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
















January 31, 2017


Go, Read: Why The Refugee Vetting Process Is Already Too Tough

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Not Comics: RSF Report On State Of Journalism In Turkey

The cartoonist Musa Kart continues to build a heartbreaking prison stay in Turkey. He was swept up along with a significant number of prose journalists and editors for perceived support of the forces behind a failed coup. The article fostered by RSF points out the absurdities of what's being argued this crushing of the press represents, including the jailing of people for supporting political forces that also, earlier, jailed them. Absurdity is amusing until lives start being destroyed, at which point the fascistic elements star to become more obvious. I think that line has been more than crossed here.
 
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Go, Look: The Politician's Mask

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* looks like we'll see a Joann Sfar cover to a Punisher comic book some time ahead. Click through for the fullest image possible, it's pretty neat.

* It's the last day of January and I know what I want for Christmas.

* here's a short preview of the forthcoming Geof Darrow art book, due in July. They went wide with the official announcement today.

* did I know that 2017's Best American Comics guest editor was Ben Katchor?

* because of the Fantagraphics oral history a few folks have asked me what history books about comics I like. One I'm greatly looking forward to is Cullen Murphy's remembrance of growing up in cartoonist-rich southern Connecticut in the third quarter of the last century. It's like they made that one come to life just for me.

* finally, I liked this post from Gary Tyrrell dancing in and among the details of the NYT decision to no longer do a bestseller list for comics.
 
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Go, Look: If It's Cold, How Is Global Warming Real?

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Go, Read: Bill Everett Doing Horror

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that bone is adorable
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Kim O'Connor writes in forceful fashion about R. Crumb and some of the context that tends to be applied to him when critics process the cartoonist.

image* David Mazzucchelli talks to Ted Stearn. Angela Boyle profiles Jeremy Sorese and Josh Kramer. Michelle Tompkins talks to Brooke McEldowney.

* this is a much classier response than I'd be capable of making.

* Alex Hoffman on The Train and Libby's Dad.

* here's a great catch by The Beat: two free albums available from the English-language portal of a digital French comics site.

* finally, Iron Man on cocaine would have been fun, but I think I would have spent the whole issue wishing it were Spider-Man.
 
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Happy 57th Birthday, Grant Morrison!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Jonathan Baylis!

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January 30, 2017


Go, Look: Work By Jacques De Loustal

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My Dumb Thoughts On Lack Of A Bestselling Comics List At The New York Times

imageI never looked at the comics best-seller lists at the New York Times. And now they're gone. RIP. It seemed they were good for supporting assumptions about comics that very much looked to be true in a snapshot-of-the-field way, like the fact Raina Telgemeier sells more comics than anyone else. A rare tip of the hat from an independent source people have heard of, NYT's lists made for a lot of happy cartoonists that could call themselves NYT best-selling authors and brag that they'll have something in their obituary you and I might not. I have to imagine it was useful for marketing, and a relief to marketing people used to dealing with DM-only charts that frequently fail to serve that huge number of comics-makers not slightly pudgy guys, balding, with a goatee.

Still, I never used them. Never! Not to my memory, anyway. Even sucking at my job, you'd think I'd have used one by accident. Truth is, the only sales figures I trust come on royalty statements, and even then that's 40 percent of the time. It's hard for me to criticize an entity for failing to provide marketing tools. I guess I would prefer my paper to cover arts as fully as it can, which makes any rollback in coverage a sad-face moment, but once comics people let that be known to the paper -- and they sure have! -- I'm not sure what the next step is.

And yes, I share suspicions this was never an area with which many at the Times felt as comfortable as they do with prose. Sure. Their coverage in a broader sense has over the years been haphazard, arbitrary and boosterish. That's the good stuff. The bad... let's just say that when I'm in hell I will have to talk to millions of grumpy-ass Times reporters, not able to tape what I'm saying, sighing and asking for me to say something a fourth time over in the hopes it will makes sense to them. And then not use anything I said.

I would imagine if the figures were super-important, a consortium of publishers could pretty quickly put together a financial package and sponsor one of the number crunchers to do an equivalent list. They might even do a more rigorous one. It wouldn't have the brand name, though.
 
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Go, Look: Monarobot

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* a sign of the times: if you look at your favorite cartoonists on Facebook and Twitter, there's a chance they will be offering art or something similar in return for a donation to a political organization of some sort. That's a good chance to give to help make better a world in crisis, and a chance to support the artists doing something they feel is important. Many constrict the activities of this type to the weekend, but others don't, and it looks like there will be more than a few weekends to come where politics and our social compact are front of mind.

* the Chicago comics community is one of the deepest and richest talent-wise, so I was interested enough in this anthology to bookmark it so I can read more about it later on. That's a modest ask, too.

* it's always worth going back after the holidays and figuring out for yourself which comics-related gofundme campaigns suggest a significant level of need.

* I'll cover the story of the publications themselves in the assembled column more closely, but it's worth noting that it looks like this oncoming wave of newsletter initiatives are using Patreon or something similar.

* finally, this project connected to works by the musician Lana Del Rey seems close to reaching its initial ask. There was a time when projects related to mainstream pop culture were looked at askance by some as perhaps not needing an alternate funding path. I don't see people expressing that view any longer, although I'm sure some form of it is out there somewhere.
 
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Go, Look: Car Culture Cartoon Art

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Go, Look: Sal Buscema Splash Pages

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Rob Clough on the comics of Roman Muradov. Luke Silva on How To Survive In The North. Matthias Wivel on Soft City.

* talking Cable. I didn't like the X-Men comics and was long gone when the future dudes with guns started showing up. I liked the Casey/Ladronn version that came a little later but still never warmed up to the character.

* I just sort of like this post.

* this discussion of plot implications and character-development plans coming out of the Marvel event series of the immediate past is probably closer to the comics than I can hope to understand, but it does underline that you can't really count on the aptness of whatever metaphor you're using to drive a superhero comic's success.

* it won't stop people from trying, though.

* finally, Dan Berry has some advice for those that wish to participate in the traditional February 1 Hourly Comics Day event.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Ibrahim Ineke!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Michael Avon Oeming!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Tracy Hurren!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Fred Hembeck!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Denys Cowan!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Guy Gilchrist!

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January 29, 2017


Go, Search: Artists Doing Pictures For Donation Money

If you are so inclined you can probably head over to Twitter or Facebook and find an artist you like that is giving away pictures or drawings or comics in exchange for proof-of-donation to a civic organization that is fighting the extreme policy practices of our presidential branch.

I can't imagine it being the primary reason anyone will donate, but I figure it's a nice thing you can do yourself if you're in a place where you want to give money right now.
 
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Original Pages From A Popeye Cut-Out Book

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Not Comics: Virginia Frances Sterrett

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Go, Look: The Life-Changing Magic Of Decluttering In A Post-Apocalyptic World

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Go, Look: Pale, Sick And Magic

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Go, Look: The Great McGonagall

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Go, Look: A Photographic History Of Chapel Hill Comics

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If I Were In North Texas, I'd Go To This

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Happy 45th Birthday, Brian Wood!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Jeph Loeb!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Chad Nevett!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Ryan Kelly!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Sascha Hommer!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Robert Goodin!

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FFF Results Post #469 -- Warming Up

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Four Comics Characters You Initially Disliked -- Even If It Was Just As A Little Kid -- That You Like Just Fine Now. Describe For Choice #4 What Happened To Change Your Mind." This is how they responded.

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. J. Jonah Jameson
2. Carnage
3. Turok
4. Namor
5. I learned about Namor when his series ran as a back-up feature in the German edition of The Fantastic Four. He appeared to me as the most arrogant person ever. Years later Jae Lee added a note to that character that got me a bit more interested in him, but discovering Bill Everett's early Namor stuff really did it for me.

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Ambush Bug
2. Iron Man
3. Krazy Kat
4. Dynamo
5. When I started reading THUNDER Agents, I thought Dynamo was a jerk even though his stories were entertaining. Gradually it sank in on me that he was supposed to be a jerk, and that Wally Wood was using him for straight faced satire. My appreciation grew in leaps and bounds.

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Johnny Storm
2. Leonard Brown
3. Elongated Man
4. Lucy Van Pelt
5. My initial reaction to Lucy was solely based on thinking she was a mean big sister to Linus, whom I adored. As I get older, I learned to appreciate her role in the strip, and as a teen and then as an adult I've come around to thinking she's a top 100 character of all time. So it really just took time and a broader perspective. Long live fussbudgets.

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Maggie
2. Huey
3. Iron Jaw von Schmidt
4. Deacon Mushrat
5. Heightened appreciation of speech balloon lettering.

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. The Thing
2. Judge Hershey
3. B.D.
4. Joyce Brown
5. Joyce's incessant and obnoxiously overt religiosity was grating at every level. She judged everyone against her standards of Biblical "truth" despite hypocritical claims of accepting them for who they were. I can't stand people like that. I was gleefully looking forward to seeing her brain melt when she discovered her long-time friend, Becky, was gay. (I was not disappointed. That easily remains my favorite sequence of the series.) But I later learned of David Willis' own personal history and his intentions towards evolving Joyce's character. As I began to see some of that character development... well, I certainly don't like her, but she's not horrible any longer.

*****

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Steve Harrick

1. Ganthet
2. Starfox
3. Veronica Lodge
4. Joe Matt
5. I used to find Joe Matt's selfishness exhausting. Over time and multiple readings, his narcissism became amusing, even endearing. Though he remains a petty and miserable character in many of his comics, there is something oddly comforting about that consistency. It is also satisfying to see him regularly dejected.

*****

Thanks to all that participated.

*****
*****
 
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January 28, 2017


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


A Day In The Life Of Keith Knight


Robb Armstrong Profiled


Aseem Trivedi At The University Of Limerick


KAL And Christiane Andersson In Minnesota


Phil Edwards On The Comic Book Font
 
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If I Were In North Texas, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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

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Happy 65th Birthday, Hunt Emerson!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Tony Harris!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Todd Klein!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Jason Aaron!

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January 27, 2017


Hey, NCS Awards Voters: Give Raina Telgemeier The Reuben Already

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A tweet from Dave Kellett here indicates that National Cartoonists Society may be starting with their balloting process for the traditional late-May awards program. If that's true, I'd like to have a word in their eavesdropping vicinity (directly addressing them sounds cheeky and unsporting). The NCS' big award, the outstanding cartoonist of the year aka The Reuben, has mostly gone to newspaper strip cartoonists. That makes sense given its provenance and emphasis. The thing is, though, it's actually open for people in all expressions and some of its best winners come outside the newspaper strip realm.

With that in mind, why wouldn't you want to give one to Raina Telgemeier? She absolutely fits the profile of past winners in terms of her broad appeal and commercial reach, there is an undeniable power that her work has with her fans that is the envy of nearly everyone, and she's flat-out historically important. I guarantee people would remember that she won, too, and I don't think that's true of the last dozen or so winners.

There's probably an argument to be had that Outstanding Cartoonist Of The Year may make a harder argument of giving one to a cartoonist still best known by many for her first work, but who cares? The Oscars program gives out awards within the context of a career all the time, and I bet if we got right down to brass tacks there are several past Reuben winners not selected for their best calendar-year effort.

While we're at it, please give Jeff Smith one, too. And Chris Ware. But maybe start with Raina. You won't regret it.
 
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Go, Look: Jean Jullien

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

Tom Spurgeon

image* I'm hoping by the time this rolls out that CR will have run a stand-alone go look directly to the material, but here is Roger Langridge writing about his latest webcomic venture, The Great McGonagall. Langridge is one of our least appreciated cartoonists, doubly so according to overall talent and consistency.

* I assume there's a huge chance of an announcement or someone figuring this out between the time I'm typing this and the time it's appearing on this site: Comics MNT looks like a journalistic entity for comics utilizing the newsletter format. That format has seen a surge in use by professionals and outlets that want a way to communicate with readers in a way that allows for a discrete object being created and that doesn't get mired down in instantaneous feedback/interaction. It's a good idea.
 
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If I Were In Europe, I'd Make My Way To This

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

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Go, Look: Artist And Model Comics

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Emma Reilly profiles Joe Ollmann. M. Ellis talks to Philippe Druillet. Mark Peters profiles Fletcher Hanks.

* Jack Kirby and Anti-Life. I have a different reading, but it's quite the clever literary construct.

* Mike Ritter has donated work and papers to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum; that's always a great thing, given how much pressure there is to do a variety of other things with one's work.

* not comics: Abhay Khosla on that weird porno-looking Archie show.

* finally, before it gets too far in the rearview mirror, let's stare at this Steve Brodner of the Trump Dynasty.
 
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Happy 63rd Birthday, Peter Laird!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Richard Starkings!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Stefan Petrucha!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Frank Miller!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Steve Leialoha!


 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Frank Miller!


 
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Happy 65th Birthday, Steve Leialoha!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Sean Phillips!

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January 26, 2017


Go, Look: A Proposal For Singapore

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* this is better than the other option, using a staffing non-profit.

* it's Angouleme today, which means the rigidly-observed convention break is over, although for some there are December and January conventions of great significance and for still others the real season doesn't begin until ECCC in March. It looks like a solid year programming-wise. We already know Cosey won the grand prix. I've never been to that show, but I always liked the way it used to be announced late in the show, this tremendous grace note and if they were French-language cartoonists probably a lot of tears right there in person. I'm glad to see that as president of this year's jury they're making a deal of Posy Simmonds, and I hope that in the next few years she might make a finalists' list for the big prize itself. I hope everyone gas fun, particularly any school kids coming into town on a cultural field trip.

* this is only tangentially related to events, but I think private/public spaces like this one are going to be a key player in the ways comics communities develop over the next 15 years.

* this site keeps adding to its conventions lists. I hadn't gotten Lucca in there yet.

* finally, a retailing veteran muses on the future of comics conventions. Most of this is pretty standard stuff in that a lot of the suggestions seem to me things that retailers started doing ten years ago. Not everyone's experience unfolds at the same pace, though.
 
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If I Were In Europe, I'd Make My Way To This

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

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Go, Look: Michael Lark Original Cover Art, Scene Of The Crime

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Philippe Leblanc on Frontier #14. Rob Clough on The Amazing TRUE Stories Of A Teenage Single Mom. Rob Clough on Exits and More Heroes Of The Comics. RJ Casey on Perfect Hair. Greg Hunter on Machine Man.

* Katherine Cusumano profiles Marisa Acocella Marchetto. David Wasting Paper talks to Maria Scrivan.

* Gabrielle Bellot writes on the gender fluidity of Krazy in Krazy Kat. I like the patience with which the article makes its points. One of the great things about Krazy Kat is that its emphasis on personal vision over genre constructs allowed for non-rigid roles for its main actors. RC Harvey also takes on the great strip, particularly its development during its long run.

* finally, Claire Napier and Ziah Grace go back and forth about JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Jacob Pander!

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Happy 81st Birthday, Sal Buscema!

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Happy 88th Birthday, Jules Feiffer!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Damon Hurd!

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January 25, 2017


Cosey Wins The Grand Prix At Angouleme

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In a grand prix contest some expected to be a contest between two popular 40-something cartoonists in their early career prime, Chris Ware and Manu Larcenet, the honor has gone to 66-year-old Cosey, a formidable cartoonist popular favorite of the French-language comics-reading public for decades. Cosey is the world's greatest depicter of snowy tableaux. His most prominent work is the series Jonathan.

Ironically, Cosey is someone that my French-language comics industry friends thought was a loser when they decided to switch over from the traditional past-winners-in-a-room voting strategy, just because he seemed so much like the kind of cartoonists that had won throughout the festival's history.

This year's grand prix contest was an open vote of industry creative professionals followed followed by a contest between the top-three first-round vote-getters. Alan Moore asked to be left out of consideration.
 
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Video Parade Extra: Jay Lynch -- Keeping Up With The Kids


our thanks as comics fans to Mr. Lynch for donating his papers and materials to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
 
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Go, Read: Bart Beaty On The Beguiling's Big Move

Here. It is impossible for there to be too much praise for a great shop like that. I hope their next location's era is as astounding. It begins today.

Bleeding Cool notes another fine shop, Chapel Hill Comics, has announced a March closure. That was the one whose driving force for years, Andrew Neal, left but was to continue operating. My best to those for whom this was a vocational home, and my hope is that every customer will keep reading comics in some way.
 
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Go, Look: Beautiful, Lurid Mike Ploog Covers

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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.

*****

SEP160482 JACK KIRBY FANTASTIC FOUR ARTIST ED HC $PI
Oversized Jack Kirby on his greatest comic series. I'm avoiding spoilers for the very first time, spoilers of what's been selected. Happy 100th, King.

imageOCT161574 PIM & FRANCIE GOLDEN BEAR DAYS HC (CURR PTG) $29.99
This "current printing" means the book is just put back through the market again. Hard to believe it's been eight years. No matter the provenance, this is a great comic made greater by its unfinished quality. It looked like something awful happened to keep it from getting done and depending on your definition of awful something probably did. Anyway, great book.

NOV160092 ELFQUEST FINAL QUEST #18 $3.99
NOV160026 HELLBOY WINTER SPECIAL 2017 ONE SHOT $3.99
NOV160160 KAMANDI CHALLENGE #1 (OF 12) $4.99
OCT160617 ISLAND #14 (MR) $7.99
NOV160640 SAGA #42 (MR) $2.99
NOV160649 SURGEON X #5 (MR) $3.99
NOV160487 COMIC BOOK HISTORY OF COMICS #3 (OF 6) $3.99
NOV160876 BLACK PANTHER #10 $3.99
NOV160886 DOCTOR STRANGE #16 $3.99
NOV161278 LUMBERJANES #34 $3.99
Here are the comic-book comics for this week. Elfquest is up to #18. I become more and more impressed the higher the number but more convinced I'm not going to catch up with the finale to the great overground series. Here's the Kamandi cliffhanger thing with a new art team every issue. A new artist every issue is less fun in the days of a new artist every four issue on a regular series. I thought this was a handsome issue of Island, which has yet to hit its stride consistently. Saga is a book that makes every comic shop owner happy. Well, most of them. Sad issue, though. The Surgeon X book appearing is sad after the passing of John Watkiss. I haven't seen Comic Book History Of Comics on the stands yet, but I like those comics just fine. Someone told me that Black Panther was boring them, but I'm just fine with that aspect. I like seeing something different with a very rigid formula, and this book's version of the grown-up super-spy superhero genre qualifies. Doctor Strange I like to pick up although the stories seem very brief to me. And Lumberjanes is up to #34 now.

NOV160755 AVENGERS #1.MU $4.99
You know how when you're in your twenties and you and your date or date-equivalent are on the couch at some apartment party and you can't decide if you should bolt or not and then someone walks in with a certain kind of hat on and you both start laughing as you launch yourselves towards the door? Marvel ".XX" designation is the person and the hat. I don't even read most of those comics anymore and I'd be tempted to waste a genie's wish on getting rid of them.

NOV161290 UNHOLY #1 (MR) $5.99
NOV161301 UNHOLY #1 FEMME FATALE NUDE CVR (MR) $7.99
NOV161292 UNHOLY #1 FEMME FATALES CVR (MR) $5.99
NOV161299 UNHOLY #1 NUDE CVR (MR) $7.99
NOV161296 UNHOLY #1 POV CVR (MR) $5.99
NOV161303 UNHOLY #1 POV NUDE CVR (MR) $7.99
NOV161293 UNHOLY #1 STUNNING CVR (MR) $5.99
NOV161302 UNHOLY #1 STUNNING NUDE CVR (MR) $7.99
NOV161291 UNHOLY #1 WRAP CVR (MR) $5.99
NOV161300 UNHOLY #1 WRAP NUDE CVR (MR) $7.99
The '90s are calling... from inside the house!

NOV161505 ABOMINABLE MR SEABROOK $22.95
You should buy a copy of this since my old fanboy ass put Kirby up top. Joe Ollmann is a fine, funny man and his treatment of the strange, out-there man that is the Seabrook in the title seems a really good marriage of material and artist.

*****

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 Hamilton, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Famous Crimes From Police Files

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Dominic Umile on My Favorite Thing Is Monsters.

* here are the results of Gary Tyrrell's admirable matching-funds campaign.

* Michael Cavna writes the reverse of one the all-time five most common comics articles. The article in question is a survey of cartoonists being asked to draw a new national leader, and what is enjoyable or not in depicting that person. The reverse piece here has Cavna doing a quick interview with cartoonists as to how they enjoyed or didn't enjoy drawing President Obama. You know, I'm not sure who we say did Obama best or most memorably... Barry Blitt?

* Paul Gravett takes a look at admirable material coming out in March.

* finally, Scott Cederlund looks at the 2016 comics about which he'll still be thinking in 2017.
 
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Happy 44th Birthday, Chris Sotomayor!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Geoff Johns!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Turtel Onli!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Chris Marshall!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Alan David Doane!

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Happy 79th Birthday, Leiji Matsumoto!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Elin Winkler!

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January 24, 2017


CR Holiday Interview #7 -- Joe Casey

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*****

imageI'd like to thank the endlessly patient Joe Casey for the amount of time he's waited to see this interview come out. I hope that a mid-week placement, the last in this year's abortive Holiday series, and the piece's afterlife will make up for my delay.

Casey is the comics professional I've interviewed most for publication, and is right up there with people like Seth in terms of cartoonists I've talked to for people to read and for people to see at shows. Like most of my favorite comics-makers, Casey creates I think in great part out of an abiding love for seeing his work make its way into the world. He may play it off better than most, but I still feel that thrill is there. Casey works quickly enough and at a high enough volume there's an unspoken weight provided recurring subjects, a hangover of comics' commercial roots that's one of my favorite things about the medium. Casey is cognizant of comics history and holds himself to high standards he's fashioned from the works he admires most.

Casey had an interesting 2016, climaxing near year's end with the premiere of a movie based on his hyper-violent satirical work with Chris Burnham, Officer Downe. There's a new book version of the comic series just out; I enjoyed reading that comic and like a lot of the comics I enjoy most I find Casey's work just enough removed from what he's engaging to preserve its role as commentary without becoming arch or clinical.

Casey's comic with Piotr Kowalski, SEX, drips with menacing languor and is idiosyncratic to the creators' concerns in a way I wish every collaborative comic could be.

I always enjoy batting things around with Joe and admire his searching, seeking manner. I tweaked for flow. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: So place me into what exactly you have going on right now with this movie. This is not just your property, but you were fully involved, like Daniel Clowes on his various sets. Can you give us an explicit idea of what your involvement encompassed and how it developed?

JOE CASEY: As weird as it is to say -- because I'm such a fan of his work -- I might've gone a step further than Clowes has on his films. While he's obviously worked on the screenplays of his adaptations, I'm not sure if he's ever been a full-blown producer, where he was on set each and every day and was balls deep in every step of the process.

When the other producers approached me about the feature rights for the book, they had nothing. They had no money, nothing more than a vague plan of how to make it happen. And, of course, they had a certain enthusiasm that I obviously responded to. But we really started from square one. So I was there for all of it... from writing the screenplay to pitching to financiers to casting to pre-production to principal photography to editing to approving VFX to sound mixing to talking to distributors. And now we've been marketing the release. We'll do it again with the Blu-Ray release in February.

I've said this before, but it's very much been the "Image Comics" approach to filmmaking, where I've been responsible during every stage of the process. And, to be clear, it wasn't by happenstance... I wanted the experience to be all-immersive. There was really no point in doing it if it wasn't going to be something of a life changer for me and my creative life.

imageSPURGEON: Do you feel like you're a natural movie guy, that you have stuff to say as a creative person through that medium? You've certainly worked in a way that's directed towards animation. But is there a comics-element to the way you're involved? That's not always a clean transition.

CASEY: You never really know how comfortable something's going to be until you dive in and do it. For me, I'm an inveterate process junkie... but that doesn't just apply to comic books. It applies to music. It applies to cinema, too. So I had a pretty good idea going in what the gig entailed and how I might exist creatively in that space. Turns out my relentless, compulsive need for control works fairly well in the realm of filmmaking. At the same time, there was definitely a learning curve, but I was ready for that, too. Besides... clean transitions have never been something I've been particularly concerned with. I figure messy is always better. It's certainly more interesting.

SPURGEON: Can you give a specific example of something that was maybe a bit steeper than normal on the learning curve? What was messy? What was hardest for you?

CASEY: Well, I'd produced and directed another movie before, but this was on a much larger scale. So it's not like there was any one specific thing that was difficult... it was simply the amount of stuff to keep track of. Being so near the top of the creative food chain on this thing, it was part of my responsibility to make sure everything got covered, that no details were lost in the chaos. And I think I did a decent job of it, but there were inevitably things that were happening on set that I simply couldn't be a part of.

Part of the filmmaking process -- a big part, in fact -- is trying to prevent circumstances that'll bite you in the ass later. Making sure you don't make mistakes in the heat of the moment that'll end up costing you down the line. For instance, getting enough coverage in a scene to be able to edit it into something later. If you don't have enough footage, enough choices, to build a good scene in the editing room, you're fucked and there's nothing you can do about it except get rid of the scene altogether. So it was the amount of concentration required that really impressed me.

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SPURGEON: Are you comfortable describing this work as satire? Is that a mantle you find interesting or useful in your work more generally?

CASEY: As you well know, my formative years were the 1980's, when comic books -- even superhero comic books -- were at their most satirical. A lot of my favorite creators at that time -- Moore, Miller, Chaykin and others -- were often satirists as well as storytellers. Or, at the very least, satire was always an element in their work. So I feel like it's part of my DNA. That, and a punk rock sensibility mixed with a measurable disdain for authority that I'm sure has undercut the level of intelligent satire I'm capable of.

SPURGEON: [laughs] How do you mean?

CASEY: I feel like my heroes used satire with a surgeon's precision. I use it more like a bludgeon, much more ham-fisted about it. In other words, the kind of satire that shows up in my work is more of an absurdist laugh rather than biting political commentary. I think Officer Downe -- the comic book -- proves that. It's definitely not subtle. Having said that, I'm not sure if I would describe the film version as much of a satire. I think the roller coaster ride aspects of it overshadow just about everything else. That was the idea, anyway.

SPURGEON: What is the value, then, do you think, of that approach, that howl, that kind of massive shove back that isn't precise? It seems to me there was a time when satire like that had a role in calling attention to things right in front of our faces, but we're all a bit more weary and cynical now. Is it a call to forego complacency? Is it that you get a range of effect by working at the volume of 11 that you don't get with a laser-focused approach?

CASEY: Y'know... it's about getting off your lazy ass and putting a shit-ton of distortion on your guitar and cranking it through a Marshall stack while screaming through a million-watt PA system... as opposed to simply strumming an acoustic and humming a folkie protest song. It's "Like A Rolling Stone" as opposed to "Blowin' In the Wind." It's a garage band aesthetic, all the way. Arena cock rock over quiet coffeehouse gigs. Speak sharply and carry a sledgehammer, right?

For me, it's an approach that feels the most comfortable. It's how I deal with the weariness and cynicism -- both in the world and within myself. That "howl," as you refer to it... it's what the world feels like to me. Or maybe what I want it to feel like. The thing is, as strange as this'll probably come across in a printed interview, I'm not trying to educate anyone or illuminate anything for anyone other than myself. I suppose I save any of my "laser-focused" approaches for things much more personal, not necessarily meant for public consumption.

SPURGEON: Do you worry about people not getting it, that whole "No, we see Rorschach as wholly admirable" trap where there's a disconnect between intent and the audience's appraisal of what's going on? Is there a fine line between getting a high-five from people who won't take that step with you but also making the object of your parody a legitimate expression of what you want to explore so that you can make the comment you'd like to make? Does it have to feel real for you to introduce a level of commentary?

CASEY: It feels like it's been a long time since I gave a shit about anyone "getting it." [Spurgeon laughs] So long, in fact, that it's tough to remember when I actually did. And, by having that attitude, I know I run the risk of missing out on certain connections that I'm sure other creators make with their readers. Anything that operates on a purely subtextual level in my work wouldn't be something that I would ever expect a reader to get. Again, those things are in there mainly for my own amusement. Even when the commentary runs deep, it's still personal to me and I have no expectations that anyone else is onboard. So, in terms of "fine lines..." there are none. Not for me, anyway.

But I'm okay with that. As you know me, I'm a guy that's not on any social networks, either. I prefer that distance, I guess. I think, in comic books especially, it's about the Art and not the Artist. And, listen, a high-five from someone over a piece of work you've done is nothing to sneeze at. A high-five is a perfectly acceptable critique. Even laudable.

SPURGEON: In general, then, do you think people always understand where you're coming from? You work in some unique spaces in terms of hard expectations and a sometimes-rigid genre structure or even specific storytelling demands. Do you recall an instance in your career when you felt you were understood and appreciated for exactly what it is you sent out to do? Is there a story that stands out, or a work that stands out where you felt it kind of slipped that appreciation?

CASEY: A lot of the work I've done that I've been most proud of hasn't been popular by any measurable -- or, to be more specific, commercial -- standards. Now, I'm painfully aware that this is a First World Problem of the most annoying-sounding kind. But you asked.

SPURGEON: I did.

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CASEY: In the creator-owned area, there's things like GØDLAND or Butcher Baker the Righteous Maker or The Bounce, where I felt like, for me, I'd moved the needle a little bit, in terms of using genre to make a personal artistic statement. And even in the WFH space, things like the Captain Victory book I did -- with a host of all-star artists -- or the Catalyst Comix series at Dark Horse. Same with the Vengeance series I did at Marvel with Nick Dragotta and the Zodiac book I did there with Nathan Fox. Those things were aesthetic creative victories for me that I would never take for granted.

But that's how it goes sometimes. Hell, these days you could probably find a handful of random readers who'll admit to having fond memories of my run on Uncanny X-Men, which was pretty much universally reviled when it was coming out 15 years ago. Same with my last year -- the "pacifist" year -- on Adventures of Superman. Same with my Wildcats run and especially Automatic Kafka... books that some people now hold up specifically as high points in my career. But, y'know, I suppose I prefer that cult-level, artistic resonance over being a flash in the pan that hits big and is then completely forgotten. There's a lot of that in comic books, especially in the last 30 years.

SPURGEON: Did the election change the context for Officer Downe?

CASEY: My knee jerk response to that question is, "God, I hope not," because I think that Entertainment -- and that's a separate thing from Art, by the way -- should remain as Entertainment no matter what the political climate. Is that shallow? Maybe so. But popcorn should taste the same no matter who's running the world. And Officer Downe -- the book or the film -- certainly isn't out to make any kind of heavy social statement. It's pure pulp pop and it's not meant to be anything more. I'm pretty sure the concept can't carry anything more than that.

These days I feel like being able to genuinely tap into any kind of wider cultural zeitgeist is not a big part of my skill set. It might happen by accident on the rare occasion, but I'm not convinced that I have the talent to ever purposefully make it happen.

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SPURGEON: I wanted to ask a question about SEX, which is a comic I enjoy a lot. The conventional wisdom amongst my friends that read it is that it's about 1980s world-building, which is something that's been discussed in terms of that work. But I wonder if what's really going on is if by recognizing the sexual nature of motivation you're forced into world-building, the same way that Steve Englehart had to do it that during his Avengers run where he allowed the personal narratives happen in overlapping ways. Do you have to create a world that encompasses the themes you're addressing?

CASEY: Okay... let me see if I can talk about this without bursting anyone's bubble. The "world-building" aspect of a lot of things I do involves a lot of improvisation. I'm a character-first kind of writer. And the rest of it all flows from character. Saturn City without Simon Cooke -- or Keenan Wade or anyone else who lives there -- is a pretty empty place. Character motives are everything. When you separate it from the obvious meta-commentary, the actual narrative is not so much about themes, I don't think. It's about behaviors. That's what I'm interested in depicting in the series. How do these characters react when thrust into certain situations, primarily situations they're not particularly built for? Taking characters out of their comfort zones is always fun to write. And, as I go along, I guess I do create the world -- or I'm "forced" to, as you suggest -- in order to contain those ideas, hopefully in an interesting manner. But it's to support a conceit more than it encompasses a theme.

Maybe I'm splitting hairs there. I just don't want to take too much credit for something that I know I'm not putting a great deal of effort towards. If SEX has a theme, it's a pretty simple one: It's Time To Grow Up. The rest is window dressing.

SPURGEON: One thing I think is funny about SEX is that once you add in these personal elements it makes the lives of your characters seem crowded, like if you're doing real-person stuff where the hell do people find time to do this kind of costumed crimefighting which informs what they're up to now. Do you feel as harried as the characters in that book? Do you feel time slipping away, professionally and personally?

CASEY: Jeezus... I do feel that. I feel it more and more, lately. That's probably why it's such a part of the series. I've been going at this full-on for twenty years now. My relationship to my work is the longest committed relationship I've ever had and probably will ever have. The only relationship that's gone on longer than that is my relationship with comic books themselves. That one's been going on at least twice as long...! So, yeah, I'm feeling the time passage.

I've always had a thing about mortality... how we're here now and at some point we'll be gone. But when I was younger it was nothing more than the neurosis of a high strung kid. Now it's more of a grim reality, staring me in the goddamn face, which is scary as fuck. And, of course, we've seen a lot of death in 2016. That never helps.

SPURGEON: That's a book with backmatter. You and maybe Ed [Brubaker] are the only people I know that do that effectively. John Porcellino, too. Does engaging in conversation about the culture of comics, the sweep of the art form, do you do that because you don't see it a lot of place? What do you think about the current state of our rhetoric about comics, how we discuss what we're reading and how we feel about it.

CASEY: It's ironic you bring that up, since I'm about to close down the SEX letters page for the very reason you're implying. It's something I've possibly gotten adept enough at that I feel like there are times when it can overshadow the work, the comic book itself. And that's not how it's supposed to be. Granted, as a lifelong process junkie, I'm certainly more interested in reading that type of analysis or discussion more than I am the actual comics being discussed. And there are plenty of folks who do it a lot better than I ever will. You're one of them, Tom. But as far as being a provider of that kind of entertainment as a profession, I think I have more of a responsibility to try and make good comics than I do to be able to talk about them intelligently.

SPURGEON: Can you tell me how as a working professional you've processed some of the deaths we've seen this year, or how you might do that generally. Is it solely personal or does part of you grieve the lost of the art, that specific avenue of expression that someone embodies. Has a comics industry passing ever hit you hard?

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CASEY: I'm pretty sure I'm the kind of person who doesn't process death in general especially well. I tend to try and ignore it, really... mainly out of a fear that the sheer enormity of the concept will send me crawling back under my bedsheets, never to emerge. When creative people in particular leave us, you're suddenly adjusting to a new world, a world in which these people no longer exist. It can change you, often in subtle ways. But I've had close relatives die, so I know the difference very well.

Darwyn Cooke's passing came out of nowhere for me. I didn't know him personally at all, but he carried a particular torch that I think we needed in this industry, so there's a definite vacuum there. Steve Dillon, who I'm proud to say I worked with on two issues of Wildcats, represented a certain artistic aesthetic to me, an approach to storytelling that was so singular and so... comfortable in its own skin. His art was like an old friend, and now that old friend is gone.

In my time as a professional, there have certainly been deaths that occurred over the years -- of people that I had a little more of a connection to -- that hit me in different ways. Ringo's death stunned me, because I'd worked with the guy and thought he was so good. But he had a certain personality that just seemed to me like he'd hang around to be a gloriously grouchy old man. There was Bill Oakley, a legendary letterer who worked on the first few years of my Adventures of Superman run (with Ringo, coincidentally). Clément Sauvé, who was a fantastic artist I'd worked with a bit on some random superhero launch in the mid-2000's, was one who died way too young.

It's not that they hit me particularly hard... it's just a very confusing thing, all around. ComiC book creators are generally not the type of people that you predict will leave us so suddenly or so young. You think more of Kirby, who lived to a fairly ripe old age. Or Stan Lee, who may be ancient as fuck... but he's still out there kicking up dust.

SPURGEON: Do you ever regret working in a medium with such a utilitarian perspective on shared creative effort? Like you strike me as the kind of writer where younger creators will pick up on a specific element or two or eleven and then work those elements into their work. I know I've seen, for example, The Intimates waving at me from other people's comics, intentional or not. Does that annoy? Does that even register?

CASEY: It registers, because people occasionally point it out to me. I've seen it here and there, but y'know... I've worn my various influences on my sleeve from time to time. The Intimates came from somewhere, too. Its creative antecedents are so obvious to me. But it's the Circle of Life, y'know? Maybe the difference is that I'm perfectly comfortable admitting it. I've never been embarrassed to say that a writer like David Michelinie was a big influence on me as a kid. Or Bob Fleming. Or Mike Baron. Or any number of comic book creators who weren't necessarily transcendent "superstars" at that Frank Miller/Alan Moore-level of rarified air, but who nonetheless hit me at the right time in my own development. They shaped my sensibilities in a very tangible way. They really meant something to me. The fact that they weren't at the top of the charts just makes their influence that much more poignant for me.

So clearly I don't have that particular insecurity that keeps me from taking a certain pride in being a link in a longer creative chain. But I dunno... it could be that not everyone feels that way.

SPURGEON: Given the shifting realities of the industry, would it have been possible for you to have the same career were it to start right now? For instance, could you have been a creator that parlayed a big social media presence into opportunities? Could you have crowdfunded books?

CASEY: Not in a million years. That's just not me. For better or worse, I'm a product of my times. I grew up with the firm belief that the world didn't owe me a goddamn thing, that if you bet on yourself and were willing to work harder, push yourself further than the guy standing next to you... you could make it to that place you wanted to be. If anything, I would've published things online for free. Making comic books is practically a compulsion for me. I was doing it before I went pro so there's no scenario I could imagine where I'm not doing it. I've spent the better part of my life learning this language, so to not speak it as often as possible seems ridiculous. Not to mention, I love doing it.

The "big social media presence" part of it all... that's a different subject altogether. I don't understand how someone could have a big enough social media footprint without actually having done anything to merit the attention. So to try and engineer one with the goal of getting paying work doesn't make a ton of sense to me. It wouldn't feel right. But I know people do it, I know it works for some people, both professionally and personally. I just know myself... I'd feel weird if I tried to do that. The equation for me has always seemed to be: Work First, Recognition Second. Never the other way around.

But who the hell knows? Maybe it would be easier for me to break in now than it was when I actually did. I honestly haven't thought about it too much. I can tell you that in 1997 it was a million-to-one shot that I'd ever make a genuine run at being a professional comic book writer. And for Marvel and DC, to boot. To this day, I still look back and find it hard to believe it actually worked out for me...! I was a Nobody from Nowhere with no formal training, no significant educational background to speak of, I'd never been to New York City... all of those things that, at the time, seemed to mean something to people. So, in many ways, the deck was stacked against me. And not only did it work out, it exceeded practically every dream I'd ever had when I was a kid about doing this for a living.

As you can tell... I've processed that just about as well as I have the concept of death...

SPURGEON: What do you feel about the state of the industry in general? A lot of people are happy with the opportunities they have, but I talk to a lot of comics professional that wonder what's in place to deliver their work to people who want to read, almost in foundational terms. Are you happy with the opportunities you have to place work in people's hands, to get work in front of folks' faces.

CASEY: I know there's a lot of nervousness right now about comic book retail stores closing. But haven't we always been nervous about that sort of thing? There's always been the concern that this entire thing is built on quicksand. And maybe that's true. Maybe it is. But I know that comic books -- as a medium, as an art form -- are pretty goddamn resilient. They seem to survive, no matter what the upheaval. So, based on history alone, I'm not particularly worried myself.

For me, and my own work, it's very simple: I want the work to exist. That's my primary goal, that it's physically out there in the world. At this point in my career, it's the only thing I can completely control, y'know? Whether or not people read it or react to it, that's beyond me. My own satisfaction begins and often ends with knowing that something I've done is out and available for anyone who ends up finding it, picking it up, buying it, etc. So creating it is the first priority. It's where I feel I should expend the most energy.

Having said that, I do recognize that it's an ever-shifting landscape. You have to be adaptable to the way it ebbs and flows. In my creator-owned work (my Image comics, basically), I'll be trying different formats for different projects, more diverse methods of delivering the material that might better match the current state of the Direct Market. I'm not talking about reinventing the wheel or anything groundbreaking like that... I'm just going to be more responsive instead of bullheaded when it comes to putting out product. It's really another avenue for creativity. That's how I choose to look at it, anyway...

SPURGEON: Now that we know comics can be for everybody, something for which people fought on a significant number of fronts by several players of different kinds in comics, what's the next battle for comics? What's the thing you'd like most to see go away or being put into place? For that matter, do you even think in terms like that anymore, and do you feel like comics pros have a responsibility to other creators?

CASEY: I'm not sure who's responsible for what anymore. The big publishers have become nothing less than Hollywood studios, both in theory and in practice. And that's kind of a shame. Then again, those kind of large corporate structures -- not just in the comic book industry -- are still a very closed system. They're still rife with all the problems, the social ills and prejudices they've always seemed to contain. So, I guess we can say that the comic book industry has, in many ways, caught up with the rest of the entertainment business. Hooray for us.

But, let's not forget, we wanted this. All of this nonsense was our dream for the industry. We wanted to be on the same level as the rest of pop culture. To be "taken seriously." I know, for myself, I relished the challenge of whether or not we could maintain our integrity -- as an artistic medium -- in the harsh light of "Hollywood" culture, Entertainment Weekly and the endless levels of exploitation that comes along with it. Turns out, those forces were much more powerful than we could ever hope to be. We stepped right up to be exploited. Or we bent over, if that's the way you want to look at it.

The industry itself -- long before this shift -- has always suffered from the three "I's": Insensitivity, Ignorance and Ineptitude. It's suffered from an incredible abundance of all three, actually. There's generally no real evil or malice involved. But those three things can still do a lot of damage... and have. So we've still got a lot of things to overcome, a lot of history to account for. A lot of bodies left bleeding in the street.

I think I just want even better comics. I want works of Art that are motherfucking transcendent. And I target that desire squarely at myself, too. So it's a personal battle, as well as a hope for the industry. I still want to believe that if the quality of the work is high enough, we can survive any of the extraneous bullshit that comes with where we've all collectively found ourselves.

So after all that, lemme try to answer your question as definitively as I can: Maybe the next battle for comics is simply the eternal struggle not to destroy ourselves...

SPURGEON: Did you receive any blowback for your recent criticism of diversity hires at mainstream comics companies having a marketing element and being tied into specific characters rather than these being opportunities to secure high-profile gigs across the board? Are you ever frustrated with the way comics processes issues more generally? Is there anything that worries you that you'd love to see addressed that isn't being discussed?

CASEY: No blowback whatsoever. At least, none that I'm aware of. And if there was -- so what? I do think I've earned the right to comment on just about any aspect of this business that I care to. That doesn't mean anyone has to pay any attention. But I've been in it twenty years now... which, by the way, is about nineteen more than I ever expected to be. It's been my life for so long, I've got my opinions and if I'm asked, I'll share 'em. And, let's be honest, everything is about marketing when it comes to corporate publishing. Because marketing translates into money. Of course, it's certainly distasteful when corporations exploit identity as a way to make money, but I'm never surprised when they do it. So it's not like I'm blowing the lid off some hidden scandal. Anyone who hasn't already realized this is happening is, in my humble opinion, slightly naive as to how the world works.

But I'm a creator, I'm fully on the Art side of things, so I don't have to be sympathetic to corporate needs. I think I see a bigger picture. First of all, let's pretend we actually care about big, corporate superhero publishers and the product they provide...

A talented black writer writing a black franchise superhero character is certainly going to be affecting, but quite honestly, I'm much more interested in that same black writer's take on a character like Superman or Thor or Captain America. If there's going to be a push for "diverse" creators in the field, the real push should be to get them working on non-stereotypical material. Now, granted, if those are the only jobs being offered to non-white, non-male, non-straight creators then if you want to work, you take the gig and you cash your check and more power to you. Nothing wrong with getting paid. This is not on the creators... this is on the publishers and their hiring practices.

So a good female creator writing Ms. Marvel or Wonder Woman and doing it well? Not so much of a stretch. I get it. But I want to see a good female writer on Batman -- a well-known white male power fantasy. Or a good female artist, for that matter. Or both. And not just as a one-off. A good long run, the same kind that creators like Grant Morrison or Scott Snyder or Greg Capullo are afforded. That would be interesting to see, on any number of levels. Hell, it might get me to actually read a new Batman comic book for the first time in over a decade...! It would excite me a lot more than the next Straight White Male working on the book. I've seen that a whole bunch of times.

Things like that are starting to happen, but mostly in awkward fits and spurts. But corporations are often reactive as opposed to proactive. So I wouldn't say I'm "worried," per se, but I do see that there are some editors who often "cast" the creatives on the books they edit in a very stereotypical way. They need to get over that shit and realize that talent is talent. Gender, race, sexual orientation, etc... all these things should be secondary to whether or not a creator has the talent, the skill and the experience to do the job. And, to be painfully honest, there's a vocal segment of the readership who are often guilty of having those same blind spots. But I'll give them a pass. An audience wants what it wants and they don't have to justify why.

SPURGEON: From your perspective as a creator, do you find that a lot of publishers right now understand what you need to function best a creative professional. Is that underlying contempt you once described to me, is that still there?

CASEY: Talk about First World problems...! Look... some get it, some don't. Some try to rig the game. Corporate publishers, as a rule, are not entities you should ascribe actual human feelings to... any more than you would to a bank or a supermarket. They're all corporations. But I get your question.

Yes, I think that underlying contempt is still there, but it's there for different reasons now. The general empowerment of the creator these days annoys the piss out of the bigger corporate publishers. This is something I know from personal experience. Generally, in the mainstream of the last ten or fifteen years, the paradigm was to use Marvel and/or DC to make a name for yourself, then go off and reap the benefits of that name recognition on work that you actually own. It's like going to a sleazy prostitute to lose your virginity and learn how to fuck and then take that carnal knowledge and find true love elsewhere. And if there's one thing corporate comic book publishers know about... it's prostitution. But I've seen folks within those corporations get very upset when creators display any sense of self-respect or "defect" to greener pastures (and, by "greener," I mean situations where they own their work and can potentially make more money doing it).

I'm not sure if that paradigm works anymore, since Marvel and DC seem to be unable to turn newer creators into "names" like they used to (even though they certainly operate as though that were the case). So that might limit where those creators can go later. But that just means those newer creators have to forge a new paradigm. I mean, they really have no choice. It's sink or swim.

imageSPURGEON: What's the best comic you read this year?

CASEY: Oh shit... you finally stumped me, Tom. I've honestly had to rack my brain to come up with something current that really affected me. There are things that came out in '16 that I know are really good... but I'm having a hard time coming up with one that I can definitively say was the "best" that I read. Keep in mind, you're asking a guy who's hoping to re-read Steve Gerber's Man-Thing run over the holidays. I can tell you I'm psyched for your book on the history of Fantagraphics. At the moment, I'm reading Coppola's Godfather Notebook. I'm also reading Thank You For Being Late by Thomas Friedman. So clearly, I have much different reading priorities than chasing down the latest Hot! New! Release!

I'm not a diehard Wednesday warrior anymore. I would love for there to be a quick, obvious answer to your question that springs to mind. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything like that in 2016 that got me really excited, there wasn't anything where it seemed like new ground was being broken. Maybe I'm not looking in the right places. That's entirely possible. But I'm still pretty good at keeping my ear to the ground... and simply put, lightning didn't strike. The things that people seem to be getting somewhat excited about all seem like retreads to me, like things I've seen before. Now, like I said, that doesn't mean they're not well-executed retreads done by talented creators. A lot of them are. But no retread is going to earn that "best" spot on any year-end list that I make. Maybe 2017 will be better. Let's hope so, anyway..

*****

* Officer Downe, Shawn Crahan and Joe Casey, November 2016, 88 minutes.
* Officer Downe, Joe Casey and Chris Burnham, Image Comics, January 2017, $19.99.
* SEX, Joe Casey and Piotr Kowalski, Image Comic, series, comic book, $3.99.

*****

* image from the Officer Downe movie
* photo of Joe Casey provided by the writer
* image from the Officer Downe movie
* gorgeous cover to newest edition of the comics, with a lot of movie tie-in material
* the Dark Reign: Zodiac project with Nathan Fox
* panel from SEX
* cover to one of Casey's two comic-book collaborations with the late Steve Dillon
* the great Steve Gerber-era on Man-Thing, a Casey re-read
* Chris Burnham's art on Officer Downe [below]

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Drawing The Women's March On Washington

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Go, Read: Chuck Plunkett Agonizes Over Cartoon Choice

imageI thought this was an interesting post of the kind of in-house discussion that goes on at a lot of papers: several graphs on working through the why on an article or cartoon to which many people object. It's an even more compelling topic right this very moment what with a lot of very powerful and extremely broad issues on the table. I mean, it's not that many years ago that people would have rejected the cartoon in question not for being unfair as a blanket indictment but for being totally unrealistic as even an isolated example. We know that's not the case, sadly. That illusion is gone.

I'm not sure I would have run the cartoon only because I think the caption, the direction of the cartoon's aim at Alabama voters, suggests that they're somehow specifically indictable in a case like this one. It seems to me they're being targeted for being Sessions' constituents, and punished for what one might infer from that their support for racist policy and outlook. I think that's a fair place to end up for the sake of a cartoon, but I also that's a two-step mental process, and I'm not sure readers are willing to take more than one step at a time anymore. To put it another way, the cleverness is in the structure of the joke, not what it reveals.

It's going to be several years of decisions like this at newspapers, and I don't envy editors like Mr. Plunkett this task. It's doable, though, and I think they'll have to make decisive steps in seeing this done. Many of those steps won't be as sure as they look before your foot comes down.
 
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Go, Look: The Redemption Of Super-Champion Barron Drumpf

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* looks like Keezy's Taproot will be released in print graphic novel form by Lion Forge.

* Shelly Bond has announced a new project with an impressive creators-involved list of the kind that one might expect from someone with her professional reach and history. This would be Bond's first public project since her departure from Vertigo. I expect there will be a crowd-funding element. Details to come.

* Marvel is bringing The Crew back. They haven't made a lot of widely-popular choices recently in terms of publishing strategy, but one imagines with the talent involved if they want to do a certain comic, you let them do that comic and then market the results.

* I, for one, never stopped loving her.

* do people still get excited about crossovers like this? I guess enough to move the needle in the modest world of comics.

* finally, Alexis Ziritt has brought Tarantula to AdHouse for release this summer.
 
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If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: One World... Or Ruin?

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* John Seven on Les Cities Obscures. Tim Hensley on We Told You So.

* love this list of links from Kevin Huizenga to a group of students with whom he had recent contact: it's a nice snapshot of his digital profile, if nothing else. I also didn't know that Copacetic came so highly rated as a place to buy via mail, although of course it's a virtuous place to support.

* missed it/not comics: book illustrator Babette Cole, RIP.

* speaking of Copacetic, this is one of the more unique things I've seen for sale in a while: a Tubbs/Easy book with Frank Santoro drawing the pair on the endpages. This is the sentence where I'm supposed to say "I bet we see a lot more of that in future years" but actually I think we don't.

* finally, I appreciate the elegance of Tom Gauld's shop.
 
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Happy 87th Birthday, John Romita Sr.!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Steve Geppi!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Ben Morse!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Lorenzo Mattotti!

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January 23, 2017


CR Holiday Interview #6 -- Mark Siegel

imageMark Siegel and his team at First Second celebrated their tenth year publishing in 2016. He was thus was an easy choice for this holiday series, now slightly spiraled into 2017. Sorry, Mark! Sorry, Gina!

First Second has changed significantly from its first two or three seasons. Part of this is natural growth, but I think there was course-correction, too. Conventional wisdom is that First Second has become more of a kids-book publisher. I think it's true they lean more towards that direction now than at the beginning -- something Mark confirms below. In 2017, they'll not only ramp up the number of books they're doing but the number intended to be part of a multi-volume series, kind of the gold standard for publishing in general, I think.

The biggest change at First Second since 2006 I think has come from embracing a kind of clarity in storytelling over all other things. This has cost the publishing line some of the quirkiness of its first few years. By the time The Moon Moth came out (2012), it felt like it was working the publisher's outer edge, and certainly notable launch series Grady Klein's The Lost Colony would seem radical in the current line-up.

What First Second has received back, it seems, is a broader connection to comics fans as so many more people start reading them, and a firmer place in an aspirational chain of reader to student to comics artist. They're more than set for the decade to come. Siegel's one of the nicest men in comics, and I always enjoy talking to him. I tweaked what follows for flow. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: Let me take you all the way back. We've talked a few times over the years, and I think we even talked pre-launch, before a single First Second book had hit the marketplace.

MARK SIEGEL: I wouldn't be surprised.

SPURGEON: What intrigued me comparing those interviews to the rhetoric I hear from you and the imprint now is that you've remained committed to creating an identity for the line So there's not just a conception of Project A or Project B coming through, but a vision for First Second as its own entity. And that's not where conventional wisdom was in the mid-2000s, where company identity was seen as a relic of the great push-away from Marvel and DC in the 1980s. In fact, in a creative field with so many individual parts, a collective identity can even be seen as a liability, along the line that a company spends too much time on the staff and not on the creators being published by that staff.

Given all that, what has been important to you about making an overall impression, a collective impression?

SIEGEL: That's a great question. I love that. Yeah, that's always been there. It still is. It evolves, and it's not a fixed identity -- it's an evolving identity -- but it's definitely a part of the dream behind the project. A part of creating First Second was establishing a home. That becomes the identity: people lend their strengths to it, and relate to each other through it. Every time we think Gene Yang has peaked, every time he's had a big breakthrough, he pulls up his peers. Part of it is his advocacy for First Second and the people behind it.

So we're a house. We're a business on one hand. That piece is going to be always imperfect. There's always this problem, this uncomfortable dance between business and creativity, between commerce and art. They're never good bedfellows, not completely. But when someone like Gene talks about working with First Second he's talking about the intention, the aim, the things that are beyond the business of it. He's always pulling up other artists. That's part of that group identity, that authors can benefit each other. I think it's needed for cracking America on this different kind of comic.

We're not alone, obviously. First Second isn't the only company trying to make this happen. We're in a field that is actually... it's starting to succeed at wooing a big American readership. So I think that's what it serves.

That was always my hope for First Second, that it would always be a home. It's not like all the relationships we've had have been perfect and rosy. There were people that didn't have a good experience publishing with us, but I think that's not been many. I think most people feel like they're were championed, and that they had peers and a strength in numbers. Not everybody's book is going to make money, necessarily, not their first book -- not their first six books.

It's cool. I like it. I hope that's something that keeps growing for ten years.

SPURGEON: In one of our past interviews, we talked about breaking from an original conception of First Second publishing into three different markets, understood in perhaps the broadest terms as three different reading levels. The idea expressed in that interview was that you were still interested in reaching multiple markets, but after being rigid about it interestingly you were moving towards a strategy where one season you might see way more kids' books, for instance. And I think that's true of what you have planned for 2017 when I look at what you're doing.

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SIEGEL: It's not thirds so much anymore. We're doing fewer adult books in terms of quantity, at least on the immediate horizon. They tend to get a lot of focus and attention as a result. The Hunting Accident is probably going to be our biggest adult book in 2017. Head Games, maybe. The Penelope Bagieu. It looks like there's maybe four or five -- definitely less than a third for the coming year.

SPURGEON: When I went back and looked, in that same talk we identified a change in the way you approach your line that maybe hasn't been discussed as much since. It seems, if you compare those first few years of books to the seasons you offered in 2016 and will offer this year, it seems you really emphasize accessibility and narrative clarity across the board. You no longer have the idiosyncrasy you saw more frequently in those first couple of years with, for instance, illustrators trying comics for the first time. I would say you have a greater percentage of your line being made by people who are at heart sequential narrative type cartoonists.

SIEGEL: Yeah. Yep.

SPURGEON: So is that part of your editorial mission now? Do you seek out books that people can read without being indoctrinated into the form?

SIEGEL: They don't need to know the secret handshake, this accumulated experience of reading comics for years? I will say that's true. Even with people that are comics veterans, I try to encourage that from an editorial end.

I think I've found my legs somewhat as an editor. I've always known there are certain stages of a book. When you have a conversation over thumbnails, I feel I'm looking at the acting, and looking at the staging and even in a cinematic way I'm paying attention to clarity in terms of the action and the staging the angles... it's not to try to make an homogenous style of art by any mean. I really do believe that it should read not just for the cognoscenti. It should be widely accessible. That's part of the broadening of audiences. That's one piece of it.

I kind of love it. I love that about comics. I think that's a skill of great comics-makers. They can do that. They have a way of guiding you. Sometimes that's weird. If you look at a Chris Ware page for the first time, you go, "What?" It feels obscure and difficult to access. When you actually get into it, he really does take you by the hand and guide you. There's a great deal of clarity. There's a handwriting there that's readable. I think that's why it reaches people.

I want us to have that. I think it's the kind of thing that as an editor I want to look out for. It's the stuff I didn't have time to tend to in the first few seasons, being so busy setting up things.

SPURGEON: Are you getting people that seem more ready-made to publish through your line? Do people know what a First Second book is before they bring it to you?

SIEGEL: Some people do. It's interesting, we're getting people now that have been reading us for a few years. That's kind of an interesting thing. I think part of the gamble of First Second was it being a long-term campaign to push the medium. Push our medium in certain ways -- not the only ways but the ways we're going after.

SPURGEON: [laughs] Give me an example of one of those things. I think there might be a perception, for example, that you're super-traditional in a lot of senses. That you work within established genres with this very specific, clarity-emphasizing approach.

SIEGEL: More traditional as opposed to more experimental?

SPURGEON: Yeah.

SIEGEL: Here's the thing. I feel like we've moved away from a certain kind of... I love the core indie comics. I read a lot of them myself. I feel like the indie thing can become an identity and become this straitjacket where people have made these rules. It's gotta be a solo writer-inker-letterer-everything.

Some of those defining traits of the indie comics served a purpose in that they were pushing against a certain kind of comics. But now it's not that. The readers of today and tomorrow, that's not a very universal appeal. I think the human qualities of a story, the depth of how characters are written and acted, is more important to more people.

image

When you see Decelerate Blue, I think that's a very daring book graphically. That's Adam Rapp's script with Mike Cavallaro's art. I think it's some of Mike's most beautiful work ever. I think for the comics-comics people, they'll feel at home with the style. I think for book readers it will be surprising but they should be able to get into it. Or if you take Box Brown and some of his stuff with Tetris now and the Andy Kaufman book, which I don't think is '17, I think that's later.

SPURGEON: I've seen him working on it.

SIEGEL: He's doing stuff that would have been seen at one point as very indie, very experimental. But because of what he's exploring... in a way, what's interesting is that while everything is diversifying in terms of visuals, in terms of personal signature artwork, the conversation is moving beyond the form of comics. Which I really welcome. When we started First Second, the stuff in the media was covering "hey, comics aren't just for kids" or "hey, comics don't have to be superheroes." You could only have that conversation so many times. Now they're talking about literacy or about immigration or about autism. The conversation is about the subject matter.

SPURGEON: Is that just part of the normalization process?

SIEGEL: Maybe.

SPURGEON: Or is that you've found an aesthetic key...?

SIEGEL: No, I don't think there's an aesthetic that has won over America. You're not making apologies any longer. That used to be very common. Libraries, bookstores, it's one of the things on the menu now. That's one of the milestones we wanted to reach.

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SPURGEON: Is it a false impression of mine that in '16 and in '17 you have more series than ever?

SIEGEL: No, it's true. It's true. It's one of the few things we're pushing. We have experiments, books to launch, I really want to get going. We want to get good at series as one of the kinds of comics we publish. We have the stuff Faith Erin Hicks is doing. I just got in The Stone Heart, which is the second book of The Nameless City. And it's really beautiful. We have Secret Coders.

We did this experiment with Last Man, which was something we could roll out really quickly. We thought that could also find a presence in the comic shops as a series. I think it's still one of the grails for us, getting that big ambitious, adult -- not necessarily adult, even teens or young adult -- addictive series. I'd love to get us there.

SPURGEON: You think that's a function of work coming out quickly, or the nature of the work...?

SIEGEL: Both. There's a piece of it where I do think about the impediments we face when we try to do what we do, and one of them is just how labor intensive the medium is by its nature. Part of it is we have a few people like Mike Holmes who can tear through a Secret Coders almost as fast as Gene Yang can script one. That's really impressive, but not many people can do that, and do it well, and pull it off. For most people it's a year, two years, three years or a lot more years of their lives. If you're doing a series and it comes out every two years, every three years, it's very difficult to publish successfully that way. So for DC and Marvel, they have the assembly line approach to maximize the Ford Motors model. [laughs] For us that doesn't quite work, it doesn't work for this kind of storyline. So for myself, I have my own experiment with 5 Worlds, which is its own thing. We have a few team projects like that here.

SPURGEON: Is this why Demon is being published across four books rather than as one giant omnibus? You want that multiple-volume effect?

SIEGEL: Yeah. Probably. I think it'd be great to do an omnibus, a big fat thing of that. But with that one we were committed to rolling it out quickly, so it feels like one experience for people. We didn't want to keep people waiting. It keeps warm in people's minds.

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SPURGEON: With Last Man, maybe I'm imagining things, but you're not done with that one, are you?

SIEGEL: I'm not sure which one came out last.

SPURGEON: I want to say I've read volume six.

SIEGEL: I'm looking at 2017, so I think we did six ending in 2016. With that one, there are more volumes in Frances, so we have to decide if we're going to do more.

SPURGEON: How was that book received? Aside from it being a candidate for you to try this rolling release of trades, that book seems culturally weird to me.

SIEGEL: We get a lot of enthusiasm for it at comic cons. I feel it was embraced by comics creators more than anyone else. I think there's an aesthetic to it, a kind of artist's artist approach to a fantasy thing. It's someone with real chops, and a real visual style. That's where I hear about it. A lot of our authors ask me for a copy. That's kind of encouraging at one level. But in terms of hittting a mainstream reader, it hasn't quite popped to that.

SPURGEON: Why do you think that is? I thought of that one... I had a different conception of it as a project than I did after I got to read your version in the States. Was it a little too enamored of its pulp roots at a time we're a bit more arch and critical of that kind of material?

SIEGEL: I feel that as I get older, as the years pass I'm less confident in my own pronouncements about why things go the way they go. [laughter] When something really tanks I can see some of the reasons why, and it's usually one explanation having to do with content.

I know that on-line it sparked what I feel is healthy discussion. There was a bit of blowback about some aspects, and the authors jumped in. Typically that's not a good idea, but in this case it turned out to be. The authors jumped into the debate. It was not unexamined on their end. Even if it was not sensible... they had a position in the matter. They were happy to engage with readers about it. I thought that was cool. I thought that was an interesting moment.

There are still some differences between Europe and the states. Some things just read differently in different context. The same book can have very different impacts in different markets. I'm always interested when we bring stuff in and translate it, the risk of disconnect with an American reader is always higher. In this case -- I don't know actually. I hear a lot of good stuff from people who come to our booth. So there are people who really do connect with it. But in terms of a big number, a big audience? Maybe it skirts too close to that line. I think in America there's a very important conversation about a lot of things -- about appropriation, about sexism -- that could seem unexamined in their work.

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SPURGEON: What did you see in Demon that made you feel it was a First Second book?

SIEGEL: [laughs] I know! You wouldn't predict that one on our list.

SPURGEON: No.

SIEGEL: Calista [Brill] first landed on that and brought me into it. We both felt the same way. Holy shit, we have to do this. This will be the most insane thing we'll ever do. [laughter] But it's also genius. Shiga is an incredible... he's incredible. It's not what you're expect from the last ten years of our publishing program, you're right.

imageOne of the things I would like to be defining for us is that we do keep surprising. Not for the sake of surprising. That we do keep pushing into areas that are outside our comfort zone. Things that have now become staples -- like This One Summer doesn't look like a typical First Second book. But now it fits into the line in terms of an important new voice. I don't want us to get sclerotic or locked in. I wouldn't want that.

SPURGEON: Can you think of anything about your relationships with your authors that's different year one to year ten? Are there difference in the standard contract? Are the authors more cognizant of media rights than they used to be? Are they demanding a certain level of guaranteed publicity? What's the difference between someone sitting in a room with you and their rep year one and year ten? What do they ask for? What are they worried about?

SIEGEL: We rarely go for any media rights. We barely have, Tom. There was a space where we experimented with that, where for a limited time we tried to make something happen with film or gaming or something, and then give them back to the author if we don't make it happen. But we've always been on the side of just taking book publishing rights and leaving the rest to the authors. So we were more unique in the field in that way in the beginning than we are now. I don't know... are people more informed? Yeah, I suppose so. People generally have agents or they get one soon after their first book or two. I think the good agents know if they're helping their clients build a long-lasting relationship with a house or a few different houses, they'll be doing that over time, and not with a first book. If they have a hit, they do come back and push. Which is what they should do. That's their job.

SPURGEON: One big issue in terms of this era of comics, this ten-year period, is the crumbling of infrastructure for the various cartoon expressions. Newspapers have crumbled.

SIEGEL: Newspapers for sure.

SPURGEON: Some will argue that book publishing isn't as sturdy as it was ten years ago in terms of the number and strength of its institutions. Ditto specialty shops. Some of the people reading -- maybe not as much as we though -- are going online, and we have festivals now that kind of stand as a fundamental restructuring of the way people buy and relate to what they're buying.

How different is it to get a book where it catches on? How much do you have to work this array of angles? What makes a book catch to the point it builds momentum on its own?

SIEGEL: I'm not sure. It's a bit of a different game. There's book publishing, and then within book publishing graphic novel publishing follows a very different patter. It's not really... if you were to start graphing out the health and activity of book publishing generally across different formats, graphic novels don't seem to follow the other trends. There's steady growth. People hoped it would be a magical formula of some kind [laughs] and they've moved away from that, but this slow, steady growth and stability. For First Second, 2013 was the year where as a publishing house we seemed to reach a certain kind of maturity and stability. We've always played a long game, but I think creators can build a steady career more easily now than they could ten years ago. It is still a steep entry curve, with all of the work involved. Even now, with a decent advance, you're still likely only getting minimum wage in terms of hours of work.

SPURGEON: Don't oversell it, Mark. [laughter]

SIEGEL: It's the readership. What makes it a viable career is that there's a readership to sustain the amount of money that cartoonists need. I've had times of great optimism. I've never been totally in the pessimistic school. I feel now more level-headed hopeful. It feels for me, for First Second, from where I stand, that we have a viable business model. It's becoming more and more of a viable model for the creators and not just a passion-career with little hope of making real money.

SPURGEON: You've never struck me as a negative guy... so what worries you? Is there an asteroid you see that maybe we don't? Does declining literacy worry you, or the ability of speciality shops and brick-and-mortar stores more generally to stay open? What worries you most about finding viable careers for a variety of cartoonists that can do this for a living?

SIEGEL: One thing that's been on my mind a long time is if there's a way of finding a good proving ground. In France, it used to be the magazines. Pilote. That was the place where there was a big heavy-hitter star artist, and there was a place for newcomers to show their stuff. In America, I think it was the indie comics scene for a while. It still is. They're still around. I think what joined alongside of it is the web comic, the web serial. I think it's kind of equivalent in a way. It's a proving ground where people can hone their skills and people will start building an audience.

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For us, we have the Science Comics line which we'll have a lot of. We have a lot of that coming. And I'm happy because we'll be giving a lot of artists, in a lot of cases very young artists, a shot. It's not a massive, mega-project that's going to crush their spirit with two years of slaving away, but they'll get to show what they can do. They can contribute to something that has a reach. It's getting out there. I'm interested in more of those kinds of things. Things where people don't have to share their magnum opus first thing out of the gate.

SPURGEON: Do you get to read comics? What's the last comic that didn't have something to do with work that struck you in an interesting way?

SIEGEL: I tend to read a lot more prose these days, so lately for me it's been re-reading Ursula K. Le Guin, floating with pleasure in that stuff. Ted Chiang I've been really into as well. In comics Nimona was the last one that wasn't First Second that really lit up for me, where there was real comics reading pleasure.

SPURGEON: I asked a few comics pros about a question to ask you and a surprising number came up with the same joke to ask you about your beard.

SIEGEL: [laughs] Wait a minute, these are people that know me?

SPURGEON: You looked very rugged this year at the shows, Mark. That's all I'm saying.

SIEGEL: It was a vacation thing where I grew one on vacation and my son wanted me to keep it. Then it stuck. I think when you have a dramatic change of look it sticks because it goes with a shift. Something has been shifting internally. That was my way of marking it. I don't know if it's going to stay.

SPURGEON: Do you still use your kids to get a read on material, as a bellwether?

SIEGEL: I do. I do. Now they're 11 and 9, so I bring stuff home. There's two interesting measurements I get. One is what they say about what they read. And then I watch to see what they re-read. Because there's stuff that they're okay with but they never pick up again. The stuff they re-read is the stuff they like -- they'll re-read and re-read and re-read. There's a lot of it. They're constantly reading these things.

SPURGEON: I think that's all I have. Personal aside, while I have you: I heard you almost made it to CXC [Cartoon Crossroads Columbus] this year. I hope you can make it soon.

SIEGEL: I came really close. My 5 Worlds project is coming out with Random House in May. I'll put that show on their radar. I'm going to be doing some stuff in support. That's really fun, actually. I visited my son's school, and presented that project to 200 sixth graders. It was so awesome. It was so much. It was really a blast.

imageSPURGEON: I'm not sure I'm totally caught up with this next creative project of yours, which you've mentioned a couple of times now. Let me go back to interview voice. Can you give me the rough parameters on 5 Worlds? I knew you have been working on something as a creator distinct from your editorial duties at First Second and I heard you were working with collaborators. But other than that, I have nothing.

SIEGEL: There have been a couple of hits announcing it. It's in May. It's called 5 Worlds. We're a team of five, including my brother Alexis. He's now in London for a couple of years with the UN. We have these three awesome young graduates of MICA. Matt Rockefeller. Boya Sun. Xanthe Bouma. These kids. I'm almost scared to talk about it because I don't want to jinx it but the teamwork has been the most magical thing.

It's a very ambitious five-volume, 250-pages a volume, full-color space opera. With a lot of background world-building, a lot of big transformations. We're kind of packing in... I'm aware of what's being made in middle-grade -- especially fantasy and sci-fi. We're pushing the density of it. I'm really, really excited. This is a big, special project for me. But I'm also in a team of five. It could have gone wrong in so many ways but it's actually one of the most beautiful things in my life, honestly. [laughs]

SPURGEON: With the last one that you did, when we talked about it a lot of your language was about the solitariness of getting that done. The discipline to get the project in. You almost sounded like this lone, Olympian runner. [Siegel laughs] So I imagine having company was fortifying. A group component had to appeal as beat-up as you were after Sailor Twain.

SIEGEL: It did. The Frenchies do this a lot. They kind of switch between solo projects and collaborations. This is a very unusual, the whole process that we're using and the way it's coming out. We feel like we're finding a way to have one voice, together. Which is really, to me, a very rare experience. It's sort of like the thrill you might get if you're in a choir and the magic really happens. That's how it's feeling.

What happened was that my brother and I were writing and we were going to bring in these three young kids to take direction from us. Really soon into the project they began to join in. They were generating into the worlds, the cultures and the histories of these worlds but also the story itself and the characters. It's become tight, a really tight little affair.

When we went out with the project it came down to a couple of houses and Random House took it away. That's been a really interesting experience, getting a taste of that house.

SPURGEON: Is there something that sticks out with Random House as a sharp contrast to an experience you've enjoyed in the past?

SIEGEL: It's definitely a big, big house. We see what's possible. The number of people involved in the support system for launching a book, is huge. It has up and down sides. I felt really good working with a couple of super-competent editors. That's always useful, to see how things are done. It's interesting because with First Second we're heading into our biggest year ever. With 2017, we're getting near 40 titles.

SPURGEON: I saw your list.

SIEGEL: This list is so cool. It's so good. I feel we've had some good lists and not so good lists. This is really, really strong; it's strong across the board. I really feel this is our best offering ever, this coming year. At the same time this is going on I have this really intensive project going on on the side with Random House [laughs]. But it's interesting. It's interesting.

*****

* First Second Books
* Five Worlds, Book 1

*****

* First Second Books anniversary logo
* from The Hunting Accident
* from Decelerate Blue
* Faith Erin Hicks' latest
* from Last Man Vol. 3
* from This One Summer
* it's Science!
* first cover image for a 5 Worlds book
* art from Sailor Twain [below]

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Liana Finck's Cartoon Diary Of The Weekend's Women's March In Washington

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New Information Surfaces In Prageeth Eknaligoda Case

New details have surfaced in the Prageeth Eknaligoda case.

The commentator and cartoonist disappeared in the ramp-up to a 2010 election; pressure from his wife Sandya applied persistently over years and supported by friends have settled on his being disappeared rather than wandering off on his own or being the victim of random violence. That's a reasonably detailed article as to where the rough parameters stand right this moment. The routine banality of what was done, the way that the horrifying circumstance can appear in shrugged-shoulder fashion as a description of the past, seems terrifying to me. I also wasn't aware a group of accused soldiers had all been released. I hope for whatever justice and peace still may be secured.
 
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Go, Look: John Klossner

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* count Joe Chiappetta among the veteran cartoonists seeking a financial boost straight from core fans via a Patreon account. Chiappetta's strip might be ideally suited for that platform. Silly Daddy was part of a 'zine-culture comics mini-movement in the mid-1990s; he was a strong presence at the early SPX shows and once fell into a fire ass-first in San Diego in what may have been one of the ten great moments in SDCC history. As an evangelical Christian whose work I believe focuses on his family in a very different way than his older work did, Chiappetta makes comics that might have their best chance of finding support this way.

* didn't see a lot of names that I recognized in the Kickstarter comics category, which means I need to get off of my ass and introduce my eyeballs to more artists that fund through there. The names I saw that were familiar: Tyler Page, Matt Houk and Patrick Kain. I will do better next time.

* Zanadu Comics still has their gofundme going, and there are still recent donors. Their goal seems a long way off but I imagine every bit helps and maybe among you is a white knight that can make -- and wants to make -- a more significant outreach than most of us can.

* a designer of a popular image from this weekend's marching writes about not wanting or being able to profit from the image directly, but floats the notion that designers and providers of imagery like that do provide a service that might be rewarded. There are some delicate issues in there, so forgive me if I got that wrong.

* Gabrielle Bell has a Patreon focused on support of her diary comics.

* finally, the Clallam Bay Comicon has launched a small art-for-cash fundraiser to get guest Diana Kennedy to the show.
 
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If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: P. Craig Russell Killraven Splash Pages

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Philippe Leblanc on It's Me. Sean Gaffney on Ranma 1/2 Vols. 35-36. Paul O'Brien on All New X-Men #14-16.

* more random notes about working on his new computer from the great Todd Klein.

* the comics-focused staff at Paste suggests a dozen things they'd like to see in the North American comics industry in 2017. It's a mainstream-focused perspective that some who engage with comics from the alt- and art comics worlds might not totally get, but the sentiment behind each thing is genuine and if they all happen comics would be a better place than it was before. It's interesting that many of the hoped-for outcomes involve industry entities acting in more enlightened fashion; there's not a lot of reinventing the wheel here.

* Sean Edgar talks to Matt Kindt.

* finally: Gilbert Hernandez, sign-maker. Melissa Benoist, superhero. James Kochalka, sloganeer. Ann and Signe, nasty women. Lisa Hanawalt, marcher. That was a really good day, I think.
 
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Happy 83rd Birthday, Don Wright!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Klaus Janson!

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January 22, 2017


Go, Read: Mark Medley On The Beguiling

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Go, Look: John Watkiss

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Not Comics: Building The Classic Charlotte's Web Cover

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Go, Look: Sloths And Trolleys

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

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

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Happy 47th Birthday, Alex Ross!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Jordan Shiveley!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Howard Mackie!

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January 21, 2017


John Watkiss, RIP

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Jan Kruis, RIP

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

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Happy 38th Birthday, Till Thomas!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Mark Martin!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Bob Weber Jr.!

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January 20, 2017


Go, Look: Alex Nino Pages From DC Comics

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

Tom Spurgeon

image* Christopher Hastings has closed down the practice of Dr McNinja, a stalwart of webcomics since the mid-2000s and I think a representative comedic voice of its time. Hastings is a working creator with a variety of projects, all of which you can learn about here. Congratulations to Mr. Hastings.

* Jon Erik Christianson talks to Kathleen Jacques.

* totally missed that Scribd stopped offering comics. I have no idea what that means, but I assume the popular guesses are that the category has limits and that comiXology is kicking ass. Both of those things are likely true although I think the first one may be the most pertinent. Comics' gains are usually made against a poor previous performance; we don't know that things can keep expanding in all sales channel just because a few indicators go way up every now and then, like comics as a bookstore category or whatever.

* I'm having a hard time keeping track of the various programs, but any addition of Megahex and Kaijumax is going to benefit any line being offered. Actually, even if you're not a customer it's intriguing to see how these company are building these lines/packages.

* finally, the review site Sequential State has its new header up. This one is from Tommi Parrish.
 
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Go, Listen: Leela Corman On Process Party

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Go, Look: Michael Dooley Digs Into The Art Of Ho Che Anderson's Graphic Biography King

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Rob Clough on Sp4rx.

* not comics: Heidi MacDonald notes the departure of the sympathetic driving force behind Legendary Pictures could have a significant impact on how they use their comics arm, currently run by industry veteran Bob Schreck. I'm happy for the jobs created by that line although none of the comics seem to have taken a dynamic life of their own within comics, save perhaps for that Frank Miller Holy Terror book that many people hated.

* dinga ding ding ding ding ding ding ding...

* not comics: I enjoyed the work of the late character actor Miguel Ferrer: he was a man better than the bad material he was given and as good as the good stuff. I'm certain you can read at various points around the comics Internet about his comics fandom; he was a San Diego con-goer back when noteworthy Hollywood actors there could barely fill out a bingo card. He even co-scripted a series for Marvel. I'll be happy if I make 61, but I bet very few folks 61 feel that way.

* finally: go see Roz Chast if you're in Tacoma. She's great.
 
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Happy 49th Birthday, Gerry Alanguilan!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Keith Pollard!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Alexander Danner!

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Happy 73rd Birthday, Bill Griffith!

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Happy 96th Birthday, Mike Peyton!

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January 19, 2017


Pascal Garray, RIP

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Go, Look: Fletcher Hanks Collection PR Feature At Boing Boing

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not usually a fan of this kind of feature but it's Fletcher Hanks, so it's bound to be great
 
posted 1:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Assembled Extra: comiXology Launches Original Material

This seems like a relatively straight-forward explanation of what's been released, to what platforms and why. I don't have the stomach to see if "content moat" is a real thing, so let me leave that mystery to you.

The thing about digital comics reading habits I think may be worth remembering is that nothing's really been set in stone and strategies still might come into play that haven't event been considered yet. This idea of possibility is reinforced by the relatively strong settling of various consumption habits that have come to streaming film and video services, and the role that original content has played there. There are a lot of articles out there strongly declaring realities that never came to pass in that space, which makes me think that comics is a bit more wide open than might have been thought even two years ago. I'm also fascinated to see what ends up worth doing in a medium where the very best-selling primary material may hit local newscast numbers.

Whatever happens, this seems like an an important step.

The comic in question sounds pretty good, too.
 
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Go, Look: Obama's Greatest Accomplishment?

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* here are the exhibitions at Angouleme, now hurtling towards us. That looks like a solid, crowd-pleasing line-up although really nothing there I felt pain at seeing listed with my not going and all. That Franquin one might be lovely.

* I saw almost no reaction to the FIBD grand prix finalists list, which surprised me. If someone knows a rip-roaring conversation going on out there, clue me in. To be clear, I think all of three of those choices are super-solid and if Ware wins, I want to go. I'm still surprised that there's *no* reaction to a white, all-male finalists suite given last year's fiasco. If it continues to be quiet, kudos to those at the festival crisis-managing this situation the last several months.

* there will be a con in East Los Angeles in May.

* conventional wisdom says that Comic-Con International won't miss the now-LA Chargers football team because their moving away from San Diego streamlines future planning for convention center expansion.

* finally, I hope no one on the board at CXC expects this level of commitment from me.
 
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Go, Look: #MeetTheArtist

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Go, Look: The Adventures Of Shochan (1925)

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* congratulations to Dan Buckley, publisher at Marvel, being named President of Marvel. I want to play catch on that one for a few days because I'm not sure who gets replaced or who doubles up on certain duties or whatever.

image* Steve Foxe on Tomie.

* this may be my favorite personal anecdote about working at Fanta as well, or at least one that's not the trash can story.

* Mark Evanier writes about comics with a quick turnaround time. His own personal involvement with one doesn't get shorter than 11 days, but that's still a short time when you think of how the bulk of labor involved with comics can't be faked. You have to kind of willfully drive around these things.

* not comics: hm.

* I can't tell if no word on the condition of the Malaysian great Lat since Monday or so is good news or bad. I think good, in terms of that one step, but the whole situation isn't ideal. All thoughts with him and his family. It's been a great part of this New Year to have an excuse to back and look at those comics, and I urge you to make Kampung Boy and Town Boy part of your collection.

* there are still a lot of comics out there I'd like to consume at a huge size. Not me, the comics. It's nice that there are format discussions some 75-plus years in, too.

* finally, John Byrne on the John Byrne Forum 4-Ever.
 
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Happy 48th Birthday, Barbara Canepa!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Guy Delisle!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Thomas Yeates!

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Happy 69th Birthday, Joe Staton!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Scott Tipton!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Frank Cammuso!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Don MacPherson!

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January 18, 2017


OTBP: The Unquotable Trump

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several images here
 
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Chris Ware, Cosey, Manu Larcenet Up For Angouleme Grand Prix: Alan Moore Quietly Steps Aside

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An e-mail went out today at I think 11 AM local time noting that the results of the first round of professional voting for this year's Angouleme Festival Grand Prix (and next year's presidency) have put Chris Ware, Cosey and Manu Larcenet in the final round. That is an excellent group of artists.

This result reflects a vote that took place from January 9 to 15. This next round will take place from January 18 to 22. The vote is open to comics authors regardless of nationality whose work has been published in the French language market in French. It looks like to vote in the second round they had to participate in the first, but if I were on the border of qualifying I'd probably double check that.

The site for voting is here. There is a dropbox site for the authors' bios here.

The prize-winner will be named at the opening ceremony the Wednesday before the show officially opens.

The press release notes that Alan Moore made the original top three but Moore has opted out of this kind of recognition, and a chance for this recognition specifically. That would be a potentiallly really interesting show, but I fully understand the arguments both for and against participating in awards programs and that should be left to the artist when there's a community element.

imageThere are two contexts for this year's grand prix vote: last year's grand prix vote and the recent, fussy history of that awards and awards more generally at the festival: if not the grand event of world comics than one of the top three.

Last year's vote was rightly hammered into reputational powder after it was revealed there was a formal nominating round with a significant number of cartoonists offered up on a list, a long-list that contained no women. None. This was exacerbated by idiotic-to-misplayed press appearances and rhetorical strategies and just plain and arrogant thinking that further suggested that for any female cartoonist to be considered for probably the grandest prize in the comics dozens upon dozens of male cartoonists should be considered first -- even hiding behind the execrable history of comics when it comes to those numbers maybe being tough to balance as a way to justify a shut-out. Chris Ware was one of several cartoonists to withdraw from the process and 2016 consideration.

That protest led to a deeper threat of wider protest after the show concluded, leading to reform steps seen since. The idea that no women at all are worthy of consideration doesn't reflect any conception of the comics world popularly held, and even if asserted as arguable (one tricky way is to note that the small percentage of previous years votes is a tacit endorsement of the scarcity of female talent) underlines how the long-list was a spectacular failure of the awards in terms of bringing positive attention and an audience boost to the awards. That is, of course, the other context, the effort made by the festival in recent years to break the old-boy network of winners voting for the newest winners, and becoming more in touch with popular taste as a result. I think there's an argument the festival can make that with recent Grand Prix winners like Bill Watterson, that part of a desirable end result has been generally met when compared to choices from a decade or so ago.

Does this take us the rest of the way? While the awards is no longer hindered by its recent, resolutely cynical nominations process, and bringing in trustworthy representative committees for oversight and general admin is a great step, I think we'll have to see if an open call for grand prix nominees can over time avoid the trap of foregrounding the grand prix as something to be passed along between members of a new unofficial club as restrictive in result as the smaller voting room of old (literally). I hope so, as it's such a grand award. It's a Willie Wonka award! You get to shape the next festival! But yeah, even with all three of those great artists in play I think my heart would rather see Posy Simmonds on that list than on the committee to help things run more smoothly.

my thanks to xavier guilbert for the PR-forwarding assist
 
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Go, Look: Echo Chamber

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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.

*****

NOV160691 OFFICER DOWNE TP (MR) $19.99
SEP160092 ABE SAPIEN TP VOL 08 DESOLATE SHORE $19.99
SEP160028 DEPT H HC VOL 01 PRESSURE $19.99
NOV160382 ROM TP VOL 01 $19.99
This isn't a week for the kinds of comics I like most of all, but a fallow Wednesday in 2017 is like the best New Comics Day of the year for most the 1990s and into the 2000s so I'm I could spend a hundred bucks just like that. I'd get there more quickly through all four of these solid $20 trades. The Officer Downe book I liked in different forms when I read it; this is linked to the recent movie so you get a script and production stills. The Abe Sapien is nearing the end of that run if not the end. Dept H is the first trade from that well-reviewed series; that one seems like it was just announced. I'm probably not perverse enough to make ROM a core buy, but it might be fun to see some of those artists again.

imageNOV160346 KAMANDI CHALLENGE SPECIAL #1 $7.99
Hey, it's reprint of an older Kamandi comic as a way of kicking off their round-table roulette series. I love Kamandi and I love everything Jack Kirby, although I thought Kirby's work was stronger in the teens than when this work came along -- it has to be in the #30s.

NOV160589 THEYRE NOT LIKE US #13 (MR) $2.99
NOV160898 BLACK WIDOW #10 $3.99
NOV160059 DARK HORSE PRESENTS #30 $4.99
NOV160053 BLACK HAMMER GIANT SIZED ANNUAL #1 $5.99
NOV160272 CAVE CARSON HAS A CYBERNETIC EYE #4 (MR) $3.99
NOV160273 CAVE CARSON HAS A CYBERNETIC EYE #4 VAR ED (MR) $3.99
Hey, it's the comic-book comics. Not a lot here, either. The best work is probably up top with two admirable artists providing super-solid work: Simon Gane on the Image comic, and Chris Samnee on the Marvel one. I note the Dark Horse Presents for the high number -- that's another sizable yet quiet run. The Black Hammer is Jeff Lemire's book of oddball superheroics -- songs in the key of Mignola, with the fun artist Dean Ormston involved. The Cave Carson is one of those Gerard Way shepherded Vertigo/corporate titles, and this might be the week to try one of those art. I don't like that there's a variant cover, but I'm happy someone got paid.

NOV160504 ART OF ZACH HOWARD SC VOL 01 WILD BLUE YONDER $9.99
FEB160628 GODDAMNED TP VOL 01 THE FLOOD (MR) $9.99
Two smart company strategies in play: IDW showing off the artists that do a lot of work with the company in an art book, and Image pricing its initial trades at $9.99 for an easier sell-to point to support ongoing series.

OCT161031 KA-ZAR TP SAVAGE DAWN $15.99
Ka-Zar is a sturdy property that doesn't have a lot to distinguish itself in terms of a period where this particular spin on the on Tarzan mythos found vibrancy. There's no comics I can point at with the character that seem work better than others, or as good as the description of the concept might portend.

NOV161564 ZONZO HC (MR) $14.99
This is a handsome-looking volume -- in fact, there's an art design trick I've never seen before except on some self-published kids' books in the '90s -- of Joan Cornella's humor work. I think the comics are funny, although I'm not sure that I think this size of a collection at this price point shows off the work as well as wider exposure to the work through more comics might have been.

*****

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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Go, Look: Tarzan's Jungle Annual #1

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Tarzan is almost always problematic; Jesse Marsh's comics are almost always beautiful
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Rob Clough on Rolling Blackouts. Henry Chamberlain on Kindred. Michael Buntag on The Unstoppable Wasp #1.

* easy to enjoy the relative luxury of this strip taking its time to get where it wants to go.

* I don't understand any of the plots here other than I'm guessing both the Clark Kent/Superman and Wally West characters are cognizant of whatever the most recent reality-changes are in the DC Universe. What it is, though, is a textbook comic book professional depiction of a scene that involves talking over fighting/movement, so the dynamism needs to come for layout and how the visuals are established within each panel.

* hard to reconcile driving attention to someone else's comics that are just presented as they are without any additional contextualization, but the late 1960s/early 1970s period of secondary Marvel character is about the richest period left when it comes to shared-superhero universe material to be mined.

* this may be the most Henry Boltinoff pages I've ever seen in one place.

* finally, Will Elder, Will Elder, Will Elder.
 
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Happy 83rd Birthday, Raymond Briggs!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Christian Durieux!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Patrick Lesueur!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Mike Lynch!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Charles Yoakum!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Yvan Alagbé!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Alan Gardner!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Stephen DeStefano!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Frank Quitely!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Scott Mills!

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January 17, 2017


Go, Look: Suzy And Cecil 2016

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* creative team change with the Guardians Of The Galaxy property as it currently stands over at Marvel. It's not an area of my expertise, but as an occasional reader of all types of comics Marvel's scattered treatment of those characters post-hit movie seems a lost opportunity. It seems like one title with a sturdy creative team like this one would have been the way to go all along. I remember a Brian Bendis-involved comic and I remember the characters showing up in either Howard The Duck or Silver Surfer or something like that with Kitty Pryde and the Thing involved somehow, but I couldn't tell you what for or why.

* hey, NYRC is doing Yvan Alagbe's Les Negres Jaunes in English this Fall. Year: made. Well, the comics part of it, anyway.

* looks like DC is due to try a version of the Legion Of Super-Heroes again. I think that's one of DC's better concepts: "teenage superhero club in the future" seems right up there with "space cop with a magic ring" to me. It was so popular at one time that it tends to get smothered to death every time out, though. It should be an interesting test of the Rebirth editorial initiative: the "greatest elements thrown together" strategy would seem friendly to a Legion reboot, but it also seems like that might not take any concept far enough that needs more than its agreed-upon best version put out there.

* finally, seeing a listing for Roz Chast's New York book that has the volume coming out in October reminds me there's already been a really good feature on it.
 
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Go, Look: Landed

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By Request Extra: Dude Who Spends An Extensive Amount Of Time Playing Superman Needs Help

Here. One of the first things I learned when I started working in comics is that people take aspects of them far more seriously than I'm equipped to. Then again, you break any of these campaigns down to their components and somewhere in there it's just someone asking for help.
 
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Go, Look: The Fuck You Forest

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Not Comics: Wally Wood Animation Pitch Illustrations

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean Gaffney on Attack On Titan Vol. 20. Todd Klein on The Flash #6.

* I am looking forward to this book and I am looking forward to the reaction to this book.

* I love this early Usagi panel. I always thought the way Usagi handled violence was worth a good academic paper or five. I'm not sure myself how it works, not exactly, and I've been reading those comics for 30 years now.

* Kat Eschner profiles Antonio Prohias.

* finally, another thing I love is this title.
 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Ann Nocenti!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Jon B. Cooke!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Tom Brevoort!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Joseph Lambert!

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January 16, 2017


Go, Look: Sara Lautman At TCJ.com

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1, 2, 3, 4, 5
 
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Congressman John Lewis Wages Public Opinion Fight With President-Elect Donald Trump; March Benefits

imageIn case you missed the latest pieces of building falling off the American experiment, Eisner-winning Congressman John Lewis has in the last few days become the focal point for Democratic party reaction to the forthcoming inauguration of Donald Trump. Lewis objects to the nature of the election and feels that foreign interference delegitimizes the election. He won't be attending the inaugural activities. This has led to the usual weird public reaction from Trump via social media and a slew of articles as to what it all means in a deeper sense and what the proper responses on both sides should be. The US political landscape is basically the Comics Journal message board circa 1997 now, although people second-guessing how Lewis should conduct himself or the nature of his career is way more depressing than Dirty Danny throwing a diaper at Ted Rall or Domingos Isabelinho pounding through comics foot soldiers like Darth Vader in that 15 seconds near the end of Rogue One.

There is a bit of comics news to this in that the accompanying surge of interest in Lewis has driven sales on the biography of his years in the 1960s Civil Rights movement: the three-volume, award-winning March. I am happy for people that get to read that book as a way of seeking out information that is alive to them at this moment. That whole book covers things that have become alive to us in a way I'm not sure anyone thought likely when the project was announced.
 
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Go, Look: Lessons From Memphis

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Go, Look: Those Steranko Outland Pages

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Go, Look: The Metamorphosis Odyssey Portfolio

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* David Nieves on The Visitor #1. Joe Gordon on Hook Jaw #1 and Felix Leiter #1. John Kane on a bunch of different comics. Nelson George on Krazy. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of different comics books from the comic book shop.

* Andy Oliver talks to Karrie Fransman. Juan Fernandez profiles Rachel Masilamani.

* instead of doing a best-of list, Alex Hoffman wrote about the comics he found most challenging in 2016. This is the full list.

* Cynthia Rose on the big Tintin exhibit in Paris.

* people just like hating on Marvel. There are worse things to hate on, for sure.

* finally, I loved reading this post from Todd Klein about moving onto a new computer for the new year. Casual workplace talk from freelancers brings me pleasure.
 
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Happy 57th Birthday, Al Davison!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Eleanor Davis!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Jamie Coville!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Frédéric Boilet!

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January 15, 2017


Go, Look: Pen America's State Of Emergency Comics Suite

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Go, Read: The Latest Google-Able Story On Lat's Hospitalization

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Here. Tests Monday. He was admitted and then readmitted, and the family stresses the ICU placement was due to the wards being full. All thoughts with the great cartoonists and his family.
 
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Happy 32nd Birthday, Jacq Cohen!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Scott Snyder!

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FFF Results Post #468 -- Things To Come

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Comics Projects You're Looking Forward To Seeing This Year." This is how they responded.

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four: Artist's Edition, Jack Kirby And Stan Lee (IDW)
2. The Only Living Boy Vol. 4, David Gallaher And Steve Ellis (Papercutz)
3. Blue Hand Mojo: Hard Times Road, John Jennings (Rosarium)
4. Serenity: No Power in the 'Verse, Chris Roberson And Georges Jeanty (Dark Horse)
5. Spell on Wheels, Kate Leth And Megan Levens (Dark Horse) (pictured)

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Mike Pfefferkorn

1. Grandville Force Majeure, Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse)
2. Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt, George O'Connor (First Second)
3. Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art Of Gary Frank, Gary Frank (DC Comics)
4. Frostlings, Patrick Block (Self-Published; Kickstarter)
5. John Stanley: Giving Life to Little Lulu, Bill Schelly (Fantagraphics)

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Steve Harrick

* Afar by Leila Del Duca and Kit Seaton (Image)
* California Dreamin' by Pénélope Bagieu (First Second)
* The Great McGonagall by Roger Langridge (ZCO.MX)
* Her Bark And Her Bite by James Albon (Top Shelf)
* Star Hawks Vol. 1 by Gil Kane and Ron Goulart (IDW)

Have a great weekend.

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RJ Casey

1. Mirror Mirror 2, edited by Julia Gfrorer and Sean T. Collins (2dcloud)
2. You & a Bike & a Road, Eleanor Davis (Koyama)
3. Eartha, Cathy Malkasian (Fantagraphics)
4. The Best of Shoe, Jeff MacNelly (Titan)
5. Wordplay, Ivan Brunetti (Toon Books)

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Tom Spurgeon

1. It Don't Come Easy, Philippe Dupuy And Charles Berberian (D+Q)
2. Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four: Artist's Edition, Jack Kirby And Stan Lee (IDW)
3. Johnny Hazard Sundays Archive 1944-1946, Frank Robbins And Daniel Herman (Hermes Press)
4. What's A Paintoonist?, Jerry Moriarty (Fantagraphics)
5. My Pretty Vampire, Katie Skelly (Fantagraphics)

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Mário Filipe

1. Gouffre, edited by Alexis Beauclair, Bettina Henni, Séverine Bascouert, Sammy Stein & Jean-Philippe Breton (Lagon Revue)
2. Bruma, Amanda Baeza (Chili Com Carne)
3. The Excavation, Max Andersson (Fantagraphics)
4. Powr Mastrs: Book 4, C.F. (Fantagraphics)
5. Mirror Mirror 2, edited by Julia Gfrörer and Sean T. Collins (2dcloud)

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John Vest

1. Complete Chester Gould's Dick Tracy Volume 21, Chester Gould (IDW)
2. Border Worlds, Don Simpson (Dover)
3. Street Fighting Man: Spain Vol. 1, Spain Rodriguez (Fantagraphics)
4. Mineshaft #35, Everett Rand and Gioia Palmieri editors (Everett Rand and Gioia Palmieri)
5. Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four Artist's Edition, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee (IDW)

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Philippe Leblanc

Here's my 5 entries.

1. Sunburning, Keiler Roberts (Koyama Press)
2. Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero, Michael Deforge (Drawn & Quarterly)
3. The Ley Line issue by Shreyas R Krishnan (Czap & Grindstone)
4. Un Norvegien vers Compostelle, Jason (Delcourt)
5. Ivanhoe Bachus, Nicolas Andre (La Pasteque)

Thank you and have a wonderful weekend.

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Diana Tamblyn

* Crawl Space, Jesse Jacobs (Koyama Press)
* You & a Bike & a Road, Eleanor Davis (Koyama Press)
* Boundless, Jillian Tamaki (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Royal City, Jeff Lemire (Image)
* Bullseye, Ed Brisson And Guillermo Sanna (Marvel)

I have a real soft spot for Bullseye -- what can I say?

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thanks to all that participated

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January 14, 2017


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Vermont PBS Profiles James Kochalka


Korean SNL's Doctor Strange


Dame Darcy 4-Ever


Rafael Medoff And Craig Yoe In Brooklyn

I removed a video a couple of readers complained had nothing to do with cartooning nor directly features a comics-maker nor has obvious interest on its own terms that I'm able to express. That happens sometimes; I'm going from labeling rather than having watched the videos on about a quarter of them. My apologies for the time suck that hit anyone.
 
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Go, Look: Matt Lesniewski

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Go, Look: Bill Holman Gag Cartoons

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Go, Look: Mister Miracle Vol. 2 Splash Pages

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Nomi Kane!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Gabe Fowler!

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Happy 5th Anniversary, Study Group Comic Books!

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January 13, 2017


Go, Look: Holiday Month Covers

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Milt Gross, HG Peter, Antonio Prohias And Dori Seda To Eisner HOF; Public Nominations Have '80s Feel

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This year's class of Will Eisner Comic Awards judges has selected four comics-makers for its Hall Of Fame: Milt Gross, HG Peter, Antonio Prohias and Dori Seda. This is a break from the usual two cartoonists being named because of this being the 100th year since Will Eisner's birth. It's hard to imagine that opportunity being better spent in terms of an intriguing, compelling class.

Dori Seda I imagine is likely the big surprise for a lot of people. Seda was an autobiographical comics pioneer and may be unequaled in terms of confessional ground seized for the genre over the course of her too-brief career. She died in 1988 not having yet turned 40, and may also be remembered for a potentially unclear path to publication that briefly developed after her passing. I like all four nominees including Seda. It's surprising to me that HG Peter only goes in now, but I think Peter's potent art on Wonder Woman has never been fully appreciated.

The nominees being offered for four slots in the traditional public vote seems an equally strong group, and bodes well for the next several years of inductions. With the Hernandez Brothers and Peter Bagge up for consideration it would seem that the we're firmly in the 1980s in terms of who might be considered now.

The 17 nominees which will become four HOF entries after the public voting are:

* Peter Bagge
* Howard Cruse
* Steve Englehart
* Justin Green
* Roberta Gregory
* Bill Griffith
* Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez
* Françoise Mouly
* Jackie Ormes
* George Perez
* P. Craig Russell
* Posy Simmonds
* Walt Simonson
* Jim Starlin
* Rumiko Takahashi
* Garry Trudeau

More information available from the awards program itself here.

This year's judges are Alan Campbell, Rob Clough, Jamie Newbold, Robert Moses Peaslee, Dawn Rutherford and Martha Thomases.

The deadline for voting is March 24. The awards program is July 21, the Friday night of Comic-Con International.

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Go, Read: How I Learned To Love Being Aromantic

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

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By Tom Spurgeon

image* our best wishes to Mark Johnson, who will be stepping away from his on-line column on behalf of King Features that focused on material from their deep, rich archives. I hope someone will step up and take that on. (Link from the great Andy Mansell.)

* Robert Boyd has begun on-line serialization of Scott Gilbert's Mysterioso.

* Maggie Vicknair on Knights Errant -- Imperfect Strangers and Sakana.

* in addition to Vicknair's articles, it looks like The Beat will be doing profiles of comics available for free on-line. A solid survey series could be really useful right now for traditional comics fans of the kind that tend to lose touch with what people are reading webcomics-wise right now.

* Jen Contino talks to Steve Conley.

* finally, I will hopefully have had a "go, look" up before this column rolls out, but longtime comics-Internet presence Nick Mullins has revamped his Nijomu site to better show off comics work done on-line.
 
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Go, Look: Beyond The Tin-Foil Hat

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Go, Look: Edwin Lepper Originals

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* all thoughts with Lat and his family this morning, after the cartoonist was admitted to the hospital with health issues. Lat is 65, and one of the great cartoonists of the world. It's not as bad as all that, says a family member.

* Todd Klein on Wonder Woman #8. Paul O'Brien on Old Man Logan #14-15. Joe Gordon on Rocket Raccoon #1. Andy Oliver on The Wormgler.

* the number of places for cartoonists to participate in political dialogue have increased and should continue to do so.

* whenever Scott Dunbier makes a public request for art to be used in an Artist's Edition, I pay attention.

* finally, I don't remember if I made an official link to this Gilbert Hernandez cartoon. Beto knew what 2017 was going to be like a long time ago, by the way.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Anina Bennett!

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Happy 84th Birthday, Ron Goulart!

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January 12, 2017


Go, Look: Anne Szabla

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Hebdo Columnist Zineb el Razhoui Provides Reasons For Departure From The Magazine

This was sent to me by a few people this morning. I haven't looked at much of the Hebdo murders anniversary coverage, although I have time allotted for that this weekend.

Laurent Leger makes the most sense to me, that the magazine should have been shut down after the tributes issue. Although the magazine gets treated as a monolithic entity a lot of the time, it seems like there are definite differences in what people believe about Hebdo's role which would make it hard for that publication to survive and thrive given the tremendous add-on pressure of its legacy.

One of the things I find interesting about free-speech advocacy right now is a desire to project virtue onto the exercising of a right. My own thinking isn't exactly clear on this element, because in other cases I think we too easily abandon the virtues that certain speech may bring, and end up using the speech we have in front of us as a proxy for some sort of ideal speech that we'd like to feel is the actual speech whose existence we're defending. I couldn't tell you if those two conflicting-on-the-surface thoughts represent a log jam or an opening. It strikes me that there must be a difference between a principle in place and a slogan in use, between a core truth and virtue as capital, but many people closer to this than I am seem pretty calcified in their thinking right now and satisfied in being so.
 
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Go, Look: I Wore... The Mask Of Drothar!

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* behold the official PIX 2017 poster!

* Heidi MacDonald has a nice piece up here about a train wreck of a con in Dallas. I'm sorry for all of the people that had a terrible weekend. I am personally so far removed from that model of show that I can't wrap my brain around how a successful version of it appeals, let alone a desultory one. It makes sense that there are standards applied to every kind of show whether or not I'm quick to pick up on them, though, and that a packed marketplace will make these stricter as time passes. It is also clear through this article that there's a lot of money involved on the film and television actor/personality end of things, which kind of works against the idea that these are low-threshold participation businesses.

* this sounds awful, although I'm sympathetic to the problems of keeping shows profitable and how you use free, volunteered labor given comics' horrendous history with exploitation.

* another good piece from Heidi assembling statements from con officials that have massive volunteer staffs, are for-profit, and have gone so far as to set up paid clubs or bring in non-profits as partners in not paying those staffers. I run a show now, and I get that people love to volunteer and the inducements are usually more than worth it, but with comics' history of exploitation we should be running the other direction to do everything to try and get everyone money, especially if you're set up to profit.

* Spectrum has its call for entries up.

* finally, I'm continuing to work on this year's event calendars... I've added the Calgary and Salt Lake events among others forthcoming.
 
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Go, Look: Hah! Noon!

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Go, Look: Adventure Comics #73

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Andrew Wales!

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Happy 49th Birthday, John Jackson Miller!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Joe Quesada!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Damian Duffy!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Takehiko Inoue!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Hans Rickheit!

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January 11, 2017


Gil Roth Is 46 Today; His Excellent Podcasts At Virtual Memories Are Only A Few Years Old

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The literary and culture podcaster Gil Roth, 46 today, talks to a lot of cartoonists and comics-makers as part of his recording mission. Those interviews are really well done, and I bet there's at least one or two that would interest you in this long list of comics podcasts to date. Thanks, Gil, and everyone else have fun digging in!

(that is the equally lovely Dylan Horrocks on the left above; Dylan and Gil are set up at CXC 2015, in Columbus' cool-ass Cultural Arts Center, a building we are between using but that we hope we might use again someday)
 
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Go, Look: Matteo Berton

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Go, Read: Profile Of Mike Marland

Here. Note the loss of an editorial cartooning position. Such is the way of things over the last decade-plus now. My dad was a little over the top about these things, but he used to say a local cartoonist was the best thing a newspaper could have next to timely high school sports scores.
 
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Go, Look: A Temple In Time

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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.

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NOV161206 LIBBYS DAD GN (MR) $8.00
There's not a lot hitting comics stores this week, so I'll pull this Eleanor Davis comic away from the comic-book format book where it might go given Wednesday where more books of interest dropped. This is literally the last comic I have on my pile of 2016 comics to read (I feel it was widely enough available to be a 2016 book), which means that year was bookended, basically by two Davis efforts, this one and last winter's issue of Frontier. That's a sign we're very lucky to have another cartoonist that good that basically prolific.

imageMAY160697 PROPHET TP VOL 05 EARTH WAR (MR) $17.99
I would assume this is the last of the trades of the Brandon Graham-supervised Prophet stuff, which overall was a good time in the funnybook pages. If it's not, I apologize. There were a lot of comics, and that should make a pretty nice little section on smart fans of genre material.

AUG160032 GROO FRAY OF THE GODS #4 $3.99
NOV160042 LOBSTER JOHNSON GARDEN OF BONES ONE SHOT $3.99
NOV160623 GREEN VALLEY #4 (OF 9) $2.99
OCT160616 INVISIBLE REPUBLIC #14 (MR) $3.99
NOV160627 MOONSHINE #4 CVR A RISSO (MR) $2.99
OCT160626 OUTCAST BY KIRKMAN & AZACETA #24 (MR) $2.99
OCT160639 SOUTHERN BASTARDS #16 CVR A LATOUR (MR) $3.50
Hey, it's comics! Lots of comics. I will buy a Groo. comic every time one is presented to me: Sergio Aragones is a master of the art form. There's a Mignola. Green Valley is the latest acerbic fantasy comic of the moment. I have a feeling those nine issues will read like three. Invisible Republic and Moonshine are series with lovely looking art. Outcast is up to issue #24, which took me by surprise. Southern Bastards is up to #16, and is the Preacher of our times. I've liked that series much more after its initial arc.

OCT160265 DARK KNIGHT III MASTER RACE #7 (OF 8) COLLECTORS ED (RES) $12.99
I had no idea this was still being published and have no idea what a collectors' edition is except just a fancy comic book they can sell for $13 because some comic book fans are a little obsessive about this stuff. I haven't heard a lick about this series since the first issue, which makes me think it's both not good enough to call attention to itself and not bad enough to make the average reader laugh.

NOV161721 SMURFS GN VOL 22 SMURF MENACE $7.99
NOV161722 SMURFS HC VOL 22 SMURF MENACE $12.99
I've lost track of the Smurfs reprint volumes and don't know enough about the series to tell you what's being published just as a glance. Very fun series when it was going full-bore, though.

NOV160997 OCTAVIA BUTLER KINDRED GN $24.95
Octavia Butler's career-making work has to be like three decades or more old now; I remember I was in elementary school when it came out. A graphic novel version would seem both a creative opportunity and a chance to pay tribute to the category-spanning novel. It was very affecting for a slightly older version of me in the early 1980s.

OCT161560 EC ELDER FELDSTEIN BRADBURY MILLION YEAR PICNIC HC $29.99
This would be Elder, mostly, and likely as much "serious" material as the humor work for which the great artist was best known. I like these volumes of author-by-author EC work a lot because it makes me focus on the authors as they come to me. With the anthology publications I skip around to favorites. Elder wasn't anyone I ever skipped, but a number of the serious works back to back might lead me to a different interpretation than I already have in my noggin.

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

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

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

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

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Go, Listen: Brian Heater Talks To Al Jaffee

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congrats to Heater on a 200th episode
 
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Go, Read: Interview With Political Cartoonist Ako Eyong

Eyong is a political cartoonist who fled persecution in his native country of Cameroon. If you get to the end of the piece, it sounds like the artist's American experience has been just a tumultuous and fascinating as the career he built for himself in his home country. What strikes me, again, hearing his work described, is how mildly strident the work seems and how strongly political forces objected to it as if it were wildly radical. I know that most people believe at the heart of these disputes is a group of people grasping for power, but examining the work seems to me to really confirm that element of it in most known cases.
 
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Go, Look: Mystery Town

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Go, Look: Portland

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* I don't necessarily agree with all of the values staked out in this article, but I agree that all of us that make money from writing or art related to comics or from comics themselves should be more honest about what we make when asked. I really think in about 73 percent of cases it's still pride that keeps us quiet. It would help me to know why you're asking so I can direct my answer. I also understand not wanting that information in print because there's another party involved.

* Maus via roundtable.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco on "Night Of The Monster Men." John Seven on Lake Jehovah. Rob Clough on comics from Leela Corman and Anya Davidson. Todd Klein on Green Lanterns #5.

* festivals extra: it's like 50-51 days until Emerald City Comicon. and the winter break period between major shows seems shorter all of the time. I'm sure it's the constant noise and approximation of physical proximity that social media brings, but that doesn't make it any less restful. In my ideal world there are no shows in the bulk of December, January and February, light shows in late May into June. One show in July, one show or no shows in August, and a light month in November. That's just me, though. I'd love a bunch of author tours in the light months.

* on becoming a comics writer.

* finally, here's how to turn some of that comic art into sweet, sweet, money-making gallery work.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Bob Harras!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Clint Hollingsworth!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Neil Cohn!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Sam Kieth!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Terry Beatty!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Lucy Knisley!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Gil Roth!

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January 10, 2017


Go, Look: Gregory Benton

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turns out I've never linked to Greg before straight-up like this
 
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Your SPACE 2016 Awards Finalists

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SPACE, one of the grand old persons of the alt-comics festival awards circuit, has released its 2016 finalists lists, as well as the lists that make up the finalists lists. As I recall, basically the festival-goers from a given year submit comics to graphic novel, general and short-story/mini categories, there's a finalists list about now, and you have the winners named at the next year's show. So these will be given out in late March.

A bunch of material on multiple pages for reading if you so desire: the general announcement, the fundraiser for the show and its awards more generally, and then the finalists: graphic novel, general, short-story/mini. You can look at the full list from links provided on the general announcement page.

The finalists are:

Graphic Novel
* Amiculus Volume Two: Flagellum Dei, Travis Horseman And Giancarlo Caracuzzo, Amiculus Books, $15. (image pictured above)
* Binary Gray Vol. 2, Chris Charlton and Rowel Rogue, Assailant Comics, $22.99.
* Love & Monsters, Cynthia Lee (Editor) $27.
* Persia Blues Volume Two: Love & War, Dara Naraghi And Brent Bowman, NBM, $15.
* Vision Quest, Josh White, $18.

General
* Prizefighter, MS Harkness, $10.
* R-Complex, Michael Fehskens, $12.
* Ruffians #10-11, Brian Canini, Drunken Cat Comics, $2.99.
* Vagabond Comics #1-2, Amalia DeGirolamo And Sequoia Bostick (Editors), Vagabond Comic Collective, $12.
* Vorpal, Jason Tudor And Keith Houin, Headshrinker's Press, $7.
* Woodstalk #6, Bruce Worden, $5.

Short-Story/Mini
* After We Shot the Grizzly, Jason Young, Buyer Beware Comics, $3.
* Ant and the Zombie Spiders Parts 1-2, Harrison Warden, $1.
* Ask Bud!, Pam Bliss, $2.
* Day of the Brontosaurus, Pam Bliss, $2.
* Dive, Sean Dempsey, $3.
* Dutchy Digest 10, Steven Hager And Bruce Rosenberger, Dutchy Digest, $2.
* Far Tune, Brent Bowman And Terry Eisele, $3.
* Genius Junkies, Nate McDonough And Brian John Mitchell, Silber Mini-Comics, $2.
* Glenn Reaper from Headshrinker's Press Presents #3, Landon Faulkner And Rowel Rogue, $7.
* People of Pachamama from Landslide Roots, Nichi Hawkins And AC Rillo, Headshrinkers Press, $7.
* Sammy Spiffy: Super Robot and Calculator Chicken: Mothman Mystery, Lee Smith, Ohio Comics, $5.
* Satan Cat #1, Steve Steiner, Mullet Turtle Comics, $3.50.
* Sinaloa Cowboys, Robert Hendricks, $5.
* Starcatcher's Quest, Allthea Seilhan, $5.
* Soulcial Anxiety, Cailey Tervo, $10.
* Teen Girl Killed, Lauren McCallister, $6.

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SPACE will be held March 25-27 at Northland Performance Arts Center in Columbus, Ohio. I'll be there.

*****
*****
 
posted 1:29 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Mooncup Made Of Bakelite

image
 
posted 1:28 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Festivals Extra: Slate Cartoonist Prize Accepting Submissions; Karen Green This Year's Guest Judge

imageThe headline has pretty much all you need to know; you can get that submission information and a little background on Green in the article.

I'm fond of the Slate prize for a few reasons. One is that it involves cash, and in doing so five years ago sparked a bit of a mini-trend in comics prizes doing just that. The other is that they tend to be a good mix: they were early on Noelle Stevenson, I think, and were certainly first in recognizing the titanic achievement of Carol Tyler's Soldier's Heart book. They're not forward-thinking for the sake of forward-thinking, though.
 
posted 1:27 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Conan In Black And White

image
 
posted 1:26 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

image

By Tom Spurgeon

* Gabrielle Bell has announced her Spring 2017 book, Everything Is Flammable, with a cover image.

image* the artist Greg Capullo announced via Twitter that he's signed a new contract with DC Comics. His last run with them, either mostly or entirely on comics written by Scott Snyder, was very fruitful, and I have to imagine they're happy to have him back on board. No idea what they plan to put him on, but I would imagine a reunion with Snyder is likely.

* Joey Weiser and Ghost Hog to Oni.

* this is the full list for participating writer and artists in the Kamandi Challenge comic that DC is doing, where all-star teams of creators rotate on 12 issues of the title and try to throw the next creative team with a unique cliffhanger. I'm glad for any recognition of Jack Kirby. It's a sturdy group of talented creators, but not a lot of thrilling choices unless you're very much all in on the creative direction of the last several years of DC Comics.

* finally, Corey Lewis' one-cartoonist Sun Bakery anthology is going to Image, with existing issues to be reprinted. I've only read the fourth self-published issue, but Image would seem to be a good home for the title.

image
 
posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Dueling Romance Stories

image
 
posted 1:24 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Tegan O'Neil's Review Of Marvel's Civil War 2 Comics

imageHere. It's the top feature in a mini-roundtable of interviews. There are a few brutal sentences in there from Tegan O'Neil, just door-shutting word bombs: "A few strong new concepts are hopelessly adrift in a sea of 55- and 75-year-olds acting out the motions of their attenuated senescence" is one of them.

The reason I'm pulling this out is that the review encapsulates what I feel as an occasional Marvel Comics watcher, that that group of titles is really adrift right now -- in the broad creative sense -- in a way that setes the sales landscape for the near-future. I'm not an expert on these kinds of comics, but the last urgency I detected was reading the Jonathan Hickman-directed cosmic superhero armageddon comics, and even then maybe just the ones that used the end-of-everything as a scary, oncoming train rather than actually showed you the train punching through a series of traffic stops. Bringing the Inhumans to the foreground sounded like a power move, and now it looks like a broad mis-step. Marvel's best comics feel like small-scale rejections of successful formula without any sort of reinvigoration in accompaniment. Their flagship action-adventure titles feel less like an ER or Hill Street Blues or a Law & Order than one of those drama programs with "Chicago" in the title.

I assume the solution is finding that next round of good comics and that bringing talented creators into the fold gets you there. They still seem to be doing that. It just feels pretty disengaged right this moment, and I have to assume that makes a difference on retail culture.
 
posted 1:23 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Boss-Looking Frank Robbins Invaders Splash Pages

image
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Chad Grothkopf's Alice In Wonderland

image
 
posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* the Process Party podcast has their 2016 year-in-review episode and their 2017 looking-forward episode up.

* I can't stop watching this video of an SUV plowing through a comics and gaming store.

* well... yeah.

* it's only the second week in January, and this may be my favorite subject-posting series ever done by Bully.

* twenty-plus years in, people being mean on the Internet, deserved or not, retains a significant element of humor. (It tends to go sour when it gets personal or cruel.)

* Scott Mills makes with the ghosts.

* finally, here's a nice review of the current Death Row cartoons exhibit up at the Billy Ireland. I think they've done a great job in that new facility of providing a range of shows in the galleries. This one isn't 100 percent about prisoner art, but it does feature such art in significant fashion.
 
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 95th Birthday, Bob Lubbers!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 40th Birthday, Rob Jackson!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
January 9, 2017


Go, Look: Woe Is Me!

image
 
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* Steve Ditko is such an admirable figure for continuing to make comics his way. I feel 47 percent better every time I see a kickstarter from him slip over its initial ask.

* Christy Blanch I believe owns and she certainly runs my hometown comics shop (I can recommend the Olive Burger at Savage's Ale House, next door). She notes in her latest column that there's a lot of fear and discouragement in her corner of the retailing world about the state of retail 2017, the fundamental ability of stores to remain open for the calendar year ahead. She encourages you to visit your local store, buy things from them, and don't abuse them with orders you never pick up. I concur. I'm going to be a weekly comics shopper this winter for sure.

* speaking of shops, Perry Plush's gofundme on behalf of his Pacific NW iconic retail establishment Zanadu has only reached about 1/6 of its goal a month since it launched. If you're a Seattle person that has benefited from that shop I hope you'll contribute something. If you're in a financial position to do more, it might be a time to reach out.

* as I know nothing about any comics that exist between Toronto and Vancouver, this 'zine offering caught my eye.

* Ben Dunn continues to make solid use of his back catalog and crowd-funding's reach to core fans.

* finally, it's nice to see the Universal Fan Con fully funded. I hope they do well.
 
posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Listen: Simon Hanselmann On Process Party

image
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Schweizercraft Santas

image
these paper mantel-decorations were the nicest thing waiting for me when I got home from holiday travel
 
posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* figures it would be Drew Friedman that would finally nail a caricature of the notoriously difficult-to-draw Gary Groth.

* this looks like it would be fun. Laura Park is a heck of a talent.

* it's always problematic to recommend an entire story one can be certain is not owned by the person presenting it, but as these are original pages, that's another way to access this material that's a little more fair-use.

* there's an interesting discussion beginning here about the usefulness of working with a publisher over time with a work. I think there's a lot more room than there used to be for cartoonists to be the primary sellers of a book from about three months to twenty-four months after publication. I still think that means there's plenty for publishers to do.

* finally: this material shows up on-line a lot, and it's awfully pretty.
 
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 65th Birthday, Frank Margerin!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 49th Birthday, Sean Azzopardi!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 27th Birthday, Minna Sundberg!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, Booksteve!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, Art Baxter!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
January 8, 2017


Go, Join: The Mini-Comics Club

image
brisbane is the new brooklyn
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Hey, Look At Birdcage Bottom Books All Fancy With Their Web Site Revamped

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posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Farlaine The Goblin

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posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Mar Julia

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Ashley M. Almeida-Souza

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 76th Birthday, Boris Vallejo!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 62nd Birthday, Ken Steacy!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 57th Birthday, Domingos Isabelinho!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
January 7, 2017


Go, Look: Dragoom!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Writer Gerard Jones Arrested On Suspicion Of Child Pornography

imageThis apparently broke Thursday, one week after the December 29 arrest. At issue are the ownership of images said to involved children performing sexual acts and uploading some of those images on YouTube: possession and distribution. The San Francisco district attorney's office issued the warrant for the search that led to the arrest.

The 59-year-old Jones is probably best known for his comic book history Men Of Tomorrow, which won an Eisner Award in 2005 and considerable praise for its linking of early comic book publishing to organized crime. Jones was at one point a prolific writer of comics for clients on a range of titles from Marvel to DC to Dark Horse to Malibu. His best-known work during this period was probably his own (with writing partner Will Jacobs and various artists) The Trouble With Girls, a spy satire that enjoyed multiple publishers in the mid-1980s including Comico and Epic.

Jones has entered a plea of not guilty through lawyer Seth Chazin; the regional newspaper coverage has him denying all allegations.

Jones made a brief, public statement on Facebook this morning.
 
posted 1:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Allie Kleber

image
 
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CBLDF Receives A Bit Of Public Blowback For Signing Recent Right To Publish Statement Re: S&S

Their release about signing on is here. I certainly didn't catch it but Rich Johnston did and published an article here.

You can detect the nature of protest by searching "CBLDF" on Twitter. It's hard to tell if that's just people reacting or if that's a sign that there could be a potential deep shove-away. It's hard for me to imagine this snowballing into a boycott of the Fund or CBLDF events like the San Diego Con fundraiser or SPX, but I've been super-wrong about judging this kind of thing in the past.

I think it's a dopey statement, and the fact that it might be defended through 1000 "it doesn't really say that" maneuvers makes it a less-compelling sign-on. I think principled boycotts are a valuable tool of free speech. Simon and Schuster has a right to publish whatever they want to publish and that's a great virtue of our system; people have the right to push Simon and Schuster away and I think that's also a virtue of our system. I support principled boycotts even when they're of me.

I further suspect the work in question is far more of a political operation that resembles free speech as opposed to free speech itself, and I personally think that's important in ascribing potential compensating virtues. That's a personal belief, though, that I know a lot of people don't share. In this case, it's more of a prescriptive to how we talk about these things as opposed to whether or not we publish and/or boycott. I mention it here as I don't think this case calls for the CBLDF to weigh in except on the principles, which I disagree are at risk.

(PS -- Just a reminder that all speech directed to me is considered for-publication unless we work out agreement to the contrary before that discussion begins.)
 
posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Almondette

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Michael Rapa

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 72nd Birthday, Jay Lynch!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 64th Birthday, Bob Wiacek!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, Karl Kesel!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 64th Birthday, Kevin Dooley!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 53rd Birthday, Aaron Lopresti!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
January 6, 2017


Go, Look: Did You Notice?

image
 
posted 1:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Assembled Extra: Marvel Tips Digital Strategy Towards Free Comics Related But Not Same As Paper Ones

Rob Salkowitz describes here.

imageIt looks like the new strategy will be to provide contextual comics or possible expanded-buys to the paper comic consumer as opposed to enhancing value by offering same-comic digital copies. I suppose at issue is a strategy where you might get something you didn't necessarily want versus a strategy where you might get something you wanted but maybe not twice.

Digital is an ongoing thing for these companies that wish as a part of their overall strategy to protect the very lucrative paper market through specialty stores. Marvel wants to maximize profit across the board either every or just about every quarter and it seems like their desire to tweak their system of digital so that it helps this happen is a long way from being a settled practice.

The announcement -- the program begins next month -- comes at a time when the company is facing some fan pushback in terms of their editorial strategies featuring perpetual line-wide revamping and event series that don't always capture the imagination of fans. Me, I'm old, and not in any way the target audience, but I'm confused by what to buy and how on those half-dozen times a year I go into a store hoping to catch up on Marvel.
 
posted 1:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Wren McDonald

image
 
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The CR Year-End Business Post, Week Two

image

* here are a few thoughts concerning on-site business for the beginning of the year, to be repeated until the site slips back into normal service.

* if you're not in contact with this site, or if you are but still mostly count on getting out the word via social media as to what you're up to, I hope you'll consider adding whenever you have something you want to share. I'm reducing my exposure to social media for my mental health and to be more efficient at my job. I hope to hear from you. I promise in return to be more professionally reliable in terms of answering missives and overtures I receive through that account.

* we should have a few more holiday interviews this week after five fun ones last week. We hope this is the last year we short you on quality holiday-period interviews. It's a different world now. There's a lot more news and news-churn during this period than 20 years ago, when Marvel firing people was the only holiday-period news. I appreciate your kindness here.

* further apologies are due in that I'm returning to a lot of interview subjects that one-by-one I failed to get up on the site in 2016, and it looks like I was particularly bad in terms of opting out of completing interviews with white people and dudes. The overall selection thus does not meet general standards as to inclusion and the range of work this site desires to cover over the long-term. That's on me; I apologize. I hope the site itself better seizes on the opportunity of representing the entirety of comics in every way throughout 2017, including a much free-wheeling 2017 holiday series. I appreciate and deserve the criticism.

* comics-makers!

* I hope you'll consider writing a physical letter to a comics-industry person or comics-creative that you admire. This year's loss of great swathes of cartooning talent tells us that all time is short. If you need help finding an address, drop me a line.

* finally, my best wishes to you and yours as we start a new year together. I'm hopeful. Not sure why, but let's go with it.
 
posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Coin-Op Books

image
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Hannah Gaucher

image
 
posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* congratulations to that great friend of comics, Carlton Hargro, on his new gig at Creative Loafing Atlanta. Beer mugs at The Chug raised high.

image* Sean Gaffney on Cells At Work! Vol. 1. Scott Cederlund on Archie Vol. 2.

* that is indeed a very good comic.

* I've always been tired that Bully would do this joke post before I could come up with an Affordable Floors joke, and lo that day has come.

* Angela Boyle profiles AK Summers.

* I did not know this exists and I would like to watch it.

* finally, Hulk bore. I like the original Hulk concept but that's about it with that character. All the psychological layering, all the variations, even the gun years... I just don't have much of an appetite for them.
 
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 31st Birthday, Keren Katz!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
January 5, 2017


Go, Look: Jordan Jeffries

image
 
posted 1:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
By Request Extra: Steve Bissette Marshaling Help For Loren Coleman

In order to do something positive in the midst of inveighing against policymakers that have paid insurance and are unwilling to provide assistance to those who are not provided with same, the artist and advocate Steve Bissette is driving attention to a crowd-funding campaign on behalf of Loren Coleman.

Bissette used Coleman's research on Swamp Thing and other projects. As far as I can tell, there is art still involved with the fundraising; all of Bissette's art is really fun to look at, so I hope you'll look into this. I am just going to give straight-up.

In general, please send word of any campaigns -- heck, any news -- you'd like to see covered to I will not necessarily see something just because it's on your Facebook feed, your twitter feed or even your blog scroll. I know that was the promise of social media, to get the word out completely and fully, but that was a lie. In return, I will endeavor to engage with every e-mail that comes in.
 
posted 1:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Boxplot

image
 
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The CR Year-End Business Post, Week Two

image

* here are a few thoughts concerning on-site business for the beginning of the year, to be repeated until the site slips back into normal service.

* if you're not in contact with this site, or if you are but still mostly count on getting out the word via social media as to what you're up to, I hope you'll consider adding whenever you have something you want to share. I'm reducing my exposure to social media for my mental health and to be more efficient at my job. I hope to hear from you. I promise in return to be more professionally reliable in terms of answering missives and overtures I receive through that account.

* we should have a few more holiday interviews this week after five fun ones last week. We hope this is the last year we short you on quality holiday-period interviews. It's a different world now. There's a lot more news and news-churn during this period than 20 years ago, when Marvel firing people was the only holiday-period news. I appreciate your kindness here.

* further apologies are due in that I'm returning to a lot of interview subjects that one-by-one I failed to get up on the site in 2016, and it looks like I was particularly bad in terms of opting out of completing interviews with white people and dudes. The overall selection thus does not meet general standards as to inclusion and the range of work this site desires to cover over the long-term. That's on me; I apologize. I hope the site itself better seizes on the opportunity of representing the entirety of comics in every way throughout 2017, including a much free-wheeling 2017 holiday series. I appreciate and deserve the criticism.

* comics-makers!

* I hope you'll consider writing a physical letter to a comics-industry person or comics-creative that you admire. This year's loss of great swathes of cartooning talent tells us that all time is short. If you need help finding an address, drop me a line.

* finally, my best wishes to you and yours as we start a new year together. I'm hopeful. Not sure why, but let's go with it.
 
posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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image
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Alyssa Maynard

image
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Holly Foltz

image
 
posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* John Seven on In Fox's Forest. John Seven on Birthmark. Johanna Draper Carlson on Awkward. Jerry Smith on various comics.

* Tyler Chin-Tanner talks to John Arcudi.

* I agree with most of the complaints registered here. CR is as bad as any of them right now, although I'm still fond of me and if you are, too, god bless you. We could all do way better and I expect in 2017 we will. I think structurally a lot of our hands are tied, but we've all been at this long enough to chew through the ropes if we really wanted to.

* you likely caught word yesterday about Eisner submissions being open.

* I always get nervous when giant corporations make claim to their material in a way that stifles fan efforts, but I've never been all that sure that elaborate video/film/etc. versions of something already in that form can ever truly qualify as an example of fair use.

* finally, the second Angel Catbird book is previewed.
 
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 76th Birthday, Hayao Miyazaki!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 41st Birthday, Alexis E. Fajardo!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 50th Birthday, Eric Haven!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
January 4, 2017


Go, Look: TCJ Contributors Pick Top Comics Of 2016

image
 
posted 12:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Eisner Awards Sends Out Call For Submissions

Here. It's not impossible to get an awards nomination from the judges if you don't send something in, but they'll have to have heard of you and find your work worth advocating on its behalf without being reminded who you are and what that is. That strikes me as tough, and unnecessary if you want a nomination. Submit!
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: My Dream Comic

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posted 1:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
By Request Extra: John Wilcock Could Use Help

image

Explained here. Wilcock created a large part of the infrastructure on which the mighty, multi-wheeled engines of counter-culture rolled.

Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall have been doing a comics biography of him.
 
posted 1:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Shiprock & Anchordog

image
 
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The CR Year-End Business Post, Week Two

image

* here are a few thoughts concerning on-site business for the beginning of the year, to be repeated until the site slips back into normal service.

* if you're not in contact with this site, or if you are but still mostly count on getting out the word via social media as to what you're up to, I hope you'll consider adding whenever you have something you want to share. I'm reducing my exposure to social media for my mental health and to be more efficient at my job. I hope to hear from you. I promise in return to be more professionally reliable in terms of answering missives and overtures I receive through that account.

* we should have a few more holiday interviews this week after five fun ones last week. We hope this is the last year we short you on quality holiday-period interviews. It's a different world now. There's a lot more news and news-churn during this period than 20 years ago, when Marvel firing people was the only holiday-period news. I appreciate your kindness here.

* further apologies are due in that I'm returning to a lot of interview subjects that one-by-one I failed to get up on the site in 2016, and it looks like I was particularly bad in terms of opting out of completing interviews with white people and dudes. The overall selection thus does not meet general standards as to inclusion and the range of work this site desires to cover over the long-term. That's on me; I apologize. I hope the site itself better seizes on the opportunity of representing the entirety of comics in every way throughout 2017, including a much free-wheeling 2017 holiday series. I appreciate and deserve the criticism.

* comics-makers!

* I hope you'll consider writing a physical letter to a comics-industry person or comics-creative that you admire. This year's loss of great swathes of cartooning talent tells us that all time is short. If you need help finding an address, drop me a line.

* finally, my best wishes to you and yours as we start a new year together. I'm hopeful. Not sure why, but let's go with it.
 
posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Geoffrey Hewer-Candee

image
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Megan Rose Gedris

image
 
posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image * J. Caleb Mozzocco on Superman And The Justice League Of America Vol. 2. Rob Clough on a handful of CCS students and/or alumni. Johanna Draper Carlson on Nightlights. Todd Klein on Wonder Woman #8.

* Jason remembers the late Carrie Fisher.

* bundled extra: I don't think I passed along this announcement of Old Souls.

* OTBP: Conditions On The Ground.

* this might be my favorite Jessica Campbell cartoon yet, and I am collecting them all.

* Ben Towle selects a few personal favorites from 2015.

* checking in on Kevin Huizenga.

* I hope things get better for Roger Langridge in the new year! Roger is one of those special cartoonists on whose relative success and failure we will all be judged.

* finally, Xan Rice profiles -- at length -- the great Ralph Steadman.
 
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 53rd Birthday, JP Trostle!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 47th Birthday, Douglas Wolk!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 33rd Birthday, Andy Warner!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
January 3, 2017


It's January 3 And Here's The First Excellent Book Of 2017

image
we didn't have to wait very long, did we?
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Listen: Michael Tisserand At Virtual Memories

image
 
posted 1:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Rx Comics In Vancouver Announces Physical Store Closure

Here. They'll retain an on-line presence and exhibit at shows. Robin McConnell assures me this is a big blow to the Vancouver comics community, especially the alt-/art- leaning denizens.

All comic shops are important because of the culture and context they provide the act of reading comics, and because of the regular commerce they encourage. A lot of what I've heard anecdotally over the years, including information gleaned from the relative purge of stores in the Phoenix area over a decade, suggests that a lot of buyers that lose their comics shop simply stop buying.

In addition, there are fewer outlets that carry alt-/art- comics at all (I'm guessing without knowing that Rx did some of that), which makes every loss more keenly felt. There are also fewer incentives for those comics to be carried long-term via a national on-line delivery system, although digital versions should be a regular thing with comiXology. All of this I think is driving us towards a future where comics has to more fully encompass a range of purely commercial and advocacy/supportive options for the art form to thrive as it has over the last 15 years if not grow more potent. That's a tough road.
 
posted 1:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Alissa Harris

image
 
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The CR Year-End Business Post, Week Two

image

* here are a few thoughts concerning on-site business for the beginning of the year, to be repeated until the site slips back into normal service.

* if you're not in contact with this site, or if you are but still mostly count on getting out the word via social media as to what you're up to, I hope you'll consider adding whenever you have something you want to share. I'm reducing my exposure to social media for my mental health and to be more efficient at my job. I hope to hear from you. I promise in return to be more professionally reliable in terms of answering missives and overtures I receive through that account.
* we should have a few more holiday interviews this week after five fun ones last week. We hope this is the last year we short you on quality holiday-period interviews. It's a different world now. There's a lot more news and news-churn during this period than 20 years ago, when Marvel firing people was the only holiday-period news. I appreciate your kindness here.

* further apologies are due in that I'm returning to a lot of interview subjects that one-by-one I failed to get up on the site in 2016, and it looks like I was particularly bad in terms of opting out of completing interviews with white people and dudes. The overall selection thus does not meet general standards as to inclusion and the range of work this site desires to cover over the long-term. That's on me; I apologize. I hope the site itself better seizes on the opportunity of representing the entirety of comics in every way throughout 2017, including a much free-wheeling 2017 holiday series. I appreciate and deserve the criticism.

* comics-makers!

* I hope you'll consider writing a physical letter to a comics-industry person or comics-creative that you admire. This year's loss of great swathes of cartooning talent tells us that all time is short. If you need help finding an address, drop me a line.

* finally, my best wishes to you and yours as we start a new year together. I'm hopeful. Not sure why, but let's go with it.
 
posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Amanda Clarke

image
 
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Hailey Thurrott

image
 
posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Joe Gordon on The Electric Sublime #1. Rob Clough on the comics of Melissa Mendes. Henry Chamberlain on Dead Inside #1. James Kaplan on 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank #3.

* this post about Mell Lazarus writing a joke in advance of his death for publication after he passed away is pretty funny. A Mensa member and advocate, Lazarus was always a smart one.

* some nice person whose name I can't find talks to Josh Neufeld. Alex Dueben talks to Tom Gauld. Sean Kleefeld profiles Chip Sansom. Casey Gilly profiles/talks to the talented members of Team Supergirl.

* not comics: there's probably a line of analysis that could springboard from here about the likelihood of the younger generation engaging with comic shops, but mostly the institutional millennial hate continues to be weird and sort of funny.

* finally, MIchael Cavna looks at the treatment of Aleppo by editorial cartoonists given movement on that story in the last few days of 2016.
 
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Happy 66th Birthday, RL Crabb!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Richard Bruton!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Hellen Jo!

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January 2, 2017


Go, Look: Nick Mullins Revamps Nijomu Site

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By Request Extra: Please Consider Sending Tim O'Shea A Card

You can direct message Declan Shalvey on twitter -- @declanshalvey -- to get the current address of Tim O'Shea, the well-known and well-liked writer about comics who is now in hospice.

Please consider joining me in sending a supportive word or two Tim's way.
 
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Go, Look: Test Of Loyalty

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Go, Look: E Jackson

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The CR Year-End Business Post, Week Two

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* here are a few thoughts concerning on-site business for the beginning of the year, to be repeated until the site slips back into normal service.

* if you're not in contact with this site, or if you are but still mostly count on getting out the word via social media as to what you're up to, I hope you'll consider adding whenever you have something you want to share. I'm reducing my exposure to social media for my mental health and to be more efficient at my job. I hope to hear from you. I promise in return to be more professionally reliable in terms of answering missives and overtures I receive through that account.

* we should have a few more holiday interviews this week after five fun ones last week. We hope this is the last year we short you on quality holiday-period interviews. It's a different world now. There's a lot more news and news-churn during this period than 20 years ago, when Marvel firing people was the only holiday-period news. I appreciate your kindness here.

* further apologies are due in that I'm returning to a lot of interview subjects that one-by-one I failed to get up on the site in 2016, and it looks like I was particularly bad in terms of opting out of completing interviews with white people and dudes. The overall selection thus does not meet general standards as to inclusion and the range of work this site desires to cover over the long-term. That's on me; I apologize. I hope the site itself better seizes on the opportunity of representing the entirety of comics in every way throughout 2017, including a much free-wheeling 2017 holiday series. I appreciate and deserve the criticism.

* comics-makers!

* I hope you'll consider writing a physical letter to a comics-industry person or comics-creative that you admire. This year's loss of great swathes of cartooning talent tells us that all time is short. If you need help finding an address, drop me a line.

* finally, my best wishes to you and yours as we start a new year together. I'm hopeful. Not sure why, but let's go with it.
 
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Go, Look: JR Zuckerberg

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Raymond Burki, RIP

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Go, Look: Julia Alekseyeva

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Roger Leiner, RIP

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Go, Look: Matt Emmons

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Go, Look: Anastasia Ricoy

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the great thing about this new comics reviewer is that he can write the review himself or get a younger writer about comics to do it but you still sort of know it's supposed to be him.

image* Joe Gordon on Star Trek: Boldly Go #1. Rob Clough on the comics of Romey Petite. Philippe Leblanc on some Pow Pow comics and I Thought YOU Hated ME.

* not comics: my favorite scene in Fellowship Of The Ring is when Frodo is at Rivendell and sits down with a bunch of YouTube videos on how to destroy the One Ring and then volunteers for the job. "I'm good, yeah. It's pretty straight-forward."

* Kieran Shiach talks to Jon Rivera.

* Heidi MacDonald notes that Geoff Johns hinted in a PR thing that he could be writing more comics starring characters from Watchmen. I thought that was sort of depressing and sad when they did it in Before Watchmen and sort of depressing and sad when they did it in that Rebirth comic. I suppose the last two steps are 1) it becomes darkly humorous in a way and then 2) no one gives a shit about it at all. We might skip #1 there. The lesson remains that even if you mean as much to a big media company as Alan Moore meant in the late 1980s, they will eventually feel perfectly happy making a couple of bucks with derivative exploitation of the property involved. Sausage: made.

* finally, Gary Tyrrell writes about Chris Onstad's announcement that Achewood is ending -- at least for now, but with a possibility of forever. I think that's a happy story, although I know some will disagree.
 
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Happy 61st Birthday, Lynda Barry!

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Happy 82nd Birthday, David McKee!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Marc Sobel!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Ethan Young!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Naoki Urasawa!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Andy Burns!

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January 1, 2017


Go, Download: Francois Vigneault's 2017 Calendar

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Go, Read: Tony Isabella's Comics Industry Resolutions

Here. Tony Isabella is a longtime mainstream comics industry veteran and a vigorous advocate for causes important to him and others during the on-line option-making age.
 
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Go, Ponder: Just A Sampling Of The Great Comics-Makers Lost To Us In 2016

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this is my first ten from memory; I'm sure a list of 25-30 is easily achievable; RIP all you glorious souls and thank you
 
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Go, Look: Raúl The Third

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The Comics Reporter End Of The Year Business Post

* here are a few thoughts concerning on-site business for the end of the year/beginning of the next, to be repeated until the site slips back into normal service.

image* one thing I suggest every holiday season is that those of you inclined to have a little bit of downtime, and those of you who may put together a list of things to do in the next calendar year, consider adding "write a letter to a comics person you admire and tell them why you do so" to the things you might some spend time doing in the days or months ahead. Putting something down on paper, finding an address (most publishers will forward mail to freelance talent; I'll help if I can), and getting that out the door is fun: I've been doing it a couple of times a year for several years now (Marie was first!) and it's usually the best part of the week. I've been told directly it can mean the world to someone getting a letter. I hope you'll consider it.

* this post should come "below" a Holiday Interview on the scroll of the site. I hope there will be somewhere between eight to twelve interviews total. This is far below the glory years where we could do 20-28, but those are muscles slowly built. Since I'm focusing on people I screwed out of interviews earlier in the year, the series won't meet my own standards applicable to an assembled group. I seemed to screw over more men than women, for example. I hope you'll forgive me. My deepest thanks to all the interview subjects.

* an aspect of the site on which I could use your help is our birthdays section. By wishing you a happy birthday, we take note of your place and the place of others like you in the history of comics. We also introduce work and comics-makers to people not familiar with everyone out there. It's a nice nudge for your friend and peers, too, who can then wish you a more personal happy day. If you'd like to participate, Thanks in advance.

* my best wishes to you and yours as we start a New Year together. May it bring every joy possible, and every comfort necessary.
 
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If I Were In Dallas, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Amelia Onorato

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Steve Hamaker!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Nick Abadzis!

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