there will be a ton of these because my sense is that Kim worked pretty close to the edges of his schedule and you have to remember he was sick and not working for about a third of a year before passing away. Jason is always fun to read, although this book struck me as a fairly minor one. I'd have to read it again to have something more to say.

MAY131280 WORKBURGER GN (MR) $20.00
A continuation of the Stripburger anthology, one of those books that kept a lot of folks with something in their hands to read during various fallow periods in alt-comics making. Lot of great artists in there, and if you're lucky enough to be in a store that carries it, pick it up and also thank the owner of that store. The rest of us will look at samples on-line or perhaps purchase it directly from Top Shelf at one of their appearances on a still-aggressive shows schedule. That strikes me as an excellent price point.

MAY131162 TEMPLAR GN $39.99
This is the Jordan Mechner knights/caper book, of which a portion was released as the first book in a projected trilogy. We're getting the whole thing together right now, no serialization necessary. I like the project for the sake of a project -- a successful creator doing the labor-of-love thing, and working aesthetic territory I'm not sure a lot of people are interested in right now. It kind of reminded me of the comic book version of a live-action Disney movie from the 1950s/1960s, the kind you really didn't mind running on TV instead of more cartoons.

FEB131251 SUPERHERO READER SC $30.00
NOV121179 LOVE AND ROCKETS COMPANION 30 YEARS SC (RES) $29.99
Solid week for books about comics, including the long-awaited Love & Rockets book and the unholy team-up of Jeet Heer, Kent Worcester and Charles Hatfield editing a book of cape-and-cowl focused writing. I've already run an interview about the latter, and I may try to do something with the former.

MAR130353 BEST OF EC ARTIST ED HC PI
There are some amazing artists here and while an anthology isn't the same as a Wally Wood solo book, these tend to go out of print and see the prices go up dramatically in the used book market. Why would you ever want to sell such a pretty thing, though?

*****

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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Go, Look: Sergeant Barney Barker

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Heidi MacDonald at The Beat caught that Kazuo Koike will be the Dark Horse guest of honor at this year's Comic-Con. That's something special. I'll wait in line for that panel if there's a panel.

image* Greg McElhatton on Abe Sapien #1-3. Alastair Reynolds on Eagle. Michael Kammen on The Art Of Controversy. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Indestructible Hulk Vol. 1. Grant Goggans with more Legion Of Super-Heroes. Sean Gaffney on World War Blue Vol. 1.

* Justin Green writes about format moving from the newspaper age and into the digital age.

* not comics: I don't always get the costume impulse for people older than 16 -- I'm told "costumes are fun" is pretty much it, but I'm still a bit confused -- and yet I'm also surprised when people don't have photos like this one in their background somewhere. Who hasn't donned a homemade genre costume that was alive before 1980?

* Devin Leonard profiles Marc Toberoff.

* I am a fiend for people talking about their comics consumption habits.

* here's a discussion of price and value in commercial comics. I get that there are a lot of comics people buy where a slight, relative shift in page count or in price can really make or ruin the experience. I understand all of the component elements of this piece; I really do. I'd just suggest a potential additional adjustment: maybe try looking to comics for edifying art on its own terms, as opposed to one with a value attached. That sounds way snotty, I know, but I think if you live in a place where you want amazing experiences and aren't willing to settle for lesser ones the idea of negotiating a price point for that kind of experience goes away a bit. When my eating is under control, I don't mind spending a lot of money on the meal I want. When my eating isn't under control, I think all the time about maximizing my eating experiences according to how much money I have to spend. I think that can be true of art, too. I wonder sometimes if what afflicts a number of comic book readers isn't a sort of sensual gluttony.

* there's a new Syd Hoff-related interactive exhibit here. At least they tell me it's new. I like Syd Hoff; who doesn't like look at that kind of art?

* Sean Murphy draws John Constantine. Renee French has been drawing these guys for a while now. Roman Muradov draws something for a NYT article about playing violin when you're older. Killoffer draws a Lapin postcard. Bunch of portraiture up at The Daily Forlorn right now. Still like looking at this guy.

* Biebercomic continues.

* finally, Trevor Ashfield sent along this link to a CBC radio program on Peanuts from the mid-1970s.
 
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Happy 49th Birthday, Sandra Chang!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Simone Bianchi!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Gerard Jones!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Ben T. Steckler!

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Eight Days Until Comic-Con International 2013!

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July 9, 2013


Go, Look: Karl Stevens Has An Etsy Store

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Bundled Extra: Amazon.com Launches A Comics Line

imageStory here. Jet City Comics. It's a baby story, all snot and crying. Any analysis that comes to mind is so screamingly obvious -- "Amazon.com is a very big bookseller and this line has the advantage of working with that bookseller" -- that I'm pretty sure I'm better off playing catch for a while until something sparks a less-dumb line of inquiry. I am genuinely happy that some comics-makers will be getting work. That's always a nice thing. More marketplace options are usually a positive but there are times when the success of an initiative or the size of the player behind it actually limits options by locking them into place -- couldn't begin to tell you if that's a possibility here. I also suppose there's a chance that Amazon will find a way to sell its books that can be helpful for selling comics more generally -- it looks like this is digital serialization followed by print/digital collection, which now becomes an interesting strategy just for Amazon.com selecting it. As for the content, I have to say it's hard for me to imagine a team of scientists working for 100 years would be able to come up with an initial line-up of comics in which I had less interest, although I imagine they'll have more than enough fans to make a go of it.
 
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Go, Look: Jinx The Monkey

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Louis Glanzman, 1922-2013

imageLouis Glanzman, the golden age comics artist turned mid-20th Century illustrator and the brother of iconic industry stalwart Sam Glanzman, has passed away according to reports on a list group in which the surviving Glanzman participates.

Glanzman was born in 1922 and raised in Virginia. Like many artists in the early days of comic book, Glanzman found work in comic books as a teenager, placing his first freelance gig in one of the new industry's publications at the age of 16. Glanzman's major run of most visible work was probably a series of features and covers for the Amazing Man character at Centaur. It was that company with whom Glanzman helped secure occasional freelance gigs for his younger brother.

In the 1940s Glanzman became an illustrator for the magazine published by the US Air Force. In the 1950s he moved into children's book illustration, with his most famous gig coming with the Pippi Longstocking character. By this time he had developed a rich client list as a freelance artist. That list over the decades would include Readers Digest, Colliers, the New Yorker and National Lampoon. He eventually moved into painting and portraiture, including a run of art used by Time. He was for a short time a court reporter at Life.

In the 1970s, Glanzman's career flourished even further when he was commissioned to make historical art based on the country's bicentennial celebrations. This led to a series of gigs doing portraiture series. He was displayed in any number of museums throughout North America.

 
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Go, Look: The Best Walk

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Missed It: Your 2013 Swann Foundation Fellowship Winners

The Caroline and Erwin Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon at the Library of Congress has awarded five fellowships for 2013-2014.

* Alexandra Boni, George Mason University, in support of research for her dissertation, “Editorializing the Cold War: Cartoons and Commentary on Nuclear Fear and Anxiety, 1945-1989.”
* Erin Corrales Diaz, University of North Carolina, in support of research for her dissertation, “Remembering the Veteran: Disability, Trauma, and the American Civil War, 1861-1915.”
* Allison Lange, Brandeis University, in support of research for her dissertation, “Pictures of Change: Transformative Images of Gender and Politics in the Woman Suffrage Movement, 1776-1920.”
* Johnathan Pettinato, Fordham University, in support of research for his dissertation, “Burke and Britons: Edmund Burke and the Irish Other in 18th-Century Cartoons.”
* Louis Dean Valencia, Fordham University, in support of research for his dissertation, “Making a Scene: Movida, Comic Books, Punk Rock, Anti-authoritarian Youth Culture, and Creating Democratic Spaces in Franco’s Spain, 1955-1984.”

The recipients will conduct research at the Library of Congress. The Swann Foundation was established in 1967; Swann further donated a large collection of original art in the 1970s. The fellowships satisfy the foundation's declared support of research and academic publication.
 
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Go, Look: Steranko Design Imagery

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Go, Read: Atlanta Journal-Constitution On Ed Kramer/Dragon*Con Split

Here. That's an effective re-telling of news that broke yesterday that the folks that run Dragon*Con had formed a new operating organization by trading out their existing shares for shares at that; controversial co-founder Ed Kramer, accused in multiple states of child molestation, will take a cash payout and no longer be involved in any way. Kramer had been using the profits from the successful show to wage a tenacious legal campaign against charges levied against him. Their subsequent uncovering led to many pros to call for a boycott of the show.

The two things that jump out at me that the AJ-C has is the percentage of the show that Kramer owned, and the size of previous bailout offers.

The nerd culture aspects to this fascinate me a bit. The way this argument developed wasn't so much "let's get to a place where maybe this guy we think is a creep no longer has money to fund his legal battles" but this sort of weird, fan-driven way where calls for a boycott where met with a "these other people are blameless" and so on. It was hard not to see a pretty typical fan response -- which isn't to say it's all the fans -- here that the arguments defending the show tended to be the kind you see a lot in fan culture, where they strongly align with keeping access to the thing that's enjoyed and therefore spend time building a rhetorical place to defend one's enjoyment of that thing both directly and via the defense of someone's right to profit and benefit from this good thing. The fascinating thing to me about a settlement is that if you really look at what you wanted done here as "let's keep money out of this guy's hands," this really doesn't do that; it simply gives Kramer a lot of money all at once rather than from year to year. But if your primary concern is ridding the thing at the heart of this of its taint, then certainly mission accomplished. If you feel that the blamelessness of the other organizers and their right to be rewarded for their successes has its own moral force, and that this moral force is compounded by actions changing this unfortunate circumstance, this does those things as well. I would imagine that you're also going to see people wonder after why this wasn't done earlier, and people respond to that by saying the people that ask that question just want to attack and blame. And so on.

Since this is a show that I'm going to guess remains super-popular, I would love to see a percentage equivalent to Kramer's go to victims groups. If the charges end up being true, it sucks that Kramer got to make money from that show for so long; it would be great if such groups were able to profit for a while instead.
 
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Go, Look: Hallie Bateman

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You Should Return To The Kim Thompson Tributes Over At TCJ.com To Read Gary Groth's Piece Of Writing

It's amazing.
 
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OTBP: Charcoal And Whisky

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* okay, I hadn't quite gotten this before now. The color Masterplasty story out there from James Harvey is a prelude to a Blank Slate Books work called Zygote due in 2014. I hadn't picked up on that before.

image* here's a Milo Manara cover for a forthcoming issue of Guardians Of The Galaxy featuring the "Angela" character directed to Marvel by Neil Gaiman. That isn't the weirdest sentence this site has ever produced, but proper-name-and-context wise it's right up there. I do like when they use artists like Manara for alternative covers like that because I can sort of see fans wanting that cover for the cover, as opposed to simply wanting the cover because it's rare. That's kind of a silly-looking character. Anyway, Neil Gaiman will contribute to that comic series' story featuring the character.

* and the equivalent to this project in English-language comics would be... nothing. There really is no easy equivalent to that one in English-language comics.

* the nice folks over at FPI Blog anticipate August releases. I like the post because their tastes are very much not my own, save for a few exceptions writer to writer.

* I"m sure I mentioned this somewhere, but one of the interesting publishing-news notes to come out of last week's Image Expo was that Walking Dead was going to do a bi-weekly storyline; another aspect to that story worth watching is that Walking Dead is hyping a storyline, which is something that dependable title rarely does. It was a year ago that its 100th issue came out and did oh-so-well, so there are certainly ways to move the dial with that book.

* here's a passionate piece from a UK-market focused cartoonist on the need for new kids comics following the failure-to-make-a-go-of-it status of the digital Dandy. I agree that there's probably an audience for this material; I'm just not sure it's an audience that will sustain a big-market, big-company, well-funded effort from the get-go without some ingenuity applied in terms of getting material into enough right hands.

* there are a number of new self-published and small press works newly available for sale at Spit And A Half. Domino Books is always adding existing material to its offerings as well.

* Rafael Albuquerque is to start doing art on the DC comic book Animal Man. That's an interesting artist.

* finally, this is a little more late and reactive than I'd ideally like to be in this column, but new Ted May is worth noting. Actually, I don't care if it's old Ted May. Ted May.

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

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Go, Look: Burne Hogarth Tarzan Sundays

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* BOOM! relaunched their web site and they want you to know about it. It's a very nice web site, I suppose.

image* Sonia Harris shows love for George Perez' Wonder Woman.

* Jason Clyma on Superior Foes Of Spider-Man #1. Andy Oliver on Eustace and Swear Down. Kim Thompson on Masters Of Comic Book Art. Richard Bruton on 7 String.

* It's hard for me to believe anyone will pay this much for original comic book art, but hey, I enjoy those comics and rich people spend money on some odd things.

* he means it, too.

* Karen O'Brien looks at the difficulties Marvel has had in selling books with female character leads and points out the lack of depth in characterization in a way that would facilitate a solo comic. I always appreciate criticism of content rather than societal structure.

* mostly not comics: I thought this article was a bit rigid and silly, but reading people in the comments flipping out that someone would step to their favorite shows makes me want to like it more than I did. It does remind me how soft a lot of the major critical work has been on the major television shows. I don't know of a writer about television that's emerged through a largely negative appraisal of the television being made, the way that the '70s gave us a range of movie critics with different approaches to the form and different attitudes about the material being put out there. The comics stuff is pretty standard material about how ad hoc creation in superhero universes mirrors what writers of modern TV shows doing with their programs.

* Karl Kelly talks to Kurtis Wiebe. Tim O'Shea talks to Jeffrey Brown.

* there is only tangential comics content in this article, basically that cartoon imagery is a significant part of the rhetoric against the phenomenon, but the idea that Israel is trying to get its ultra-orthodox into military service in part because so many of its youngest citizens identify this way makes for a pretty fascinating read.

* finally, tough room.
 
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Don't Ask Me How I Know This, But Fred Basset Is 50 Today

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Happy 87th Birthday, Murphy Anderson!

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Nine Days Until Comic-Con International 2013!

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July 8, 2013


Go, Look: Counter Intuitive Comics

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Dragon*Con Announces Split With Co-Founder And Accused Child Molester Ed Kramer

Here. I think this is a good thing. Ed Kramer is the guy who as a co-founder of the very successful show was using the money that was coming to him from that part ownership to fund a longstanding legal battle against charges of molestation. Several pros from the various communities that assemble at that show thought that was a heinous enough series of accusations to put pressure on the convention by not being involved and calling for a boycott. Others defended the show's other owners as blameless and stuck in a bad situation. It was a fascinating story for Kramer's monster-like status and the way that some fans -- some fans -- seem to argue in a way that just happens to put their greatest enjoyment and utility first. It looks like Kramer accepted some sort of buyout -- one would guess that shares in the existing company were used to purchase shares in a new company and that Kramer instead gets cash. Update: Yep.

I hope that the remaining co-founders -- now the sole founders of the new organization running the same old show -- will consider keeping alive a phantom share equivalent to whatever Kramer's was from the old set-up and give that to an appropriate victims-related charity. I suggest not to punish anyone, but because it's nice when charities benefit in the same way it sucks when creeps do.
 
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Go, Look: Olive Booger

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Rutu Modan, Craig Thompson Art Under Fire At German Exhibit; Modan Page Physically Altered

I'm having a hard time processing this article -- which was e-mailed to me, so apologies to whomever had it first -- not because it's written in a complex fashion but because the behavior it describes seems so openly asinine. After a smattering of protests regarding Craig Thompson and Rutu Modan imagery (from Habibi and Exit Wounds, respectively) in an exhibition called "What Comics can do! -- Recent Trends in Graphic Fiction," last month, some student of Muslim orientation actually went so far as to take scissors to Modan's art and removing the offensive pieces of art. The university has apparently censured this person and may take legal action. While it's encouraging to see the university double down on the idea of universities as a place that should be given wide leeway in terms of offense because of the way this facilitates the sharing of ideas, it's distressing this happened in the first place and that this person will likely have defenders. One of the aspects about some of the cartoon-related protests is that there's an element of provocation in the act against which whatever person is pushing back. You can't argue that here.
 
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Go, Look: John Byrne X-Men Splash Pages

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Here's Something That Still Confuses Me A Bit

I hear from a lot of my hometown friends and occasionally read opinions that state the bulk of political cartoonists are left-leaning. I know that some of the best ones are -- Oliphant, Toles, Bors -- and that traditionally some of the better ones (Mauldin, Herblock) have been (I also realize that these can be slippery definitions), but I always wonder if that old saw is true, particularly anymore. I mean, it's hard for me to imagine any cartoonist from the left going after a target on the right like this cartoon from Jeff Darcy does. That didn't run on some strident site somewhere; that apparently ran in the Plain-Dealer. A cartoon like that just seems like a straight-up political-issue slapdown. I get that Sarah Palin and before her Condoleezza Rice have seen some highly disdainful, savage cartooning tossed their way, even some with deeply unfortunate elements of categorical bias (pick your category: class, race, gender), but this strikes me as a purer distillation of a strong political position presented without perspective or humor and aimed right at someone. I'm having a hard time coming up with something similar from the other direction. Did someone do like a baby's death shroud in place of the "mission accomplished" banner? I don't remember it. I guess it's possible. At any rate, my surface impression of political cartooning is that what we in the U.S. call conservative politics has a number of practitioners, including several people known by name (McCoy, Stantis, Ramirez), and that this supposed tilt or imbalance isn't what it used to be -- if it ever was.
 
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Go, Look: The Man On The Endless Stairway

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Brigid Alverson: Tezuka, Viz To Expand Digital Comics Presence

Industry reporting stalwart Brigid Alverson has a tightly-coiled wrap-up on digital comics news from LA's Anime Expo. Digital Manga, Inc. and Tezuka Productions will release the entire Osamu Tezuka catalog in digital format worldwide -- she notes that previous efforts have been spotty and limited at best, and that a worldwide release is a relatively rare thing in that world. Kodansha will also expand its digital books program to multiple devices as of the middle of this month. Again, it sounds like the biggest companies are beginning to make strong, firm decisions in terms of strategy an execution in that world, including up-until-now stubborn players of various import.
 
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Go, Look: Hal Foster Illustrates Tarzan Of The Apes

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Frank Santoro Initiates A Cash-Prize Comics Contest

The comics educator and cartoonist Frank Santoro has started a cash-prize comics contest through his correspondence school. The comic must embody certain values and structures taught at the school, so pay attention to those rules, you special flowers out there. Santoro makes an interesting point that without the Xeric Grant, and its twice-a-year deadlines, that removes two key points of structure from the small press comics-making year. I don't know that all of these festivals and shows are what really provides the backbone to that endeavor, but it's an intriguing assertion. CR is all for cash prizes being given for comics making, and wishes to encourage it every time out.
 
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Go, Look: Modern Cartoonist At MCA Chicago Flickr Set

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

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* Michael Jantze is apparently crowd-funding a Norm-related graphic novel project with an interesting additional pedigree. Jantze is a prove comics-maker and that's a modestly-leveled crowd-funder, so I hope folks will check it out even if they weren't deeply familiar with his syndicated strip work.

* here's a nice-sounding charity event involving comiXology and The Hero Initiative.

* the critic Rob Clough would like to talk to you about supporting crowd-funders from Dennis Eichhorn and Steve Lafler.

* this person was nice enough to send along a press release concerning this crowd-funder for a horror-related work. IT'd be nice if you went and looked at it, but no pressure.

* finally, the cartoonist Rich Tommaso just moved into a new house, with all the expenses that are usually incurred. You might check out his Etsy store and maybe even buy something if you're inclined. At any rate, it's nice to know that is there.
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: A Recent Trio From Boulet

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Comic-Con Friday, Saturday and Sunday programming is up. I look forward to seeing the Kim Thompson panel on Friday, that should be a good one.

image* J. Caleb Mozzocco on Ariol Vols. 1-2. Brandon Thomas on The Saga Of The Swamp Thing #21. Rob Clough on a pair of musical anthologies. Sean Gaffney on Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin Vol. 2. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of comic-shop comics. Michael Buntag on Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on Satellite Sam #1. Henry Chamberlain on The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation. Richard Bruton on Grand Gestures and Windrush #2. Nicola Love on The Amateur Astronomer's Journal. Kelly Thompson on Daredevil Dark Nights #2 and Suicide Risk #3. A bunch of different writers on Catalyst Comix.

* I like the looks of this big, orange print that Darryl Cunningham is selling. Ditto this Alan Moore t-shirt.

* I hesitate before people to Huffington Post, because I think creators of content should be paid first if there's any money available to pay them, but Katherine Brooks interviews Nick Cardy here and there's some nice art in there. JK Parkin talks to Evan Shaner.

* Bob Temuka writes in praise of that Mount Rushmore of Comics Interview Subjects member late '80s/early '90s Grant Morrison. I agree with Temuka that few people hold forth in interviews any more. People are much more conscious of creating offense, and they do a lot more interviews as a general rule which a) kind of dilutes the effect of wanting to get things off of one's chest, b) creates less of a reactive marketplace even when an interview is really remarkable.

* Sean Kleefeld notes that Johnny Hart presaged a new transportation device.

* not comics: Seattle is where 'zine culture and rock culture collided.

* finally, Chris Arrant uses the Archaia/BOOM! deal to write about how the modern DC Comics was born out of a merger-happy early comics publishing enterprise.
 
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Happy 95th Birthday, Irwin Hasen!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Stan Woch!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Whilce Portacio!

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Ten Days Until Comic-Con International 2013!

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July 7, 2013


Go, Look: Bugtown Mall

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The cartoonist Matt Howarth has come up in conversation a few times recently. I was largely unaware of how much work he has available through his site.

Given the relationship that a lot of the younger cartoonists working in the indy/alt realm have with genre comics and with formal play, Howarth seems like a significant candidate for broad reconsideration.
 
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Please Help Me Out: Suggest Discrete Digital Work For Review

I'd love to review more digital comics work on the side in all permutations and formats. One probably that I have with sorting that material is that most of what I'm led to is in the middle of serializing itself in very determined, active fashion. This makes it harder to engage than something that's already, well, more done. While I don't mind reviewing a series more generally, it does seem odd at times to interact with a work that is obviously cranking through material where what is to come may change how we perceive what has already happened. So if you know of work where there are discrete units to be engaged or at the very least the part that's rolling out is representative of the whole in a way that one's opinion isn't likely to change once the rest of it is seen (the way the middle of a run of gags in a standard month for Peanuts is different than the month where Charlie Brown wore a bag over his head at summer camp),
 
posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
So I've Been Asking Around: Did Aquaman Win The New 52?

imageThis is one of those elements of comics culture it's impossible to phrase in argumentative terms because it's too easy to dismiss the ideas involved on multiple interpretative grounds, but if you assert that one of the things that a company like DC Comics is compelled to do with a publishing line is to manage the library of characters as well as produce a line of comic books that sells, it's fun to look at the recent-in-historical-terms "New 52" relaunch from late 2011 in that way. Besides, I was so skeptical over whether that line-wide effort would find a point of engagement with comic book fans and was thus on the wrong side of foreseeing its initial success that compounding that rhetorical malfeasance with a little facile inquiry into character development certainly won't put any earned analytical capital at risk. I've been wrong before.

So I've been reading around a bit and even asking a bunch of people via e-mail and tweet which of DC's characters have benefited from any reinterpretation that developed through the line-wide reboot. What I've read and received back has interested me. One factor is that for some readers there hasn't even been a firm sense of DC's character across their various appearances when they enjoy more than one spotlight. In some ways this is intentional: the "blue jeans Superman" that Grant Morrison put into early issues of the relaunched Action Comics isn't the high-collared, more standard superhero that the character is in his other titles and in Justice League because one is presented as an earlier permutation of the other -- kind of the way the "boy" and "baby" versions functioned in the Silver Age. In other ways this doesn't seem intentional at all: I'm not sure how Wonder Woman is different in terms of narrative progression in places she appears other than her own comic, or if this is explained at all, but I have seen perceived differences in the character criticized as not matching the charge that certain fans get from the solo title version. It could also be argued that publishers like these want multiple versions, even within a "universe" construct. Like I said, there are so many ways to dismiss these lines of inquiry in summary fashion.

imageAnother factor I've seen is that there's not been a wide range of characters spat back at me as newly invigorated or at any time in the near future potentially ready to go across different media or anchor comic book stories in this new incarnation moving forward. There seems to be more lingering affection for traditional characters or a kind of tip-of-the-hat for the fact they're different than excitement over what specifically has been done with them -- like the Wonder Woman character Steve Trevor I've seen praised for being different than the old Steve Trevor but not necessarily interesting in and of himself. So I expected more weird answers than I got. I've seen some affection for the characters presented in Demon Knights, and the occasional oddball obscurity or definite supporting player (Etta Candy) tossed back my way -- in some cases without my really knowing how serious that praise might be. But for the most part people really seem to like the newer version of the company's bigger licenses if they like anyone at all. One piece of good news in my inbox for DC is that the bulk of what I heard back that was positive about the bigger characters was focused on two properties without a long, recent history of traction in the comics marketplace: the aforementioned grittier, myth-driven version of the William Moulton Marston-created Wonder Woman and the Geoff Johns-led revamp on the old Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger character Aquaman. If there's anything about those runs of comics that sticks to the characters in a way that's transferable to future comics and maybe even to other media, I imagine DC would be very happy, even if my reading of that content is that those two takes are more about tweaks and writers standing by firm choices in the course of a narrative than inspired character work. Then again, in the case of a character like Green Arrow, it's hard to distinguish how much conceptual elbow grease was put in by editorial/creative and how much was playing catch on the successful TV show version. It could be that you just don't know. I look at the sexy, fit-looking John Constantine character in Justice League Dark as this kind of weird, comedic figure -- as if "Malcolm Tucker" appeared on episodes of the forthcoming 24 relaunch and was played by John Barrowman -- but maybe the quarter-century old character works best that way or at least works better than another ten years of what he was doing before. You can argue anything in comics, and eventually most people do.

Still, that seems like a lot of characters being introduced back into the relative spotlight of the comics rack without a ton of them capturing the attention of a vocal minority fanbase, or even one or two comics-obsessive outliers, at least not in a way I've been able to detect. I certainly couldn't hazard a guess as to why that might be. If I were forced to take a stab at an element of it during some sort of super-nerd hostage-threatening scenario, it might be that these kinds of comics are so locked into certain formulas in terms of how they're executed that all the conceptual work kind of ends up looking the same on the page. I know I've read issues of DC comics like The Movement and Green Team where I knew the high concept hook going in from reading PR but the comics themselves seemed like standard 1990s DC comics and almost indistinguishable from this huge mass of work they've put out in recent years, let alone a platform for the proclaimed new take. But who knows? The numbers in comics are so relatively tiny and the number of factors involved in what makes a good comic by any standard can be such a vast array of things that it's hard to pin this kind of thing down. My hunch is that we haven't seen a lot of smaller-character development in a way that might buttress the line up top in the years ahead, no character finds that people would be clamoring to see folded into a movie version despite it not being the "traditional" team or whatever -- one character that received a potential platform for this, Marv Wolfman's and George Pérez's creation Cyborg, was criticized by the people to whom I spoke more than singled out as a beneficiary of this new funnybook era. Then again, I'm not even sure how much it really matters that Marvel can build superteams around the Goodwin/Tuska/Romita character Luke Cage now, or make traditionally super-dull Lee/Kirby leading man Cyclops the fulcrum around which multiple mutant titles work. For whatever it's worth, I detect little of similarity in what DC has done, and I kind of thought I would.
 
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Go, Look: Several Pages Of Crepax

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Go, Look: Amazing Heroes Cover Gallery Tribute To Kim Thompson

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

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

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

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Happy 29th Birthday, Noah Van Sciver!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Rick Hoberg!

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Eleven Days Until Comic-Con International 2013!

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FFF Results Post #342 -- Reading About Comics

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Interviews Or Essays About Comics You've Enjoyed Reading In Recent Years." This is how they responded.

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John Vest

1. Kim Deitch's A Lousy Week For Woods
2. Crumb and Groth Online
3. Gary Groth's interview with R Crumb in Comics Journal 301
4. Brandon Costello's interview with Howard Chaykin
5. Patrick Rosenkranz's essay in the Snatch Comics Treasury reissue

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. All Of These Things That Have Made Us, your CR essay about your hospitalization & comics
2. Dave Sim on Neal Adams & Niagara Falls in Following Cerebus #9
3. Gabrielle Bell interviewed by Dan Nadel on tcj.com
4. Eddie Campbell interview by Dirk Deppey in a late period Comics Journal
5. Gerhard interview by Sean Michael Robinson on the previous iteration of tcj.com

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Carroll, Cross-Contour, and the Demi-Fecund Ram: An Interview with Mahendra Singh
2. CR Holiday Interview #1 -- Art Spiegelman
3. I Remember Abner: An Interview With Al Capp's Biographers
4. It's 1969, ok? Padraig talks with Kevin O'Neill
5. Lines and Frames: An Interview with R.O. Blechman

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1.) The Cowardly and the Castrated by Tucker Stone & Noah Berlatsky
2.) TCJ 300 Conversations: Howard Chaykin & Ho Che Anderson
3.) Buster Brown at the Barricades by Alan Moore
4.) Kim Thompson, 1956-2013 by Tom Spurgeon
5.) Everything by Sarah Horrocks

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topic suggested and examples provided by John Vest; thanks, John

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*****
 
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July 6, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Bob Mankoff Ted Talk


Dig Comics Documentary Project Kickstarter Video


David Shenton Interview


An Evening With Mike Diana


That Ishi's Brain Adaptation
 
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Checking Out Some John Byrne Art On His Birthday Reminded Me How Death-Soaked The X-Men Could Be

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I sure loved them, though; this is a damn handsome panel, too
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from June 29 to July 5, 2013:

1. Cartoonist Mohammed Saba'neh released from prison where he was held about half-year on charges that were never 100 percent clear, or at least weren't all the time.

2. Image Comics announces an ambitious DRM-free digital comics plan and a slew of books at a Tuesday Expo carrying their name.

3. Kitchen Sink Books becomes an imprint at Dark Horse.

Winners Of The Week
Best American Comics 2013 contributors. That doesn't make those not selected losers, and it doesn't make the BAC series the end-all and be-all of what's of value in any given year, but I have to assume that's nice.

Loser Of The Week
Aleve

Quote Of The Week
"Now I can probably find what I'm looking for online or in other cities' good bookstores when I travel. So for me, the closing of Domy is a sad event. But for Houston, it's a tragedy. It removes the one place in Houston where someone can stumble across a copy of Nobrow serendipitously. Maybe the days of finding something obscure in a bookstore or record store or wherever is an archaic experience, obviated by the coming of the internet. But I don't believe it. Until you see a copy of Nobrow and flip through it, how will you know this might appeal to you? In other words, finding these kinds of things by accident in a funky old store off the beaten track can expand your mind. Especially if you're young." -- Robert Boyd

*****

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

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Go, Look: The Drawings Of Steranko

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

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Christy Marx!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, John Byrne!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Katherine Collins!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Joe Zabel!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Andrew Fulton!

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Twelve Days Until Comic-Con International 2013!

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July 5, 2013


Go, Look: Entirety Of Trucker Fags In Denial Art On Sale

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you could call this "the last underground comic book" and I wouldn't argue with you
 
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Go, Look: Jo Dery

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My Favorite Sort Of Recent Comics Business Semi-Trend

I like hearing about successful comic book stores opening up second locations, as is the case with Ann Arbor's Vault Of Midnight opening a shop in Grand Rapids. I'm a big booster of comics shops and of physical retail generally -- I think it's a tried and true way of doing business within the medium and is needlessly, unfairly discounted in terms of sexier ways of selling that kind of material. I'm happy when veteran hands get a chance to extend their influence, as I suspect that the stores with a long-term track record pay greater attention to the quality of material on sale, however they perceive the medium. That might be foolish of me, I know. I like new stores, too.
 
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Go, Look: Andy Glass

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A Few Not Exactly Compelling, Slightly Later Than One Might Want Thoughts On This Week's Image Expo

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

I don't have access to their numbers, but from the outside looking in, the Image Expo this past Tuesday seems like it was a successful branding exercise and publishing news platform. I think that comics conventions and festivals have been successful in a number of ways recently, so it makes perfect sense that someone would corral the energy into one into a company-wide promotional opportunity. I could see other companies doing something similar. It's an interesting model. I've been thinking about it since that day, and I came up with a few thoughts, which I'll now share.
* one thing I like about the Image Expo is that it celebrates certain comics orthodoxies I hold dear. One is that comics itself is worth discussing on its own terms. Image Comics has a relationship with what and with whom they publish solely in terms of their comics -- or at least mostly in terms of those comics, things might have changed for all I know -- so any festival they're going to throw is by its very nature a comics-focused event. There's no specific pressure to have a movie star or two on hand to announce a film project; there are few competing, cross-media agendas that emerge in major ways.

* the Expo is also a vote of support for the effectiveness and quality of existing industry media. While there may be some outside journalists on hand -- and the coverage of comics is pretty broad these days, actually, so what "outside" means might be debatable -- the bulk of what's presented at something like this is going to be covered with multiple posts an entry points on the industry-focused sites like Comic Book Resources. A multi-faceted, deep-inventory presentation and follow-up series of discussions is built for web site coverage, and a corresponding social media splash. Some of the best comics shows are also the ones that have the smartest media policies, and facilitate the dissemination of publishing news as part of their fabric. This one did that.

* I thought Kiel Phegley's basic framework for coverage at CBR was thorough, succinct and on point, and recommend everyone read it or at least visit the page for as much as I'll pull from it in writing this piece. You can check out their coverage more fully here. You can read various articles at The Beat here.

* I love publishing news as only a member of Generation Amazing Heroes Preview Special can love publishing news, but the biggest single announcement from the Image Expo has to be the company's digital comics initiative. There are a several aspects worth noting. One is that Image has a digital comics plan worth introducing. What a company that size pursues in terms of a digital comics strategy is automatically news. Another -- and the sexiest part of the announcement -- is that they're going DRM-free with the options they make available. If you're not familiar with the back and forth regarding those issues I'm probably not the person to get you up to speed. Let's just say that how one puts material out into the digital market, and whether or not that some sort of protective element is necessary, doomed or foolish, has triggered more virtual column inches and shoe-to-podium certainty than any issue not involving a major plot progression in a fictional universe. The way I see the Image choice in broad terms is that it's a strategy that counts on the strength of the commercial impulse surrounding these comics relative to the avenues of exploitation risked by offering them up in this manner -- an extension of the trust involved simply having digital copies out there in the first place. It's also a way of distinguishing the company in the marketplace, and it could potentially-- although this runs counter to what we've come to accept as that company's basic culture -- be a way to involve the home company with a decisive revenue stream.

I'm kind of in a weird place to discuss such plans because I think of this stuff as a creator rights issue first and choose not to surrender that ground to arguments of greater utility or advantage. If someone either by making that choice themselves or ceding that choice through lawful contract wants to charge $10,000 for a print comic book, I think that that's their right; ditto whatever digital approach they want to choose. I vote with my dollars (or their equivalent), not by circumventing those wishes and finding a more amenable outcome that maximizes my personal satisfaction or what I project onto this person their goals should be. I still struggle with any other way of approaching those matters.

I also think there are industry-wide ramifications you have to look at when a company makes a choice like this one, how things shake out in the end when different practices become normative. There are constructions by which you can argue that comics' essential conservatism on a number of business issues has been harmful; there are constructions by which you can argue they've actually been helpful. I would imagine that this basic uncertainty applies to major digital policy initiatives, too. I'm suspicious of anyone that thinks they know the ultimate outcome when it comes situations like this one. For one thing, I don't think their record of certainty over the last decade scores out very well; I don't think we're in the comics industry that I was told with absolute, loud-voice declarative power we'd be experiencing right now. I think these things have to develop organically. And since Image's past was a call-out point during a bit of the weekend, I think it's fair to note that part of that publisher's past has been doing things that benefit Image short-term while not necessarily benefiting the company long-term, let alone the industry in which they're placed. I don't necessarily have a scenario that gets us to a darker place, either, but I think the possibilities make it worth backing off any sort of triumphant language.

* I think that sounds like a solid publishing slate they just announced, and that it reflects a strong general strategy familiar to the company. In an era where Marvel and DC are strongly promoting their writers, this year's Image Expo featured a string of announcements about writers and cartoonists mostly known as writers presenting their new projects and/or the latest about their ongoings. I don't mean to imply Image is being ungenerous to its artists. There are a lot of artists extremely happy to be working there, the impact of a Fiona Staples or a Sean Phillips is undeniable, and in fact Image is a bit ahead of the curve in terms of routinely roping in all of the artists involved in the making of comics when they present and discuss their various works. But even at the slight remove of writing this piece in a word document after lightning fried my modem, I can't remember who, for instance, Jason Aaron is working with on Southern Bastards and I can't imagine forgetting for a second that Aaron is involved.

Image has a lot to celebrate right now, particularly in concrete gains when it comes to its numbers. Some of those numbers might become intriguing in a slightly different way if one or two outlier performers were removed, but I think the general news is such no one is going to blame Image for their optimism, or even being aggressive in making their general case.

There are some limits to how far I'll go with them. It seemed to me -- and this could be my crankiness, or something in how the material was reported -- that there was an assertion of how Image represents a sort of unfettered creative expression in contrast to those tired, old corporate comics. I don't all the way buy that line, mostly because it really only works if your non-Image world begins with Marvel and ends with DC. The Image offerings are almost solely high-concept genre comics with some sort of adventure element, less startling a deviation from what Marvel and DC do than the tonal shifts that take place about 12-14 times between works in an average Nobrow anthology.

imageDon't get me wrong. I like the sound of a lot of these projects and think highly of a number of these comics-makers. I want to read that Matt Fraction/Howard Chaykin comic book. I look forward to Ed Brubaker working with Steve Epting. I am either entertained by several Image Comics currently publishing or can wrap my mind around how someone would find those comics fun, distracting and/or edifying. I'm still always a little bit wary of treating Image as some sort of creative paradise. There are a lot of different ways to get to this kind of creative freedom in comics, and, if you're talking about what the companies will likely publish and by whom, you can argue that there are places of greater creative freedom. It's good press, I think. A good tagline for readers. It flatters them.

What I think gets underplayed a bit as a result is the fine work that Image has done in presenting an appealing model to comics-makers: 1) self-direction and corresponding greater reward for outside-media opportunities; 2) the imprimatur of proximity to projects that have enjoyed a desirable kind of success in comics and without; 3) a path to developing name-above-the-title-and-or-property success that doesn't involve negotiating a sometimes-cluttered landscape of desirable characters and editorially-directed nonsense; 4) the underrated ability to profit to a much greater extent than mainstream base rates and royalties allow if your comic book sells well. This isn't as sexy or as encouraging to fans as promoting a sense of exclusivity regarding the content, but I suspect that those elements together make for a bigger unique component in terms of the surge of success that Image has enjoyed the last 36-48 months.
I love the North American comics industry a little bit more when there's a healthy and aggressive Image Comics. I prefer when comics-makers with a skill for genre work have another place to publish with much to offer in the basic set-up and deal. I love for creators and readers to have as many options as possible. And I do think there's a general tiredness to even the best comic books featuring editorially controlled characters with branding responsibilities and several hundred previous stories on their CV. Mostly, though, I'm happy when a company like Image devotes a whole day to its comics and puts creators first in doing so. So good for them. I hope as many people paid attention to the Expo as seemed to. I can see it becoming a thing.
 
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Go, Look: Bob Powell And Howard Nostrand Together

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Festivals Extra: CCI Panel Roll-Out Begins

imageThe programming slate at Comic-Con has begun to roll out. Those are always a lot of fun, and I like looking at the lists as its own thing for all the PR approaches and strategies on display. I'll shrink the schedule down to a comics-only list next week: you can do that with a filter right there on the site, but I might have a different definition of comics than that filter, I'm not sure yet.

As far as Thursday goes, I'm moderating a panel about blogging that begins at 7 PM. I'd usually recommend one of my own panels because it seems churlish not to, but I don't know -- that's dinner time. I'll try to make it as entertaining as possible, and one supposes the possibility that I'll be experiencing major blood-sugar issues and will start hallucinating and screaming things at Rich Johnston could make that one fun.

I think this year's show is going to be fascinating in terms of what comics people do with it. Also, I totally forgot Gene Deitch is going to be there. Holy crap. He'll be there primarily for his animation achievements, but what a good cartoonist. There are a lot of holy crap comics moments like that for me at Comic-Con, and a lot of hardcore comics-nerd stuff, too.
 
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Go, Look: Livon Jihanian's X-Men Comic Strip

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Assembled, Zipped, Downloaded And Transferred: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* this is interesting: looks like the experiment in taking classic UK kids comic The Dandy into the digital-only magazine phase has ended. These new models are tough, despite the hopeful rhetoric in which they're frequently left soaking.

image* Thien Pham is serializing Please, Don't Give Up on-line, and we're all the better for it.

* not comics: Susie Cagle provided illustrations for this Journalists Against Journalism site.

* Meredith Gran tracks the way she's drawn Eve in Octopus Pie.

* from the looks of the site and his appearance at a high-profile gig elsewhere, it looks like the writer Graeme McMillan may have ended a long run doing everyday sort of blogging over at Newsarama. I imagine he'll keep his hand in there and all the other places he writes about comics. I am always happy to read McMillan.

* Rob Salkowitz would like you to know that we're in a golden age for digital-first comics.

* finally, I've enjoyed watching people try out various digital pricing strategies, so I took notice of this promotion featuring my favorite comics ever.
 
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If I Were In Florida, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Classic John Forte

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Daryl Cagle welcomes jailed Palestinian cartoonist Mohammed Saba'aneh back to the not-jail world. That's actually the first confirmation that I've heard that the cartoonist was released -- the last thing I read was that he was about to be released. It's good to post things like that so that maybe the cartoonist would read them and know they were not forgotten while jailed.

image* J. Caleb Mozzocco on Alternative Comics #4. Rob Clough on a bunch of mini-comics. J. Caleb Mozzocco on various comics.

* not comics: Michael Kupperman shelf porn.

* a cover theme game is a very good idea. I seem to remember either someone else doing this or the same people doing this a long time ago. Wait, I think it was Steven Grant in his old, long-running column. He did something like that.

* I don't recall longtime retailer and foundational comics blogger Mike Sterling doing a whole lot of just random commentary on new comics, but I'm happy to run a link to it when he does.

* Josie Campbell talks to Chris Roberson and Allison Baker.

* here's James Vance on the Comix Book project.

* very excited about Bully's Captain Tootsie month.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco writes about the tradition of killing off -- or "killing off," perhaps, too; I haven't read it -- characters in comic book "event" series in order to kick them off in style.

* finally, that very nice person Sonia Harris has a survey up about comics and its impact on relationships. If you have a few minutes and the topic interests you, that might be something you go and do.
 
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Happy 37th Birthday, Steven Goldman!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Bill Watterson!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Chris Butcher!

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this photo was by Charlie Chu
 
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Thirteen Days Until Comic-Con International 2013!

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July 4, 2013


Go, Look: Connor Willumsen's Treasure Island Part 1

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he says it's independence day-related
 
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Go, Look: Skinned And Stewed

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Bundled Extra: Matt Bors To Edit Editorial Cartoons Section For NSFWCORP Print Edition

The announcement is pretty straight-forward and in that world, welcome news. Cartoonists included the first time out are Ryan Pequin, Scott Bateman, Jen Sorensen, Brian McFadden, Bors and Ted Rall. The section -- two pages -- builds on that news organization's devotion to illustration as a tool for journalism.
 
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Go, Look: John Allison

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I don't think I've ever linked to Allison, an on-line comics mainstay
 
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The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Cons, Shows, Events

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By Tom Spurgeon

* there are a few comics-related events this weekend, including Anime Expo in Los Angeles and a more standard comics convention in Florida, by which I mean a whole bunch of stuff loosely organized around the theme of comics. I'm always glad for that, actually; there's something very old-fashioned about events lining up for holiday weekends.

* Justin Giampaoli has put together a food guide for San Diego with Comic-Con International in mind. I will use one or two of these suggestions myself.

* Gary Tyrell provides more of his superior webcomics coverage by going through the exhibitor map at Comic-Con International and pointing out where all the on-line focused creators are set up. That's kind of awesome. And it's also remarkable just how big a presence that particular world of comic has at Comic-Con now.

* the shuttle bus schedule for Comic-Con is up. I don't always ride on those things, but they're very useful when you're exhausted, lost or in a place too far away to walk. I've never had a problem on one.

* speaking of transportation issues, Marc Mason sent along this note about the trolley system:
I was in San Diego this past weekend, and the good news is that the trolley upgrades have gone well. The bad news is that a couple of the trolley lines have shrunk.

The Orange line now stops at America Plaza, no longer curving around past the Convention Center and to the Gaslamp. The Blue line also now stops at America Plaza and doesn't continue north to Old Town.

I am guessing they may add a special trolley or two for the con, but for those who are used to taking the Orange and Blue lines, they are in for a shock.
So if you count on the trolley while in San Diego for Comic-Con International, you might want to double-check a map, and/or go to this updated information page on the Comic-Con site.

* hey, it's an ELCAF report. And here's another one.

* finally, I assume there will be more SPX posters than the one below before it's all over -- I'm guessing, anyway -- so lets look at them as they come out. That show is like... 10 weeks away, maybe?

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

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Go, Look: Animal Comics #1

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Johanna Draper Carlson catches Archie trying out a new format.

image* Rob Clough on Gonzo. Jim Johnson on Satellite Sam #1. Rob Clough on some NBM books. Don MacPherson on various comics. Greg McElhatton on Road To Oz. Grant Goggans on Papa.

* Greg Burgas would like you to know why comics are awesome.

* nice crowd shot of those waiting to hear announcements during the morning portion of the recent Image Expo. This may not speak well in terms of the unemployment level among comics fans, although knowing the Bay Area they are probably 90 percent millionaires taking a half-day to hang out and think about comics. I have a longer thinkpiece on the Expo that I hope to get up as soon as possible.

* there's a fun post over at Rich Johnston's site about S. Clay Wilson working for Marvel through the underground cartoonists publication that Denis Kitchen put together for them.

* I caught up with the first part of Elijah Brubaker's Jezebel comic and enjoyed it quite a bit.

* Kiel Phegley talks to Jeff Parker. David Betancourt talks to Cullen Bunn.

* finally, this Kim Thompson savaging of some translation choices on some Claire Bretécher comics is something else.
 
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Happy 16th Anniversary, Fanfare/Ponent Mon!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Chip Sansom!

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Fourteen Days Until Comic-Con International 2013!

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July 3, 2013


Go, Look: Simon Gane In Greece

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Go, Read: Robert Boyd On Domy Books Houston, RIP

Longtime alt-comics industry mainstay and current Houston-area arts writer (among other things) Robert Boyd has a very nice blog post here about the closing of Houston's Domy Books location. This paragraph nails it:
When I was 16 and got my driver's license (in 1979), my buddies and I started coming to The River Oaks Theater, which at the time was a repertory theater--a new double feature every night. Initially, we were going to see rock and roll movies like The Kids Are Alright or Yessongs. But eventually we started discovering weird movies that we had never heard of there. Likewise, we started haunting the Half Price Books & Records on Waugh, buying records just because they had cool covers. I mention this because these places were part of my cultural education -- they opened my eyes to new ways of reading and seeing and listening. And I would be amazed if Domy hadn't had the same effect on many a young person, seeking something without exactly knowing what it was they sought until they found it at Domy.
Retail is a great and wonderful thing, these places to go to interact with physical objects of value. One of the reasons comics is relatively strong right now when compared to other media with greater advantages is that more of comics' established retail infrastructure survived the last 15 years.
 
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Go, Look: Pssst

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Go, Read: The Cartoonist William Dobson Profiled

I'm a huge sucker for obscure cartoonists and historical research, so I spent most of the morning batting this article around between my paws and sniffing it with delight. It's a profile of an amateur cartoonist whose work showed up in the archives of a figure of local historical interested. It turns out he was a soldier that corresponded with the daughters of the historical figure, women he met while serving in World War I. I love hearing about amateur cartoonists of the first half of the 20th Century because that is one art form in which the general facility of those who dabble seems to have declined over the years rather than surged. So the pictures themselves are interesting, as well as the idea that this kind of communication was a frequent road-not-traveled for many a young man.
 
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Go, Look: Sara Drake

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Go, Read: Jack Ohman On The Recent AAEC Convention

The Sacramento Bee cartoonist and columnist Jack Ohman attended the recent Association of American Editorial Cartoonist meeting in Salt Lake City. As Matt Bors pointed out in his CR interview, the Bee has Ohman writing as well as making cartoons, so we benefit from his convention coverage.

* preview piece
* report from Jann Haworth speech
* report from Bob Bennett speech
* more general article on what cartoonists talk about at shows like this one
* profile of Pat Oliphant at convention

I liked the coverage of Bennett, and I sort of just like the fact that the AAEC still brings in political leaders and artists working in different cultural milieus in order to inform their membership. I imagine most of the people on the ground prefer the late-night interactions at the bar, but I still like these things.
 
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Not Comics: J. Allen St. John Illustrates Tarzan

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1, 2, 3
 
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Go, Read: Two Articles On Situational Cartooning At New Yorker

* Bob Mankoff wonders after the consequences of the recent Supreme Court about the Defense Of Marriage Act by talking to Bill Haefeli, who has been doing cartoons on the subject of gay marriage for years. That's not really a cartooning about the context in which one cartoons, but becomes one if you look at it in terms of how issues roll out over years and how cartoonists engage those issues as time and attitudes change. I always thought that would be a difficult part of being an editorial cartoonist: how your own attitudes change as the country changes beneath you. Consumers of entertainment, including political entertainment, are harsh on those they feel have changed their minds. Certainly Haefeli hasn't, though.

* a more traditional article on the problems facing cartoonist in certain situations is this blog post from Jonathan Guyer about a subject close to his heart: Egyptian editorial cartooning, specifically how political cartoonists have engaged with the current post-Arab Spring president despite there being laws on the books that would seemingly hinder or frustrate unfettered expression.
 
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Go, Read: Visuals-Stuffed Howard Chaykin Interview

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By Request Extra: Zak Sally's Sammy The Mouse Plea

imageThe cartoonist, publisher and sometimes-printer Zak Sally has a reasonably lengthy post up here reaching out to a certain segment of his readership in the hope that they'll entertain buying a copy of the new Sammy The Mouse book directly from him as opposed to a bookstore or comics shop.

That's a reasonably risky thing for Sally to do as some shop owners might see this as pillaging one kind of sales for another, particularly given the risk involved in ordering material for your shop that doesn't have Wolverine or Batman or one of the walking dead in it. I would imagine, however, that Sally has a very specific fan base that would consider this kind of offer and that this doesn't necessarily draw from an existing store-shopping fanbase -- I suspect that sales for books like these are highly Balkanized. Anyway, Sally puts it as a matter of survival, and I think that's true at the margins we're talking about, so maybe a few folks that weren't going to try the book at all might get on board in support of an artist whose attempts at various strategies and approaches help the entirety of cartooning. Or maybe some of you will consider buying the book twice. It's a good one.
 
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Go, Shop: Hidden Fortress Press Store

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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.

*****

MAY130984 SCIENCE FICTION GN (MR) $18.00
Well, it isn't last week, but last week was stuffed with comics -- in part, I'm guessing, from a desire to have stuff out for Comic-Con International, but maybe I'm wrong. Lot of interesting books this week, though. Science Fiction is Joe Ollmann's latest, once at D+Q and now at Conundrum. Ollmann is working a very peculiar stretch of artistic territory in his works, and this one may be the oddest of all: the story of a relationship slowly crumbling around the pressures of one participant believing they were abducted by UFOs. If you go to the comic looking for one-off, idiosyncratic artistic experience, you don't have to go much further than this one this week.

imageMAY130401 SATELLITE SAM #1 (MR) [DIG] $3.50
MAY130018 47 RONIN #5 $3.99
MAY130036 ABE SAPIEN #4 NEW RACE PT 1 MAX FIUMARA CVR $3.50
MAY130010 CATALYST COMIX #1 (MR) $2.99
MAY130019 MISTER X EVICTION #3 $3.99
APR130425 AGE OF BRONZE #33 [DIG] $3.50
APR130960 ADVENTURE TIME FIONNA & CAKE #6 MAIN CVRS $3.99
This summer has been really good for high-end genre comics in the classic comic book format. Writer Matt Fraction is having a heck of a summer between the super well-liked latest issue of Hawkeye and the first issue of a series with artist Howard Chaykin. I wondered out loud a few weeks ago how well those two would mesh -- I always get the sense of Fraction figuring out his artists a bit on project, while Chaykin tends to crush things right out of the gate. They have worked before, though. That's a Stan Sakai comic book right underneath that one, and a Mignola-verse effort next. The Catalyst book is the Joe Casey-led revamp of a bunch of Dark Horse superhero titles -- Joe Casey does consistently interesting work in that genre these days, and I'm interested to see how he plays with a bigger canvas. I always look at a Mister X book, and ditto anything in the Age Of Bronze series from that nice man Eric Shanower. I didn't mean to add the Adventure Time-related comic, but what the hell.

NOV120017 AXE COP TP VOL 04 PRESIDENT WORLD $12.99
I haven't read a bunch of the Axe Cop stuff, but I know a lot of folks swear by it, an it's of course a charming story. These comics collection have done pretty well for Dark Horse in their generally underrated little line of comics they do that appeared on-line first.

FEB130040 USAGI YOJIMBO LTD HC VOL 27 TOWN CALLED HELL $59.99
When summer hits I always thinking about doing a Usagi Yojimbo re-read, and I end up getting that done about one of every four years. I only go up through about 10 or 12 volumes, though. There are so many volumes now, I could spend a summer just reading what I haven't quite caught up to yet except for occasional dips into the serial comic book.

NOV121176 GREEN EGGS AND MAAKIES HC (MR) $19.99
More lovingly drawn Tony Millionaire madness. I'm fond of any book that's formatted in a way that it's hard to sort of read it on your lap; there's something very humorous about that, a book that's aggravating to even read. It looks great at that size, though.

FEB131128 GRAPHIC CANON TP VOL 03 HEART OF DARKNESS TO INFINITE JEST $44.95
I really didn't think much of the first two books I've read, although maybe they have some sort of academic role to fill that would provide with a different context in terms of understanding what these books are supposed to do. There are also always a few cartoonists I love in these books.

MAY131085 JOHN STANLEY LIBRARY NANCY HC VOL 04 $29.95
You had my money at "John Stanley."

MAY130983 PAUL JOINS THE SCOUTS GN $20.00
This is a bit like under-appreciated comics week, so of course a volume in this measured, extremely pleasurable comics series comes out. I haven't always loved every book, but each one is immensely fun to read.

APR131262 STAR REACH COMPANION SC $27.95
It's rare that one of these specific-history books attracts my attention, but I'd love to know more about the overground period more generally and this anthology specifically.

APR131393 TASCHEN SILVER AGE OF DC COMICS 1956 - 1970 HC $59.99
I haven't read the first DC-related Paul Levitz book for Taschen, let alone made plans for this one, but I'm interested in the subject matter and the production vales so I would of course give it a thorough looking-over. Certainly there are few writers, if any, as focused on that area of comics history as Levitz, and none have his pedigree.

FEB131020 DISNEY MICKEY MOUSE COLOR SUNDAYS HC VOL 01 CALL WILD $29.99
I've had a fun time reading all of the Disney stuff that Fantagraphics has put together thus far, but I had a blast with this one: color work, all working out of very strange rhythms, lovingly presented and contextualized. There are so freaking many decent to great strip collections now, but that doesn't mean we should fail to appreciated individual effort on their own merit. I lost a whole Saturday afternoon in this book, an it was a fine, fine day.

*****

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 Portland, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Forbidden Worlds #76

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I imagine with so many characters being done with so many overlapping similarities between them, a bunch of lawyers are going to make a lot of money over the next ten years.

image* Woodrow Phoenix talks to Jaime Hernandez. Chris Mautner talks to the great Carol Tyler. Zainab Akhtar talks to Julia Gfrorer.

* new -- or at least unseen -- work from TJ Kirsch and Julia Wertz.

* here's a Deconstructing Comics podcast on audio comics.

* not comics and missed this: congratulations to Ryan and Jane.

* Greg McElhatton on The Passion Of Gengoroh Tagame. Grant Goggans on Doctor Who: The Crimson Hand. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Wolverine: Wolverine's Revenge. Kelly Thompson on The Wake #2. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on Force Field Fotocomix. Ng Suat Tong on Good Dog. John Kane on a bunch of different comics. John Anderson on Sunny Vol. 1. Sean Gaffney on Utsubora: The Story Of A Novelist.

* Sean Kleefeld discusses that Erika Moen video on self-promotion.

* finally, Johanna Draper Carlson notes that Entertainment Weekly has released a list of 10 Greatest Graphic Novels and includes Martin Lemelman's Mendel's Daughter, a work with which she is completely unfamiliar.

 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Tom Heintjes!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Joey Manley!

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Happy 76th Birthday, Russ Cochran!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Dan Slott!

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Fifteen Days Until Comic-Con International 2013!

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July 2, 2013


Go, Read: Image Comics Announces Major Digital Initiative + Multiple Series At Their Expo

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Kiel Phegley's on the ground there, apparently; I trust him to report back in accurate fashion. I'm going to play catch on this one until at least tomorrow.

I will say this, though. I think Image had done a really nice job building its market share the last few years, but I think it's for a variety of reasons and not solely the "opportunities for creative expression" reason that gets put out there I believe because a) it's good rhetoric, b) it distinguishes these books from the books at DC and Marvel. I'd be careful of biting down hard on that as a sole explanation of why they're doing so well.

It also looks like they're going to relaunch their sometimes-criticized web site as an aggressive all-formats digital comics store. That's interesting.
 
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Assembled Extra: MonkeyBrain Celebrates One-Year Anniversary

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The digital comics initiative MonkeyBrain Comics celebrates its one-year anniversary today. Happy anniversary to them. I like MonkeyBrain's straight-forward approach to digital comics publishing, particularly as I think a lot of folks have danced around the various issues involved to the point where it's baffling and complex for some of us to even think of comics we might want to read being made for paid digital download. I read a great deal of stuff on there; I think the belle of the ball year one is Bandette. You should try it if you haven't; it's very cute.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Gabrielle Bell's July Diary Year Three

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Go, Read: Kiel Phegley Interviews Ross Richie, Jack Cummins

I thought this was a pretty good effort from Kiel Phegley to sort out some of the basic issues involved in the just-announced deal that Archaia was to become an imprint of BOOM! Phegley focuses on the nature of the contracts offered by each company and any philosophical divide their differences portend; he is assured that these are marginal differences, but it's good to have that line of questioning out there. He also gets at a key nuts-and-bolts question: the Archaia offices will move into the BOOM! workspace.

I also thought interesting that Ross Richie puts forward a positive defense of publisher participation in IP aspects of comics properties -- he basically argues that full participation is an incentive for the publishing part of that relationship just as it is for the creator part of that relationship. That is actually a fairly fascinating set of principles there, and I think one that we have kind of a goofed-up way of talking about in the comics industry sometimes. I am generally in favor of really hard, stringent standards being applied rather than any hard, fast rules about one contract set-up over another. Whether or not a company that actively pursues deals and takes a larger percentage is potentially more exploitative than a company that leaves all of that up to the creator and their people but still takes a percentage, perhaps a smaller one, is a question that goes back, I don't know, something like 80 years in the industry. It isn't easy to resolve, but talking about it is a good thing.
 
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Go, Look: Thelytoky

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PW: Three Will Eisner Library Award Winners Named At ALA

I could rewrite Calvin Reid's story and present it here in some form, but I hope you'll click through the link and read it at PW, because I wouldn't even know it happened otherwise. Three librarians won the second year drawings of what looks to be annual Will Eisner Graphic Novel Award for Libraries presentations at the just-past American Library Association convention in Chicago. The librarians that won work in libraries in Georgia, New York and Indiana. Their libraries get a collection of the GNs nominated for this year's Eisner Awards, the entire backlist from the late cartoonist, and $3000 pledged towards various pro-graphic novel uses. That all strikes me as a very nice thing, and I hope for more good things from a variety of foundations, organizations and institutions as comics begins to build more and more of them.
 
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Missed It: Masterplasty, Re-Colored

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By Request Special: Doggie Style

The veteran indy comics-maker Steve Lafler has a crowd-funder going for a print run of a complete collection of his Dog Boy comics. Lafler is a lifelong, compulsive comics-maker, that was a key work of the 1980s small-press, and the crowd-funder is super-modestly apportioned in that way that makes me want to support for that reason alone. C'mon, it's Dog Boy.
 
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Bundled Extra: So I Guess Best American Comics 2013 News And This Cover Are A Thing Right Now...?

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It seems like folks are posting via different social media about their inclusion in the forthcoming Best American Comics 2013. That's the one guest-edited by Jeff Smith, and the last one edited by series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden (Bill Kartalopoulos takes over in 2014). That's a nice cover by Kate Beaton; as I recall, Smith was very fired up that she agreed to that gig. Anyway, I've seen Colleen Doran (Gone To Amerikay), Faith Erin Hicks (Friends With Boys) and Derf (My Friend Dahmer) talk about their respective placements in the volume, and I'll post any list anyone out there can find me.

Updates: Add Michael Kupperman. So I guess this has been out for a while now...? Bummer: that "Quinception" story is the freakin' best. Also: Leela Corman, who confirms they were not allowed to speak until today; Sammy Harkham; Grant Snider.

Final Update: Yahtzee.
 
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Go, Look: Summer 1973 DC Comics Splash Pages

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Bundled Extra: Kitchen Sink Becomes Imprint At Dark Horse

imageThe hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com has a story up I didn't even know about in whisper form -- that Denis Kitchen will have Kitchen Sink as an imprint of Dark Horse now, to be called Kitchen Sink Books, from which we can expect four to six books a year. Kitchen Sink Press was an underground comix publisher that moved into the alternative/independent comics world with some success, lasting from 1970 to 1999, and founder/owner Denis Kitchen has remained involved in comics in various capacities since. Kitchen is super well-connected and has access to a lot of archival material, so there could be some fine books made as a result of this deal.

This story makes a certain amount of sense to me for something I've been mentioning here and there on CR recently: that a lot of comics companies seem to my mind more suited to be imprints than they are comics companies. In other words, the driving impulse behind a lot of comics publishers seems more about curating and packaging rather than a unique business set-up to serve that editorial structure. Editorial packaging isn't KSP's entire legacy -- they did have almost 30 years as their own entity -- but it makes sense that this is a way to carry on that legacy in new form as opposed to a brand new venture replicating the entire of the old one.
 
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Go, Look: Some 1953 Howard Nostrand Art

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* someone finally did us all the favor of tracking down and scanning in the preview image for Maurice Vellekoop's forthcoming My Three Parents, to be published by Pantheon. They were giving them out at TCAF, where I believe the project was officially announced (it may have been formally announced in PW; I'm not sure). Thank you, FPI Blog.

image* article in the New York Times yesterday about the future of Vertigo. Six new series will be launched in the Fall, with four of them discussed in that article. As is typical with a NYT piece concerning DC Comics, it feels more like a publicity-driven effort than publishing news, although there is a stab at some sales analysis. Here's the DC PR that spells out the series in better detail. I was actually a little confused on my first read of the NYT article what they were actually announcing despite the tone of the article being very announcement-oriented, so I'm happy for that DC PR follow-up; there's still a discrepancy between that PR saying "here are the two more series" and then announcing three, but that will probably be fixed by the time this rolls out. Nice to see Emily Carroll getting work with, well, anyone; she's very talented. Lee Bermejo seems poised to be successful with this kind of work, too.

* Melissa Mendes is putting together a Friday Night Lights fanzine. The good thing about doing comics for an FNL 'zine is that no matter how terrible your football scenes are, they can't be worse than the ones from the show.

* John Byrne repurposes Star Trek photos.

* three news books are coming from the Toon Books line in August/September: Patrick Eats His Peas & Other Stories, Geoffrey Hayes (August 6); Otto's Backwards Day, Frank Cammuso/Jay Lynch (August 6); The Big Wet Balloon, Liniers (September 10). All three will retail at $12.95. I think Geoffrey Hayes is the belle of the Toon Books ball.

* the Daniel Clowes Reader has a tumblr going in support of its publication. That should be a blast.

* totally missed that Mike Diana has a new boxed set out. I don't have any idea exactly what's in there, but I do like some of Diana's work -- I thought it was super hit and miss and sometimes spotty as opposed to the standard 1990s take of "It's deplorable but I support his right to do it."

* ComicsAlliance previews The Mysterious Strangers, from Oni.

* Action Lab Entertainment has picked up The Garlicks.

* finally, this is the first preview I've seen for the forthcoming Matt Fraction/Howard Chaykin project Satellite Sam. Here's another way they're doing promotion on that project. At least I'm assuming that's why that's up; it's not like there needs to be an official reason. Anyone, click through to that first one to justify me nicking some contextual art.

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If I Were In The Bay Area, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Blonde Phantom #21

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the Eisner Awards has announced its sponsor and presenters lists for the 25th annual version, to take place Friday, July 19 over at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Convention Center. I always like these lists because it provides a snapshot of who is involved in the comics industry in that specific way year to year -- in some cases, who has something to advertise/promote; in other cases, who has money to spend on something like this.
+ Syfy is the title sponsor. Mycomicshop.com is the major sponsor. Principal sponsors are comiXology, Gentle Giant Studios, Lebonfon. Supporting sponsors are Alternate Reality Comics, Atlantis Fantasyworld, Diamond Comic Distributors Inc., Flying Colors, Tate's Comics, Warp 1 Comics & Games and Mel Thompson and Associates. Baby Tattoo sponsors the Spirit Of Retailing Award. The Bill Finger Award has DC Comics as a major sponsor with Maggie Thompson and Heritage Auctions as supporting sponsors. Comic-Con International itself is listed as underwriting the whole affair.

+ Jonathan Ross, Neil Gaiman, John Barrowman, Chris Hardwick, Becky Cloonan, Sergio Aragones, Bill Morrison, Maurice LaMarche, Lauren Tom and David Herman are among the presenters announced in that release. Barrowman and Hardwick seem like naturals for this kind of thing; Ross and Gaiman are HoF presenters; the HoF of comics awards presenters is probably named after Aragones.
I used to flip through comic book and make lists of advertisers driven by the same nerdy impulse, but almost no one advertises in comic books anymore.

image* Derek Royal on Jerusalem: A Family Portrait. Richard Bruton on The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil.

* the great Renee French draws Annie Koyama.

* here is one site's list of best Avengers stories of all time. People really like that one where Hercules gets beat within an inch of his life, although I thought that a pretty ordinary comic book story. There aren't a whole lot of great stories from that series, but I would tend to settle on the Steve Englehart stuff -- the "Celestial Madonna" and "Avengers Vs. Defenders" storylines -- as worth reading for the importance of their simmering subplot structure to how stories have been told sense and the general attention to Kirby-style power levels, which I wish we'd see more of. I'm also fond of Avengers #26-27, which fascinated me as a kid because of its straight-forward treatment of the weakened "Cap's Avengers" Avengers line-up. It is strange there are like 50 Fantastic Four stories that I'd want to read again before any Avengers, though.

* Patrick Dean remembers downtown Athens.

* Jodi Bernet draws The Man With No Name.

* Brian Truitt talks to Dan Slott. Steve Morris talks to Gary Northfield. JK Parkin talk to Robert Venditti. Slim and Jake talk to Garth Ennis.

* Bob Powell + Howard Nostrand = Mainstream Comics Magic.

* Alex Toth and Paolo Rivera via the very active Internet presence of writer Brian Bendis. I like the mainstream guys that basically just toss images up on-line through twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. There's so much good material that a lot of fans don't see, and to have folks like that basically saying "Look at this" is likely to be a boon to some young comics reader's life-long relationship to the medium.

* I love the look of this space they used at CAKE to interview Kim Deitch.

* finally, Dan Turner asks after the wisdom of podcasting about comics.
 
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Happy 31st Birthday, Rickey Purdin!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Daniel Nash!

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Sixteen Days Until Comic-Con International 2013!

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July 1, 2013


Go, Look: Another Sprawling, Art-Stuffed Brandon Graham Post

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Cartoonist Mohammed Saba'neh To Be Released Today

According to at least one English-language wire story, the Palestinian cartoonist Mohammed Saba'neh is scheduled to be released today after serving a five-month sentence. The al-Hayat al-Jadida cartoonist was arrested in mid-February and held first indefinitely and then for the sentence mentioned. The cartoonist's brother is still being held without any sort of sentence being made known; that family had also been held before for a period of time although I believe was out at the time of the artist's arrest. Various groups criticized the decision and in doing so implied -- or at least I inferred -- that his treatment was due in part to the content of his cartoons.
 
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Go, Look: Renee Nault

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Go, Read: Matt Bors On The AAEC Convention Just Past

The editorial cartoonist Matt Bors attended the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists last weekend in Salt Lake City and writes about it in candid fashion. Bors is particularly honest about the future of that organization as editorial cartooning continues to get kidney punched by the half-idiotic money scramble, half-inevitable paradigm that is the slow, excruciating collapse of the American newspaper.

I had a good time interviewing Bors for this piece that ran yesterday. As a great fan of editorial cartooning, it kills me that we have this award-winning, prolific cartoonist with all sorts of additional talents he could bring to a newspaper and he's not only not fully employed with a staff position, no one is particularly surprised he isn't.
 
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Go, Pay What You Like: Trve Kvlt

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Please Revisit Any/All Kim Thompson Related Material On CR

This site finally ran its Kim Thompson obit a bit later in the day than usual on Friday. If you haven't read it and are interested in the late publisher/translator/editor/writer, I hope you'll read it or perhaps bookmark it. The Collective Memory has been archived here -- I'd love anything else you'd care to send. A short piece on recommended Thompson-related works ran here, and the last two Five For Fridays had Thompson-related subjects. I hope I can write a little bit more about Thompson and death in the comics industry generally in the next couple of weeks.

I only looked at it for about 45 seconds the first day it appeared so I can't say for sure, but I assume the TCJ testimonials post is awesome and ongoing.
 
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Go, Look: The Secrets

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Missed It: Stefan Kanfer Profiles Will Eisner

I'm not sure when this profile of Will Eisner by Stefan Kanfer appeared, actually, so I maybe didn't miss it but I suspect it's been out for a while now. It's a fairly straight-forward piece, but relatively nuanced, I think, as far as these things go. For instance, it acknowledges Eisner's contributions in bringing elements of the graphic novel together in sophisticated fashion as opposed to "inventing" the form. The graphic novel's journey to semi-respectability is a fun topic because there are about two dozen factors involved, including both the work created by Eisner and his grass-roots advocacy for a context that flatters what he was up to.
 
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Go, Look: More Joker-Related Batman Splashes

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How To Build Your Own Adjustable Standing Desk

Here. I don't know if it's a fad or not -- I don't see many more of those ergonomic chairs from the late '90s around anymore -- but if standing up while you work is good enough for Stan Lee, it's worth considering. That guy has been super-healthy all of his life.
 
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Missed It: Chuck Asay Retires

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I got this from a Matt Bors AAEC report to which I'm going to link further up the site later this morning, but apparently Chuck Asay has retired. Above is his retirement cartoon. He had retired from the Colorado Springs Gazette about five years ago now, but I guess was still producing material for his syndicate, Creators. Asay was a conservative cartoonist when there weren't a ton of them -- at least not as strong and strident and religiously informed as a lot of his work struck me as being. I wish him the best. It's nice when someone retires that is not being retired two decades before you'd think of someone doing that. Asay turned 70 last Fall.
 
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Go, Look: Lucy Meyle

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

By Tom Spurgeon

* a series of auctions to pay for the funeral costs of Raven Gregory's ex-wife can be accessed here.

* the Schuiten/Peeters translation project seeking crowd-funding help is about 90 percent with just a little bit of time left.

* James Moore sent along word of this crowd-funder, which looks like it is being run at an incredibly modest price-point. Fully painted art, more of a text/picture Prince Valiant style approach.

* art sale at Ryan Kelly's.

* the author and cartoonist James A. Owen has hurtled past his initial funding goals in short order for a Starchild volume, but I figure that's something that some of you might want and therefore wish to order via this particular mechanism.

* the amount of money being asked for here seems horribly ambitious to me, but I guess it can't hurt to ask.

* this isn't a comics-related crowd-funder, but I quite like this t-shirt.

* this auction of art for a Dave Sim IDW cover ended yesterday. This auction is ongoing. This auction is forthcoming.

* finally, here is a very modestly-priced crowd-funder whose creator wrote in to ask for a link.
 
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Go, Look: Cool Scans Of B&W Walt Simonson Art

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Go, Look: True Life Secrets #2

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Diamond Books presents its Graphic Novels Common Core list, which I guess are Diamond-carried works that are suitable for use in educational settings. This is sort of blogger crack in that it combines listmaking, comics outreach and snap-judgments of books, but as much as I've sat here and thought about it I don't know that I have a lot to say. If that's something that people want to know, then Diamond should tell them. I hope they sell some quality books that way.

image* Allan Holtz on Al Capp: A Life To The Contrary. Don MacPherson on Lazarus #1. Doug Zawisza on Justice League #21. Wrathamon reviews a bunch of different titles. J. Caleb Mozzocco reviews a bunch of different comics. Greg McElhatton on Young Avengers #6. Sean Gaffney on Wandering Son Vol. 4.

* you could spend a lot of time looking at contest participants here. Or you could spend some time with a Thomas Scioli process post here. Or both. Or neither.

* the veteran writer Ron Marz explains how he answers the question of "Will you read my script?"

* Kiel Phegley talks to Axel Alonso. Jeffrey Renaud talks to Robert Venditti.

* I never know exactly how these things work, but I figure you can start here and eventually friend the magazine Mineshaft on Facebook and have access to all that they have to post, which could be awesome. Mineshaft is one of the undeniably good things in comics right now.

* if John Boehner jumps into a metal suit and stars imprisoning Congressional Democrats, I will totally start watching C-Span again.

* finally, if you can, please help the nice piece at OSU identify a few of the mini-comics going into the Dylan Williams collection.
 
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Happy 64th Birthday, Mike Baron!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Lee's Comics!

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Seventeen Days Until Comic-Con International 2013!

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