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June 30, 2014


By Request Extra: Hadn't Realized The Zak Sally-Linked Schoolhaus Project Had Gone To Kickstarter



They could use a white knight, or several white squires.
 
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By Request Extra: Please Put This Roman Muradov Kickstarter Over The Top And Then Some

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Go, Read: Her Baby Is At Risk; Lauren's Story

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Go, Read: Massive Barnaby Vol. 2 Interview; Phil Nel's Errata

imageIt's almost against comics' encoded DNA to get truly excited about a reprint project in the same way that fans get worked up about new comics. We have so many great reprints; you could have a satisfying relationshipo with comics at this point only reading stuff originally made 40 years and longer ago.

I haven't read a better book this year than the second volume of Fantagraphics' collection of the Crockett Johnson Barnaby strip. There's a lot of stuff in that volume I hadn't seen before, and more that I'd barely seen, so it was sort of like having a new book and, with it, new eyes on the project. Even as much of a fan of that work as I am, I was pleasantly surprised by how strong the strip remained in this second grouping of years, how the relentless narrative push of Johnson's comics mirrored the timelessness of a child's daily existence. There's no read in comics like it, and there never was.

Here's a lengthy interview performed by Chris Mautner over at Robot 6, good enough it's scared me off of doing one of my own. Here is project co-producer Phil Nel politely and enthusiastically engaging with corrections to that work, a model for how one should do that.
 
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Go, Bookmark: The Imitation Game

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Festivals Extra: SPX Fills Out 2014 Alt-Weekly Focus Guest Slate With A Bunch Of Appropriate Talent

This announcement was made last week, but I think it's worth noting before the moment totally passes. One of strengths of SPX is that it can go deep on its guest list due to the nature of the show, its desirability for a stopping point by potential on-site pros, and its general resources. After announcing Jules Feiffer, James Sturm and Lynda Barry in its first alt-weekly focus announcement -- a fine show right there with no one else added -- they named a second wave to include Tom Tomorrow, Jen Sorensen, Charles Burns and Ben Katchor. That is a really great line-up: Sorensen is also a good one for the 20th Anniversary celebration because that's where a lot of us remember first running into her (the award-winning editorial cartoonist was a student within driving distance). Charles Burns is one of the great comics artists. Tom Tomorrow and Ben Katchor rarely appear at show; I don't know if I've even met the former at any show, ever.

As we work our way into an era with so many good shows, how the individual shows execute a theme is going to be a bigger and bigger deal: this looks like an accomplished, thoughtful series of moves.

I also wonder if they're trying for Matt Groening, with Burns joining Barry.
 
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Go, Look: King Of The Mountain, Man

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By Request Extra: Locust Moon Finishing, Taking Initial Orders On Little Nemo Book Via Kickstarter

This crowd-funder on behalf of an already-rolling Little Nemo tribute project has already pushed past its goal, and there are more than three weeks to get on board if you want to get on board this way. I mention it here because something about it strikes as a potential future for high end book from established publishing companies. I'm not sure why it hits me that particular way, why it's distinct from any other project, but it does -- it's probably the limited purview for the money spent; it's close-the-circle, not fund-the-dream. I could see established companies running five or six such crowd-funders a year.

Interview here. Profile here.
 
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Go, Look: Hairy Scary

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Go, Read: Michael Cavna On Ultimate Auction Fate For Those Bill Watterson Pearl Before Swine Comics

Michael Cavna of the Washington Post has a full description here of something this site mentioned briefly in the HeroesCon report that went up Sunday -- the Pearl Before Swine strips exhibited there which included middle panels from reclusive legend Bill Watterson. They'll be going up for auction to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation For Parkinson's Research as is the case with the Team Cul De Sac efforts. You can read the formal press release here.

I believe from what I've been told it's that great friend of quality comics Todd Hignite that will be spearheading things from the Heritage Auctions end, and they'll be donating from their usual fee to the foundation as well.

Watterson has been wonderfully supportive of Richard Thompson since the diagnosis. They are currently exhibiting one room apart from one another at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.
 
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Go, Look: Super-Mystery Comics #2

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Pando Fires Ted Rall Along With David Sirota In Mini-Purge

Little explanation given. It's hard not to see this, as asserted throughout that piece, as some sort of amelioration for monied interests. In the journalist Sirota's case that's a shame since Pando's recent higher profile came due to his work. In the editorial cartoonist, editorial prose writer and sometimes journalist Rall's case, I imagine it sucks hard to lose a place where he could be well-supported for the kind of muck-raking and strident editorialization he likes to do. On the other hand, if you have to be tossed overboard, that's flattering company. I wish him the best in finding a new place of purchase and die a little bit inside about the shape of any and all well-funded journalism.
 
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Go, Look: Anthony Piper

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Missed It: Ulli Lust Wins Max And Moritz Prize

Discovered at this late date here, in a post by her North American publisher. I'm actually more familiar with that prize program -- it's affiliated with the festival in Erlangen -- for its lifetime achievement award, which this year went to Ralf Konig. I don't know if that's similar to the big "The Reuben" and then a bunch of divisional NCS awards, or what -- but the one Lust one is right up there. I believe it shares the same prize money, if I'm looking at these site's correctly and seeing prize money.

The original posts notes that Lust's autobiographical work was also the winner of the LA Times Book Prize in its category and received an Ignatz.

This is a juried awards program.
 
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Go, Look: Three Josh Bayer Drawing Commissions

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Critics Group ACBD Celebrates 30 Years; Releases Latest Lists

imageI enjoyed this article over at the French-language comics news clearinghouse ActuaBD.com about the 30th anniversary of L'Association des Journalists et des critics de la bande dessinée. The article deals with the shift from a combination of local newspaper writer and hobbyists to more of a sprawling organization that includes writers for national and international publications. Rare for an article like this one, Gilles Ratier is singled out for his work in providing that organization with a bit of analytical heft year-in, year-out.

They also released two lists: a summer books recommendations list and the nominees for their Asian book prize, with announcement of the winner coming in about a week at the Japan Expo. The former list includes a few familiar names including Riad Sattouf, Manu Larcenet and Blutch.

Summer Indispensibles List

* Amère Russie Volume One: Les Amazones, Bassaiev d'Anlor et Aurélien Ducoudray (Éditions Grand Angle)
* L'Arabe du futur: une jeunesse au Moyen-Orient (1978-1984), Riad Sattouf (Éditions Allary)
* Blast Volume Four: Pourvu que les bouddhistes se trompent, Manu Larcenet (Éditions Dargaud)
* Chamisso, l'homme qui a perdu son ombre, Daniel Casanave et David Vandermeulen (Éditions Le Lombard)
* Charly 9, Richard Guérineau d'après Jean Teulé (Éditions Delcourt)
* Choc Volume One: Les Fantomes de Knightgrave, Éric Maltaite et Stéphane Colman (Éditions Dupuis)
* Le Dahlia noir, Miles Hyman et Matz d'après James Ellroy et David Fincher (Éditions Casterman)
* Docteur Radar, tueur de savants, Frédéric Bézian et Noel Simsolo (Éditions Glénat)
* Le Fils du yéti, Didier Tronchet (Éditions Casterman)
* Lune l'envers, Blutch (Éditions Dargaud)
* La Machine a influencer, Josh Neufeld et Brooke Gladstone (Éditions Ca et la)
* Mattéo Volume Three: Troisième époque (aout 1936), Jean-Pierre Gibrat (Éditions Futuropolis)
* Moby Dick Volume One: Livre premier, Christophe Chabouté d'après Herman Melville (Éditions Vents d'Ouest)
* Moderne Olympia, Catherine Meurisse (Éditions Futuropolis/Musée d'Orsay)
* La Nueve: les républicains espagnols qui ont libéré Paris, Paco Roca (Éditions Delcourt)
* Rouge comme la neige, Christian de Metter (Éditions Casterman)
* Une affaire de caractères, Francois Ayroles (Éditions Delcourt)
* Les Vieux Fourneaux, Paul Cauuet et Wilfrid Lupano (Éditions Dargaud Benelux)
* La Vision Bacchus, Jean Dytar (Éditions Delcourt)
* Wet Moon Vols. 1-2, Atsushi Kaneko (Éditions Casterman-Sakka)

Prix Asie L'ACBD Nominees

A winner will be named at the Japan Expo next weekend.

* Cesare, Fuyumi Soryo (Ki-oon)
* Le Chef de Nobunaga, Takuro Kajikawa & Mitsuru Nishimura (Komikku)
* San Mao, le petit vagabond Zhang Leping (Fei)
* Space Brothers, Chuya Koyama (Pika)
* Wet Moon, Atsushi Kaneko (Sakka)
 
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Go, Look: An Entirely Different Kind Of Labour Union

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Jeremy Eaton Opens Up A Home Gallery In Seattle

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The cartoonist Jeremy Eaton has opened up a home gallery to show off his various works, and to provide them to patrons at a price he promises will be below the price for which they're available on-line. Eaton's a talented artist and one of the nicest men to ever work in comics, so I hope if you're in Seattle you'll take advantage. As mentioned above, Eaton's e-mail to arrange a viewing is I know that a lot of cartoonists have work at home, but I'm not sure I've ever seen this kind of thing attempted to this degree.

His on-line shop is here.
 
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Go, Read: Moebius' Brief Manual For A Cartoonist

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* two projects big enough they got their own posts were launched last week: a gofundme campaign for SLG Publishing; a fund-raiser related to the late Dave Cockrum's The Futurians project. They continue and I hope you'll check out both.

image* here's one I hadn't noticed: my peer Henry Chamberlain, who also makes comics, has a gofundme thing going. I hope that this will attract the attention of at least a few of the other writers about comics and that they'll attempt a small donation.

* last few hours on the Hunt Emerson-related crowd-funder.

* here's one that was sent along to me that looks to be in the fleshy middle of its crowd-funding journey: a collection of DA Bishop's Stranger.

* last few hours on Cringe.

* I don't see a lot of cons crowd-funding and I'm not sure I've ever seen one of the local library-hosted pop-up cons go down that road, so this one from Pennsylvania stood out.

* this Juan Navarro fundraiser has already raced past its goal, but there's plenty of time to participate.

* this P. Craig Russell crowd-funder has surged past the important halfway point.

* finally, this animated project that would have employed the talents of that fine cartoonist Pat Moriarity, well, it doesn't look to have ever gained that initial burst of attention and subsequent traction.
 
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Go, Look: More Herb Trimpe Hulk Splash Pages

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Go, Look: Fun Food Facts With The Ramones

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Zainab Akhtar Nathan Wilson on Graphic Ink. That is one odd cover-image choice. Chris Sims on Station 38. Abhay Khosla on a big pile of old comics. Tom Bondurant on Superman #32. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Super Secret Crisis War #1. Jordan Speer on QCHQ. Rob Clough on War Of Streets And Houses. Sean T. Collins on Sorry Kid. John Seven on Truth Is Fragmentary.

* on physics-related comics.

* a bunch of not comics: 1) Here's the case for Irma Vep as a superhero movie. Maybe people should just not do this. 3) I'm not a fan of these cartoons or of nostalgic commercials using minor pop culture elements (yes, that's enough of a thing I can have an opinion on it), but if you're going to do it, go all in. 4) Dan Nadel talks to Brian Chippendale about his music.

* hail to the King.

* I'm nerdy enough to have owned all of the original X-Men comics, but I never thought of Magneto's face reveal as a big moment.

* Albert Ching talks to Gerard Way. Matt O'Keefe talks to Jim Zub.

* finally, here's a short piece on the role of bullying in geek subcultures. I'm not sure there's a lot of clarity in that piece -- it was hard for me to sort out its main points -- and that precede full engagement with their content, but it's always healthy to be negotiating that material. Comics is responsible for an industry, a fan and an event culture, which is a lot.
 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Christopher Priest!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Shawn McManus!

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

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partial imagery of the offering by Steve Leialoha
 
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June 29, 2014


CR Sunday Feature: A Few, Random Notes About HeroesCon 2014

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By Tom Spurgeon

A few notes about the recently-concluded HeroesCon, held this year in Charlotte from June 20-22.

* this is late. I apologize. We didn't use to call one week after a show "late," but these are the times we live in. Luckily, this show has lingered a bit in the hearts of minds of many of its participants, so hopefully some folks will get something out of what follows.

* it was a really good show. I had a great time.

image* when I first went to HeroesCon in 2008, I called it the "Last Great American Comic-Con" in the report that followed. That headline seems slightly ludicrous now. 2008 was very different for conventions: maybe not a world of difference, but many continents we take for granted today had yet to slide into proper place. Some cons were surging but many were not. One major player of the last two decades, whatever company is bearing the "Wizard" name, has since the mid-2000s devolved from a #2-show-hosting, location-and-weekend bully whose toe-in-the-water concerning doing a show near Charlotte all by itself felt provocative and alarming, to a company that seems to be stringing along a bunch of barely breakeven events in the hopes that someone will buy them out, screwing up local shows from a reduction-of-margins standpoint as opposed to a "crush them, set them on fire and salt the earth" perspective.

* we also know that there are many ways to do a comics show, and that a bunch of different models can be great. I think we have more models yet to discover.

* so I don't know if HeroesCon is still the Last Great American Comic-Con, but it retains its unique position in an increasingly crowded calendar. It is an old-fashioned big-tent show, the Hernandez Brothers seated in the same room and, later, the same hotel bar, as a vast range of mainstream-comics creators. It is a show where big-time big two company stars come and draw a line for their image work. Kevin Eastman toys with an early morning honest to god press conference while artists you've never heard of before, artists whose teachers were misbehaving at this show as recently as three years ago, are raking in enough money to buy a car. It is a show where Mark Waid and Jeff Smith do a panel together. It is a show where a cutting edge alternative talent draws Spider-Man marrying Sailor Moon for a delighted fan and this seems perfectly rational.

* Heroes is fun. Their formula is a good formula. Heroes provides the opportunity for mainstream-oriented artists to be taken seriously away from the former celebrities and the big companies themselves, and it allows younger cartoonist to go to something of an old-school show of the kind that used to be more prevalent in a way that allows them to have fun, meet fans and make some cash. It is southern hospitality and regional banking center level dining. It seems to work.

* Travel. I noted in May that it took me 24-plus hours to go from my driveway in New Mexico to my hotel room in Toronto. The trip here was 15 hours, perhaps equally impressive to my recent one-day-plus odyssey given I wasn't crossing an international border or depending on a ferry at any point during my trip to Charlotte. I've whined about all the reasons for this fraying of the travel infrastructure (short version: profit-maximization quarter to quarter), but this was the first trip where more than half of the people I talked to had some sort of major difficulty making it to a show, and there were about 10 people to whom I spoke that complained about this generally with shows. Such complaints aren't news, not really -- "comics person complains could be a headline every day" -- except I think we're at a saturation point with conventions that people may start making choices to limit their exposure to sucky travel, and I think the building, unpleasant nature of air travel will have an impact.

* all of the airlines hate fat people, but Delta seems to really hate tall people, too. Or, as it was pointed out to me, "all" people.

* Heroes receives deserved kudos for its exhibitor and professional shuttle service on the day before the show. I've tried to ride it five times, but have only ever caught the shuttle once. I don't know if that's my lizard-like stupidity or if they're ducking me. The awesome thing about this flourish is that it means that the people visiting your show will have their first significant encounter with someone from Charlotte that the convention chooses, and this person will likely be super-friendly and interested in what you're up to. This is not true of a San Diego taxi driver, although god bless them.

* I always stay at the Hilton rather than the preferred, central Westin when I'm in Charlotte. I have points going at both chains, so it's not that, and the Westin is a bit nicer according to people that have done both. I just sort of like staying at a hotel at some remove from the bulk of the socializing I'll be doing. Plus they have access to a full service YMCA. It did seem they had more comics people than I remember from past shows, and they had the Drink And Draw there, which is either new or something I forgot was done.

* the best thing I saw at the Hilton is when my key card stopped working and there was a long line a woman in stewardess outfit who looked like she walked off the Mad Men set tried to jump the line and got crushed by the Hilton staff person, and sent back to the end of the line. That rarely happens.

* the Hilton also opens in the back to the local transit train, and I use that when I get there to go get supplies and get out of my head a bit. For some reason, I can never find a grocery or drug store in Charlotte -- it is the least convenience store oriented city in which I've ever spent time. Anyway, if you're doing that show in future years, there are certainly a few neighborhoods you could access for a getaway dinner that aren't downtown restaurants, if you want to fool around with google a bit. I also bought a dress shirt at a store there because apparently all I packed was candy and rubbers.

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* had a quiet dinner that night with a pal at a wing joint. There's this great downtown shopping mall area of bars and restaurants that never fails to impress folks from the coasts in its modern Americana like awesomeness because you just don't have a lot of stuff like that in New York City or Seattle or San Francisco. I stopped by the Westin on the way home and did a full walk through. I only recognized two people. One was Ben McCool, holding court in loud fashion. I like McCool because he never jumps ahead in his story. The second was Evan Dorkin, talking to Stephanie Buscema and her husband. We talked for about 45 minutes before I called it a day. It was nice to see comics people, even though it had only been a month. You know what I mean.

* the next morning I had coffee at a Panera Bread location there to remind me that all of that mall culture has its dark side. I can still taste it.

* I stopped to pick up a press pass with the show already going, and caught up with Shelton Drum, who was handing out passes because as large as it is it's still a smaller, hands-on show. I don't know even know what some people that run some of the bigger cons even look like. We stood and looked down on the show through the glass. It wasn't busy yet, but the traffic was spread out. The traffic was always reasonably spread out, it seemed to me; there was never any place that was super dead, and the slower places were the far ends. And despite the lines, there were never bottlenecks. They moved into this largest hall with now partition set-up last year, and they still have a bit of growing into it to do. It wasn't light, particularly, attendance-wise -- at least not as I was told -- but it felt that way. There were large rows everywhere, and a lot of space. Indie island is in the central part of the show, which I also appreciate.

* I did a walk around. Heroes is a show with a lot of individual talent set up, from multiple generations, particularly in the character design and mainstream comic book drawing categories. This makes sense because of the show's significant art emphasis -- these would be people that could do very well at a show where people are looking for people to draw them things. But yeah, you kind of walk around and notice random like Kevin Maguire and Geof Darrow and Joe Staton and Kevin Wada and Dean Trippe. Don Rosa. Gabriel Hardman. A lot of talented people. There weren't name tags, so a lot of these encounters were friendly but without recognition of any relationship we had on-line or elsewhere. A lot of these folks were super busy. The lines that held my attention in a "who is that for" way during the weekend were Jeff Smith, Kevin Eastman, Ron Garney and the Matt Fraction/Kelly Sue DeConnick/] line. A lot of folks looked busy. One person told me the person they were looking for made an almost five-figure amount by halfway through the first day selling page and cover art. I was told by the end of the weekend of mid-four figure amounts earned by people completely unfamiliar to me.

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* the first thing that got everyone excited that first day was that Jaime Hernandez had brought for sale five copies of the first Love And Rockets -- the 'zine one that they self-published before the first Fantagraphics publication of that same issue. It was a big 'zine, with a black and white cover. That's an incredible object to just show up somewhere with, and Jaime claims to have liberated those copies from a full box. They sold out very, very quickly.

image* I mentioned Jeff Smith. I watched his table for about ten minutes when they both Jeff and Tom Gaadt had to be away from the table for a while. I hadn't worked a table since 1995, so that was kind of fun, if one defines fun as frustrating and annoying people that want things. And I do define fun that way, so mission accomplished. I think one lady believed me when I said I had bought Cartoon Books and had canceled Bone, so sorry about that, Jeff. I prefer to walk around shows, not work a table. It seems exhausting. One the other hand, you're making money.

* about halfway through the first day the convention time started to blend together for me, so I think I'm going to go to general observations about the show rather than a day by day, at least until we get to the after party.

* general impressions from 40-50 people talked to on floor each day: traffic light on Friday but a lot of buyers; decent traffic Saturday but a lot fewer buyers, Sunday featured a lot of select buyers, people that had been around and kind of swooped down and bought a specific thing they might have scouted out earlier. A few newer folks were thrown a bit by people looking at pre

* Telegraph Gallery was on-hand and made enough money so that the trip was profitable. They were at a far end of the show. They expressed a desire to return more smack dab in proximity to Indie Island. I had two creators tell me here in a way that echoed what I heard in Toronto that they're a dealer where you have to see the posters and prints to really get what they're up to. I hope that they'll be fighting off regional invites from now until they decide to leave the business.

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* I'm told that publishers as a group (that's Team Koyama, non-Annie edition, above) maybe did less well than individual creators, with an exception being companies that represent individual creators like Cartoon Books. This is a broad stab at things, but it was the subject of a lot of discussion and supposition. It seems like Heroes with its original art emphasis may be on the edge of a trend towards not using shows to buy books more generally -- you might buy a debut, and you might buy to get something signed, but you're not there to stock up on books in general: your local store or Amazon can do that for you in a way that couldn't be done 20 years ago. Plus you have to carry that stuff around. One publisher told me that he hosts creators at the show as well, and kind of defers to them in terms of their direct selling books he might sell himself were they not there representing it.

* all in all, if the words "good, not great" were a magic spell that summoned a demon, we'd all be talking about the lost, demon-run town of Charlotte, North Carolina.

* people actually eat the food at the convention center. There's food upstairs, but I also saw people just eating food from the booths along the side of the hall, people who would never do this at other convention centers.

* there was very little talk in the circles I ran in about the new harassment policy. A couple of the older people I talked to mentioned that they were surprised that Heroes hadn't even had a policy until the week preceding this year's show. There was some joking about material people were selling at the show violating potentially violating the new policy, although I know that's a concern that some artists have brought to me in a less lighthearted manner. All of this sorting itself out, I think. I am all for shows looking at what they're doing and trying to improve, and I'm not so convinced that any one strategy or policy is so overwhelmingly successful I'm willing to characterize anyone's motivations according to whether this strategy or that strategy is pursued. Whatever their assemblage of strategies it seemed to work. I know that some guests (or guests of guests) that suggested the possibility of violence towards other guests brought down specific attention and follow-ups from the show's organizers. Rico Renzi and Shelton Drum were generally around and available for that kind of thing.

* as for comics issues more generally, there hasn't been a big change in any single one of them, at least not as conversation with about two dozen people on various subjects revealed. There is some increasing impatience with low print runs from smaller publishers, and low payments for work on books that have clearly surged their way sales-wise into a hit. I do get frustrated that so much of comics rhetoric is of the scorched-earth Internet variety. It's rare to see people stake out nuances of an issue right now, it's usually more along the lines of the issue is so ludicrously obvious it doesn't need to be argued, if you're not on board you don't get it, everyone that holds a different view is a shit of a person and a terrible artist besides. I'm not sure that wins us a lot of progress, even as much as I'm a fan of uncompromised position-taking. I get it, though, If you want a win or tie and the issue before you is nettlesome, the temptation to retreat to showing that you're not what the exaggerated rhetoric claims, well, that's much, much easier than working your way through the morass whatever industry difficulty is in front of you.

* the scariest thing I saw was an apology letter received by a peer, which just didn't seem connected to how normal people tend to work out issues.

* someone did have a meltdown in the Westin bar one night, although I'm not sure that was a comics person. I heard not, initially. This was amusing only in that it seemed one of every kind of local civic authority figure showed up: one cop, one fireman, one EMT. I expected to see someone from the power company.

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* the only two times I heard people objectifying a working cartoonist was two times I heard male cartoonists talking about the same peer in admiring fashion. "I would kill for that guy's skin," said one of them.

* I did hear some complaints of the "guy being a general ass when speaking to a woman" variety, such as one guy asking after a woman's outfit choice in a semi-aggressive, ultimately harmless but definitely assholish way.

* I ran a lot of programming that weekend -- seven panels, one hour each. None of them were recorded, which I wonder now if I had to request or if that is just my station in life, that I'm doing panels of the kind that don't get recorded. I still feel like I haven't found out how to do these well, but I'm getting better. I concentrated on background visuals and foregrounded conversation distinct from the visuals, as opposed to a directed powerpoint questions line.

* there were a lot of fun ideas at those panels, though. Some of what I remember.
+ a panel about the digital effort of Jeff Smith (Boneville.com) and Mark Waid (thrillbent.com) revealed that both are working with outside marketing consultants in terms of a social media strategy. Waid said he was slightly disappointing but not discouraged by initial subscription numbers with his deluxe package at the site. Smith said that Cartoon Books had left comiXology recently. Both are distrustful of ceding more control over digital content to Amazon.com. That was a smart, lively panel -- both men are very articulate and extremely funny. One big advantage of Heroes is that there's enough space for some crossover like this in terms of different worlds of comics.

image+ a panel about doing comics despite not that being your full-time day-job feature cartoonists who all went to school for art: Keron Grant (pictured), Babs Tarr and Scott Campbell. The most interesting question was from a woman who was going through the process of deciding whether or not to send her kid to a cartooning school and trying to figure out if there were other options, including not going to school until later. The panelists were all really straight-forward about the costs and the advantages, with Grant probably being the strongest about suggesting maybe that working as an apprentice or assistant might be a better path, all things considered. Nobody treated the question or the woman's quandary with glibness.

+ I hadn't seen Terry Moore in 15 years for more than a few seconds when I had him on a panel with Jeff Smith, about having a career defined by a big, first hit -- I appreciated that construction as a way to shape the conversation. Both told great stories about how they knew that their first projects were going to be a lifetime-defining thing. Smith told a funny story about people suggesting that a couple of Bones show up up in RASL, and seemed more directly involved time-wise with the stewardship of that first project. Moore is further into his third project than Smith is with his third, and Smith was hopeful that what Moore described as an audience more willing to kind of follow the artist once they were a full project removed from the thing they loved would be true of his own work. Those two are clearly good pals, and you could tell they very much admire and enjoy one another.

+ Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez focused our talk on Love And Rockets: New Stories, which was my idea rather than the cons. It just struck me that they had talked a lot about their entire careers recently and that if any other pair of talents had released a book that strong and nothing else their entire career we'd be freaking out about them. They talked a bit about the practical issues involved with finding a way to get new L&R material into the bookstores where a lot of their fans were more likely to shop, even older fans as their lives and the shopping landscape had changed. Jaime admitted to a lot of difficulties adjusting to the 50-page allotment, and said he redid the "Ti-Girls" second half extensively for the collection, adding something like 20 pages because of miscalculations on his part. Gilbert went on an interesting tangent where he talked about the Killer in Palomar material as a reflection of his own relationship to Palomar. She doesn't quite fit in there, and he doesn't, either, not anymore. He also talked about having no problem with people that feel the early Palomar stories have something the later ones lack, because he feels those stories are really good, and exist in a continuity with the bulk of his work. About 10 of the 35 people on hand sought me out to tell me they really liked that one, so a fear the three of us had that it was a little wonky was slightly diminished.

image+ the humor panel was fun. A lot of Evan Dorkin, who was mixing it up with some fans in the front row. He's a very strong panel presence. All four gentlemen -- the others were Roger Langridge, Tim Rickard and Ryan Browne were articulate and thoughtful and funny, which is necessary for a panel like that. There were a couple of time where the panelists used the art intended as a visual accompaniment to make a specific point, like when Evan held up for praise a secondary gag in a Brewster Rockit Sunday. Roger Langridge said the only joke he's done that was scorned for the nature of its content involved one about overweight people. Ryan Browne, who is shifting into full-time comics making even as we speak, spoke about how specific some of the work can be -- like adjusting written material while lettering for the way it is spatially presented.

+ Sunday noonish was a Kitchen Sink Press panel with Tom Heintjes, Mark Schultz and Denis Kitchen. I leaned so heavily on Kitchen in terms of my curiosity about his company that he hoped out loud that I'd eventually ask someone else to help him. I got really fun answers from him on his relationship to his printer (a republican with free-speech values) and his small-p political role in the underground scene; I also had some curiosity satiated in terms of the transition from being an underground publisher and serving that market and being a Direct Market publisher and serving comics stores (it was apparently gradual and organic). It was Will Eisner that pulled Kitchen into the world of real contracts and presented to him a way of thinking about them where they protect both publisher and talent. There was a lot of discussion about how Schultz's Xenozoic Tales -- maybe the biggest comic of that kind that no one discusses anymore -- was discovered and became a hit. Tom Heintjes got Kitchen to talk about Comix Book and working with Stan Lee. Kitchen described the phone call from Kevin Eastman that took his company in its final general direction and his decision in the distributor wars to back Capital City (he felt they were a better company). Good conversation.

+ really fun panel mid-day with a decent-sized crowd for a Sunday featuring Jim Rugg, Tom Scioli, Katie Skelly and Ben Marra talking about influences generally and specifically period influences -- things they had to go out and engage with and bring into their work as opposed to things they might simply encounter in the general course of their lives. All of them were really good, particularly as they settled in about 20 minutes along. Tom Scioli made the best observation of the day when he noted a distinction between himself and Skelly, who pursued exemplar of specific styles, and Marra/Rugg, whom he thought (with their agreement) looked to a kind of general style, or a middle-of-the-run expression of a style as the thing on which they would riff. A lot of the cartoonists in that 28 to 35 year old space are really good at presenting and talking about their work, I think because there's a tremendous opportunity to do so a bunch of times. That was the panel I most wish provided me with a transcript -- I'd run it on the site for sure.
* I also got to sit on a late afternoon Sunday panel about comics industry journalism. Tom Heintjes was the moderator, which is appropriate because in many ways he was the first devoted industry journalist comics ever hard. Tom -- known these days for Hogan's Alley did a lot of the initial TCJ muckracking in news story form, like the Kirby Art Return fiasco. I was on the panel with Chris Sims, who works as a writer of reviews, humor and issues-punditry for ComicsAlliance and Heidi MacDonald over at The Beat. I don't remember too much of what was said. I talked about some of the frustrations I have here. Heidi announced a forthcoming Patreon campaign to support The Beat. Sims noted that he was in a position to write and that was what he wanted to do -- he wasn't interested in the editorial side of things at all. I liked what he said about writing for his editor as opposed to writing for the readers. I think industry journalism is kind of a mess right now, but I can't articulate exactly why and I'm not sure what if anything I can do about it, so these kinds of panels are tough for me right now. I was surprised people were nice enough to show up. One nice person from Multiversity tracked me down after the panel and we had a talk about some of the issues raised that was very enervating -- thanks, Greg.

* I did enough programming that I spent the rest of my time on the floor. I heard the censorship panel was really good, and that the Sex Criminals panel was the one that seemed closest to an event.

* are you still with me? This was a very nerdy weekend, I apologize for the lack of fun stuff and sweeping generalizations about the art form and industry. I'll get to some quick hits and observations, I swear.

* here's something practical. I ate well. HeroesCon is a good eating con, and I encourage anyone that goes to get at least one potentially superior meal in. My best meals were at Roosters and The King's Kitchen. I heard the usual praise for Mert's -- which is a great value restaurant, too -- and for Bernardin's. The King's Kitchen was interesting to me because I snagged it for a small group because they took reservation and the line at Mert's freaked me out, and I was impressed by the general age of the staff. I thought it might be an old family place but it was really one of those non-profits that trains people to re-enter the workforce. It was really, really good.

* on all the nights except the Rooster's I had maybe one more beverage at dinner than I would have San Diego because of Charlotte prices. That's another advantage of that show.

* the evening at Rooster's was driven by a giant conversation about best/worst/first concerts. That was fun. Jaime's first was T. Rex. Also, Maris Wicks apparently played the trombone in a ska band. I like typing that sentence. Good sentence. The comics part of that conversation did make us wonder why there weren't more comics set in music scenes -- that was instigated by the fact that the upcoming Bumperhead is Gilbert's take on the music scene part of his youth that he's left to Jaime to describe for the most part.

* Gilbert Hernandez did try to talk about Pink at one point, if you had that on your alt-comics culture bingo card. Jaime tried to talk him out of it. It's convention season.

* Dustin Harbin told the poor waitress I was Stan Lee. Damn it, Dusty. Although I hope Marvel doesn't mind that I charged everything I did at the show from that point forward to their corporate account. It's always good to see Harbin at a show he helped midwife into its current form. Harbin is between projects in terms of having something significant out there but seemed to do pretty well -- he usually does. He was proud to see the Indie Island part of the show continue to thrive after his departure a few years back. He was glowing because Mark Schultz came by and praised his dinosaurs, which is lofty praise, indeed.

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* ran into a happy-looking Josh Latta, who has relocated to the Baltimore area. That's a sign of a show for which people hold a lot of affection that people will just show up and attend if they can, touch base and see people, check out who and what is new.

* Noah Van Sciver was selling ridiculously cheap and quite nice little pieces of art. Both he and Box Brown laughed that Van Sciver's were more elaborate, priced for far cheaper and yet Brown was doing just fine with his collection of images. The belle of the cheap art ball was Patrick Dean who was selling $10 pieces of original monster art that could have easily gone for five or ten times that. I never buy art at shows like that -- I hate carrying stuff around, and I feel bad I might cost someone a sale and I can order something from home -- and I bought one of those.

* Rich Tommaso had a new Patrick Dean comic out -- his first with Recoil featuring another artist -- and did okay for the weekend. He kept laughing that he was essentially doing mini-comics again after a long career working his way through various publishing partners like Fantagraphics and Dark Horse. He mentioned to me that Clover Honey is nearing its 20th anniversary and we'll likely see that one again in some for for that publication. That was his female hit man comic, an early stand-alone ogn for Fantagraphics and one of the early alt-comics in the '90s to score a development deal if I'm remembering that correctly. Rich was sporting a thick and manly beard.

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* speaking of facial hair, Chris Schweizer and his mustache were set up there in a giant booth featuring his ability to recast properties and ideas into his own distinctive style. He always seemed busy; he's one of the cartoonists I think of when I think of that how. Like many cartoonists I talked to, he's planning to move home -- I don't know what's up with that. With his Abrams science fiction project and the Crogan material -- both of which showed me, both of which look very fun -- Schweizer's one of those cartoonists with an all but full dance card for the next few years. The Nate Powell fraternity.

* ran into Tim O'Shea down there; a very nice man. He was so excited about the pin-up art that convention first-timer Katie Skelly was making that he sent me an e-mail at an ungodly hour asking me to go look for it saying it was "Skottie Young level." He was right; it was very distinct and attractive. Skelly told me she sold a lot of art, and was commissioned right there for a few pieces that she completed during the weekend -- a typical construction for longtime convention-goers, but more than solid for a first-timer. She also sold a big chunk of the books she brought. Skelly's perspective was interesting because the show will hopefully continue to attract first time congoers with the hope that there's at least a possibility they will do well. Because of the family nature of the show, and its friendliness, you get a lot of people through there that have relationships to artists they see year after year, which can make it intimidating for a first timer.

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* met Kate Leth for the first time at Heroes, too. I believe she was another first-timer. I didn't see her at all the entire weekend but at her booth where this photo was taken. She told me she did extremely well, and that the people that sought her out did so from a variety of perspective -- general fans of her stuff on-line, fans of the ComicsAlliance cartoons specifically, etc.

* some folks didn't do well. It's tough with comics shows because it takes a couple of years to figure out how to use them and then the show may shift away from that kind of thing -- for example, San Diego has a different crowd going in terms of its orientation towards art comics than it did ten years ago. Even when you're on top of things, there's always a period of adjustment. The flip side of having repeat customers is if one or two people have something else to do that weekend, you may be out of some hoped-for sales. One of the theories that I heard from a lot of people was that the show is loaded with talent now, and that it's possible, say, for an alternative comics fan that might dump a bunch of money with J. Chris Campbell and his table (that's it up top) could simply be waylaid on their walk over by a murder's row of Los Bros, Jeff Smith, Charles Vess and Terry Moore. I know if I had brought money and had seen those pre-Fanta L&R #1's being sold, my money would have gone there instead. I bring up Campbell because he did fine, incidentally. He's a rock for that show.

* Jaime Hernandez sold quickly on Friday and kicked himself for not having more pre-prepared material.

* the flip side to being old and sometimes left by a younger person eager to talk to a same-age peer is that some of the students and very young cartoonists are super-excited to be there, and that can be a fun energy to encounter even if you worry about how they might eventually be dashed to the rocks, perhaps even by the conclusion of the weekend.

* I did not see nor did I hear about the art auction, which is a slam dunk usually in terms of at least going pretty well. I know some of the cartoonists on hand were confused by the requests for art auction material, but I think everyone's on board with what they do there, or at least I haven't heard anyone breaking away.

image* I can't believe I got down here before I mentioned the Team Cul De Sac material. Richard Thompson was a guest and an attendee, and the work done in the cartoonist's name has a home there. Chris Sparks and his family had a table; I got to meet to his wife and beautiful child. They had a lot of signed material on hand, and as it's unknown how long someone with Richard's condition can continue to sign, that material drew a lot of interest. They had the three Pearls Before Swine original on display that will eventually be auctioned through Todd Hignite at Heritage Auctions for Parkinson's research. They also threw a very crowded Drink and Draw event in the Hilton Hotel lobby on Friday night -- most of the people I knew stopped by and contributed something. Overall they raised well over $10K for The Michael J. Fox Foundation. It is one of comics' best stories, the work being done there. Lot of Richard Thompson stories here and there over the weekend.

* Chris was next door to Don Rosa, the great cartoonist whose work is being packaged by Fantagraphics for publication soon. I look forward to those books. A few people complained that Rosa wasn't signing books, or was marking them in addition to signing them, where he had a dispute with the publisher. That's a tough situation, as some of the time these books are presented to Rosa by fans that are kids. Evan Dorkin made his complaint public via his twitter feed.

image* saw Alex Cox for the first time since his child was born. He was a funny, acerbic presence all weekend. I think he wouldn't mind me sharing that the explosion of shows of interest presents a particular operational quandary for the Fund -- as it takes money to raise money in the fashion of setting up a booth on successive weekends, and they have to be careful to pick and choose wisely. It should be interesting to see what their schedule eventually looks like. Cox is always interesting to watch network because if he doesn't know someone from the Fund he's likely to know them from carrying their book in his store back when he owned Rocketship. It was good to see him. We talked a lot about the free speech implications of many ongoing industry issues, many of which are very treacherous to negotiate.

* here's a random memory. One of the best thing about Heroes is the volunteers that work there year after year, including Andrew Mansell, a fast-walking bull of a man, with a head that sits on his broad shoulders like a bag of groceries. I love seeing that guy. I would seriously consider flying in just to see that guy. Anyway, he shows up before the humor panel doing one of the George Wendt/Robert Smigel Chicago guys, with the loud accent and mustache, and Dorkin looks like a terrorist showed up in the room with bombs strapped to him, he has literally no idea what Mansell is up to. He's not scared but alarmed. For some reason this was extremely funny. Mansell's impersonation wasn't bad at all.

* Cartoon Books sold out of all but one and a half boxes of material, a small van's worth of books and other items.

* what else...? people are still intimidated by meeting the Hernandez Brothers. Latest person to physically run away when I tried to introduce them: Chip Zdarsky of Sex Criminals. I get it, I worked in comics starting in 1994, for their publisher, and my first conversation with them came in 2003. Don't get me wrong: they still have it amongst their younger peers. I came across a few conversations that were simply young cartoonists asking other young cartoonists what they talked to Jaime and Gilbert about. There was a lot of nice inter-generational feeling there, more than you'd think. I wonder if it's that a lot of the younger cartoonists are working in areas like webcomics that are slightly out of step with the avenues pursued by the older cartoonists. Or it could be that everyone realizes that someone else's good fortune doesn't mean bad fortune for you.

* that's another thing. I barely saw Zdarsky that whole weekend. Once when he was running away, and once outside of Mert's where I got to thank him for being genuinely funny and making me laugh. That's the only time I saw Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick closer than 35 feet away. They all seem to be doing really well, and with the way that Image books work, I'm guessing that Sex Criminals may be an outright career-changer for both Zdarsky (a first hit) and Fraction (a partly emancipating one? that's a hunch) ahead of what one might guess. I like all of those people, though, and from conversations I had so do most of those in attendance. The lines were certainly impressive.

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* I got out to the big post-convention party at Heroes Aren't Hard To Find, Drum's retail establishment and its nearby parking lot. It was a big to-do with a band and food trucks and tents. I walked over to clear my head, past bars shaking with the thrill of the US/Portugal World Cup match. The food and beer was good, and it was free, which made it super-good. Gilbert Hernandez checked out the nearby video store. I got to meet Ben Towle briefly. A bunch of folks including Jeff Smith and Jim Rugg and Katie Skelly, got a brief tour of the warehouse behind the store. Tom Scioli opened up the door for us, and the visual of Tom standing in white light and air condition surrounded by longboxes makes me think that's what it is like to visit Tom at his house in Pittsburgh. The academic Craig Fischer scored a copy of Rubber Blanket #2 and some material for an Eddie Campbell thing he's working on. I went into the main store and bought bags and boards, mostly because I wanted my friends to make fun of me the rest of the evening. I like bags and boards. Sue me. If you ever had a cat that liked to knock over glasses of water, you'd like them, too.

* the party skewed young.

* the free shuttle van back to the hotel was driven by Shelton Drum's wife Linda d'Olivat, who said that Shelton didn't know she was driving.

* I ended up in the Westin bar one more time with a small group of cartoonists talking about industry assholes. Later in the evening Evan Dorkin sat down and it was like the greatest long reliever in the history of baseball showing up -- I think he did 50 minutes at one point, working his way around the industry and people that weren't liked for whatever reason, justified or not. It was fun to listen to the younger cartoonists -- Noah Van Sciver and Katie Skelly were there -- try to come up with disliked younger people, at least ones they knew about, not particularly people they disliked. I know this sounds from the outside like a horrible conversation, but it was actually pretty fun, and not meant in a mean way. Every industry has people thought of as jerks. Eric Powell came over and sat for a bit and was very quiet. I actually fell asleep at the table and Dorkin yelled at me until I said my goodbyes and went back to the Hilton.

* I was witness to some interpersonal stuff reflecting an almost 30 year old industry disagreement. For some reason I love the fact that there are memories that long, even as I hope I have nothing similar on my plate beginning ten years from now.

* I heard a rumor that Tom Scioli actually got some work done after midnight, Monday early AM.

* I had several more-expensive-than-they-should-be hotel breakfasts, one of my favorite vices.

* on the way home, I went to Columbus -- aka Comics City USA -- on a personal matter and got to see a whole crew of comics people: Jeff again, Vijaya Iyer, Jenny Robb, Caitlin McGurk, Lucy Caswell, a visiting Dan and Carrie Wright (Dan is my dear childhood friend, and a stellar cartoonist), and an on-their-way-to-the-grandparents-house Montreal crew of Tom Devlin, Peggy Burns, Gigi and Woody. That was fun, too, but a story for another time. A few things. One, I think I may be too old to stack comics visits. Two, Caitlin McGurk very much needs to clean her car. Three, Tom Devlin did the full tour of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library And Museum and had stuff pulled -- I saw his cart later -- and declared the museum better than he even imagined.

* I learned from Robert Loss at CCAD that they're bringing in Marjane Satrapi this Fall. That should be fun.

* a bunch of us got to hang out with Jaime Hernandez, in town on a family thing, over eggs and toast for an hour or so on Wednesday. That was fun.

image* Dan Wright, largely unfamiliar with Richard Thompson's work, laughed his way through the Thompson exhibit -- he was blown away by the Cul De Sac as a fantasy setting drawing, which I also love -- and at one moment pointed directly at a picture of Petey Otterloop. Noting that Bill Watterson's work was in the next room, Wright said of Petey, "Tell me that guy right there isn't post-9/11 Calvin."

* the thing that struck me about the Watterson this time was how well he spaced things. Dan Wright said that Watterson is the best cartoonist ever at making white space feel like air, which is totally true, but I think what impresses on a deep level might be more than that -- he was just in a groove for a long, long, long time about where to put things in that space to make them flow and to suggest relationships and to control timing. I saw three or four jokes I loved -- the "rewards of teaching" joke is better than I remember -- but it seemed like I saw something in every visual that made me appreciate his work a little bit more. I could stare at those comics at that size for hours, and look forward to the catalog. The Clowes I hadn't seen yet, and that, too, was super-impressive, everything you could hope for in a spotlight show like that one. Go if you can.

* my travel back from Columbus was uneventful. I was tired enough having gone seven days with less than four hours of sleep per day that they could have duct taped me to the side of the plane and I wouldn't have cared. Maybe they did, I don't remember. It was Delta again, so I'm pretty sure my knees were hurt.

* he'll never read this, but David Howard of Baton Rouge, Louisiana is a good man, and I wish him a safe and happy life.

* HeroesCon 2014 was a feel-good show on a ton of levels, so much so that people seemed to feel churlish to express they didn't do as well as they expected, or didn't have the weekend they hoped. "It's the only show where I buy enough stuff to fill a box or two going the other way," one publisher told me. Some told me a week later they were still feelling its friendly buzz.

* this year's Heroes was a transitional show in terms of the space involved -- they need to fill it out or back off a bit, I think; it feels a bit frayed on the ends. Like comics in general, I think they could use more people. Big room or not, it felt light, and for some comics pros it was a bit lighter than they had hoped in terms of number of people and number of people with a potential interest in what they have to offer. As we saw with SPX 2013, the measure of exhibitors to audience to space is a form of alchemy; it's very difficult to get it just right. I trust they'll tinker. It may be that we're beginning to see the end of exhibiting books you can easily get elsewhere, which sound ludicrous, but that's a big part of what convention exhibiting has always been about.

* as far as Heroes being able to handle more people, what's interesting about that to me beyond the obvious is that it's not just this con or cons in general but that it's comics that could always use more people. I don't mean that just in terms of diversity, although certainly that, too, but more people of every kind, more people to spill over and try new things, more people on hand to buy and enjoy and help celebrate the art form, enough people to meet the artists at the point of creation.

* so that's it for the first first half of the 2014 convention season -- there are a few other shows including a big one in Florida, but for the most part we're done. Up next as a big, big deal is San Diego -- always the eye of the annual convention storm -- and then onto Fall. Conventions seems like a reasonably healthy sector of the industry right now, but there are signs that some of the shows are operating at peak interest in terms of attendees, or just below that with little hope for a surge over the top. I'm not sure how much growth is left without a lot of work. We'll see.

* Shelton Drum told me they wanted me back next year, too. Maybe I'm one of the Heroes people now.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Lee Gatlin

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Go, Look: Tradd Moore Image Gallery

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Go, Look: Zanzibar The Magician

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Go, Look: 3-D Batman Pin-Ups

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

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

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Don Rosa!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Mike Richardson!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Bo Hampton!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Bobby London!

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

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partial imagery of the offering by Steve Leialoha
 
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FFF Results Post #384 -- Museum-Ready

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On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Objects From Comics Industry History You'd Like To See In The Comics Wing Of The Smithsonian." This is how they responded.

Tom Spurgeon

1. Jack Kirby's Drawing Table
2. A ream of Kim Thompson's yellow typing paper
3. A Kewpie doll
4. Dave Sim's fax machine
5. Rory Root's coffee mug

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. A copy of Mad #1.
2. Jim Woodring's giant nib pen. Held by his skeleton. Is that too icky? It's not a deal breaker.
3. Noel SIckles' and Milton Caniff's drafting tables set up facing one another. Each table has pages of art they swapped around in their studio, Terry, Scorchy, Mr. Coffee Nerves.
4. art spiegelman's shit list. If it can be verified. If not, Wally Wood's, which I believe has been. If wrong on both accounts, Jack Cole's last two letters.
5. Ditko's apartment interior. With everything.

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. Tharg's head (or, okay, mask) from his early appearances in 2000AD
2. The Invisibles-era notebooks of Grant Morrison
3. The foldaway pocket keyboard on which Warren Ellis wrote The Authority, Planetary, Transmetropolitan, etc. while down the pub.
4. The original photocopied zine-style issues of Viz
5. An assortment of toys, frisbees, space-spinners, tattoos, iron-on transfers and associated tat, as found on the front of myriad British comics of the 1970s and '80s

*****

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Mark Mayerson

1. Jack Cole's suicide note to his wife
2. Steve Ditko's copy of Atlas Shrugged
3. A complete collection of Gil Kane interviews
4. H.J. Ward's painting of Superman which hung in the DC offices
5. Stan Lee's testicles

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Jack Kirby's Drawing Table (I concur!)
2. The back hoe used to gain entrance to the Frazetta Museum
3. Al Capp's Wooden Leg
4. George Herriman's Hat
5. Mark Evanier's Rolodex

*****

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Tom Mason

1. Bob Kane's Batman contract
2. Bill Finger's typewriter
3. Al Capp's wooden leg
4. Dik Browne's Viking helmet
5. Bill Mauldin's Army uniform

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Winsor McCay's suit, including his somewhat oversized coat
2. A recreation of the Eisner/Iger Studio production line
3. All of the original comic examples and displays used in the Kefauver hearings
4. Bill Finger's and Bob Kane's original notes/sketches for Detective Comics #27
5. The original check for Superman with an accompanying wall chart/mural showing, year by year, how much the character made for DC compared to how much the character made for Siegel and Shuster

*****

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Des Devlin

1. The life-sized, papier-maché, fur-covered King Kong face built by Sergio Aragones that hung for years outside Bill Gaines' office window.
2. Al Capp's leg.
3. One of Jim Steranko's escape straitjackets.
4. Robert Crumb’s 1968 Zap-filled baby carriage.
5. Todd McFarlane's $3 million Mark McGwire baseball, now marked down to $49.95.

*****

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Scott Dunbier

1) Animation cels by Winsor McCay from Gertie the Dinosaur.
2) The Halloween costume worn by Dan DeCarlo's wife (Josie) that inspired the creation of Josie and the Pussycats.
3) Steve Ditko's copy of The Fountainhead.
4) Archie Goodwin's typewriter.
5) Alan Moore’s Beard.

*****

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Chris Duffy

1. Mike Carlin's big outline placards from the meeting where the Death of Superman was concocted.
2. The Jim Shooter effigy (or its ashes)
3. Roy Thomas's correspondence in getting the Star Wars comic license
4. Photos Jimmy Swinnerton's Arizona trip with George Herriman
5. Seth's ash tray

*****

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Patrick Rosenkranz

1. The multilith 1250 press that printed Zap Comix, Snatch and Jiz
2. The grafitti covered bathroom wall at the East Village Other
3. A complete set of Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packages
4. Spain Rodriguez' Road Vultures jacket
5. The blackout journal that S. Clay Wilson and his drinking buddies kept, which disappeared during a blackout.

*****

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John Boren

* A sheet of Zip-A-Tone used by Daniel Clowes
* One of Richard Corben's self-made reference maquettes
* The original art/paste-up for Wally Wood's '22 Panels That Always Work!'
* Chris Ware's 'RAGTIME' belt buckle
* Inking tools used by Terry Austin

*****
*****
 
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June 28, 2014


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Live Performances At Fort Thunder 1997


Brian Chippendale Profiled


One Of Sean Kleefeld's Recent Little-Seen Videos
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Two Excellent Examples Of The Local Cartoonist Profile


First Episode Of What Looks To Be A French-language Web Show Called The Cartoonist
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On The ANC's Tolerance For Criticism


A Lady Describes Her HeroesCon Comic Book Haul


David Shrigley's Pink Restaurant
 
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Etta Hulme, RIP

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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from June 21 to June 27, 2014:

1. Dan Vado needs $85K to keep his SLG Publishing afloat. SLG was started in 1986, and has published work from a wide variety of young, many of them very young, including Evan Dorkin, Dylan Williams and Jhonen Vasquez.

2. Charles Burns openly plagiarized by artist hired by Portuguese company Agua Castello.

3. HeroesCon in Charlotte comes and goes, by itself a milestone worth noting but also marking the end of comics' traditional but peculiar way of thinking of the convention season: Spring, San Diego, Fall.

Winner Of The Week
Allison Baker

Losers Of The Week
Agua Castello

Quote Of The Week
"Recently we were forced to relocate because our old building was being torn down. At the time I had a couple of choices, close up altogether or try and make a go of it somewhere else. Not wanting to turn my back on a 28 year old business (which was struggling to begin with) I decided to try and keep going, adding a retail component to our storefront that we did not have before and add some other revenue streams to our gallery store as well as our publishing company like doing contract t-shirt printing and hosting live music. Sure, the smart thing to do was to just quit, but then publishing comics was never a really smart thing either, so go figure." -- Dan Vado

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image from a Marvel comic book, 1964

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Go, Look: Tom Gauld's Guardian Prints

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OTBP: Copra #15

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

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

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the call for papers is long since past; i just like this graphic better than the general one
 
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If I Were In New York City, I'd Go To This

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

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Happy 73rd Birthday, Mike Royer!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Ian Brill!

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Happy 80th Birthday, Georges Wolinski!

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Happy 70th Birthday, Philippe Druillet!

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June 27, 2014


Go, Read: Beginning's End

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By Request Extra: SLG Launches GoFundMe Campaign

imageThe new fundraising campaign for Dan Vado's SLG Publishing can be found here and an article by Albert Ching about the campaign can be found here.

Technically this is indeed crowd-funding: it is funding from a bunch of people at various levels of giving. It breaks a bit with what some might think of first as crowd-funding: an exchange between patrons and those seeking funding based on various incentives, with the exchange colored to some degree, perhaps significant, by an "enable my dreams/I'm your pal" undercurrent of thinking. This is much more of a straight up "help me get back on my feet" entreaty.

Vado started his publishing house in 1986, and through it has published a variety of comics including those by Evan Dorkin, Dylan Williams and Andi Watson. I think there will definitely be support for Vado, although that is a significant amount of funding being requested. One strength is that Vado has a very strong record of publishing cartoonists early in their careers.
 
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Go, Look: Phantascope

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CRB: Allison Baker Joins IDW As Director Of Operations; Baker's MonkeyBrain Comics To Remain As Is

Here. You should just go read it. I'm not a big fan of marking stuff as "exclusive" -- I think it's an SEO game that helps turn news into an announcement-fest and drives attention away from the fact that we should all have original content going all of the time. It can also restrict information to protect the exclusive when it's a news story rather than a moment of new access (Frost/Nixon) that's in question. Still, I'm also very much not a fan of lifting facts from someone else's story beyond the basic I need. So please get the details over there.

As for commentary on the story, I've had really positive experiences with Allison Baker in her role as co-owner at the digital publisher MonkeyBrain Comics, particularly in terms of the professionalism exhibited in our direct working relationship whenever that pops up. In addition, her people seem to feel very strongly about her. She also has real-world working experience at a level equivalent to her gigs in comics, which is a lot rarer than you'd think. So she seems perfectly suited to that job. It also says something about IDW's success over the last 36-48 months that they can make use of someone with that skillset doing those things.

What I'm super-confused about, particularly when this is billed as a news story rather than as an announcement or a press release, is no word at all in the published piece I can see as to whether or not this closes, changes or moves (from Portland to San Diego) MonkeyBrain. I'll try to find out and will update here.

Update: I sent three quick questions to Baker and her husband, the writer and MonkeyBrain co-owner Chris Roberson.
1) Is MonkeyBrain done?
2) Is MonkeyBrain different now and if so, how?
3) Given that you and your company have a strong Portland, Oregon identity, [I wondered:] will you and your company be moving?
Their responses, via Roberson in contact with Baker and on their behalf:
1) Nope, Monkeybrain Comics is still alive and well!

2) It's business as usual, actually. I've taken over more of the day-to-day operations, since Allison will have her hands full with her new position at IDW, but otherwise things will continue on as they have. The company is still wholly owned by the two of us, and always will be.

3) Monkeybrain HQ will remain here in Portland in our Tardis-colored house, and Allison will be commuting to San Diego, spending workdays there and weekends and holidays here. We've decided to call it "co-locating," which is an existing word with a different definition, apparently, but we're stealing it and using it to mean "living in two places."
My thanks to Roberson and Baker on the rapidity and specificity of their responses on a Friday afternoon.

I wish Baker and her new employer all the best.
 
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Parade Extra: John Porcellino Documentary Trailer


 
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Charles Burns Openly Plagiarized By Artist On An Advertising Gig

imageEric Reynolds has two words for the company Agua Castello and the ad agency and/or artist they hired to do a bottle design. The result looks to have been nicked, with a panicked art student's desperation and arrogance, from a Charles Burns story in The Believer.

That is just horrifying, wholly unnecessary, death of civilization-type stuff when use of art crosses that line into obvious appropriation of someone else's work where minus that work's contributions there's nothing left that can stand by itself. Or, to use a standard appropriate to this example, the original work could be substituted for the resulting work without a change in meaning. This sort of thing is routine now. The fact that the Internet has made the visual world so much smaller isn't just a happy coincidence that makes these instances more easily discoverable, it's a cultural shift that demands greater attention to avoiding this kind of abuse in the first place.
 
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Go, Look: Kristina Collantes

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The Other Thing I'll Be Taking Time To Read This Weekend

... is Jeffrey Trexler's latest on the Kirby Family's fight to have copyrights returned to them for many of Marvel's core characters. There were a number of filings in support of the Kirby family's efforts mid-month. Nothing should stop you from reading Trexler's analysis just because I have yet to start.
 
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Go, Look: Facebook Photo Gallery Of Images From That Joe Sacco World War One Subway Installation

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Collective Memory: HeroesCon 2014

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this article has now been archived
 
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Go, Look: Thorr The Unbelievable

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* the cartoonist Noah Van Sciver has ended his Fante Bukowksi, a well-received tumblr-based serial.

* this Drive! original is going to the fundraising efforts related to cartoonist Richard Thompson; both the artist and the writer-about-comics Gary Tyrrell will provide a matching donation.

* we paid more attention to this early on, but the Meredith Gran Patreon campaign settled in at about $1750 a month. I'm sure a lot of people will be trying these in the weeks ahead -- Heidi MacDonald announced her intention to do one related to her web-based magazine The Beat at a HeroesCon panel last weekend. How they're used should be interesting.

* finally, the site The Outhousers has launched a column devoted to covering Kickstarter campaigns. I know that's a focused area of interest for the writer Christian Hoffer, so the result is bound to be interesting.
 
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If I Were In Baltimore, I'd Go To This

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the call for papers is long since past; i just like this graphic better than the general one
 
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If I Were In New York City, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Chambers Of Chills #7

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Chris Sims talks to Sam Humphries. Tom Murphy talks to Rob Berry. Tirdad Derakhshani talks to Corinne Mucha.

* not comics: you can buy an Inkstuds t-shirt now. Also, the artist Brandon Graham apparently has a sister named Monster.

* Abbie Wilson on Hagelbarger and That Nightmare Goat.

* not comics: there was a time during which I thought 55 percent of the entire Internet would be fanciful projects like this one.

* I'm sure there are cases where it is very much one person getting something which is then denied someone one, but Marc Bernardin is mostly right here in that most comics successes have a kind of solo integrity that doesn't really depend on someone failing.

* thoughts on publishing from Kevin Church and others. I always appreciate reading other folks' thoughts, but I'm always a bit confused by the certainty -- I don't know if that's an Internet mode, or a younger-person mode, or if I'm just a giant, hesitant heavebag now.

* Sean Kleefeld writes a bit about Roy Crane and presents a mini-documentary on the comics artist.

* finally, here's a treasure: a Richard Thompson interview from before Cul De Sac.
 
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Happy 55th Birthday, Dan Jurgens!

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Happy 86th Birthday, Joe Giella!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Debbie Huey!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Butch Guice!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Bernie Mireault!

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June 26, 2014


Go, Look: Davi Calil

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Andrew Neal Sells Chapel Hill Comics

This story of Chapel Hill Comics being sold to Ryan Kulikowki doesn't seem to have a hidden element on first glance, but it's enough to know that that's long been a highly-regarded, top 50 retail establishment and we should all thank longtime proprietor Andrew Neal for the excellence of the work he's done over the years on behalf of the comics medium.
 
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By Request Extra: Futurians Kickstarter Launched, Quickly Scrambles Past Its Initial Goal

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Here. Dave Cockrum was an all-time mainstream comics character designer, best known for his work on the 1970s relaunch of the X-Men property and its affiliated characters. The Futurians was his creator-driven project of greatest import.

I wanted to mention this one in its own post because of the quick scramble past its initial goal and for Cockrum's story in general. The campaign is being coordinated by longtime family advocate Cliff Meth working with Cockrum's widow Paty. There is a host of supporting material surrounding this presentation of Cockrum's final work on that series.
 
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Go, Look: Sun Ra

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I find it hard to believe there are no conventions of significant size this weekend, so I'm thinking I'm maybe missing one. My apology to its organizers if that's the case. There is the comics and medicine conference, which is a very different kind of show.

* I almost forgot Torsten Adair's column here on a recent comics show in the New York area, held the same weekend as Reed's comics-focuse affair in the city. Here's a photo gallery from the same show.

* a recent New York area show of interest is moving from Asbury Park to Secaucus and changing its name to reflect that fact. I talked to three different creators about that show at Heroes, and several others closer to its last time being held, and the majority of them seemed to think that the show had already grown past their interest in it, which came out of it being a quirky, not necessarily in a convention center or hotel type show in an interesting place. So I imagine there will be some work to do recasting it a bit on the fly.

* finally, I'm still writing my HeroesCon report. There was undefinable element to that one I'm still hoping I figure out to make the report something more than the accumulation of individual travel points. It has something to do with my making a case six years ago that it was a unique show of its type. I still believe that to be the case, but the context has changed from shows mostly fading to shows mostly surging and I can't quite figure out the ultimate effect of that on Heroes. I had a really good time, though.
 
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If I Were In Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

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

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the call for papers is long since past; i just like this graphic better than the general one
 
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If I Were In Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: Bee

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I'm playing catch on a couple of things concerning DC's revamped royalty system before I make an engaged comment, but I wanted to note that the story rolled out from standard sources two days ago. Key elements as announced were stacking various formats in terms of levels required to trigger, standardizing payment across formats and folding in color-artists/colorists into the process.

image* Greg Hunter on Sex Criminals Vol. 1. Todd Klein on Echo: The Complete Edition. J. Caleb Mozzocco on various comics. Richard Bruton on The Bad Doctor and Largo Winch Vols. 13-14. Joe Gordon on Velvet Vol. 1. Jim Johnson on Batman #32.

* a couple of you sent along this link, about a cartoonist that worked on a local strip that's run for over 110 years. There is not a ton of local/regional flavor in strip comics, but that is certainly not case here.

* Rich Goldstein talks to Tim Seeley and Tom King. JK Parkin talks to Jim Zub and Steven Cummings.

* not comics: Barnes & Noble splits its businesses. There has to be some sort of applicable giant robot joke in terms of the Nook never quite getting over, but if there is, it escapes me.

* finally, English-language sites are less about the announced interruptions in service than the unannounced not showing up for work for a while.
 
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Happy 64th Birthday, Tom DeFalco!

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Happy 80th Birthday, Bob Weber Sr.!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Tite Kubo!

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Happy 29th Birthday, Frank Candiloro!

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June 25, 2014


Go, Look: Elina Braslina

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Go, Read: Massive Profiled; Jiraiya And Tagame Discussed

The New York Times has a nice profile up here on the apparel line MASSIVE owned by Anne Ishii and Graham Kolbeins that has spun out from last year's PictureBox Inc. release The Passion Of Gengoroh Tagame. That book is also discussed -- it apparently went through two printings, which I'm not sure I knew.

The trigger for the talk is the work of Jiraiya being used by Gay Pride Week as a central part of their activities. That sounds like an enormous opportunity that dwarfs the endorsement/interest of the Times.
 
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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.

*****

APR141202 PIRATES I/T HEARTLAND HC VOL 01 CLAY WILSON (MR) $34.99
S. Clay Wilson is one of the key dozen figures of 20th Century writers and Patrick Rosenkranz is one of the five authoritative writers about 20th Century comics, working totally in his wheelhouse. That's some cover, too.

imageAPR141230 SHACKLETON ANTARCTIC ODYSSEY GN $16.99
The latest in a flurry of comics from Nick Bertozzi, profiling the kind of quirky but larger than life character that seems to fit perfectly into what First Second provides the market.

FEB140009 FRANK MILLERS BIG DAMN SIN CITY HC $100.00
FEB140102 TARZAN BURNE HOGARTHS LORD OF JUNGLE HC $49.99
Two giant reprints from sometimes-difficult industry figures and idiosyncratic stylists. I am not the audience for either book, but I'd look at them were they in my shop.

APR140016 GOON ONE FOR THE ROAD ONESHOT $3.50
MAR140578 INVINCIBLE #112 $2.99
APR140481 OUTCAST BY KIRKMAN & AZACETA #1 (MR) $2.99
APR148258 SAGA #19 2ND PTG (MR) $2.99
APR140593 SAGA #20 (MR) $2.99
APR140595 SEX #14 (MR) $2.99
APR140611 TREES #2 (MR) $2.99
APR140640 ORIGINAL SIN #3.1 $3.99
APR148318 LUMBERJANES #2 (2ND PTG) $3.99
A big bunch of serial genre comics. Eric Powell was down at HeroesCon, one guesses in support of this new Goon book, kind of squarely between that period where there's a surge of interest that drives authors to Eisner awards and that period of re-appreciation. Invincible is going through one of its periodic cycles of super-bloody faces, pulped supporting characters and apocalypses. I'm going to guess that the Kirkman-written exorcism book Outcast outsold Invincible by a wide margin and Walking Dead by a narrow one. Saga remains a super-popular book, now in its second major cycle after a brief hiatus. Sex and Trees feature two veteran writers working with much younger authors exploring landscapes that are quarter-turn twists on established concepts. I would stop by that Original Sin comic long enough to be confused by that weird numbering. Lumberjanes looks like a hit, or BOOM! is terrible at print runs.

APR148351 COWL #1 2ND PTG (MR) $3.50
APR140562 COWL #2 (MR) $3.50
This was sort of an interesting read in that I couldn't tell what its value was beyond unpacking its central idea: unionized mid-20th Century superheroes. That's more than enough for a lot of folks. I'm not even suggesting that it's executed poorly, I just can't figure out what's there.

FEB140260 INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US HC VOL 02 $19.99
MAR140265 INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US TP VOL 01 $14.99
APR140247 INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US YEAR TWO #6 $2.99
This stuff was bonkers, a video game superhero vs. superhero (mostly; I think) given a comic book backstory. One one hand, it's icky. On the other, it has the energy of stuff actually happening to those sometimes dull DC characters.

APR140364 MY LITTLE PONY FRIENDS FOREVER TP VOL 01 $17.99
APR140362 MY LITTLE PONY FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #20 $3.99
I might pull this trigger this week.

MAY141400 BARNABY HC VOL 02 $39.99
If this isn't the best book you read this week by a wide margin, you had a goddamn great week. I'm astonished by how good this run of strips was.

APR141310 SMURFS GN VOL 18 FINANCE SMURF $5.99
APR141311 SMURFS HC VOL 18 FINANCE SMURF $10.99
NBM has done well with these books, which they always release in two format in a way counter-intuitive to the collectibles market. Good for them. I know most people my age would like these printed at a larger size, but most people my age isn't the audience they're pursuing.

APR140824 RITUAL THREE VILE DECAY (MR) $6.95
Stand-alone science fiction from a really interesting cartoonist. I'm there.

*****

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

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

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

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

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Go, Look: Studio Of Summer Pierre

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

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Go, Bookmark/Follow: Ouroboros

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Craig Fischer on Petty Theft. Rob Clough on a bunch of different comics. Todd Klein on Green Lantern Corps #31. Johanna Draper Carlson on This One Summer. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Uncanny X-Force: Final Execution Vol. 1. Kelly Thompson on Starlight #4. Joe Gordon on Preacher Vol. 1.

* the Sean T. Collins/Jonny Negron collaboration Flash Forward is back in stock.

* the FPI blog has a Natalie Nourigat comic up; it's on the subject of on-line reviews. When I do something that gets reviewed, I never read any of the reviews, but I do try to get a sense of whether the bulk of them are positive or not. You do end up reading a few no matter how hard you try to avoid the lot.

* we're gonna have a TMNT party tonight.

* finally, Rob Clough recommends a Locust Moon crowd-funder in support of their Little Nemo-related book.
 
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Go, Look: Freedom

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June 24, 2014


Go, Look: Patric Sandri

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Go, Read: Drew Friedman On His Selection Process For His Forthcoming Heroes Of The Comics

imageHere. I'm all for people making criticism of history and critical appraisals based on whatever criteria they think isn't getting enough support. I'm just as happy to see people making informed choices according to whatever standards they have, which may not facilitate the desired outcome of someone with different standards.

What I hope is that both sides honor the other by taking their considerations seriously and not, say, going right to ascribing motivations and certainly not doing so in a facile way. I don't always get to have that, although certainly my desire isn't as painfully felt as the exclusion others have experiences. Happily, I've seen it in what's been formally published so far on this particular work, so I'm glad. Hopefully, it will continue.

If I were to make a similar list, I might have a few changes, and I'm also pretty sure it wouldn't be radically different. I feel the same way about a lot of historical appraisals that tons of folks have criticized, including my own appraisals and those I've edited. I think that's healthy, and I welcome the conversation. Let's keep going.
 
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Go, Look: Revamped Lauren Weinstein Web Site

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Go, Look: Fantastic Comics #1

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Alternative Comics has a bunch of new material listed, including a bunch yet to come out, like the latest offering from Steve Lafler seen above.

image* the line-up for this September's edition of the Nix Comics Quarterly has been announced here.

* not comics: Koyama Press will be doing a book of Robin Nishio's photography in 2015.

* unbelievable to me we're getting this close on Complete Peanuts. Also, as that's Snoopy in his scouts bet, I may have just won $20.

* I hadn't realized that the kus! summer schedule announcement came with previews.

* I totally missed that there was a bit of a preview for the Grant Morrison/Frazer Irving Annihilator project at this month's "Special Edition" show in NYC; that one is coming from movie-feeder comics company Legendary.

* another burst of Amazon listings take us up to April 2015. Some of what I noticed: a Bruce Eric Kaplan bio, new Kevin Cannon, a Vaughn Bode omnibus and a remix of Carl Barks. I look forward to all of them.

* finally, more Baron Bean.

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Go, Look: Al Williamson And Roy Krenkel

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

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Go, Look: Police Comics #2

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean Gaffney on Girls Und Panzer Vol. 1. Rob Clough on all things Jon Chad and a bunch of different comics. Erica Friedman on Dark Cherry To Shoujo A. Chase Magnett on The Goon: One For The Road. Johanna Draper Carlson on The F1rst Hero #1, Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir, Sisters, An Age Of License and Princess Ugg #1-2. Grant Goggans on Judge Dredd: The XXX Files. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Uncanny X-Force: Otherworld. Josh Kopin on a bunch of different comics. Paul Gravett on The Walled City Trilogy.

* not comics: I like the line in here about writing that surprises the writer doesn't mean they are absolved from responsibility for what it says.

* Paul Gravett profiles Roz Chast.

* finally, Todd Klein remembers a DC comic book commemorating the career of Julius Schwartz.
 
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Happy 66th Birthday, Michael Dooley!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Russ Maheras!

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June 23, 2014


Go, Look: Marko Turunen

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Motorsports Cartoonist Jim Bamber Passes Away

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The cartoonist Jim Bamber, working the specialty of making automobile-related cartoons for the UK markets, died on June 20. He was 66 years old. I wanted to make note of his passing for the fact that he was on the tail end of the move by cartoonists to work with car culture and sports related to cars. Car cartoons in North America made up a significant part of lively, outsider car culture in the '50s and '60s, while sports cartoons helped drive the development of early comic strips in the 1900s and 1910s. To work in both is quite something, and each area of expression will like mark his passing. I remain voraciously curious as to whether the rise of on-line media will ultimately lead to a snap back for comics specialties or if those days have withered with print.
 
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Go, Look: Ronald Searle In London Opinion

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Go, Look: Super-Mystery Comics #1

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Go, Watch: The House That Bone Built

Vijaya Iyer hosts a feature-article style mini-tour over at the Columbus Dispatch on the historical landmark-style house she owns with her husband the cartoonist Jeff Smith. Iyer is a really interesting comics figure, well-respected for any number of things attributed to Cartoon Books over the last two decades plus including her close attention to contractual matters. It's nice to see treated by her hometown media in this fashion. Cool house.
 
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Go, Look: Web Of Evil #5

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* Henry Chamberlain spotlights the efforts of Greg Koudoulian, an historian and archivist interested in Comic-Con International whose work is headed into a crowd-funding stage.

* not comics: Tim Lewis is seeking a substantial amount for a Bucky The Beaver animated effort, which would involve that fine cartoonist Pat Moriarity.

* I am a huge fan of anyone pursuing off-the-books justice, as promised here. That person was nice enough to write me; I hope that you'll click through for a peek at what he's up to.

* this P. Craig Russell crowd-funder is near that vital halfway point with a number of days left.

* no one has stepped up to claim putting Shepherd on my radar, so if I'm missing a specific reason for it being funded, I apologize. It looks nice.

* this JT Yost kickstarter is still looking to improve on meeting its initial goal.

* finally, it looks like this crowd-funder featuring the great Hunt Emerson still has a ways to go -- I would assume that one will be tough, but I imagine there's a good chance that one will go over.
 
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Go, Look: Williamson, Krenkel And Frazetta At EC Comics

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

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Go, Look: Detective Comics #16

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* not comics: I don't read a whole lot of the superhero-related movie reviews that come out, but I did catch review of the new X-Men movie from J. Caleb Mozzocco and Abhay Khosla, and I like reading both of those writers' reviews more generally. It says something about the ways these movies make an impression and go immediately the hell away that my running links to these reviews now may seem weird.

* good luck to Gail Simone on this spectacular opportunity.

* Johanna Draper Carlson on The First Hero #1. Rob McMonigal on The Plot #1-2.

* not comics: please stop giving George Lucas special edition ideas.

* the OGG.

* are we assuming this won't happen?

* finally, Groo in sketchbook form.
 
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Happy 39th Birthday, Sacha Mardou!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Zoran Janjetov!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Becky Cloonan!

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June 22, 2014


CR Sunday Conversation: Dustin Harbin

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*****

This weekend is HeroesCon, and when I think of that convention and comics in Charlotte, North Carolina more generally, I think of Dustin Harbin. I was shocked to learn that it had been five years since we had interviewed. Since that time, Harbin has made the transition from full time employment by Heroes Aren't Hard To Find to a working artist and contributing craftsman to others' comics efforts -- work at Nobrow, AdHouse and Koyama; lettering on the last Casanova series. I've used him before on a couple of things here, and greatly enjoyed the experience.

I'm indebted to Dustin for turning this around so quickly, and I hope much less time will pass before we once again talk for publication. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

imageTOM SPURGEON: Dustin, this interview is going to appear HeroesCon weekend if we did it right -- or soon after, if you did me wrong. You have a ton of experience with that show and shows in general. How do you approach your hometown show differently than others?

DUSTIN HARBIN: It's night and day, pleasantly. The main difference is the incredible savings of not having to travel somewhere. I know you know what I'm talking about -- you travel like a good two weeks to get to something like TCAF, right?

SPURGEON: [laughs] Something like that.

HARBIN: HeroesCon is not only in my home city, the convention center is a shortish bus ride from my house, so I don't even have to worry about parking once I've got all my stuff schlepped over there. And I bring all kinds of weird stuff I wouldn't to a show I travel to -- used books from my personal collection, pieces of furniture I stack on my table in arcane shapes, everything that isn't nailed down in my home that I can squeeze a few quarters out of.

HeroesCon is probably my best show of the year because of that proximity. And Shelton [Drum] and Rico [Renzi] are very kind to me, very helpful with little favors and access to things that a person of my somewhat limited name recognition normally wouldn't have. Although honestly, I think all the shows I do best at do the same thing -- I know I ask Chris [Butcher] and Miles at TCAF for little favors all the time, and they've always been very very accommodating. Same with Warren [Bernard] at SPX. The people that run the best shows are the nicest, most hospitable people, in my experience.

SPURGEON: One of the legacies of your time at the show is the health of its indie island element. While it's not TCAF south, Heroes has managed to hold onto a significant number of cartoonists from that world in a way that I think distinguishes the show from other shows of similar scope. Has that worked out the way you've wanted it to? What do you think an alt/indy comics maker gets out of Heroes when it's at its best?

HARBIN: Hm, interesting question. HeroesCon is, first and foremost, an art and creator-focused comics show, but historically it's not a slam dunk for indie stuff. That's not the show's fault, it's more the audience. What the show does really really well is cater to art collectors, people hunting through longboxes, families attending together, stuff like that. There have always been more "indie" creators attending -- Indie Island was just an attempt to kind of foreground that and build something sustainable. I'm still thankful that Shelton let me start that up.

I'm not sure that Charlotte is going to be a real hotspot for sales for someone like an Alec Longstreth or a Brendan Leach in the near future, but the people that shop at Heroes seem to reward repeat exhibitors. I know Alec told me he'd have people coming up to his table the second and third years he exhibited to pick up whatever was new, chat, etc. We're friendly people down here. But yeah it's mainly a mainstream art-focused show. On the other hand, Tom Scioli really slays at HeroesCon, maybe because he straddles that line between art comics and that mainstream art collector commission world. It's just a matter of figuring out which shows fit which people I guess.

SPURGEON: What are your thoughts about the growth of shows more generally, Dustin? When we first met six years ago, I could actually call my Heroes show report "The Last Great American Comic-Con," which would seem insane now. Why did this happen?

HARBIN: It's nuts how many shows there are now, isn't it? Especially considering that many of them do very well, apparently. Or at least they say they do. The increased number of shows is less surprising than the fact that the economy, and particularly the comics economy, seems to be able to support that. It's obviously pretty fertile soil. I'm guessing here, but I'd bet that a creator of middling recognition and middling work ethic can make in a decent con weekend what he might for an entire 22-page issue of a book at some of the mainstream comics publishers. Maybe we should start getting the successful conventions to start publishing books too.

I need to do more shows; it's about the only time I leave the house, and it always makes me do a lot of work in order to have something to sell. There's your reason to get into comics right there! "Well I have to have SOMEthing to sell I guess."

SPURGEON: Have you given any thought about relocating to a different comics community, Dustin? I think we've had that discussion in the past. You're going to be 40 soon; is Charlotte where you're settled? What keeps you there?

HARBIN: I think about relocating all the time, but inertia has kept me here. HeroesCon is something of an outlier locally -- Charlotte is not really a huge comics community in terms of people making them. The local college (UNCC) is like half an hour away, so what would normally be a renewing cycle of young creative people trying weird stuff, sometimes staying in the city, keeping the blood fresh so to speak, doesn't really exist. Charlotte's whole art scene is pretty anemic, honestly. Lots of small galleries with a bunch of landscapes and muddy hotel art.

HeroesCon is probably as close as we have to that central organizing position a college would have in a creative community. Once a year a ton of super interesting people come to the city, both comics makers and comics readers, and kind of gooses everyone's gears a little bit. Shelton should start a program to subsidize cartoonists to stay in Charlotte, maybe give them jobs at his shop. I know I learned most of what I know about comics working there -- and look at how great I turned out!

But yeah I think about moving a lot, I just maybe lack the energy. And the money. Freelancing is pretty hand-to-mouth, so the idea of getting ahead enough on rent and bills to be able to contemplate a move to a different city, even one with a more energetic creative community (Toronto is the one I always fantasize about), is hard to think about. Maybe one day when I hit it big.

SPURGEON: What would you say is the primary virtue of that part of the country as a comics maker? If you could add or change one thing with a snap of a finger -- say a massively thriving alt-weekly, or a cartoon school -- what would you add or change and why?

HARBIN: The one virtue is that it's cheap to live here, more or less. I don't know what "massive thriving alt-weekly" is, other than a legendary idea from a time long gone, like a unicorn. But a cartooning school would be fantastic here. It's cheap, you have one of the best shops in the country right in the middle of town, I live here; why the perks go on and on! If I could wave a magic wand that would be one direction I'd flit it in, but probably the best thing would be having a large, healthy university close to the city. Charlotte lacks young people who want to do cool shit, whether it's comics or painting or films or whatever. I mean, we have all those people, but just a few of each, and we all get older all the time. We need some young blood to show us how to do things and make us want to excel. Young people are good for rushing old people into the grave and making room for new ideas.

SPURGEON: Are you comfortable with the role that all of these shows play? You seem to do well at them, but at the same time I think I detect among a lot of cartoonists a slight exhaustion with maybe doing all the shows every year, and some frustration that a big show doesn't really indicate anything beyond that big show. Is this the best we can hope for? What can change?

HARBIN: What an interesting question. I'm not exhausted with doing shows, although I'm very prissy and only do shows I feel pretty confident I'll do well at, because I depend on them for a certain amount of my income. But yeah I can definitely see that, especially from some of the road warriors I know who do pretty much every show.

I agree with the point you make a lot that conventions have evolved into a part of the comics-making economy. I think it's been like that at mainstream shows for a long time, and the indie shows are just catching up as comics readers get more literate and buy stuff from more directions. HeroesCon, for instance, was huge for a lot of mainstream artists in terms of commissions and general income when I first started working there, back in 1996.

So I don't know what more to hope for: I'm pretty satisfied with the existing group of conventions, and moreso with the idea of the shows like HeroesCon and TCAF and Emerald City, that are very well thought of by fans and creators, to push other shows to rise to that level of quality. And adaptability.

imageSPURGEON: When we talked a few years ago, you were thinking about making the leap from your Heroes gig and full-time into comics and freelance illustration -- or at least more extensively. Are you disappointed or satisfied in general with the progress you've made? What's surprised you the most about that particular transition?

HARBIN: The only thing I'm really satisfied about is that my drawing chops have improved hugely over the last four years (I quit working for Heroes after the 2010 convention). Income wise, I scrape by barely, like most people, which is frankly a huge bummer. Partly that's my fault though. I'm curse with being snobby about the type and quality of work I'll take on, but then I feel like I rarely get excited about my own ideas, to the point where I feel pushed to get them out and develop them and so forth. Also I'm occasionally lazy, which doesn't help. This year I'm working on the latter of these curses though -- I have two things I'm about to start, once I get my site fixed, and some other irons in the fire.

SPURGEON: Who is the most whose work has most recently made you reconsider how you do your own? When was the last time you really stopped and studied someone that way?

HARBIN: At the risk of sounding incredibly treacly, I'm very privileged to count some of the artists I'm most interested in as friends, and a couple of them as close friends. There are cartoonists whose work I respond to and click with more than Joe Lambert's, but I don't think there's any cartoonist working whose work I think about more. Does that make sense? I mean it as a compliment, a big one. Joe has a thing I'm incredibly jealous of: beyond his crazy work ethic, he's constantly PUSHing himself, push push push. Sam Alden and Michael Deforge do the same thing. It's one thing to be prolific, but it's another thing, and a much much harder thing, to continue to strive for something out of your reach. Especially when everyone's kissing your butt about how brilliant you are all the time. I think that level of self-examination and self-challenge is what makes all three of those guys really really interesting, beyond of course the incredible quality of their work.

Of course I obviously am thinking about all the super-masters all the time too, especially Jaime Hernandez and Chester Brown and Seth and all those guys. But there's part of me that thinks all the best comics being made right now are being made by people under 30.

SPURGEON: What about your immediate age group, say cartoonists between 35 and their very early 40s? Is there anyone you admire there?

HARBIN: I never pass up a chance to say something nice about John Martz -- he's a huge influence on me and a really sweet person who's been very kind to me. So I guess he's an influence as an artist and as a person. Tom Kaczynski is my age-ish I think, or a least he has as much grey hair as I do. His work is such combo of deep thinking and raw edges. I remember reading him in MOME and being like who IS this guy.

How old is Eddie Campbell? He's probably closer to 50ish I'm guessing, but I'm working my way slowly through Alec right now, the big Top Shelf collection, and I'm just in awe of him. I feel like I had to age into appreciating how he sets up an image, what he leaves in and out. I'm still early on in the book too, so occasionally I'll look at a page and be blown away and then think "jeez, this guy was probably like 25 when he was doing this or something. I love seeing artists mature, but it's crazy how many of the best cartoonists seem to burst out nearly complete from the get-go. Eddie Campbell and Jaime Hernandez must have been the Sam Alden and Michael Deforge of their day.

SPURGEON: How do you feel like that generation of cartoonists with whom you identify has readjusted itself to comics-making over that same time? You can argue with some force I think that there's a whole group of cartoonists with whom you're friendly -- folks aged 28 to 34 now, maybe -- that have a different perspective on what making comics will entail moving forward.

HARBIN: What do you mean "a different perspective?" How do you see that current perspective?

SPURGEONK What I mean is that this generation of comics-makers right on either side of 30 came into comics with two avenues of significant financial promise: webcomics and the use of a community built through free digital distrbution, regular-publisher book deals. I don't see anyone thinking either one is a significant way out at this point. Do the people you talk to have the exact same plans they did six, seven, eight years ago? Do you? What's the best possible outcome here, Dustin?

HARBIN: Oh I see. Yeah 7 or 8 years ago everyone was getting book deals, right? That didn't last that long, except for the same guys that were getting book deals already.

What is the "significant way out?" What a bummer of a question, but you're right. The number of "outs" has shrunk hasn't it? As mercantile and greedy as I am, when I think about what I actually want to do, I think a big part of it is just making a big thing that I work hard on and am very proud of. The money would be secondary: I can always figure out a way to make money anyway. But being proud of myself, fired up about what I'm doing, feel like I'm putting something out there that has value and casts its own waves independent of me; that would be about enough for me. I also intend to continue making comics, some diary and some just general autobio, as a way to figure personal stuff out. Over time that work has had, or at least has started to have, a therapeutic benefit on me. Maybe one day it'll accrete enough mass to serve that other, first goal.

SPURGEON: You mention you feel you're a better artist. I know that with a lot of cartoonists, particularly working ones, finding ways to get better within what they use as a commercial style -- a way of drawing and making comics that attracts client and allows you to work quickly -- is really, really hard, especially after age 30. What are you better at now than when I met you six years ago, Dustin?

HARBIN: I'm better at everything than I was six years ago. People talk about drawing every day and so forth, but it's crazy how much better you get at anything simply by doing it a lot. It's also crazy how little all the stuff you think is important actually isn't. When I first started drawing more regularly, or at least with an eye towards developing it, I spent probably 4 or 5 years working through different brushes and inks and all that dumb stuff, all that craft and tools stuff. What a waste! If I had spent the same amount of time thinking about composition and storytelling and placing blacks and those kinds of less sexy ideas, I'd be a goddamn Superman now. But I didn't, and I'm not!

I recently worked on a little side project with Tommy Lee Edwards, and just being in the same room with some of his drawings (on my monitor, anyway) was hugely educational, especially when he'd point out little things here and there having to do with eye movement and depth. Same with lettering Seconds for Bryan Lee O'Malley. For my money Bryan has the best composition chops in comics, and getting to look at those pages from their sketched form all the way to final, especially getting to see what he changed and cut out or added, was immense. I'll be thinking about that experience for a long time.

SPURGEON: How exactly are you a better writer?

HARBIN: That I don't know. I would not characterize myself as a particularly strong writer, especially since the largest portion of my comics are autobio, and even worse, diary strips, where the quality of the writing can easily take a back seat to the tweeness of whatever important thing you think warrants making a comic out of. I've made a lot of slight comics; ideas that were barely there, or not there at all, where the style or fussiness of the drawing way outweighed any particular value the comic had as a piece of Capital A "Art." So part of the reason I've been making way less comics is that I'm working through ideas much more judiciously. I like to think that's a first step to being better at writing: thinking harder about what deserves writing.

SPURGEON: Can you talk about that a little more? I have a sense of you as a personality, and as an advocate for comics. I have a sense of your craft chops. I have a sense of your art. I'm not sure that I know what your strengths are in terms of employing words and building narratives might be, and most of the anthology work I've seen has be prescribed enough that I don't know that I have sense of the kind of stories you'd prefer to tell even.

Put it another way: if you could make any kind of comic, what kind of comic would that be, at least at first? Because I have no idea with you.

HARBIN: There are two kinds of comics I'm interested in making right now, in terms of longer and/or more serious work. I have a slew of diary comics coming once my website gets fixed, less in the what-happened-today vein and more in the here's-what-I'm-interested-in-talking-about vein. In terms of fiction, I want to make a big story, something wild and sprawling, something that sneaks up. I have tons of notes for two big stories; one will either be comics or a children's storybook, and the other one will either be comics or an animation pitch.

I'd like to write something for someone else to draw, too -- especially things I don't think my style and chops would serve well. The problem is, the few people I'm interested in collaborating with are already good writers and don't need some yokel to write for them.

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SPURGEON: You have a significant chunk of autobiographical work in your rear view mirror now. Do you feel that was strong work? How would that work be different if you were to start it today?

HARBIN: I'd say in the main, the work only started to get near strong towards the end. The story "Boxes" that I did, at the end of Diary Comics #4, was the first time I was making those little comics and felt like they were starting to have real worth, both to me, in dealing with the stuff I was trying to articulate into comics, and to maybe whoever happened upon them out in the wide world. I'm in the middle of combing through that work and sort of gleaning the strips that I feel like hang together and build something, for an eventual collection. Like actual memory, I have the luxury of selecting between bits to fabricate the narrative I want; or at least one that builds into Boxes and the more involved strips surrounding it.

If I started doing that work today, I would never do the one-strip-a-day thing. Like a lot of people, I run my mouth too much, and more than most. The last thing I need is another reason to bleat out my life every day; much better to speak up when I have something to say. The strips that I'm making now come out when I feel like it, and they're all much much better for it.

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SPURGEON: What makes character design so pleasurable for you? What makes a good character design, in your opinion?

HARBIN: Oh man. Character design is where I think I want to go, income-wise. It's SO pleasant. All the things that I'm good at are valuable in character design: quirky drawings, weird sense of humor, fussy attention to details. And the things I'm not great at, like layout and composition and thinking up interesting stories and just thinking about movement in general, I don't have to worry about that much. Perfect! Character design is like sciencey cartooning, you have to think about all these things like silhouette and how details move the eye around, and scalability and simplicity and so forth. I want all the character design work I can get -- an ideal future for me would be making good money doing that as a dayjob, and then working on my own stuff at night. I think I did more comics when I was working for HeroesCon full-time than I've done since I went freelance. The whole "more time to make comics" thing is a bunch of hooey!

SPURGEON: I can't tell if that's a joke or not. Is that true? Are you not getting as much done as you'd like? Why is that?

HARBIN: Nowhere near. When I worked at Heroes I made good money, enough to not worry about money when I got off work. I could make whatever, fly to shows, buy fancy art supplies, try weird pens, whatever I thought cartoonists did. Freelancing means a lot of working on little piddly stuff, or giant projects that take every second for weeks, or stuff you don't get paid for for awhile, or you get paid but then the advance runs out. I hate it. I hate freelancing. I like making and selling my own comics -- once I can block out enough time to get a flow going, posting things, printing things, selling and mailing them, that'll be fine. But as long as I have to drop everything when a big job comes along, it's hard to get in that groove.

SPURGEON: What don't you like about your composition?

HARBIN: I'm good at drawing stuff, but I just start drawing and then I ink it and then I'm done. The under-parts, the planning and thumbnailing and the science of composition, that my brain is not really great at. I want to take Frank Santoro's course one of these times -- I'm super interested in all that grid mojo he talks about, even if I suspect it's a half happy accident and half people just knowing subconsciously where to place figures in a frame for maximum impact.

I'm sure I'll get better at it given time. There are smart people like Frank and Kali Ciesemier [http://kalidraws.tumblr.com/post/32953413185/today-i-gave-my-students-a-quick-presentation-on] whose writing I refer to a lot. Kali should write a book. I'd sell that thing on the street for her like I was witnessing to sinners.

imageSPURGEON Before we get too far away from this, can you tell me about a character design of your that you like, and why you like it? Or maybe a couple, if that's easier. Is that a skill you develop, or is that one of the natural strengths you had going in? Is it possible to get better at that?

HARBIN: [I'm including the Paul Bunyan I'm referring to here with the other images I'm sending you.] The thing that I enjoy about character design is trying to combine mundanity with weirdness. One of the bigger stories I mentioned working on is a series based on the Paul Bunyan tall tales, both existing ones and some I'm making up out of more or less whole cloth. Paul Bunyan is one of those things where there's a real physical quality to him, like as soon as you say Paul Bunyan you think "huge." So one of the early drawings I did of him, which I actually ended up using as one of my one-hour drawings, was just trying to work out how I'd draw a person who was giant, impossibly giant, but still friendly, kind, smart, "sagacious" as my favorite childhood Bunyan book would say, etc. How abstract will he be? How real? How will he move? Like if I'm going to show him scooping out the Great Lakes, how big is he really, and how would he relate to the other lumberjacks, most of which are fairly normal-sized by comparison? All that stuff is really fun to work out. Almost as fun as the drawing.

Working on my design of stuff, even just the way I've drawn myself over the years, is one of my favorite things about cartooning. Stripping out all the lines you don't need, adding back in a few that don't make sense just to keep things lively. I've gotten better at it over the years, probably mainly because I do a lot of commissions where I have to come up with something based on a brief prompt like "bear." Drawing an interesting bear is a character design challenge, but moreso it's just a cartooning/abstraction challenge.

SPURGEON: You mentioned to me that you had been doing some lettering; I know the Casanova comics are a significant gig for you when those are going on. Is there a design aspect to that work? From where do you derive pleasure doing that kind of straight-up craft work?

HARBIN: I don't get a lot of pleasure out of lettering. Lettering is one of those things that almost anyone can do now with just a few bits of software and a decent font; so hand lettering is a lot of work for a result that's only slightly better than the same thing done with a font of your writing. Which isn't a bad thing necessarily, except that since any dumdum can letter their own book now, there's not really a market out there for hand lettering -- you have to explain to someone why $15 a page is a slap in the face.

I've been lucky in that the two big books I've worked on, Casanova and Bryan Lee O'Malleys' "Seconds," which comes out next month, both Matt Fraction and Bryan worked with me on how much it would take to be economically feasible.

That's important too, because when I work on something that's not mine, that freelance check is all the money I'm going to get. I don't get paid again when Casanova goes to TP, so that paycheck is all the income I'll see out of that work. I don't think I would enter into that kind of agreement with anyone unless I either was making tons or really believed in the work, y'know? It's appalling what people will accept as pay in comics. 

It makes me pretty mad, actually. Half of the people I know have done Adventure Time alternate covers for Boom and happily accepted checks I would never take from even a small company for a freelance gig. Maybe it's good exposure, I don't know. But I do know that Adventure Time sells a zillion copies, and that those artists sign away any rights to that image. I regularly hear about people seeing something they got paid $300 to do as a comic cover appearing on a t-shirt or a totebag or something without anyone even informing them. That's good exposure though, right?

SPURGEON: There's something being exposed there. Hey, do you have a pantheon of comic-book letterers, or anyone whose particular virtues in that area of comics-making impress you? Describe someone's lettering work you like and what you like about it.

HARBIN: I'll tell you who my favorite letterer is, and that's Dave Gibbons. If you go through Watchmen and just look at how many words he squeezes into those panels -- and there are a LOT of words -- without them ever becoming illegible or even cramped. When I was first lettering Casanova I used Watchmen as my style guide, whenever I was wondering how to do a linebreak or how to draw a number just so.

SPURGEON: Most of the work I've seen from you recently is single images, a lot of prints. Is that an interest you have concurrent to comics, is that something you see as the same thing, is that just following demand a bit?

HARBIN: Single images are easier to do, frankly. Or rather, they're easier to do and be done with, and easier to do something with if you want to sell the art or make prints out of it or something. This week I listed this new hand print, which was just something I drew in my sketchbook as a warmup, then redrew because I liked the image, then drew again to get just so and make a print out of. There's something about the austerity of a single image that's a good rest after working out all the timing and eye track and so forth with a comic.

Also I'm for sure following demand. I'll always do comics, but bringing 25 prints that I'll sell for $25 apiece to a show takes up a tiny sliver of my luggage, as opposed to 50 88-page minis that I'll sell for $10 apiece.

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SPURGEON: The one image of your I saw recently that I liked quite a bit is "The Figure Drawers." Can you talk about that one a bit, how it developed, and in general how you complete these drawings that you do like that -- what tells you to stop? How do you know an image is ready for commercial purposes? Are you one to worry over individual images?

HARBIN: I'm glad you like that. That was for a figure drawing show at the gallery I go to weekly figure drawing group at. I usually draw the model a little and the other drawers a lot, so that was an interesting drawing to work on, both in terms of composition and color -- I don't use color a lot or with particular confidence, so I built those colors up really gradually until they felt right. It's just a few colors of acrylic ink that I kept going over and over in transparent layers.

The cool thing about that though was that it was for a specific and finite audience: whoever walked into the gallery the month it hung, and the other figure drawers, many of whom are in there and recognized themselves. In comics you almost never think about working towards something hanging on a wall, or how far away an average person will be standing when they look at it, or what the lighting will be like. So it was a fun challenge. And the painting sold, so biff bam pow I guess I'm a painter now.

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SPURGEON: You have to tell me about the dinosaurs. What little I've read seem to indicate this is a previous project since revived, but other than that I don't know any of the backstory. Can you talk about its germination. What are the unique challenges of working with a set of visual images that are of such concern that you have experts from 8 to 80?

HARBIN: Those dinosaurs I've been posting are for a forthcoming leporello from Nobrow called Behold! The Dinosaurs! that will be out this fall I think. It's just under 100 dinosaurs, marching along over about 13 feet of image over two sides, when folded out. It came about because Sam and Alex at Nobrow had seen the print I did a few years ago that Sam Bosma and Kali Ciesemier colored and wanted to do a larger thing based on that idea: a procession of dinosaurs, with little labels saying who they were, when they lived, how big they were, etc. Unfortunately I had to color this one myself, which took one million years.

The challenge of experts wasn't too bad -- the history of paleontology is a mess of reversals and backstabbings and erroneous data. So my research, while pretty exhaustive, was limited mainly to reasonably dependable physical attributes like length or height or wingspan. Even those are usually expressed in ranges -- after all, they're basically totally guessing, right? The hard part was deciding out how to draw them all in scale with each other without having the line weights being different and messing up how the figures relate to each other in the picture plane. Initially I thought one month, maybe two at most, would be enough; it ended up taking about five solid months to research, draw, and color all the dinosaurs.

SPURGEON: How did you approach color with that print?

HARBIN: I colored that print differently from in the book, where there was an overarching color scheme and not the time to paint every little scale. Dinosaurs are weird for color. It's fun to make them any old color, but a lot of the existing rules for animal coloration would probably obtain back then -- predators want to blend in, there are signals for mating and aggression, and so on. I love triceratops so I just colored him how I thought he looked coolest.

SPURGEON: How far in advance are you booked? What's the next thing that's due?

HARBIN: Let's see, right now I'm trying to get my website fixed then I'll be posting new strips next month. After that I have no big book planned or anything, but I will be working on my Paul Bunyan thing, maybe shopping some pitches around to the animation world, maybe hunting up a new day job. Then, getting ready for SPX.

SPURGEON: Given your variety of comics experiences, is there anything you wish con organizers could tell creators, or that creators could tell retailers. What do you see that we don't?

HARBIN: I think con organizers should tell creators how to sell books. Most of the people I know are terrible at it. All that self-deprecation and shyness isn't great in a retail interaction. I was lucky in that I worked a million comics conventions before I ever made a comic. They should do panels at shows. I'll moderate.

Creators should tell retailers to take chances on new books, and to get out and support weird stuff that their customers might not have noticed. There are so many ways to buy comics now, most of which do not involve walking into a comics shop, right? For me, when a store not only has a cool book, but it's a book I'm discovering specifically because someone pointed it out to me, or a staff member has really made it his or her mission to make that book successful, that's the kind of thing you don't really get outside of a store.

I strongly believe the comics shops that survive the next few years of digital platforms and Amazon and whatever new menace to retail or print (or both) pops up, are going to be the ones that offer not only a personal touch, but who go out of their way and spend the money to make their store a destination. Stock minis, stock handmade books, stock weird prints that someone who's never read a comic before can walk in and respond to just sitting there on the wall. 

And for god's sake, when you read something like Jesse Jacobs' Safari Honeymoon and think it's the best thing ever, order 50 of them immediately and hand sell them to your customers. Turn your customers on to new shit and they'll remember you. I still have old Heroes customers who come up to me at HeroesCon and remember me and fellow former employee Matt Fraction selling them Preacher and THB and Vagabond back in the '90s. It wasn't just the books, it was that we'd wanted to share those books with them, and they were thankful for it.

Every time I go into a comics shop and they're not interested in me I think "Bah, I'll go home and order it cheaper on Amazon."

*****

* Dustin Harbin
* Dustin Harbin On Twitter
* Dustin Harbin On Tumblr
* Dustin Harbin On Facebook

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Go, Look: Keen Detective Funnies

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Go, Look: The Art Of Madeline McGrane

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

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

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Ali Farzat!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Eric Reynolds!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Kevin Fagan!

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Happy 77th Birthday, RC Harvey!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Phil Elliott!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Armando Gil!

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June 21, 2014


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


A Feature On Bill Mauldin
via


One Of Sean Kleefeld's Recent Little-Seen Videos
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Drew Friedman On Old Jewish Comedians


Time Lapse Video Of TCAF 2014


News Feature On European Political Cartoonists
via
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from June 14 to June 20, 2014:

1. Mehmet Duzenli starts his jail term.

2. Well-liked major regional show HeroesCon gets underway in Charlotte, complete with their first anti-harassment policy.

3. South Carolina's governor signs an idiotic reprisal-type measure into law, punishing two state schools for daring to assign works with LGBT elements by making them host core American documents courses, as if that were the logical inverse of the objected-to works.

Winner Of The Week
Joe Sacco, who will soon have one of the best comics exhibition in terms of how his The Great War will be treated and the number of people that will get to see it.

Losers Of The Week
Everyone in South Carolina that got us to the point where legislators are punishing schools for their students learning about Alison Bechdel's life.

Quote Of The Week
"I don't think I understood when I was fourteen years old why the X-Men resonated with me so much. I know in retrospect that this portrait of a constructed family of outcasts offered the hope that my future would not necessarily be one of loneliness and rejection." -- Andrew Wheeler

*****

image from a Marvel comic book, 1964

*****
 
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Go, Look: The Fly And The Hood

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

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

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

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

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Happy 58th Birthday, Daryl Cagle!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Steve Niles!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Berke Breathed!

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

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June 20, 2014


Go, Look: Sarah Mazzetti

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HeroesCon Get Underway In Charlotte Today

imageSo I'm in Charlotte for HeroesCon. I mention this to the subject of this week's Sunday Interview, but it was only six years ago I could write about Heroes being the last comics convention in a way. That seems absurd now considering how many shows there are.

Heroes has a big-tend reputation in terms of the range of comics pros on hand, so it's a good place to take the temperature of what concerns the professional community right at this moment. The con itself made news this week by releasing a SDCC-style conduct code and making it a point of emphasis on their site. That's also been interesting to read in the context of so many people liking HeroesCon. We'll see how it goes.

I'm not sure what's on the floor exactly, but Los Bros are in town, Jeff Smith is back at the show for the first time in a while, and Noah Van Sciver joins AdHouse's youth movement with a new collection (joining Jon Chad and Katie Skelly. I also enjoy looking at what J. Chris Campbell has on hand. Nearly every artist, including those you'd never think would do this, has art or the ability to make art to sell as pin-ups or stand-alone imagery. If you've ever wanted an off-beat, illustrated take on Ghost Rider and Lobo and Sailor Moon, or all three together riding Segways, this is your weekend.

Everybody have fun.
 
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Go, Look: Black Rider #8

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Go, Read: Comics, BarCons and Booze

I was sort of outright baffled by this article on the idea of alcohol-related socializing at conventions. I see comics as the least socially engaged community and industry to which I've been a witness. I went to a seminary and the seminarians drank and caroused more than the comics people I know. The idea of non-alcohol oriented post convention activities has been in practical employment since I've been around, whether it's people simply eating and going to bed, or going and doing something together (I went to a comedy show in San Diego once), or performing for one another, or the classic of people going and drawing in a room without any alcohol nearby.

So I couldn't tell you what's going on there. I imagine that we'll see both a more intense sub-strata of social relationships patterned after what's going on at the schools and facilitated by the sheer number of shows and active comics communities now, and I think we'll see a significant group of people attempt to utilize those shows as a professional opportunity over it being a personal one, just because they're that important now. I've been a teetotaler and a problem drinker for big chunks of my career in comics, and I can't even formulate a memory of how one year might have been different from another at a comics show.
 
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Go, Look: DC Comics Covers From 1979

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Collective Memory: Denver Comic Con 2014

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This article has now been archived.
 
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Go, Look: Jon Chad

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* the FPI blog profiles that Hope Larson Solo project we took note of here a couple of weeks ago.

* if you're at HeroesCon today, please at 2:30 considering coming to see me talk Mark Waid and Jeff Smith about their on-line comics work from the unique perspective of moving into that area after successful careers as print comics-makers.

* Gary Tyrrell had to have been the one to put this tweet into my bookmarks, about the 10-year anniversary of self-employment for Randy Milholland. As one of the commenting folks notes, that was more of a rarity for that sub-culture in the pre-crowdfunding days.

* finally, speaking of anniversaries, I noticed here that Booksteve's Library is going to celebrate its 10th year anniversary this Fall. I would imagine there's a bunch of sites that make up the modern comics Internet in its near-infinite varieties closing in on decade-long status or a bit past it.
 
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If I Were In Charlotte, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Go, Look: War Against Crime #5

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Mike Dawson talks to Sarah Glidden about Joe Sacco's mighty Footnotes In Gaza.

* Andy Oliver on Single Black Glove. John Kane on various comics. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Benson's Cuckoos. Sarah Horrocks on Mazeworld. Don MacPherson on Chicacabra and DC's latest shot at the Forever People.

* hooray for blowjobs.

* Gerry Giovinco found a fresh angle in disparaging the incoherence of the conservative critique of comics offered up by writer Chuck Dixon and designer/artist Paul Rivoche in promoting a new book: both men got at least a part of their start in 1980s independent comics, where making work in defiance of the Comics Code was an ingrained part of that culture. It's sort of interesting that we've spent any time on these thoughts given how poorly conceived they are; then again, it apes a significant and also largely muddy national debate in some ways, so that could be part of it.

* finally, I could be bribed like this, but with Wonder Tot.
 
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Happy 45th Birthday, Nix!

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Happy 64th Birthday, John Workman Jr.!

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Happy 80th Birthday, Rius!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Theo Ellsworth!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Justin Norman!

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

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June 19, 2014


Go, Look: Ignacio Serrano

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Go, Look: Palestinian Authority Cartoon Accused Of Glorifying A Recent, Mostly-Condemned Event

Here. It's almost impossible for anyone to unravel the various politics involved here without having that be your full-time job. And maybe not even then. In fact, I'm sure there's no way I can even write a vaguely worded headline that would offend someone out there. So it's not like this kind of an article is a surprise. The reason I point it out is to underline how problematic it can be for countries that have state or political party-driven media as opposed to more of an independent press to encompass certain kinds of cartoon expression, and why that's such a value I hold as it's existed at its best in this country and others. To hear of a cartoon being called an expression of a state institution just seems wrong.
 
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Not Comics: Shadow Paperback Book Covers By Steranko

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Thoughts On Kim Thompson Passing Away A Year Ago Today

My friend and one-time employer Kim Thompson died of complications related to cancer one year ago today. It is a testament to the force of his personality and the unique nature of presence that he doesn't seem very far gone. It is a tribute to the dynamism of the modern industry he helped shape that so much time seems to have passed from the moment we learned of his passing until now. It seems a long while since I've seen him; part of me still expects we'll catch up.

imageThere are many people that were much, much closer to Kim than I was, and my heart goes out to them for their continued sense of loss. I don't intend to make a habit of noting his death, year after year. It's just that he's been on my mind lately, and I noticed the date earlier this week.

Kim Thompson lived and breathed comics as the central anchor in a life of various interests and enthusiasms. I think of him in that context. It's what we shared. In particular I think of Kim in the last ten years of his life, the years I'm heading into now. We were enough alike that I look to him as a potential model for how to orient myself towards the comics industry in which we both made something of a professional life, his far more distinguished than my own.

This morning a couple of things come to mind.

One trait of Kim's I liked very much is how proud he was of the unlikely accomplishment that is Fantagraphics. I loved the matter-of-fact confidence with which he would occasionally claim the company to which he devoted so much of his life the greatest publisher in English-language comics history. "And it's not even close." That part always made me laugh. I could use more of that, a sense of confidence in my own accomplishments freed from self-laceration and the resulting rage and self-pity that can boil to the surface. A lot of us could.

Another thing I've thought about with Kim this last year was how much of himself he gave to comics, and how much of what he gave was of extremely high quality. He lacked that gene that so many of us have of trying to find the minimum amount of work that gets us the necessary return in self-satisfaction, praise and respect. He loved to argue, but rarely made a case for himself. He never serviced a personal brand. Kim worked in a company as the equal partner of a charismatic, just-as-talented figure, and for years a lot of people failed to register if he were even male or female. He didn't seem to care; if he did, he never pouted. The work was everything.

Despite the comics culture's need to constantly reassure itself of its fundamental awesomeness at all times and its compulsion to assign this value to every single person in the room, I'm not sure we have a talent infrastructure within comics' various industries that comes close to matching the explosion of creative energy and skill comics has seen in the last 25 years. I include myself in that. I don't include Kim. Never Kim. Kim was an exception. He was one of those few people that operated at a high level nearly all of the time, doing work almost no one else could do, and certainly more than his fair share. He was committed.

I aspire to the professional example Kim Thompson set, and wish he were here for me to tell him so. If that person for you is still out there, I hope you'll let them know.

Kim would call this essay self-indulgent. I miss that about him, too.
 
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Go, Look: Comics On Parade

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Collective Memory: ELCAF 2014

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Go, Look: Steve McNiven

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Revisiting The Amazon/Hachette Giant Monster Battle From The View Of The Folks Running In The Street

I rarely agree with Laura Miller's colums and I'm sure by the time my post has rolled out recommending this article, the prose book industry and its thinkers and fans will be three or four steps into a back and forth trashing and/or praising its specific points. I still recommend it, though, for the broader arguments made because I think it's some of the broader points that we'll keep with us after this particular fight gets settled. There are two here I think worth noting: the first is that whatever the eventual outcome's merits for the publishers and readers, Miller argues that self-publishers would benefit more significantly from publishers keeping their preferred price point because it gives them room to compete. That's cynical, but it's not a point I would have considered on my own. The second is more of a passing allusion that the tactics employed by Amazon are certainly tactics that can be employed in the future against whatever segment of the book industry that isn't doing what they feel is in their best interest. That's something I believe in very strongly.

As always, I hope that people are seeking as wide a picture as possible, and that it's not always about one segment benefiting over another; the overall health of the system plays into things as well: the best art, the ethical maximization of profits in a way that encourages more and better creation, those things are industry-wide consderations, not segmented. That particular wedge should give you enough in the way of a skeptical view to read any of the Amazon/Hachette articles, including this one.
 
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Go, Look: Desmond Reed

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* it's HeroesCon weekend; that is an extremely popular slightly offbeat show. I'll be there, hopefully here at the times required.

image* what a nice bookplate Eleanor Davis made for SPX. I am 100 percent certain this particular scan is not doing it justice, but that is on me and I am counting on you not to process it in the spirit offered.

* RIP Expo -- that's the one in Rhode Island, I may not have the capitalization right -- has an exhibitor list up. That sounds like a con for dead people the way I have it.

* I totally missed this Hannah Means-Shannon tribute to Brooklyn's Grand Comics Fest.

* the Toucan blog has started their SDCC cycle.

* here's the Indie Island t-shirt designs for this year's Heroes.

* CBR did some systematic coverage of last weekend's NYC Special Edition show put on by Reed, as hearty an edorsement as any journalistic enterprise can provide.

* I nearly missed RC Harvey's nice write-up on this year's NCS weekend and Reuben Awards.

* finally, if you're not going to Charlotte from New York like a few cartoonists of which I'm aware, you might go to Brooklyn and see Dean Haspiel present a cast of less than a dozen in a public reading of their work, including hijacked poster-model Meghan Turbitt.

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

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

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

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Go, Look: Black Cat Mystery #50

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Rob Clough on Love And Rockets: New Stories #6, NoBrow Vols. 7-9 and some other NoBrow-published material. Tom Murphy on Everywhere Antennas. John Seven on The Amateurs. Zainab Akhtar on a new generation of mini-kus! comics.

* this DC dismemberment gallery that was linked-to extensively a few days back still cracks me up.

* Noah Berlatsky writes about how artists -- Marie Severin is a specific example -- were forced to work with the legacy of Steve Ditko's visuals on Marvel's Dr. Strange feature.

* Bob Temuka writes about the difficulties he has drumming up personal interest in what DC has done in its comics with the John Constantine character. That's a good enough that I think even a weak version of it can get over. I preferred the original, panicked, in-over-his-head version in the solo comics as opposed to the confident ass-kicker that a lot the writers did later on, but a character that isn't assured is really hard to maintain for more than a few issues here and there.

* Josh Fialkov reminds that the system by which we ask people to promote their comics has a very strange structure, with no fewer than three different periods where PR might be directed to direct market comics shops.

* Kevin Tang talks to Sam Alden.

* finally, Sean Kleefeld imparts a lesson learned from Chuck Rozanski.
 
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Happy 31st Birthday, Lisa Hanawalt!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Dan Fraga!

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

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June 18, 2014


Go, Look: Three Beautiful Dr. Strange Panels By Ditko

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Men Teaching Comics: Scott McCloud, Paul Karasik Teaching Individual Summer Of 2014 Comics Classes

image* the esteemed Scott McCloud wrote in to say that the Two-Day Making Comics Workshop he's taught before is being taught again, and has been rescheduled from June to August 16-17. That's at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art, and every talent level is welcome.

Here's Scott's post on it. Here's the sign-up page.

McCloud says that blog post is his first in a year, during which he finished his forthcoming work for First Second. So welcome back, Scott.

image* that great gentleman of comics Paul Karasik is teaching a summer Graphic Novels Workshop at Center For Cartoon Studies. This in the midst of deconstructing a Peter Arno cartoon for Bob Mankoff and teaming up with Robert Sikoryak for a Fletcher Hanks Meets SpongeBob story in today's SpongeBob annual, with the great title of "I Will Destroy All Civilized Plankton."

You can watch a video in support of the summer course here.

I remember trying to find any summer course that interested me at all from the time I was 12 until I stopped looking at age 24 or so, so I'm very jealous of these opportunties.
 
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Go, Look: Oleg Tischenkov

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Go, Read: Robert Mankoff's Appreciation Of Charles Barsotti

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Here. I thought Barsotti was a funny cartoonist who drew funny, and that he was remarkably consistent.
 
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Go, Look: Val

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Go, Read: Ben Towle On The Late Chris Reilly

I am so very far behind on my formal obituary writing. It is my every intention to write one for the recently passed-away writer Chris Reilly. But as it's going to be a couple of weeks before I have that specific kind of writing time carved out of my calendar, I'd like to direct you to this powerful personal reminiscence from Ben Towle. It is better than anything I'll end up writing.

This weekend is Heroes Con, and as is the case with any significant show weekend -- which is just about every weekend now -- a lot of friendships will be forged or revitalized in the next 120 hours. The ongoing convention that is the social media dominated Internet is also a place where these very unique acquaintanceships are forged. They are one of comics' saving graces. My condolences to Reilly's friends and family.
 
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Go, Look: John Romita Jr. Black And White Image Gallery

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Missed It: That Whole Bill Finger Cover Credit Thing

I found this Robot 6 post from Kevin Melrose hiding in my bookmarks. The news that writer Bill Finger received a cover credit on a recent anniversary issue of Detective Comics is one of those weird, slightly sad, symbolic things that can still be important to comics because as is the case with many of our interactions with the industry's victims, the symbolic is all we have to provide them.
 
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Go, Look: Captain Midnight

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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.

*****

MAR141164 WITZEND HC BOX SET WALLY WOOD $125.00
This is a big week at the comics shops for the kinds of comics in which I'm most interested. Please don't let the cursory nature of these descriptions acts as a piece of fabrid dropped over a lamp. It was Wally Wood's birthday yesterday. I'd love to shop in a comics shop that carried something like this $125 boxed set of comics pages from Wood's contribution to the underground, overground and self-publishing movements. The great thing about this project is I haven't seen a lot of the pages, certainly fewer than any other recent reprint project this side of the Jacky's Diary book.

imageAPR141063 PHOTOBOOTH A BIOGRAPHY GN (MR) $20.00
Meags Fitzgerald's cultural history (its subject is in the title) was a sizable attraction at TCAF, selling out enough copies that publisher Andy Brown was asking after alternative supplies by Saturday night. This one seems like it's been coming out for a very long time, so I'm happy to see for it to find as much of an audience as it can.

MAR140376 ARCHIE SWINGIN SIXTIES DAILY NEWSPAPER COMICS 1963-1965 HC $49.99
I only have one rule about Archie collections: I look at them. I barely have any context for any of the publisher's material, so I'd have to count on what my eyes tell me volume to volume.

JAN140431 CHARLES SCHULZ PEANUTS ARTIST ED HC PI
It's the Superman/Muhammad Ali team-up of well-regarded reprint projects over the last 15 years. I was lucky enough to own a Peanuts for a while, and I always loved looking at it. Schulz's work was rarely labored, but it rarely settled right into place, either.

FEB141542 FEAR MY DEAR BILLY DOGMA EXPERIENCE HC $19.99
Dean Haspiel has enjoyed a mini-resurgence lately for a combination of different projects; this is his best and most affecting work.

MAR141573 WORLD WAR 3 ILLUSTRATED 1979-2014 HC (MR) $29.95
MAR141328 PETER KUPER SYSTEM HC GN $19.95
I can't imagine at that price that it's as fancy as the Witzend slipcovered presentation, but 35 years making politically-minded comics doesn't apologize for a single goddman thing, thank you very much. This might be one to look over in a comics shop, as some of the visuals are very interest and might sell the book to one or two of you on the fence. Peter Kuper may be that publication's greatest, affiliated artist, and this mid-1990s work for Vertigo has a lot of the WWIII political awareness to it.

APR140054 AXE COP AMERICAN CHOPPERS #2 $3.99
APR140014 BPRD HELL ON EARTH #120 $3.50
FEB140600 FATALE #23 (MR) $3.50
APR140596 SEX CRIMINALS #6 (MR) $3.50
APR141289 AUTEUR #4 (MR) $3.99
APR140486 WICKED & DIVINE #1 CVR A MCKELVIE & WILSON (MR) $3.50
FEB148313 WICKED & DIVINE #1 CVR B MCKELVIE & WILSON (MR) $3.50
FEB148314 WICKED & DIVINE #1 CVR C OMALLEY (MR) $3.50
Serial comic books! I haven't read any of the Axe Cop material (two brothers; one a young boy, the other a working comic book artist), but it's certainly popular and I'd love to remember to go look at some one of these days. There's your Mignola-verse offering, followed by an issue near the end of the Brubaker/Phillips Fatale run. It is filled with sex. Not filled with nearly as much sex is Sex Criminals, which I believe with this issue heads into its second volume as a still-growing, bonafide hit. The Auteur comic I liked okay when I read an issue, although I wonder after its tone. The Wicked & Divine is the latest Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie/other super-talented people title. That O'Malley cover is super-cute.

MAR141569 NEIL GAIMAN TRUTH IS CAVE IN BLACK MOUNTAINS ILLUS HC $21.99
This is a book version of the short story that was illustrated by Eddie Campbell and then performed in Sydney. My primary interest here would be Campbell, although I assume most people would enter into through Gaiman; either way, I have to imagine it's worth a look.

imageFEB140525 GLORY COMPLETE SAGA HC $34.99
FEB140537 VELVET TP VOL 01 BEFORE THE LIVING END (MR) $9.99
Two recent serial comics trades. The first is reimagining of the 1990s Glory character by Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell; the second is Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting's take on the mid-20th century spy novel. I've enjoyed both, and see both as artist's comics in a certain way. Certainly the latter is more naturally up my alley in terms of the kind of material I tend to read on my own.

MAR141013 BLAKE & MORTIMER GN VOL 18 OATH FIVE LORDS $15.95
I don't follow these mainstream French album series at all, but they're certainly racking up the volumes. This is probably the major series in that world about which I know the least, and that's quite the contest. I do know the art is kind of ruthlessly handsome, and I'm a total sucker for straight-forward, well-mounted genre work.

APR141203 EC JOHN SEVERIN BOMB RUN HC $29.99
Severin was a world class talent with incredible good fortune he did not need in terms of collaborators: the great artist Will Elder, the iconic cartoonist/writer/editor Harvey Kurtzman. I think they've gone double-digits on these by-artist volumes at this point. I would love to read an analysis of the entire line. I certainly prefer the material arranged this way than by strict subject matter.

MAR141167 STEVE DITKO ARCHIVES TP VOL 01 STRANGE SUSPENSE $28.99
I believe this one has been out of print for a while. I like most of the early Steve Ditko stories, even though some of them are very rough, and he got better as his career progressed. Still, a superior comics maker.

APR141552 COMICS GLOBAL HISTORY 1968 TO PRESENT SC (MR) $39.95
This an obviously ambitious book -- just look at that title -- of the kind that's been attempted but not a bunch of times. I'm dying to read it if only for the connections through proximity of what was going on in Japan and France and the US particularly thorugh the late 1980s. This one is all in the execution, though, so until I read it I'm not going to have much of an opinion. If it's a rigorous exploration of one expression of comics with satellite-style detours into others, I'll be less interested.

FEB140264 GRAPHIC INK THE DC COMICS ART OF FRANK QUITELY HC $39.99
FEB140950 GLENN FABRY SKETCHBOOK SC VOL 01 (MR) $12.99
FEB120952 ART OF RAMONA FRADON HC SIGNED ED $49.99
Quitely is arguably the most interesting comic book artist working for the mainstream publishers the last decade or so. I don't have a ton of interest in the characters and settings he's doing here, but I am interested in how Quitely interprets them. Fabry has also done a bunch of work for the mainstram publishers. I'm not sure if this is a different edition from the limited release from late 2012, or just making that more widely available, but I'd sure take notice of it if my comics shop had one. The Fradon book is another one that I think was out a bit earlier in orderable form and had been delayed for a long time before that. She was an extremely artistly particularly in her 1960s mainstream heyday, and I'd look at anything she's done.

FEB140359 PARKER THE HUNTER NOVEL HC ILLUS BY DARWYN COOKE $29.99
This is the IDW re-release of the Parker prose series with illustrations and book design by Darwyn Cooke. The paintings are very different than Cooke's comics work, and I'm happy to see the books in print in a series format that might lead to a great deal of permanent-collection buying. I wanted to actually finish with this one, but I don't know what cover this comic-shop edition will have.

FEB141541 ESCAPO HC $24.99
So let's make Paul Pope's worthy stand-alone volume this week's last book listed, with a cover and all that goes with it. It's straight-up comics, too, from an equally reliable talent. I'm not sure that I have the sophisticated view of Pope's career to tell you where this one sits in terms of his artistic development, but I enjoy the bits of the story I've seen here and there over the years and I greatly enjoyed reading it all in one place.

*****

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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Go, Look: JF Nexus

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* James Romberger on Genius, Animated. Rob McMonigal on Farmer's Dilemma. Alexa Dickman on Comics: A Global History, 1968 To Present. Todd Klein on Justice League #30. Tom Murphy on Wildfire #1.

* here's a short run of words from Brian Michael Bendis on variant covers that was pointed out to me yesterday.

* JK Parkin notes two former DC editorial figures finding purchase with new companies: Katie Kubert, Kyle Andrukiewicz. I wish both of those folks the best with the new gigs: that is not an easy industry in which to find work.

* not comics: hey, this sounds set up to succeed.

* here's an unexpected surprise: Dan Nadel provides a bibliography for his now-defunct publishing house PictureBox, Inc. He recommends this memorial column, which I'm not sure I've read.

* Sean Kleefeld caught word of a fun-sounding collection on loan in conjunction with the Kenosha cartooning festival that will remain up for a while.

* Darryl Cunningham has a very distinctive style.

* finally, here's Alexa Dickman on Drew Friedman's forthcoming portraits of comics creators and women that could have received that treatment but did not. This kind of criticism isn't everyone's favorite, but I think it's more than fair to suggest a different approach than what an author provides.
 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Dean Mullaney!

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Happy 28th Birthday, Caitlin McGurk!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Francois Vigneault!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Wataru Yoshizumi!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Ryan Alexander-Tanner!

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

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June 17, 2014


Go, Look: Pin-Ups By Chris Samnee

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Festivals Extra: HeroesCon Posts Its Anti-Harassment Policy

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Here. What might surprise people to learn is I believe -- and someone correct me if I'm wrong -- that this is their first policy of this kind.

I'm all for this. Kudos to Shelton Drum and his team for working something up during what must be a very busy week. I wish them well in its execution and I wish them clarity in its subsequent evaluation. If there are adjustments coming immediately, I hope they're realtively painless. I also hope for the best outcome in terms of how they might add to this policy in future years and how they might develop other strategies moving forward. That last thing I wish for every show.

Harassment is a very real problem at these shows and in comics more generally. There is egregious, alarming behavior that would horrify any of us were we witness to it, and there is death by a thousand cuts behavior that might escape our attention even as we're knee deep in it. No one should go to comics show, or go to work at a comics show, or basically exist in the world, and be harassed or feel unsafe in any way that can be helped. This can be helped.

I believe reform begins at home. Many of these avenues to harassment are so thoroughly ingrained in the culture of comics that it behooves all of us to look at our own participation in a system that yields this kind of behavior and take steps to self-correct and improve. I don't think it's enough to commit to pointing out where you think other people are getting it wrong -- although that has a place -- and I don't think it's enough to merely weather the storm of public scrutiny no matter how confident you might be in the bottom-line effectiveness of your current strategy. I couldn't tell you who is doing enough and who isn't doing enough, but I feel that every last one of us can do better. I even think it's possible to do so by engaging with possibly detrimental side effects in a way that's respectful of the people that have to make these changes and that people that may feel their effect.

I was impressed a few weeks back with Jonah Weiland's decision to essentially reboot his comments strategy at CBR. I am very happy for this move by Heroes. I hope -- and I expect -- that a myriad of different actions and strategies and re-examinations will follow over the next several months. I believe everyone wants the same thing here, and I think we're stronger and will get there sooner for supporting as many solutions as may get us closer to that ultimate goal.
 
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Charles Barsotti, RIP

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Go, Look: The Cartoons Of Christopher Downes

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South Carolina Governor Upholds Weird, Punitive, Not Really A Compromise Concerning LGBT Curricula

imageThe Advocate has a story up that South Carolina Governor -- and I'm guessing Republican Vice-Presidential front-runner, at least right now -- Nikki Haley has approved a budge that punishes two state schools for assigning reading that has LGBT subject matter. The mechanism is that the schools are required to fund program designed for the study of the constitution and other documents directly linked to the founding of the country. One of the schools assigned the graphic memoir Fun Home as part of one of those "let's everyone coming to school read this if you wanna" programs. There is also a required opt-out.

The groaning stupidity of this is extra-intense because it's like there's something to make your eyes pop at every hands-and-knees stop on a human centipede of dumb. Ideally, colleges should be allowed to assign work engaged with any worldview at all, as schools are places where people learn to process ideas. The thought that by merely representing the truth of a life that involves non-hetero people one is engaged with promoting an agenda is noxious, as is the thought that state legislators should get any say on what an educational institution does barring a full-on meltdown of basic responsibilities. The idea that learning about the consitution is somehow a balance against learning about Alison Bechdel's life is worse. And so it goes. There are probably like five or six more entry points to the stupid at work here, and every person responsible should be ashamed of themselves.
 
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Go, Look: Primetime Stan Goldberg

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Another Week, Another Jailed/Harassed Turkish Cartoonist

Reporters Without Borders has a report up on the cartoonist Mehmet Duzenli choosing to begin service on a three-month prison sentence because a cartoon he made insulted the Muslim preacher and armageddonist Adnan Oktar. The cartoonist chose not to appear in court, claming that even a suspended sentence would acknowledge that the state has some right to keep him from freely expressing himself. He also reserved for himself in a public statement a right to call the preacher a liar, specifically on claims he himself is a key figure discussed in religious prophecy.

Turkey has an abominable record with free speech generally and expression through comics and cartoons specifically. This includes government figures using the courts to harass and punish those that express an inexpedient political position and civil cases like the one that has imprisoned Duzenli. The free speech organization called for legal reform including the decriminalization of defamation and insult.
 
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Go, Look: The Cartoonist

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Go, Read: Dan Nadel Interviews Hillary Chute

Dan Nadel and Hillary Chute, two of our most prominent thinkers about comics, have a brief conversation over at TCJ.com on the occasion of Chute's new book. Nadel feels comfortable enough to ask confrontational questions, and Chute answers with candor.

imageI'm not sure that I understood every answer. For instance, at one point she says that the Comics: Philosophy And Practice symposium she hosted at the University Of Chicago -- a significant cultural moment for art comics -- wasn't entirely white. That 17 member guest list -- pulling from one of the sites about the event -- was "Lynda Barry, Alison Bechdel, Ivan Brunetti, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, Robert Crumb, Phoebe Gloeckner, Justin Green, Ben Katchor, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Françoise Mouly, Gary Panter, Joe Sacco, Seth, Art Spiegelman, Carol Tyler, and Chris Ware." I suppose she could mean Joe Sacco, who is of Maltese descent. There were a few other people around, too, so that might be it. I'm not looking to start an argument, I was just sort of interested in what she meant and wish Nadel had followed up.

Mostly, though, what I found fascinating was some of the discussion about the Hernandez Brothers and some stuff concerning the lack of the PictureBox generation of cartoonists at her symposium and in her new book. What I found interesting about it is that the response was about liking and respecting those artists as much as it was about the criteria used to select those artists. That's very comics to emphasize the former over the latter. It also suggests some more questions. To say that you didn't include the PictureBox generation because of an interest in long-form narrative makes it kind of odd that the Hernandez Brothers weren't invited to a symposium that was designed around such an interest. That's a funny line about pantheons Chute tosses back at Nadel, but mostly I would think you'd include Los Bros because of their obvious developmental importance to the spotlighted value, not because they're in some perceived quality-comics club or not. I had assumed at the time that Jaime and Gilbert were just sort of off the radar in terms of their contributions to the development of alt-comics, and I suspect they still might be a bit -- although the 30th anniversary of Love & Rockets, Gilbert's fans among key young cartoonists and Jaime's devastatingly good recent work seems to have increased their general profile over what it was in 2011-2012.

Me whining about a conversation that didn't happen shouldn't make you skip the conversation that did, though. It's fun.

Update: Heidi MacDonald reminds me that Lynda Barry is part Filipino, on her mother's side. I knew that, too, my brain's not working. So that's probably it.
 
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OTBP: Ship Of Soiled Doves

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Wally Wood Would Have Been 87 Years Old Today

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All hail the patron saint of American comic books, gone 32 years.
 
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Go, Look: San Francisco Comics 2014

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Go, Look: Treasure Lost

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I have yet to write about the Cardboard Press summer subscription program of four books, which is odd because those books look handsome and I'm usually a giant sucker for alternative distribution methods like subscription programs. As is the case with everything in that general part of the world an and most things wherever, Zainab Akhtar had a nice write-up.

image* I think it was the writer James Moore that made me notice that the Random House page for Bryan Lee O'Malley's Seconds has more information than a lot of us have seen on that imminent work. That will fairly bend review gravity around itself for a few weeks.

* the syndicated newspaper offering On A Claire Day calls it quits after eight years. Congratulations to the creators for their run and best of luck with whatever they have planned next.

* here is a one-page preview of Grandville: Noel, with I believe more to come.

* I think I may have already written about this in brief, but I don't recall seeing all of the Ben Marra Night Business comics in print any time recently.

* Adam Hughes' Death Of Archie cover is handsome, as one might expect. I'm not sure how I feel about either variant covers or manufactured events right now -- I keep swinging from a "not the worst thing in the world" to "yeah, pretty much the worst thing in the world" on both. I'd love to read someone without the incentive of market share or pay boost say it's a good thing and make a strong argument as to why.

* the Jim collection previewed. I'm not sure any name-on-the-festival-poster level cartoonist has had a half-decade run as good as Jim Woodring has had with as little fanfare.

* Udon has announced a line of literary adaptations.

* Vertigo announced a Peter Milligan/Leandro Fernandez series about five-six days ago, to be called The Names.

* finally, Conundrum Press revealed a final cover (front and back) for Joe Ollmann's Happy Stories About Well-Adjusted People.

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

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Go, Look: More Mike Zeck MOKF Splash Pages

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Alex Dueben talks to Gabrielle Bell.

* it is a StoryBundle world, and we are only deciding how much money to pay towards it.

* Robert Boyd agrees with me that seeing Joe Sacco's World War I mural on a wall would be an amazing thing. Lucky French subway-goers.

* Joe Gordon on Preacher Vol. 1. Joshuaon on The Amateurs.

* Bully doesn't care for The Flag.

* add Chad Nevett to the list of people that have worked their way through the entirety of Cerebus and have written about that specific experience for a major on-line comics resource. A couple of the points made I found completely unconvincing, but I'm not engaged enough with Cerebus at this point in my life to really have a strong opinion either way, let alone fully articulate a point of view.

* that is one '80s-looking comics sequence. If I had a million years to read comics, one thing I might be interested in doing is seeing if there was an '80s element to the Superman character before he was rebooted the way there were discernible reflections of the previous decade in that character.

* I will never fully understand the specifics of the costume impulse that leads people to want to tramp around a comics shows dressed that way, but that one on the left is pretty impressive.

* finally, Hannah Means-Shannon goes to the 3-D comics performance at the Comic Book Theater Festival and writes a report.
 
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Happy 64th Birthday, Bill Sherman!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Bart Beaty!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Chance Browne!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Hilary Barta!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Pauline Martin!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, James Andre!

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

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June 16, 2014


Go, Look: The Tunnel

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Go, Read: Indian Comics' Crisis Of Faith

imageI don't know enough about comics in India beyond a few rounded at the edges feature articles to provide a great deal of context to this article that takes a more sober look at comics' current place in the cultural firmament, but I sure enjoyed reading the article. I'm willing to take it as information received, even if I wonder after the timeline and about which specific projects are relevant and in what ways that provides a snapshot to the wider marketplace. I simply don't know.

My hunch of a takeaway is that despite the promise of comics in that part of the world, the reality is split between the kinds of issues facing comics everywhere (how big is its natural audience, and what kind of marketplace that will sustain) and issues specific to Indian (the vastly different religious make-up city to city and all that portends for free exprssion through an unfamiliar form). For several understandable reasons it's the promise of that market where a lot of us have lived thus far, and at some point we're likely to move on to a more nuanced view. Maybe this is a start to get us there.
 
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Go, Look: The City Of Fire Portfolio

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Joe Sacco's Great War Mural To Be Displayed In A Paris Subway Station On Battle's 100th Anniversary

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It's almost more note than feature article, but it's nice to learn that Joe Sacco's cartoon mural of the Battle Of the Somme -- the work released in book form as The Great War -- will be put on display at a Paris subway station beginning July 1 in a form that will apparently make it 500 feet long. This will coinicide with the 100th anniversary of the battle.

One thing that's cool about this that the article hammers home is that the mural can be seen as a tribute to all-time proto-comic the Bayeux Tapestry. I thought that was one of the five great books of the year it was released, and I think its sprawling narrative will play well in the conceived-of form.

I also missed this very-likely-cooked-up-by-a-PR-department article from two years ago of Sacco recommending books about that history-changing war.
 
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Go, Look: Art Adams Cover Recreations

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Go, Look: Strange Worlds #7

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Go, Listen: Gil Roth Talks To Seth

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I like Gil Roth's interviews with cartoonists because they're well-produced and Roth approaches his subjects from a literary/arts standpoint rather than an insider/fan/industry area of interest. Seth is one of the very best talker about comics we have, so this interview should be fun.
 
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Go, Look: Dustin Harbin Made A Limited Edition Print

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* looks like this crowd-funder featuring the great Hunt Emerson, is going to cut it reasonably tight -- it seems like it's moving at the necessary pace or maybe just a tiny bit behind. Emerson is a fun cartoonist, so I hope you'll give that one some extra considertation. P. Craig Russell is another popular, older artist with a crowd-funder going.

* I'm not sure how I ended up with Shepherd in my bookmarks, but the art looks nice and the whole project looks like it could use your consideration.

* Toe Tag Riot is stuck in one of those tough funding-level places heading into its last few days, although I'm confident it will get past it and perhaps has by the time you'll read this.

* this JT Yost kickstarter hit its modest goals. I imagine that one could have some interesting stuff added to it if you still want to pay attention.

* the verteran comics illustrator Val Mayerik provided art to this crowd-funder.

* finally, there's just a few days to go on successful crowd-funders for Molly Ostertag and Erika Moen.
 
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If I Were In New York City, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Mike Zeck MOKF Splash Pages

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* David Goodman on Nightwing #30. Zainab Akhtar on two by Gipi.

* there are many great American heroes but only one Greatest American Hero.

* kids were using pop culture to learn to fly long before videogame flight simulators.

* some nice person at GoComics.com talks to Connie Sun.

* I know there will be a longer work, but there's an argument one can make that Tom Hart is best read in mini-comics form.

* not comics: it's hard not to appreciate the impulse behind this article, but god help us all if we need pointers on how to treat a physical retail location. As far as an advice column, it basically says use the people working there, something with which we call agree.

* finally, Raina Telgemeier is famous.
 
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Happy 34th Birthday, Sarah Glidden!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Arnold Pander!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Austin Kleon!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Arne Bellstorf!

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Happy 84th Birthday, Frank Thorne!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Killoffer!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Vito Delsante!

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

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June 15, 2014


CR Sunday Interview: Mike Dawson

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******

imageThe cartoonist Mike Dawson returned to book publication this year with Angie Bongiolatti, from Secret Acres. It debuted at this year's MoCCA Festival.

A snapshot of several mostly younger people working in and around New York City right after 9/11, Angie Bongiolatti derives strength from Dawson's decision to make the setting and emotional framework of his interconnected characters as specific as possible, while leaving the political nuance as well as the events that got the characters where they are just enough in the shadows to allow the reader their own interpretation of why people make the choices they do. What we see is instantly recognizable and completely unfathomable, which is how a lot of us stumble through our twenties.

Dawson has recently turned his attention to making short comics essays, which I think has seen its best expression in a very good "Cartoonist's Diary" feature at TCJ.com. In his late thirties, Dawson also has much to say about comics as a lifetime pursuit. I was really happy to talk to Mike after almost five years, and hope that people take a look at the new work if they haven't already. -- Tom Spurgeon

******

TOM SPURGEON: This is our second time to interview this week due to some technical issues I had... I wanted to start the same place we started last time, though. Do you find Angie Bongiolatti difficult to talk about? Is it hard to talk about a work -- this one, or more generally -- without giving away too much in terms of how the story was executed?

MIKE DAWSON: It's a book I haven't had a lot of experience talking about. I haven't done a lot of podcasts or written interviews.

I do find it difficult just in that I was trying to do things myself that I had not tried to do before, in my other work. I think plot-wise it's close to how my other books were. It's not a plot-driven story. There are a lot of ideas I'm trying to explore. I think that there's enough character and concept that it should be interesting to people. When I'm at conventions, trying to do my table pitch, I find it's easiest to say it's about politics and sex. It has to do with this protest march in 2002, but it's funny as well. It's still funny! That's about the the best I was able to do. That's never been my strong point, the elevator pitch.

SPURGEON: You know, there's a whole public aspect to being a cartoonist now that I still find sort of strange, because for years cartooning with rare exceptions was one of the last mostly-isolated professions in the arts. A lot of people, especially guys your age and the generation after you, a big part of making comics now is being on your feet and pitching at a show, or talking to the media. And we have a lot of media now, it's very diffuse. Is that something you've taken to naturally, that public aspect of being a cartoonist?

DAWSON: I do well with panels. I'm good on panels. I do a lot of podcasting, so I'm comfortable with talking. I've never gotten good at the stand-behind-the-table pitch. [laughs] I think it's never going to happen. I had to see what my strengths were, and focus on my strengths like with the podcast. I thought that would be a better way to present myself. The part where you stand there and trying to describe yourself... I think maybe the younger generation of cartoonists is starting to shake off that insecurity and self-esteem issues that may have come with my generation of being a cartoonist.

I've not been able to get rid of this idea. I have a hard time standing behind my work. I'd prefer to let it speak for itself. I wish I could talk better about it. At this point, I have to recognize what I can do and what I can't do.

SPURGEON: One strength of having a public aspect to a career in cartooning is that ostensibly one builds a fan base over time: not just for a book or a series or a character, but for you. These are people that will go with you from project to project. Do you feel you have those kinds of readers? Do you interact with fans of your work in a way that you can sense when a book like this one drops that there are people happy to see a new Mike Dawson book?

DAWSON: I'd say I have a handful. I don't have a reliable set of people that are necessarily interested in my work. In fact, at shows, I've had a frustrating number of experiences where people come up and say they've enjoyed my previous work but they won't buy the new one. [laughter]

I don't know if that's an Amazon thing. Not all people going to small press conventions are selling books that could be sold in the bookstore, or are easily available on-line, for less money. I'm not selling handmade items. It's possible that people want to save their money for things they can only get there.

SPURGEON: Do you see a continuity between your works, both the books you've done and the early comics? Your work seems different to me each time out. Is there a continuity you see there? Are you doing anything purposeful to perhaps make each project different?

DAWSON: I see connections between Troop 142 and this book. During both of them I gave a lot of thought to being empathetic to characters that you might naturally not like, or that my readers might start off biased against. I definitely had that in Troop 142, where you had some of the asshole adults, the alpha males. I definitely have that in this, where there are characters that I know in the beginning of the book people are going to dislike or see as the bad guy. I'm trying to be sympathetic to all of the characters.

I don't know if that goes back to the old stuff or not. [laughs]

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SPURGEON: One element that does go back is that you've worked pretty consistently with ensemble pieces. I don't know if that's because the strength there is that you can break an idea or a theme out among multiple characters, multiple points of view. Your work is personal enough that I wonder why you're engaging with these ideas from multiple viewpoints rather than simply your own, more directly presented.

DAWSON: I think that I do like considering different characters' points of view. It's pleasurable to write people that may have friction between them. I think about this in my regular life. I know a lot of misanthropic artists [laughter] that claim to not like people. I have always thought that as a writer I should be open to all sorts of people. I'm interested in different kinds of backgrounds and points of view. There must be something about getting to break these things up.

Every time I come to a book I have a sort of theme or a question I'm trying to ask myself. Being able to spread that out over different types of people and work the question back and forth between their interactions? I think that works well for me. This book... I had these scenarios, I had characters, but really what I was trying to do through the book is ask myself about the value of political engagement. It works well to have a large cast of people. Troop 142, a lot of that is about this sort of jockeying for alpha male status that goes on amongst a group of boys. What men are like. [laughs] It needed all sorts.

I also think about... I love the movie Boogie Nights. I love big stories, with a lot of people that you might get to know. Each person has their moment and there's a lot of people there you're interested in. Freddie & Me is probably the least ensemble-y one, but even then I think there are sections with a lot of characters. Those are my favorite parts.

SPURGEON: One thing I know about your process is you don't necessarily know where a book is going to go as you're writing it. You might have an idea for a general destination, but you don't have a specific one nailed down. You let things develop through the writing and the overall creative process.

DAWSON: Yeah.

SPURGEON: Here's what I was wondering: exactly how much do you have in place before you feel comfortable starting to write? Do you have a premise and a couple of characters? Do you have two or three points you know you want to hit? How much do you need to have locked in before the grind of writing begins?

DAWSON: Coming up with a premise is a big part of it for me. To sort of have an idea where I can spend my time putting together the puzzle of what a story might become. My whole process seems to be -- this isn't by design; it's not something I decided on a long time ago; it's really inefficient -- is when I have a premise to dive in and do the writing. Start making pages. I then like to keep myself open to scrap those pages or start over if things start to click, or come together, or if I manage to make connections through the process of writing.

I'm not able to write a script beforehand. I think your brain works differently when you're writing by hand and when you're writing on a keyboard. I have a very limited amount of time to work in the week, with my day job and the kids and all of that. I feel very unsatisfied if I'm not getting enough drawing done. I feel that I have to jump into the drawing. Kind of the way I feel about it is I take premises from my own life, characters who are connected to people I have known, or to myself. With this book, the scenario and the characters are a springboard for me to try and take it someplace new and answer some questions.

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SPURGEON: You've had a couple of runs at this story. There are a couple of short stories that directly relate to Angie, and I think you may have had a dry run at a longer story about these ideas. What is it about this attempt that took? How do you know when you've crossed a threshold and into a work that will stand up? Can you talk in general at taking a number of different runs at an idea?

DAWSON: Well, I think it's the most pleasurable part of putting together a book. We'll probably talk later about all the non-pleasurable parts. Those come after the book finished. You have idea and you're trying to make connections; that's how I think about it. You start with scenes and then allow them to grow out as things are occurring to you in the process. That's the best for me. Things that are going to change the narrative or, in the case of this, makes me want to go back and start again. Something has been figured out. Something has clicked that wasn't there before.

You mention this material goes way back. The storyline of these college kids with an open, swinger relationship, is a story I'd done back in the year 2000. I even did a second mini-comic which was a 14-page account of guying meeting someone from college who is involved in a socialist organization. He decides to go out to this march and his friends make fun of him for going because they say he only wants to get into the girl's pants. Those are two premises I'd been working on around that time: the years 2000, 2001 and 2002. And I knew those were things that I hadn't fully explore in the work I'm doing now. So I don't know. To have a source like that to get going from, yeah, that's the way I like to do it.

I just started a new webcomic on StudyGroup that I kind of see going the same way as a lot of the early drafts of this book. I've got some ideas for a premise, I want to do stuff about climate change and I want to do something about social impact games, but I don't really know what the story is yet. This time I'm going to attempt to do that publicly. I sort of see that this could go the same way, that once I've started to figure some things out, I'll start doing another draft.

SPURGEON: What's different about this book for your having written it now as opposed to following through on one of the drafts from 2000-2002? That would have been a very immediate book. Is there a shift in perspectives? Does your skill set allow you to do things you couldn't do back then?

DAWSON: At the time I was very interested in writing stuff that was reflective of the world as I saw it. Sort of an inner life kind of approach. I was steeped in the autobio comics of the '90s. That was the kind of cartoonist I wanted to be, so I would write slice-of-life stories. Now, 12 or so years later, I still have my natural inclinations to do slice-of-life type work, but I wanted to try to challenge myself to write works that asked a political question, to ask myself about the value of political engagement and not just telling some story of a guy that goes to a socialist march. Within this large world with all of these different people and all of these perspectives, what is the value of getting engaged or not getting engaged? What difference does it make?

The other thing i had read in between that had really triggered me is this Arthur Koestler essay I excerpt in the book. One point it made that I really like to think about is that the revolutionary utopia, the idea of a utopia of the sort a radical envisions is in a way like a religion zealots concept of the world. They both think there was once a world where things were good. If people could just change the way they behave, or the way a person thinks, the zealot or the revolutionary thinks people could change and we could get back to that utopia. I think both perspectives are pretty flawed, but the book is about applying thinking like that to regular people's lives, young people with jobs, older people with jobs and kids: just reality.

SPURGEON: The idea of political engagement... that was a big part of your own coming to terms with American citizenship, am I right? [Dawson laughs] Do you see this a key component to one's public life?

DAWSON: That was a big deal to me. Because I'm from England, and it's a country from which people aren't necessarily escaping to America, I sat on my green card for 20-plus years. I came here in 1986 and was never naturalized. When I decided to do it, there was a natural feeling of "this is a big deal." I was making the decision to join something. My political leanings have always been more to the left. My whole life. But something about that process that I went through, and it was really around the time I was beginning to write this book, did bring up to me these ideas that... let me put it this way: it was my most rah-rah u-s-a moment [laughter] that I ever went through.

Some of that had something to do with contrarianism. I'd been living in Park Slope throughout the Bush administration, endless nights out with friends complaining about the Bush Administration and everything. I don't like the idea of being on a team. "Democrat, Republican, that's my team, and we're all going to sit here and agree with each other." I was going through a period of contrarianism when I was sorting out what I did appreciate about American democracy and what I thought was strong about it. So I got into this weird anti-communist thing.

SPURGEON: Right. [laughter]

DAWSON: It sounds funny, but I was trying to sort through the Cold War from the perspective that maybe there was something legitimate about the American point of view. That's what took me down the path that led to these Arthur Koestler essays. This sort of weird, latter-day Cold Warrior thing I was on.

That essay had something to do with rejecting Soviet-style communism. And I was very sincere in it. I was very angry about communism. I was looking for people to argue with about it. [laughs] The book, that's a bit of my starting point mentally. Over the course of writing it, I came back to more how I naturally feel about political engagement, what my perspective is. For me it's almost like a test of how I feel about the world. To not dismiss opposing viewpoints out of hand, to say, "Okay, people may legitimately feel different ways than I do. They may feel as intellectually sincere about it as I am about how I see the world." I wanted to open myself up to feeling those opinions, and the book is about me deciding where I fall out on everything.

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SPURGEON: Are we to take anything away from the fact that you dealt with the Koestler material in this formally oblique manner? You actually engage with excerpts of the essay, put them on their own pages, illustrate them in a way that's different than the rest of the book. I suppose this is in contrast to your introducing a character named Arthur [laughs] that embodies those quote. My point is that you treat this material differently, and I wondered if that was how you wanted them emphasized, or if it was a function of when those entered into the making of the book, even. Certainly you were doing that reading at a time that was later than the personal experiences you had in the post-9/11 world. Why was that material treated differently.

DAWSON: I wanted to inform the main narrative with this brief, essay-like interludes. And I think it's a bit of a challenge, because I think as a reader it's hard to stop and take in those essays. I wonder if people might gloss over them, despite my trying to make them as palatable as I could. That wasn't easy. In many cases, they're saying things that are perhaps a little provocative and perhaps undermining things that are said in the main narrative. They're sort of arguing with each other a little bit.

I was more on board with the Koestler and this sort of anti-Soviet thing until I read this Langston Hughes autobiography. The reason I read it is because he had traveled with Arthur Koestler in the USSR. Reading an autobiography by Langston Hughes really shook up the way I was reading Arthur Koestler because Langston Hughes saw the Soviet society through a completely different lens. It shook up in me that idea... not everyone's experience is the same. By the end of the book I had rejected a lot of what Koestler was saying. It was much easier for him to be saying what he was saying because he was a white European. Of a middle-class background. Than say someone who is black and grew up in Jim Crow America. The Langston Hughes experience raises a bit of a question about being American, and the theory of equality and freedom we have here. That we have this separate track of lives lived in this country that aren't as free as we'd like to imagine.

SPURGEON: I thought that was the most striking instance of you making sure there was room for some ambiguity, allowing the reader to find some space to sort things out for themselves a little bit. I don't know how intentional that was, Mike. It could be dictated by the subject matter. But it seems like you're wanting to avoid making this a didactic experience; you don't want to lecture. You leave just enough up in the air, just enough things unexplained that the reader can find their own place in some of these issues. Was that intentional? Was there thought given to not coming down so solidly one one side or another?

DAWSON: I don't think I'm capable of that, just as a person, of writing something to tell someone what to think. There's no thought given to being clever in terms of ambiguity, or a lack of clarity where the book falls on every single thought. It's more that I honestly experience that in my own life. I see different perspectives, validity in different perspectives. At one point I include a George Orwell quote, from his essay Inside The Whale. And it's a character is much more capable -- what was the word you used, didactic?

SPURGEON: Orwell's essays are a model of concision and certainty.

DAWSON: That's something that I admire. I have a character that gives a quote from a George Orwell essay talking about how writers aren't writing active political arguments in the same way and instead are writing more passive inner-lives stories where we accept the world around us and record it and show it. I'm criticizing myself in the inclusion of that comment. The books is trying to do its best to achieve something in the way of a political argument. But I can only go so far.

imageSPURGEON: One thing I think people will take away from the book is an interest in the character of Angie Bongiolatti, how you portray her. She's seen almost entirely from other people's perspectives, except for the end, where we get to see her in a totally different light -- but then that's in a different setting altogether. It informs us about her character, but it doesn't overtly explain her place in the world depicted in the bulk of the book. I wondered about some of your choices with that character. Did you want her to be that kind of person that people read things into? Are you interested in that kind of person generally? Also, how interested are you in the role she plays as this person around whom this little world revolves without her really knowing that's who she is?

DAWSON: I was interested in the challenge of trying to get inside her head. She was a more difficult character to fully comprehend before I had gone through the process of writing the whole book. This thing where she's seen through the perspective of many other characters, that started to happen naturally. I kind of think about that at this point in terms of the phrase, "it's a feature, not a bug." [laughter] Someone like that, who understands their own political outlook, feels a resolve about their worldview that I don't have, it was hard for me to get into. It was much easier for to understand the perspective of the people that wanted something from that person, to be brought into her inner circle, to somehow feel connected to her. I understand that perspective. The character herself, a big part of it is her keeping a wall up. There are hints that she does let her guard down, and she does let some people in, but we don't see that side of her a lot in the story. The exception is the flashbacks to an open relationship she had in her college years. We're seeing her there more as a social person in a setting, more comfortable in her surrounding than she later on in primarily a work setting. There's a wall up throughout.

What I tried to do in concluding the book is try and make a connection between those two sides of her. To see where the wall might come from. Whether or not it's rooted in the things that happen at the end, I don't think so, really, that's not the origin of her personality. That's where we see it manifesting itself in an environment where she is more comfortable and social.

SPURGEON: The immediate post-9/11 setting I thought interesting. One thing I thought you nailed -- at least something that jibes with my memory -- is the way that New Yorkers would describe the presence of that event without it necessarily being dominant or intrusive. It was there, it was everywhere, but life goes on. You're still focused on career and job and getting over with the people that are attractive to you. Was this rebuilding a reality that you experienced yourself right after 9/11, or was this more of a construct necessary for the story you wanted to tell? How much revisiting did you do?

DAWSON: I definitely revisited it. As for the event itself, I was living in New York at the time. I was working at an e-learning dot-com at the time. It was a weird event. I didn't know anybody directly involved, but I was living in the city before and after. It's weird in that, like you say, it's this central event everyone in the city is connected to and going through. Simultaneously, all of those lives continue. Work continues. Social lives continue. But it's not the same. I definitely see myself... 9/11 for a lot of the country, people see it as this before and after: there was a time before, and a time after. I definitely saw my own personal life shaken up, with that as the dividing line. I was a young, single guy in the city. Within a year of it happening I met the person I got married to and we were engaged. It was a massive shift. It re-prioritized things.

SPURGEON: I thought that was delicately portrayed, and not something typical to most 9/11 art I've seen.

DAWSON: There are moments in the book where characters say things that are insensitive towards 9/11. Some of those things were said by people I knew, cartoonists I knew. I put them in the book, so I remembered them. What I remember about them is that at the time, being more left-leaning as I said, I was more inclined to laugh along with this chickens coming home to roost kind of mentality that someone might have that was a little younger and closer to college age and more into left-wing politics. Later, with naturalization, I went through a process where I wanted to consider what happened from an older point of view.

I wanted to spend some time in that event again. Take some time to evaluate it. I was sitting and drawing and watch videos posted to youtube; hours and hours of video from that day. Reliving it all again. I was rereading some stuff from the time. I had saved all of these work e-mails from my job at the time. I was reading the comics that were published at the time, like David Rees' Get Your War On. I did try to re-immerse myself, because I wanted to reconsider what my own perspective had been. I had a little bit of shame and regret I wanted to work through.

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SPURGEON: One thing we talked about last time is that I found the slightly older supervisor character interesting when I went back through the material, this character at work and at home, with his wife. I wondered why you brought in that perspective. Other than the vocational connection with some of the other characters he seems sharply at odds age- and experience-wise with the bulk of the cast. They seem connected by age and outlook and this guy doesn't seem to have that connection.

DAWSON: So... [laughs]

SPURGEON: Was this a way to bring in some of the perspective you have now as an older man?

DAWSON: I want to back away from the idea that I have an older, more mature perspective. [Spurgeon laughs] I don't believe in that! I feel differently now, and I look at some things differently, but I also feel like that will be the case three years from now. Three years ago, like we were talking about, I was Captain America. [laughs] So I would never want to imply that there's maturity to a political outlook.

I did look at this, and I think there's an underlying theme to this work of being involved in morally acceptable work. Angie and her friends, this is something they're concerned with: what is the ethical/moral implications of what they do for money. I have that line at one point, where she's having an argument with her radical friend and he calls her and her co-workers "Little Eichmanns." I wanted to include that phrase because I remember -- I don't know if you remember -- there was this guy, this college professor, that had written off the people in the World Trade Center as Little Eichmanns. Suggesting that because of our involvement in this capitalist machine of America we all bear some responsibility for that blowback that comes our way. We're participating actively in this machine, and this machine does things that we're not actively involved in, but by existing within it we bear our portion of responsibility. I think that's an insane viewpoint, and not applicable to people's lives. When you get to the age of this character of John -- he's middle-aged, he's got a wife, he's got kids -- people are going to say that you can make decisions and not do certain things. That's not the world we live in.

Having kids, having a family, your choices become more and more limited. It's different when you're 20 years old and a big thing is thinking about the political ethics of your work. I'm not saying older people can't consider those things. But your range of choices gets more and more constrained as you get in later life. There's also this worry that I have that that character is the most like myself. [laughter] Which is why I'm arguing so passionately, "You can't blame him." [laughter]

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SPURGEON: The formal choices in Angie Bongiolatti as opposed to some of the earlier books you've done... This one seems leaner, this one seems pared down a bit in certain respects -- the art may be less worked over. The contrasts seem sharper. It could be that there's even more of a looseness to the characters, how they're designed. Is that something practical that you do when working with a project of this length, or are there thematic concerns in terms of how you execute a work like this on the page?

DAWSON: I did make some choices about how I wanted to draw it. Some of that got worked out in those early drafts. I moved towards this style, which was more enjoyable. I also had the idea in my head that it should feel something like a 1990s, zany kind of look to it. I was thinking about Julie Doucet's New York Diary comics, and a lot of people have made that comparison. It's something I was very much thinking a bout while I was working on it. I also want to continue to find ways to draw that make me feel satisfied, and not like I'm cutting corners because of time constraints. I need to find that happy balance, where the work is at a level I can feel good, but it's also work I can produce rapidly enough that I can have a book every couple of years.

SPURGEON: How much do you overtly work on sustaining visual interest given how much talking there is in a book like this one?

DAWSON: I knew I wanted a kind of visual density throughout. I knew I wanted a gritty, cluttered feel to it. That's enjoyable for me, and I hope it makes the potentially dry setting of an office more pleasurable to read. There is a lot of dialogue. People sitting at desks looking at storyboards and computer screens. [laughs] So I definitely was trying to find solutions for making the reader enjoy themselves, as much as me enjoy myself. In terms of things in the book where we will return to certain settings and they will kind of repeat moments separated by time: people arriving at work, people running into other people at a bar. It's just small things like that that naturally come out of that loose approach we talked about earlier. As I have ideas to go forward, I'll make unexpected connections that helps me build a structure. The book is quite structured. The protest march itself is the spine of the story -- it's a short chapter in the center. There are chapters on either side that sort of mirror each other in terms of settings and the events that take place. People's lives and circumstances have changed from the first half to the second half.

That's fun for me. For me, the writing is the most rewarding part of this whole process. That's the part where I feel the best. That open approach, it keeps me the happiest. I'll have a day where I have a breakthrough on something and be in a good mood. [laughs]

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SPURGEON: Your character design is always entertaining. Is there any concern at all when you're making a book like this one, both serious and nuanced, that you're employing a design sensibility that favors grotesques and outsized, cartoon-like visuals? I also wonder if you give any thought to how your characters signify as attractive or sexually appealing given that you're working outside of standard conceptions of what that might look like on the page.

DAWSON: I don't worry about it. I just try to enjoy the way I'm designing characters. I think Gabagool! was the first time that I used the idea of performing the silhouette test on yourself, whether or not you can tell a character from their silhouette. I like that idea. It enables me. I do keep in mind that I like doing these grotesque characters. I like that Angie herself is a grotesque even as she's supposed to be this figure of romantic fixation for a lot of the characters. She's weird-looking. [laughter] The Kim character if I didn't tell you she was female you might not think she was female. I can never tell if that's a good choice or a bad choice, because that's kind of not going the job of a storyteller. I'm not putting out a symbol of female that's read as female. I liked what that did for her character, her ambiguity as a character.

SPURGEON: Would you design these characters differently if it were a straight-up comedy?

DAWSON: [laughs] Probably not, really. It's kind of the same rubbery, grotesque characters I used in Gabagool!; as far back as that. Do you think it undermines the drama?

SPURGEON: No, but I'm fascinated by that idea, and it comes up every so often.

DAWSON: I feel like when people are at a convention, looking for a book, they might not take to that sort of drawing style. I think it's the best. I've. done. But it's not to everyone's taste.

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SPURGEON: You've been doing essays recently. Your TCJ diary in particular seemed like very fully-realized work, solid in a way that a lot of similar shifts from cartoonists might not. Can you talk about these short comics essays? Where did that come from?

DAWSON: They're entirely on-line with the exception of the Journal one that I turned into a mini-comic. It's a new thing I'm trying. Have an idea -- a little bit of a concept, something to play around with -- then put the idea down very quickly with the idea that people are going to read it on a tumblr. That's the way they're going to experience it. My pattern up until know has been to write these long books. So this is a new thing for me, and it might be a more satisfying thing. It's satisfying in a different way: the quick feedback, the visceral sensation of people looking and liking. All of these things you're unsure you want to become addicted to or not. It lacks the thing where I get to immerse myself into a project for two or three years and get off the grid and work on it. It's interesting to have an idea, put the idea on paper and show the idea. Not have to bury it in the center of something. That's a lot of what happens. I have a lot of ideas in my books. Sometimes they just sort of show up.

SPURGEON: Do you feel like this approach is appropriate to the time? Prioritizing getting a more immediate response, doing work of a kind that examines a single idea, are these things that have been dictated to you by the state of the market an d the nature of what people will read now. Or is that more a choice you're making?

DAWSON: If I could have my druthers, I would write a book every year or two years, and publish them. I have had the feeling since finishing this book, which is not that long ago because Secret Acres has a rapid turnaround on having work done and then published.

SPURGEON: How quick are we talking?

DAWSON: It's about a half hour. [Spurgeon laughs] I finished this book in January and printed copies were ready at the beginning of April.

SPURGEON: Whoa.

DAWSON: I may have to re-evaluate my priorities there. I had this thing where I didn't like the big delay... I wanted that feeling of getting that book out. It's one of the reasons I went to Secret Acres with Troop 142 back in the day. They were going to get the book on their schedule and out more rapidly than other places. I wanted that. Part of me wanted to get past the "He's the guy who likes Freddie Mercury" thing and get other work out. This I wanted out, too, I wanted more work out there. But I might have reached the point in my career where if I'm writing books I might want to allow the book distribution model to do its best. When you do give some time between the completion of the book and it coming out to allow books to go to reviewers and get into the system. I have a couple of books out now; maybe I can afford to wait next time. It might help the book if I allow that to happen.

Your question was about the on-line thing. I think it's about enjoying the flexing of different creative muscles. The TCJ.com thing was rewarding because I didn't have any of my usual ideas beforehand. I didn't have premises or themes -- that happened naturally. I hadn't done a lot of short stories.

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SPURGEON: You're drawing for the scroll, obviously. There's strategic placement of word balloons. You're employing more of a clear line style that doesn't hold the eye as long. Was that studied, or did you work out these solutions pretty quickly once you started doing comics like that?

DAWSON: I learned really quickly. I did a couple of tumblr comics that were less polished, and then moved onto this current thing -- it's very much like that. I want people to take it in quickly, move down the screen and enjoy it. I think I'm accepting the fact that this is where people are. On-line. I have to stop acting like that's not reality, which is how I've always felt about it. That it somehow doesn't count. [laughter] Or that print counts more. It's nothing to do with marketing: the way most people will encounter my work is the Internet. I have to accept that as real. It's a real thing.

SPURGEON: You did a podcast with Alex Robinson about this new book. You guys talk about the hope that cartoonists have that a work of theirs might break out. I wondered if you could talk about that more generally. Do you feel a lot of pressure to figure out how to negotiate the opportunities that present themselves to you. Do you agonize over career a whole lot? Even the bad ideas that used to drive an orthodoxy have died out. Now there are a thousand different strategies. Are you ever frustrated by trying to figure this all out?

DAWSON: It definitely comes on strong at this point in the book. [laughter] I'm away from writing it, and now it's out, and at this point I'm like, "What? What happened?"

With Freddie & Me I benefited from that moment in time when it seemed like we'd all be living off of our graphic novels. I got paid a bunch of money, there were multiple publishers. Great. Now I'm a professional graphic novelist. My book didn't sell very well. Those big publishers are getting more focused on what they publish. So that didn't work out. That was fine for me because I'd always had this attitude that I didn't do it for money. I came up in the 1990s when there wasn't any money and we were all making 'zines and passing them around. I really liked that culture. That attitude that I'm not writing comics to make a living sustained me through Troop 142 and this book. I was like, "I have a job to make my money. This is just for me."

What I mentioned in that podcast with Alex is that there's always a part of me that's like, "Well... you never know..." [laughter] Maybe I'll become really popular and more people will be interested in my work. That isn't like my plan, but to be honest there is a deflating sense when the stuff comes out and you're like, "This isn't something I can do to earn my money.

This is probably partly that the book is out and I'm not ready for the next thing even though I have a few ideas. I also go back to the on-line stuff -- some good things have come out of it. I'm being paid to do a short strip for a web site. That wasn't going to happen before. That makes me feel a little bit more -- it's nice to think that things might be clicking a little more. If I'm not making money, I'd at least like to have a little bit of an audience. [laughter]

SPURGEON: Is there something that you think that's missing. The world of comics -- is there something about the infrastructure that you think is missing. Getting a book like this out, do you feel like you're served by the marketplace?

DAWSON: The book is probably succeeding to the level it should given all we talked about concerning distribution. The book hasn't yet gone into Diamond. It didn't have any advance review stuff happening. If this is the way I've decided to put out books, this is about as good as it's going to do. Part of the book might not go down easy. Obviously I don't explain the book well. [Spurgeon laughs] I feel it's a good book. I think people just sort of have to read it. So I guess what's missing is more people that are interested in reading my books. [laughter] That's the main structural issue I'm having here. [laughter]

*****

* Angie Bongiolatti, Secret Acres, softcover, 240 pages, 0988814943, 9780988814943, April 2014, $20.
* Mike Dawson On Twitter
* Mike Dawson On Tumblr
* Mike Dawson Diary At TCJ.com (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
* More General Mike Dawson Index Including TCJ Talkies
* Ink Panthers

*****

* cover to the new work
* picture so old I should probably just apologize for the next 200 words
* some of the ensemble work in Angie Bongiolatti
* scene from the march, a central event in the book
* one of the Arthur Koestler pages
* the character of Angie Bongiolatti
* the older manager-type character we discuss
* the leaner approach to the figures
* character design
* two essay pages, the first from TCJ.com, the second from the new StudyGroup thing
* a conclude image from Angie Bongiolatti (below)

*****

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
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
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 59th Birthday, Brent Anderson!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 47th Birthday, Brian Hibbs!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 69th Birthday, Don McGregor!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 40th Birthday, Christopher Downes!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy Father's Day To All The Great Fathers Of My Acquaintance

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posted 12:10 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 12:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #383 -- Super-Villains

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Perceived Comics Villains That Aren't Primarily Characters In Comic Books." This is how they responded.

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Fredric Wertham
2. The Batman TV Show
3. Gary Groth
4. Moms (For Throwing Out All Junior's Comics)
5. Jim Shooter

*****

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Sean T. Collins

* mort weisinger
* stan lee
* jim shooter
* bill jemas
* dan didio

*****

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Michael Buntag

1. The Comics Code Authority
2. Harry Donenfeld, Jack Liebowitz & DC Comics
3. Stan Lee & Marvel Comics
4. Scanlation Sites
5. DRM

*****

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Philippe Leblanc

1. Rob Liefeld
2. Variant Covers
3. Dan Didio
4. X-men continuity
5. Pogs

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Jack Schiff
2. Charles F. Murphy
3. Stan Lee (in the eyes of Steve Ditko)
4. Every editor who made a change a creator didn't like
5. Mort Weisinger

*****

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Jones

1. Women who are in any way vocally critical of anything about comics, whether related to gender or not
2. Women who are in no way vocally critical of anything about comics, because they're obviously "fake"
3. Creators' heirs, for being greedy, trying to change the rules, never having created anything, etc.
4. Alan Moore, for obvious reasons
5. Anyone who has ever written for The Comics Journal

(Emphasis on "perceived")

*****

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Mike Baehr

1. Gary Groth
2. James Kochalka circa "craft is the enemy"
3. Craft, circa the above
4. Diamond Comics Distributors
5. Stan Lee

*****

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Josh Leto

1. Scott Rosenberg (Malibu, Platinum, etc.)
2. Every Publisher's Legal Team Ever (vs. Kirby, Shuster, Wolfman, Gerber, etc.)
3. Amazon
4. Video Games
5. 1980's Popular Media (Biff! Bam! Pow! Comics Aren't For Kids Any More!)

*****

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Mark Mayerson

* Martin Goodman
* Stan Lee
* Harry Donenfeld
* Jack Liebowitz
* Mort Weisinger

*****

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Jim Wheelock

1. Richard Nixon
2. Tipper Gore
3. The Comics Code Authority
4. Joel Schumacher
5. Stan Lee

*****

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Greg McElhatton

1. Dan Didio
2. Any current year's batch of Eisner Judges
3. Dave Sim
4. Comic-banning school boards
5. Whomever Rich Johnston is posting rumors about this week

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Martin Goodman
2. The Comics Code Authority
3. The Comics Journal
4. Dave Sim
5. The Overstreet Price Guide

*****

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Jamie Coville

1. Comics Magazine Association of America
2. Comic dealers that restore books, but sell them as unrestored
3. Tracers that sell "their" art (Rob Granito, Erro, etc..)
4. Bob Kane
5. Misogynist assholes

*****

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Des Devlin

1. Dr. Shrinko (the fiend who lays out newspaper comics pages)
2. Scamvariant (the evildoer who solicits four "collectable" covers)
3. The Incredible Stench (the comicon cliche that walks like a man)
4. Madame Void (the bad breakup that warped Dave Sim's brain)
5. The Sinister Sea Monkey (tiny flake of dust)

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Comics Code Authority
2. United States Senate Subcommittee On Juvenile Delinquency, led by Senator Estes Kefauver
3. The Cannon Film Group
4. Republic Studios for what they did to Captain America & what they wanted to do to Superman
5. Sam Katzman

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. The person responsible for people branding themselves as Nerds and Geeks.
2. SDCC
3. Avi Arad
4. Gavin Aung Than
5. Dan DiDio

*****

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Chris Duffy

1. Alan Moore (for being mean about superheroes and superhero movies)
2. Stan Lee
3. Mort Weisinger
4. Work for hire
5. 90s comics speculation

*****

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William Burns

* Stan Lee
* Mort Weisinger
* Rob Liefeld
* Dan Didio
* Joe Quesada

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. Joel Schumacher
2. Margaret Thatcher
3. Comicbook Fans
4. Speculators
5. Adulthood

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Dan DiDio
2. Bob Kane
3. Stan Lee
4. Todd McFarlane
5. Vince Colletta

*****

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Matt Emery

1. Stan Lee
2. Vince Colletta
3. Mike Diana
4. Al Capp
5. Robert Crumb

*****
*****
 
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June 14, 2014


Go, Look: Life With A Toddler

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posted 5:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Frank Santoro Teaches


Ed Brubaker Interviewed At TCAF


New Yorker Background Piece Featuring Liam Walsh


One Of Sean Kleefeld's Recent "Little-Seen Videos"
via


That Video Of Stephan Pastis At The Post I Forgot To Use


Jack Ohman Draws
via


This Year's Adventure Time Panel At TCAF
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from June 7 to June 13, 2014:

1. 758 comics-makers in the French-language market send a letter to the Ministry of Culture about a raise in pension contributions that is set to become official in January 2016, throwing a big spotlight on how little money the rank and file of comics-makers take home.

2. comiXology adds a big bunch of primetime Viz Media volumes.

3. It looks like Bill Watterson is cooperating with at least some of the steps necessary to assume festival presidency at Angouleme in 2015, as a French reporter says that a poster is on its way.

Winner Of The Week
Seth Kushner

Loser Of The Week
Amazon. Still. They're large enough it doesn't matter in the wider scheme of things, which is also a trap, in that you might give back business it wasn't necessary for you to give back because you're insulated from the long-term effects.

Quote Of The Week
"But now that I'm on the other side of treatment I'm feeling like I want to work harder and grosser and draw uglier; one thing drawing used to do for me was help me feel like I was contributing beauty to the world because I felt so ugly. But now I feel like, fuck that, ugly is good." -- Katie Skelly

*****

image from a Marvel comic book, 1964

*****
 
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Go, Look: Seth Fisher Mini-Gallery

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posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Denver, I'd Go To This

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Oslo, I'd Go To This

imageIf
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were Near Beja, I'd Go To This

image
to be clear, this looks frontloaded towards May 31/June 1, with events for the next couple of weeks
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 32nd Birthday, Ryan Sands!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 64th Birthday, Cosey!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 70th Birthday, Jordi Bernet!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 59th Birthday, Paul Kupperberg!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 42nd Birthday, Jamie Cosley!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 12:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
June 13, 2014


Go, Look: The Hole The Fox Did Make

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posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Kim Deitch And Alvin Buenaventura On Facebook

I came back from lunch with a ton of e-mail asking me to take a look at this Facebook thread regarding Kim Deitch, the publisher Alvin Buenaventura, and various other luminaries chiming in. I don't know that we'll have a resolution there -- it looks like they'll take it back to e-mail -- but enough people have asked about it I think it's my duty to share the public part of it and I'll try to follow up after giving them a decent headstart.
 
posted 8:59 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Homesick!

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posted 8:58 am PST | Permalink
 

 
758 Comics-Makers Send Letter To French Ministry Of Culture Over Increase In Pension Contribution

I'm not sure that I'm getting all of this correct, but it looks like a large group of comics-makers through SNAC-BD has written the French minister of culture Aurélie Filipetti to object to a compulsory raise in pension contribution from one to eight percent that will take place in early 2016. I'm unclear as to the exact mechanism of that raise, or whether it should be called a raise at all without someone objecting to that characterization. The bottom line is that a big chunk of income previously kept by cartoonists will by necessity go elsewhere.

As discussed on this site earlier this month, despite the health of the French-language market relative to other comics markets and by other measures, the bulk of those making comics bring home very little money, so little that a raise in what is required from them in the way described might lead many of them to leave the field altogether. One prominent comics-maker, the artist Bruno Maiorana, declared his intention to stop making comics because of the lack of reward for time spent doing them.

It also looks like there might be a couple of tracks for this discussion -- not just objecting to the government aspect of it but calling for a general reform or some sort of relief or greater reward from publisher to artist. So that seems worth tracking as well.

You can find a PDF of the actual letter sent through that initial link.
 
posted 8:57 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Recoil #2

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posted 8:56 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Use Of Jack T. Chick Anti-Muslim Tract Unforgiven Leads To Complain By Man Against Local Church

imageA Roanoke, Virginia television station had this report on Tuesday about a local man named Hussain Al-Shiblawi, who took offense at a Jack T. Chick publication called Unforgiven distributed to him by Bible Baptist Church. In making his objection known, he asked the church to stop distributing the material near the school attended by his younger relatives.

Al-Shiblawi told the station he had been in the habit of reading the tracts when they were left with him, and found some of them to have inspirational message. Not so much this one. Unforgiven tells the story of a man who has a forced conversion experience to Islam while in prison and then rejects his grandmother's Christian message upon his release, threatening violence upon her. He then dies and is sent to eternal hellfire.

Chick tracts and the ministry in general are frequently criticized for their storylines regarding Catholics and Mormons, in addition to a steady stream of works strongly critical of other aspects of pluralistic society.

The church's pastor claimed to only distribute the pamphlet rather than know what exactly was inside of them, but offered to meet with the man. It is unclear whether Al-Shiblawi took the church up on its offer, or if he will continue receiving the tracts.

I thought the story might gain some traction via conservative, but I've seen very few postings like this one.

You can read all of Unforgiven here.
 
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Go, Look: Mystery Men Comics #3

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posted 8:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Stephanie Venozza At Fast Company On Ryan Penagos

I don't know that I've ever seen a formal profile of Ryan Penagos and his Agent M identity at the hub of a bunch of Marvel's efforts to publicize itself through social media, primarily a twitter account followed by more than 1.3 million people. The industry people I know all know about and respect the success of those endeavors, and it gets brought up quite a bit. I can't imagine anyone with an interest in comics being flabbergasted by hearing about this for the first time.

Still, there's something in there for Marvel watchers in that if you track Marvel in the 1980s and 1990s one of its defining characteristics was making business deals that did not seem to come from a place of confidence -- a paradigm that was changed as the movies began to ramp up in the 1990s. You could argue that efforts like Penagos' are an even more distinct flowering of that idea in the same way that "hey, we're going to give you Rocket Raccoon now" might be: getting in on something early, calling in experts to advise, and then making that thing conform to what you think should be done with it rather than having that dictated to you.
 
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Go, Look: Some Jack Kamen Stories

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posted 8:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Prism Comics' Queer Press Grant Makes Official Announcement, Accepting Until September 1

Here. I suppose with such a lengthy acceptance period my getting that up quickly wasn't a big deal. I like this grant and it strikes me as one of the virtuous things in comics: it hits a need, it makes sense, and it has a fine track record. If you're eligible, I encourage you to pursue. I'm a fan of self-publishing projects even ahead of the art being facilitated that way for the knowledge it provies a creator as to what needs to be done on a book's behalf.
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: My Dad Gets Rele Fostated

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posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
This Is The Last Day You Can Vote For The 2014 Eisner Awards

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If you're eligible, that is. If you're some kind of working professional or a person that exhibits rather than attends I'd give it a shot and let them sort it out.

It's not a hard one to do, either; you'll have fun. If you don't know any of the candidates in a category do some googling or write something in.
 
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Jim Rugg How The West Was Weird Artwork

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posted 7:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
French Reporter: Bill Watterson Participating In Angouleme At Least Enough To Make Festival Poster

Alan Gardner explains this one. I hope they'll take care of him in a way that allows him to participate as much as he wants. I think his contributions to a show like that could be extremely fascinating, and of course he's full deserving of the honor.
 
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Signal Watch

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posted 7:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
By Request Extra: SLG Having A Sale Right Now

imageHeidi MacDonald at The Beat caught that SLG is having a 35 percent off sale right now. MacDonald places the company in context within comics as they exist right now and how they've developed over the last couple of decades. It doesn't sound to me like a whole lot has changed: it's been tough for SLG for a while now in a way that's reduced the number of books they have coming out. Still, they're fighting, and continue to produce books, and haven't thrown in the towel.

MacDonald suggests you start here. Here are several of their comics that I have enjoyed.

I'm only guessing, but I'm pretty sure that whatever you wanted buy from the sale would be greatly appreciated, and would go towards facilitating this current chapter in the publisher's life.
 
posted 7:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Richard Sala Interview At SpyVibe

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posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* we're one week out from Moose Kid Comics launching. I believe that kids comics available through digital means but in discrete units of some sort.

image* almost totally missed this, but Matt Bors announced here that Gemma Correll has joined his massive army of cartoonists at The Nib.

* there's going to be a Hello Kitty Con in Los Angeles. I've said this before, but I would love, love, love for Los Angeles to be the place where they have very specific-property shows. Los Angeles doesn't have a con identity, but I have to imagine an Adventure Time show would do well, there, or even a Spider-Man show.

* Scott C. will soon relaunch his site and store.

* fine catch by Gary Tyrrell here that Andrews McMeel is offering mini-ebooks of some comics features. I hadn't heard that at all.

* finally, one of my favorite things to see with digital comics is a re-release of a serial series in advance of a trade paperback drop, like this one featuring the Street Angel comics.
 
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If I Were In Oslo, I'd Go To This

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Denver, I'd Go To This

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
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
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: How To Tell The Difference Between An Open-Carry Patriot And A Deranged Killer

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Carla Hoffman ranks Marvel's men of science.

* Alex Hoffman on Over The Wall, This One Summer, Gangsta, Petty Theft and Strong Female Protagonist. Alex Carr on Miracleman Vol. 1. Jon Morris on What If...?

* Sonia Harris looks at the superhero comics trope of secret identities for any insight it might have into on-line vs. off-line personae and related social constructions.

* some nice person at Illustration Concentration profiles Caitlin McGurk. Josie Campbell talks to Jeff Parker.

* go, look: Noah Van Sciver on country music.

* this Brandon Montclare quote gets at a piece of conventional wisdom among professional that I'm not sure the rest of comics has adopted to the same extent. Individual comics sales can be a big deal to creators when they're working well. Not just a big deal in terms of comics versus trades, but a big deal in terms of comics versus everything, including other-media deals.

* this has to be the best mustache photo in comics and cartooning history.

* finally, a broad and probably deeply biased take on the status that the variety of free material available out there confers upon music.
 
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, Frank Cirocco!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 45th Birthday, Damien Jay!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 47th Birthday, Kris Dresen!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 12:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
June 12, 2014


Go, Look: A Wonderful Unpublished Harvey Kurtzman Cartoon

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posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Festivals Extra: SPX Announces Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry And James Sturm For 20th Anniversary Show

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The Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland has announced its first three special guests and an accompanying focus for the 2014 show -- which will be the Expo's 20th anniversary. The announced guests are Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry and James Sturm. The focus they represent is alt-weekly comics. Feiffer is basically the foundation of alt-weekly comics in North America, with his long-running strip in the Village Voice. Barry was part of the heyday for such work in the first half of the 1980s, along with peers and friends like Matt Groening. James Sturm has not only made comics that have been published that way, he was a co-founder of one of the most friendly of all the comics-interested news publications of the 1990s, Seattle's The Stranger.

Barry and Sturm are also important figures to the younger cartoonists typically served by SPX for their educational efforts: Barry as an electrifying speaker and teacher on comics-making/writing (they're lining up for that spotlight panel now); Sturm with the Center For Cartoon Studies. If the younger people aren't as naturally inclined to know and admire Feiffer, I'm happy to walk around the floor and proselytize on his behalf booth to booth -- I'm kidding, of course, he's a clearly gigantic figure and has a graphic novel out this year.

That sounds like a good show already. SPX will be held September 13-14.
 
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Khoi Pham Images Mini-Gallery

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posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Festivals Extra: Toronto Comic Arts Festival Announces Dates For '15; 22K In Attendance For '14 Show

imageThere's a fine write-up here from the Toronto Comic Arts Festival organizers about their 2014, which felt good on the ground and sounds even better when presented all official-like in prose report form. I'm glad for them to announce a number of 22,000 in attendance, which they secure with the help of the library -- there's such numbers inflation right now with people either choosing the "each day" way of counting multiple day attendees or people making up odd formulae through which to get from the numbers they have to the numbers they suspect are more accuate.

More importantly for a show at the stage of development they're in, it looks like there were no false step in continuing to offer citywide events in support of the main exhibition days, and they plan on continuing forward with their professional development/academics and librarians day in much the same manner as they did it this year. In that light May 8 is designated a day of the show along with main exhibition days May 9 and May 10. They won't be leaving that weekend any time soon I don't think, and certainly no one would be dumb enough to challenge that had any overlap in focus.
 
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Jesse Jacobs At It's Nice That

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posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* that gigantic Denver show, ELCAF, the special-edition NYCC comics-focused show, and Oslo are all up this weekend. There are a bunch of shows this weekend, really.

image* Peter Bagge is doing comics this week in Oslo for the ramp-up to that show. I think that's in Oslo. If it's not in Oslo, it's near Oslo.

* Zainab Akhtar has a buy guide up for ELCAF.

* a bunch of people in my general vicinity are talking ahead of time about next weekend's Heroes Con. That is a very popular show, and has an outright indy/alt element that a lot of similarly well-liked shows don't.

* there was a bunch of material that ran as Festival Extras this week, just as there are likely a couple that will run later today. The ones that ran earlier were a bone marrow drive linked to Seth Kushner at one of the New York area shows, a nice photoset from the Clowes exhibit opening weekend at the Wexner Center in Columbus, the Edinburgh Book Festival from the perspective of comics and NYCC spreading out on the calendar for their Fall show -- I think a wise move considering they have the exhibitor, professional and guest numbers in the area so that expanding the show won't depend on compelling people from ouf of town to visit longer.

* they're apparently renaming the Eagle Awards that were briefly called the Stan Lee Eagle Awards and now will be called the True Believer Awards... probably. The exact provenance of the new awards may officially involve a clean break with the previous awards. I'm not a huge fan of awards for the sake of having awards, and I honestly hadn't given the Eagle Awards much thought since their stamp appeared on an X-Men comic in the late 1970s, but I'm sure they've been important to some folks and may continue to be so.

* CAKE was very, very good to Secret Acres.

* AdHouse is psyched for Heroes.

* finally, I didn't notice this before CAKE, but it makes total sense that cartoonists like Lucy Knisley will start targeting specific-convention offerings according to where they are, what they have about to be published, and the place on the calendar.
 
posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Oslo, I'd Go To This

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were Near Beja, I'd Go To This

image
to be clear, this looks frontloaded towards May 31/June 1, with events for the next couple of weeks
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Long Legs

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the writer and editor Rachel Edidin will soon have some time open in her schedule. I worked with her a couple of times and she was very good.

* so 100K of the astounding sales for the forthcoming Rocket Raccoon title come from a single source. I don't have any thoughts -- whoever wants to buy what and how is up to them, and the royalty to the creators I imagine does not depend on number of buyers -- but it does mean that if you look at the sales charts in terms of getting a handle on a specific kind of support for a book the idea of incentives and special edition really messes with that.

image* Paul O'Brien on Amazing X-Men #7. Sean Gaffney on One Piece Vol. 71. Rob Clough on various Nobrow works. Todd Klein on Dark Horse Presents #29-30. Paul O'Brien on Amazing X-Men Annual Vol. 1. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Godzilla: Awakening and X-Men: No More Humans. Alex Hoffman on Operation Margarine.

* my favorite Spider-Man villain is J. Jonah Jameson, back when he functioned that way.

* Brian Nicholson engages with Lisa Hanawalt's design work for Patricia Lockwood.

* not comics: I would figure an option distinct from using some sort of analysis tool is not to consume news like a loon, jumping from source to source as if they're all the same thing. That battle was lost about five years now. People over 40 don't believe me when I say what little news the young people I know consume comes in a heavy percentage from really basic social media tools: what their preferred twitter, tumblr, and facebook feeds bring their way. This is even a break from an RSS feed strategy, because in most cases the people I'm talking about don't use these tools for news; the news just sort of accidentally gets in. People tell me flat-out "if someone doesn't post about it, I won't see it." Something to think about.

* I greatly enjoyed this Patrick Rosenkranz article at TCJ.com profiling Glenn Bray and that assounding Blighted Eye book that came out earlier this year, a kind of walk-through his original art collection.

* Jen Vaugh talks to Andrew Farago. Evan Henry profiles Ranae de Liz. Paul Constant profiles Gary Groth as part of that Stranger Genius Award program (Groth is a nominee and potential winner; they haven't been named yet). One piece of good news in that Groth piece is that Fantagraphics is going to publish a big book of Groth's best writing next year. That should be something to behold.

* not comics: Alexis Madrigal breaks down on what basis media sites are launched now. It's not coverage area.

* look at that primetime Jaime original art. Jaime Hernandez's primetime will run the length of his career.

* finally, Sean Kleefeld on the comics history of the jeep.
 
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 44th Birthday, Phil Jimenez!


 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 44th Birthday, Chris Brayshaw!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 35th Birthday, Ian Harker!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 73rd Birthday, Neal Adams!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, Scott Roberts!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 66th Birthday, Len Wein!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 12:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
June 11, 2014


Go, Look: Dan Clowes Wexner Center Exhibit Opening Photo Gallery

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posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Festivals Extra: Comics At Edinburgh International Book Festival

Joe Gordon is always nice enough to pull the comics-related events from the programming of the gigantic Edinburgh International Book Festival and give them a spotlight post on the FPI blog. It's hard to believe it's that time of the year again, with the Festival taking place in August.
 
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Go, Look: The Sketches Of Richard Thompson

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Missed It/Assembled Extra: Tüki Season Two Launched Monday

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Here was the announcement I missed, and here is the strip itself, moving onto its next chapter after two launches to get the first one exactly the way Jeff Smith and his team wanted it. I believe a cartoonist in Smith's position working with digital-first comics is a big deal no matter what decisions are made, as a lot of his peers will be watching. It's also worth noting because this is the cartoonist's current big project, and what he does as a cartoonist is always of interest creatively. One of the fun, central ironies at work with this feature is that while it's exploring digital distribution it's also the cartoonist's love letter to newspaper adventure strip comics of the 1930s and 1940s.
 
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Go, Look: Neil Sanders

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Not Comics: Anne Helen Petersen On Entertainment Weekly

There's a bunch of reasons why a comics fan might want to read this lengthy history of Entertainment Weekly. That was a hugely influential magazine for the current generation of magazine-makers, media reporters and web site operators, including those that work in comics. It has been at times a reasonably-friend-to-comics magazine, and its writers were aware of comics even when that wasn't a potential coverage area. The way a magazine or an entity works within wider corporate plans seems like it would be pretty informative, too.

I had a good time with the article, and the last time I bought an issue of EW on the stands was the issue featuring Jason Patric and Geronimo. The only caveat I'd offer is as this isn't an area of professional interest, so I couldn't tell you from my own reading how accurate or insightful this piece is on a direct-facts level. So as always until you find your bearings that way, take everything seriously but not as gospel.
 
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Go, Look: Ron Garney Original Art

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NYCC Announces Series Of Citywide Events Constructed Around Their Standard Convention Weekend

Here. Despite the hype right there on the front page of that site, NYCC is certainly not the first show to have events expanded out on one side or another of a core convention -- there's a show using that model that's going on right now. Toronto's TCAF this year also expanded back an indeterminate number of days (depending on how you want to count what's official and what isn't) and that was comics events rather than pop culture ones.

It's a good idea for NYCC in particular, though. Certainly it's something that most shows with the capability of doing so will do, and given NYCC's success and that show's status within the company it makes sense that they'd commit to something like that sooner rather than later. One thing that makes this a natural for New York is that so much of their exhibitor base and audience base is local, so it's not like you can't have a week's worth of programming and not have people to fill those slots.
 
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Go, Look: Brotherman Comics

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Seth Kushner Marrow Drive Planned For New York Comic Fest

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13th Dimension is hosting a bone marrow drive in the name of Seth Kushner, a planned guest of New York Comic Fest who will not be able to make it due to complications from recently-diagnosed leukemia. Kushner is probably best known for his photos of NYC-area comics professionals; last month he completed a crowd-funding effort for a book called Schmuck he created with a variety of artistic talents.

The above art is from a selection of superhero drawings Kushner has been making for his kid while in the hospital.

I hope if you're going to that particular show and qualify, you'll sign up.
 
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Go, Look: Mike Medaglia

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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.

*****

MAR141133 SHOWA HISTORY OF JAPAN TP VOL 02 1939-1944 (MR) $24.95
DEC131123 WALT BEFORE SKEEZIX HC 1919-1920 $44.95
This is the second volume in Shigeru Mizuki's sprawling autobiographical/historical account of the major era during which he lived; given the author's World War 2 experiences, this should be a fascinating book in that series. I couldn't find a flat-cover image of the Frank King book book to run up top, but it's the comic I'm currently reading. I'm not sure I'm all the way on board as a reader with the lavish, pile-of-spaghetti-on-the-plate approach to the supplementary material -- there's enough of it, it seem more overwhelming than welcome --but I realize in a tiny minority there and all of it is first-rate stuff. These are the Gasoline Alley strips before Skeezix shows up, as advertised, and that was a fun strip almost from the start.

imageAPR140504 THATS BECAUSE YOURE A ROBOT ONE SHOT $3.99
APR140603 STARLIGHT #4 CVR A CHAREST (MR) $2.99
APR140604 STARLIGHT #4 CVR B FERRY (MR) $2.99
APR140605 STARLIGHT #4 CVR C PARLOV (MR) $2.99
APR148156 WALKING DEAD #127 2ND PTG (MR) $2.99
APR140615 WALKING DEAD #128 (MR) $2.99
APR148175 LUMBERJANES #1 (2ND PTG) $3.99
APR140998 LUMBERJANES #3 $3.99
APR140013 ABE SAPIEN #13 $3.50
The most fun I had with a serial genre comic out this week was the funny, oddball Shaky Kane-drawn That's Because You're A Robot, a comic that featured two or three moments so awkward yet awesome I wanted to physically clap. Starlight is the Mark Millar/Goran Parlov effort, about which consensus seems to be "Oh my gosh, just look at that pretty Parlov art." The story seems a rough go thus far, and the world depicted seems to contain about 23 people pole to pole. Those two issues of Walking Dead feature a new direction from the previous "war" storyline; just what that direction might be is something we don't yet know, even this many pages in. Lumberjanes looks like a hit, and maybe even a category-defining one. And finally, what's life without a little Mignola-verse in sweet, sweet comic book form. There's actually a really solid group of books about twice this size just below this one on my interest level, which makes it something of a strong week.

FEB140076 BALTIMORE HC VOL 04 CHAPEL OF BONES $24.99
This is the Mignola-verse offering in book form, the sub-grouping of stories that I follow the least assiduously.

FEB140103 NEW LONE WOLF AND CUB TP VOL 01 (MR) $13.99

MAR140803 BAD VENTURES BOBO BACKSLACK GN (MR) $14.95
AdHouse books continues its very youth-oriented first half of 2014 with Jon Chad joining Noah Van Sciver and Katie Skelly. There was a lot of affection expressed in the direction of Chad's Leo Geo effort for kids. This seems somewhat less ambitious formally -- it's a standard alt-comics humor effort in an lot of ways -- but the work itself looks expressive and clear. It's on my bed table.

FEB140402 POPEYE CLASSICS HC VOL 04 $29.99
This is another volume of the Bud Sagendorf comic books as opposed to the newspaper strip Thimble Theatre. Sagendorf has a strong reputations as a quality comics maker, and these book are generally considered strong ones. I might take some convincing considering how perfect I find the original Segar strip run, but it isn't like there's a lack of affection for those characters and that setting.

MAR141168 JACK DAVIS DRAWING AMERICAN POP CULTURE HC (NEW PTG) $29.99
This is a new printing of a work about three years in the rear window now. The book made the argument at that time that Davis should be in the running for "best living cartoonist" discussions, and general affection for the artists has only swelled in size since then. I can't stop staring at his stuff wherever I might find it.

APR140447 CHICACABRA TP $17.99
This is the first in a planned multiple-volume book series featuring fantasy work by Tom Beland, best known for his relationship-focused autobiography. I am all for cartoonists finding a different avenue through which to express themselves, so I wish I were in a comic shop today to see how this one looked in person.

*****

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 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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Go, Look: Even More Barry Windsor-Smith Images

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* gentleman Jim Rugg.

image* Nina Stone on Drinking At The Movies. Anna Carey on Love Bunglers. Etelka Lehoczky on Walt Before Skeezix. Rich Barrett on a bunch of different comics. Rob Clough on the works of Luke Pearson.

* that John Wise collection brought in $1.5M. I'm told by a bunch of people that the market for all older comic books other than very specific character ones is going to collapse in the next two decades, as we lose that generation of fans that value those comics across the board. I guess we'll see.

* this sounds interesting; not familiar with this comic at all.

* Aaron Alexander talks to Steve Lieber. Jason of Jason Loves Life talks to Keiler Roberts. Francisco Vilhena talks to Adrian Tomine. Lauren Loftis talks to Greg Stump.

* Dan Nadel has me looking the latest Arnold Roth cartoons.

* I very much enjoyed this Alex Ross interview by Kiel Phegley. He talks at length about the art he's been doing for Marvel recently.

* whoa, young Bill Sienkiewicz.

* Paul Levtiz extols the virtues of Joe Orlando, Joe Orlando's work as reprinted by Fantagraphics, and reminds that there's a scholarship fund bearing Orlando's name.

* finally, Sean Kleefeld on Funky Winkerbean. I actually think the tonal shifts in that strip are kind of amazing, and while I get the humor that Kleefeld notes is a part of the reaction to those shifts, one of the reasons the humor works is because the cartoonist is so committed to what he's doing. That's not a country mile close to what Kleefeld is discussing, though.
 
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Happy 47th Birthday, Andrei Molotiu!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Jayr Pulga!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Joe Keatinge!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Laurent Lolmède!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Paul Cauuet!

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

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June 10, 2014


OTBP: Ben Sears' Fall & Winter 2013-2014 Sketchbook

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I Worked For Ronald Reagan In 1984 & I Don't Understand Chuck Dixon's Conservative Comics Editorial

I learned here that the writer Chuck Dixon and the artist Paul Rivoche paired up to write an editorial about moral relativism in comics. That editorial may be hard to find due to the Wall Street Journal having a policy that makes it difficult to read stuff for free. It's been discussed a lot of places, so I'm betting you can track down one to read if you put a little effort into it.

imageI'm not sure you should, mind you, but you probably can if you want.

I'm afraid as a whole it just doesn't make a lot of sense. I get that authors are given the opportunity to do op-eds to promote books -- Dixon and Rivoche are selling their adaptation of the Amity Shlaes work Forgotten Man -- and those kinds of pieces are not exactly a place you go for rigorous history. I'd hate to see someone seriously vet the piece I wrote for the LA Times when the Stan Lee book came out. But this particular essay seems all over the place. It asserts a progression of stories featuring the Superman character as moving from basically conservative to stridently liberal that no rational reading of those comic books would support. Its depiction of the comics code as a moral force is certainly, well, unique for the present day. The modern comics history employed here is selective and loaded.

In broader terms, there have been some good works using superheroes that have espoused American liberal points of view, and others American conservative. The basic set-up of the superhero, with its routine physical imposition of moral virtue, that seems more right-wing to me, too. The culture of comics -- mainstream American comic books in particular -- seems much more conservative in a lot of ways than the rest of the culture, in terms of accepted approaches and baseline storytelling decisions. I read a lot of Chuck Dixon comics in the 1990s as part of my job, and don't remember them being the kind where you could easily object on facile, political grounds. Superhero comics tend to be much less about politics in any direction than about other comic books.

I also don't really see anyone not getting work because of political views, at least not in a way that stands out against a backdrop of people not getting work for all of the other reasons people don't get work. Last I knew, both of these gentlemen received a lot more work than many of their peers. I suppose there aren't as many conservative-leaving comics-makers as there are liberal-leaning ones, as is true of most arts communities, but there doesn't seem an disproportionate number of either group out of work. Or, to put it another way, there are a lot of people of all political affiliations out of work, all of the time. There are certainly ways of grouping under-employed comics people with much more compelling cases to be made on that score than by political belief.

I'd actually love to see more politically aware adventure genre comics, although it's hard to do such comics without descending either into "special episode" syndrome or turning into Jack Chick a bit. There seems to be a lot of money in conservative media; maybe one of those groups could sponsor a sustained effort. Isn't letting the market decide the way conservatives solve things?
 
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Go, Look: Planet Comics #26

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Assembled Extra: Viz Media, comiXology Announce Agreement; Immediately Make Available 500 Volumes

imageI'm not super-up on what was the state of things going into today in terms of exactly how digital manga was being offered and by whom to talk about that in comfortable fashion, but Viz Media and comiXology sent out a pair of press releases earlier this morning announcing a digital distribution agreement and immediately placed a bunch of big-name volumes into their store to be consumed. This includes current international heavyweight champion of comics One Piece, the previous holder of that title Naruto and some personal favorites like Death Note, the original Dragon Ball and The Prince Of Tennis. If the digital versions of such work were sold mostly by those companies and in many cases were simply obtained by eager fans through extra-legal measures, I have to imagine there's still some opportunity for Viz to make money reaching certain members of comiXology's fan base. I know that I hadn't thought of own any of this material in digital form but would be more likely to pick up volumes now, particularly as they're put on sale.

I also think we're pretty early on in terms of what all of these companies and services and facilitators are going to do with buckets and buckets and buckets of content, how the older material may routinely be applied for deluxe purchase or to drive purchases of newer content. With manga, we're closer than you might think to a solid 15 year period of enjoyment at which point there's usually a huge boost in nostalgia for those works that seized the imagination of a significant number of people.
 
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Go, Look: Sloane Leong

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Reminder: Eisner Awards Voting Deadline Is Friday

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"All professionals in the comics industry are eligible to vote," writes Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Administrator Jackie Estrada. Oh, oh, oh, won't you make your preferences known?
 
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OTBP: Days

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Missed It: St. Louis Small Press Expo Announces, 6-16 Exhibitor App Deadline For Late September Show

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Here. That's a fine comics-making region of the country, and I'm happy for there to be as many small press style shows as possible. That's also a desirable weekend slot. Hadn't heard a word of this until just now.
 
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Go, Read: Matt Bors On LA Clippers Internship Lawsuit

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Comics Can Be Just As Important As We Decide It's Important

Like this.
 
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Go, Look: Three David Mazzucchelli New Yorker Covers

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I stopped paying attention for a few minutes, and when I looked up there was a ton of new Jess Johnson work available or about to be available. Johnson is a very, very interesting comics-maker and not-exactly-comics maker.

image* I asked Dan Nadel a question last week about the Powr Mastrs series the now-closed PictureBox published and he says it ended up at Fantagraphics and I'm not sure I knew that. Hey, any excuse to run some of that cool art.

* I would imagine this to be the book of SPX, or at least one of two or three books for that show. I hope they bring a ton, because whatever they're bringing has a chance of selling out. There's also a high curiosity factor for a lot of us that don't naturally follow material on-line.

* Russ Burlingame has a piece up on the revamp of Captain Victory that Dynamite is coordinating with writer Joe Casey and several artists. I've enjoyed Casey's work dealing with other people's material and in the general key of Kirby, so to see him do both at once should be fun.

* Sequart sent out a press release saying this is their first book with a manga-related subject.

* Zainab Akhtar looks at the next wave of Peow Studio! releases.

* the Warren Ellis/Declan Shalvey run on Marvel's Moon Knight character will end soon, and there's a nice post here about the perspective of the creators on moving on fairly early into the news series. It's interesting to see the idea of relaunching a comic book property being discussed in terms of the sales number, because mostly we talk about sales number distinct from that idea -- in terms of the creators and what they're doing, even, just not in terms of what's been done with the character. Brian Wood and Greg Smallwood will take over. Color artist Jordie Bellaire will provide creative continuity.

* here's another article about mainstream comics, this time about one of those mini-series featuring a major character that routinely gets folded into the regular line.

* this is the most I've read so far on The French Comics Theory Reader, which is clearly being priced according to either academic standards for a textbook or the way Bob Burden used to do random art on his convention booths.

* finally, I wasn't aware they were going to do an art book out of the Bartkira on-line effort turned gallery show. But they have, and you can order it.

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

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Go, Look: Bill Sienkiewicz In Black And White

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Mike Sterling provides a few graphs of straight-forward talk about how wearying the practice of incentives are in terms of flooding the marketplace with comics that can't be sold at the retailer level, but were already "sold" non-returnable into that market. It's a rotten system.

image* J. Caleb Mozzocco on Uncanny X-Force: The Dark Angel Saga Book Two. Todd Klein on Swamp Thing #31. Henry Chamberlain on Adventures In China: Monkey King.

* eighty percent of the photos in Sarah McIntyre's posts look like publicity shots from a stageplay version of the television show Pushing Daisies. That is totally a compliment, too.

* one of the very best things about Sean Kleefeld as a comics blogger is he brings up stuff that no one else does. This is one of those times.

* I'm not exactly sure what's going on here in terms of context, but there were a couple of observations about working in a field without a supportive industry I found interesting. One is the notion that making good work is the same as making work that succeeds through these highly-commercial facilitating agencies. Another is that at some point you just have to decide whether or not making the art is important to you or not, and what standards you apply to get there.

* MTV is going to bring a fandom awards to San Diego because I guess it's not possible to actually invest in any of the existing awards that exist down there. I dunno, some of these satellite events seem ludicrous to me, and I'm a longtime supporter of there being satellite events. I'm not sure if that's a case of "be careful what you wish for" or "you lack this particular kind of imagination."

* hey, a Crumb print. There aren't really a ton of Crumb prints, or at least I've never seen one that's suited me and I'm more of the seething-jealousy-over-something-I-can't-have type than I am the naaahh type.

* finally, Michael DeForge promises a longer version of this comic about meeting Chester Brown.
 
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Happy 48th Birthday, Thomas Ott!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Charles Vess!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Alberto Ponticelli!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Scott McCloud!

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

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June 9, 2014


Go, Look: Jim Rugg's Notebook

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Vote Early, Vote Often, Vote Hicksville

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Sounds good to me. Hicksville is one of the five comics works I know I most frequently re-read.
 
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Go, Look: The Steranko Comic Art Calendar

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Two General Updates On Bill Watterson Doing Art For A Run Of Pearls Before Swine Dailies Last Week

Even with the accompaniment of widespread speculation, the legendary and mostly reclusive comics maker Bill Watterson providing creator Stephan Pastis with art for his Pearls Before Swine strip was the surprise story of the last few years. It's the kind of story your nerdiest comics acquaintance and your oldest living relative contacted you to discuss in the last 72 hours.

imageThere were two general areas where the impact most significantly felt. The first was in a boost for newspaper comics generally, Watterson's legacy more specifically, and Stephan Pastis' reputation most definitely. I thought that was ably covered here. Pastis' strip is one of the five every newspaper should be carrying right now, and I'm glad for him to see this kind of outside-interest boost in what it is he does.

The second is what's to become of the work. The art will be displayed at Heroes Con, and then auctioned off through the help and encouragement of the Team Cul De Sac folks in order to benefit their Parkinson's-releated charity of choice, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Disease research. This was apparently the primary shaper of this impulse for Watterson to work with Pastis. I asked Team Cul De Sac's Chris Sparks if what was to be on display and auctioned off was going to be originals with both artists having worked on them -- in his introduction to the material, Pastis at first wanted to work with scans rather than have anything to do with the pressure of working with Watterson's originals. He told CR that was his belief, yes.

Watterson has been a staunch support of Team Cul De Sac and its central light, the cartoonist Richard Thompson, who suspended his strip of that name because of his own Parkinson's-related difficulties. I hope this brings in a lot of money, and attention to both the cause and the good folks involved in fighting for it.

You can always learn more by going to the Team Cul De Sac site.
 
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Go, Look: A Darwyn Cooke/Tim Sale Collaboration

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Assembled Extra: Background On Electricomics

The Electricomics effort involving the esteemed comics maker Alan Moore and several other creators is one of those digital media efforts that makes my brain shut down. So what we get in this explanatory post here might not be news to you the way it was to me. I wasn't aware, for example, that this is a project of a limited duration (at this stage, anyway) and that it's all tied into a very specific grant. Anyway, I had fun reading it, and I can wrap my mind around what distinguishes this one from others much more easily now.
 
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Yet Another Barry Windsor-Smith Image Gallery

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By Request/Bundled Extra: Julia Wertz Puts Up Massive Pre-Ordering Post For Fall 2014 Book

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The cartoonist Julia Wertz has put up a big post here so that she might secure some pre-orders for her Fall 2014 book Museum Of Mistakes, which will collect 400 pages of her comics work, including a bunch of out-of-print or otherwise obscure work.

While that's a publishing news story, and I originally planned to run it tomorrow in the "Bundled" column, I wanted to pull it out into its own post for a few reasons. Wertz describes in pretty thorough detail how she sells books along with various incentive items as the way she makes money off of a small press effort like that one. It's an interesting essay, one that I think will be of interest to cartoonists wanting to maximize how they sell their copies of work, one that may be instructive for those wishing to take more of what money they're owed by a publisher in trade, and one that may be informative for people like me that don't know a ton about what cartoonoists do in certain parts of comics in order to make as much money as possible from these kinds of efforts.
 
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Go, Look: He Hides In The Tower

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By Request Extra: Nina Bunjevac Continues To Raise Money For Flood Relief Through Original Art Sales

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Here. If this is one is out of your price range you should go befriend her on the Internet until she sells one that is. Bunjevac's Fatherhood: A Family History should hit hard late this year, early next.
 
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Go, Look: Images Featuring The Superhero Character Wolverine

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Go, Read: Patron Cancels Their ToonSeum Membership After ToonSeum's Support Of PrideFest

imageIt's here. It's kind of a lengthy interview for one person canceling their membership after the Pittsburgh organization supported PrideFest and has been a significant supporter of that element of the wider community they serve more generally. I supposed it's interesting to think of people still engaging with the mindset. Being generally supportive of the community you serve in all of its aspects doesn't seem to me a political act at all, but as long as people still think in those terms, it will be.

It's also been a while since I've seen someone pull out the "cartoons are wholesome by virtue of their being cartoons," which is never true in the very rigorously tight-assed way people usually mean when they say that.
 
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Go, Look: A Couple Of Airboy Comics

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Go, Read: David Brothers On Quitting Marvel & DC Comics

The writer and now full-time Image staffer David Brothers has a short piece up here about his decision to quit consuming the comics published by DC and Marvel. It's interesting to me because it's less about the moral decision to do so and more about the practical considerations, and how this basically involved disconnecting from the entire feeder system for American mainstream comic books -- that includes sites like this one, but also broader concepts like Wednesday being New Comics Day.
 
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Go, Look: Sam's Infatuations

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* there's a bunch of time left to go on this crowd-funder featuring the great Hunt Emerson, which is a good thing because they have a ways to go. It's interesting to see how cartoonists in the older generation might or might not connect with the kind of fan that would use a site like Kickstarter.

* this very modest JT Yost kickstarter features John Kerschbaum art in a significant way, so that's enough to gain my attention. That's a nice idea for an anthology. There was a time in alt-comics where you could just have an anthology with no theme and it might end up like this one.

* Molly Ostertag and Erika Moen are still killing it.

* "toe tag riot" is a fun name.

* this Turkey-related crowd-funder has just met its goal as I'm typing this; I think it's very appropriate for their to be a cartoon element to any resistance movement in that country given some of the grief those professionals have suffered over the last decade.

* this first comics project of Czech origin on Kickstarter looks like it will close out in strong fashion in just a few days, but you never know if youw ant to give it some attention.

* in pointing out the situation facing Jessica Zafra, Gerry Alanguilan writes a bit about health insurance. I think he's right that in a lot of places there are resources that people simply don't access -- that was the case with me in 2011, and I hope you'll make it a part of your story moving forward.

* three projects recommended by the critic Rob Clough are Delicate Lies, an American Nature project, and the ongoing work of the critic Rob Clough. I benefit from Rob's work, and I bet a lot of you younger cartoonists have as well. He's the first review of note for a lot of cartoonists. Another critic on the front lines of review, Richard Bruton, makes his case for someone to follow.

* I haven't looked too closely at the samples, but I like the idea behind this crowd-funder and there's been very little attention paid to it as of yet.

* that's a fun name.

* finally, this Steve Ditko-related crowd-funder is in its last hours. There is no better fact about comics than that Steve Ditko is still making comics of great personal meaning to him.
 
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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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Go, Look: Today In Comics History

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I can't even fathom how anyone could do this
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* it looks like the CBR forums are back up, and I wish them luck with their new policies. As I wrote at the time they announced the closure, purge and reopening, I admire Jonah's decision to be self-criticial in terms of how his site might have been contributing to an unfriendly, even hostile, readership community.

image* Brian Nicholson appreciates Super Enigmatix. Dominic Umile on Andre The Giant. Hillary Brown on This One Summer. Jared Gardner on Celeste. The Page 45 folks on a lot of different comics.

* Karen Green took a tour of the New Yorker offices and provides photographic evidence of said trip. Look at those cartoon archives!

* Charles Brownstein visited Charles Vess' studio. I always enjoy when Brownstein writes about comics-makers.

* if you're in Tulsa I thought you might want to go to Jim Blanchard's art show before the closing reception and a different notice of it here.

* these are the successful licenses that former license-writing master turned successful superhero comics writer Dan Slott would like to engage. I still would like to do some QED comics, and you never see that one on lists like this.

* the days are counting down for Frank Santoro's summer correspondence course.

* I'm a great fan of the little stuffed bull Bully's old-school blogging consistency, particularly the features that he runs that must count on an absolutely encyclopedic knowledge of what's in one's collection. I couldn't come close to matching what goes on at that site. Plus the subjects are interesting, too. Here's a new feature on various version of the "Crime Alley" part of Batman's origin.

* Brigid Alverson writes about diversity of character in what I might call the American comic book mainstream and the American graphic novel publishing mainstream.

* Uncivilized Books would like to sell you some of the comics made by Gabriele Bell, and is willing to group them at a discount as a form of encouragement. Those are all fun works.

* Jennifer Willis profiles the writers Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction.

* Joe McCulloch would like you to know about at least one conservative manga before you flap your gums.

* finally, what a fun picture of Charles Burns. We're about due for a big period of re-fascination with Burns.
 
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Happy 66th Birthday, André Juillard!

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Happy 60th Birthday, George Pérez!

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Happy 86th Birthday, Bob Bolling!

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

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June 8, 2014


Go, Look: What Is Nigeria?

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Go, Look: Burma Sky

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

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up


 
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Happy 47th Birthday, Ian Boothby!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Scott Adams!

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

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FFF Results Post #382 -- Sketchy

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Published Comics Artist Sketchbooks You Like." This is how they responded.

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John Vest

1. A King Kirby Portfolio, Jack Kirby
2. Central Body, Guy Colwell
3. The Erotic Art Of Reed Waller, Reed Waller
4. Love & Rockets Sketchbook Vol. 1, Jaime & Gilbert Hernandez
5. R Crumb Sketchbook Volume Six: Mid 1968 to Mid '69>, R Crumb

*****

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Leroy Douresseaux

1. Love & Rockets Sketchbook Vol. 1 by Jaime & Gilbert Hernandez
2. Al Williamson Sketchbook (Vanguard Publications, 1998) by Al Williamson
3. The Steve Rude Sketchbook (Kitchen Sink, 1989) by Steve Rude
4. The Tundra Sketchbook Series (1991) -- #2 "Fetal Brain Tango" by John Totleben
5. Michael Wm Kaluta Sketchbook (Kitchen Sink Press -- 1998 edition) by Michael Kaluta

*****

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Rob Salkowitz

1. The Alex Toth Doodle Book
2. The Art of Neal Adams Vol. 1
3. The Acme Novelty Datebook 1995-2002
4. The Art of John Byrne
5. Denis Kitchen Chapbook Sketches

*****

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Will Pfeifer

1. The Acme Novelty Date Books (Chris Ware)
2. Skull Farmer (Paul Mavrides, part of that Tundra sketchbook line from way, way back)
3. Duncan Fegredo's Stuff (self published via Cafe Press)
4. Get Me a Table Without Flies, Harry by Bill Griffith
5. Problematic: Sketchbook Drawings 2004-2012 (Jim Woodring)

*****


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Greg Matiasevich

1) Centifolia -- Stuart Immonen
2) Walrus -- Brandon Graham
3) Carbon -- Mark Schultz
4) Intersections -- Fegredo & Phillips
5) Lost Art of Heinrich Kley v2 -- Heinrich Kley

*****

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John Platt

1. The Usagi Yojimbo Sketchbook (2004 edition), Stan Sakai
2. Sketch Macabre: Volume Two, Guy Davis
3. Fetal Brain Tango, John Totleben
4. Denis Kitchen's Chipboard Sketchbook
5. Michael Wm. Kaluta Sketchbook (Kitchen Sink edition)

*****

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Mark Mayerson

1. Kirby Unleashed, Jack Kirby
2. Steve Rude Sketchbook, Steve Rude
3. Rough Work, Frank Frazetta
4. Melange, Dean Yeagle
5. Dear John: The Alex Toth Doodle Book, Alex Toth

*****

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Dave Knott

* Matthias Unfiltered -- Mattias Adolfsson
* The Acme Novelty Datebook, Volume 1 -- Chris Ware
* Bill Sienkiewicz Sketchbook -- Bill Sienkiewicz
* Vernacular Drawings -- Seth
* Steve Rude Sketchbook Steve Rude

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Sketchbook Alex Nino, Alex Nino
2. Alan Moore's Awesome Universe Handbook, Alex Ross
3. Flash by Benjamin, Benjamin
4. Will Eisner Sketchbook, Will Eisner
5. Walrus, Brandon Graham

*****

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Lou Copeland

* La Faune de Mars -- Moebius
* Be A Nose -- Art Spiegelman
* The Marat/Sade Journals -- Barron Storey
* Guy Davis -- Sketch Macabre Vols. 1-3
* Dave McKean -- Squink

*****

* there weren't a lot of entries this time, but if there were any more than this I would have quickly deleted entries with multiple answers; please stick to answer the questions directly for all of our sanity

*****

suggestion by John Vest; thanks, John

*****
*****
 
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June 7, 2014


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


NCS Awards Video: Tom Gammill, Bunny Hoest and Friends


Steve Breen Profiled


Yves Chaland In 1983


One Of Sean Kleefeld's Recent Little-Seen Videos
via


Brian Fukushima Interviewed


Nina Paley Giving A Presentation
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from May 31 to June 6, 2014:

1. The NYT takes a pass on a David Rees/Michael Kupperman cartoon that is really at about a 1.8 on a 10-point controversy chart; they should go all the way up to 18 in their defense of their own content and the content of the artists with whom they choose to partner.

2. Comic-Con's anti-harassment strategies come under fire on-line.

3. A move to squash a cover cartoon unfavorable to the monarchy in Spain resulted in much greater circulation for that image and the resignation of two artists involved.

Winner Of The Week
Stephan Pastis

Losers Of The Week
The person at El Jueves who made the decision to switch covers. I mean, come on.

Quote Of The Week
"The frictionless meritocracy that is comics make up an amazing employment model for the few at the top, but a hellish landscape for the majority just scraping by. Cruelest for those getting just a little taste of success, an Ignatz nomination here, a part in an anthology there. Unlike some Texas high school football player who have their dreams crushed at age 18, cartoonists are floated along by other cartoonists, coworkers and friends who aren't Calista Brill. Then one day they wake up in their late '30s, broke, with no family or marketable skills, while their graduating class are just entering their peak earning years. They've walked too far down the plank to turn back." -- Jason Shiga

*****

image from a Marvel comic book, 1964

*****
 
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Stephan Pastis Just Had A Very, Very Good Week: Collaborated With Bill Watterson On Three Strips

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Explained here. Confirmed here. I like the new publicly-engaged Bill Watterson.
 
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If I Were In Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

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

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

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If I Were Near 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 65th Birthday, Larry Hama!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Tucker Stone!

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Happy 90th Birthday, Frank Bolle!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Hirohiko Araki!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Mark Schultz!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Tyler Crook!

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

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June 6, 2014


Go, Look: Clav City

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Not Comics: Two Prose Publishing Conversations

* while Amazon and Hachette continue to negotiate in private over what many believe are issues of e-book pricing in a way that will restore that site's full attention to having the mega-publisher's works available, the public debate about what's going on continues to frustrate and even confuse. Even a very good writer like Nick Gillespie builds a lot of his case here savaging an admittedly goofy collective overreach on comparisons from over-eager advocates for the publisher and its authors rather than a more upfront engagement with any core issues at hand. The eventual treatment of those arguments then seems to depend on a "lowest pricing is the consumer's only interest in an industry" base as simplistic as any unfortunate evocation of Vladmir Putin.

I remain convinced that the most alarming issue here is the casual yet upfront nature of Amazon's treatment of the publisher during negotiations. While it's indeed ridiculous to conceive of a mega-corporation like Hachette as a natural ally of literary publishers in the same way it seems weird to assume a natural relationship between what a mini-industry like James Patterson does and what most other writers do, that's not a necessary set of relationships to establish in order to project a troubling continuity of treatment across the board when future disputes arise. As for the core consumer's relationship to any company, to any industry, one's options change as those industries change. For Gillespie to suggest via rhetorical flourish that Amazon's move at worst forces us back into the habits of 30 years ago is frustrating, because I don't have that option now: my local bookstores have all closed, including the one that could get me just about anything in 10 days, and was better than Amazon has been at recommending books I might want to read other than the one I just bought. I like and use Amazon and have since the company's beginning, but that doesn't mean I'm so dazzled by getting the lowest price that this is going to be my only concern. That's a model from 30 years ago.

image* this article at Slate has led to a very comics-industry reminiscent backlash against the ideas presented. It's another case where the rhetorical excesses are the basis of most of the responses rather than the substance of the piece. I'm admittedly very sympathetic to the article's point of view that if your primary engagement with an art form is limited, there are likely to be limited returns. I'm also on board with an underlying argument present that a lot of the claims of respectability that come with a surge of popular interest, particularly when it's a category rather than a specific work cited, are due to a combination of boosterism and an "everyone do as they please" value given agency. I have to admit that it's been fun to read people accused of limiting themselves to processing art with a juvenile element react like people with the worried-about, resulting juvenile mindset: strident proclamations of this being a fight, rallying the troops, exaggerating the arguments being made, taking the whole thing as a personal insult.

I read whatever I like, for dozens of different reasons. That is my relationship to most art, but it's certainly true of comics and prose. In comics my reading includes a lot of superhero comics and other unabashedly genre-soaked material, some of which I consume for pleasure, some because it has qualities and ideas I think it's beneficial to encounter and some because I'm curious about art more generally. In prose my consumption doesn't really involve a healthy dose of Young Adult Fiction -- I'm not familiar with the title around which the arguments in this article are coelescing, for instance -- but I do read kids' books when I want, and I want to reasonably frequently. I just re-read The Magic Of Oz the other day, which I love for its good-natured spirit and cast of oddball characters. That's a very pleasurable read, and it has monkeys. It's not the entirety of my relationship to prose, or even strongly typical. I just started a Theodore Dreiser collection, and I'm next looking for a good between-the-World-Wars political history. But you know what? That's just me. Everyone's different. To some of my friends, the fact that I read at all is startling. To others, that I spend as much time with some of the work that I do is something they use to make fun of me every single time we're sharing a room and two beers into our conversation. There are a million ways to go through life. I don't care if all you read is books about girl wizards or perfect boyfriends or if the only comics you read involve people in costumes ripping off each others' limbs. And even though I'm skeptical, I'm perfectly cool with someone building their relationship to art on a belief that the material they're reading is the best material available, and stands shoulder to shoulder with work that other people think is more sophisticated or otherwise more laudatory in terms of approach or execution. I know and love a lot of people that have that relationship to art, over which I do not get a vote.

What strikes me as deeply unfortunate is the inability to process a viewpoint that might be criticial of those choices.

A stamped-foot tantrum that involves maudlin declarations of the "I guess because I read this stuff I just read shit not worth anyone's time" variety seems embarrassing to me, 100 times more so because it's supposed to be coming from this place of confidence in one's choices on how to spend one's hours on this planet and sounds anything but. One additional odd thing about that mindset is that these arguments -- and similar arguments in comics -- come at a point where the overwhelming weight of rhetoric, money and attention supports the position of the folks acting so aggrieved and combative because like four random people a year might file a public objection in language that's designed to attract eyeballs. It's kind of like watching a summer camp of 1400 kids having an Olympics Day with the next door camp of 85 kids reconceive of itself as Camp North Star the moment some random kid from the smaller camp wins a race. The most cliched storyline at work here doesn't involve any movie about to open, it's the idea that someone having a different opinion about our choices and values, even literary ones, is an assault on personal identity. I want something for adults.
 
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Go, Look: F E Doran

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Resignations At El Jueves After Covers Are Switched

imageAs described in this article at an English-language clearinghouse for Spanish news, there were a pair of resignations at the satirical magazine El Jueves after a recent cover flap that involved the nation's ruling family. A cover featuring King Juan Carlos' abdication that feature a crown full of turds was apparently switched at the last moment to a more benign cartoon about a recent surprise election result. The cartoonist Albert Monteys and the cover artist, Manel Fontdevila, subsequently resigned. As tends to be the case with this kind of story, the original cover had been released via social media and had a second life there as the censorship became its own news story -- thus it has almost certainly been seen by a much larger audience than if it were actually published. Circulation of El Jueves is in the 60K range. The abdication is the subject of an interior pages feature.
 
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Go, Look: This Time

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* Stuart Immonen and Kathryn Immonen have just released their Snipe on Comixology Submit. If I'm on top of my game this week, I'll remember to have linked this part of this sentence directly to that publication. If not, well, 2014 has been an interesting year.

* the real value of the Stripped! documentary may be in the resource material compiled, the fact that they did so many interviews with so many webcomics and print comics cartoonists of note at a very specific time in newspaper history. One of their deluxe packages lets you have a bunch of that resource material.

* Dave Sim says if you can't afford it or if you want material that hasn't been officially uploaded for that purpose, go ahead and download all the Cerebus you want. Basically, that's it. I think. It's hard for me to tell with everything Cerebus what the heck is going on anymore. But I'm glad he's connecting with his fans.

* new Rob Clough column at Cicada.

* I always love it when Gary Tyrrell goes through an awards program with an eye on the webcomics people involved. He does that with shows, too. It's super-helpful to me to see that world that way.

* finally, the comics-maker Nate Powell updated his site, including a complete bibliography.
 
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Go, Look: Ajo

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Collective Memory: CAKE 2014

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this article has now been archived
 
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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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Go, Look: More Fun #87

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Tom Murphy on Ordinary #1. Kevin Church on Nijigahara Holograph. Tom Murphy on Trees #1. Rob Clough on Maria M. Todd Klein on Detective Comics #31. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Wolverine: In The Flesh #1. Frank Santoro on Ritual #3. Rob McMonigal on The Black Feather Falls Book Two.

* there is nothing more beautiful than the mostly-handmade comics rack at a major comic book store. Okay, that's not true. But I like looking at them.

* this shirtless, masked-up, gloved-up Batman and whatever they call Dick Grayson now fight is a missive straight from the howling mad heart of modern comic books.

* the retailer Mike Sterling isn't fond of the lingering "New 52" designation.

* Andy Yates talks to Jim Rugg. Matt Emery talks to Ben Hutchings.

* I'm not really into speculative articles about forthcoming comics-related movies -- I figure those people know what they're doing for the most part, and are likely to make choices different than my own -- but it's always nice to see Dr. Strange art. You know, I don't like many of the Dr. Strange comics from his entire history save for the Ditko era, and don't care for some of the more recent iterations that a lot of people liked. So I hope they make some good comics if there's to be increased attention to that character.

* Sean Kleefeld talks about one way that mainstream comics get into trouble on issues racism or sexism: their casts aren't diverse enough to provide multiple points of view. I think that's particularly true of the superhero universes, which are supposedly representative of entire galaxies, as opposed to the casts of comics like both major Love & Rockets serials or Doonesbury.

* here is PW's BEA report.

* finally, I have no idea why this comic about Jack Kirby ended up back in my bookmarks, but I enjoyed reading it again.
 
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Happy 36th Birthday, Charles Brownstein!

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Happy 88th Birthday, TK Ryan!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Arlen Schumer!


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

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June 5, 2014


Go, Look: Solo

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People Think Bill Watterson Is Ghost-Drawing Pearls Before Swine

Explained here. I like this story because if by some super-odd chance this ends up being true it's a good story and instead if it's that people are still so into Bill Watterson to the extent they want this to be true, well, that is also a good story. Plus people talking about the content of a strip is always a welcome thing, doubly so when it's not "very special episode" material.
 
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Go, Look: Punisher Image Mini-Gallery

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Seattle To Phase In $15 Minimum Wage Over Several Years

I've written about this before. Seattle has now enacted a $15 minimum wage that will be phased in over the next several years. Expect legal challenges, including one from franchise business representatives. Also, Seattle has a way of ending up with a reality that sometimes doesn't look like the legislation originally passed, if my memory of using their extensive monorail system serves. The $15 figure is I believe the highest in the US. It is significantly higher than the federal minimum wage, which sits just over $7 an hour, is higher than both an inflation-adjusted minimum wage for the state of Washington (around $9) and a proposed raise of the national minimum to just over $10.

imageWhen I heard of this move earlier in the Spring, it put me in the mind of Fantagraphics, the comics company that employs a number of mostly young people at what I believe -- and I don't know for sure, I can only extrapolate from my own experiences and a reasonable take on what one hears and from an inference that the issue is of interest to them -- is a level less than that proposed wage.

My suspicion is that Fantagraphics would not benefit from increased consumption locally of what they do due to people walking around with more cash (their audience is a tiny percentage of those living a lot of places), they would not be eligible for any lengthy training exemption, they would not be eligible for a tip exemption, and what they do is specific enough to the comics industry and perhaps constrained by the general, limited returns on doing non-genre comics that it might be hard to argue that they could recalibrate the business more effectively around fewer but higher paid employees without potential disruption in what they do.

So to me this is certainly a potentially fascinating story. It's one that could have an effect on comic stores, too, although I haven't even started to think about that until typing this sentence. And it certainly could have ramifications in other, progressive cities where a lot of comics businesses are operated.

When I contacted Fantagraphics in April, they said they were watching the debate closely, that they hoped for a raise in the minimum wage that was not to the $15 level, and that they had concerns regarding this particular outcome.

I contacted them again this week. Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds, to whom I spoke for the first article, deferred to co-founder and Publisher Gary Groth on the matter. "We do not have an official statement," Gary Groth told CR. "My unofficial statement is that Portland is looking pretty good about now."
 
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Go, Look: The Incredulous Hulk

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Not Comics: On Criticism As A Revenue Source

imageI enjoyed reading this Sam Adams piece on this Dustin Rowles article about the clash between criticism and the traffic-generating needs of online media. I'm not sure I agree with either piece as much as I enjoy attending each one as if it were a cocktail party with a lot of interesting ideas floating around in the air, but I did read all the way through both of them.

One thing that critics rarely admit is that a major reason they're read has nothing to do with the process of criticism. They're read as an extension of the artistic experience. It's always been like this. I didn't think of Sneak Previews as a way to access the critical minds of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert; I was a kid film fan that wanted to see trailers and movie previews. Similarly I read Pauline Kael's review of Blade Runner in The New Yorker to get more Blade Runner, not to spend time with Kael. And so it goes. If there had been a media entity in the mid-1980s designed to give me plot-point by plot-point recaps of issues of Love And Rockets and American Flagg! in the manner of the modern TV show day-after article, would I have ever read The Comics Journal? Probably, just later on and without as much initial enthusiasm. That doesn't mean I don't think criticism has value, it certainly does. At this point in my life I read Bob Levin for Bob Levin -- and Kael for Kael! But that's not the way everyone does it. I think it's worth reconsidering what we believe the specific value of criticism to be in the context of the media we have, and maybe not as we think it should be... or fool ourselves into thinking it was.
 
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Go, Look: Darren Rawlings Draws The Marvel Characters

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Not Comics: Paul Pope's Short Film With Sridhar Reddy: 7x6x2

Discussed here, including an interview with the cartoonist, now filmmaker; for viewing here. We discussed the film a bit back in December in our CR Holiday Interview. The next 10 years may be defined to a somewhat significant degree by cartoonists receiving not-cartooning creative opportunities, in the way that 1970s and 1980s saw stand-up comedians and improvisational comedy actors begin to write, direct and act in television and film.
 
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Go, Look: Chris Doherty

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

image* I'm not sure that I've seen this COMICA Festival Weekend listed yet. It'll be fun to see so much of Bryan Lee O'Malley late summer/early fall.

* smaller, more focused shows in Olympia and Brooklyn this weekend. The ambitious Phoenix Comicon is running a four-day show this weekend as well. It starts today. That one's interesting because while they have a definite interest on the kind of genre-oriented TV and film celebrity element, they also have a lot of comics-makers on hand, pretty deep into that field in terms of the kind of people they have on hand. My understanding is that they've been more aggressive than similar shows in terms of getting pros there and into rooms, but that's only a supposition based on a few things I've heard.

* I'm still hearing and reading weird things about the BookCon appendage to last weekend's Book Expo America, which seems to have served as a coming-out party for the author John Green in terms of drawing crowds in public so that media says, "Dude is drawing crowds." It's really just a comic-con style consumer show mushed into close proximity with a reeling industry show. There's no reason you can't do this, and BEA has long been slack on its back end in a way that it seems perfectly logical to suggest it could use the energy of several thousand reading fans on the floor to close out the weekend. I mean, I never knew anyone that went to BEA on the last couple of days without a direct professional incentive to do so. Let's be clear, though: we're not really getting an expanded BEA; we're getting a second show. I think the least convincing stuff I've read was trying to hammer home the choice to have one show within the other as a natural extension of what BEA does. This isn't necessarily true; many publishers with the capacity to do both tend to be differently oriented towards each as much as it is possible -- it's two different kinds of shows. That said, there will be publishers that will delight in being able to do two shows in roughly the same place for the same plane tickets purchased for their people. I think the challenge is to make this seem like a good idea for 1) publishers without celebrity authors (the book kind, the famous-people-making-books kind), 2) those not necessarily so loaded that doing a second show in a big city like New York isn't a huge risk, and 3) those without easy, relatable experience doing consumer-oriented shows of any kind. I expect it to work out.

* there's a subset of folks focused on next weekend's Denver show, I think; another subset of folk is focused on Heroes, two weeks from now. I assume a bunch of people are oriented towards the "Special Edition" of NYCC being held next weekend, and I imagine that one will do well, but I don't see a big surge in terms of anticipation for the show. I'm sure there's a wide cross-section of professionals that would love an early summer comics show excuse to visit New York.

* finally, I made this its own post yesterday, but to repeat: Alternative Press Expo has named its first round of guests for this Fall's show, including the great Lynda Barry.
 
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Go, Look: Bookstores Of New York

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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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Not Comics: Austin Kleon's Notes

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Frank Santoro will be teaching live in NYC this summer.

image* Conori Bell-Bhuiyan on The Cigar That Fell In Love With A Pipe. Rob Clough on a variety of comics and The Love And Rockets Companion. Todd Klein on Green Lantern Corps #30. Sean Gaffney on Attack On Titan: No Regrets Vol. 1. Henry Chamberlain on Wide Awake On Slumberland. Kelly Thompson on Ms. Marvel #4. Grant Goggans on Ro-Busters: The Disaster Squad Of Distinction. J. Caleb Mozzocco on various comics. Joe Gordon on Ordinary #1. Jerry Smith on Muse. Matt Derman on The X-Men Vs. The Avengers #1-4. John Kane on a bunch of different comics.

* Johanna Draper Carlson discusses the latest of what will soon likely be a dozen such promotional video shows for comics companies.

* not comics: I'm confused as to why social media wouldn't be a requirement for every employee on a staff with a public media mission. It'd be like saying you aren't going to use the phone.

* Oni has named Tim Wiesch its new Vice President Of Business Development. He was most recently employed by Dark Horse doing foreign licensing. His new gig will involve licensing and all related brand-development measures. The position was previously held by George Rohac, who left Oni a little over a year ago.

* Maggie Thompson provides a 101 Guide to Comics Proselytizing. This was interesting for me to read because I've never been oriented that way.

* Steve Morris talks to Sarah Burgess. Jen Vaughn profiles Keeli McCarthy.

* there isn't a better writer about comics right now than Ryan Holmberg, and I hope you're reading everything that comes out of his fingertips.

* finally, I'm not sure how this page ended up in my bookmarks -- I assume I got it from somewhere but forgot both where and why I picked it up -- but there are some fun illustrations here.
 
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Happy 39th Birthday, David Gallaher!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Fábio Moon!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Gabriel Bá!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Mark Marek!

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

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June 4, 2014


Go, Look: Gurr Illustration

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Your 2014 Joe Shuster Award Nominees

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The Joe Shuster Awards program has announced its 2014 nominees slate. Designed to honor work by Canadians -- citizens and permanent residents -- the awards has been around since 2004. I believe both the nominees and winners are juried, although I could be wrong about the nominees. Congratulations to all of them no matter how named. They are:

*****

Writer/Scénariste

* Ed Brisson -- Sheltered, Comeback, Dia De La Muertos (Image), Secret Avengers (Marvel)
* Maryse Dubuc avec Marc Delafontaine -- Les Nombrils T.06: Un été trop mortel (Dupuis)
* Ray Fawkes -- Batgirl, Constantine, Justice League Dark, Legends of the Dark Knight, Trinity of Sin: Pandora, Young Romance (DC Comics), American Vampire Anthology, Time Warp (DC/Vertigo) Creepy (Dark Horse), Pathfinder: Goblins (Dynamite)
* Jeff Lemire -- Adventures of Superman, Animal Man, Constantine, Green Arrow, Justice League of America, Justice League Dark (DC Comics), Time Warp (DC/Vertigo)
* Ryan North -- Adventure Time, Midas Flesh (Boom!)
* Ami Vaillencourt -- Kissinger & nous T.01, Charlebois & l'Osstidgang (Glénat Québec)
* Kurtis Wiebe -- Rat Queens, Peter Panzerfaust, Dia De La Muertos (Image)

*****

Cartoonist/Auteur

* Darwyn Cooke -- Richard Stark's Parker: Slayground (IDW)
* Ray Fawkes -- The Spectral Engine (McClelland & Stewart)
* Réal Godbout -- Amérique ou le disparu (La Pastèque)
* Jeff Lemire -- Trillium (DC/Vertigo)
* Francis Manapul -- The Flash (with Brian Buccelato, USA) (DC Comics)
* Joe Ollmann -- Science Fiction (Conundrum Press)
* Zviane -- les Deuxièmes (Pow Pow)

*****

Artist/Dessinateur

* Nick Bradshaw -- Wolverine and the X-Men (Marvel Comics)
* Delaf -- Les Nombrils 06: Un été trop mortel (Dupuis)
* Djief -- Le crépuscule des Dieux T.07: Grand hiver (Soleil)
* Jason Fabok -- Detective Comics (DC Comics)
* Stuart Immonen -- All-New X-Men, X-Men: Battle for the Atom (Marvel Comics)
* Julie Rocheleau -- Colère de Fantômas T.01: Les bois de justice (Dargaud)
* Fiona Staples -- Saga (Image)
* Chip Zdarsky -- Sex Criminals (Image)

*****

Cover Artist/Dessinateur Couvertures

* Kalman Andrasofszky
* Nick Bradshaw
* Mike Del Mundo
* Djief
* Ken Lashley
* Julie Rocheleau
* Michael Walsh

*****

Webcomics Creator/Créateur de Bandes Dessinées Web

* Attila Adorjany -- Metaphysical Neuroma
* Jayd Ait-Kaci (with Christina Strain) -- The Fox Sister
* Olivier Carpentier and Gautier Langevin - Far Out
* Emily Carroll -- The Three Snake Leaves, Grave of the Lizard Queen, Out of Skin
* Kadi Fedoruk -- Blindsprings
* Canaan Grall -- Max Overacts
* Dakota McFadzean -- The Dailies and Chilbleans
* Ty Templeton -- Bun Toons

*****

The Dragon Award (Comics for Kids)/Le Prix Dragon (Bandes Dessinées pour Enfants)

* The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks (Dark Horse)
* L'Agent Jean tomes 4 et 5 by Alex A. (Presses Aventure)
* Bigfoot Boy Vol. 2 by J. Torres and Faith Erin Hicks (Kids Can Press)
* Couette tomes 2 et 3 by (Severin Gauthier) and Minikim (Dargaud)
* Guiby tome 1 by Sampar (Michel Quintin)
* Hocus Pocus Takes the Train by Sylvie Desrosiers and Remy Simard (Kids Can Press)
* Odd Duck by Cecil Castelucci and (Sara Varon) (First Second)
* Spera Vol. 2 by Josh Tierney and Kyla Vanderklugt (with various non-Canadian artists) (Archaia)

*****

Gene Day Award (Self-Publishers)/Prix Gene Day (Auto-éditeurs)

* Jordyn Bochon -- The Terrible Death of Finnegan Strappe: The Claw of the Earth #2
* Antonin Buisson -- garder le rythme
* Stephen Burger -- TALK!
* James Edward Clark -- Evil Issue 2
* Cloudscape Comics Collective -- Waterlogged: Tales from the Seventh Sea
* Steven Gilbert -- The Journal of the Main Street Secret Lodge
* Mike Myhre -- Barbaric Sword of Savagery
* Diana Tamblyn -- Gerald Bull and the Supergun Vol. 1

*****

Harry Kremer Award (Retailers)/Prix Harry Kremer (Détaillants)

* Amazing Stories (Saskatoon, SK)
* Another Dimension (Calgary, AB)
* The Comic Hunter (Moncton, NB)
* Imaginaire (Quebec City, QC)
* Comic Readers (Regina, SK)
* The Comic Shop (Vancouver, BC)
* Paradise Comics (Toronto, ON)
* Conspiracy Comics (Burlington, ON)
* Timemasters (St. John's, NL)
* Stuff 2 Do Toys & Games (Iqaluit, NU)

Inductees into the Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame were put off until July, at which point the Kremer award nominees list will go down to five. The awards has been around since 2004. The date and place of this year's ceremony/final designation has yet to be decided.
 
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Go, Look: Pat Boyette Paintings

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Comic-Con Announces Its Initial Guest List For APE 2014

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The Alternative Press Expo, thge alt-comics focused comics show run by Comic-Con International, has announced its initial guest list for the 2014 version of the convention.

Those named are:

* Lynda Barry
* Bob Fingerman
* Faith Erin Hicks
* Ed Piskor
* Paul Pope
* Jason Shiga
* C. Spike Trotman
* Robert Williams

I would go see every spotlight were I there in person; Barry and Williams are national treasures.

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Go, Look: Barry Windsor-Smith Black And White Gallery

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Go, Read: Article On The High Cost Of Comics

imageThere's an interesting article here at The Beat about negotiating strategies for dealing with the expenses of a serial comic book habit. It's startling because in many ways it's the kind of article that might have appeared 20 years ago. In addition the coping mechanism outline in the article, there are any number of avenues into comics that involved sale purchases or no purchase at all. There are free webcomics, there are illegal scans, there are libraries with extensive collections, there is social-media facilitated sharing of collections and want-to-read books, there are back catalogs available as part of a subscription service, there are tons of shops that immediately cut comics down in price if they fail to sell in the original purchase window, there are deep discounts on Amazon, there is the sobering reality of eBay controlling collectible purchase prices set by arbitrary gatekeepers, there are former collectible comics of significant cost available for 50 cents or less as the audience for them has grayed or the reason for their inflation in prices has departed the field altogether.

What's remarkable is that despite all of this there are comics that people willingly purchase despite being hopelessly not-a-value, and that many of these are in the traditional serial-to-trade market set-up (high-end strip reprints is another area). And for that market, I do recommend the kind of pruning and second-guessing the article recommends -- not because the wider market and all of its price points are to be ignored, but because they can't be. Those are astounding customers, amazing fans of certain characters and ways of making comics. God bless them.

I live modestly, but if I were to make a list of comics to read -- no matter how esoteric or arcane -- I think by Labor Day I would have a chance to purchase and/or read all of those comics. That was only true 20 years ago by virtue of my job; and even then I'm not sure I would have scored a 100 on a comics scavenger hunt. I don't know that I miss the feeling of wanting something I can't afford or can't find, but I completely respect the fact of its diminishment.
 
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Go, Look: Sam Hiti Images Mini-Gallery

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Go Big Or Go Home: Oliver East Paints

Twenty years ago, a photo spread like this one would have melted minds. As it is, it's always nice to look in on that fine cartoonist, Oliver East.
 
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Go, Look: Star Wars Splash Pages

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Go, Look: Jason Image Gallery Selected By Joseph Hughes

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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.

*****

JAN148325 ROBERT CRUMB SKETCHBOOKS 1964-1982 6 VOL SET (MR) $1,000.00
Maybe my look at the list of books was too cursory this morning, but I honestly dont' find a ton that interests me. If I had the money I would certainly buy this set of Robert Crumb sketchbooks, although if I had the money to drop $1K at the comics shop my life would be so different than it is now I'm hesitant to say what I would buy and what I wouldn't buy. If I had that much money I might just pay people dressed up as superheroes to talk to me while I drove around in my car. Anyway, I'm certainly glad these exist, as I'm one of those people that suspects the sketchbooks may be Crumb's greatest achievement.

imageMAR140085 LOBSTER JOHNSON GET LOBSTER #4 $3.99
APR140283 TINY TITANS RETURN TO THE TREEHOUSE #1 $2.99
APR140692 BLACK WIDOW #7 $3.99
APR140723 CYCLOPS #2 $3.99
APR140713 IRON FIST LIVING WEAPON #3 $3.99
APR140690 LOKI AGENT OF ASGARD #5 $2.99
APR140737 MAGNETO #5 $3.99
APR140673 MILES MORALES ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #2 $3.99
APR140707 MOON KNIGHT #4 $3.99
APR140960 BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA #1 MAIN CVRS $3.99
DEC131202 KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE #208 $5.99
This is even a kind-of-odd week for the serial adventure comic books that I might think about buying, as it seems none of the ones I follow in serial form from Image are available. There's a Mignola-verse comic, and the return of those little-kid DC comics that everyone likes -- I'm actually not sure those went away for that long of a time -- and I think it's worth noting that Knights Of The Dinner Table has reached the 2/3 Cerebus level, which is astonishing to me. Mostly, though, I guess I'd try some of these early-in-series Marvel comics. I'm told Magneto is fun, and before this particular series I'm not sure anyone ever wrote, "Magneto is fun."

FEB140028 NEXUS OMNIBUS TP VOL 05 $24.99
I am always greatly interested in some series no matter how many times they've been reprinted or how easy it is to access previous formattings: the iconic indy-comic Nexus is one of those books. I will always look at books in whatever reprint series they're doing.

APR141064 WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW HC (MR) $20.00
This is Willy Linthout's follow to the idiosyncratic and affecting Year Of The Elephant, focused on famlial interrelationships. It is all by itself enough to get me to the comic book shop, and in a week where I don't have $1000, is pretty much the king of the comics ball. I'm sure I've passed over a bunch of stuff, though.

*****

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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Not Comics: Karl Stevens Artwork For Sale

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* it's sounds funny to say out loud, but a virtue of this list of top Monkeybrain books is that it doesn't include Bandette, which is so directly in the wheelhouse of most alt-comics fans it's been hard for some of them to process other choices. At least that's what I've been told 2-3 times.

* Todd Klein on Astro City #11. Johanna Draper Carlson on Lost And Found: An Amy Devlin Mystery. Ricardo Baptista on S.F.. Sean Gaffney on High School DxD Vol. 1. Nicholas Reid on Incomplete Works.

* Kelly Thompson expresses her disappointment in DC's "bombshell" cover promotion.

* very proud to be on this run-down of pro-Martian Manhunter comics professionals, even though mine was a joke tweet. Most of the superhero characters are super dumb, that's what fun about them.

* take a class with Shannon Wheeler.

* Dean Haspiel draws some Fantastic Four.

* the writer John Layman through Gene Ha makes the point that among the publishers that might engage with creator-driven, high-end, genre work, there are opportunities to work with a wider range of artists at Image than with the DC prestige lines.

* Colleen Frakes engages with the uniqe aspects of her childhood in a hybrid comics form.

* Lars Martinson suggests it may be cheaper to ink up an entire book than to use colored paper.

* a Ron Regé Jr. pin-up.

* this appreciation of Pete Morisi by Ken Parille over at The Comics Journal is a lot of fun. Pete Morisi in general is a lot of fun.

* finally, Guy Delisle on tattoos. Well, one tattoo.
 
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Happy 36th Birthday, Keiler Roberts!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Steve Weissman!

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Happy 85th Birthday, Dick Locher!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Wendy Pini!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Josef Rubenstein!

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

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June 3, 2014


Go, Look: Matt Diffee's Twelve Best Toons

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Festivals Extra: Caitlin McGurk Reports In From CAKE

Caitlin McGurk of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum made the trip from Ohio to Illinois for last weekend's CAKE and promised to send me a graph for use because I had no other eyeballs to put on the growing arts/alts focused show. A participant, she was extremely positive.
image"I like CAKE! No in fact, I love CAKE. Few other American comics shows come to mind -- other than Short Run, perhaps) where I have felt energized the entire time by the homegrown, we-can-do-this-if-we-try attitude that their entire organization is fueled by. Young fans and cartoonists that are clearly dedicating themselves to this year after year just out of the love of it, and have rather impressively pulled off a professional and well-oiled-machine within only three years of operating. Their website is tight and cohesive. Their programming is original, satisfying without being overly-ambitious or packed in, and doesn't just cater to big names but commits to exposing lesser-known folks.

Speaking of panels, they are the only indie comics show that I am aware of -- and please correct me if I'm wrong -- who actually pay their moderators. As someone who is frequently asked to moderate or interview folks for part of a convention's programming, I know just how much time, energy, and cash -- from purchasing the artists' books -- goes into researching and preparing for that kind of event, and it's an enormous help to be passed $100 or so as a sign of thanks and appreciation. Especially for those of us who moderate but otherwise have no place at a convention beyond being a fan and picking up work.

Unfortunately, I can't speak to how the sales were as I haven't tabled at CAKE, but late-Saturday and throughout Sunday seemed fairly busy, and morale remained high. Both the programming venue and the exhibitor areas are beautiful, well-lit, comfortable and well located in a friendly neighborhood with plenty of good food. The after parties are always a blast, and it's nice to go to a convention where basically everyone at the show actually does go to the official after-party, rather than dispersing throughout small parties in the city. In short, keep doin' it right guys. And thanks for another great festival."
Thank you, Caitlin.

I talked to about a dozen people on hand that reported good but not spectacular sales from a slower Saturday and better-than-expected Sunday; no one was willing to say so for attribution, though, which is pretty much par for the course these days. The Chicago scene strikes me as a solid one not just for its Midwest destination identity -- it's where all the cool kids with whom I grew up in Indiana wanted to live -- but for the fact of the schools that are teaching comics there now and the relationships forged in such a setting. It's always been a great comics-reading town, and has always had some of the best retail.

I honestly don't know if CAKE is the only show to pay its moderators. I assume someone else does, or has. I would also guess that this is still a rarity across the board. One of the big stories of the next 36 months will almost certainly be conventions providing more and more seed money for guests, moderators, special attractions. It should be intriguing to see where that ends up.
 
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Go, Look: Butler Comic #1

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Alison Bechdel, Nicole Georges Honored At Lambda Awards

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Cartoonists Alison Bechdel and Nicole J. Georges were among those authors honored by the Lambda Awards Monday at Cooper Union College in New York City. Bechdel received the Lambda Literary Foundation's Trustee Award for Exellence in Literature, while Georges was the first winner of a LGBT Graphic Novel category after it was added this year. Bechdel won for I believe her body of work; Georges won for her Houghton Mifflin Harcourt effort Calling Dr. Laura. She reacted here.

Also nominated in Georges' category were Artifice, Alex Woolfson and Winona Nelson (AMW Comics); Duck! Second Chances, Tana Ford (Bang A Left); and The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story, Vivek J. Tiwary and Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker and Steve Dutro (M Press).

Comedian Kate Clinton hosted.
 
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Go, Look: His Back To The Wall

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Bundled Extra: Marvel-Continuity Knowledgeable Bloggers Wanted

I can't vouch for it, and I don't think I qualify, but I received this e-mail and thought it worth passing along.
Hello, my name is Ian and I was a member of the Jarvis Heads of AvengersAssemble.net back in its heyday.

imageRecently I received word that the inimitable Nathan Adler of Fan Fix has taken a turn for the worse with his MS. In an effort to do something that goes beyond writing for myself, I am shifting gears looking to publish a book called No-Prize devoted entirely to Marvel continuity-fixes which attempts to raise money amongst comic fans to help make Nate's recovery as soft as possible. To facilitate this, I'm requesting famous comic webloggers that are able to contribute an essay or more that starts with a retcon they hated or an abandoned plot they felt they could resolve better than the "top-flight industry johnny-come-latelies" who tried and failed miserably.

I am of course spreading the word about all of this as far and as wide as possible -- which brings me to you. Can you help?

Thank you in advance for any consideration you can spare.
If anyone wants to explain this to me so that I can participate, I'd certainly read an e-mail, but I figure this is the kind of thing where if you understand all of the words you're halfway there.
 
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Go, Look: Muck!

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Go, Read: Pieces Criticial Of David Glanzer's Interviews & CCI's Approach To Anti-Harassment Policy

I'm working on something of my own regarding the Internet flare-up of pieces on Comic-Con International's approach to anti-harassment policy and publicity point man David Glanzer's public statements regarding this set of issues. It's taking me longer than I thought I would: I just can't write today, and I think this an issue poorly served by obtuse, digressive writing.

So hopefully today, maybe tomorrow.

In the meantime, if this is something in which you're interested, I encourage you to read Comic-Con's code of conduct, the original petition, David Glanzer's interview with Comic Book Resources, my initial reaction to that piece, Chris Sims' piece at ComicsAlliance, Jill Pantozzi's piece at The Mary Sue, David Glanzer's interview with a local NBC affiliate, Heidi MacDonald's piece and this piece up at Slate.

I think that's the major stuff, I could be wrong. Heidi's is the closest to my way of thinking, right now.
 
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Go, Look: Early William Stout In Cycletoons

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Go, Look: That BWS Arthurian Saga Series

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* books about travel destinations from Louis Vuitton where an illustrator acts as a visuals provider and general guide may sound kind of dubious on a first pass, but then you read "Lorenzo Mattotti" in conjunction with the book on Vietnam and if you're like me you want that book immediately. I loved Angkor, so if the visuals included are anything like that, sign me up.

image* this looks like a lot of fun. I have no idea what it is, but it looks like a lot of fun.

* a preview of Ciudad.

* Richard Bruton provides a preview of Lucy Knisley's forthcoming comics work Age Of License by showing a bunch of nice-looking work from other sources. And a cover. Bruton is right, though, in that Knisley has a really appealing visual style.

* Andrew White provides a brief update as to Comics Workbook Magazine #5.

* looks like there will be an exhibition catalog for the Bill Watterson exhibit currently up at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. I bet that will be fun, and I imagine there's every chance that Watterson will fully participate as much as he been supportive of the show.

* Evan Dorkin shares one reason the next Eltingville comic is a little late.

* here's a preview of Jeff Weigel's Dragon Girl. And here's a preview of Ice Cream Kisses from Blaise Larmee.

* the 2D Cloud-published Detrimental Information previewed here.

* Zainab Akhtar reminds that Archaia is to continue publishing Sergio Toppi.

* Dark Horse is going back to press on the first print trade for Bandette.

* finally, there's a nice piece here from Rob McMonigal about all the various literary properties with which Dynamite has fashioned some sort of deal. I always liked the original cover for Shaft, by Mozelle Thompson. That's not the best reproduction of it, but you get the idea. Thompson was a cool artist.

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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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Go, Read: R. Sikoryak's NYT Sunday Book Review Cover Cartoon

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* that is an amazing number of books no matter how many volumes the One Piece series has run. Holy crud.

image* Benjamin Bailey on André The Giant. Alan Gardner on WuMo. Todd Klein on Green Lantern New Guardians Annual #2, Dark Horse Presents #27-28 and The Flash Annual #3. Rob Clough on various minis. Sean Gaffney on Soul Eater Vol. 20, Phantom Thief Jeanne Vol. 2 and Takasugi-San's Obento Vol. 2. Sean Rogers on three different comics. Rob McMonigal on Small Drawings.

* summer lists for comics in Los Angeles and New York. I think the New York one is a better list, by a not-insignificant margin.

* Sean Kleefeld muses on comics for the blind.

* Jordan Gray profiles Todd Clark (via). Jaye Watson profiles Jack Elrod (via). Vaneta Rogers talks to Charles Soule.

* it's a glorious world where Jim Woodring patches are available for purchase.

* I am very much taken with the Alex Toth Conan image used here.

* I have to imagine that a blog about a summer comics class from that most enthusiastic of comics educators Charles Hatfield will be fun, and I hope that future entries are as fully engaged as this first one. I have no idea what the hell I would teach anyone about comics, but I come from a psychological mindset that never proselytized on behalf of the medium other than writing about it in the places I feel appropriate writing about it.

* Bob Temuka writes about abusive Internet culture and what he thinks should be the general response strategy. Bonus points for the phrase "fools and fuckwits."

* Matt Emery profiles at length the comics shop Mark One on the occasion of its 25th anniversary. It looks like a solid, full-service shop of the kind one wishes were everywhere.

* finally, what do you charge for art?
 
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Happy 45th Birthday, Rodd Perry!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Paul Maybury!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Sam Hiti!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Gavin Wilson!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Mark Anderson!

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

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June 2, 2014


Go, Read: David Rees/Michael Kupperman Comic About Male Entitlement NYT Decided They Had To Bail On

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A Note Or Two On The South African Clowns Cartoon

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A cartoon by the South African team of Dr. Jack and Curtis depicting members of the ANC and the electorate that put them into office as clowns has hit enough of a nerve through accusations of racism to kind of roll back and force across that country's political landscape like an undulating wave through a concrete and suspension bridge. You can see the cartoon up at the cartoonists' site here, as well as the reason it was put back up after being taken down -- I am supportive of even the most offensive cartoons being reposted when their content becomes news, not matter how much that content may dismay. There are a bunch of summary articles like this one here. There was a small protest. In addition to just having the voting bloc -- most of whom are black -- depicted as clowns, the way they're depicted as dark and the misspelling involved in their caption seems to be driving the complaints. The cartoonists involved appear to be white.

The esteemed political cartoonist of that area of the world, Zapiro, doesn't like the cartoon either but issued a warning over moving too far in the other direction so as to cede control of expression in the press to the ANC or other political parties. Given how he has suffered criticism and legal action, I would say that's a legitimate concern for him to express. One interesting aspect to this I noticed, and this could have been just luck on my end, is that a lot of the articles don't mention the cartoon at all but talk about it being an expression of the media company involved.
 
posted 11:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
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