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July 31, 2016


CR Sunday Interview Classic: Richard Thompson (2010)

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This is an interview I did with Richard Thompson in 2010, explained in the original introduction, which follows. Thompson passed away on July 27. -- Tom Spurgeon

imageThe following is taken from a transcript from the Richard Thompson spotlight panel at Heroes Con 2010 in early June. As we discuss briefly in the interview, Thompson and I had spoken at the convention two years previous in a room the size of Madison Square Garden that maybe had a dozen people in it. This conversation had a slightly bigger audience and a much more appropriate setting.

One thing I noticed about the audience is that -- as is the case with a lot of Heroes Con panels -- they looked like they really wanted to be there and were taking great pleasure in hearing what Thompson had to say. No one was grinding through the day or sitting down for a spell or facilitating an assignment for a new site. It also seemed to me that Thompson's popular with his fellow cartoonists. More than a few came up from exhibiting on the floor of the show to see his panel, which I find to be a rare thing. There was even a cartoonist participating in the panel next door that kept sneaking over to sit in.

Thompson's daily Cul De Sac continues to be a joy. I was as happy as anyone to be in that room to talk to him about it.

Note: There were a pair of recordings made of this session; this one was made available to me by Mike Rhode, whom you should bookmark right now and visit a bunch. It was edited sharply for clarity and flow.

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TOM SPURGEON: Thank you all for coming out. This is the Richard Thompson spotlight panel. My name is Tom. The gentleman to my right is Richard Thompson, I think the great American strip cartoonist working right now.

RICHARD THOMPSON: Bless your heart.

SPURGEON: It was my pleasure to talk to Richard two years ago at this same show when we were in a gigantic room with about a third as many people. [laughter] I think we're both happy to see so many people out on such a busy day with so many great panels competing for your attention. I think we'll enjoy the room size a bit more than 2008's echo chamber.

THOMPSON: The echo is much closer.

SPURGEON: In fact, I don't know if you remember, but there was a gentleman who came in who basically decided that he needed to announce to us that he was just there and he had no idea who you were.

THOMPSON: That was Chris. [indicates gentleman working recording equipment near the table]

SPURGEON: That was you? Wow. Things have changed. [laughter]

THOMPSON: He came back!

imageSPURGEON: Richard, you just came back from the NCS weekend. You were up for the Reuben Award this year, for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year: the big prize. Were you surprised when that announcement was made, that you were one of the three finalists?

THOMPSON: I was entirely shocked, yeah. I'm not a member of the NCS and I feel I'm not in the mix somehow. The guy who won, Dan Piraro, has been nominated eight or nine times. And so it was not a shock to him, I'm sure. Stephan Pastis, who was the other one, had been nominated once at least.

Not being a member they had trouble tracking me down. It was February. Our power had been off for two days because of a snowstorm, and they couldn't reach us by phone. They finally tracked down my wife's cell phone. The power came back on, the cell phone rang, and it was Little Jeffy, Jeff Keane from The Family Circus, whom I'd met before but sort of just called me out of the blue to say, "Congratulations, you've been nominated." And I had no idea what he was talking about. [laughter]

It took me about two minutes to go, "Oh. OH! Oh." It was one of those conversations where you finally hang up and go, "Oh, that's what that was about. Oh. Gee."

SPURGEON: You know it's entirely possible that he wanted to hand-deliver the news but got lost on the way over to your house.

THOMPSON: I told my friend Mike [Rhode] about it and he leaked it out. The way it works for the NCS with the Reuben is that the nominations are all open. It's just by vote. Everyone votes on who they think. They put in three names; the top three of all those votes become the nominees.

SPURGEON: Were you surprised in that you're still very early on in the lifetime of your strip?

THOMPSON: The syndicated strip is not even three years old. So for that and being not a member and I just don't follow the group as closely as I should. You think of someone like... Watterson won it twice. Walt Kelly won it. Schulz won it. Everybody. The list of people going back, it's got a pedigree, you know.

SPURGEON: This wasn't the first time you've gone to the national meeting where they hold the awards ceremony.

THOMPSON: It was the third time I'd been to the Reubens.

SPURGEON: Is it different when you go as one of the three potential Kings of Comics?

THOMPSON: They have divisions, too. I've been a division nominee a couple of times before, but as one of the three guys it was slightly... more, I think.

SPURGEON: Dan wasn't there.

THOMPSON: He wasn't. Dan Piraro. Stephan was. It's very much an old boys' club in some ways. They have a black tie dinner for the awards. Black tie strongly suggested for the awards. It's in a fancy hotel. The history of this is they don't tell people where it's going to be because back in the '40s and '50s they were afraid fans would find this out and they would mob the place. [laughter] Like, "Oh my God, all the cartoonists are in this one spot." Like they were going to stand in front of the hotel with signs and pound on the doors like the Oscars. That doesn't happen. They keep waiting for it.

SPURGEON: I would think the danger would be that wannabe cartoonists might plot something nefarious --

THOMPSON: [laughs] Burn the place down!

SPURGEON: -- for the open slots.

Is there a general answer if I ask you how the strip is doing?

THOMPSON: Pretty good. I launched before things really headed south. 2007 was the launch date. 2008 was a horrifying year for newspapers. 2009 was slightly less horrifying. [begins hand motions] I think things were sort of like that and than they sort of went like this. Now there's some turbulence but it's not quite as high. It's in 200 and some papers, which is not bad. There just being 200 papers...

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SPURGEON: Is it a steady gainer? I think maybe two years ago we were talking 125 or so.

THOMPSON: It's gained some overseas. It's probably lost some. I get a statement every month I stopped looking at. It lists all the newspapers. Good health is all a strip can hope for these days.

SPURGEON: One of the astonishing things about the current newspaper crisis is that comics were suddenly on the table.

THOMPSON: Yeah.

SPURGEON: It was kind of a sacred cow that was not touched, even in previous dark times for papers. This time it's seemed like everything's up for grabs.

THOMPSON: Everything's falling to the axe, yeah. Some papers dropped whole pages. Some -- was it the Denver Post? -- dropped 20 strips or something. I think among them mine. They kept all the old ones. They kept Peanuts and all the older ones and dropped most of the new ones. Several papers have dropped like a page's worth of comics. Or condensed them. I think the Washington Post dropped a few and condensed from three pages down to two. Newspaper editors hate to touch the comics. They know they'll get blowback. None of them want to pay too much attention to it. There are a few papers where the editors care about it.

SPURGEON: One thing more and more common now is where the editor kind of pushes these decisions off on the readership. There's a poll, or various try-out strips. How do you tend to do in a try-out situation?

THOMPSON: As a new strip usually awfully, because anything new, it stinks to high heaven. Every reader that sees it for the first time is like, "I don't like this." It's not Beetle Bailey, it's not Peanuts. It's not Cathy. It's not Stephan Pastis, who's doing as well as anybody can do. Any strip takes an amount of time to build familiarity, for people to identify with it and to like it. The early blowback from ones that ran polls was "We hate this. The drawings are shaky. The lettering looks weird and the words are too long. They talk too much." They hated it. Every once in a while someone would say, "I kind of like it." If editors really paid attention to these polls, they would kill everything. [laughter] We're lucky we survived.

SPURGEON: You're three years in now.

THOMPSON: Yeah, which is somewhat safer.

SPURGEON: Has that changed the way you do the strip at all? I know that with strips that are very young, that are in that first couple of years, syndicates can be insistent on making sure every strip explains itself and that every strip works if it's the first strip that people see because the first couple of years almost every strip is the first strip that someone out there sees. Over time you're allowed to get away from that, and make jokes based on an understanding of the characters.

THOMPSON: You can assume some familiarity.

SPURGEON: Are you at that stage now?

THOMPSON: Sort of. You have to have so much exposition for a joke sometimes. You always want to have the characters identified. "Hello, Alice." "Hello, Petey." Something like that. But at a certain point you can assume some familiarity that this character is this way. She's a little fireball; he's a reticent kind of hesitant wallflower. People sort of know who you're talking about. They know that this kid with the spiky hair is kind of a mooncalf. At the same time you have to put a little exposition in, which is okay with a kid strip, because kids are always saying, "So what are we doing?" "Where are we going?" "Mom, what's going on?" You can kind of depend on that a little bit. At the same time you can relax and hope that people know who you're talking about.

SPURGEON: I hate to paint the picture of you spending your free moments looking at old work, but there's a space now between when the strip started and where the strip is today. Can you tell the difference? Are there differences in the characterizations?

THOMPSON: Yeah. The shape of Petey's head is a little bit different. [laughter] A little bit more bulbous. I can look back and see, I mean, the drawings are a little bit less scratchy, not as feeble-looking, I hope.

Someone pointed out that I've sort of narrowed it down in some ways to certain locations that repeat over and over again just because they work well. It sort of sets it up quite easily without the exposition. I look back and think if I had to re-do this I would probably change things. You can play around with certain things, like I don't want to identify certain relationships too early -- let them kind of grow naturally and mix it up a little bit differently. It has changed. I can see where I would change things even more now. Think five years down the line, maybe.

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SPURGEON: Are you more conscious of expanding the cast? Bringing in more voices?

THOMPSON: Yeah.

SPURGEON: That's another thing they let you do, encourage you to do, at a certain point.

THOMPSON: And they do. They like it. One editor I had for years loved Ernesto whenever he would show up. Little strange boy with a vocabulary. He might be imaginary. He's kind of frightening. He's sort of a James Bond villain in embryo. [laughter] "Any time you want to bring him back, just bring him back. He's fun." They like to expand it, within reason.

SPURGEON: How much communication is there with the syndicate as opposed to maybe at the beginning? Do you still seek out advice?

THOMPSON: My one editor for years left recently. They said, "If you don't want to use an editor, if you want to just send stuff in, that's fine." But I told them I liked it. I send in a really crude rough, pretty much a stick-figure rough. I pay more attention to the language and the pacing, stuff like that, with just enough identifiable going on. I kind of like having that first audience, that first set of ears and eyeballs looking at it just to make sure. I can usually tell if I'm being not funny. But I can't always tell when I'm being incoherent. "Does this make sense?" is what I'm trying to say. I like that. And they said, "Fine." They've been very easy. Pretty much every time it's like, "Yes, go with this. Yes." Maybe "Change this slightly," or "It's obvious he's speaking to her," or something like that. "Maybe make this less cruel." It's been very easy.

imageSPURGEON: Are you more comfortable with the routine? I remember when we talked two years ago you were one year in, which is where a lot of burnout sets in when they're first doing a strip. Now that you're even further along, has it become easier for you? Are you happy with the routine of it?

THOMPSON: Yeah. I'm only two weeks ahead on deadlines. I haven't gotten any better at that. [laughter]

SPURGEON: They let you go until two weeks before publication?

THOMPSON: Oh, yeah. It's terrible. It's been closer than that sometimes. It's a month on Sundays.

SPURGEON: That reminds me of the losing pitcher they talk about in baseball, that if you're a pitcher with a record of 4-20, you must be awfully good if they're still willing to put you out there. So in a way, they must be really confident in you to let you run at two weeks ahead of publication.

THOMPSON: Well, the bad ones are me and Bill Amend who does Fox Trot.

SPURGEON: Wait. He's only doing the Sundays now.

THOMPSON: He's only doing the Sundays but he's still behind. He's gotten even worse. [laughter] I saw him last weekend and he said he just barely got it in. I thought, "You're only doing one drawing a week. It's not that hard." And then Doonesbury, whose whole career is built on being right on top of the news somehow. Two weeks is luxurious for him. He's like a week and a half, maybe.

SPURGEON: We need to come up with some sort of Doonesbury-style dispensation for you.

THOMPSON: My editor at one point said, "You kind of need this pressure, don't you? This kind of terror just to produce?" And I said, "Yeah." Boondocks was another one, I think. He dealt with Boondocks, too. I guess they give him the hard cases.

I can look back at old ones and think, "I can do this with it now. I can rethink this idea. I can play with this more. I can bring this guy in here." It seems to have spread out in front of me. I don't feel that kind of burnout so much.

SPURGEON: So the writing of it goes a little more smoothly.

THOMPSON: Yeah. I can sit down in two hours and do two weeks' worth of writing, pretty much. Sometimes. Not always, but when I start rolling, it happens. It still takes me like three or four hours a strip to draw. Maybe two hours, sometimes, if I just have talking heads going.

SPURGEON: I was thinking about the differences in your presence here at the show this year. An obvious one is when you came two years ago you had the dailies and the Sundays. [to audience] If you get the chance to visit Richard and see his originals, they're lovely. Especially in a day when a lot of people scan stuff in and you end up buying strips that have weird panel fixes sticking out and word balloons in the margin.

THOMPSON: I've done a few of those.

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SPURGEON: So your originals are beautiful. But this year you also have some merchandise. [Thompson laughs] Is that fun for you to re-present the strip and your art that way?

THOMPSON: My wife went on Cafe Press and said, "We gotta get on top of this." [laughter] "People need t-shirts and they need tote bags. They need notecards with the Uh-Oh Baby on it. These will fly off the shelves." They've fallen off the table a couple of times but they haven't flown off the shelves. [laughter]

You have to do that. You have to think about that. I asked the syndicate and they said, "Whatever you think of, go for it. Do your best." And my wife is good at that. More than I am. Go for it. The syndicate has and agreement with Zazzle, which is like Cafe Press -- maybe slightly more than Cafe Press in that they do more stuff. Each strip on Gocomics you can click on the Zazzle link and get that strip on a mug. Or a t-shirt. Or a mousepad or whatever . I don't know how much they really do, but they're aware of that market, too. Which helps.

SPURGEON: So you don't mind seeing that stuff?

THOMPSON: Not too much. I'm not as pure-minded as Bill Watterson was.

SPURGEON: Let me ask you about your books, the Cul-De-Sac collections. Another way you're precocious -- in addition to Reuben Award nominations -- is that you not only have one book series but you already have two different formats when it comes to book publication. How has that gone for you? Are you reaching a different readership with the different books?

THOMPSON: The second has just come out now. Andrews McMeel is the publishing arm of my syndicate. Andrews McMeel pretty much has all the comics reprints for all the syndicates. They do Doonesbury, they do the big Calvin and Hobbes. They also do Pearls Before Swine and some of the other ones: Sherman's Lagoon, I think. They do the reprints of a year's strips. Every Fall for my strip. Now that I've had two of those over the last two year, they also have a treasury, which is the last two books in one. Which is kind of a rip-off. At the same time they said, "Why don't you do some more commentary in this to make it less of a rip-off?"

SPURGEON: Did they put it to you like that?

THOMPSON: You understand what they mean. Watterson, when they were doing his, each one he would give it this kind of sarcastic title like The Very Necessary Calvin and Hobbes, just to make it obvious. He eventually told them to stop doing that, I think, at some point, to only re-sell the strip in so many ways. Then they came out with the 20-pound, 50-pound everything Calvin and Hobbes and that did just fine. And he had already retired.

So the treasury is coming out next month, which is the last two books in one, with author commentary like a DVD director's cut kind of thing.

SPURGEON: How do you like to read strips? Are you a book guy? Do you prefer to read them in the newspaper?

THOMPSON: I like everything. I like the newspaper. I'll do on-line -- but only for a few of them.

Dave Coverly, who draws Speed Bump, told me he doesn't read strips anymore. If it's bad then he feels bad for the guy who drew it, and if it's good he feels bad for himself. [laughter] I know the feeling. You can get so distracted by other people's strips. You're kind of sick of reading your own. So I usually have to go back in clumps and read these things. I don't read as many in a daily format as I would have. Twenty years ago I read every strip in the paper, every strip over three pages in the Washington Post in a very definite order, ending with Calvin and Hobbes. I saved it. I started with ones I didn't like, which I won't mention. Not so much anymore, I guess.

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SPURGEON: Do you get more feedback, do you think, from audience members now? You're available. You have a blog. You have e-mail. People can talk to you. Do you find people get a hold of you now?

THOMPSON: Yes.

SPURGEON: What is the nature of their conversations with you? Do they tell you they like the strip? Do they suggest improvements? [Thompson laughs] Do they ask you how they can become syndicated? How would you describe your relationship to readers and fans?

THOMPSON: It usually comes from out of the blue. On my blog, I've got my e-mail available through my "complete profile." So it's a little bit hidden, but it's available. It's nice to get e-mail because you can delete it or you can respond or whatever. Usually they are very, very nice. Some of them are like, "I like this one because..." or "I identify with this." Or "This is like my daughter." Comics has always gotten this, "You must be watching my house because these are my kids" kind of thing. Or from a teacher saying, "This is my daily life: these kids with their ADD and conversations that fly every which way and their randomness." Sometimes it's other cartoonists. Usually they're very nice and pleasant. I've only gotten a couple of complaints. People have misread a strip entirely.

SPURGEON: Like what?

THOMPSON: One of them read a strip early on, she thought I had Alice urinate on the sofa by accident. [laughter] I said, "That is not what happened. If you read the third panel carefully, she falls off the sofa." And the person was like, "Oh, I'm sorry. I guess I should have read that more carefully." You can't really do that on a Sunday strip. That didn't happen. But mostly very nice. And sometimes someone -- Cul-De-Sac runs in an Italian magazine called Linus, which has been around for years and years.

SPURGEON: Linus is an important historical repository for American strips in Italy.

THOMPSON: They pay very careful attention to how they translate it. I talk to my translator fairly often. He's Italian. He's also a letterer and a cartoonist himself, so he pays close attention to presentation. Linus has a pedigree like you were saying. They run Doonesbury. I think the one translating Doonesbury was a cartoonist, he was covering the Afghan war and he was killed over there.

SPURGEON: That is true; I remember that story.

THOMPSON: I forget his name now. In Italy they don't run strips in the newspapers like they do over here. They're presented in magazine form, so the audience for strips has to get it through this magazine. I think there are a couple of other countries, too, with a similar set-up. The book just came out in France. So I'm hearing from over there. There was a Finnish cartoonist at the Reubens last weekend who walked up and said he had a copy of the book in Finnish. "Have you seen one of these?" in a very Finnish accent. He had very good English. Turned out he went to Kent State in Ohio.

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SPURGEON: Is there anything specifically American about the strip that doesn't translate? Maybe even the idea of a cul-de-sac? Is there anything people are confused by?

THOMPSON: Not too much. I thought some things would more than others. My translator in Italian has asked me some specific things like, "What does this mean?" I had some baby talk: umagawa or something like that. "Is this a word?" [Spurgeon laughs] "It is not." Most of it seems to translate okay. Nothing has been too off the wall. I think they're more aware of Americanisms than we would be Italianisms, I suppose. I guess it's universal enough. So far so good.

SPURGEON: I don't want to spend the whole time talking, and we have such an intimate group I'd love to hear any questions anyone has. Yes, sir.

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AUDIENCE MEMBER: I absolutely love Alice. I would like to know if she has any basis in a real person you might have known at some point.

THOMPSON: Quite a few people, really. I try not to take any one character specifically from real life so that a person can point to a character and say, "That was me." I have two daughters who are now almost 12 and almost 15. They both have some of that. I figured out early on when I was trying to think -- the strip started in the Washington Post magazine. The editor there said, "Would you like to do a strip about Washington, D.C., but just about the people who live there, not about Washington as the capital of the free world?" Early on I couldn't get away from the idea of a family. All I could think was, "A family living in the suburbs. Another strip about that. What a unique idea for a comic strip." [laughter] Early on I figured out what the kids were like. The little girl, she was a fireball, she was the irresistible force. Petey was kind of like this little inbred, this ingrown personality, the immovable object. The friction would be these two [slams hands together] colliding all the time. Alice was, I kept thinking, was parts of one of my daughters and a lot from my father-in-law, which I don't want to tell him. It would probably crack him up at the same time, but I don't want to tell him about it. Kind of overbearing, kind of self-absorbed as a four-year-old can be.

Petey is the worst of me in so many ways. [laughter] The kid who wants to sit on his bed. He wants cartoons, but his interest is more in Chris Ware than it would be in Rob Liefeld. If that makes sense. His tastes are more grim somehow. Each one is a group of people. Ernesto is sort of a kid I knew in the third, fourth and firth grade who was kind of a scary little kid. He was kind of your friend but also kind of not your friend. Depending on the day. There was a friend of my brother's who was this little kid who was kind of an empire-builder within his own mind. It's like everybody is like five or six people combined into one, which is somewhat more interesting than just being one person. That answers more than your question asked.

SPURGEON: The design for Alice is wonderful. Was there any pressure to make her more traditionally pretty?

THOMPSON: No. It took me a while. I was looking at some old sketches of her and she was kind of... she's not cute, but she's not... she's... she's approachable enough. [Spurgeon laughs] Stephan Pastis said what he liked about her is she hasn't realized she's not cute yet. It's not clear that she's not adorable. At a certain age she might look at herself and say, "Oh my God, my nose... my hair is ratty-looking!" It might hit her in her pre-teens at some point. Petey probably just doesn't care. He's probably not looked in a mirror in five years. No, they haven't, which I'm thankful for.

SPURGEON: Does anyone else have a question? Yes.

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AUDIENCE MEMBER: Why did you decide to have the characters be pre-schoolers? Is there something about pre-schoolers you liked?

THOMPSON: My daughters were in pre-school. I remember one day in particular. My daughter was four maybe, and my younger daughter was one. My wife was taking me to the train station, I was going up to New York for a weekend. This is back ten years ago or something like that. The kids were running around loose, it was kind of a frantic day for everyone. I was there for like 15 minutes and there was one mom dropping off her daughter. She was like a single mom with her daughter and she could not handle her daughter too well. They had this hamster ball thing, where the hamster could roll in this ball. The kid was chasing it around. The mother picked it up and said, "Oh my God, it's alive!" and dropped it. [laughter] It was like, "I gotta go to work, get me out of here!" I looked around and there was all this action and nothing was meshing at all.

Have you ever seen that movie Gregory's Girl? It's a Scottish movie set in a high school back in the early '80s, I suppose. The one who made it also made a wonderful movie called Local Hero. This random series of events makes up this whole movie. He said he went to a high school at some point and just stood around watching and realized the surrealism of this, these little snippets of life would go past that you couldn't quite follow. In the movie there's this person in a penguin costume. He keeps showing up and they keep saying, "No, you're in room 5A." The kid keeps wandering through the movie and people keep misdirecting him. I thought, "That would make a good strip because all these people, their lives barely connect. Their lives are this circle and this circle and this circle and they kind of bump together." Like a Venn diagram I guess, but they meet like [motions] this much. You can have all this fun walking from one reality to the next.

imageThere's one Sunday with Alice, where Alice and her dad, who don't quite mesh together too well, her dad seems logical and somewhat reserved like Petey and Alice is just like this random ball of energy. In each panel Alice has a different costume, she has a potato chip bag on her head in one, a flour pot and a wagon, she's got a bunch of dolls and a tutu, each one is different. Her dad sees her in each, every two minutes maybe, and he says to his wife, something like, "My life and Alice's don't meet at all." That's the whole strip in a nutshell.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: He says, "My life intersects with Alice's just enough to be bizarre." [laughter]

THOMPSON: Exactly. And Alice says to Petey, "Daddy's always staring at me and giving me the creeps." And Petey says, "If he made more money and we had a bigger house, this wouldn't happen." [laughter] They'd be completely away from each other. That's my family in a nutshell, too.

SPURGEON: I like that secondary theme where there's this giant disconnect, particularly between the children and their parents.

THOMPSON: Yeah.

SPURGEON: Typically, they'd want you to go in the other direction.

THOMPSON: They want the warm and the fuzzy. They want the hugs. You realize in your family there's this level of, it's like you and your wife maybe, and then your children. I've told you this before, but I walked around the neighborhood with my daughter when she was like four or five. I was watching her and what she was interested in. She was interested in like this pile of dirt, in this stick. I kept thinking when I was that age I knew all the faucets you could drink out of at someone's house or the bush you could play under. I have no clue now as to where these spots in my neighborhood are. [laughter] You realize that the levels of experience are so different. You can write a strip quite easily around that. This person comes in and this person comes in and each one has different level of experience and you hope by the end something funny happens. That's a strip right there.

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SPURGEON: Any other questions? We have plenty of time.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: One thing that really surprised me that felt like a turning point in the strip -- it may not have felt as such to you -- is the one where Alice keeps calling Dil the new kid. Two or three strips in a row. It did something that you don't really see much in strips which is unintentional meanness.

THOMPSON: Yeah, she's kind of a bully.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I think most kids are at some point or another, whether they're trying to be or not, when they're that young. I thought that was really interesting, your playing up that aspect of things as well.

THOMPSON: Uh-huh. Especially with a kid like Alice, who is kind of self-absorbed, she's not aware of other people except as extensions of her own reality. She tends to be a force of her own, and is going to yank people around some. Dil is such a patsy. She's just having a bad day. She's pretending not to recognize him and is really picking on him. It's kind of fun to write. Stephan Pastis says the character he likes to write is his rat, which is such a mean little character, nothing good about him. You can do more with a villain that you can with a hero. Alice is nobody's hero, really. [laughter] She's a bully sometimes.

SPURGEON: I think it's true with Schulz that when Lucy kind of locked in as a character the strip crackled.

THOMPSON: Yeah.

SPURGEON: There's an obvious subject that people have been asking me about. You made an announcement about your health last year. I wondered first, "How is your health?" and second what it was like bringing that health concern public. I'll let you characterize the whole thing, because I'm afraid I'll use a wrong term.

THOMPSON: I made this announcement like a week before San Diego Convention, which oddly they had invited me to two years ago, to come to the one that took place last year. They said, "Come on out." I always swore I would never go to San Diego unless they dragged me there or carried me there and took care of me. They said, "We'll do that." So I said, "Amy, this is our vacation next year. Guess what?" She said, "Ooo-kay." [laughter]

I'd had for the last couple of years this weird sort of series of shakiness and clumsiness. I eventually, finally, two weeks maybe before San Diego, found out I have Parkinson's. My right hand's good. That's the money hand, I guess. They say it takes a year for the drugs to really kick in, to get to the level of treatment, and I'm there now. There was a year of kind of ignoring symptoms before that.

imageIt turns out this is the sort of thing that goes back years and years. One of the symptoms is what they call active dreaming, which is whatever you're dreaming you start acting it out. My wife said, "Oh, God, he's been doing that forever." He howls at the moon and kicks all the covers off.

The embarrassing story I'll tell you is from about ten years ago with the shoebomber: 2002, I guess. I had this dream sometime after where I was in this Safeway or grocery store. I had a basket of food. It was one of those specific dreams where every detail is just right. You wake up and you remember every bit of it. I was carrying a basket of groceries into the 15 items or less aisle, and I realized the guy ahead of me was the shoebomber! "There he is. Let's get him!" [laughter] I start whaling on this guy. I was pounding on him.

My wife grabbed my hand. My daughter, Charlotte, who was like two or three at the time, had climbed in between us. I had punched her right in the nose. In the middle of the night. Not too hard, I'm sure. I felt like the most god-awful dad in the world for years. She's said she's forgiven me since. Now I can blame that on Parkinson's. "Sorry, honey." [laughter] It's also given me carte blanche for missing deadlines. [more laughter]

SPURGEON: Have people been generally supportive?

THOMPSON: Very, very supportive. Very much so. I told my family. I told my editors at Universal Press. "I've got some news for you. I'll e-mail you in ten minutes." They said, "Uh-oh. What's going on?" I said this is what it is. It won't affect my drawing. They said, "Whatever we can do, just let us know. Take a few weeks off, take off what time you need to." They took over the culling of the strip. They've been supportive, which I've been grateful for. So that's the story. It's been my excuse for a lot of other things, too.

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SPURGEON: I wanted to revisit something. We mentioned straight away that you've just came back from the Reubens. How was the general mood given the state of the newspaper industry? Are people positive? Is the mood as negative as it was a couple of years ago?

THOMPSON: It was a lot of people saying, "What's next? What do you think?" Nobody knows quite what's going on. The NCS, one of their rules for membership -- as I said, I'm not a member -- is that a certain percentage of your income has to come from cartooning. Which shuts out a lot of indy cartoonists and web cartoonists. The debate is whether to let them in. I think what they need is new blood, new thinking and stuff like that. A lot of it is like an old boys' club. A lot of them are very established with a thousand papers or more. Like Mort Walker and Mel Lazarus. I like them. They're wonderful people. Funny people. Jeff Keane is one of the funniest people I've ever met.

SPURGEON: His father is one of the all-time funniest guys to talk to. All those guys are funny and interesting guys.

THOMPSON: They've been doing this all their lives. My God, they were there at the beginning. They have the stories. Arnold Roth was there; he's a walking party. He kind of shows up everywhere, I think, everywhere there's something going on. The mood among the younger ones was more cringey than the older ones, I'm sure. A lot of the syndicates were there, the heads of those. None of them quite know what's going to happen next. Shaenon Garrity was there, and she wrote that lovely piece last year, a very elegiac piece about last call maybe coming for the old boys' drinking club. The whole milieu: black tie is not going to happen among indy cartoonists and web cartoonists, I'm sure.

A lot of it was a party atmosphere because this is the time they all relax, but the undercurrent was one of worry, I'm sure.

SPURGEON: Another thing I wanted to revisit and ask you about: we've mentioned you have an on-line presence and that you've been doing that. The actual blogging you do, is that satisfying for you?

THOMPSON: Yeah.

SPURGEON: It can't just be publicity-related or about getting your name out there, not at this point.

THOMPSON: It was sort of by accident. I was leaving comments on some friends' blogs and they said, "Start your own. It's fun, it's easy. You push like three buttons and there you are with a blog." I learned to use a scanner.

My wife said, "Don't do anything that Bill Watterson wouldn't do." [Spurgeon laughs] I can't imagine Bill Watterson starting a blog. [laughter] Maybe he has one and nobody ever reads it. Maybe that's the way he wants it. Because it's not actually on the web.

It's fun because it's a way to connect with people. I put some really nerdy stuff up about pen nibs, stuff I can go on forever about. I received a lot of nice comments when I posted about having Parkinson's, people saying "Good for you" and "Power to you" and "You should do this." You hear from a lot of people just incidentally because of it. It's just another connection. People say, "I read your blog." Neighbors and friends that I would not normally expect to.

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SPURGEON: One nice thing about your on-line presence is that you put up a lot of older work up for discussion or to recontextualize it. When Cul-De-Sac came out, a lot of comics people were shocked to learn you weren't some 25 year old but a longtime working cartoonist and caricaturist -- one with whom a lot of us weren't deeply familiar. So we get all this value-added comics work by following you on-line. Do people react well to see this range of work?

THOMPSON: Yeah. I've been freelancing for 25, 30 years. It's a way to put up old stuff that otherwise has no reason for existing. Sometimes it's a spot drawing from The New Yorker 15 years ago or something like that. I have, like I said, piles of this stuff, and some of it is stuff I'm really happy with. I'm giving it like a second life. It's pretty late in the career to be starting a syndicated strip. It started the week before I turned 50. The syndication started. After years of swearing I would never do a syndicated strip, suddenly I find myself with this thing and it's more fun than I thought it might be.

SPURGEON: Has anyone ever commented on that, or met you expecting a younger cartoonist?

THOMPSON: [pause] Yeah. [Spurgeon laughs] Which is kind of nice. "You're older than I thought." [laughter] They never say it, but you can see it.

SPURGEON: Reading a bunch of recent strips, I was wondering if the parents have come more in focus for you as characters?

THOMPSON: Yeah.

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SPURGEON: What's been the key to grasping onto those characters -- especially the mom? It seems like you have a hold on them that you didn't maybe before when the strip started.

THOMPSON: The kids are easier to draw and to fit into the panels, so you see them more often. [Spurgeon laughs] It's true, it's like they're made for a comic strip.

They're good enough parents, but not great parents. They're one step ahead of the kids, which is the way it goes. The dad is clumsy and reserved. The kids are way past him in some ways I'm sure. The mom is a little embarrassing and loud -- one of those moms who's a little too much fun. Too much fun for Petey for sure. [laughter] She's got a loud laugh, and gets very emotional about things. There's that one with some Halloween thing and she's dressed up like a witch. She's like, "Where's the next kid I can fatten up with some candy?" And both Petey and Alice are like "Oh my God, it's Mom again." I had a mom who loved kids and was very outgoing and happy and everything. My dad was more reserved, and still is. I kind of exaggerate those things in some ways. The mom wears loud clothing and if they're doing something cute she's like, "Oh my God! They're doing something cute!" The kid immediately freezes up -- which a kid would do. If you find yourself doing something cute, you don't want to do it again.

They're still on the sidelines, but when they interact, I know what they're going to do.

SPURGEON: One thing we talked about two years as you were locked into your strip is you wondered if you wouldn't miss the more varied aspects of your career up to that time. Is there anything you feel you're missing out on, or that you'd love to fold back into what you do?

THOMPSON: There's some things I wish I could do. I quit doing [Richard's Poor] Almanac about six months ago. I just put it on hiatus. I got so far behind on the daily strip. I was turning the Almanac on Friday for Saturday. That was something they let me do whenever I wanted to do it, with no editing. It was like a dream job. I didn't want to completely drop it, so I told the editor it was just too much right now. She said take a hiatus and come back when you can and keep in touch. So they're great with that. I miss doing that.

imageI do some freelancing. I did a piece for The New Yorker that's in this week's issue, I guess. It was due the week before I went off to the Reubens. It was a double caricature. It was one of those that started off very easy. The art director who is a sweetheart said, "This is great. Let's just go with the sketch." So I did the drawing, I did the watercolor off the sketch and she said, "Uh... I spoke too soon." The editor had come in. One of them was a caricature of... Tom Campbell and Carly... Feffiola?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Carly Fiorina.

THOMPSON: Fiorina. Thank you. You know your government stuff. They're both running for the Republican nomination of Senate in California. Carly Fiorina has been fighting cancer. So they're saying, "This caricature is a little harsh. Can you make it a little more gentle?" So I did another face and Photoshopped it. They said, "Not quite." So I did another one, which by that time was pretty much a portrait and Photoshopped it on and told them it was going to look like one of those cardboard cut-outs where you put your face through. [laughter] I haven't looked at the magazine, but it looks okay, I think. So that was my recent freelancing.

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SPURGEON: Do you foresee a return to the Almanac?

THOMPSON: I want to. When I get things under control, which is any day now. [laughter] It'll happen. I keep in touch with the editor and she says, "When you can." So they're open for it.

I do miss some of the caricature work. Although it can be a nightmare, too. I used to do a lot of spot drawing, like in the back of The Smithsonian. That got dropped to the wayside. They switched art directors. These kinds of things come and go. The thing about the strip is I can think about it much more easily. When I switch gears now it's a little harder each time. I miss it but at the same time I don't miss it too much. The income was nice.

*****

* Cul-De-Sac
* Richard Thompson's Blog
* Cul de Sac Golden Treasury: A Keepsake Garland of Classics, Richard Thompson, Andrews McMeel, softcover, 9780740791529, July 2010, $16.99.
* This Exit: A Cul De Sac Collection, Richard Thompson, Andrews McMeel, softcover, 9780740776519, September 2008, $12.99.
* Children At Play: A Cul De Sac Collection, Richard Thompson, Andrews McMeel, 9780740789878, October 2009, $12.99.
* Shapes & Colors: A Cul De Sac Collection, Richard Thompson, Andrews McMeel, 9780740797323, December 2010, $12.99

*****

* cover to the treasury edition, combining the first two books
* photo by Whit Spurgeon, 2008
* irresistible force meets immovable object
* Alice and Dil, friends forever
* Ernesto
* a favorite Petey panel of mine
* the Uh Oh baby, an object of Thompson family merchandising
* great strips featuring the kids in Alice's class
* Petey speaks truth
* glorious Alice Otterloop
* two moments featuring Alice and her dad and their disconnect
* Alice is kind of a bully
* Petey howls at the moon
* an RPA
* a cartoon illustration
* Mom is embarrassing
* I think that's the New Yorker caricature in question
* another RPA
* Petey and Alice (below)

*****

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posted 5:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Sunday Interview Classic: Richard Thompson (2008)

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I interviewed Richard Thompson for the first time on January 20, 2008. What follows is the result starting with the introduction. Thompson passed away on July 27. -- Tom Spurgeon

According to the original plan, an interview with the cartoonist Richard Thompson was going to be one of the jewels of the 2007-2008 CR Holiday Interview Series, and I'm relieved that the piece wasn't lost to the confusion that followed this site's temporary outage. Thompson is one of the great, under-appreciated gems of modern American cartooning. His Cul De Sac, which went into national syndication earlier this year, immediately became one of the five best features in any newspaper, period.

imageFeaturing a wryly observed type of humor that comes from exploring kids' view of suburban life against a backdrop of slightly fragile family dynamics, Cul De Sac has the advantages that strips frequently boast when they come from a previous dry run (a Sundays-only edition for the Washington Post's magazine) and established talent: the designs are funny and idiosyncratic, the artist is comfortable presenting strips from multiple viewpoints, strips are driven by or at least reflected in the gestures and expressions of the drawn figures. In other words, the work comes out of the starting gate firing on all cylinders, as fully realized as some features a decade into their run. Thompson is also one of North America's accomplished caricaturists, and his piercing and funny Richard's Poor Almanac in the Washington Post is one of the few great remaining regional cartoon offerings, maybe the only one. I hope you'll explore his work.

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TOM SPURGEON: Richard, can I get a sense of what you have on your plate in terms of all your projects? With the daily being added to the weekly Cul De Sac, I'm guessing that maybe you're not doing as much magazine work, but I could be totally mistaken about that. How have you geared up to take on the burden of a daily, and how has that worked so far?

RICHARD THOMPSON: I try to do as much magazine illustration work as I've always done, but fewer jobs that call for a quick turn around, like say the deadline is tomorrow and the sketch is due right now. I've done a lot of that over the years, sometimes to my regret, but sometimes the sudden death deadline stuff has turned out to be my best work. One thing that Lee Salem at Universal Press told me several times as I was gearing up to do a daily strip was "Keep your day job." My schedule is, every week I do a cartoon called Richard's Poor Almanac (or Almanack) for the Post Saturday Style section, every other week I do a spot illustration for the Post Health section, every month I do an illustration for Smithsonian Magazine, and every day I have a Cul de Sac which I usually send off in a week's worth of strips. And the freelance stuff fills any available space in between, as that and the Almanac are my "day job."

I was leery for years of the inevitable grind of a daily strip. Back in the early 1980s I heard Doug Marlette speak at the Smithsonian, and someone asked him about that, the grind of a daily strip. He answered that he looked at it like brushing his teeth, he had to do that every day too, drawing his strip was just another part of his daily routine. I went home and looked at my toothbrush with sudden loathing. But now that I'm in the throes of a daily strip it's not quite as horrifying as I might've feared. Physically it can be hard, the drawing board forever looming overhead and the miles of white Bristol board to be covered, but mentally it's just about tolerable. It's early yet, so I haven't hit a fallow spot where the ideas are puny and scarce. Still though, I'm not very far ahead on the daily strip.

SPURGEON: In a related question, can you provide a general sketch of your work day and work week, how you compartmentalize?

THOMPSON: I'm terrible at compartmentalizing, which may be a good thing as ideas leak from one project to the next until they find their right home. Or at best, they recombine into something more interesting. Since I work at home there are also endless opportunities for distraction; oh, my daughters just got back from school, let's see how their day went. Here comes the mailman! Hey, it's snack time. Look, the cats are doing something funny! What's it like if I step outside?

Without an impending deadline I'm hopeless, nothing ever gets finished. Even with a deadline I'll fret over a drawing, or tear it up and start all over again so that work expands to fill the time available. This seems common among my friends in the business; either it's universal or us procrastinating drawing -- fretters all stick together. But briefly, my week is: the Almanac is due on Friday so I try to do Cul stuff early in the week and other freelance chores as I need to. I try to have a vague notion of the Almanac by Wednesday, although that sometimes stays vague right up till early Friday morning. And then things spill over into the weekend because that's two whole extra days, like bonus work days where no one'll call asking if I've finished that sketch yet. I've always liked working late at night, I think my family is genetically nocturnal, and that can too easily turn into an all-nighter. But I'm trying to get away from that.

imageSPURGEON: You provided Alan Gardner with a pretty exquisite list of favorite cartoonists, but I was wondering if you could speak to where other cartoonists have been a direct influence on aspects of your work. I can see the Pat Oliphant influence on aspects of your work, and MAD Magazine in the way you construct your set pieces, for example. Where do you feel your work is most strongly influenced by a past cartoonist?

THOMPSON: That list might've been a little pretentious for a guy who draws a strip featuring a talking guinea pig. The list had the complete staff of Mad Magazine and Honore Daumier cheek by jowl, but I could add another dozen names to it with ease (I'm kicking myself for leaving off Quentin Blake).

I don't think I can point to one area where I'm most influenced by any one cartoonist, there are so many whose work has turned my head over the years, sometimes a new one every day. I taught illustration a little bit at the Maryland Institute of Art in Baltimore, just as an adjunct professor. It was fun but I ran out of things to say pretty fast. The students would always ask about influences and style, how do you develop a style, and all I could think was, you steal parts from everyone whose work you love and stitch them into this Frankenstein monster and over the years the scars heal and, voila, a "style." But drawing style's pretty much a surface thing and may be a function of physiological things, like how your hand & arm move and the speed with which you draw. I think my best work is done when my hand is moving just a second or two ahead of my brain.

Since I'm doing the strip now, I keep thinking in terms of six days, the dailies, and how they link up, and I keep thinking about Pogo, since that's been my favorite since fifth grade. What I always loved about it was the continual flow of incident, one character would start off on an errand, then another would intervene and another and it'd fly off on a tangent, then they'd get hung up in Miz Beaver's wash on the line, then they'd take a nap and suddenly those little idiot bats with the derbies would blow across the panel and it was like an endless pageant of comic surprises. That's what I'd love to do with Cul de Sac, though it takes time to develop that skill and to command the readers' attention to make it work. New strips have to assume that each day the reader has to be reintroduced to it, to its characters and situations. Until we've beaten some sense into the readership.

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SPURGEON: You worked for years in caricature. Are your influences the same in that field, or is there a different set of artists that helped inform you work there, say Hermann Mejia or David Levine?

THOMPSON: Some are the same, like Ed Sorel, who I think of as a cartoonist as much as caricaturist & illustrator. There are many caricaturists whose work I love but I wouldn't call influences. David Levine scared me off crosshatching, because no one paints with lines like he does. Al Hirschfeld is another; I love his work but I couldn't learn anything from it, he's perfected that approach. Daumier is still the greatest caricaturist, I think because he worked from memory of life; he'd go watch these French politicians then go home and mold them in clay, like he held their forms in his mind until he could get them down in some medium. The few caricatures I've done that I really love have all been from memory, memory of photographs in my case, but where I feel like I understand how their faces work. Nothing comes out more poorly than a caricature drawn from a single photograph, especially if it's a well-lit, airbrushed official portrait photo that blands out the features.

But Sorel's probably my favorite. I love how he boils the subject down to lines that fly across the paper, how he carves it right into the page. and how he constructs whole environments for the subject, you know, figures in a landscape or interior. Especially the historic subjects where he can go nuts with costumes and such. And the obvious joy he gets from doing a subject he loves, like the movies or literature. I did a political caricature every week for nine years for US News & World Report on a real short deadline and Sorel was who I'd turn to when things looked grim and I'd forgotten how to draw. Plus he draws the greatest hands.

SPURGEON: Some artists feel that caricature is a completely different form than cartooning in terms where the reductions and exaggerations are, how do you feel about those distinctions, and if it does, how does your skill with caricature continue to inform your cartooning work?

THOMPSON: It probably is different, I hadn't thought about it much, but some talent for caricature opens up whole new worlds of possible subject matter. Like you can do politics without luggage tags that say "Cheney" or "Hillary." Though, as they say, a political caricature doesn't necessarily make it a political cartoon.

For the Almanac it opens up all kinds of possibilities, drawing politicians, actors, writers or whoever. Like it's fun to draw an Oscar Award cartoon and show hard-working Hollywood homunculus Tom Cruise getting trapped in the folding seat or falling into the fancy gift bag they give to all the VIPs, only to be discovered hours later. Whenever you get a chance to draw a teeny-weeny Tom Cruise stuck in a folding chair, grab it.

For Cul de Sac, at least in its earlier form in the Post Magazine, it was fun to cast passing characters from faces I'd seen here and there. A delivery man for FedUps and a deli counterman were both taken from people in my neighborhood, more or less.

SPURGEON: I'm unfamiliar with how Richard's Poor Almanac began in the Post. Given that it's such a unique feature, can you describe how it kind of won its place on the Post's pages, and the parameters of your working relationship with the paper over the time it's run?

THOMPSON: It was one thing leading to another despite me dragging my heels. For about five years in the early 90s I illustrated a column in the Post's Style section by Joel Achenbach called Why Things Are. He'd answer any odd or interesting question thrown at him by readers from the ridiculous to the sublime and the editor gave me free reign to do whatever I wanted as long as it was at least tangentially about the given subject. So I ended up doing the illustrations as free-standing cartoons, with dialog in balloons and as many gags as I could cram in. It was a small but very satisfying weekly job and it paid a little better than some newspaper illustration work because the Post Writer's Group syndicated it.

imageThe editor who hired me for Why Things Are was Gene Weingarten, who's now the Post Magazine's humor columnist and who came to the Post from the Miami Herald where, among many other things, he'd given Dave Barry his start. Why Things Are came to and end around '95, and Gene called me sometime after and said, why don't you try doing a weekly cartoon? He's a dream editor to work with, you just want to make him laugh good and hard. especially at something inappropriate. We had lunch and then, a year later, I gave him a couple dozen roughs and he said, ok, it took you long enough, let's go. It started in June of '97 without an actual title or any apparent purpose other than to try and be funny. The early ones were all over the map and kinda hit or miss. At that point I'd only done a few stand alone pieces with only my name on them and I was a little nervous about it, but the Post seemed game for the whatever I was coming up with. One early one was called The Madness of Mayor McCheese, and it just showed, in maybe six panels, Mayor McCheese staggering blindly across an empty landscape counting "39,547,634,943,;39,547,634,944" etc, etc while rubbing his hands together like Lady Macbeth. Another was the quote "In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king" illustrated by a drawing of a one-eyed king in a sedan chair borne by four blind footmen through a crowd of blind people and he's yelling, "Watch out! Go left! No, your other left! Ok, now right! NO! Dog! don't step on the dog!"

Who knows what this stuff was doing in a respected newspaper, but it cracked me up and Gene liked it, and nobody actively complained. I was always expecting it to be plowed under and replaced by tire ads or garden center coupons. I'd calm my nerves with the likelihood that no one was actually reading it, so why worry if the jokes made sense to anyone else? Tom Shroder, my third editor who as the Post Magazine editor pushed me into starting Cul de Sac, finally gave it a title around 1999; I'd included a reference to "Richard's Poor Almanac" in one cartoon and he said, "Call it that."

I've been through six editors now over the last 10+ years and they've all been good people to deal with. Nowadays my editor, Ann Gerhart, doesn't ask for a rough, or even any idea of what I'm doing, so I guess we've reached a level of trust, or maybe nobody's reading it still. The only complaint I ever remember getting from Gene, whose motto is that he edits for humor but not for taste, was when I used the phrase "fart-catcher" to describe a presidential aide twice in as many weeks and he found that excessive. But like I said, nowadays we pretty much leave each other alone, except when I've spelled something wrong or when the grammar's iffy, and then I hear from Suzanne Tobin who copy edits all the comics.

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SPURGEON: Many of us first became aware of you because of Make the Pie Higher; what was it like having a cartoon kind of blow up at least within American political culture, and have so much attention paid to it?

THOMPSON: I did Make the Pie Higher the week of Bush's first inaugural in response to his lack of a major poet reading an inspiring poem, like Carl Sandburg did for Kennedy or Maya Angelou did for Clinton. It seemed a big deal at the time, this lack of major poetry. So I took a bunch of Bushisms, you know, his malaprop comments, and formed them into a free-verse poem. When I sent the rough to Tom Shroder, who was then editing Sunday Style, he said are these real quotes? And I said yes, they all have sources, and he said OK great. When I put it together it seemed kind of a clever idea, though I wondered who would get it. But it ran, and I liked the drawing I did of Bush addressing the crowd. About six months later Tom called and said, "That Pie thing's all over the internet and it's even got your name on it (as a Post writer)." But so much stuff gets all over the Internet it didn't register with me much until I started getting requests to set it to music, and a friend who plays in a folk group told me they'd been singing it for a year or two without knowing who wrote it. Well, assembled it. Now by my count it's been set to music eight or nine times, including Irish ballad style and for women's chorus. If I had any business acumen I'd've made some money off it. My favorite bit is that it's got a page on Snopes.com that verifies all the Bush quotes, with only one that may be iffy, the one about being a "pitbull on the pants leg of opportunity."

SPURGEON: What to your mind makes a good subject or potentially good end result on an Almanac strip? Sometimes you pick obscure subjects, but you also trade in broader, more traditional folk humor subjects where the strength isn't so much the concept but your detail work, your take on the subject. Is that a fair observation, or do you see your approach as fairly singular? How much time do you spend developing ideas and do you have a process for doing so?

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THOMPSON: I quickly found that Washington DC was the best subject, not as Capitol of the Free World, but as a place where people live and work and eat and drive and get fed up with tourists. And the Post itself is fun to pick on, especially the odd little niches within it. I've done a string of cartoons about the weekly roundup of restaurants closed by the health department; restaurants are inherently funny places and buildings are fun to draw. Being an Almanac, natural phenomena like weather and night sky guides are good, and I've done traffic forecasts and Your Week in Dreams Previewed several times, and if nothing else comes to mind I do a caricature of somebody in the news with instructions on how to cut it out and make a finger puppet.

The most obscure one I ever did was probably a guide to pronouncing the name of the painter Ingres, which I always have trouble with (it's "Annggh" I think). I drew it when the National Gallery had a big show of his work and it had six panels showing various tourists, each in front of various portraits by Ingres, mispronouncing his name, Injures, Angers, Egress, etc, and each portrait reacting with disgust. In the final panel the tourist says "Anal!" and the portrait bellows "Imbecile!" I turned it in and my editor said, "Is this guy real? Okay, good." And I figured the other three people in DC who knew who Ingres was but couldn't pronounce it would laugh at this cartoon 'cause, boy, they've been waiting for somebody to address this issue. Then about a month later I got a call from a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the Ingres show was to travel next, saying how they'd been passing the cartoon around and it was a hoot, and could they put it on a t-shirt to sell in the Ingres-theme shop? I said sure, of course, though it was not much money but you know, the glamor was overwhelming. And they did, they sold t-shirts in the shop with a cartoon on it calling Ingres Egress and Anal and stuff, and there was a column in the Wall Street Journal about it, how the Met was lowering itself by vending such trash, which was satisfying to me professionally of course. And the Met never sent back the original cartoon and I didn't complain because now I can say I'm in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, if only inadvertently.

That wandered some distance from your question. Yeah, I do folk humor where the fun is in the nuts and bolts, and some political humor, usually more tangentially because I don't think clearly about politics, other than I know what I like. The hard thing about ideas is not getting them, but knowing what to do with them. The context & presentation of a joke are the important parts, I think; is it told or shown? Do you step back from it and frame it within something larger, take it apart and spoil it with a counter-joke or string it out into a theme with variations? Last month, in a holiday frame of mind, the word "tinselectomy" popped into my head and I thought, who gets a tinselectomy? Santa of course, he's old and fat and prone to such things, but then what? So it turned into an Almanac with a list of shopping mall Santas to avoid, the second one being the Santa at Paymore Plaza in Rockville, Maryland who won't shut up about his personal problems. He's pictured with a small, bored-looking child on his knee and he's whining about his allergies to elf dander and his recent emergency tinselectomy. So from meager beginnings a tiny shrub blossomed, nothing fancy but it fit into my Almanac space just dandy. And Santa's fun to draw.

imageSPURGEON: Am I right in that Cul De Sac grew out of an element of Richard's Poor Almanac, a kind of strip you were doing there?

THOMPSON: Sort of, though not by plan. Tom Shroder, who was my third editor on the Almanac, took over as editor of the Post Magazine about eight years ago, and I did weekly illustration work for him, drawing for Gene Weingarten's humor column. Tom asked me in about 2002 if I'd be interested in doing a weekly strip with continuing characters about Washington DC. I said let's talk about it and then, in Tom's words, "it took a year to schedule lunch. After that, we lost momentum."

But what we finally agreed on was, it should be about DC, but not about The Capitol of the Free World, just about some people who live around here. I picked the suburbs, as I know them well, but with some trepidation because who needs another comic set in the suburbs? And I put all these little kids in it. I'd done about six Almanac cartoons called "Baby Roundtable" or "Toddler Roundtable" where I had small children arguing issues of the day, like the effectiveness of the Mozart Effect or the use of drugs to control learning disorders or the superiority of children's literature to adult literature, and they were all real fun to do. All the little tangents the kids could fly off on, and how they ended up either crying or pushing each other's heads into the Play Doh. Actually the first Roundtable cartoon was back in the early '90s, as an illustration for the question "Why are babies cute?" for Why Things Are.

So the more sketches I did for Tom the more the little kids took it over. Alice pretty quickly became an Irresistible Force and Petey became an Immovable Object and their suburb became in my mind a kinda surreal place that looked like a movie still I found of the city in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, all piled up on its hill. So after about a year of dawdling I showed Tom the sketches and the title Cul de Sac, which I worried was too bland until an editor told me it means "bottom of the bag" in French. And what's funnier than the bottom of the bag in French?

imageSPURGEON: What was involved in the final decision that made you want to go with dailies and take the whole thing national?

THOMPSON: Another string of fortunate events. In December of '05 I got an email out of the blue from Lee Salem, then editor in chief now president of Universal Press. He's seen that Make the Pie Higher poem on the internet with my name on it as a Post writer and wanted to know where it had appeared. He didn't know it was connected to a cartoon but was tickled to hear it, and he ordered the Almanac book and saw the Oliphant forward, which gave it some gravitas. We kept in touch for a few months and he came to DC for a convention and we met for a drink.

I'd been thinking about the characters in Cul de Sac and wondering what they did on weekdays, away from the Sunday strip. Each time I'd draw a Sunday there was all this unused material, some good some not, but I realized that it had the makings of a daily strip. And as you know, when you work on a comic strip you start hearing the little voices in you head and they must be obeyed. So I took a batch of the Sunday Culs when I met with Lee. We had a nice chat, I gave him the copies, and he said let's keep in touch. We did, and in a long, gradual process I got a development deal, which involved turning in a month of daily roughs every month for about a year plus a visit to Universal Press in Kansas City and a some long dinners in nice restaurants. Which as a scrawny little guy I appreciated.

I might've eventually submitted Cul to syndicates without the email out of the blue from Lee Salem, as I was becoming convinced I was capable of producing a daily. But the Higher Pie thing sure kickstarted things, so you could say that I found my job thanks to George W Bush's lack of inaugural poetry.

imageSPURGEON: You launched with a strong 70 papers; how has it gone since then to now? Is there any way you'd be willing to characterize the nature of your current presence, what kind of papers, what you're hearing back?

THOMPSON: It's doing pretty well in a tough and shrinking market. I hear it's in about 100 papers, and just knowing there are 100 papers is comforting these days. I've heard mostly nice things about the strip. though some uncomplimentary things. Some papers that do comic strip try-outs will have a web page that solicits reader comments. Reading those can take you down enough notches that your chin hits the floor. Comments like "for this you dropped Beetle Bailey" and "why are these kids so ugly?" so I kinda quit reading them, like I kinda quit watching the Amazon numbers for the Almanac book. But there've been some good comments and some great online reviews: yours, Alan Gardner's at The Daily Cartoonist and one at the Onion's AV Club. And I started a blog and I sometimes get some really nice emails from that. But this is the first time I've had to compete in a market for newspapers and I can see why comic strip cartoonists are collegial yet competitive.

SPURGEON: How has it been adjusting to the daily form? You offer up really dense Sundays, kind of eschewing that race to the punch line style for a lot of business in every panel -- do you feel working in dailies can also offer up that basic philosophy, or that the style needs to be different? Also, you seem to be working in a really loose style on the dailies. Have you found your level there?

THOMPSON: I got so used to doing a Sunday-only, where I felt the need to cram in enough antics to make it seem like more than one day a week's worth of comic strip. I'm still getting used to dailies, how much and how little they'll hold. One trick I learned with the Sundays was using exposition gracefully, especially on those that had a plot that stretched from week to week over a month or so. As it's a kid strip that problem solved itself because parents kind of naturally narrate what's going on for their small children. Oh, we're in the car! going to the store! look at the bus! who's on the bus? etc.etc. So I could open a Sunday with Alice saying "Where are we going again?" and it'd pick up from the previous week.

But I like doing strips that are conversational, where the conclusion isn't so much the point as the journey there and each panel's a surprise. I sometimes have no clue what point I'm trying to make in a cartoon, if any, till I've almost finished it. A conversational approach lets me worry less about making an actual gag or joke, and thus more reliant on character. With dailies I can't let the characters ramble on, they say their piece and bow out. And if it isn't an earth-shatteringly funny cartoon, there's always tomorrow, but tomorrow's had better be at least a little earth-shatteringly funny.

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SPURGEON: I love the characterization of the kid characters. I know that you're a fan of Lynda Barry, who presents similarly damaged and off-beat but still very alive and funny children in her work. Can you describe your basic approach to writing kids? Is there any sense you have of not wanting to approach these characters in typical kids-strip fashion?

THOMPSON: Lynda Barry, jeez, I've got about ten wonderful years of Ernie Pook stuck in my head. I don't know, most of the way I write is instinctual, I just keep trying for the character to sound like him or herself and still say something unexpected. When I started CdS I figured out the kids almost immediately, at least their basic characteristics. For example, Alice is the little kid who stares at you, like over the back of a booth in a restaurant, until you are kind of unnerved. She's indomitable and self-absorbed, as many a four-year-old can be, and Petey's a fish who's always out of the water. Once you know the character you hear his or her voice pretty clearly, and you're not so much writing as being dictated to. Most of the strip cartoonists I've talked to will nod their heads in recognition if you mention "hearing voices."

But yeah, I didn't want the strip to be about the zany antics of those little dickens, Alice and Petey. I wanted it to be about the kinda gently surreal parts of childhood, where the kids don't know what's going on or how things work, and maybe the adults don't either. The mom and dad are good parents but not great parents; the mom is loud and probably embarrasses her kids and the dad is awkward and embarrasses his kids for sure.

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SPURGEON: One of the things I like most about Cul De Sac is each character inhabits their own world and is an active participant in all of the other people's worlds; in fact, some of the humor seems to me to come from less of a culture clash than this kind of all-encompassing world view clash. Do you feel that everyone, and kids in particular, operate within their own landscapes and points of view to the degree it seems is represented by your work?

THOMPSON: Yeah, I do think that pretty much. And it's just comedy gold, you know, the confusion that results from all these little colliding worlds. Especially with kids. Listen to kids talking sometime; the responses to "I have a dog" isn't "what kind?", it's usually "I have a dog!", "I have a cat!", "I have two hamsters!", "My grandma's dog has three legs!", each getting further away from the original comment, and it spirals off into unknown territory. Also, approaching characters like each is an actor on a separate stage maybe gives them a greater chance to show some depth. That was something I noticed in Pogo; you remember the hound dog, Beauregard Bugleboy? He was always narrating himself, "Thus the noble dog saves the day yet again, though his brow be not bedecked by a hero's wreath," that kind of thing, and it was always completely at odds with whatever was really going on. I think it'd be fun to do a strip where each character is an unreliable narrator.

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SPURGEON: You once said in an interview that the difference between your neighborhood right now with its kids and the same neighborhood when someone else lived thee with kids 30 years ago is a difference in housing prices. When you're writing the strip, how much of it do you think comes down to traditional, universal ways kids and parents have been and will continue to be over the years? Are there any things in Cul De Sac that you may feel specific to now, that might not have popped up if the strip were done 20 yeas ago?

THOMPSON: Not too much, other than minor technology things like cell phones and such. Alice & Petey are four and eight, and those ages aren't as intensively technologically obsessed as, say, an adolescent who's nuts for wii. I can keep them at least a little innocent of the cutting edge stuff. And as to cultural and societal stuff, I'm writing this from the point of view of a somewhat alert if self-absorbed four-year-old, so I can deal with things or ignore them, and a four-year-old is likely as not going to ignore them. Bill Watterson said something to the effect that writing Calvin was writing for a lazy six-year-old and how hard is that?

I'm not sure what point I was trying to make with the neighborhood comparison, but here's one definite thing I noticed when I was trying to put CdS together. I was walking down the street with one of my daughters when she was maybe five, and just kinda watching her admire certain things; a nice rock, a telephone pole with a lost cat notice on it, some interesting dirt that had washed up in front of a storm drain. And it struck me how differently a kid sees the neighborhood than an adult. There's a manhole cover that's set in the sidewalk, in an elevated slab, a few blocks from my house, and when the girls were smaller they'd have to stop and dance around on it, put on a little 20 second show, every time we walked by. Then they'd take a bow and we'd keep on going. A couple of years ago I saw a parent with a small child walk by it and stop while the kid performed the same little ritual, the manhole cover dance routine. To an adult the thing was barely even there, just a lump of cement, but to a kid it was a stage for performing. That's the kind of stuff I want put in CdS, some little kid dancing around on a manhole cover for no good reason with the parent standing there teetering between patience and aggravation.

*****

* impressive Cul De Sac promotional illustration
* self-portrait
* drawing of pig swiped from Thompson's blog
* a Thompson caricature
* Gene Weingarten, as drawn by Thompson
* "Make The Pie Higher"
* a portion of one of the restaurant closing strips mentioned
* illustration work
* Mr. Dander, from Cul De Sac
* various art or full strips from Cul De Sac
* Alice and Petey (below)

*****

Cul De Sac

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Go, Read: Richard Thompson And Bill Watterson Talk Comics

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Go, Look: Drew Friedman On A Jack Davis Rarity

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Go, Look: The Best Of Times

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

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Happy 39th Birthday, Leinil Francis Yu!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Alex Holden!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Gary Barker!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Nate Powell!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Jog!

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July 30, 2016


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


The Art Of Richard Thompson


Stan Lee Interviews Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis


Richard Thompson On Suburban Living


Gary Groth Interviews Jack Davis


Richard Thompson At The 2011 National Book Festival
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from July 23 to July 29, 2016:

1. Twin hammer blows to the pool of world cartooning talent: the passings of Jack Davis and Richard Thompson.

2. Comic-Con International ends without a major hitch, a relief in this era of world public violence.

3. Comic Arts Brooklyn is a go.

Winners Of The Week
I thought Ann Telnaes had a good week sketching the DNC, and Sergio won the Comic-Con Icon Award.

Losers Of The Week
People that threaten artists.

Quote Of The Week
"There is almost no money in comics whatsoever, and it is not packed to the brim with extremely nice, charitable people, and yet I have been blessed with the support of more than my share of those people, and they have handed me a career." -- Tucker Stone

*****

this year's comics images are from Fawcett

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Go, Look: Headline #64

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

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If I Were In San Antonio, 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: Ryan Cody

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Happy 50th Birthday, Chris Sprouse!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Tom Ziuko!

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July 29, 2016


Go, Look: The Tragedy Of Satan

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Collective Memory: Comic-Con International 2016

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Links to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning the 2016 edition of Comic-Con International, held July 21-24 with a July 20 Preview Night in and around the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego.

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

*****

Institutional
* Festival Site
* Physical Location
* Host City

imageBlogs And Personal Journals
* Enfu
* Mark Evanier 01
* Mark Evanier 02
* Mark Evanier 03
* Mark Evanier 04
* Mark Evanier 05
* Mark Evanier 06
* Phil Nel
* The Beat

Facebook
* Community Page
* Brian Doherty

Miscellaneous
* Photos From Mid-'70s Comic-Con

News Stories And Columns
* CCI 01
* CCI 02
* Forbes
* Inverse
* Newsarama
* Time
* Washington Post 01
* Washington Post 02

Photos
* boingboing
* Comicbook.com
* Nerdist
* Variety

Twitter
* #SDCC
* #SDCC2016

*****



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Remember: Jaime Hernandez Has Always Been Great

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By Request Extra: Jackie Estrada And Batton Lash Raising Money To Provide Care For Their Cat

Here. It looks like a nice cat.
 
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Go, Look: Crime Must Pay The Penalty #4

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Tucker Stone Has Been Around For An Entire Decade And We'll All Be Dead Soon

Interview here.
 
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Go, Look: A Comic By Chris Pitzer

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* congratulations to Caitlin Rosberg on 12 months of reviewing only works by people of color. That is wholly admirable, and I'm glad it had a positive effect on the writer as well.

image* I have yet to post about these free Cerebus collage-style comics made from existing art, part of a publicity effort for a future Cerebus project of the same sort and for the digital versions of the 300-issue series.

* a webcomics-maker owns the domain name ClintonKaine.com.

* Maren Williams profiles The Solar Grid.

* I had a few people ask me why Matthew Inman won the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award and I direct them here.

* Steve Hamaker has started on the second book of his Plox series.

* finally, there's apparently a webcomics effort key to the workings a beauty-business empire.
 
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If I Were Near Columbus, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: Warren Kremer Tryout Art

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I'm sure this comic is professionally done and will have its fans, but I'm struck by how all the new takes on things look like the last eleven new takes on that thing.

* not comics: Bill Kristol crushes Scott Adams.

* finally, Chip Zdarsky and Margaret Atwood talk about where Superman's clothes go.
 
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Happy 62nd Birthday, Lovern Kindzierski!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Nick Gazin!

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Happy 69th Birthday, Baru!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Ted May!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Gail Simone!

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July 28, 2016


Go, Look: John Martz Remembers Richard Thompson

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By Request Extra: Help John Kerschbaum

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John Kerschbaum, a good man and a highly-skilled cartoonist, could use your help after his family was displaced by a fire. Please join me in doing so.
 
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Go, Look: Adventures Of A Clintern

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Go, Look: Etta Hulme Material Profiled

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By Request Extra: Rise Of Czap Books

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Czap Books, the smart boutique publisher run by that good citizen of comics Kevin Czapiewski, launched a crowd-funder yesterday to fund that line's 2017 season.

That's a strategy pursued by a lot of small publishers right now, and it's not one I recommend anyone endorse without looking into the season that will be supported and the history, however brief, of the person or persons making the request. I am sure Kevin Czapiewski and the imprint welcome that scrutiny.

As of this writing they look well on their way to getting to their initial goal, and good for them.
 
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Go, Look: How Richard Thompson Made The Pie Higher

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Go, Read: Andrew Aydin's Beard Explained

It's a good story. It's a nice beard, too!
 
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Go, Look: Drew Friedman On Jack Davis' Work At TV Guide

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By Request Extra: Smut And Jeff

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We're in the last hours of this crowd-funder from Kody Chamberlain, which I did not see in my Inbox until after the intensive San Diego con period. The e-mail was so nice I wanted to mention it here in case there's a flood of people or one very interested person that might wish to fund this project in its later stages. The impressive ask covers five full-color issues, making it much less of an impressive ask, really.
 
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Go, Look: Jack Davis Drawing Abraham Lincoln

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

image* Comic Arts Brooklyn is a go: a one-day exhibitor-driven show on November 5. This is the same day as Short Run, which is too bad, but I love-love-love Comic Arts Brooklyn and I hope it kicks ass this year just as it has the past few. It's very important, I think, for good shows to be in the New York area, one of the best markets for comics in the world. Apply if you're regional or just itching to roam the streets of Brooklyn during a crisp Fall weekend.

* you have until July 31st to apply for CAKE's Cupcake Award and all the stuff that comes with it: a fine opportunity for a young comics-maker.

* Comic-Con International has announced next year's show will be July 20-23 with a Preview Night set for July 19. This is a week after the D23 Expo in Anaheim run by Disney. If you see Comic-Con as an entity measured by its ability to foster big-corporation marketing moments, I imagine this is a great concern and fascinating item of speculation. I personally don't care, and I think Comic-Con has headed in a slightly different direction for about three years now. I also think there's plenty of PR to go around.

* with Comic-Con in the rearview window, most of comics will mostly rest until SPX. I am all for there being at least three significant periods of time per year of comics stepping away from cons and festivals. It allows the events themselves the ability to breathe, makes a good month for tours and store visits by individual creators, and gives pressed creators some guaranteed time off. We don't get that any longer, but you can still see the relative lack of shows in August as a hangover from that traditional way of doing things.

* all that said, I'll be handing out free stuff at Wizard World Columbus this year. Please stop by and say hi.

* I quite like the look of these.

* this article about comics-makers -- or at least comics-conceivers -- using the popularity of movies based on comics to try and backdoor their way into Hollywood stuff is super-depressing.

* finally, AAEC has a poster, a setting a date and a bunch of other stuff set for this year's gathering.

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

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Go, Look: Jack Davis Draws The Entire 1965-1966 NBC Television Schedule

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Henry Chamberlain on A City Inside. Etelka Lehoczky on various mini-comics.

* that ending in a Walking Dead issue that felt like a potential ending to the comic book series? It was.

* not comics: weirdly, I think the DC Comics of the last few years might translate better into these heavy house-style DC cartoons than admirably crafted by deeply messed-up, more idiosyncratic material by better artists.

* David Press writes about a favorite panel from Paper Girls.

* Gary Tyrrell talks to Gene Yang.

* finally, here's a nice picture of writer Peter David winning an Inkpot in San Diego. I missed him on my first round-up.
 
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Happy 49th Birthday, Will Pfeifer!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Jon J Muth!

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Happy 71st Birthday, Jim Davis!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Miriam Libicki!

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July 27, 2016


Jack Davis, RIP

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Richard Thompson, RIP

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Go, Look: Alitha E. Martinez

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Go, Look: Jim Rugg Pin-Up Process Post

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This Isn't A Library: New, Notable Releases Into 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.

*****

MAY161334BONE CODA 25TH ANNIVERSARY TP $14.95
A new Bone story not being a bigger story I think says more about our lack of infrastructure for publishing news: the market is oversaturated with titles, and there are few mechanisms to make one release stand out over another. Smith is a wonderful cartoonist with talent to burn. He can draw whatever he wants. His gifts for economy and clarity are flattered most by these characters and this general setting. It's up to you, but I'll follow him there every time he wants to go.

imageMAY161607 QUEEN EMERALDAS HC GN VOL 01 (OF 2) $24.99
Prime-time Leiji Matsumoto, one of the most graceful stylists ever to make a comics page. I can stare at this stuff for hours, and it used to be I had to because my passion for this particular artist outpaced my ability to find translated-into-English pages. I can't imagine this not just killing right now, given the kind of work that a lot of younger cartoonists are doing.

MAY160090 LOBSTER JOHNSON METAL MONSTERS OF MIDTOWN #3 (OF 3) $3.50
MAY160214 BATGIRL #1 $2.99
MAY160373 ROM #1 $4.99
MAR160555 AUTUMNLANDS TOOTH & CLAW #12 (MR) $2.99
MAY160635 EAST OF WEST #28 $3.99
MAY160642 JUPITERS LEGACY VOL 2 #2 (OF 5) CVR A QUITELY (MR) $3.99
MAY160860 BLACK PANTHER #4 $3.99
MAY160840 HOWARD THE DUCK #9 $3.99
MAY161512 HIP HOP FAMILY TREE #12 $3.99
Pretty good week for comic-book comics, coming right off of the big summer gone. Mignola-verse to start, as always. Batgirl was the title that was the spear tip of DC mixing it up a bit on their books in the hope of gaining a wide audience. Rom I have no particular fondness for, but I'm interested in the fact that it's being published again. Autumlands and East Of West are fun comics from sturdy creators. Jupiter's Legacy ending in five issues seems unlikely to be a natural-seeming event, so I'm expecting another period of time off for artist Frank Quitely or a really abrupt conclusion. I think with issue #5 we'll have a much greater grasp as to how well the new Black Panther title is working with its fan base. Everything's been great so far. HTD is in its final months, Finally: All Hail Ed Piskor.

APR160403 SUICIDE SQUAD THE SILVER AGE OMNIBUS HC $49.99
It makes sense these comics would be reprinted as widely as possible given the film, although it's hard to imagine the comic book format not being the best one. The more yellow the paper, the better.

MAY160429 TMNT ONGOING #60 $3.99
MAY160079 ELFQUEST FINAL QUEST #15 $3.99
That's about 50 percent more issues on each of these series than I would have guessed were there money involved. Someday I'll catch up with the Elfquest. I'll probably only ever sample the Turtles, if that.

MAY168864 JUPITERS LEGACY VOL 2 #1 (OF 5) 2ND PTG (MR) $3.99
MAY168865 SHE WOLF #1 2ND PTG (MR) $3.99
MAY168436 BLACK PANTHER #2 RAHZZAH RUN JEWELS 3RD PTG VAR $3.99
These are all comics doing well enough for multiple printings. In the case of item #s 1 and 3, one would have to think there's some playing along by the company, as both could have been expected to sell a lot of copies.

MAY161430 BADGER TP VOL 01 BATTLE OF THE FIVE WIZARDS $21.99
Love the Badger. Don't know what this is exactly, but I have a nostalgic thing going within my family where that character is concerned.

APR161855 DENNIS THE MENACE HC VOL 02 COMPLETE COMICBOOKS $19.99
JAN161032 OHIO IS FOR SALE GN (MR) $19.99
MAY161453 BOYS OF SHERIFF STREET GN (MR) $14.95
Finally: three stand-alones I want to buy, including a surprise French album series making an unexpected North American appearance. What's not to like?

*****

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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Holy Crap Look At This Al Williamson Art

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Paul O'Brien on Old Man Logan #5-7. John Seven on The Incantations Of Daniel Johnston. Benjamin Bailey on Kill Or Be Killed.

* go, read: So Below.

* Constantino C. Tejero walks through the fine art aspects of work by man prominent Filipino cartoonists through the age.

* OTBP: The Adventure Zone.

* on making a mini-comic.

* Stephen Bissette profiles Vernon Grant. Sean Ford talks to Gabby Schulz.

* this looks lovely. So does this.

* finally, love for Schuiten.
 
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Happy 78th Birthday, Pierre Christin!

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Happy 70th Birthday, Matthias Schultheiss!

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July 26, 2016


Go, Look: Mean Streets

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posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Military Veteran Group Issues Broad Warning Against Cartoonist Zapiro, Disrespectful Art

Here. There's a long and unfortunate history of the African National Congress and its subgroups speaking in a hostile way towards the cartoonist Zapiro and other artists, so this latest round shouldn't be a surprise. What is always worth noting is this idea that exists in various places that politicians deserve respectful treatment above and beyond other people. I strongly disagree, but that's not the way so many political cultures lean.
 
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OTBP: š! #25

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Bundled Extra: Let's Throw The Spotlight On The Comics-Related News From Comic-Con

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I've received some word from several CR readers that it seemed there was a lack of comics news at Comic-Con International in 2016. I think it was a light year of news for all the media participating. Even the movie material was less about casting announcements or substantive deal-making than it was debuting commercials on existing films' behalf.

There were some fun announcements and bits of news, though, strictly as it related to the comics medium -- the greatest of them all. Here's what I could find.

* Drawn and Quarterly announced its acquisitions of Hostages by Guy Delisle and Poppies Of Iraq by Lewis Trondheim and Brigitte Findakly. The Delisle is due next Spring and the Poppies book in the Fall.

image* there will be a Jack Kirby-era Fantastic Four Artist's Edition from IDW in early 2017, kicking off that year's celebration of the King's 100th birthday with style and flair.

* this isn't a project that exists, but Derf let it be known during his spotlight panel that as a irascible long-time resident of Cleveland with a great sense of humor, he'd be pretty good at writing a Howard The Duck comic. In general, if you're pitching, Derf is listening.

* Joëlle Jones signed an exclusive at DC Comics.

* the Graphix imprint at Scholastic announced at their annual cocktail party that they will be hosting a major contest aimed at unpublished cartoonists to find their newest author. That seems like one hell of an opportunity, and should benefit them PR-wise as well as the services of the person they select. All those cartoonists dress pretty well, so I have to imagine that it's a good company through which to publish.

* Marvel is going to launch a title called World Of Wakanda expanding on plotlines suggested in their popular Black Panther comic. Artist Afua Richardson, artist Alitha Martinez, poet Yona Harvey and writer Roxane Gay are apparently involved. I'm putting Richardson first here because that Times article failed to mention her at all.

* IDW plans to publish a bunch of new Hasbro-related series in the months ahead.

* the Richard Rider as Nova character will appear in a forthcoming Marvel comic book.

* the videogame company Blizzard will team with Dark Horse Comics to make comics related to the gaming company's Overwatch franchise.

* in what may be Comic-Con's first announcement of an announcement, Jim Lee let it be known there will likely be some use of the WildStorm properties under DC's current "Rebirth" line directive. That was a talent-driven company when it was at its height, but that talent did enough with the characters that I would imagine some of them to be appealing.

* Tomb Raider gets a fancy archival treatment.

image* Keith Knight let slip at a panel on Thursday that a next-year book for which he's doing only illustrations -- I'm guessing this one -- is part of a three-book deal.

* Marvel is planning to have its Inhumans properties fight their X-Men properties in an event comic over the 2016-2017 winter. That sounds miserable. I don't really understand Marvel's recent stewardship of those properties. Inhumans seems a gold mine -- aliens among us that are machines of intergalactic war -- that has been given X-Men plotline hand-me-downs. X-Men is a former champ that got old and worn out and seems to be wrestling with its t-shirt on these days. X-Men in particular seems to be in that place DC was with the Legion Of Super-Heroes property right before they basically stopped trying. I will feel better for the loser (which will be the mutants), and the resulting hope for an eventual relaunch unburdened by nostalgia and the impediment of movie-deal emphasis.

* VIZ has joined the corporate partnerships portion of the CBLDF support umbrella, and there's already a handbook to show for it.

* writer Joss Whedon will do some work on a forthcoming comic starring the Rupert Giles character from the Buffy The Vampire Slayer TV show. Speaking of Whedon, there will be a new Firefly/Serenity comic book series from Dark Horse.

* Ben Hatke has a sizable comic out any second called Mighty Jack.

image* at her spotlight panel on Thursday, when asked about potential future projects, Lisa Hanawalt let slip that she has made many more Coyote Doggirl comics than she's posted on-line.

* there were Eisner Awards. Big nights for Drawn and Quarterly, Fantagraphics, Image. Hall Of Fame welcomes Tove Jansson, Carl Burgos, Lynda Barry, Matt Groening, Rube Goldberg and Jacques Tardi.

* I'm sure I'm missing a few, but it looks like comics-related people taking home Inkpots were Peggy Burns, Tom Devlin, Matt Fraction, Derf, Jason Aaron, Jim Davis, Christopher Priest, Kieron Gillen, Peter David and Alex Sinclair.

* the Comic-Con Icon award went to a comics person this year: Sergio.

* my old industry pal and respected peer Graeme McMillan reminds me that Dynamite had a bunch of pre-show announcements. I'm not finding anyone to sort that out for me -- I'm a brave person but I'm not that brave -- but I'm guessing that this New York Times article is a good place to start. Let me put up a bunch of random links, too.

* Fantagraphics sold out of its allotment of Patience by Saturday afternoon. I think Cartoon Books sold out of the new Bone: Coda, of which they brought tons.

* Graeme had a pre-con story of his own: Joe Casey + Nick Dragotta + America Vasquez.

* IDW will do Jurassic World in 2017. If it's like the movie, it'll be a massive surprise hit. Here's Bleeding Cool's snapshot-driven report on the rest of their retailer presentation.

* finally, Miriam Libicki wrote to admonish me for not coming by her booth, where she would have regaled me with stories about her forthcoming book, Toward A Hot Jew. That's a Fantagraphics book, and I believe the cartoonist's debut there.

*****



*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Timothy Lamb

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Collective Memory: Comic-Con International 2016

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Links to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning the 2016 edition of Comic-Con International, held July 21-24 with a July 20 Preview Night in and around the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego.

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

*****

Institutional
* Festival Site
* Physical Location
* Host City

imageBlogs And Personal Journals
* Phil Nel
* The Beat

Facebook
* Community Page

Miscellaneous
* Photos From Mid-'70s Comic-Con

News Stories And Columns
* CCI 01
* CCI 02
* Time
* Washington Post

Photos
* boingboing
* Comicbook.com
* Nerdist
* Variety

Twitter
* #SDCC
* #SDCC2016

*****



*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: TrumpTrump

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* this one's several days old at this point and has probably been widely seen, but Steve Brodner has been doing some fun work with the Village Voice recently.

* Dean Mullaney has the next wave of Library Of American Comics releases. Ted Adams says don't sleep on Dieter Lumpen.

* those nice men at Secret Acres sent out two old-fashioned PR announcements for two forthcoming books, due out around SPX time: a new printing of Brendan Leache's Pterodactyl Hunters in the Gilded City, as well as Reid Psaltis' The Order of Things.

* this was the foldered-out preview copy that Fantagraphics was pressing into everyone's hands during Comic-Con. It looks fascinating, and I'm told it reads equally well.

* there were likely a bunch of of corporate-partnership comics that I failed to notice during Comic-Con. One is Blizzard and Dark Horse for a comic about the Overwatch game. I just saw that one. Mostly it's stuff going the other direction.

* finally, Ken Eppstein wrote in to say that the magazine American Road has a comics focus this month.
 
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Go, Look: An Arnold Roth Process Post

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Go, Look: Paul Pope Images Mini-Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Rob Clough on a bunch of comics by Whit Taylor.

* I'm all for articles exploring the issue of fan entitlement, but 1) the recent Leslie Jones thing struck me as something far different and far scarier than creators being told they suck for movie plot points and is dangerous equivalency to make, 2) you're probably not being fully honest if you don't get into the fact that big media properties just aren't about making art and asking for a culture of artistic leeway to be afforded those who are brought in to make art product like that is sort of weird. Maybe we leave Shakespeare alone but can fully expect the choreographer of Shakespeare Ice Capades will get notes.

* a little bit on Alien Fire.

* there were two Washington Post articles I planned to link to but I've reached my monthly limit of backtracking to copy the link's address directly after not getting the article.

* congrats to 2dcloud on hitting their crowd-funding goal.

* Bully focuses on toast, an optimal reaction to the excesses of Comic-Con.

* finally, Evan Narcisse talks to Chadwick Boseman. Paul Gravett profiles Igort.
 
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Happy 63rd Birthday, Bob Pinaha!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Brannon Costello!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Lawrence Watt-Evans!

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July 25, 2016


Go, Look: Advice To Hillary Clinton

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Your 2016 Comic-Con Related News Round-Up

image

Here are links and commentary related to news being generated the weekend of Comic-Con International. The following will be broken up by day of publication, but certainly there's no restriction as to when something might end up being discussed. The daily breakdown is to help those who are reading this column on subsequent days, as it's added to.

*****

Wednesday, July 20

I'm not seeing a whole bunch of news right away. Not publishing news, anyway. There some leaks of some announcements, and rumors of same. The two formal Wednesday news-generating events of recent memory -- the ICv2.com conference, Image Expo -- have been moved elsewhere.

People are arriving in town and setting up for whatever it is they do on the weekend. I've been able to score some interviews despite some REALLY LATE asks, which indicates to me that it's still not a big comics-press weekend in terms of in-depth work. I think that's fine, though. Not every weekend has to involve seven hours of intense podcasting from one's hotel suite. You aren't going to get several months of work done the next four days. You'll probably get less work done than usual. I also think that the industry has had a hard time adjusting to new show realities because there's not much of an industry anymore at least in terms a solid base of the kind of activity one might expect from a business supporting an art form. I don't know what you can do at a show like this one for mid-list and lower-selling books that doesn't involve a huge amount of guesswork.

Of what's promised to happens this weekend pubishing-wise, there's not a ton that interests me. I'm looking forward to seeing how Fantagraphics does in the old Top Shelf island space and if Top Shelf finds a solid home at the IDW space. IDW was a company that took a while to find a formula that works for them on the show floor whereas relative to its size I always felt Top Shelf comfortable there. The cartoonists appearing at Drawn and Quarterly are super-solid. Image seems loaded for bear, too, while DC becoming a wider-entertainment booth seems like a potential remember-this-year moment. Derf scoring a Saturday panel seems to me something worth noting on Abrams' behalf. The cocktail party seems pretty set; the outdoor media events do not.

I've noticed some drift in focused excitement for shows in general, but I think SDCC is sort of immune to those things. People are always ready to go out to dinner and stand around hotel balconies with drinks in their hands. I think rank and file indie/alt suffers right now, but they're not here.

I failed to mention -- well, mentioned and then withdrew, hoping for a better link -- that actor John Barrowman is hosting the Eisners.

The big story heading into the show is this: increased security, and more scrutiny of what that means.

We've had some terrifying terrorism incidents in different places around the world in the last 24 months, and it's not out of the question that we could see one with our large gathering of people. If you're going to Comic-Con in a group, I'd have the discussion about how to meet if things get weird or crazy (pick a walk-to spot in town), although there's not much you can do if the unspeakable happens except keep your wits about you. The con community came close to some scary incidents at the 2015 show without our folding in the possibility of an outright aggressive, planned event. Be well. Be safe.

We should also remember that Comic-Con's strategy is to emphasize paid security and a formal protocol designed to have that paid security catch incidents of harassment or abuse. Whether this is enough is a conversation for the other 360 days a year. Until then, for this weekend in particular, it's on the community to police its own as best as it is able. Comics suffers from a longtime sickness in terms of harassment as toxic and hard to flush as its embrace of economic exploitation. We should go as far as we can in the other direction to make sure everyone has a safe, hassle-free weekend. Keep an eye on each other. Check your own perceived right to act out or have a certain kind of fun. Remember that this is a professional event, and hold those around you to the expectations of that as a bare-minimum standard. It's not like we aren't getting to be children every other way possible.

*****

Thursday, July 21

I'm going down to the show today after spending a brief, brief, brief time in Los Angeles with a close friend and then a family member. I'm coming in on train, if anyone is taking the 6:00 AM.

Still haven't seen a lot of news. Some of the discussion about the show outside the show continues.

I just realized that one of the reasons I'm not seeing a lot of news is that I'm not looking very hard. I will do better tomorrow. I will tell you that you have to cross the street from the San Diego train station to get a cab and that wasn't the case several years ago I don't think. Also that Amtrak business class no longer reserves seats, they just keep free the number of seats in the business class car. That's kind of right up next to useless.

This is interesting: creators revisiting old-ground using the time-honored tradition of near-copies and not-reallys to explore ground they might have wished to explore with a character or two.

The first comics person I saw was that nice man Rob Salkowitz.

*****

Friday, September 22

The funniest thing I heard yesterday was Brigid Alverson complaining that everyone think she's a librarian. "I'm not glamorous enough to be a librarian."

The second funniest thing I heard yesterday was Andrew Aydin pitching a non-March project. "It's not terrible."

Everything else was tied for third.

I moderated three panels: Lisa Hanawalt's spotlight, one of those weird panels where they stick a bunch of people to get them another panel and provide the talk with a terribly broad name ("Indie Comics") and the Barnaby panel. Everyone on them was great. It's such a pleasure to talk about a 70-year-old comic strip in a giant convention hall in a room halfway to Mexico, RC Harvey barking out random observations like an old-timey AM Radio Show Host.

One publishing tidbit I pulled out of Lisa Hanawalt is that she works on multiple projects for herself as opposed to commercially-inspired projects and that she's done a bunch more pages for Coyote Doggirl she hasn't shown anyone that will one day be published.

As far as Barnaby goes, Eric Reynolds confirms it hasn't sold as much as he thought it might, but that Fantagraphics will conclude the series and right now volumes four and five are slotted for 2017 and 2018.

Fantagraphics still expects to publish Comics As Art: We Told You So this calendar year. A ton of people have told me they greatly anticipate that one, in a way that indicates something other than just being nice. Last chapter, organized by writer Mike Dean, is apparently over 55,000 words, which is almost more than twice the commissioned length of the entire book as conceived in 2005.

Nate Powell looks super-happy to have March Volume 3 in the rear-view window.

Book of the show in terms of a kind of mass sales event may be Bone: Coda or whatever specific volume holds this Bones-Going-Home work. Those are great-looking comics, and I'm slightly surprised more hasn't been made of Smith's return to that material in such a significant way.

Keith Knight is collaborating on a series of kids book that will come out starting next Spring.

I was sorry to hear that Hooded Utilitarian will be going into hiatus, and may not come back. They published a lot of talented writers whom I hope will have other outlets if they seek them out. I apologize for missing this news: my access to on-line material has been somewhat limited heading into this year's SDCC.

Scholastic announced a kind of wide-open publishing challenge. I tend to process news like that through my experience working on the Fantagraphics slush pile, which was nightmarish. Gina Gagliano assured me that the material they got submitted on a regular basis is actually quite high, and they may one day soon publish someone brought to their attention by an open submission -- I hope that's generic enough she won't get mad at me.

Joe Casey pointed out he thought we would be drowned in Pokemon GO players, but that's been the case at all.

It's sticky hot here, by the way -- for San Diego weather, anyway. I resemble one of those bad guys that opened the ark of the covenant at the end of Raiders.

The biggest item of discussion is the obviously increased security. The second biggest item of discussion the changing nature of the show: less cosplay overall, none of the super-intense fandom displays of the mid-2000s. The crowds seem under control, and it's like every tiny little fandom has found a place to be welcome.

Rich Johnston isn't here.

*****

Friday, July 22

Here on Saturday morning, Friday seems a million years ago and I'm not sure I can rally as much as I would need to present a full report.

This was my mostly free day. I had an interview with David at comiXology planned but he received some minor medial attention and we're still trying to reschedule. I stepped into a lot of panels, from Ron Wimberly to Kramers Ergot to Allan Bellman, for several minutes at a time and enjoyed them all.

Everyone is calling this a mellow show, where no panel is driving anyone to spasms of excitement and no signing line has to be capped. Everyone's having a pleasant time, though.

Got to see Image's David Brothers moderate two panels and it struck me how better at doing panels and presenting in public Brothers' generation is over my own. The baseline skill-set is way, way higher.

The Kramers' panel was fascinating, such a modest crowd for at Matt Groening appearance -- he's a fan, and he's in an issue. Sammy Harkham gives really short, thoughtful, articulate answers. He used a load-up philosophy on the book's first third, basically placing all of his personal favorites there to engage with the readers in a way that would make them trust the experience.

I fell asleep like five time at the panel. When you're seeing a panel with your friends, they all notice when you nod off. Sorry, guys!

I've talked to a ton of writers this weekend I hadn't before, from Albert Ching to the new generation of Beat writers to Abraham Riesman to Nick Sousanis. It was a great weekend that way.

Had my first not-good meal in a long time at San Diego. Rhymes with "Milton Hayfront." Strong contrast with my excellent dinner at the Grant Grill the night before. I know how self-indulgent a bullet point like this is, sorry.

Said hi to Jim Davis, enjoying his first Comic-Con. He called it a "sober Mardi Gras" and admitted he thought it would be mostly dudes. He's blown away by his interaction with the fans, which isn't something strip cartoonists do on a regular basis.

Talked to Mark Evanier and Karen Green about 100 years of Kirby next year. Talked to Denis Kitchen about 100 years of Will Eisner next year.

I'll write more about the Eisners in the final report. They were a very interesting snapshot of where the show is right now, where comics is right now.

Zander Cannon hurt his leg recently being a "cool dad" but still gets around better than I do.

I had fun tweeting the show last night.

Image booth was hopping during my one visit.

Eddie Campbell is a married man again, and lives in Chicago, Illinois. God bless America.

*****

Saturday, June 23

Sorry about the confusion on the site this morning. I meant to run my panel chat with either Lisa Hanawalt or Derf Backderf, but I forgot to record them. I do have a short talk with David Steinberger from comiXology about a few broad issues facing that company right now, and will run that soon.

By the way, Chip Mosher asking "did that recording really record?" after my interview with Steinberger has to be the worst, paranoia-inducing jump-in by any press and marketing person ever. Thanks for nothing, Mosher!

Mosher, by the way, had the best phone picture show-around of the con: a series of newspaper articles about a long-ago direct relative's shooting death where the two practically made the shooter the mayor, they seemed so happy to be rid of the elder Mosher.

imageI don't have much to say about the comiXology trading cards but I think we can all agree that Stan Sakai's lion-in-winter/ocean-as-backdrop snapshot is the best one.

Gary Groth told me that Fanta Heir Apparent Conrad Groth was working "the other convention" this weekend and I got so far off the grid at least mentally in LA that I had no idea he was talking about. In celebratory news, this chat marked the two millionth time Gary has been exasperated with me.

It looked like Fanta did fine in the old Top Shelf space. They moved their signing space to the other end of booth, and were doing well enough they sold out of their sizable number of Patience books by 3 PM Saturday. The buzz book there was Gilbert's new adaptation of the book of Genesis. Also Eternaut sold some copies after the Eisner win, which is nice to see. That's an excellent book, and many alt-folks of my generation have fond memories of that nice man F. Solano Lopez in San Diego.

I took advantage of my hotel's option to upgrade my room for $8 a night and it was worth it.

I was clearly lying about making today's entry about publishing news links.

*****

Sunday, July 24

Okay, I wasn't at the show today. I chose to fly out on a redeye to Charlotte at 11 PM Saturday night. So this is all fake news.

It sounds like people had a fruitful but exhausting weekend. One big factor in the exhaustion was the heat, unlike anything I've ever experienced down there humidity-wise. Another big factor was that everything was more diffuse crowd-wise, so there's a been a shift from a few panels being impossible to everything all over the convention center being more difficult. My toughest walk was the first block of the Gaslamp district, not anything in the hall, which makes me think there's not 100K people out there without tickets but it seems more likely that more of the attendees just naturally roam around to all corners of the place.

I was told one restaurant within a few blocks of the convention center was holding tables for Hollywood-types that made reservations and then didn't show up. They weren't releasing those tables, either. I hope they enjoyed having a house 1/2 full when there are probably hundreds of people they could have processed through there.

Two big publishing-news announcements from Drawn And Quarterly.

Ran into Jeffrey Brown, who looked slender, relaxed and happy. Jeffrey was the annual person where we spoke to each longer than we know each other and it became awkward until we actively broke it off. His new series starts soon. He's had so much success with his Star Wars-related books it will be interesting to see what happens there.

IDW was promoting the Tom Tomorrow projects it announced in May.

IDW will do a big Jack Kirby Fantastic Four Artist's Edition early next year, and that should be something. I think there are still a couple of issues that will be reprinted that they have yet to announce. There is literally no wrong choice here. The beginning of the run has work by Chic Stone and looks freaking amazing in black and white. The Joe Sinnott middle-range years are rightfully legendary. The end of the run features some of Kirby's most powerful work.

Looks like DC will be ready to announce its latest plans for Wildstorm-related properties by this Fall.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Dan DeCarlo Beach Covers

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Go, Read: Abraham Riesman Talks To Bruce Timm About Material In Killing Joke Adaptation

imageI don't have a ton to say about how corporate-property cartoons explore issues touching on sex and violence because I assume they'll do so in a crass way, be strongly criticized for it and then make money anyway.

I am interested that anyone would feel compelled to adapt The Killing Joke, which was to serious graphic novels of the 1980s what "Runaway Train" was to the grunge music era: the successful project that made people stop and wonder if things hadn't ended about a half-year earlier. It's a work the project's writer admitted was deeply limited and problematic. Because they're using the DC standard cartoon approach, you lose 80 percent of Brian Bolland's contributions. And because you're rewriting and expanding it, you stand a pretty good chance of losing a big chunk of craft that Alan Moore might bring as a writer. What you're left with is the idea that a Batman story can handle these delicate issues in the course of doing what it usually does. I think in this case at least, we'll learn it can't.
 
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Go, Look: These Days

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

It's S. Clay Wilson's 75th birthday, and I hope that you'll spend part of it reading and/or perhaps donating to his special needs trust. I'll suspend the usual by requests until later in the week or next Monday's column.

Wilson has been in need of specialized care for over nine years. He has the wonderful Lorraine Chamberlain in his life, who among other things of importantce was the person that set up the trust.

If you're not familiar with Wilson's career, that's a good place to start to catch up with it. If not for the potent, even repugnant quality of Wilson's imagination, the '60s would have been much less of a revolution in comics art expression than they turned out to be.
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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Not Comics: Dustin Harbin Has A T-Shirt Store

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* John Seven on Don't Come In Here. Gabrielle Bellot on Calvin And Hobbes. Austin English on The Heavy Hand.

* due to "San Diego Con Inbox" I missed this heartfelt post from Travis Hedge Coke about the last days and life example of his comics-reading grandfather.

* the translation makes this a bit rough -- as do the abrasive opinions -- but I'm sure many cartoonists are tired of drawing shooting tragedies and I bet many of them feel like it's something they'd rather not be doing.

* take a class from Brian Michael Bendis. I can't tell where this is.

* here's a peek at Andrea Tsurumi's sketchbook.

* finally, Jade Sarson on her For The Love Of God, Marie.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Dan Shahin!

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Happy 69th Birthday, Ted Benoit!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Ray Billingsley!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Jon Lewis!

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Happy 75th Birthday, S. Clay Wilson!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Alex Wald!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Chip Bok!

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July 24, 2016


Go, Look: KL Ricks

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posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Defunct British Golden Age Comics Blog

image
 
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2016 Comic-Con Related News Round-Up

image

Here are links and commentary related to news being generated the weekend of Comic-Con International. The following will be broken up by day of publication, but certainly there's no restriction as to when something might end up being discussed. The daily breakdown is to help those who are reading this column on subsequent days, as it's added to.

*****

Wednesday, July 20

I'm not seeing a whole bunch of news right away. Not publishing news, anyway. There some leaks of some announcements, and rumors of same. The two formal Wednesday news-generating events of recent memory -- the ICv2.com conference, Image Expo -- have been moved elsewhere.

People are arriving in town and setting up for whatever it is they do on the weekend. I've been able to score some interviews despite some REALLY LATE asks, which indicates to me that it's still not a big comics-press weekend in terms of in-depth work. I think that's fine, though. Not every weekend has to involve seven hours of intense podcasting from one's hotel suite. You aren't going to get several months of work done the next four days. You'll probably get less work done than usual. I also think that the industry has had a hard time adjusting to new show realities because there's not much of an industry anymore at least in terms a solid base of the kind of activity one might expect from a business supporting an art form. I don't know what you can do at a show like this one for mid-list and lower-selling books that doesn't involve a huge amount of guesswork.

Of what's promised to happens this weekend pubishing-wise, there's not a ton that interests me. I'm looking forward to seeing how Fantagraphics does in the old Top Shelf island space and if Top Shelf finds a solid home at the IDW space. IDW was a company that took a while to find a formula that works for them on the show floor whereas relative to its size I always felt Top Shelf comfortable there. The cartoonists appearing at Drawn and Quarterly are super-solid. Image seems loaded for bear, too, while DC becoming a wider-entertainment booth seems like a potential remember-this-year moment. Derf scoring a Saturday panel seems to me something worth noting on Abrams' behalf. The cocktail party seems pretty set; the outdoor media events do not.

I've noticed some drift in focused excitement for shows in general, but I think SDCC is sort of immune to those things. People are always ready to go out to dinner and stand around hotel balconies with drinks in their hands. I think rank and file indie/alt suffers right now, but they're not here.

I failed to mention -- well, mentioned and then withdrew, hoping for a better link -- that actor John Barrowman is hosting the Eisners.

The big story heading into the show is this: increased security, and more scrutiny of what that means.

We've had some terrifying terrorism incidents in different places around the world in the last 24 months, and it's not out of the question that we could see one with our large gathering of people. If you're going to Comic-Con in a group, I'd have the discussion about how to meet if things get weird or crazy (pick a walk-to spot in town), although there's not much you can do if the unspeakable happens except keep your wits about you. The con community came close to some scary incidents at the 2015 show without our folding in the possibility of an outright aggressive, planned event. Be well. Be safe.

We should also remember that Comic-Con's strategy is to emphasize paid security and a formal protocol designed to have that paid security catch incidents of harassment or abuse. Whether this is enough is a conversation for the other 360 days a year. Until then, for this weekend in particular, it's on the community to police its own as best as it is able. Comics suffers from a longtime sickness in terms of harassment as toxic and hard to flush as its embrace of economic exploitation. We should go as far as we can in the other direction to make sure everyone has a safe, hassle-free weekend. Keep an eye on each other. Check your own perceived right to act out or have a certain kind of fun. Remember that this is a professional event, and hold those around you to the expectations of that as a bare-minimum standard. It's not like we aren't getting to be children every other way possible.

*****

Thursday, July 21

I'm going down to the show today after spending a brief, brief, brief time in Los Angeles with a close friend and then a family member. I'm coming in on train, if anyone is taking the 6:00 AM.

Still haven't seen a lot of news. Some of the discussion about the show outside the show continues.

I just realized that one of the reasons I'm not seeing a lot of news is that I'm not looking very hard. I will do better tomorrow. I will tell you that you have to cross the street from the San Diego train station to get a cab and that wasn't the case several years ago I don't think. Also that Amtrak business class no longer reserves seats, they just keep free the number of seats in the business class car. That's kind of right up next to useless.

This is interesting: creators revisiting old-ground using the time-honored tradition of near-copies and not-reallys to explore ground they might have wished to explore with a character or two.

The first comics person I saw was that nice man Rob Salkowitz.

*****

Friday, September 22

The funniest thing I heard yesterday was Brigid Alverson complaining that everyone think she's a librarian. "I'm not glamorous enough to be a librarian."

The second funniest thing I heard yesterday was Andrew Aydin pitching a non-March project. "It's not terrible."

Everything else was tied for third.

I moderated three panels: Lisa Hanawalt's spotlight, one of those weird panels where they stick a bunch of people to get them another panel and provide the talk with a terribly broad name ("Indie Comics") and the Barnaby panel. Everyone on them was great. It's such a pleasure to talk about a 70-year-old comic strip in a giant convention hall in a room halfway to Mexico, RC Harvey barking out random observations like an old-timey AM Radio Show Host.

One publishing tidbit I pulled out of Lisa Hanawalt is that she works on multiple projects for herself as opposed to commercially-inspired projects and that she's done a bunch more pages for Coyote Doggirl she hasn't shown anyone that will one day be published.

As far as Barnaby goes, Eric Reynolds confirms it hasn't sold as much as he thought it might, but that Fantagraphics will conclude the series and right now volumes four and five are slotted for 2017 and 2018.

Fantagraphics still expects to publish Comics As Art: We Told You So this calendar year. A ton of people have told me they greatly anticipate that one, in a way that indicates something other than just being nice. Last chapter, organized by writer Mike Dean, is apparently over 55,000 words, which is almost more than twice the commissioned length of the entire book as conceived in 2005.

Nate Powell looks super-happy to have March Volume 3 in the rear-view window.

Book of the show in terms of a kind of mass sales event may be Bone: Coda or whatever specific volume holds this Bones-Going-Home work. Those are great-looking comics, and I'm slightly surprised more hasn't been made of Smith's return to that material in such a significant way.

Keith Knight is collaborating on a series of kids book that will come out starting next Spring.

I was sorry to hear that Hooded Utilitarian will be going into hiatus, and may not come back. They published a lot of talented writers whom I hope will have other outlets if they seek them out. I apologize for missing this news: my access to on-line material has been somewhat limited heading into this year's SDCC.

Scholastic announced a kind of wide-open publishing challenge. I tend to process news like that through my experience working on the Fantagraphics slush pile, which was nightmarish. Gina Gagliano assured me that the material they got submitted on a regular basis is actually quite high, and they may one day soon publish someone brought to their attention by an open submission -- I hope that's generic enough she won't get mad at me.

Joe Casey pointed out he thought we would be drowned in Pokemon GO players, but that's been the case at all.

It's sticky hot here, by the way -- for San Diego weather, anyway. I resemble one of those bad guys that opened the ark of the covenant at the end of Raiders.

The biggest item of discussion is the obviously increased security. The second biggest item of discussion the changing nature of the show: less cosplay overall, none of the super-intense fandom displays of the mid-2000s. The crowds seem under control, and it's like every tiny little fandom has found a place to be welcome.

Rich Johnston isn't here.

*****

Friday, July 22

Here on Saturday morning, Friday seems a million years ago and I'm not sure I can rally as much as I would need to present a full report.

This was my mostly free day. I had an interview with David at comiXology planned but he received some minor medial attention and we're still trying to reschedule. I stepped into a lot of panels, from Ron Wimberly to Kramers Ergot to Allan Bellman, for several minutes at a time and enjoyed them all.

Everyone is calling this a mellow show, where no panel is driving anyone to spasms of excitement and no signing line has to be capped. Everyone's having a pleasant time, though.

Got to see Image's David Brothers moderate two panels and it struck me how better at doing panels and presenting in public Brothers' generation is over my own. The baseline skill-set is way, way higher.

The Kramers' panel was fascinating, such a modest crowd for at Matt Groening appearance -- he's a fan, and he's in an issue. Sammy Harkham gives really short, thoughtful, articulate answers. He used a load-up philosophy on the book's first third, basically placing all of his personal favorites there to engage with the readers in a way that would make them trust the experience.

I fell asleep like five time at the panel. When you're seeing a panel with your friends, they all notice when you nod off. Sorry, guys!

I've talked to a ton of writers this weekend I hadn't before, from Albert Ching to the new generation of Beat writers to Abraham Riesman to Nick Sousanis. It was a great weekend that way.

Had my first not-good meal in a long time at San Diego. Rhymes with "Milton Hayfront." Strong contrast with my excellent dinner at the Grant Grill the night before. I know how self-indulgent a bullet point like this is, sorry.

Said hi to Jim Davis, enjoying his first Comic-Con. He called it a "sober Mardi Gras" and admitted he thought it would be mostly dudes. He's blown away by his interaction with the fans, which isn't something strip cartoonists do on a regular basis.

Talked to Mark Evanier and Karen Green about 100 years of Kirby next year. Talked to Denis Kitchen about 100 years of Will Eisner next year.

I'll write more about the Eisners in the final report. They were a very interesting snapshot of where the show is right now, where comics is right now.

Zander Cannon hurt his leg recently being a "cool dad" but still gets around better than I do.

I had fun tweeting the show last night.

Image booth was hopping during my one visit.

Eddie Campbell is a married man again, and lives in Chicago, Illinois. God bless America.

*****

Saturday, June 23

Sorry about the confusion on the site this morning. I meant to run my panel chat with either Lisa Hanawalt or Derf Backderf, but I forgot to record them. I do have a short talk with David Steinberger from comiXology about a few broad issues facing that company right now, and will run that soon.

By the way, Chip Mosher asking "did that recording really record?" after my interview with Steinberger has to be the worst, paranoia-inducing jump-in by any press and marketing person ever. Thanks for nothing, Mosher!

Mosher, by the way, had the best phone picture show-around of the con: a series of newspaper articles about a long-ago direct relative's shooting death where the two practically made the shooter the mayor, they seemed so happy to be rid of the elder Mosher.

imageI don't have much to say about the comiXology trading cards but I think we can all agree that Stan Sakai's lion-in-winter/ocean-as-backdrop snapshot is the best one.

Gary Groth told me that Fanta Heir Apparent Conrad Groth was working "the other convention" this weekend and I got so far off the grid at least mentally in LA that I had no idea he was talking about. In celebratory news, this chat marked the two millionth time Gary has been exasperated with me.

It looked like Fanta did fine in the old Top Shelf space. They moved their signing space to the other end of booth, and were doing well enough they sold out of their sizable number of Patience books by 3 PM Saturday. The buzz book there was Gilbert's new adaptation of the book of Genesis. Also Eternaut sold some copies after the Eisner win, which is nice to see. That's an excellent book, and many alt-folks of my generation have fond memories of that nice man F. Solano Lopez in San Diego.

I took advantage of my hotel's option to upgrade my room for $8 a night and it was worth it.

I was clearly lying about making today's entry about publishing news links.

*****

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

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

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Go, Look: Mathilde Van Gheluwe

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Happy 58th Birthday, Robert Greenberger!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Steven Stwalley!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Mark Andrew Smith!

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Happy 81st Birthday, Pat Oliphant!

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July 23, 2016


Go, Look: Matt Wuerker At RNC

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Your 2016 Eisner Award Winners

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The winners for this year's Eisner Awards were announced last night at a fancy program at the Hilton Bayfront. It was a well-received program, with a little bit of something for everyone: John Barrowman making nerd-culture and penis jokes, emotional speeches, people being adorable, Ed Brubaker and Gary Groth and Peggy Burns kind of mixing it up acceptance-speech wise. It was great to see a night where Kate Beaton got an award and Lynda Barry got in the Hall Of Fame. Two great cartoonists.

I thought the winners were all pretty good. There were two I'd change if I could -- actually more, because I'm a jerk, but two stood out to me as personal "aw, man" moments. That's actually really good for an awards show. Biggest surprise was Bill Schelly's Kurtzman book, I think.

I lost my marked-up program, so if anyone has a correction,

Winners are in bold below:

*****

BEST SHORT STORY

* Black Death in America, by Tom King and John Paul Leon, in Vertigo Quarterly: Black (Vertigo/DC)
* Hand Me Down, by Kristyna Baczynski, in 24 x 7 (Fanfare Presents)
* It's Going to Be Okay, by Matthew Inman, in The Oatmeal
* Killing and Dying, by Adrian Tomine, in Optic Nerve #14 (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Lion and Mouse, by R. Sikoryak, in Fable Comics (First Second)

*****

BEST SINGLE ISSUE/ONE-SHOT

* A Blanket of Butterflies, by Richard Van Camp and Scott B. Henderson (HighWater Press)
* I Love This Part, by Tillie Walden (Avery Hill)
* Mowgli's Mirror, by Olivier Schrauwen (Retrofit/Big Planet)
* Pope Hats #4, by Ethan Rilly (AdHouse)
* Silver Surfer #11: "Never After," by Dan Slott and Michael Allred (Marvel)

*****

BEST CONTINUING SERIES

* Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain)
* Giant Days, by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Max Sarin (BOOM! Box)
* Invincible, by Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, and Cliff Rathburn (Image/Skybound)
* Silver Surfer, by Dan Slott and Michael Allred (Marvel)
* Southern Bastards, by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour (Image)

*****

BEST LIMITED SERIES

* Chrononauts, by Mark Millar and Sean Murphy (Image)
* The Fade Out, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)
* Lady Killer, by Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich (Dark Horse)
* Minimum Wage: So Many Bad Decisions, by Bob Fingerman (Image)
* The Spire, by Simon Spurrier and Jeff Stokely (BOOM! Studios)

*****

BEST NEW SERIES

* Bitch Planet, by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro (Image)
* Harrow County, by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook (Dark Horse)
* Kaijumax, by Zander Cannon (Oni)
* Monstress, by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (Image)
* Paper Girls, by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang (Image)
* The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, by Ryan North and Erica Henderson (Marvel)

*****

BEST PUBLICATION FOR EARLY READERS (UP TO AGE 8)

* Anna Banana and the Chocolate Explosion, by Dominque Roques and Alexis Dormal (First Second)
* Little Robot, by Ben Hatke (First Second)
* The Only Child, by Guojing (Schwartz & Wade)
* SheHeWe, by Lee Nordling and Meritxell Bosch (Lerner Graphic Universe)
* Written and Drawn by Henrietta, by Liniers (TOON Books)

*****

BEST PUBLICATION FOR KIDS (AGES 9-12)

* Baba Yaga's Assistant, by Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll (Candlewick)
* Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War, by Jessica Dee Humphreys, Michel Chikwanine, and Claudia Devila (Kids Can Press)
* Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor, by Nathan Hale (Abrams Amulet)
* Over the Garden Wall, by Pat McHale and Jim Campbell (BOOM! Studios/KaBOOM!)
* Roller Girl, by Victoria Jamieson (Dial Books)
* Sunny Side Up, by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm (Scholastic Graphix)

*****

BEST PUBLICATION FOR TEENS (AGES 13-17)

* Awkward, by Svetlana Chmakova (Yen Press)
* Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, by Don Brown (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
* March: Book Two, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf/IDW)
* Moose, by Max de Radiguès (Conundrum)
* Oyster War, by Ben Towle (Oni)
* SuperMutant Magic Academy, by Jillian Tamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)

*****

BEST HUMOR PUBLICATION

* Cyanide & Happiness: Stab Factory, by Kris Wilson, Rob DenBleyker, and Dave McElfatrick (BOOM! Studios/BOOM! Box)
* Deep Dark Fears, by Fran Krause (Ten Speed Press)
* Sexcastle, by Kyle Starks (Image)
* Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection, by Kate Beaton (Drawn & Quarterly)
* UR, by Eric Haven (AdHouse)

*****

BEST DIGITAL/WEBCOMIC

* Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain/comiXology)
* Fresh Romance, edited by Janelle Asselin (Rosy Press/comiXology)
* The Legend of Wonder Woman, by Renae De Liz (DC Digital)
* Lighten Up, by Ronald Wimberly (The Nib)
* These Memories Won't Last, by Stu Campbell (Self-Published)

*****

BEST ANTHOLOGY

* Drawn & Quarterly, Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary, Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels, edited by Tom Devlin (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Eat More Comics: The Best of the Nib, edited by Matt Bors (The Nib)
* 24 x 7, edited by Dan Berry (Fanfare Presents)
* Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard, Vol. 3, edited by David Petersen (BOOM! Studios/Archaia)
* Peanuts: A Tribute to Charles M. Schulz, edited by Shannon Watters (kaBOOM!)

*****

BEST REALITY-BASED WORK

* The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978–1984, by Riad Sattouf (Metropolitan Books)
* Displacement: A Travelogue, by Lucy Knisley (Fantagraphics)
* Hip Hop Family Tree, Book 3: 1983–1984, by Ed Piskor (Fantagraphics)
* Invisible Ink: My Mother's Secret Love Affair With A Famous Cartoonist, by Bill Griffith (Fantagraphics)
* March: Book Two, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf/IDW)
* The Story of My Tits, by Jennifer Hayden (Top Shelf/IDW)

*****

BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM -- NEW

* Long Walk to Valhalla, by Adam Smith and Matthew Fox (BOOM!/Archaia)
* Nanjing: The Burning City, by Ethan Young (Dark Horse)
* Ruins, by Peter Kuper (SelfMadeHero)
* Sam Zabel And The Magic Pen, by Dylan Horrocks (Fantagraphics)
* The Thrilling Adventures Of Lovelace And Babbage, by Sydney Padua (Pantheon)

*****

BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM -- REPRINT

* Angry Youth Comix, by Johnny Ryan (Fantagraphics)
* Roses in December: A Story of Love and Alzheimer's, by Tom Batiuk and Chuck Ayers (Kent State University Press)
* The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal Omnibus by E. K. Weaver (Iron Circus Comics)
* Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson (Harper Teen)
* Soldier's Heart: The Campaign to Understand My WWII Veteran Father, by Carol Tyler (Fantagraphics)

*****

BEST ADAPTATION FROM ANOTHER MEDIUM

* Captive of Friendly Cove: Based on the Secret Journals of John Jewitt, by Rebecca Goldfield, Mike Short, and Matt Dembicki (Fulcrum)
* City of Clowns, by Daniel Alarcón and Sheila Alvarado (Riverhead Books)
* Ghetto Klown, by John Leguizamo, Christa Cassano, and Shamus Beyale (Abrams ComicArts)
* Lafcadio Hearn's The Faceless Ghost and Other Macabre Tales from Japan, adapted by Sean Michael Wilson and Michiru Morikawa (Shambhala)
* Two Brothers, by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse)

*****

BEST US EDITION OF INTERNATIONAL MATERIAL

* Alpha... Directions, by Jens Harder (Knockabout/Fanfare)
* The Eternaut, by Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano Lòpez (Fantagraphics)
* A Glance Backward by Pierre Paquet and Tony Sandoval (Magnetic Press)
* The March of the Crabs, by Arthur de Pins (BOOM! Studios/Archaia)
* The Realist, by Asaf Hanuka (BOOM! Studios/Archaia)

*****

BEST US EDITION OF INTERNATIONAL MATEIAL -- ASIA

* Assassination Classroom Vols. 2–7, by Yusei Matsui (VIZ)
* A Bride's Story, by Kaoru Mori (Yen Press)
* Master Keaton Vols. 2–4, by Naoki Urasawa, Hokusei Katsushika, and Takashi Nagasaki (VIZ)
* Showa, 1953–1989: A History of Japan, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
* A Silent Voice, by Yoshitoki Oima (Kodansha)
* Sunny, by Taiyo Matsumoto (VIZ)

*****

BEST ARCHIVAL COLLECTION/PROJECT -- STRIPS

* Beyond Mars, by Jack Williamson and Lee Elias, edited by Dean Mullaney (IDW/LOAC)
* Cartoons For Victory, by Warren Bernard (Fantagraphics)
* The Complete Funky Winkerbean, Vol. 4, by Tom Batiuk, edited by Mary Young (Black Squirrel Books)
* The Eternaut, designed by Tony Ong (Fantagraphics)
* Kremos: The Lost Art Of Niso Ramponi, Vols. 1-2, edited by Joseph P. Procopio (Picture This/Lost Art Books)
* White Boy in Skull Valley, by Garrett Price, edited by Peter Maresca (Sunday Press)

*****

BEST ARCHIVAL COLLECTION/PROJECT -- COMIC BOOKS

* Frank Miller's Ronin Gallery Edition, edited by Bob Chapman (Graphitti Designs/DC)
* P. Craig Russell's Murder Mystery and Other Stories Gallery Edition, edited by Daniel Chabon (Dark Horse)
* The Puma Blues: The Complete Saga, by Stephen Murphy, Alan Moore, Michael Zulli, Stephen R. Bissette, and Dave Sim (Dover)
* Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: The Don Rosa Library Vols. 3-4, edited by David Gerstein (Fantagraphics)
* Walt Kelly's Fairy Tales, edited by Craig Yoe (IDW)

*****

BEST WRITER

* Jason Aaron, Southern Bastards (Image), Men of Wrath (Marvel Icon), Doctor Strange, Star Wars, Thor (Marvel)
* John Allison, Giant Days (BOOM Studios!)
* Ed Brubaker, The Fade Out, Velvet, Criminal Special Edition (Image)
* Marjorie Liu, Monstress (Image)
* G. Willow Wilson, Ms. Marvel (Marvel)

*****

BEST WRITER/ARTIST

* Bill Griffith, Invisible Ink: My Mother's Secret Love Affair With A Famous Cartoonist (Fantagraphics)
* Nathan Hale, Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor (Abrams)
* Sydney Padua, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace And Babbage (Pantheon)
* Ed Piskor, Hip-Hop Family Tree Vol. 3 (Fantagraphics)
* Noah Van Sciver, Fante Bukowski, Saint Cole (Fantagraphics)

*****

BEST PENCILLER/INKER OR PENCILLER/INKER TEAM

* Michael Allred, Silver Surfer (Marvel); Art Ops (Vertigo/DC)
* Cliff Chiang, Paper Girls (Image)
* Erica Henderson, Jughead (Archie), Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (Marvel)
* Joëlle Jones, Lady Killer (Dark Horse), Brides of Helheim (Oni)
* Nate Powell, March Book Two (Top Shelf/IDW)

*****

BEST PAINTER/MULTIMEDIA ARTIST

* Federico Bertolucci, Love: The Tiger and Love: The Fox (Magnetic Press)
* Colleen Coover, Bandette (Monkeybrain)
* Carita Lupattelli, Izuna (Humanoids)
* Dustin Nguyen, Descender (Image)
* Tony Sandoval, A Glance Backward (Magnetic Press)

*****

BEST COVER ARTIST

* David Aja, Hawkeye, Karnak, Scarlet Witch (Marvel)
* Rafael Albuquerque, Ei8ht (Dark Horse), Huck (Image)
* Amanda Conner, Harley Quinn (DC)
* Joëlle Jones, Lady Killer (Dark Horse), Brides of Helheim (Oni)
* Ed Piskor, Hip-Hop Family Tree (Fantagraphics)

*****

BEST COLORING

* Laura Allred, Lady Killer (Dark Horse); Silver Surfer (Marvel); Art OPS (Vertigo/DC)
* Jordie Bellaire, The Autumnlands, Injection, Plutona, Pretty Deadly, The Surface, They're Not Like Us, Zero (Image); The X-Files (IDW); The Massive (Dark Horse); Magneto, Vision (Marvel)
* Elizabeth Breitweiser, The Fade Out, Criminal Magazine, Outcast, Velvet (Image)
* John Rauch, The Beauty (Image); Batman: Arkham Knight, Earth 2: Society (DC); Runaways (Marvel)
* Dave Stewart, Abe Sapien, BPRD Hell on Earth, Fight Club 2, Frankenstein Underground, Hellboy in Hell, Hellboy and the BPRD, (Dark Horse); Sandman: Overture, Twilight Children (Vertigo/DC), Captain America: White (Marvel), Space Dumplins (Scholastic Graphix)

*****

BEST LETTERING

* Derf Backderf, Trashed (Abrams)
* Steve Dutro, Blood-C, Midnight Society, Plants vs Zombies (Dark Horse)
* Lucy Knisley, Displacement (Fantagraphics)
* Troy Little, Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Top Shelf/IDW)
* Kevin McCloskey, We Dig Worms! (TOON Books)

*****

BEST COMICS-RELATED PERIODICAL/JOURNALISM

* Alter Ego, edited by Roy Thomas (TwoMorrows)
* Back Issue, edited by Michael Eury (TwoMorrows)
* Comic Riffs blog by Michael Cavna (Washington Post)
* Hogan's Alley, edited by Tom Heintjes (Hogan's Alley)
* Jack Kirby Collector, edited by John Morrow (TwoMorrows)

*****

BEST COMICS-RELATED BOOK

* Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America, by Bill Schelly (Fantagraphics)
* King of the Comics: One Hundred Years of King Features Syndicate, edited by Dean Mullaney (IDW/LOAC)
* Only What's Necessary: Charles M. Schulz and the Art of Peanuts, by Chip Kidd and Geoff Spear (Abrams ComicArts)
* Out of Line: The Art of Jules Feiffer, by Martha Fay (Abrams ComicArts)
* Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel, by Paul Levitz (Abrams ComicArts)

*****

BEST ACADEMIC/SCHOLARLY WORK

* The Blacker The Ink: Constructions Of Black Identity In Comics And Sequential Art, edited by Frances Gateward and John Jennings (Rutgers)
* Boys Love Manga And Beyond: History, Culture, And Community In Japan, edited by Mark McLelland et al. (University Press of Mississippi)
* Graphic Medicine Manifesto, by M. K. Czerwiec et al. (Penn State University Press)
* Superheroes On World Screens, edited by Rayna Denison and Rachel Mizsei-Ward (University Press of Mississippi)
* Unflattening, by Nick Sousanis (Harvard University Press)

*****

BEST PUBLICATION DESIGN

* Beyond the Surface, designed by Nicolas André, Sam Arthur, Alex Spiro, and Camille Pichon (Nobrow)
* The Eternaut, designed by Tony Ong (Fantagraphics)
* Eventually Everything Connects, designed by Loris Lora, Sam Arthur, Alex Spiro, and Camille Pichon (Nobrow)
* King of the Comics: One Hundred Years Of King Features Syndicate, designed by Dean Mullaney (IDW/LOAC)
* Only What's Necessary: Charles M. Schulz And The Art of Peanuts, designed by Chip Kidd (Abrams ComicArts)
* Sandman Gallery Edition, designed by Graphitti Designs and Josh Beatman/Brainchild Studios (Graphitti Designs/DC)

*****

HALL OF FAME (JUDGES)
* Carl Burgos
* Tove Jansson


HALL OF FAME (POPULAR VOTE)
* Rube Goldberg
* Jacques Tardi
* Lynda Barry
* Matt Groening


*****

RUSS MANNING PROMISING NEWCOMER AWARD
* Dan Mora

BOB CLAMPETT HUMANITARIAN AWARD
* Matthew Inman

BILL FINGER AWARD
* Richard E. Hughes
* Elliot S! Maggin

*****

IN MEMORIUM: Brad Anderson, Alvin Buenaventura, Denny Eichhorn, Michael Gross, Mary Henderson, George Clayton Johnson, Alan Kupperberg, Mell Lazarus, Roger May, Shigeru Mizuki, Rick Obadiah, Paul Ryan, Murphy Anderson, Darwyn Cooke.

*****

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Go, Look: Minimidget

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posted 1:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2016 Comic-Con Related News Round-Up

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Here are links and commentary related to news being generated the weekend of Comic-Con International. The following will be broken up by day of publication, but certainly there's no restriction as to when something might end up being discussed. The daily breakdown is to help those who are reading this column on subsequent days, as it's added to.

*****

Wednesday, July 20

I'm not seeing a whole bunch of news right away. Not publishing news, anyway. There some leaks of some announcements, and rumors of same. The two formal Wednesday news-generating events of recent memory -- the ICv2.com conference, Image Expo -- have been moved elsewhere.

People are arriving in town and setting up for whatever it is they do on the weekend. I've been able to score some interviews despite some REALLY LATE asks, which indicates to me that it's still not a big comics-press weekend in terms of in-depth work. I think that's fine, though. Not every weekend has to involve seven hours of intense podcasting from one's hotel suite. You aren't going to get several months of work done the next four days. You'll probably get less work done than usual. I also think that the industry has had a hard time adjusting to new show realities because there's not much of an industry anymore at least in terms a solid base of the kind of activity one might expect from a business supporting an art form. I don't know what you can do at a show like this one for mid-list and lower-selling books that doesn't involve a huge amount of guesswork.

Of what's promised to happens this weekend pubishing-wise, there's not a ton that interests me. I'm looking forward to seeing how Fantagraphics does in the old Top Shelf island space and if Top Shelf finds a solid home at the IDW space. IDW was a company that took a while to find a formula that works for them on the show floor whereas relative to its size I always felt Top Shelf comfortable there. The cartoonists appearing at Drawn and Quarterly are super-solid. Image seems loaded for bear, too, while DC becoming a wider-entertainment booth seems like a potential remember-this-year moment. Derf scoring a Saturday panel seems to me something worth noting on Abrams' behalf. The cocktail party seems pretty set; the outdoor media events do not.

I've noticed some drift in focused excitement for shows in general, but I think SDCC is sort of immune to those things. People are always ready to go out to dinner and stand around hotel balconies with drinks in their hands. I think rank and file indie/alt suffers right now, but they're not here.

I failed to mention -- well, mentioned and then withdrew, hoping for a better link -- that actor John Barrowman is hosting the Eisners.

The big story heading into the show is this: increased security, and more scrutiny of what that means.

We've had some terrifying terrorism incidents in different places around the world in the last 24 months, and it's not out of the question that we could see one with our large gathering of people. If you're going to Comic-Con in a group, I'd have the discussion about how to meet if things get weird or crazy (pick a walk-to spot in town), although there's not much you can do if the unspeakable happens except keep your wits about you. The con community came close to some scary incidents at the 2015 show without our folding in the possibility of an outright aggressive, planned event. Be well. Be safe.

We should also remember that Comic-Con's strategy is to emphasize paid security and a formal protocol designed to have that paid security catch incidents of harassment or abuse. Whether this is enough is a conversation for the other 360 days a year. Until then, for this weekend in particular, it's on the community to police its own as best as it is able. Comics suffers from a longtime sickness in terms of harassment as toxic and hard to flush as its embrace of economic exploitation. We should go as far as we can in the other direction to make sure everyone has a safe, hassle-free weekend. Keep an eye on each other. Check your own perceived right to act out or have a certain kind of fun. Remember that this is a professional event, and hold those around you to the expectations of that as a bare-minimum standard. It's not like we aren't getting to be children every other way possible.

*****

Thursday, July 21

I'm going down to the show today after spending a brief, brief, brief time in Los Angeles with a close friend and then a family member. I'm coming in on train, if anyone is taking the 6:00 AM.

Still haven't seen a lot of news. Some of the discussion about the show outside the show continues.

I just realized that one of the reasons I'm not seeing a lot of news is that I'm not looking very hard. I will do better tomorrow. I will tell you that you have to cross the street from the San Diego train station to get a cab and that wasn't the case several years ago I don't think. Also that Amtrak business class no longer reserves seats, they just keep free the number of seats in the business class car. That's kind of right up next to useless.

This is interesting: creators revisiting old-ground using the time-honored tradition of near-copies and not-reallys to explore ground they might have wished to explore with a character or two.

The first comics person I saw was that nice man Rob Salkowitz.

*****

Friday, September 22

The funniest thing I heard yesterday was Brigid Alverson complaining that everyone think she's a librarian. "I'm not glamorous enough to be a librarian."

The second funniest thing I heard yesterday was Andrew Aydin pitching a non-March project. "It's not terrible."

Everything else was tied for third.

I moderated three panels: Lisa Hanawalt's spotlight, one of those weird panels where they stick a bunch of people to get them another panel and provide the talk with a terribly broad name ("Indie Comics") and the Barnaby panel. Everyone on them was great. It's such a pleasure to talk about a 70-year-old comic strip in a giant convention hall in a room halfway to Mexico, RC Harvey barking out random observations like an old-timey AM Radio Show Host.

One publishing tidbit I pulled out of Lisa Hanawalt is that she works on multiple projects for herself as opposed to commercially-inspired projects and that she's done a bunch more pages for Coyote Doggirl she hasn't shown anyone that will one day be published.

As far as Barnaby goes, Eric Reynolds confirms it hasn't sold as much as he thought it might, but that Fantagraphics will conclude the series and right now volumes four and five are slotted for 2017 and 2018.

Fantagraphics still expects to publish Comics As Art: We Told You So this calendar year. A ton of people have told me they greatly anticipate that one, in a way that indicates something other than just being nice. Last chapter, organized by writer Mike Dean, is apparently over 55,000 words, which is almost more than twice the commissioned length of the entire book as conceived in 2005.

Nate Powell looks super-happy to have March Volume 3 in the rear-view window.

Book of the show in terms of a kind of mass sales event may be Bone: Coda or whatever specific volume holds this Bones-Going-Home work. Those are great-looking comics, and I'm slightly surprised more hasn't been made of Smith's return to that material in such a significant way.

Keith Knight is collaborating on a series of kids book that will come out starting next Spring.

I was sorry to hear that Hooded Utilitarian will be going into hiatus, and may not come back. They published a lot of talented writers whom I hope will have other outlets if they seek them out. I apologize for missing this news: my access to on-line material has been somewhat limited heading into this year's SDCC.

Scholastic announced a kind of wide-open publishing challenge. I tend to process news like that through my experience working on the Fantagraphics slush pile, which was nightmarish. Gina Gagliano assured me that the material they got submitted on a regular basis is actually quite high, and they may one day soon publish someone brought to their attention by an open submission -- I hope that's generic enough she won't get mad at me.

Joe Casey pointed out he thought we would be drowned in Pokemon GO players, but that's been the case at all.

It's sticky hot here, by the way -- for San Diego weather, anyway. I resemble one of those bad guys that opened the ark of the covenant at the end of Raiders.

The biggest item of discussion is the obviously increased security. The second biggest item of discussion the changing nature of the show: less cosplay overall, none of the super-intense fandom displays of the mid-2000s. The crowds seem under control, and it's like every tiny little fandom has found a place to be welcome.

Rich Johnston isn't here.

*****

Friday, July 22

Here on Saturday morning, Friday seems a million years ago and I'm not sure I can rally as much as I would need to present a full report.

This was my mostly free day. I had an interview with David at comiXology planned but he received some minor medial attention and we're still trying to reschedule. I stepped into a lot of panels, from Ron Wimberly to Kramers Ergot to Allan Bellman, for several minutes at a time and enjoyed them all.

Everyone is calling this a mellow show, where no panel is driving anyone to spasms of excitement and no signing line has to be capped. Everyone's having a pleasant time, though.

Got to see Image's David Brothers moderate two panels and it struck me how better at doing panels and presenting in public Brothers' generation is over my own. The baseline skill-set is way, way higher.

The Kramers' panel was fascinating, such a modest crowd for at Matt Groening appearance -- he's a fan, and he's in an issue. Sammy Harkham gives really short, thoughtful, articulate answers. He used a load-up philosophy on the book's first third, basically placing all of his personal favorites there to engage with the readers in a way that would make them trust the experience.

I fell asleep like five time at the panel. When you're seeing a panel with your friends, they all notice when you nod off. Sorry, guys!

I've talked to a ton of writers this weekend I hadn't before, from Albert Ching to the new generation of Beat writers to Abraham Riesman to Nick Sousanis. It was a great weekend that way.

Had my first not-good meal in a long time at San Diego. Rhymes with "Milton Hayfront." Strong contrast with my excellent dinner at the Grant Grill the night before. I know how self-indulgent a bullet point like this is, sorry.

Said hi to Jim Davis, enjoying his first Comic-Con. He called it a "sober Mardi Gras" and admitted he thought it would be mostly dudes. He's blown away by his interaction with the fans, which isn't something strip cartoonists do on a regular basis.

Talked to Mark Evanier and Karen Green about 100 years of Kirby next year. Talked to Denis Kitchen about 100 years of Will Eisner next year.

I'll write more about the Eisners in the final report. They were a very interesting snapshot of where the show is right now, where comics is right now.

Zander Cannon hurt his leg recently being a "cool dad" but still gets around better than I do.

I had fun tweeting the show last night.

Image booth was hopping during my one visit.

Eddie Campbell is a married man again, and lives in Chicago, Illinois. God bless America.

*****

image

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Kyla Vanderklugt

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posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from July 16 to July 22, 2016:

1. Comic-Con International launches in San Diego, the 47th iteration of the One True North American Comics Show.

2. Atena Farghadani opens up to Michael Cavna about her time in prison for her political cartoons, confirming some of the horrific stories that circulated about her treatment there.

3. The Nib returns to kidney punch the Republican National Convention 75,000 times.

Winner Of The Week
Farghadani. Superhero.

Losers Of The Week
The conservatives dug into the legal system that went after Farghadani.

Quote Of The Week
"When I was in prison, I wasn't aware of outside events and the news about me, especially in 2015, when I was on a hunger strike in the gruesome Gharchak prison. At that point, I was absolutely hopeless and thought I would die there, without my voice ever being heard. But I kept going with the strike, constantly thinking that even if I die, I have a clear conscience for I've died for my beliefs and goals." -- Atena Farghadani

*****

this year's comics images are from Fawcett

*****
*****
 
posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Frank Miller At The Kubert School


Angel Catbird Promotional Video


Ken Rinciari Left-Hand And Right-Hand Drawings


Guy Talking At The Camera About Comics


Gene Yang Speaks At Pikes Peak
 
posted 1:24 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If You're AT SDCC, Please Consider Watching Me Talk To Derf At His Spotlight Panel

image
A big-day Saturday event given over to a comics-maker, this should be fun. I always like talking to Derf. If these words are still here, I did not get information on a room or a time in time for me to post them in advance here, but they should be easily findable.
 
posted 1:21 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

image
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Brittney Williams

image
 
posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 69th Birthday, Mike Vosburg!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 54th Birthday, Kelley Jones!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
July 22, 2016


Go, Look: xuh

image
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Daylen Seu

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posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Michael Crawford, RIP

image
Not the theatre actor, Crawford was a funny and prolific cartoon-maker for The New Yorker. He had in recent times taken to crowd-funding to assure a last-life transition without financial burden. Maybe I'm just to sensitive now but I feel like 2016 has been an awful year for New Yorker regulars of the 200+ placement variety, particularly regulars from the Shawn era.
 
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Turn Back The Clock

image
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Patrick Chappatte Talks About His Process, Hour-To-Hour Working Cycle

You don't get a lot of cartoonist profiles that involve multiple time stamps, so this one of Patrick Chappatte proves to be a lot of fun.
 
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Michael Dooley Previews The Eisners

image
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Atena Farghadani Talks To Michael Cavna

Here. Great get. The once-imprisoned artist confirms some of the horrifying details of her imprisonment and corrects the record on others. She seems wholly admirable. Cartoonist of the year.
 
posted 7:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Bianca Bagnarelli

image
 
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* the on-line Domino Books store has expanded their offerings.

* I don't know I've mentioned the ShortBox curatorial service Zainab Akhtar has put together a whole lot thus far, but that's the smartest extension of an on-line area of expertise since the Penny Arcade gang started doing gaming shows. The new box looks great.

* there was a time about five years ago that I thought coverage of San Diego Con would be really future-forward in terms of the techniques employed, but it seems to have slightly regressed. I actually think that's more to do with changes in what's being covered not matching the technology than anything else, but that's more hunch than anything else. I also know that somewhere out there someone is trying to put together a gaming interface for news because of the success of Pokemon Go. But for now it's written articles, some video and social media updates for the eighth year in a row.

* then again, it looks like Hollywood Reporter is in the content-hosting business now. So maybe the innovations just aren't in coverage.

* finally, Gary Tyrrell parses the latest announcement from Iron Circus Comics.
 
posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In London, I'd Go To This

image
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Maddie Sharafian

image
 
posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Joe Gordon on Timely Comics Doctor Strange #1. John Seven on Night Air.

* Michael Cavna digs into Doonesbury's treatment of Donald Trump some three decades ago as a precursor to the rolling ball of madness that is his current political campaign.

* what a terrible obituary headline.

* bundled extra: some clarification on the end of Bleach; that strikes me as a big deal both just for that series' departure but also as that series is perceived as one of the last blockbuster series on which modern manga was built.

* finally, Michael Cavna (him again) explores Ohio as a destination for/source of comics and cartooning.
 
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 32nd Birthday, William Cardini!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
July 21, 2016


Go, Look: Ben Marcus

image
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Proof

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: An American Crusader Story

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posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
By Request Extra: Andres Salazar's Latest Crowd-Funder

This crowd-funder will be over the top of its initial ask, I'm guessing, by the time you read this post. Even if you're not interested in the specific project, clicking through provides a look at a solidly-constructed campaign in a series of such campaigns: the new normal.
 
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Tiffany Ford

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posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image

By Tom Spurgeon

* San Diego Con is going on almost certainly right as you're reading this. Seventy-eight percent chance someone is standing in my way.

* one person not in my way is Gene Luen Yang, who is doing NINE PANELS.

* this set of tips about how to avoid getting sick will do someone some good, and other people that ignore it will likely remember that it exists as they're in their moment of pain. It's more of a general wellness tip sheet. This makes sense because one way to avoid catching something at a big gathering of people is to not have your body so weak it catches stuff. I may add this to the site by the time this goes up, but I think the mornings are really important sleeping times.

* Lisa Hanawalt does the best con panel entrances.

* Fantagraphics staffers pick their favorite books of the show -- looks like a big Beto year. Nearly every year is. Eric Reynolds makes the interesting point that Dame Darcy's Meat Cake will take 10 billion hours to read given the density of her comics.

* finally, here's Peter Tonguette's review of the Kids-Lit and Nemo exhibits currently running at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. These are the shows that will be up and running during the 2016 version of Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, the show with which I'm involved.
 
posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If You're At SDCC, Please Consider Coming To See The Lisa Hanawalt Spotlight Panel At 11 AM

image
Comics' worst person defends herself. The first ten minutes may involve me apologizing for using this old photo.
 
posted 1:22 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If You're At SDCC, Please Consider Coming To See The Barnaby Panel I'm Moderating At 4 PM In 29AB

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Panel participants are Jeff Smith, Eric Reynolds and Philip Nel. Should be a blast. Barnaby 4-Ever.
 
posted 1:21 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Seo Kim

image
 
posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Todd Klein on Doctor Fate #12.

* not comics: Anne Ishii picks favorite NYC small businesses. Have no idea if that's like three years old or what, but it popped up in my bookmarks.

* Edward Guthmann profiles Maxon Crumb.

* these superhero-shenanigans comics are usually pretty funny. I think it has something to do with the art style being so professional-looking and on-model, like it's some repository of comics that are approved you just haven't seen yet.

* not comics: me wanty. The good thing about owning that movie is there probably won't be an extended version out two months later they promise doesn't suck balls like the one they had you pay for already.

* finally, the last known artwork of Joe Maneely.
 
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
July 20, 2016


The Next Big Thing: Comics Education Vacations

image

I'm not kidding, we've been creeping up on this kind of thing for a while. Heck, I wish I could go to this one run by Paul Karasik. He promises it's a lovely house.
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Aseyn

image
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2016 Comic-Con Related News Round-Up

image

Here are links and commentary related to news being generated the weekend of Comic-Con International. The following will be broken up by day of publication, but certainly there's no restriction as to when something might end up being discussed. The daily breakdown is to help those who are reading this column on subsequent days, as it's added to.

*****

Wednesday, July 20

I'm not seeing a whole bunch of news right away. Not publishing news, anyway. There some leaks of some announcements, and rumors of same. The two formal Wednesday news-generating events of recent memory -- the ICv2.com conference, Image Expo -- have been moved elsewhere.

People are arriving in town and setting up for whatever it is they do on the weekend. I've been able to score some interviews despite some REALLY LATE asks, which indicates to me that it's still not a big comics-press weekend in terms of in-depth work. I think that's fine, though. Not every weekend has to involve seven hours of intense podcasting from one's hotel suite. You aren't going to get several months of work done the next four days. You'll probably get less work done than usual. I also think that the industry has had a hard time adjusting to new show realities because there's not much of an industry anymore at least in terms a solid base of the kind of activity one might expect from a business supporting an art form. I don't know what you can do at a show like this one for mid-list and lower-selling books that doesn't involve a huge amount of guesswork.

Of what's promised to happens this weekend pubishing-wise, there's not a ton that interests me. I'm looking forward to seeing how Fantagraphics does in the old Top Shelf island space and if Top Shelf finds a solid home at the IDW space. IDW was a company that took a while to find a formula that works for them on the show floor whereas relative to its size I always felt Top Shelf comfortable there. The cartoonists appearing at Drawn and Quarterly are super-solid. Image seems loaded for bear, too, while DC becoming a wider-entertainment booth seems like a potential remember-this-year moment. Derf scoring a Saturday panel seems to me something worth noting on Abrams' behalf. The cocktail party seems pretty set; the outdoor media events do not.

I've noticed some drift in focused excitement for shows in general, but I think SDCC is sort of immune to those things. People are always ready to go out to dinner and stand around hotel balconies with drinks in their hands. I think rank and file indie/alt suffers right now, but they're not here.

I failed to mention -- well, mentioned and then withdrew, hoping for a better link -- that actor John Barrowman is hosting the Eisners.

The big story heading into the show is this: increased security, and more scrutiny of what that means.

We've had some terrifying terrorism incidents in different places around the world in the last 24 months, and it's not out of the question that we could see one with our large gathering of people. If you're going to Comic-Con in a group, I'd have the discussion about how to meet if things get weird or crazy (pick a walk-to spot in town), although there's not much you can do if the unspeakable happens except keep your wits about you. The con community came close to some scary incidents at the 2015 show without our folding in the possibility of an outright aggressive, planned event. Be well. Be safe.

We should also remember that Comic-Con's strategy is to emphasize paid security and a formal protocol designed to have that paid security catch incidents of harassment or abuse. Whether this is enough is a conversation for the other 360 days a year. Until then, for this weekend in particular, it's on the community to police its own as best as it is able. Comics suffers from a longtime sickness in terms of harassment as toxic and hard to flush as its embrace of economic exploitation. We should go as far as we can in the other direction to make sure everyone has a safe, hassle-free weekend. Keep an eye on each other. Check your own perceived right to act out or have a certain kind of fun. Remember that this is a professional event, and hold those around you to the expectations of that as a bare-minimum standard. It's not like we aren't getting to be children every other way possible.

*****

image

*****
*****
 
posted 8:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Ted Parrish, Man Of 1000 Faces

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Gems: Heralds Of History

image
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Assembled Extra: Brian Fies Steps In For Mike Peterson At Comic Strip Of The Day

image

I missed this, but apparently MIke Peterson is on hiatus from his long-running Comic Strip Of The Day blog for a while due to illness. The author and comics-maker Brian Fies is stepping in. We wish Mike the speediest recovery and in the meantime will enjoy Fies efforts like this one here, this one here and especially the interview here.
 
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Listen: Gil Roth Interviews The Great MK Brown

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posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
This Isn't A Library: New, Notable Releases Into Comics' Direct Market

image

*****

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.

*****

MAY161206 EXPERTS GN (MR) $5.00
I don't know anything about this title save the external facts -- it's by Sophie Franz, it's from the more reliable than ever Retrofit, it's a mere $5 -- but that and the cover are enough to make me want to see it. A comic shop would be perfect for that kind of thing.

MAY161530 LAST MAN GN VOL 05 THE ORDER $9.99
I'm a fan of this series of smartly executed genre stories grown from the loam made possible by video games and the way they construct narratives. I'll write a review eventually to tease out some of my objections and things I'm less than enthusiastic about. I generally enjoy these books, though, I feel like I'm in the hands of solid craftspeople.

MAR160062 MISTER X MODERN AGE LTD ED HC $100.00
This is a collection of every comic book featuring the legendary 1980s indie character that was published by Dark Horse Comics. I'm not enough on the character to know which issues those are -- I think it's a cycle of "Mister X: ______" stories. I'm not sure that I'd catch up with them via a giant hardcover, but it's nice to be reminded they exist for the bin-diving periods of my life. This would be a fine character and basic set-up for someone to turn into a movie. I'm sure the mythology has expanded vastly since I dumped the title (pre-Seth).

MAY168004 PLUTONA HC $39.99
MAR160642 PLUTONA TP $16.99
When we had Jeff Lemire out to CXC 2015, there were more audience questions about this series than about any of his other works. A hardcover and trade for San Diego indicate publisher confidence, and collection is always a good time to dive back into a series or consider it for the first time.

imageMAY160641 ISLAND #9 $7.99
MAY160013 BLACK HAMMER #1 (RES) $3.99
MAY160014 BLACK HAMMER #1 LEMIRE VAR CVR (RES) $3.99
MAY160091 BPRD HELL ON EARTH #143 $3.99
MAY160056 GROO FRAY OF THE GODS #1 $3.99
MAY160047 USAGI YOJIMBO #156 $3.99
MAY160629 CASANOVA ACEDIA #6 (MR) $3.99
MAY160645 LAZARUS #23 (MR) $3.99
MAY160656 SHE WOLF #2 (MR) $3.99
MAY160544 SNOTGIRL #1 CVR A HUNG $2.99
MAY160545 SNOTGIRL #1 CVR B O MALLEY $2.99
MAR160597 VELVET #15 (MR) $3.99
MAY168151 GOLDIE VANCE #2 (OF 5) (2ND PTG) $3.99
MAY161285 LUMBERJANES #28 $3.99
There's just a bunch of comic-book format stuff out this week, most of it from Image, starting with its Brandon Graham-led anthology, moving into a well-publicized Jeff Lemire series launch. Three standards from Dark Horse are next, including a new Groo series I think was announced at 12 issues but is now going to be three four-issue mini-series. Casanova and Lazarus are both solidly entertaining series, Casanova being the greater vehicle for personal expression from my vantage point, although that could just be my preference for a certain kind of story. She Wolf is Rich Tommaso's latest and looks great. Snotgirl is the much-ballyhooed Bryan Lee O'malley/Leslie Hung series, which should be the focus of several articles coming out in the next 7-10 days. I enjoy Velvet very much, although I don't hear very much about it from other writers. Let's end with a second printing and a 28th issue from two high-profile all-ages series.

MAY168009 BLACK WIDOW #1 SAMNEE 3RD PTG VAR $3.99
MAY168010 BLACK WIDOW #2 SAMNEE 2ND PTG VAR $3.99
MAY168011 BLACK WIDOW #3 SAMNEE 2ND PTG VAR $3.99
MAY160820 BLACK WIDOW #5 $3.99
This is about the only sign that matter that a series is hitting: multiple printings released in coordination with the latest issue.

MAY161104 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR A REG ADAM HUGHES $3.99
MAY161105 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR B VAR ASRAR $3.99
MAY161106 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR C VAR TOM BANCROFT $3.99
MAY161107 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR D VAR STEPHANIE BUSCEMA $3.99
MAY161108 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR E VAR CLIFF CHIANG $3.99
MAY161109 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR F VAR COLLEEN COOVER $3.99
MAY161110 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR G VAR BILQUIS EVELY $3.99
MAY161111 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR H VAR VERONICA FISH $3.99
MAY161112 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR I VAR FRANCAVILLA $3.99
MAY161113 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR J VAR GENEVIEVE FT $3.99
MAY161114 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR K VAR RIAN GONZALES $3.99
MAY161115 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR L VAR ROBERT HACK $3.99
MAY161116 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR M VAR ERICA HENDERSON $3.99
MAY161117 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR N VAR REBEKAH ISAACS $3.99
MAY161118 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR O VAR TULA LOTAY $3.99
MAY161119 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR P VAR ALITHA MARTINEZ $3.99
MAY161120 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR Q VAR AUDREY MOK $3.99
MAY161121 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR R VAR MORITAT $3.99
MAY161122 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR S VAR RAMON K PEREZ $3.99
MAY161123 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR T VAR ANDY PRICE $3.99
MAY161124 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR U VAR RYAN SOOK $3.99
MAY161125 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR V VAR JENN ST ONGE $3.99
MAY161126 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR W VAR CHIP ZDARSKY $3.99
MAY161127 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR X VAR CHRISSIE ZULLO $3.99
MAY161128 BETTY & VERONICA #1 CVR Y VAR BLANK SKETCH $3.99
I'm glad all of these people got the payday of a cover, including my pal Moritat. On the other hand, this kind of money tied up in a single issue can't be a good thing for comics more generally. It's not like the characters are an unknown quantity, either. if this much effort is expounded on a first issue and subsequent issues struggle to make it to market, we will at that point wish that more effort was put into securing a regular schedule for the book instead of an irregular launch.

MAY161915 COMPLETE CHI SWEET HOME TP VOL 03 $24.95
This material is great. I'm not exactly sure what this trade series is, but I'm betting it's a greater-page-count run back through the entire series.

APR161573 WANDERING STAR OMNIBUS HC ED $39.95
This material might seem date because it came out some twenty years ago, or at least part of it. This material might not seem dated at all because the context for its potential reception by audience is markedly different.

MAY161655 FANTASY SPORTS HC VOL 02 $19.95
This is pretty much a book end series to the Last Man stuff. Sam Bosma's art is about as fun as it can be.

*****

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 San Diego, I'd Go To This

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Preview Night
 
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Not Comics: Bug


Directed by site photographer Whit Spurgeon...
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I keep on forgetting to mention that Milton Griepp's estimates have the overall industry back over $1B again. I say again because I thought that was a once-upon-a-time figure for comics sales. It's been long enough I don't remember.

image* Alex Hoffman on To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts Vol. 1. Scott Cederlund on Godzilla: Treasury Edition. JP Fallavollita on Millarworld Annual 2016. Nick Smith on Assassin's Creed Volume One: Trial By Fire. Pierce Lydon on Wonder Woman #2.

* the best of the first run of Pokemon GO editorial cartoons.

* Iestyn Pettigrew sent over a link to this Facebook post about folks' first comics professional that made an impression on them. Mine would be Schulz, Staton/Cuti or Ditko; couldn't tell you for sure.

* Michael Cavna talks to Warren Bernard. David Betancourt talks to Gene Luen Yang.

* Anthony Cuoto writes about the Kid Flash character, originally created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino.

* I somehow enjoyed this article despite not understanding a single noun in the entire piece.

* finally: comics!
 
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Happy 45th Birthday, Benoît Ers!

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July 19, 2016


Go, Look: Vanessa Davis At Paris Review

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Go, Look: The Nib Returns

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OTBP: Uncivilized Books Summer Set 2016

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* missed this preview of Jillian Fleck's Lake Jehovah, up at Conundrum Press for about a month now. This book will be out in October.

* the great comics statesman Paul Gravett walks his readers through solicitations and promised comics coming out early this Fall, including the Emil Ferris book that Fantagraphics is publishing, a debut with a nice amount of conversational buzz.

* missed this: the Captain Marvel character will be re-launched with Ramon Rosanas and Margaret Stohl as two of the new creatives. I'm sure it will be a fine comic book, although I'm also still certain there are long-term negative effects to constantly relaunching titles.

* did I know that Jon B. Cooke was working on a massive history of Weirdo for Last Gasp? Maybe I did but forgot. Weirdo is due some serious examination, given how good it was and how much harder it is to discern its influence on today's comics.

* let's get this out of the way, then: a big list of what Marvel Comics will look like this Fall. I suppose the story here is the benching of some traditional Marvel properties, like a traditional X-Men title.

* all the Kurt Russell vehicle comics versions you can handle under one cover.

* finally, reaching back into his DIY roots, artist Nate Powell informs us of a way to buy March Vol. 3 straight from him in valued-added form.
 
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Go, Look: Forbidden Worlds #9

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* James Orbesen on Flex Mentallo. John Seven on Shadoweyes.

* several people have recommended this measured Alin Rautoiu piece on the recasting of iconic supehero properties as alter-egos with a more diverse background than what was managed in the 1960s.

* The Le Sigh talks to Julia Gfrörer. Cider talks to Sarah Horrocks. Andrew Yates talks to Joëlle Jones.

* the Trouble With Comics crew writes about finding comics bargains. This is still a very vital part of comics-buying DNA for over 40s. I used to think I was immune until I found a big stack of crisp Jesse Marsh Tarzan comics for a quarter apiece.

* finally, Milo Manara draws Barbarella.
 
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Happy 54th Birthday, John Kovaleski!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Luke McDonnell!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Richard Pini!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Jamal Igle!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Bob Burden!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Terry LaBan!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Rupert Bottenberg!

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July 18, 2016


Don't Forget Gabrielle Bell's Ongoing July Diary Comics

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Not Comics: Paul Weissburg Warns People About Content Of New Batman Animated Movie

Here. I think that's an honest articulation of what many people, even fans, sometimes feel about specific pieces of superhero art that tweak their underlying, antiseptic innocence for a little story juice.

The animated adaptations of famous comics stories from DC tend to be a little square and ordinary for my taste, with aesthetic shortcomings in terms of the quality of the animation and a zealot's belief in the source material that can make the stories leaden. The Killing Joke in comics form was a dubiously conceived project -- by writer Alan Moore's admission -- primarily executed by two craftsmen of significant, sustaining power. At the culmination of an era where a lot of people thought the road to serious comics went through Gotham City, or, I don't know, Attilan, I think the value of that particular work was overstated. I'll be interested in the final result of the animated version for that reason for more than the story itself.
 
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Go, Look: Mel Graff Guesses What Mid-Century Disc Jockeys Look Like; Draws Them

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love knowing this will be of particular delight to a lot of CR readers
 
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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* three GoFundMe campaigns we've tracked this quarter of the year: the family of the late Geneviève Elverum, Jim Wheelock, Kenny Russell. One we revisit during con season is James Hudnall.

* Linda Medley is another campaign we've been tracking: she has split hers between direct donation and a Patreon. Details here.

* as of this writing, six days to go for 2dcloud. I think they'll make it, but there's obviously a chance they won't so if you're a fan that's a good way to get those books.

* Mike Dawson's experiment with crowdfunding minus the "won't exist without you" imperative continues.

* finally, another crowd-funder we've tracked has gone over the top with more than enough time to spend. That's their achievement, as a good chunk of the ones we spotlight here fail to get over. Congratulations to them!
 
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Go, Look: Boy Comics #10

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean Gaffney on Psycome: Murderer In The Flower Of Death. Various people from The Beat on Green Lantern #2. Chris Mautner on Sir Alfred No. 3. Frank Young on Induction Of The Sycophant. Rachel Davies on After Nothing Comes. Greg Hunter on Don't Come In Here. Tahneer Oksman on Carpet Sweeper Tales.

* some nice person sent me a link to this article from earlier this summer about Lynda Barry presenting her creativity-based seminars at one of the major NASA facilities. I'm sure multiple people had this first, and I apologize to those folks for not having the link's pedigree.

* Adam Popescu talks to Daniel Clowes. Will Michaels and Frank Stasio talk to Keith Knight.

* I completely lost track of the Stan Lee Excelsior Awards. Congratulations to Lord Vader and other winners, as well as any nominees. Awards are fun. I don't feel specifically bad about that particular bit of news being the most recent gap in this site's reporting, but I do worry about the gaps.

* finally, I enjoyed this article from Alyssa Berg about her trip to the Adam Baumgold Gallery.
 
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Happy 36th Birthday, Wes Molebash!

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July 17, 2016


Carlos Nine, RIP

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Go, Look: Ronald Searle In Morocco

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

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

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Go, Look: Strange Tales #57

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Happy 41st Birthday, Jeffrey Brown!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Brian K. Vaughan!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Ned Sonntag!

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Happy 78th Birthday, Hermann!

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July 16, 2016


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Carol Tyler's Recent Art Exhibit


Françoise Mouly Accepting Her Legion Of Honor Award


Ed McLachlan Gets An Honorary Degree


Pascal Élie Profiled


Zunar Profiled


Mike Stokoe Profiled
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from July 9 to July 15, 2016:

1. The artist Geneviève (Castrée) Elverum passed away from complications related to pancreatic cancer. She was a masterful comics-maker and a daring, generous artist in multiple art forms, beloved by her peers. She is survived by a husband and their young child.

2. Artists seek understanding and hope to communicate some sense of solace in the latest mass murder to reach the world stage.

3. On-Line closure of store potential first sign of comics-maker adjustments in a post-Brexit world.

Winner Of The Week
Michael Leunig

Loser Of The Week
Frank Cho, who lost a gig

Quote Of The Week
"How do you sum up a person and friendship that has shaped you?" -- Anders Nilsen

*****

this year's comics images are from Fawcett

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Jillian Fleck

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Happy 46th Birthday, Pierre Wazem!

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

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

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

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Go, Look: General Mischief

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July 15, 2016


Go, Look: Charlotte DeSedouy

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Go, Look: Independent On First-Reaction Nice Cartoons

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Jess Denham at the Independent has a round-up of initial cartoon reactions to Nice. One nice thing about the article is that it recognize a few older cartoons that have been re-used, and reaches into multiple distribution sources to find the cartoons upon which it comments. It isn't just Plantu.

A few of the news articles I've read have placed the horrifying incident at Nice in a continuity with the Paris attacks of late last year and the Hebdo office murders and subsequent manhunt-related violence from January 2015. I haven't seen this done in any way except for the criminality of the acts and their body counts, although that's not likely to remain the case and in times like these even inferences can be troubling.
 
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Go, Look: Original Marshall Rogers Art Pages

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Collective Memory: Geneviève (Castrée) Elverum, RIP

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This article has been archived.
 
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Go, Look: Ronald Searle Theatre Drawings Exhibited

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Bundled Extra: Frank Cho No Longer Doing Wonder Woman Variant Covers

I think this is pretty straight-forward, actually. The artist Frank Cho lost/was pushed from/pulled away from his gig doing variant covers for a big superhero property, Wonder Woman. The covers had a cheesecake feel of varying intensity inherent to the artist's work more generally, and their absence going forward may be partly due to the current writer not thinking they're a good match for the story he wants to be a part of making.

It's not censorship, clearly; it's how collaborative commercial art enterprises seem to work everywhere but comics, and mostly in comics, too. Further, I think that everyone deep down knows this, and that even for most people that want Wonder Woman cheesecake covers casting this as some sort of nefarious action is a rhetorical ploy that comes from a cynical rather than an honest place.

Mostly though, this is dumb! It's hard to believe this is worth anyone's time. I'm being lazy writing my own post, but I thought maybe I could get to something if I typed a bunch of words. I can't!

Variant covers are a potentially poisonous and certainly energy-diverting industry ploy that have an arguable positive as a content-driven "extra" on certain works. If the content being created here is a restrictively old-school sexed version of the character, that this is the value that needs added to the work, that gets weird no matter who likes it or not. I'm privileged in a way I still cringe a bit when people need corporate properties to be ennobling and heroic in their interactions with them; I have no patience at all for people that need them to be sexy or encompass some creaky-ass standard of three decades ago. Jesus Christ, the things we talk about.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Alcatraz, Jr.

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* Milton Griepp says that digital comics sales have declined in the past year after several years of growth. That's important news, and also tricky territory given that model is so fluid that sales might not even come into a publishing plan.

image* this year's Topatocon has been cancelled. That's a show that seems to have a lot of advantages and could be a good one moving forward, so I hope that's a one-year thing.

* Garry Tyrrell digs into a potentially important business move by Patreon and Paypal to overcome one of those companies' insistence to police material that might have different -- NSFW -- interests than they might prefer to support with business service.

* finally, happy 9th blogiversary to Todd Klein.
 
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If I Were Near This, I'd Go To It

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

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

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Todd Klein on Joe Frankenstein. Annie Mok on Compass South. Bob Levin on Gulag Casual. Rob Clough on Sacred Heart. RJ Casey on Night Air. Monica Johnson on Blackbird. Anthony Cuoto on The Flintstones #1.

* Brian Cronin writes about Batman stories where part of the point of the story is that Batman is recast outside his traditional milieu and standard narrative. There are some fun stories in there, although I'm not enough of a fan of the character that I find anything automatically interesting in the twists themselves.

* Brian Heater talks to John Holmstrom.

* I've enjoyed the publicity campaign here. It should be a big deal what comics are coming out. Comics right now are fantastic, and that kind of anticipation is mostly missing on the top books like this Bryan Lee O'Malley one will be. It's almost completely absent from books that don't have this kind of reach and built-in fanbase. I get books in the mail now that I have almost no pre-knowledge of, from authors I like, and that's not 100 percent me doing my job poorly. Eighty percent, maybe. We could all work on this.

* finally, not comics: you can wear Seth designs now.
 
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Happy 45th Birthday, Chris Cilla!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Kelly Sue DeConnick!

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July 14, 2016


Go, Look: Lissa Treiman

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Go, Look: Mike Sterling Recommends Indie Titles From The Black And White Boom/Bust Period

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1, 2
 
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Go, Look: Fungirl

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* Hannah Lodge has a nice write-up of off-site events in San Diego during Comic-Con International weekend.

* speaking of that article, I'm going to call shenanigans on the 60,000 figure of people showing up without badges. I invite anyone with that actual report to send its findings along, because I don't even know how you count people distinct from ticket holders in a city area unless you have a magic wand. That figure just fails my personal eyeball test. That one intersection is pretty nuts and the traffic right around the convention center and stretching out both sides a bit feels crazy, but it's not even 1/5 of a standard Cubs-game let-out feel-wise and Wrigley holds about 40,000. I've been let out of football games with 70,000 people and that's usually like 15 blocks of people walking down an entire street, not some crowded sidewalks. Here's what 70,000 people (and note we're only getting part of the stadium) looks like without any city infrastructure in the way. Again, someone send me that report. I bet there are several thousand, though.

* finally, Bleeding Cool has a list to all of the San Diego parties to which I'm not invited, and two or three to which I am.
 
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Not Comics: Various NC Wyeth-Made Patriotic-Type Illustrations

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OTBP: Zona

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Rob Clough on several comics by Daryl Seitchik. Richard Gehr on Peter Arno: The Mad, Mad World of The New Yorker's Greatest Cartoonist. Greg Hunter on Dream Tube. Robert Kirby on Sick and Talk Dirty To Me. Nicole Rudick on Carpet Sweeper Tales. Rob Clough on Mox Nox. Sarah Horrocks on Peplum.

* Steve Morris talks to Declan Shalvey. Greg Hunter talks to Lane Milburn. Michael Maslin talks to Helene Parsons.

* RC Harvey goes back over the Ann Telnaes/Ted Cruz encounter from earlier in the presidential election cycle.

* Ron Goulart continues to process Connecticut cartoonists.

* finally: an amazing-looking 'zine cover, courtesy of Gabe Fowler's Facebook page.
 
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Happy 82nd Birthday, Gotlib!

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Happy 55th Birthday, JK Snyder III!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Alex Cox!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Leslie Stein!

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July 13, 2016


Go, Bookmark: Jack Teagle's Square Series

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via
 
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Welcome Back To Cartooning, Michael Leunig

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I didn't know about this at all, but apparently back in January the cartoonist Michael Leunig dropped a steel door on his head injuring his wrist and also, without his initially knowing, his head. He ended up in the hospital after passing out in front of a friend who was also a nurse.

What must have been a specifically terrifying period for the cartoonist was that injury initially altered his ability to form words and use language -- a huge part of his particular approach to cartooning.

The cartoonist recently posted his first cartoon since the injury and after six months of greatest hits. The 71-year-old plans to do two a week plus a column.
 
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Go, Look: Foreign Movies

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All Of My Thoughts About Grim-Ass Narratives, Character Deaths And Spoilers In Comic Books


 
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Go, Look: Al Hirschfeld Illustrating John O'Hara In Colliers

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This Isn't A Library: New, Notable Releases Into 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.

*****

APR161632TIME CLOCK ORIGINAL GN EYE OF MAJESTIC CREATURE $19.99
Leslie Stein is carving out the most idiosyncratic series of comics collections since Kim Deitch. No one else in comics draws like that, or manages that particular light yet slightly depressing tone. They are among the favorites I get to read any calendar year.

imageMAR160083 USAGI YOJIMBO TP VOL 030 $17.99
All hail the great cartoonist Stan Sakai and his magnificent achievement Usagi Yojimbo on a 30th collected volume in the main series. That is a staggering amount of work, and the consistency of the work is one of the great achievements in modern comics. I never have a bad time reading those books.

APR161896 BOULET'S NOTES VOLUME 1: BORN TO BE A LARVE GN $28.99
Mighty Boulet of the "I can do a comic about anything that crosses my path" fame (he didn't say that; it just seems like that) has a new book series. One notable thing about Boulet doing a book series is that the reading experience shifts from the prodigiousness of the talent to how much of it works by itself in prose form. I'm betting a lot.

MAR160108 WANDERING ISLAND TP $14.99
This Kenji Tsuruta work is glorious-looking. I don't have a context for the work other than that, although what little I know of Tsuruta indicates someone that is not prodigious in terms of pages made.

MAR160264 TALES OF THE BATMAN ALAN BRENNERT HC $29.99
This is a handy collection of comics written by screenwriter Alan Brennert, whose smattering of works in the funnybook medium have been loved by sophisticated, knowledgeable fans of the superhero genre for a long while. You don't have to read this book where it sits on the stands, but you can clap yourself on the back for recognizing the name. I think most of Brennert's Batman comics were Brave And The Bold stories.

MAR160502 ADVENTURES OF DIETER LUMPEN GN $49.99
MAY162031 THE OSAMU TEZUKA STORY: A LIFE IN MANGA AND ANIME SC $29.95
Here's a couple of stand-alone works with respectable but very focused audiences. The first is I'm guessing a collection of the 1980s Spanish series working out of the broad, peach-fuzzy bellow of European action-comics tradition. The latter is as close to an approved bio in comics form we'll like to see for a figure that big. One problem with that one is that many readers have moved past caring about the official version and are looking for dirt and controversy.

MAY160534 LOVE ADDICT CONFESSIONS OF A SERIAL DATER TP $24.99
This is Koren Shadmi's walk through hook-up culture with the kind of digital component that makes for a very fine feature article, book, movie, TV series pitch. It's interesting subject matter, though, and I haven't seen a page of this one yet. Ted Rall wrote a similar book about a period of sensual excess in his own life, so there may be comparisons. Someone's going to nail this subject matter (pun intended) and make a ton of money, though. I'm interested to see this.

APR160803 MONSTRESS TP VOL 01 $9.99
The latest popular Image series to receive a price point built to make it a stepping-on point for new readers. There's a risk, but the formula gets repeated by Image so many times that it must be working. It's very attractive work.

JUN150549 MORNING GLORIES #50 $5.99
MAY160667 WICKED & DIVINE #21 $3.50
MAY160818 VISION #9 $3.99
MAY161287 GOLDIE VANCE #4 $3.99
APR161199 MAGIC WHISTLE VOLUME 3 #2 $5.99
MAR161026 TITAN #3 $4.95
MAR161028 VILE #1 $7.95
MAY161051 TERRA FLATS #1 $4.99
MAY160224 NEW SUPER MAN #1 $2.99
MAY160083 ABE SAPIEN #35 $3.99
Hey, comic books, including a 50th issue for the series I've never been able to understand. Wicked & Divine is moving at a bullet's pace now, and is a fun read. Vision I've lost track of since the dog showed up, but is Marvel's most widely-praised book of the moment. Goldie Vance is about two issues past where I thought it might be and I'll have to get into that one soon. Here's a second issue for the anthology version of Sam Henderson's humor book Magic Whistle; I liked issue #1. The next three are also from the Alternative Comics direct market consortium. I've only read Titan but the other two look equally worth a check-out. New Super Man is written by that nice man Gene Luen Yang, apparently from an idea by Jim Lee. Finally, let's end rather than begin with a Mignola-verse comic book.

APR161083 TOTALLY AWESOME HULK TP VOL 01 $17.99
Encountering a Marvel book that puts out enough issues to get a trade paperback before the series is rebooted with a new #1 is like seeing a rhinoceros living in suburbia with a wife and kids and job and walking on two legs, worried that he'll soon be returned to captivity. This take on the Hulk with Korean-American character Amadeus Cho as the lead has been I guess pretty well-received; I like the Cho character without the Hulk stuff, too.

APR161635 HIP HOP FAMILY TREE #11 $3.99
MAY161507 HIP HOP FAMILY TREE GN BOX SET 1983-1985 $49.99
MAY161506 HIP HOP FAMILY TREE GN VOL 04 $27.99
More from Ed Piskor, primarily and most importantly a new single issue of HHFT. I can't imagine there exists a better value for effort expended in all of comics. I will have the single issues and I will have some sort of collected version, I just haven't decided on the latter yet.

MAY161577 MILO MANARA'S GULLIVERA DLX HC $24.95
I like the idea of Manara more than I enjoy reading the books he did, both by himself and with collaborators, so I would definitely picks this up and give it a once-over. I know I have it in my library somewhere in a different form, although that could be an overstep.

MAR169137 ART & BEAUTY MAGAZINE DRAWINGS BY R CRUMB HC $35.00
This looks like a fine resting home for this late-period Crumb project of note: a series of drawings by the artist working from photographs and other material, some explained or unpacked a bit via text and some note. I think these are very pleasurable drawings, so a one-shot volume including the newer third issue seems super-welcome.

DEC150405 AL WILLIAMSON STAR WARS EMPIRE STRIKES BACK ARTIST ED HC $0.00
I like Stars Wars stuff just fine, even the new material, although I get a little depressed that much of its seems so easily divorced from the idea that it came from a single creator. The thing I like most about Star Wars is that it's given a series of artists and actors a comfortable space in which to craft some enjoyable art. This includes Al Williamson, one of the all-time under-appreciated cartoonists and someone who isn't like Carl Barks when it comes to excellent work in service of another's creation, but certainly could be seated at the front table during that particular banquet. I bet these pages are gorgeous.

*****

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 London, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Adventures Of Peter Wheat #1

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Alexander Lu on Snotgirl #1. John R. Parker on Transmetropolitan. Todd Klein on Swamp Thing #6 and Survivors' Club #8.

* Michael Cavna digs into what American cartoonists are making in response to police violence and black lives mattering in America.

* Jason covers Joe Matt. Guy Delisle draws a house. Simon Gane draws Bonnie Parker. Sarah McIntyre draws Virginia Woolf. Colleen Coover draws Josie And The Pussycats.

* Tom Speelman writes about Tarzan comics. Whenever mainstream fans ask me for little-read periods/expressions of mainstream comics, I always point to the Kubert-era Tarzan books and the 1960s/1970s Sub-Mariner series. Those particular Tarzan books have some lovely art, like many other periods in that character's comic-book history.

* there were at various times a lot of different people being Spider-Man.

* not comics: one thing I didn't see in my read of this interesting article about sexist profile-writing in magazines and their on-line equivalents is the notion that empty-headed celebrity profiles are such a crass, dumb enterprise you're already like 80 percent of the way towards writing about someone's good looks or whatever in the stupidest way possible.

* finally, congratulations to Bruce MacKinnon, a new Order of Canada appointee.
 
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Happy 74th Birthday, Mike Ploog!

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Happy 74th Birthday, Tom Palmer!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Paul Karasik!

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Happy 85th Birthday, Ernie Colon!

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July 12, 2016


Go, Look: Maria Llovet

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By Request Extra: Mike Dawson Launches Sad-Boy Comix And Stories Crowd-Funder

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Here. Very low first goals, which indicates that this is more about whipping up support and buyers for the projection than a crowd-funder that exists to make the creation of a work possible.

Mike Dawson is a veteran comics-maker whose major works include Gabagool, Freddie & Me and Angie Bongiolotti.
 
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Go, Look: Tim Sale Catwoman Cover Images

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* it's an amazing thing to me that pretty soon we'll get a $50 collection of Dame Darcy's Meat Cake comics. When Meat Cake was good, it was incredibly good, and you can see her influence in a number of comics-makers today. My impression back in the 1990s is that it was really touch and go in terms of the continuing publication of that comic. Those were rough times. These are better times today, at least in terms of comics publishing. I'm also glad for this book because I think the great female cartoonists 1980-2000 are undervalued and under-discussed just generally. Viva La Dame!

* here's a preview of Ted Rall's forthcoming book on Donald Trump.

* various mainstream, PR-driven announcements have popped up since last we looked. Marvel is going to revive its Champions title and use it to feature a number of its young heroes doing young-hero things young-heroically. The Genndy Tartakovsky comic starring Luke Cage announced GW Bush was still president is finally going to be published. There will be comics starring the asskicker formerly known as Thor, a 15-year-old as Iron Man and Victor Von Doom in close proximity to the Iron Man milieu. There will also be a comic about something involving Cyclops during a recent line-wide time-jump. I think the slow-burn heel turn that the Cyclops character experienced was one of the better line-wide developments at that company, so what they do with that creation of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee's is of interest.

* reading a Tim Hensley post the other day informed me that there will be a Roman Muradov book out in both the English-language and French-speaking markets this year.

* finally, the writer Warren Ellis will be doing some work for Aftershock. I think that's always a good hire, he does solid work in this mode.
 
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If I Were In SF, 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: The Ratz Brothers

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Jake Grubman talks to Alec Longstreth.

* Hillary Brown on Maakies: Drinky Crow Drinks Again.

* this is the kind of thing I miss out on seeing because of taking a summer away from Twitter: Marvel is doing a bronze statue of Captain America/Steve Rogers and is going to put it in Brooklyn. Further, some people -- I can't imagine who remembers and who cares -- are mad because the Brooklyn-born part of Steve Rogers' past isn't in the original conception. I hope they're taking the statue across country and taking photos at every stop along the way. I'd volunteer to drive it, but DC never responded to my offer to drive Lobby Clark Kent to Burbank, so a pox on both of their houses.

* Garry Tyrrell digs into the riches of the Comic-Con programming schedule.

* debating the greatest comic-book kiss on a made-up holiday. Most of the top 10 of comic-book kisses are kisses drawn by Jaime Hernandez (like Hope and Maggie's first kiss), and the best comic-strip kiss is by Milton Caniff. I do like that Ross Andru Peter Parker/Mary Jane Watson kiss, which I will argue nerd-style to the death is the final page to the original run of Amazing Spider-Man as a single, cohesive unit.

* it was a smaller subset and a smaller percentage of the country's economy was at stake, but there was once a character that Star Wars fans of the moment hated more than Jar Jar Binks.

* finally, James Whitbrook looks back at Marvel's adaptation of the original Star Wars.
 
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Happy 32nd Birthday, Mario Candelaria!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Meghan Turbitt!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Jon Vermilyea!

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July 11, 2016


Go, Look: Sacred Conversation

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Go, Look: 7 Steps Towards Police Reform

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Festivals Extra: A Few Notes On HeroesCon 2016

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*****

I thought this year's HeroesCon deserved a few notes before it recedes in the rearview mirror any further than it already has, and it already has a significant amount by now. The nature of shows is that they're anticipated widely but processed individually. I think the best ones do have a lingering effect, but that they're not publicly expressed in the same way a standard publicity build-up might have a presence in your various social media feeds for a month or so preceding an event. Here are a bunch of thoughts. Please keep in mind I help with a show now, so what follows is probably just vengeful nonsense.

*****

1. I thought it was a really good show. I had a good time. I always have a good time at Heroes.

2. I limited my exposure to the show, which is going to be a thing for me for a while. There just isn't enough money to go to all of the shows, particularly as I'm not set up to make money at them. Nor does there seem enough time in anyone's work schedule to make a commitment to three, four, five days as an attendee at the number of shows that might be of interest. It sure doesn't work for me. I attend SDCC for three days and two nights now. I'll go to SPX Saturday morning to Sunday evening now except for rare exceptions. I attended HeroesCon 2016 for about 36 hours, encompassing all of Sunday and the show's famous post-show event out at the Heroes store. I suppose that partial attendance could be more of a thing moving forward. I know as a festival director I'm getting a lot of requests from attending guests to leave early. Linework NW builds this into their structure, with rotating exhibitors.

3. My initial impression on both Saturday night at the longtime social hub the Westin and on the floor Sunday is that Heroes 2016 seemed somewhat subdued, or at least super-mellow. I wasn't the only person to make that observation; in fact, I didn't run into anyone who thought this was a high-energy show. Some of that is how late in the weekend I attended, some is that the show continues to expand its exhibition space and clarifies its use of it in a way that may thwart the kind of jostling and crowds that can give a show a kind of furtive energy it may not deserve.

I think for a lot of people there is some general show burnout, and that the nature of shows has moved past this thing from about five years ago where they were swelling like mad and we were starting to see a lot of the comics-school graduates making professional headway and everything felt optimistic for the first time since the brief and inexplicable mainstream book publishing deals of twelve, thirteen years ago. In comics it isn't always good news or bad news, it's how one can project oneself onto either. There was a moment for cons and festivals where a lot of people felt like the shows' successes was good news for themselves. This particular show didn't seem to have any knockout guests. A lot of the talk I heard Saturday night was about people that weren't in attendance.

4. Now, that said, if you want to bank on any show working from its core strengths, HeroesCon is one of them. Shelton Drum's show is in an exclusive club in terms of the solidity of its base -- I'd say it's right there with San Diego, SPX and TCAF. It is a comics-forward show. It is a deeply friendly show. Downtown Charlotte is compact and boasts hotels and restaurants perfectly suited for convention-goers. There's a drawing culture at Heroes in which a wider-than-usual gamut of artists can participate. They have endearing regular staff like Andrew Mansell and a fine crew of regular participants like Craig Fischer, people you tend not to see a lot of other places. Recurring features like the yearly art auction and the charitable work in Richard Thompson's name give the show a really old-school, pitch-in feel. Even the retailers are people you may not see anyplace else.

5. Attendance was up.

6. Basil Gogos was there.

image7. That was a good-looking convention t-shirt, that Black Panther t-shirt they did. Con t-shirts are a tough game, and even more so when corporate characters are involved (that may just be my opinion) but that one looked pretty cool and its all-black nature made it feel like an old-school mid '90s funnybook shirt. I got one for my brother.

8. Not a lot of exhibitors to whom I spoke directly performed ahead of expectations, but there were a few that killed, and the ones that did were across a range of experience levels, which is nice to hear. I imagine Heroes could be in a bit of a transitional phase with what sells because of the show's expansion. Original art seemed to do well, particularly higher-end material that might hook in one or two devoted fans of an artist or work.

9. Top three items of discussion were money, money and money. "Younger cartoonists and how they make me feel" by older cartoonists may have come in at #7. One pro mentioned his new agent enough times that it might have cracked the top dozen discussion subjects for the entire show.

10. The panels I went to were solid and again, very old-fashioned: not a lot of power-point presentations like I'll see in a few weeks at San Diego. These were mostly broad-topic gatherings of artists doing extended Q&A sessions. One thing that was super-interesting to me is that I looked in on like 10 panels total, covering a huge range of subject matter, and they all had about the same attendance, at least in the "sense of the room" way. The highest attendance moments I saw, table-line and panel, were both for Kelly Sue DeConnick. Nothing really jumped out at me in terms of any content I saw at the panels. Two panels I saw were all white men, which is thankfully rare enough these days for me to notice when it happens.

11. Had a nice conversation with Tom Heintjes, who's in the "Former Editors Of TCJ" club with me. We're a smaller group than astronauts or Heisman Trophy winners, bigger than living former US presidents. One day we're all going to Milo's house for waffles. Heintjes' magazine is up for an Eisner this year.

12. The best part of the after-show party was William Stout holding forth on weird stories of early 1970s Los Angeles.

I think the next few years are going to be really important for how conventions and festivals will work going forward. The bloom is off the rose a bit, but it's not like we'll lose a bunch of shows. I think we'll actually gain several. I also think that what shows do well will intensify -- this San Diego feels like a big party blowout more than usual, which is certainly something San Diego can do, NYCC gets a bit more crazy-eyed every time out, and SPX with all the Fantagraphics artists this year feels like an old-school hang for the ages. At the same time, I think that anyone looking at the shows, or looking at a circuit of shows, as a replacement for solid industry infrastructure may have a harder time of it as the novelty factor goes down event to event. Managing expectations has never been a strong suit for comics' professional community, but maybe it's time. The idea of a growing professional base and an audience that comes nowhere near matching it, that's a problem to which great shows call attention but maybe don't solve.

What Heroes 2016 reminds us is that the most important part of any show exists in terms of an interaction between a self-selected culture and a show's attendees. As peak events slip back into being dependable ones, in more and more locations all over the country, on every weekend in April, May, September and October, it should be interesting to see if there's a corresponding reinvigoration in all the other ways that customers and artists can have their interests meet. There's just enough despair at any comics show, always one person or two people that made no money and saw nothing they liked, for us to question any claim any festival or con may make to all-encompassing value. What will shows look like five years into our being disabused of the notion that they're going to save everything? I don't know. I imagine that people having dinner at Mert's and trading stories about life and art will look pretty much the same.
 
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Go, Look: 1909 Buster Brown Sunday Strip

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By Request Extra: Last Several Hours On The Sequential Crush Presents How To Go Steady Crowd-Funder

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Here's a crowd-funder with some distance to go with a closure time imminent. Jacque Nodell's been working within this corner of comics for years and the Nodell name is a good one; I'm actually surprised there's as much work left to be done here but crowd-funders have been all over the place like this this year. It's certainly within striking distance to make its chosen goal the way so many come to together in the last couple of days right now. I'll be interested to see what happens.
 
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Go, Look: In The Studio With Ruth Kirchmeier

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First Post-Brexit Economic Consequence In On-Line Store Closure?

Via a sharp-eyed Sean Kleefeld comes this post from Simon Gurr of Gurr Illustration about having to stop using Big Cartel as the basis for their on-line shop because of the current economic situation -- I'm guessing it's the value of the dollar against the British pound after the vote.

We talk a lot about international consequences in terms of free-speech type issues and various economic opportunities on hand for English-language work; we rarely discuss that there may be fewer opportunities if countries enact restrictive economic policies. It's something that bears watching. I don't know about you, but I've loved having the chance to see work from all over in recent years, and having that work routinely made available to me at a reasonable price point. We lose that, we lose a lot of what makes comics great right now.
 
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Go, Look: Born Failure!

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The Sandman: Overture Is World Fantasy Awards Nominee

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The World Fantasy Awards have acknowledged the recent The Sandman: Overture series as a finalist in their category "Special Award: Professional." According to this tweet from Neil Gaiman the series was recognized in its earlier, seminal iteration now a quarter-century in the past. Gaiman, JH Williams III and Dave Stewart were mentioned in the listing.

Those awards have gone out since 1975 and this year's winners will be named at the World Fantasy Convention in late October in Columbus, Ohio.
 
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Go, Look: Greg Farrell

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* the gofundme for the late Geneviéve Elverum became active upon on her passing and remains so; I'm certain the surviving family will put every dime to good use.

image* the most recent 2dcloud crowd-funder looks like it will need some effort to push it over the finish line right around San Diego Con weekend. It makes sense -- I don't recall the two previous ones crushing their initial ask, although my memory can be faulty on things like that. The crowd-funder seems pretty straight-up to me, one of the pre-order crowd-funders more than a "support us because we're great" ones, but it seems like one of the toughest things to do is manage a string of offerings until a hardcore fandom develops that will support these things automatically. There are a bunch of intriguing ideas in play. At any rate, those all sound like pretty good publications and 2dcloud has a history of making them at this point.

* here are some of the crowd-funders we've been watching in recent columns and stand-alones: The Nowhere Man Book 1, Dirty Diamonds #7, Linda Medley, Elements: Fire (I've seen multiple capitalizations; sorry if this one's wrong!), Jim Wheelock and Kenny Russell.

* this person wrote in a near the beginning of their crowd-funding campaign and asked for coverage. I missed the e-mail until now, so if you want to check it out be quick about it! Here's another e-mail message link I just discovered, but I think I got to this one on its own in an earlier column. It's done fine, too.

* finally, I was sad to see this one not go through and hope Sam Costello takes another shot at it with a different mechanism or selection of mechanisms.
 
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Go, Look: Will Dinski's Patterns

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

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Go, Look: The Brave And The Bold #40

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* J. Caleb Mozzocco on Secret War. The old one.

* the sadder thing is I looked to see if it was a quote of mine before processing what was being said.

* not comics: here's an article reminding us of one of the great achievements by a cartoonist/comics-maker in another art form: the glorious, Tony-winning Ed Gorey set designs for the late-'70s, Frank Langella-starring Dracula. That must have been something to see.

* Hale Goetz talks to Gina Wynbrandt.

* one thing I missed when Geneviève Elverum's gofundme campaign went live was D+Q directing me to the NYT excerpting of her anniversary-volume blankets-related story, complete with a downloadable PDF. What an interesting cartoonist.

* finally, I don't think I've seen this photo of Jerry Robinson before now.
 
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Happy 48th Birthday, Dirk Deppey!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Mark Zingarelli!

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July 10, 2016


Geneviève Elverum, RIP

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An Interview With Geneviève Elverum, 2013

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*****

It was my great pleasure to interview the artist Geneviève Castrée Elverum about two and half years ago after reading her book Susceptible -- one of the best books of recent memory. Elverum passed away yesterday afternoon. The following is unchanged from its initial publication as a holiday interview. Our thoughts are with her family. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

imageI thought Geneviève Castrée's book Susceptible was one of the strongest releases of 2013, and I am delighted that she acquiesced to speak with me about it. I hope after reading what follow that maybe one or two of you that hasn't yet will buy the book or at least make sure it gets on your general comics-reading radar. Susceptible is the story of Castrée's childhood with a specific focus on her relationship with members of her immediate family. Like many of the best memoirs, Susceptible offers up wave after wave of specific detail that both distinguishes and universalizes her youthful experiences. It also sports one of the best endings of any book this year. The native Canadian artist, musician and cartoonist lives in Anacortes, Washington -- a small town north and west of Seattle. I was very excited to talk to her and any small mistakes in the transcript below can be attributed to my nervous interjections over something Castrée said. I also tweaked a few words of my own speech for flow. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: You have to be through most of the cycle with Susceptible at this point, it having come out several months ago. Are you happy with the way the book was received?

GENEVIÈVE CASTRÉE: Yeah! Yeah, I'm happy. I would say that maybe I'm not even at the end of the cycle. Like maybe I'm at the beginning of the next one.

The weird thing I never thought about when I did that book was just like all of a sudden I spent nearly one year of my life talking about it, and that was weird. You finish a book and you think you're done with something and next thing you know... you're done with it but other people are just starting! [laughs] That was just... of course I should have known better, but I never imagined that way into October I would still be talking about it because of the German translation, still be giving the talk I was giving back in February. People still asking me questions like, "How did your family react?" [laughs]

SPURGEON: Did your perspective on the book change for having to talk so much about it?

CASTRÉE: Oh, yeah. Totally. It was this thing that... I used to be haunted by these stories. Then I told them in this book version and got over it pretty quick. I had these stories that just followed me around for... I don't know, almost 15 years of my life if not more. I found myself to be just like, "Oh, man..." To me these stories were so old, but for other people they were new. Then I had other people's insight and I just often felt like, "Well, it was not that bad..." [laughs] People are discovering them and they're like, "Whoa, that's intense!" [laughter]

SPURGEON: You've talked about Susceptible in terms of the longstanding offer you've had to do something with Drawn And Quarterly, an offer Chris Oliveros extended to you years and years ago. But I'm not really sure that I know the impetus for you turning all of these memories into a book when you did. If there was a triggering incident. You've said you've had all of these memories and stories for all of these years, but what was the impetus that took you to, "I would like to do a book now," where you knew that it was going to be this lengthier work you'd been avoiding and that this is the one that was going to go to Drawn and Quarterly.

CASTRÉE: It kind of was a series of events. And also it was this thing that I kind of felt like a bit of a mess of a person. I had this longstanding invitation and I wasn't doing anything with it. It had been really hard for me to make something more concrete and more to the point than anything else I had made before. I was wondering what was up with that. [laughs] I felt like I was always telling the same story over and over. It got to me. I had a series of bad depressions, and I just thought, "Fuck this. I'll just get rid of this story once and for all. And move on." It was good.

It was also the realization... I don't read a lot of autobiographical comics. I think some people are really good at it. I'm a big fan of Chester Brown's way of telling autobiographical stories, for instance. But I also felt like, "Oh, yeah, I don't want to make another boring book where not much happens and there's a 'poor me' feeling." But then I thought maybe that what happened to me when I was a kid were interesting in a way that didn't necessarily happen to that many people, or again, that happened to some people but no one has made a book about this type of family before.

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SPURGEON: You're at a very specific place in your life as an artist, too. You've worked in different disciplines. I wonder if there was something about the nature of the work you were doing that made this book easier to do now? For instance, there's the idea that performing makes it easier to do confessional narrative. Do you feel like you maybe you had skills now that you might not have had earlier on that were applicable to doing this kind of work?

CASTRÉE: Yeah. Of course. It's this weird... I think I'm the type of person that will be terrified of riding a bicycle -- I'm just using that as an example, this is when I was six or seven or something -- or terrified of learning to do something new and then getting on the bicycle and falling down because you're terrified. And then one day you figure it out, and then a week later you're really good at riding your bicycle. [laughter] I think it was a little bit like that. I was scared of trying to do this... my other stuff before was more imaginative and not based on reality, so I was scared of actually addressing facts and things that were real, true stories. Then I went ahead and tried it out and once I got the hang of it I felt really comfortable.

SPURGEON: Did you have a support system during the creative process? Were you running events or ideas past anyone? Did you have an editorial process in terms of the making of the book, even, with Chris or anyone at D+Q? Or were you in the classic comic sense kind of left alone... maybe you even preferred to work alone on something like this. What was your support system like?

CASTRÉE: I really prefer to work on my own. I didn't have any input from my publishers that was like, "Maybe you should do it this way." I didn't have any of that. I was working simultaneously with Jean-Cristophe Menu who was my French publisher and with Chris Oliveros who was my English publisher. I would wait a really long time and not show them anything [laughs] and then I would send 20 pages or something. Both of them would give me feedback, but didn't give me the type of feedback that would change my way of going about it. They were very supportive, both of them.

I adore my publishers. I adore Jean-Cristophe and I adore Chris. I also have a very good relationship with my publisher in Quebec at L'Oie de Cravan. I haven't worked with them for a while. For this book I felt supported in a way that I felt trusted.

SPURGEON: Now those guys are... very different. Chris and Jean-Cristophe. At least in my limited experience and by reputation. Were their notes different? Did they pick up on the same things? [Castrée laughs] I'm kind of fascinated you were getting notes from two such very different-seeming people.

CASTRÉE: That's kind of an interesting thing to point out, that they're very different. But actually their notes were quite similar. I mean, maybe [laughs] maybe Jean-Cristophe was being more French about it. [laughter] But yeah, I don't know, that's the thing: now I miss making a book. That's the kind of attention I prefer. It's really sweet -- I'm not saying I expect it to be the same the next time I make something, but it was really a nice way to work. It was very emotional for me to work on this stuff, but my publishers they were really understanding about it. And patient. I've talked to other cartoonists, and I don't think that many people have that kind of working relationship. So I do feel blessed.

I'm not going anywhere. I'm hoping to work with these people some more.

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SPURGEON: Was there any difficulty in the practicalities of doing a longer work? I'm not sure I know the exact size of everything you've done to date, but I think of most of your stuff from earlier as shorter, even much shorter. Were there practical considerations for you in engaging a longer piece for the first time?

CASTRÉE: I just kind of had to clear my schedule. I had to say, "No." I had to learn to say "no" to a lot of stuff that came up, like opportunities to go traveling. And actually that was nice, because that's the place I felt like I was at in my life. I guess when you -- and I'm changing the words here because I don't remember the exact words that you used -- ask if there was some sort of trigger that made me do this book, you get this existential crisis. People stereotypically get into this existential state when they're about to turn 30. And I had that. New age people around here call it Saturn Return, and that was very much what was going on. There's a Kurt Vonnegut quote where he says something like, "There's nothing more nostalgic than a 30-year-old." [laughter] So I was really in this place where I was revisiting... I was prompted to visit my past. That is nice. It's nice to move into adulthood and shed some of those weird, annoying things behind you.

SPURGEON: Thirty is also an age where you begin to question your career. There seem always to be vocational issues, too. Was there any of that, that you felt it was time for you to do a book, to do a longer, more considerable work? Do you even think of your art in those terms?

CASTRÉE: Yeah! Well, it's funny, and it might sound pompous or something, but I started drawing comics when I was really young. I was in my teen years when I started to make self-published comics. Then I met Benoit [Chaput] from L'Oie de Cravan, and he published my book when I was 18. I actually was this young person that had a few adults around me telling me things like, "Oh yeah, you have a bright future ahead of you" and "Oh my God, I can't imagine what you will have done by the time you're 30." And then I was 30, next thing you know. [laughter] And I hadn't done many of the things I wished I could have done.

That was a weird thing. It happens really fast. I realized how scattered I had been, that maybe -- I don't think I was necessarily aimless, but I wasn't supporting myself... I didn't do what was expected. So I felt like, "Okay, maybe this is one step in the direction of becoming more fulfilled as an artist." I already felt pretty confident about my work. The only thing is I wanted to prove to myself and to my publishers that I'm worth publishing. It's a hard time for a lot of people right now. I'm not successful in a way that there's no question whether or not people should publish me. I'm not there yet. Maybe I won't ever be there. You know what I mean. I'm not a highly celebrated and well known author. [laughs]

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SPURGEON: I actually don't want to ask you a ton of specific questions about the work because I want people to find it on their own, but I had a few questions. Two things I thought were remarkable about the work. One was the nature and quality of the memories you present in your narrative. There's a scene where you're looking at your father on a motorcycle: it's very early on. It's astonishing that you even have a memory from that age, but it's also a really detailed memory: within the memory you remember another memory of the person that your father is meeting outside [Castrée laughs] and you remember sensory elements to where you were when you saw this. Are there flourishes provided to a rougher memory, maybe? Is that the way you remember things -- this kind of multiple-sense memory?

CASTRÉE: It is the way that the memory was in my mind like my whole life. I remember being a ten year old and thinking back on that moment.

I tried as hard as I could not to add flourishes to the book. There are so many things in the book that are kind of sensitive. Sensitive in this way that if I didn't tell them the right way, if I didn't tell them in the way that I remember it, it could give someone involved, one of the characters in the book, some some sort of excuse to deny the events. So I tried to stick to what I remembered and tried not to add onto it. This memory from being a kid, I know that. I know that I was looking out the window and I was like, "Oh, that's this guy. That's the guy with the little black dog." And remembering...I put it into words, but I have a very visual memory. So I remember looking out the window, looking at the motorcycles, looking at the rain. I remember thinking back at my arm that had been punctured by this little black dog that had bit me. And listening to this record with thunderstorms. [laughs] Maybe it's like... it would be so cheesy to say that, but the Proust effect like when he's eating the fucking cookie [laughs] and that thing people always talk about where he's eating the cookie and it brings on all the other stuff.

It's strange, though, because I have a very visual memory, but since I made the book one thing that I know has changed is that my memory is not so -- especially of things that happened, recent events -- my memory is not so sharp. Like I exhausted it or something. [laughter] I went too deep. I went pretty deep.

I would think of something that had happened, and I would try to write it down. Quite a few years ago, almost ten years ago, I wrote down most of these stories in a notebook. I wrote down what I remembered when I was working on the book, a couple of years ago, and I compared it with what I remembered 10 years before. That helped me, because in 10 years you can have this weird monologue with yourself. But the details were not really altered. These are sharp things... a lot of this stuff is pretty sharp in my brain. I had a timeline that I was following, too, because sometimes I wasn't sure if it was like, "Did this happen at Christmas or did this happen on my birthday?" And then being like, "Oh yeah, it happened on my birthday."

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SPURGEON: The other thing I found remarkable about the book -- and this may be its defining characteristic for me -- is how non-traditional you were, at least in terms of comics autobiography, in terms of choosing not to present yourself as the vehicle through which to understand the events that happened to you. It's not "Hey, I'm screwed up... and this is why." You're very straight-forward of presenting what happened without filtering it through your present self. You don't overplay it. [Castré laughs] There's a very evenhanded tone because of that. I trust you as a narrator because you're not constantly making a case for yourself.

CASTRÉE: Well, it's just kind of how I feel real life works, is that there are many layers to every event. The thing about my book is that there are some things that I put in there that I didn't realize could have had a negative impact on me until I had drawn them, or written them. There's an example in the book where I go and meet my father in British Columbia for the first time. There's this moment where I go to his house and they put up a blanket to make me a room in one of the corners of his house. And he says, "Sorry -- ha ha -- as you can see, this was a house built for two people." And I just kind of laugh it off. I didn't really have any feelings like that until it was printed and I read it again. I realized that I could have interpreted that many different ways. I could have felt like, "Oh, you just assumed you'd never see me again." [laughs] "This was a house built for two people, but you do have a kid." So I think that one of the things I wanted to make sure of when I was making the book was I wanted to offer up this story of a childhood in a way that you get to choose what you think is right, what you think is wrong, as a reader. The judgment is not done for you.

On the other hand, there was kind of a part of me, and I actually have met people like that, there was a part of me that was kind of hoping I'd encounter parents who think that my parents were really cool. [laughter] Like people who think, "Man, your parents are so open-minded. Great." And it's not that extreme, but I have encountered people that have just said, "I'm so glad you talk about how it's awkward for parents that their parents smoke weed." And then they make the case for how weed should be legalized. They completely miss the point. I'm like, "Yeah, sure. Weed should be legalized." It still does not take away the fact that it's really awkward for a child when your parent is completely different all of the sudden because they went behind the garage and... [laughs] I Just wanted to leave it up to the reader.

imageSPURGEON: In one of your interviews, you talked about how you're not sure you can report accurately what happened.

CASTRÉE: Yeah.

SPURGEON: You say that making art of your memories changes it, and then the reader's perception changes it. So you have these two automatic distortions from what happened. I think that's true, but I wonder... accuracy isn't the only purpose in making a book like this.

CASTRÉE: No.

SPURGEON: It's not the only purpose for autobiography. There are all sorts of things you might want to get out of it, all sort of specific truths that don't count on 100 percent fealty to what happened as a kind of progression of events. You must have had more than the worries of reporting things accurately, am I right? There must have been an emotional truth you wanted to convey.

CASTRÉE: I read a lot of novels. I read a lot of comics, too, but I've been reading a lot of novels as of late. And I do find comfort in reading something that I can relate to, that is similar to experiences I've had. Seeing the characters mess it up for me? [laughs] I'm very interested in human psychology. I don't read about human psychology, but I have this little -- and I think this comes from seeing a lot of different specialists when I was younger -- have this weird little psychologist residing in me permanently that has this analytic way of dealing with people.

It was important to me to have a book that painted things in nuances of grays, rather than in blacks and whites. I felt that there needed to be a book out there for people like me. And so I got a lot out of it. And I was hoping that people from my generation -- I think in at least Quebec that's a big thing, that people went from not divorcing each other to all of the sudden divorcing and experimenting in all sorts of different ways. They thought they were free and cool but they didn't really... a lot of my friends' parents didn't sit down and think about their behavior. And perhaps they should have. It seems like it was just a short window of time where people went from having a very traditional family to like the parents wanting to be more like friends [laughter] and now we're back to parents acknowledging that they should be parents. [laughs] I get along with a lot of people that had experimental childhoods.

SPURGEON: This is bad amateur psychology to even suggest this, so I apologize in advance. I know when I started writing, my father said that he'd support whatever writing I did... unless it was about him.

CASTRÉE: Oh, boy.

imageSPURGEON: [laughs] So I wondered about this book as a sustained act of disobedience, about it being you telling stories out of turn. Is there that element to it? Is there an exercise of your artistic freedom going on here, or is that way too easy of a summation?

CASTRÉE: Sometimes when it's easy to make a psychological analysis about something, it's because it's true. [laughter]

I feel like yeah, it was very liberating. It was very liberating and rebellious, and I'm still not sure what the price of this will be, for me to do this. I was scared shitless for years about addressing any of these issues, especially to my mother. Or acknowledging them in interviews or in book form or whatever. I just decided to go for it.

The thing that is scary, going back to the filter of me putting it down on paper and somebody else reading it through their own filter, the thing that's scary is that there have been few comments that people have made, whether it's in reviews or someone sharing that they enjoyed the book on their blog, there have been a few people that have made the assumption my mother was an alcoholic. I'm very uncomfortable with that term. Whatever, you can put whatever labels on anything, but for me personally I think she had a drinking problem. It kind of freaks me out, because if you're a character in my book and you read a review and someone just jumps to conclusions too fast, they're just like, "I don't want to read this book; they're full of shit." Specifically, I have no idea if my mother read the book. I do think that once these labels are put, it could be disturbing.

SPURGEON: You live in a small town. I do as well. You said in an interview this summer that you wanted to be more involved in your town, be more focused about contributing to your town, be a good citizen of the town.

CASTRÉE: Yes. [laughs]

SPURGEON: What does that mean to you, exactly?

CASTRÉE: I don't know. I'm a hypocrite; I can't really get involved politically in my town because I don't have American citizenship. I have a green card, but I still very much feel like a Canadian. There's not much I can do on that side, either. [laughs]

The place where I live is called Anacortes; it's in Washington state. I have a really good community here. My community is very supportive. Maybe the comments that I made have something to do with how I believe I get a lot out of living in this town, but I don't live in the type of town... I have a good community, but most people in my town don't know what I do. They don't know that that book in the window of the bookstore, that that's mine. Whether it's giving comics-drawing classes to kids here in town, or my friends and I organize this small music festival that also has a book fair portion -- I like doing things like that. Mostly what I feel about my involvement with my community is that once in a while it's important to take a rest from being so focused on my own personal projects and do something with other people for the place where I live to make it -- I mean, to make it my version of nice. [laughs]

SPURGEON: You did Autoptic this year, didn't you?

CASTRÉE: I did.

SPURGEON: Do you have that sense of community in terms of your relationship with other cartoonists? Certainly you lived in a place for a long time that had a scene like that. Was the Autoptic experience a good one? Do you extend that same community feeling to your fellow comics makers?

CASTRÉE: There was Autoptic and there was PFC, the Pierre Feuille Ciseaux.

SPURGEON: I'm totally conflating them. That's the specific name for the week-long program that happened before Autoptic, where you're staying in dorms with all the other artists.

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CASTRÉE: That was life-changing. That was really incredible. I feel like cartoonists are weird animals. [laughs] I don't have... I don't know if that's true for a lot of other cartoonists, but the vibe I got from them is they do hang out with other cartoonists pretty regularly. Like the New York cartoonists hang out together.

SPURGEON: I think they do.

CASTRÉE: Where I live, I wouldn't say I'm the only cartoonist, but I don't have cartoonists friends in Anacortes. I know some people in Seattle, but I don't go to Seattle that often. I don't even know how to drive. [laughter]

When I was at PFC I felt a very strong sense of kinship. It was so easy to talk to each other. I was very excited because there was a bunch of cool people there, and a bunch of cool dudes, but it was really nice to hang out with people like Domitille Collardey and Lisa Hanawalt and Eleanor Davis... you don't have to do that basic groundwork where you have a conversation. You don't have to explain what it is you do. You speak the same language; it's really exciting. Also getting to know that other cartoonists feel like shit [laughs] and feel like that they have got to get their act together the same way you do, it's exciting because you look at what they do and you think, "I would never have guessed..."

I don't know how much I would feel inspired -- I do feel it once in a while, to do something comics-related, and try to bring cartoonists to the town where I live. But I don't know if I have the energy to do that.

SPURGEON: How did you find the ending to Susceptible? I don't want to give it away, but I'm interested in where it came from. Did it just sort of bubble up from the creative process more generally? Did you know you were going to end the book that way all along?

CASTRÉE: I kind of like to know what the end is going to be like when I do something like this. The thing is... it really did happen, it was just a matter of choosing where I wanted to end the book. It's my life, so I know what the story is. [laughter] So I have to be like, "Okay, where do I draw the line?" It's impossible to end something like that, because really there is no end. It just keeps on going.

There is this moment... it is good to realize, to have this epiphany if you're a kid that's moved out of your parents' house and it was hard, to have this epiphany of "Well, I'm grown now. I'm responsible for my own actions." The ending... I got a little more poetic. The book starts on a more poetic note that's metaphorical, so I wanted to end it on a metaphorical note, too. It was really important to me since it's never over to make it very sparse, because I wanted a sense of release.

SPURGEON: I spoke to the cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez earlier today and one of the things we spoke about was his occasional frustration that maybe his work wasn't getting into the hands of everyone that might enjoy it. In one of your interviews you spoke of pressing comics into the hands of friends because you didn't think they were reading them, and this was particularly true of your female friends. Further, you noted that these are comics those friends enjoy when you place them in front of them. Do you worry about the size of the audience, the nature of the audience, for works like yours?

CASTRÉE: It's true; I worry about that. I don't know... sometimes it can be too easy for someone like me... All cartoonists put a ton of work into their thing. I feel like comics themselves are hard work. There aren't a lot of comics out there done very fast. For me, there's often a feeling of, "Okay, I spent two and a half years doing this. I didn't make any money -- with the two versions of my book combined, I've maybe made $4000 this year, which is not enough to live. [laughs] I feel like... you do see people that seem to be having more success that you are out there, so I can get lazy about it and say like, "Put me out there, coach! Put me out there!" [Spurgeon laughs] Because you feel like somebody is being given a chance. It's like, "Put me out there! I'll prove to you that I'm good!"

The hard truth is that this is a depressing book, and it's not for everybody. I think generally there's a lot of people that don't want to hear about other people's problems. That are like, "Uh! I don't want to her about that." They don't see anything past whiny-ness when they look at my book. But then I do feel, I do believe that there are other people out there that may be interested in this kind of work. Sometimes if especially a woman friend of mine is going through something in their life where they need a little pep, I like to hand them a book and be like, "Check this stuff out." It's so much faster to read than actual novel. [laughter] It can be so inspiring. I have a lot of friends that are good at art, good at drawing, but they never consider reading comics. I don't think people read many books any more, straight up. I have friends that especially when they spend the night, I'll make them a little stack. "Here, read this!"

I hate making comments that are generalizing things, but at least in my immediate surroundings the women that I know that are buying comics, draw comics. I hate to do the gender, to divide it, but I know so many guys that don't draw comics and that will never draw comics but will read them. And do buy them. I wonder why that's the case. Who knows? It's changing. I get really angry when women ask me about being a woman cartoonist because this year I feel like we've arrived at this place where it's like "Let's stop making a fuss about it" because clearly everybody will agree that many of the best comics put out this year were done by ladies. We're no longer female cartoonists. We're just cartoonists.

*****

* Susceptible, Geneviève Castrée, Drawn And Quarterly, hardcover, 9781770460881, 2013, $19.95.

*****

* cover to Susceptible
* one of the countless times the cartoonists drew herself in this work, at all sorts of ages
* photo of the artist
* a bit of writing I've seen multiple reviewers note
* the two-page sequence showing off the depth and breadth of Castrée's memories
* a mother-daughter moment featuring an altered state
* two stand-lone image from the book I just like
* a panel from a collaboration done at PFC
* an illustration, with a lovely use of color (below)

*****

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*****
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Site Update On Those Harvey Awards Nominees

imageI linked up the nominees for this years Harvey Awards, because I'm a person with life-destroying obsessions. Plus 20 percent were from BOOM! and 75 percent were from Valiant, so it was super-easy this year.

It was interesting to track the reaction to those. Most of what got I back this week privately in terms of feedback on Valiant's performance at the nominations stage was negative, with a tiny thread of who cares and one person who took the standard "well, they ain't breaking any rules" stance. No one wanted to talk to me about the category that used to be industry journalism dominant.

One thing that interests me is that I think less and less of the comics community's standard infrastructure has the support of the men and women that work in the various industries and the readers/fans that are closely attentive. I know that I've talked to a half dozen cartoonists recently that have expressed the feeling they're releasing comics into the abyss, which I think is a symptom of that.
 
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Go, Look: Whatever You Do, Don't Panic Illustrations

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

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

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Go, Look: When A Planet Dies!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Simone Bianchi!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Gerard Jones!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Ben T. Steckler!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Sandra Chang!

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Creeping Up: 25 Tips For Surviving & Thriving During Comic-Con International; Now With Bonus Tip

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For the last dozen years, this site has on Memorial Day or soon thereafter published a massive guide for Comic-Con International -- the mid-summer event that is still in most ways North America's Big Comics Show. I'm still doing that guide, just not this year. It's a different era, and that era doesn't include a lot of people reading 40,000 words written link-blog style on a computer screen.

I wish it did, but at some point you have to own your dinosaur-ness or all your eggs get eaten.

What follows instead is a short and mostly practical list of specific tips for the upcoming convention, many of which can be employed at your show of choice.

This is a re-post from early May. As opposed the July 4 weekend re-post, I've added a 26th piece of advice, one of the dumbest recommendations ever but one I've been told worked for people more than a half-dozen times.

There may not be a bigger change in comics over the last two decades than the significant role played by conventions and festivals. In North American comics, that starts with Comic-Con International, more frequently San Diego Comic-Con, Comic-Con, San Diego Con or SDCC. Sometimes it's just "San Diego." Call it what you want: Nerd Prom, Mouthbreather Sundance, Fandom Branson or Geek Vegas, Comic-Con International is that moment during the calendar year when all of comics pauses and watches Tom Arnold and Dax Shepard walk past them to eat in a restaurant they're not allowed to enter anymore, because, you know, private party. Sorry, folks.

At the heart of a giant dance that includes filmmakers, actors, toymakers, visual artists, prose authors, tv showrunners, animators and voice talent is someone like you or me representing all the funnybook fans slow dancing with their beloved art form: comics. Comic-Con is a really, really good comics show. Over the years I've met Lorenzo Mattotti, Ryoichi Ikegami and Moebius at Comic-Con. I saw the first two speak at length. Just three years ago I watched Gilbert Shelton draw from a position a mere two feet away! Their comics guest list is always loaded.

Comic-Con is an even better industry show, with all of the tribes represented in one place and taking meetings and saying "I just took a meeting" and running off to take another meeting. It's the only show with a cocktail circuit that involves more rooftop bars than there are yearly line reboots.

You should come see it, at least once. If I'm still going, say hi. I may be too stressed to respond, but I'll deeply appreciate the effort and will always remember how awkward it was between us. If you don't know what I look like, I'm the fat guy.

*****

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1. Stay Safe

Always remember that during Comic-Con you're in a real-life American city, not a magical land accessible via closet, train or bathroom mirror. You can get mugged; you can get beat up; you can get hit by a bottle. Accidents happen every show.

Also keep in mind that the events of the show carry with them their own dangers. Grumble at the cops and the security if you must, but do what they ask. In 2012, a Twilight fan with the intention of attending Comic-Con died after running into traffic and being struck by a car during a time she spent in a line that formed in advance of the show. Her name was Gisela Gagliardi. It's likely she did not think she was going to die when she got out of bed that morning.

So: please, please be careful. Nothing about this works if you get hurt. You look after you.

*****

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2. Do Your On-Line Research... And Your On-Line Reach-Out

You cannot be underprepared for a show the size of this one. Scope out the con. Scope out the city in which it takes place. It pays off. We live in an anticipatory age of spoilers and trailers; this an act of anticipation that has direct benefits.

At the very least: 1) bookmark the show's site. 2) bookmark your hotel's site. 3) get a broad picture of what each offers you that you would like to do. 4) investigate what's directly in the neighborhood around where you'll be staying. 5) map a walk from your hotel to the convention center.

If this is a rare trip for you, or one where you have a very specific set of goals, reach out immediately to your comics friends and see who's going. Reach back out to the group that responds by July 1. Share with them your hopes and plans. Comic-Con is a difficult place to negotiate socially. If you have goals that include a bit of networking, just reaching out to people you know can unlock key doors. Remember that you connect with old friends horizontally to forge new relationships vertically.

Finally, to keep things karmically clear, try to help the people who are trying to help you.

Twenty minutes on google maps and a half-dozen e-mails can make a huge difference in one's weekend. You'd be astonished how frequently this is the case. It's also true that people go, get frustrated, complain about it afterwards and more than one person reading thinks, "I could have helped them!"

*****

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3. Join Every Freaking Points Club You Can

If you go to conventions with any sort of regularity, you should join the points clubs for 1) any airline you might use to get anywhere, 2) Amtrak, if it applies, 3) every hotel you might stay in but also definitely the programs offered by Hilton, Starwood (Westin) and Marriott.

It's great to use reward points on segments of travel or nights of hotel stay, making them paid-for by previous segments of travel and nights of hotel stay. A healthy convention schedule involving the Marriott chain can almost always get you a night or two off at SPX, for instance, savings that you can spend on getting the last few forty-somethings in attendance drunk enough to maybe physically fight one another.

Even if you do very few shows, join the points club at your San Diego hotel (and consider getting a Ralphs card). In your hotel's points club you might get an advantage of a dedicated check-in and check out desk. You might get automatically upgraded. Best of all, this gives your hotel an easy-to-grant avenue to make something right if something goes wrong. Comic-Con is a crazy weekend where things frequently go wrong. Hotels are almost never willing to give money back, but they'll give you points like a nervous class officer giving out drink tickets at the graduation luau. I got a bunch of Starwood Points one year at SDCC just because they kept marching new guests into my room when I was getting dressed after a shower. No big deal for me, traumatizing for them, and I'm the one who ultimately benefited.

*****

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4. If You Don't Have A Badge, Think 2017

There are no badges at this point available to most of us. If you're powerful enough in terms of influence, wealth and/or celebrity you're not even reading this but one of your assistants is, you might have a connection within the convention or with one of the convention's major players to have them secure one on your behalf, primarily if you're going to add value to the show. Work those connections. Don't buy a badge from someone on-line. There is nothing in that sentence that is a good idea. You could also just go, and hope that you run into someone leaving a day or so early (psst -- I'm staying at the Hilton, leaving Saturday at 5 PM and I have paypal). The days of asking Rory Root and him scooping several passes out of his pocket, those days are a distant memory. (RIP)

If you do score a late badge, don't abuse them! Someone put themselves out there for you. I'm totally not speaking from experience, but if I were I would still be pissed at that guy.

*****

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5. Park At The Airport

I'm also not going to tell you how to get to San Diego. I'm sure you have that under control. Comic-Con thwarts a lot of travel gimmicks. Even the newer flying tips like using Google Flights over aggregators like Kayak don't really apply here because the advantage of learning where discount flights might fall on a range of calendar dates won't be useful for a trip with rigid attendance parameters.

Due to the increased cost of the show, I've been attending the last few years from Thursday early morning to Saturday late evening. No complaints: that's just the way things are. Here's a practical tip that's probably totally illegal -- it's certainly unsporting -- that I've used the last half-decade: I parked at the airport's long-term parking for like 1/5 the price of hotel or public parking. I dropped off my bag and my family and any friends at the hotel, and drove right out where google maps told me, in this case a moderately-priced lot south of the airport between the highway and the ocean. Hopped on the shuttle to the airport. Took the city bus back down to my hotel. It added time, but I really appreciated not having to spend that money, which was literally like a fancy meal's difference. I'll eat my money in San Diego, thank you. Also one year the Westin lost my car, and with this strategy I've been in and out a lot easier. You're already free of downtown when you turn the key.

*****

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6. Find Your Store; Stock Up

I encourage a physical trip to whatever sundries store is closest and able to serve you. If there's still a pharmacy in the Horton Plaza, that or one of the two 7-11s is the place for you Broadway hotel people. It's Ralphs for everyone south of Broadway and west of the convention center's middle-most point. It's probably Cine Cafe for the group of hotels right up next to the show on the eastern access crossing.

You can buy stuff for your room on that first trip. That's never a bad idea. The programming schedule is super-full at Comic-Con, like an all-day college date that never ends, and you can end up hungry without anything to eat at 3 AM almost as easy as you can spot a teenager wearing a costume that looks like it cost more than your first car. More importantly, I just think going to the store connects you to the possibility of that place, and even to a kind of commercial activity that doesn't involve an exclusive Lego Mortdecai set or whatever.

*****

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7. Hit Whatever You Can At Off Hours

Good luck with getting through the registration process. They know what they're doing there, and it flies pretty quickly all things considered. Press and pro registration is so easy now I would vote for the person who changed it from the way it used to be done. Still, it's a lot of people. If you can get someone else to secure you these things, like an exhibitor or a publisher that's sponsoring you, do that. If you can't, consider going a little later that first day or during Preview Night itself so as to miss the biggest moments of clumping.

Take this strategy with you into the show. Three places you can apply it. First, if you just want a sense of a panel, you can frequently hit a panel ten, twenty minutes in and avoid the before line and the time spent there. Second, look for signings that are first or last in a day over those in the crush of attendance mid-afternoon. Third, think about hanging back from the opening hour to eat breakfast for less of a cluster around the buffet, or leave the convention center early for a dinner dominated by happy-hour discounts. I'm sure there others -- I always thought it was fun to shop at Ralphs at 2:30 AM, and the hot tub at the Westin can be all yours most Sunday mornings until 11 AM. It's a strategy that seems to work, at least a little bit. It's probably a bit less effective since the bulk of Hollywood people came because of their meeting structure and tendency to pull people away from the convention center, but it can't hurt to try.

*****

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8. Use The Half-Day Target Strategy

I always suggest under-planning for the show in a macro sense and then rigorously planning in terms of execution. A principle I always follow is to split each convention day into an AM and a PM and pick one thing I have to do during each slot. If I end up with extra time, I spend that on some general things I like to do, like sitting out back of the convention center and soaking in that Southern California sun or checking out the funnybook retailers or seeing if the guy who dresses like Captain Stubing is working the far west doors. By limiting to must-dos to five to eight things, I'm getting key things done every year.

Allowing a half-day per event also allows you not to feel as bad if the thing you want to do -- like see a TV or movie panel -- involves literally 12-18 hours of your time. I don't have any specific advice on those panel lines, by the way, except that they didn't seem nearly as bad last year as they had in the two or three years before that. You should also chat with people in line; that is value-added right there. Proposed subject: what people did before phones. A lot of the big-ticket events at Comic-Con involve a major commitment, and being reasonable about what you want to do makes for fewer instances of failure. Just like that, the day becomes less stressful. It's always better to get 5/6 of the things done you want to do on a vacation or working weekend than 11/40.

*****

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9. Make Time Between Events Because Of The Crowds

This is a recently necessary thing. Well, we thought it was bad before, but it got a lot worse. Anyway, definitely give yourself time to go places. Also, if you can skip outright a walking trip either at or up by the convention center, consider doing so.

I used to head down to the Marriott -- a hotel directly west of the convention center -- to take morning meetings at their restaurant because it was expensive enough not a lot of comics people chose to eat there: basically me and my friends, plus Mark Siegel and whoever he was paying for. Thus I avoided getting in trouble from other tables eavesdropping as I told loud stories about Jim Lee out of turn. (I actually don't know any stories about Lee, but people pay more attention when you have a big star at the center of your anecdote; my Jim Lee got in trouble a lot in Seattle in the '90s and grew up in Indiana.) The days when I ate breakfast at the Marriott ended when two years ago it took me a half-hour to get there FROM THE HOTEL NEXT DOOR. Three times during that walk I considered going Crocodile Dundee on the whole situation and running on folks' shoulders. (sorry, another old reference; please insert reference to shoulder-walking scene from Hamilton)

Anyway, I eat breakfast at my damn hotel now and I don't count on getting anywhere without 30 minutes of defeated-by-life style walking involved.

*****

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10. Think About Packing A Lunch

You're going to walk a lot. Wear comfortable shoes. Take water with you. There is water in every panel room and there are plenty of water fountains but having your own is still best. You should also eat at some point during the day. Because of the crowds and the circle of con activity closes to the show, that can be difficult time-wise. Convention Center food is basically a culinary parade of sadness, and you pay extra to boot.

You are not really supposed to take food into the convention center, but you might consider it anyway. There are plenty of things from the store to which you're now connected that you can get into a backpack or purse with no problem. I have yet to get in trouble eating quietly in the back of a panel room or sitting outside wondering what excuse I'm going to give Jonah Weiland for not visiting his dumb boat. (Jonah's gone; we no longer have to pretend, people.)

There are also merchants in the street on the way to the show that will sell you something that's nice and packed up. Pay attention. No matter how you get it, definitely process some calories, though. The only person that can get away socially with an aggressively feral state caused by low blood sugar is Lisa Hanawalt, and that's because she bribes people.

*****

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11. Attend The CBLDF Event

In the 1990s, San Diego Con offered people scattered parties and at least one night where a bunch of people would do something like go to a heavy metal show or head south to watch wrestling in Tijuana. Then it was hosted parties. Then it was big events. Now it's pretty settled: Thursday night is publisher-driven cocktail parties or private dinners; Friday is the Eisners or Hell No I'm Not Going To The Eisners; Saturday is maybe you get invited to a Hollywood party or two but otherwise you get a big meal and maybe just be mellow at a bar somewhere wishing someone would invite you to a Hollywood thing. All three nights feature heavy hotel bar drinking scenes, semi-hosted.

The one that I always suggest people do is the rooftop party hosted by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. You pay to get in with money, not status. That one is increasingly well-attended as a kind of Rick's Cafe for people of various comics backgrounds taking a few days off from fighting in the Creators Vs. Haters Wars. It's always lovely to sit outside in that glorious San Diego weather. Last year I spent a half-hour at the Fund party talking to someone before realizing it was Milton Griepp. Hi, Milton. It's also where 80 percent of the people I know catch up with Kiel Phegley.

*****

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12. Go Look At D+Q's Table For Beguiling Original Art Sales

There's a lot of shopping to be had at Comic-Con, particularly tied into advance copies and into art and exclusives brought by guests of the show or weird stuff found by the publishers at the show. It's a great place to get stuff signed, or to buy related art from the cartoonists themselves. I have very little advice for the advance consumer activity of exclusives: things like a special figurine of the person from middle school who laughed when you asked them to Return Of the Jedi. Most of these are sold out by an hour into Preview Night, a popular Wednesday night extra set of hours at the show created to make Eric Reynolds grind his teeth. The only thing I can think might be helpful there is to commit to scoring a high place in line, or to get someone working inside the show to hold a place for you with the exhibitor of your choice.

One thing I recommend for both buying and just staring is if D+Q has Peter Birkemoe from The Beguiling set up in a corner to sell original art, go look at that. One of my five favorite experiences from last year not having the manager of my hotel try to fight me was getting to see some Kate Beaton originals for the first time -- she does margins differently than most people, and the art itself is lovely. Peter has a ton of work there, much of it affordable, and he's one of comics' finest gentlemen and a beacon of good conversation. Just don't put your butt between the art and an actual buyer: that's mean. Also: that's my job.

*****

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13. Look For Secondary Signings

If you're there to meet a specific comics pro or have something signed by a specific person, pay attention to secondary appearances. Cartoon Art Museum has a lot of cartoonists at their booth doing charity sketches. The CBLDF has certain luminaries on hand. A lot of mainstream comics-makers have books at smaller publishers. All of those can sometimes be easier to access than the signing directly for the project in which you're likely most interested. Just be polite, and respectful of what the object of your attention is doing in that moment, and you should have a good experience.

One place that's difficult to meet someone is after a panel by running up to talk to them. If you do that , remember that the ideal position for a post-con talk is to be that person the artist or comics-maker walks with back to the show. That's quality time. So maybe try last instead of first (the risk is you're blown off entirely). Remember, the show wants you out of the room, and how happily you're greeted in a pressure situation like that depends on the artist. I've only seen a few people actually sign something as they're trying to leave; it's a hard sell.

In general, meeting celebrities or even comics people? They're all over the place there. You don't want to dominate their time or scare them. Still, nearly everyone likes to hear a few nice words. Just remember how you'd feel were you to be approached by strangers, even happy ones, who look like they expect a moment. Not the superhero version of yourself, but you -- how you would feel to be tapped on the shoulder right now and not get to read the rest of this sentence.

If you're hoping for a moment with someone, just don't press and you'll likely get one. The cartoonist Ivan Brunetti used to go to San Diego, where he would do brilliantly disgusting sketches based on three words that he was given by a CBLDF donor. When someone tried too hard to give funny words, it was never as good as Ivan's take on a few mundanities. It tends to be like that with meeting folks at San Diego, too.

*****

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14. Know The Floor

A cursory understanding of how the floor of the convention works solves a lot of confusion problems ahead of time. The Expo/Marketplace part is on the first floor; programming and ballrooms and a big wide open space between the two halves of the programming with some autograph signings and an art show make up the second floor.

If you look at the floor map as if it were the US and you're entering the country from the South before Trump's wall: East Coast to the Mississippi is basically the comics stuff: the East Coast is comic sellers and vendors, the midwest is comics publishers and an artist's alley/solo vendor area. West of the Mississippi is everything else, all the movies and toys, with tiny pockets in California and Southern Arizona for another artist's alley/solo vendor type area, and big crossover areas with the artisanal toymakers and the illustrators.

If you want to see anything in the movie and toy half, do that early or late in the day, or on Preview Night, before it gets soul-destroying. It's sometimes easier to leave the hall and walk on the outside corridor than it is to ram yourself down one of the aisles. There is an escalator at the far end of the hall -- think Northern Michigan -- to get to the second floor or back down again.

A couple things to remember about the one-way hallways upstairs is that if you leave a panel you'll be going out the far door so if you're know you're going to leave maybe sit up by that door so as not to freak out the panelists, who will think you hate them. The other thing to remember is that celebrities will sometimes be brought to their panel the wrong way down the exit hallways, so keep your eyes open for random encounters.

*****

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15. Panels, Panels, Panels

I basically do three things in San Diego now. I fecklessly carouse, I have pretty good meetings and I go to excellent panels. The overall swell of the con population has been good for panels -- the small ones that used to have seven people have 50 now, and the most appealing comics ones are packed. Beyond being prepared to focus in on and sacrificing other experiences for a panel you have to do, and the trick of coming into panels halfway through for an easy taste of what's up, any tips I can provide are pretty straightforward. Go see someone that interests you. Don't apologize for what that is.

You will have things and people you want to see, and everybody's a lot better at panels than they used to be but the fewer guests on a panel the more you'll get to spend quality time with the person you want to see. Themed panels can sometimes be great, but other times they're that sofa at Omega Theta Pi where the fraternity has stuck the freshmen they don't want to pledge. If you go to the panel before the panel you really want to see, in order to score a seat, that is still somehow an accepted strategy but be attentive and respectful of what's in front of you. I also always advise seeing humor cartoonists or people that are funny/interesting on-line. They're usually that way in front of a crowd, too. Also: think in terms of a panel experience you won't likely have again, like a cartoonist from Europe, say. I'm a big fan of the CBLDF's drawing panels from the last few years, too -- so if they're doing those again, jump on board.

*****

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16. If You're Buying, Write Down The Price You'll Accept For Comics

It's a great thing if you shop at Comic-Con. It's retro. It's bold. It's counter-intuitive. I think it's a psychically purifying thing to do, as it's literally the major reason why cons got started. There's a tendency to split material at booths between really rare stuff and stuff at a stripped-down discount and I am the perfect customer for at least one of those things.

Here's a tip I learned from a friend who no longer collects. Write down what you're looking for and then write down a price at which you'd be happy to buy the book. You might find it cheaper but comparison shopping in a room of 75,000 people is for suckers.

It's not a bad headspace to be in with original art, either, figuring out in a more sober location what would make you happy in terms of spending. There's no real comparison shopping there, either, except perhaps between artists.

*****

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17. Don't Develop A Hang-Up About Drinking

A lot of people in comics like to spend some of their con time having a drink or two. Some like to have 50. Some don't drink at all. There's no real stigma here. Do what you feel is fun. If you're not a drinker but enjoy a drink in the summer, I always suggest the gin and tonic as a socializing cocktail because the cheapest version is 90 percent of the most expensive iteration taste-wise, it boasts a sturdy glass you're not likely to drop or knock over, and the ice in one melts in a way that it's like getting two drinks for the price of one. It says "My other suit is seersucker."

Another option in recent years is local craft beer, which bartenders all over the city are happy to suggest specific examples. Still: Diet Coke is fine, believe me. Just by reading this section you've thought about this too much.

*****

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18. Eat Out At Least Once

San Diego's downtown used to be fairly terrifying in terms of the food offerings. There were five cheap, funky restaurants and 35 slightly overpriced ones serving a morose downtown clientele. There's a lot more to recommend eating in San Diego now, and I suggest spending some research time and finding a place for you and your friends to take in a meal. If you're having a hard time finding a place that floats your boat or satisfies your budget within walking distance, maybe head out of the neighborhood on a little field trip, perhaps to Little Italy.

Two classic San Diego Con restaurants I recommend are Pokez and Cafe Chloe.

One whole class of restaurants that has a tougher time than they used to on that weekend is the group of storefront restaurants up and down the Gaslamp. The higher end restaurants do well, the cheaper ones and the buy to eat in your hotel room places seem to be doing okay, but that $15-$20 entree restaurant has started to look, at least to my eyes, empty as can be some nights. I think it's just that the fans are different now, and the professionals are different now. You've lost that middle class of buyers and pros.

Two completely satisfying restaurants where I've eaten in almost empty surroundings at some point during the last couple of years are Asti Ristorante and Bandar.

*****

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19. Attend The Eisner Awards

If you get a chance and you're not actively doing something more directly tied into your weekend's goals on Friday night, might I recommend the Eisner Awards? CR has declined to be considered for nomination since our last trophy win, but that doesn't mean we've stopped going. Team CR sits in the back now and laughs and drinks beer we carry in and has people visit us to make a disapproving face about our not sitting up with the rest of the industry. It's glorious.

If you're a comics fan, you should see the Eisners at least once. They are divvied in a way that you're likely to have someone you like win one. It's fun to see all the comics peccadilloes on display and sometimes it's genuinely nice and funny and sweet. The afterparty is now the weekend's most underrated, a hardcore group of mostly 45-years-old and older veterans that I never see any other place than in that lobby. I'm pretty sure Joe Ferrara lives there.

Winning an Eisner Award is still a goal for many cartoonists and comics-makers, and should be. It's one of the nice and completely comics-only things you can have happen to when you're in comics, and there aren't a whole lot of those things left.

*****

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20. Shmooze

I mentioned earlier there is a second track for late-night socializing: the entrenched hotel bar scene. I should probably give that its own post here. I think that whole scene is a handy supplement to anything else you might want to do. For example, a lot of folks of my acquaintance have spent their Eisner Fridays the last few years going to the awards program and then immediately cutting out for cocktails in the host hotel's bar and lounge. The bar scene can be a step-up or a wind-down: like I said, super-useful.

What used to be an afterparty scene at places like the Hilton and the Hyatt have become full-bore party experiences, noodling along from dusk until last call. The bigger places tend to have unofficial hosts that have laid the groundwork for an evening of drinks via their afternoon tipping. The last couple of years you've seen people finishing the evening at their own hotels: there are significant little parties going on at the Westin Gaslamp and the smaller Hilton. Muscling your way into a place with $13 cocktails is fine vehicle to stand around and sort of talk business until people glare at you.

You probably won't get hired for going to one of those places, but you might become familiar enough that someone pays a little bit more attention to your next creative act. Nearly everyone who's been going to San Diego for a while has spent a lot of time working these rooms, even if they don't remember why.

*****

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21. Go See Mark Evanier Moderate A Panel

The writer and historian Mark Evanier does at least two kinds of panels, and probably more, better than anyone out there: voice actors and cartoonists of his close acquaintance. Seeing him moderate and seeing how the great pros he assembles react is the Comic-Con equivalent of getting off the Las Vegas strip and dropping some money at a casino downtown. It's just this side of mandatory.

*****

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22. Use The Buses For Exhaustion, Not For Speed

There is an extensive bus shuttle service between the hotels and the show. There are no rules for walking, but here are my rules for walking at San Diego. If your hotels is right across the street all the way up to Broadway, try to walk it. If you're staying north of Broadway, try to walk the first day before making a decision if you'll be doing it all weekend. If you're anywhere else, get there any way you can, including the buses. If that means you're driving in, the key is to make sure you're paying to park all day and not just some eight-hour "all day" artificial configuration.

One exception is that if you're just too damn tired to make the trip, use the buses then. That might come Saturday night, or Sunday morning. But at that point don't be shy. They're pretty intuitive to figure out route-wise. You're going to have done a lot of walking, too much walking, no matter what. It's just that kind of show.

*****

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23. Build In The Extra Time To Check Your Bags

One thing folks forget on getaway day is that they're probably going to have some convention center time that occurs after they check out of the hotel. Gotta do something with those bags. The hotels all provide the opportunity to check your bags into lobby storage, but unless you do it early it might take a while because a lot of people will be storing their bags. So build in the time or set an alarm and get down there with everything but your backpack. You'll also likely need extra time built in to pick the bags up. Don't miss your flight standing in a lobby -- you get no points for that from either place.

Another option is go over to the convention center with your bag, which I would restrict to those of you with 1-2 bags that also have friends at an exhibitor with a lot of behind the table space. Do something to thank them if you do that. Maybe even ask the day before.

If you catch a cab out of the area, go west a bit, towards the Marriott first and then down the road even further to find a cab unencumbered with that direct-convention traffic. Also consider taking a bus up past Broadway before jumping into a paid car. I would assume these same principles apply to services like Uber and Lyft. You don't want to pay for downtown gridlock.

Talk of cabs reminds of one more direct piece of advice. There are pedicabs everywhere, and people like them for short bursts of travel, six to eight blocks. I'm not sure why. They creep me out a bit. Anyway, always get the price for where you're going before you get in one. That way there's no drama between you and some angry person with gigantic calves.

*****

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24. Take Business Class On Amtrak Back To Los Angeles

Here's a returning-from-San-Diego travel tip. If you're taking the train back to LA, make at least that segment of your trip business class rather open and unreserved. You get assigned a seat that way, and you get a shorter line. The lines are enormous for the unreserved seats; there's no guarantee you'll get to sit down, and the length of the line leads to people cheating, which if I've played by the rules shoots my blood pressure to the moon after a long weekend of general stress. That's no way to live.

Also, never count on the train to get you back up the coast where you need to go right on time. It's a train. What are you, some hotshot?

*****

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25. Remember You're Having A Good Time

There are so many little stresses in terms of getting around and doing things at Comic-Con that a lot of people forget to have fun. Look at the crew coming in on one of the shuttle trains sometime, if you get the chance: not a smile to be had. Comic-Con is an amazing experience, if you think about it, this massive tent revival devoted to geekdom in its loftiest forms. It is a phenomenon of our times. Take it all in. Talk to those around you. Crack some jokes. If you feel like it, go ahead and smile.

*****

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BONUS TIP: Make Room In Your Luggage For Stuff That You Buy By Managing Your Underwear Flow

One thing that comes a little tough for people attending a big show is finding room in one's luggage for items purchased over the weekend. One strategy is to mail some stuff back -- either new or old. The convention center has a mailing hub right there that I've never used, there was a US post office last I knew right up in the Horton Plaza on its north side, and many of the hotels will accommodate you for a price.

Another strategy is to decide in advance with great discipline exactly what clothing you need and show up in San Diego with room built into your suitcase. If you realize from years of experience that you won't be working out, for instance, you can save space by leaving that extra pair of shoes at home. (Advanced class: get a workout shoe designed to slip comfortably into luggage -- they make them.)

Yet a third option is to just pay that $25 airline fee and accommodate a new bag -- either one you pack, or one you pick up at the convention, which happens the best place in the world to find oversized bags.

My personal strategy and one I've used to great effectiveness over the years at those rare cons I know I'm going to be buying is to make sure I leave with fewer items of clothing, creating a space into which I stuff comics. I do this by packing for the trip my six worst pairs of underwear and one good pair, perhaps two if I'm feeling good about myself. Most underwear should be disposed of once a year, the way any dried spices should be dumped a week before Christmas. By tossing your underwear in the hotel room wastebasket on getaway day, you can usually make just enough room for a healthy pile of comics and/or book items and/or a toy or two. If you have a sleeping shirt that you can say goodbye to as well, every little bit helps.

If you do this, please tip your sure-to-be concerned cleaning person. Also, and this may be the most important tip of all: don't tell anybody.

*****

photos by Whit Spurgeon (the nice ones) and me (the awful ones); for those of you wagering at home, the Evanier/Sergio is from 2004.

*****

Comic-Con is an advertiser here at CR so you just wasted your time reading compromised nonsense. Sorry. Also, no one has ever called it Mouthbreather Sundance. That's not even funny.

*****



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July 9, 2016


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Gerald Scarfe Making Brexit-Related Cartoons


The Comics Workbook Walk-Through Of TCAF 2016


That Milo Manara Television Commercial




Three More From Comics Workbook TV
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from July 2 to July 8, 2016:

1. Big Brother Comics in Sacramento lost to a fire. GoFundMe established for owner, who lived in the same building as his shop.

2. Rick Friday returns to Farm News.

3. Harvey Awards nominees announced for this year's iteration of the long-running awards program. A program whose open nominations process makes the occasional working-their-friends-and-coworker candidate possible posted results that suggested that for this year Valiant and its circle of professionals were the most active filling out the somewhat-laborious nominations sheet. "No rules were broken"/"I can't believe they even nailed down the humor category" debates flourished on-line and off.

Winner Of The Week
Metaphrog.

Loser Of The Week
It may be Jim Wheelock, unfortunately.

Quote Of The Week
"In the late thirties, [Peter] Arno designed a jet-black, low-slung roadster that echoed his graceful lines. Unfortunately, he named it the Albatross rather than the Arnomobile." -- Richard Gehr

*****

this year's comics images are from Fawcett

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Go, Look: La Sonnambula

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Go, Look: Alleygator

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

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

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

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If I Were Near Norridge And/Or Harwood Heights, 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 The UK, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Lady Luck #88

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July 8, 2016


Go, Bookmark: Kaijuly 2016

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Metaphrog Wins The Sunday Herald Scottish Culture Awards 2016 For Best Visual Artist

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This site and I'm sure many other received an excited late-night e-mail form Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers, the collective Metaphrog, on their winning the Sunday Herald Scottish Culture Awards 2016 for Best Visual Artist.

Runners-up in the category were David J Mitchell, Eleanor Stewart and Ellie Harrison. Other category winners included Alan Cumming (Best Actor: Theatre), Jenni Fagan (Author Of The Year) and The Glad Café (Best Performing Arts Center).

The collective's most recent high-profile comics project available in North America was The Red Shoes And Other Tales, published by Papercutz. You can see a trailer for that project here. The couple were writers in residence at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2015.

photo sent by Metaphrog
 
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Go, Look: The Always-Fun Fred Hembeck

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1, 2, 3
 
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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

image* happy tenth anniversary to Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine, one of the consistent blogging efforts behind the re-presentation of old comics stories and art. I run a lot of links to that site from here.

* I'm going to try to do this as its own post, but I was unaware of the quarterly review site Gutterfags until Dale Lazarov let me know about via e-mail the other day. They launched last March, so that's on me. Sorry, Dale! I look forward to reading that site on a regular basis, and maybe you'd find it valuable, too.

* Matt O'Keefe talks to Mike Norton about the end of Battlepug.

* finally, Augie De Blieck, Jr. has slipped word of a new on-line project.
 
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If I Were In Montreal, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Russ Heath B&W Visuals Mini-Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* sounds like that will be a super-fun show.

image* Rob Clough on a bunch of mini-comics. Matt Brady on two from Ben Passmore.

* Kody Chamberlain writes at length about breaking into comics. My usual answer is just make comics as close to the comics you want to make, over and over, until someone interacts with you in a way that changes this through-line to a career you've already begun, but while I think that's basically still true no one wants to hear that and ways to finesse the various intermediary steps are always welcome.

* Kristen Korvette talks to Katie Skelly.

* every so often something fun will come back to the surface the way Frank Santoro has his Comics Workbook site set up, like this 2011 Providence scene report.

* not comics: one of the weird things to me about the life of the recently-passed actress Noel Neil, Lois Lane portrayer and convention-circuit regular, is that 20 years slipped by between the live-action Superman TV show and that first Christopher Reeve movie. That seems to me looking back more like 1000 years in cultural time, that particular spread of dates.

* finally: the eminently stoppable Juggernaut.
 
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Happy 57th Birthday, Stan Woch!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Whilce Portacio!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Dominique Goblet!

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July 7, 2016


By Request Extra: Please Help Big Brother Comics' Kenny Russell Upon Losing His CA Store To Fire

GoFundMe here. I can't imagine losing my home and my business in one fell swoop. Please consider helping, particularly if you're a patron of Russell's now-former store.
 
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Go, Look: Save Me From The Weed!

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this is one of those comics I hadn't seen since like 1978 and it felt like a gut punch to see it again
 
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Frank Santoro Announces Yearly Comics Workbook Contest

Here. There's a cash prize. The results of this one tend to be very interesting.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Gutterfags

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I missed this Matt Brady write-up from CAKE 2016 when I was initially putting together this site's collective memory on that show. I've since corrected that mistake. I'm linking to it here because one thing we frequently leave out of coverage is how many comics debut at a show, and their relative quality. Instead we favor commentary on each show's perceived quality in relation to other shows, and an elusive affirming social quality. That's my way of saying there were a lot of good comics making their debut at CAKE, and we should recognize that about a show.

* I've been running the Comic-Con guide at different times in the ramp-up to the show. I think there's still some valuable tips in there, although with our phones I also know we're more prepared than ever to just wing a show like that one.

* here's something I've wondered recently re: Comic-Con International in a non-comics sense. Is it fair to say that the Twilight fans were the most fervent of all time? I don't know anything about fandom, but I have to admit Comic-Con has felt 74 percent more sane since the movies cycled through. That is also the only fan base from whom I got multiple international phone calls and over a dozen e-mails each year, the Fall before, asking me to figure out the best way for them to get there and enjoy the Twilight parts of the show. I sometimes wonder if we reached peak-CCI with that crowd. They're definitely up there with the all time SDCC-defining fandoms, along with 1990s Star Trek and 1980s/1990s furry culture.

* until very recently I forgot to add Comique Con, a show focused on female creators, to the CR calendar. My bad. Anyone who wants to drive up from Columbus or meet me over there for a couple of meals in Dearborn and what looks like a fun show,

* finally, Torsten Adair has a report from the recent ALA conference, including the comics we'll see soon from the great Margaret Atwood.
 
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Go, Look: Strip #167

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

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Go, Look: Jeff "Dekal" Becker

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Todd Klein on Survivors' Club #6. Matt Brady on Mindfulness Comics #2.

* not comics: the writer Mike Curtis has donated a massive Superman-related memorabilia collection to the Cleveland Public Library for a permanent display in their main library that is planned to open in 2017. With Superman on one hand and Harvey Pekar on the others, Cleveland has the historical force to carve out a space in their culture for comics.

* this year is so weird that I can't even find joy in shirtless, ranty Scott Adams.

* Rafi Ziai, RIP.

* missed it: Chet Krause, RIP. I agree with about half of Milton Griepp's professional appraisal vis-a-vis Krause Publications' contribution to comics via CBG. I think CBG served a certain kind of fan in a certain way. While it was smart to organize and serve all of these collector communities the way Krause did with his line, collectibility is only one function comics has. Content-wise, CBG stayed pretty close to that interpretation of how the industry and art form should work, trading in affirmation more than it did advocacy. I would have a difficulty time pointing out how the various industries or art form more generally is different for its influence, and I love that kind of exercise. Then again: I'm obviously super-biased.

* that's not necessarily a kind thing, comparing two cartoons like this.

* not comics: that's a striking cover.

* finally, I thought the HeroesCon shirt this year was an attractive shirt of the old-school black t-shirt nerd variety. They're offering what they have left up for sale.
 
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Happy 64th Birthday, Rick Hoberg!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Noah Van Sciver!

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July 6, 2016


Go, Look: Alyssa Berg

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The New Indy: Go Read This Vulture Article On Twenty Great Comics To Read On The Beach

It's the "Beach Read" part that makes this sort of strained point, but I couldn't help but think while reading the choices made by three smart and well-respected comics professionals -- Kieron Gillen, Marjorie Liu, Kate Leth -- in this exercise initiated by Vulture that it's a pretty good snapshot of where a lot of tastes in comics like these days. It's a mix of the light and humorous alternative stuff, high-end kids material, mainstream-genre approximate manga and the quirky part of the superhero rack.

imageI think that for a lot of people this is where the excitement is, sand or no sand, perhaps because this is a combination of works that's widely appealing and fun while at the same time getting that romantic pushback against the core of superhero material. I would say the only difference between this list and most end-of-year lists I see is that you get added in the "important" books -- not necessarily important or good but deemed so by way of self-presentation and media agreement. Where it gets interesting for me with this view and more traditional ones is in those areas where the idea of an exercise is quality, and not qualified for a specific, focused article. It may be that I'm just old enough or just enough of an asshole that it's hard for me to see two things as the same when one is something like Carol Tyler's A Soldier's Heart and the other is whatever I'm sure well-crafted entertainment that will probably win whatever awards that Tyler's book might still be up to win. I wonder if the battle wasn't left half-won; pushing back against the garbage pile solely at its rotted-fruit core isn't really a refined aesthetic.

One of the reasons I think no one trusts critical discourse in comics right now is because that specific point of view on things is so decidedly inarticulate. It was easy in the 1980s to point out how RAW was better than Marvel Two-In-One (yes, even the Project Pegasus run); it's harder to make the distinctions we're asked to make now. A solution you often see, where the critic dons the skin of Greg Cwiklik Buffalo Bill-style, sets an even higher bar and destroys the better-crafted work as just another piece of meretricious disposable fluff like it's 1992 again, that may thrill the hardcore art crowd but wins few minds. In many hands that kind of rhetoric feels just as convenient as those end-of-the-year lists that have a book from every important publisher. It's not that people need to adjust their standards, but discuss intelligently the ones they have. I get the sense that a lot of people with their end of year lists could swap out another dozen comics for the ones they selected and be perfectly happy writing either article. Don't get me wrong: I'm public enemy number one here. I barely even write about comics anymore.

I do love a lot of those comics, so please don't put that on me. The best beach reading is one of those big Bill Moyer interview books, followed by anything by Terry Southern followed by Bill Motherfucking Blackbeard, but those comics would work, too. The whole thing just got me thinking. That's what I bring to the beach: nerdy emotional baggage and a desire to be chatty. That's why my skin is the same color as the Kingpin's jacket. Same size, too, but that's another post.

from SuperMutant Magic Academy, a stupendous book recommended on this list
 
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Go, Look: Achewood Has Been Really Good This Year

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By Request Extra: 2D Cloud Is Selling 4 GNs + 1 Zine

imageThe Minneapolis-based 2dcloud has quietly become of the publishing presences making strong and consistent use of crowd-funding. Its latest is up now. You should go look and consider buying those books. That's a quality publisher with a fine recent track record. I've enjoyed work by three of the four cartoonists that are listed (I'm simply unfamiliar with the other). That's a great price point.

It's also interesting to track a project like this one because my experience is that not all comics people are convinced that a crowd-funding mechanism with every books, or even with most books, is a solid idea. I was the original folks to questions this in terms of comics' history of exploitation. The idea there is -- and I don't think it applies to 2dcloud, who enjoys an exemplary reputation, except in theory -- that capital is something that comics brings to the table, and to remove the publisher's burden to do this without compensation in some other area or part of the overall business deal, gives unfair advantage to the publisher in the basic publishing arrangement. Stressing the pre-order aspects, asserting a social good for the company's efforts, providing extra value to the customers: these are all ways that crowd-funding entities have worked around this criticism.
 
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Go, Look: Daniela Viçoso

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Your 2016 Harvey Awards Nominees

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*****

The Harvey Awards celebrated the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence Monday by releasing their own hallowed document, the ballot for the 2016 iteration of their awards program. Congratulations to all the nominees. I love the traditional comics awards because that's a thing comics people do for other comics people, and there aren't a ton of those things.

Taking a look at the ballot, the big winners are Valiant Entertainment and the idea that due to double-vote nature of the awards that they're open to be strongly skewed towards any person that takes an active interest in getting the word out. This has happened a number of times over the awards program's history. One year it was CrossGen. Another year it was DC Comics. It's also been done on behalf of individual creators and books. This may be the most skewed yet, and the ability of multiple people to make fun of the results or otherwise comment through social media should make this the most potent and thus potentially damaging of these scenarios.

Between you and me, I don't know how the Harveys ever avoids that, at least not until a cultural changes means every last single person votes. The attention will help. It's certainly been the lead subject on the half-dozen e-mails I received about the nominees slate, and discussions here and there.

Another thing that popped for me is the continuing transformation of the traditional industry journalism category to bring in some comics that deal with journalistic subject matter. I have no skin in that particular game -- I didn't get nominated for Harveys back when this site wasn't horrible -- but it's intriguing. I think there's an industry-wide lack of confidence in general industry journalism right now. Plus, it makes total sense that the Harveys would be the first to transform a category because it's always been a bit looser than the Eisners' version of that grouping -- at least that's my memory; I believe the Journal lost to the Crumb movie one year.

*****

Best Single Issue Or Story
* Bloodshot Reborn #1, Valiant Entertainment
* Book Of Death #1, Valiant Entertainment
* Peanuts: A Tribute To Charles M. Schulz, BOOM! Studios
* Silver Surfer #11, Marvel Comics
* The Valiant #4, Valiant Entertainment
* Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior #1, Valiant Entertainment

*****

Best Cartoonist
* Asaf Hanuka, The Realist
* Matt Kindt, Unity #25
* Michael Kupperman, Unity #25
* Terry Moore, Rachel Rising
* Rafer Roberts, X-O Manowar #38
* Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo

*****

Best Artist
* Greg Capullo, Batman, DC Comics
* Jason Latour, Southern Bastards, Image Comics
* Chris Samnee, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
* Fiona Staples, Saga, Image Comics
* Mico Suayan, Bloodshot Reborn, Valiant Entertainment

*****

Best Writer
* Jason Aaron, Southern Bastards, Image Comics
* Jeff Lemire, Bloodshot Reborn, Valiant Entertainment
* Brian K. Vaughan, Saga, Image Comics
* Mark Waid, Archie, Archie Comics
* G. Willow Wilson, Ms. Marvel, Marvel Comics

*****

Best Continuing Or Limited Series
* Bitch Planet, Image Comics
* Bloodshot Reborn, Valiant Entertainment
* Book Of Death, Valiant Entertainment
* Divinity, Valiant Entertainment
* Giant Days, BOOM! Studios/BOOM! Box
* Ninjak, Valiant Entertainment
* Saga, Image Comics
* Southern Bastards, Image Comics
* The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Marvel Comics

*****

Best Graphic Album Original
* Captive Of Friendly Cove, Fulcrum Publishing
* Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, Top Shelf/IDW Publishing
* Long Walk To Valhalla, Archaia/BOOM! Studios
* March: Book Two, Top Shelf Productions
* Nanjing: The Burning City, Dark Horse Comics
* The New Deal, Dark Horse Books
* Two Brothers, Dark Horse Books

*****

Best Anthology
* Dark Horse Presents, Dark Horse Comics
* Fresh Romance, Rosy Press
* Island, Image Comics
* Peanuts: A Tribute To Charles M. Schulz, KaBOOM!/BOOM! Studios
* The 27 Club, A Comic Anthology, Red Stylo Media

*****

Best Biographical, Historical Or Journalistic Presentation
* The Art Of Mouse Guard: 2005-2015, Archaia/BOOM! Studios
* The Complete Guide To Self-Publishing Comics, Random House/Watson Guptill
* March: Book Two, Top Shelf Productions
* Peanuts: A Tribute To Charles M. Schulz, KaBOOM!/BOOM! Studios
* The Realist, Archaia/BOOM! Studios

*****

Best Cover Artist
* David Aja, Hawkeye, Marvel Comics
* Raul Allen, Ivar, Timewalker, Valiant Entertainment
* Mike Del Mundo, Elektra, Marvel Comics
* Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic, Divinity, Valiant Entertainment
* David Lafuente, Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior, Valiant Entertainment
* Lewis LaRosa, Ninjak, Valiant Entertainment
* Paolo Rivera, The Valiant, Valiant Entertainment
* Fiona Staples, Saga, Image Comics
* Matt Taylor, Arcadia, BOOM! Studios

*****

Best Domestic Reprint Project
* Archer & Armstrong: The Complete Classic Omnibus HC, Valiant Entertainment
* Crimson Vol. 1, BOOM! Studios
* Quantum and Woody By Priest & Bright Volume One: Klang TP, Valiant Entertainment
* Quantum and Woody By Priest & Bright Volume Two: Switch TP, Valiant Entertainment
* Quantum and Woody By Priest & Bright Volume Three: And So... TP, Valiant Entertainment

*****

Special Award For Excellence In Presentation
* Bloodshot Reborn, Rian Hughes, Jeff Lemire, Warren Simons, and Kyle Andrukiewicz, Valiant Entertainment
* Book Of Death, Tom Muller, Dylan Todd, Warren Simons, and Travis Escarfullery, Valiant Entertainment
* Divinity, Tom Muller, Warren Simons, Dylan Todd, and Matt Kindt, Valiant Entertainment
* Ninjak, Rian Hughes, Tom Muller, Matt Kindt, Warren Simons, and Tom Brennan, Valiant Entertainment
* Peanuts: A Tribute To Charles M. Schulz, Scott Newman, KaBOOM!/BOOM! Studios
* The Valiant, Rian Hughes, Paolo Rivera, Dylan Todd, Warren Simons, and Kyle Andrukiewicz, Valiant Entertainment

*****

Best Graphic Album Previously Published
* Bloodshot Reborn Volume One: Colorado TP, Valiant Entertainment
* Divinity Deluxe Edition HC, Valiant Entertainment
* Ivar, Timewalker Volume One: Making HIstory TP, Valiant Entertainment
* The Less Than Epic Adventures Of TJ and Amal, Iron Circus Comics
* Ninjak Volume One: Weaponeer TP, Valiant Entertainment
* The Valiant Deluxe Edition HC, Valiant Entertainment

*****

Best Original Graphic Publication For Younger Readers
* Giant Days, BOOM! Box/BOOM! Studios
* Lumberjanes, BOOM! Box/BOOM! Studios
* The Only Living Boy, Bottled Lightning
* Over The Garden Wall, KaBOOM!/BOOM! Studios
* Space Dumplins, Scholastic Graphix

*****

Special Award For Humor In Comics
* James Asmus, Quantum And Woody Must Die!, Valiant Entertainment
* Elliott Kalan, Unity #25, Valiant Entertainment
* Michael Kupperman, Unity #25, Valiant Entertainment
* Rafer Roberts, X-O Manowar #38, Valiant Entertainment
* Fred Van Lente, Ivar, Timewalker, Valiant Entertainment
* Chip Zdarsky, Howard The Duck, Marvel Comics

*****

Most Promising New Talent
* Raul Allen, Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior, Valiant Entertainment
* Robert Gill, Book Of Death, Valiant Entertainment
* Tom King, The Vision, Marvel Comics
* Dan Mora, Klaus BOOM! Studios
* Lissa Treiman, Giant Days, BOOM! Studios

*****

Best New Series
* Archie, Archie Comics
* Bloodshot Reborn, Valiant Entertainment
* Giant Days, BOOM! Box/BOOM! Studios
* Paper Girls, Image Comics
* The Vision, Marvel Comics

*****

Best Inker
* Klaus Janson, Dark Knight III: The Master Race, DC Comics
* Seth Mann, Ninjak, Valiant Entertainment
* Danny Miki, Batrman, DC Comics
* Tom Palmer, Bloodshot Reborn, Valiant Entertainment
* Joe Rivera, The Valiant, Valiant Entertainment
* Ryan Winn, Divinity, Valiant Entertainment

*****

Best American Edition Of Foreign Material
* Corto Maltese: Beyond The Windy Isles, IDW Publishing
* One Punch Man, Viz
* The Realist, Archaia/BOOM! Studios
* Showa 1953-1989: A History Of Japan, Drawn & Quarterly
* Two Brothers, Dark Horse Books

*****

Best Online Comics Work
* Albert The Alien, Trevor Mueller and Gabriel Bautista
* Battlepug, Mike Norton
* Bloom County 2015, Berkeley Breathed
* Oh Joy Sex Toy, Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan
* Zombie Boy, Mark Stokes

*****

Best Syndicated Strip Or Panel
* Bizarro, Dan Piraro, King Features Syndicate
* Bloom County, Berkeley Breathed, Universal Uclick
* Dick Tracy, Joe Staton and Mike Curtis, Tribune Content Agency
* Mutts, Patrick McDonnell, King Features Syndicate
* Pearls Before Swine, Stephan Pastis, Universal Uclick
* Phoebe And Her Unicorn, Dana Simpson, Universal Uclick
* Zippy The Pinhead, Bill Griffith, King Features Syndicate

*****

Best Colorist
* Laura Allred, Silver Surfer, Marvel Comics
* Ulises Arreola, Ninjak, Valiant Entertainment
* David Baron, Divinity, Valiant Entertainment
* Jordie Bellaire, Injection, Image Comics
* Laura Martin, Ragnarok, IDW Publishing
* Brian Reber, X-O Manowar, Valiant Entertainment

*****

Best Letterer
* Aubrey Aiese, Lumberjanes, BOOM! Box/BOOM! Studios
* Dave Lanphear, Divinity, Valiant Entertainment
* Patricia Martin, Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior, Valiant Entertainment
* Dave Sharpe, Ninjak, Valiant Entertainment
* John Workman, Ragnarok, IDW Publishing

*****

The Harvey Awards are presented each year during the Baltimore Comic-Con.

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Colonialism

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This Isn't A Library: New, Notable Releases Into 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.

*****

JAN160388 JACK KIRBY MIGHTY THOR ARTIST ED HC PI
I'm not sure if it's San Diego looming or something else, but this seems a kind of vacant week in a lot of areas important to comic book shops. I think the Thor book above would be an interesting buy -- your shop probably won't let you look at it at that price point. Kirby's work is always lovely in its original-art form, and those stories are better than their current reputation (it used to be a dark horse contender for best primetime Marvel era comic).

imageMAY161670 KAIJUMAX SEASON 2 #3 $3.99
MAY160105 BALTIMORE EMPTY GRAVES #4 $3.99
MAY160277 BATMAN 66 MEETS STEED AND MRS PEEL #1 $2.99
MAY160282 FLINTSTONES #1 $3.99
APR160771 REVIVAL #41 (MR) $3.99
MAY160666 WALKING DEAD #156 (MR) $2.99
I really enjoy Zander Cannon's work on his giant monsters in prison comic Kaijumax and this would be a genuine pick-up for me if I'm in the comics shop. After that, things get a little odd in the spirit of this week. There's the typical Mignola-verse title. The Batman 66 titles featuring that version of the character teamed up with other fantastic TV characters of that era seems to me about 15-20 years late to hit a sizable every-week comics audience in love with the source material. I'm still happy it's there, though, and I'd take a look. The revamped, grimmer Flintstones sounds awful, but how awful I wouldn't know until I picked one up to look it over. Revival has been a solid title for Image, and looks headed into its last narrative cycle. Walking Dead Day is likely still a happy day for most of America's funnybook shops.

MAR160044 NEXUS OMNIBUS TP VOL 07 $24.99
Another character slightly out of time, I greatly appreciate Dark Horse's archival work with the title -- you might be able to argue that sales would be stronger if you wait for a cycle of that title's readers to get to a point where they want to buy those stories again, but this way the creators get a shot at any monies made.

JAN160353 ABSOLUTE PREACHER HC VOL 01 (MR) $150.00
JAN160930 AVENGERS BY JOHN BYRNE OMNIBUS HC $100.00
Two big, fancy comics. The Preacher run in that format makes sense because of the TV show, although what the show's fans would find interesting about the comic book version beyond "more" is slightly beyond me: they're sort of different. I have fond memories of reading the John Burn run on Avengers when I was a comics-buying kid, although if I splurged I'm sure a thing I'd like more than Byrne's art is all the little story tweaks they've since moved past at a company like Marvel. Like remember when Captain America and, come to think of it, Batman, would be treated as low-power hindrances? It's hard to think of someone pulling that off now.

APR160788 ADVENTURES IN THE RIFLE BRIGADE TP (MR) $14.99
APR162081 SHADOWMAN BY GARTH ENNIS & ASHLEY WOOD TP $19.99
Two from Garth Ennis. All of Ennis' work should be in print. It's all pretty solid off-cape genre work, and comics doesn't have a lot of that stuff in the top tier where Ennis' talent can reach.

APR161904 COOK KOREAN COMIC BOOK WITH RECIPES SC $19.99
I am all for cooking comics of any kind, and I was all for the couple of these I'm pretty sure I saw up on-line before it became a fancy print volume and everything.

MAY161920 ONE PUNCH MAN GN VOL 07 $9.99
This strikes me (get it?) as the best of mainstream manga series with a book out this wee. There'e a Bleach, too, I think.

MAR161632 PIG GOAT BANANA CRICKET HC VOL 01 ORGLE BORGLE $12.99
Eric M. Esquivel and Andreas Schuster adapt the cartoon by Dave Cooper and Johnny Ryan. I'd look, foir sure.

MAY161516 PRINCE VALIANT HC VOL 13 1961-1962 $34.99
I love boys adventure comics during the summer time, and there's no better creature of that species in comics than Hal Foster's Prince Valiant. This would be the lovely afternoon of Foster's long career, with art never more gorgeous. I like the tone and pace of comics like this, how they're never shocking but keep pressing along.

*****

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 SF, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: The Avenger #2

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Katherine Dacey on I Am A Hero Vol. 1. Sean Gaffney on A Certain Magical Index Vol. 7, Complex Age Vol. 1 and A Certain Scientific Railgun Vol. 11. John Seven on several comics from Retrofit and Bird In A Cage.

* good point made here: a lot of the phenomenon of people getting artists to work from their for free is specific to a medium and sometimes specific even to a business.

* folks stills seem delighted by political figures in comic books. I cherish my own copy of Tip O'Neill's Tip Sheet.

* I like that anymore the themed months and years that Bully takes on at his blog are more like drunken, shouted challenges than anything else. Here's the latest. He never fails us, that Bully.

* Digital Manga, Inc. can add another successful crowd-funder to its mostly positive legacy in paying for its publishing projects that way.

* Torsten Adair engages with the publishing choices involved in seeing Wandering Star back in print.

* finally, a by request extra item: Mike Sterling has a Patreon now.
 
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Happy 40th Birthday, Andrew Fulton!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Joe Zabel!

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Happy 69th Birthday, Katherine Collins!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Christy Marx!

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Happy 66th Birthday, John Byrne!

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July 5, 2016


Go, Listen: Paul Mavrides On Virtual Memories

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Peter Nicholson Retires After 47-Year Career

imageI don't know a ton about Australian cartooning, but they seem to have a thriving editorial-cartoon culture, in part because of a generation of strong cartoonists of which the cartoonist and sculptor Peter Nicholson -- working as Nico -- was the baby member.

Here's a summary of NIcholson's professional journey along with a few details about his career, including its mix of freelance and staff gigs. Nicholson's web site offers up a ton of recent work. You can also read the the bio on Nicholson's site. That bio has in its body what is perhaps the artist's most notorious cartoon.
 
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Go, Look: A Hand-Colored Captain Easy Sunday

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no shit it's metal
 
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By Request Extra: Man Who Stole Jim Wheelock's Collection Won't Go To Jail After Guilty Plea

Here's the latest on the case of Jim Wheelock's stolen, six-figure appraised comics collection, a nightmare for any comics owner who has counted on sales of their comics to assist in retirement. The man who stole the collection from a Vermont storage facility had his plea bargain accepted by the court. He had been facing four criminal counts for that theft and some others at the same facility.

There may be some important last-minute details to work out. Wheelock wrote CR, "There was a last minute reduction in charges I was not informed of. It's unclear how this will affect the restitution agreement that was part of the plea bargain, which was not very good to begin with."

Because Wheelock is in Los Angeles, Steve Bissette read his statement to the court, as described in the linked-to piece.

Wheelock has a GoFundMe account going for the sympathetic among you.

I feel badly for Mr. Wheelock because he's the victim here: he was stolen from, and sometimes that doesn't get fixed. I hope the damage done to his life is minimal, although I fear that won't be the case. I hope there are generous people willing and able to step in.
 
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Go, Look: Ben Sigas

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* this link to Sam Costello's Split Lip anthology got its own post yesterday but I assume there remains some need.

image* I love crowd-funders with specific, small requests, and this one from a CR reader about a printing job for his Nowhere Man comic certainly fits that bill.

* here's a short list of last week's recommendations that are still active: Dirty Diamonds #7, looking strong; Linda Medley, either Patreon or directly, doing better; Joey Peters and the public-domain super Stardust, perhaps in need of some-late run help.

* in terms of direct-need gofundme campaigns of recent interest, the Soto will likely by now have closed hers down, but you can still support Geneviève Elverum and James Hudnall.

* finally, here's a crowd-funder for an anthology featuring creators of color. That is always welcome. You should consider giving and you should consider bookmarking all of those linked-to names!
 
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Go, Bookmark: Gabrielle Bell Returns To Her July Diaries

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* Head Lopper will be collected into a trade featuring the first four issues. Those issues were really big, so you're looking at 280 pages. I thought this a fun comic when I read it in serial form, and one I would imagine has a wider audience waiting for it than it currently enjoys.

* I did not know that a second printing of Hellen Jo's great issue of Frontier was an enhanced issue. I want one of these, too. If you missed out, that's one of the memorable comics publication of the last several years.

* PW has a lengthy list of comics for adult readers that will be coming out this Fall. I don't really understand the Top 10 part of it -- is a Wonder Woman book really of greater interest to adult readers of comics than original work by people like Anya Davidson and Dave McKean? It's not that I have anything against good books working that genre, but they tend to be few and far between and the vast majority of them are interchangeable and forgettable even when nicely crafted and well intended. I'd love to be proven wrong, because we can always use more distinctive, great work. But I'm a little wary.

* you can't believe Amazon.com listings in any way than a general heads-up that something may be coming, but that's enough in a few cases when the book sounds really cool. Looks like Fantagraphics' entry into the shot-from-original-art book world will come out at some point in 2017. I'm also delighted to see that the third volume of Patrick Rosenkranz' exploration of S. Clay Wilson is still on its way. Rosenkranz has done incredibly admirable work the last several years with that group of cartoonists, and Wilson is his best subject.

* finally, more work on the way from the team of Tula Lotay and Warren Ellis.
 
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And Now, For No Particular Reason, Here's A Panel From Joe Daly's Recent Release Highbone Theater

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Erica Friedman on Otouto No Otto Vol. 2.

* John Adcock talks to Ron Ferdinand.

* not comics: the thing that interests me about this kind of layoffs story is that we're talking layoffs from a model that was supposed to solve the problems that led to the last model's descent into frequent layoffs.

* can't remember if I linked to this comic over at Rookie a few days ago but in case I didn't, here you go.

* go, watch: cartoonists on The Zoomer.

* I enjoyed this article about some recent plot-line stuff in the Marvel comics and how the writer thought they were situationally accurate. I bet if the best creators of that kind of comic were given fewer narrative restrictions we'd have a bunch of nice runs of different comics going right now. That's just a hunch, though.

* I was alerted to the fact that this site is doing short interviews with comics-makers, so that might be worth a temporary bookmark on your part if you're interested. I already see pieces up with Rick Geary and Geoff Grogan.

* finally, Ben Hatke picks the picture books he likes.
 
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Happy 40th Birthday, Steven Goldman!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Bill Watterson!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Chris Butcher!

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this photo was by Charlie Chu
 
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July 4, 2016


Happy Fourth Of July, Everyone!

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no one drew America like Saul Steinberg drew America
 
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Go, Read: Ronald Wimberly On Why Comics Companies Should Pay Artists For Their Test Pages

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Rick Friday Returns To Farm News

As you may recall, the cartoonist Rick Friday was let go from Farm News in May after a single advertiser complained about the political nature of a cartoon. Friday gained national and I believe some international attention for the stand that cost him the gig. As many expected at the time, the cartoonist and the publication have worked out their differences and Friday's work returned to the publication late last week. We wish them all the luck in the world moving forward; it's ludicrous that Friday had to spend any time away from the newspaper in the first place.
 
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OTBP/Not Comics: Vessels

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Dan Raeburn is one of the two or three most talented writers to every spend a significant time writing about comics, and the New Yorker essay upon which this book was born was terrific. Good luck to him with this work.
 
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By Request Extra: Robert Kirby Would Like You To Consider Support Sam Costello's Split Lip Book



Sam Costello's a well-liked small-press veteran and this is a well-known anthology project casting its net far and wide within the comics community. Its monies-raised level at the time I'm writing this strikes me as having some work to do in these last few days to reach its goal. The critic and cartoonist Rob Kirby has written this site asking we give it some attention and that seems like a great thing to do on a holiday like this one. Please go look.
 
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If I Were In Florida, I'd Go To This

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

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A Go, Look Classic: Monkey Gallery From Cosmic Monkey Site

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Bundled Extra: Bleach To End With 74th Volume

imageI'm tracking stories of fainting and other minor medical problems at Anime Expo due to the location of artists' alley just as I'm sure everyone else. If I have found a non-Twitter link to send you to someone's full article on that by the time July 4th festivities start, this will be the sentence that's highlighted. Either way, I'll return to it myself later on. I hope everyone's okay, and I hope satisfaction on the issue is pursued by those on the receiving end.

In the meantime, a straight-up publishing news story of note was made official in a debuting 73rd volume of the Bleach manga. The 74th volume of Tite Kubo's long-running series, the 74th, will be the last. The serialization in Weekly Shonen Jump, which launched the title in 2001, will apparently end this year as well -- one would have to imagine very soon.

An anime version ran for a big chunk of time, apparently 2004-2012, making Bleach one of the classic big-hit series as both comics and cartoon upon which a lot of the North American manga industry was built, and along with Naruto and One Piece one of the foundational refer-to titles over the last 15 years. The wikipedia entry for the series claims 84M+ copies sold... just in Japan.

Like many modern manga creators, Kubo's big hit came at a young age and he will not be 40 when it concludes. What he plans next is bound to be a significant item of interest.
 
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Happy 65th Birthday, Chip Sansom!

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Happy 19th Anniversary, Fanfare/Ponent Mon!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Leon Avelino!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Kazimir Strzepek!

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July 3, 2016


Go, Look: No Fair

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

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

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

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OTBP: GLORP

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Happy 49th Birthday, Dan Slott!

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Happy 79th Birthday, Russ Cochran!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Tom Heintjes!

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FFF Results Post #458 -- Four For The Fourth

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Comics Series You Like That Lasted Four Issues." This is how they responded.

*****

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Daniel Kalder

* Aliens: Labyrinth
* Criminal: Last of the Innocent
* Machine Man (pictured)
* Ragemoor
* The Shadow

*****

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Steve Harrick

1. Bodie Troll
2. Luke Cage: Noir (pictured)
3. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
4. The Black Beetle
5. The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror

*****

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Dave Knott

* Grotesque
* Juan Solo
* Stray Toasters (pictured)
* The Book Of Ballads And Sagas
* The Prisoner

*****

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Marty Yohn

1. Batman: Year One (pictured)
2. Dark Knight returns
3. Doc Savage
4. Kingdom Come
5. Stalker

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Art D'Ecco (pictured)
2. Dear Julia,
3. Dark Knight Returns
4. Showa: A History Of Japan
5. The Next Nexus

*****

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Justin J. Major

1. Ambush Bug
2. The Books of Magic
3. Hercules Prince Of Power (pictured)
4. Machine Man
5. Showa: A History Of Japan

*****

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Douglas Wolk

1. Birdland (pictured)
2. Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules
3. Icon Devil
4. Psychoanalysis
5. Siege (2015)

*****

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Brian Khepri

1. Grendel Tales: Devil's Choices
2. Guns of the Dragon
3. Roland: Days of Wrath
4. Typhoid
5. Whiteout (pictured)

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Blazing Combat (pictured)
2. The Invaders (Gold Key)
3. I.N.V.U.
4. Junkwaffel
5. No Time For Sergeants

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Damage Control (pictured)
2. Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men
3. Lullaby
4. Pirates vs. Ninjas
5. Smith Brown Jones: Alien Accountant

*****

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Jamie Coville

1. Marvels (pictured)
2. Metamorpho
3. The Adventures of Captain America Sentinel of Liberty
4. The Saint of Killers
5. The X-men vs. The Avengers

*****

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Jeffrey A. Goodman

1. Horror In The Dark
2. Hup (pictured)
3. Jim
4. Nocturnal Emissions
5. Psychoanalysis

*****

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John Vest

1. Cherry's Jubilee
2. David Chelsea In Love
3. Flesh And Bones (pictured)
4. Honkytonk Sue
5. Hup

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Change (pictured)
2. Legion Of Monsters
3. Lobo: Infanticide
4. Machine Man
5. The Extremist

*****

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Will Pfeifer

1. Batman Year 100
2. Finals
3. Flex Mentallo (pictured)
4. The Phantom Zone
5. Unstable Molecules

*****

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Stergios Botzakis

1. Ambush Bug
2. Beasts of Burden (pictured)
3. Halo and Sprocket
4. Hawkeye
5. Instant Piano

*****

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Ian McEwan

1. Six From Sirius
2. Wolverine vol.1
3. Joe Kubert's TOR: Heavy Hitters
4. New York: Year Zero
5. Cosmic Odyssey (pictured)

*****

thanks to all that participated; have a happy holiday

*****
*****
 
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July 2, 2016


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Tim Corrigan Tribute Panel, SPACE 2016









The Drawing As Language Interviews
all from here
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from June 25 to July 1, 2016:

1. Modest request for funding of kid's eyesight solutions by cartoonist Zack Soto once again surges way past initial ask.

2. Michel Renaud's widow sues Charlie Hebdo.

3. Ghosts to have 500K first printing; likely a record for a North American original graphic novel, certainly a record for the books that are encompassed by the modern understanding of the phrase.

Winner Of The Week
Telgemeier

Losers Of The Week
All of us, if there are uncollected Roger Langridge comics out there.

Quote Of The Week
"Here's the one solitary thing that comic book retailers have in common with the military: we tend to fight the last war." -- Brian Hibbs

*****

this year's comics images are from Fawcett

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Evil

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

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

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

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Go, Look: Da Krazy Train

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Daniel Nash!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Rickey Purdin!

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July 1, 2016


Go, Look: Alexis Ziritt

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Go, Read: Brian Hibbs On DM's Conservative Ordering Patterns

Here. The retailer and industry advocate Brian Hibbs digs into an interesting question: why might Direct Market retailers order conservatively on a publishing initiative where they are set up to do the opposite? The answer is that all of these initiatives function within layer after layer of context: past to present, mainstream to obscure, high-selling to low-selling.
 
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Go, Look: Guilty

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The Beat: Raina Telgemeier's Ghosts To Have 500,000 First Printing

imageHeidi MacDonald notes from promotional materials that Raina Telgemeier's Ghosts will have a 500,000 first printing, and that this is likely the most copies on a first printing on any North American graphic novel. I don't have any reason to disbelieve her. That's an amazing accomplishment. It should once again help reset a bunch of folks' thinking about what's possible and what comics looks like (for their sake, not hers). I also think there are specific kudos due Scholastic for investing not just in Telgemeier's groundbreaking Smile, as I think some companies might have, but in Telgemeier as a cartooning talent, period. That Fall tour should be something.
 
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Go, Look: The Hidden World

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Missed It: Welcome Back To Cartoon-Making, Atena Farghadani

Matilda Battersby at the Independent notes in her review of the Atena Farghadani case, imprisonment and eventual release that the young artist had made a new cartoon and posted it on Facebook in June. I totally missed this, but it is a wonderful thing. I hope she makes whatever art she wants for the rest of her life, and I hope that conservative elements in culture are far less an impediment to her doing so than the simple, always-tough act of putting one's imagination on the page.

This story is so welcome that even the name of the reporter is awesome.
 
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Go, Look: Summer Vacation

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

image* the cartoonist Katie Skelly wrote in to say that she posted the entirety of her Agent 73 comic, created with her Trash Twins podcast partner the critic and comics-maker Sarah Horrocks, here. CR had linked to both individual parts, but this might be a better way for you to read it.

* Tara Marie on Questionable Content.

* haven't seen one of these aggressive survey articles in a while. It's good to know what's going on out there even if you don't agree on the inevitability of any one result.

* finally, Monalisa Das profiles Saigo.
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: July 1976 Splash Pages

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Johanna Draper Carlson on Batman: Gotham Adventures #13. Alex Hoffman on Skyscrapers Of The Midwest.

* check out this fun image of Derf discovering Richard Corben.

* I can hardly wait for 12-15 years from now when we start getting this avalanche of material from young people that enjoyed some kind of sexual awakening from Marvel Comics movies. In the meantime, Faith Erin Hicks provides nearly-chaste appreciation of a fine cinematic moment.

* Evan Narcisse would like you to know about the world-building in Descender.

* Darryl Ayo profiles Bob McLeod.

* now and forever I remain a fan of the Quintronic Man.

* things always get a little weird at Daily Bugle when the staff stays up 36 hours in a row.

* by request extra: Geneviève Elverum's crowdfunding effort went past $180K late this week. The Soto family pushed past 10 times their initial ask.

* finally, I'm all for anything throwing a spotlight on Aline Kominsky-Crumb. I always feel like we're four minutes away from just flipping out and showering deserved love on her.
 
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Happy 34th Birthday, Lee's Comics!

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