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
















May 31, 2014


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Raina Telgemeier, Lynn Johnston, Kate Beaton At TCAF 2014


John Porcellino Sees A Black Squirrel


Footage From 1980s Andy Capp TV Show


SAW 2013-2014 Wrap-Up Video


A Nathan Edmondson Interview






Interview: John Harris Dunning, Neil Gaiman, Tori Amos, Paul Gravett
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from May 24 to May 30, 2014:

1. Well-regarded working cartoonist Bruno Maïorana takes a long, serious look at comics-making as a vocation and declares, roughly, "I don't think I can do this anymore."

2. Comic-Con International engages with a petition for them to have a public anti-harassment policy in part by pointing out they already do have a public anti-harassment policy.

3. Wiley Miller wins the Reuben.

Winner Of The Week
Miller. There were a lot of awards-winners this week, and god bless them all, but a Reuben is a Reuben.

Losers Of The Week
A lot of people running around the feet of these prose-publishing giants. It's tempting to name fans of the old way of doing BEA, but that way is so many years gone now that there doesn't seem an easy connection there.

Quote Of The Week
"You can see the Comic Con logic: Draw in rabid fans across genres and media any way you can. What publishers would like to know is whether they will come for the books -- and eventually buy them." -- Boris Kachka

*****

image from a Marvel comic book, 1964

*****
 
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Go, Look: Process Of Elimination

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Go, Look: Kevin Wada's X-Men Fashion Illustrations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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to be clear, this looks frontloaded towards May 31/June 1, with events for the next couple of weeks
 
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Happy 62nd Birthday, David Anthony Kraft!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Dean Haspiel!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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May 30, 2014


By Request Extra: Gabrielle Bell End-Of-Month Rent Sale

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lot of great images here, super-cheap
 
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Go, Look: Mies

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Congratulations And Good Luck To Caleb Goellner

Today is Caleb Goellner's last day as Senior Editor at ComicsAlliance. We wish him every bit of success in whatever he chooses to do next. Full article up at CA here.
 
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Celebrate Friday Afternoon With A Bob Levin Article At TCJ

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Bob Levin is my favorite writer about comics, and has a piece up at The Comics Journal on Malcolm Whyte's Cottage Classics. Bob is also an excellent human being. All hail.
 
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Go, Look: Yoko Gaga

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Festivals Extra: David Glanzer Of CCI On A New Petition Asking For Explicit Anti-Harassment Policy

Here. The petition in question is here.

Glanzer -- the director of marketing and public relations for Comic-Con and its shows in San Diego, Anaheim and San Francisco -- gives a multi-faceted response. You should read the petition and what it has to say and then read the interview to see what Glanzer has to say rather than substitute my characterization of same, which I'll be doing to facilitate a few things I want to say about it.

imageThe first part of Glanzer's response, and I'd say his primary response, is that Comic-Con International does indeed have a formal anti-harassment policy, which they call a Code Of Conduct. It is accessible here. The rest of the interview gets more into whether or not a more explicit, specific and thorough response is necessary or desirable. Glanzer doesn't believe so. He cites the strength of a blanket policy in terms of making sure that all communities at that show are covered, and the detriment of chasing a specific emphasis in terms of things like the distorted public view of the show that such directed policies might enable.

There's also some really interesting side talk, such as how Comic-Con International would almost certainly be held responsible -- at least in the public's imagination -- for something that might happen well outside of their sphere of influence, as the show outside of the actual show has spread to several blocks of the city itself and involves entities sponsoring events that have no formal relationship to Comic-Con. I thought Glanzer did a nice job of putting forward Comic-Con's view in terms of the difficulties involved without backing away from a shared desire to protect their attendees and provide an experience without any kind of harassment whatsoever. I'm more than certain others will disagree.

As I understand the argument being made for a different kind of policy, it is a call for not just greater effectiveness in execution but as something necessary in terms of the specificity involved due to a cosplay community that feels by overwhelming weight of testimony they are more open to harassment than other communities in a way that specific engagement can help solve. That seems a reasonable argument, too. There are articles here and here that get into some of the general issues in play, and I hope you'll take the time to hear from people more articulate and personally involved than I am on that subject.

I'm not sure where this goes from here, to be honest. I do think it's possible to hold either view presented and be completely, equally on board with not wanting the barest hint of harassment at a show. Further, I think the pressure that comes with questioning policy is healthy, at least as long as it doesn't slip into a bad-faith presumption one side to the other. I don't hold out much hope that people will resist doing this, at least not for very long. But one can hope.

It's almost impossible to gauge the success of any policy in this area beyond anecdotal evidence, bad or good, and that can be super-unreliable and we should always be skeptical no matter what's reported -- with an eye always on the prize of zero harassment.

What I actually hope for in this case is that both sides stick by their guns in terms of wanting the best outcome and thinking a particular strategy gets us there. I also hope we really discuss the details without a summary judgment that casts one side or the other in a bad light for the sake of casting them in a bad light or even pressing a point. Let's figure this out a bit beyond our ability to get out an immediate summary tweet. I also hope that we all try to shoulder more responsibility in terms of a bottom-line refusal to accept any harassment as expected or normal or the cost of doing business or even just not worth the trouble to pursue its extinction. This is reality now: a significant cosplay attendance at several shows, with a dubious history in terms of what that's meant for some of the particpants. Recognizing and dealing with that reality needs to have happened yesterday, no matter what form it takes moving forward.
 
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Go, Look: Marvel Science Stories

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Go, Read: Electricomics Launch Press Release

One thing you should do before the week is out if you're interested in comics from just about any perspective except maybe "editorial cartooning and only editorial cartooning" is check out the PR for the Alan Moore-related digital comics app Electricomics. One of the most exciting things about digital comics is that the models haven't calcified. So any talented comics makers, be they homegrown from digital culture or esteemed practitioners from various print-related industries, would seem to me more than welcome to figure out a model that works for them and then potentially others. Forecasting if any specific enterprise including this one will be successful seems to me a much more dubious activity, although it's sort of akin to endorsing armageddon scenarios in that you really only have to be right the one time.

This one is also worth noting because of the content and creators involved. The release announces four projects --

* Big Nemo, which involves Alan Moore working with Winsor McCay's character
* Cabaret Amygdala, a horror title that involves the writer Peter Hogan
* Red Horse, with the super-promising creative partnership of Garth Ennis and Peter Snejberg
* Sway, science fiction from Leah Moore and John Reppion

-- all of which sound at least potentially interesting, and not just because of the formal exploration promised in the PR.

 
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Go, Look: Poop, Boobs, Poo

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Go, Read: Three-Part Interview With Team Valiant

I found this three-part interview with the folks running Valiant interesting, although not always in a positive way. I like that was a company brought back to life by fans, and there's a straightforward line in the first section where the mission of the company is stated as simply as making the kind of comic that sold for the company once upon a time popular again that's super-appealing. I also liked some of the discussion about the company's publishing output. It does get a bit relentless with the broad, empty superlatives, though, and after a while my eyes sort of glazed over in terms of picking up any real information beyond assurances as to how the company is doing within its market. I also found some of the stronger statements made more untenable than undeniable. I'm sure not every retailer smiles when they think of chromium covers, for instance, particularly if you count all the retailers that were driven out of existence by excesses of non-content sales mechanisms. I could be wrong.
 
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Go, Look: Fabricated Pixelation

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* this interview of Ben Dewey that was up a while back notes that he'll be wrapping up Tragedy Series, even as a book is due in March 2015. The reason? To avoid sucking, basically.

* two comics on-line that I read and enjoyed over the last week are this Vineyard Gazette effort from Paul Karasik, and whatever the hell Bastien Vives seems to have going on here.

* Madefire adds four including Archie and Archaia, both solid gets.

* good catch by Heidi MacDonald here that Apple is continuing to offer deals on digital comics -- I sort of doubt there's any kind of specific element of agency involved, but I suppose there could be.

* Blurb has acquired the employees of Graphicly, which will shut down. Kevin Melrose has a fine write-up.

* finally, I am still enjoying Drew Weing's The Creepy Casefiles of Margo Maloo, partly for the visual punch of elements like the random half-panel below.

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

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

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Go, Look: Ronald Searle's Christmas Carol

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Henry Chamberlain on Will & Whit. John Adcock on Alley Oop Sundays Vol. 1. Frank Santoro on Everywhere Antennas. Nick Smith on Max Brooks' The Extinction Parade.

* Heidi MacDonald suggests that some cons are going to be terrible and not do well. I agree with MacDonald, and I would suggest further that it can take a long time to develop an audience for shows, particuarly shows of a specific nature. This just sounds like a crummy one, though.

* Matt O'Keefe talks to Mark Waid. Frederik Hautain talks to Tom Muller. Reid Vanier talks to Jeff Smith. BYUTV Sports profiles Aaron Taylor. Dan Berry talks to Simon Moreton. Matt Emery talks to Ant Sang.

* people sometimes don't take seriously the notion you could argue that Jack Davis is our greatest living cartoonist, but he went through a lengthy period of producing near-divine work every time out.

* not comics: hooray for cash prizes!

* I'm looking forward to reading this Robert Stanley Martin post on Howard The Duck. Here's what was used in the making of that article. I am always similarly thrilled when a new Qiana Whitted article shows up, and I will devour that one as soon as I can, too.

* not comics: love the shoes.

* here's a look at Jim Borgman's studio.

* finally, Zainab Akhtar on the curious case of OK Cola. True story: when I was walking around the neighborhood trying to find Fantagraphics back in Fall 1994, I was able to find out because there was an OK Cola poster in the window.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Kevin Eastman!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Mike W. Barr!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Tom Galambos!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Mark Price!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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May 29, 2014


Go, Look: Mark Schultz Image Gallery

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Your 2014 Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award Nominees

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Comic-Con International announced this year's nominees for the Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award this afternoon.

They are:

* Aaron Conley, artist, Sabertooth Swordsman (Dark Horse)
* Vanesa R Del Rey, artist, Hit (BOOM!)
* Stephan Franck, writer/artist, Silver (Dark Planet)
* Anders Lazaret, artist, The Brave (Mythos Comics)
* Greg Smallwood, artist, Dream Thief (Dark Horse)

The award has been given out since 1982. Past winners include Eleanor Davis, Marian Churchland and Steve Rude.

The nominees was selected by a jury from the West Coast Comics Club and from Comic-Con. The winner will be selected by jury made up of past winners and former Manning assistants. The award is announced during the Eisner Awards ceremony held at Comic-Con International.
 
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Go, Look: The Comics Habit

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Go, Read: David Harper On Making Comic Book Art As A Vocation; Warren Ellis On Trees #1 Sales

image* there's an effective piece over at Multiversity by a writer named David Harper about many of the pressures facing those who want to make a career out of making comics from the arts-end of that equation. It makes a fine companion to yesterday's discussion of European cartoonists grappling with the market that regularly yields $1300 a month income for even successful comics-makers. There's still a little bit of talking around the issue of "how much do you make doing this stuff anyway?" but there are a number of figures and valuable insights that make themselves known -- certain page rates, how artists ramp up production to make a gig work financially, and so on.

* the prominent comics-maker Warren Ellis writes directly about sales and print runs for his new comic with Jason Howard, Trees, in a way that, as asserted in the previous bulleted item, people in North American comics rarely employ. It probably is less tough to make this kind of confession when it's for a book that doesn't sell as well as that one seems to have first time out of the gate.

We are due a massive reconsideration of what being a professional comics-makers means, perhaps by the end of the year, and both of these posts may help to get us there. Let's hope.
 
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Go, Look: Pot-Shot Pete

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Totally Missed This: Jabeur Mejri Back In Jail

Probably the most depressing -- and telling -- thing about the young Tunisian activist Jabeur Mejri being back in jail is that it's not for the charges related to making caricatures of Muhammed for which he received a presidential pardon earlier this year after serving nearly two year and that it's also not the charges that complicated the application of that pardon to Mejri's case. This is a third set of charges, stemming from Mejri speaking caustically about the timing of a summons to come face a judge. If you were one to believe that the Mejri is less a thoroughly engaged and active doer of crimes and more the kind of young, outspoke atheist bound to have troubles in a country with a deep streak of religious authority ingrained into the government culture, you'd be nodding a lot after the events of the last couple of weeks.

The idea of criminal law protecting sitting officials from insult is something we've seen in a lot of countries in that region, and these are not laws that are kind to anyone with a satirical or expressive proclivity. Hopefully, international agencies will continue to advocate on behalf of the cartoonist, and against such brittle laws more generally.
 
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Go, Look: Suscrofad

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Amazon, Hachette Continue To Do Battle Like Giant Monsters

I thought this was the best article of those I've read today about the dispute between Hachette and Amazon over e-book pricing and what's fair in the negotiating process to get us there. It seemed pretty straight-forward, reasonably unbiased (at least there's nothing in there that would actively fool anyone, I don't think), and generalist in nature. If you'd rather continue to follow at home step by step, know that Amazon responded to recent charges in a Kindle forum and Hachette responded reasonably soon after that, and no fundamental position was changed.

One of the readers also recommended to me this post which seemed to me strongest not as a dissection of anyone's arguments (it's strongly asserted that a New York Times article sucked balls, but there's little in the way of factual refutation of that article that I could see) but as a strong reminder these are two giant entities doing battle and not everyone feels that Hachette's interests are shared by literary publishers.

Anyhow, while it's fun to watch the two creatures exchange blows, and certainly a drinking game that involved chugging whenever anyone came across disingenous statements would kill any three people participating, my takeaway right now is that Amazon seems pretty upfront about their negotiating tactics. I think that may foster a negative reaction with consumers -- not enough for the company to really notice, but enough for a few rival services or strategies or approaches to bloom. As familiar as we already are with giant publishers being criticized on the basis of what they provide their authors for the money they receive, we may soon see an ongoing criticism of Amazon along those same lines. I'm interested to see what happens.
 
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Go, Look: '70s Sci-Fi Art

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Go, Read: Near Week-Old PW Summary Article On Diamond Comics Summit Numbers And FCBD 2014 Figures

Here's an article I keep coming back to: Heidi MacDonald's round-up at PW of the figures that Diamond released in conjunction with their recent retailer summit in Las Vegas. There are basically two areas covered: state of the market and the success of this year's FCBD. The figures in and of themselves are interesting.

What they say to me is, first, that the surge of the last few years in terms of sales across the board in the Direct Market has diminished significantly, at least in terms of its momentum. This is led by an outright decline in serial comics sales over a similar period in 2013. Second, I still wonder if we'll ever get a sense of Free Comic Book Day as a tool to build business for the rest of the year, even though we have the sense now that the promotion itself is popular on the day it happens and depending on the store for a few days on either side. That's not necessarily a criticism; I'm more interested in what the event is rather than stake a position amenable to its supporters or its detractors.
 
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Go, Look: Galerie Laqua

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We Live In The Humble Bundle World Now, All Hail Our New Significant Product-Moving Overlords

Heidi MacDonald caught something that completely escaped my attention: the recent Image Comics "Humble Bundle" offering that raised a bunch of money for the CBLDF was followed by a second, even more successful campaign raising money for a pair of charities and featuring Dr. Who comics and a Dr. Who game.

I did happen to catch that Top Shelf is next up to bat, with one that features cartoonists like Ed Piskor and Nate Powell.

I'm happy for successful efforts on behalf of charity, but I think what's fascinating is the idea of consuming in high volumes like this. This is something made possible by the fact that these are digital works, that these digital works tend to be back-of-catalog works and therefore not on the hook for maximizing profit like brand-new work might be, and that these companies have a staggering amount of material to offer up through these channels and according to these plans. The next two years should see a number of strategies engaged, both on behalf of charity and just generally.
 
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Go, Look: A Rolling Stone

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Your 2014 Society Of Illustrators Medal Winners

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The Society Of Illustrators has announced its participants and dates for the exhibits related to their first juried competition regarding comics. They'll do it in three chunks:

* Long Form and Comic Strip: May 28 -- Jun 21
* Short Form and Special Format: Jun 24 -- July 19
* Single Image and Digital Media: July 22 -- August 16

An annual is also to be published.

It looks like the participants will be the various medal winners, which are as follows by category. Congratulations to them.

*****

LONG FORM

Gold Medal
* Tom Gauld, You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack (Drawn and Quarterly)

Silver Medal
* Gilbert Hernandez, Marble Season (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Alex Schubert Blobby Boys (Koyama Press)

*****

COMIC STRIP

Gold Medal
* Ruben Bolling, Tom The Dancing Bug (Universal Press Syndicate)
* John Martz, Lighthouses (Lucky Peach Magazine)

Silver Medal
* Bizhan Khodabandeh, Finding Time (Magic Bullet)
* Brendan Kiefer, Stop! (787XX/Raw Paw Press)

*****

SHORT FORM

Gold Medal
* Adrian Tomine, Optic Nerve #13 (Drawn and Quarterly)

Silver Medal
* Maelle Doliveux, Four Fables (Seven Stories Press)
* Hayley Gold, Nervosa
* Talya Modlin, Blimpakind: Drinking Buddies

*****

SPECIAL FORMAT

Gold Medal
* Ten Steps In The City, Various Artists (Teiera)

Silver Medal
* Two Years In New York City, Omer Hoffmann

*****

SINGLE IMAGE

Gold Medal
* Keith Bendis, Little Red Riding Hood’s Wardrobe

Silver Medal
* Liam Walsh, Land of the Blind
* André Carrilho and Luis Lazaro, Mandela

*****

DIGITAL MEDIA

Gold Medal
* Ann Emond, Comiques

Silver Medal
* Leela Corman, Yahrzeit (Table Magazine)
* Blane Duncan, Blane Throttle: Part One
* DingDing Hu, Peeling Inspiration

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Folerpas de Tiramisu

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Serialized Event Reports Are The Next Big Thing

Well, they're the next big thing of 1998, to be honest with you -- today is more about a tweet that references a single post put out 20 minutes after the thing that happens, and everyone will just read the tweet. Still, I liked a couple of incremental reports that came out recently. The first is this second Doug Wright Awards official report, with plenty of pictures. The second is this first installment in what one hopes is a few missives about the road taken by Robin McConnell and Brandon Graham to visit people and interview them for the Inkstuds show. This one is similarly photo-loaded. I sort of wish there had been more photos involved with comics when I was younger, say 25 years ago; when I moved to Seattle to work for Fantagraphics I had absolutely no picture in my mind's eye what that would be like.
 
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Go, Look: Everything Is Vibrating

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Missed It: Oishinbo Storyline About Fears Concerning Fukishima Area Food Consumption Draws Criticism

imageBrigid Alverson tracked a story in two separate posts that I totally missed, about a plotline in the serialized manga Oishinbo that related to fears about irradiated food supply in the area around the Fukashima nuclear power plant, damaged in 2011 and as a result a huge agent for driving concern about the long-term health issues concerning damage to that plant. It looks like the criticism appeared but the work was still published, the idea of squelching free expression for economic and political concerns doing battle with the idea of giving voice to concerns that are more inflammatory or alarming than a reliable reflection of reality on the ground. That actually seems to me a not-bad outcome, although dancing right up to that line is pretty scary and the idea that squeamish editors armed with multiple pages of guidelines are going to be on the front line of future editorial decision-making doesn't provide me with a lot of confidence or cheer.
 
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Go, Look: Vintage Marvel Stickers

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Right Up Against Free Commercial Vs. Practical Acknowledgement Of The Role Of Consumption In Comics

imageThis is pretty dicey area in terms of what this site does. I don't like running free commercials -- if it's something for which you can buy ad, it's probably not news -- while at the same time 1) I'm sort of interested in everything comiXology does right now; 2) I'm really interested in the general idea of how comics will use its titantic, general, and usually relevant back catalog in the years ahead; 3) I don't want readers whose sole interaction with comics news is through this site (basically my family and a half-dozen college friends) to miss out on free comics.

So this is the comiXology summer promotion, which is basically daily, free comics according to a limited window comic-to-comic and over the course of a restricted period overall. There's one of significant interest up today. I think the idea is that you get people in the habit of using the on-line retailer on a regular basis as well as the not-just-an-on-line-concern idea that if you get to look at comics you might not buy on your own you might find something you like you wouldn't otherwise. This comibination of old and new techniques/concerns interests me, anyway.
 
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Go, Look: Island In The Sky

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Missed It: Another Window Into The World Of Collectible Comics As Desirable Larcenous Currency

I don't particularly hearing stories about people exploiting other people criminally or even the way that someone's life can go awry to the point where they consider doing something like this. Still, what fascinates is that every six months we hear about a criminal entertprise that involves comic books. While this may be presented as a nerdy affectation of the criminal, it always seems to me that comics are used because they're a hard to track item and the price/money used on either end can fluctuate wildly. It's an underground currency in many ways, wildly unstable -- but that can be useful, too.
 
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Go, Look: A Couple Of Bob Powell Comics

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By Request Extra: Julia Wertz Raising Money For Current Trip

I think I've forgotten a bunch of these the last few days, and I apologize -- I'm changing the way I do them. One thing I want to encourage is hearing from people about their fundraisers and funding needs, as I did with this trip-specific sale instigated by the cartoonist/urban explorer Julia Wertz just as she charged out the door.
 
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Go, Look; Bue Bredsdorff

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

image* it's CAKE mania right now. CAKE, CAKE, CAKE. That's a thriving and on-the-rise cartooning community that could use the continued success of a show like that one as a galvanizing event. What I've heard back from people that have worked with the show is all good, too. I hope this latest edition -- back in last year's venue -- goes well. Sometimes it takes a while for the audience to grow accustomed to attending a show.

* if North American cartoonists are going to start attending shows in the UK, they better bring their A game.

* John Porcellino reports on a weekend in Fort Wayne, attending the Appleseed Con there.

* all the really good photos from the NCS weekend seemed to feature Mark Tatulli. The best set of pictures I've seen so far came from Alan Gardner's report.

* Dakota McFadzean got to go to Sweden and all we got is this well-written and lavishly illustrated report.

* finally, the Columbus Dispatch does a write-up on the Wexner's Dan Clowes summer focus. I hope you'll get there if you can.
 
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Go, Look: Cupcake Helicopter Mini #1

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Go, Look: SWSS Art

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Paul O'Brien on Savage Wolverine #18.

* Jason Sacks talks to Jesse Moynihan. Dan Pennacchia talks to Taki Soma and Michael Oeming. Ryan Burton talks to Christopher Sebela and Ibrahim Moustafa. Evan Munday talks to Ben Hatke. Alex Dueben talks to Conor Stechshulte and Paul Gravett. Danni Danger talks to Nathan Edmondson. Matthew Thurber talks to Robert Gonzalez. Team Inkstuds talk to Jordan Crane.

* not comics: part of me wants student newspaper to commit to print even though it's probably not super-smart.

* here's a panel from VanCAF about building comics communities.

* Corey Blake urges us to accept silly comic books.

* not comics: nice story about the late Maya Angelou from Charles Mudede. Good call by Angelou, too: Mudede's a fine writer.

* Blake Northcott writes about advertising story events within mainstream comics long in advance.

* finally, a New York Times profile of comics-friendly Medium.
 
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Happy 40th Birthday, Aaron McGruder!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Jim Salicrup!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Larry Marder!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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May 28, 2014


Go, Look: Yet Another Kevin Cannon Map

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Bruno Maïorana Takes Considered Look At Comics-Making, Says, "Yeah, This Doesn't Seem To Work"

imageI'm not familiar enough with the issue, the creator or the publication to make a strong declaration as to what it means when a cartoonist like Bruno Maïorana offers up a summary declaration that making comics isn't viable, but I wanted to drive attention to it for a few reasons.

First, I don't know Maïorana's work at all, but it looks he has been part of two successful series over the last 20 years, and is in the midst of creating one right now. This isn't someone quitting on an art form a decade after it has quit on them. Second, this is kind of darkly humorous in its straight-forward engagement of what doesn't get talked about a whole lot -- just how hard it is to make a career in comics. Third, it's a sentiment that a lot of people in North America share and that you occasionally see someone express. Fourth, he cites a number of things we hear about the French-language market in particular, such as the explosion of works available right now and the effect that seems to have had on sales, both book to book and series to series.

We don't pay as much attention as we should to the idea of an art form being viable for as long as it's able to support people that are accomplished in its creation. There's a number of reasons why we rarely talks about this, and it's not all about manipulating people to do work past the point they should perhaps not be spending their time that way. Some of it is culture, some of it is privacy. Still, I hope that we can make artists making a worthwhile living a value going forward, and nudge more and more of the industry in the direction of living up to that value.

Update: This article on the ripple effect caused by the Maïorana announcement gets into the issues a bit more, in particular the strain of certain required payments by the cartoonists that don't make much money. There's also a general figure tossed out there of a lot of cartooning making about 1000 euros a month or less, which would be a little over $16K a year USD.
 
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Go, Look: The Way JR JR Drew The Uncanny X-Men

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Go, Read: Brian Hibbs On What That Retailer Summit Was Like

I always read Brian Hibbs' Tilting At Windmills columns at CBR and this latest was no exception. It's useful for its lengthy description of what going to a retailer summit is like, right down to how the show is physically set up. He underlines retailer sentiment concerning news that DC's sales department icon Bob Wayne will be leaving the company soon. Hibbs even mentions that there were a bunch of female retailers in attendance this year, which is super-encouraging information to have even in anecdotal form. (Under torture, I could name maybe a half-dozen such retailers, none of them new.)

I'm also grateful for Hibbs' assessment of having a comics show in Las Vegas, given that all the talk over the last half-decade of the place as an eventual -- even inevitable! -- home for the Comic-Con event. There are no public spaces in Las Vegas, not really, and while comics people are willing to spend money on comics-related things, they are much less willing to spend money anywhere else. It might be fun to have a pro/con or something similar there, though.
 
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Go, Look: Profile Of Helena Bochořáková-Dittrichová

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Missed It: Jade Sarson Wins 2014 First Graphic Novel Competition Sponsored By Myriad Editions

imageThis looks like one of those stories I discussed on social media but never quite did a full post; my apologies. The cartoonist Jade Sarson has won the biennial First Graphic Novel Competition sponsored by Myriad Editions. The publisher gets to develop the work that wins with an eye towards publication -- although not guaranteed, it doesn't look like.

Given the flood of new talent generally but particularly in Great Britain, I would have to imagine this works as an actual competition more than it does a promotional effort by its primary sponsor and beneficiary. The contest is open to those without a professional publication on their "works completed" list. The previous winner was Gareth Brookes for his The Black Project, eventually released by Myriad last year.

The award was given out May 23 at the British Library, home of the Comics Unmasked exhibition.

Nominees were announced earlier that week. They were:

* Henny Beaumont -- Hole in the Heart
* Francesca Cassavetti -- Panic Attacks
* Wallis Eates -- Mumoirs
* Jessica Martin -- Elsie Harris Picture Palace
* Jade Sarson -- For the Love of God, Marie
* Robert Wells -- Sack, Crack & Back (& Brain)

This year's judges were Meg Rosoff, Andy Oliver, Woodrow Phoenix, Nicola Streeten and Corinne Pearlman.

There's a nice reaction article here.

The initial, linked-to article notes that Sarson has a webcomic, Cafe Suada, and an on-line store.

Coda: Hard not to be charmed by this post.
 
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Go, Look: Joe Maneely In Cracked, 1958

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Your April 2014 SAW Micro-Grant Winners

Sequential Artists Workshop announced the two most recent winners of their intermittently offered micro-grant program. The April 2014 winners are Keren Katz and Julian Voloj. Katz won for an ongoing work, "Plans to Go to St Frances and Take Up Astronomy”; Voloj won for a work in progress wiht the illustrator Claudia Ahlering, Warrior/Peacemaker. Both works are described in full through the link; the Volojo collaboration is current looking for a publisher.

Runners up were Ink Brick and Baggywrinkles. Honorable Mention was Kerbop. The Workshop also mentioned they received requests for grants for comics teaching, which is outside the purview of this particular reward.

The grant is sponsored in part by the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation.
 
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Go, Look: Gil Kane Cover Images Mini-Gallery

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Go, Read: The Comic-Con Style Makeover Of BEA

imageThere's a longish piece up at Vulture that folks keep e-mailing me from a writer named Boris Kachka about Book Expo America using some of the elements of comics conventions to goose the long-running event with what they hope is crowds of book consumers on the show's last day to supplement the industry attendance that drives the rest of the show. It's a fairly thorough article in terms of describing how this is done: celebrities and movie tie-ins, basically. The piece also notes the skepticism of some publishers, one of which isn't even formally participating while "lending" authors to the show. There's no compelling argument made that this will be beneficial to anyone other than those with movie tie-in properties and celebrity authors, which I don't know is a sign that there's no such case to be made or, scarier, that everyone already knows this and has moved on. There's also a significant unanswered question as to how this is different than a book festival someone might attend, events that are frequently held in places much more fun to visit than a convention center -- the geek culture featured at a comic-con was something that wasn't getting that kind of attention elsewhere. Major authors of prose are also still more likely than comics authors to appear in major venues as solo acts.

The article also notes a significant controversy over the diversity of participants in programming, which totally escaped my attention as a thing that was even going on.

An additional thing I find sort of interesting here is that this article discusses these moves as if they're brand new and not a direction in which the Expo has been moving -- or at least talking about moving -- for years now. In fact, there's an attempt to couch this as a kind of early effort that will lead to more refined execution down the road. It could be that the talk preceded the actions for that long of a time, I don't follow the Expo enough to know. I do know that as a book reader and as a journalist intensely interested in one aspect of publishing the show isn't even on my radar anymore and when I think about it the thing I liked about it are no longer a part of the show or are not expected to benefit from a comic-con approach: the limited and informed industry audience and the way the show would take place in different cities being two of those things. I'm sure it still works for a lot of folks, though.
 
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OTBP: The Healing Island

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Festivals Extra: CAB Exhibitor Application Deadline Approaching

Here. I enjoyed attending the inaugural Comic Arts Brooklyn last year, and hope to attend this year's version. That's a big buying show for a lot of people, so those table costs sounds reasonable to me.
 
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Go, Look: Latest Agent 8 At Slutist.com

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it's at a site called Slutist
 
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ICv2.com: Amazon Moves Away From Screwing Over Marvel Books In Attempt To Gain Control Of Profits

The hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com has a short piece up here that indicates that the Marvel books distributed by Hachette have gone back to being available -- they had briefly been the victim of the retailing giant's out-in-the-open hardball policy of treating suppliers lke Hachette poorly in a a move to seize more of the digital business they'll need to start showing profit, the profit their investors are beginning to demand. Welcome to the new book market.

I'm not sure that any of these individual stories -- or even the bunch of them together -- of intimidation and open fuckery will have an effect at all on the way Amazon conducts itself in the future, except maybe they'll become more circumspect about applying pressure. I'm also not sure what if anything can be done except everyone walking around frowning in the hopes that this matters to someone out there. At least I'm not sure if anything can be done right now. I do think it's valuable to pay attention to this story as it slowly rolls its way through that market, though, because Amazon in a dominant position is the market moving forward, and what they do with that power should be filed away and not forgotten.

Getting to bitch about this almost makes me wish I were in New York for BEA. Almost.
 
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OTBP: The Washington Tragedy Part One

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This Isn't A Library: Notable Releases Into 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.

*****

FEB140446 COMPLETE LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE HC VOL 10 $49.99
There are a lot of good comics out this week that are brand new, and while a few of them may be really good I can't imagine any will be any better than the latest IDW edition of Little Orphan Annie near the end -- I think, anyway -- of Gray's length golden age with that feature. I find Gray's stories sort of hypnotic even when they descend into creaky formula, which is all the freaking time. Mostly, though I love to revisit that world for the art, the way the figures are cut from space, the way that shapes opporess and the sky crowds in. These are beautiful comics.

imageMAR141568 NEIL GAIMAN ART OF NEIL GAIMAN VISUAL BIO HC $39.99
I'm always interested in learning more about Neil Gaiman, but I'm particularly interested to see what Hayley Campbell does with a book. She's already a more interesting writer about art than I am, and I hope this is the first of many volumes if she want to pursue writing of this kind.

MAR141215 FINAL INCAL DLX ED HC (MR) $99.95
MAR141216 FINAL INCAL ULTRA DLX ED HC (MR) $590.00
Well, it's certainly the only $100/$600 comic available on the stands this week. I don't have as big an appetite for science-fiction BD and comics that refer to that material as many of my peers 10 years or more younger than I am. I do know that just about anything Moebius does is of historial interest, even an aborted project like this one (and there's not a lot of late-period Moebius available in general, I don't think). I also think that Ladronn is an interesting choice for an artist to work in that same arena. I'd love to look at this, but I may have to wait until a subsequent formatting. Also, if your shop carries this at all, high-five your owner and tell them you love them.

JAN140192 EERIE ARCHIVES HC VOL 16 $49.99
I've been picking these up here and there, and while I'm not invested in that publication or even that whole school of comics to make an intriguing, specific point about what might be in any one volume, I will always pay attention to them.

MAR140035 ELFQUEST FINAL QUEST #3 $3.50
MAR140074 KING CONAN CONQUEROR #4 $3.50
I've missed out on the first of these listed, at least so far, so there's a curiosity factor there. I'm all for franchise-enders, too. The Conan I have been reading, and it hews pretty closely to the Conan books I remember as a kid. If anything there's a tendency to extend the set pieces in each issue, perhaps at the expense of the overall flow of the story. Still, I think there should always be Conan comics out there, and am glad to see these when they show up in my mailbox.

JAN140154 RESIDENT ALIEN TP VOL 02 SUCIDE BLONDE $14.99
This is my favorite of the recent attempt by Dark Horse to create a bunch of series, most of which seem like they could be brought to television or film in some way. It's kind of like Longmire except with Richard Jenkins playing a mellow alien instead of that hulking brute of an Australian actor that western TV series utilizes. It's more pleasant than impactful, but I like pleasant comics.

JAN140356 TALES OF THE BATMAN CARMINE INFANTINO HC $49.99
I love the look of Carmine Infantino's 1960s work, although I own more of the Flash comics than these Batman issues. I'd sure as heck look at it were it in my shop; Infantino almost never disappoints on a considered look.

MAR140594 SEX #13 (MR) $2.99
MAR140475 TREES #1 (MR) $2.99
These are the only two genre comics that leap out at me as something to see this week; I'm sure I missed a ton. With The Bounce wrapping up it's time to focus our attention on Joe Casey's other recent stripping down of the superhero comic book. There's a lot of interesting stuff in there about milieu and setting that you tend not to see on start-from-scratch series like this one. Trees #1 is Warren Ellis working with Jason Howard on science fiction. The first issue is table-setting, but it's a pretty functional spread they've got going there.

imageMAR140782 DEVIL DINOSAUR BY JACK KIRBY TP COMPLETE COLLECTION $24.99
If you don't own the comics -- and these are some of the few Kirbys that are more difficult to purchase than 20 years ago, or at least have been for me -- I can't imagine you wouldn't want this, just on principle. This was a joke comic when it came out -- it was a joke with those few kids I knew that read comics -- but Kirby could still make with the visuals and this one has plenty of those.

MAR140776 OZ OZMA OF OZ TP $19.99
I imagine this is a re-release of some sort, but anything Marvel does with the Oz property is worth noting.

MAR141266 PHANTOMS OF THE LOUVRE HC $29.99
Lot of heavyweight comics-making artists with work out this week: Gray, Kirby, Moebius, and now Enki Bilal, with his contribution to that series of comics about the Louvre that NBM has been publishing over here. Bilal looks like the least narratively complex of the offerings, but also the least standard in approach, and it's always a pleasure to see him draw.

MAR141169 AMATEURS GN $14.99
This is a stand-alone work by Conor Stechshulte and will probably remind anyone coming in cold as a combination of Zak Sally (re-contextualized cartoon slapstick) and Josh Simmons (horror of the transgressive moment variety). I enjoyed it, and want to read it again.

MAR141021 SPAIN & MOROCCO HC (MR) $25.00
This is a project that's been serialized on-line by Alex Fellows since 2009, here. A lot of this looked really attractive when I encountered it in that on-line form, and Conundrum's season has been strong in general, so I look forward to sitting down with that one. Fellows you may remember as the answer to the trivia question as an early content-supplier for the Fantagraphics web site.

APR141172 EVERYWHERE ANTENNAS GN (MR) $19.95
APR141173 PETTY THEFT GN (MR) $19.95
These are the two Drawn and Quarterly TCAF debuts. They are also two-thirds of my bedside reading table (with Barnaby Vol. 2). I am moving into the Delporte presently, and should finish up the Girard tonight. I find Girard really pleasurable to read, I could read like 700 pages of his comics, and he could probably indulge in great crimes of narrative slackness and keep my attention i like the cartooning enough. This one has been pretty funny so far.

*****

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

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

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

If I failed to list your comic, that's because I hate you.

*****

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

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Go, Look: Celebratory Moebius Gallery At Bristol Board

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* hello, Hannah Chapman. Get back to work.

image* Kelly Thompson on This One Summer. Rob Kirby on It Never Happened Again. Paul Buhle on Bad For You. Bart Croonenborghs on The Last Tiger On Earth. Johanna Draper Carlson on Batman '66 #11. Laura A. Pearson on Heartless. Jake Austen on a trio of comics.

* not comics: I don't know if we're at peak superhero or if we're at a place where superheroes are just part of the landscape now. I do think there's a trend in movie-making and television shows where cheaper is better, and that there's going to be an adjustment to find superhero properties that suit that model of entertainment as opposed to the big fantasy blockbuster model. We'll see how the Guardians movie does -- with its emphasis on humor -- and, more importantly, the Netflix TV shows and how they adjust on that S.H.I.E.L.D. show to the realities of making something like that. DC seems to have found a way to do TV that should work for the next several years: plugging what they do into existing network storytelling modes.

* this is cute.

* Fantagraphics has released the first cover image from their partnership with the cartoonist Lucy Knisley: it looks very nice.

* I find the whole murky area of estates pursuing control of charactes one would assume have lapsed into the public domain freaking fascinating, mostly because of how unsettled it is, so I lapped up this Kevin Melrose post. One of the reasons I'm for creators making as much money as possible in as many circumstances that allow it is that I eventually want all of this stuff returned to the primordial soup of general culture without it feeling like something's been taken away from someone. I can hope, anyway.

* Patrick A. Reed in praise of Herb Trimpe -- which to my eye serves partly a reminder of how much Trimpe benefited from creative partnerships with Marie Severin and John Severin.

* finally, a rare freelance assignment for Mr. Chester Brown.
 
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Happy 44th Birthday, Tony Consiglio!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Lynn Johnston!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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May 27, 2014


Go, Access: Historia De La Musica Rock: Locas

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Nothing Better Than These Leslie Stein Color Comics

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* new Inés Estrada in English later this year, from C'Est Bon Kultur.

image* new Nate Beaty book debuting in Chicago at this weekend's CAKE; it will be up on his site soon after.

* Peter David and Sal Velluto will provide Hermes Press with new Phantom material in mini-series form.

* the writer and former DC editorial executive Paul Levitz clarifies the fate of the books he's been working on for DC given their recent announcement of summer-to-fall changes.

* new One Percent Press spotlighted.

* a paperback edition of The Year Of The Beasts appears imminent.

* I still don't see a bunch of new 2015 being loaded into Amazon.com yet -- it might have something to do with Spring 2015 seasons still be settled, but I'm not sure. I did see this book which looks like a team-up of some DC-area talents.

image* hardcover edition of High Crimes early in 2015. Interview in support here.

* Multiversity.com has a preview of The Rise Of Aurora West, the Harper Hall saga to Battling Boy's Dragonriders of Pern epic.

* this Emily Carroll book should be quite something. 2015 is turning into a really solid year for cartoonists under 40.

* this may or may not be the cover to Dylan Horrocks' upcoming Sam Zabel And The Magic Pen. He can put whatever he wants on the cover as long as we get this book soon, that's what I say.

* speaking of covers, this looks like a nice one.

* Magnetic Press will be publishing Tony Sandoval's Doomboy. You can read a bunch more here.

* I'm not sure that I knew Mark Millar would be working with Bryan Hitch next year. I mean, I'm not surprised, they work well together, I just don't remember having heard anything.

* finally, the announcement that Bergen Street was going to be working with creator Michel Fiffe on a collection of his Copra comics was widely disseminated this week. Those are very fun comics, and I think could find an audience store to store if Bergen Street is able to convince other retailers to come on board with their efforts and the success that a small group of stores have already seen with that series.

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

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Go, Look: The Ultimate Horror

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Patrick Hess on The Dark Knight Returns. Richard Bruton on Home Is Where The Internet Is. Rob Clough on various mini-comics. Sean Gaffney on Ranma 1/2 Vols. 3-4. Kelly Thompson on All-New X-Men #27. Grant Goggans on Indigo Prime: Perfect Day. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of different comics available on New Comics Day. Joshuaon on This One Summer. Jason Sacks and Keith Silva on both iterations of Omega The Unknown. Eric Palicki on C.O.W.L. #1.

* not comics: I don't have much to say on this site about reaction within the comics industry about the murders in Santa Barbara over the weekend, but there was some compelling writing on the matter from people like Jess Fink and Kate Leth.

* here's a bunch of Virgil Partch material that didn't make it into the recent Fantagraphics' efforts. Speaking of older cartoons, I love the color on these.

* Carl Antonowicz talks to Katherine Roy. Team Inkstuds talks to Ron Rege Jr. Grace Bello profiles Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki. Paul Montgomery talks to Jordie Bellaire. Matt Nestor profiles Box Brown.

* Big Fun got up to nine volumes?

* Kelly Thompson on the Art Of Silencing.

* Paul Morton writes about the use of Holocaust imagery and narratives in the X-Men comic books. It's an idiosyncratic take on the subject matter, and maybe its greatest virtue is how it doesn't conform to any conventional wisdom of which I'm aware.

* Marc Bernardin writes about how to process certain kinds of editing and revisions.

* Roman Muradov writes about a recent freelance assignment.

* one of the fun things about the social media age if you're interested in an art form like comics is to better enjoy the makers of that art as people; I quite liked this post from the writer James Vance on a milestone in his family.

* here's a report on Line Hoven at the British Library. I like Paul Gravett's outfit.

* finally, what a great picture. Cartoonists hanging around together was not invented at SPX.
 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Mark Wheatley!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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May 26, 2014


Go, Look: 1957 Doug Wildey Western Comics Art

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* the Hero Initiative is about to start one of their cover-art auctions, this time with an X-Men theme. A lot of fun artists are represented, like John Cassaday.

* here are two crowd-funders that crushed it immediately, and have a few weeks to pile on with the rewards an incentives and stretch goals: Erika Moen and Molly Ostertag.

* it was Stan Sakai's birthday yesterday, a fine time to be reminded about the ongoing auction and the direct-pay option to help out this pro's pro in a period of discombobulation brought on by a health crisis suffered within the family. You will not spend better money all year. If you're super-rich and stuck in terms of how to spend that money in Sakai's direction, someone's selling an original Opper.

* winding down on the Cerebus related one. I'm still not sure I all the way understand it, but it looks like it's done well and I think crowd-funding is a great option for Sim given his fervent fan base.

* still a few days left on this Ant Sang project.

* one of my favorite thing to encounter on these sites is the occasional Steve Ditko project -- always modestly priced. That Ditko makes so much personal work now is a great thing, really.

* finally, you have a few more days to get onto Ryan Andrews' project here; it's more than made its goal.
 
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Go, Look: A Biography Of Edward Albee

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A Rare CR Site Admin Update: Comic-Con Survival Guide 2014

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I'm going to move the on-line posting of the Comic-Con International Survival Guide from its traditional date here and into late June. I feel like we approach conventions differently now as a community, and one outcome is that fewer of us brood on specific shows weeks and weeks in advance. The last two years when I posted on Memorial Day I had people complain at the time that I posted too early, and then a different group complain later on that I never posted it at all. So I want to try it this way to see if it works better. Also, when I originally started posting a guide, you could read it in late May and then decide to go.. We're way past that now.

It's still my favorite thing I write for the site, and maybe the most trafficked. I think this year's will be my best guide yet, and at the very least represents the first substantial re-write in seven years. Hooray for new dumb jokes replacing the old dumb jokes.

The placeholder edition remains here.

For what it's worth, the photo above is maybe my brother Whit's favorite convention-floor shot, because it's actually a shot of the writer Robert Kirkman, too -- he's pretty well-framed, actually. See him? To me the photo represents both the crowds and madness of SDCC as well as the surge of significant public interest in Kirkman's work. The con-going bodies kind of blend into the zombie-avoding ones on the poster. Comic-Con!
 
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If I Were In Houston, I'd Go To This

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OTBP: Shaqzine

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* that's a lot of money for a not-great Tintin page. (via Bart Beaty)

image* Todd Klein on The Bojeffries Saga. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell. Tom Murphy on The Amateurs.

* if I had a million dollars, I just might hire Roger Langridge to draw me art until the money ran out.

* Max Delgado talks to Derf Backderf. David Betancourt profiles Cullen Bunn. Chris Arrant talks to Colleen Doran. Tyler Chin-Tanner talks to Rick Burchett and Greg Rucka. Team Inkstuds talks to Ron Regé Jr.

* I thought what Chris Sims was getting at here in terms of the underlying contempt that some media people feel for the low-end genre material they're adapting to be very interesting.

* cartoonists have always always always liked hanging out.

* an alternative This One Summer cover design.

* Claremontisms.

* that's a nice-looking cover. I don't like the practice of multiple covers except in very rare circumstances: I don't think what you get short-terms is worth the long-term damage in terms of shepherding capital away from a readers' impulse and towards a collectible impulse. One thing that's different about the practice as it has resurfaced over the last few years is that there are more covers you can imagine people just wanting because they're good-looking.

* a guide to pre-ordering comics. I've never done this.

* I'm not familiar enough with webcomics culture now or at any time in the recent past to make a comment on the notion expressed here that the context for presenting comics work is completely different now, but I do believe in the underlying value of artists being left alone to work until they're ready to put work out there on a regular basis.

* did anyone do this? I want this to have happened.

* here's an interview with Jayson Musson about his latest project, whose subject is works of art that appear in Nancy cartoons.
 
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Happy 75th Birthday, Herb Trimpe!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Raina Telgemeier!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Dave Roman!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Nick Bertozzi!

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Happy 47th Birthday, James Kochalka!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Marc Arsenault!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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May 25, 2014


Wiley Miller Wins Reuben Award; NCS Divisional Awards Announced Last Night At Traditional Ceremony

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Wiley Miller won the Reuben Award this year, the major honor also known as the National Cartoonists Society award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year. One of the most esteemed awards in the world of comics, past winners include Charles Schulz, Hal Foster and Al Capp. The other nominees were Hilary Price, Stephan Pastis and Mark Tatuli.

Comics winners of potential specific interest to readers of this site given our coverage areas included animator/comics-maker Hayao Miyazaki for The Wind Rises in feature animation; Jeff Smith for Tuki as the long-form on-line strip; Andrew C. Robinson for 5th Beatle as the graphic novel of the year; Sergio Aragones for Sergio Aragones Funnies as the honored comic book. I think this may have been the first year with two categories for on-line work; the short-form version went to Ryan Pagelow for Buni. There were any number of familiar winners in other categories, like Mike Ramirez in editorial cartoons and past Reuben winner Dave Coverly for newspaper panels.

The NCS Awards ceremony was held in San Diego, California, this year -- the black-tie occasion moves from place to place every year, but is held on Memorial Day weekend. I believe Miller accepted in person.

Congratulations to all winners and all nominees.

Winners are listed below in bold.

EDITORIAL CARTOONS
* Clay Bennett
* Adam Zyglis
* Mike Ramirez

NEWSPAPER ILLUSTRATION
* Bob Eckstein
* Miel Prudencio Ma
* Dave Whamond

FEATURE ANIMATION
* Mike Giamo: Production Design Frozen (Disney)
* Hayao Miyazaki: Director, The Wind Rises (Disney)
* Jonathan del Val: Animator of Lucy character, Despicable Me 2 (Illumination)

TV ANIMATION
* Craig McCracken, Wander Over Yonder (Disney)
* Paul Rudish, Disney Channel's Mickey Mouse shorts (Disney)
* Douglas Sloan And Art Edler Brown, Dragons: Riders of Berk (Dreamworks)

NEWSPAPER PANELS
* Dave Coverly
* Scott Hilburn
* Mark Parisi

MAGAZINE GAG CARTOONS
* Matt Diffee
* Bob Eckstein
* Mike Twohy

ADVERTISING/PRODUCT ILLUSTRATION
* Cedric Hohnstadt
* Sean Parkes
* Rich Powell

GREETING CARDS
* Glenn McCoy
* Mark Parisi
* George Schill

COMIC BOOKS
* Sergio Aragones, Sergio Aragones Funnies
* Jay Fosgitt, Bodie Troll
* Chris Samnee, Daredevil

GRAPHIC NOVEL
* Dan E Burr, On The Ropes
* Rick Geary, Madison Square Tragedy
* Andrew C Robinson, The 5th Beatle

MAGAZINE ILLUSTRATION
* Daryll Collins
* Anton Emdin
* Dave Whamond

ONLINE -- LONG FORM
* Jenn Manley Lee, Dicebox
* Dylan Meconis, Family Man
* Eddie Pittman, Red's Planet
* Jeff Smith, Tuki

ONLINE -- SHORT FORM
* Jim Horwitz, Watson
* Ryan Pagelow, Buni
* Mike Twohy, New Yorker Online

BOOK ILLUSTRATION
* Matt Davies
* William Joyce
* CF Payne

NEWSPAPER COMIC STRIPS
* Isabella Bannerman, Six Chicks
* Terri Libenson, Pajama Diaries
* Mark Tatulli, Lio

OUTSTANDING CARTOONIST/"THE REUBEN"
* Wiley Miller
* Stephan Pastis
* Hilary Price
* Mark Tatulli

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Did You Know That

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Go, Look: The Japanese Funeral Piece

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

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

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Happy 61st Birthday, Stan Sakai!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Sal Velluto!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Ken Avidor!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Terry Nantier!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Marc Hempel!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Barry Windsor-Smith!

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Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

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FFF Results Post #380 -- The Urkel

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Characters That Grew To Greater Prominence Within Their Comic Or In Comics More Generally Than Their Initial Appearance or Appearance Might Have Suggested." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Wolverine (X-Men)
2. The Cactus (Steven)
3. Popeye (Thimble Theatre)
4. Howard The Duck (Adventure Into Fear)
5. Krazy Kat (The Dingbat Family)

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Harley Quinn (The Batman Adventures)
2. Deadpool (New Mutants)
3. The Punisher (The Amazing Spider-Man)
4. Donald Duck (The Adventures of Mickey Mouse)
5. Cletus Kasady / Carnage (The Amazing Spider-Man)

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Scrooge McDuck (Donald Duck)
2. Nancy (Fritzi Ritz)
3. Snuffy Smith (Barney Google)
4. Dagwood Bumstead (Blondie)
5. The Cockroach, all 18 variants of him (Cerebus)

*****

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Rob Salkowitz

1. Rocket Raccoon (Marvel Preview/The Hulk)
2. Henry Pym (Tales to Astonish)
3. Darkseid (Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olson)
4. Swamp Thing (House of Secrets)
5. Moon Knight (Werewolf by Night)

*****

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Mike Baehr

1. Frank (Jim)
2. Swamp Thing (House of Secrets)
3. Nancy (Fritzi Ritz)
4. Fritz (Birdland)
5. Captain Easy (Wash Tubbs)

*****

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Douglas Wolk

1. Kim Rosenthal (Doonesbury)
2. Deadpool (New Mutants)
3. Black Widow (Tales of Suspense)
4. Nancy (Fritzi Ritz)
5. Papa Smurf (Johan and Peewit)

*****

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John Vest

1. Mickey Rat (L.A. Comics)
2. Cherry Poptart (Funnybook)
3. Zippy The Pinhead (Tales Of Toad)
4. Omaha The Cat Dancer (Dope Comix)
5. Fritz The Cat (Help!)

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. Speedy Ortiz (Love and Rockets)
2. Fritz (Love and Rockets)
3. Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel)
4. Archie Andrews (Pep Comics)
5. Fearless Fosdick (Li’l Abner)

*****

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Des Devlin

1. Captain Archibald Haddock (The Crab with the Golden Claws)
2. Ambush Bug (DC Comics Presents)
3. Deadpool (New Mutants)
4. The Smurfs (Johann and Peewit)
5. The Addams Family (the gag cartoons of Charles Addams)

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. Nancy (Fritzi Ritz)
2. Captain Easy (Wash Tubbs)
3. Alfred E. Neuman/Mel Haney (Mad Reader/Mad #21)
4. Henry Pym (Tales to Astonish #27)
5. The Riddler (Detective Comics #140)

*****

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John Platt

1. Machine Man (2001)
2. Shmoo (Li'l Abner)
3. John Constantine (Swamp Thing)
4. Dagwood Bumstead (Blondie)
5. Richie Rick (Little Dot)

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Rocket Raccoon (Incredible Hulk)
2. Guy Gardner (Green Lantern)
3. Kim Rosenthal (Doonesbury)
4. John Constantine (Saga of the Swamp Thing)
5. Beast Boy (Doom Patrol)

*****

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Joe Schwind

* Sad Sack (Yank tabloid)
* Wonder Wart-Hog (Bacchanal magazine)
* Little Iodine (They’ll Do It Every Time)
* Rat Fink (on t-shirts)
* Zippy (Real Pulp Comix)

*****

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Sean T. Collins

* Fritz (Love and Rockets)
* Roger the Homunculus (BPRD)
* Rusty Brown (The ACME Novelty Library)
* Roast Beef (Achewood)
* Kate Beaton (Kate Beaton's comics)

*****

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Stephen Harrick

1. Elektra Natchios (Daredevil)
2. John Constantine (Swamp Thing)
3. Shado (Green Arrow)
4. Jeffrey Dahmer -- Derf’s interpretation (Zero Zero)
5. Col. James Rhodes (Iron Man)

*****

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Art Baxter

1. Captain Easy (Wash Tubbs)
2. Rosalba "Fritz" Martinez (Love and Rockets)
3. Joanie Caucus (Doonesbury)
4. Janni Dakkar (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen)
5. The Silver Surfer (Fantastic Four)

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Ant-Man (Tales to Astonish #27)
2. Adam Warlock (Fantastic Four #65)
3. Daredevil (Silver Streak Comics #6)
4. Red Sonja (Conan the Barbarian #23)
5. Bécassine (La Semaine de Suzette #1)

*****

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Justin J. Major

1. The Legion of Superheroes (Adventure)
2. Snuffy Smith (Barney Google)
3. Nancy (Fritzi Ritz)
4. Dagwood Bumstead (Blondie)
5. Raymond Quentin Smuckles (Achewood)

*****

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Chris Duffy

1. Buddy Bradley (Neat Stuff)
2. Bullseye (Daredevil)
3. Lobo (Omega Men)
4. Deadshot (Batman)
5. Gyro Gearloose (Walt Disney Comics and Stories)

*****

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Chad Hanna

1. Snuffy Smith (Barney Google)
2. Opus (Bloom County)
3. Uncle Scrooge (Donald Duck)
4. Ray Smuckles and Roast Beef (Achewood)
5. Jeff (Mutt and Jeff)

*****

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David Roel

1. Ambush Bug (various DC comics)
2. Squirrel Girl (various Marvel comics)
3. Astoria (Cerebus)
4. Clea (Dr. Strange)
5. Rogue (X-Men)

*****

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Shannon Smith

1) Animal Man (Strange Adventures)
2) Toby Radloff (American Splendor)
3) Opus (Bloom County)
4) The Punisher (The Amazing Spider-Man)
5) Dreadstar (Epic Illustrated)

*****
*****
 
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May 24, 2014


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


A Gridlords Q&A From 2013


Lisa Hanawalt Interviewed


DWAs Humor Video


Interview With Herb Block
via


How To Be Happy Previewed
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from May 17 to May 23, 2014:

1. Iconic DC Comics sales department figure and friend of DM comics shops Bob Wayne apparently won't be making the trip to Burbank when DC moves there, which will bring to an end as influential a career as any non-creative has enjoyed going back 25 years.

2. Derf Backderf starts the phase of his cartooning career that doesn't involve his nearly quarter-century running alt-weekly strip, The City. He actually announced the shut-down of the feature last week.

3. ICv2.com picks up on a piece citing the initial print run of Raina Telgemeier's August 2014 book, Sisters: 200K. That's as thriving a category as exists for comics right now, and Telgemeier a convention-headlining star.

Winner Of The Week
Raina Telgemeier

Losers Of The Week
Amazon

Quote Of The Week
"Cleveland has produced some comix greats, but very few of us stick around, so to have a strip about Cleveland was an unusual thing for the locals. The Plain Dealer had a geezer political cartoonist who'd been somnambulant since 1968 or so. Harvey Pekar was around, but that was a comic book, and we all know the crazy hang-ups Americans have about a genre they view as lowbrow. The City was a newspaper strip. It could be read without shame. In public even! That's my theory anyways." -- Derf Backderf

*****

image from a Marvel comic book, 1964

*****
 
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Go, Look: D-Day In Watercolors

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

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

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

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

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Happy 54th Birthday, Wimbledon Green!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Alan Zelenetz!

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May 23, 2014


Go, Look: Hollow

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Festivals Extra: 14 Days For A Show Report Used To Be Standard

I think it's completely fair to give Drawn and Quarterly the last word on this year's TCAF, at least in terms of stand-alone posts. We're headed into the summer portion of the convention seasons with CAKE, Heroes, CCI and Baltimore and a bunch of others -- and then it's time for SPX again. Astonishing.

CAKE is next weekend. Here is their schedule of events. Chicago is the best.
 
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OTBP: Days

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Not Comics: Why People Worry About Amazon.com

Why do comics people and publishing folks in general worry about more and more power accruing to Amazon? In a nutshell, it's because there is expected to be increasing pressure on the retailing giant to show a profit, and one way in which they may attempt to become more profitable -- according to past example and overhwelming conventional wisdom -- is applying pressure to their partners. This includes but is not limited to the publishers for whom they are the most important or near most-important retail outlet.

Here's a succinct, plain-spoken summary of their latest conflict, which might read as loaded but I don't know that I've found anything that directly disputes what's going on here. That in itself is kind of scary. These issues are something to keep in mind with this company in particular and large companies more generally: profit has to come from somewhere, and that might disrupt or at least put strain on exisiting systems.
 
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Go, Look: Joshua W. Cotter

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WSJ: Raina's Telgemeier's Late-Summer Dropping Sisters To Enjoy Initial Print Run Of 200,000 Copies

imageThe hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com caught something I hadn't; a print run discussed in a Wall Street Journal profile of the cartoonist Raina Telgemeier for her new book Sisters, placing it in the 200K range. Telgemeier's Smile has been a top-selling book for over 100 weeks now, and has a total number of one million copies in print. It is also a much-beloved book by a significant audience. Sisters is Telegemeier's second book after the big hit, following 2012's Drama. This one, however, looks to be creatively concerned with and sold as a more direct companion to that runaway success.

Sisters will see official release the last week of summer, making it a back-to-school for a lot of its audience. A tour with Kazu Kibuishi -- who will be supporting his latest Amulet volume -- is planned.

Telgemeier is a legitimate comics star now, a convention headliner, in a category that never needed to be contextualized via comparison to other categories of traditional fan interest for us to pay attention to it. It sure doesn't matter to the many happy readers who engage with comics that way. I look forward to reading the new book, and I look forward to all of Telgemeier's fans getting to read another book.
 
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Go, Look: Maëlle Doliveux

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* DC Comics announced a Wonder Woman-driven digital-first comic earlier this week. I would love for one of these comics to be successful in the way it would set a baseline for what we might expect from such an effort, but I have a feeling we're still at the "well, that sounds like a sensible way to do it" stage. This looks like a rotating creative teams effort focused on that character. Kudos for the old-school name.

* the webcomics-culture cognizant (how much it advocates for webcomics over or in relation to print comics seems to differ wildly according to every person I know that's seen it) movie Stripped! is available for download in Canada. I liked the film, and I think it's great that a specific time in comics was captured on film that way -- we'll look back on it in 20 years the way people in the '90s were happy to see John Lee Hooker for a few seconds of The Blues Brothers. I hope you'll consider a download.

* Tony Moore will provide art for Marc Maron podcast-related cartoons to appear on the IFC tumblr.

* finally, Gary Tyrrell notes that the crowd-funder for a print iteration of the webcomics Strong Female Protagonist -- which has already met its initial, announced goal -- could settle in at over $80K total. This is still the most reliable avenue to successful kickstarters, or it sure as hell seems that way.
 
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If I Were In Philly, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Snappy Brian Bolland Judge Dredd Page

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Bolland's is the Judge Dredd I see in my mind's eye when I think, "Judge Dredd."
 
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If I Were In Houston, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Mystic #52

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Michael Buntag on Jerusalem. Sean Kleefeld on Bird Witch and New Mutants #45. Richard Bruton on Celeste. Team Page45 on various comics. David Brothers on Wolfsmund, particularly Vol. 3. Rob Clough on various mini-comics. Todd Klein on LOEG: Nemo: The Roses Of Berlin. Sean Gaffney on Hetalia Axis Powers Vol. 6. Brian Nicholson on Pretty Deadly Vol. 1. Paul O'Brien on X-Men: No More Humans. Henry Chamberlain on The Last Broadcast #1. Barack Obama on You'll Never Know.

* this crowd-funder from Erika Moen is likely to do extremely well.

* Hannah Means-Shannon profiles Nobrow.

* there's an interesting article by Calvin Reid here about the comics-publishing subcategory on the crowd-funding mechanism Kickstarter and some of the numbers involved in broader terms. I'm sort of fascinated by the amount of money being spent on crowd-funders that way -- especially until Fantagraphics came along and did theirs, I thought there was a lot of money being spent given the routine quality of comics it facilitated, although I realize that just saying so makes me a gigantic turd in the eyes of some. Sorry about that. But I know at one point 15 years ago a lot of folks in comics considered Tundra something of a massively wasteful project overall and a lot less money was spent on projects through that company and I'm not sure all of crowdfunding has given us a From Hell or a Tantalizing Stories... at least not yet. Maybe it's simply we spend more to get less that way, or less of a certain kind of book. Or maybe I have old man taste, I don't know.

* David Harper and Brian Salvatore talk to Greg Rucka.

* Frank Bramlett looks at the football player Michael Sam through the lens of editorial cartooning from the perspective of a knowledge American football fan interested in Sam's story and living in a different country.

* you can hear about the writer Brian Michael Bendis giving one of those regional TED talks and then go watch it starting here.

* Meghan Turbitt gets as sentimental as Meghan Turbitt is ever likely to get.

* finally, there's a very nice, lengthy, on-the-scene/on-the-ground write-up from James Moore on the recent Dan Clowes weekend in Columbus, Ohio.
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Mike Deodato!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, John Bolton!

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May 22, 2014


Go, Look: Family Reunion

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Your 2014 KCR! Kids' Comics Awards Nominees

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The Kids' Comics Revolution! podcast announced its second annual KCR! Kids' Comics Awards nominees on May 7. They're designed to honor comics and graphic novels for kids as published in the US and in Canada.

The nominees are:

Favorite Graphic Novel (Adventure)
* Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, Tony Cliff (First Second)
* G-Man: Coming Home, Chris Giarrusso (Image)
* The Silver Six, AJ Lieberman & Darren Rawlings (Graphix)
* Monster on the Hill, Rob Harrel (Top Shelf)
* Mouse Guard: The Black Axe, David Petersen (Archaia)

Favorite Graphic Novel (Humor)
* Extreme Babymouse, Jennifer and Matthew Holm (Random House)
* Lunch Lady and the Video Game Villain, Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Knopf)
* Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Spelling Trouble, Frank Cammuso (Amulet Books)
* Odd Duck, Cecil Castellucci and Sara Varon (First Second)
* Stone Rabbit #8: Robot Frenzy, Erik Craddock (Random House)

Favorite Graphic Novel (Non-Fiction/Myth)
* Bluffton, Matt Phelan (Candlewick)
* Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party, Nathan Hale (Abrams)
* Fairy Tale Comics, Various (First Second)
* Poseidon: Earth Shaker, George O’Connor (First Second)
* Primates, Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks (First Second)

Favorite Comic/Novel Hybrid
* Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo Boxers, Dav Pilkey (Scholastic)
* Dork Diaries: Tales of a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker, Rachel Renee Russell (Aladdin)
* Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, Kate DiCamillo and K.G. Campbell (Candlewick)
* Star Wars: Jedi Academy, Jeffrey Brown (Scholastic)
* Vordak the Incomprehensible: Time Travel Trouble, Scott Seegert and John Martin (Egmont)

Favorite Comic Book Series (Licensed/Franchise)
* Adventure Time (Boom)
* Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search (Dark Horse)
* Batman ‘66 (DC Comics)
* My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW)
* Sonic Universe (Archie)

Favorite Comic Book Series (Original/Creator Owned)
* Aw, Yeah Comics!, Art Balthazar and Fraco (Aw, Yeah)
* Bodie Troll, Jay Fosgitt (Red 5)
* Herobear and the Kid, Mike Kunkel (Boom)
* Skyward, Jeremy Dale (Action Lab)
* Super Dinosaur, Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard (Image)

Favorite Cartoonist/Author
* Faith Erin Hicks
* Jennifer and Matthew Holm
* Jeff Kinney
* Jeff Smith
* Kazu Kibuishi

Favorite Webcomic
* Cucumber Quest, Gigi D.G.
* Gronk, Katie Cook
* Princess at Midnight, Andi Watson
* Saturday Morning Webcartoons, Various
* Yeti 4 Hire, Jeff Crowther

Cutest Comic Character
* Babymouse (Babymouse)
* Beandog & Nugget (Beandog & Nugget)
* Chi (Chi's Sweet Hom)
* Little Sister (The Big Wet Balloon)
* Ulysses the Squirrel (Flora & Ulysses)

Best Hair in Comics
* Aphrodite (Olympians series)
* Bodie Troll
* Delilah Dirk
* Johnny Boo
* Salem Hyde

Grossest thing in Comics
* Cannibalism (Hazardous Tale: Donner Dinner Party)

* Fregley chewing him with his belly button (Diary of Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck)
* Pool full of fish (Mermin: Out of Water)

Kids can vote via the online ballot or this printable PDF.

Awards will be announced June 22nd during the Kids Read Comics festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The awards maintains a web presence here.
 
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Go, Look: Lynda Barry's Show At Adam Baumgold Gallery

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Bob Wayne To Leave His Longtime Gig With DC Comics?

So I'm seeing a bunch of tweets that Bob Wayne is retiring from DC Comics. That usually means that Bleeding Cool saw something, posted it, and then people are kind of being coy about finding it the same place that Bleeding Cool found it. I'm avoiding all of this by being really late getting something up. Let's just assume that everyone had this before me, and that everyone had rumors about this six months ago that I completely missed. Here's a story. Here's another story. Here's a funny tweet. I guess there's a chance this could still be revealed as misinformation, so we'll see.

imageIf true, though, this is a big deal, and not just because everyone is going to write that it's a big deal. Wayne is a key figure at DC and in the development of the comics industry as it relates to the Direct Market of hobby and comics retail. Wayne joined DC's sales department in 1987, just as comics began to negotiate a very tricky general sales period of new players, consolidated distribution and an expanding readership at least in terms of demographics. As someone with actual retail experience -- and as a same-generation comics person with many of the major retailers, Wayne soon became a trusted presence for those market movers within DC. He was also very effective in shaping policy to benefit those retailers, both in the odd period of distributor consolidation that re-shaped that market on the fly, and in the period following where non-Direct Market avenues and prose-publishing marketing tactics grew in importance for the media-resource rich publisher. He's a survivor whose title -- which I think has stayed at the Senior VP title as a lot of folks have seen job title changes -- never seemed as important as his presence and influence on policy and orientation.

That last thing sounds made up, but the fact that Wayne will be bowing out as the company makes it move to Burbank will seem extremely symbolic for a lot of people that sell comics for a living, people that will no doubt worry about the emphasis become more and more about managing properties to be exploited through videogame licensing. I kid, but I'm sure someone thinks that, or something close to that. If someone ever has the chance to write a rigorous corporate history of DC Comics, it will be interesting to see how Wayne is treated according to the fact on hand. I mean, I suspect that DC's success in moving so much "New 52" product through the Direct Market in 2011 was as much a massive vote of confidence in the retailers' relationship with the Direct Market side of DC's business as personified by Wayne as much as if not more than broad enthusiasm for Superman in a t-shirt and jeans, but that more a hunch of my part than anything I know for sure.

I haven't had much personal contact with Wayne, but I wish him all the best with whatever he chooses to do moving forward, and if that includes recovering from rumored health issues, I doubly wish him the best on that.

photo of Wayne from 2005
 
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Go, Look: Igor Hofbauer

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By Request Special: Seth Kushner Bone Marrow Drive Announced For Wednesday At JHU Comic Books

imageThis is the kind of thing where the word seems more important than trusting people find out about it in the forthcoming events section, so let me make it a post six days in advance and I hope if you're in the region you'll consider turning out or otherwise joining a registry.

The PR:
Our great friends over at Hang Dai Studios will be joining us for a fantastic signing event with Dean Haspiel (The Fox, American Splendor), Christa Cassano (The Giant Effect) and Josh Neufeld (The Vagabonds).

Along with celebrating Dean Haspiel's art in FF #5, which hits the same day, it is also World Blood Cancer Day. Seth Kushner (SCHMUCK, Leaping Tall Buildings), a great comic writer, photographer and artist, and friend Dean and us at JHU, has been diagnosed with Leukemia. As he awaits a marrow donor, we thought it would be a perfect time to host a bone marrow drive.

Delete Blood Cancer is going to be here, swabbing and informing folks on how being a donor works. (More on that below!) Even if we don't find a match for Seth at our event, there are millions of others that could use your help and you as their match!

Come out, get some comics, meet some great people and help out in the name of one of our great, talented friends!

*****

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

We want to make sure that helping a patient get healthy won't impact your health. Please review the following list of conditions. If you're not sure about a condition, feel free to call us: 212-209-6700.

You are eligible to register if you are:
* between the ages of 18 and 55
* in general good health
* at least 4'10" and 110 lbs
* below the max weight listed for your height on this chart

You are not eligible if you have:
* HIV
* Hepatitis B or C
* Kidney or liver disease
* Chronic or severe neck or back problems
* Epileptic or other seizure within past year
* Diabetes that requires medication
* Sleep apnea, breathing problems or severe asthma (daily inhalers are acceptable)
* Autoimmune disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or fibromyalgia

Or a history of:
* heart disease/surgery
* strokes, including TIA
* blood clotting or bleeding disorders
* cancer, with the exclusion of melanoma, breast, bladder, cervical (stage O, in situ) and cured localized skin cancers such as basal cell or squamous cell

JHU Comic Books
32 East 32nd St, New York, New York 10016
We wish the best for this event and for Mr. Kushner. Here's a link that's not here if that will help you disseminate this.
 
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Go, Look: Marvel Godzilla Covers

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By Request Special: Nina Bunjevac Fundraising For Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian Flood Relief With Art

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It might be time to Facebook friend or make already-a-Facebook-friend Nina Bunjevac a priority in your feed -- she's offering up original art in exchange for proof of donation to flood relief in the troubled parts of the Eastern Europe. I've seen this one and this one so far. Her originals are gorgeous, and she has a big book coming out later this year after which none of us will ever be able to afford her art again.
 
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Go, Look: A John Kenn Mortensen Gallery

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Wish I'd Thought Of This Angle: Andrew Wheeler At CA On DC Nearing 52nd New 52 Cancellation

Over at ComicsAlliance, Andrew Wheeler notes that DC has canceled 47 titles since relaunching its entire line in Fall 2011 under the catchphrase "New 52." That's a very funny and trenchant take on the last few years of that company's publishing history; it communicates quickly and well. I also like the article as a basic primer on modern big-company publishing moves: for instance, Wheeler isolates the idea of "strategic" cancellations in contrast to those comics that are canceled for selling really crappy and that don't have an arguable other reason to exist in series form. It's a distinction that has be made because of the frequency of the strategy as employed.

I'm never sure how much the sales record actually supports my suspicion since the numbers came back big on most of those relaunched titles in 2011 that DC didn't have a strong enough talent base -- or a cohesive, proactive editorial strategy -- to sustain the opportunity presented by that initial spike in sales interest. I suppose the counter-argument at this point is to just blame the nature of the market in general for the recurrent and now ongoing decline. There's also little reason it can't be a bunch of factors, a potent cocktail of reversion to form. It's been a longstanding piece of conventional wisdom that the cultures at both DC and Marvel are such that sustaining anything positive past sudden spikes, including anything over the long-term other than a model of inexorable decline, becomes very difficult. What we may be seeing is another example of how over the last 20 years that cycle has developed institutional force.
 
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Two Previews Worth Visiting For The Stand-Alone Imagery

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* James Stokoe's Wonton Soup
*****
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* Ten Pages Of Alex Toth's Genius Animated
 
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Go, Read: Lengthy Obituary Of Columbus, Ohio Counter-Culture And Comics Shop Fixture Stan Brobof

The publisher and comics-maker Ken Eppstein drove my attention to this obituary of Monkey's Retreat co-owner Stan Brobof in Columbus' Short North Gazette. While we've certainly seen the graying of first-generation direct market comic shop owners over the last decade, it looks Brobof was a different and equally important type of figure, the co-owner of that city's more counter-culture and independent/obscure comics location, and all the overlap that entailed with off-the-beaten-track prose publishing.

Eppstein describes his own interaction with the store thusly. "It was a newsstand style shop with lots of indie comics and zines. There was also a big selection of beat up counter culture books. I think I got all of my RESearch "Incredibly strange" books there and a bunch of Punk magazine back issues. Apparently they warehoused some of the Punk backstock for [John] Holmstrom towards the end when Punk didn't really have a distro. They had a huge selection of old indie comics, only loosely organized... So kind of a digger's paradise. When I first moved to Columbus in '89 they carried mainstream superhero books too, but gave up on it within a couple of years. As the story in the SNG suggests, Monkey's Retreat grew out of a desire to access elements of counter-culture back in the 1960s and 1970s, and was a Columbus destination for Broboff after returning to the city from a long period of life spent in New York City.

Eppstein noted to CR that gentrification drove the shop from its original location and also represented the marshalling of forces within Columbus that disrupted the shop's longtime natural customer base. The store closed in 2010.

Brobof was 72 years old.
 
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Go, Look: Justice Traps The Guilty #3

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Missed It: Concerns Over Customer At Seattle Comics Shop

A couple of people have sent along a link to this article asking if I knew anything about the story's development since it was published two weeks ago, as it involved a Seattle comics shop. I don't have anything new, but since I didn't link to the story when it first appeared I thought I would now.

My first thought upon seeing it at this late date is that headline ws kind of unfortunate for as much as it depends on people not interpreting "at" as some sort of "with," although maybe I'm reading to much into that.

What this seems to have involved from the peripheral comics angle is a store hosting events where a man named Robert L. Baugh attended with a youth he was mentoring through Narcotic Anonymous. The man seems to have been known to at least one person at the store as a registered sex offender, due to an offense in Texas in the mid-1990s. When that representaative of the store saw that a relationship Baugh had with a young person at store events enjoyed a wider dimension outside of the store, he ended up contacting a parent. The parent filed a complaint, which led to direct police interest and the eventual arrest on possession of child pornography charge. I would imagine aside from the dispensation of that charge there are some other things at issue regarding his place on that sex offenders list, but I can't be all the way sure. It is kind of an interesting snap shot into how these retail establishments can sometimes serve as a destination for young people and the expectation of safety that may come with that.
 
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OTBP: Loose Joints #1

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Missed It: Clay Bennett Wins Cartooning With Conscience Award

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Alan Gardner had a nice round-up here of cartooning awards missed in a majority of coverage locations. For a change, I've actually covered the majority, but I did miss out on Clay Bennett winning the "Cartooning With A Conscience" part of the Aronson Awards, which are subtitled "Social Justice Journalism & Cartooning With A Conscience." Bennett is the cartoonist at the Chattanooga Times Free-Press, which I always thought an interesting gig because of that sizable city's distance from a number of larger media centers and thus the significant role played by its paper in driving local coverage. The citation values Bennett's skill with making a direct, succinct point.
 
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Go, Look: Ben Hatke Re-Designs The Justice League

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lots of notes
 
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If You Were Only Ever Going To Read One TCAF 2014 Report, I Hope You Didn't Blow It On Mine

Because the Latvians wrote one. If you don't like Latvians, there's also Joe Decie for the FPI Blog.
 
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Go, Look: More Art Adams Images

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* the initial SPX 2014 exhibitors list is up.

* please submit to the Ignatz Awards if you're eligible. You have until the end of May. I know that I find those awards very helpful in finding new works that are starting to build in buzz with younger cartoonists, so as many eligible works that can be considered, the better off I am. So yeah, do it for me.

* here's a report on Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki at Politics & Prose. I look forward to seeing that one; I'm told it's very good.

* the cartoonist Kate Beaton has a short post up here about her time at the recent event in Stockholm.

* this Lance Fensterman interview gets into C2E2 numbers: they're up (to about 63K), and they're using more of the space available to them with that giant facility. The stuff about acquisition/growth policies and the observation on growing gender balance are two other things worth noting.

* here's the beginnings of a lengthy wrap-up on this year's Doug Wright Awards.

* Tom Heintjes handicaps the NCS awards.

* finally, a couple of posters I hadn't seen yet, for SPX and ELCAF.

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Go, Look: David Lloyd V For Vendetta DC Covers

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

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If I Were In Palo Alto, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Samson #1

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* J. Caleb Mozzocco on Alice In Comicland. John Kane on ]. Richard Burton on A Shioya Story. Larry Cruz on Hipsters. Karen O'Brien on Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu #1. Johanna Draper Carlson on Eltingville #1. David Berry on This One Summer. Marie Anello on An Age Of License. Hillary Brown on A Body Beneath.

* this site has a new motto.

* Shaun Clancy talks to Dick Ayers. Stu Shostak talks to Gary Miereanu. Hannah Means-Shannon talks to Wendy Pini. Darren Orf talks to Emma Rios. Matt Nestor profiles Box Brown.

* Alan Gardner caught a profile of Pat Bagley and a new exhibit featuring Pat Bagley.

* this is very sad; I'm glad that child found some solace and joy in many of the great superhero characters, and it's very sweet of those people to honor his passion for them in that way.

* finally, Corey Blake discusses Ben Towle's call to stop using film terminology to describe comics.
 
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Happy 45th Birthday, Mimi Rosenheim!


 
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May 21, 2014


Hillary Chute And Dan Clowes Talk At The Wexner Center


 
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All Eyes On Derf: Alt-Weekly Veteran Kills "The City" For Move Full-Time Into Long-Form Comics

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The alt-weekly fixture turned award winning comics memoir maker Derf Backderf has announced the end to his long-running "The City" feature after 24 years of publication. Above is the final installment at it appeared in his May 15 announcement. It's a funny, ever-so-slighty grumpy and always to the point post in the cartoonist's idiosyncratic voice. Derf notes that this is not him throwing in the towel on a failed endeavor but moving from one long-running gig and full time into an avenue of comics-making that has been extremely rewarding to him in recent years: making stand-alone, long-form comics in a graphic novel format. He notes that his follow-up with Abrams after their successful partnership on My Friend Dahmer is due in Fall 2015, and that he'll be doing a webcomic with his Otto character.

It looks like Derf will be slightly more expansive in terms of recalling his near quarter-century on the strip with a few reminiscence posts, of which this one is first.

I look forward to seeing what comes next for the cartoonist. The City wasn't to my memory one of the very first alt-weekly features but it was early on and in its prime was as successful as just about any of the big features. The move into making long-form narratives has been surprising only for how suited Derf's work seemed to that quick-hitting format. "The City" was also one of the few features in that entire expression of comics that for my money always had a regional flavor. As a result I've long seen Derf as a foundational modern Ohio comics-maker alongside creators like Pekar, Watterson, Borgman and Smith. Congratulations to him on a long and successful run, and interesting comics ahead.
 
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Go, Look: Tyne Lowe Comic About Tabling At Cons

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Watson And Holmes Dominates 2014 Glyph Award Winners

imageWork connected to the series Watson And Holmes was cited in for of this year's winners at the Glyph Awards, all for that title's sixth issue: story of the year, the fan award for best work, best writer (for Brandon Easton) and best artist (N. Steven Harris). Other winners presented May 16 in conjunction with the East Coast Black Age Of Comics Convention in Philadelphia include a shared win by Harris for his work on the Best Female Character Ajala from the series of the same name, and the reprinting of the key historical comic "Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story."

Winners in bold as follows:

STORY OF THE YEAR
* March; John Lewis, Andrew Aydin And Nate Powell
* Watson And Holmes #6; N. Steven Harris And Brandon Easton
* Watson And Holmes: A Study In Black; Karl Bollers And Rick Leonardi And Larry Stroman

BEST COVER
* Hass #1; B. Alex Thompson
* Indigo; Richard Tyler
* Life And Death In Paradise; Nigel Lynch
* Nowhere Man; Jerome Walford
* The Olympians; Paulo Barrios and Luis Guerrero
* Route 3 #2; Robert Jeffrey and Sean Hill

BEST WRITER
* Brandon Easton; Watson And Holmes #6
* Jamal Igle; Molly Danger
* Anthony Montgomery and Brandon Easton; Miles Away
* Whit Taylor; Boxes
* B. Alex Thompson; Hass #1

BEST ARTIST
* B. Robert Bell; Radio Free Amerika
* Abel Garcia; P.B. Soldier
* N. Steven Harris; Watson And Holmes #6
* Jamal Igle; Molly Danger
* Mshindo Kuumba; Anikulapo
* Mase; Urban Shogun #3: Things Fall Apart
* Jerome Walford; Nowhere Man

BEST MALE CHARACTER
* Anikulapo 'He who has Death in his Pouch'; Anikulapo; Mshindo Kuumba
* Deakon Taylor; One Nation; Jason Reeves
* Dustan Knight / Stactic Shagz; Spirit Bear; Tristan Roach
* Force; Force; Yancey A. Reed
* Jack Maguire; Nowhere Man; Jerome Walford
* Maxwell Miles; Maxwell Miles; Brandon Easton
* Moses B. Verelea; Radio Free Amerika; Robert Jeffery

BEST FEMALE CHARACTER
* Ajala; Ajala: A Series Of Adventures; N. Steven Harris and Robert Garrett
* Mary Freemen; Urban Shogun; James Mason
* Indigo; Indigo: Hit List 3.0; Richard Tyler

RISIING STAR AWARD
* Raymond Ayala; Urban Myth (New Olympians)
* Alverne Ball, Writer; Jason Reeves and Luis Guerrero, Artists; One Nation #1
* Richard Gaskin, Writer; Chris Miller, Artist; The Chronicles Of Piye
* Naseed Gifted; P.B. Soldier Episode One
* Turner Lange; The Adventures Of Wally Fresh
* Tristian Roach; Spirit Bear
* Tony Robinson; The Descendents Meet The Y.E.S. Brigade

BEST COMIC STRIP OR WEBCOMIC
* The Adigun Ogunsanwo; Charles C. J. Juzang
* Blackwax Boulevard; Dmitri Jackson
* Love And Capes: What To Expect; Thom Zahler
* Yes You Can; Ian Herring and Dallas Penn

BEST REPRINT PUBLICATION
* Early Days; Mshindo Kuumba
* Love And Capes: What To Expect; Thom Zahler
* MLK The Montgomery Story; Fellowship of Reconciliation

FAN AWARD FOR BEST WORK
* Boxes; Whit Taylor
* Molly Danger Book One; Jamal Igle
* Urban Shogun #3: Things Fall Apart; Mase
* Watson And Holmes #6; Brandon Easton and N. Steven Harris

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David Horsey Wins Robert F. Kennedy Editorial Cartoon Prize; March Book One Wins Special Recognition

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The cartoonist David Horsey won this year's editorial cartooning prize at the Robert F. Kennedy Book & Journalism Awards. Horsey submitted a portfolio of eligible work. The official announcment was made via press release on the 15th. Horsey is a two-time past Pulitzer Prize winner and as respected a guy in that field as there is; I believe this is the first major award he's won since moving to the LA Times (while staying in the Pacific Northwest) after suffering the collateral damage of loss of platform because of Seattle's newspaper tumult of the last 15 years.

A special recognition award was announced for the John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell's graphic memoir of Congressman Lewis' life story from Top Shelf, March, citing its ability to bring back into currency the events of the early Civil Rights movement as seen through the eyes of Lewis.

The awards -- that group's 34th -- will be presented on March 22 in Washington, DC at the Newseum.
 
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OTBP: Blades And Lazers 2

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Drew Litton Finds Home With CO Community Newspaper Group

Alan Gardner at Daily Cartoonist notes here that sports cartoonist Drew Litton, who enjoyed a quarter century run at Rocky Mountain News before its closure in the apocalyptic print-journalism days of 2009, is set to return next month providing weekly comics to the member publicaitons of the Colorado Community Media group.

I have no idea what that deal might be like -- and one can imagine a range of possibilities -- but I think it's good news for Litton to have a home, he's certainly a part of media-consumption DNA in that part of the country (which is an isolated part of the country in a lot of ways in terms of media coverage), and I'm all for each and every model that might better utilize comics work getting a tryout in the years ahead even as the old models sort of repeatedly dash themselves against the rocks. Good luck to cartoonist and client.
 
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Go, Look: Man-Cat

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DC Comics Lops Off Lower-Selling Titles For Usual Palate-Cleaning September Sales Promotional Hitch

imageThere's a short, to-the-point article up at the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com here about DC making what that site describes as a now-expected clearing of the decks headed into the Fall publishing season. Those kinds of moves are always a little fluid, so I would imagine there's a chance for additional movement there: that one of the listed books eventually survives or two or that two or three titles join the ones listed or the features get folded into one of the weeklies -- that should eventually work itself out. What's astonishing if you don't follow these kinds of sales figures, or even if you do, is how low those books are selling.

It certainly isn't the 1950s any longer, and the switch to the more efficient (in terms of non-returnable comics) Direct Market system made lower-selling titles possible, which is a good thing because by the late 1990s that was a reality for all of these companies. What we have now, actually, are any number of factors that play into whether keeping comics like these alive is a good idea or a bad one: talent development, overall market share, in-house character work with respect to cross-media possibilities and trade sales all being factors that might come into play. I'm sure there are others. Still, it's amazing how much the Direct Market can look top heavy even when the top isn't what it used to be, either.

I don't know the DC books in terms of the content to tell you if this is a particular blow to the line's overall narrative, although it strikes me that the Pandora character hasn't turned out to be an effective one for them. I have enjoyed those All-Star Western comics when I've seen them, and despite their adherence to DC continuity particulars and an odd lack of character agency in the few issues I read, it was nice to see a title with a different kind of feel to it from the relentless grim superheroes of that comics line.
 
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OTBP: š! #17

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Cory Thomas Ending Watch Your Head As Syndicated Feature; To Return As On-Line Only Strip In August

imageAlan Gardner at Daily Cartoonist caught that Cory Thomas is ending the syndicated run of his Watch Your Head at the end of the month; the strip will return in webcomics-only fashion in August. The strip will relocate here.

Watch Your Head got its start in the Howard University newspaper The Hilltop and mirrored Thomas' experiences as a student there (the setting of the strip was fictional). It was launched nationally by Washington Post Writers Group in 2006 and initially marketed as a potential replacement for the departing The Boondocks. Thomas' announcement on Facebook cites the small client list and general creative frustrations as instigating factors for the decision.

A first collection was published in 2008.
 
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Go, Look: Chris Samnee Draws Superheroines

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Ted Rall Joins Staff Of PandoDaily

The cartoonist and essayist Ted Rall has joined the staff of the Silicon Valley-focused web publication PandoDaily, according to this giddy piece of PR ending in a Ted Rall cartoon about Ted Rall. Rall's hiring is paired even within that release as building on Matt Bors hiring by Medium as counter-moves to the general decline in cartooning positions at print or print+web publications. That seems like a good fit to me, it's a trend I hope continues and I'm happy to see a cartoonist and writer as busy and engaged as Rall seems be fully utilized by someone out there. Good luck to Rall and PandoDaily.
 
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Go, Look: Sarah Graley

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This Isn't A Library: Notable Releases Into 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.

*****

FEB140355 GENIUS ANIMATED CARTOON ART OF ALEX TOTH HC VOL 03 $49.99
This third volume in Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell's lavishly illustrated, lengthy exploration of the artist Alex Toth's career, by virtue of subject matter and the general high quality of previous volumes this one is the obvious one-book-if-you-had-to-limit-yourself purchase of the week. My generalist's take on the animation part of Toth's career is that it was a place to which he was well-suited given his design chops and tendency to reduce visual elements to their core functionality, but that it was always sad that comics didn't have a grander place for craftsmen of Toth's virtuosity. I suspect I'm not even close, which will make cracking open this volume a real voyage of discovery. Congrats to the authors on reaching the finish line.

imageMAR140047 DARK HORSE PRESENTS #36 (MR) $7.99
This is the final volume in this iteration of the anthology magazine, which has been a sturdy if only rarely inspired showcase for a lot of underutilized talents, many of whom are older than the median age of your standard Big Two creators.

MAR140081 BPRD HELL ON EARTH #119 $3.50
FEB140476 INVINCIBLE #111 (MR) $2.99
MAR140468 MPH #1 CVR A FEGREDO $2.99
OCT130611 PROPHET #44 $3.99
MAR140517 SAGA #19 (MR) $2.99
DEC130602 VELVET #5 (MR) $2.99
These are the high-end serial genre comics that catch my eye this week, with one Mignola-verse making its usual appearance and then a bunch of Image books. Invincible is Robert Kirkman's superhero book with Ryan Ottley; Ottley is celebrating a 100th issue with the title. The comic book's "Spider-Man with arm in sling" visual motif is superheroes with missing teeth or bloody faces, and I think this issue has more of that kind of thing than usual. MPH is Mark Millar's new book with Duncan Fegredo, and along with Kirkman Millar is in many ways the career role model for a lot of aspiring creators so new work of his receives a great deal of attention. This is the second to last issue of Prophet in this particularly creative iteration -- there's a side series and a sequel series yet to come, I think. Saga is a giant book for a lot of comics shops and a big seller generally; this is its return after a brief hiatus. I believe this issue ends the first narrative arc for the Ed Brubaker/Steve Epting comic Velvet. It features a lengthy flashback and it's rare for a comic whose concept is dependent on the character being a certain age to hold our attention that well with flashbacks, which is a good sign for its potential longevity.

MAR140341 TMNT 30TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL $7.99
I have little to no idea what this is, but I'd sure look at it. 30 years, my god. Even as an early teen reading the first TMNT books as they came out, I could never make the claim they were anything more than fun, forgettable, crudely-down comics, but it's one of the more charming entertainment industry success stories, that's for sure.

MAR140671 ALL NEW DOOP #2 ANMN $3.99
MAR148148 ALL NEW GHOST RIDER #2 2ND PTG MOORE VAR $3.99
MAR140641 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2 ANMN $3.99
MAR140730 AMAZING X-MEN #7 $3.99
MAR140687 AVENGERS WORLD #6 $3.99
MAR140652 DAREDEVIL #3 ANMN $3.99
MAR140658 ELEKTRA #2 ANMN $3.99
MAR140656 HULK #3 ANMN $3.99
MAR140666 MAGNETO #4 ANMN $3.99
MAR140721 NOVA #17 $3.99
MAR140627 ORIGINAL SIN #2 $3.99
MAR140740 SAVAGE WOLVERINE #19 $3.99
MAR140708 THOR GOD OF THUNDER #22 $3.99
MAR140700 ULTIMATE FF #2 $3.99
MAR140737 UNCANNY X-MEN #21 $3.99
MAR140741 WOLVERINE AND X-MEN #4 $3.99
MAR140729 X-MEN #14 $3.99
These are the Marvel serial comic books out this week, and some of the Marvel comics are pretty well done, I think, or at least they seem to be whenever I catch up to them. That price point would have freaking killed me as a teen, though, just the difference between being able to buy three comics with ten bucks and not being able to afford five with a $20. That's how I felt comics back then, anyway. I don't know how these comics stay afloat because I don't think the audience is big enough that the buying isn't multiple series at a time. They just must have great, great fans, conditioned to a certain kind of buying. But when people suggest they don't know why their middle-sellers are kind of weak, the miracle may be why they aren't in the toilet. Were I twelve right now, I might download, maybe? It would be tough to even think of engaging with comics the same way. Most inflationary calculators have the 40 cent comics I bought as a kid going for about $1.45 now, adjusted. That would feel great.

imageJAN141331 FIRST KINGDOM HC VOL 04 (MR) $24.99
I have all of these in comics form, and I think I prefer them that way -- Jack Katz's comics seem very much of the time they were published, andin that time strange magazine-sized comics could be found here and there on newsstands and in the early comic book shops. Still, this seems like a sold re-presentation of these works, which are genuinely difficult to find in a casual sense, just looking around comics shops for them. They are certainly informative of a lot of the science fiction favored in modern comics, from independents to alternatives.

JAN141122 MARK WAID GREEN HORNET #12 $3.99
I still always get a little excited when I see that full title.

MAR141198 RETURN OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL GN $12.99
MAR141199 RETURN OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL HC $18.99
And so she has; Zita is very popular with young reader, and the creator Ben Hatke is very popular with his peers. Note the simultaneous hardcover/softcover release, something that's routine and makes sense and yet 10 years ago various pundits would have greeted it like blood falling from the skies like rain.

MAR141551 ART & FLAIR OF MARY BLAIR UPDATED ED HC $45.00
Not really comics, but certainly it's fun to look at Blair's work and it's certainly baseline influential in terms of cartoon art and movie-making in the 20th Century. I'd give it a look , for sure.

MAR141348 CELESTE HC GN $24.95
Now this one's interesting; it's one that I saw people picking up in Toronto without actually knowing what it is. INJ Culbard's done a ton of interesting comics artwork, and this is a first written/drawn, stand-alone effort. It's why we go to the comic shop, to see what appears on the stands.

*****

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

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

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

If I failed to list your comic, that's because I hate you.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: John Bolton Portfolio Images

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Go, Look: Brent Anderson Ka-Zar Portfolio Images

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this Luke Pearson illustration marking Nobrow's New York office sure is something.

image* Sean Gaffney on Showa: 1939-1944: A History Of Japan. Chris Cummins on André The Giant: Life And Legend.

* Jones walks his way through the X-Men comic books.

* Gil Roth talks to Mimi Pond. James from Black Hook Press talks to Eleanor Davis. Julia Lipkins (I think) talks to Karen Green. Gabriel Canada talks to Gene Luen Yang. Pádraig Ó Méalóid talks to Hayley Campbell. Brittney Mann profiles Sharon Murdoch.

* not comics: I don't discuss the movie side of comic book licensing a whole lot because this isn't a movie site, but every so often you read an article like this very good one, and it reminds that there are some really disheartening, miserable aspects to leveraging giant mainstream movie hits. The thought of something generating so much profit but being a disappointment because it didn't generate the profit it was expected to generate makes money an abstract principle in a way I find dehumanizing. I don't know what effect this has on the film industry, but I know when these kind of abstraction settle into the comics world hard-working people tend to lose their jobs, and resources start to be applied in very odd ways.

* Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and Dynamite came out of their rights dispute hot to make some comics, like the nerdiest courtroom romance movie ever.

* Gene Luen Yang names his top ten Asian Pacific American Comic Book characters. There are some interesting choices in there, including Lynda Barry.

* Steve Lieber lays down a barrage of solid, old-school values style advice on how to approach the difficulties of making comics pages. Lieber's prose is as uncluttered and straight-forward as his best comics.

* Rob Liefeld by way of a TV ad by way of twenty years passing by way of Ed Piskor by way of Boing Boing.

* the Guardian would like to see work from some of you.

* finally, Sonia Harris writes about the art she made for The Bounce #12.
 
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Happy 48th Birthday, Mark Crilley!

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Happy 70th Birthday, Kim Deitch!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Neil Kleid!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Gary Reed!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Sammy Harkham!

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May 20, 2014


Go, Look: Mac Raboy Draws Captain Marvel Jr.

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Festivals Extra: ACE Parking To Sell SDCC Spaces Today

This is the direct link. Noon ET. I think it's pretty intuitive. What I don't know -- and I should, so I apologize -- is how necessary securing one of these places is. Like I don't know how hard it is to secure a space if you just drive into town. The last couple of times I've done that, I've really had no problem -- I went a little early, and found spaces east of the main restaurant throughfares a-plenty. I do know that valet parking at the hotels is starting to slip into the $35 and $40 range now. Also, if you have very specific carry-into needs at the show, I would imagine securing a prime space would be important.

Looking around a bit more, it looks like the devoted SDCC blog had a walk-through tour of that process.
 
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Not Comics: Prints From Hiroshi Yoshida

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this was an e-mailed suggestion, which usually means someone prominent or some prominent people drove attention to it first
 
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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* there's a cover now for the forthcoming The Art Of Richard Thompson. Thompson talks about it and shows an alternative selection that was considered here. That looks like that could be a very fun book.

image* Deb Aoki notes we're going to see a new, hardcover edition of Jiro Taniguchi's The Walking Man.

* both of Mr. Khouri's points are sound.

* Fantagraphics has a preview up for the next Carol Swain, Gast. I'm very excited; Swain is an under-appreciated but frequently powerful, always intriguing cartoonist.

* speaking of Fantagraphics, I'm glad to see they're going to continue working with Hans Rickheit.

* there were some cover reveals and creative team information for DC's September stunt of selling fancy covers and tying all of their series into a grim, near-future series they have going right now. The Beat had them. These comics are basically a "using an ink that gives me a rash" step away from being aimed directly at things that I don't care for in comics, but they should do very well based on the success of past, similar stunts and the overall market slackness that rewards companies telling fans, "here, here, here, buy this thing; buy these things" every so often. The Phantom Stranger cover made me giggle, for some reason.

* the artist David Aja called my attention to the Spanish anthology Terry, imminent and with an all-star line-up. Thanks, David.

* Zainab Akhtar previews the forthcoming Bianca Bagnarelli book Fish. That's due from Nobrow next month.

* BOOM! Studios confirms that their Lumberjanes series, a popular and very appealing-looking recent debut, will be an ongoing series. To be honest with you, I had always assumed it was.

* finally, Julia Gfrörer previews pages from a forthcoming mini, "Palm Ash."

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Go, Look: Another Bernie Wrightson Image Gallery

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Go, Look: Steve Rude Superhero Mini-Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Paul Gravett digs into the hostility that critics sometimes evince when confronted with comics.

image* Todd Klein on Justice League #29. I am sort of completely baffled when I read those "Forever Evil" comics, which posited this world-changing event that I somehow don't see in all of the DC titles I read and seems to come out a half-step slower than the other comics the company makes. I find reading those kinds of casual armageddon moments very odd, like hearing someone is sick in the hospital and then five minutes later seeing them in a local coffee shop drinking coffee. Okay, maybe not exactly like that. But it's very specific and peculiar weird. Patrick Hess on The Bounce #12. Brandon Soderberg on Popeye, The Classic Newspaper Comics -- Volume One: 1986-1989.

* the number of words on this page is astonishing, and I'm a fan of a certain kind of mainstream comics presentation that emphasizes a lot of words.

* holy moley, look at that pencil drawing from Alex Nino.

* not comics: Chris Ware makes a rock poster.

* David Lasky has finally put up some photos from his trip to Russia last year.

* Richard Bruton talks to Gareth Brookes. Emma Courtland profiles Jaime Hernandez. Abigail Sindzinski profiles Ben Katchor. Karen Peltier profiles Lale Westvind.

* people are going to keep e-mailing me links to the comic on a strand of hair until I run a link.

* not comics: totally missed the passing of HR Giger, one of the visual artists that greatly influenced a certain kind of fantastic comics art in the 1970s and into the 1980s. I would say his influence was both directly and indirectly felt, and certainly the use of his visual imagery in Alien was also of great benefit to comics stylists a generation later for the fealty show his work as opposed to the film industry making that work generic. Here's a nice little gallery.

* Rich Johnston notes that 3/4 of all the black writers nominated for an Eisner the last ten years were nominated this year.

* that is an astonishing amount of money for anything, let alone original art. That's money that doesn't really have any connection to what you and I think of as money.

* here's a history of comics featuring Godzilla. And here's Brandon Graham drawing Godzilla.

* some cartoonist needs to bring back the wacky doctor look.

* not comics: if you visit all of these New York City bookstores you're supposed to visit before you die, you could buy comics at a bunch of them.

* finally, Paul Pope draws Zatoichi.
 
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Gardner Fox Was Born 103 Years Ago Today

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Happy 41st Birthday, Mike Norton!

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May 19, 2014


Please Listen To Me Talking Imperfectly About A Perfect Comic: Jules Feiffer's "Sick Sick Sick"

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it's always an honor to go on someone's podcast and talk about great work, and there are few i admire in comics history as much as Feiffer's mighty Sick Sick Sick, a book that could come out ten years from now but came out in 1958; also this discussion took place at 5:00 AM or something because i love you
 
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Go, Look: Morris Weiss, RIP

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By Request Special: Jack Kirby Play; Julia Wertz's Etsy Store

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* the cartoonist Julia Wertz has uploaded a bunch of listings to her Etsy store. This includes illustrations and comics. I have no idea if this effort is tied into anything specific, but I know a lot of the better works should go pretty quickly and wanted to mention it on CR before this happened.

* Fred Van Lente and Crystal Skillman have penned a play about the foundational comics talent Jack Kirby; they are seeking crowd-funding help in putting it up on its feet.

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OTBP: X

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* a bunch of folks have recommended this Bright Spiral crowd-funder, and even though they've made their initial goal there are still plenty of days to get on board. Similarly, this Ant San crowd-funded has met its goals with some time remaining.

image* ECBACC has gone to a crowd-funding mechanism to raise money for their shows and mission. I think they have enough of a track record that people can make a fair appraisal of how their money will be spent, which is a different kind of social mechanism in play.

* Van Jensen's crowdfunder looks well on its way.

* nice people on twitter suggested this Joey Esposito Footprints crowd-funder; this looks like the latest in a series at least one of which was crowd-funded in similar fashion. Here's a blog post in support.

* here are two crowd-funders with name familiar to print comics fans: one for a Ben Dunn Ninja High School collection; one for a continuation of Craig McKenney's Brontes project.

* finally, I figure this Dave Sim crowd-funder set its initial goal very low on purpose, but it's having the success that most of the Dave Sim-related crowd-funders have enjoyed.
 
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Go, Look: Mort Drucker Popeye Movie Imagery

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Go, Look: A Selection Of Black And White John Buscema Art

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I had a ton of fun reading Shannon Smith's long-delayed report on this year's FLUKE.

image* Rob Clough profiles Ray Ray Books.

* so apparently Julie Doucet made a poster that will be used as an enticement/inducement to donate to SAW.

* Chris Mautner talks to Noah Van Sciver.

* not comics: I don't follow the various TV shows and movies that are spun off of comics ideas very closely, but the SHIELD related program that ABC had this year was sort of fascinating in a bunch of ways modern TV can be interesting. I was sort of shocked how cheaply produced the show looked, for instance. After some poorly received episodes -- except maybe for kids, if anecdotal evidence serves -- a burst of the final episodes tied into the recent movie starring Captain America got at least some comics/concept fans back on board.

* congratulations to Carol Tilley on securing tenure.

* Corey Blake catches that Dark Horse has enjoyed a recent surge in Direct Market sales relative to its competitors.

* this is the last time I liked one of those superhero comic future armageddon scenarios. I really only ever liked three: the Baddoon scenarior from Guardians Of The Galaxy when I was a kid, Days Of Future Past (original storyline only) and this one. I like the first because it was a new idea to me and it was puzzling to me how little the superheroes mattered under this scenario, I liked the second because it was pretty ruthlessly bleak and made for nice commentary on murder as a political tactic, and I liked the third because it was imaginatively executed and very briskly told.

* Art Lortie remembers the late Dick Ayers.

* not comics: one of the things we frequently forget about in comics is how comics exists in the context of an absolute crisis across the board in publishing: here's a lengthy piece that was recommended to me on the troubles facing university presses.

* Joe Keatinge shows off his comics shelves.

* John Kane on various comics. Joe Gordon on Cat And Meringue and Hoax: Psychosis Blues. Ken Parille on a number of Koyama books. Rob Kirby on Rudy. Paul Buhle on The Best Of Comix Book. Greg Hunter on Andre The Giant. Johanna Draper Carlson on Andre The Giant.

* finally, that's quite the line for Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman at Gaithersburg Book Festival.
 
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Happy 36th Birthday, Armand Villavert, Jr.!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Anne Ishii!

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Happy 72nd Birthday, Shirrel Rhoades!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Tom Gammill!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Steve Lieber!

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May 18, 2014


CR Sunday Feature: A Few Notes About TCAF 2014

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imageThe following are a few personal observations about the recently completed Toronto Comic Arts Festival, held every year in and around the Toronto Reference Library. I had a really good time.

*****

* TCAF is a mighty, mighty show now. I'll have some criticisms below, but the positives far outweigh the negatives with this one, to an almost overwhelming degree.

* I'm not sure what the takeaway was for most people. I bet due to the number of enthusiastic audience members and excellent cartoonists on hand that were women, someone out there has tried to cast it as a year for women, but I think TCAF itself played that in a way to underline that in a sense every year is that year, and that's a bigger cause for celebration than actually planning for a one-year bump or call to attention. There were just a lot of good cartoonists period. Keynoters Kate Beaton, Lynn Johnston, Raina Telgemeier? These cartoonists aren't part of any trend. That is the face of comics, artists defined by their talent and their class. This is what comics looks like right now, and in places like TCAF it's what it's looked like for a while.

* to be honest, the show felt young to me more than it felt like a show defined by gender or orientation.

* the show also felt counter-standard-narrative more than it felt like a show defined by anything else. As much as I'm proud of the kinds of comics I've been able to champion over the years, one of the great things about going to TCAF is the presence of so many people whose conception of comics does not give two shits about standard narratives for comics -- what's good, why, where those comics have to come from. I must have heard the phrase, "I don't know who those people are [person indicates someone with a line] but they're very, very popular" a dozen times over the weekend. The world of comics engaged by TCAF is expanding, and the show expands with it.

* so: TCAF 2014.

* first personal note: this was my first show of the year. It was nice to see everyone. Except you, Harbin.

* second personal note, of even higher self-indulgence: Yes, I'm super-heavy right now. I think I was 95 pounds heavier this year -- yikes! I'll write about it at some point in the near-future but: there was a thing, I'm 100 percent fine, and I appreciate the concern, interest and/or polite circumspection from all of you that noticed. I think I may have heard every sweetly-intended variation of "Sooooo... how's your health?" the English language allows. As someone who has made that part of their life a bit public, I think that's fair game.

* to that end, I heard very little talk about other people's weight or how they looked, which I also think is a healthy trend. People don't go to comics shows for our benefit, they go because it's a part of their lives. We could all gossip less.

* anway, I'll be surprised if I do not look very different by Heroes, Comic-Con, SPX and ICAF. We'll see.

* my size did make travel more personally reminiscent of 2010 than 2012, but it was all very doable.

* I don't have a lot in the way of general travel notes. I do think the fundamental unreliability of travel in the 2010s is a sign of one way stateside culture has embraced higher profits over a better system. I live in a weird place, far from airports and four-lane highways, but it took me an astonishing 26 hours from driveway to Toronto hotel room. It took me 23 hours from Toronto hotel room to my friend's house in Muncie, Indiana. This is yet another thing in this report that is going to make me sound 10,000 years old, but all I could think of while traveling is the way my father as a kid used to hop trains from his home in Indiana to Cleveland to see an Indians game with friends and then head back again, fully confident that the trains would run on time and deposit him five blocks from his house. Can you imagine a 12-year-old traveling like this today? Can you imagine depending on the timeliness of regional travel to the point you'd never question your safe and punctual arrival?

* the first comics people I saw on my trip were Heidi MacDonald and John Green, sitting across way in Newark's Porter Air lobby, talking industry stuff. We later shared a cab. Heidi paid. Feud over.

* the Porter Air part of the trip was very smooth for me this year, although I heard that some of the Friday arrivals experienced ferry delays that made the end of the trip kind of tough. There was also some discombobulation at Newark with one of their runways that put some people on earlier or slightly delayed flights. Still, I'm surprised more people don't take advantage of this regional airline. There were maybe five other comics people on my flight. That specific flight, from Newark to Toronto, was $59. I think I might actually pay $359 to not do Pearson.

* I also had no problems with customs, although again I heard that some people were asked more directly after whether or not they were in Toronto to do business. I heard more stories than usual, anyway.

* come to think of it, people being mostly fine was a mini-theme of the weekend. A lot of folks had "yeah, but" stories, one glitch that was unexpected or one outcome that was slightly off-key -- not enough to ruin a weekend, but enough for a story. Some of these were practical and real-world, like Leon Avelino and Sean Ford of Secret Acres having to fill out some paperwork at the border. Some of these were existential. I talked to a lot of people that were "re-thinking convention strategies" in terms of, say, not attending shows unless they had some specific and new comic to represent, and I talked to several others that were trying a completely different table mix or convention strategy. One person flat-out told me they're at the stage of having a small list of demands they're able to make of shows, without which they won't consider attending. A bunch of folks talked about how there are so many shows now, with Toronto being major but also expensive, and some flat-out admitted they hadn't figured things out yet.

* a lot of positive talk about Barry Matthews.

* so I think the whole orientation towards shows might be changing -- that's probably always in flux, but we're reaching something of a saturation point with shows and that's bound to make people more selective moving forward.

* there's an arguable progression of events that puts us 12-18 months from now smack in the middle of the mainstreaming of appearance fees, which would change everything.

* before we get too far from travel: here's a Porter air tip for future years. Some people balk at the $20 cab ride from the ferry to the Marriott and other nearby hotels. While that's the most direct way to finish that particular trip, please note you can also take a shuttle bus to Union Station and jump on the $3 subway ride to the Yonge/Bloor stop.

* a bunch of people did airbnb for a place to stay, and it actually suits the show much better than it might other shows.

* I like the Marriott Bloor Yorkville where a lot of events take place and a lot of guests stay. I stayed there. It's feels big and old-fashioned, long hallways and a floor numbering that is disconnected from reality just enough to confuse the occasional young person that takes the stairs (the "1st Floor" is actually the building's sixth). It's not the hotel from Barton Fink, but it's reminiscent of some lost era in time -- maybe the 1970s. I can imagine my family during my single-digits childhood staying here on their way to our getting to see a department store Santa Claus.

* the first comics creator I saw once hitting Toronto was Lynn Johnston, who crossed the Marriott lobby in front of me. I thought of saying hi, but she looked lost in thought. I'd get the chance to see and talk to her a couple of times later, but that was not the case with everyone. That show is big enough now -- and fragmented except for the final afterparty as befits a festival -- that you just don't see everyone. At least I didn't. People I usually see that I didn't at all or for only a few seconds included Meredith Gran, Chip Zdarsky, Jillian Tamaki and Becky Cloonan. I wanted to meet Lacey Micallef and didn't. I saw Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips exactly one time in the street outside the Marriott.

* Sean Phillips still looks freakishly young, in case anyone was curious.

* that's a defining characteristic of TCAF, incidentally, not just a note on the size of the show. There's really no center to TCAF in the way that older con-goers kind of depend on there being even if they don't think they do this. The convention is like five overlapping doilies tossed on a table, with a scattering of felt pieces covering the rest of the surface. This is how other cons operate, but the difference here is that this is how the comics portion of the show operates, not the various nerd cultures. People spoke in terms of multiple possibilities: "Which thing are you doing tonight?" People were frequently hearing about events about which they hadn't known. I heard one person in the lobby tell another person, roughly, 'I'm glad you told me about that, because that sounds way better than what I had going on."

image* I roomed with the cartoonist and course educator Frank Santoro, who drove up from Pittsburgh. I don't usually have a roommate -- I'm a bad one, and not just because of my odor, casual bigotries and violent temper. I'm also given to getting up early enough to work on reports like this one and prone to wandering down the hall for ice and not coming back for two hours because I'm old and easily distracted. Still, I had fun with Frank! I was reminded how enjoyable it is to have someone around to make fun of TV shows with and kind of work out which strain of gossip to which we shared exposure seemed the most likely. There are a thousand different ways of looking at comics even when you have the same general view.

* during that morning room time, Frank and I would see chunks of multiple Stuart Erwin movies over the weekend. What an odd duck that guy was. Also, for some reason, multiple people engaged me in conversations about "Safety Dance." There was very little talk of Mayor McCracky or whatever his name is, and all of it was apologetic. Hockey dominated cable TV.

* Santoro was on hand in part to promote his correspondence course he facilitates through his Comics Workbook site. Frank also kept trying to interview me on "recent industry issues" for The Comics Journal and I kept locking myself in the bathroom until he left the room entirely.

* I went to the Christophe Blain, Abel Lanzac interview and reception at the Alliance Francaise de Toronto. This was one of a bunch of satellite events for the show, which I never really got a full handle on -- I'm sure it was possible to know all of these by heart, I just didn't do it.

* there were French-language elements to the evening and I impressed no one by having to close my eyes to be able to focus enough to make out the main words. College French, and I was a terrible student.

* the satellite events overlapped by necessity, too, just to fit them all in, so you couldn't do anywhere near all of them. Blain/Lanzac was close to the Marriott, though, and I'm a big fan of Christophe Blain. It was a fun interview. The artist said that he initially balked at doing the book because of the necessity of drawing so many people in suits, but that he eventually came around to the subtleties of how that clothing was worn for political ends. The audience was very respectful -- and very interested in the movie version.

* met Renaud Dillies and Reinhard Kleist that evening, if only in passing. Kleist I never saw again. There was an astonishing number of random, talented cartoonists at this show.

* stumbled into Bart Beaty, who writes for this site whenever he wants. Bart's Twelve-Cent Archie is out next year; he says it's his best book. I'm very excited for him to be the keynote speaker at this Fall's ICAF, in Columbus, Ohio. Long overdue. He's a very prolific writer about comics and I've had people tell me he's basically the face of modern North American comics scholarship.

* in a kind of reverse nerd switcheroo, Bart and I stood outside the reception part of the cartoonists' evening and talked about NFL football.

* spent the late night with Frank Santoro and Tucker Stone bending elbows across the street from the Marriott and saying things none of us probably should have (by virtue of their being mean, not unsavory), at least not out loud. It was good to see Tucker, who looks centered and happy. I barely saw him again.

* I came up Thursday because on Friday there was a professional development track at the Marriott and an academic/librarian track at the library. I didn't see the latter -- I suddenty had to work on a freelance gig -- but I saw a bit of the former as it was down the hall from my room. That whole suite of events seemed pretty well-attended.

* I'd never seen Santoro give his grids speech, which I thought was fascinating. Santoro may be the only person teaching structure and story in a holistic sense rather than traditional methods where those concepts are more understood than explicit. In other words, whereas in many places you might learn narrative structure through a scriipt, Santoro gives you a physical signpost for figuring that out on the page. I would imagine that would be a very helpful thing to which to expose yourself if you're a working cartoonist, particularly one casting about for ways to work.

* the one of those panels about which I heard the most positive buzz was Kriota Willberg's presentation on injury prevention.

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* ran into Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman in the street, and was disappointed that Telgemeier wasn't carrying a giant loaf of bread.

* it seemed for a few hours there that every time I crossed the lobby Calista Brill of First Second was talking to someone new. That lobby trapped me later on, too. First Second actually exhibited, which meant that Brill was on hand to do that as Gina Gagliano has a role with the show.

* I'm a big fan of professional development, and hope that it will start being a part of every show that can fold such things into its mission. There are so many young professionals reinventing the wheel every three years, entirely to their detriment. I think if conventions are going to such a huge part of what comics is becoming, that maybe they can be the institutions where this knowledge is pooled. The industry increasingly lacks structure and form -- that means that cartoonists need to be even more attentive to things that their workplace won't provide them.

* I met Jesse Moynihan for the first time later that day. Again, never saw him after that.

* Friday evening I had dinner at the nearby member of the Terroni chain of restaurants with the Drawn and Quarterly crew and a few of their kickstarter incentive winners from the Doug Wright Awards crowd-funder. I sat at a table that included Tracy Hurren and Julie Delporte, among a ton of others. It was a fine meal. You can always tell when a convention works well because you value the meals as a rare opportunity at beneficial, unstructured time.

* it was fun to walk back and shoot the shit with Chris Oliveros. I never get to talk to Chris Oliveros.

* the keynote was very well attended, I'd say just over 90 percent full. Chris Butcher gave a measured, enthusiastic opening address, before turning it over to Raina Telgemeier asking questions of Lynn Johnston and Kate Beaton. They were all very funny, very relaxed and forthcoming. Johnston told a fascinating story about not being able to fully appreciate her Reuben win because she felt like a Jim Davis protest candidate. Both of the younger cartoonists deferred to Johnston without calling attention to that fact. The audience questions highlights were a pair from two tiny girls -- I don't remember what they asked, but I remember they were better questions than I've heard from 80 percent of convention-goers at an open mike. Anyway, that was a really good event.

* an impromptu signing afterwards had a line of 85 people by my count, split pretty evently between the three cartoonists.

* saw Alvin Buenaventura quietly sitting by himself inside the library's front entrance. He was exhibiting with Pigeon Press, and more than one person came up to me to tell me to be sure to write it was really good to have Buenaventura publishing again.

* ran into Jeff Smith, Charles Brownstein and Gil Roth in the entranceway of the library. We walked Smith back to the Marriott and exchanged a few stories over a nightcap, just general state-of-being things. It's funny how tired I already was. It's remarkable if you think about it that the CBLDF was tabling at a show in a different country, but as I saw it that was a testament to TCAF's central role for a lot of stateside creators and the importance of the US market for comics generally.

* Gil Roth is a close friend of mine that I made while managing editor of The Comics Journal; we bonded over our mutual amusement concerning Moses Magnum. He wrote briefly for the magazine. He now does the Virtual Memories podcast. He's been attending TCAF for years. He fired through about a half-dozen interviews over the weekend, including Nina Bunjevac, Seth and Mimi Pond. I think his show is really good, enough to appear on it (although never listen to the end result). I recommend it a lot. This is something I want to talk about later on from a different perspective, but it's great to engage with comics through access points other than hardcore comics itself -- as part of a literary podcast, in this case.

* spoke to Johnston in the company of several others when Peter Birkemoe walked her back to the Marriott. She seemed genuinely touched by the respect shown to her by her young peers.

* I never saw her again after that, either.

image* Birkemoe, on the other hand, I saw all the freaking time.

* all these disappearances makes TCAF sounds like a cheap horror movie, or a touching metaphor for the impermanence of life. Take your pick.

* the late set-up at the library scotched a lot of vaguely intended plans. I'm sure a ton of mostly younger folks ended up at the opening party at the Pilot -- I did not step into that place all weekend except for a couple of panels. This is going to sound dumb, but it took me about two hours to cross the lobby -- I mentioned earlier I got stuck here. I saw a ton of folks, including the bulk of Team AdHouse. Scott Dunbier showed up confused over where the bar con might be -- it was everywhere and nowhere, Scott, welcome to TCAF -- and received some praise for his beloved Artist's Edition format.

* watching Scott interact with TCAF was fascinating. I think he was genuinely taken with the whole thing, particularly the diversity of the crowd and their enthusiasm. Dunbier was there in support of IDW's new Parker prose series and Darwyn Cooke more generally.


* had breakfast with Jeff Smith, who spoke openly of his line anxiety. Would he have one? Would it be a long one? At one point he said he blamed the Image Comics rise in the early 1990s for his generation's fixation on having a long signing line. Entirely befitting this conversation, both of us had link sausage with our eggs.

* the feel on the floor of the show was not a whole lot different than in previous years, or at least not that much different than last year. People seemed to do generally well throughout, the crazy times began mid-afternoon on Saturday and continued for a few hours, and many folks sold out.

* one thing that was more openly discussed by people to whom I spoke was the real difference between general areas of table placement in terms of how they felt they did. Upstairs generally was very well-trafficked to the point of being regulated in terms of who got in and got out, but this also meant that a couple of folks I talked to bailed on returning upstairs to make a specific, missed purchase. I know I didn't go back up to pick up some free books waiting for me for review -- sorry, nice cartoonist who told me this, it wasn't personal. Some of the downstairs areas were deemed less suitable, particularly that line of tables around the corner across from the bathroom in back (a long-time spot of not-much enthusiasm) and a new area, the former computer-lab type room where they used to have some programming. There was a popular exhibitor or two in there to drive traffic, but when there was a line out the door, this effectively blocked people from wanting to enter the room to see who else might be in there. Diana Tamblyn was very careful to write me to say she did quite well in there, particuarly Sunday, but that was not the sense of the room when I was in there. A couple of people suggested those tables be discounted or perhaps made available for exhibitors not dependent on the show as a money-making venture.

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* this is what Fantagraphics looks like now. Yeah, hell if I know, either.

* on the other hand, while a couple of folks had complained to me last year that the Wowee Zonk area stretching out to the left as you enter the library was not exactly the hottest traffic area, this year there were no such complaints and several compliments.

* oh, I mentioned that glassed-in area -- except for one small room all of the programming was held off site this year, in part to reduce the extreme crowds.

* Box Brown had one of the first floor's hot corners, and seemed generally happy with the first part of the rollout for his André The Giant book.

* I only heard "they will be closing soon" rumors about one name-you'd-recognize publisher. That had to be a record.

image* there were too many overlapping groups of comics people and the show was too big and there wasn't a jaw-dropping debut, so there was really no book of the show. The books I heard about from more than one person were Cum Lung #1-2 (that's the Cum Lung cartoonist Aaron Manczyk at right), Weapons Of Mass Diplomacy, Facility Integrity and Photobooth: A Biography. While no one mentioned it when I brought up books to go see, about five different people at different times and without prompting assured me that This One Summer was the real deal. I could mention a bunch more to be political, but those were really the only ones with multiple adherents. It could be I don't talk to enough people. I heard more people declaring there was no book of the show far more than I heard any one declaring for a specific book. I do think this was a lot about what was there and released, I do think it's possible to have books that appeal in that bolt-of-the-blue way, I just don't think there was one on the floor this year.

* I directed people to Safari Honeymoon, to the Latvians -- love the Latvians -- and to Kevin Huizenga's cascading manila folder pile of original art ranging from $10 to $40 in price. I even got one of those myself after Bart Beaty released the one I liked back into the wild.

* I did not see a bunch of the programming that was not my own. I saw the dirty comics panel, whatever that one was called (maybe something with the word "erotic" in it). It was pretty packed, and there was a weird amount of tittering at every sex-positive mention -- maybe not repressed prudery nervously bubbling to the surface as much as celebratory giggling, although it was hard to tell.

* I had a great time talking to Darwyn Cooke on his panel, which was extremely well-attended. Darwyn's really good on his feet in settings like that -- we talked about that a bit, even -- and he has been going to TCAF since the first one, which was about the size of the room we were in. The answers I remember at this remove were how hard he found revisiting the Parker material to do paintings for the prose book re-releases, how very real a presence Donald Westlake remains in the doing of the graphic novel adaptations, and how completely lost he confessed to being in terms of what he might do with his career after these books cycle out. That last was particuarly interesting to me because the Parker series came out of this time in Cooke's life when it seemed like he had an abundance of ideas in terms of how he might spend some of the creative capital he built up with his successful superhero comics, and this sounded like the opposite of that.

* anyway, I always like talking to that guy.

image* here's how strong TCAF is. Kevin Huizenga was just there. This is one of the great cartoonists of his generation, perhaps the best North American talent under the age of 40. I ran into a bunch of cartoonists like that, just there tabling, the kind that if announced might be at a convention four or five hours away: Keiler Roberts, Ethan Rilly, Blain, Michael Jordan, David Malki. That's not even counting all the people from several graphs ago that I didn't even see.

* it was good to see Blake Bell tabling with his kid and right next to Trina Robbins, who was one of the fun talk-tos all weekend. At one point Trina was angry about something written on-line but couldn't get on herself so she dictated her response to Bell. For some reason, I found this super-amusing and very comics.

* ran into Nick Bertozzi, who was tabling with Benjamin Marra. This was Bertozzi's first time there, and he was fairly stunned by the size and diversity of crowds and exhibitors.

* Jeff Smith had his line.

image* that night was the Doug Wright Awards. Sat with Peter Birkemoe and, briefly and not at the same time, Gil Roth and Nina Bunjevac. It was a fine ceremony, distinguished by its smooth and nearly glitch-free roll-out. Scott Thompson was funny. One of the Canadian Whites was also very funny. I talked to Brad Mackay earlier that weekend and he admitted that they did not think the crowd-funder was going to come through. I think they are ready a decade in to find new ways to approach the awards, ways that might require some corporate sponsorship.

* I was rooting for the Castrée, which I think is a really good book, but Michel Rabagliati was very charming in his acceptance speech for the latest Paul book. It was nice to see Steven Gilbert win an award, too. That guy came back late last year after not doing comics for more than 15 years. We spoke briefly after the awards. He was just another dude that was around making good comics and attending SPX back then, which confused some folks for whom Gilbert was some rare beast that lumbered out of the deep woods. As for the other award, Emily Carroll deserves everything she can win and was charming in accepting this one.

* spent the bulk of the rest of the evening at the "chill" party across the street, and texted some people dismayed by the youthful vibe of the Pilot party. I like that Peter Birkemoe is still adjusting TCAF to suit his needs -- the anecdote is that TCAF is the con that exists so the Beguiling owner doesn't have to travel to other cons -- and that this includes parties where people can talk to one another as opposed to dance. Dustin Harbin's dancing forced others from the room. Got to hear a 8.5 level (on the scale of ludicrous) Joe Matt story from Jeet Heer. It was nice.

* Frank Santoro was sick on Sunday. That's actually him sick in the picture near the top of this article.

* it seemed like most of the event Sunday I spent saying goodbyes so that I could spend the bulk of the afternoons (1:30 PM-on) in panels. I did get to walk the room, take some photos, check in with people I only see there like Joe Ollmann, and talk to folks like Ed Luce and the Telegraph Gallery folks (Simon Hanselmann and Zack Soto were big sellers). Dragged once-gone-now-returned manga fixture Anne Ishii to lunch, and talked about her work with Massive and the forthcoming Fantagraphics release of the anthology book of the same name, with Chip Kidd. She's one of the best comics people, and it's always great to see her.

image* a bunch of folks where rounding in on sell-outs, including folks without con debuts, which is impressive. That number included Katie Skelly, whose book from AdHouse Operation Margarine actually debuted at MoCCA. Skelly celebrated selling out by getting a manicure in the area.

* Skelly was on my non-traditional design inspirations panel, with Ed Piskor, Darwyn Cooke and Mimi Pond. This was really just my way to talk about visual style in a variety of ways, and how cartoonists build them when they're not beholden to a commercial tradition. Everyone was really good, and it was fun that, for instance, Darwyn Cooke was intrigued enough by his younger peers' work to have sought them out and read them, which made him able to comment specifically on elements of their work. We had some technical problems, and a slight hiccup with the volunteer on hand, and the panel suffered for my inability to overcome that gracefully. Still, I'd like to find some way to do recurring panels where we talk about comics as grandly complex pieces of visual art, and this was a first step. I've been casting about for something like this since I heard someone describe the value of the comic book in terms of the high concept single-sentence into which it could be boiled down, and I know that's not the case.

* I went from that panel at the Pilot to a criticism panel at the Marriott. It was strangely packed -- and, unlike the case the last two years in San Diego, this wasn't kids waiting around for a videogame panel appearing next hour. I hope folks got what they needed out of that panel. There was a nice mix of different kinds of writing about comics, what with Jeet Heer and Trina Robbins there. The majority of the panelists first discovered rigorous comics criticism through Gary Groth and friends. I whined about the lack of critical engagement and all sorts of other hypocritical constructs. I say that, but I do think we're at this point where fewer people engage with work in a negative fashion, particularly if that work is well-liked by a more general sense of the room. Mostly this comes out in a refusal to get at the question which works are good and which ones are great.

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* lots of general praise for the comedy stylings of American manzai Ed Piskor and Tom Scioli.

* my last panel was Renaud Dillies in that same room, attended by four people. That's a shame; he's a very talented cartoonist, and a thoughtful, articulate one. I also felt bad for our translator trying to put my rambling into another language at that late point in the con weekend. My questions frequently don't make sense in English first thing in the morning. Dillies was charming. I think a lot of what carries his work is how strongly he feels about the initial impression or idea. He's also very good at balancing stand-alone imagery with sequences that count on rapid eye movement and narrative rhythms, and his frequent use of close-ups on specific characters is an interesting choice a lot of the times it's used. I was glad to have a chance to revisit his work for this show, and am grateful to Terry Nantier for getting me digital copies of the comics.

* by the end of the weekend I had it down that the time when people gather in the lobby to meet up and head off to dinner is the time I hang out in that same general space and apologize to all the people I upset during the day.

* Sunday night I went to dinner with friends, and it was excellent. I always recommend trying in some way to take advantage of Toronto as a city while you're up there, and one way to do that is to be picky about at least one place you eat out.

* I didn't make it to the standard TCAF afterparty, which I'm told was a solid capper to a fun weekend. I felt... I don't know, I guess I felt old, in a way, disconnected a bit from what's going on. It is a feeling that has since passed. I might have also been lazy, and I might have also balked because I had to get up at 4 AM to write something.

image* I remembered to call Mom. If you didn't remember to call your mother -- if she's still with us -- then I hope you at least wished Dan Goldman a happy birthday.

* I took the megabus to Buffalo to access their much cheaper-to-the-US-Midwest airport -- in case anyone was wondering, that worked really well. While in Muncie, I stopped at the Jason Pierce/Mark Waid/Christina Blanch comics shop Alter-Ego, and was happy to buy about $25 or Marvel comics from Pierce. He said that his recent signining for Scott Snyder and a bunch of other on Free Comic Book Day and a stand-alone with Terry Moore went extremely well. I'm grateful for there to be a business like that one in my father's beloved downtown Muncie.

* then I was off to Columbus, and got home a couple of days later.

* been thinking about Toronto a lot, though.

* I think this year's show was key in a few ways. One that comes immediately to mind is that this is a show that functions as its own headlining aspect now; there was no major guest, there were several, but people seem to go to TCAF for the general experience first, an experience within that general experience second, and an experience distinct to that year third. This is a feel thing on my part, so I could be wrong, but I don't get any sense that TCAF will ever run out of combinations of artists that work for them, and I can't say that about every show.

* another thing: I suspect the extra day of formal programming made official this year is important to the show in terms of broadening its mission statement and even sneakily settling into a grander place on the arts calendar without requiring that some of its target audience spend the extra money necessary were the core festival more than two days.

* yet another: in a way, having Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips there, I think that's also a potential big deal, although maybe a quiet one. Because of their creator focus, TCAF will be able to bring in a lot of comics pros that have self-directed work to promote. That would have been a lot more difficult 15 years ago. I could see them eventually having a half-dozen big comics names of that type in the future.

* for me, the big story of TCAF and surging shows like it remains the audience. What's refreshing about the audience at TCAF is that it's essentially one that focuses on reading rather than a specific fandom linked to a bunch of different properties any way they can be linked, or a fandom that engages with an experience that is not reading. I'm not against shows where people come to buy toys or to secure drawing or to show up in costume, but I prefer the comics-focused ones because I think they're more efficient in growing the readership for the art form I care about and whose works I value.

* that's still an expensive show to get to, and I can see cartoonists and even publishers making some hard decisions in the future as to when to attend. I think we're headed in that direction now. I'm not sure what can be done about that, or, really, if anything should be done about that.

* all that said, there will never be a lack of alt-comics publishers at this show; I think it's too important.

* the nature of that importance, though, that's a tricky issue, and one I think in development. Are shows an end in and of themselves, or do we still think they provided a boost into a wider marketplace? It's been a long time since I've heard anyone argue the latter. I would have to imagine that no one is just selling things at shows, or at least that's a minority number still. That doesn't mean I'd prefer us not to be hemorraghing an infrastructure so that someone having a hit book at a show could be counted on to have a chance at a hit book in other marketplaces. I also worry that some people prefer the ego boost that comes from a hand sale to any three anonymous sales through traditional commercial avenues. That's a dangerous thing, because I think artists will sometimes convince themselves an unsatisfying experience is okay if there's some sort of ameliorative circumstance. Do retailers attend TCAF? Do they come to buy things? Do bookstore owners take note of what sells at these things? I can remember a point at which 20 years ago where market research was a very important part of conventions.

* I encourage the Festival to directly engage with the issue of the less valuable areas of booth placement, or at least the more obvious examples of same. This could be argued away, sure, with adamant proclamations that there is no difference and that some people do very well on these locations. I can't disprove the first and I'm certain the second is true. Still, the last few years I've gone I've seen some miserable veteran attendees that aren't just reacting to a poor showing by blaming where they are. They're reluctant to say anything at all they love the show so much. On exhibitor abandoned his back of the first floor table and just hung out with friends.

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* I also call on the Festival to do something about the European cartoonists and their ridiculous art dedications in the front of books. I could see a World War Of Cartooning here. Look at that needlessly provocative Dillies piece.

* another complaint I heard is that programming was late in being announced this year and that there were difficulties in planning on and then executing solid programming because of this. This area of the show didn't feature some of the dramatic failures of 2013 -- which in traditional comics culture terms are now being seen in the rearview mirror as minor glitches -- but I had two name publishers say to me outright they were frustrated by how late in the ramp-up that came together. I did not like aspects the way my own progamming slate came together. I talked to a couple of people that were asked to step in to help that felt pressure to do so even though they knew they weren't going to be as fully prepared as they'd like. Everything was mostly fine, of course, but a lot of this still seems avoidable given the maturation of the show.

* I also had a few exhibitors and guests complain to me about it being tougher than they thought to secure basic information about the show, like traveling to and from the neighborhood in which the show is in and what something other than staying at the Marriott might entail. That's something I had not heard before. TCAF has a slight reputation as a cold show, as a show that is a bit harder to negotiate and perhaps this is part of that.

* and yes, it also continues to be ridiculous that people won't make these complaints matter-of-fact and direct to the organizers. I did make my own feelings known to Festival Director and programming liaison Chris Butcher, for instance, on my things, but I know other people were just counting on me to do so for them here in this article -- and it's been that way for a few years now. I'm happy to do so, and I think that's a function of the press. But the most direct way to change things is, well, directly.

* to take this full circle, TCAF is a great show, and one of a handful of absolutely necessary ones out there. Any shortcomings are minor given their ambition and the way that community and customers support the enterprise. Also, you know what? Some things about a show that some folks may not like or may not enjoy fully are on people other than the festival organizers to solve. The happiest people at TCAF 2014 are those that have figured out how the show works for them, and simply go about executing it. I don't know how it works best for me, not yet. We'll all get there eventually.

*****

* all photos by me; they should be contextually explainable except for the top array, which is just a bunch of people and tables I saw around the show

*****

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*****
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Go, Look: Hive

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Go, Look: Our Drone Wars Are Just Beginning

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Go, Look: Barry Windsor-Smith Process Post

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Go, Look: D-20 Disaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Gabrielle Gamboa!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Arthur Suydam!

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Happy 40th Birthday, David Hyde!

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FFF Results Post #379 -- DC/Marvel In The '10s

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Specific Publications You Liked From Marvel Or DC That Came Out After January 1, 2010." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Hawkeye #1 (Marvel, 2012)
2. Batman Incoporated #0 (DC, 2012)
3. FF #4 (Marvel, 2013)
4. Daredevil #1 (Marvel, 2011)
5. Thor The Mighty Avenger #4 (Marvel, 2010)

*****

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Michael Buntag

1. Ms. Marvel #1 (Marvel, 2014)
2. She-Hulk #1 (Marvel, 2014)
3. All-New X-Men #4 (Marvel, 2013)
4. Action Comics #2 (DC, 2011)
5. Power Girl #12 (DC, 2010)

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Darkstar and the Winter Guard #1 (Marvel, 2010)
2. Justice League of America/The 99 #1 (DC, 2010)
3. Hulked-Out Heroes #1 (Marvel, 2010)
4. Captain Marvel #2 (Marvel, 2012)
5. Secret Avengers #1 (Marvel, 2010)

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Thor: God of Thunder #18 (Marvel 2014)
2. Legion Of Monsters #1 (Marvel 2011)
3. Animal Man #6 (DC 2012)
4. Masters of the Universe: Origin of Hordak #1 (DC 2013)
5. Untold Tales Of The Punisher Max #2 (Marvel 2012)

*****

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Rob Salkowitz

1. All-Star Western #1 (DC, 2011)
2. She-Hulk #1 (Marvel, 2014)
3. Ms. Marvel #1 (Marvel, 2014)
4. Rocketeer/Spirit (DC/IDW 2013)
5. Daytripper #1 (DC/Vertigo, 2010)

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. Amazing Spider-Man #698 (Marvel, 2012)
2. Action Comics #1 (DC, 2011)
3. Daredevil #20 (Marvel, 2012)
4. Wonder Woman #1 (DC, 2011)
5. Superior Spider-Man #9 (Marvel, 2013)

*****

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Chris Duffy

1. Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE #3 (DC, 2011)
2. Batman '66 (DC, 2013)
3. Ms Marvel #1 (Marvel, 2014)
4. Road to Oz #5 (Marvel 2013)
5. All-New X-Men #1 (Marvel, 2012)

*****

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William Burns

* Fearless Defenders #7 (Marvel, 2013)
* Batwoman # 17 (DC, 2013)
* Harley Quinn # 0 (DC, 2013)
* Ms. Marvel # 1 (Marvel, 2014)
* Thor/Captain America the Mighty Fighting Avengers Free Comic Book Day (Marvel, 2011)

*****
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May 17, 2014


Happy 25th Anniversary To King-Cat Comics!

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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Trailer For Ralph Steadman Film


Ralph Steadman's American Presidents


British Creators On Jack Kirby


A Conversation With Roz Chast


Giles Profiled


This Looks Like All Of The Jack T. Chick Documentary God's Cartoonist
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from May 10 to May 16, 2014:

1. TCAF concludes in Toronto, having pursued it most ambitious year yet -- including multiple satellite events and Friday programming.

2. A Spider-Man relaunch hitting 500K in a sea of titles performing at modest levels when the collectible inducement is reduced reveals some of the peculiarities of the current Direct Market.

3. The John Campbell abandoned kickstarter story may be winding its way to a calmer resolution than originally feared, thanks in part to members of that community stepping forward to help out.

Winner Of The Week
John Porcellino

Losers Of The Week
Those comics that may lose out on some of the respect they've earned long-term because of a distrust of critical sorting and a veneration of nostalgic favor, which comes in generational waves. I don't know, it seemed a pretty positive week, so I'll just be grumpy and say that one.

Quote Of The Week
"Today I'm in Fort Wayne, Indiana, standing behind my table at the Appleseed Con, an appropriate place to be all these years later, I think. There are few things I love more than comics, and it's been a privilege to be a part of this world. Thanks!" -- John Porcellino

*****

image from a Marvel comic book, 1964

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 35th Birthday, Michel Fiffe!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Brigid Alverson!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Brandon J. Carr!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Dave Sim!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Jake Parker!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Dan Zettwoch!

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May 16, 2014


Go, Look: Comics College Survival Guide

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Five (Plus) Reasons Folks Should Go Visit Columbus, Ohio, And Not Wait A Long While Before Doing So



Due to the great generosity of the nice people at Columbus, Ohio's Wexner Center, I took a quick peek at preparations for the traveling Dan Clowes Modern Cartoonist show landing in Columbus for a full summer run starting this weekend with a gala opening this weekend. I was only in Columbus for a few hours, on my way to somewhere else, so I appreciate being able to see it -- they were also still putting the finishing touches, so I am further thankful they let me in at all.

I also got a look at the influences show that Clowes assembled from the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum holdings with the assistance of Caitlin McGurk, and a show of modern artists using elements of cartooning and comics in non-comics work. I also -- it was a hell of a two hours -- got my first look at the Bill Watterson and Richard Thompson exhibits that opened earlier this spring.

You can see all of the Clowes-related activities listed in one place here.

A few notes.

image* with these five exhibits, the general opportunities afforded by the Billy Ireland space (you can arrange to see material from their holdings or get some very specific research done) and the various ins into the local comics community provided by people like McGurk, I can't imagine that anyone in comics wouldn't want to spend at least a little time in Columbus this summer. Thompson/Watterson/Clowes is a major festival's worth of exhibits.

* I mean, the Clowes stuff all by itself would be worth a road trip, and was on previous stops in Oakland and Chicago. There's a bit of a risk in a museum taking on a show that was previously up within a half-day's driving distance, so I hope that people in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, for example, consider a day trip to see it. This weekend's discussion between Clowes and Hillary Chute is something I very much wish I could see, and I would take a second trip just to do so. Clowes is a bit under-interviewed among his peers, and I know he's smart and articulate.

* on the day I visited I saw the Watterson first. That show is exactly what was required: a major, done-in-one statement about a major cartoonist who has only become more popular since his retirement getting closer to 20 years ago now. It was going to be good unless curator Jenny Robb super-screwed up, because Watterson's work is lovely, but it needed to be authoritative. This does future exhibits greater permission to do variations of the career retrospective rather than attempting to get one of those into place.

image* I think Robb hit it dead on. Cross "major Bill Watterson gallery show" off the list of things we need to see.

* everything provided is worth stopping and reading -- I couldn't see any early computer-aided production in play, like repeated panels or stripped in lettering, and the bulk of individual pieces were completed strips, particularly Sundays. They're a little smaller than I might have guessed if I had taken a stab at it back in 1989. They're also a little more worked on than I think most people might expect, given Watterson's ample chops. What gets into print is all that matters, though, for sure, and that was a great strip.

* one touch I appreciated was a pretty extensive, two-wall influences section, with writing by Watterson himself -- he was always an astute observer, so these are sharply penned. With Jim Borgman's work listed, too, it was a reminder just how powerful regional editorial cartoonists were for cartoonists that came up from the early part of the 20th Century through the 1980s. Those at the opening event for TCAF, for instance, will remember Lynn Johnston praising Len Norris.

* there are also strips from a first shot at putting together work for syndication. That's a thing I always find fascinating because I wonder if the strip I'm seeing would have been successful. I think it's also instructive, in that it's a reminder of how delicate the success enjoyed by a comic strip might be.

* one thing they did with this show as opposed to the Richard Thompson show right next door is make it bigger, with these really boldly constructed arrays of thematic cartoons supplementing a more standard eye-level hanging of featured Sunday work. I would imagine that's the only way for a theme to make an impression at a show like this -- which mirrors the comic strip conventional wisdom that you have to show something for six months for it to become a reality in the feature.

* I'll need to go back and look at the art at some point, but from the dates I caught during my brief walk-through, I wonder if Watterson didn't become a bit looser in those last couple of years, and I wonder about his use of negative space as the strip continued. I look forward to a second shot at that one.

* the Richard Thompson exhibit is similarly excellent. It's much smaller than the Watterson show in terms of number of pieces shown, and it's in the smaller of the two rotating spaces. It's well-selected, both in terms of providing affecting examples of Thompson's non Cul De Sac work and in hitting all the major notes, like the George Bush parody speech cartoon. That's not easy, and it's great to see Caitliln McGurk take on a project with a relatively high degree of difficulty her first time out. I think hardcore Thompson fans will be happy with it, and newbies will have plenty to read and enjoy.

* Thompson also works smaller than you might expect on the Richard's Poor Almanac and Cul De Sac cartoons he did, although the size of the originals isn't surprising in the way Watterson's are. Some of the best pieces in both shows feature hand water-colored Sunday, but the difference is really dramatic with Thompson.

image* a couple of my favorites of Thompson's are in the show -- the Beethoven caricature, and the Sunday Cul De Sac were Petey experiences the last day of school as an odd, decaying wasteland. Thompson's color sense interests me in a different way than Watterson's, in that I never quite get a handle on it and the dominant color in my mind's eye when I think of Thompson's color pieces is gray. That can't be right.

* the strips selected make for fine never-seen-the-strip-before gags if you're unfamiliar with Thompson's work. I asked a fellow patron if she were familiar with Thompson's work, and she wasn't, and she kind of laughed her way around the room.

* the belle of the ball in that room was the original for that wonderful Cul De Sac landscape, which I guess was solicited for a specific show of similar bird's eye views of comics places. I only vaguely remember that.

* the Petey Otterloop painting Watterson did rests outside of both shows and thus unites them. There is a feeling of collegiality throughout the place, a sense of mutual respect that doesn't feel jarring and out of place. The solicitousness with which Bill Watterson has dealt with Richard Thompson, particularly since the public reveal of Thompson's diagnosis, has been one of the very best things about comics. It's hard not to see it all over these shows.

* the other three shows are hosted by a more general cultural facility, the Wexner Center, about fifty yards away from the front door of the Billy Ireland. They have slightly different aims than the comics-focused institution, but they're very comics friendly and smart about what they allow to go up there.

* the Dan Clowes exhibit was still being physically put into place as we walked through it, but it looks distinctly massive and oh my goodness there's some ambition to the way that show was and is being staged. I'd go to see any art presented like that. Additionally, there's something about making the installation part of the aesthetic being expressed that really works for an artist like Clowes, whose art is perhaps best seen in a continuity of single images, original art and published work. But that room should be lovely right now, and extremely impressive, and certainly a testament to the potency of Clowes' career to date.

* I'm not sure I know about that particular show traveling anywhere else after this -- I figure it might, I just haven't heard, but I also figure it might be a little elaborate for a lot of spaces and budgets. At any rate, I hope you stop by that one. The end result should be super-impressive.

* it hit me that afternoon that watching Columbus people stand in a three-quarters circle and talk about all they're planning to do for a comics-maker when they're in town may be my favorite new activity of the last two years.

image* my last stops were by the two accompanying Wexner exhibits. The Clowes influences shows features some excellent Otto Soglow and some unique pieces from EC Segar and Wally Wood. We also get a lot of Winsor McCay's non-Nemo work, and enough Dick Tracy that Clowes won't lose his "I'm From Chicago" membership card. The McCay choice struck me as interesting because that work is not everyone's cup of tea despite its frequent, bold displays of craft.

* I did not see the comic books to be displayed along with the hanging original art, even though I know one will be a Jimmy Olsen.

* the hanging works are arranged for clean stylistic breaks, and it's almost jarring -- which was a actually a cool way to look at that art. The moment of resettling your eyes acts as a palate cleanser that enables you to take in the art you're seeing next. This is also, of course, how a newspaper comics page might work, and my own memory of processing work that way. I do wonder how younger cartoonists that are able to piece together comics enounters that fit their very specific and strongest tastes, might be different than those artists that had to take what someone provided them. At any rate, I liked it quite a bit, and it's a flattering accompaniment to the Modern Cartoonist event. I hope that becomes a feature of exhibits in Columbus, and I expect that will be the case seeing as showing off the collection is basically in the bold type of their secret origin/mission statement.

* I'm not sure I have a ton to say about the third exhibit, Comic Future, although many of the pieces were cool-looking and seeing the elements of comics used that way will likely foster some thought about the nature of some of comics' formal flourishes. I think comics fans may respond most strongly to a series of Mike Kelley drawings that look like they could appear in Weirdo, and a piece where pages are covered by white space except a cutaway on top of a secret identity reveal, a big Laugh-In wall or advent calendar of "shocking comics moments."

Anyway, that's a fun line-up of shows, all of super high quality. I hope everyone within the sound of my on-line voice will consider stopping by. I'd drive five hours just to see the Thompson.

*****

* top image ganked from the forthcoming exhibition book -- that's Dave Filipi of the Wexner Center, Caitlin McGurk of Billy Ireland, and Dan Clowes himself
* a Bill Watterson image
* Richard Thompson's beautiful Beethoven illustration
* one of Dan Clowes' influences
* "Untitled," Arturo Herrera, 2001, from the Comic Future show

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Steven Kraan Drawing Daily

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Go, Look And Perhaps Bid: Bob Newman Auction

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Go, Read: Understanding Barnaby

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Go, Look: Another Wonky Colleen Doran Post On Film Negatives

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I love these.
 
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Bundled Extra: Craig Thompson Sneak Announces A Direct To Sketchbook Project Like Carnet De Voyage

Here. I like Craig's work generally, and I particularly like his sketchbook-style work, so that should be fun. That's a good little post on finding a form of digital comics-making that works for you. No wrong way to make a comic.
 
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Go, Look: More Secret Voice From Zack Soto

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Collective Memory: TCAF 2014

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This article has now been archived.
 
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Go, Look: Steve Ditko Working With Joe Shuster

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

image* there's a nice one-day sale at comiXology of the classic Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne run of X-Men from the late 1970s. It's funny. I think those are effective comics, but I also think their reputation was so driven by nostalgia that they're actually underestimated now because the age of the bulk of readers of X-Men things is such they have those feelings for later comics or even the cartoons. That's one of the reasons why it's important to criticize and analyze -- it allows works to survive past their natural point of nostalgic favor.

* Shaenon Garrity has penned a very good piece here about how the various established comics awards have treated webcomics. She includes the Reubens and the Hugos, which is smart -- Garrity goes to the Reubens, as I recall, so that makes sense. The thing I like about the piece is that it's an even-handed dissection of what's been done according to the historical record rather than a thundering piece of antagonistic rhetoric designed to make Garrity look good. You'll remember more of the details for this approach.

* finally, to make this one of the rare installments of this column that has news in it all the way through -- I'm trying to cover this stuff, I'm just not succeeding yet, I'll get better -- Gary Tyrrell notes that Max Temkin will be stepping in to fulfill the incentives that were abandoned by John Campbell during a much publicized public semi-meltdown that the talented cartoonist suffered. That's a very community-driven way for this to resolve itself, and I think you only get in trouble if you saw the initial story less as something that happened and more as something to argue.
 
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If I Were In Dallas, 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 Detroit, I'd Go To This

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

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If I Were In Myrtle Beach, 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 Columbus, 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 Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Oesterheld's Swipe File

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Gary Groth is up for a Stranger genius award. I want Gary to win every award for which he's eligible. It's also a huge boon for all of comics over the next 40 years when the 20th Century comics publishers are recognized as important to the communities in which they're based.

image* Allen Salkin talks to Meghan Turbitt.

* here is where you can find information on how to get a copy of Complete Cul De Sac signed by Richard Thompson or items with some of his musician drawings on them.

* John Kane on a bunch of different comics.

* not comics: always a sad day for those of who grew up around newspapers.

* is Tong transgender?

* not comics: one of the things that worries me about institutions that pay younger people nothing or less than they can afford to pay is that a lot of the newer people coming into the field are women, and I'd hate to see women doing the bulk of the free work out available out there given the traditional pay gap problems we've seen in other industries.

* finally, if you have yet to see Billy Ireland's Caitlin McGurk work with a dumb local television reporter person, make some time.
 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Daniel Goossens!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Rick Altergott!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Chris Browne!

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Happy 13th Birthday, Savage Critics!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Chester Brown!

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Happy 25th Birthday, Kevin Budnik!

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May 15, 2014


Go, Look: Anete Lielpetere

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Bundled Extra: Cartoon Books To Release Its Tüki Serial Comic In Full Color

imageCartoon Books sent out a press release yesterday morning about releasing its serial comic book version of Tüki in full-color rather than black and white as most people including myself believed would be the case. That should be an extremely pretty comic book. As Smith's third major self-published book, it contrasts sharply -- at least in this way! -- from the black and white serials for Bone and Rasl.

Everything about Cartoon Books working with the on-line first Tüki is interesting to me; I'm enjoying seeing how they pull off the widespread audience potential of free digital publication while also adhering to elements of their extremely successful publishing history with comic books.

They will keep the same original price ($3.99) and same release date (July). ICv2.com had coverage.
 
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Go, Look: Sophie Yanow Has A Store

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Go, Look: The Saturday Book

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* an NCSF grant goes to the Kenosha show.

* Rob Salkowitz crunches some general convention numbers. I was a little distressed when he moved in the direction of geek opinion-leading, but I'm glad he's actually going to do some research into that area rather than assume those broad claims to be truth. I know that anecdotally, the conventional wisdom as to geek endorsement of this or that at a big show seems to work out in terms of actual success just about as frequently as flipping a coin.

* I missed this nice report on FLUKE. This photo parade, too.

* finally, Peter Bagge made a poster for the Expo in Oslo.

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

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

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Go, Look: Screaming Mimi

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Zainab Akhtar on Nobrow 9.

* I can't imagine how awesome it would be to go to a con in Fort Wayne and encounter the great Peter Bagge.

* this post about Eleanor Dalton on Today's Inspiration features a ton of drawing in a different style.

* what in the hell.

* on the issue of newspapers cutting comics.

* Milo George previews the next issue of his Studygroup Magazine.

* finally, here's a cover for a forthcoming Dash Shaw work.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Stéphane Blanquet!

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Happy 78th Birthday, Ralph Steadman!

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Happy 76th Birthday, John Fantucchio!

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May 14, 2014


Go, Look: The Inconstant Moon

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Big Numbers: Humble Bundles, Spider-Man Comics

* I wanted to briefly note a couple of big-number stories out there this morning. Apparently the Humble Bundle offering that Image Comics did featuring a bunch of its key trades sold to about 40,000 customers at an average of about $10 each -- part of the proceeds go to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. This is worth noting for the story itself but also for the fact that publishers are going to start wielding their giant libraries like clubs. That is a tremendous resource of material for nearly ever big publisher out there, and they should do very well in a variety of offering settings, like this one, which is a promise of pay-what-you-will and focused incentives. Heidi MacDonald covered that whole thing more closely than I did for sure; her report is here.

* I haven't seen all of the sales charts yet, but the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com reports that the first issue of the latest re-launch of Amazing Spider-Man sold over 500,000 copies into shops. I don't even know how to process what the hell that means, but there's something super not right about number like that when comics' mid-list sales are tumbling. It's not even like you have to hate or whatever descriptive people use to dismiss criticism on sales hitting that point -- that's a nice payout for those creators, and it's not like a few hundred thousand more comic book issues isn't a wonderful thing to have in the world. But with the rigid expectation that future issues of this very comic will eventually find themselves down the charts to some extent, you have to think this is driven by factors other than demand for story content. And traditionally in comics, when there are other factors driving sales, there's trouble.
 
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Go, Look: Beautiful Wally Wood Illustration

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Go, Look: A Dan Barry Vigilante Story

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Go, Look: Dennis the Menace #2

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Johanna Draper Carlson on Lumberjanes #1. Rob Clough on Youth Is Wasted. Todd Klein on Detective Comics #30 and Swamp Thing #30. Don MacPherson on Lumberjanes #1. Sean Gaffney on Whispered Words Vol. 1. Justin Giampaoli on The Woods #1. Grant Goggans on March Book One. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of different comics.

* Alan Gardner caught a TED talk from Randal Munroe.

* Rob Clough profiles Lance Ward and Kimball Anderson. Manjiorin talks to Abigail Blackman. Todd Gilchrist talks to Charlie Paul. Dave Richards talks to Christos Gage. Alex Dueben talks to Reinhard Kleist.

* Kevin Melrose notes a survey that says more than half the attendees of Emerald City Comicon were female. I have no doubt that's true, and if it's not true, it has to be damn close. One of the reasons comics need to work through any issues caused by a narrow conception of itself isn't that there's a bright future coming but that we need to simply and immediately recognize the reality that's all around us.

* finally, boners.
 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Francois Avril!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Sarah Morean!

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Happy 55th Birthday, David Chelsea!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Bob Wayne!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Joe Field!

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Happy 90th Birthday, Brad Anderson!

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Happy 29th Birthday, Jonny Negron!

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May 13, 2014


Go, Look: Adam Buttrick

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Go, Look: A Resource On Jinty

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via
 
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Go, Look: Artemio Rodriguez

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Go, Look: The Kiss

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Bundled Extra: Norm Feuti's Gil Goes Single-Paper Exclusive With Providence Journal

imageNice catch here by Alan Gardner that Norm Feuti's Gil, a long-in-development of personal interest to Feuti that didn't quite manage to sustain its syndication run, will run as a feature special to the Sunday Providence Journal. I desperately hope that more newspaper will try special features like this, comics or not; I don't know that they aren't as doomed as anything else, but at least it the funeral a tiny bit prettier.

Feuti is a really skilled cartoonist, particularly in terms of constructing gags over the long-term, and that strip seems to mean a lot to him.
 
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Go, Look: Ace Hart, The Atom Man

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Go, Look: Kevin Scalzo

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Mr. Wolf #3 by Aron Nels Steinke will be out next month. This probably speaks very poorly of me, but I'm not sure I'm familiar with that work at all.

image* for some strange reason, I never ran this helpful link to all of the Fantagraphics Book planned release for Fall 2014. Jordan Crane!

* Locust Moon continues to tease the next issue of Quarter Moon.

* there's a short preview of The Beginner's Guide To Being Outside over at the FPI blog.

* finally, I'm so excited by Fantagraphics bringing us a complete version of Witzend that I'm happy that they seem just as excited as I am -- it keeps coming up on their social media as a big event on the horizon. That's a bunch of interesting cartoonists doing work at the far frontier of their creative impulses that weren't given that opportunity a whole lot. Plus there's a significant amount of work there I haven't seen, or seen just once or twice.

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Go, Look: Construction

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Go, Look: Archie Comics #27

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Henry Chamberlain on Drag Bandits #1.

* Hannah Means-Shannon talks to Craig Yoe. Johanna Draper Carlson talks to Batton Lash.

* I'm slipping this item into this future random news basically a week ago: I'm sure the more mainstream-focused sites have covered this fun Kieron Gillen never-used Dazzler proposal to death, but maybe a few readers here haven't seen it yet.

* never knew this depressing factoid before.

* not comics: I'm just now catching up to Theo Ellsworth starting to make wood figures and selling them in his Etsy shop.

* finally, Jim Woodring creates a logo for Desert Island.
 
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Happy 68th Birthday, Marv Wolfman!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Lloyd Dangle!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Diane Noomin!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Andrew Pepoy!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Frank Santoro!

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May 12, 2014


Go, Look: Damiano Fenoglio

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Missed It: NY Post Dropped Their Comics Page

Jim Romenesko picked up on this story last week: the NY Post has apparently dropped its small comics page, suddenly and without warning and without explanation to the major syndicates. It's hard to imagine that saves them much money; at the same time, it's hard to imagine such a tiny comics page was much of an inducement for anyone to read the paper.
 
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Go, Look: Lauren Simkin Berke

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Go, Look: Éric Ivars!

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* a few of you sent links to this Kelly Tindall project.

* this New Zealand based project hit its financial goals about eight days ago, but you can take a look at it here. I think it's interesting we're getting into these project that are doing a third, fourth, fifth volume this way. While you're looking at crowd-funders from that part of the world, this Ant Sang one crushed its initial goal in short order.
 
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If I Were In New York, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Steve McNiven Mini-Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* difficult for me to imagine anything much more fun than taking a comics class with John Porcellino, like this one in Chicago in June.

image* Simon Gane draws headscarves.

* KC Steele on It Will All Hurt. Sean Gaffney on Sword Art On-Line Vol. 1. Grant Goggans on Banzai Battalion: Just Another Bug Hunt. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Cleopatra In Space. Henry Chamberlain on Gonzo Cosmic #1. Paul O'Brien on Wolverine #1-4. Richard Bruton on Overrun. Johanna Draper Carlson on xxxHOLiC Rei Vol. 1.

* not comics: I'm just now catching up with this Sean T. Collins piece on Twin Peaks, and liked it. The reading of that show to which Collins is responding sounds like a pretty dull reading of that material.

* I agree with this sentiment.

* Michael Kupperman and David Rees nearly always make me laugh.

* not comics: you put out a snack tray, you can't blame people for only coming to snack.

* I always enjoy looking at scenes from Watchmen, even ones that are isolated and reformatted. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons don't get enough credit for the way that Watchmen uses the location of the physical body within the space available to drive home ideas. Like here, The Comedian in that last panel takes the center of the frame the panel borders provide, and it kind of locks you into considering him and his words: he looks genuinely heroic in a way that he didn't when he was pushed around the previous spaces. It's never a bad thing to see those weird colors, either.

* not the biggest "stuff related to comics" guy, but I always like looking at the stuff J. Chris Campbell makes.

* finally, Larry Reid as influential Seattleite.
 
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Happy 65th Birthday, Moto Hagio!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Andrew Farago!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Cat Yronwode!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Tom Armstrong!

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May 11, 2014


CR Sunday Interview: Box Brown

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*****

imageFirst Second Books has just released André The Giant: Life And Legend, a comics biography of the late professional wrestler and occasional actor. It is a story told with great sympathy and clarity by the cartoonist Box Brown.

In André, Brown weds his admiration for professional wrestling as a kind of intense performance art to the insights gained making autobiographical comics to craft a portrait of a sometimes genial, sometimes prickly man stuck in a ticking time bomb of a body. Brown's André suffered the isolation and exploited the opportunities of his genetic lot in life in almost equal measure. In making his book, Brown negotiates the multiple non-realities of the wrestling world, where an interview that simply suffers the regular biases of ego and self-interest is considered so truthful it gets a special name touting its potential truth-telling status. André The Giant manages affection and respect without sentiment or mythologizing.

One of the later-year Xeric winners, Brown is also the driving force behind Retrofit Comics, an ongoing attempt to place today's younger, working comics authors in something resembling the serial pamphlet form of a quarter-century ago. I caught Brown during a series of interviews he's been doing in support of this new book, and am grateful for his time and multiple attempts not to fall into boilerplate. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: A first question. You said somewhere, in one of your interviews, that you came to late to comics. And I wondered what your art looked like before you did comics, how you expressed yourself. What kind of art did you make before you made comics?

BOX BROWN: I was pursuing fiction writing. Poetry. A lot of the stuff that I learned in college: "This is how you go about doing art." Writing, anyway. I never thought of myself as an artist of any kind. A visual artist, anyway.

I feel like before I found comics I was kind of an artist without a medium. I had a bunch of starts and stops where I was trying to do something. I was trying to write a novel. I was trying to learn how to play the keyboard. I was trying to learn how to play a million other instruments. All kinds of stuff like that.

I read comics when I was a kid. Until probably 12 or 13. When I was in high school I got into strip comics a lot more. I was reading Calvin and Hobbe and Garfield when I was a little kid. When I was high school I got interested in them again -- not Garfield as much as Calvin and Hobbes. I also got into Matt Groening's comics a lot when I was in high school.

I wasn't pursuing much. For a lot of my late teen years and into my early 20s, I was partying a lot [Spurgeon laughs] and not really focusing on anything at all. I think it wasn't until I was 24 or 25, that's when someone handed me American Elf, the first big American Elf book. That was the first thing I read where I thought, "I can do this." That made me want to pursue it.

imageSPURGEON: What is it about comics that fits your skill set, your outlook, you way of approaching things? You obviously tried all of these different outlets, Box, and none of them took. What is it about comics that took?

BROWN: I don't know. It had enough writing in it, but it wasn't all writing. It didn't have the pitfalls I found myself in when I was trying to just write. I was learning to draw at the same time -- that kept my interest, learning how to communicate better via this comic form.

I don't know. Maybe it was simple enough. Maybe James' work was deceptively simple and I was like, "I can do this." ... I could maybe do this. When I started drawing, I thought, "These drawings are almost as good." [laughter] Clearly they weren't.

I was talking to I think Sean T. Collins about this at MoCCA. I think it was him anyway. We were talking about how the comics medium, it seems like anyone could do it. It seems easy to get started with, anyway, and be able to do it in a way that's accessible. When you're starting to learn the guitar or something like that, there are so many baby steps before you get to play a whole song. The first day you start drawing comics you can do a complete comic strip. There was something about that that appealed to me.

SPURGEON: Were you all in right away? Or was there a point at which in all the comics you've done -- heck, maybe just this book. I don't know how cognizant you are of your entire career. But was there a point at which you thought, "Okay, I'm a cartoonist now." [laughs] Maybe you don't think so now.

BROWN: I think it was when I was at college... someone referred to me as an artist and to me that was the first time anyone ever did that. I was really excited by that. I liked that. I tried to move forward with it. At that time I was searching for an identity. Once I realized that I maybe had being an artist in me, I really liked that. It was still a number of years before I got into comics.

The first day I drew comic strips I drew like five. [laughter] I drew at least one every day after that. There was something immediately about it that became worthwhile to me. I was doing them every day while I was working full time. I was spending so much time reading about comics and reading comics and making comics. At some point I felt like I had a double identity, working at this shitty job -- it was a career-based gig. I was either going to be this guy working this job or I was going to be a cartoonist. When I decided I didn't really want to do this job anymore and I wanted to be a cartoonist, I think at that point I was like, "Fuck it. This is it." That's when I really started identifying. When I started feeling I was in the wrong place at my job, I started identifying as a cartoonist. [Spurgeon laughs]

SPURGEON: Can you describe the initial impulse to do comics about André? You did a couple of André stories for mini-comics, as I recall.

BROWN: I did a couple of short stories. A couple of mini-comics.

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SPURGEON: Do you remember your initial interest? I'm interested in the fact that you came into comics maybe more a writer than an artist. I can see the visual appeal of André, but what was it that said, "I need to do comics about this guy."

BROWN: I had stumbled upon André The Giant's Wikipedia page at one point. I had an interest in wrestling, I started... maybe in late 2010, I'd discovered this series of interviews this company had put, these really low-rent interviews where they interview old wrestlers you hadn't seen in forever and they're telling these old stories.

So I got interested in all the behind the scenes stuff. They're telling you stories about events you've seen. They're talking about Wrestlemania 5, and you know what you saw; they're explaining why all this stuff happened. It became really fascinating to me. At some point I heard a story someone told about André and I started really looking into his life.

Before I got into comics I saw the André The Giant A&E biography?

SPURGEON: Sure.

BROWN: His story was tragic to me. He died really young. He was in a lot of pain later in his life, but he was so celebrated, so famous... it seemed to me there was a really strong difference between what we're seeing on TV -- André The Giant, specifically -- and what was really going on in his behind the scenes life.

Also the story about him getting a ride to school from Samuel Beckett. That was the first story that made me go, "I have to put that into comics." When I first made it, I didn't care about the truth of it. That sounds really cool, I like the idea of them two talking. What would they talk about?

I had been making these comics that were kind of half-truths. The more I got into that the more I got interested in the facts of the matter, and trying to tell the story... his life story was interesting enough. The actual truth of the matter was interesting.

SPURGEON: I remember at one point you were shopping this around -- I remember an editor of our mutual acquaintance telling me he'd seen it. How much did you have done, how much had you conceived before you took it out?

BROWN: I had done about a hundred page. I had done two mini-comics; that was probably 50-60 pages. I kept doing more. This was around January-ish. There wasn't a convention coming up. I didn't have any interest in making the last bunch into a mini-comic yet.

I had completed maybe 40 more pages before MoCCA was coming up. I didn't sent them around. I sent it to Fantagraphics -- I send them everything. [laughs] Eric [Reynolds] has always been very friendly to me and very kind.. So I sent it to them, and they said they'd read it. I also sent it to Calista Brill at First Second, whom I had met maybe a year before when I pitching my Everything Dies series. I sent it to Calista and Calista was pretty interested in it quickly. By the time I even heard back from Fanta I had already signed a deal with First Second.

SPURGEON: When you do a biography, a lot of what goes into it is a reflection of what material exists out there that you can use.

BROWN: Right.

imageSPURGEON: I know that pro wrestling is kind of a mess when it comes to this sort of thing. Not only do you have this layer of non-reality -- you came at the end of that period where there's fake reality. You use some of the shoot interviews, which can be weird and self --aggrandizing and not trustworthy as history. Some of the written stuff I imagine is odd to deal with as well. How did you negotiate those unique research challenges?

BROWN: I just had to use my best judgment about people. My general theory is that if they're still in the business, or somehow profiting from the business, they are -- even in a shoot interview or in a book, it can be somewhat suspect. They are keenly aware they are a product. Even when they're supposed to be speaking truthfully about a situation they may hold things back that might hurt them from getting a job or working in the future. I got a chance to talk to a few people. You just have to use your best judgment on what people are saying. Using a Hulk Hogan interview -- he's telling his version of a story, he was there during the Bad News Brown incident. He's telling his version of the story, and then I get to hear Bad News' version of the story. And they're not quite the same.

A guy like Hulk Hogan, who is definitely still involved in the business, wouldn't be maybe as truthful as some guy who isn't involved with the business anymore, who isn't still looking to build his character.

There are all kinds of pitfalls like that. I had to use my best judgment. I tried to get right what I could get right. It was my best judgment, really.

SPURGEON: This book takes place as a series of vignettes, and this may be an obtuse way to ask this question, but how much authorial direction did you have to place on the story, and how much do you feel the story revealed itself to you? Were you cognizant of dealing with certain themes, or did you learn about him as you went along and did they then eventually become apparent.

There is a way to direct a biography, but there's also a way to have someone's life reveal itself to you.

BROWN: I think it was probably more the latter. But both. You look at a guy like André The Giant, the ending of the story is already done. The ending is stamped. He died at 46. He had his tragic life there. This is one thing I kind of learned with pro wrestling. When there's something going on in real life. Say your guy, your wrestler is coming out to the ring and being cheered even though he's a bad guy: you lean into that. If the people want him, we'll turn him into a babyface. They like his beard? He'll grow an extremely long beard. You lean into the storyline as it presents itself.

imageI think that's kind of what I tried to do here. His life was tragic but also he kind of lived it to the fullest as best as he could. I really related to that. I fear death. I'm keenly aware that there's a death clock sitting over my head -- and I'm healthy. This is a guy where his death clock was 40 years before mine. He was aware of that at a young age, too. So he had to live life to the fullest.

I think that's interesting. Anything he did was interesting. Also, you look at the guy: André was presented to the public in a certain way, always. Even when he was a bad guy, he was presented as a gentle giant -- particularly after the Princess Bride movie came out. And it's fairly well known among professionals wrestler that especially later in his life he was kind of an ornery guy. So I thought that was a really cool dichotomy. What would that be like? You have to be nice to people all of the time, but you're actually annoyed by them.

He was in pain, is what it came down to. He was a disabled guy.

SPURGEON: One thing that's interesting to me about wrestler as performers -- I assume this is true of all performers, but maybe super-true of wrestler, is the back and forth nature of their agency. They may lean into the crowd's reaction, but they depend on the crowd's reaction as well. Further, they're dependent on being booked a certain way, and dependent on certain relationships they may have with this wrestler or that wrestler enjoying a surge in popularity -- even something as basic as this guy wanting to work with you or that guy wanting to work with you.

That seems to me a constrictive almost terrifying way to chart a career, being that kind of routinely dependent on other people.

BROWN: Now it's kind of different. The way they shoot the show now, you develop your own character and they're kind of telling you what to say, in a weird way. But in the day, you were pretty much in charge of your own character, writing your own character, doing your own promos -- no one was writing those for you. So really -- you had to be good in the ring, you had to be all of that stuff, but as far as developing your character the guys that were the best at that and worked really hard at that were the most successful.

But yeah, you're right. There's a million [laughs] things you have to negotiated to become a star. It's not just developing a character. It's maybe like that in other forms of entertainment. There's a ton of business there, as well, all of this business you have to negotiate. Thinks of all the musicians there have been where no one's heard their stuff.

The art of pro wrestling isn't' just developing your character, the art of pro wrestling is learning how to negotiate this insane business world where you are expected to put the company above all else, all other things -- yet when it comes to getting paid and taking your care of yourself, you're totally on your own! It's like this strange combination of libertarianism and communism. It's very much a difficult thing.

I think... I don't know. I like to think that those kinds of things aren't a big deal in my own field, but maybe they are. There's an element to kayfabe in almost everything.

SPURGEON: Where is the kayfabe in comics?

BROWN: You have to get your stuff out there, you have to navigate the field. You can't just do your work -- well, you can. There are people that have put their work out there, like on the Internet, and gotten lucky. Or maybe they're just that good. There's a certain amount of hustle involved, I think.

SPURGEON: Giants are interesting in wrestling in terms of how they're booked. In the old days, a lot of how they were used depended on there being a bunch of regional promotions. A giant would come in as an outside threat to the lead babyface, have a program with him and then leave. They could go from promotion to promotion.

You present André's big match with Hulk Hogan as the important moment in André's career that it was, and it struck me that it was also a transitional event in that it marked a shift to this more national model that was taking over at the time. He was making himself obsolete; he participated in the transition of an entire field away from people like him.

BROWN: Sure.

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SPURGEON: Could you talk a bit about how you saw him within his field? Your biography is more personally focused, but clearly he was a key figure in the development of pro wrestling.

BROWN: That moment was a big moment for pro wrestling. They had done Wrestlemania I and II. II was kind of weird event that took place in three different venues -- they kind of went crazy with Wrestlemania II. Wrestlemania III was in this huge stadium. They had to sell it out, and they had to hit a certain number on Pay Per View. It was definitely a huge moment.

It was a huge moment for Hulk Hogan, too. He was definitely a big star, He was the next most well-known guy in the business. It was definitely different for André -- it was looked at as a passing of the torch. André was at the tail end of his career. Hogan was at the apex of his popularity, really. It's something that all wrestlers do. You build up your own popularity for so long, and there's a natural thing that happens with fan where they're tired of seeing the same thing all of the time so you have to turn heel, or you have to leave for a while. It's fairly common.

SPURGEON: Is there anything you were looking for you wished you were able to find?

BROWN: I definitively would have liked to have gotten more of the story of his daughter, or at least talk to her. Her mother has passed.

SPURGEON: Did you reach out?

BROWN: I did! I reached out to a lot of people I didn't quite get.

There was one guy that appears in the book physically but I never provide his name. He was a referee named Tim White who was André's handler. He seems very close to him. Especially late in his life. I would have loved to have talked to him. The people I talked to, even though they were friends with André, felt he was closed off to them.

He was a drinking buddy; he was into playing cribbage. I talked to this one guy, Bill Eadie, who was a wrestler and worked with André. He was Ax from Demolition. He said that André was very quiet about that stuff. He didn't say anything about his family life or anything like that. I think that Tim White seems to have had a closer relationship with André that I would have loved to get more into what he was like as an emotional human being.

But he's dead. [Spurgeon laughs] There's always so much he can get.

SPURGEON: You use a lot of different narrative strategies page to page. Sometimes you use a grid, sometimes you use a staggered. Sometimes you use single pages. You really kind of shift and move things around. I wondered how much of that was strategic and how much that was intuitive.

BROWN: I would say it's mostly not strategic. Usually when I'm making a comics page, I think about them individually. To a fault, even. I just want to tell whatever needs to be told on the page in a dynamic way but also a straight-forward way. But yeah, I don't know. I tried to tell each individual story like it needed to be told.

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SPURGEON: Drawing André... I think it was Chris Sims that suggested you may have portrayed André differently on the page as the story progressed. Was there a recurring visual approach, something consistent in terms of how you depicted André?

BROWN: I wasn't concerned about depicting him the same size in every panel -- in terms of scale. I always wanted him to be the biggest thing on the page, and to accentuate how big he was. When he's in the ring it's not as easy to see how huge this guy was. But when you see him get out of a car, and you see how big his hand is in comparison to the car door... he was so huge. So in the book I always wanted him to be this enormous, enormous figure.

Christopher Guest said that every day during The Princess Bride he would shake André's hand and it was a crazy experience, to have your hand be engulfed by this enormous hand. I wanted to keep that scale, have him be foreboding or shockingly large as much as I could.

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SPURGEON: I was struck by a small group of pages where you talk about his body, and how the acromegaly is catching up to him. You looked at his body and his head and his profile. You talked about him aging prematurely. I thought that those were very effective pages. They're striking. I wondered how you came up with the solution of making paneled pages out of these static images.

BROWN: I think it was kind of by accident. [laughter] Definitely extending the lines across the page was accidental. The idea of breaking up his body into separate panels in my thumbnails, it just kind of worked, I think. His body is really being sliced up here, having surgery done.

I don't know, I just thought it worked.

SPURGEON: Floating panels on the black background, what does that set apart?

BROWN: Those are all the times when I'm depicting actual wrestling events. They're a bit different in the story. I'm not telling the story as it is, I'm actually making commentary. I wanted to set them apart. Also it's much easier making the crowd just be black and not have to draw individuals in crowds. [laughter]

A lot of this is based on -- not taken from, but inspired by -- how Jaime Hernandez depicted pro wrestling in Whoa, Nellie!.

SPURGEON: Did you use visual reference whenever you could?

BROWN: I was watching those matches move by move. I was pulling screenshots, too. I recommend this to anyone trying to draw the human figure: try drawing wrestling moves. They're contorting their bodies in ways you never would do in any other case. I thought it would be a worthwhile pursuit for anyone to try and do that.

SPURGEON: Plus we'd get more wrestling comics out of it.

BROWN: Oh, yeah.

I think there are a lot of closet wrestling fans out there that kind of quietly pay attention to what goes on in pro wrestling.

SPURGEON: In a lot of cases, that's a glass closet. You can see them in there.

One thing that lingered about the book is in addition to this melancholy aspect to André's life, there's this real sweetness in terms of how seriously you take his accomplishments as a wrestler. The approach isn't about the fake reality -- you're up front about the choreography of that, but you genuinely admire the achievement and what he accomplished as a performer.

BROWN: Sure.

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SPURGEON: Is this the way a lot of people look at wrestling now? Do fans appreciate these performers that way?

BROWN: There are two types of wrestling fan. One is 90 percent of the audience, that's like little kids and stuff. They're into wrestling for what it is and that's all. There's 10 percent of the audience who's into it as craft and have a step back from what they're seeing. I would imagine I'm in that 10 percent category.

But I think for the other 90 percent, this would be... I don't know anyone over the age of six that's watching these matches and thinking it's real.

SPURGEON: They've been playing around with these notions for about 25 years... they seem presented the way they used to present Marvel Comics, where there's this open "wink wink" approach to the goings-on.

What I was wondering specifically is that as that's become a way of presenting these performances, does your approach line up directly with that 10 percent of fans, or would they prefer to do things differently?

BROWN: Without talking myself up too much, I think there may also be a subset of that 10 percent that watches wrestling academically, kind of. There's professions that have built up around covering wrestling as it is now.

You look at a guy like David Shoemaker, the Masked Man, who writes a blog for Grantland. He doesn't cover it as if it's real, he covers it from a business perspective. Guys like Dave Meltzer cover it solely from a business perspective. There are a lot of fans interested in that aspect of it, but I think there's just as large a group of fans that don't even know that exists, that don't know this side exists, that would be interested in it if exposed to it.

I don't think there are going to be people reading this -- at least I hope not, that's my intention -- that are totally dumbfounded that wrestling isn't a real situation. I don't think I'll be blowing anyone's mind that way.

SPURGEON: There is a melancholy aspect to this book, Box, in that André is portrayed as a person that can't control his appetites, his is successful but he's mostly an independent contractor and the market pushes him in different directions. Now one way you could have handled this is to talk about the limits of André's life as an indictment of what he did for a living. But what I got from the book was your admiration for him as a performer, and your respect for how people reacted to him. Was there ever an impulse to indict wrestling for the damage it did to this man? Did you have to think through the life that way.

BROWN: I have such respect for him as a performer. I think about characters like that as a comedian. They're telling jokes but they're also learning the reactions of the crowd, and how to work with that. I think of the pro wrestling performances the same way.

If you look at comedians, they have tons of bad stories behind them. Drug overdoses, suicides, things like that. I'm not saying it comes with the profession, but when you have a single guy with no family he's aware of, there's pitfalls he can fall into. Is that because of the business? Maybe. But they chose that lifestyle. My perspective on it is that everyone has done shit in the past that is not positive. It doesn't make you a heel, it doesn't make you a bad person all the way. It's just that people have shit that they do and maybe regret. Nobody's perfect.

I didn't want to at any time say that it was pro wrestling that did this to André, because André was doing it to himself. Maybe his hands were tied in a way. He got started very young. He got started at 18. What could he do after that -- I'm sure he could have gotten a job as a bouncer. [laughs]

imageSPURGEON: Did you find anything personally affecting about his story? Maybe something that surprised you?

BROWN: [long pause] The thing that stood out to me with André a lot is the face that he kept going after he was really... injured enough to barely be able to move. Even that Wrestlemania 3, his body was like that then. He went as long as he could in that match. It's only 12 minutes long. And they succeeded. They overwhelmingly succeeded in what they were doing.

He had this drive to keep going, even though he could have retired. He could have done anything he wanted. He could have retired and traveled the world the rest of his life, eating these spectacular foods. He was a foodie. [laughter] He could have done that. I think of that myself. You think of what society tells you is good: you work a certain amount of time and you retire and then you go on to what you really want to do. You fish or whatever. Golf. I don't ever see myself doing that. I don't want to do that. I don't see myself as saying, "Oh, one day I'll be so wealthy I won't have to make comics anymore." What the fuck else am I going to do?

I think André during that time, he was in a lot of pain. He was near death, really. That's what he wanted to do. I feel like performing is really what made André feel satisfied. When he was out in the ring and putting on a good show, that was his satisfaction in life. The fact that he never quit and never retired and did it up to the day he died was inspiring to me. [laughs]

imageSPURGEON: I want to ask you a Retrofit question or two.

BROWN: Sure. Let's crowbar some Retrofit stuff in there.

SPURGEON: [laughs] It's not crow barring; it's a sudden left-hand turn. Although there's a connection: we mentioned with André the fact he was an independent contractor that in many ways had to seize control of his place in the business. Does doing Retrofit, and being exposed to the business side of comics in that way, the infrastructure of comics, knowing what exists and what's possible, does it change your attitude towards making comics.

BROWN: [slight pause] Kind of. [pause] Maybe. I've learned a lot of things about what sells and what people are looking for, possibly.

SPURGEON: Is there a specific lesson that sticks out?

BROWN: Just the idea of... when I first got started, I thought all of the material was good so it would stand on its own by being good. I don't know that I understood how much marketing matters and how much the creator's name mattered. If people knew who this persons was, it was a big deal.

Working for Retrofit, the most satisfying thing I get out of it was working with other artists and learning about their process. I've learned how they go about making their comics -- what they consider a finished comic. That to me is really rewarding, and I feel help with my own work working with these other artists.

It is difficult. And it is fun. I like being involved in the business side of things. I think that's appealing to me about comics as an art form -- that there is such a business aspect to it. My sister is going to have her PhD in poetry. Poetry is all academic, basically. There's a very small commercial aspect to it. If comics were like that, I don't know that I would have been that interested in it. I like the idea of commercialism in comics. That's probably sacrosanct or whatever. But I like that aspect of comics -- I like releasing something to the public in somewhat commercial form. I like experiencing that way.

SPURGEON: This should appear TCAF weekend. There's a commercial function at a show like that for you, the author. There's an audience that will buy your books or not, that will interact with your or not. Is that a big part of it for you? Is that something you suffer through? Is it something you enjoy?

BROWN: I definitely sit at a show like let's say SPX, I love everything about that show, but I very much like that it's a good show sales-wise for us. Where you go to a show where you make back your table money and maybe a couple extra dollars, when it's over you're happy it's over. It's a long day's work. You can be satisfied that you made a lot of connections, and talked to people, and picked up a lot of books. Etcetera. There's definitely, when you're investing your money into it, and you come back and something sold really well, a very good feeling. Maybe better than the whole idea of connecting with people or something like that. They aren't very much tied. I've been to a lot of conventions where I didn't make very much money back. And it definitely affected how I felt about the comics show. Even if it was a fun time.

SPURGEON: I think we all prefer to make money over not making money. Is it just the achievement of getting a work over?

BROWN: There's definitely a real-world aspect to it. Let's face facts here. This is how I pay my rent -- which is due pretty soon. [laughter] That's a big deal. And you make a big investment in traveling. Stuff like that. I don't want to say that's the only reason I do shows -- it's definitely not. After you go to a show like TCAF... there are a lot of expenses with TCAF. It's in another country. You have to get your hotel room. It may not be as profitable as SPX or the Brooklyn show for me. When I leave a show like SPX or TCAF, I feel regenerated being around other artists. And readers. You're celebrated when you're there. In many ways that's the whole reason why we're doing it -- to connect with your readers. To have somebody understand these emotions that your feelings. At the same time, I still have to make a living. It's a weird dichotomy.

SPURGEON: Have you found the formula, then? Does what you have right now work for you? Will you continue with the books, and working with other cartoonists? Is it more where you have to lean in, as you mentioned, and figure out what's best for you based on what you're facing?

BROWN: If someone came along and said they'd pay me what I'm making now to just make one book a year? I don't know. That doesn't sound fun to me. When I was working on André, as much as I enjoyed working on it, it was extremely taxing for me to focus so much on one project, and for a really long time work on it without showing it to anyone. It was hard for me. It was difficult. It was one of the most difficult things I've done in comics.

I guess I'm impatient, and I get bored with the same thing over and over again and I want to do new things all of the time. I want to have a million things going on at once so I never have to sit down and wait for anyone.

*****

* Box Brown
* Box Brown On Twitter
* André The Giant: Life And Legend, Box Brown, First Second, Softcover, 240 pages, 9781596438514, May 2014, $17.99.
* Retrofit Comics

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* cover to the new book
* photo by Tom Spurgeon (TCAF 2013)
* cover to e-book collecting early Brown work
* various imagery from the new book
* one final image from the new book (below)

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Go, Look: Off-Road Cruse

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Your 2014 Doug Wright Awards Winners

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imageThe Doug Wright Awards For Canadian Cartooning were awarded last night, in an event during TCAF weekend. Michel Rabagliati won what may have been his third award -- that's what he said from stage -- for Paul Joins The Scouts. Steven Gilbert won the Wider Recognition award for his first book in 15 years, while Emily Carroll accepted her first avant garde award after two nominations.

Scott Thompson hosted. The awards went briskly and without incident such as last year's fire alarm and David Collier acceptance speech.

Winners in bold:

BEST BOOK
* Palookaville #21, Seth (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Paul Joins the Scouts, Michel Rabagliati (Conundrum Press)
* Science Fiction, Joe Ollmann (Conundrum Press)
* Susceptible, Genevièlve Castrée (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Very Casual, Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)

DOUG WRIGHT SPOTLIGHT AWARD/"THE NIPPER"/(WIDER RECOGNITION)
* Connor Willumsen for Calgary: Death Milks a Cow, Treasure Island, Mooncalf, and Passionfruit
* Dakota McFadzean for Other Stories and the Horse You Rode in On (Conundrum Press)
* Patrick Kyle for Distance Mover #7-12, New Comics #1-2
* Steven Gilbert for The Journal of the Main Street Secret Lodge
* Georgia Webber for Dumb #1-3

PIGSKIN PETERS/(EXPERIMENTAL OR AVANT-GARDE
* Calgary: Death Milks a Cow, Connor Willumsen
* Flexible Tube with Stink Lines, Seth Scriver
* Journal, Julie Delporte (Koyama Press)
* Out of Skin, Emily Carroll
* Very Casual, Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)

The four surviving Canadian Whites creators -- those young people that produced Canadian comic book content during World War 2 when access to US comics was restricted by trade policy -- were inducted into the Giants Of The North Hall Of Fame. Two members of the group were on hand.

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Go, Look: Fiona Avocado

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 59th Birthday, Matt Feazell!


 
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Happy 33rd Birthday, Brian Heater!


 
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Happy 43rd Birthday, Russell Lissau!


 
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Happy 35th Birthday, Alex Fellows!


 
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May 10, 2014


Conundrum Press Acquires Max De Rodriguès' Moose

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Conundrum Press announced this week they've acquired the title Moose, from the cartoonist and publisher Max De Rodriguès. This was released to the French-language market by Delcourt and serialized in North America by the mini-comics publisher Oily Comics. The 160 page book, which Conundrum will handle under their international imprint, is set to debut at TCAF 2015. A description and a few testimonials as to the work are available through the link. I look forward to this one.
 
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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Jen Sorensen Accepts The Herblock


The Late Bhob Stewart's Experimental Film, Which You Should Probably Go Watch On YouTube For The Instructions


Dan Savage And Bruce Eric Kaplan Talk


Rowland Emett At Home
via


Cartoonists Club 1947
via


A 1993 Profile Of Herblock


An Older Interview With Joyce Farmer About Special Exits


Frank Hampson -- In Color
 
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CR Week In Review

The top comics-related news stories from May 3 to May 9, 2014:

image1. Dick Ayers, an extremely productive mid-20th Century comic book artist one of the few remaining living creators working for Marvel Comics during their remarkable early-1960s period, dies.

2. TCAF, an already-huge and increasingly important show for a range of creators and publishers, gets underway with a variety of off-site events.

3. Toon Books announced an imprint for readers older than their early development to eight-year-old range, including a collaboration by Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti that will come out as one of that imprint's first three works.

Winner Of The Week
Raina Telgemeier, who celebrated 100 weeks on the NYT list and moderated the well-received keystone-type event at TCAF, a talk with Lynn Johnston and Kate Beaton.

Losers Of The Week
Comics fans that read the New York Post.

Quote Of The Week
"We are really living in a great time for micro-publishers and indie cartoonists." -- Francois Vigneault

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image from a Marvel comic book, 1964

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Go, Look: Tim Hamilton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 57th Birthday, Kola Fayemi!

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May 9, 2014


Fantagraphics Acquires Ed Luce's Wuvable Oaf

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imageFantagraphics announced today that they had acquired rights to a collection of Ed Luce's Wuvable Oaf comics. The project from the San Francisco-based cartoonist is due in March, 2015. From the publisher press release:
"Oaf is a large, hirsute, scary-looking ex-wrestler who lives in San Francisco with his adorable kitties, and listens to a lot of Morrissey. The book follows Oaf's search for love in the big city, especially his pursuit of Eiffel, the lead singer of the black metal/queercore/progressive disco grindcore band Ejaculoid. Luce weaves friends, associates, enemies, ex-lovers, and the pasts of both men into the story of their courtship. Like Scott Pilgrim, Love and Rockets, and Archie, Wuvable Oaf explores the joys and pains of romantic conquests, set against the backdrop of the San Francisco scene. After decades of comics about boy-loves-girl, Luce finally gives readers of all orientations some insight into man-loves-man. Oaf's silly, sweet, and sometimes sexy stories will win over everyone's heart."
The series has been one of the biggest word-of-mouth hits over the last several years in independent comics, due largely to the appeal of the character, for Luce's consistent presence at comics conventions and for the obvious craft chops apparent in his work.

Full press release here: oafpr.doc

The Fantagraphics collection will carry the title Wuvable Oaf, and will run 264 black and white and 16 color pages for $29.99 in hardcover.

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By Request Special: Bone Marrow Donation Program Registation Request Re: Seth Kushner

I'm only just catching up to this, but apparently Seth Kushner has been diagnosed with leukemia. He'll need a bone marrow transplant, so his wife, Terra, has sent out a call for people to register in the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP)

From Terra Kushner, wife of Seth Kushner:

Bone Marrow Donations for Seth Kushner

As you may know, Seth will need a bone marrow transplant. His transplant doctor is starting the process to search for potential donors through the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), which maintains a national registry of potential matching bone marrow donors. Many of you have inquired about how you can find out if you qualify to be a potential donor.

Basically what you do is register via online or phone & swab your cheek. Here are a couple organizations you can use.

Delete Blood Cancer -- I personally went to this website, registered online from my iPhone, received a swap in the mail with 24 hours, mailed back the swab & was told it will show up in the register within 3 weeks. They claim to be the quickest.

National Donor Registry -- this is the registry that is directly associated with the NMDP.

More specific details are laid out on the websites above. If you decide you want to be a donor, you can:

* register online (they will send you a kit through the mail to swab your cheek that you will mail back- prepaid postage included)

* go to an approved center to swab your cheek (locations listed on sites)

* organize a bone marrow donation drive or "swab" party.

As far as I can see, the basic criteria for potential donors are:

* age
* health
* lives in the US
* not in the US military
* haven't already joined the registry
* willing to be a potential donor to anyone*

Perhaps the most important point about volunteering through the national registry is that you cannot specifically sign up to donate to Seth. It is a big commitment to join the registry, and your efforts can be enormously rewarding, but the process is designed to find patients anywhere in the country or world who may benefit by being a match to you. Therefore it does not provide an option to specify who you wish to help.

I'll keep you updated on the matching process as things move along.

Let's pray that we quickly get a donor!
We hope you'll consider it, and we wish the most positive outcome possible for Kushner in the days and weeks going forward.
 
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Go, Look: A Night On The Town

image
all six original art pages are on sale for cheap, too; information through the link
 
posted 1:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Collective Memory: Dick Ayers, 1924-2014

imageCommentary and reaction around the Internet to the passing of artist and inker Dick Ayers.

*****

Institutional
* Lambiek Entry
* Site
* Wikipedia Entry

Miscellaneous
* Dick Ayers At The Marvel Comics Database

Posted In Memory
* Bleeding Cool
* CBR
* ComicBox
* ComicsAlliance
* ComicsBlog
* EntreComics
* Fumetto Logica
* Hand Of Fire
* Mark Evanier
* The Journal News
* Washington Post

Twitter
* Dick Ayers As A Search Term
* Jaime Hernandez

Work By Ayers
* Dick Ayers Label At The Golden Age
* When A Planet Dies

*****



*****

image

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Amazing Mystery Funnies Vol. 2 #3

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Collective Memory: Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) 2014

imageLinks to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning the 2014 edition of Free Comic Book Day, held May 3 at participating comic book and hobby shops around the world.

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

*****

Institutional
* Facebook Account
* Twitter Account
* Web Site

Comments And Reports
* #FCBD
* #FCBD2014

* Bleeding Cool 01
* Bleeding Cool 02
* bobbynash14

* Christos Gage
* ComicBooked.com
* Comic Riffs
* Comics Alternative
* Comics The Blog

* Desert Island

* io9

* J. Chris Campbell

* Kate Leth

* Laughing Ogre

* Make Comics Not Excuses
* Michael Avon Oeming

* Need Your Disease
* Nerdly
* Nostalgia And Comics

* Orlando Sentinel
* Orlando Weekly

* Pat McCuen
* postmodernbarney
* Press2Reset
* Progressive Ruin

* Ramone Cologne

* SciFi Mag
* Sean Kleefeld
* Sweet Union Toonists

* The Beat (Index)
* The Daily Superhero
* The Energy Analyzer

* Vernon Kids At The Library

Miscellaneous
* David Petersen's Story At Robot 6
* Photo Sharing Contest
* Store Locator

Previews And Profiles
* 211Blog

* Brendan Wright

* Comics Worth Reading

* Heroes
* Heroes 02

* LaVar Burton
* Little Guardians

* NPR

* Richard Bruton

* SFGate

* The Beat (Index)

* WGNO

*****



*****

image

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Of Black And White, Sometimes Color

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* this is good news: looks like there's a chance we'll get regular installments of Flowertown USA at VICE -- a serial by Rick Altergott. Altergott made some of the funniest comics of the late 1990s and early 2000s, and is a swell guy besides.

* Woody Compton sent along a nice note this work, so I thought I'd note his Is This Tommorow? in this column. It's amazing to me to think of a webcomic with a pedigree going back to the early '90s and a print iteration, but on the other hand we are talking about a lot of straight-up comics work easily going 10-15 years on the Internet now.

* not comics: I thought this was a pretty fair overview of how the major players friendly to digital media at the big newspaper companies likely see the way things are shaping up ahead. I suspect those that don't share some version of those takes are willing to defer to someone that does or multiple someones that do, if that makes sense. That article is presented in terrible fashion, by the way, focusing on the shark metaphor like that. That I nearly skipped it as a result is probably indicative of something all by itself.

* finally, I haven't been able to find a specific tag or anything, but several people have recommended the Fante Bukowski serial running on most days right now over at Noah Van Sciver's blog.
 
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If I Were In Bucharest, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Dynamic Man

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* James Kaplan on Noah. John Struan on The Wrenchies. Todd Klein on The Royals #2. Daniel Kalder on Retroworld.

* one feature that I've had in the bookmarks for a while but never quite found the place to put it is this one from the Guardian from prose author Audrey Niffenegger on her recent artistic collaboration with life collaborator Eddie Campbell.

* I enjoyed this recent, reasonably well-traveled (by which I mean there have been several links to it and some discussion) piece by Saladin Ahmed about the Golden Age of comic books that recasts the American cultural anus seizing around comic books in the late 1950s -- and concurrent changes in the economy -- in terms of a shift in the kind of art that comics had available. I think that's a fair observation, or at least an arguable one, although I'd like more tools to process why this happened. One we do have is the one suggested by Dan Nadel in his two hardcover Art anthologies, that the lack of a viable underground kept many of the odder and more expressive artists under the tent of commercial comics production; I'd love to see similar stabs at the process of aesthetic calcification that took place.

* Jason draws the comics Jasons.

* Alex Dueben talks to Stefano Raffaele.

* we're into a second weekend with that big new Spider-Man movie. Last week, Brian Cronin dug into one of that character's seminal comic book plots. He also wrote about the thing with that character and bridges, which I imagine is probably based on the plot point discussed in that first link. I thought this ComicsAlliance art post was nice, too. One of the great comic book characters, that Spider-Man. It's worth a reminder that Johnny Ryan draws a damn fine J Jonah Jameson, but part of me thinks that character has yet to appear in this cycle of films (I haven't seen them).

* Brandon Graham did a comic on how he met Marian Churchland.

* finally, Chris Sims enthuses over the art of Katie Skelly, one of this weekend's 18 billion TCAF exhibitors.
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Ty Templeton!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Walt Holcombe!

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May 8, 2014


Go, Look: Jack Teagle

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Francois Vigneault And Shanna Matuszak Join Study Group Comics In Senior Positions

imageStudy Group Comics has formally announced that Francois Vigneault has formally joined the publishing house as Art Director, while Shanna Matuszak will take on the dual role of Accounts Manager and Co-Editor at studygroupcomics.com. They join founder and Editor In Chief Zack Soto and Study Group Magazine Editor Milo George at the small, Portland-based publisher. Vigneault and Soto recently teamed to run the first, successful Linework NW, an art-comics and illustration show.

Family Style, Vigneault's small comics imprint, will be a casualty of the move.

Vigneault's experience includes a webcomics serial called Titan with Study Group, publishing through Family Style, editor at Scout Books and an organizer at San Francisco Zine Fest.

Matuszak is a former intern with Study Group and will focus on retail accounts and distribution. She is a student at Portland Sate and an employee at iconic NW retailers Floating World and Reading Frenzy.

Reached for comment, Vigneault provided the following.
"After ten years, I've decided to cease publishing new work under the Family Style banner for the foreseeable future. I've felt for a while now that Family Style had been suffering due to neglect on my part; after two years of being a part of Press Gang -- along with Floating World Comics and Study Group Comics -- I was starting to feel that I wasn't keeping up with my partners Jason [Leivian] and Zack, who have both had tons of great stuff come out in that time... Object 10, Study Group Magazine, It Will All Hurt, DIY Magic, and much more. The only comic I have published in that time is the first issue of my own series, Titan, which had in fact started out (and continues) as a webcomic on Zack's site, studygroupcomics.com. I was finding it harder and harder to pull together the cash to publish new books, and even though Family Style has usually been a profitable venture, it could be a financial strain.

"Perhaps more importantly, I don't know if there is much need for Family Style as a publishing house any longer... We are living in a great period of small and micro-publishers, folks like Uncivilized Books, Retrofit, Oily, etc -- not to mention Floating World and Study Group! A lot of the creators I would want to work with are already being published, often at several publishers at once. We are really living in a great time for micro-publishers and indie cartoonists.

"The main thing that I feel I can add is my personal taste and editorial/design skills, and happily I have some fantastic outlets for that: I am the Editor at Scout Books, and I will now be working with Zack Soto and the rest of the the team at Study Group Comics as the new Art Director. I'm really excited by the opportunity to contribute to Study Group's already super-impressive lineup of creators and publications... I've already gotten the chance to design Sam Alden's first graphic novella, Haunter, and I'm currently working with Zack and Milo George on the design of the upcoming Study Group #3D. I'm also planning to republish some of the Family Style back catalog, such as stories from ELFWORLD, as part of studygroupcomics.com, as well as seeking out new creators for the website in collaboration with Zack and his website co-editor Shanna Matuszak.

"In practical terms, I will still be fulfilling any orders placed at www.family-style.com, but I won't be publishing any new work under the Family Style banner. I am proud to say my forthcoming Titan #2 will be published by Study Group Comics. I have some unpublished short stories that were scheduled to run in ELFWORLD #4, and I am hoping that some of these will be able to find a home of the studygroupcomics.com website as well, though of course I have to discuss that with the creators."
Zack Soto told CR he welcomed the assistance with the publishing house, and thought it well-timed. "Adding Francois and Shanna to the mix will hopefully allow me to step away a bit for the first several months of fatherhood without having to sideline Study Group, and keep orders flowing through the mail, comics getting updated on the site, and so on." He was particularly effusive in his praise for Matuszak's skill set: "Having [Matuszak] step in as Accounts Manager -- as well as co-editor of the site -- is perfect, since she's super detail oriented and on-point. I have been up and down in my ability to keep stores stocked with SG books consistently, and with Shanna taking over that part of the business, our retail presence should only improve."

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posted 2:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: 1949 Profile Of Alex Raymond

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posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Half Price Books Joins CBLDF As A Corporate Member

I noticed this one here; the Fund's own write-up on adding Half Price Books to their corporate membership ranks seems to cover all the base squarely on what is a fairly straight-forward bit of news. I think it's worth noting with more than a line in Random News because of the slightly broader perspective offered there -- I know that sometimes people see that particularly comics institution as very comics, almost fervently comics-oriented, but most of what they do now means they have to function in coordination with institutions that may have only a minor interest in comics relative to their corporate mission.
 
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Go, Look: Sea Devils #1

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Go, Look: Amazing Man Comics #10

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Go, Look: Phil McAndrew

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I'm pretty sure I've linked to him before, but three different people sent me links so maybe I didn't or no one noticed; not like it isn't fun to go look at the site twice!
 
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The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Shows And Events

image

By Tom Spurgeon

* it's all TCAF all the time right now. People will be hitting Porter Air and the Buffalo airport megabus all day today and tomorrow. There are satellite events tonight, and of course the real con activity: people sitting in a bar lying about how much money they're making. Tomorrow is the first time they're offering a full day of programming on behalf of industry developoment, so it should be interesting to see how that goes. If things have gone according to plan, I'm en route as you read this.

image* so yeah, a lot of this on Saturday and Sunday. I'll be doing some of that from the other side of the table, taking photos and moderating a few panels (Darwyn Cooke, Renauld Dillies and a sweet group panel of Cooke, Ed Piskor, Mimi Pond and Katie Skelly). Hope to see you up there.

* hey, here's a TCAF travel tip. If you're flying Porter Air from Jersey, Porter flies out of a terminal where any flight might suffer flight delays depending on construction. I believe they'll put you on an "earlier" flight if one is available, which by the time of the day you're there may not be early. My point is you might want to build in some time or even jump in earlier if you need to be there at a specific time. It's an EWR thing, not an airline thing, and I'm sure they'll take care of you the best they can.

* Mark Brown writes on the British Library exhibit.

* here's one that only got on my radar a few weeks back: a four-day show in Sao Paulo. That's a rare December show, too, although because of the hemisphere it doesn't seem as aggressively unnecessary as some of the North American shows that kind of slip themselves into an open period on the calendar.

* Cody Pickrodt did a Brooklyn Zinefest report here, with just the photos here.

* I totally forgot to post as a distinct entry this post from The Beat catching that C2E2 claimed over 60,000 attendees. We live in a conventions world where that could be seen as either discouraging or encouraging, depending on your orientation.

* Bob Corby has a bunch of SPACE photos up now.

* Torsten Adair talks convention center square footage. One thing I think that's interesting is that a lot of these shows doing comics and tv and movie and anime and everything under one big tent are actually -- or at least logically -- suited to multiple sites. It's probably tougher for a convention with a single focus to move into a second building, at least not without some difficulties along the way, like one to one comparison between exhibitor in terms of traffic flow.

* Johanna Draper Carlson wrote an interesting C2E2 report in that the things for which she as a longtime con viewer has attended such shows were not there to the same extent they might have been in the past. The experience was slightly different, anyway. I think this makes a lot of sense, actually, as those events change to engage with a wider audience in a lot of circumstances, just as it makes sense that shows like SPX and TCAF are even more what some comics readers reading this site go to such shows to experience.

* finally, Fumetto in Luzern has announced early March dates for 2015, about a month earlier than this year's show.
 
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If I Were In Montreal, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: A 1968 Tippy Teen Comic

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Johanna Draper Carlson looks over the Archie sales figures from 2013.

image* Anthony Meloro on Cosplayers. Shea Hennum on The Tulip Twins. Bart Croonenborghs on Banzai Battalion: Just Another Bug Hunt. Andy Oliver on Aranha. Tom Murphy on The Lizard Laughed. Frederik Hautain on Rai #1. Johanna Draper Carlson on Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party and a bunch of manga. John Seven on Basewood. Lauren Davis on Titan.

* go, help: a Daniel Clowes Eightball original cover art mystery.

* Joshua Malbin and Alex Rothman talk to Josh Bayer. It's not really comics, but C. Edwards talks to Ralph Bakshi, and cartooning is discussed. Here's what Bakshi is working on. Steve Morris talks to Greg Pak.

* this looks interesting, if I'm understanding the article correctly. This sounds like a pair of retailers is trying a comic at a specific price point in their stores that is differen than the price it will bear in other stores. Makes sense, given the store-specific variant phenomenon.

* people sure seemed to like this Spider-Man costume infographic from several days ago.

* not comics: I would assume we're at the point with the director Bryan Singer where it will be hard to figure which cases brought against him are legitimate and which aren't, which is good because we shouldn't be doing that anyway.

* I have no idea why this Becky Cloonan digital comic link is in my bookmarks folder, but I imagine a lot of people would enjoy it at the price offered.

* finally, Will Brooker on the British Library exhibit.
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Robert Boyd!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Hiromu Arakawa!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Kevin Colden!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Matt Madden!

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May 7, 2014


Go, Look: The Age Of Play

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posted 2:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Bundled Extra: Cartoon Books Solicits Tüki #1

imageThis somehow escaped my attention in the announcement phase, and it could be that I have the story totally wrong in my head, but it seems worth nothing that there was a solicitation for a print-comic version of Jeff Smith's Tüki webcomic -- a black and white serial comic of the kind that really, really worked out for Smith and Cartoon Books with Bone and more recently with RASL. Smith has always been straight-forward about how well his work both in comic book form (naturally, since that's the market for it) and book form (a little less naturally, because that's a shared market) has been supported by the world's comics and hobby shops. So it would make sense that Tüki would offer that as an element of its publishing plan.

The great thing about people like Mark Waid and Jeff Smith entering into the digital market is that they have these previously successful models under their belts, which I think allows them to pursue strategies fashioned of more interesting hybrids than someone for whom the basic model selected represents a more significant risk.
 
posted 2:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Massive, Photo-Driven Report On Comics Unmasked

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posted 2:22 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Alison Bechdel, Ed Brubaker Enjoy Professional Success In Areas Outside Of Comics-Making

The Beat collects news of the progression of Alison Bechdel's Fun Home in theatrical form; ComicsAlliance and a bunch of other places pivot from entertainment news sources providing word that Ed Brubaker will be working on a fun and potentially rewarding project that seems well-suited to his skill set.

While this site isn't set up to cover a lot of extra-media stuff for property or creators, those pieces of news hitting my inbox at roughly the same time made me think of a conception I link to the writer Gary Tyrrell that something webcomics culture has done is recast our idea of what a career in comics means, and that we should celebrate the opportunities that comics provide certain people in part as an beneficial characteristic of the originating culture. Nothing would make me happier to see comics people successful wherever they want to be successful, even as much as I hope that comics will improve on its own rewards structure so that this should never feel necessary.
 
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Go, Look: From White City To War

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posted 2:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Assembled Extra: Terrorize The (Virtual) Neighborhood

Good question from Kevin Church: is Heathcliff here the first panel comic and/or established comic to use Instagram as a regular home for gag-panel material of this type? I can't recall one, but I'm old enough Instagram isn't in the flow of my daily exposure to on-line material. I know about stuff like this, but not actual panel cartoons.
 
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Go, Look: Katie Skelly Comics

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posted 2:18 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Maggie Thompson Article On Archiving Photos

imageI don't cover the Comic-Con's blog posts from professionals as much as I should, so let me start to make amends by noting this Maggie Thompson article on archiving your photos. There are a couple of great picture in there, from an era where people would dress up for every comics-related activity including panels, if you just want to go there for that. Gil Kane's face kills me! Why I wanted to drive some attention to it, though, is the assumed that these sorts of items absolutely have value and that this should drive us to take care of them. I think this is 100 percent true. Further, I don't think merely doing an on-line archive of photos or the like works as well as taking care of the physical -- that's what our research and archival partners are able to take and store. It's hard sometimes to convince comics people that anything other than the art itself has any value whatsoever, but in terms of history, those kinds of original documents may be even more important.
 
posted 2:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Richard Bruton Presents A Comics Image Mini-Gallery

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posted 2:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Comic Book Think Tank's comiXology/Amazon Roundtable

I actually read this article at Comic Book Think Tank rounding up opinions on Amazon announcing its intention to purchase comiXology and the initial major decision to cut Apple out of a certain kind of buying from devices the day it came out. Still, I haven't posted about it until now. Looking at it a few days later, what I see seems to be a fairly comprehensive series of snapshots of takes surrounding the move: the responses run the gamut from unbridled enthusiasm to outright disdain. We'll see how the number play out in terms of the fears expressed.
 
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Go, Look: Alicia Draws Things

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CR Review: Safari Honeymoon

imageCreator: Jesse Jacobs
Publishing Information: Koyama Press, softcover, 80 pages, May 2014, $16.
Ordering Numbers: 9781927668407 (ISBN13)

If I were instructed to attend and, then, some time later, leave this weekend's TCAF with zero books walking in and only one under my arm as I trundled my way out, I would give serious consideration to that book being Jesse Jacobs' Safari Honeymoon, receiving a slightly early con debut a couple of weeks ahead of its late May release. It's a very pretty book, handsomely packaged and reasonably priced. It is impeccably pedigreed in terms of that sub-culture's cool checklist: intriguing artist, an at-least felt connection to mainstream entertainment of the moment, third book, admired publisher. And it is very good. Safari Honeymoon revists the author's interest in edenic landscapes (literally, figuratively) by showing us a city couple on their honeymoon deep in a relentless, odd, deadly jungle. They are accompanied by a Reginald Jeeves-style hyper-competent guide and a lot of the instances of humor in the book's first half pop bowler-hatted and monocled and tut-tutting from a very old place: the idea that a dangerous wilderness can be tamed in immediate vicinity by one buttoned-up man working at the behest of others. The plot progresses from a series of successful negotiations with the dangerous world around the trio, to one side of that struggle losing a key player, to the final fate of the newlyweds. By the end of the book, much of the initial set-up has been reversed. One cannot pummel nature into submission, even politely and matter-of-factly and maintaining a stiff upper lip. Survival counts on seeing a place for what it is, and acquiescing to our place there.

At least that's one reading of this book; hell if I really know what's going on here. I'm still working on the last one, and there was Bible stuff in there to serve as signposts. Here's why I really like this one, at least for right now. It's visually inventive, particularly the figure and creature designs but mostly throughout. It's funny at least once every few pages, and in different ways. I mentioned the competent, calming stiffness of the guide but there's also amusing creature designs and a few moments of verbal interplay that stack up. In fact, the whole damn thing becomes funnier as the overwhelming power of the place and its sweep become more apparent. We're not looking at tourists on a raft; we're looking at ticks on a dog's ass. God help these poor souls. The best thing about my reading of Safari Honeymoon is how frequently I was surprised. For instance, the relationship between the couple is portrayed sweetly rather than cynically; they seem a pair of mistmatched souls working through elements common to all of our engagements with others that rarely get explored: choice, inexplicable desire, awe, gratitude, grace. I'll buy that ticket anytime it's offered. I worry that Safari Honeymoon may be slight, but I don't question the fun I'll have in figuring that out.
 
posted 1:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Gerard Way Talks Twitter

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posted 1:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Collective Memory: Dick Ayers, 1924-2014

imageCommentary and reaction around the Internet to the passing of artist and inker Dick Ayers.

*****

Institutional
* Lambiek Entry
* Site
* Wikipedia Entry

Miscellaneous
* Dick Ayers At The Marvel Comics Database

Posted In Memory
* Washington Post

Twitter
* Dick Ayers As A Search Term

Work By Ayers
* Dick Ayers Label At The Golden Age
* When A Planet Dies

*****



*****

image

*****
*****
 
posted 1:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: A Few Ben Towle Commissions

image
 
posted 1:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Collective Memory: Free Comic Book Day 2014

imageLinks to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning the 2014 edition of Free Comic Book Day, held May 3 at participating comic book and hobby shops around the world.

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

*****

Institutional
* Facebook Account
* Twitter Account
* Web Site

Comments And Reports
* #FCBD
* #FCBD2014

* Bleeding Cool 01
* Bleeding Cool 02
* bobbynash14

* Christos Gage
* ComicBooked.com
* Comic Riffs
* Comics Alternative
* Comics The Blog

* Desert Island

* J. Chris Campbell

* Kate Leth

* Laughing Ogre

* Make Comics Not Excuses
* Michael Avon Oeming

* Need Your Disease
* Nerdly
* Nostalgia And Comics

* Orlando Sentinel

* Pat McCuen
* postmodernbarney
* Press2Reset
* Progressive Ruin

* Ramone Cologne

* SciFi Mag
* Sean Kleefeld
* Sweet Union Toonists

* The Beat (Index)
* The Daily Superhero
* The Energy Analyzer

* Vernon Kids At The Library

Miscellaneous
* David Petersen's Story At Robot 6
* Photo Sharing Contest
* Store Locator

Previews And Profiles
* 211Blog

* Brendan Wright

* Comics Worth Reading

* Heroes
* Heroes 02

* LaVar Burton
* Little Guardians

* NPR

* Richard Bruton

* SFGate

* The Beat (Index)

* WGNO

*****



*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Comix Gone Rogue

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

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.

*****

FEB140897 COMPLETE CUL DE SAC SC BOXED SET $75.00
A great comic strip gets its version for the next 50 years. I thought this was excellent right away and stay really, really good to excellent throughout. It's a miracle this book exists, in a way -- the accident of Richard Thompson doing a comic strip at all, to it becoming beloved, to Thompson shutting it down for health-related reasons to the increased reverence with which it's held, thorugh the Billy Ireland show still up in Columbus and so on.

imageJAN140194 ALLEY OOP COMPLETE SUNDAYS HC VOL 01 1934-1936 $75.00
These books are quite, quite nice, and while I'm the worst person in the world in terms of sussing out production quality if they had priced these $50 higher I wouldn't have blinked. Alley Oop is always fun, goofy and innocuous and at times narratively slack more than any of the other great strips with a continuing plotline. No one's quite figured out the way these strips should be presented to modern audiences; maybe this is it.

MAR140208 BATMAN ETERNAL #5 $2.99
So I guess they're attempting to do weekly comics now at DC, and this is the Batman one. I suppose that's worth trying as a publishing strategy, and the Batman characters would seem well-suited if not outright perfect for the kind of relentless, propulsive storytelling people always seem to give weekly serials. On the other hand, I don't know that there's anything to distinguish this comic from all the other Batman books other than the fact it's a weekly. We'll see how solid the concept is storytelling-wise when we get about ten more issues, when the new-series bloom is off the rose. Sales-wise, there's an outside chance that it might by DC's 2014 MVP.

FEB140266 WATCHMEN TP INTERNATIONAL EDITION NEW ED $19.99
FEB140265 WATCHMEN TP NEW ED $19.99
This is a remarkable book in modern publishing history, and would be an interesting story on those terms even were it divorced from the high drama and shenanigans of writer Alan Moore's deteriorating relationship with DC Comics.

MAR140284 ASTRO CITY #12 $3.99
DEC130570 FATALE #22 (MR) $3.50
FEB140626 SATELLITE SAM #8 (MR) $3.50
MAR140697 MILES MORALES ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #1 $3.99
These are the classic, comic-book format genre comics that jumped out at me this week. I thought the Fatale in particular was really good. The Spider-Man I mention because of the title launching right as the latest movie's out, and in feature article about future movies it seems as if the movie side of Marvel has no interest in the character.

DEC130761 ANNIHILATION OMNIBUS HC $125.00
I enjoyed these comics when I finally caught up to them, and I know some people love to have their comics in hardback format, but it really does seem to me that you could find all of the comics reprinted here for pretty cheap, and maybe have enough money left over for that Alley Oop book.

FEB140837 UNCANNY X-MEN PREM HC VOL 03 GOOD BAD AND INHUMAN $24.99
DEC130758 X-MEN ADAMANTIUM COLLECTION HC $200.00
FEB140834 X-MEN DAYS OF FUTURE PAST PROSE NOVEL HC $24.99
JAN140780 X-MEN NO MORE HUMANS OGN HC $24.99
FEB140852 X-MEN VS HULK TP $24.99
I have no idea why Marvel is pushing so much X-Men product into the market when every last bit of conventional wisdom seems to suggest a) have this work out when the first trailer for your movie hits, b) you need to find one book to which your retail partners can send people. The thought that they're just releasing five giant books featuring the X-Men into the market with no comprehension there's a movie out could also be true.

MAR140541 I KILL GIANTS FIFTH ANNV ED TP $19.99
This was an interesting-looking series that had passionate defenders at the time it came out and I think has done well in other markets. It does seem like the kind of book people should have access to. Oh, and it seems like it came out ten years ago.

imageJAN140836 FEMINIST BUT GN COMICS ABOUT WOMEN $20.00
There are a lot of good people in here, including Vanessa Davis, Ulli Lust, the great Lauren Weinstein, and Gabrielle Bell. This site explains the project.

MAR141430 ALL YOU NEED IS KILL GN VOL 01 (MR) $14.99
I'm just proud of myself for remembering that this is the tie-in to that next Tom Cruise movie that no one is going to see. It really is a good name, though, easy to remember.

FEB141281 COMPLETE PEANUTS HC VOL 21 1991-1992 $29.99
MAR141166 COMPLETE PEANUTS TP VOL 01 1950-1952 $22.99
These came together in my mail, and the trade dress for the softcovers works just fine. I really like the Peanuts group at Fantagraphics right now, as the hardcover strip books are in a strong place with which I'm largely unfamiliar. The Sunday color book was remarkable-looking.

FEB140898 GET FUZZY TREASURY TP JERKTASTIC PARK $18.99
I have no comprehension of what the market is like for still-running newspaper strips, but I do know that Get Fuzzy is regularly republished in book form. This indicates a sizable audience and a passionate fan base, because I know strip with one or the other that seem to barely get published at all.

MAR141366 HEY MISTER COME HELL OR HIGHWATER PANTS GN (MR) $14.95
This is Pete Sickman-Garner's return to comics and there was a time I didn't think I'd ever say that because I figured he was around for the duration. It's good see Top Shelf working with one of the artists they published very on.

MAR141300 SIXTH GUN #40 $3.99
That's a lot of issues. Congratulations to those creators and their publisher.

JAN140837 SUGAR BOOGER #2 $5.95
Kevin Scalzo's work is always fun, and there's nothing like his specific visual approach making comic books right now. This is a comic book that could have been published in alt-comics circles at any time at the last 25 years, and I mean that as a total compliment. Its strengths are some of alt-comics' long-running strengths.

FEB148375 USAGI YOJIMBO TP VOL 03 WANDERERS ROAD $16.99
This is your older book with newer edition and you probably already have it but if not you'll want it someday notice of the week.

MAR141349 WEAPONS MASS DIPLOMACY GN $24.95
If you go to the comics shop to buy exquisite talent working near the top of their craft, it doesn't get much more promising than the first book in an award-winning series featuring the art of Christophe Blain, one of the stop-and-stare talents of the comics world. I would charge right across the room to this. There are enough political dramas out there right now that maybe that will serve as a hook.

*****

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 Austin, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In The Bay Area, I'd Go To One Or Both Of These Things

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Go, Look: Another 1940 Click Annual Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Brodie Lancaster talks to Alison Bechdel. Steve Webb profiles Steve Ditko. Sean Kleefeld profiles Ron Cobb. Paul Montgomery talks to Aaron Kuder. Steve Ringgenberg recalls Al Feldstein. Hether Fortune talks to Sean T. Collins and Julia Gfrörer.

* here's one of those nice New Yorker profiles of a forthcoming work, this time on This One Summer.

* Rob Clough on Updown Clown. Sean Gaffney on Bunny Drop Vol. 10. Brian Nicholson on The Amateurs. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Vertigo Quarterly CMYK #1. Henry Chamberlain on Weapons Of Mass Diplomacy. Paul O'Brien on Savage Wolverine #14-17. Zainab Akhtar on "Death Of A Crow." John Kane on a bunch of different comics.

* Sean T. Collins suggests that creators' rights = workers' rights.

* Bob Temuka makes the argument for caring about things a lot, even if they're things that other people feel don't matter.

* Paul Gravett, one of the co-curators of the British Library exhibit that's generating a ton of press and garnering a bunch of attention right now, writes about the comics medium in broad fashion as a disreputable art form as likely to antagonize cultural gatekeepers and arts institutions as it is to ever sit at the table with them. I wish I could settle behind Paul Gravett's eyeballs for a day; I think it would be fun to see comics the way he sees comics.

* Jake Parker provides some drawing and kickstarter advice. The drawing advice looks smart to me.

* Rafael Albuquerque lists his favorite artists.

* finally, I don't think I ever linked to Naif al-Mutawa's own words on his The 99 being made subject of a fatwa by a government council of clerics, years after he and others associated with the property had worked well with the Saudi government.
 
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Happy 43rd Birthday, Eraklis Petmezas!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Kevin Scalzo!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Rick Veitch!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Box Brown!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Michael T. Gilbert!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Roberta Gregory!

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Happy 72nd Birthday, Tony Auth!

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May 6, 2014


Go, Look: Prince Tribute Show At Telegraph Gallery

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Missed It: Toon Graphics Imprint Announced, Debut Books To Include A Mattotti/Gaiman Collaboration

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The esteemed Francoise Mouly of multiple hats including founder and driving force of Toon Books, has announced a line of comics for readers than the Toon Books audience but to be operated under many of the same principles. The imprint will be called Toon Graphics For Visual Readers and the first three books will be:

* Theseus And The Minotaur, Yvan Pommaux (August)
* Cast Away On The Letter A, Fred (September)
* Hansel And Gretel, Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti (October)

Brigid Alverson's article for PW notes that both Toon Books and Toon Graphics will be imprints of RAW Junior, of which Mouly is the publisher and editorial director. RAW Junior works are distributed by Candlewick Press.

Remember that as opposed to a lot of children's comics efforts, Toon's pedigree includes working with educators in order to figure how best to direct books so that they ended up working according to common core standard and matching all suggestions in terms of age group limitation. The Toon Books works are directed at those from early development until age 8; these books pick up from there (which I believe is third grade. I'm interested in that there's no tiering beyond that point, or at least any I can see. If this group respresents the fruits of this imprint's editorial mandate, a staggering amount of quality work might qualify.
 
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Go, Look: Eguchi Hisashi

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Milestones: Smile Makes 100th Chart Week; Papercutz' Thea Stilton Vol. 3 Hits One Million Sales Mark

Here are a couple of milestones I think worth noting, even as I don't have a ton to say in additional commentary -- I think the success bound up in each one is pretty obvious.

image* Gary Tyrrell reminds us that Raina Telgemeier's Smile has reached its 100th week on the appropriate bestseller list. While there are books with zombies that have settled in for a longer time, I think Telgemeier's continued sales success with that one, when combined with the fact that it's a non-genre work friendly to younger readers, makes it one of the key comics of the last half-decade. Congratulations to Telgemeier.

* Meanwhile, NBM sent out a press release earlier today that the third Thea Stilton volume, part of the Geronimo Stilton franchise, has gone over 1M in sales for publishing arm Papercutz. That doesn't happen a whole lot.

picture of Telgemeier from TCAF 2013
 
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OTBP: Mind Mess

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Missed It: A Potential John Campbell Mini-Update

A couple of you sent e-mails that the cartoonist John Campbell posted last week on the kickstarter site for the project whose open abandonment put Campbell in the news in a way that suggested some fans that previously do not have the book at question may now get one. I honestly have no idea how this progressed, but it beats reports of Campbell entering into comics shops and perhaps trying to light things on fire. One of the two people that sent me a link did so after checking Campbell's site; the reason they checked Campbell's site is they read about a crowd-funding related lawsuit, summarized here at the hobby business and news site ICv2.com.

I like all the crowd-funding mechanisms and I value the opportunity to contribute to projects and to receive art that several of them have afforded me. I do think there's a failure rate in terms of getting people things, and there may be more of than gets formally discussed. Anecdotal evidence is the worst kind of evidence, but that I have personally heard, I don't know, let me ballpark it at 25-30 people over the last couple of years make casual reference to not getting something or to an artist they know that completely failed to get something out, well, that makes me suspect this happens more than things happen where people don't constantly tell me about them. These same people usually display very little rancor, I would guess in part because of the affection that drove them to contribute in the first place. I think it's possible to be concerned for people and to want to hold them to the standards they embraced. I would hate to see this kind of thing end up in the courts, but that's what the courts do; the way to avoid the courts getting involved is give them nothing in which to involve themselves.
 
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Go, Look: Meags Fitzgerald

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Go, Read: Supreme Court To Decide On Hearing Jack Kirby Case Or Not On May 15 In Private Conference

Dominic Patten at Deadline has a succinct write-up here on the next step in the ongoing saga of Lisa Kirby, Neal Kirby, Susan Kirby and Barbara Kirby to secure legal recognition that work in the late 1950s and early 1960s by their family patriarch, the late Jack Kirby, was not done according to work for hire standards -- with all the standard implications one might expect for securing a piece of the copyrights involved. Kevin Melrose explained the motion's strategy engaging the "instance and expense" standard back when the filing was made in March. Patten notes that Marvel declined to file a response and won't until they're asked to do so by the court, suggesting that this may not be the best strategy but is also understandable given the merciless wave of defeats the Kirby Family has seen thus far.

As always I wish for the best possible outcome while granting that we're far more likely to see, if we're lucky, the appropriate legal outcome.
 
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Not Comics: SVA Class Of 2014 Image Mini-Gallery

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Go, Learn/Participate: Zander Cannon Soliciting Opinions On How To Maximize Table Profit At Cons

The veteran cartoonist Zander Cannon has started an open-to-public Facebook thread here about better maximizing the amount of profit he makes at shows when he tables. I thought it worth noting here because Cannon is an established veteran and I imagine some people might think he has this kind of thing figured out already. In actuality, very few cartoonists are totally satsified with how they do at cons and festivals. I think is is an even more pertinent question as the models for shows open up. Cannon notes how there are already so many such shows.
 
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Go, Look: A Bill Sienkiewicz Mini-Gallery

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By Request Extra: ZAPP, The Doug Wright Awards

image* Seattle's Zine Archive And Publishing Project is raising money today in one of those ways that money donated becomes more money donated. ZAPP isn't primarily a comics resources, but it has functioned at times as a significant one for comics, and comics-makers. Please consider giving, particularly if you live in that community.

* the Doug Wright Awards fundraiser is nearing its end with a significant distance yet to traverse. They could probably use a white knight, or 50 of them. I like that fundraiser, too. It's for a good cause, it looks like the money will be well spent, and there are a number of unique rewards.
 
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Go, Look: The Bunko Beetles Vs. The Evil Marzo

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Go, Look: Napoleon

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* this is a prose pubishing announcement but easily related to comics in a couple of big, obvious ways: IDW has announced that they'll be doing the perennial strong-performing Parker books, this time around featuring 10 illustrations per novel by Darwyn Cooke -- the artist behind the also IDW-published graphic novel adapatations of Donald Westlake's series. They'll kick things off with a limited edition hardcover made for TCAF, where Cooke will be in attendance. As well as those books have done over the years, I think there's plenty of room for this kind of treatment.

image* Bart Beaty's 12-Cent Archie will be out next Spring. That's a great title.

* one of the Penguin imprints acquired Tom Sniegoski's graphic novel The Raven's Child. Sniegoski is a successful working writer perhaps best known to comics fan for his work with series and prose connected to Jeff Smith's Bone universe.

* here's the cover to this Fall's Molly Ostertag.

* according to a web site I don't think I've ever seen before -- so apologies to whomever found it first because I probably got there through one of my peers -- the writer Tsugumi Oba of Death Note and Bakuman is teaming with the artist Robico (My Little Monster) on a series called Skip Yamada-kun, to debut in May. Oba's reputation-making projects were in collaboration with the artist Takeshi Obata, so the new partnership will likely be closely scrutinized on that basis.

* from Anne Koyama's instagram account comes a look at the forthcoming Patrick Kyle work, Distance Mover.

* I missed this C2E2 announcement: James Stokoe doing an Avengers-related one-shot. That should be super good-looking.

* another one I missed -- I'm really killing it this Spring -- is that the "Big Guy And Rusty The Robot" feature is going to find purchase in new installments in Dark Horse Presents. Dark Horse Presents is like the CBS TV of comics anthologies, and I think that's a good thing.

* the forthcoming Warren Ellis and Tula Lotay collaboration is previewed here. That looks very attractive.

* the hobby business news and analysis site ICv2.com has a post up providing dates for a two-volume release of the graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book: July and September. Involved are P. Craig Russell as the primary, with Kevin Nowlan, Russell, Tony Harris, Scott Hampton, Galen Showman, Jill Thompson, and Stephen B. Scott as the chapter contributors.

* to the shock of I'm guessing not a lot of people -- although hey, maybe there are nuances that made this unlikely -- BOOM! will be shepherding an Uncle Grandpa comic into existence. Likely, unlikely, whatever; I imagine it will certainly be welcome.

* finally, it's always nice to see a new Darryl Cunningham cover, this one for his big October 2014 release.

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If I Were In Toronto, 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 The Bay Area, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Al Feldstein In Various MAD Magazine Ads

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Kevin Melrose caught a report on a Manhattan Beach comic book shop that was burgled. You have to admire someone making a FCBD joke right after being robbed.

image* Greg Steele has posted a 2013 SPX jam comic. It has bears.

* Alex Dueben talks to Mimi Pond. David Betancourt talks to Brian Bendis. Michael Cavna profiles the great Ralph Steadman. Tim Young talks to Ted Rall. Chris Arrant talks to Marcos Martin. Albert Ching talks to Axel Alonso.

* my current desktop screen. Hail to the King.

* Rob McMonigal on Shaky Kane's Monster Truck. James Kaplan on Lumberjanes #1, The Bunker and Southern Bastards #1. Josh Kopin on various comics. Todd Klein on Green Lantern: New Guardians #29. Tom Bondurant on Batman Eternal. The Page 45 folks on a lot of different books. Paul Gravett on Sally Heathcote Suffragette.

* I'm coming pretty late to this column about the scroll function by Frank Santoro. Santoro looks how that way of looking at comics onscreen works and its potential effect on the act of reading comics. He stays positive. Like Santoro, I enjoy reading comics digitally, although I'm not very tied into the overt use of the various possiblities available to readers as much as I just like the convenience and lack of storage hassles.

* missed it: Kevin Huizenga posted a Frank King cartoon about conservation.

* finally, Chris Schweizer draws the Star Wars characters no one likes. One more here. I suppose someone likes those likes characters; every character is liked by someone.
 
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Happy 66th Birthday, David Michelinie!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Craig Fischer!

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May 5, 2014


Dick Ayers, RIP

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Go, Read: Joe Gross' Massive 50 Best Non-Superhero Graphic Novel Slideshow Over At Rolling Stone

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That's an interesting list. The thing that intrigues me most is that this is an art/alt focused list that is being done since the turn of the century, a time during which some reputations have grown and others have shrunk. Or some have just grown. You also have Los Bros at #1, and as we've seen there are some attempts at canon that exclude those two entirely which I think is a travesty.

Another thing about such a list is I only have two superhero books in my top 50, I think, and maybe only one, so this is like excluding a relatively minor movie category: "Top Non 'Florida Western' Films." Well, not really, but you get the idea.
 
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Go, Look: Nell Brinkley At Barnacle Press

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By Request Extra: Doug Wright Awards Heads Into Last Three Days Needing Some Help To Make Goals

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Here. The Doug Wrights are the Canadian-focused comics awards program that go out on the Saturday evening of TCAF. This one was specific-project focused -- with a lot of original art. You can go here and check out various updates for new stuff that's available.

I like the DWAs. I think its focus is legitimate and I learn something from them every year. I hope you'll consider contributing, doubly so if you're a Canadian comics reader or creator of the kind that might benefit from the program's continued existence.
 
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Go, Look: AlphaBands

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Go, Look: hi its sloane

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Go, Look: Taps

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Go, Read: Todd Allen On Marvel's Approach To The Direct Market

I liked this article by Todd Allen on Marvel's current approach to the Direct Market, focusing on their inability or unwillingness to sell a significant number of books unless a #1 issue is somehow involved. I think things are healthier for the market over the long-term if companies like Marvel build strong-selling series that hold a significant portion of their audienc year in and year out. The desire -- and perhaps the institutional mandate -- to maximize profit quarter to quarter does play havoc with a continuity of sales. The problem is you never know if there is a "there" from which these practices deviate, how much that part of the industry really is just about new #1s and a kind of compulsive, constant collecting mentality. Certainly it's easier to keep gaming the system, even to diminishing returns, than to adopt an entirely different way to look at the market. You can even make the argument that this isn't gaming the system, this is the system.
 
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Go, Look: Jorge Zaffino Page Scans

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Collective Memory: Al Feldstein, 1925-2014

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Commentary and reaction around the Internet to the passing of cartoonist and editor Al Feldstein.

*****

Institutional
* IMDB Entry
* Lambiek Entry
* Site
* Wikipedia Entry

imageMiscellaneous
* AV Club Interview
* Bob Levin Profile
* BoingBoing Review Of Feldstein Biography
* Extended Child Of Tomorrow Interview At TCJ.com
* Gallery At ComicArtFans.com

Posted In Memory
* 13thDimension

* AV Club

* B. Clay Moore
* BoingBoing
* BreakingNews

* Chris Ryall 01
* Chris Ryall 02

* David A. Price

* Evan Dorkin

* Jewcy

* KXHL

* LA Times

* MAD

* NY Times

* Tagesspiegel
* Time

* Virginia Sentinel
* Vulture

Twitter
* Associated Press

* BoingBoing
* Britney Spheres

* Cartoon Art Museum
* cbcnews
* Christian Hoffer

* Eric Reynolds

image* Frank Coniff 01
* Frank Coniff 02

* Gabriel Hardman
* Garrett Martin

* idw publishing

* Jason Heller
* Jen Vaughn
* JL Holt
* Joel Siegel
* John Siuntres

* Karen Green
* Ken Jennings
* KIRO7

* Martin McLellan
* Matt Maxwell

* NY Times

* Paste Magazine
* pourmecoffee

* Reuters
* Rick Remender
* Robin McConnell
* Royal Cat Records

* Sanjay Talwani
* Streebo
* Stuart Immonen

* TCJ
* The AV Club
* Tony Moore

* WTVC

* Yiddish Project

Work By Feldstein
* CSBG
* The Golden Age (Index)

*****



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Go, Look: Sketch In The City: Blink #1

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Collective Memory: Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) 2014

imageLinks to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning the 2014 edition of Free Comic Book Day, held May 3 at participating comic book and hobby shops around the world.

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

*****

Institutional
* Facebook Account
* Twitter Account
* Web Site

Comments And Reports
* #FCBD
* #FCBD2014
* bobbynash14
* Nostalgia And Comics

Miscellaneous
* Photo Sharing Contest
* Store Locator

Previews And Profiles
* Heroes
* NPR
* SFGate
* WGNO

*****



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Go, Look: Yeti Press Profiled

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* the Batton Lash/Supernatural Law crowdfunder heads into its final several days still a bit short, but hopefully within a managed distance. Crowd-funding has been a useful thing for those comics, but it's never a slam dunk to one of these things. Lash is one of comics' good guys, so I hope you'll check that out, particularly if you're a fan of his work.

* crowd-funding has been similarly good to Dave Sim thus far; his latest went up on Friday.

* by the time you read this I suppose it's possible that Josh Bayer's crowd-funder for Suspect Device Vol. 4 will be done; it will be very, very close if not -- check it out here.

* this crowd-funder features a webcomic but according to its instigators is actually designed to help pay for a system of doing infinite canvas comics which they will then make freely available. I don't have the chops or knowledge to vet any such claim, nor do I know if vetting such a claim is even necessary, but I thought the idea was interesting.

* Ryan Andrews is attempting to raise money for a second edition of Nothing Is Forgotten.

* this Machiavelli crowd-funder looks well on its way at this point, too, particularly with nine days remaining.

* the Ryan Andrews crowd-funder on behalf of a second printing of Nothing Is Forgotten continues.

* finally, this project, 21 Draw, roared to its goal in under 48 hours. While they're not in need of anything, I mention it here in case you're looking for model-successful projects or if the subject matters to you to want to get on board in the stretch goal phase.
 
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Go, Look: Ryan Andrews Portfolio Site

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Go, Look: Guy Davis Art Work Web Site Relaunch

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Rob McMonigal on Me Likes You Very Much. Kris Shaw on The Tower King. Marc Arsenault on some different books -- Arsenault never reviews comics, or at least doesn't very frequently.

* Robyn Chapman on "How To Talk To A Micro-Publisher Without Sounding Like A Jerk."

* super-fun mini-essay here by the writer, critic and occasional comics author Paul Di Filippo about the lack of connective, shared-experience technology in Calvin & Hobbes. It's not new to note that Calvin has a different childhood experience than kids do now, although it's always a point work making; what distinguishes this piece is that Di Filippo suggests a continuity between Calvin's experience and the experience of kids going back to the times of Skippy, asserting that while things like television did not fundamentally alter the course of kids' lives as lived, changes since have.

* I like this drawing Sarah McIntyre did of her parents.

* Jen Vaughn profiles Anna Pederson. Oliver Sava talks to Jason Aaron and Jason Latour. Abraham Riseman talks to Brian Bendis. Jeffrey Renaud talks to Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray.

* Michael Dooley presents a comics-related panel featuring Ben Katchor, Mimi Pond, Anders Nilsen and Vanessa Davis from the LA Times Festival Of Books.

* I was unaware -- or it hadn't registered with me -- that the CBLDF has a podcast now. Nice line-up here.

* it's great to see that Oliver East received necessary funding to work on a project. His comics are extremely interesting and entirely his own.

* not comics: J. Chris Campbell on Amazing Spider-Man 2. That's a funny title.

* Julia Wertz draws an overheard moment.

* not really sure how this link to an "Original Writer" Amazon.com grouping made it into my bookmarks -- likely Facebook -- but it is sort of funny to see it presented that way. It's explained here, if it doesn't ring any bells.

* Alex Cox notes why some comics professionals and devoted fans of the medium get frustrated with Stan Lee, or at least the apparatus that Lee has allowed to form around himself in his later years. I do think this kind of thing could be better policed in general, for sure, although I'm not sure every single instance could be.

* finally, Robert Beerbohm remembers his friend, the late Bill Blackbeard. If you've ever read an archival comic strip collection, you have likely benefited from the work or influence of Bill Blackbeard.
 
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Happy 47th Birthday, Adam Hughes!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Éric Ivars!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Joseph Remnant!

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Happy 64th Birthday, David Lloyd!

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Happy 82nd Birthday, Stan Goldberg!

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May 4, 2014


So Here's Something I Learned Today...

Today I learned that if you go on a morning walk out on the highway near Silver City, New Mexico during Tour Of The Gila weekend, you might catch the Sunday morning road race. If you catch the Sunday morning road race, you might be impressed with the way the cops close down the intersection, and with the motorcycles out in front, and with the camera/support trucks on either side of the huge, bustling mass of riders as they swoop down a far away hill, getting closer. And if you're impressed you might watch closely and see one rider veer into parallel procession in the right hand turn lane that runs the course of the highway, the lane where people turn into banks and shopping malls, the lane nearest to you. And if you're curious about this rider, you might watch him closely as the processional is just about where you are. And if you're wearing your contacts, you might at the moment the processional barrels past see this rider's penis and the stream of urine he's making.

And if it's windy enough, just windy enough, you might feel a few drops on your face and shirt from said rider.

So while I go back to bed for the next 173 days, please enjoy these drawings by the great cartoonist of bicycling, Jean-Jacques Sempé.

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Go, Look: Paul Grist Mini-Gallery

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Go, Look: Little Things

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

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

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Happy 54th Birthday, Geoff Grogan!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Shaenon Garrity!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Alé Garza!

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FFF Results Post #378 -- Multi-Platform

Five For Friday #379 -- Name Five Comics You'd Be Happy Reading In Any Format, On Any Device

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John Vest

1. Love & Rockets
2. Reid Fleming (now available on Kindle)
3. Lee & Kirby Fantastic Four
4. Bendis and Maleev Daredevil stories
5. Peanuts

*****

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Jean-Paul Jennequin

Here’s the five comics I’d be happy reading in any format, on any device :

1) The Wiggle-Much by Herbert Crowley
2) Les Jumelles by Henriette Robitaillie and Janine Lay (published in Lisette, Bernadette and Nade)
3) Moonchild by Pat Mills and John Armstrong (published in Misty)
4) Nic et Mino by Claude Dupré and Jean Ache (published in Le Journal de Mickey)
5) X-Men

*****

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Bert Duckwall

1. Marvel Secret Wars from 1984
2. Marvel's Run Of Star Wars Up Until The Empire Stikes Back
3. DC's Secret Society Of Super-Villains
4. Marvel's Thunderbolts the original 12 issues
5. Marvel Team-Up

*****

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Dave Knott

* Hip Hop Family Tree
* Walt Simonson's Thor
* The comics of Boulet
* Doonesbury
* Hark! A Vagrant

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Cerebus
2. Sinfest
3. Any Fletcher Hanks material
4. Classic 1950s/60s Archie
5. Yotsuba&!

*****

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Jude Killory

* Gabrielle Bell -- Lucky
* Nate Bulmer -- Eat More Bikes
* Chester Brown's comics from the '80s and '90s
* Jack Chick tracts
* Urasawa -- 20th Century Boys

*****

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John Platt

1. Hellboy, etc.
2. Usagi Yojimbo
3. Richard Corben's Poe adaptations
4. Dark Horse Presents
5. Rich Geary's murder graphic novels

*****

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Chris Duffy

1. COPRA by Michael Fiffe
2. Any 1970s comic by Jack Kirby
3. Ernie Pook's Comeek by Lynda Barry
4. Afrodesiac by Jim Rugg
5. Hellboy by Mike Mignola

*****

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Chad Hanna

1. Andre Franquin's Gaston Lagaffe
2. Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon
3. Walt Simonson's Thor
4. Dave Sim's Cerebus
5. All Kim Deitch's stuff

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. Lee/Ditko/Romita Amazing Spider-Man
2. McKelvie/Gillen's Phonogram
3. Ennis/Dillon's Preacher
4. Morrison/Porter et al.'s JLA
5. DC Thomson & Co.'s "Commando"-format comics (68 pages, A5, 1-3 panels per page), e.g.: Commando, Starblazer, misc. football and romance titles.

*****

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Douglas Wolk

1. Giffen/T. & M. Bierbaum-era Legion of Super-Heroes (so iPhone-friendly!)
2. Mister O
3. Black Jack
4. Doonesbury
5. Jim Woodring's Frank stories

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Murderdrome (Imagine that digital penny dreadful as a feature in 2000 AD)
2. Project Ballad (I hope that there will be a printed book some day)
3. Decrypting Rita (Crowdfunded print collections available)
4. Life Ain't No Ponyfarm (Three printed collections have been released this far)
5. Tarkan (I think this would be perfect for reading it on a mobile device)

*****

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M. Emery

1. Carl Bark's Ducks
2. Commando/Battle/War Picture Libraries
3. Julia Wertz's comics
4. Noah Van Sciver's comics
5. Amalgamated Press Super Detective Library

*****

topic suggested by John Vest; thanks, John

*****
*****
 
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May 3, 2014


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Neil Gaiman Interviews Art Spiegelman


Walt Simonson Interviewed In 1984
via Sean Howe, I think


Trailer For Bryan Talbot Film


Dylan Horrocks On The Dharma Punks


College Of Charleston Welcomes Alison Bechdel


Comics Are Great Show


Video In Support Of Comics Unmasked
 
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At Least Two Free Or Next To Free Things Comics-Related Things For FCBD That I Know About

I don't exactly have an exhaustive list of these things handy, but I have seen a couple.

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* after postage, the Oily Comics Free Sampler will likely cost you $1.01 (if you're in the states, anyway).

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* TwoMorrows always has something going on, and this year they have free digital downloads and a discount on paper versions.
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from April 26 to May 2, 2014:

1. The editor, writer and artist Al Feldstein passed away. Feldstein was a key figure within EC Comics and the editor at Mad during its extensive period of greatest success. We are down to a handful of living cartoonists and creative figures from EC.

2. The drive to punish two universities in South Carolina for assigning books to students hit a welcome wall. One of the books involved is the Alison Bechdel graphic memoir Fun Home.

3. Reaction to comiXology bailing out on a certain kind of download that requires they pay Apple a bunch of money and afford them some control over access to content drives significant reaction.

Winner Of The Week
Lisa Hanawalt. She announced a book, too.

Losers Of The Week
The folks at Jonah Weiland's CBR boards so deeply up the ass of their own self-interest and entitlement they cast Jonah Weiland's decision to kill and then revive his message boards so they won't be a platform of harassment as some sort of punishment rather than as a necessary step or at least Weiland's attempt to do a good thing.

Quote Of The Week
"For those of you who were there only to be disruptive, abusive and ugly: Go away." -- Jonah Weiland

*****

image from a Marvel comic book, 1964

*****
 
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Go, Read: Lisa Hanawalt's 2014 James Beard Media Award Winner "On The Trail With Wylie"

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Announced here. Congratulations to Hanawalt.
 
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If I Were In Naples, I'd Go To This

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

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

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If I Were In The Baltimore Area, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Happy 40th Birthday, Derek Kirk Kim!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Mark Coale!

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Happy 87th Birthday, Mell Lazarus!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Bill Sienkiewicz!

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Happy 75th Birthday, Dennis O'Neil!

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