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

















November 30, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Nick Abadzis Interviewed


Dan Wasserman Interviewed
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Gabrielle Bell Videos -- Not Even Sure Of The Order, To Be Honest, So Apologies In Advance


Steve Lieber In Travel Portland Commercial


Grass Hut At NYCC


Superfuckers Video In Russian
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from November 23 to November 29, 2013:

1. Eyes move across the Atlantic for a pair of significant stories in terms of non-US awards: the winners of the second BCAs; the "official selections" of the Angouleme Festival.

2. The end-of-the-year job maneuvering has begun.

3. Call goes out from the Southern California based society of comics-makers CAPS that the great Stan Sakai could use some help in closing the gap on a shortfall regarding homecare health insurance, necessary because of the issues facing wife Sharon. Please consider giving.

Winner Of The Week
Your Angouleme Nominees.

Losers Of The Week
Any folks that get left out a bit this holiday season due to the massive wave of companies, individuals and organizations all making a holiday plea for support based on something other than a direct commercial exchanges of goods or services for cash.

Quote Of The Week
"Rowe (who, by the way, is a cartoonist's dream in his own right, being very tall and lampost-slender and golliwog-haired) loves to give people lots to look at in his cartoons because he's sure that people really do 'pore over' and fossick in cartoons when they're given lots to look for." -- Ian Warden

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

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Go, Look: Spraypainting With Seth Tobocman

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Johnny Ryan!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Brian Basset!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Ruben Bolling!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Chris Claremont!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Keith Giffen!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Brian Pulido!

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November 29, 2013


Please Consider Including Stan & Sharon Sakai On This Year's Post-Thanksgiving Holiday Shopping List

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The writer and comics historian Mark Evanier has some more detail about the situation in which that lovely gentleman of comics, Stan Sakai, has found himself regarding the health situation faced by his beloved wife Sharon. He and Sharon are insured but they are feeling the pressure of a shortfall regarding time and money necessary for full-time homecare. As someone that's been sick in the past and is still paying bills over and above what my insurance covered, I can sympathize with this much more tragic situation facing one of our great comics professionals.

This is a day when we usually orient ourselves towards holiday shopping, and there is a ton of great and worthy stuff out there, a lot of which will be included in this year's Shopping Guide, arriving on Sunday. Steve Morris is doing us all the favor of posting about sales that start today and if you have a favorite comics creator you might check in on them individually -- like Ryan Cecil Smith and his original art pages sale here. A lot of the shopping that we'll be doing this year is advocacy buying, helping out folks with a need for a successful business season above and beyond simply maximizing profits.

What I'm hoping is that maybe we can start with Mr. Sakai, or at least make some room for him in the midst of everything else we're doing. There's going to be an art auction -- details here -- and I hope if that applies to you you'll consider participating. I hope that you'll also donate cash. All I could afford is a small amount, but I figure every bit helps. CAPS -- which is a small industry group of comics-makers of which Sakai is a part -- put up a way to donate directly here that I used. I guess it's down, though, and I'm not sure why. I know how frustrating that is, and if you want to do something right now you're welcome to paypal me at bobosmail@go.com and I will send the money to CAPS. I've done that in the past and I know it's not perfect but it's something.

You can also send money directly to Tone Rodriguez, 5740 Craner Ave, North Hollywood, CA 91601 via the old-fashioned way of check or money order. Anyway, thanks for considering it.

Update: Pat McGreal at CAPS tells me they won't have their paypal fixed for weeks due to the explosion of interest. If paypal is the only way you want to go here, or can go, please feel free to do it through me at the e-mail address above; I've done it before for old-timers with no Internet access, so it's not a new thing for me. Thanks again.
 
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Go, Look: Roger Langridge L'il Ernie Art, Of All Things

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Your 2013 Behind The Lines Cartoonist Of The Year

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Behind The Lines, which I believe is the National Museum Of Australia's cartooning program, has named David Rowe its cartoonist of the year at the same time they are launching an exhibition of his work. One piece of oft-repeated conventional wisdom about cartooning in Australia is that there's an abiding appreciation for the political cartooning that's done there. Rowe gets the honor in one of those difficult years for cartoonists: where the same story, a massive run of nasty political fights swirling around the office of the prime minister, has dominated for maybe 20 or more months now. One way Rowe seems to sustain commentary on those issues is by running through an endless array of visual metaphors which in and of itself serves as commentary on the clownish parade aspects of modern politics. I imagine it helps that his work is visually intriguing, particularly his use of color.
 
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Go, Look: On Hiatus, Part 2

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Two Quick Industry Job Notes

* I saw this the day that it appears, but somehow failed to mention that David Hyde -- at DC Comics for about a decade and at traditional book publishing before that -- has opened an LA-based independent publicity and marketing firm and already has a handful of clients including authors from IDW and D+Q. My memory is that I had a good relationship with David as much as my occasionally being a hectoring asshole allows for a good relationship, and I wish him the best. I've always wondered why there aren't a few more people like this, folks set up as independent players and serving comics clients across an array of companies. I remember in the 1990s suggesting to a college friend that was at one of the agencies that they just scoop up massive numbers of cartoonist clients, for example. It seems like there's some room to maneuver there. I suppose the answer is that it's hard to make the money work. I'll be interested to see how this goes.

* Heidi MacDonald caught that Marvel editor Lauren Sankovitch has quit that company and moved to the west coast for as yet-to-be-announced opportunity. I got the impression she was very well-liked there, and I seem to remember some of the creators making sure she had a place at the company as best as they could a definite priority. It's fairly common for young, skilled, media-company talent to make a move from one company to another still fairly early in their careers. I wish her the best.
 
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Not Comics: Uncle Wiggily And The Snow Plow

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Your 2013 NYT Holiday Gift Guide Comics-Related Suggestions

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I don't know if the on-line iteration of the book section of the New York Times 2013 Holiday Gift Guide is the same as a print version or what, but it's sort of categorically challenged, with some work in graphic novels that aren't really comics at all and some work of comics in other categories. This isn't an uncommon thing for some of the grand old men of cultural running around the room with a scepter and striking people on the shoulder, but it does make you wonder at some of the choices being made book to book.

No matter how they got there, I hope this leads to increased sales for all of these nice comics-makers and related-to-comics makers.

Here is what I saw there, casting my net was widely as possible:

In Graphic Novels
* Boxers And Saints, Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
* Fairest In All The Land, Bill Willingham And An Army Of Collaborative Artists (DC/Vertigo)
* Five Ghosts Volume One: The Haunting Of Fabian Gray, Frank J. Barbiere And Chris Mooneyham And SM Vidaurri And Lauren Afe (Image)
* Hellboy: The Midnight Circus, Mike Mignola And Duncan Fegredo And Dave Stewart (Dark Horse)
* RASL, Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books)
* Super Graphic, Tim Leong (Chronicle)
* The Art Of Archie, The Covers Various Artists, Edited By Victor Gorelick And Craig Yoe (IDW)
* The Married Kama Sutra, Farley Katz And Simon Rich (Little Brown)
* Thor, God Of Thunder Volume One: The God Butcher Esad Ribic And Jason Aaron (Marvel)

In Coffee Table Books
* The Great War, Joe Sacco (WW Norton)

Bathroom Reading
* How Are You Feeling?, David Shrigley (WW Norton)
* Hyperbole And A Half, Allie Brosh (Simon And Schuster)
* Relish, Lucy Knisley (First Second)

In Art Books
* Co-Mix, Art Spiegelman (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Fran, Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics)

Also Alexander Theroux's The Grammar Of Rock, which is a Fantagraphics prose book, was named. I like Alexander Theroux.
 
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Every Day After A Holiday Deserves Some Golden Age Madness

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there are a few insensitive depictions in here
 
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Collective Memory: Thought Bubble 2013

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Links to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning the 2013 edition of Thought Bubble/The Leeds Comics Art Festival, held November 17-24 at several venues in Leeds.

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

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Institutional
* Convention Site
* Physical Location
* Host City

Audio
* ConSequential

Blog Entries
* Big Comic Page

* Cherry And Cinnamon
* Comic Bastards
* Comic Books And Cookies
* Comics & Cola
* Cy's Matters

* Garen Ewing
* Gary Spencer Millidge

* LF Makeup

* Mindless Ones
* My Cardboard Life
* My God, It's Raining

* Oliver East

* Paul Cornell

* Rachael Smith
* Richard Bruton
* Rufus Dayglo

* Sarah McIntyre
* SelfMadeHero

* Talking With The Voices
* TempoLush
* The Beat (Index)
* The Trollish Delver

* University Of Dundee Student Blog

* Viviane Schwarz

Facebook
* Thought Bubble Group

Miscellaneous
* A Kate Beaton Cartoon
* Bleeding Cool Forum

News Stories and Columns
* Bleeding Cool
* CBR (index)

Photos
* Alex Valente
* Birthday Card Collaboration By Brandon Graham And Emma Rios
* Cameron Stewart
* mu_tron

Twitter
* #tbf13
* #thoughtbubble2013

* Account For Festival
* Account Of Organizer Tula Lotay

* 2000AD

* Ales Kot

* Cameron Stewart

* Dan Berry
* Daniel Fish
* Douglas Noble

* Gary Spencer Millidge

* JC Warwick
* Jean Fischer
* John McCrea

* Kate Beaton
* Kelly Sue DeConnick

* Lizz Lunney

* Meredith Gran
* Michael Molcher

* Oliver East

* Sarah deLaine
* Sean Azzopardi

* Thought Bubble

* Will Dennis

Video
* Marko Ajdaric

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Go, Look: NCS Illustration Portfolio Mini-Gallery

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred and Downloaded: Digital News

By Tom Spurgeon

* the King-Cat site is being re-designed.

image* GoComics.com launched three this week: WuMo, Santa Vs. Dracula and Understanding Chaos.

* so a bunch of Image books are now available on Google Play. This is the sentence where I should tell you what that means, but I'm not sure I can. I think that's a fairly sizable downloading platform that's kind of fussed itself into various changes as that marketplace has changed and Google's strategy has chased after those changes. At any rate, my general theory that trying everything right now is the best strategy holds here.

* there's a really good Gary Tyrrell post here where he talks to Matt Bors about his gig at Medium and then pivots and talks about recent Internet discussion regarding a Penny Arcade job opening that has raised some eyebrows. I don't really have an opinion on that latter one. I mean, of course, I believe everyone should be paid according to their skill set and contributions rather than exploited because a cultural element to a job allows for it, but I can't tell if that kind of leveraging is what is going on here or if this is simply the usual "we pay crappy" thing a lot of small businesses do.

* finally, Dylan Horrocks has been going a bit crazy with the Magic Pen updates, if you haven't checked that one for a while.
 
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Go, Look: 1943 Batman Promotional Material

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Go, Look: Clay Mann Mini-Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* someone on a power list writing about a power list where the person that wrote the power list put themselves on the power list is an amazing thing, really.

image* Rob McMonigal on Operation Margarine #1-4 and Raw Power #2. John Kane on a bunch of different comics. Sean Gaffney on The Mysterious Underground Men. Paul O'Brien on Uncanny X-Men #14. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of different comics. Michael Buntag on Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search Vols. 2-3. Richard Bruton on Lucky Luke and An Afternoon In Ueno. Colm Creamer on NEXTWAVE.: Agents Of H.A.T.E Ultimate Collection. Johanna Draper Carlson on Yotsuba&! Vol. 12. Emily Thomas on The Nao Of Brown. Ken H on Triton Of The Sea Vol. 1.

* any construction that includes the word "everyone" almost always does a disservice to the work in question, but I get that these are times in which we live.

* I hope #2 on this list is "Hopey Leaves Maggie" and #1 is the Mr. Sack plotline in Peanuts, but I'm not holding my breath. That's a good story, though, for sure.

* I don't really understand why people get worked up whenever Alan Moore says something about superhero comics, particularly since he says the same things every eight or nine months. I think if you're Alan Moore, you're allowed to say whatever you want about superhero comics, the way Joe Namath gets to opine about being a famous athlete and Jimmy Carter gets to say things about being president. The entire cycle of people asking him these questions and then people having these "You crazy, old man!" reactions to his responses seems way more indicative of a certain mindset of fan culture than anything else.

* Emmet Matheson talks to Dakota McFadzean. Rob McMonigal talks to Adam P. Knave and DJ Kirkbride.

* Kelly Thompson suggests Marvel heroine team-ups. I am not familiar with all of those characters.

* come for the superhero character trivia, stay for that sweet 1960s mainstream comic book art.

* finally, Buzz Dixon was so fond of this Skottie Young image featuring Black Widow that he sent me a link to it.
 
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Happy 71st Birthday, Maggie Thompson!

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Happy 27th Birthday, Oli Smith!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Greg Rucka!

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November 28, 2013


Happy Thanksgiving To Everyone In The U.S.

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Go, Read: Milo George On The JSA Thanksgiving Issue

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Go, Look: PLOX

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Go, Read: Waiting For Baby At Jai Cartoons

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Go, Look: Rosalie Lightning

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Go, Look: Lisa Hanawalt On Thanksgiving, 2011

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

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

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

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SEP131268 ARIOL SC VOL 03 HAPPY AS A PIG $12.99
I've read a lot of comics intended for kid audiences this year, and this fits into the side of that equation where I'm not sure what kids are reading it and at what point in their lives this quiet, relationship-heavy, series of short stories might specifically appeal. I sure like it, though; the characters are adorable, the stories are frequently amusing and there's just enough of an odd swagger to how the stories unfold to keep one from getting a bit bored with the limited stakes involved in each tale. I regret missing the artist at the Billy Ireland festival the other weekend.

imageSEP131407 PINK GN $16.95
I'm delighted that this book is coming out, because I very much enjoyed Helter Skelter and this is apparently Kyoko Okazaki's reputation-maker as well as an indictment of 1980s excess -- the best kind of excess. Seriously, someone send this to me, and I'll review it to death.

AUG130103 BROTHERS OF THE SPEAR ARCHIVES HC VOL 03 $49.99
AUG130104 CRIME DOES NOT PAY ARCHIVES HC VOL 06 $49.99
These are two Dark Horse reprint projects, and they seem to have settled into a nice place with those books. The Biro Crime reprints make more sense to me than the Brothers Of The Spear material as the former is historically imporan t and I was able to buy $1 issues of the original Brothers comics even two years ago. It would be interesting if an audience for these books has developed that doesn't have any interested in comic-book copies no matter the price, and I suspect this is becoming so.

JUL130070 MISTER X EVICTION TP $15.99
AUG130111 NEXUS OMNIBUS TP VOL 04 $24.99
Two friends of mine from the 1980s, and I will always check them out whenever I see them in the comics shop. The Mister X is a collectiion of the comic book series that I believe came out earlier this year, although I never saw it. Seriously, I didn't see that thing anywhere and I like that character and the artists who have drawn him.

AUG130109 SIGNAL TO NOISE HC $24.99
For some reason I think this has been offered in previous weeks. Unless it's another book entirely bearing the same name, this must be some sort of re-release of the Dave McKean/Neil Gaiman stand-alone book, and one that I enjoy quite a bit. Most comics reader could stand to have on in their library.

SEP130300 SANDMAN OVERTURE #1 SPECIAL EDITION (MR) $5.99
Speaking of Mr. Gaiman, here is an enhanced edition of the first issue of the new Sandman series, which I'd take not of even though I'm perfectly happy with my non-enhanced version. This is one of those rare series I prefer to see in comic book form but only read it great big gulps.

SEP130047 1 FOR $1 ABE SAPIEN #1 $1.00
SEP130059 ITTY BITTY HELLBOY #4 $2.99
SEP130471 BLACK SCIENCE #1 CVR A SCALERA & WHITE (MR) [DIG] $3.50
SEP130472 BLACK SCIENCE #1 CVR B ROBINSON (MR) $3.50
SEP138208 PRETTY DEADLY #1 2ND PTG (MR) $3.50
SEP130627 PRETTY DEADLY #2 (MR) [DIG] $3.50
SEP138244 SEX CRIMINALS #1 3RD PTG (MR) $3.50
SEP138245 SEX CRIMINALS #2 2ND PTG (MR) $3.50
SEP130634 SAGA #16 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
JUN130633 HAWKEYE #14 $2.99
SEP130648 WALKING DEAD #117 (MR) [DIG] $2.99
It's a good week for genre comics, and I left about a dozen off I might include on a slow week for this column. The Mignola-verse is represented by one of those "hook readers" editions of Abe Sapien's first issue in addition to the latest of the kids-comic Hellboy issues. Black Science is Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera and Dean White working the out-there science fiction thing with which publisher Image has had some recent success. Remender has recently achieved a higher profile with his superhero comic work, and using those writers on dream projects of various kinds has been a good recent model for Image. Both Pretty Deadly and Sex Criminals seem to be doing well: the western gets a reprinting of #1 to go along with a release for #2. Sex Criminals' earlier issues are being reprinted in anticipation of the next issue. That first issue of Pretty Deadly moved a ton of units, but how many it holds onto -- or how many it adds -- will be key. Saga and Hawkeye both have new issues out the week earlier volumes have secured Angouleme Festival official selection status. Walking Dead is now into its every-two-weeks production schedule and along with Saga is a heavy-hitter for this entire category.

SEP130552 SEX TP VOL 01 SUMMER OF HARD (MR) $9.99
This is the Joe Casey/Peter Kowalksi collaboration and has ties to the recent run of Image hit comics -- you'll note they're using a $9.99 strategy with this trade -- and to the world-building science fiction informed series of the 1980s making an appearance this week, Mssrs X and Hellpop.

SEP131326 LIFE BEGINS AT INCORPORATION GN (MR) $20.00
If for some reason you were waiting for Matt Bors' funny and successful collection to make it into a comics shop before buying it, now's your chance. I imagine value-wise this would make a very good holiday present, although it's politically unforgiving so you might have to negotiate that a bit depending on the person for whom you bought it.

SEP131419 YOTSUBA & ! GN VOL 12 $12.00
This may be the best ongoing series with a kind of mainstream appeal currently available on the stands; it strikes me as certainly being the best book of its kind out this week.

AUG130106 BEST OF COMIX BOOK WHEN MARVEL WENT UNDERGROUND HC $35.00
Finally, this looks like another holiday gift buy coming out at the right moment, and something you likely want if your interest in comics as an art form kind of overlaps with an interest in its industries. It is certainly one of the odder chapters in Marvel's story, or at least ranks up there with the stories that took place in public and on purpose.

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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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Go, Look: Adam Hughes Mini-Gallery

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I wrote a giant, link-light report on my weekend in Columbus attending the opening festival for the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

* I wrote a similarly gigantic report for the weekend previous, which I spent at Comic Arts Brooklyn 2013.

* they were both very good shows, and the Billy Ireland was historically important for the opening of that new facility and the career-capping achievement of original OSU comics holdings curator Lucy Shelton Caswell. The Billy Ireland show was similarly a bit odd because it was their triennial festival but done with this opening so I have to imagine that this one was different than those that came before and will be different than those that come in the future.

* this weekend there are two shows of the local/regional variety: Genghis Con, this Sunday in Cleveland; Short Run, on Saturday in Seattle. They both have their strengths. Genghis Con gets to draw on that rich Columbus-Cleveland-Pittsburgh reservoir of talent in a classic comics-buying city a bit underserved by festivals and conventions. Short Run has Seattle, and everyone likes the organizers, and the rich Seattle comics community many of whom are at a place in their careers that they aren't going to get out there and do shows outside of the Puget Sound, let alone outside of the Pacific Northwest. I hope both continue to grow, although as a former Seattle resident I have a special place in my heart for anyone that tries anything there.

* I was planning to attend this year's Short Run until they scheduled it for Thanksgiving weekend. That's not a complaint: I think the holidays are a fine time to run shows that draw on local audiences, local professional communities and young people perhaps unencumbered by family concerns and able to travel for a comics event. I miss July 4 cons, too. Maybe the smaller shows could start to target the holidays...?

* here's a very nice article about Short Run organizers Kelly Froh, Eroyn Franklin and Janice Headley.
 
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Go, Look: Neal Adams Detective Comics Covers

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Go, Look: Attractive 1941 Vigilante Story By Mort Meskin

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Happy 56th Birthday, Jerry Ordway!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Francois Boucq!

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Happy 82nd Birthday, Tomi Ungerer!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Mark A. Nelson!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Dale Crain!

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November 27, 2013


Go, Look: A Very Chagrin Falls Thanksgiving

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A Few Notes About The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum Opening Festival

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By Tom Spurgeon

* hi, and welcome to the continuing adventures of "The Man Who Did Too Many Comics Shows." I'm your host, Captain Burnout.

* this is the story of my final convention/festival of 2013, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum Opening Festival.

* although this is the first time any element of the wider comics culture has paid attention, they have been doing these cartoon library shows in Columbus every few years since 1983. It's kind of comics' secret show. I've been working in comics since 1994, and had a comic strip with King Features from 1999 to 2002, and I only heard about this event two times ago, when it was suggested I might want to go. As I understand it, it's been basically a dress-down Reubens weekend, but processed through Lucy Shelton Caswell's broad and humane perspective on the comics art form as opposed to the echoes of the glory days and fevered networking that seems to animate a significant portion of the yearly NCS meeting. That's probably deeply unfair on all sides, and is only my own impression. At any rate, the library festivals have long featured a bunch of hardcore fans and those otherwise focused on the art of making comics paying to hang out and see speak top-of-the-line creators, flown in and treated very well. This includes most of the major strip guys but also folks like Will Eisner, Art Spiegelman and Matt Groening. Imagine a convention with no dealers room, all programming and cocktail parties, and everyone relaxed. I'm told that many years they ended up at Caswell's house Sunday night for a big meal.

* if you think that sounds great, I agree with you.

* let's ruin it.

* I'm kidding. This had have been something of an odd year because a) the new building was opening, b) the full-time staff of the Billy Ireland were in feverish work mode getting that facility ready and everything moved into their new place. The end result is that this was a unique year to attend, nothing like it was before and nothing likely to be quite the same after. I feel privileged to have gone.

* so I left Brooklyn on Sunday morning via an array of trains and subways to JFK and flew to Indiana for a few days. I'm from Indiana. Indianapolis has a fancy new airport that always confuses me. I was renting a car with a debit card -- because I still can -- and musing on the fact of how many of my travel particulars come down to me being grumpy and not wanting to do certain things. Like share a room, or sleep on couches of any friend that doesn't get called five minutes after I die, or use my sole remaining credit card, or pay for them to take my luggage where all luggage should go for free -- underneath the plane. Spite is an underrated travel inducement.

* five years from now I'll just be sitting in a chair all summer, staring ahead and remembering what conventions used to be like.

* anyway, Indiana, home of the pulled pork sandwich. Even Baskin-Robbins sells one.

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* I stayed in Muncie with my dear friend Dan Wright. We mostly talked and ate, because we're middle-aged men and it's sweater season, but we also pulled some Bobo's Progress/Wildwood dailies for a modest donation to Billy Ireland's vast comics holdings. That was comics-y. That was fun. Dan Wright is a wonderful artist, who has since moved into video production and puppetry in addition to his art. The strip we did together looked way better than the jokes I wrote for it were funny. People ask every so often, and I do miss doing a comic strip, and not just because were I still doing it it would have to have been semi-successful for that to be an option. I liked writing those characters. I like writing characters. And it's fun to do something in public where everyone you know can see it.

* writing for Twitter is a lot like writing for newspaper comics in that every word counts and the one you think is really funny no one gets.

* I got over to Alter Ego Comics, owned by Jason Pierce, Mark Waid, Christina Blanch and some minority shareholders facilitated by a swap with a shop in Skokie. Blanch and Pierce were working the store. Alter-Ego moved downtown to some aplomb this year. Muncie still has most of the buildings up downtown from when it was a thriving regional seat of industry: the 1920s and 1930s. Pierce actually showed me where the ramp for deliveries was likely to have been back when the building was a general store and supplies were rolled into the basement from the strip. The Alter-Ego space is much bigger than the store enjoyed over near the city's small shopping mall, which I think has had a practical and a psychological effect. At any rate, it's certainly a space that could handle events if you find yourself near Muncie any time soon. I greatly enjoyed that conversation, and was happy to see Jason happy with the way things are going.

image* I bought several $1 comics, including a bunch of Critters and the E-Man with the twins up front and Ditko's Killjoy in the back.

* so, Columbus.

* I drove over early Thursday morning and went right to the now-open Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum facility, picking up a couple of spare scholars along the way. They were working on the up until the last second. Caitlin McGurk told she was painting things on Wednesday night; Jenny Robb indicated the computer system being used by the academics was put in at about that same time.

* Jenny Robb was pretty amazing all weekend, by the way. She was everywhere, she answered questions ranging from impossible to dumb -- just from me, actually -- she ran a super-smooth show and she was gracious in terms of sharing the spotlight with all of the other people involved. Class act.

* let's talk about the space a bit. They're inhabiting a big chunk of Sullivant Hall, which is a building right at the front of campus. They don't have the whole building, but they do have a significant portion of it. A shared entrance way was barely used; the dedicated entrance was, and it was from there that most of us walked in. The first floor as enter the place is a giant two-story lobby area with a stair along the back wall -- that's the one you see in pictures from the opening. To the left on the floor you're on are the offices; to the right is the reading room. The reading room all by itself is bigger and nicer than the public space the museum/library had in its previous iterations, including the last, basement one. The offices are spacious and nice; before this they basically had offices carved out of their holdings area. The holdings area is basically on the first floor behind the wall straight ahead past lobby area -- they also have off-site storage. The storage on hand is massive, like a government storage facility in a TV show about conspiracies. Now the second floor. To your right, above the reading room is a class room and social space that is solely under their control. Looking straight ahead again, above the holdings are bathrooms and a larger theater they share with the other departments in the hall. Turn to the left, and above the offices are the three galleries -- one permanent, two rotating.

* another way to think of the space is less spatially but in terms of what it boasts: a run down of things to be used. For their curation work Billy Ireland has offices and storage space and work rooms that feed into the rest of the facility (like a place to prepare art to be mounted on a wall and a place for them to process collections). For their university/library function Billy Ireland has a reading room where people come in and request materials brought to them (students or people outside of the school) for study, and they also have the classroom above the reading room where you classes can be taught to several students at once. For their public/museum role Billy Ireland has the three galleries, and to a lesser extent the lobby, classroom and social area in support of those galleries when necessary, like might be the case with an opening. For their ability to host events Billy Ireland has the classroom, the lobby if necessary, the larger/shared theater if necessary and possible, and the galleries themselves if appropriate.

* I kept on forgetting I had a camera, but I did get shots of the lobby and the balcony you can see on this page, and then a bunch of the gallery space and the reading room. Reading room first, complete with the writer James Vance getting some work done.

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* and here's a bunch of the galleries that give you an idea of those three spaces (I'll get to some of the art later).

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* so basically the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is North American comics' nicest place. You should check out photos from people that aren't terrible with photos here, here, here, here, and here.

* as luxurious as it is, particularly in terms of, well, everything else that exists in North America, the other thing to remember about Billy Ireland is that it's not ostentatious or over the top. It's really kind of modest in the sense of what's on hand is pretty easily graspable and you can figure out the lay of the land in a few minutes. It's not like they were desperate to fill rooms; in fact, lot of the cartoon festival events were hosted by the Wexner Center, the multi-purpose arts facility across a quad at OSU. Still, don't get me wrong, it's freaking lovely. But it's smart, not wild. You should visit, and if you can think of a way this is possible, you should make use of it.

* I think this will wear off a bit, but one thing that was nice about the whole weekend is that you could feel people luxuriating in the space, feeling a little bit special, respectable, because the Billy Ireland is a nice thing. I sometimes write about the anti-authoritarian streak that comics people have, and there's a lot that's admirable about that, but one thing that happens in comics, I think, is that it can feel low rent because no one's putting a solid effort forward or at least few want to be seen doing so. There's a kind of shrugged-shoulder, "well, that's comics for you" attitude that sometimes slips into play. I didn't get any of that here, not this weekend.

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* so I attended a two-day scholar's presentation summit that opened up the new facility. This was chaired by Jared Gardner. My last trip to Columbus, Ohio in September had been to Robert Loss' MIX, which allowed me to reorient myself to these kinds of presentations after a decade and a half since my last ICAF. One thing that's changed since the mid-1990s is that comics scholars are much more active in terms of connecting with their audience. Call it the post-TED world, I guess. Nearly everyone had visual aids, nearly everyone was comfortable speaking, nearly everyone presented at least a significant portion of what they had to say in terms anyone that wandered in off of the street would have a chance of understanding. I'm a little worried that scholarship will start to favor the people that can entertain at the podium at these kinds of events. And indeed, some of the best presentations were low-tech and contained no jargon, such as writer James Vance's talk about interacting with Will Eisner and Eisner's value as a writer. But for now, the high energy and visual aids certainly beats the pants off of everyone sitting in a hotel room in Bethesda watching people shout their way through a written speech.

* if you ever go, I think the best way to watch these conferences is for the ideas presented. I know that sounds silly, because of course that's something they offer, but really I have the most fun when I let the details and the presentational style and the language kind of drop away and try to get at four or five observations or insights subject to subject. I was called to duty to introduce a trio of presenters on Walt Kelly: Kerry Soper (BYU), Brian Cremins (Harper) and longtime independent Walt Kelly expert (and the guy from whom we borrowed dailies once upon a time for the Fantagraphics paperbacks) Steve Thompson. They all had a few insights to offer, such as Soper's idea that Kelly's use of ethnic stereotypes were transformative later on in his career as opposed to the early, more pernicious and damaging ones that might have been in the work over which he had less control. What was fascinating, though is how a lot of the presentations built on one another. For instance, with the Pogo/Kelly crew, Cremins' theory that Kelly wasn't writing about the south as much as the Bridgeport, Connecticut of his youth seemed to be severely reinforced by Steve Thompson showing us editorial cartoons where Kelly displayed a white-hot contempt for southern cultural backwardness.

* anyway, it was two days of idea after idea after idea and it was very fun. I could have gone another day, and I never would have said that back in Bethesda.

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* I also got to meet a ton of people I've read, from Thomas Inge to Susan Kirtley to Randy Scott. It was fun watching them all interact, too, particularly guys roughly my age like Charles Hatfield and Craig Fischer. It was good to see Gene Kannenberg there. There were also some odd folk -- comics scholars aren't shy about marching up and telling you what you did wrong -- but you get that in every group of people numbering over 50. People were super-excited to talk about comics. I've never had to turn down so many lunch invites at a comics show and I was just another random dude standing around.

* I sat in the corner and spent much of the weekend being informed of comics industry news by Christian Hoffer of The Outhousers, and I was grateful for the company. I hope he got to look over my shoulder and found inspiration in my constant checking of soccer scores.

* what else...? I had a nice talk with Chris Sparks about Team Cul De Sac stuff and Richard Thompson's health given his forthcoming exhibit next year at one of the Billy Ireland galleries (along with Bill Watterson). This got me an e-mail from Thompson, even, and I hadn't heard from in a while so that was nice, too.

image* met Sean Kleefeld on one of those two days and ran into him a bunch of times afterward. He looks strangely over-healthy, like one of those guys that runs four miles to work and can lift a small car over his head. He was as nice as his blogging would lead you to believe, and seemed fairly blown away by the museum. I was glad to hear that, because his major strength as a blogger is that he's rarely in lockstep with everyone else and kind of goes his own way opinion-wise.

* ran into Peter Maresca a bunch of time early in the weekend. He received an ovation from the crowd at one point just for being awesome and putting out giant comics. He indicated to me that future projects will work forward chronologically from the last book, Society Is Nix, which ended at 1915. Even if I screwed that up it doesn't matter because all of his books are kind of awesome.

* went out for dinner that night with a very exhausted Caitlin McGurk, Bill Kartalopoulos, JT Dockery and Liz Valasco, whom I don't know very well but is a local cartoonist trained up in Cleveland and originally from South Carolina, the State No One Ever Talks About. McGurk dropped out by the time we hit a bar, one of those amazing midwestern neighborhood joints where they give you change back on a five dollar bill, and we talked nonsense until it was time to go home.

* I liked my hotel; it was as nice as anything I've stayed in in San Diego and it cost $62.50 a night. Columbus!

* I stayed there rather than the convention hotel because of the points. Everyone does points, right? I mean, if you do TCAF and SPX at their Marriott each time, that all by itself should be enough to get you a free room one of those nights, or at least get you close. I never used to do points, I think because I'm lazy and stupid.

* Friday. Friday was a great day for comics.

* I had a pretty good day, too. I stopped by the Reading Room to see Eddie Campbell, hard at work all week in the Reading Room on material for a forthcoming book that was described in conversational shorthand as a book about sports cartoons but from what I could make out is really going to be about the swirling mass of cartoons and cartoon expression as it existed in San Francisco before the commercial success of humor strips like Mutt And Jeff began to streamline a lot of the more chaotic modes of expression. That means sports cartoons will be involved but that it's maybe not the focus. Anyway, that book sounds excellent, and it was nice to see Eddie again if only because he immediately made fun of my weight gain (another essay, all its own) and none of my friends had all Fall, even though I so deserved it. "The good news is that it makes you look jolly." God bless Eddie Campbell.

* I attended the second half of the scholar's meeting, which went more into the wonkier side of scholarship -- there was a presentation that took seriously the jokes we used to make in the Journal office about wacky future comics in 3-D -- and ended with a lengthy presentation by Henry Jenkins. More people started to show up during the day. Someone said that a lady had shown up downstairs in go go boots with a twirling baton, which meant I would get to see Carol Tyler. Had lunch with James Sturm and Karen Green on a table that was a prop from a comedy sketch where all the food keeps rolling off of one end. They were both in Brooklyn as well, and I think that's what we talked about. James was the person I knew best at the Billy Ireland show and we did that thing where we kind of checked in on the other guy to make sure they had dinner plans and such, so I saw a lot of him that weekend. I have good arguments with James, although they seem to annoy anyone else listening to us. One of this week's topics was about the idea of saying "that's not for you" as a way to deflect criticism from someone other than a marketed-towards audience, and I can feel James bristling all the way in Vermont that I decided to define our discussion that way. Anyway, I love the shorthand that you get with comics people over time, when you no longer have to negotiate each others work and your opinions of same.

* his news from the scholar's event that CCS was going to be offering a focus on making comics for uses other than literary/artistic expression was one a lot of people went back to the whole weekend. I pressed Sturm about his latest group at CCS and he admitted he thought this was a special class.

* we were taken out the still worked-on front door because the lobby was being prepared for that night's opening event. I had a San Diego Con-style dinner with a bunch of folks, by which I mean we walked around in a big group until someone growled "we're eating here" and the food was as terrible as the company was pretty good. We all wanted to make it back for the ribbon cutting ceremony, so no one minded too much.

* about a half-dozen people asked me about the financial side of CR, which I think indicates that people are thinking about vocational issues in comics more than usual.

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* the opening ceremony started on time, and I quickly charged upstairs because the thought of people looking down on me Thunderdome style was kind of creepy. Also, that's where the booze was. I saw Eddie Campbell and his date Audrey Niffenegger, who was very nice. Ran into Joyce Brabner briefly, and settled in to talk to Los Bros Hernandez on the balcony above the lobby. Watched Caitlin McGurk make this piece of video.

* as a bunch of people have mentioned, the nicest part of the whole ceremony was a lengthy, sustained and in no way forced round of applause for a clearly touched Lucy Shelton Caswell. It's amazing to think of her taking charge of Milton Caniff's donations to the journalism department at OSU and turning that into this facility 35 years later. That's a tremendous thing she's done. There is no part of that story that isn't admirable.

* the booze was free. Columbus!

* people were a bit giddy for about a half-hour after the ribbon.

* in the midwest, even people working as event staff are nice. I always wonder if people like that have a different relationship to Party Down than I do.

* I strolled across the quad with the Hernandez Brothers to watch Paul Pope and Jeff Smith in conversation. The theater was pretty well-packed. Pope and Smith are friends, and admire one another, so the conversation was mostly good-natured and heavy on the gentle ribbing, such as Smith rolling his eyes at news of a completion for THB. Smith's oft-repeated amazement at elements of Pope's facility with pen and ink, that was not faked. The crowd seemed to enjoy the whole, genial affair.

* on my way out a guy nudged his girlfriend and said, "And that's the Hernandez Brothers right there. Wow!" He pointed and everything. Jaime smiled.

* went to dinner on Friday night with a bunch of the Columbus folks at Smith's invitation. They were super charged up, and with good reason. I got to meet Paul Pope's Mom, who looked younger than me. It was fun to watch that pair interact. Pope seems happy with the reception given Battling Boy and was happy to rattle off plans for future projects. If this trip was in some ways about comics people aged 35 to their mid-forties trying to find a space and a place in which to create, Pope seems to have that figured out.

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* the hotel bar scene was interesting, too. It was a nice physical space, an open area on a mezzanine level of the Hyatt. The not-comics folks on hand were dance moms and people preparing for a marathon of some sort. They stood out. I said hi to Los Bros, and passed along word that they could have a backstage tour of the facility if they'd get to the Billy Ireland at some point tomorrow when someone had time free. I watched Paul Pope do two impressive looking sketches for attending scholars.

* had breakfast on Saturday with James Vance. We had egg sandwiches and talked about the brutal freelance writing landscape. He's had a quietly major year between the sequel to his Kings In Disguise work (On The Ropes) and wrapping up the writing on his late wife Kate Worley's Omaha The Cat Dancer. We talked a bit about surviving grief, too. Interesting breakfast, at a neighborhood joint that was just packed enough to make us think we had selected well.

* one thing I like about Columbus is that it seems to value its downtown neighborhoods -- or at least the core ones -- more than most places that suffered suburban flight.

* Saturday and Sunday were the Festival proper, which primarily presentations given in a small theater, interspersed with lunches and chatting and coffee and buying things at the Wexner Center bookstore and the occasional post-presentation signing.

image* Rocky Shepard and Brendan Burford from King Features presented Lucy Shelton Caswell with the Elzie Segar Award, an honor they had resuscitated from years of inactivity and which was traditionally given to major contributors be they artists or not. I hadn't seen Rocky in years, so it was nice to touch base.

* for the sake of a business thing I missed the majority of Matt Bors' extremely well-reviewed presentation that opened the event. I made it back for Eddie Campbell's charmfest, which included him showing the test footage from the proposed TV series about his life. Campbell could have gone in every slot of the weekend according to folks I talked to afterwards, although I thought he looked nervous for the first ten minutes or so.

* I got to have lunch with JT Dockery, Derf, James Moore, Ken Eppstein and other Columbus folks whose names I don't remember because I'm terrible at names. They all seemed fairly blown away by the new space. I got a short history of comics shops in Columbus walking both directions. Caitlin McGurk told me later that one of the old Columbus shop-owner is an intermittent exhibitor selling Underground Comix, which I find fascinating because unlike the vast majority of superhero books undergrounds seem genuinely rare.

* back at the show, Stephan Pastis seems very comfortable in front of an audience, very funny and on a certain level really, really proud of what he gets to do for a living. That was a good get for them.

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* got back over to the galleries to take a closer look. Walked much of it with Bill Kartalopoulos, who wrote an astute report here. I'm not sure I have much to add. Looking at a bunch of comics art from masters like that -- this was a "gems of the collection" type show -- was obviously wonderful if not a bit overwhelming. Brian Walker curated, and his show put on display a strong, natural sense of what is attractive in stand-alone fashion. There was work in there by David Levine and B. Kliban that was a beautiful in close-up as the Fosters and the Herriman, and it was fun to see the art displayed so well via a lot of specialty cases and the like. I thought the most beautiful piece in the entire show was a Cliff Sterrett. Something about all that black made it pop.

* and here's a bunch of the rest of the art, randomly photographed. I usually only took photographs when I was feeling self-conscious, so sorry.

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* that's something, right? That last one... between this show and that selection of comics art on display at MoCCA Festival, I'm beginning to enjoy strips from Brenda Starr up on walls.

* the permanent exhibit was fun, too; and should make even a terrible-sounding -- to you -- gallery show of the moment worth a stopover if you're driving through I-70 on some future year.

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* one thing they've done in that permanent space is make use of display cases with drawers and a pull out wall system. This not only makes for a bit of fun in kind of digging around the place but it increases by a significant number the total number of pieces of art on display in that one of the three gallery rooms.

* but yeah. Wow. You should see that much great comics art at once before you die. You have until March.



* to end the day, Dave Kellett and Fred Schroeder showed their just-about-all-the-way-done documentary Stripped for the first time. I'll be talking to Kellett about the movie for one of the Holiday Interview, so I'll give more of my reaction through those questions, but I will say the crowd seemed to very much enjoy it. I suspect it was likely a different documentary than it started out to be, as it was begun when newspaper were in freefall and Kellett comes from a part of the webcomics community that's openly critical of the shelf life of the old model of doing newspaper-style comics as opposed to finding them on-line. It was fun to see a bunch of people, though, on screen, and the film was largely pro-comics, which I think will help it find an audience. The showing was followed by a panel discussion with featured artists Patrick McDonnell, Dylan Meconis and Hilary Price.

* Price was the funniest of the panelists, and also gave what I thought was the most interesting answer to any of the questions. Someone asked what newspapers could do with comics content on their web sites. She pointed out that the ways newspapers have comics on the web sites kind of thoroughly and fudamentally fails to replicate the role that comics had in the newspaper -- as a blast of good news after pages of bad. I think she has something there. They don't have a presence away from their corner of web sites that approaches their physical constancy in print. I know that I don't read comics on web sites the same way I do in the papers, and as a result I more frequently read comics in print newspapers and rarely if at all read comics on newspaper web sites.

* got to meet KAL, who was very nice and seems to travel a heck of a lot.

* I had a fun meal Saturday evening with Brendan Burford and James Sturm which we were happy to get in because apparently everyone in Columbus eats in the same neighborhood at 6:00 PM on Saturday night. I had shwarma (lamb), so I won dinner.

image* Brendan and I went back for the Los Bros Hernandez presentation. It was also extremely well-attended, and like Smith and Pope it was a stage set-up with microphones and comfortable chairs and a bunch of art on a big screen. They talked a lot about family, and about the comics their mom did, and things like the fact that Gilbert was also compulsively prolific, to the point of drawing in different styles as if he were different members of a fake bullpen. They also told one of my favorite stories, about how shocked Gilbert and Mario were when Jaime started so strong right out the gate with the work in Love & Rockets #1, putting everything together in a way he hadn't before. I thought it might be too inside baseball for some, but everyone I talked to adored their presentation. We ran into two younger artists outside that had driven up from Cincinnati just to see them and they were in disbelief that Jaime and Gilbert had come this close to where they lived. I'm really grateful for the outpouring of affection for them over the last two years, just as a fan of comics and a fan of theirs. I wish they had thirty times the audience.

* Craig Fischer and Charles Hatfield let me crash their Hyatt table that evening, for which I'm grateful. I could just start reeling off names, but the place was pretty packed when things shut down and while everyone seemed in a good mood I don't recall anything super-notable or outlandish. It's weird to see how mainstreamed into social occasions our texting habits are now.

* had a long talk with Matt Bors, who seems to be having a very good year. It sounds like he's set up pretty solidly at Medium and I hope it works out on their end that they can keep him employed. Seeing Matt Bors with a gig that flatters his talent that he got without having to do anything than be Matt Bors is a story as positive as any in comics right now. He also has tendency to spill alcohol on himself, which is strangely charming. He told me he's on the lookout for a young editorial cartoonist so he can stop being the young editorial cartoonist.

* Sunday morning I attended a business meeting, and ran into Gilbert Hernandez, who seemed very happy about how nicely they had been treated, for which I was glad. Met Brian Walker, Jim Borgman, Matt Weurker and Tom Gammill and drove those men minus Walker up to the campus for the Sunday presentations. Borgman had yet to visit -- he's no longer in Ohio, taking the "I can live anywhere" part of making a comic strip seriously, and seemed like a very nice man. We looked up to see kids taking classes upstairs. I took one more walk around the museum.

* I mostly hung out and talked that day. I did see both the Brian Basset and the Kazu Kibuishi talks. The Crane one was interesting for me because I'm used to Adama@Home more than the boy-and-his-dog Red And Rover work he focused on here. A lot of that work is way more visually compelling than his dad-at-home work, that's for sure. He seemed genuinely honored to be asked back to OSU for the festival, and told a couple of great stories about running up against Woody Hayes while a student editorial cartoonist.

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* the great Bruce Chrislip let me read is copy of Gary Groth's early issues of Fantastic Fanzine, which of course were incredible. I love thinking about Gary counting out characters for every line so he'd know how to space the columns and how that solitary act led to his life as a publisher and practical midwife for an entire form of artistic expression. It's always good to see Bruce, and people still remember him from the cover of I Like Comics.

* one snippet of conversation I remember hearing is that Jeannie Schulz goes to Burning Man, which I'm not going to check because I want it to be true more than I want to risk it not being true.

* the Kazu Kibuishi was interesting just for his career path: state school to development deal to comics. He even did a bit of digital painting while taking questions -- he started with smears of color and built out of one of them he found graphically intriguing -- which is always fun to watch. The notion that he was being actively discouraged to work while under contract is an amazing thing, and it makes you value the self-actualizing aspect of comics. Bunch of kids in for that one, too. I somehow missed Marc Boutavant, who did one of the kids programming sessions. I'm a big fan of that Ariol series.

* the last person I talked to was Lucy Caswell, whom I congratulated. We all should.

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* I turned around and took a photo on my way out. There was a significant last day of summer camp feel.

* so then I went back to Indiana and a I chattered about everything I saw and the next day I got up and went to the Indianapolis airport and the lady hit my shoulders every single time with the cart and then it was Dallas and all the strange tans and TGIF doesn't do nachos even if you ask really nice and then it was back to Tucson and over to Trader Joes for supplies and then three hours later I'm back home and my dog wasn't there to greet me and I probably won't leave until March at the earliest. The end.

* Columbus was a lovely and encouraging way to end a convention year that for me started with another surging show, Emerald City. The people in Columbus were super-nice and respectful of and engaged with their cartooning guests in a model way, a way we can all take to heart. We have the best art; we can be gracious and kind and patient and supportive. I'm actually not too sure what to make of the show itself -- I think it really was an odd version likely never to be repeated -- even though I'm of course super-delighted that the possibility of non-commercially driven shows seems to be on the table. That's not the only model -- I like buying stuff, too -- but different models is a great thing and maybe it can convince us to pull back on the excesses a bit. I don't know what becomes of that facility now. I urge you to go and see it. Make sure it's open. Make sure that if you know Jenny or Caitlin they know you're coming. As Beto pointed out, this is a place that loves comics-makers and comics readers and want to serve as many of them as possible. And like I said, one thing that's nice about the facility is that it's first class without being ostentatious. I don't know if Columbus ever becomes a capital of North American comics, but there's certainly a sweet-ass car out front for the folks that live there to drive.

* forthcoming shows include a Bill Watterson/Richard Thompson paired show that will kick off the solo exhibition life of the place, and then visits by the Dan Clowes traveling exhibit and one featuring female manga cartoonists. This is now a thing we get to do, those of us passionately interested in comics. We get to go to Columbus.

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* as far as shows in general... well, I did do a lot of them. I like comics shows. I don't think I'll ever do that many again barring enough money to get in and out without taking a chunk of week out on either side. I will likely do as many per year from this point on -- health and fortune allowing -- than I would have ten years ago in a three year span. My general takeaway is that the primary reason shows are exciting right now is that for a bunch of different reasons they have become a rare thing in the world of comics: an element that approaches the level of talent on display in comics' creative class. We have great cartoonists and an odd infrastructure and a lot of people making a lot of money in jobs that have nothing to do with those comics, and some things are deplorable. But conventions? We have a pretty good convention calendar now. Cons and festivals have stepped up. The rest of us should, too.

* I hope that all of the shows improve, and that we get a few more. I hope that people really invest with their locals and continue to hit their favorite regional and national shows. I'm encouraged they can become a springboard for attention to the medium across the board, even those shows where comics doesn't seem like the most important thing going. And the rest of us need to make sure we start to be as good as the people running the best shows, whether that's some sort of professional gig we have or just the way we engage with a favorite art form. Let Lucy Shelton Caswell be our example.

* I've had an amazing year, and I'm grateful for all of those I ran into along the way. I'll see many of you again starting next March. Until then? I'm going to work.

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Hardcore travel notes: In Muncie I stay here when I need a place to stay that's not my best childhood friend's house. The car I rented from Alamo was a Chrysler 300 and cost about $280 for eight days because I was in the points program. I stayed in this hotel, and found the rate at this web site. Three places I ate dinner in Columbus were here and here and here. I only eat this when I'm in Muncie, but this will work in a pinch.

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posted 1:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Live Fast Die You

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posted 5:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Sélection Officielle (And Other Lists) For Angouleme 2014

The 41st iteration of the Festival De La Bande Dessinée has released its various prize nomination lists for the forthcoming major event, schedule to begin in late January. That means the Sélection Officiele (the show's main merit prize pool), the Sélection jeunesse (books aimed at young readers), the Sélection patrimoine (historical/reprints) and the Sélection polar (detective/crime fiction with I believe an emphasis on adaptation).

There are works and cartoonists familiar to North American readers all over these lists. This includes as part of the Sélection Officielle the french-language versions of Joseph Lambert's Annie Sullivan And The Trials Of Helen Keller, the first trades for Hawkeye and Saga, Ted Stearn's Fuzz And Pluck, Alison Bechdel's Are You My Mother?, Derf's My Friend Dahmer, Peter Blegvad's The Book Of Leviathan, Rutu Modan's The Property and Tom Gauld's Goliath. The Prix Patrimonie is festooned with work familiar to North American authors, Paul Pope and Ben Hatke scored nomination in the Jeunesse/Young Persons category, and a volume of Scalped is up for Prix Polar.

It's also interesting to me that the prizes have seemed to settle into a pattern that looks like it may hold for a while now, after a few years there several years ago when they seemed in a state of massive structural flux.

Congratulations to all nominees.

The lists:

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Selection Officielle

* Ainsi se tut Zarathoustra, Nicolas Wild (La Boite a Bulles/Arte éditions)
* Annie Sullivan & Helen Keller, Joseph Lambert (ca et la/Cambourakis)
* L'Attaque des titans Vol. 1, Hajime Isayama (Pika)
* C'est toi ma maman?, Alison Bechdel (Denoel Graphic)
* Carnet du Pérou, Fabcaro (Six Pieds sous terre)
* Cesare Vol. 1, Fuyumi Soryo (Ki-oon)
* Charly 9, Richard Guérineau and Jean Teulé (Delcourt)
* Le Chien qui louche, Etienne Davodeau (Futuropolis)
* Come Prima, Alfred (Delcourt)
* Deadline, Christian Rossi and Laurent-Frédéric Bollée (Glénat)
* L'Etranger, Jacques Ferrandez (Gallimard)
* Fenetres sur rue, Pascal Rabaté (Soleil)
* Fuzz and Pluck Vol. 2, Ted Stearn (Cornélius)
* Goggles, Tetsuya Toyoda (Ki-oon)
* Goliath, Tom Gauld (L’Association)
* Les Guerres silencieuses, Jaime Martin (Dupuis)
* Hawkeye Vol. 1, David Aja, Javier Pulido and Matt Fraction (Panini)
* In God We Trust, Winshluss (Les Requins Marteaux)
* Jonathan Vol. 16, Cosey (Le Lombard)
* Kililana Song Vol. 2, Benjamin Flao (Futuropolis)
* Lastman Vol. 1, Bastien Vivès, Balak and Michael Sanlaville (Casterman)
* Le Livre de Léviathan, Peter Blegvad (L'Apocalypse)
* Macanudo Vol. 4, Liniers (La Pastèque)
* Mauvais genre, Chloé Cruchaudet (Delcourt)
* Mon ami Dahmer, Derf Backderf (ca et la)
* Opus Vol. 1, Satoshi Kon (Imho)
* Paco les mains rouges Vol. 1, Eric Sagot and Fabien Vehlmann (Dargaud)
* Un petit détour et autres racontars Vol. 3, Hervé Tanquerelle and Gwen de Bonneval (Sarbacane)
* La Propriété, Rutu Modan (Actes Sud BD)
* Le Roi des mouches Vol. 3, Mezzo and Pirus (Glénat)
* Saga Vol. 1, Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan (Urban Comics)
* Les Temps mauvais: Madrid 1936-1939, Carlos Giménez (Fluide Glacial)
* La Tendresse des pierres, Marion Fayolle (Magnani)
* Vapor, Max (L’Apocalypse)
* Les Voleurs de Carthage Vol. 1, Hervé Tanquerelle and Appollo (Dargaud)

*****

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Prix Jeunesse

* Agito Cosmos Vol. 2, Fabien Mense and Olivier Milhaud (Glénat)
* Battling Boy Vol. 1, Paul Pope (Dargaud)
* Carnets de Cerise Vol. 2, Joris Chamblain and Aurélie Neyret (Soleil)
* Détective Rollmops, Olivier Philipponeau and Renaud Farace (The Hoochie Coochie)
* Jane, le Renard et moi, Isabelle Arsenault and Fanny Britt (La Pastèque)
* Kairos Vol. 1, Ulysse Malassagne (Ankama)
* Klaw Vol. 1, Joel Jurion and Antoine Ozanam (Le Lombard)
* Louca Vol. 1, Bruno Decquier (Dupuis)
* Le Monde de Milo Vol. 1, Christophe Ferreira and Richard Marazano (Dargaud)
* Space Brothers Vol. 1, Chuya Koyama (Pika)
* Walhalla Vol. 1, Marc Lechuga and Nicolas Pothier (Glénat/Treize Etrange)
* Zita, la Fille de l'espace Vol. 1, Ben Hatke (Rue de Sèvres)

*****

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Prix Patrimoine

* Amy et Jordan, Mark Beyer (Cambourakis)
* Cowboy Henk, Herr Seele and Kamagurka (Fremok)
* Fritz the Cat, Robert Crumb (Cornélius)
* Frontline Combat Vol. 2, Harvey Kurtzman (Akileos)
* Jack Kirby Anthologie, Jack Kirby (Urban Comics)
* Melody, Sylvie Rancourt (Ego comme X)
* Nancy: 1943-1945, Ernie Bushmiller (Actes Sud / L'An 2)
* Poissons en Eaux troubles, Susumu Katsumata (Le Lézard noir)
* Spirou par Y. Chaland, Yves Chaland (Dupuis)
* Les Trois Royaumes, Luo Guanzhong (Fei)

******

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Prix Polar

* Heartbreak Valley, Simon Roussin (Editions 2024)
* Lartigues et Prévert, Benjamin Adam (La Pastèque)
* Ma Révérence, Wilfrid Lupano (Delcourt)
* Scalped Vol. 8 , R.M. Guéra and Jason Aaron (Urban Comics)
* Tyler Cross, Bruno and Fabien Nury (Dargaud)

*****

This year's festival starts January 30.

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

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Go, Look: That 1981 Marshall Rogers Batman Portfolio

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Go, Look: Gabrielle Dell'Otto Mini-Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* that's some Iron Fist double-page spread.

* Janelle Asselin talks to Delicia Williams. Steve Morris talks to Bill Willingham. Carl Antonowicz talks to Dakota McFadzean.

* it's nice to see people writing about Al Plastino, one of those super-talented mainstream comics guys that kept that industry afloat for decades and seemed to pursue that vocation in honorable fashion.

* Martin Wisse and I have pretty much the same take on retailer/industry advocate Brian Hibbs' call for a return to serialization as a lesson to be gleaned from the Fantagraphics crowd-funder, only he states it much more forcefully and eloquently than I did.

* Martin Wisse springboards from a J. Caleb Mozzocco piece on DC putting crossover content into multiple trade editions, and how frustrating that must be for people paying full price for both. I'd never thought of that. My primary takeaway when I encounter that is actual serial-comic oriented, that when they have to put in a related series into a trade for a story to make sense, or for it to make more sense, I always wonder why they're releasing series that don't make optimal sense on their own.

* I haven't caught up with Paul Gravett in a while. You can join me in reacquainting yourself via three solid pieces on Howard Hardiman, Chihoi and Sofiane Belaskri.

* not comics: I don't cover a lot of the adaptation into film/tv type news here, but what I remember of Preacher would seem to indicate that it might make a very good TV show of that particular kind of TV show that's super-popular now, and I always though that the Brubaker/Phillips work Sleeper was a fine twist of a genre idea of the rare kind that became more interesting with the turn-up-to-11 nature of superheroes involved and would make someone in that 40-55 age group a pretty good movie vehicle if executed well. I also like all of those creators and hope every single one of them is due a payday for their hard work. As these were properties created after 1990, I suppose there's a fair chance they will be.

* Gregory Schmidt on Shifter.

* finally, I find most of the concerns about comics criticism expressed here severely foreign to my own interests, but I don't write a lot of criticism and I was never in the first rank of those who do back when I did, so what I'm up to isn't at issue.
 
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Happy 40th Birthday, Jonathan Rosenberg!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Paul Guinan!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Karen Green!

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November 26, 2013


Not Comics: The Story Of Troubador Press

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via Bob Levin
 
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CAPS Makes Request For Direct Donations & Original Art To Auction On Behalf Of Stan And Sharon Sakai

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The long-running southern California assemblage of comics-makers the Cartoon Art Professional Society is putting together an art auction to assist Stan and Sharon Sakai with Sharon's medical bills not covered by their insurance. I have personal knowledge of how tough it can be to pay homecare expenses even when you have insurance, so my heart goes out to that lovely couple. Stan Sakai is a wholly admirable cartoonist whose life's work has brought tens of thousands a significant amount of joy. I hope that you'll consider helping. I used the direct donation button through the initial link.
 
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By Request Extra: Typhoon Charity, Fantagraphics, D+Q, Binder

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There are three ongoing fundraising projects/sales that I thought worth mentioning again in their own post. I do so as Monday seems a far way off even without a holiday between it and us, and once December hits it's hard to free up any extra money at all.

* one of the three efforts is for charity: Rina Ayuyang's wholly admirable effort to gather art into an auction for typhoon relief in the Philippines. Those auctions are starting to go into their ending cycles, one after another, and there are still some love things to be had.

* the Fantagraphics Spring Season crowd-funder is nearing the $200K mark as I write this. That is an extremely well-run crowd-funder, with a lot of fun incentives. Fantagraphics is a virtuous company with a massive track record and a long record of putting their money into publishing first and profit second.

* another great comics company, Drawn and Quarterly, is in the midst of a week-long sale of its books at a hefty 40 percent savings. They had a really good years, and it's difficult for me to imagine any Christmas list out there that couldn't use a D+Q on it: whether that's the Moomin material for kids, or books like Susceptible for grown-ups, or what seem to me really accessible books by artists like Lisa Hanawalt and Tom Gauld.

As a send-off I also wanted to mention this Kickstarter campaign because some of my friends in comics are talking about it and it's a rare thing to see a crowd-funder that deals with a collectibles issue as opposed to content publication. Individual issues are tough. When I'm settled down somewhere I use hard-paper slaves similar to the old FOOM slips for various comics, just so I can shelve them. I've never seriously considered binding. I don't mind longboxes but it's nice to have work out where you can grab it.
 
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Al Plastino, RIP

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Your Prix De La BD Fnac 2014 Nominees

imageThe international retailing giant Fnac has announced its nominees for the 2014 edition of its BD Prize. North American works Annie Sullivan And The Trials Of Helen Keller, My Friend Dahmer, Punk Rock Jesus and the first volume of Saga were recognized in their equivalent French-language editions. The French-language awards programs tend to cluster around the end of the year in part because of the gravity-warping presence of the Angouleme Festival. Fnac, one would assume, has the extra incentive of selling the books in its prize program during the gift-driven holiday season.

Those selected are:

* Annie Sullivan et Helen Keller, Joseph Lambert (Ca Et La)
* Blacksad Vol. 5, Juanjo Guarnido and Juan Diaz Canales (Dargaud)
* Come Prima, Alfred (Delcourt)
* Crève saucisse, Simon Hureau and Pascal Rabate (Futuropolis)
* Deadline, Christian Rossi and LF Bollee (Glenat)
* Eve sur la balancoire, Nathalie Ferlut (Casterman)
* Long John Silver Vol. 4, Mathieu Lauffray (Dargaud)
* La Grande épopée de Picsou Vol. 2, Don Rosa (Glenat)
* La petite mort, Davy Mourier (Delcourt)
* La tectonique des plaques, Margaux Motin (Delcourt)
* Lastman Vol. 1, Michael Sanlaville and Balak and Bastien Vives (Casterman)
* L'attaque des Titans Vol. 1, Hajime Isayama (Pika)
* Le chien qui louche Etienne Davodeau (Futuropolis)
* Esteban Vol. 5, Matthieu Bonhomme (Dupuis)
* Le Transperceneige, Jean-Marc Rochette and Lob and Benjamin Legrand (Casterman)
* L'étranger, Jacques Ferrandez (Gallimard)
* Ma révérence, Rodguen and Wilfrid Lupano (Delcourt)
* Master Keaton Vol. 1, Naoki Urasawa (Kana)
* Mauvais genre, Chloe Cruchaudet (Delcourt)
* Melvile, l'histoire de Samuel Beauclair, Romain Renard (Lombard)
* Mon ami Dahmer, Derf (Ca Et La)
* Paco les mains rouges Vol. 1, Eric Sagot and Fabien Vehlmann (Dargaud)
* Pawnee, Patrick Prugne (Daniel Maghen)
* Pendant que le roi de Prusse faisait la guerre, qui donc lui reprisait ses chaussettes?, Zidrou and Roger (Dargaud Benelux)
* Punk Rock Jesus, Sean Murphy (Urban Comics)
* Revenants, Mael and Olivier Morel (Futuropolis)
* Saga Vol. 1, Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan (Urban Comics)
* Tyler Cross, Bruno Voir and Fabien Nury (Dargaud)
* Universal War 2 Vol. 1, Denis Bajram (Casterman)

Congratulations to all nominees. It looks like you can actually vote here.

art from Pawnee
 
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Go, Look: Creators Bill Of Rights Anniversary Blogging At A Moment Of Cerebus

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Go, Look: Rob Kirby's Top Twenty Self-Published Comics And Mini-Comics For 2013

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The cartoonist and writer-about-comics Rob Kirby has his third annual list of twenty top self-published comics and mini-comics, this time for the year 2013. His choices are:
* Beach Girls, Box Brown
* Driftwood City, Jason Martin
* Every/Body, Edited by Greer Lawson
* Fear of Flowers, Jason Viola
* Gnomes, Sam Gaskin
* Hawaii 1997, Sam Alden
* Hungry Bottom Comics: 2 Fags 2 Furious, Eric Kostiuk Williams
* I'm a Horse, Bitch, Lauren Barnett
* LovF, Jesse Reklaw
* Milkyboots #14, Virginia Paine
* Not a Horse Girl, Marian Runk
* Runaway Dog, Emelie Ostergren
* Screentests, Annie Mok
* Sequential Vacation 2, Sar Shahar
* Stethoscope Microphone, Whit Taylor
* Training, Josh Simmons
* Viewotron #2, Sam Sharpe
* What's New, Pussycat?, MariNaomi
* Young Safari Guide, Jesse Jacobs
* Zebadiah, Asher Z. Craw
There is a lengthy honorable mention list and a lot of supplementary choices in various categories through that initial link.
 
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OTBP: Missy

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Go, Look: Sheldon Moldoff Era Batman Covers

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* missed that Richard Thompson released the imagery that will accompany the complete Cul De Sac collection coming out next year. It's hard for me to imagine a much bigger publishing event for 2014 off the top of my head, and there won't be one I'll enjoy as much. Petey Otterloop 4-ever.

image* Gene Luen Yang talks to collaborator Sonny Liew about his work, with the 2014 publication of their collaboration The Shadow Hero as the hook.

* the release date on Clifford Meth's Comic Book Babylon has been pushed back to President's Day.

* Jillian Tamaki writes about the other parts of putting together a publishing project with This One Summer.

* received an e-mail from Ari Jayaprakash, the creator of the forthcoming Kuru Chronicles about early promotional efforts on behalf of the massive, forthcoming book: here and here.

* here are all the covers for the Pretty Deadly launch in one place. It does look like variant covers are pretty well ensconced in that part of the market for that kind of book debut.

* great to hear that Bob Fingerman signed a three book deal with Les Humanoides Associés.

* Warren Ellis will be writing a Moon Knight comic book for Marvel Comics. I think Ellis is a really solid writer on slightly off-center mainstream superhero comics and it's to Marvel's credit they find a place to employ talent like that in a way that serves their own interests in developing certain properties. That sounds like damning with faint praise, but I mean it, that's what publishers do when they work: match talent to need.

* finally, I don't think I'd seen an image from Nick Abadzis' forthcoming Cigar That Fell In Love With A Pipe, or, really, heard much about it at all. I always enjoy reading Abadzis' work. That is from this dedicated Tumblr site.

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Go, Look: The World Of Malaria Moe

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Go, Look: Paul Gulacy's Black Widow Portfolio

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* James Romberger on a bunch of different comics, including Do Not Disturb My Waking Dream. Don MacPherson on Doing Time. Kelly Thompson on Young Avengers #12. Andrew Wheeler has been reviewing the Marvel Infinity series one by one, all of which are available here. I bought a bunch of those when I was in New York, so I look forward to reading those reviews.

* this site won't be doing a collective memory for the Long Beach show last weekend, but Nick Marino wrote a report and gathered some photos here and we're glad to link to it.

* Alex Dueben talks to Zeina Abirached, Colleen Coover and the trio of Reed Waller, James Vance and Denis Kitchen. Tim O'Shea talks to commercial actor Steve Lieber.

* the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com notes that Time Warner spinning its print media into its own company and away from Time Warner proper is a long-term strategy come to fruition, and that DC's exclusion from this spin-off shows just how mainstreamed within that company is the idea that DC's comics are media development tools.

* that same site points out that the heinous, cascading act of bad behavior that is the appropriation of a Beastie Boys song for a commercial endeavor by claiming reworked lyrics make it a parody -- and that this, not the commercial use, is the defining element of that appropriation -- and all the calls for settling and "everyone turns out a winner" and aggressive Internet posturing that has followed actually offers up a positive: people are learning about Rube Goldberg.

* finally, here's a piece in the New York Times about bringing Fun Home to the stage.
 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Pat Broderick!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Doug Rice!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Max Clotfelter!

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November 25, 2013


Assembled Extra: Tüki Save The Humans Has Launched

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Drawn And Quarterly Announces Weeklong Holiday Sale

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Drawn and Quarterly is having a sale right now on its books. The Fall is a tough time for a lot of publishers. My understanding is that this isn't reflective of anything dire, but it's something they really hope goes well.

I quite liked a lot of their books this year, particularly Susceptible and Marble Season. It's also quite easy to see the Tom Gauld and Lisa Hanawalt books as being really good gift books -- they would super-appeal to a lot of people that might not even know who they are before they saw the cover for the first time.
 
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Best Wishes To Stan/Pauline Goldberg; Maybe Send Them A Card

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The veteran comic book artist Stan Goldberg and his wife Pauline were recently in what sounds like a horrific car wreck: Stan is in a back brace, Pauline had broken bones in her arms and in one leg. They sound like they're recovering, though, and a letter I was forwarded from a couple of sources said that the cartoonist is out of the ICU and will be resting a few days before beginning therapy. Our best wishes to them.

That same letter provided an address to send them a get-well card:

Stan and Pauline Goldberg
c/o North Shore University Hospital
300 Community Dr, Manhasset, NY 11030

They are certainly not taking visitors yet and any other contact should go through a family member, I would imagine. But cards sounds nice. Send that nice man a card. I thought of Goldberg over the weekend because he used to come down to small press events just to see what he could see. I always liked that.
 
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Go, Look: Gothic Blimp Works Cover Gallery

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Go, Read: Jeppe Mulich's Top Comics For 2013

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Jeppe Mulich has an early list of best comics for 2013 up at Filth And Fabulations. His choices were:

* Boxers and Saints, Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
* Frontier #2, Hellen Jo (Youth in Decline)
* Gold Pollen and Other Stories, Seiichi Hayashi(PictureBox)
* Helter Skelter, Kyoko Okazaki (Vertical)
* Kitaro, Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Incidents in the Night Vol. 1, David B. (Uncivilized Books)
* Life Zone, Simon Hanselmann (Space Face Books)
* Lose #5, Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)
* Out of Skin, Emily Carroll (webcomic)
* The Great War, Joe Sacco (W. W. Norton)
* The Property, Rutu Modan (Drawn and Quarterly)
* The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame, Gengoroh Tagame (PictureBox)

Mulich's runners-up based on falling prey to his established criteria: Black is the Color, Julia Gfrorer (Fantagraphics); Rasl, Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books); Hand-Drying in America, Ben Katchor (Pantheon); Hip Hop Family Tree, Ed Piskor (Fantagraphics); Amazing Facts and Beyond, Kevin Huizenga and Dan Zettwoch (Uncivilized Books); Very Casual, Michael DeForge (Koyama). You should go to the site through that original link and read the reviews.
 
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Go, Look: Another EC-Era John Severin War Story That Happens To Be Published By Another Publisher

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Heritage Auctions Seeking European Comic Art Specialist

Here. You have to speak/write French, but that's a company that's enjoyed a lot of success and the though of splitting time between Dallas and Paris seems like it would be enjoyable. Anyway: comics job.
(via Chris Arrant)
 
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Go, Look: External Memory

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Your Globe Books 100 Best Comics List For 2013

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This list looks like a component list to an overall top 100, and was provided to the Glove and Mail by Sean Rogers. His choices were:

* Hand-Drying in America and Other Stories, Ben Katchor (Pantheon)
* Julio’s Day, Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
* So Long, Silver Screen, Blutch (PictureBox)
* Susceptible, Geneviève Castrée (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Very Casual, Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)

I think going with Julio's Day over the other four Beto books is an interesting choice, and I'm happy to see the Blutch and the Castrée included because I think those are very good books that a lot of people passed over.
 
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Never Get Tired Of These Simon Gane Landscape Drawings

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A Few Notes About Comic Arts Brooklyn 2013

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Tom Spurgeon

* hi, I'm the guy that attended too many comics shows in 2013. Here's the story of my second to last show, Comic Arts Brooklyn 2013.

* Comic Arts Brooklyn was a first-year show organized by Gabe Fowler of the retail location and sometimes-publisher Desert Island. Fowler was one of three organizers for the Brooklyn Comics And Graphics Festival, with Bill Kartalopoulos and Dan Nadel. That organization called it quits after last year's show and Fowler's similar, new show has stepped into the breach.

* this report is appearing a staggering 2+ weeks in the rear view mirror now. That this seems like an extraordinary amount of time I think is a clue as to how a lot of professionals and devoted fans process these shows now: as anticipatory events, intense immediate experiences, and then something to be shaken off like the fizzier effects of alcohol when an authority figure approaches with a flashlight. I suspect more people in the small press comics world will think about MoCCA 2014 than about CAB 2013 in the next 10 days.

* I'm not saying that's a bad thing, either.

* so: New York.

* I went to New York City several days in advance of Comic Arts Brooklyn. I went in order to get a bunch of New York City work done that might sustain me until my next trip sometime in 2014.

* it did not work out that way.

* things began to unravel a bit when I had a professional engagement that kept me from speaking at Ben Katchor's symposium, which I'm dying to do some day. I don't know if a bunch of you are paying attention to that, but basically people present in front of a small audience in a series of informal lectures sponsored by one of our great cartoonists. For an art form that seems starved for different ways to organize itself in a non-commercial manner, Katchor's symposium seems like an idea more people should look into and emulate.

* as for the remainder of my time leading up to CAB, I'll admit I shot out of that particular travel cannon a bit soul-weary. I needed as much of a break as I could squeeze out of my non-committed time. New York can be good like that, too, affording the opportunity to just kind of lose yourself in crowds and walking around and eating in random places when the mood strikes and scanning the front of movie theater marquees to see if there's anything in the next 20 minutes and stopping at museums just because they're museums and wandering into stores that strike your interest the moment that interest is struck. I saw old college friends whose interest in comics stopped at around 1983. I slept in. I circled Central Park. Because it was necessary rather than an indulgence I can't say that I enjoyed myself the way you do on a vacation you seize by the throat, but travel is a tremendous privilege that eventually leaves us and I had a wonderful time. Thank you, New York.

* I did see a few comics people.

* I talked to Charles Brownstein of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund for our usual 90 minutes of fixing the various American comics industries, followed by our also usual quarter hour of telling one another we have to get back to work, followed by our also very usual final 45 minutes of intense, random comic-book industry talk. The CBLDF office was covered in retailer incentives waiting to be mailed. They were nice enough to let me use their office for 45 minutes and get on-line. Brownstein was awaiting the imminent return from leave of new daddy Alex Cox.

image* I had another drink with Charles and the occasional writer-about-comics and writer-of-comics Sean T. Collins later that week. During that sit-down we talked about the breaking news story of the Fantagraphics crowd-funder, and about comics-making more generally. One idea that was introduced that kind of hung over my entire two week trip, to Brooklyn and then Indiana and then to Columbus, Ohio, was the idea of a book of the year, or at least a short list of books that one found thrilling and compelling rather than comfortable and classy.

* on another occasion saw the translator, writer, editor and book producer Anne Ishii, who was not going to CAB in favor of hitting Burbank and Bent Con in support of her gay manga related business, Massive. We talked about a bunch of stuff including news just then-announced that Chip Kidd, her collaborator on the Gengoroh Tagame book The Passion Of Gengoroh Tagame from PictureBox earlier this year and one of the great designers of our time had just been married. So congratulations to Chip.

* snuck in a lunch with Brendan Burford, my one-time day-to-day editor at King Features and the person whose public profile -- alternative comic book cartoonist turned primary editor of one of the great and powerful companies in all of comics -- always seems to be a bit under-played. He's a quiet man, though, so it's never going to come from him. I respect him a great deal.

image* I also saw my friend the publisher and PR director Peggy Burns, whom I joined mid-makeover at some giant store full of lotions and eyeliner and customers that scowled at me without ever actually scowling at me. Burns was shopping in too nice of a neighborhood to have a lot of bars, but we found one anyway. Comics.

* near the end of the week, I visited the First Second offices, which I had never done before. Calista Brill invited me over and then turned around and blew me off to finish her lunch errands, stranding me in the lobby; Mark Siegel was off creating another 500 page graphic novel or riding around New York on a boat or whatever the hell he does. Luckily, Colleen AF Venable told the security guard in the lobby to let me up and I get to sit on the tiny metal stool in her tiny but yet -- other than the stool -- comfortable office and look at some of her book designs. That was a very nice visit; apparently Paul Pope has use of an office in the Flatiron building now because First Second is in the Paul Pope business. I smell a sitcom.

* my visit with Brill -- when she got there -- and Gina Gagliano was nice and very comics-industry chatty, meaning a kind of mutual assured destruction on all sides when it comes to sharing any details of what anyone said. They seem to be in a comfortable groove over there at First Second: they know what books work for them, they have the confidence of MacMillan when it comes to putting their books out, and they're selling pretty well across the board.

* I had lunch on one of the mid-day weeks with the young cartoonist Meghan Turbitt, who is very funny and whose cartooning is still very raw. She both teaches and makes comics, something that sounded terribly odd twenty years ago but is a frequently encountered hybrid now. While there's been a lot of talk about the dangers of people that are a bit older in comics having contact with those starting out, the ability to connect across generations is one of comics great strengths. It's humbling to be reminded of those initial steps of getting your work seen, and making it, and working a room for connections. It keeps you centered, and appreciative of those journeys.

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* ran into Frank Santoro that week as well. We went to a comics shop called Mysterious Island (the former Roger's Time Machine) and looked at their impressive back-issue stock of weird old 'zines and oddities of the 1970s and 1980s indy-comics movement. The shop also had some 1990s material; Frank bought an issue of Destroy All Comics he's never owned. I really enjoyed Destroy All Comics as much as it's possible to enjoy a magazine that all of your same-age peers liked more than the magazine you were doing at the time. Frank and I talked comics over pierogies (me) and eggs (him). We talked about the Pittsburgh scene and the desire to enter into a long-term relationship with a publisher in order to produce work at a steady pace.

* I really liked that store, by the way. I am enough of a small-town, Midwestern kid to still be weirded out when stores are on the second floor of buildings, and tromping up the stairs to Mysterious Island reminded me of the first time to Village Comics. Although come to think of it, I think they eventually moved downstairs. There's so much material out there in terms of comics from about 1965 to 1995, minis and indy/alt comics in particular, that don't have the hook of popular characters and is really fun and hard to collect. It's the collection I would pursue if I had idle millions.

* the only other comics shop I got into that whole week was a Midtown Comics when I was too early for an appointment. I stared at the new comics wall for 45 minutes and left.

* wait a minute. That sounds like a ton of comics stuff.

* Hm.

* well, it didn't seem like a lot compared to the usual trip. And I missed a bunch of folks for sure, so it's not as busy as it could have been. I remember not being able to find the time or a companion to head to the Jack Kirby pop-up museum, which I found out about late in the week. I did spend a lot of time alone, and time with people who don't know Marvel's The Avengers was based on a comic.

* incidentally, what struck me with folks not in comics is how much the conversations were the same as the ones with my comics-related pals, at least in broad strokes. Everyone wants to do meaningful work and this is more keenly felt from one's late-thirties to one's mid-forties; everyone wants to get to a point where people are working for them in some way rather than their having to constantly hustle to be provided work from elsewhere; everyone worries about money but usually not enough to want to switch off their current career course. Comics is life.

* on the best night of a lot of good nights, I had Korean barbecue after midnight with old friends I had to squint to see in their faces now and told old jokes and slipped into old patterns and found a bit of myself again.

* New York will always be a comics town because it's New York where comics feel most and least important. It's where the syndicates are but no model comics page. It's where the companies started but not where they make most of their money. It's where the company lies that's going to put a shop in every household across America and Europe that wants one. It has the New Yorker and its office visits. It's where Jack Kirby was born and where Jules Feiffer did alternative comics a quarter century before they had a name. The reason why New York shows are important is because New York is important. I'm grateful Gabe Fowler stepped up, and I hope the experience was enough he'll stick with it. God bless Comics New York.

* on Thursday I began to concentrate on comics events.

* my formal comics weekend started with Osamu Tezuka. I didn't see a whole bunch of comics people at the Japan Society's Tezuka event on the Thursday before CAB, which I wrote about here. There were a few folks there. The cartoonist Katie Skelly was moderating; Sean McCarthy, Paul Karasik, Sam Alden and Sophia Wiedeman attended. It's always nice to see a comics event bringing in tons of people one doesn't know because it makes comics feel less like a local "garage theater" scene where the same 20-person audience is shared like those Greek soothsayers that have joint custody of an eyeball and a tooth. We treat comics sometimes as if there's no audience at all, as if those closes to the medium are the only ones that matter, and I suspect the opposite is true.

* after Tezuka it was my great honor to attend Art Spiegelman's Jewish Museum exhibit reception for fellow artists and various friends from comics. He had already done a press event and a more formal reception earlier that week. I took a cab up with Paul Karasik -- who has terrible cab mojo for someone that has actually lived in New York. We talked about career minutiae and oddball projects from the four cartoonists he put together on a "Young Cartoonists" panel at Comic Arts Brooklyn, still a couple of days off. They weren't chosen by random or by reputation. Karasik is one of comics kinder souls and nimble conversationalists: if there are universal donors, I can imagine Karasik being listed on some doctor's chart somewhere as a universal dinner companion.

image* anyway, the invites had asked us to print up tickets but they weren't checked -- my apologies to anyone in the large entourage I could have apparently swung. We were checked for weapons, though, and I spent the rest of the evening trying to decide which of the Arcade crowd would be most likely to show up packing heat.

* that was an amazing crowd, and to be honest I spent most of the time engaged in talking to people rather than looking at the show. Francoise Mouly of course, Jeff Smith, Vijaya Iyer (Spiegelman later called Iyer the more impressive get), Jesse Fuchs, Bill Kartalopoulos, Dan Nadel, McCarthy, Skelly, Wiedemann, David Mazzucchelli, Charles Burns, Santoro, James Sturm, Patrick McDonnell, Chris Ware (who I understand was out just for the reception), Chris Oliveros (ditto), Peggy Burns, Gary Panter, Adrian Tomine, Ben Katchor, Gil and Amy Roth, Dave Filipi, I think maybe Lisa Hanawalt, Lorenzo Mattotti (again, I think), Bob Sikoryak, Dash Shaw, Gabrielle Bell, Ariel Schrag and a bunch of people I've probably forgotten, including people I talked to directly. My apologies. Anyway, it was definitely one of those "everybody tell the meteor hitting the museum joke" nights. I was lucky to be there and definitely out of my league, which was nice because at least there would be no time spent negotiating for any seat at an afterparty.

* as an ex-Fantagraphics employee, I was pigeonholed for several inquiries about that company's then-nascent crowd-funder, all from people sympathetic and concerned.

* this isn't comics, but I wasn't aware Ariel Schrag had a novel coming out next Spring from Putnam. That's great news; she's a very skilled writer.

* Gabrielle Bell was enjoying some time away from not doing comics. I hope she has been better at it than I apparently was.

* I'd like to return to get a more considered view of the Spiegelman show. It was very impressively mounted -- for instance, they treated his originals so that they could be displayed under light. Taking in what I could in between bursts of conversation there seemed a lot of pleasurable aspects to it: seeing that Spiegelman worked so small in some cases and much larger than others; seeing some of the many development sketches and the choices made from concept to page, and seeing some of the projects with which I've had very little exposure. There was a sumptuous quality to seeing that much work. The show seemed very much intended to make a case for comics through Spiegelman, as opposed to making a case for Spiegelman as a significant artist within or without comics, but that's almost a hunch on my part rather than a studied observation. I lack sophistication when it comes to writing about art on walls -- art, generally -- but my impression was the show was user-friendly rather than the explication of a thesis. In terms of comics, my single solid takeaway was to be reminded how much work Spiegelman has done despite a reputation that he's one of the slower, less prolific cartoonists.

* I don't know Art Spiegelman at all well, but he looked relaxed and happy and amongst his people.

* a few folks I spoke to slipped out of the gallery where Spiegelman's work was hosted and to a different part of the building to see the Chagall exhibit running concurrently.

* I later read a negative review of the Spiegelman show. I linked to it from Random News at some point. I expected to read a few. Like most of the negative articles on Spiegelman, what I read was primarily a review of his celebrity rather than his comics. The typical construction of that kind of article is a summary dismissal of Spiegelman's skill on the page according to the writer's measure of the approbation received, followed by an optional sidebar about celebrity or publicity being a concern of Spiegelman's in order to justify this attention, and then swinging into an indictment of the critics that enjoy the cartoonist's work or of the culture more generally for rewarding the cartoonist. It then usually gets followed by a bunch of people writing about how brave it is to take Spiegelman on, and there's a little piling on in terms of incredulous exhortation for the rest of us to see past this avalanche of undeserved praise. I never know what to say about those kinds of reviews where an art exhibit is treated as a prize rather than an exploration, and thus is an affront to someone's particular sensibilities; there's usually very little in terms of engagement with the art in them. In many cases they seem to come from people with a very strong sense of personal worth when it comes to their own work. I don't necessarily think Art Spiegelman is the finest cartoonist of his generation, but I think he's a considerable one and an influential creator in a variety of areas. I wish all the cartoonists of his skill and greater received twice the attention and four times the reward.

image* the next day was the time hanging out with Peggy Burns and visiting First Second. Later that evening I attended Dash Shaw's film/video presentation after Sean Collins came up the street and found me because I text-whined at him. He led my confused, lost self to the theater by hand. Joe Ollmann came and sat next to me in the front row and we did an eyeball old-guy high-five. The program was a bunch of Shaw's short pieces wrapped around a full episode of Robotech. I have even less of a sophisticated palate for animation than I do for visual art, but I did enjoy the Shaw cartoons and can see a continuity of concerns between those works and his comics. I also really wish Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes would just get together already.

* that night I went out with Karasik, Sturm, Mark Newgarden and Ollmann to a beer and wine place while the younger crowd went far enough out of that immediate Brooklyn neighborhood I think so as to discourage any of the olds from walking that far to join them. We were definitely being cranky comics guys, but there's no wrong way to be a comics person except maybe desiring to be a kind you're not. So a fun evening. I wish I could remember details of the conversation, but, you know, beer.

* for the weekend I moved from the city and stayed at a more affordable, comfortable bed and breakfast near Prospect Park. I decided to walk to the comics show because I felt super-fat. It was about 90 minutes. That was very interesting, how quickly -- even within the same block -- Brooklyn seemed to be still gentrifying even though many of my friends claim it's already gone through that process and is now on the other side. I saw the first drug deal I've witnessed since leaving Chicago in 1993. I saw three grocery stores nicer than anything for a half-mile in any direction. It was a lovely walk. There's a neighborhood south and a bit west from where the show is that's basically been described to me in joking fashion as "16th Century Poland" for the Jewish community that lives there, many of whom were out and about that day.

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* I hit the Knitting Factory programming first. In case I was unclear, this was arranged by Paul Karasik, and he went less is more -- very focused, heavy-hitter panels, but only three of them. There was a reserved press section and a seat with my name on it -- I guess because I told them they were coming. This was a relief because I'm shy and not very assertive when it comes to scoring seats. Although there's really no way to say, "You're in my seat; seriously, my name is on it and everything" and not come across as a massive tool. But still: seat, seat, seat. Very grateful. Despite their reputation the New York folks were very respectful of the reserved seats in a way most audiences usually aren't.

* that's a cool space to hear people talk, and it serves booze, so it has a lot going for it. It's very small. There was a big crowd wanting to get into that City Of Glass panel and the place was packed for all three panels. It seemed about three percent less crazy in terms of crowd intensity than the final BCGF's slate in 2012; take that for what it's worth. Video was apparently prepared, but I've heard nothing about it showing up quite yet.

* the City Of Glass graphic novel adaptation reunion panel -- featuring Paul Auster, Art Spiegelman, David Mazzucchelli and Paul Karasik -- was delayed about 35 minutes because of technical issues. When it finally went off moderator Bill Kartalopoulos did not have control of the screen like he had during last year's panels. I admired how quickly Kartalopoulos moved the panel along -- not an easy panel to begin with -- considering how much time had been burnt away and the distraction of having to ask for help with every image. He asked a couple of questions where I felt like screaming out Marge Simpson-style "Don't fill up on bread!" because I thought they were extraneous that ended up being the best questions asked of the panel. That guy is really good at moderating.

* that was a fun panel. I'm not sure what was new and what was just new to me, as I'm not up on my City Of Glass graphic novel details, but it was enjoyable. I liked most the similarities drawn between the careers of Spiegelman and Auster, and the comparison between pages that Mazzucchelli did on his own and the pages after Karasik joined the project. Karasik had been breaking down the book as a personal exercise so he'd have something to talk about with Auster during a parent/teacher conference -- Karasik had Auster's kid in class -- and that was the first of about a half-dozen synchronicities about the project that the panelists decided were very much like the events in one of Auster's novels. I also wasn't aware the novel wasn't initially offered as a new book -- it was a backorder-only release.

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* I stayed for the Young Cartoonists panel, equally stuffed with festival goers. That was Karen Green moderating for Michael DeForge, Lisa Hanawalt, Joseph Lambert and Katie Skelly. That was an extremely good panel in terms of the level of insight into each artist. I thought they were all good on their feet (they were actually on stools; the Knitting Factory set-up looks like one of those concerts they play on PBS or MTV where everyone has a guitar). Each panelist provided slides as to influences and then talked about them, the idea being that as young cartoonists they may have a different set of influences than the older creators that get asked that question and that grew up in a more monolithic pop culture.

* that the artists had a variety of influences turned out to be a smart assumption. There were beautiful nuggets of information every 23 seconds or so. DeForge talked about how much he enjoyed the way the musician Prince worked at a furious pace and bounced back and forth between making music and producing it, which is a fair template for the prolific nature of his own early career. Lambert was the only one to say he was directly influenced by superhero comics, but what was interesting about that part of his presentation is the way he talked about the way in which those comics came at him: in a scattered and random fashion that meant re-reading and obsessing over specific details and having to do without the kind of context that might come easily to the kind of fan dropping 75 bucks a week on the things. Lambert's low-whistle admiration for Jim Woodring's work was also noteworthy and fun to behold. Skelly offered the most eclectic grouping of influences -- Godard, Barbarella, the work of Sam Kieth and modern Japanese visual art among them -- and was the most polished in presenting specific reasons why each appealed to her; a through-line was the absurdity of the violence involved, and I think, the absolute idiosyncrasy of these created worlds. Skelly engaged the notion, seconded by Hanawalt, that she wished she were more influenced by the prose writers she admired. For her part as an individual presenter, Hanawalt talked about being influenced directly by the materials she chooses to consume as research for a new project, like the westerns she's been watching. What was nice about that is that it shifted the conversation out of the idea that influences are something that come at you while you're young and to a place where you're constantly working in new material and new things you see. Hanawalt also got a big laugh when she showed a few rocks from the avalanche of kids' books she had related to horses and said that it probably wasn't right to say she was "influenced by 'horse'." All four artists were routinely articulate; I overheard a woman in the lobby saying she was going straight to the table of one of the artists on the panel with whom she was completely unfamiliar. Like I mentioned earlier, I know that Karasik struggled a bit as to the exact make-up of the panel, and had read deeply of those he selected. Good panel.

* then I had to go get lunch with someone who needed to eat and leave the borough. Sorry, Jeff Smith. I heard his process presentation killed, though. Smith is really good in front of an audience and there were a lot of cartoonists and comics fans in attendance at that show for whom Smith is a primary influence for reading/making comics.

* after lunch, I walked over to the show, which had a bigger sign, I think, or at least I noticed it a few blocks away.

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* the show itself I think went very well. Solid. This is particularly noteworthy for it being a first show in certain ways, at least in terms of Gabe Fowler taking the lead (both of his fellow, former BCGF organizers were on hand, Bill Kartalopoulos moderating a panel; Dan Nadel exhibiting). Brooklyn is a good buying show no matter what it's called, and it's one where the audience and the exhibitor seem to exhibit a certain level of synergy that's hard not to enjoy. Those that aren't into specific comics works on hand seem interested in finding out about stuff or are at least open to looking. I heard about very good but maybe just short of spectacular sales for most people, with a few folks selling out. The space seemed less crazily stuffed than at the last version of previous same-space event BCGF. Part of that I think was a tiny drop in the fervor of the attendance -- I talked to one or two exhibitors who were worried about the crowds until 2 PM or so -- but some of the ease of movement was definitely purposeful adjusting by Gabe Fowler and his team. For instance, they used soft corners on the aisles (think an open square where you could stand and touch the two table ends rather than table ends touching along the sides), which made walking around easier, and adjusted where tables were set up and how deep into the room. The exhibitors were only slightly off in terms of overall numbers, Fowler told me that day, but I thought the traffic was significant and sustained.

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* saw a bunch of my peers, including Calvin Reid, Joseph Hughes and Timothy Hodler. I also ran into Chris Mautner and Joe McCulloch, the Karkas and the Reject of writers-about-comics -- I don't know which is which -- up from central Pennsylvania. Mautner and McCulloch I'd probably see once or twice a week if we lived in the same town, so these twice-yearly meetings have a bit of melancholy to them, really. Whenever I ask Joe about comics at one of these things he usually ends up pulling some odd-looking manga volume out of his bag and talks abut that for ten minutes before he mentions anything I've actually heard of, which is funny in that it's sort of a real-life street theatrical version of his weekly comics column at TCJ.

* everybody looked pretty good. There was no one about who anyone savagely gossiped due to their general physical well-being.

* spinning the wheels to focus my older brain on the show and the conversations had walking up and down the aisle, I remember nice exchanges with Connie Sun and Lauren Weinstein. Weinstein is looking forward to a change in her workday structure with kindergarten coming on for her kid. I made a point of going back and seeing one of the nicer people in all of comics, Rina Ayuyang, for an across-table visit. She told me that Renee French couldn't make it in support of her new Yam Books effort. I like that work very much. Leigh Walton said they sold a bunch of kids' books. It's always fun to see Andrew Aydin working behind, he seems very excited and on that day the publisher and the creators were still coming down off of the sales bump from Team March appearing on Rachel Maddow's show.

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* my two big surprise run-intos were Jay Lynch early and Eleanor Davis late, both there in support of the work they do for TOON Books. Lynch I don't know very well, but I'm an admirer and I like the TOON work as well. Eleanor Davis is someone whose work I enjoy very much, and I'm not used to seeing her at shows if I've ever seen her at a show. I think I heard about her attending the 2012 SPX but she stayed away from the con floor itself. It was great to talk to her, and in fact I kind of overplayed my time chatting with her. Sorry, Eleanor. I greatly look forward to her collection from Fantagraphics. She was my Fantagraphics crowd-funder incentive choice. When I mentioned that Davis was there in the list of people I'd seen while talking to others at the show the reaction was usually "What?" and once or twice people charged away to track her down, leaving me in a conversational lurch.

* speaking of Fantagraphics, I did have quite a few younger cartoonists ask after their crowd-funder, more than I expected. This had been something we had talked about on Friday night, whether or not Fantagraphics was even on the radar of a lot of young people at the show making comics. I assume that for many of them, that company might not be anything more than a far-off institution and kind of irrelevant to what they do, but I also think there are plenty of cartoonists that have emerged in the last half-decade giving serious thought as to how they might keep doing it, and certainly all of the major publishers of that type of material factor into those plans.

* one thing I heard about and had confirmed that was funny is that Dan Nadel declined to sign a pair of boots as an incentive.

* anyway, there was a lot of general career anxiety around New York that week, more than usual, I thought. I think a lot of younger cartoonists are settling into a realistic assessment of what's out there for them.

* this year's mainstream comics maker on the floor of the show enjoying it as any fan might was writer Sam Humphries. He was in town for a Marvel creators meeting. I was happy he introduced himself. One of the weirder lines of discussion I had with comics people at CAB and at the following week's Billy Ireland Opening Festival was the current nature of the divide between commercial comics and art comics. I think there's actually more people with a kind of contempt for doing the other kind of work than there has been in recent years, or at least it seems like there's a bit of move back to "that's not even comics" thinking. I don't know, I think creative work is more same than dissimilar even on the highly commercial gigs, but I can only work from the outside in on that one.

* I'm sure I'm forgetting a bunch of personal encounters. I saw Vito Delsante and his family. Ayo. Annie Koyama. Hellen Jo, an artist I like a lot. Leslie Stein. Ryan Sands, who I think told me had just gotten tattoos with Michael DeForge. Sean Ford, about whom I worry. I just worry about that guy, no real reason. Box Brown. Ian Harker. Tom Kaczynski. Dean Haspiel. Julia Gfrorer, with a new Fantagraphics book out that's my next thing to read. Jonny Negron. Benjamin Marra I waved at.

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* two cartoonists not already mentioned that people seemed super-excited to see were Simon Hanselmann and, from seemingly out of nowhere -- by which I mean I knew Hanselmann was coming -- John Pham with a new issue of Epoxy and a new fiancée in tow. John Pham and Epoxy, for pity's sake. Hanselmann was very charming, and seemed a tiny bit overwhelmed by the recent surge of interest in his comics, but in a good way. He was the appointment visit for maybe a dozen people I saw walking around the show. Pham has long been one of the nicest people in comics, and for nearly as long an under-appreciated creator. If there was a comic of the show, I would vote for Pham's; if there was a cartoonist whose appearance might mark this show as different a few years down the line, I'd say Hanselmann. There were a lot of books garnering attention. I believe that Gregory Benton sold out of his work again over at the Adhouse table this time, making it two New York arts festival in a row for that guy. I'm not sure that I heard a lot of excited about specific projects as much as a kind of overall desire to have a lot of stuff -- a sign that the generation served there is kind of locked in that state where they are at least a few years into their careers, and people come to shows wanting their new things as much as a new thing.

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* I stood outside for a while with Jeff Smith and Art Spiegelman. Two younger cartoonists tried to drag me up the street to a bar, but I wasn't quite ready to leave -- I joined them later. They told me they thought I was trapped talking to a couple of boring looking old comics dudes and wanted to rescue me. Sorry, Jeff and Art. Anyway, that was nice, too, to get the perspective of two major figures on a show like that, and the level of visual culture enjoyed by the emerging cartoonists, and who had caught their eye and who hadn't, all while talking about things they were up to themselves. Chuck Forsman stopped by and talked about his comics and his distribution set-up. It's always nice to see that guy. I like the front of that church on the festival days as a comics place.

* I had dinner with a few younger but not super-young peers and in addition to the usual gossip and post-show sorting out of what each of us saw we talked about books of the year. A lot of admiration was expressed for Frank Santoro's Pompeii. I walked through the formal afterparty, knew not a soul, smiled and sort of -- now that I look back on it -- invited myself to Mark Newgarden's post-show gathering where most of the folks I knew from Sammy Harkham and Adrian Tomine and older had gathered. Sorry, Mark. Actually, some of the Chicago guys were there, too, and some of them seemed young. Newgarden has amazing bookshelves, as you might expect. I talked exhausted nonsense. It was a great time.

* the remarkable thing about CAB 2013 to me is that no one seemed blown away by this tremendously high-functioning comics show. Almost everyone seemed to be having a really good time, and a lot of great comics-makers and comics were there, but I never got the sense of anyone going, "Whoa." I mean, I'm sure that was a part of it for several people -- every show is someone's life-changing show -- but I didn't feel a collective wow. That sounds like an indictment, but it's so not. I realized at one point standing outside, in the cold, waiting to be seated for dinner that we simply expect good comics shows now. And that's a whoa of a different kind. Festivals and cons are one of the few things in comics that in the last couple of years have finally caught up with how good the comics themselves are. We need to have really good shows now. All the time. The comics deserve them.

*****

extraneous travel notes, because two of you told me you keep track: 1) I stayed here, here and here; they were all fine although certainly you have to engage with what they are rather than what you might hope for them to be; I did not spend over $120 for any individual night, by haunting travel sites until they gave me the price I wanted 2) I flew American and chose to go LAX from Tucson and then across country because that's more miles for about the same length of time on a plane as Dallas or Denver; be careful with LAX that they give you enough time to get on your next flight when you book; I like the American terminal at JFK for its expansive size, public transport options and relative lack of use

*****

* picture of the outside of the show including the big signage
* Sean T. Collins, from later in the week than this contextual use
* Peggy Burns with Adrian Tomine, from later in the week than this contextual use
* Frank Santoro and his buy
* always liked this Art Spiegelman image
* Joe Ollmann
* the crowd waiting patiently for the City Of Glass panel to start
* the young cartoonists: Lambert, Hanawalt, DeForge, Skelly
* Paul Pope signing, which gives you an idea of the indoor crowd
* Calvin Reid, David Mazzucchelli, Paul Karasik
* Timothy Hodler, Chris Mautner, Jog
* it was a huge surprise seeing Eleanor Davis
* the great John Pham
* Jeff Smith and Art Spiegelman
* another picture from outside of the show, including the steps where people congregate (below)

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Missed It: The Speaker

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Go, Look: DC Annual Covers From The Early 1960s

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* a lot of fine comics-makers seems to have contributed to this project, still far away from meeting its goal: Mould Map 3.

* the Fantagraphics crowd-funder continues having already met its initial goal. Again, I think that's a virtuous company with a 35-year pedigree and the kickstarter itself is really well-run; I participated. One aspect worth watching consider the success of the move and the company's high profile as a cultural institution -- even if it's not something well-known to the general public -- is how this might have an effect on other companies doing something similar. The Seattle Times took notice.

* to show you how much the dialogue can change around crowd-funders, I remember there was a point when people more openly questioned the wisdom of raising money for projects that sound slightly like a slam-dunk conceptually, the idea being that there was no risk that should be shared via that mechanism because the project was practically guaranteed to make any money invested back. And now you don't have that criticism at all, or rarely. Don't an implied criticism into that, because I don't 'have an opinion on that one -- I'm just noting that these issues develop over time, and sometimes on-line with its confident trumpeting of The Way Things Are we forget about that shift in ideas over months and years.

* a bunch of the Rina Ayuyang-directed auctions on behalf typhoon relief in the Philippines will wrap up this week, starting today. There's a lot of fun art being auctioned there, and I think it's a good thing those artists are doing.

* Team Cul De Sac continues to do good, like this.

* finally, the pre-Christmas season is a pretty good time for intriguing crowd-funding requests, and this year is no different. A pair caught my eye via a quick glance at those sites: a Ryan Estrada-generated project that involves a pay-what-you-want model, and a Periscope Studios-generated project focusing on art books.
 
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Go, Look: Handsome Red Skull Incarnate Covers

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Hey, Kids! Nazis!
 
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Go, Look: Ron Regé Jr. Experimental Two-Pager In Abraxas #4

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the site Shit Comics has a list of incredible cartoonists for 2013 up here.

image* very few strips were more attractive than Big Ben Bolt.

* John Kane on a bunch of different comics. Sean Gaffney on Oh My Goddess! Vol. 45. Brian Nicholson on Sunny Vol. 2. J. Caleb Mozzocco on two comics by Tom Taylor and, although the links are broken as I write this, Bandette Vol. 1. Richard Bruton on Aama Vol. 1. Rob Clough continues with his pieces on CCS students and alumni; no tagged grouping as of yet, though. Chris Sims on Superman: A Celebration Of 75 Years -- I bet that one gets some traction.

* Jeffrey O. Gustafson on the lack of comics practitioners/critics.

* Kevin Nowlan draws the original Teen Titans.

* there's a nice article here about a cartoon done about President Kennedy that was pulled back as much as possible following his murder. There's actually been a ton of pretty good feature writing on the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination, or at least it seems that way to me.

* Michael Cavna talks to Joe Sacco.

* Sean Kleefeld points out that there are not a lot of journalists -- even in the roughest sense of the word -- that cover webcomics. I can't think of a lot of writers that have covered it regularly and well: Gary Tyrrell, Eric Burns-White and some of Shaenon Garrity's writing come to mind; I'm sure I'm forgetting two or three folks. I suspect that a reason for this is the lower threshold for full participation in that particular expression of comics, and that another factor is the lack of a cultural hang-up concerning the relevance and direction of that expression. In other words, the fan press for print comics developed in a specific way as a reflection of the times both generally (post-Watergate new journalism expanding the idea of what that kind of writing could be) and specifically (an actual industry and an idea that the medium should transform). Then again, it could just be there's no money in it.

* people keep sending me this post from Bully of comic-book appearances by Winona Ryder, meaning comic-book versions of movies in which the actress appeared. And yes, I'm guessing all of the people sending it to me are near my age.

* finally, Brian Nicholson writes about evolving tastes as a way to engage the utility of comics criticism.
 
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Happy 66th Birthday, Jean-Pierre Dionnet!

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November 24, 2013


Your 2013 British Comic Awards Winners

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The FPI blog has a nice report up on this weekend's awarding of the British Comic Awards -- now in its second year.

Below are the short-list nominees with winners in bold.

BEST COMIC
* The Absence #5 -- Martin Stiff (self published)
* The Listening Agent -- Joe Decie (Blank Slate Books)
* Mud Man #6 -- Paul Grist (Image Comics)
* Soppy #2 -- Philippa Rice (self published)
* Winter's Knight: Day One -- Robert M Ball (Great Beast/self published)

BEST BOOK
* The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil -- Stephen Collins (Jonathan Cape)
* Judge Dredd: Trifecta -- Al Ewing, Rob Williams, Simon Spurrier, Henry Flint, D'Israeli, Carl Critchlow and Simon Coleby (2000AD Graphic Novels)
* The Man Who Laughs -- David Hine and Mark Stafford (SelfMadeHero)
* Mrs. Weber's Omnibus -- Posy Simmonds (Jonathan Cape)
* The Nao of Brown -- Glyn Dillon (SelfMadeHero)

YOUNG PEOPLE'S COMIC AWARD
* Cindy & Biscuit #3 -- Dan White (self published)
* The Complete Rainbow Orchid -- Garen Ewing (Egmont)
* Hilda & The Bird Parade -- Luke Pearson (NoBrow)
* Playing Out -- Jim Medway (Blank Slate Books)
* The Sleepwalkers -- Vivianne Schwarz (Walker Books)

EMERGING TALENT
* Isabel Greenberg (The River of Lost Souls)
* Dilraj Mann (Frank Ocean VS Chris Brown, Make You Notice, Turning Point)
* Will Morris (The Silver Darlings)
* Jade Sarson (Cafe Suada)
* Lizzy Stewart (Solo, Four Days In Brussels, Four Days in Iceland, Object Stories)

In addition, the great Leo Baxendale was inducted into the awards program's hall of fame.

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Go, Look: Video Games

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posted 6:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Three Kate Beaton Comics I Hadn't Read Yet Because... Well, I Don't Know Why Exactly

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posted 6:03 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Beast In Me

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posted 6:01 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: David Aja Cover Design Process Post

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posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Leeds, I'd Go To This

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posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 55th Birthday, Tony Fitzpatrick!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #358 -- Comics Reading DNA

On Friday, CR readers were asked to name as specifically as possible

1) The First Comic Of Any Kind You Remember Reading
2) A Comic That Got You Back Into Reading A Certain Kind Of Comic After You'd Given Up On That Kind Of Comic
3) A Comic That Got You Reading A Different Type Of Comic Altogether
4) A Comic That Made You Want To Make Comics Even If You Never Made Them
5) A Comic That Represents A Kind Of Comic You Have Yet To Explore.

This how they responded.

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. The Flintstones #21
2. X-Men #125
3. Elfquest #9
4. New Hat
5. Insect Fear #1

*****

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Dave Knott

1. Spider-Man: Invasion of the Dragon Men (Power Records #24)
2. Thor #337
3. Cerebus #114
4. Asterix and the Goths
5. Young Romance #1

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Showcase #20 (first appearance of Rip Hunter, Time Master)
2. Incredible Hulk v2 #92 ("Planet Hulk")
3. Deadbone Erotica (original 1971 Bantam edition)
4. Larry Ivie's Monsters And Heroes #2 ("Altron-Boy" back-up feature)
5. Pim & Francie

*****

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Justin J. Major

1. Superman Vol 1 #282
2. Astro City #1
3. Raw, vol. 2, no. 3
4. Haw!
5. The Adventures of Tintin

*****

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Will Pfeifer

1. Amazing Spider-Man #122
2. DC Comics Presents #11
3. American Flagg #1
4. Issues of Cynicalman
5. Ganges

*****

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Joe Vince

1. Marvel Tales #82, which reprinted the first part of an Amazing Spider-Man issue with Kraven, Ka-Zar, Gwen Stacy, a giant space monster and a trip to the Savage Land.
2. Avengers #1 in 1998. I started reading Kurt Busiek and George Perez's relaunch of the title along with Iron Man and Grant Morrison's JLA. All three got me back into superhero comics, but that Avengers issue kicked it off.
3. Maus: A Survivor's Tale
4. Hepcats: Snowblind
5. Jim

*****

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Douglas Wolk

1. Green Lantern/Green Arrow #109
2. Uncle Scrooge #219
3. Asterix the Gladiator
4. Yummy Fur #2 (Vortex series)
5. Anamorphosis

*****

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Jamie Coville

1) Marvel Tales #116
2) Hot Stuff Sizzlers #54
3) Preacher #1
4) 1992 Action Comics #1 reprint
5) Ediciones Jose G. Cruz El Santo Year 1 Number 1

*****

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Josh Leto

1. Claw the Unconquered #5
2. TEOTFW (got me back into ordering comics by mail)
3. Cerebus #75
4. Ed Brubaker's Lowlife #1
5. Monster #2

*****

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Chris Arrant

1. The Transformers #20 (1986)
2. X-Men Annual #11 (1987)
3. Death: The High Cost of Living #2
4. Ganges #1
5. Prison Pit

*****

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Woody Compton

1. Marvel Treasury 1 (a reprint of Spider-Man Annual 1)
2. Batman the Dark Knight Returns 1
3. Akira 1
4. ZAP 4
5. Bacchus 1

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Mad #21 (1955)
2. Elektra: Assassin #1 (1986)
3. Valentina (1968)
4. Ace Hole: Midget Detective (1974)
5. Red Colored Elegy (2008)

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. The Flash #241
2. Tales of the Teen Titans #50
3. American Flagg! #1
4. Miracleman #1
5. Naruto

*****

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Sean Rogers

1. Amazing Spider-Man #244
2. Calvin and Hobbes: Yukon Ho!
3. Sandman #48
4. What It Is
5. Homestuck

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. The New Teen Titans (1980 series) #22
2. New X-Men #114
3. Yummy Fur #5
4. The Amazing Spider-Man #2 (a reprint)
5. The Drifting Classroom #1

*****

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Danny Ceballos

1. MAD Magazine April 1974
2. All-Star Superman #1
3. Kramers Ergot 4
4. Ernie Pook's Comeek (circa 1985)
5. Gold Pollen and other stories: Masters of Alternative Manga Vol. 1

*****

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Jeppe Mulich

1. Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (in Danish translation)
2. Katsuya Terada's The Monkey King, Vol. 1
3. The Sandman: World's End
4. Akira, Vol. 2 (in Danish translation)
5. Chinese Hero: Tales of the Blood Sword

*****

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Chris Duffy

1. Dennis the Menace and His Friends series, #23: Dennis the Menace and Ruff
2. Captain America #1 (2005)
3. Phoenix: Volume 1: Dawn by Osamu Tezuka
4. Weirdo #25
5. The Incal

*****

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Derek Van Gieson

1. X-Men #171 (Claremont/Simonson) Rogue Joins, everybody hates her.
2. New Mutants #37 (Claremont/Wilshire/Sienkiewicz) everybody dies, brilliant
3. Eightball #1 (Daniel Clowes) hilarious and disturbing, can't get enough
4. Love & Rockets (Los Bros Hernandez) Folk tales & punk
5. Stray Toasters (Bill Sienkiewicz) the high achievement of a restless need to better one's art. Not for everyone but, holy shit.

*****

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Jog

1. Mickey Mouse (Gladstone) #235
2. Heavy Metal Vol. 24 No. 3 (July 2000)
3. Twisted Sisters 2: Drawing the Line
4. Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941
5. Homestuck

*****

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Douglas Mullins

1. Daredevil #227
2. Astonishing X-Men #1
3. Powr Mastrs Vol. 1
4. Jimbo in Paradise
5. Zap Comix #1

*****

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Peter Birkemoe

1. Marvel’s Greatest Comics #84 (reprinting FF #76)
2. Antares by Leo
3. Cerebus 86
4. Notes Mésopotamiennes by François Ayroles
5. The Heart of Juliet Jones by Stan Drake

*****

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Zainab Akhtar

1. Tintin: Cigars of the Pharaoh
2. Pluto by Naoki Urasawa
3. Kinky and Cosy by Nix
4. None. Ever.
5. Red Coloured Elegy by Seiichi Hayashi

*****

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Michael F. Russo

1. Action Comics #447 (May 1975)
2. Captain America #34 (March 2008)
3. Love and Rockets #27 (August 1988)
4. Copra #6 (April 2013)
5. The End of the Fucking World

Most are self-explanatory, but TEOTFW for me is about mini-comics and how they come out of nowhere and shoot right by you into the stratosphere. I may be a little old to stay on top of a scene that wide and dense, but it seems to me to be like the primordial soup where the future (or all things comics) can come from.

*****

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Matt Silvie

1. Batman #308
2. The Dark Knight Returns
3. Eightball #1
4. Batman #308
5. Cerebus #1

*****

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Patrick Dean

1. Tales to Astonish #8 (vol. 2, Sub-Mariner reprints, 1980). I was four and wanted it because The Thing was on the cover. My older brother had some comics, but this is the one I poured over a lot.
2. Madman #2 (Tundra). Early college and I avoided superhero comics. This one made me want to revisit the silver-age stuff and current throwbacks, at least.
3. Flaming Carrot Comics #16. I was in 6th grade and I bought it from a comic shop that carried very little non-DC and Marvel titles. I was intrigued by the 80's B&W independent glut, what was left of it, for good or bad. Flaming Carrot ruined regular newsstand comics for me. It was like a pile of chaos.
4. I'd always been someone who drew from an early age, but I began drawing more comics on notebook paper every chance I got after Flaming Carrot Comics #16. I still have that copy, dogeared and signed by Bob Burden on the cover.
5. Towards the end of college, Devlin Thompson of Bizarro Wuxtry gave me a copy of Chester Brown's "Ed the Happy Clown" (Vortex tpb). I was horrified and obsessed with it. It inspired me to try to create something as surreal and upsetting as this book. I never had the guts to do it. I'm still waiting for that comic.

*****

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Jones Jones

1. Some kind of Australian B&W reprint of various DC comics -- the Justice League fought Darkseid, there was a Green Arrow story, and a Joe Kubert Hawkman that freaked me out (the one with the Shadow Thief, maybe?)
2. New X-Men #114
3. The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics
4. Acme Novelty Library #1
5. Little Nemo: So Many Splendid Sundays (I've read the strips, but not these super-high-end reprints; see also the IDW Artist Editions)

*****

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Matt Emery

1. 2000AD Prog 9
2. Captain America #25
3. 32 Stories: The Complete Optic Nerve Mini Comics
4. Anal Atrocities #1
5. The wonderful Mexican comics mentioned in The Imp #4

*****

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Michael May

1. Beep Beep The Road Runner #44
2. Alpha Flight #1 (1983)
3. Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1
4. 30 Days of Night #1
5. Love and Rockets #1

*****

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Mike Palumbo

1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #6 -- I was 5 years old and heading towards TMNT obsession like most boys my age. I'm not ashamed to say this was my first comic.
2. New X-Men #114 -- I had been away from superhero books for most of my teenage years. I tried getting back into them with some of the Marvel Knights minis, but this is this is the book that "officially" made superheroes cool again (for me, anyway).
3. Fist of the North Star (vol. 1) #5 -- I found the last four issues of this run in a quarter bin at a flea market when I was 13 or so. The cover art was so different from anything I'd seen to that point -- this was my "gateway" to manga.
4. Captain Britain by Alan Moore & Alan Davis -- I somehow ended up with a few issues of the "X-Men Archives" reprints, and liked them enough to track down the trade. I read it in bits and pieces during bus rides between campuses during my freshman year of college. There was something magical about it that made me say THIS is what I want to do (which may or may not have contributed to my spotty attendance and declining grades). Over a decade later, on those occasions when my confidence in my work wanes, I still look back to this to remember why I wanted to make comics in the first place.
5. Crossed #1 -- I'm not sure that I have the stomach for the type of book that spawned a series of "torture" variants. Maybe 50 years from now, when something even more disgusting comes along and we look back at these books the same way people look at the EC books today.

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Kelter Comic Nr. 8 Kitty Kids
2. Paradis Perdu by Ange, Varanda, Alberto & Lyse
3. Goth by Kendi Oiwa & Otsuichi
4. Superman/Batman 10/1977 ("Intruder From A Dead World" by Haney, Elias & Calnan)
5. Warren Craghead III I hate drawing

*****

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Jeffrey O. Gustafson

1. Tintin in Tibet
2. Amazing Spider-Man Volume 2 #30
3. Pluto volume 1
4. American Splendor (the movie, actually)
5. Crime SuspenStories 22

*****
*****
 
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
November 23, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Andrew Aydin And Chris Staros Talk March


Jim Mahfood Speaks


The Last Lonely Saturday


Short Documentary About My Friend And Occasional Collaborator Dan Wright


James Sturm At The Burlington Book Festival
 
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Go, Look: 2013 British Comic Awards Winners Named

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posted 12:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from November 16 to November 22, 2013:

1. The professional and super-devoted fan culture immediately the surrounding North American comic-book culture cycles through a specific, intense, sprawling, multiple-day discussion about harassment and sexism in the industry spring-boarding from accusations made by two women -- one of whom works in comics, one of whom used to -- about the personal conduct of writer Brian Wood in terms of social interaction.

2. Lucy Shelton Caswell awarded the EC Segar Award from King Features Syndicate during the second half of the opening festivities for the opening of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. She is the founding curator.

3. Signe Wilkinson robbed at gunpoint on Sunday night, turns around and makes a cartoon of it by mid-week.

Winner Of The Week
Rina Ayuyang

Loser Of The Week
The reputation of certain comics public spaces as safe places, whether or not they should have had that reputation to begin with.

Quote Of The Week
"When I was learning to read and such comic-book creators as Walt Kelly and Carl Barks were telling me fresh stories every month, I also learned that what I didn't buy one month would be gone forever the next. I haunted the newsstand and planned my allowance accordingly, because I wasn't going to get another chance at those issues. I certainly was never going to find them at the library." -- Maggie Thompson

*****

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

*****
*****
 
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Happy 50th Anniversary, Where The Wild Things Are

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posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Paul Gulacy Draws Shang Chi

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

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posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Leeds, I'd Go To This

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posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 52nd Birthday, Masamune Shirow!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 42nd Birthday, Jonah Weiland!

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November 22, 2013


Go, Look: Let's Go On An Adventure

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BCA 2013 Kick-Off: Garen Ewing Wins Young People Comics Awards For The Complete Rainbow Orchid

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According to a lengthy post at the FPI Blog, the British Comic Awards got underway earlier today when Garen Ewing was named the winner of Young People Comic Awards for is The Complete Rainbow Orchid, which was published by Egmont. This is an award where they roped in a significant number of school children to decide the winner, some of whom were in attendance at the award naming today. Other nominees were:

* Cindy & Biscuit #3, Dan White (self published)
* Hilda & The Bird Parade, Luke Pearson (NoBrow/Flying Eye Books)
* Playing Out, Jim Medway (Blank Slate Books)
* The Sleepwalkers, Vivianne Schwarz (Walker Books)

I think they're using the plural with "awards" there; apologies if I'm wrong
 
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Go, Look: Cool-Looking Beast Splashes

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posted 8:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
A Few Quick Notes On Sexual Harassment Issues And The Explosion Of Discussion Of Same On-Line

Over the last few weeks, obtuse commentary floated about the personal conduct of the comics writer Brian Wood coalesced into a set of accusations about the writer acting in inappropriate fashion towards two fellow women industry members: an artist named Tess Fowler, and a then DC salaried employee named Anne Scherbina (then Anne Rogers).

Noah Berlatsky deftly sums up the progression of that initial story in his essay at the Atlantic, which like many subsequent pieces has roped in a discussion of sexism in comics more generally. I like his work on the Wood aspects of this enough to recommend that broader piece.

The best direct piece detailing how the Fowler/Scherbina/Wood aspects of the story unfurled is an epic-length blog post at beccatoria@livejournal.com.

If you're a participant in the comics industry or a person with any interest in that industry or this story, you should read both pieces and follow each out to various direct links provided. This is a sensitive-enough issue generally and an egregious enough set of accusations specifically, with major career and industry implications on the line across the board, that reading as much of it as you can stand is the responsible thing to do. I urge you to take that time.

If it's a choice between reading those pieces and this one, read those two pieces, particularly the latter.

For referral's sake as you read this article, key primary or near-primary sources cited in those posts are:

* Collection Of Tess Fowler Tweets And A Statement Regarding Her Incident With Brian Wood Made Before Wood Named
* Run Of Tess Fowler Tweets Indicting Brian Wood: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13
* Brian Wood's Statement In Response To Fowler (currently down)
* Tess Fowler's Response To Wood's Statement
* Anne Scherbina's Initial Tweet Citing An Incident With Wood
* Anne Scherbina's Primary Post About That Incident
* The Rich Johnston Post Where He Mentions A Private Apology For The Gossip Item
* Tweeted Discussion Featuring Wood About Issues Of Male Privilege
* Series Of Tess Fowler Tweets Characterizing A Subsequent Discussion With Brian Wood: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

There have also been a significant number of impassioned pieces on the implications of this story and the issues of harassment and sexism more generally. They have included but are certainly not limited to:

* Dr. Nerdlove
* Heidi MacDonald 01
* Heidi MacDonald 02
* Laura Hudson
* Maria Huehner
* Rachel Edidin
* Rantz Hoseley
* The Outhousers On Media Criticism Of Coverage To Date

I'm sure there are many, many more and that there are more added all the time.

I am privileged in my own life not to speak from anything close to the personal perspective offered in many of these posts. I have some experience with unwanted attention in the comics industry, but in only a very limited window, enough to hopefully provide me with a greater sympathy for those that endure these things all of the time, with much more at stake, with much less support. I know it's not the same. My reaction to such things does not provide a baseline standard for others' reactions. In addition, the degree and the extent to which one suffers from something matters, despite what the Internet may have taught us in that strange construction frequently used that the mere possibility of an alternative or competing scenario somehow trumps the horror of weight and repetition and reality. I am privileged here, and my writing almost certainly reflects that.

I have a few thoughts anyway. I didn't know that I would, but I think it's important the incident and issue be acknowledged here, even in this imperfect way. I think it's important that ideas and perspectives be shared, even limited perspectives such as my own, and I want to underline that this site exists as a platform for the discussion of industry issues no matter the potential quality of its contribution. I apologize in advance for my lateness in getting here. I apologize in advance for a negative outcome in my expressing these thoughts as there is every chance that anything I write will be perceived as upsetting or beside the point or not helpful, and that's on me. Heck, I may have already crossed that line. I fully admit I could be super-wrong about anything I write on this issue. Let me at least be clear that any mistakes and missteps I'm about to make are my own.

It also may be worth noting that I initially read a lot of this material at a reasonably far remove, on a trip that I turned into as much of a vacation as I could manage, which, having not worked ahead on the site, involved mostly a mental checking-out from all things comics between those times at Comic Arts Brooklyn and at the Billy Ireland Opening Festival, at which point I was submerged in the comics and comics-related things that were right in front of my face. That remove may have changed my perspective, I'm not certain. I am grateful to a number of you, including Christian Hoffer of The Outhousers, for keeping me roughly apprised of what was going on until I could catch up.

So:

* I'm sorry these things happened to those of you that have discussed them in public and otherwise written about them. Thank you for coming forward.

* I feel badly for all parties that many of these things are reduced to being adjudicated on-line, and think that's a failing of industry infrastructure, collective professional will and community intention.

* one thing we owe folks coming forward is to take on their accusations, their stories, with absolute and appropriate seriousness. This can be difficult, because it means that we must engage a story being told in serious fashion without sidestepping the issues involved through assumptions of bad faith. That means trying not to pick at the rhetoric employed or playing Internet lawyer to the exclusion of otherwise dealing with what's been said. That means not treating these real-world events as abstract discussions to be won or lost by typing in their direction. It certainly not responding with a torrent of abuse. Shame on you if that last one is you.

* I get that people are concerned with abuses that might happen when these kinds of stories enter the public sphere. The thing is, any concerns about abuses that can come with such stories being told can also certainly be dealt with by taking these things head-on and working through in serious fashion. The idea that a culture of dismissal and antagonism might protect a culture of casual abuse and workplace misery is intolerable and, I think, largely avoidable.

* we can't get sick of talking about it.

* now, that said, this story is extremely difficult as I understand news stories. The core story here is built out of accusations and the primary context is people talking on the Internet. Yikes.

* I'm not done with this story, and I hope to follow my curiosity on a few things. In the meantime, I think I have enough to share some things -- again: good, bad, clueless, harmful, I couldn't possibly say.

* my primary concern with what I've read -- beyond the human element of it -- is the intersection of the private sphere with the public. That's not my only concern, but it's my first. The most alarming thing to me in these stories is less the fact that certain people may have acted like assholes, but that they and others have done so in part in the shared spaces of industry and professional community. I believe strongly in that professional community and shared industry space as uniquely valuable things. Additionally, I feel personally responsible for the space I share with others. And admittedly, part of that focus is likely cynicism on my own part that while some people are going to be assholes no matter what is done, they may be restricted in how and where this is done. Harassment of any kind is tragic, awful and may border on evil. Harassment in public and at work is all of these things and bottom-line unacceptable.

* to that end, I think all cons and festivals need a sensible and straight-forward harassment policy, all companies should have the same, all recurring events (lecture series, drink-ups) should at least have an ethos that encompasses some sort of similar philosophy, and that all of this should be done yesterday. It shouldn't take long. We should check into this at every event we decide to attend. Everyone that participates in these institutions should be at least somewhat aware of these policies and never afraid to assert themselves on their behalf. No one should be made to feel bad for doing their job or participating in their chosen professional community. Really, I hope everyone revisits their policies or adds one by February 1, 2014, and that the person running each show, event, or company takes public responsibility for seeing those policies are implemented. I think that's achievable.

* and sure, it's never going to be perfect. All policies have limits. People perpetually impress with their capacity to suck and in finding ways to work around things thrown up in their way if they really want to behave badly. Any counter-value can be manipulated and subverted. Some things are hopeless to adjudicate, even in the court of public opinion. But you know what? That can't matter in terms of trying to do something about it. No comics-culture throwing up of the hands when a perfect outcome can't be guaranteed in advance. This is grunt work, and it's not pretty. Any instance of harassment is one too many, and we're never going to get to the number zero. And yet that also means every instance thwarted is a significant victory.

* let's admit something. If the industry and professional community pay more attention to this issue, there will likely be things about which smart, sensible, kindhearted and good-intentioned people will disagree. For instance, I know some feel any relationship between two people working in the same industry or for the same company is inherently unbalanced and at least fraught with difficulty if not outright out-of-bounds. I know others that don't feel this way; I send Christmas cards to some of those families. Some folks see the late-night social scene at a convention as an extension of that convention; other see it as personal time and therefore afford more leeway to personal conduct -- and to be perfectly freaking clear, the idea here isn't that "anything goes" off-hours and that creepers have full reign once the convention hall lights go out but that context makes some things worse during hours. Asking someone out for coffee the next day might be -- might be -- something you do after making a connection at a bar near Heroes Con for a couple of hours; it's never what you would do at the end of even the best possible portfolio review. The idea that harsh speech or humor or inappropriate joking can be part of harassment is unassailable logic to some, laughable to others and a terrifying minefield for a bunch of folks in between. So: disagreements. Sure. That doesn't mean we give up or not try. Those arguments will continue to work themselves out or continue in a state of flux, probably a bit of both. In the meanwhile, it's clear there's plenty of work to do. We apparently still have people groping people. It seems we have something of an institutional gossiping apparatus, including policies that don't even allow for a forceful response. It seems we have people acting out in aggressive fashion on the floors of cons and festivals. It seems we have a loss of trust that the majority of us would step in to help someone that felt distressed. It appears that people as recently as five years ago were taking upskirt shots at an industry event.

* we need to be self-critical. People are directly responsible for what they do and should be held to that, but we can all be responsible for making this better. Self-criticism in the comics culture is hard. We have something of a collective pick up the football and run to the end zone mentality. Deny something and get hammered for the refusal to face reality. Admit something, even in part, and it's "Oh my goodness, she even admits it, it's so bad." Hopefully folks can take this flurry of attention as a chance to look at your company's policy, your own behavior, your inability to recognize this behavior when it occurs in close proximity. I hope to join you. I don't think anyone is truly safe from criticism concerning some aspect of this very broad area. I know I've seen names in this round of discussion bandied about in unassailable positive fashion about whom I've heard not-flattering stories. Hell, there's every chance I've made someone uncomfortable with a dumb joke or a comment -- I did so for a few seconds just this week via a twitter exchange. We can all do some work here. The important thing is getting to a better place, not protecting ourselves from blow-back.

* this happens everywhere, of course. I traded stories this summer with a friend about a not-comics company, a professional firm, that all by itself seemed to have more crazy harassment and inappropriate behavior stories than everything I've heard in 20 years for the entire comics industry. And I've heard a ton of stuff, too, in comics, all the way up to a bad TV movie style "you will sleep with me or I will take your job" story from someone still around -- two people still around, actually, but one, the person who was doing the harassment, in a position of authority. That this exists everywhere is worth noting only in that we don't come up with baroque solutions that deny the real-world implications. Making sure everyone knows someone acted like an asshole isn't pursuing action within the comics institution involved isn't calling the police and we shouldn't mistake any one of those things for another. But as comics people, we need to work on the comics aspects.

* if I could suggest something about comics that this flurry of discussion has put into mind, I wonder if the way this exists in comics culture isn't partly -- partly -- encouraged by the widespread refusal to infuse comics with a more general professional standard for conduct in all things. The lines get blurred all the time in comics in a way that is reminiscent of those relationships that develop an inappropriate element, but that are benign because the people are benign. That seems worth noting. A lot of these stories, if you step back and look at them, get weird about three or four steps before they turn dismaying and actionable. Comics industry culture is defined by a tremendous, constant smearing of professional and personal lines, as well as a general anti-authoritarian distrust of even recognizing the value of having the lines in the first place. Maybe comics is at the point where some of us might be more cognizant of how strange this is. We're all going to have friends where we work and some of us are likely to fall in love there, or date, or whatever, but that doesn't mean our industry and professional community and responsibilities are the same as those we might have to a bunch of our friends. Maybe "let's all be pals" isn't even an ideal worth pursuing anymore. The same way more of us dress up for awards shows now, the way more of us have worked on our public presentations, the way that we've started to question the value of free work, maybe it's time to hit those notes even harder for the sake of something other than publicity and promotion. Maybe doing these things will help give us a framework for conduct and behavior and responsibility when things are no longer, you know, totally cool. A bunch of pals hanging out doesn't have to have a harassment policy. An industry institution should.

* I suspect that this won't change a whole lot, and that people value that casualness too much, and that it's true that it doesn't automatically lead to shitty behavior, and that we'll likely muddle through. I hope we think about it, anyway. Professionalism isn't a panacea, and assumed professionalism is outright pernicious. But it does seem to me that one way situations can be kept from turning bad is that the situations themselves start to be seen as odd or rare or unsavory even in benign form. Maybe it's time we stop dating the interns, or really think through our offers to mentor younger cartoonists and where the hell that comes from, or check ourselves before we tell a sexual joke at the Bethesda Marriott bar, or consider what it looks like when we get hammered in public at comics shows, or maybe not growl at people behind a panel table that are just there because they enjoy what we do, or give up reading gossip columns let alone feeding them, or no longer ask someone right there on the convention floor to go out, or stop considering bad behavior just something someone does that's hilarious and just the way they are, or stop squaring someone away professionally based on how awesome we think they are personally or stop making jokes about our personal lives on twitter without thinking first what that's going to sound like to a SCAD freshman who wants to know more about the industry and art form, or all of it, all together. It couldn't hurt, and perhaps along with the development of consequences for the instances of harassment themselves and the removal of stigma for the issue entire, might even help. One fascinating element about this story is that like so much of what goes on in comics these days it's a story that exists as if an audience doesn't.

* just a first few thoughts. Unfurling the Wood stories may be difficult beyond what we have right now, and I'm not sure the specifics will be at issue once again until there is a substantive development directly related to those incidents. I want to do a story about industry context concerning these specific incidents, and hope to return to the general issue of harassment and policies and the culture of comics in the future as I'm able to. I apologize for the insufficiency of what I've done here and will continue to do. I hope there's value of some sort in my insights and my posting them.

* mostly, though, and finally: I'm sorry these things happened to the people that have written about them them. I'm sorry they happen at all. I accept my part in this. Let's work on it.
 
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Go, Look: Michael Golden's Dr. Strange Portfolio Art

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Collective Memory: The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum Grand Opening Festival Of Cartoon Art

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this article has been archived
 
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Go, Look: Gagz By Lauren

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred and Downloaded: Digital News

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* JR Williams is selling a PDF version of Sick Comics!! on a CD-ROM, if I'm reading this correctly. That would be cool to have.

* Claire Donner talks to Richard Sala about his -- and publisher Fantagraphics' -- digital-only debut, Violenzia. That comic has debuted, and I hope it's doing well. Richard Sala is criminally under-appreciated, and perhaps the work he's done on-line in disseminating imagery will have a positive effect on a comic book sold that way.

* the Periscope Studios site has been re-designed. That's the Portland-based studio featuring any number of mainstream/indy tweeners with significant skill sets; also Jeff Parker.

* there's a new Agent 8 up at Slutist that I totally missed being out of town. That's Katie Skelly's on-line comic of an adult nature (there's sex in it). I always thought we'd see more comics aligned with the bigger blog-driven sites, in the way that Filler was such a big part of Suck.com back in the pleistocene era of Internet publishing.

* finally, new George Jurard at Trip City.
 
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If I Were In Leeds, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Richard Bruton on And Then Emily Was Gone #2 and I Don't Like My Hair Neat #2. Shawn Starr and Joey Aulisio discuss The Spotting Deer. Sean Gaffney on Senran Kagura: Skirting Shadows Vol. 1. Grant Goggans on The 47 Ronin. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of different comics. Gavin Jasper on Avengers #23.

* these massive articles by Ken Parille at TCJ are a treat; you should bookmark and return if you can't read it right now.

* the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com discusses the sales figures in their latest white paper. Spoiler alert: print makes a mini-comeback as digital sales slow down slightly from the crazy surges of the previous three years. Sounds about right to me.

* Fereshteh Forough talks to Leela Corman. Albert Ching talks to Geoff Johns.

* Mark Kardwell profiles Colin Smith's latest site devoted to reprinting material from UK comics 'zines. That's one of my favorite sites, and I agree with Kardwell that this kind of focused, near-obsessive documentation is a blessing and a treat. I worry about a lot of that fan material not making it out of the next quarter-century, so as much attention as we can pay to archiving it from all directions is an overall positive for our understanding of the art form.

* not comics: I wondered if there might be some slight Batkid backlash, as this post over at Robot 6 notes in a later paragraph.

* great title: "Why Does Ignatz Throw From Right To Left?"

* finally, here's a nice article about the comics holdings at the Library of Congress. Original Steve Ditko pages + issues of Papercutter = personally curated heaven.
 
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Happy 39th Birthday, Ethan Persoff!

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Happy 73rd Birthday, Terry Gilliam!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Ron Randall!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, David Wenzel!

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Happy 73rd Birthday, Roy Thomas!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Jason Turner!

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November 21, 2013


Go, Look: How Would I Know?

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Signe Wilkinson Robbed At Gunpoint, Makes Cartoon

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It doesn't seem like there's a lot to this story past the headline, but it's still noteworthy. Wilkins is an esteemed editorial cartoonist and the creator behind Family Tree. Most of the people I know not me that have been mugged were mugged in quiet, mostly residential neighborhoods.

She was robbed Sunday evening, and talks about it here.
 
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Go, Look: Searching Werner Roth On Tumblr

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I'm actually only about 80 percent sure this is Werner Roth, so someone correct me if I'm wrong
 
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Bundled Extra: John Porcellino Announces That King-Cat #74 Is Imminent, Pre-Orders Accepted

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The latest issue of the legendary King-Cat Comics And Stories, #74, will be out next week so I figured that if I wanted to run its arrival as publishing news I had very few days left to do so. John Porcellino is taking pre-orders and otherwise disseminating information here. The three things I look forward to most to getting via direct mail order are Mineshaft, my Oily Comics books, and King-Cat, and Porcellino's work is first among equals in that regard. It remains one of the five most important series being published, and looks like it's down to a every 12 to 16 months schedule.
 
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I Love The Imagery In This 1986 Bill Sienkiewicz Interview

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* just because CAB and Billy Ireland are in the rearview mirror and a lot of folks are shutting it down for the year doesn't mean there aren't a smattering of North American shows vitally and crucially important to those organizers, exhibitor and attendees. Short Run and Genghis Con are closing in, and those are key regional affairs. Short Run means Seattle, and has grown in prominence in recent years: the combination of the city and cartooning community have led to at least a few people I know flying in, which you usually don't get at a show that size. One young cartoonist recently told me her best show ever was last year's Genghis Con, which draws on the cartooning-rich Cleveland/Pittsburgh region with potential deep pulls audience-wise from Ohio, western New York and the muscle-bound parts of Pennsylvania. I'm actually for holiday-weekend shows, incidentally, although I'm not able to attend them: you get a good crowd looking for things to do, and comics people are usually unattached in a way that a significant percentage can do the occasional visit/con weekend.

* more importantly for this week, though, we get Thought Bubble, a major international small-press show and one that nearly every single person I know in that world would attend if that were possible. That's a two-day comic-con wrapped in a larger festival. The British scene continues its impressive surge, and I would imagine there are interesting comics to buy every 36 inches of table space at that show.

* concerning shows of a different type, Danny Fingeroth would like you to know what's going on with the programming he's doing for the Austin, Texas WizardWorld show.

* finally, if you ever needed more convincing that the Brooklyn comics shows are consistently in the top three North American shows in terms of things to buy, check out Chris Mautner's report here. That John Pham book was out of left field and totally made my monthy. It's a good book, too!
 
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Not Comics: Nicholas Di Genova

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By Request Extra: Typhoon Charity, Fantagraphics Updates

* the Fantagraphics crowd-funder is at 125 percent with two weeks left; it looks like they've added a metric ton of prints and the like to the offerings, although I got a little lost myself when I was poking around there -- so much material -- so I can't say for sure what was added and when. Fantagraphics is a virtuous company with 35 years of displayed excellence under its belt; I strongly recommend participation.

* lots of newly-listed material seems to be showing up every day at Rina Ayuyang's art and comics auctions for Philippines typhoon relief. I've already been outbid for something I had my eye on (I'll likely jump back in), and that Michael DeForge set must contain some rarities for the bundled to rage to that price-point this quickly. I still remain jealous of the person that ends up with that Zettwoch. Anyway: nice lady, nice cartoonists, nice items, nice cause.
 
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Go, Look: Three Stooges Comic Book Cover Gallery

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Go, Read: The Beat On The Maggie Thompson Collection

Good catch by Steve Morris -- who write for Heidi MacDonald's The Beat -- on something that completely escaped my attention. Apparently the longtime trade magazine editor, writer about comics and early comics-culture superfan Maggie Thompson has released her massive comics collection to be auctioned off in waves. These are not only worthy books from decades of collecting; they are well-maintained. Morris' piece indicates this sale is not driven by desperate financial need, which puts Thompson in the enviable position of simply moving the fruits of her collection into the hands that will value those books.
 
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Go, Look: Various Pictures From Simon Gane

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

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If I Were In Boston, 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: Bruce Timm Apparently Once Drew Captain America Fighting A Nazi Werewolf

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* a reminder: if you've worked in comics in the last three years in any capacity towards making a comic, Benjamin Woo wants you to take his survey. We could all potentially benefit.

image* Gavin Jasper writes about wrestling comics, one of those areas of comics about which I'm not only ignorant, but frightened.

* love this photo of Edward Gorey.

* Tara The Librarian on The Cute Girl Network.

* I like this John Byrne drawing of the original X-Men, albeit from the Smith/Steranko/Adams end of the run as opposed to Kirby/Roth beginnings.

* the whole Superman/Wonder Woman/Doing It thing is just really, really odd to me. I guess those icons still hold power, but do they still hold power in a way where that really gets at people, that kind of story point? My hunch is that many of those interested enough to care in specific plot points are jaded as to the uniqueness of those plot points because of the umpteen billion reboots and side projects and alternative whatevers. So really it's feature-article bait, something to get mentioned in a late-night monologue and quickly forgotten. Still, we're talking about a promotional landscape where a 5K bump is a major thing, and a market that runs on perception of sales potential, so we're going to keep getting stuff like this.

* someone at Diamond Bookshelf talks to Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover.

* finally, specific-focus blogging may be the best kind of blogging.
 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Greg Theakston!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Rich Tommaso!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Rich Johnston!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Larry Welz!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Karl Stevens!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Rich Johnston!

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November 20, 2013


Go, Look: What JFK Saw

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Go, Take A Survey: Benjamin Woo's Comics Working Conditions Survey Needs Comics Pros

Bart Beaty endorses this survey of professionals about working conditions in the comics field, and that's good enough for me. It's a good idea, too: a lot of those things are kept a mystery, to potential harmful effect. If you're a comics pro of any sort, please consider helping out this academic endeavor.
 
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Go, Look: Unforgotten

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* First Second formally released its cover to Box Brown's Andre the Giant biography via an interview on Grantland.

image* there's an article over at Robot 6 about Marvel rolling out a new publishing initiative next Spring. I don't have a ton of sympathy for the position expressed in that article -- granted, I could be losing some context -- that Marvel is as susceptible to market forces as claimed that they have to indulge in various number practices and relaunches in order to stay viable. Marvel actually shapes the market and is inured from most of its whims to a significant degree.

* here's a look over Hayao Miyazaki's shoulder at the manga he's been working on.

* in this report on Comic Arts Brooklyn, Ryan Sands of Youth In Decline mentions that "I'm stoked for a more ambitious 2014, with new books from Nick Sumida and Mickey Zacchilli, the Thickness anthology, our first fiction book featuring Anthony Ha's short stories, and four issues of Frontier! ...and more!" So that's all good news.

* two different people at two different shows asked me what Vanessa Davis is up to -- she had been much more prolific at one point in the past few years via regular comics posted on the Internet, and now not so much. She says that as far as comics go she's working on her next book for Drawn and Quarterly, "but it's very slow-going." She also pointed out that she does do comics for anthologies when the mood and opportunity strike and they appear from time to time.

* Fantagraphics has been walking through the books that its Kickstarter will allow them to publish in various posts accessible here. Looks like a fine season.

* here's a nice piece on the expansion of Disney's comics programs.

* finally, I totally missed this informal preview of Beautiful Darkness, including news that D+Q is moving the Kerascoet/Fabien Vehlmann work back to late February.

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OTBP: Hypermaze

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Go, Read: Francoise Mouly Talks To Joe Sacco

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By Request Special: Rina Ayuyang's Typhoon Relief Comics Art Auction Continues To Add Names

The nice thing about Rina Ayuyang's art auction on behalf of typhoon relief for the Philippines is that it's rustled up some people that don't put a lot of art out there. A bunch more folks have jumped on in the last 24 hours. The Dan Zettwoch is worth going over there just to stare at it.
 
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Go, Look: Ner-Tamin

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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.

*****

SEP131276 MYSTERIOUS UNDERGROUND MEN HC $24.95
I greatly admire the pair of books about early, pivotal manga that Ryan Holmberg has arranged for release through PictureBox, as both collections of odd comics and as history lessons contextualizing those comics. It's like they made books just for me, which makes me admire them even more because that means it's likely they don't sell very well.

imageSEP131391 SUNNY HC VOL 02 $22.99
It may be my imagination, as I'm not a devoted reader of that material to the extent that so many other writers about comics are, but it seems like there's been a number of volumes of manga suitable for readers of North American literary/arts/alternative/indy comics. This week's volume in question is the second volume of this Taiyo Matsumoto autobiographical series. I just got these first two books in the mail, they are super nice-looking, too, just the entire package of each one.

SEP130052 BPRD HELL ON EARTH #113 $3.50
SEP130410 MY LITTLE PONY FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #13 [DIG/P+] $3.99
SEP130638 SEX CRIMINALS #3 (MR) [DIG] $3.50
SEP138207 VELVET #1 2ND PTG (MR) $3.50
SEP130728 DAREDEVIL #33 $2.99
SEP130070 CONAN THE BARBARIAN #22 $3.50
SEP131006 ADVENTURE TIME #22 MAIN CVRS $3.99
It's a mixed bag for me when it comes to serial comic books this week. There's a little Mignola-verse right up top: the most dependable series of its type, and one of the most dependable period. At some point I'm going to have to read a My Little Pony comic just to figure out the genuine reader-response there. Sex Criminals and Velvet are comics series by Matt Fraction/Chip Zdarsky and Ed Brubaker/Steve Epting, respectively. The latter is a re-issue of a sold out; the former is brand-new. I think both seem like pretty solid, entertaining comics of the kind that I went nuts over when I was a regular comics shop shopper. The Daredevil I know will be solidly constructed (Mark Waid) and super-pretty (Chris Samnee), so I'd look at it for sure. I might slip my eyes over to the Conan book just because that's one of those series that's occasionally pretty good. Adventure Time I'm less clear on just in terms of what's out and when and how; I still like seeing those when I get them, though.

SEP130035 DARK HORSE PRESENTS #30 (MR) $7.99
That is an astonishing number of anthology issues in this day and age.

JUL130017 FIFTH BEATLE THE BRIAN EPSTEIN STORY COLLECTORS ED HC $49.99
JUL130016 FIFTH BEATLE THE BRIAN EPSTEIN STORY HC $19.99
JUL130018 FIFTH BEATLE THE BRIAN EPSTEIN STORY LTD ED HC $99.99
This might make a fine contrast to that early Beatles book that First Second did where everyone looked like inky, luminous dolls. I haven't seen the art here, but this is the project where Kyle Baker is contributing sequences, so I assume there will be some attention to that fact. I also think this one is worth noting for the release of multiple versions -- that used to be tiered more frequently than it is now, and I'm not sure exactly why that's happened. It might be the desire to follow the PR all at once and serve multiple markets in a way that's perceived not to have an effect on the cumulative sales.

MAY130486 NOWHERE MEN TP VOL 01 FATES WORSE THAN DEATH $9.99
This has been a slow builder in terms of the serial comic, which isn't always the model for the better-selling Image series. These first volumes being sold at $9.99 seems to be one of the things that Image has been doing that direct market retailers have enthusiastically endorsed.

AUG131404 ASTERIX OMNIBUS HC VOL 08 $27.95
It's Asterix, one of the highest performing world comics properties, so I'd certainly look at it. I've never been able to figure that one out, and it was one of those things where smart people like Kim Thompson explaining it to me never helped.

imageAUG131369 BRIONY HATCH GN $19.95
SEP131198 CUTE GIRL NETWORK GN $17.99
SEP131199 TUNE GN VOL 02 STILL LIFE $16.99
This is the group of books you go to for stand-alone graphic novels you probably haven't seen before, although the first I think may have had a previous iteration and the third is the second in a series. I liked Tune's Derek Kirk Kim just generally, the same way I like another person with work out this week, Kyle Baker. I'm very comfortable in his comics world.

JUL130033 VIOLENT CASES HC $19.99
JUL131283 MARADA SHE WOLF HC (MR) $24.99
SEP131143 ACME NOVELTY DATEBOOK HC VOL 01 10TH ANNIV PTG (MR) $44.95
SEP131208 CITY OF LIGHT CITY OF DARK GN $10.99
SEP131209 CITY OF LIGHT CITY OF DARK HC GN $19.99
Strong week for book re-releases: my favorite of the Gaiman/McKean collaborations, a sword-and-sorcery epic from the slick magazine days, Chris Ware's astonishing entry into sketchbook marketplace, and the 1993 proto-hybrid work. I would suggest in particular Violent Case and the ACME if these are things you don't have on your bookshelf and you're amenable to both of those kinds of storytelling (not everyone loves either one).

JUL131289 SCENE BUT NOT HEARD HC $14.95
This is a collection of Sam Henderson's work for Nickelodeon bearing this name. That wasn't my favorite work of Henderson's, but I imagine it was his most widely enjoyed, and I'm grateful for any book bearing his name being in the marketplace.

SEP131048 VALERIAN GN VOL 05 BIRDS OF MASTER $11.95
SEP131403 WALLY WOOD EERIE TALES OF CRIME & HORROR DLX SLIPCASED NEW PRINTING $69.95
Another pair of books I would check out for the creators and their legacies, even without knowing quite what they are or how they fit into a wider publishing context.

JUL130990 ART OF SEAN PHILLIPS SIGNED HC (MR) $69.99
I believe I recommended the not-signed edition last time out, but I can certainly recommend this one, too, if autographs are your thing. I assume this is a handsome book, and Sean Phillips still looks the same as he did twenty years ago.

SEP131173 PRETTY IN INK WOMEN CARTOONISTS 1896-2013 SC $29.99
Finally, all hail Trina Robbins. This looks like a survey work, which means the value may be strip mining it for names. This cover is one of the many "not for final publication" works where it looks like this was indeed the final cover.

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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 Leeds, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Out The Window

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this Jed Perl piece on the Art Spiegelman retrospective will likely get some traction: it's negative. One thing that's pretty dependable about Spiegelman is that he tends to attract criticism that hand-waves rather than engages with the work, and that criticizes his public role and place in the arts as invalid because of the summary dismissal. It always seems more about position and jockeying than anything from which I learn, and this seem to be a boilerplate effort in that respect. Look for some fellow critics to laud the strategy and general take of the piece rather than any insight or group of same.

image* Ken H on Kitaro. Tom Murphy on Maria M. Henry Chamberlain on The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on Shaolin Cowboy 2. Joe Gordon on Manifest Destiny #2. Richard Bruton on Astrodog. Jacob Canfield on Real Rap.

* Kevin Keane profiles Steve Bell. Alex Dueben talks to Bob Bolling.

* I think I tweeted this but didn't post the link to the blog: a Wimbledon Green type story, in that it involves the unearthing of an extensive collection.

* our best wishes to Joe Phillips during this tough time.

* Christopher Butcher is one of the positive faces for Toronto, which I suppose is some sort of response to Mayor McCracky up there. Still, Christopher Butcher is a positive force for comics more generally and it's nice to see there's civic appreciation of him as well.

* Alec Berry throws a ton of love Comics Workbook's way.

* nice fartbox on that Robin kid.

* finally, an ode to Lisa Hanawalt.
 
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Happy 44th Birthday, Stephanie Gladden!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Guy Davis!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Rian Hughes!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Ryan Estrada!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Jill Thompson!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Carol Tyler!

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November 19, 2013


Go, Look: Hawaii

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By Request Extra: Rina Ayuyang Of Yam Book Raising Money For Haiyan/Yolanda Typhoon Relief Efforts

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Original work by Kevin Huizenga, Dylan Horrocks and Vanessa Davis has been provided to cartoonist/publisher Rina Ayuyang who herself is participating in a comics-art auction relief effort on behalf of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda relief. Those are some super-nice pieces, and all from extremely lovely people. Please consider bidding.
 
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Go, Look: King-Kong

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Joe Schwind sent this along; thanks, Joe
 
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Go, Look: Anna Haifisch

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

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Go, Look: Deeply Weird Rudy Palais Horror Comics Design

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Don MacPherson on Afterlife With Archie #1. Johanna Draper Carlson on Survive!: Inside The Human Body Vols. 1-3.

* Rob Salkowitz analyzes the Fantagraphics crowd-funder.

* Robert Boyd mentions that same crowd-funder in the midst of a lengthy review of some newish books from the Seattle-based publisher. Boyd doesn't do a whole lot of comics reviewing these days, but when he does it's a treat to once again read his voice in that mode. I really like the local focus of his arts blog, too.

* Joe Gordon talks to Martin Steenton. I can't quite figure out both of their last names, but this is two guys interviewing Craig Yoe.

* the retailer and foundational comics blogger Mike Sterling reports the fascinating-to-me tidbit that people are being inspired by those shows about folks buying storage units unseen to do this themselves and then bring the comics they find into Sterling. Spoiler alert: they're almost always ruthlessly terrible collections.

* someone out there will name this their comic of the year.

* finally, Gerry Giovinco continues to express his displeasure with that superhero-centric PBS comics documentary.
 
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Happy 39th Birthday, Jesse Fuchs!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Steve Lightle!

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November 18, 2013


Parade Extra: Billy Ireland Opening Night Video Footage


 
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Go, Look: Mark Anderson's Billy Ireland Photo Set

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ICAF Lands At Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum For 2014

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The International Comic Arts Forum (ICAF) has announced for Columbus, Ohio and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum for its 2014 show, roughly the same weekend a year later from last weekends academic conference affiliated not with that group but with the facility's opening festival. ICAF is the oldest and grandest of the academic organization work with comics scholars, and has moved their meeting around for a few years now.
 
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OTBP: Endless Monsoon

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

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Go, Look: Striking Warren Kremer Horror Story Art

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Ng Suat Tong on The Trigan Empire. Sean Gaffney on Alice In The Country Of Hearts: The Madhatter's Late Night Tea Party Vol. 1.

* Noah Berlatsky writes on some of the reasons why someone should seek out and develop a wide variety of voices in criticism and the structural blindness he feels can sometimes develop.

* not comics: I thought fairly interesting this piece on artistic appropriation and the pursuit of abusers of same.

* finally, Chris Mautner recommends a half-dozen comics he picked up at the last show he attended. I'd say "everyone should do this" but then I'd be on the record saying I should do this.

 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Alan Moore!

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November 17, 2013


CR Sunday Interview: Gene Luen Yang

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*****

imageGene Luen Yang is the award-winning author of American Born Chinese and one of the nicest men in a field stuffed with nice men. His latest work is two books: Boxers and Saints, which may be read separately or apart. Each book unpacks events of the Boxer Rebellion from a radically different perspective. One view is that of a young Christian woman who dreams of becoming a warrior maiden without really understanding even the basics of what that might entail; the other is that of a young male villager who confronts Western visitors to his country with a force of arms. Their lives overlap briefly, although only one of them can even remember meeting the other.

Boxers and Saints are historically informed without being lashed directly to history. For one thing, there are several supernatural elements in each story. While Yang isn't all the way forthcoming how much those moments are "real" within the framework of the saga, they certainly reflect the worldview of the two stories' young, naive protagonists. Yang's sympathy for these characters -- based on their age and lack of experience and even the limitations of their education -- shines through on every page.

I had the hardest time getting my act together in order to talk to Gene, and I'm grateful to both the cartoonist and to the publicist Gina Gagliano at First Second for finally setting something up. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: So did I read these things in the right order? I went Saints/Boxers, and I realized when I was looking at some on-line information about the book that the two books are sold as Boxers/Saints. Did you care how people read them?

GENE YANG: I was hoping you could read them in either order. From a few comments I've received back from people it sounds like -- for most people at least -- it works better if you read the bigger one first, if you read Boxers first.

SPURGEON: Do you think it changes the reading experience to read them in a different order?

YANG: I don't know. One book kind of spoils the ending of the other one, so it... [pause] I don't know. From a few of my friends who have read them, they say Boxers gives you more of an overall picture, and tells you what the Boxer Rebellion is about, and Saints gives you more detail with its focus on one small community. Not everybody felt that way.

SPURGEON: Now did you create them in a specific order? Did one come before the other?

YANG: I outlined them together. I ended up drawing Boxers first.

SPURGEON: Did you feel a lot of pressure doing these books? Because while you have done work since American Born Chinese, I have seen these two books presented as the official, major-release follow-up. Did you feel pressure because of that?

YANG: Yes. [laughter] Yes to all of those questions.

When I started in comics, I never had expected to make any sort of real money at it. I started in the mid- to late-'90s, and I think most of the people that started then... this is when we'd go to Comic-Con and there would be nobody there so we'd walk up to the front and buy a ticket. I remember listening to -- I don't remember who it was -- one of the big publishers predict that comics in America would go the way of poetry. That it would become this very niche market, produced and read by a very small market in America. I always just expected for this to be something I do on the side.

So when American Born Chinese came out, it really turned things around for me. It was unexpected. It was really, really unexpected. I started making money at comics for the first time, and it was kind of crazy. I was really thankful that the book that came out right after that was a book with Derek Kirk Kim called The Eternal Smile, which was a collection of short stories we did together. I was really grateful that I got to do a book with a friend I deeply admire for the follow-up project -- the immediate follow-up project. I felt that took some of the pressure off.

For this book, I definitely felt... I remember thinking that the industry is such a crazy place. It's hard to get in, but it's almost harder to stay in the game. I remember thinking that if this doesn't do well I don't know what's going to happen next. [laughs]

SPURGEON: At the same time, Gene, this new work is very ambitious, it's not like you did a sequel, or even something that adhered close to American Born Chinese. It seems like you wanted to use that accrued capital on something you'd thought about for quite some time. Is that a fair assessment?

YANG: Yeah, I think so. I think so. I teach as part of Hamline University's MFA program in creative writing. When I talk to my students about what they should write, I always tell them to tackle the project that scares them a little bit. That's what I did with Boxers and Saints and with American Born Chinese. But especially with Boxers and Saints. I didn't know very much about the Boxer Rebellion. I'd never done anything that was research intensive. It was a little bit scary for me going in. I thought, "If I'm going to fail, I want to fail big. I want to fail in a big way." [laughter] That got me to jump in.

SPURGEON: So was any of that fear justified? Were there elements to making this book that were more difficult for you than some others?

YANG: Yeah, I think Boxers and Saints was... well, first, I'm not an historian. This was the very first time I'd ever done any sort of research. All the way through I had this fear that when I was finished with the book that pieces of it would just be inaccurate. And it's true. Even now, it's true, right? There are pieces of it that aren't historically accurate. I was constantly worried that I just didn't know enough about the period.

In the end, the way I got myself to stop researching was to realize that even with American Born Chinese and the other books I've set in modern suburbia, I'm not trying to replicate modern suburbia, I'm trying to create to this cartoon world that's based on modern suburbia. So with Boxers and Saints, I was basically trying to do the same thing but with turn of the century China. I wasn't trying to replicate turn of the century China, I was trying to create a cartoon world that was based on turn of the century China.

SPURGEON: In a couple of your other interviews, you said you went into this project hoping to find the answers to a couple of questions. I assume that that encompasses the history you're dealing with, but that also there are thematic questions, like about the nature of religious experience, or the dualities that are represented in the book that might have resonance for you as someone as Catholic. So I assumed multiple questions. What I wonder is how effective art is for you in answering those questions? Did you get to some answers, do you think?

YANG: I think so. I did get some answers. I think in a lot of ways this was me wrestling with things on paper. Doing a book gives me time to think through questions I wouldn't normally have time to think through.

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SPURGEON: Can you identify something where you might have a different opinion now as opposed to where you were when you started the book?

YANG: I was really surprised by how at the time the Europeans and the Japanese had this really horrible relationship with the Chinese. It was a classic oppressor/oppressed relationship. I was also very surprised by the commonalities I found on the two sides. Even though they had this horrible relationship with one another, each of the cultures contained reflections of the other. I think I was very impressed by this common humanity.

One of the things that I really wanted to work into the project, even before it was formed in my head, was this image of Guanyin, the Goddess Of Mercy, the Chinese Goddess Of Mercy. Years ago at an Asian art museum I saw an image of Guanyin, and she was surrounded by this halo of hands. Within each hand was an eye. I'd seen images like that before, but normally when the eye in the hand is drawn the eye is drawn horizontally. But in this case, in this particular painting, the eye was drawn vertically. So it looked like a crucifixion wound. I was struck by that, the familiarity in iconography. In Chinese medicine, the eye is considered one the seven holes of the head. So this eye in the hand, this hole in the hand, bridged western/eastern religion.

Later -- these are things I wasn't able to work in the book -- I learned that the hand with the eye in middle, can be found in Jewish tradition, where it's known as the Hand Of Miriam. It's also found in Islam. So there's something universal about this iconography around compassion. Within Buddhism, the hand is the symbol of compassion. The eye represents that she wants to constantly look for suffering, and the hand represents that she constantly wants to relieve it. And in the western tradition the hand with the hole in it is seen as a symbol of self-sacrifice and of compassion. It really struck me that there was something universal about not just the iconography but also the concept that the iconography presented.

SPURGEON: I would assume you have to be very attentive to working with iconography in any book, but with these two books you might have to be more focused than usual. Was that a specific challenge to that book, finding opportunities to find and use motifs and images to make a binding element between the two works.

YANG: Yeah. I think so. Whenever I'm doing a comic, always in the back of my mind I'm thinking about why does this story have to be told. Why is it a comic? Why does it have be told in panels? Why can't this be prose? I do try to leverage that a bit in my books. I do try to have a visual element that ties things together. In terms of the iconography, I guess some of it comes from growing up within the Catholic Church. At my home church, I was surrounded by visual symbols and icons.

When I was in my early adulthood I did this retreat that was led by an icon painter. That was a very profound experience for me, to see how symbols are weaved into spirituality. I think in a lot of ways, America is a very protestant place. The protestantism is woven into the fabric of who we are. It was interesting to be at that retreat and really talk through the visuals of spirituality. I think for the most part... I don't have a universal experience for this at all, but my experience of American spirituality is that it's very much tied into music, and it's tied into sound and it's tied into preaching and words. Right? Whereas I think for certain expressions of Catholicism, especially as you go East from Europe, the visual has a lot of importance. I think there ties between that and Eastern forms of spirituality as well, that the visual is very important.

SPURGEON: You have a very set style, a very recognizable style. We know what your work looks like and these new books are very recognizable as yours. I think that we have an appetite for stories in any number of styles now. We have a broader range of acceptance for style.

YANG: Yes.

SPURGEON: So how comfortable are you in your style, and do you ever strain against its limitations? Do you ever wonder when you're working on a story if it might work better drawn in a different way? Or is this just the way you think now, where you know without thinking about it that this is the way you depict these cartoon worlds?

YANG: I feel like my style is really... limited. [laughter] That's actually something that's always bugged me, especially after working with Derek. Some of us are illustrators, artists, and I am definitely not one of them. Derek has a very, very flexible style. He's able to tailor his art style in service to a story. I don't feel like I can do the same thing. I don't feel I have the chops to do that. I feel like I've been trying to push my art style, but it's just in sketchbooks. When I get to doing work that I know is going to get published, maybe something freezes inside of me and I default to this style that I'm used to and that I'm comfortable with. It isn't necessarily the most... I wish I could vary it up a little bit more.

SPURGEON: Do you write around your style at all, do you think?

YANG: I am thankful that like you said that the reading appetite has expanded, and that there's less... I think part of it is shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy, right? You can't just think that because something is drawn a certain way it's going to deal with certain topics and it's not going to cross certain lines. I'm thankful for that. I've been a beneficiary of that, because I have this limited, slightly cartoony style. I can tackle more serious topics.

I definitely want to push it different directions. [laughs] One of my big wishes is that I wish I had gone to art school.

SPURGEON: You said you work in a sketchbook. Do you get time to sketch? You're obviously working at it all the time, right?

YANG: I don't know if I sketch. I find time to doodle. I still have a part-time day job. I usually keep a piece of paper by my desk and when I'm waiting for stuff to load... I'll do some doodling.

SPURGEON: How right-side-of-the-brain are you when it comes to page structure? I think that's a strength of your work, that the physical construction of your pages allows for natural variation in pace. You have a nice sense of rhythm on the page. I wondered if that comes naturally to you, or if you have to break it down in explicit fashion while you're writing.

YANG: The way I do scenes is I'll write on a piece of napkin or on a piece of scrap paper the dialogue and the action beats that will happen and maybe do a few sketches here and there. From that, I'll try to figure out how to use the page turn, the pacing, and what belongs within each panel. I try to be really careful about that. I don't think I've yet explored how to change scenes in the middle of a page. That's something that Adrian Tomine does very well, it really amazes me. I'm very reliant on the break between pages, that natural shift that happens in a reader's mind. I'm still reliant on that for my scene breaks. But that is something I think about consciously. The beats and how many panels on a page and how the panels will flow one from the other.

SPURGEON: Did the supernatural elements of both books require specific thought and planning on your part? I wonder about the "reality" of those moments in comparison to the non-fantastic moments depicted. You seem to favor the side of these supernatural moments having a reality to them, that there's a consistent logic to them that can't really be explained. And yet there's still enough of a hedging against it to leave open the possibility that these are subjective experiences poorly understood and articulated.

YANG: I remember with American Born Chinese really struggling with this transformation where the main character becomes white. Right? I really struggled with whether that was an actual, physical transformation or whether it was just in the character's head. In the end I couldn't decide. So I tried to write that book in a way where either interpretation would work. As I was working on Boxers and Saints I don't know that I ever explicitly made that same choice. I think it just kind of came out this way. I think in a lot of ways it flowed from those choices I had already established with American Born Chinese.

I felt very comfortable in the magic realism, in this in-between space of not knowing whether the spirituality is real or not. Maybe that comes from my own life as well. I think even though I'm part of a faith tradition now, I feel like I've always struggled with doubt. I don't think that's just me, either. I think most of us who are adults who are part of a faith tradition struggle with doubt. Not to get too religious, but one of the passages in the Bible I really like is one where Jesus goes into this rich man's house and heals his daughter. Before he gets to the house the daughter is dead. They tell Jesus to go away, because he's to late. He says to the people that are mourning, "She's not dead. She's just sleeping." And they laugh at him. Then he goes in and has her get off the bed and ask for something for her to eat. This statement that she's not dead, that she's just sleeping, there's a lot of debate about that in Christian circles. The interpretation that I like the most is that introduces and element of doubt. That even within a faith tradition there's room for different interpretations. There's even space for doubt. He doesn't impose belief on you, he allows you the out of believing that she's just asleep.

So this question as to how much of it is real, and how much of it is in your head, I think I always feel most comfortable in the gray spot in between.

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SPURGEON: A connection between two leads is that they both exhibit a certain amount of naivete, partly because each operates from limited information. They're barely educated. It seems like you have sympathy for your protagonists. What's it like to deal with characters that have a limited amount of information, that are still piecing together as they go their reality? You can track the story in terms of how they interpret the events -- in addition to tracking it through the events themselves. I wonder if that was intentional, to provide two characters that see the world in that way.

YANG: Part of that was the historical record, particularly on the Boxers side. A lot of the Boxers were poor, uneducated peasants who lived really, really difficult lives. So I wanted to stay true to the historical record. On the other side, too, with Four Girl, I think that naivete, that lack of knowledge about the other, I think that was a part of early convergence. Growing up in that Chinese church, a lot of the folks didn't have a complete view of what this faith tradition was before they came into it. They had to learn. I wanted to stay true to that as well. I think that's true of a lot of us when we take on another piece of identity, whether it's religion or a political affiliation, usually we don't have full knowledge. Maybe even some of what we know is wrong. And in a lot of ways we find ourselves, we find our identity as we learn about this tradition we joined with only partial knowledge.

SPURGEON: It occurs to me that both of your leads have an identity through story. They have a sense of themselves as part of a heroic narrative, even if they don't fully understand what the entails -- that ignorance is particularly relevant to the case of Four Girl. She interprets reality in terms of the stories she has to do so.

[pause]

There's no question there, Gene. I'm just talking now. [laughter]

YANG: I think that's part of how I grew up. I think that's both a Chinese thing and a Catholic thing. In Chinese culture, you sometimes talk about your present in terms of the past. I read about how generals on both sides of the communist revolution would examine current plights in terms of historical Chinese battles. I think that's a really common way of talking about things. My parents talked that way. When we talked about choices we had to make at school, they would bring up these stories from the past. Or old stories from their own life histories.

SPURGEON: There are two scenes, one in each book, that I wanted to ask you about. They were both moving scenes. The first is I wondered after the nature of the religious experiences Four Girl has at the end of her life. She ends up in a very different place than her narrative would have you believe she's going -- I'm talking about those last moments of her life where she prays. I thought that was moving, and I wondered if you could provide some insight as to the exact nature of what happened to that character.

YANG: I'm really attracted to the spirituality of -- I don't know if you know Henri Nouwen. He was a Dutch priest that spent much of his life working with the mentally handicapped. There's another saint named St. Theresa of Luzere. Thomas Merton as well. Their spiritual understanding is that the small things matter, and the small kindnesses really matter. I think when I was in my early 20s, my friend and I would have these talks about our calling in life, where we might fit in the world, how we could change the world. Normal post-adolescent idealism. There are a lot of feelings about that, and how you find your calling.

Now I'm 40. And I still hang out with a lot of those same guys. And we're still asking those same questions about our place in the world, and what we should be doing with our lives. I think that the spirituality of a Henry Nouwen, what they point to is that even if you never get answers to the big questions, the small kindnesses still matter. The small interactions you have with human beings on a daily basis, those are still important.

So I think the scene I wrote at the end of Saints was sort of built around that. Four Girl never got answer to the question of where she fit. She wanted to be like Joan Of Arc. Did that mean she was supposed to join the Boxers, or that did mean she was supposed to defend this Catholic faith? She never gets an answer to that. Even though she doesn't get that answer, and her life ends in a tragic way, her small kindness still matters.

SPURGEON: The scene that struck me in Boxers wasn't the actual end but near it. You introduced a story element of a library where certain treasures of Chinese culture were kept. I don't if that was an historical element you wanted to fold into your narrative proper, but you spend some time there and you spend time on the specific value of that place. You then move very strongly into the tragedy of destroying that specific place in order to see to a certain military goal. I wondered if you might tell us how to engage this specific story element, this place upon which you dwell a bit so near the end.

YANG: That was historical. That was an historical event. There really was a library and the Europeans thought the Chinese would touch it so they didn't guard where the library was. In the end, the Boxers burnt it down -- although I just spoke to this scholar from China, and there is some uncertainty about that. There are certain interpretations that say the Boxers didn't mean to burn it down, and that the wind shifted and it caught on fire.

The library was really full of these treasures that were irreplaceable. These scrolls and these stories that are now lost. It was a real tragedy.

SPURGEON: It must have hit you that way, because you so strongly emphasize it. It's not like you toss the information off in a graph of text. You spend some time there, and have your characters visit.

YANG: I feel sad about it. [laughter] I feel really sad about it. I also thought there was this irony. The Boxers believed they were embodiments of story. They were inspired by Chinese stories, and at the very end, that's what they burned down. It seemed like there was something very, very tragic there. And of course in that interpretation they mean to burn it down. That was the one I used in my narrative. I think that's a human thing. Sometimes when you try to save something you destroy it. It's part of the tragedy of who we are as a species.

SPURGEON: You mentioned choosing a specific interpretation, and if I remember correctly the story from the Bible you told earlier, that's one of those stories that appears in multiple Gospels but it's different telling to telling. Dead in Mark, alive in Luke.

YANG: That might be true.

SPURGEON: One thing I know that happens when people deal with history for the first time in service to art is that they're stunned by the level of interpretive issues involved.

YANG: Yeah.

SPURGEON: Was that something you encountered? Did that have an effect on the choices you made? Were you perhaps more conscious of the choices you make in our work now that you realize there are so many ways you can go? That has to be maddening, in a way.

YANG: I think that's true. One of the things I encountered early on is that no one is really sure how the Boxer Rebellion got started. It was started among these poor communities in China, and because it was among the poor it wasn't well-recorded. The beginnings of the movement weren't well-recorded. We don't have a lot of historical record about the Boxers until they got into the main cities and interacted with the Chinese in power and with the Europeans.

In a way, this gave me a lot of creative leeway. There are a lot of places missing in the historical record that I could fill in. Just with things out of my imagination. But I do feel weird about it, I try to be really clear that this is historical fiction. This is a piece of fiction set in that historical time period. There are times when I did deviate from the historical record. Like for instance, there's a character in my book named Baron von Ketteler, who's the German ambassador to China. His death in the book is not the way he actually died in history. That was a dramatic choice that I made.

SPURGEON: Do you have an ideal reader?

YANG: I don't know. My Mom, maybe? [laughter] Maybe Derek.

I think I fit pretty well into YA. That wasn't a category I chose for myself. That was something First Second chose for me. Now that they've chosen that for me I do feel like that's a pretty comfortable place.

SPURGEON: You've mentioned Derek a few times in this interview... do you have a peer group? Are there cartoonists you think of as your peers, people with whom you have a lot of commonalities, and a shared professional experience?

YANG: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Derek is one of them. Jason Shiga. I feel like I started with a crew of Bay Area cartoonists. Most of us are still at it. Jesse Hamm is part of Periscope now. Jesse Reklaw was part of that. Thien Pham and Lark Pien. Most of us are still at it. I feel like those are my peers. That was my art school, hanging out with those guys.

SPURGEON: You mentioned your insecurity earlier... can you see more books in your future now? Is it easier for you to see the next 15-20 years of you doing comics as surprised as you were by the last 15 to 20?

YANG: Fifteen to 20 is a very long time.

I do want to keep making comics. I don't think there's a question in my mind about that. The question is more about scale and how much of my I am able to devote it. And that depends on all of these practical things. That depends on how much money I can make doing comics. How much money I'll need to support my family. I feel hopeful. I'm really thankful for all of the opportunities that work with First Second has given me. So yeah, I feel hopeful. I feel hopeful about my future as a cartoonist.

*****

* Boxers, Gene Luen Yang, Color By Lark Pien, First Second Books.
* Saints, Gene Luen Yang, Color By Lark Pien, First Second Books.
* Boxers And SaintsGene Luen Yang, Color By Lark Pien, First Second Books.

*****

* cover to the new work
* photo by my brother Whit Spurgeon, maybe
* art from Boxers and Saints hopefully well-explained by contextual placement, except for the final image below, which is just from a scene I like

*****

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*****
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Go, Look: Patrick Crotty

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

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

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

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

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Happy 52nd Birthday, José Villarrubia!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Ed Brubaker!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Cullen Bunn!

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November 16, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Nick Gillespie Interviews Peter Bagge


Erika Moen At The XOXO Festival


SPX Panel For March


Daryl Cagle Interview Doaa El Adl


Paul Karasik Interviews Jeff Smith At CAB (Partial)


Herr Seele Makes A Self-Portrait
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from November 9 to November 15, 2013:

1. The new Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum opens in Columbus, Ohio.

2. Fantagraphics makes its initial crowd-funding goal one week after their campaign's launch

3. WonderCon announces for Anaheim, April 2014.

Winner Of The Week
Lucy Shelton Caswell

Loser Of The Week
Brian Wood

Quote Of The Week
"I need to do work I don't particularly relish or enjoy so that I can accomplish the work that's fulfilling and rewarding." -- Gary Groth

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 50th Birthday, Jim Ottaviani!

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November 15, 2013


Congratulations To The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library And Museum On Today's Grand Opening Kick-Off

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It is comics' nicest place. The amount of work over years and years done by the prime movers of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is awe-inspiring. Let's take a moment this extended weekend to think of Columbus and the very nice thing that's happening there.

I'm on hand. There's an academic conference going on right now and an opening ceremony including access to the galleries tonight. Starting tomorrow there will be one of that institution's not-every-year festivals, maybe the best-kept secret of the last 25 years in the world of comics. That show will feature with appearances and presentations from folks like Jeff Smith, Los Bros, Eddie Campbell, Stephan Pastis, Paul Pope, Kazu Kibuishi and Matt Bors.

Best of all, perhaps, founder Lucy Shelton Caswell is set to receive the EC Segar Award tomorrow morning. That award is being revived in part because the people that value what she's accomplished are scrambling for an appropriate way to recognize her.

How great is all of that?

All respect to Caswell, Jenny Robb, Caitlin McGurk and those that have supported their work in major and minor ways.
 
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Go, Look: Jog The Tumblr

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Go, Read: Brian Hibbs On The Fantagraphics Kickstarter

The retailing advocate Brian Hibbs talks about the Fantagraphics crowd-funder here. I find his criticisms more interesting than his primary solution, and I'm generally grateful to hear from a retailer because they have a longstanding relationship with that company.

Original graphic novels may in a few cases leave money on the table that could be made through serialization, it's true, but it's not like there's some demented genie out there that made all of these companies choose strategies that took them away from serialization through comics books published for the Direct Market. As I recall, it was the sheer terror of imminent business collapse as that part of the market became a white dwarf star that pushed a company like D+Q, say, away from launching Susceptible as a six-issue comic-book series.

So as hard as it is for me to imagine someone like First Second gaining a whole lot by reworking their line into serial comic books, I don't expect Hibbs to ever budge off the point, as it's one of those speculative things that has a dozen permutations that could be employed or skipped to build whatever argument you'd like to make. Couldn't sell Papercutter? Well, that's an anthology, and it's not like it's a new Dan Clowes comic, and so on... It's also an argument that benefits the way Hibbs has built a successful business, and it's a very comics thing to process nearly every issue according to your own view of how things work best. In the end, it's almost impossible to fully discredit a speculative argument. All that said, I imagine that we might indeed see a mini-revival in serialized art comics over the next 36 months, for a lot of different reasons including the fact that it's a way some projects like that can indeed maximize revenue.
 
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Go, Look: Sabertooth Swordsman

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Collective Memory: CAB 2013

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this article has been archived
 
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Go, Look: Fall 1969 Comic Book Splash Pages

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By Request Extra: Autoptic Running A Crowd-Funder

Here. I don't pretend I know what's going on with each of you, but I will try to figure out at the end of my current trip if I can afford a donation. Those involved are all good, serious people. Minneapolis is a great arts town and fine place for comics. I want there to be as many shows as possible in the great American cities. I think it's one way that comics works right now.

I did ask seven people that attended the first Autoptic as exhibitors -- on the condition of non-attribution and characterization of quotes rather than the use of explicit quotes -- what they thought about the first event. They were overwhelmingly positive, save for a repeated point that the audience was modest and was not a buying audience for several of them. So maybe that could be addressed in future public discussion about the show, although it's worth noting the material you can find through the link expresses a different view on that point.
 
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Your 2014 Eisner Awards Judges

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I nearly missed this, but the Eisner Awards named their judging slate for the 2014 iteration. They are:

* Kathy Bottarini, owner of Comic Book Box and a librarian.
* William H. Foster III, professor at Naugatuck Valley Community College, author, a lecturer, and the curator of the traveling exhibition The Changing Image Of Blacks In Comics.
* Christian Lipski, a writer about comics.
* Lee Oeth, a Comic-Con International Board Of Directors member.
* Jenny Robb, curator at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum; also a professor and an author.
* James Romberger, a cartoonist, fine artist and occasional very effective writer about comics.

Submissions should begin in January with a deadline March 17. Nominees are selected by the judges, announced in April, and the awards are in July during Comic-Con International weekend.
 
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Go, Look: Most Ancient

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred and Downloaded: Digital News

By Tom Spurgeon

* there is a new major feature at Cartoon Movement right now called "So Close, Faraway!" I would show you an image, but I couldn't figure out how to capture one, which is a curious strategy for a placed publishing webcomics, but okay.

* it looks like Heidi MacDonald is going to feature some comics at her site; here one's from Connie Sun.
 
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If I Were Near London, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Go, Look: Comics By Sean T. Collins

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* I totally missed this very nice, Porcellino-like diary comic from Noah Van Sciver.

* Adrielle Mitchell on Krazy Kat. Sean Gaffney on Inu x Boku SS Vol. 1. Bob Temuka on Sandman: Overture. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Rage Of Poseidon.

* Ultraman is not Evil Superman.

* Rob Clough provides an overview of the scene in Minneapolis.

* the thing I find interesting about the expansion of the Salt Lake City shows is that it seems more audience-driven than other expansions: that is, the thing that is noteworthy about the show is how many people attended as opposed to some other factor, like an organizing principle or approach.

* Alex Dueben talks to Stefano Gaudiano. Mark Frauenfelder talks to Peter Bagge. David Samuels talks to Art Spiegelman.

* finally, an original Shoe strip from Jeff MacNelly is a heck of an incentive.
 
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Happy 44th Birthday, Jessica Abel!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Gus Mastrapa!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Renée French!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Ariel Olivetti!

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November 14, 2013


Bundled Extra: Secret Acres Talks 2014 Schedule

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In its blog post on the recently-completed Comic Arts Brooklyn, the small publisher Secret Acres cited a number of titles they're putting out in 2014. That year is set to include, and I'm guessing is not limited to:

* a second installment of Understanding Monster by Theo Ellsworth
* the long-awaited Gabby Schulz work Sick
* an art-book version of Edie Fake's exhibition Memory Palaces
* Angie Bongiolatti, Mike Dawson's follow-up to Troop 142
* Get Over It, a new work by Corinne Mucha

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OTBP: The Grassy Knoll

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Nick Cardy, 1920-2013

imageNick Cardy, the well-regarded illustrator behind a number of DC comics titles during the 1960s and 1970s and one of the last remaining creators alive that published art work during the explosion of comic books that came before, during and right after the Second World War, died on Sunday evening, November 3 after suffering congestive heart failure.

Cardy was born as Nicholas Viscardi to immigrant parents in 1920. Like many of the young men and women that worked in the early comic book industry, Cardy was a precocious artist who received praise for a variety of his more ambitious, youthful projects. He was a graduate of the School Of Industrial Arts. Cardy also took classes with Art Students League.

Cardy's first job in comics was a 1939 gig at the Eisner-Iger shop. He was put to work very early on on the feature stories, which indicated a significant level of natural skill. He completed a run of four-, five- and six-page features on Quality and Fiction House books like Hit Comics and Jumbo Comics. He was then hired by one of his employers, Will Eisner, when Eisner started his Spirit newspaper insert. Cardy was assigned to the Lady Luck feature in 1941 into early 1942.

The artist was drafted in 1943, and wound up receiving a pair of Purple Hearts. He returned to New York in 1946 and married the former Ruth Houghty. Cardy quickly settled into more comics work and freelance magazine illustration, picking up a key assignment from Burne Hogarth in the form of assisting on/ghosting his Tarzan dailies. He also worked for Warren Tufts.

Cardy began working for DC Comics in 1948, kickstarting a fruitful relationship that would come to include the work for which he is most fondly remembered. He began by contributing art to a number of features in a wide variety of non-superhero genres, including the titles House Of Mystery and Tomahawk.

imageCardy began work on the Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris character Aquaman in 1960 for publication in 1961, and followed the character from the anthology title he headlined into a comic book bearing his name as the title in 1962. Cardy drew luscious figures -- particularly for the Mera character -- and his stylized backgrounds and sturdy creature design made for a lovely under-the-sea setting that was dependent on laborious detail. According to the smart obituary provided by historian Bill Schelly at The Comics Journal, Cardy did 39 issues of interiors and also had a run after those installments as the character's primary cover artist.

The Teen Titans debuted in early 1966 with interior art from Cardy. He would do 43 issues of that series, a team-up of the various junior versions and sidekicks of established superheroes and as such slightly reflective of both real-world changes in youth culture and in comics' orientation towards same. Cardy also provided many of the covers. The artist's depiction of Wonder Girl was remembered by what would become an important generation of comics and industry professionals as almost luminous and good-girl sexy to a significant degree -- certainly one way to keep a young teenaged boy's attention on comics as others in his peer group moved onto different hobbies. Cardy explicitly pursued the most elegant, vibrant solutions for such characters on the page.

Cardy was also lauded for an all-too-brief run on the Bat Lash feature (first in an anthology, then in its own title). His work reflected the more lighthearted nature of that character's adventures. In his TCJ piece, Schelly cites its formal ambition.

In the early to mid 1970s, under the direction of DC Comics Executive Editor and pantheon-level mainstream comic book designer Carmine Infantino, Cardy moved his prodigious output over from interiors to encompass more cover work in an extremely chaotic newsstand market. He worked closely with Infantino, even making covers under his supervision. Titles on which Cardy worked during this period included Action Comics, Batman, Flash and World's Finest.

Cardy would leave comics in 1974 for a successful career in commercial art. Despite a name change to Nick Cardi for that work, he was never forgotten by comics: not by those with a nostalgic attraction to the comics of the 1960s and early 1970s, not by the artists who took to his attention to figure-drawing and the general stylized sweep of his pages, not by fans of comic book design. In 2005, Cardy was inducted into the Hall Of Fame named after his one-time mentor Will Eisner. Cardy was also in recent years a popular subject of the modern fan press.

Nick Cardy was 93 years old. He was preceded in death by his son, Peter.

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Go, Look: Death Awaits Me

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Go, Look: Celine Loup

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* It's all about the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum this weekend, with the big opening of their new facility and their every-other-year cartooning festival, North America's secret yet openly awesome comics convention. Articles like this one profile the opening part. An academic conference over the next two days eases us into the cartoonist-presentation heavy weekend. I'll be there. Today I'm talking about Pogo -- actually, I'll just be chaperoning a bunch of scholars doing that talking in front of an audience. Hope I see you there.

* Image Expo announcing for early 2014 was big news.

* I'd say Comic-Con making official their choice of Anaheim for a second straight year in terms of the WonderCon event is bigger.

* Brian Gardes on GeekGirlCon.

* finally, a longtime-coming Rose City report.
 
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If I Were In Brazil, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Missed It: A Jess Ruliffson Interview

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I would imagine a one-year comics residency in a European country could be amazing. Someone go do that and tell me about it.

image* Ng Suat Tong writes about the art of Howard Chaykin.

* Dominic Umile on The Fifth Beatle. Kevin Cortez on Operation Margarine and Freud. Rob McMonigal on Knuckleheads. Richard Bruton on Swear Down.

* Sean Kleefeld calls attention to a Dorothy Gambrell strip on fandom.

* Alan David Doane talks to Lance Parkin.

* I somehow missed this adorable photo array of cartoonists' kids in Halloween costumes.

* egad, look at this Ron Regé Jr. image.

* finally, Tom Devlin sent along this link to a fine-looking 1968 Boner's Ark item.
 
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Happy 45th Birthday, Brad Mackay!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Anders Nilsen!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Edd Vick!

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Happy 30th Birthday, Jen Vaughn!

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November 13, 2013


Nick Bertozzi Shackleton Cover Surfaces, If You Allow Surfaces To Mean "Gina Gagliano Sent It To Me"

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Someone -- although maybe it's just life -- has lit a fire under veteran indy/alt cartoonist Nick Bertozzi, from whom we'll see the above cover sent CR's way by First Second Books wrapped around several pages of a book starting June 17. Bertozzi has been terrifically productive over the last several months, with three major books out in three consecutive years. That he's able to have this work done considering the crush of comic book pages he's made recently is an amazing thing.

Nick Bertozzi previously created a work about Lewis & Clark for First Second, and that company's PR compared the two books.

Here's a much bigger JPEG of that same cover.
 
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Go, Look: True Tales Of The Kichkanni

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Robert Boyd On Fantagraphics And Kickstarter

My Friend The One-Time, Longtime, Alt-Comics Industry Veteran Robert Boyd Writes In:

Tom:

When I think of publishers using Kickstarter to finance books, I think of my college accounting courses. One of the things they always teach you is how to "recognize" revenue from magazine subscriptions. I won't get into the accounting issue (it's actually kind of complex), but the thing about magazine subscriptions is that you pay a year in advance. Fantagraphics used to offer subscriptions for many of its periodical titles. Now Fantagraphics has almost no periodical titles. But what this Kickstarter permits them to do is treat their books like magazines -- it allows them to have people pay for them many months in advance. You write, "Crowd-funding might allow publishers to avoid the traditional responsibility of being the person that provides capital." But if people are simply paying in advance for books that they would have bought anyway, how is that different from offering a subscription? Do magazine subscriptions allow companies to avoid their "responsibility" of being the ones who bring the capital? No, what they do is increase the size of a company's working capital.

And here's the second accounting thing. You talk about companies supplying capital, which can obviously come from a bunch of different sources. Fantagraphics is a small business, and one of the most common traps that a small business faces is having a working capital deficit--where your current assets are less than your current liabilities. It doesn't matter how much money you are going to make next year if right now you can't pay the printer. This Kickstarter seems to me to be about shifting cash flow from next year to this year. When I paid for my Eightball boxed set just now, I paid in advance for a book that I was definitely going to buy next year anyway. But you can't pay anyone's salary with money you are going to get next year. This Kickstarter campaign increases Fantagraphics' working capital.

Frankly, I don't see how it is any different than a loan. A bank risks its money when it loans it out to a company, which might default. I, a Kickstarter "donator", risk my money as well. I might not get my "premium" (the Eightball boxed set) after all. (But it's a smaller risk for me, and unlike a bank, I feel confident that Fantagraphics will come through since I've seen them come through similar crises regularly over the past 30 years.)

The thing is, until Kickstarter and their ilk came along, it was very difficult for Fantagraphics to "pre-sell" a bunch of books to a bunch of individual buyers all at once. To me, all that Kickstarter is for a publisher is a pre-selling platform. It lowers the cost of reaching all those consumers--in economic terms, it reduces friction. If it's a new publisher, fewer people will be willing to take the risk (of not receiving their premium), and the amount they can reasonably ask for will be small. An established publisher like Fantagraphics can shoot much higher because the risk premium for individual "donators" is much lower (and Fantagraphics is better known, of course).

But what Fantagraphics and the smallest presses who use Kickstarter have in common is that they have a thin layer of working capital at any given time. Any financing mechanism short of mugging that mitigates this is A-OK with me. Obviously Kickstarter can be abused, but so can just about any other form of capital. (What was it the distributor said to Harvey Kurtzman and crew when they were publishing Humbug? "Gentlemen, I own you.") But if I give Fantagraphics money through Kickstarter and a few months later get a boxed set of Eightball, that seems like a perfectly fine way for Fantagraphics to raise working capital.

Tom Spurgeon Responds:

Hi, Robert.

I think you're conflating a lot of what I say are dangers of certain behaviors becoming normalized with direct criticisms of Fantagraphics. This is frustrating only in that I thought I was pretty clear on that kind of thing in the piece you reference. I want Fantagraphics to succeed. I contributed to their crowd-funder as best as I was able. I think they have virtues that allows them to avoid many of what I see as potential pitfalls, and the talent on staff to lick the other ones. I question the implications.

In other words, to use your historical example, clearly I don't think Fantagraphics offering subscriptions was a problem. But was an industry-wide ethos that for a period normalized paying people ahead of their work a problem at times? I bet the people that purchased lifetime subscriptions to Hepcats might think so.

Also in that recent Fanta piece I hoped out loud for a way that companies like Fantagraphics might better realize working capital through advance support without their having to be a crisis, right down to suggesting maybe we should all start thinking in those terms more frequently. So I'm right there with you on that.

Let me say this, though. Using a crowd-funder in this matter isn't solely a business transaction from any vantage point, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't for you just as it wasn't for me. I'm going to assume that the imminent danger expressed, your admiration for Fantagraphics, your personal affection for many of its employees and your general sympathy for the struggles of small-press publishing and non-mainstream arts-making -- all things I share -- are some of a number of things above and beyond the desire to have the book you ordered, or that at the very least those things likely moved your purchase timing-wise and may have moved it out of another retail channel to this more direct one.

Where I get concerned for the impact of this kind of thing is that I suspect other people will use it that aren't virtuous companies, and that this is specifically likely to allow for a change in an already at-times exploited balance of who benefits from these commercial acts. The fact that I feel I have to be super-clear that I love Fantagraphics a bunch of times to negotiate in these waters at all underlines -- to my mind -- that an assumption exists that these things maybe shouldn't be talked about, even in the case when you see some poor creator out there doing all the work on the behalf of themselves and some publisher instead of that awesome thing Jen, Jacq and the rest of Team Fanta put together.

I also think that when personal affection enters into it, that not everyone is liked because they spent 35 years making awesome comics and creating an entire literary category. You know this about comics, Robert. You know that, say, childhood nostalgia is at least as powerful a tool for manipulating affection and mobilizing people as a history of supporting Paul Ollswang and Los Bros, probably much more so. So is personal appeal. I'm wary of a future where those forces can be applied in those directions, and I think it may be coming.

Incidentally, another difference between a bank loan and raising this kind of capital is that when I give money I'm probably not as rigorous as a bank or, come to think of it, even as a person investing their own money in a project they want to do. In the case of the Dave Sim High Society crowd-funder, I blew it and thought I was getting a digital copy of High Society rather than what I got, which as I recall was a subscription to a bunch of digital comics, a series of odd extras and 10,000 e-mailed updates. And then when I realized this I just sort of had to shrug my shoulders and consider it a tip going Dave's way for making me laugh with the Wuffa Wuffa issue.

And yes, Robert, there are problems with everything, including all the different ways to raise capital. But the hell with using that as the reason not to explore, question and even potentially work on those problems strategy to strategy. Crowd-funding is here to stay, so let's talk about it so that we can have the best version of it possible.
 
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Go, Look: Intaglio Imbroglio

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Go, Read: Cartoonist Matt Bors Profiled By Time

There was a time when a Time magazine profile of a cartoonist would have seemed an astonishing thing rather than the obvious nice thing that I figure it likely was for Matt Bors. Now what interests is a detail here and there and, perhaps, the general effect. Those of us with our noses pressed against the windowpane on the front of the Team Comics house forget that Bors' work might be seen as radical for those who grew up with traditional editorial cartooning. Part of what he's doing is making people like the people that read Time broaden their definitions just enough to give him a chance. Also, this is the rare article on doing journalism in comics form that doesn't mention Joe Sacco.
 
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OTBP: Delinquent

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Go, Look: Melissa Mendes Pages For Sale

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Bundled Extra: Miyazaki Drawing Samurai Manga?

It's kind of one of those dumb stories of overlapping innuendo, but it would be super-cool if Hayao Miyazaki had a Will Eisner-like retirement.
 
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Go, Look: Amiir And Family

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Go, Read: Dirk Deppey's Interview With The Late Joey Manley

I have yet to start my obituary for the webcomics business-model pioneer Joey Manley, but it looks like one place you can go and get exposed to Manley's work and orientation towards the expression of comics in which he found a professional home is his 2006 interview with TCJ and Dirk Deppey.
 
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Go, Look: Jared Cullum

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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.

*****

JUL131134 HIP HOP FAMILY TREE GN $24.99
AUG131305 PEANUTS EVERY SUNDAY HC 1952 - 1955 $49.99
Fantagraphics is in the midst of a very successful crowd-funding campaign, and at its heart is the good will they've accumulated over the year through publication of high-end comics. The first volume of Hip Hop Family Tree features Ed Piskor's work that's been seen in a ton of places most prominently Boing Boing; the first volume of Peanuts Every Sunday features color versions of the first several years of Sunday for that all-time, pantheon-level comic strip. I want both and you should, too.

imageSEP131142 SHOWA HISTORY OF JAPAN 1926 -1939 TP $24.95
AUG131367 VINLAND SAGA GN VOL 01 $19.99
JUL130090 LONE WOLF & CUB OMNIBUS TP VOL 03 $19.99
AUG131417 GOLD POLLEN AND OTHER STORIES HC (MR) $27.50
Manga is a weak area for me, but this seems a very strong week, with two high-end arts titles from Drawn and Quarterly and Picturebox as well as the first volume of a well-regarded, mainstream-oriented action/adventure/historical-fiction title and the latest in a presentation of an action classic that has performed extremely well on these shores. This week, you could buy just these three books and have an excellent week at the store. And be sort of broke.

JUL130028 COLOSSAL CONAN HC $150.00
"Colossal Conan" is fun to say, and the character has enough of a rich pedigree in comics I'd look at a deluxe presentation of any of that work. This is the first 52 issues of the Dark Horse relaunch, which puts a bit of pressure on the per-book presentation here. I'm slightly under-read with those comics, but I liked okay some of the issues I read in I think the #30s.

SEP130037 RESIDENT ALIEN SUICIDE BLONDE #3 $3.99
SEP130303 ASTRO CITY #6 $3.99
AUG130423 ROCKETEER SPIRIT PULP FRICTION #3 [DIG/P+] $3.99
I didn't see a whole lot on this week's list in the way of genre-oriented serial comic that piqued my interest. I enjoy that Resident Alien series when I see it, kind of a Longmire with a geeky looking (and illusion maintaining) little green man in the place of a burly Australian actor. Kurt Busiek's work is always worth a look. The Rocketeer/Spirit comic I will admit being of primary interest because of a recent TCJ post saying those post-Stevens comics have worked better as comics than the original material. I pretty much reject the premise of that outright -- not because I love those Rocketeer comic but because I think comics has a range of effects that doesn't favor a more purely "comics-like" approach over any other -- but it put these comics on the mind.

JUL130078 SABERTOOTH SWORDSMAN HC $17.99
This is a berserk-looking thing that came out from Dark Horse, lauded by high-end practitioners of quirky mainstream-acceptable comics like Mike Allred and Brandon Graham.

AUG131153 OTHER STORIES AND THE HORSE YOU RODE IN ON GN $18.00
If you go to the comics shop and buy new work by cartoonists with whom you are slightly to all-the-way unfamiliar, this can bolster your Ed Piskor version. Also, let me thank you, because you are a better person than most. We're starting to get books from CCS graduates that left the placed after 2010, which is slightly terrifying.

AUG131656 SQUARED AWAY DOONESBURY COLL HC $25.00
This is the latest bunch of comics from Garry Trudeau, someone I will always read and one of the three strips in the paper right now to which people are playing slightly less attention now than they will when those cartoonists are done. I like the looks of these book, and how they show off Trudeau's sort of unlovely but wholly serviceable art.

SEP131200 TUNE GN VOL 01 VANISHING POINT $16.99
I think this is a re-release in advance of the comedic science fiction series' second volume, but I'd also read in a few places that the second volume might be out.

SEP131404 WALLY WOOD EERIE TALES OF CRIME & HORROR HC NEW PTG $39.95
SEP131405 WALLY WOOD EERIE TALES OF CRIME & HORROR SC NEW PTG $24.95
Wally Wood Wally Wood Wally Wood... always Wally Wood, the great broken saint of North American mainstream comic books.

SEP131201 ADVENTURES IN CARTOONING CHRISTMAS SPECIAL $9.99
These sprightly instructional books have apparently done very well, although with no help from me. I mean, they're sort of ruthlessly not the kind of thing in which I'm interested, so that's okay. But hey, new one.

SEP131462 ART OF RUBE GOLDBERG HC $60.00
JUL130989 ART OF SEAN PHILLIPS HC (MR) $39.99
I like them both! The more significant of those artists has a more expensive price tag, which isn't how comics usually works.

SEP131464 CHESTER BROWN CONVERSATIONS HC $40.00
I don't always care for these conversations books, although between the work that's owned by Fantagraphics over which I have no control and some work I've let into these books in various moments of weakness I've certainly participated in my share. Chester Brown is a fine interview and a great cartoonists, so I'd certainly look.

JUL130077 BANDETTE HC VOL 01 PRESTO $14.99
JUL130741 DELUSIONAL HC $24.95
Because I couldn't find two good cover images over a certain size for this week's manga offerings, I thought we might end on a pair of cartoonists -- and one other comics-maker -- I think of when I think of the rich Portland cartooning sign. Both comics should work their way on some of the more idiosyncratic top 10 lists, or at least those that embody a stricter-than-usual approach to the representative area of interest. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much in that Farel Dalrymple book -- he did Delusional, while Presto is the first from a webcomics series by Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin -- was comics as opposed to art. Not that I ever object to looking at Farel Dalrymple art.

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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 Brazil, 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 Austin, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Baton Rouge, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Read: Feeding The Meter

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Gary Groth talks to Peter Bagge way back in 1998. Padraig Harrington talks to Lance Parkin. Carl Antonowicz talks to Tim Stout and Jason Week.

* not comics: I would imagine that some are and some aren't, and that a summary dismissal or even a partial dismissal based along those lines is kind of dumb.

* I totally missed this Jeffrey O. Gustafson review of the temporary Jack Kirby Museum in New York City.

* Jay Deitcher on The Cute Girl Network. Robert Boyd on a bunch of different comics with more to come, which would be great. Kevin Cortez on Out Of Hollow Water. Greg Burgas on Small Gods.

* this headline by Mike Sterling made me laugh.

* second time around on Daredevil Frank Miller script.

* finally, here are a bunch of Conan O'Brien TV show "bumps" related to comics.
 
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Happy 66th Birthday, Doug Murray!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Sara Ryan!

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November 12, 2013


WonderCon Officially Announces For Anaheim Again In 2014

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this of course means they were unable to come to terms with the space they want in San Francisco, which in 2013 was due to not being given enough lead-in time; I don't blame them, actually, although I'm sure there will be any number of people assuming there's some sort of greed motive involved
 
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Retrofit Announces Sam Alden Book To Launch Its 2014

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The small publisher Retrofit has announced Wicked Chicken Queen by Sam Alden as the first book of its 2014 season, according to a statement by Box Brown earlier today. The 25-year-old Alden has been the subject of increased attention in comics circles over the last few months for a barrage of mostly on-line comics works.

Brown also announced several of the creators that will potentially make up the bulk of next year's Retrofit release list: Zac Gorman, Madeleine Flores, Antoine Cossé, Niv Bavarsky, Josh Bayer, Anne Emond, Ben Constantine and Jack Teagle. The possibility for a few more cartoonists being added remains a significant possibility.
 
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Go, Look: Loop De Loop In Original Art Form

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Your 2013 Amazon.com Comics & Graphic Novels List; Marble Season & The Property Make Big List

imageThe powerful on-line retailer Amazon.com has unfurled its best of 2013 lists, which includes comics representation. Because of that company's core identity as a bookseller and its size in the comics marketplace, those are lists one to which a certain number of folks pay special attention.

Two books made the overall books list, at #71 and #80 respectively:

* Marble Season, Gilbert Hernandez (Drawn And Quarterly)
* The Property, Rutu Modan (Drawn And Quarterly)

They also named 20 books, numbered in the order that follows, to a comics and graphics novel list:

* Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened... Allie Brosh (Touchstone)
* Batman Volume Three: Death of the Family, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (DC Comics)
* March Book One, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
* Saga Vol. 2, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)
* Boxers & Saints Boxed Set, Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
* Battling Boy, Paul Pope (First Second)
* Hawkeye, Volume One: My Life as a Weapon, Matt Fraction, David Aja and Javier Pulido (Marvel)
* East of West Volume One: The Promise, Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta (Image)
* The Black Beetle Volume One: No Way Out, Francesco Francavilla and Jim Gibbons (Dark Horse)
* The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice, Mike Carey and Peter Gross (DC/Vertigo)
* Relish: My Life In The Kitchen, Lucy Knisley (First Second)
* All-New X-Men, Vol. 1: Yesterday's X-Men, Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen (Marvel)
* Solo: The Deluxe Edition, Darwyn Cooke, Jeph Loeb, Brian Azzarello and Richard Corben (DC Comics)
* MIND MGMT Vol. 1, Matt Kindt and Brendan Wright (Dark Horse)
* Very Casual, Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)
* My Dirty Dumb Eyes, Lisa Hanawalt (Drawn And Quarterly)
* Daredevil by Mark Waid Vol. 1, Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera, Marcos Martin and Emma Rios (Marvel)
* Lost Cat, Jason (Fantagraphics)
* The Property, Rutu Modan and Jessica Cohen (Drawn And Quarterly)
* Marble Season, Gilbert Hernandez (Drawn And Quarterly)

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Go, Look: Sam Spina

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Go, Look: The Deal

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Kevin Melrose: Graphic Novels Finding A Place On The Publishers Weekly Kids Books Lists For 2013

imageThat superior link-blogger Kevin Melrose caught that the Publishers Weekly best-of efforts included two children's book lists that sort of slipped out a bit later than some of their other lists, and that four graphic novels made the cut with those lists.

On the Fiction List:

* Bad Machinery: The Case of the Team Spirits, John Allison (Oni Press)
* Boxers & Saints, Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
* Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, Tony Cliff (First Second)

On the Non-Fiction List:

* Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, Lucy Knisley (First Second)
 
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Go, Look: Why I'm Breaking Up With Prismacolor

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Go, Read: Gerry Giovinco Continues To Go After That Recent PBS Superhero-Driven Comics Documentary

Here. I blew that one off and generally considered it not worth a ton of attention -- I'm sure there were some smart people involved, and that there were some good elements to it, but it just seemed of a different time and place and thrust than anything in which I'm interested. But I do think there's something to be said for a criticism of work where you indict something by painting a different picture through omission than what we know to be true. It's something to be considered in terms of a wider industry dialogue about criticism and the comics-evangelism impulse.
 
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Go, Look: Know Your Double

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Go, Look: AbeBooks On 50 Essential Graphic Novels

I'm not sure why this list is in my bookmarks, but it's worth noting as the used bookstore site AbeBooks has for a decade or more been one of the very best sites for buying comics works, and one little talked-about.
 
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Go, Look: Heresiarch

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Congratulations To Fantagraphics On Making Its Crowd-Funding Goal One Week After Its Initial Launch

imageI was very happy to see that Fantagraphics made it past its $150,000 goal earlier today in the crowd-funder they started to help facilitate their Spring/Summer 2014 publishing season. As I've written multiple times, my former employer is a virtuous company that can point to more than three decades of excellent output and corresponding goodwill as a result. In addition, that Kickstarter has been run in semi-awesome fashion: the incentives were fun, they were spread out to make for number of access points that served that company's broad readership, it was launched at smart time on the calendar and the press outreach was significant and wide-ranging. It should be interesting to see what they do to add value to their fund-raising via stretch goals and continued attention.

I have wondered and will continue to wonder about various implications of this crowd-funder and others like it, and I should by the end of this week be able to revisit some of those issues via a letter from the one alt-comics industry mainstay Robert Boyd -- or whatever this sentence should look like if I could write better sentences.
 
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Go, Look: The Monologuist

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Festivals Extra: Image Expo Announces January Return

This is a story that broke in significant fashion in comics-industry news circles Monday afternoon: the publisher Image will throw another iteration of its company-specific convention in January. I like the idea of the Image Expo because of the difference in the model -- as a fan of comics, and as someone that recognizes the success of recent events programming, I want to see as many models as possible, including shows revolving around specific companies. I don't know why Fantagraphics couldn't do an event in Seattle and Dark Horse in Portland, for example.

The January date makes some sense because of 1) the publishing news focus of that show and 2) the very empty place on the convention and news calendar for that time of the year. I imagine it will dominate that week's news barring something breaking or a tragic passing.
 
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If I Were In London, I'd Go To This

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

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If I Were In White Plains, I'd Go To This

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Missed It: A Colin Tedford Interview

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* we're starting to see the mainstream news profiles of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum with the opening festival imminent. It's the nicest space comics ever had.

image* Don MacPherson on Showcase Presents: DC Comics Presents -- Superman Team-Ups Vol. 1. Sean Gaffney on Attack On Titan Vol. 9. Michael Buntag on March Book One. Jeffrey O. Gustafson on some more of that Ex Machina. Paul O'Brien on Amazing X-Men Vol. 2 #1. Kelly Thompson on Alex + Ada #1.

* Sean Kleefeld reminds us of those Tom Scioli comics about Jack Kirby's time as a soldier.

* in hurtling towards oblivion news, Penny Arcade turns 15.

* Shannon Smith presents his ten rules for making comics. I endorse them all.

* veteran cartoonist Steve Lafler has moved his on-line presence to SteveLafler.com. I am always extra glad to hear from cartoonists who have been around for a while like Lafler has. Speaking of which, Milton Knight has a new blog.

* Ng Suat Tong profiles Michael DeForge.

* I can't recall if I put up a link to that MAD office poster from a little while ago.

* finally, Caroline Small calls for more critic-practitioners.
 
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Happy 61st Birthday, Carl Potts!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Bill Baker!

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November 11, 2013


Go, Look: Blackshapes

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CR Newsmaker Interview: Gary Groth

imageGary Groth is a co-founder, a co-owner and the longtime guiding force of Fantagraphics Books, the iconic publisher of alt-comics, art comics and prose based in Seattle, Washington. The company made news last week when it put together a crowd-funding campaign to get through a forthcoming publishing season. I sent Gary a few questions last Wednesday morning, and a pair of follow-ups on Sunday evening a few hours after his answers came back. I am grateful for his attention to those answers in this very busy time.

I will not have tweaked a lot of this -- maybe three or four things for flow. I think I'm going to combine two questions into one for which Gary responded one answer, but otherwise I'm going to leave it alone. So remember 1) that this was hoped for sometime last week and 2) Gary admirably started answering the questions the day he got them. So you have some misapprehensions on my part from last Wednesday at 5 AM that had to be worked through that might not have been present if Gary and I did this all at once after a period of time for me to ramp up, say if we had done this on the phone last night. You also have some depictions of the state of the crowd-funder that are no longer true, such as how far along it is. -- Tom Spurgeon

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TOM SPURGEON: By the time this sees print, you will likely be somewhere between two-thirds and all the way past your goal. Is that response satisfying? What were your specific worries about putting this campaign out there as it came up on you? Who in the office wrote the text, and who was involved with how this campaign came together and how it is presented?

GARY GROTH: How did you know that we'd be between two-third's of our goal and our goal? What do you know that I don't know, Tom?

Seriously, I am typing this at 10:10 Tuesday night (November 5); we are almost exactly 36 hours into the campaign and the needle is at $99,602. I'm a little overwhelmed and cautiously elated. (I'm still paranoid that we'll get within $5 of the goal -- and stop.) I realize that a lot of people's motivation is, obviously, to buy the work we've offered, but I also can't help but think there's something more to it than that -- what you referred to, a bit too contemptuously, I thought, as "an ethos of community support" (God knows, we wouldn't want conscience to guide consumer choices!), which I personally find edifying.

I wrote all the text and initiated the project. Which makes sense since I'm the one here who's responsibility it is to watch the money most closely. I then brought the idea to and brainstormed with my marketing staff (most of whom are in the video). They then proceeded to do the heavy lifting while I did the light lifting.

SPURGEON: Can you talk a little bit more about how you came to $150,000 figure? Is that representative of the amount you think the canceled Kim Thompson books cost the company in the short term, or was that a figure, perhaps, derived as a sum that would simply get you through these tough times no matter how the projected shortfall actually turns out?

GROTH: The former. It is based on a rough calculation on how much those books would have contributed to fixed costs. This conforms roughly to how much ground we had lost (which was between $150-200K.)

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SPURGEON: Because it's a projected shortcoming, will the money raised here be saved and spent during that time period? How will you spend the specific monies raised here?

GROTH: The shortfall has already occurred, so we can't just put the money in a piggy bank and apply discrete sums to individual books. Besides, there's been a tremendous amount of money already spent on those books (in the form of advances, catalogue costs, etc.) Money is fungible, Tom. The money will be spent in such a way as to make our season possible.

SPURGEON: Can you talk a bit about how this group of Kim books has left your company short? I think I would have an easier time understanding what you're saying if Kim's passing cost you or temporarily delayed the Peanuts or the Disney books or perhaps the EC books, but aren't these books where you also gain back in terms of what it takes to get that many marginally-selling books out there?

GROTH: To the extent I understand that last gnarled phrase, I think the answer is no. Most of these books, with the exception of the Tardi books, are low-selling books, but they still generated revenue above and beyond their manufacturing cost that went toward paying fixed costs. I've explained this in some detail over at Comic Book Resources.

SPURGEON Gary, I've read the interview at CBR, and the detail you cite seems to be: "What I hadn't realized is that even a lower-selling book contributes to overhead even if it's not technically profitable, which is, I came to understand, why we kept losing ground."

And I've been reading up on this stuff, and I'm not sure I understand what that means. Can you unpack that a bit? How do 13 low-selling books contribute to overhead in a way that theyir delay leads to a $150,000 deficit? How did you come to understand what that means?

GROTH:. Very simply: An individual book's profit is measured by how much it makes above and beyond its entire cost, which can be broken down into a) costs that can be directly attributable to the book (printing, shipping, Customs; and b) fixed costs (rent, utilities, payroll, health insurance, etc.). Some fixed costs are somewhat fungible, but, for example, you can't let four employees go for a week and a half because you didn't publish a book; you are still paying the same payroll irrespective of whether you cancel a book (this is one of the reasons publishers prefer not to cancel books). Most if not all of the books we cancelled/postponed were not profitable, meaning they did not sustain their share of fixed costs, but this doesn't mean they contributed nothing to fixed costs. They did.

Another aspect to that is don't you postpone books as a matter of course? Do all of those book delays contribute to similar shortcomings in related to overhead?

We don't postpone 13 books from one season as a matter of course, no.

imageSPURGEON: Wait. So is your forthcoming season, the season in question, 13 books smaller than the previous equivalent seasons in 2011 and 2012?

GROTH: No, not appreciably. We had 41 books scheduled in the same season in 2012; 39 in 2013.

SPURGEON: If not, don't those books that you are publishing make up for the books you aren't?

GROTH: Sorry, Tom, I'm not sure I understand your question. In order to make up for it, we'd literally need to add 13 books to the 2013 season, which would be physically impossible to do unless the staff were willing to undergo multiple nervous breakdowns producing and marketing them.

SPURGEON: So just to work this through my brain, these are books that were already on the schedule and that have been delayed so therefore there is a deficit now? Because I thought that a lot of these books were 2014 and were being delayed against that future time frame. Again, I'm just a little confused and I wonder if there's any way that can be unpacked, because I know from the questions people ask me there is some confusion about this. How does a book that wasn't in production incur costs that can't be corrected? Because you said your seasons were going to be about the same.

GROTH:I honestly can't fathom how anyone could misunderstand this. None of these books were from our 2014 season, which wouldn't make any sense at all; cash flow that has been disrupted is in the past, not the future! All the books referred to were clearly from our Spring-Summer 2013 season. I made this very clear in the first paragraph of the Kickstarter text:
2013 has been a particularly hard year for all of us at Fantagraphics Books. ... Kim [Thompson] edited our European graphic novel line and as a result of his illness, 13 of his books scheduled for the Spring-Summer season had to be cancelled or postponed, representing the loss of nearly a third of that season. Our fixed costs stayed the same -- because they're fixed -- but the income 13 books would've generated was lost, disrupting our cash flow, and leaving us in a tight spot. Many, if not most of them, will be re-scheduled (Jacques Tardi's Run Like Crazy, Run Like Hell is scheduled for July 2014, for example)
The "13 cancelled/postponed books" clearly refers to our Spring-Summer 2013 season, which is in the past; I even point out that one of those books was re-scheduled to our Spring Summer 2014 season (the future), and by God, it's in the list of the 39 books we're publishing.

Clear?

SPURGEON: Crystal. Thanks. Now, you talk in forthright terms about the costs of being the kind of publisher that you are -- things like the kind of material you routinely publish, the skill with which it is presented, the fact that you have always offered health insurance despite not being a mega-successful company. Are there any costs specific to right now that were not mentioned, say that might come in the next year? For example, is there a buyout forthcoming for Kim's widow in terms of company ownership, or are there previous legal costs that are coming due now or anything of that sort?

GROTH: No, there aren't. We are a frugal company and we keep a tight reign on our expenses. (To answer your specific question about Kim's widow, Lynn Emert: Lynn is, basically, my new partner, and she understands and appreciates the company's mission. Lynn would not be bought out until the company could afford it, and she understands the financial position of the company and is content to be an owner of the company. She knew how invested Kim was in Fantagraphics and wants to see us flourish.)

SPURGEON: One indictment of crowd-funding campaigns is that it pulls the campaigner away from a strategy of executing their core business in order to raise money in favor of doing things that that stand apart from that business -- thus the company and the businesses it serves aren't as strengthened as they might be. When deciding not to do, say, a massive EC/Peanuts/Disney sale to retailers or directly, even, did you take into a account losing the advantage that comes for a strategy where you help the general strategy of keeping your company alive by fulfilling your equally important mission of selling specific books? How do you respond to the argument that Fantagraphics' time may be better spent selling 20 more EC books than it is making 20 Fantagraphics fund-raising t-shirts?

GROTH: I understand what you're saying, but it's a little like asking a politician (at least my kind of politician) if he'd rather spend time phoning rich people and raising funds for his re-election or proposing anti-poverty legislation. You're really asking me if I prefer to be sitting here answering your questions related to crowdfunding than editing one of our books? Of course I would, but, like most people, I need to do work I don't particularly relish or enjoy so that I can accomplish the work that's fulfilling and rewarding. I mean, have you ever asked an artist if he had felt as if he were being pulled away from his core vocation of producing art by filling out an application for a Xeric grant, submitting to the process, dealing with a printer, and lugging boxes of books? Well, he probably does, but that's part of the game. Don't you do work that is done purely so that Comics Reporter can function? If not, you are a luckier man than I am.

I think the fundamental fallacy here is that you you're assuming a crowdfunding campaign is somehow different in kind from organizing an artist's book signing tour or coping with the logistics of an NPR interview, or filling out a grant application. Each of these activities constitute work that takes one away from producing the actual book, but they are all part of the process of selling the book (we're selling books on our Kickstarter campaign, by the way and it, at least incidentally, promotes our authors) and maintaining the infrastructure that makes it all possible. I'd love to live in a world where we produce beautiful books that market themselves (but I'd hate not seeing the dedicated and passionate men and women who comprise our marketing team every day), but that's not the world I live in. A "massive EC/Peanuts/Disney sale to retailers or directly" requires not insignificant amounts of time, labor, and resources (and clearly would not generate as much money as we need; c'mon, don't you think we thought of things like this?); a crowdfunding campaign may be able to yield more revenue that can be plowed back into selling more books. In other words, selling T-shirts and selling EC books are not mutually exclusive; they can be mutually reinforcing.

The "indictment" of crowdfunding as you put it -- an accurate description of the criticism I've read -- and the general skepticism vented here and there, seems to be based on the premise that there is some Harvard Business School-approved platonic model of the free market that we are violating. I reject this premise entirely. As if telling people straightforwardly what you're raising money for -- in the crassest terms, manufacturing a "product" -- is somehow less legitimate than concocting a slick, manipulative advertising campaign to sell people garbage they don't need and never wanted. The latter is not only accepted but widely admired and embraced whereas the former is seen as suspect, as if we're just not playing by the rules -- rules presumably established by corporations, media conglomerates, and banks to enhance their own revenue and keep out those who can't afford to play the game. (And, yes, I am aware that Amazon is involved in Kickstarter.) So, no, I see it as a legitimate tool to raise needed revenue.

SPURGEON: Are the artists that are participating doing so by volunteering that time, or you will reward them for their contributions to the incentives? If you make 2X, 3X the amount asked for, will you, say, cut Simon or Joe or Ed a check for their contributions to the campaign?

GROTH: The artists are volunteering their time and effort. I can't even adequately express my gratitude to people as varied as Jean Schulz, Robert Crumb, and Don Rosa, who think enough of what we do to help us continue doing what we do. Good question, though. I hadn't thought about how we'd handle it if we made two or three times our goal. But, now that you brought it up, I think I'd simply discuss with them openly and honestly what our financial needs are relative to what we raised and work out a retroactive arrangement they would consider fair. You know, be civilized about it.

SPURGEON: Is this something you would do every year? Do you have worries about doing business this way beyond the blow-back aspect of it in more theoretical fashion -- maybe not with this one, but just doing crowd-funding generally? What are they? Is this something you think you may have to do every year? You won't lose Kim again, but the other challenges seem ongoing, and there could be other things that crop up that could cause another disruption.

GROTH: You're quite right that the challenges will continue. I would never say we wouldn't use crowdfunding again, but I don't want to unduly burden our supporters, either. I think the crowdfunding model could evolve over time to involve greater and more egalitarian participation in the revenues and it could be more routinely used by arts organizations and their like.

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SPURGEON: Are you considering or will you consider structural changes of any kind in order to better meet these financial realities?

GROTH: I study the bottom line every single day. I balance the needs of art and commerce every single day. Literally. I'm not sure if I know what you mean by "structural changes," but I take very seriously my responsibility to maintain profitability, and I am constantly reassessing our own model -- I've been doing that for 37 years now. But there is no denying that it's a difficult balancing act -- between commercial realities and artistic goals. It's especially difficult in the U.S., which is a pretty ruthless economic environment (unless you're an oil companies or an agri-business, in which case you'll get government subsidies, or a powerful corporation, in which case you'll get gigantic tax breaks) where art and artistic enterprise is viewed with suspicion and not seen as useful as producing oil or building jet liners. I continue to explore ways to keep us alive and flourishing.

SPURGEON: Did you think about winding down, closing shop? You've had a magnificently lengthy run, what do you see as the end result -- does Fantagraphics end when all possible ways to earn money or exhausted? Will it end with your retirement? Will it end with you?

GROTH: Tom, this is an existential as well as a practical question and I'm not sure I'm quite prepared to discuss this at length with Comics Reporter at the moment. When I wind down, close shop, hit the road, put myself out to pasture, mosey off into the sunset, procure a terminal disease, run out of money, or otherwise near my expiration date -- I'll give you first dibs on the story, OK?

*****

* Gary Groth
* Fantagraphics
* The Fantagraphics Kickstarter

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art from various postponed publications

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Go, Look: Antireason

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Not Comics: Bil Keane Statue Unveiled

I am the world's biggest fan of comics-related statuary, so it is with great delight I saw this article marking the unveiling of the Bil Keane statue over in Scottsdale. I'm not sure I have much to say beyond that. I like the idea of a statue that incorporates the look of the cartoonist in addition to some of their signature characters. Keane was a very funny man and his strip was adored by a lot of people -- I think it's the first modern "decency fantasy" strip, and thus was important in that way as well.

This picture of the Keane boys is my favorite photo from the development process.
 
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Go, Look: Stuart Immonen Mini-Gallery

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Go, Look: That Opening Scene From ACME Novelty Library #20 Isolated For A Close Look

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* you should be paying every attention to the Fantagraphics fund-raiser, at every opportunity to do so. I love that Kim Thompson incentive, if they still have that one. If you bought something already, maybe buy something else.

* I received a full press release in support of this crowd-funder, which is always a way to let me know there's one going on.

* Alan Gardner's crowd-funder for Daily Cartoonist is ongoing. That is one of the foundational comics-industry/culture blogs, and if you use it I hope you'll consider check it out.

* finally, I got a lot of joy out of Bob Burden's work when I was a kid, teen and young adult, so when I get back off of the road I will take a seriously look at this crowd-funder for a Bob Burden book.
 
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If I Were Near London, I'd Go To This

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Missed It: A Matt Diffee Interview

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Joe McCulloch on Fran. Noah Berlatsky on Incinerator. Matt Derman on more comics from 1987. Sean Gaffney on Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Short Stories Vol. 2. Sarah Horrocks on Pretty Deadly. Todd Klein on Green Lantern #24. Justin Giampaoli on The Wild One. Sean Gaffney on K-On! High School. Greg McElhatton on Hilda And The Bird Parade. KC Carlson on Peanuts Every Sunday 1952-1955.

* not comics: I always love it when J. Caleb Mozzocco writes about picture books.

* finally: Ng Suat Tong profiles Russel Deiner. Rob Clough profiles April Malig, Paul Swartz, Sophie Goldstein, Sasha Steinberg, Laurel Lynn Leake, Aaron Cockle, Melissa Mendes, Joseph Lambert, Amelia Onorato, and a bunch of CCS graduates en masse.
 
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Happy 37th Birthday, Steve Ekstrom!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Derek M. Ballard!

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Happy 44th Birthday, James Owen!

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November 10, 2013


A Reminder To Make Time To See The Art Spiegelman Retrospective At The Jewish Museum

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I am not going to pretend that I saw enough of Art Spiegelman's Co-Mix: A Retrospective at The Jewish Museum in New York City in the focused, intellectually engaged way that reviewing the exhibit would require. I don't remember, for instance, if the above image is in the show or just a selection from that part of his career made it in. What I can tell you having witnessed the exhibit is that it is as wholly impressive as reactions to versions of it in other venues stretching back to the 2012 Angouleme show would have you believe. If this is the kind of thing you just don't get to, I hope you'll make the extra effort.

Something that struck me about the show that I saw was the tone of it. It is presented in a way that's comfortable rather than casual, that allows the work to speak for itself without making it seem like it's nervous or unsure about the case being made. There's a wealth of interesting material there but the show-stopper for the people with whom I experienced it last week was a presentation of Art's original pages for the second volume (the first is still being prepared, and will eventually be slipped into the show over professional quality facsimiles currently holding that place on the wall. Spiegelman works very small relative to more traditional ways with which I'm familiar, which is sort of remarkable to actually see as opposed to hear about. The presentation also means the work has now been preserved in order to allow it to be exposed to the ravages of being hung for the duration of the show. Hooray for institutions that invest in elements of artistic expression.

My impression is that the show is strong enough that you could build a little trip to see it, maybe a half day on a longer outing that has nothing to do with comics at all that finds you in New York, or part of a lengthier comics weekend. It won't make it to next year's MoCCA Festival, but there's a lot of time left and a lot of reasons to visit that great city. I'm not sure we'll see something quite like this again, and if we do that means this one was first.
 
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Jeff Smith Set To Debut Tuki Save The Humans Today

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Jeff Smith is set to debut his new comic Tuki Save The Humans today at a CBLDF fundraiser at the Society Of Illustrators In New York. This is Smith's comics venture that's distinguished in part because it will be serialized on-line rather than in the comic book format. The new comic will also make -- all apologies to work he did for DC Comics -- Smith's third major series after the category-defining Bone and the science noir RASL.

How Smith and publishing partner Vijaya Iyer approach that general strategy of getting comics out there should be fascinating to watch above and beyond getting to experience the work itself. Tuki is an early-civilization themed adventure story and looks like will engage Smith's love for classic Sunday strip comics. Very few people have seen more than an image or two from the work, so it should be intriguing on that level as well. If you can make room in your budget for the donation being asked, that might be a fun one into which to slip at the end of a long NYC comics weekend.
 
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Go, Look: Sylvain Frécon

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

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

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If I Were Near London, 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 Chicago, I'd Go To This

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Happy 59th Birthday, Bruce Chrislip!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Chris Bolton!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Neil Gaiman!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, James Sime!

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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from November 2 to November 9, 2013:

1. Fantagraphics launches a crowd-funding campaign to help with costs for the next publishing season.

2. Comic Arts Brooklyn comes and goes in New York City as part of a weekend book-ended by Art Spiegelman's Jewish Museum opening and a high-end CBLDF fundraiser. It also ends the convention seasons for the bulk of North American small press makers, even with events like this month's Short Run festival yet to come.

3. The illustrator Nick Cardy passes away, one of the few remaining major talents to contribute to comics-making in the first decade of the industry's existence in North America and a key artist for mainstream comics in the 1960s.

Winner(s) Of The Week
The person or people at Fantagraphics that put together the nuts and bolts of their Kickstarter campaign. That has been very well-executed in terms of incentives.

Losers Of The Week
Those that won't find themselves in New York before next Spring, missing the Spiegelman exhibit at the Jewish Museum.

Quote Of The Week
"It's nice to work with someone who knows how to design a book, because I don't." -- one young cartoonist of note on an advantage of working with an established comics publisher.

*****

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

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November 9, 2013


AdHouse Announces The Bad-Ventures Of Bobo Backslack To Round Out Spring 2014 Schedule

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Chris Pitzer of AdHouse Books announced early today his company's acquisition of The Bad-Ventures Of Bobo Backslack for publication in May 2014. The Jon Chadurjian volume runs 184 pages, and will be published at an eight inches by eight inches size and be sold for $14.95 USD.

Chadurjian is probably best known for the Leo Geo books he does for MacMillan/Roaring Brook Press, also under the name "Jon Chad." He is an educator affiliated with the Center For Cartoon Studies. "I fell in love with The Bad-ventures of Bobo Backslack by Jon Chadurjian because of the amount of things that can wrong to the pool old sad sack," AdHouse publisher Chris Pitzer wrote CR. "But I appreciated the smart comics-making even more... Layers of meaning with each panel, word balloon, or vomit usage."

The book will be AdHouse's final project for the Spring/Summer 2014, a season heavy with new to AdHouse talents including Noah Van Sciver and Katie Skelly. Pitzer: "2014 is shaping up to be quite the 'new' year for us. Lots of new cartoonists, new work, and new challenges. I'm excited for them all."

AdHouse is exhibiting at today's Comics Art Brooklyn, where he will no doubt be happy to answer any and all questions about the forthcoming work and publishing season.
 
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Koyama Press Announces Collection Of Patrick Kyle's Distance Mover For Fall 2014

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Annie Koyama and Koyama Press announced plans to collect and publish Patrick Kyle's Distance Mover in Fall 2014.

Kyle may be best known in comics circles for his editorship on the anthology he co-founded, Wowee Zonk and for his awards program recognized work on the titles Black Mass and the risograph-printed, comic book version of Distance Mover. He is also an illustrator.

Working with the Toronto-area Kyle continues Koyama's partial focus on homegrown, Canadian talent and helps facilitate the company's mission to engage with emerging talent.

Serialization of Distance Mover ended in August of this year.

Both publisher and cartoonist will be in attendance at today Comic Arts Brooklyn.
 
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Go, Look: John Romita Jr. Mini-Gallery

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

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

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

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

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

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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


1975 Episode Of Omnibus Featuring Ronald Searle


A Bunch Of Early '80s Animated Ronald Searle TV Clips


Ronald Searle On The BBC TV Show Late Night Line Up


Real Quick Ronald Searle Dick Deadeye Animated Clip


Yet Another Short Ronald Searle Animation


BBC4 Radio Show On Ronald Searle After His Passing


Short 1958 TV Feature On Ronald Searle


Hour-Long 2005 TV Feature On Ronald Searle

the above Ronald Searle array available through the dedicated Ronald Searle YouTube channel, which I had no idea existed until about 20 minutes before I put up this devoted Video Parade
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Mort Todd!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Peter Birkemoe!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Bill Mantlo!

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November 8, 2013


Conundrum Press Announces Five Spring 2014 Releases, All Of Which Are Set For TCAF 2014 Debuts

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Andy Brown of Conundrum Press has announced that the Canadian publisher has five books in the works to debut at TCAF 2014 as part of a general Spring season roll out. The five books are.

* Photobooth: A Biography, Meags Fitzgerald, 280 pages, softcover, $20.
* My Neighbour's Bikini, Jimmy Beaulieu, translated by KerryAnn Cochrane, 64 pages, softcover, $15.
* Spain & Morrocco, Alex Fellows, 176 pages, hardcover $25.
* Amerika, Real Godbout, translated by Helge Dascher, 184 pages, softcover, $20.
* What We Need to Know, Willy Linthout, translated by Laura Watkinson, 184 pages hardcover $20.

That looks like a pretty broad array of works, including Fitzgerald's non-fiction work and a collection of Fellows' on-line comics. The Linthout book is a sequel to Years Of The Element, which broadens that award-winning work's focus on family tragedy to include a wider array of family members. Jimmy Beaulieu is one of those cartoonist with severe chops of the kind that everything he does looks fantastic. It should be a great TCAF for that publisher with so many books out.

You can read Conundrum's full catalog copy for each book here:

conundrumcatalogcopy.doc

They are all earmarked as having a May 2014 release date.
 
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Go, Look: Beautiful Steve Ditko Art Scans

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the idiocy of my selling this to you by blowing up a tiny part of one to scan-diminishing size isn't lost on me
 
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Secret Acres Announces Its First Digital Comic

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The comics publisher Secret Acres has announced that Mike Dawson's Troop 142 will be the first comic available in digital form. They are using the Sequential App released by Panel 9.

Secret Acres plans more releases this way and lauded this particular method for on-line reading for the reading experience and for their focus on a certain kind of non-genre, even literary comic. How some of the smaller publishers orient themselves towards digital will be a key in terms of duplicating comics' rich print diversity in digital terms.

By the way, Dawson's book in collected form reads much differently that the version that was serialized on-line. If you had heard about the difference but weren't intrigued enough to pick up that big of a print offering, the digital version might have additional appeal in that way.
 
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Go Look: Boys' Night

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I don't know if it's old or new or what, but it keeps showing up in my Facebook feed
 
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Festivals Extra: On Last Evening's Osamu Tezuka Lecture By Roland Kelts At Japan Society

I attended an hour-long presentation on the life and influence of Osamu Tezuka at the Japan Society in New York City Thursday evening. The event was moderated by Katie Skelly in support of Roland Kelts, who authored the 2007 book Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S.. That is a book I remember but maybe didn't read... I have some memory issues now. That book was certainly a prominent effort during the cultural moment when the sustained success of translated manga and anime in the US gave additional weight to the task of understanding the fundamental movers and players in the culture that was making an impression on our own.

imageI sat next to the cartoonist Sophia Wiedeman and behind Paul Karasik -- Sam Alden was also in attendance, although I didn't see him until after the event. I'm sure there were other comics-makers though. It was very full -- I'd say about 75 people, but I am horrible at that. I'd say it was ahead of their estimations because they added three rows of chairs as the presentation got underway. What was impressive is that this was a ticketed, paid event, and the Japan Society is over on the East Side and is not something you just stop by on the way to something else, unless you're some sort of diplomat or translator. I hereby apologize for not including New York more prominently in the great comics cities discussions.

The reason I'm mentioning in a full report rather than a graph or two in the forthcoming CAB weekend report is that it was a really good version of that kind of event -- both Karasik and I were struck by this. It was certainly something that allowed for a quick primer on Tezuka and his accomplishments. If you're in the arts and ever need more suicide fodder than usual, pull up a basic biography of that guy and mark your age against his at certain milestones. What was noteworthy, though, is that information was presented in a way that I got something out of it, too, or at least was reintroduced to certain critical notions about one of the great comics-makers of the 20th Century: that he was fascinated by issues of dichotomy within bodies, that his stories rarely ended happily, that his method of deconstructing action stood in stark contrast to North American compression and overlapping, and that part of his move into gekiga was fueled by healthy ego and a desire to compete with younger comics-makers on their own terms.

Too frequently in comics we assume everything divides neatly into categories of that which is fit to be consumed by folks not into comics, and then a kind of sweaty over obsessive inside baseball that we all love but that is almost impenetrable to anyone else. I think the danger in that is we assume that any sort of sophisticated or even specific analysis has to fall into the impenetrable camp when it's not absolutely lowest common denominator slow-speech. But that's never true, and audiences of all kinds that aren't naturally inclined to get deep into comics can understand them and what they do in non-insulting, straight-forward terms. It was nice to be reminded, and I want to read Kelts' book now.
 
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Go, Look: Thierry Martin

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Joey Manley, RIP

Various on-line avenues in the hands of those close to the world of on-line comics in which he was a significant figure are being used this morning to note and mourn the passing of Joey Manley. Manley passed away Thursday evening of causes related to pneumonia.

A one-time novelist, Manley was best known for the site Modern Tales but also any number of popular aggregate and publishing services facilitating webcomics culture: Serializer, Girlamatic, Graphic Smash, talkaboutcomics and Webcomics Nation among them. He was also an early podcast figure, again with a focus on webcomics culture and art.

Manley turned 48 in July. A full obituary should appear on this site next week. Our condolences to his partner, his family, his friends, the hundreds of comics-makers and tens of thousands of readers whose lives his touched.
 
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Missed It: Copra #11 Cover And Art Roll Call

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Report: Tunisian President To Free Jailed Cartoonist Who Posted Muhammed Caricatures On Facebook

In a wire service article posted here, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki declared this week he would free the Jabbeur Mejri when the political opportunity arose.

Mejri was sentenced in March 12 to seven and a half years for posting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed to his Facebook page; the sentence was widely criticized. Mejri had continued to advocate for his release. A co-defendant sought was granted asylum in France. The sentencing brought up criticism directed at the role religion play in the policies of the Ennahda party.
 
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Go, Look: Arzach Jams

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Scott Stantis Changes Mind On Same-Sex Marriage; Sends Contextual Information With New Cartoon

I am all for editorial cartoonists changing their minds on issues. It seems a natural part of human behavior that gets a bit lost these days out of fear of not being on message all the time. That's not just true for cartoonists, but it seems particularly damaging for anyone whose job requires honest and constant engagement with a changing world. Here he explains in brief terms why he is for the legal victories afforded same-sex marriage. This is additionally interesting because Stantis is probably the most prominent conservative editorial cartoonist that seems not driven by executing a very specific set of political ideas on behalf of an element within the larger political party struggle.

I would imagine that many people would object to the statement that the cartoonist's previous take was a defense of the sanctity of marriage, but I kind of like that Stantis puts it that way because that's how he viewed it.
 
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Go, Look: Ladida Books

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred and Downloaded: Digital News

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* while some of us -- including myself -- are catching up to the possibilities of digital comics in the broadest, most basic sense, other people are targeting very specific endeavors, like the makers of this site devoted to the development of an interactive graphic novel aimed at tablet users. What's odd to me -- perhaps only to me -- is that those involved seemed to have received formal education that would point them in this specific direction.

* Achewood explains twitter.

* speaking of Achewood, this is a nice introductory article if you haven't had the pleasure yet, a place to find the test animation video footage if you haven't gone searching for it yet, and a reminder that one of the very big publishing stories in all of comics this year was that strip's return to regular posting if you haven't written one yet.

* this is sort of fascinating; I read it right after last week's column posted: Mark Waid and Peter Krause are doing a Daredevil comic aimed at digital platforms rather than print. This is interesting for the basic facts of it, for Waid's advocacy on behalf of digital comics, and because the Daredevil character is going to be between print iterations very soon. I think there's a lot of room left for how these giant companies use digital comics; I don't think they've even begun to scratch the surface.

* Sean Kleefeld makes the case for the importance of that Daredevil project.

* finally, Gary Tyrrell pulls a couple of quotes from David Malki about the nature of Kickstarter.
 
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If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Not Comics: Zine Archive At Public Collectors

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image * Zaina Akhtar on a number of different comics.

* I am behind on this, but I great enjoyed this process post from Ed Piskor about together his cover for Hip-Hop Family Tree.

* Nick Gillespie talks to Peter Bagge.

* Bob Temuka talks about not using twitter and why. One thing that's interesting about getting older -- I'm talking about me here, not Bob, for all I know Bob is 11 -- is that at some point you stop naturally adopting new technology platforms when they're made available to you. This is actually very similar to the way you stop buying all the comics, even in your specific area of interest. What's fascinating is how easily, thoroughly and matter-of-factly the conversation moves and goes on without you.

* finally, Iestyn Pettigrew passed along a link to these thoughts about cartoonist/essayist Tim Kreider's recent piece on not working for free. I always say with that issue that it's not that I want the idea blasted from the earth, or can't conceive of ways in which that might be something you'll want to do: I just the onus of proving that an experience is worth doing for free would be placed back on the people asking you to do it, rather than on some widely-accepted principle that promises things that may or may not hold true. Working for free should be a remarkable thing, not a common one.
 
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Happy 42nd Birthday, Cheese Hasselberger!

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November 7, 2013


Fantagraphics Announces First Digital-Only Release: Violenzia, From The Cartoonist Richard Sala

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Fantagraphics has announced its first digital-only comics project earlier today, via Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds. It will be a project by the veteran cartoonist Richard Sala called Violenzia. It will come out on November 20.

I asked Reynolds for background on the project, and what it might mean for Fantagraphics' future plans. He responded at some length, despite a busy week at the publisher.

"Violenzia happened somewhat organically but it made sense to at least Richard and I, right from the get go. He has been interested in our digital comics plans since before we started actively releasing books digitally in 2012. He was one of the first cartoonists to approach me about releasing some of his backlist digitally, so it's been on his mind for awhile." He added, "I believe he proposed Violenzia to me originally as a 24 or 32-page digital one shot --- it eventually became 50 pages --- and it was just a perfect opportunity for both of us to experiment with a digital-only release."

Reynolds indicated that to not do print in this case was to focus on the digital side of things, to see the unique challenges that might present themselves without print informing those decisions in any way. "I don't pretend to think it's a better model, just a different model," he told CR. "The biggest difference, which presents challenges as well as opportunities, is in the marketing, and in making sure both the intended and potential audiences know it exists."

He also said that this was likely not a precursor for a digital-only comics line from the publisher, as much as he looked forward to seeing how this project went.
 
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Go, Look: Pure Horror

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The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Cons, Shows, Events: Comic Arts Brooklyn 2013 Edition

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By Tom Spurgeon

There are plenty of other events this holiday weekend -- Comica is ongoing; Bent Con hits Burbank -- but there is a definite swirl of activity in New York City this week primarily focused on Comic Arts Brooklyn on Saturday. Here is how I'm going to spend the next few days.

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1. Tezuka Lecture Tonight At Japan Society, 7 PM
I don't know if this has penetrated at all into comics circles, but there's a lecture on Osamu Tezuka at Japan Society tonight, cartoonist Katie Skelly moderating.

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2. Art Spiegelman Exhibit Opens At Jewish Museum On November 8
By the time this major exhibit has opened there will have been a press preview, a more formal reception and a less formal reception, but that doesn't dim the excitement of opening day and seeing this particular show whenever you see it is sure to be fun.

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3. Jack Kirby Pop-Up Museum Is Ongoing
It's on the lower East side, and may be a preview of how they'd like to run basic exhibits if the place gets on its feet in a more permanent way. Plus, it's Kirby.

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4. Paul Karasik-Arranged Knitting Factory Programming To Run Alongside Show
It's only three panels, but they're all doozies: 1) City Of Glass graphic novel reunion; 2) young cartoonists (Skelly, Hanawalt, DeForge, Lambert); 3) Jeff Smith process panel. I have to imagine it's going to be a pain in the ass to get into any of them, but that any you do manage to hit will be more than worth it. "Less is more" has been the emerging panel strategy at a lot of these shows, and this is about as focused as I've ever seen such a slate.

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5. Show Floor To Feature A Ton Of Debuts; Alt-Comics Heavy-Hitters
I think it will be a really quality, particularly in the middle and on the lower end of things -- and by lower end I just mean people with less of a public profile, not any sort of talent hierarchy. I think there will be a flood of debuts from people quick enough to turn around something since SPX and all of the people that didn't get something done for that show. The Brooklyn shows are always great buying shows, and everyone goes into the basement until March or so so everything comes out.

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6. Official After Party Is A Go
Parties are fun. If you think about it, it's sort of the 2013 convention season afterparty.

*****
*****
 
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Not Comics: Pascal Campion

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Go, Look: The City

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Go, Read: Robert Steibel On 1960s Marvel Documents

Robert Steibel over at The Comics Journal discusses a few 1960s documents that Sean Howe used to put together his Marvel Comics history. This includes material I've seen before so I'm sure are from the University of Wyoming Lee archives and material I haven't. The latter is documents from two histories -- one aborted years ago and one forthcoming biography of Jack Kirby. It's all fun stuff, and adds detail to our understanding of that important era of comic book publishing that at least intrigues even if it falls short being revelatory on any of the big questions.
 
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Go, Look: Galerie Anne Barrault

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A Few Brief Updates On The Fantagraphics Kickstarter

The iconic alt-comics publisher Fantagraphics is currently running a crowd-funder designed to raise $150K to facilitate the Spring 2014 publishing line. I ran an opinion piece on this yesterday. Here are a few updates.

* as I'm typing this, at 9:28 AM ET on Thursday morning, November 7th, the Kickstarter is at $103,576 from 1608 backers. That's about $65 a person.

* it's worth noting the Simon Hanselmann incentives sold out as quickly as those from people like Joe Sacco and Jim Woodring. That bodes well for Fantagraphics' publication of Hanselmann's work, and perhaps indicates something about the folks pledging.

* I asked Eric Reynolds for the list of books delayed because of Kim Thompson's passing. They are:
+ Vapor
+ Peppy And Virginny In Lapinoland
+ The Astonishing Adventures Of Lucien Brindavoine
+ 5,000 Kilometers Per Second
+ The Cabbie 2
+ Olaf G.
+ Sybil-Anne And The Honeybees
+ Storm P.
+ Ten Thousand Years In Hell
+ Franquin's Last Laugh
+ Run Like Crazy Run Like Hell
+ King Of The Flies Vol. 3
+ Ralph Azham Vol. 2
+ Fog Over Tolbiac Bridge
+ The Cabbie Vol. 2
Reynolds indicated that all of the titles will be revisited in the next several seasons season to season to see if they can be added back to the schedule.

* finally, my interview questions are still with Gary Groth -- I'm on the road, so e-mail it is -- and hopefully that comes off at some point in the next few days. He's very busy right now, and I'm sure they'll come back as soon as he's able.
 
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If I Were In Amadora, I'd Go To This

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

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

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If I Were In Crown Heights, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: Francesco Francavilla Draws Rom

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Happy 46th Birthday, Dave Cooper!

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Happy 27th Birthday, Lizz Hickey!

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November 6, 2013


A Few, Initial Thoughts On Fantagraphics Doing A $150K Kickstarter For Spring 2014 Books

imageSo yesterday I found out as most of the culture surrounding comics did that the iconic alternative comics publishing publisher Fantagraphics was launching a $150K crowd-funder in order to better facilitate their Spring line.

I have interview questions out to Gary Groth because there are things about which I am curious but do not know. I'll run that piece when I get the answers.

Until then:

* my first thought? I didn't like it.

* my second thought was that I need to get on the site and get something or send them some money.

* my third thought was that I wish that my second thought had been my first thought.

* and that about covers it.

* my inbox filled up pretty quickly with e-mails from folks filled with conflicting emotions. Sometimes that was expressed as such, sometimes it was just on display.

* there was also a certain amount of curiosity communicated to me as to what I might think or if the news had blindsided me. (I did not know this campaign was coming. I did suspect there were some immediate or soon-to-be immediate money problems. I had been told in the past that they had considered crowd-funding certain things.)

* the people e-mailing me also expressed some worry about blowback or it not doing well. That worry quickly dissipated as the crowd-funder started to be extremely well received.

* finally, a few people expressed specific opinions about the effort itself that I'll try to fold into my own thoughts here or use in subsequent coverage.

* one of the reasons people have reached out to me is that I have been publicly skeptical of publisher-directed crowd-funders. ''

* another reason may be that a lot of people seem terrified to express negative or critical opinions in public right now, and I imagine some people feel that I'll say something that they can't afford to say or simply don't wish to engage in the risk of saying.

* my main concern when expressing skepticism about crowd-funding with a publisher involved is that in an arts culture that practically breathes exploitation in and out, both casual and severe, crowd-funding might allow publishers to avoid the traditional responsibility of being the person that provides capital. This is problematic in and of itself, because you need capital. It also may reduce what the publisher brings to a publishing arrangement. While this may come with an adjustment in reward for the publisher, or compensation to the artist by way of providing that much more excellence in other ways, my worry is that this is basically a way for a publisher to keep the same profit point for less work done on behalf of that partnership.

* Yes, I can certainly comprehend a crowd-funding mechanism simply being the way that publisher raises capital: for a specific project, even in general. I am also fully aware that a publisher does far more than raise capital.

* comics is a little bit more complicated than other forms because entire categories of expression are dominated by people that started with very little capital. Fantagraphics is one of those companies! I have all the respect in the world for Fantagraphics' journey to create an idea of a kind of art and then facilitate that art, mostly by throwing themselves at any problem and making do with limited reward. I think in that historical moment that was the only way the alternative comics movement was ever going to happen.

* but as many of those struggles that remain, or have never gone away, it is no longer 1981, and I think a different standard should apply now.

* so yeah, generally skeptical.

* here's the question, then: how does that general skepticism apply here?

* I think Fantagraphics' deserved reputation provides a lot of assurances against many of the worries I tend to have about publisher-involved crowd-funders. I know that they are a virtuous company in terms of the money they make and how they spend that money. They are prolific and excellent. The owners have never taken much money out of the company. People are paid modestly. Health insurance is provided. I know that they're a company that has years of displayed skill when it comes to putting together excellent books, that they can bring them to the marketplace and they can handle a hit book if they get one. They are directing the crowd-funding campaign themselves, with vigor, rather than leaving that to the artists involved or doing it in halfhearted fashion.

* in other words, I think there's a big difference when Fantagraphics wants to do this as opposed to a person I've never heard of before, maybe someone on a first book, doing it. I know that we pretend that everyone should be treated just the same in the arts or on the Internet, but 35 years of working with artists to put stuff on shelves should buy you something and I think what it may buy you is this.

image* I am a little confused about several things, and hopefully I get some clarity from the answers to the questions that are now with Gary Groth. I'm not sure I understand why this amount. I don't know that I can figure out exactly how the group of Kim Thompson delayed and cancelled books has a significant effect on the bottom line given that most of them were likely marginally profitable at best. I'm not sure I understand how the money raised will be spent, or why that isn't a primary concern for anyone that gives money to anyone out there that's not a family member or a close friend.

* I hope -- and to a certain extent except for the public nature of this plea this is none of our business -- that they will entertain idea of structural reform or changes in the way they do things in order to ensure that they are doing everything to do what they do in the most cost-efficient way possible. On the one hand that is so freaking obnoxious, and they are a prolific company with over 100 books published last year. On the other hand, there's at least one publisher out there that published at a 20:1 ratio of book to employee, and five to seven seems pretty standard according to my figures. But it's less about that and more about I assume this would be a good time to check if things could be done differently. If there are changes that can make Fantagraphics a better business, I hope they're made.

* this counts as backseat driving, so I apologize, but I wish there had been a way -- or that they had selected a way -- to do this that works out of their core business model more than out of a campaign that involves extra work. In other words, I think when you are a company that sells books, you and the system in which you operate is better off by making money selling books than, say, t-shirts about books. So I would have been a lot more comfortable had there been a sale. At the same time, I understand there's a certain way that crowd-funders work right now that have an oomph that just selling stuff doesn't, even when the sale is made special.

* I am worried as a fan of this company that there may be more systemic work to do. The last time there was a money crisis the company moved into a relationship with Norton and the acquisition of some really excellent licenses -- like the Schulz material, the EC material, the Disney material. Heck, they had Kim Thompson in his workplace prime. I'm not sure that I see a similar positive series of developments coming Fantagraphics' way after this particular infusion of money. It seems unlikely, anyway. So I hope and pray this is enough, or that what's happening suggests other ways to negotiate the fallow times until they decide it's time to close shop.

* I would like to see the development of a more active pre-order function for companies like this, or maybe just a culture of doing this, a way to connect with readers that does not count on financial crisis or a kind of ethos of community support worked into a fury in order to work. It seems to me it should be enough for people to pre-order and support and buy in on this company that Fantagraphics makes awesome books and people that like awesome books should buy them. As much as Fantagraphics needs your money today, so do a lot of other comics entities. Fantagraphics will need your money tomorrow, too. And next year. And so on.

* I'm not sure that we question the general health of the marketplace as frequently as we should, how it works and why and for whom and to what extent things might improve. For instance, we tend to look at publishers and creators doing shows and festivals for a part of their income as an amazing thing -- which it is -- rather than wonder if this is the most ideal outcome. To bring it back to Fantagraphics. Is there much hope for alt-comics if a Fantagraphics armed with Disney and EC and the Schulz material can't find a way to make it work on a regular, ongoing basis? Is there something broken that keeps them from getting there, and if there is, can we get it out of their way?

* I'll know more when I get questions back from Gary.

* I was not ready to engage with this issue right now, and I probably should have been.

* I bought the Eleanor Davis.

*****

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*****
*****
 
posted 1:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
So I Guess There's A Pop-Up Jack Kirby Museum This Week In NYC's Lower East Side?

That's what Charles Hatfield says. I'll try to get down there, and I hope it's good.
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Gary Leib

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posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
GroupThink Results: Comics Consumption, 2013

The question on the table is how you might improve the way you, as a consumer/patron, interact with comics -- not what comics should do for itself or should do out of a sense of justice, but what might work best for you. I suggested three areas: print comics, digital comics, everything else.

I went first.

*****

Tom Spurgeon

imageAs a consumer of print comics, I continue to find frustrating the fact that I can never get a firm answer on what is available to me as a consumer through the direct market system of hobby and comics shops. Print comics is my preferred way to read comics and buying them in comics shops is my preferred way to purchase them. However, with digital comics generally and with print comics purchased at major bookstores and through Amazon.com, it is very easy for me to determine if the book I want is available for sale and/or order. As someone in a town without a comics shop, knowing if I can pick up a comic or have it ordered and waiting for me when I do get to a comics shop would lead to hundreds of dollars spent through those retailers. What I tend to get in phone or in person when I ask for a book is a) confusion, b) outright falsehood, c) someone suggesting I not buy the book there, d) someone expressing uncertainty that this book can be ordered at all, let alone in a timely fashion.

Not all stores are like this. But three of the seven I've spent money in this year were.

I urge comics to make a greater industry value of being able to quickly and professionally ascertain what's available and when it can be made available in all of its primary markets. I believe this is possible because of the small number of major distributors working this market. If it's not possible, if there is a mechanism or a difficulty with which I'm unfamiliar, I would like to see the orientation of those shop owners with whom I work change in a way to better reflect that they simply don't know and/or can't give me the information I require. I am sick of being exhausted out of making a purchase.

In terms of digital comics, as a consumer I'd like to see more curated back issues in comic book form. I would enjoy being able to pick up several underground series -- say something from Gary Hallgren or from Bill Griffith -- in the comic book form rather than as part of a later collection. We have a number of small publishers working the trade collections market that it seems to me there would be room for something similar aimed at digital. Where are the curators and packagers for this new wave of digital comics consumption?

In terms of everything else, as a consumer I'd like to see conventions and festival continue to play with alternatives to the comics-as-flea-market model. I love a big convention sales room, I really do. I enjoy buying comics, and like meeting the cartoonists. But I enjoy other interactions as well. I'm encouraged by shows like The Projects and Autoptic that give over a significant part of their core identity to something other than the big convention room; I am similarly interested when comics shows primarily focused on the traditional model stress these elements, like this year's MoCCA Fest and its surprisingly strong, back-of-the-room, original art display. I would like to see more and more people play around with the basic model not because I hate the basic model but because I think those flourishes are everything.

*****

John R. Platt

As a consumer of print comics, I'd like to see more printed publications embrace formats that take full advantage of being physical objects. Think of different papers, different sizes, different page orientations. Look to the minicomics field for inspiration. Make print something that can't be replicated digitally and make the printed book a tactile *experience* that has to be held to be believed.

As a consumer of digital comics, I'd like to see a bit more thought put into certain publications. I have just started switching over to digital pubs, and more often than not the text pages are not formatted in a way that could ever be read on the screen (or at least not on a regular monitor or a Kindle). Don't just dump your print format online -- re-format or re-think for digital.

As a long-time comics reader currently living in a relatively rural area, I'd love to see more online "events" of some sort. Quite simply, I can't travel to many signings or conventions. I'd pay a few bucks to attend an online launch party or panel discussion or something like that. Everything doesn't need to be in person and nothing needs to be regional. It's a global, online world. Take advantage of it.

*****

imageRobert Boyd

This is very much what I'd like -- I have no idea how relevant it is for other comics readers. My comics consuming habits have changed as I've gotten older. I no longer go to a comics store every Wednesday. Over the past few years, I've gone to a comic store less frequently because my local store, Bedrock City Comics, doesn't carry a deep line of art/alternative comics, which are the kinds of comics I'm mostly interested in. I'm pretty sure they order most everything, but only a small number of copies. These get sold out quickly and are gone for good by the time I stop by. It makes for some pretty poor browsing -- I can't find something I like by accident.

(It should be noted that Bedrock City just moved into a bigger store that I haven't seen yet -- which may make it easier for them to stock the kind of books I like in more depth.)

I was OK with Bedrock's lack of what I was looking for because Domy was here. Domy was an alternative/underground bookstore,but it was closed recently. Sucks to be me, right?

So now, I pretty much depend on the internet. For example, you recently published a list of overlooked comics. I went through that list and ordered what looked appealing online.

But that's not what I'd like to do! What I'd like to do is walk into a physical store and browse. I want to pick up a book, flip through it, and then decide to buy it or not. I would like a new Domy-like store (with less toys) to open up. They could easily expect me to spend hundreds of dollars a year there if they did.

I don't know how I would improve my access to digital comics. I've never really developed the habit of reading them in that format, even though there are some I read when I learn they've been updated. (Dylan Horrocks announces a new page on Facebook, for example. I like that.)

I like alternative/art comics conventions. You really can see a lot of stuff at such events that you can't anywhere else. But Houston doesn't have such an event. I recently went to ZineFest Houston and got some lovely stuff including some good comics, but I'd like to see an SPX/TCAF style event in Houston. I don't expect that to happen anytime soon, but a lad can dream.

*****

Patrick Ford

Selfishly I'd like to be able to purchase comics the way I did when I was 12. This isn't because of any nostalgic impulse, but just because it was so easy. Comics were everywhere. A kid in a small town could walk to four or five places which had them for sale, and could bike to a half dozen more.

There was no having to page through a catalog and place things on a list or take them off. There was no need to drive to a remote location with nothing else in the area to make the trip more than a one stop destination.

The one comics shop left in this area is far away in what is a large decaying strip mall. There are large vacant spaces which once would have been occupied by a grocery store, a department store, and a drug store. There are other empty spaces where once there may have been a hardware store, and ice cream parlor, and a place selling fabric, sewing notions and arts and crafts supplies. Now the place is empty except for a comics shop, and check cashing place, and a low end Chinese restaurant.

Obviously this experience is not common among people in larger cities who have a variety of shops around and shops which are located in areas with other things of interest or which are at least convenient.

*****

imageMartin Wisse

The way I buy physical comics these days is largely as trades or collections, from proper bookstores rather than comics shops. The odd time I do get into a real comics shop I get a bit too much that clubhouse feel, even in a good stores, which is a bit off putting if you're not there every week. Making comics stores more accessible to casual, once a month fans like me would be nice.

Digitally I keep thinking that prices are too high, especially for back issues -- who the hell is going to pay $1.99 for Cable #1, from 1993 -- and there's too much hassle buying them. In general, no, I do not want to establish a comixology or a marvel.com or a whatever account to buy comics, I just want to be able to use Paypal or other service to pay, then be able to download them DRM free, in CBR or CBZ format and not have to use yet another piece of software to read them with.

Because currently, if I want to, I could download almost everything DC has published since 1936 and get the latest issues of X-men quicker than the local comic shop receives them. The music business had to take about a decade to learn that they needed to make buying music as easy as downloading music and even then it took Apple to rub their noses in it. I don't want comics to do the same.

*****

Sean Kleefeld

In print comics, I think we have something of an embarrassment of riches. When I was a kid, there were plenty of comics out there that sounded fantastic, but I couldn't afford. Now I earn enough to buy pretty much buy whatever new books strike my fancy but there's so much great sounding material out there, I'm constantly behind in my reading. And for the number of books I discover that seem to have flown under most people's radar, I can't help but wonder how many others I'm missing. I feel like I'm several years behind the industry and ill-suited to speak to what's going on.

With webcomics, too, I feel there's a wealth of great material out there and, with a decidedly decentralized distribution system, it's even harder to keep abreast of new material. And geez, then you add in manga and other translated books, and newspaper strips, and then prose books about comics and their creators, and academic books and journals... there's no way to even stay on top of everything that's being released much less having the time to read it all!

So for my own selfish consumer interest, I'd want to see a site* that spoke to ALL of comics facets in equal measure. A single location where I could make sure that I'm not missing anything that I would have an interest in. Too broad a scope to be realistic? Probably, but this is me thinking selfishly.

I'd also like to see conventions organized a bit more for better interactions with creators. The standard format of having them seated across a three foot table is awkward for both parties. How about putting the tables and the seated creators on a small dais that raises them closer to eye level with passers-by? And the standard 3-foot table isn't particularly conducive to either displaying a variety of wares and/or allowing for personal interactions with the creators. Even a simple handshake requires both parties to lean in a bit more than is comfortable. Perhaps a narrower table with a kind of ziggurat effect up the front to place for sale items on?

Traffic flow varies from show to show, of course, but it would seem that there are people out there that have a good handle on this and know how to set things up to provide the best experience for walking through. All cons should hire these people.

The long and the short of it is that there's just a LOT going on, and I want to see better ways to follow, process, and get access to everything.

* Strictly speaking, it wouldn't HAVE to be a website, but that strikes me as a better way to get all the information across, as opposed to other media options. But, hey, if someone can make it work in another venue, I'm open!

*****

Shannon Smith

Here is what I want. And this is not me thinking of the best interests of the industry, the publishers, the creators or retailers. This is just what I want right now in exchange for my money.

I want everyone on the Comixology train and I want digital codes in every comic at no additional charge. I want to be able to buy print comics at the comics shop, then redeem the digital codes and read those comics on my pc or cell pad pod phone and share them with my kids on their cell pad pod phones. I've been doing this for over a year now with the Marvel comics and it has at least tripled my comics purchases. Once I started sharing the codes with my daughter she started requesting more and more comics and now I'm buying almost as many comics each Wednesday as I did before I had kids.

imageMarvel has done a great job with this and honestly, it makes me angry when I buy DC, Valiant, Image, Boom etc. comics and they don't have the digital code. Dark Horse has the codes but it is for their own reader. Their reader is nice but I want them on the Comixology train too. I don't keep my print Dark Horse comics in a different room from my other comics. I want my digital Dark Horse comics on the same app as my other comics. Sorry, Dark Horse. DC especially should be ashamed at themselves for having gone this long without matching Marvel's value.

I also want small press and even self publishers to get on the Comixology train. I know it is not quite yet feasible for someone to have digital codes in their minicomic but they can get on Comixology. Take advantage of Comixology's Submit program. I want you guys in my cell pad pod phone too. In the past few months I have bought several small press and self published comics that I already own in print again on Comixology just because I wanted to re-read them on the go. Get in my phone!

I want print comics to cost around three bucks and come with the digital code. If you are going straight to digital, I want them to be two bucks or less. Preferably one dollar. I'll give DC some credit here. I love their weekly one dollar digital comics.

I don't care about day and date and still think it was a terrible idea. It's selling movies for online streaming the same day the movie hits the theaters. But, that bird has flown and here we are. For my dollars, I don't care when you put the stuff on digital but I want it for less. I'd rather the digital version come out a month later and cost a dollar less than for it to be the same price as print. I am never going to pay full print cover price for digital. I'll wait. I'll go on eBay. I'll find it in a dollar box at a con a year later. But I'm never, ever going to pay full print cover price for digital as long as there is still print.

Another note for small press and self publishers. I like your PDFs. I buy plenty of your comics in that form and really, you guys have been way ahead of the mainstream publishers as far as making your work accessible and offering a good value. But, look into the Comixology Submit thing. Please, get in my phone.

Graphic novels. I don't want 'em. I can't afford them. I don't have enough bookshelf space left. I'm done with the graphic novel. Please publish your comics in periodical form. If your comic is 100 pages long, that's three or four comics at three dollars each, not one damned hardback book that costs me thirty dollars. I don't ever want to see another hardback comic book. Done. I want periodical floppy comics and I want them cheap. Quality, while appreciated, is not even something I'm looking for. Who the hell did we think we were making and buying thirty dollar hardback comic books? I'm embarrassed for us all.

*****

Ken Eppstein

So here's a weird thing... From the perspective of my personal consumption, I think all of my needs as a comic fan are being met. Comics are being made by artists whose work I enjoy and I don't have any trouble finding that work for purchase. For a guy who is almost always in the minority opinion of what's cool or hot, that's pretty cool.

I suppose that it would be nice if more of my local shops (comic or otherwise) picked up some of these books and save me shipping costs of ordering on-line, but that's pretty minor. As a fan of the small press stuff I'm used to paying a premium.

Like you, I'd like to see some conventions with less of a focus on the sales floor, at least for the big conventions. I know I could use some creator and publisher oriented classes and workshops. It'd be nice if cons featured events that resulted in actual output from the attendees. In general I hear a lot of people talk about coming away from conventions energized to create. It seems like a shame that there is no way to immediately capitalize on that energy.

That said, I really like the small flea market style shows. I just hope someone cracks the code that will make them free admission to the general public. Besides the fact that charging both a vendor’s fee and admission has always struck me as double dipping, I think it creates a barrier to new faces at these shows. Why should a casual fan pay five bucks (or whatever) to shop?

*****

Philip Dokes
imageSteve Morris

I'd like gift sections, personally. If somebody walks into a store and all they know is "my friend likes Spider-Man," then it'd be nice for there to be a place they could go to find stand-alone, continuity-free Spider-Man stories. I wouldn't want to buy somebody the first trade of a fifteen-trade storyline as a gift -- that's locking them into a massive expenditure. I'd prefer to know where the complete stories are kept, like Criminal or Daytripper, and have those displayed where casual shoppers can find them.

Also, if there is something like that -- for the books to have a bigger 'mature' or 'all ages' sign on them. The first Invincible trade is for all-ages -- but after that things get decidedly mature. A gift section that offers single-purchase stories, and advises the buyer on what kind of audience the book is for. Most comic shelves are broken down publisher-by-publisher, A-Z -- but perhaps there would be merit to having a "crime" shelf or "superhero" shelf?

I'd also like for there to be better broadcasting by publishers, regarding WHEN their books are coming out. There are sites like www.comiclist.com, which offer a weekly run-down of what comics I'll find at the store this Wednesday -- but it seems mad that nobody has any idea of any release dates beyond that. I keep seeing creators on twitter say "has anybody been to the store yet? is my new issue out?" because not even THEY know what the release dates are! It's all very vague.

If companies actually told me what comics are out for every week of, say, December -- and stuck to that -- I could plan everything ahead. It'd allow for easier budgeting and save me trips to the store if none of my comics are out this particular week.

*****

Thankfully, i don't have to go into any bad bookstores. I live within 45 minutes of Copacetic in Pittsburgh ( i think you know Bill, right?) Before that TOTALLY had a lot of experiences like you did around here...very sad. But i digress. Here we go:

PRINT MEDIA
Stop putting the round peg in the round hole, that square hole over there is wide enough for about everything. What i mean is, start putting stuff in different areas where people can come into contact with it. The majors have an upper hand in this with business connections. But, in coffeeshops/stands, department stores, i don't know....the DMV maybe?!?! Have the chance for people to interact with comics where they are spending a lot of time. Online, it's here/it's gone. But if you put a physical object in a physical space-people have to deal with it one way or the other. Even dismissing it is an interaction with comics. And for me, when someone dismisses something, it kinda intrigues me to pick it up after they left ya'know? If i want to pick a up a comic to read, even a bad one, i have to pretty much drive home. Would be nice to have the option to pick up even a bad one along the way in my travels, just to see what "the kids" are reading.

Oh, and i know this isn't all on you print media by and large, but can't we get an Epic line started again or something so these kids can get to see Moebius' work...bums me out to no end!

DIGITAL COMICS
I am a print guy, so i would ask for (if this is possible and can be done with some quality) a type of Print on Demand type of thing. Or at least archive it for public access later. I think WE ALL want to support what we like and not everything should be a kickstarter. Yea, i know us "olds" whine a lot, we're not happy about our attitude either, but deal with it already.

EVERYTHING ELSE
The more and more time goes on, the more and more i think my totally joking tweet to you about holding a BBQ in Bethesda's parking lot @ SPX that friday makes some type of weird sense (i was more than proud to hear you were recycling that in conversation that weekend). Nice fresh air, car radio's on and hey, don't forget the "Junk In My Car Trunk Sale" you wanna get a little more personal, come on back for "The Backseat/Backissue Romance", the serious fan who needs that exclusive something special you got 5maybe 3 copies of left-"Don't Open That Glovebox Dude! Extravaganza"

But seriously, more, i guess you'd call them "pop up" events. You couldn't do it in the middle of nowhere, but if you got a tweet on a thursday that there was gonna be a little mini-con in, i don't know Central Park, or somewhere in Chicago or LA that coming Sunday... no fees or whatever. A public place where there would be a lot of foot traffic...Something way more informal than a convention. SPX this year felt like being herded through market like a cow a bit...didn't like that, but don't know what else is to be done. Isn't there new places where these things can be held that isn't so sardine like??? Rent a club, have a band/bands. God forbid i hold a comic and beer in my hand!

*****

I will add your responses as quickly as I can.

*****
*****
 
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Bookmark: Alec Berry On Comics At CBR

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Go, Look: Sketchshark

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Bundled Extra: HANG DAI Editions Launches

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Veteran comics-makers Gregory Benton, Dean Haspiel and Seth Kushner have launched their imprint HANG DAI Editions in order to facilitate an assortment of limited edition books, particularly those that act in support of event appearances. The line will debut three limited-edition comics at this weekend's Comic Arts Brooklyn: Force Of Nature, by Benton; Psychotronic Comix, by Haspiel; Schmuck Comix by Kushner.

The three cartoonists share a studio in Brooklyn. They will both self-fund and crowd-fun future offerings, and have yet to settle on all of their distribution options.

One of the things that pops here for me is Benton's involvement, which has been a nice story this year in terms of his self-published book B+F pulling one of the festival awards at this spring's MoCCA; a new version of that book is set to debut from AdHouse.
 
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Go, Look: Moon Critters

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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.

SEP131172 MARIA M HC $22.99
I think this is the big attraction in the shops this week: the final book in Gilbert Hernandez's "Tezuka Year," by which I mean that guy has put out more comics work in published form than just about anyone has in a long, long time and all of it is considerable. I liked this one the best of the pulp-stories that feature the movies made by his character Fritz in the Palomar/Post-Palomar universe he depicts in Love And Rockets. I'm a huge sucker for Gorgo, too; that's one of my favorite supporting characters in all of comics. An amazing year for Hernandez.

imageSEP130048 BALTIMORE INFERNAL TRAIN #3 $3.50
JUL130523 FATALE #18 (MR) [DIG] $3.50
AUG130704 MORNING GLORIES #34 (MR) [DIG] $3.50
This wasn't the strongest week for high-end genre serials, but there are a always a few: the latest in the Mignola-verse and from the Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips noir horror series, and the continuing march of they supernatural mystery drama Morning Glories, which I enjoy because I literally have no idea what's going on.

AUG130935 LOOK STRAIGHT AHEAD GN $19.95
If you go to the comics shop just to buy brand-new work from largely unknown talent, 1) you're very admirable, 2) head straight to the shelf that contains the Elaine Will effort from Alternative, 3) if you can do that in your store your store is very admirable. This seems like visually accomplished work; I have yet to digest its content.

JUN130667 DAREDEVIL BY MILLER AND JANSON OMNIBUS HC NEW PTG $99.99
JUN130677 HAWKEYE HC VOL 01 $34.99
Two reasonably big-ticket superhero items worth perusing if you're a casual fan and probably a cause for a celebration if you're a hardcore follower. The big Daredevil book is a way to read that fun material that doesn't involve taking anything out of a bag; the Hawkeye is a ready-for-the-holidays collection of the newer classic, showcasing writing by Matt Fraction and handsome art from David Aja.

SEP130851 DIARY OF A WIMPY KID HC VOL 08 $13.95
AUG130963 GET FUZZY TP FUZZY BUNCH $12.99
Two classics of the bookstore market: the latest in a long series of very successful hybrid book, which means that the comics shop probably isn't going to be the first place you look but you never know, and one of those Andrews McMeel paper collections of a bunch of recent episodes of an ongoing, popular comic strip. You could collect nothing but.

JUL131246 ROY THOMAS PRESENTS BRIEFER FRANKENSTEIN HC 1945-1946 $49.99
APR131211 ROY THOMAS PRESENTS VOL 01 PLANET COMICS HC (RES) $47.99
These are the volumes I would track down for name alone; any version of Briefer's Frankenstein, I'm there with at least a look and the serious consideration of a purchase.

AUG131387 SCOTT PILGRIM COLOR HC VOL 04 $24.99
They have done a nice job putting these color versions of the Scott Pilgrim material out in a way that keeps that series alive in the mind of its readers and not overwhelming them with a massive replacement purchase all at once.

SEP132139 TEZUKA ODE TO KIRIHITO SC PART 02 $14.95
This is one of the great pulp comics ever: super-odd, and affecting. I love it without reservation, and while I prefer the single-volume version any way that allows you to access the delicious visual madness here is an option worth pursuing.

SEP131467 TINTIN ART OF HERGE HC $45.00
This sells itself. I'd certainly pick it up and look at it, thus likely worrying the retailer that saw me do so.

MAY131145 VIP MAD WORLD VIRGIL PARTCH HC $49.99
A nice new treatment of the VIP work has been long overdue, and hopefully this visually stuffed biography -- I think it's a biography, someone correct me if I'm wrong -- is one way to get a book of his on my selves that is ripped up and slightly stinking.

JUL130327 JEFF SMITH BONE GREAT COW RACE ARTIST ED HC PI
Everyone loves Jeff Smith and everyone loves those Artist Editions. This is the publishing version of a potentially insufferable couple that is actually very nice and solicitous. I'm not sure there is to be learned from Smith's originals, but we'll soon find out.

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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 Amadora, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Bob Lipski

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Chris Diaz talks to Simon Hanselmann.

* Kevin Cortex on Freud. Colin Panetta on Rain Comic #1.

* Heidi MacDonald smartly points out that the Allie Brosh book is selling extremely well. I'm not sure I fully understand her assertion that no one in comics will accept Brosh as a cartoonist: MacDonald's an opinion leader for comics, so certainly most people that agree with her are going to take Brosh seriously. Certainly folks have had no problem seeing the hybrid Diary Of A Wimpy Kid series and its creator Jeff Kinney in that light. Pointing out that a work of prose interspersed with cartoons may not be a comic as some folks understand it isn't a new thing designed to exclude cartoonists like Brosh; it's something that's been done with key works by folks like Bill Mauldin and James Thurber -- you can say that Kim Deitch's last book isn't a comics work, and it's not a slight on Deitch or even proof of a dangerously conservative mindset in terms of what makes up comics. At least I don't think so. At any rate, congratulations to Brosh; I know a lot of people greatly enjoy her work.

* Ethan Heitner points out one criminally under-appreciated cartoonist with a work out this year: Ben Katchor.

* finally, Harold Gray gets serious about the funnies.
 
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Happy 42nd Birthday, Gregory Mardon!

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November 5, 2013


Fantagraphics Launches $150K Kickstarer To Raise Capital For Spring 2014 Season

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as someone who is both a huge fan of my former employer and my friends that work there and own the place, and also as a public skeptic of crowd-funding, it looks like I have an interesting article to write tomorrow morning
 
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Missed It: Jared Cullum's SPX 2013 Journal Comic

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Missed It: Jane, The Fox And Me Makes NYT 10 Best Illustrated Books List For 2013

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Frederick Gauthier wrote in to CR to inform me that Jane, The Fox And Me was the first graphic novel to make the New York Times' best illustrated books list. I don't know if that's all the waytrue, and while I'm on the road I'm sort of flummoxed in terms of ways to find out -- particularly if I were to check that against my own standard of what constitutes such a work. It's not like there isn't cause for congratulations all around apart from the potential historical moment involved, and I do know that unlike a book where you might go, "Oh, that's really a graphic novel," Jane was always published that way.

Jane, The Fox And Me is by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault; the translation in the North American version is by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou.

It was well-reviewed by the Times earlier this year.
 
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Go, Look: Anna Haifisch's CAKE 2013 Diary

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Go, Look: Rebecca Tobin's Mossy Bug Story

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So They're Auctioning Stuff Out Of Herge's Trash Bin Now?

That's what it looks like to me.
 
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Go, Look: This Magazine Is Haunted #14

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Missed It: Diane Nelson On Reasons For DC Leaving New York City For Burbank

There's an interview here widely discussed yesterday where DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson kind of unpacks some of the thinking behind why they're moving the rest of their publishing operations to Burbank. That's a tough PR obstacle course, I would assume, because you don't want to provide some worrisome reason but at the same time you don't want to make the choice seem capricious. I think I would have preferred hearing more of a positive formulation for having the office in one place, but maybe that's just me. I'm not sure I'd seen the 150 people figure before now.
 
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Go, Look: A Reminder

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* still catching up, and my continued apologies.

* the lovely cover for the Mariko and Jillian Tamaki effort for next year, This One Summer, debuted with plenty of fanfare. That is that team's follow-up to Skim. First Second seems to be doing a good job of placing their publishing news announcements in various media sources.

image* speaking of nice-looking covers, Tony Millionaire showed the drawing that will be used on the next Sock Monkey collection cover on his Facebook account.

* looks like the Jules Feiffer graphic novel due next year will have a late-summer release. It's interesting that my second thought whenever I see someone with a big book -- or at leat one that will draw attention -- my second thought is to what that might mean for potential convention and festival appearances.

* here's the cover to Ben Hatke's final Zita The Spacegirl book. I have friends with daughters and they greatly appreciate that series.

* Michael Cavna digs into the Washington Post's recent decision to drop Get Fuzzy to make way for the new, launched-extremely-well strip Wumo. At issue is the number of re-runs that creator Darby Conley employs -- something I wasn't aware of. An unspoken element of this is how the dialogue has changed regarding launched/dropped strips, the way that social media and the Internet more generally provides a different reactive snapshot to a change than letter-writing used to.

* finally, how in God's name did I miss out on news that IDW is going to do a collection of Jacky's Diary? Amazon.com has it listed -- albeit in the likeliest-to-move "December 31" listing -- so it must have been announced months ago. Please don't lose faith in me as I have just lost faith in me as a bringing of comics news, or at least balance that disappointment with the good word that book is coming out.

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

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OTBP: Vikings' End #1

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

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Go, Look: Starlogged

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Smoky Man talks to Lance Parkin. Paul Gravett profiles Michael Deforge. Daryl Cagle talks to Doaa El Adl.

* I quite like this fancier version of the 2013 iteration of the Cartoonist Studio Prize. It seems like that would be a nice one to win.

* Martin Wisse reminds through appropriation that Captain America is essentially a left-wing patriotic icon. I don't think these character are really one thing or another once they are taken from their original creators, but I do think most of the better stories told with him by creators after Kirby and Simon explore that tension. I don't have a grasp on how to unpack what Kirby and Simon did in those terms with that character.

* before Halloween gets all the way out of rear-view mirror, I'd like to point out that Bully wrote a bit about comic book stories set in Rutland, Vermont.

* Paul Gravett on Violent Cases. Milo Georg on a story from Dennis The Menace Giant #49. Lauren Davis on Out Of Skin. Rob McMonigal on Moth City.

* Chris Eckert asks after the eating habits of superheroes, including 1970s Hulk's fascination with beans.

* not comics: Tom Gauld's work makes for great prints. There is a whole bunch of cartoonists that are particularly adept at making work that might go on the wall of an office -- it's a very specific skill.

* Sonia Harris writes about three memorable comic-book funerals. I always liked that one in one of the Locas stories where Maggie and Hopey show up and it's mostly empty and there's very little in the way of a break between what's on those characters' minds as they go about their day and the business right in front of them.

* finally, I think I ended on this team-contribution art blog from the writer Abhay Khosla's site, but I liked this post and I wanted to post about it to remind me to go back and look around.
 
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Happy 40th Birthday, George O'Connor!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Mats Stromberg!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Diana Tamblyn!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Robert Loren Fleming!

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Happy 75th Birthday, Steranko!

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November 4, 2013


Nick Cardy, RIP

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Go, Look: Warren Craghead's 30 Days Of Comics

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you can bookmark this, and also access work from last year
 
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GroupThink: The Comics Consumer Experience Fall 2013

In the GroupThink feature, I type out a few thoughts about a general comics industry issue and then throw it open to as many of you out there that want to provide a thought or two on the matter. In this way I hope to focus the collective mental energy of CR readers in a way that doesn't involve having a constant open door to the site.

Once or twice a year, I like to think out loud about the experience of engaging with comics from a consumer/patron's standpoint. So I throw it open to you. What things would you like to see change in the way that you engage with comics as someone that just walked in the door or turns on their computer and wants to buy or interact with some comics? Don't think of what's good for comics, or what you think comics should be: think selfishly, in terms of what you like, what would work best for you.

To distinguish this entry from previous and future installments, let's break it down in to three categories: print comics, digital comics, everything else. I'll go first.

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imageAs a consumer of print comics, I continue to find frustrating the fact that I can never get a firm answer on what is available to me as a consumer through the direct market system of hobby and comics shops. Print comics is my preferred way to read comics and buying them in comics shops is my preferred way to purchase them. However, with digital comics generally and with print comics purchased at major bookstores and through Amazon.com, it is very easy for me to determine if the book I want is available for sale and/or order. As someone in a town without a comics shop, knowing if I can pick up a comic or have it ordered and waiting for me when I do get to a comics shop would lead to hundreds of dollars spent through those retailers. What I tend to get in phone or in person when I ask for a book is a) confusion, b) outright falsehood, c) someone suggesting I not buy the book there, d) someone expressing uncertainty that this book can be ordered at all, let alone in a timely fashion.

Not all stores are like this. But three of the seven I've spent money in this year were.

I urge comics to make a greater industry value of being able to quickly and professionally ascertain what's available and when it can be made available in all of its primary markets. I believe this is possible because of the small number of major distributors working this market. If it's not possible, if there is a mechanism or a difficulty with which I'm unfamiliar, I would like to see the orientation of those shop owners with whom I work change in a way to better reflect that they simply don't know and/or can't give me the information I require. I am sick of being exhausted out of making a purchase.

In terms of digital comics, as a consumer I'd like to see more curated back issues in comic book form. I would enjoy being able to pick up several underground series -- say something from Gary Hallgren or from Bill Griffith -- in the comic book form rather than as part of a later collection. We have a number of small publishers working the trade collections market that it seems to me there would be room for something similar aimed at digital. Where are the curators and packagers for this new wave of digital comics consumption?

In terms of everything else, as a consumer I'd like to see conventions and festival continue to play with alternatives to the comics-as-flea-market model. I love a big convention sales room, I really do. I enjoy buying comics, and like meeting the cartoonists. But I enjoy other interactions as well. I'm encouraged by shows like The Projects and Autoptic that give over a significant part of their core identity to something other than the big convention room; I am similarly interested when comics shows primarily focused on the traditional model stress these elements, like this year's MoCCA Fest and its surprisingly strong, back-of-the-room, original art display. I would like to see more and more people play around with the basic model not because I hate the basic model but because I think those flourishes are everything.

What about you?

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I'll run the results as soon as I can.

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I Did Not Know That José Munoz Had An Official Site

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Go, Read: The Trouble With Titles

I enjoyed Brian Cronin's straight-forward article here on the fact that a title recently announced by Skybound, the Image imprint that features the titles spearheaded by writer Robert Kirkman, has an antecedent at the publisher Valiant. Cronin's article seem very thorough to me, and provides a significant bit of historical context.

There are several intriguing elements to this for me.

The first is the main thrust of the article, that there could be a legal challenge, meaning that there's a limbo-like period where this stuff gets sorted out -- I find the thought of people weighing their options here fairly fascinating, as I don't know what there is to consider.

The second is something the article mentions, that the on-line publication of the original Outcast title may facilitate a more significant legal claim to use of that title. That's something I hadn't considered as this materials grinds its way out of back-issue bins and back into a storage drive somewhere.

The third is more implied, and is something I've pondered a bunch. How many titles are there for genre works like this? I mean, if I were to write a satirical play about a Superman figure, I have no idea what that guy could be named that hadn't been used in some significant capacity by someone in the past -- mostly the recent past. Ditto a concept title for, I don't know, a mystery featuring a time-traveler. So many comics titles cover similar territory, and are informed by either broad genre concepts (like this one, seemingly) or very specific character archetypes that revolve around a few properties. As we've known since Marvel's long-ago challenge floated in the direction of The Rocketeer based on a very minor set of Marvel characters, this can become an issue. I'm interested to see how this might work itself out over the next decade.
 
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OTBP: MA

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Go, Look: Gary Erskine

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Your PW Best Books 2013 Comics Category Winners

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The list is here. Those getting the nod were:

* Boxers And Saints, Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
* March, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
* RASL, Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books)
* The Property, Rutu Modan (Drawn and Quarterly) (art below)
* Today Is The Last Day Of The Rest Of Your Life, Ulli Lust (Fantagraphics) (art above)

PW tends to be the first out of the gate -- after the Heeb list, which uses a different calendar. It should be an interesting season for best-of lists, as there are any number of books that might qualify this year.

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Go, Look: Seoul Grind

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* this will be your last chance to assist in the publishing of the very fine Neil The Horse in collected form at Hermes Press, at least for this go-around. It's worth noting that the crowd-funding mechanism being used will allow for a partial payment to the publisher if the goal isn't meant, so please pledge with serious intent. I hope we get to see the collection.

* Alan Gardner at Daily Cartoonist is using the crowd-funding mechanism IndieGoGo to raise money for a year's operation on his blog. He usually does that himself, so it will be interesting to see how that goes. Gardner is also updating the site a bit, it looks like.

* this Rob Kirby-edited anthology looks like it will make its goal but you never know.

* here's one of particular interest from a quality-publication standpoint: Mothers News is looking to raise money for year four. Their comics contributors include CF, Mickey Zacchilli, Brian Chippendale, Michael DeForge, Chuck Forsman, Katrina Clark, Charlotte deSedouy, and Mike Taylor. That is a powerful line-up.

* a bilingual version of a Vaughn Bodé work? Count me interested.

* finally, congratulations to Chris Sparks on three years of Team Cul De Sac efforts. You can support a charitable effort by Mr. Sparks in pledging money to his walk via information through that link.
 
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If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Gary Chaloner

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* how Marvel continuity gets graphed by everything. That looks like a fun article; I haven't had the time to go back through it yet.

image* Tom Gill on Midnight Fishermen. Tucker Stone on a bunch of different comics. Glenn Walker on various comics contributing the Marvel Comics Infinity event story.

* not comics: missed this Kate Beaton Halloween quiz. It's very amusing.

* it's amazing to me that people are still giving out Jack T. Chick comics for Halloween -- I assume that's what's going on here. There's probably something clever to be said for comics made to save souls coming under fire for inappropriate content, but the whole thing kind of depresses me.

* one of the reliable fun thing on the comics Internet is retailer and foundational industry blogger Mike Sterling's regular dive into the dumpster of pop-culture junk that is certain sections of the comics shop retailing catalog.

* I missed this amazing set of posts from Jose Munoz in tribute to Kim Thompson and Spain Rodriguez. Whoa.

* not comics: Andrew Weiss rejects the gifted child scenario presented in the Ender book by Orson Scott Card.

* David Betancourt talks to Brian Michael Bendis.

* finally, Michael Cavna catches us up on what's going on with the Herblock documentary.
 
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Happy 46th Birthday, Alex Van Koten!

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November 3, 2013


CR Sunday Interview: Jeet Heer

imageJeet Heer is one of our best writers about comics, and it is to our great benefit that he's also a prolific one. I wanted to talk to him about two of his latest. The first is The Superhero Reader, which he co-edited with Charles Hatfield and Kent Worcester. That is a collection of essays about that genre designed for use in classrooms, from three very good writers about the art form. The second book is In Love With Art, an enthusiastic biography of the crucially influential editor, art director and publisher Francoise Mouly.

Heer is a go-to guy for historical essays as book introductions, and for significant newspaper-cartoonist-visiting-city profiles. He is also a well-respected writer on a number of subjects outside of comics. I love reading him, and am super-happy we were both able to squeeze in the time to get some questions answered about these works and his career more generally. I have a sense of how busy he is.

Both books are quite good, and I think the Mouly one in particular could be read by anyone with even a passing interest in comics. For anyone with more than a passing interest, it should be read. It'd be a great travel book, for anyone so inclined: it's not massive, but it's dense, and Heer's prose is very pleasurable.

I tweaked one or two things for flow. -- Tom Spurgeon

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TOM SPURGEON: When we talked for a CR Sunday interview in 2007, you said that you would be happy to write about comics half of the time and the rest of life the other half. How has that worked out? How much time are you able to write about comics? How is your comics-related time split between journalism and scholarly writing about comics?

JEET HEER: I still try to divide my time half between comics and half the rest of reality -- literature, the other arts, and politics. I don't know the exact breakdown in terms of time and working on the Mouly book, which took several months of concentrated effort, has probably thrown the ratio off a bit. This year I've most likely spent 70% on comics.

But I still write a lot on literature and politics. The article I've written in the last year that has gotten the most buzz dealt with John Maynard Keynes and the sexuality of economics. That's pretty far afield from comics but it makes me happy to have a voice in conversations like that. I should add that I do enough reviews of fiction that a distinguished Canadian press, the Porcupine's Quill, has asked me to gather together my selected literary essays. I also do some part time teaching here and there, which supplements my income.

I do worry that because of the diversity of my interests my twitter feed is a record of a scatterbrained, not to say addled, soul. At any given moment I'm likely to be sounding off about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, Alice Munro's Nobel Prize, Hayek's belief that J.S. Mill was henpecked, the greatness of Jack Kirby, and sundry other disparate matters. People might conclude, with some justice, that I'm unfocused or easily distracted.

In terms of the ratio of comics journalism to comics scholarship, that's a tough one because I'm not always sure which falls under what category. The Mouly book was done by a trade press but I'd like to see it used in courses on comics. And I think the introductions I do for the Walt and Skeezix books are as well-researched and rigorous as any scholarly writing I do. Moreover, I hope my scholarly projects have a readership outside academia -- a point I'll take up later in this interview. So the line between scholarship and journalism isn't always clear-cut. But if we take the writings I do that are published by academic presses as being the scholarly stuff pure and simple, then I'd say those make up about a third of my time on comics. Writing for more popular venues is two-thirds of my comics dedicated time.

SPURGEON: The other thing that jumps out at me from that interview is you noted the growing sophistication of editors and publication in terms of the kind of writing they wanted about comics. Has that continued? Are you happy with the opportunities you have to write about comics? Is there a kind of writing about comics you'd like to do but for which there is no market?

HEER: The growing sophistication I detected in 2007 has only continued to blossom, sprout forth and flower (or whatever agricultural metaphors one wants to use). It's really quite astonishing how the knowing and grounded approach to comics criticism that used to be the exclusive property of a few publications like The Comics Journal has now become integrated into literary and journalistic culture. The Los Angeles Review of Books is a real bellwether in this regard: their comics coverage has been consistently and remarkably smart, not just in terms of the quality of the the analysis but also the brainy way reviewers are paired up with the right books -- getting, say Howard Chakyin to write on Alex Toth. Right now, I feel like there is nothing I've written for the National Post, the Globe and Mail or the Los Angeles Review that I couldn't also run in The Comics Journal. The main advantage of the Journal now being, I think, that it's allows for more words and coverage of more esoteric material.

In terms to kinds of writing that are still hard to do, I would love to write more profiles of cartoonists, along the lines of my Mouly book or Lawrence Weschler's various profiles of cartoonists such as Spiegelman and Ben Katchor. Long form narrative journalism rooted in spending a lot of time with a subject and interviewing a lot of people is a really special form of writing but one that's very hard to do without institutional support. In the comics world Bob Levin has made a specialty of this form of writing. I would love to live in a world where I could do a 15,000 word profile of Kim Deitch or David Collier.

SPURGEON: Prose writing in general is a tough market right now. How have you negotiated the careerist aspects of writing over the last half-decade? Do you have any advice for writers that want to carve out a niche for themselves in the way you seem to have accomplished?

HEER: I'm a bit wary of answering this question since I don't really think of myself as having a career worth emulating. But for any aspiring writer or artist I would recommend following the pattern of Francoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman in the 1970s and 1980s. That is to say, find a gig that allows you to pay your bills but gives you the flexibility to pursue your more aesthetically ambitious work. Mouly had the guides of Soho she published, which took up three or four months of the year but let her focus the rest of the time on RAW. Spiegelman's cartooning was underwritten by the consulting work he did for Topps. For a writer or artist, a good day job is one that takes care of basic expenses but is not too taxing or time consuming as to make the creation of art impossible. Writing is in general so unremunerative a profession that it is not worth pursuing unless you are motivated by passion. For a writer, the ideal is that every assignment should be a labor of love. Also, in my particular case, I think my versatility as a writer helps. Since I can write on literature, comics and politics, there is always some venue open even in a world of ever shrinking paying media market.

SPURGEON: We have a lot of good writers about comics with some element of academia in their background: yourself, Charles Hatfield, Kent Worcester, Bart Beaty all spring to mind. I was also struck by my recent attendance at MIX how relatively audience friendly a lot of those academic presentations were. Is there greater crossover with those two kinds of writing now? How does having each skill set in your pocket help when you're working in the other arena?

HEER: Absolutely agree that comics scholarship and comics culture tend, on the whole, to have a mutually supportive relationship. Aside from the names you mentioned, many other scholars could be mentioned to illustrate the overlap between comics culture and academia. Any such list would be incomplete without the names of Sean Rogers, Craig Fischer, Ana Merino, and Rachel Marie-Crane Williams. This is kind of an unusual situation because academics who study a topic don't always get along with the people they study. When scholars like Darko Suvin and Fredric Jameson became interested in science fiction in the 1960s and early 1970s, this freaked out a lot of genre writers. As I once wrote, Philip K. Dick was so upset by Marxist analysis of his work he seems to have started writing letters of complaint to the FBI. According to Barry Malzberg, many science fiction writers adopted the attitude, "Let's get Science Fiction back in the gutter where it belongs!" Comics culture, by contrast, has been, for the most part, very accepting of academic incursions into the field. Drawn and Quarterly got Corey Creekmur to write an essay to accompany Gilbert Hernandez's Marble Season and the Eisner Awards have a category for academic books.

Why are comics more receptive than, say, science fiction? One reason is that comics scholarship is a late-born phenomenon, emerging in strong force in the 1990s. This was after post-modern thinking had already helped erased the distinction between high and low culture. So by the time comics scholarship got going in as serious enterprise, there was much less of a instinctive cultural and class divide between scholars and the creators of popular culture. Another factor is that many of the key theorists of comics have been cartoonists themselves: think of Eisner, Spiegelman, Scott McLoud, Ivan Brunetti, and Lynda Barry. These figures have acted as a bridge between the comics world and academia. McLoud's book was a huge hit within comics culture and remains a staple text in academic courses on comics, albeit a controversial one.

In terms of how the overlap between academia and scholarship has shaped my work, there are a few factors. It has given me a much wider audience than most academics have. It's allowed me to meet many cartoonists and work with a few like Chris Ware. My friendships with various cartoonists has deeply informed how I think about comics. I remain old-fashioned enough to believe that the best way to learn about an art is to talk to practitioners. In my writing my goal is to try and combine the rigor of good scholarship with the readability of good journalism. Of course the danger is that I'll end up with the pedantry of bad scholarship combined with the superficiality of bad journalism.

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SPURGEON: I have two questions that might overlap if you'll be patient with me for a couple of minutes. The first is I wonder about the Reader model generally. A lot of books call themselves readers, but I take it you have a very specific academic function in mind. Can you talk about how you'd like this book to be used -- perhaps how your other work was best used?

HEER: In terms of a "specific academic function" the primary purpose of a Reader is to be used as a textbook. If you are teaching a course on comics or on superheros, it might be too expensive to get your students to buy the ten or twenty major texts in the field, so A Comics Study Reader or The Superhero Reader offer selections from key books in one handy package. Of course, instructors can make their own course kits but the value of a Reader is that the material is preselected, comes in book form, and organized in a way that makes it easy to teach -- both of the Readers I've worked on have sections on History, on Theory, and on issues of Culture/Identity. Readers also provide contextual materials so the excerpted material can be seen as part of a cohesive discussion.

But aside from the practical matter of being used as text books, Readers can also be used by more advanced scholars as a way of mapping out the history and intellectual contours of a discipline. The two early anthologies that Kent Worcester and I co-edited -- Arguing Comics and A Comics Studies Reader -- seem to be used widely by scholars who are starting to write about comics and need to get a sense of what the history of criticism has been and what the main issues of debate are. Taken together these books have been cited by more than 60 academic articles and 50 doctoral dissertations. As comics studies increasingly coalesces as an academic field, these anthologies do seem to be playing a role in helping give a structure to the conversation, defining what are the major ideas and topics, mapping out the history and also suggesting future avenues of research. I think The Superhero Reader -- where Kent and I have teamed up with Charles Hatfield as co-editor-- will play a similar role in the future.

SPURGEON: The other half of that question is I was wondering if you could unpack the need for this specific book, what service you think you're performing here, what need you're meeting. Or was that even a factor in your deciding to do it?

HEER: Well, aside from the purposes I described in the previous answer -- as a text book and as an academic road map -- The Superhero Reader grew out of a number of specific needs. First of all, the superhero genre has shown a remarkable resurgence in recent years, flourishing not just in comics but also on the big screen and video games. One side effect of all this is that many parallel genres now seem superhero-inflected. Recent versions of Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, for example, make them seem like a superheroes. Secondly and relatedly, there has been a real explosion of academic interest in the superhero, both in comics and as a wider cultural phenomenon. Superhero comics are probably the single most active area of comics scholarship right now, for better or for worse. Thirdly and also inter-twinned with all this, we're seeing many important cultural critics writing about the superhero genre. I'm thinking here of formidable writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Alyssa Rosenberg. These are cultural critics who are far removed from, say, the staff of Amazing Heroes or Wizard. Yet they find the superhero genre pertinent to their surveys of contemporary culture. I could also mention literary writers like Michael Chabon and Jonathan Lethem, who have also dipped into these waters.

Given all these facts it made sense to us to do The Superhero Reader as a way of distilling the most significant writing about the genre. My personal hope is that a book of this sort will be of interest to not just academics but to cultural critics at large -- like Coates and Rosenberg -- as well as the more thoughtful fan critics -- say Tucker Stone or Joe McCulloch -- and perhaps even a few cartoonists.

imageSPURGEON: How did the three of you work together? What is the practical element of building a book like that? What are you personally responsible for, what perspective do you add, do you think?

HEER: The work that we shared was coming up with the table of contents, which required a lot of back and forth, as well as consultation with experts. In organizing a Reader like this the selection of the material is crucial as is the grouping of the selections. Kent wrote the introduction, with advice from Charles and myself. We each wrote one of the introductions for the three specific sub-sections that made up the book. In terms of our specific contributions, I think Kent brought to the project was a sense of how superhero scholarship fits into comics studies honed from our experience with the earlier anthologies. What Charles brought was an awareness of how a course on superheroes would actually work, having taught such classes in the past. And since my particular disciplinary background is in history, I think what I contributed was an awareness of how older classic texts like Walter Ong and Fredric Werthem had an important impact that is worth grappling with. I should also add that in this book as in earlier ones Kent did the real editorial heavy lifting in terms of securing copyright permissions and coordinating the different tasks the three of us needed to do.

SPURGEON: I don't think of any of you guys as superhero generalists, and I actually think of you as slightly hostile towards the genre -- you're summarily dismissive of it in the Francoise Mouly book. Does that make you tougher editors? Better editors? Do you think that has an effect on the book at all that a more enthusiastic editor might not have made sure was in there?

HEER: Well, I'm not sure I completely agree with you. Charles Hatfield has written one of the best books ever on superheroes: his excellent Kirby book. Kent Worcester has reviewed superhero comics and has pondered writing a history of one of Marvel comics most controversial heroes. And am I really "slightly hostile to the genre"? I have a very high regard for Will Eisner's The Spirit and Jack Cole's Plastic-Man, as well as the Marvel Comics of the 1960s and especially Kirby's 1970s work. I strongly believe that Jack Kirby was one of the most important visual artists and storytellers of the twentieth century. Period. In the Mouly book I refer to Kirby as a "powerhouse." Does that sound like a man who is "slightly hostile to the genre"? Post-Kirby, I've been entertained by the stylistic aplomb of David Mazzucchelli, Paul Pope, and Darwyn Cooke, among others. And books like Jaime Hernandez's God and Science or Daniel Clowes' The Death-Ray show that the tropes in the genre are flexible enough to be appropriated for highly personal work.

To the extent that I do come across as "slightly hostile to the genre" it's because I'm skeptical of the dominant "superheroes for adults" trend within commercial comics that has been pervasive since the early 1980s. Because they've been so highly praised, I've tried to keep up with the comics of Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, and their ilk. But I've never really enjoyed what they're doing (aside from my adolescent enthusiasm the first half of Miller's first Daredevil run when it came out). The whole concept of "superheroes for adults" seems like a massive conceptual error. As a friend says, doing superheroes for adults is like doing porn for kids. But my dubiousness about this branch of the genre is an outgrowth of my engagement with the historical achievements of the field and not some bias against superheroes per se.

I'll stop being defensive for a moment and note that the basic thrust of your question is accurate enough: neither Charles, Kent, nor I are hard-core superhero specialists in the sense that the genre is our overriding and singular focus. But I think that makes us better editors because we're able to place the genre within a larger cultural context. Some academic writing on superheroes suffers from the same problems as a certain type of fan writing: a myopic internal perspective that focuses on the genre to the exclusion of outside considerations. There are academic articles that read like sophisticated variations of the old question of "who is stronger, Superman or Thor?" In editing the book, we very much wanted to avoid this sort of blinkered view of the genre and try to connect superheroes to wider cultural currents: be it other genres, formalist questions about the nature of comics, or political issues of gender and race. The Superhero Reader is very much a sequel to A Comics Studies Reader. In the earlier book Kent and I tried to create a critical framework for looking at comics as a whole. In the newer book, we, joined by Charles, bring that framework to a crucial genre that has emerged out of comics. Being able to see the superhero as fitting into the larger world of comics is definitely a strength the three of us have.

SPURGEON: You use a lot of non-academic writing about the genre: Wylie, Jones, Steinem. Is that common for books like these. Can you talk about the inclusion of the say, Wylie piece, and how that fits into your overall mission?

HEER: This answer to this question is something I've already talked about earlier in the interview but perhaps worth expanding on: the academic study of comics as a thriving concern is relatively new. There were academics writing about comics as far back as the the 1940s -- Marshall McLuhan being one example -- but both comics studies and superhero studies didn't develop large bibliographies until the 1990s and the beginning of the 21st century. But prior to this outburst of academic inquiry into comics, there was a large and fascinating critical literature created by freelance intellectuals (Gilbert Seldes), cartoonists (Feiffer, Eisner, Spiegelman), and fans (John Benson). In Arguing Comics, Kent and I tried to collect the best of this pre-academic criticism, and in our subsequent books we've still wanted to have some space for it because it helps ground comics studies deeper in history with a more wide-ranging set of concerns.

imageIt might help to talk about the specific non-academic pieces to get a sense of why we wanted them in the book. The Gerard Jones and Philip Wylie pieces are companion essays. Wylie's 1930 novel Gladiator influenced Siegel and Shuster in the creation of Superman. One of the points we wanted to make in the book is that the superhero genre is an outgrowth of both science fiction and the older mystery man genre, exemplified by characters like The Shadow. The excerpt from Wylie's novel allows readers to access the pre-history of the superhero, to see the concept in its earlier form before it mutated into something we can recognize. Since the early Superman comics have been frequently reprinted, it should be possible for teachers to pair up the excerpt of Wylie in The Superhero Reader with the early work of Siegel and Shuster. The Gerard Jones excerpt from his book Men of Tomorrow provided context for understanding Wylie and his impact on the creation of Superman. Although there have been books subsequent to Jones dealing with these issues, I still think his account holds up. The Gloria Steinem essay on Wonder Woman was an opportunity to show how superheroes relate to real world politics. Superhero comics are usually not thought of as at the forefront of feminism, so the Steinem essay helps make a connection that will, I think, come as a surprise to some readers.

I'd love, by the way, to do a follow-up to the earlier Arguing Comics volume by doing an anthology of the best fan criticism of the last few decades. It would include John Benson, Mike Barrier, Carter Scholz, Gary Groth, R. Fiore, you yourself and others. The main problem with such a volume is that the only person who would buy it is me.

SPURGEON: How important was it for you to provide a diversity of voices here, and how would you define that for a book like this one? Are you happy with the breadth of the work overall?

HEER: Diversity is one of the key goals of the anthology but it's diversity across a number of co-ordinates. First of all, biographical diversity. It's often assumed that superheroes are a white guy thing or perhaps even a straight white guy thing. So we wanted to have authors that could speak to how the genre looks through eyes that are female and/or non-white and/or queer. But diversity also means a range of disciplinary perspectives. One of the interesting things about comics scholarship is that it's not localized in any one discipline but spread throughout the humanities and some of the social sciences. This is in part due to the fact that comics are a hybrid form, an orphan art without a stable home. So we have essays from people trained in literary studies, art history, philosophy, media studies and even New Testament studies. There are also some cartoonists in the mix -- Jules Feiffer and Trina Robbins -- as well as a comics writer, Gerard Jones. The other type of diversity is in the comics covered. The essays deal with what I think is a fair representation of the genre going from the late 1930s to the present, covering creators like Siegel and Shuster, William Moulton Marston, Jack Kirby, and Alan Moore.

Inevitably, there are omissions, whether due to space restrictions or difficulty in securing permission. As John Updike once said, "Anthology-making, like sculpting in marble, is in large measure an art of taking away." In an ideal world, I would've liked to have included something by Lethem or Chabon, or perhaps Donald Phelps quirky piece on Ditko, which can be conveniently found in Ben Schwartz's Best American Comics Criticism volume. And if we had had an unlimited budget, it would have been wonderful to reprint a few comic book stories that comment on the genre -- I'm thinking here of Kurtzman and Wood's Superduperman. But given the parameters we had to work with, I think we did the best anthology possible.

SPURGEON: Is there a specific essay you championed or are otherwise glad made it in? Is there one essay in there you would hand the book open to to kind of underline what it was you were trying to do here?

HEER: The final essay in the book -- Henry Jenkins' "Death-Defying Heroes" -- is something special: a mixture of cultural criticism and autobiography as Jenkins offers a critical appraisal of the way superhero's evade mortality while grappling with the death of his mother from cancer. This sort of combination of abstract analysis with intimate autobiography is almost impossible to do well. Yet Jenkins pulls it off.

SPURGEON: Let me ask you kind of a tough question about the Francoise Mouly book. You talk about the sexism involved in the relative lack of attention paid Mouly over the years, and yet the title contains the pun about Art Spiegelman's name and her relationship to him and then boasts a subtitle that makes that relationship more explicit. How do you reconcile the fact that she has worked in this unique partnership while at the same time has this incredible list of accomplishments on her own?

HEER: This is a good question that cuts to the heart of what the book is about. The title is a pun in part because Mouly herself likes jokey, punny titles (see her books Covering the New Yorker and Blown Covers). The pun actually works on more levels than people might recognize at first glance. Obviously "Art" refers to both Art Spiegelman and to the works of art Francoise has helped commission as an editor. But "Art" also refers to Mouly herself. One of the subplots of the book is Francoise's reluctance in thinking about herself as an artist. In a 1980 strip that ran in RAW #1 she wrote, "But I'm just not an 'artist'!" Mouly went into editing as an alternative to becoming an "artist" but then turned editing itself into an art. The penultimate paragraph of my book is about how looking back on her career Francoise is now finally starting to think of herself as an artist. So the title In Love With Art is about Francoise finding the confidence to affirm herself as an artist.

The book started as as a result of a 2004 newspaper column I wrote where I celebrated Spiegelman as an editor while slighting Mouly. When my partner Robin Ganev criticized me for that, I had a sudden revelation: "It's impossible to talk about Spiegelman's remarkable achievements without coming to terms with Mouly's massive influence on him." So I started writing various blog posts and essays on Mouly (see here and here).

imageIn trying to tell Mouly's story in book length form I had to grapple with the obverse side of my revelation: "It's impossible to talk about Mouly's remarkable achievements without coming to terms with Spiegelman's massive influence on her." Spiegelman and Mouly really have had an unusually synergistic relationship, working together closely not just on RAW>, the Little Lit books but also one of the most famous of all New Yorker covers -- the 9/11 black on black cover. My discussion of how they collaborated on that cover is one of the set-pieces of the book.

I can't think of too many other creative couples who have enhanced each other the way Mouly and Spiegelman have. Perhaps Catherine Moore and Henry Kuttner, who worked so closely together as science fiction writers that it is impossible to say who wrote which of their stories. Perhaps also E.B. And Katharine White, who together created the clear style that became The New Yorker's default mode of expository prose. Perhaps Leo and Diane Dillon. Perhaps Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson. There are probably others, but not too many more. Successful mutually supporting creative marriages are rare, so worth exploring when they happen.

Aside from their collaborations, there are other reasons why I wanted to include Spiegelman in the subtitle. There is an old feminist saying that "the personal is political." In Mouly's case, I'd say "the personal is professional" or perhaps better still: "the personal is vocational." In the great debates about "leaning in" and "having it all" Mouly demonstrates one strategy: finding a balance between work and life by discovering ways that one's personal concerns can creatively infuse one's career. Mouly fell in love with Spiegelman's comics before she fell in love with the man, but her passion for both has given energy to her career. And her decision to start publishing kid's comics is a direct outgrowth of her experiences as a mother. So I wanted a title and subtitle that played up the evident connection in Mouly's story between the love of art and the love of life.

There's a final reason for wanting Spiegelman in the subtitle, which has to do with the peculiarity of editing. Editing is an invisible art and it's hard to show how it works except by looking at the impact an editor has on particular creators. If you're talking about Ezra Pound as an editor, you'll want to look closely art his collaborations with particular writers such as T.S. Eliot (as in the volume The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound). If you are looking at Max Perkins as an editor you are going to focus on his relationship with Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway (as in this volume). In the case of Mouly, I examined her interactions with several artists such as Charles Burns and Sue Coe, but to my mind the person she's had the biggest impact on is her husband. To gauge Mouly's force as an editor I needed to show what Spiegelman was like before he met her, which was far different than the Spiegelman we know today. The shift in Spiegelman's trajectory as a result of his partnership with Mouly is a large and indispensable subplot in the book, which is reflected in the subtitle.

SPURGEON: Are there parts of her story that you found particularly, personally appealing? I was struck by how Mouly turned to comics to pick up English just as you did, Jeet, and your wider point about how comics enters our consciousness before our tastes become rigid.

HEER: Strange to say, when I work on a biographical essay, I'm also often writing a type of disguised autobiography. The introduction to the first volume of the Walt and Skeezix books deals with father/son relationships. I wrote it not long after my father died. The introduction of first volume of the Orphan Annie series touches on the fact that Harold Gray never had kids and examines the theme of infertility in the strip. It was written while my partner and I were struggling with our own fertility problems. In the case of Mouly, yes, it's true that she, like me, learned English as a second language, aided by comics. And in general, Mouly's experiences as an immigrant speak to my own history (and perhaps even more, the lives of my parents). Mouly's cultural interests are another commonality. One of the nicest compliments I've received is from Mouly herself, who told my publisher that she was happy that I wrote this book because I was someone who not only knew about comics but had a wider cultural frame of reference. One of the attractive things about Mouly is that she understands comics but has a horizon that is wider than comics culture. It might be a form of pernicious self-flattery, but I like to think the same is true of me.

The fact that Mouly is such an anomalous figure in comics makes her story interesting to me since I also feel like I'm an odd duck in the comics world. Even when I was a kid first reading comics, I paid attention to the credits to see if there were other outsiders in the field. I got a secret thrill whenever I saw Ben Oda (hey, he doesn't sound like he's white!) listed as letterer. And I took note of the few women in comics as well, not just Mouly but also Marie Severin, or Glynis Wein. Even as a kid, I noticed that the few women in comics were almost invariably colorists. I often wondered why. I wasn't a particularly politically astute kid but I did notice a few things.

Finally, the issue of work/life balance that I touch on in the book are very real to me. My partner and I try to divide up our time taking care of our daughter Bella in an even-handed fashion. We didn't have daycare for a big chunk of the period I was working on the book. So in my recorded interviews with Mouly and others, you can hear Bella in the background. I wrote much of the book while Bella was napping in the afternoon or sleeping at night. So the question of how to be creative while raising a family is not an abstract one for me.

SPURGEON: For that matter, I can't track through your prose -- and I usually can with works like this -- how this book came together. Did you do new interviews? Rely on old material? A combination? Talk as explicitly as you can bear about how you put together a book like this one.

HEER: The book is based on both fresh interviews and pre-existing material. Spiegelman has been interviewed countless times. Mouly much less so, but there are some good interviews with her. When I started the book, I didn't want to waste Mouly's and Spiegelman's time by asking them questions that they had answered many times before. So I went back and read as many of the existing interviews as possible with them and also the major RAW and New Yorker artists. Particularly valuable for me were the back issues of The Comics Journal, Joseph Witek's volume Art Spiegelman: Conversations, a novel length oral history of RAW conducted by Bill Kartalopoulos, and the interviews Hillary Chute conducted for MetaMaus.

These older interviews gave me the skeleton of my story but I then needed to flesh it out, so I conducted fresh interviews with Mouly, Spiegelman and the artists of RAW and the New Yorker (including Gary Panter, Charles Burns, Chris Ware, Sue Coe, Anita Kunz, and Frank Viva). I also spent time hanging around Mouly and Spiegelman when they were guests at TCAF. I had already met them on earlier occasions, of course, but the time at TCAF gave me a newly minted sense of them as people.

As I was writing the book, my editors at Coach House Books had many sharp and useful queries, so I was constantly doing follow-up interviews with the main participants. It was a messy project, but I hope the book coheres. Unless otherwise indicated in the text, all the quotes in the book are from fresh interviews.

imageSPURGEON: You make a really great point about the relative cosmopolitan nature of New York in the 1970s and the low participation threshold for a lot of artistic endeavors: you really could do things yourself at a very high level if it was in you back then to accomplish what it is you set out to do. This strikes me as a longtime advantage to comics. Do you think of RAW as a creature of its time, or as a creature of comics culture? Could it have happened five or ten or fifteen years later?

HEER: RAW was very much a part of its time and place in several ways: Mouly and Spiegelman were lucky to be in New York when rents were cheap; the defiantly do-it-yourself attitude of the magazine seems very late 1970s punk, although it's hard to imagine Mouly and Spiegelman at a punk concert; the hard edged anger that shows up in RAW also feels very New York, quite distinct from the mellower hippy vibes of the San Francisco underground comix scene. I'm not so sure that RAW was "a creature of comics culture" since in the late 1970s Mouly and Spiegelman probably had less to do with that culture than anyone else publishing comics. True, Mouly had done coloring for Marvel comics, but that seems to have been just a paying gig. Otherwise, her orientation really was to New York's avant garde culture. For his part, Spiegelman in the late 1970s was still licking his wounds from the failure of Arcade and had decisively broken with underground comics. Mouly and Spiegelman didn't think they had much in common with too many other people in comics, and I think the fact that RAW started selling well in comics stores came as a genuine surprise to them in 1980. As for whether RAW could have happened later, in a sense it did: RAW created a template for future strongly-edited anthologies. Magazines in the RAW tradition include Snake Eyes, Drawn and Quarterly, Zero Zero, and Kramers Ergot. As you rightly note, the low costs of doing comics makes this sort of do-it-yourself anthology a hardy and perennial species. There will be many more RAW type anthologies in the future.

SPURGEON: I thought your appraisal of Mouly's contribution was fascinating and very thorough. One thing I don't think you touch on, and it's the first place that a lot of people might try to explore were they in your position, is how her taste might break with Art Spiegelman's. Were they that closely aligned in terms of what went into RAW there weren't Francoise artists and Art artists? Is that part of the one-mind that Gary Panter talked about? Is there an artist you can think of that might not have been in RAW without Francoise on board?

HEER: To clarify: I don't think it makes sense to talk about stuff that could have appeared in RAW "without Francoise on board." As I tried to show, without Mouly, there would have been no RAW. Full stop and end of sentence. In 1980, Spiegelman was burned out of editing from his Arcade experience and eager to start Maus. He would never have started a magazine if Mouly hadn't been there pushing him to do it.

In terms of the differences between Spiegelman and Mouly in sensibility, I don't think it's a matter of which artists they preferred or pushed so much as how the material was presented. I talk about this on page 62 and 63 of the book, but perhaps should say a bit more. The last issue of Arcade came out in 1976, the first issue of RAW in 1980. Only four years separate the two magazines. Yet RAW looks like a completely different magazine than Arcade. I think the best explanation for the difference is Mouly's visual sensibility. Art Spiegelman loves to jam as much information on a page as possible, to be sure as cunningly arranged as possible. This is an aesthetic based on Mad comics and the undergrounds, the chicken fat of Bill Elders evolving into the visual splatter of S. Clay Wilson. Mouly, by contrast, is attracted to white space. She likes drawings that have room to breathe, that try to do more with less. The interesting thing about RAW was that the competing visual sensibilities of the editors were allowed to rub against each other -- on one extreme the precision of a Swarte or a Burns, on the other extreme the kinetic chaos of a Panter. These competing styles jostled next to each other to create a whole that was stronger than any one piece.

But having said that, I don't think it makes sense to say that Panter was a Spiegelman artist or that Burns was a Mouly artist. Rather, RAW was defined by the partnership of Spiegelman and Mouly, which created a magazine that could house both Panter and Burns. Mouly and Spiegelman spent endless hours hammering out the table of contents of RAW. Each piece that made the cut is a result of the joint editorial efforts of the two. There is no Spiegelman artist or Mouly artist, only RAW artists.

SPURGEON: One thing that kind of runs against conventional wisdom about RAW, so I just want to make sure I have it right, is that you say that Mouly and Spiegelman discovered what was going on in Europe together, rather than Francoise being the conduit for those artists. Is that a fair assessment of how that European connection developed?

HEER: That's not a bad summary although we should be careful not to make it sound like its understating Mouly's role. When I first started working on this project I had assumed that Mouly was the one who brought the European artists to RAW. But talking to Mouly and Spiegelman I found that the story is a little bit more complicated. When they met, Mouly had been grounded in the French comics of her youth just as Spiegelman had been shaped by the comics he grew up with. Mouly was the catalyst for Spiegelman becoming interested in Europe as a cultural fact and developing a much more cosmopolitan taste in comics. The crucial event was a trip to Europe they took in 1978, which is where they both became conversant for the first time with the cutting edge comics that they would bring into RAW. Prior to that trip, they might have had a small inkling of those cartoonists -- Spiegelman seemed to know Swarte's work early on -- but that vacation was formative in the education of both. So: Mouly was Spiegelman's bridge to Europe, and in a trip together they forged their shared understanding of the continent's best comics (and not just Europe: they also started investigating manga).

In introducing Spiegelman to Europe, Mouly changed him not just as an editor but as an artist. Prior to meeting Mouly Spiegelman didn't have a passport. Europe for him was the land that killed most of his family. As Spiegelman got to know Europe more, his sense of his parent's story became deeper. Compare the three-page "Maus" strip of 1972 with Maus the graphic novel. In "Maus" the European setting seems folkoric, it comes to us as a bed time story told by a father to a young son. In Maus, Europe is much more concrete and actualized. It's a place the cartoonist has researched and visited. It has a felt reality. Mouly was part of the process whereby Spiegelman went from "Maus" to Maus.

SPURGEON: Something that comes out of the book as kind of a through-line is Mouly's ability to pick and choose her work partners based on the ability to do things on her own. She approached the New Yorker gig in a take it or leave it fashion; she self-published TOON before finding a partner for that line. How do you think this kind of push-pull works with Mouly between finding suitable partners and the DIY impulse she has? 

HEER: That's a very astute point, and also applies to her partnership with Spiegelman. As Mouly remarked in MetaMaus, "Frankly, at the time I met Art, I had been keeping away from men, including a few who were courting me, because I didn't want to fall under the sway of anybody. I was really upset when I fell in love with Art, because it was the opposite of what I had vowed to do, and I fought tooth and nail." So, she's clearly someone who loves her independence. Yet she's made almost her whole career by doing collaborative work, by editing and publishing other people as well as being involved with large enterprises like The New Yorker where by necessity she's one voice among many. It's a remarkable tight-rope she's been able to walk, to work with others while retaining her own aesthetic integrity. There's always a tension between Mouly's DIY impulse and the fact she's working with other people and institutions, but I think this is a creative tension, one that is the source of her achievements. Her desire for creative autonomy allows her to push for work that is unique and singular but working with others -- be it Spiegelman, the RAW artists, the New Yorker staff, or the publishing industry -- gives her access to a wider audience. Part of the answer to this riddle is that she does at heart have a fundamentally democratic notion of art: she likes art that reaches an audience, that has an impact, that is challenging but also on some level accessible. I think collaborating with others speaks to that democratic part of her character, which was really formed in the hothouse of Paris during the 1968 uprising.

SPURGEON: I want to call on you as a critic. Is there any element to her long tenure at the New Yorker that you think hasn't worked, if only as an isolated example? We know the great covers; what would be a less-than-great cover? Because your writing in that section is kind of very thoroughly positive, and I wondered if we might see her accomplishments in that job a bit more clearly if we had an example where it didn't come together.

HEER: There are two ways to look at a New Yorker cover: how does it speak to the current moment and how does it hold up over the years as a work of art. There is no question that the topical and political covers are the ones that have the biggest immediate impact. Those are the covers that make the headlines, that people circulate via Facebook and twitter. As Marc Tracy noted in the New Republic, the topical covers are "internet gold." The cover with Bert and Ernie watching the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage got 657 million "impressions" -- meaning it was seen by perhaps a tenth of living human beings. But as so often with political art, I'm not sure that all the topical covers will age well. Some are destined to be classics -- I think Barry Blitt's fist-bump cover will be remembered for many decades in the future because it so perfectly captured the paranoid fears that Obama elicited from many. And I think many of Spiegelman's political covers have the same ability to transcend time. They still resonate long after cover dates. But what about something like John Cuneo's cover showing Anthony Weiner as King Kong athwart the Empire State Building? It's a delightful cover which caused millions to chuckle. But a decade from now, who will remember Weiner's mayoral run and sexting scandal? The cover will need a footnote to be understood.

Personally speaking, my favorite covers are the narrative ones by cartoonists like Chris Ware, Adrian Tomine, Ivan Brunetti, Daniel Clowes and others. I'm of course biased because of my background in comics. I also love the covers by artists such David Hockney and Anita Kunz, who bring a fine arts sensibility to the magazine. In the far future, these are the covers that will be continued to be cherished.

imageSPURGEON: You talked about the line as a visionary publishing concept, but how does TOON reflect Mouly's editorial voice? How might we see a connection between what is emphasized in these comics than what might have come to the surface from work in the RAW years?

HEER: One of the really intriguing things about the TOON books and the earlier Little Lit books is how personal they are and how they allow cartoonists to deal with the same quirks and concerns as adult works, despite the obvious limits of doing material aimed at kids just learning to read. A few examples: R. Kikuo Johnson's The Shark King grapples with what it means to have a mixed ethnic identity and also an absent father (and visually evokes Hawaii as resplendently as Johnson's adult works). Spiegleman's Jack and the Box and "Prince Rooster" (from the first Little Lit book) are both continuations of themes explored in Breakdowns: the use of comedy to allay fear and the link between madness as mask of creativity. Rutu Modan's Maya Makes a Mess can be profitably read in conjunction with the sociologist John Murray Cuddihy's towering work The Ordeal of Civility. Frank Viva's A Trip to the Bottom of the World is at root about one of the core human experiences: our feeling of finitude in the face of the vastness of creation.

The other big thought about the TOON Books is that the books really are a meeting of comics with kids lit, which feels like something new. There have of course been absolutely terrific kids comics in the past from cartoonists like Carl Barks and John Stanley. But Barks and Stanley were very much working within the framework of commercial comics, with quick deadlines and the intention of the work be ephemeral, even though later generations ended up preserving it. The TOON Books by contrast are actually done with the intention being books, designed to find a home on shelves where they can be easily accessed for re-reading. The booky-ness of the TOON Books does feel like something new in kids comics, at least in North America. In Europe of course, the album format was born of a marriage of comics with kids book publishing. So perhaps the TOON Books can be seen as part of Mouly's attempts to bring a European sensibility to North American comics.

SPURGEON: I wanted to ask you something all the way back at Toronto, so I'm going to ask it here to get us out on a different note. Do you see a growing Canadian self-identity in comics? You're someone that's finely attuned to things like the Chicago school of comics, is there a Canadian school of comics?

HEER: When Francoise was in Toronto for the launch of the book, she said something interesting, which is that I was lucky to be living in a place that provided such a strong support network for my work. She was thinking partially of Coach House Books, which did a great job of organizing the launch, and also the Beguiling, which sponsored the event. But also more broadly, the large community of cartoonists in Toronto, many of who came out to the event, and the support the Canadian government gives to publishing in general, including Canadian comics. It does feel like the Canadian comics community is thriving.

Back in the 1980s, the Canadian comics scene felt claustrophobically small, basically a few hardy souls struggling in the wilderness. Working on the Doug Wright Awards, I'm heartened by the fact that the strong cohort of cartoonists who emerged in the 1980s and 1990s was not a one generation-affair but has been supplemented by rising talents like Michael DeForge and Ethan Rilly. Among publishers as well, there has been a thickening out. Drawn and Quarterly is now more than just Chris Oliveros working from home. Building on what Oliveros started, Peggy Burns and Tom Devlin have helped turn it into an actual book publisher with a staff. The D&Q Store has given the firm a new public face in one of Canada's biggest cities. Nor is D&Q the only outlet for good comics. Conundrum, Koyama and other presses have expanded the range of what Canada publishes.

I don't think there is a single Canadian school of comics but perhaps a few regional schools. The Southern Ontario cartoonists -- Seth, Chester Brown -- seem like kissing cousins of American mid-western cartooning. Many cartoonists in Quebec have a definite debt to the Franco-Belgian tradition -- I'm thinking here of Pascal Girard or Michel Rabagliati. Traditionally Canada has been the middle ground between Europe and the United States. That's perhaps were our comics are as well, an attempt to synthesize what's best in both the Old World and the New.

*****

* The Superhero Reader, Jeet Heer and Charles Hatfield and Kent Worcester, University Press Of Mississippi, 1617038067, 9781617038068, June 2013, $30.
* In Love With Art, Jeet Heer, Coach House Books, 1552452786, 9781552452783, October 2013, $13.95.

*****

* one of Heer's new books
* header for the group blog that exists to support the other new Jeet Heer book
* that other book
* Philip Wylie's Gladiator
* perhaps the most widely-known Francoise Mouly/Art Spiegelman collaboration
* RAW
* how Kikuo Johnson evoked Hawaii in his TOON book The Shark King
* a recent Jeet Heer magazine profiled, which I'm guessing is fine to run just like this as contextual to the fact that Heer receives coverage like this in Canada; supplied by the writer

*****

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Missed It: Night Of The Monsters

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Go, Look: Skottie Young Superhero Mini-Gallery

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posted 12:45 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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

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posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Tucson, I'd Go To This

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posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 38th Birthday, Zack Soto!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Karen Sneider!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Tom Grindberg!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Tom Lyle!

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FFF Results Post #357 -- One-Word Critic

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Comics-Makers And Provide One Noun That You Feel Engages A Significant Portion Of Their Career Output In Thematic/Subject Terms. Use This Format." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Ed Brubaker -- Family
2. Joe Casey -- Vocation
3. Jaime Hernandez -- Memory
4. Michael DeForge -- Bodies
5. Grant Morrison -- Death

*****

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Sterg Botzakis

1. Pete Bagge – Reality
2. Bill Watterson – Imagination
3. Gilbert Hernandez – Love
4. Dan Clowes – Morality
5. J.M. DeMatteis – Faith

*****

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Rob Clough

1. Dash Shaw: Identity.
2. Gabrielle Bell: Internalization
3. Joe Sacco: Awareness.
4. Peter Bagge: Confrontation.
5. Carol Tyler: Nurturing.

*****

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Isaac Cates

1. Jack Kirby: Energy
2. Chris Ware: Structure
3. Jason Shiga: Permutation
4. Joe Sacco: Testimony
5. Alan Moore: Transcendence

*****

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Shannon Smith

1. Geoff Johns - Cynicism
2. James Robinson - Heritage
3. Mark Waid - Idealism
4. Howard Chaykin - Sex
5. Paul Pope - Liquid

*****

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Marty Yohn

1. Garth Ennis - Shock
2. Warren Ellis - Dysfunction
3. Alex Ross - Nostalgia
4. Alan Moore - Regrets
5. Fabio Moon/Gabrielle Ba - Hope

*****

Justin J. Major

1. Jack Kirby -- Heart
2. Alan Moore -- Myth
3. Chris Onstad -- Folly
4. Lynda Barry -- Escape
5. Ivan Brunetti -- Suffering

*****

Dave Knott

* Jim Woodring -- Subconscious
* Chris Ware -- Structure
* David B -- Animism
* Garth Ennis -- Masculinity
* Peter Kuper -- Revolution

*****

Jamie Coville

1. Guy Delisle - Travel
2. Greg Rucka - Survival
3. Kazuo Koike - Honor
4. Garth Ennis - Dismantle
5. Robert Kirkman - Cliffhanger

*****

Sean Kleefeld

1. Hans Rickheit -- Dreams
2. Jack Chick -- Sinners
3. Stan Lee -- Himself
4. Gus Arriola -- Mexico
5. Winsor McCay -- Dreams

*****

Blake Bell

* Steve Ditko - Objectivity
* Jack Kirby - Transcendence
* Bill Everett - Anger Management
* Dave Sim - Men and/vs. Women
* Guy Delisle - Displacement

*****

Justin Colussy-Estes

1. Carl Barks -- Adventure
2. Stan Sakai -- Adveture
3. Herge -- Adventure
4. Chris Schweizer -- Adventure
5. Hal Foster -- Adventure

*****

Jeffrey O. Gustafson

1. Gilbert Hernandez -- Women
2. Michael Allred -- POP!
3. Cathy Malkasian -- Freedom
4. Seth -- Perambulation
5. Naoki Urasawa -- Children

*****

Don MacPherson

1. Brian K. Vaughan - Survival
2. J.M. DeMatteis - Spirituality
3. Peter David - Redemption
4. Marv Wolfman - Unity
5. Priest - Misdirection

*****

Aaron Costain

1. Chester Brown -- Liberty
2. Anders Nilsen -- Myth
3. Seth -- Melancholy
4. Guy Delisle -- Whimsy
5. Theo Ellsworth -- Dream

*****

Trevor Ashfield

1. Jim Woodring – nightmare
2. Robert Crumb - bigfoot
3. Stan Lee – snap
4. Jack Kirby – crackle
5. Joe Sinnott - pop

*****

Dustin Harbin

1. Matt Fraction - Fatherhood
2. Chester Brown - Isolation
3. Seth - Memory
4. Joe Lambert - Duality
5. David B. - Dreams

*****

Mark Meyerson

* Steve Ditko - Morality
* Jack Kirby - Nobility
* Dick Moores - Eccentricity
* Walt Kelly - Absurdity
* Harvey Kurtzman - Lampoonery

*****

Dan Morris

* Brian Ralph - Isolation
* Jiro Taniguichi - Journey
* Paul Pope - Escape
* Joe Sacco - Aftermath
* Alan Moore - Apocalypse

*****

Scott Cederlund

1. Mike Allred - Groove
2. Kieron Gillen - Age
3. Moebius - Delight
4. Brian Michael Bendis - Re-creation
5. Naoki Urasawa - Us

*****

Danny Ceballos

1. Lynda Barry -- Soul
2. Neil Gaiman -- Goth
3. John Porcellino -- Punk
4. George Herriman -- Jazz
5. Lisa Hanawalt -- Metal

*****

Zainab Akhtar

* Greg Rucka: crime/mystery
* Julia Gfrorer: sex
* Lewis Trondheim: humour
* Junji Ito: horror
* Brandon Graham: puns

*****

Tim Hayes

1. Joe Kubert -- Humanity
2. Doug Moench -- Paranoia
3. Frank King -- Poignancy
4. Steve Gerber -- Frustration
5. George Perez -- Choreography

*****

Either Mike Or Stacy Lynch

1. Jean-Jacques Sempé - Suburbia
2. John Stanley - Suburbia
3. Richard Thompson - Suburbia
4. Frank King - Suburbia
5. Crockett Johnson - Suburbia

*****

Oliver Ristau

1. Michiel Budel -- History
2. Nine Antico -- Sound
3. Tsutomu Nihei -- Architecture
4. Matthias Schultheiss -- Instinct
5. Michel Fiffe -- Rythm

*****

Sean T. Collins

* Yuichi Yokoyama - motion
* Gabrielle Bell - anxiety
* Heather Benjamin - blood
* Phoebe Gloeckner - childhood
* Anders Nilsen - "why"

*****

Andrew Fulton

* Hellen Jo -- Scissors
* Dylan Horrocks -- Library card
* Ben Constantine -- Teeth
* Dan Zettwoch -- T- square
* Vicki Nerino -- Hole

*****

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Matt Silvie

1. Jack Kirby - Krackle
2. Tom Scioli - Jack Kirby
3. Tony Millionaire - Booze
4. Charles Burns - STDs
5. Rick Altergott - Stinkies

*****

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Bob Temuka

1. Garth Ennis -- Honour
2. Mark Waid -- Legacy
3. Paul Pope -- Movement
4. Pat Mills -- Rage
5. Joe Matt -- Masturbation

*****

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Douglas Wolk

1. Pat Mills -- Hegemony
2. J.M. DeMatteis -- Enlightenment
3. Jason -- Absence
4. Christopher J. Priest - Façades
5. Peter Bagge - Indignation

*****

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Jeppe Mulich

1. Moebius -- Frontiers
2. Gene Luen Yang -- Identity
3. Yoshiharu Tsuge -- Melancholia
4. Shigeru Mizuki -- Recollection
5. Daniel Clowes -- Empathy

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Vaughn Bode -- Sex
2. Chester Gould -- Violence
3. Jack Chick -- Evangelism
4. Windsor McCay -- Anxiety
5. Dave Sim -- God

*****

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Matt Emery

1. Marty Fucking Emond -- Punk
2. Roger Langridge -- Vaudeville
3. John Kent -- Subversion
4. Tim Molloy -- Terror
5. Mat Tait -- Shadows

*****

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David Brothers

1. Ann Nocenti -- Expectations
2. Emily Carroll -- Inevitability
3. Dwayne McDuffie -- Knowledge
4. Katsuhiro Otomo -- Power
5. Akira Toriyama -- Happiness

*****

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Marc Mason

1. Garth Ennis - family
2. Warren Ellis - romanticism
3. Peter David - misfits
4. Mark Waid - maturation
5. Frank Miller - sacrifice

*****

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Chad Nevett

1. Jim Starlin - Power
2. Garth Ennis - Responsibility
3. Joe Casey - Enlightenment
4. Brian Azzarello - Music
5. Warren Ellis - Hope

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Charles Schulz -- disappointment
2. George Herriman -- love
3. Walt Kelly -- community
4. Harold Gray -- determination
5. Hank Ketcham -- mischief

*****

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Ryan Sands

1. Junji Ito - Obsession
2. Mickey Zacchilli - Disorientation
3. Jeff Smith - Home
4. Hellen Jo - Rebellion
5. Jonny Negron - Fecundity

*****

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Charles Brownstein

* Jeff Smith - Responsibility
* Brian Azzarello - Language
* Go Nagai - Carnality
* Craig Thompson - Gnosis
* Joe Kubert - Manhood

*****

I really appreciate everyone's responses, and I thought this one in particular was fun. Thank you. I'm not going to do this feature for a few weeks.

*****
*****
 
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November 2, 2013


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Ariol Adaptation In English





Because I Made A Penelope Bagieu Joke On Twitter And No One Understood Me


Hell, Let's Just Make This Whole Damn Thing French


Plusieurs Des Meilleurs Bandes Dessinees Sont Francais


I Realized The Other Day I Have Watched Almost No Footage Of Angouleme, Ever


It Looks Nice There But I Hope This Music Isn't Playing


I'm Still Sort Of Waiting For Someone To Try This Here


In Conclusion: Moebius, Moebius, Moebius
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from October 26 to November 1, 2013:

1. DC Comics announces that it will be moving the rest of its comics-publishing operations to its offices in Burbank. Upon its closure, DC will have been in New York City for almost 80 years, and is an iconic business for that city.

2. A high court in Malaysia dismisses an appeal from the cartoonist Zunar of his 2010 arrest on the eve of a release of a politically-informed book of cartoons, despite also upholding a lower court's decision that the seizure of the books was illegal.

3. Bakune Young creator Toyokazu Matsunaga arrested on suspicion of issuing a threat to a politician last summer.

Winner Of The Week
Greater Los Angeles as a comics town.

Loser Of The Week
Apple. The only thing potentially worse than a regressive policy concerning content is an ill-defined policy concerning content that can wildly fluctuate in a way that has an effect on the availability of work.

Quote Of The Week
"To me, comics are New York City and New York City is comics. We all know that the first character to put his underwear on over his pants was created in Cleveland, but it was New York City that gave him his start. It was New York City that provided the spotlight and it was here that he and all those that followed in his footsteps became famous. So to see a piece of that publishing tradition shift to the West coast saddens me, because it's the end of an era and yes, while I've always loved to tweak our crosstown pals, New York City will admittedly be a little diminished by DC's absence." -- Joe Quesada

*****

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

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Go, Look: Chloé Cruchaudet

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

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

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

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posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Tucson, I'd Go To This

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posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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

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posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 86th Birthday, Steve Ditko!

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November 1, 2013


Go, Look: A Gas Gas Gas

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Malaysian Court Dimisses Zunar's Appeal Against 2010 Arrest

The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar reports the Appeals Court has dismissed his appeal seeking a reversal of a High Court decision made in 2012 upholding the police's right to arrest and detain him in 2010 under the Sedition Act, something they did right before a book launch -- a book that contained political material. They also upheld the lower court's ruling that the confiscation that accompanied that arrest was illegal; the books' return and compensation was ordered at that time.

"To me, today's judgement, as the one before, is unacceptable and comical," wrote Zunar in an e-mail he disseminated on the matter. "How could the judges rule that my detention was legal but the confiscation of my book was illegal?"

The lengthier post at Zunar's site gets into his exact objection a bit more. As he puts it, "I am the author of the book. If the book is okay and not banned, why was I, the author, arrested and detained? What offence did I commit?" Under his interpretation of events -- an interpretation that sounds perfectly reasonable to me -- the fact that he was seized before inspection and this backhanded way of endorsing arrest and detention despite no cause for suspicion facilitates a construction whereby abuses of power by the police will be supported.

"I view the latest judgment as part of the government’s machinations to stop me from drawing cartoons to expose their corruption and wrong-doing," Zunar wrote. "Seven of my cartoon books have been banned, my office in Kuala Lumpur was constantly raided, and the printers and vendors for my books were threatened not to print my book or they may lose their licences."

"Why? Because a corrupt government fears cartoons."

The cartoonist has offered to send the book in question to the presiding judge and vows to continue his fight for unfettered expression through cartooning.

 
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Go, Look: Flu Zine

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via
 
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Missed It: Toyokazu Matsunaga Arrested Regarding Threats To Politician

The creator Toyokazu Matsunaga was apparently arrested by police October 29 in Amagasaki on suspicion of making threats to a local city councilor aligned with the Japan Resoration Party. Matsunaga is best known for the creation of the Bakune Young serial, which had an English-language iteration in the early '00s. The threat was a post on the political homepage of Takaaki Kubo during election season, which ended in June. The police have claimed the message originated from Matsunaga's personal computer even though it was anonymously posted.

The Japan Restoration Party is a political party formed in late 2012 with a right-wing, nationalist orientation. The threat seemed to reference that general orientation as well as the Osaka origins of the party. ANN did pick up a manga connection, even though none was explicit -- or even implicit, really -- in the threat: the party's co-founder supported a Tokyo ordinance that increased the number of publications that were restricted in sale due to content.
 
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Go, Look: Preview Of A Longer Sam Alden Work

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Go, Read: CBLDF Round-Up On Issue #2 of Fraction/Zdarsky's Sex Criminals Under Review By Apple

Casey Gilly over at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund provides a smart and sensitive round-up of information regarding Apple putting Sex Criminals #2 under review in a way that has caused it not to be available through one of the major digital channels in a way folks expected it would be. That is a comic by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky published by Image: it's a sex comedy, basically, pretty common to what you might see on screen but rare to comics. Apple has enough of a history with material aimed at more adult readers that this causes some alarm. The nice thing about the Gilly piece is that it's worth reading even if the book ends up passing review. The upshot is that while this is unfortunate and should be monitored and has mega-distressing implications, there are so many options in the marketplace that when combined with the attention a book might receive for being banned, the whole thing might end up a wash in terms of sales.

In a way, this provides a snapshot of a certain kind of censorship right now, that the market forces that might conspire against certain kinds of material being easily available -- for whatever reason, perhaps never illuminated -- are thwarted by the sprawl of technology and competing ways of getting material to the market. The danger, one supposes, is in waving off backwards behavior as irrelevant rather than confronting it as if it were the whole ballgame, because 1) wrong is wrong and 2) wrong builds on wrong.
 
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Go, Look: Kaare Andrews

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Collective Memory: DC Announces Move To Burbank

imageWhat follows are links to various news stories, think pieces and reaction to word that DC Entertainment will close its remaining publishing offices in New York City and move its entire comics-publishing arm to Burbank by 2015.

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

*****

Institutional
* DC Comics
* Initial News Story Broken By CBR

Blogs
* Blast-O-Rama

* Circuit42
* ComicBook.com
* Comicdom
* CR

* Dave Does The Blog
* Deadline
* Digital Spy

* Following The Nerd

* iPolitics

* LAist

* Overallsite.com

* Please Kill Me
* Pop Culture Maven

* SeanPAune.com

* The Beat
* The Outhousers
* Tom's MAD Blog

* Without A Net

Facebook

Miscellaneous
* Jeff Trexler On There Not Being A DC Comics Inc. Any More
* Rumor Run At Bleeding Cool Ahead Of Story
* Summer Article On Time Warner's General NYC Real Estate Strategies

News Sources
* Bleeding Cool

* ComicsAlliance

* Fox29

* Guardian Express

* HitFix
* Hollywood Reporter

* ICv2.com
* IGN
* Inside Pulse
* io9

* Kansas City Star

* Newsarama
* Newsarama 02
* New York Daily News
* NY Post

* Paste
* PW

* TGDaily.com
* The Guardian
* Time

* Washington Post

* Variety

Twitter
* Warren Ellis

*****



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Go, Look: A Hand-Painted Calvin And Hobbes Sunday

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred and Downloaded: Digital News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* the alt-comics veteran Jose Neufeld is beginning a series of stories about those whose lives felt the impact of Hurricane Sandy over at the Nib on Medium.com. Neufeld has something of a history with the subject of hurricanes.

* Viz taking making its catalog available via iBooks completes a digital-offering strategy that pretty much covers all the major, standard ways work like that is distributed, including from the publisher itself.

* I don't exactly know what this is, but I wanted to mention it here so I could go back to it at a later date. It looks to be some sort of clearinghouse for on-line work and parts of same.

* a CBLDF fundraiser on the Sunday after CAB (making it November 10) at the Society of Illustrators will encompass a debut for Jeff Smith's much-anticipated webcomic Tuki Save The Humans. That is one high-profile webcomic launch.

* the last item in this post by Gary Tyrrell goes over the Megan Rose Gedris situation regarding taking down a bunch of webcomics in support of a project she created because the comics-as-launching-point-to-movies company Platinum has turned out to be such a rotten partner in terms of developing anything regarding that work, and that there is no rights reversion so she's basically supporting an enterprise that is not hers and will never do what she hoped. It's worth mentioning in this site as many times as possible if it leads to one person lawyering up or otherwise thinking through a deal for the sake of a deal.

* finally, I'm going to "go look" it at some point, but the e-mail from Dan Berry suggests this collaboration with Nate DiMeo will be the first of a series rather than a one-off, which is great.
 
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If I Were Near Lucca, I'd Go To This

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posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 4:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Boston, I'd Go To This

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

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I actually don't know if there's any comics content at all, but I don't know anyone in Minneapolis so I would totally go
 
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If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

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Not Comics: The Months That Followed

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* it's not really comics, but the great writer Bob Levin sent along this 2013 SVA graduation address from Greil Marcus suggesting I might like it and think it has something to say to readers of this site. I did and I think it does.

image* Petra Mayer talks to Gene Luen Yang. Chris Arrant talks to Hank Kanalz. Raighne Hogan talks to Rob Kirby.

* there's a major preview by Charles McGrath here of Art Spiegelman's exhibit opening at the Jewish Museum next week. That should be an awesome sight to behold.

* the Plain-Dealer has a profile up on the news Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum digs, two weeks away from the grand opening festival.

* Scott Keys on The Fox #1. Brett Schenker on The Fox #1. Jacob Schraer on Woman Rebel. Sean Gaffney on Love In Hell Vol. 1. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of comics-shop comics. Colm Creamer on Savage Wolverine #9. Joe Gordon on The Sandman: Overture #1. Richard Bruton on Knight And Dragon. Rob Clough on a bunch of mini-comics.

* Johanna Draper Carlson reminds us to note the Megan Rose Gedris story. The thought of taking that much word down because the contract is such that you can't even work in mutually beneficial partnership with the rights holder is super-depressing.

* finally, Frank Santoro talks to Sean T. Collins here about the current state of criticism about comics. This is something I never thought of as having a state so it's hard for me to wrap my mind around what they're talking about conceptually. On the other hands, there's a lot of meat in the individual lines and tossed-off asides that it's easy not to care if some sort of theory is explicated.

 
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Happy 46th Birthday, Rich Koslowski!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Zander Cannon!

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Happy 71st Birthday, Michael Fleisher!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Whit Spurgeon!

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my brother Whit takes this site's better photos
 
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