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














April 30, 2017


OTBP: The Canopy

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Go, Listen: Jason Shiga On Process Party

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

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

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If I Were In Calgary, 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 Lansing, I'd Go To This

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Nat Gertler!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Greg Holfeld!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Ben Catmull!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Andrew Mansell!

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FFF Results Post #475 -- But This, Not That

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Comics That Were Personally -- In Person -- Recommended To You By Someone Whose Name You Know. Name The Person, Too." This is how they responded.

*****

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Chris Duffy

* Watchmen by Moore and Gibbons -- recommended by my college roommate Adam's cousin David
* Lionel Feininger comics -- recommended by Mark Newgarden
* Comics by Jason -- recommended by Jay Stephens
* NON (anthology) -- recommended by Vanessa Johnson (coworker at Nick Mag)
* Dragon's Breath by MariNaomi -- recommended by Summer Pierre

*****

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Michael Dooley

* Holli Hoxx by Austin and Adam Tinius -- recommended by Adam Tinius
* Hero Hotel by Yehudi Mercado -- recommended by publishers Barbra and Bryant Dillon
* Crystal Girl by Natalia Hernandez -- recommended by Natalia Hernandez
* Powernap by Maritza Campos and Bachan -- recommended by Campos and Gabriela (Gaby) Maya
* The Lovely Horrible Stuff by Eddie Campbell -- recommended by comics scholar Charles Hatfield after I told him The Fate of the Artist was the only Campbell work that interested me.

*****

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Marty Yohn

1. Calvin and Hobbes, recommended by my cooperating Art teacher Janine Kaicharny many years ago
2. Saga, recommended by my son Michael
3. Transmetropolitan, recommended by Michael's friend Mitch
4. Akira, recommended by Michael's other friend Brian
5. Smile, recommended by my friend Kate

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Judge Anderson: Satan by Alan Grant and Arthur Ranson -- recommended by Zainab Akhtar
2. 3 by Hugues Micol -- recommended by Thomas Ragon
3. The Winter Men by Brett Lewis and Jean Paul Leon -- recommended by Marc-Oliver Frisch
4. Jude Nude by Etienne Davodeau -- recommended by Lars von Törne
5. Am kühlen Tisch by Amelie von Wulffen -- recommended by Anna Haifisch

*****

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Buzz Dixon

* Sandman by Neil Gaimen et al -- recommended by Warren Jaycox
* The 300 by Frank Miller -- recommended by Flint Dille
* One Punch Man by One -- recommended by Holly Knevelbaard
* T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents by Wally Wood et al -- recommended by Scott Whiteside
* The manga of Yoshihiro Tatsumi -- recommended by Bill Leibowitz

*****

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Jeffrey A. Goodman

1. Plastic Man -- My Mom, Elaine Goodman
2. My Dad's Classics Comics Illustrated Collection -- My Grandmother, Min Goodman
3. Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers #2 -- Walt at Waterbeds N Stuff, OSU Campus Columbus, OH 1974
4. Mad #125 (My first) -- Jonathan Seideman, classmate -- 3rd Grade Columbus Torah Academy, Columbus, OH 1969
5. Tales From The Crypt (Ballantine pb) -- David Sehring, classmate -- 5th Grade Columbus Academy, Gahanna, OH 1971 or 1972

*****

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Patrick Watson

1. Stray Bullets by David Lapham recommended by Gib Bickel, Head Ogre at The Laughing Ogre
2. Bone by Jeff Smith recommended by Steve Snyder, owner of Central City Comics
3. Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai recommended by Randy Meredith my best friend
4. My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris recommended by Terry Eisele, creator of With Only Five Plums
5. Jupiter's Legacy by Millar & Quitely recommended by Jeffrey Stang at Image Comics

*****

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Andy Mansell

* Johnny Hazard by Frank Robbins -- recommended by All American Comic Shop owner Carl Bonasera
* Little Orphan Annie -- recommended by Chuck Fiala
* Adolph by Tezuka -- recommended by Dustin Harbin
* Peanuts -- recommended by my mother Therese Mansell (the morning after the first broadcast of the X-mas special)
* Sex Criminals by Fraction and Zdarsky-- recommended by Heroes' own Seth Peagler and Rico Renzi

*****

topic suggested and example provided by Chris Duffy; thanks, Chris

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April 29, 2017


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Diamond Upgrades Olive Branch Distribution Center


History Of Wonder Woman As Progressive Symbol


Dr. Boyce Watkins Visits With Robb Armstrong


Musical Tribute To Leo Baxendale
 
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Go, Look: The Invisible Lesbian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 58th Birthday, Oliver Vatine!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Jessica Campbell!

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April 28, 2017


OTBP: Minor Leagues #3

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

image* Elliott Dunstan gets into the notion that many webcomics are support by Patreon set-ups. It's true; they are.

* I guess this goes here as much as it does anywhere else, given that it's the digital availability of a documentary being discussed. There's a documentary about Bill Finger over at Hulu. Finger was the great early writer of mainstream comics who created a vast number of things we think of when we think "Batman." Finger was not compensated or acknowledged by Batman's legal creator, the unctuous Bob Kane, whom most histories identify as contribution-light when it comes to the character and milieu by which he made his fortune. The late writer deserves every honor he is eligible to receive and every bit of attention anyone would like to give him.

* Gary Tyrrell sifts through various crowd-funders out there. Coming from the webcomics world where this is a foundational model, he always has something interesting to say.

* finally: Zach talks to Per Berg.
 
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If I Were In Kansas City, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Captain Marvel Adventures #125

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* one thing we should always remember about the Jack Kirby Marvel Art Fiasco from the 1980s is that Kirby was totally right that his art had value and would have been a magnificent gift for him to be able to pass along to his family.

* Ken Parille suggests a reading of Roy Lichtenstein's work that focuses on comic-book lettering.

* Jeff Haden profiles John Dolmayan. Robert Nagler Miller profiles Roz Chast. Frank Santoro talks to John Pham about Risograph printing.

* I like this rejected Todd Klein Cyclops logo. I got its concept right away but understand why an editor might not be fully on board.

* Heidi MacDonald went to Reed's Chicago show C2E2 and wrote this report. That one has kind of settled into a successful regional show, although I'd be surprised if anyone I know in the industry considers it a top three show.

* Katie Skelly on Lovers In The Garden.

* finally, I hadn't noticed that Pat Oliphant had done two comics this year. That Bannon is great. Still mean, our Pat.
 
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Happy 50th Birthday, Rob Salkowitz!

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April 27, 2017


Leo Baxendale, RIP

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Go, Look: Cycle

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Go, Read: Simon Moreton's Ruminations On 10 Years In Comics

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Simon Moreton processes ten years of comics-making by wondering after autobiography. He also links to two very good pieces of recent vintage so I hope you'll follow him out to those essays.
 
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Go, Look: A Bunch Of Al Ross Gag Cartoons

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Go, Read: Billy Ireland 40th Birthday Article

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Here. As is appropriate, it turns into an appreciation of founding curator Lucy Caswell. Caswell took several boxes of papers and art that no one wanted and turned into the nicest place for comics in the world. All respect, forever.
 
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OTBP: Captain Easy: The Frank Santoro Edition

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* this has come and gone. Still such a big show in so many ways. Congratulations if you go the hotel you want. Condolences if you didn't, but don't worry: you can have a good time at all of them. I've stayed up to an hour and ten minutes away, in a range from lovely boutique facilities to scumbag dive motels, and while a great hotel is something to enjoy, no San Diego hotel has ever played a significant role in my overall enjoyment of any trip.

* Dan Brown profiles Tingfest, the kind of show that could have its own quirky Netflix series.

* here are some tips in publicizing your convention event.

* finally, here's a report from the March Book 3 auditorium presentation in Los Angeles last week. Remember when there was a point when they got shut out at the Eisners for that one Jim Henson thing that people thought their momentum might never build in this way?
 
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If I Were In Calgary, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Corky

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Alex Hoffman on Book Of Void.

* Ben Towle looks at a certain kind of comics page that's familiar but a bit more difficult to describe than most. I missed this post, and it's been a while since its publication, but I liked it at a second glance for sure.

* I agree with a lot of this Brian Hibbs essay on the recent problems experienced by Marvel Comics, which reached a recent low particularly in terms of number of regular titles with a decent audience. It's one of the better cases I've ever seen against loading in the tie-ins and stacking titles within specific characters or concepts. I think it's been this way for a while and it's just gotten worse and worse. There might be some mitigation against the poor effects of some of these moves if the work itself was great, but most Marvel work i read is mediocre in a way that just kills prolonged attention, let alone prolonged attention + hoops to jumps through.

* Jason would like you to know he likes Thor: The Dark World better than you do.

* finally, I'm not sure why I didn't hear about this comic's first part, but from what I've seen it's pretty amusing. I just can't stay in 2016 anymore to be able to read it.
 
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Happy 64th Birthday, Jan Mullaney!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Yoshihiro Togashi!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Sean T. Collins!

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April 26, 2017


Go, Look: Bearing Witness At Buchenwald

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By Request Extra: James Hudnall Needs A Home

Here. The longtime writer's medical issues brought with them their own ask a couple of years ago. This is specifically for assistance in finding Hudnall a new place to live. I hope you'll consider giving.
 
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Go, Look: Primetime Polly And Her Pals

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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.

*****

MAR171735 HOSTAGE HC (MR) $29.95
This is Guy Delisle's latest a shift from his politically inform travelogues into a bit of straight reportage on one person's experience being kidnapped while working for a charitable organization. it is equal parts fascinating and harrowing, and it builds its specific tone out of Delisle's skill with the fundaments of cartooning. I enjoyed it a lot.

imageJAN171778 CRICKETS #6 (MR) (C: 0-1-2) $8.00
FEB170032 LOBSTER JOHNSON PIRATES GHOST #2 $3.99
FEB170037 VISITOR HOW AND WHY HE STAYED #3 (OF 5) $3.99
FEB170457 COMIC BOOK HISTORY OF COMICS #6 (OF 6) $3.99
MAR160556 BITCH PLANET #10 (MR) $3.99
FEB170581 BLACK MONDAY MURDERS #5 (MR) $3.99
FEB170657 KILL OR BE KILLED #8 (MR) $3.99
FEB170894 BLACK PANTHER #13 $3.99
A lot of books out this week that I'm interested in owning, including a nice group of serial-format comic books of one type or another. There's two up top from the Mignola-verse, including the one drawn by the great Paul Grist (Visitor). IDW's re-serialization of Comic Book History of Comics continues. A strong run of Image Comics includes the latest Bitch Planet, the most recent comic from that dour Jonathan Nickman illumnati-noir, and the latest from Brubaker/Phillips team. I'm still interested in the Black Panther series as a riff on the Marvel house formula of the 1990s structure and tone wise.

JAN170631 LOAC ESSENTIALS HC VOL 10 DAN DUNN SECRET OPERATIVE 48 $29.99
JAN170632 STAR HAWKS HC VOL 01 $39.99
It is a wondrous thing two such relatively obscure comics have big books coming out and how we don't even question how much of a miracle this is. The Star Hawks in particular might read far different all at one.

MAR171736 ONE HUNDRED DEMONS HC $21.95
JAN171110 BLACK WIDOW TP VOL 02 NO MORE SECRETS $17.99
FEB171163 PEARLS BEFORE SWINE TP PEARLS HOGS THE ROAD (C: 0-1-0) $18.99
FEB170714 STREET ANGEL AFTER SCHOOL KUNG FU SPEC HC $19.99
NOV160072 WB DUBAYS THE ROOK ARCHIVES HC VOL 01 (C: 0-1-2) $19.99
It's a strong week for collection/reprints. If you don't own the Lynda Barry book, you should; it's one of her bests and she's a colossal figure in North American Cartooning. I like Chris Samnee's art on the Black Widow comic; I think leaves with us one book to go. Stephan Pastis is on tour behind this latest book and someone smart in your family or friends reads it without you knowing. Jim Rugg has the skill to take your breath away every time out. The Rook Archives collects comics on the newsstand when I was a kid that slightly frightened me. Someday I'll read them again.

JAN170576 HER BARK & HER BITE TP $9.99
This is a new short book from an illustrator turned comics maker. I like the price point, and I like the book's general tone and look -- halfway between Eleanor Davis and Brecht Evans. I'm hopefully interviewing the artist this week or next.

DEC161682 DRAW OF SPORT HC MURRAY OLDERMAN (C: 0-1-2) $24.99
This is a delightful book of sports cartoons contextualizing their purpose and the time each was done. Great voice in both the cartooning and prose from its author, and a bunch of wonderful stories and sportsman are profile. A love letter from a different time in the world of cartooning.

*****

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

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

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

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

*****

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Go, Look: Drew Friedman's Post About His Forthcoming SOI Exhibition Contains Tons Of Art

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Jim Demonakos Leaves ReedPop To Pursue New Ideas

Jim Demonakos announced on Monday that he'll be leaving his current position at convention organizer ReedPOP. Demonakos secured the position at ReedPOP secured after the 2015 sale to the company of the extremely well-liked Emerald City show he founded in 2003. Demonakos will continue to consult for the company.

I would think that this is a loss for ReedPOP and a near-certain gain for whatever entities with whom he decides to work in the future. I know enough people have expressed dismay over the impact that the one-time retailer just going from direct to indirect influence on ECCC has had on the show, something which I have taken to be a sign of their affection for Demonakos.

I look forward to seeing what Demonakos chooses to do next. I would imagine he would have one of the broader ranges of opportunities for a comics free agent of recent vintage, and we've had some superstar editors shift gigs. Apparently, Demonakos will take that next step in the Pacific time zone, moving back from the East Coast to Seattle.
 
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Go, Look: Food For Thought

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a re-run, but I will always consider running Al Williamson
 
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Go, Look: The Gentlemen Of The Jury

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lurid, beautiful Russ Heath art
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* James Whitbrook on Batman '66/Wonder Woman '77 and Star-Lord #6.

* the latest era at Marvel Comics I would suggest begins when they brought the Inhumans to the forefront of the company. At the time it seemed like a pile-on: Marvel's deep bench included a little-utilized Jack Kirby concept! It hasn't gone well in its execution.

* Laurenn McCubbin pointed out to me something that sounds like it'll be true: if this WGA strike happens, comics companies are going to be crushed by an avalanche of writers seeking work. If you're an acquisitions editor, maybe volunteer for a different gig?

* people shit on Jack Kirby's scripting but I think his raw, emotional, bombastic approach works great here.

* finally: a discussion about taking a story unpopular with many fans right out of its appropriate continuity.
 
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Happy 87th Birthday, Bruce Jay Friedman!

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indulge me; i love that essay
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Michael Kupperman!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Matt Dembicki!

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April 25, 2017


Go, Look: Three Commissioned Dave Cooper Posters

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A Few Late Thoughts On Gisele Legace Being Denied Entry At The US Border To Attend C2E2

imageDavid Pierce's report on the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund panel at C2E2 contains a smart summary and additional context on the story of artist Gisèle Legacé not being to get into the US for C2E2, and her undergoing the shitty process that saw her rejected for entry, fingerprinted and put on a list.

I only have two thoughts of any substance and even that's debatable.

One is that I'm sorry Legacé had this experience. That's just awful. I wouldn't come back, either, and if I were from somewhere not the US I'd be hesitant to try. I think we'll see a bit more of that, particularly if it continues.

Two is that we all need to give this some more thought in terms of preparing those traveling wherever they're going. This includes artists, publishers featuring artists and festivals themselves. Most do an exemplary job; this set of issues has been around for as long as I've been in comics. I'm not sure preparation played any role here, but it can't hurt in these times to review this kind of information-sharing. At this point I would imagine there are few surprises as to potential questions asked, and a mostly clear picture on what most countries likely to have a comics show allow or don't allow in terms of people doing business from out-of-country. My guess is everyone's script now needs to include what to do if an artist is held and/or rejected at any border.
 
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Go, Look: Another Array Of BWS Conan Covers

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Artist Bill Sienkiewicz Wins Spectrum 24 Awards Ceremony's 2017 Grand Master Award

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You can see the giant list of winners here. The Spectrum Awards were created by Cathy and Arnie Fenner in 1994 to recognize art working in various out-there genres and thus a large number of their winners come from the comics world where skills with such art are in high demand. Congratulations to all recognized. The e-mail I was sent this morning indicates that Mr. Sienkiewicz was on hand to accept his honor.
 
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Go, Look: Will Eisner's 1977 Spirit Portfolio

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Bundled Extra: Another Week, Another Line-Wide Refurbishing

imageI have the same response to most line-wide initiatives, of which the new Marvel "Your New Friends + Your Old Friends" Legacy seems to be a prime example. I don't buy line-wide anything. I didn't when I bought a lot of of superhero comics, and I certainly don't now that they're a part of but nowhere near the majority of what I purchase at comics shops and conventions. I buy individual comic book series runs. Always did. When I can't understand them because I'm supposed to be buying other comics to do so, I just drop my original choice. I'm always more interested that there be four or five or six mainstream comics series worth reading than I am all of the comics publisher to publisher meet a certain standard or do certain things or pluck certain strings. I look at comics for my living and I could not describe qualities of any of the two dozen most recent calibrations undertaken by these companies if the fate of the planet depended on it. I do remember some comics series I've liked along the way.

This plan strikes me as sort of interesting because of the notion now being floated by some that diversifying the characters within your fictional universe can't push off to one side the original characters that for whatever reason a certain intense fanbase is willing to follow for decades at a time. This makes sense not as an assessment of diversifying characters -- again, my hunch is a lot comes back to the quality of any line book to book -- but the fact that they're playing with such thin margins now it's all hands on deck. Figuring these things out is why publishing can be an art, too. It should be interesting to see if Marvel can bring some sense of different creatives being involved when they start assigning books.
 
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If I Were Near Juneau, I'd Go To This

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Go, Listen/Missed It: Gil Roth Interviews Ed Koren

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Todd Klein on Cave Carson #5.

* I didn't get too far into this discussion over whether or not Team Valiant think Valiant is an indie comics publisher, but I suspect by the old definition you could argue that. Indie publishers were originally 1980s comics companies whose distinction was ownership independent of classic newsstand publishers like Marvel and DC. People felt that the switch in ownership was key in allowing a broader range of better comic books. Alternative comics, by contrast, came slightly later, and were mostly publishers that believed that there had to be further devotion to making material that contrasted sharply with the industry's dominant genres and modes. I don't know how useful either definition is applied to now, particularly in that Valiant's 1990s heyday was as a company that hoped for equal footing with the classic newsstand giants by operating in much the same way: company-owned, editorially-driven, shared-universe, creatively assigned serial comic books. The ownership of Modern Valiant, though, seems to be constructed differently, with slight variations in editorial emphases as a result, and like the 1980s companies they strive to derive advantage from that.

* the real answer, of course, is "who gives a shit?" Apparently, there was an award involved.

* by request extra: the Family Man crowd-funder nears its initial goals with rapidity. I quite like both of those creators, although I wasn't a fan of this collaboration in the mid-1990s and I don't remember a whole lot of people disagreeing with me in that reviews at the time weren't strong, its line didn't receive a boost from it, and since then it's been a cheap used-book staple. Still, that's a comic many people could enjoy; it's certainly one they're willing to support with pledged money.

* finally, French cartoonists react to the recent first stage of the two-stage election in France. You'll find some of the takes frighteningly familiar.
 
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Happy 90th Birthday, Albert Uderzo!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Milo George!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Peter Sanderson!

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April 24, 2017


Go, Look: Float By Ted Jouflas

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OTBP: Bird Boy

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By Request Extra: Pieter de Poortere's "Boerke" Makes Stab At US Market As "Dickie"

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I received about a half-dozen requests to drive some attention to this thus far not-very-successful crowdfunder for a North American collection of Pieter de Poortere's strip. So I can be influenced, is what I'm saying. Anyway, it's pretty sharp-looking, and I think the gags are mostly effective. We don't get a lot humor books like this since all the newspaper strips became people crabbing at one another, so it'd be nice if the current market could make one happen. Lot of strips over there, too, so this could be a "go, look" too.
 
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If I Were Near Juneau, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Pretty Charles Vess Spider-Man Page

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Rob Clough on Cartozia Tales.

* this Steve Brodner post is amazing. Apparently, a while back Brodner predicted the future of a much-traveled photo from last week.

* Matthew Stoss profiles Juana Medina. Snarky Oracle talks to Cullen Bunn.

* people keep sending me links to this list of top comics-related sites on the Internet, which to many people I speak to these days should be a blank page. If I'm on the list, I don't deserve to be.

* finally, these are pretty good choices in this mash-up, my favorite being Kevin Keller as Element Lad -- a semi-deep legion fandom cut.
 
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Happy 47th Birthday, Warren Craghead!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Devlin Thompson!

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April 23, 2017


CR Sunday Interview: Joe Decie

imageJoe Decie makes quiet comics about smaller life moments, a gentle pushback against expectation that every story conform to bombast and rigid narrative structure. It helps that Decie brings a significant skill-set to the page when backing up his approach. He has a playwright's economy with wordplay, and a painter's sense for tone and feeling as derived from his wash-based visual style. I've read everything of his I think exists and will continue to do so for as long as I'm able. His latest, Collecting Sticks, is a fine entry point into everything Decie does well.

I think the man might be nicer than the work, which in Decie's case is really saying something. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: Joe, can I ask how a project like this comes together creatively? It reads like most of it was serialized. But beyond that, what factors play into your deciding that this series of instances would hold together as a story that you want published? Is there a crucial moment? Do you have to do any finessing to get there?

JOE DECIE: It wasn't ever serialized. But, you're right, I do think in short beats, I can't help it, I can't shake the single-page, or maybe the double-page beat. And, to be honest, I had no idea if this story held together as a story, beginning-middle-end, not until I'd shown it to a few people and they said it did. So we can blame them if it doesn't. [Spurgeon laughs]

The way I worked on this, I had notes, small events that had taken place on various camping trips, they were written down in notebooks, scraps of paper. Being used to working on short form stuff, I had to fight the urge to immediately draw up each instance as a single strip and post it online. I find that instant online posting quite gratifying. But no, Joe, you're doing a Big Book, getting paid to draw it, so I filed them away. I knew I was working on a story about a trip to the woods, so I saved every strip or idea that I thought could be used in this book.

Then, after a while, I sat down and sorted through it all. I pieced it together, as rough thumbnails, building bridges here and there, returning to themes. I didn't really want to have a crucial moment, you know, I wanted a story that just runs along, as most people's lives just run along. I wanted to reflect that a story can be good, good enough to tell, without crisis or peril.

I was worried that my editor would suddenly decide against this. They'd seen the whole thing as thumbnails, but I was worried. I like to worry. As it turned out, they did have some input, did make some changes and that was brilliant. They made me add an ending. Well, a second ending. And the book is so much better for it. I was really fearful about working with an editor, that they'd have their own vision that they'd want to stamp on the book. But no, of course not, they just wanted me to tell the story as best I could.

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SPURGEON: By second meeting do you mean the epilogue? Why do you think that works as an ending? I mean, I agree, I feel it kind of repeats for emphasis and thus gives the ending a weight, but I'm more interested in how you look at it. Why is the book better for that ending?

DECIE: I liked the use of an epilogue because it brought the story literally and figuratively back home. It also allowed a pause via that extra title page. And I wanted conclusion to my obsessive worries earlier in the book. It adds that, but also shows that life goes on in the Decie household, compulsions and all.

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SPURGEON: Do you still feel there's legitimacy bias against short works? I know there's a perception that short-story collections sell poorly, which I think is related.

DECIE: I'd certainly say I've noticed a level of expectation that long form, or a Graphic Novel, was seen as progress from smaller pieces and mini comics. And for years it was something I kicked against. I had a ridiculous kind of reverse snobbery against the graphic novel compared to the small press and zine-making scenes. I think it was because, especially when I was starting out, there was a boom in graphic novels and I'd meet a lot of people who, having never drawn a comic before, were embarking on huge 300-page works. I saw that as a daft jump in the dark. [Spurgeon laughs] And I cringed at the term Graphic Novelist, so took pleasure in saying I was simply a cartoonist, who made comics; they're not dirty words. But of course I was being pedantic and these days I don't care what terms people use to call themselves or this craft.

It was kind of frustrating when publishers I'd have loved to have worked with would approach me saying they enjoyed my work and would I consider working on a longer form project, for the very reason that short stories didn't sell well enough. Financially I didn't have the time then to invest into seeing if I was capable of a long-form work, but I did so want to be published by one of the big guys.

The opportunity to work on Collecting Sticks came about quite organically. The Lakes Festival said they wanted to commission a short work from me. The short work turned into a long work and they suggested I look into additional funding to help the comic reach its full potential. That's when I applied to the Arts Council for funding, who gave me a grant to work on the book and I was able to give the project time and get it drawn. I'm a slow drawer.

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SPURGEON: Knowing what you do about North American comics publishing through your friends, how do you feel a book like this comes together in the business sense that's different than a US project? For instance, this is Jonathan Cape book, under Penguin, and i think of them as having a lot of resources, but it looks like you were assisted maybe up to three time in this project's conclusion. Is that routinely available to you, that kind of, say, help from a Lakes Festival? Does that lock you into a work earlier on than if there were one financial exchange, such as from a publisher?

DECIE: Access to funding for comic artists is not usual. But a lot more artists are learning how to put in applications to the Arts Council, for example. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as saying, "I'm drawing a comic, please give me some money to work on it." [Spurgeon laughs]

Understanding the language of the arts world is crucial. You need to talk about your practice and how the funding would help that, about your audience and the amount of people that will engage with the work... there's a whole lot of stuff they want to know before they give you any cash. But there is some money there for British cartoonists, if they can get through that application process. Of course, none of that is going to happen if you don't have a project ready to go. So, having grant money before I started the book gave me time to work on it full time. But a lot of ground work was needed before that. Would I be able to get grant money again? Maybe not.

SPURGEON: You have a graffiti background, which you described to Dan Berry as a world where you work a lot at home perfecting your craft before taking it out of doors. Comics doesn't have that kind of threshold expectation. Could comics learn anything from graffiti culture in a broad sense?

DECIE: Well I'm not sure how healthy it is, but hip-hop culture in general is all about competition and the battle. This very much pushes you to strive to be the best you can and if your work doesn't cut it, you'll know about it very quickly. I'd say, at least at the outset, comics is very different from that... your peers are mostly very encouraging and on the whole are not an overtly competitive bunch. But the comics gang could learn to give and receive criticism constructively. Perhaps that takes place face to face at comics schools such as White River Junction etc? but I've never really experienced it in my online life. I'm not sure if competition is a good thing, but it probably doesn't hurt to try and up your game, to keep up with your peers.

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SPURGEON: You have a really striking lettering style, I would assume in part from that background. Lettering is a craft that's all over the place in comics, from specialized practitioners to folks that do their own, sometimes poorly. What could people learn from your experience about lettering? Is there one thing that bothers you over other things?

DECIE: I do love writing words, the form of a good S or lovely E. Gs are quite awkward though, eh? Gah, bad lettering irritates me no end. Comics are words and pictures, yet a whole heap of cartoonists put no effort into their lettering. Do I sound like a grumpy old man? I sound like a grumpy old man. I'm not demanding that everyone goes out and buys an Ames Lettering Guide, life's too short, sure. But at least consider your writing, its legibility and how it fits with your drawing style and the page as a whole. I think the craft would be improved so much if we all put more care and thought into the calligraphy of comics. I've had comics I've not been able to finish reading as I can't get through the text. But maybe that's because I'm dyslexic rather than a lettering snob, or a bit of both.

imageSPURGEON: Your tenth anniversary of making comics is next year. I've heard from friends that you're rough on older art, but beyond the fact you might think it's terrible, is there one thing you've learned and upon which you've improved? My take is that you're much, much, much better at staging your comics now, that you relied on a rigid camera effect early on and not a lot of figure-drawing. What do you feel is most different now?

DECIE: It's true I'm my biggest critic, but you've got to be. My drawing has improved naturally, just putting in the hours does that, and it's not anything I've ever considered, sat and considered, looked at the page and thought, how could I do that better? I don't really play with how a panel or a page will be set up, I just have it there in my head and try to get that out on to the page. That's the tricky bit. But I guess, though persistence and a growing confidence in my ability, my pages have improved.

Writing, however, that's the big thing for me, I spend ages um-ing and ah-ing over the narration, getting the flow of words just right. I don't think I used to spend as long on that in the early days, when I was whacking out quick strips. But I should be clear, I still consider myself a beginner, I'm still in the early stages, learning.

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SPURGEON: Your narration and dialogue interests me because you're really terse and lean. It reminds me of theater, or the proscenium-style strips that draw from theater. Is this a personal preference, this kind of really pared-down approach? Does the way you draw, a recognizable people, influence the style of language you employ?

DECIE: Yeah, I try to keep it trim. I get really turned off by comics with reams and reams of text, I glaze over. So I edit, I boil it down as best I can. Is poetry a dirty word? I suppose they are poems of sort. The weight of words is important to me, the time the reader lingers on each word. I want to control the pace and keep it moving. Perhaps it's the equivalent of my telephone voice? a slightly altered, more considered version of my voice.

SPURGEON: Another thing about your tenth anniversary is that you're still working the single digits but those early years of your career is full of what seem like largely outdated terms: webcomics nation, livejournaling. Would you have found it easier or more difficult to get started today? Is there a specific way you were fortunate to have wiggled into comics the moment that you did?

DECIE: Back then it felt like a good time for forging friendships, building an audience, yes. I just drew and posted comics regularly and attended shows. That worked for me. It was brilliant that my peer group was world wide. Thanks to the internet I wasn't reliant on a monthly meet up in the room above a pub or on trading comics via the mail to get feedback on my work and to talk shop with like-minded folk.

But all that still exists, for every livejournal there's a twitter or Instagram or whatever. I think it's a brilliant time for young cartoonists to be starting out. There's a gang for everyone, you can find your people. I was probably fortunate that I fell in with such a good bunch -- a diverse bunch, too. It's lovely to go the comic shop and see so many of my friends represented. So many people found their voice, found an audience, found a publisher, or became that publisher.

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SPURGEON: What is the hardest part about establishing your creative voice when there are hundreds and hundreds of people vying for the same audience. What do you think of cartoonists that don't make it this far in terms of year, that just move in another direction. Are they missing out? Are they being smart?

DECIE: I think it's best not to think about vying for an audience. When I draw, I'm speaking to a few friends, that's the way I visualize my audience. If I started thinking about how to broaden my appeal, I'd probably edit the good stuff out of my work. And I have no interest in looking at "what is popular" with an eye to winning over new readers. I see trends where people are all drawing the same, in a kind of safe, homogenized style, but that has no appeal for me. I'm sure it's fun to all work in the same visual language, but still.

As for the artists who have fallen by the wayside, yeah I guess some of them grew sick of staying up all night stapling comics only to sell five copies at the show the next day. You can't go on like that if you're not having fun.

And as for using comics as a stepping stone into other things... moving to LA to work on cartoons? or storyboards, preproduction and character design for your favorite films? Why the hell not? I would in no way hold a grudge against anyone using their skills in a different field, especially if it's a good field, or one that makes money. It's pretty difficult to make a living from drawing, get it where you can. That said, I do miss a lot of those folk and wish they'd drop in every now and then with a killer new mini to show us who's boss.

SPURGEON: Your basic mode of narrative, your basic point of view, seems to be "expectations constantly thwarted." There's a set up that seems perfectly logical as to how things might progress, they are punched in the kidneys by human behavior, but the end result is softened by a lack of stakes combined with the fact that their new direction is usually close to being as sensible as the old one. The kid is expected to be ready. The kid is naked and playing lego. Well, kids do that kind of thing, and he can get dressed now. Is that a fair representation of how your mind works, how you view the world? Is this simply an incredibly useful primary model? If something jarring happened, would it fit into your narratives?

DECIE: Well, it's autobiography, so let's hope nothing too jarring happens in my actual life and we don't need to find out. But, in truth, that's how I see life, things happen, sometimes not the way we plan, we deal with it, laugh about it. Or things don't happen, life is normal. I make things happen, silly things. That's kind of how I deal with the world, have fun, be daft, who gives a fuck. Of course, serious stuff does go on in my life but the stories I produce for those few friends I'm talking to, maybe down the pub, the stories I have for them aren't the ones where something bad is happening, they're about the good stuff, the funny stuff. Who knows, maybe one day I'll throw some serious shit into the mix. I deal with that stuff in the same way, maybe I'm flippant.

SPURGEON: Do you have a role-model for either the art or the writing? Can you talk about any of them? One might see John Porcellino, David Chelsea and any number of folks in there, but it could also be you coming to the same conclusions. Is there someone in your comics you see that no one else seems to?

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DECIE: Hmm, I don't think I have a role model like that, no. In fact, when people have mentioned someone I might be like, I tend to avoid them. In the early days it was Eddie Campbell, so I made sure I didn't read any of Eddie's work so I couldn't be accused of biting his style. Ha! I admire John, sure, and I read his stuff, I love the quiet flow of his work. But I don't aspire to make his comics.

I wish I did have a role model for my art, I seem to have painted myself into this realistic drawing style that is a million miles away from the loose drawing I love... Sfar, Blain, Jillian Tamaki, Emily Carroll, Gipi, you know, people who can draw with one perfect line.

I tell you who I like, who really impressed me back before I was drawing comics -- the English writer and director Mike Leigh. The dialogue, I love it, especially in a lot of his earlier films. Very normal conversations from normal people, local dialects, quirks. They seem very real. That's definitely something I strive to achieve, normal conversation. I try to throw in conversation that the reader won't have any prior knowledge of. Readers don't need hand holding. And conversation just as a plot device makes me cringe.

SPURGEON: How open are you to being influenced now? What is your comics reading like?

DECIE: I take inspiration from other sources mostly, I don't think it's too healthy to just look to comics. I try to at least pretend to read prose novels. I tell you what though, yesterday we took the boy to the local museum, Brighton Museum. Those places are a mine of inspiration, brilliant. I mean, we were talking about calligraphy, I saw some amazing Iranian calligraphy at the museum. That's on my list of things to research now.

But comics that influence me? I'm not sure. I have a pile I've not yet read from TCAF maybe two years ago. I try to keep up, I get stuff from the library as I can't afford to buy it all, but I'm not that diverse with my comic tastes... indie stuff, I read a lot of Koyama, D&Q, Breakdown, Fantagraphics, Kus, Retrofit, Uncivilized etc. I know what I like.

SPURGEON: Is there an aspect of someone else's skill set you'd like to have as your own, even if it were just to see what it's like?

DECIE: Oh yeah, for sure. I'd like Eleanor Davis's drawing style, Noah Van Sciver's work ethic, John Martz's comic timing, Jon McNaught's pacing, Blutch's brush line, Kate Beaton's humor, who else can I have? Color theory... I need some of that... Blexbolex maybe?

To be honest, Tom, I'd love to start from scratch. I feel like I've established a style of my own but if I could break away from that, be more willing to take influences and have some time to try new things, that would be great. But I'm quite set in my ways and I'm not sure my audience would appreciate my bold new direction, the rebirth. Plus, time is money, sadly, and I don't have enough.

SPURGEON: Can you give me an example of a new direction, of a think you feel you can't do within your current style or approach?

DECIE: I'd like to try science fiction, to apply my brand of normal and day-to-day life to a sci-fi setting. I'd also like to be able to work quicker. My process is very slow, and I envy those who can express themselves with just a few lines compared to my labored approach. But of course, the reason it looks so effortless is they've spent years making it so, honing their craft.

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SPURGEON: The affection that comes through for your family and the kind of status your stand-in feels for being a part of that family can be powerful in a way. Do you think about the advocacy that comes through in your comics, how they can be affecting in the way that any art that exposes you to a certain kind of situation that is depicted as sweet-natured can be? Do you feel your work has a greater impact with people who share certain experiences with your of for those that don't? What do you hear back?

DECIE: Hmm, I wonder how important the shared experience is? I do hear back from and meet fans at shows and I wouldn't say they're from any one demographic. I think there are universal themes running though my work. Collecting Sticks is ostensibly about a trip to the woods... everyone's got stuck up a tree, failed to build a fire, got a bit lost, right? But it is about more. It's about life. And those who don't share my experiences seem to laugh at my foibles. More often than not I am the fall guy in my work. I was called a man-child by a reviewer in The Observer newspaper the other day, probably an accurate depiction, not one I shy away from.

imageSPURGEON: Were they being complimentary?

DECIE: Yes, well, the review was positive, but it's strange having your characters dissected and critiqued when those characters are in fact you and your family. Real people, all be it slightly fictionalized, there for scrutiny. Of course this has always been the case, but until this book there weren't quite so many people passing judgment.

SPURGEON: Do you even think about the confessional aspects here, if not for you then for other people in proximity to you?

DECIE: It does make me think about consent. I'd never knowingly paint Steph or Sam in a bad light, and at present they are happy for me to work on comics about our life. But at the same time they didn't ask for this attention. And I've been drawing about Sam his whole life. He's fine with that, he enjoys being the subject of the books but I have to remain very sensitive of how I portray him.

*****

* Collecting Sticks, Joe Decie, Jonathan Cape, 9781910702734, April/August 2017.

*****

* cover to book
* all art from new book except for the 2008 strip paired with the 10th anniversary question.
* part of a page from the epilogue [below]

*****

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

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If I Were In El Paso, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Happy 75th Birthday, Edmond Baudoin!

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April 22, 2017


Video Parade Special: Joe Decie's Collecting Sticks Reviewed


it seemed appropriate given that Decie is tomorrow's CR Sunday Interview subject
 
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Go, Read: Madeleine Morey Talks To Eleanor Davis

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Go, Look: Karen Berger Profiled

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

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

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If I Were In El Paso, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Happy 70th Birthday, Tadashi Matsumori!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Jacque Nodell!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Bryan Hitch!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Larry Mahlstedt!

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Happy 70th Birthday, Steve Englehart!

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April 21, 2017


Go, Listen: Samuel R Delany On Virtual Memories

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Missed It: Carry Me

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

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Go, Look: Jenny's Weird Friend

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* a bunch of GoComics.com folks, including some who also work in print, will man the tables at the Kansas City Planet Comicon show.

* a pair of you wrote in to recommend the newly-launched Endzeit.

* finally: another week, another specialized webcomics list.
 
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If I Were In San Jose, I'd Go To This

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If Were In El Paso, I'd Go To This

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

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

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

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Go, Look: Hillman's Punch And Judy

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Todd Klein on Shade The Changing Girl #4. Dominic Umile on various mid-century horror comics. Scott Cederlund on Black Hammer: Secret Origins.

* very jealous of Gary Tyrrell heading out to that Alaska con.

* Paul Gravett knows what's up in June.

* Andrew Weiss profiles Marvel's Stingray character, created by Roy Thomas and Bill Everett. I always liked that costume. When I was a kid the character bored me because he did boring things; it's always been hard for the underwater characters to have a lot of range.

* Mike Sterling pulls an old cowboy comic panel for our amusement.

* finally: the Charmz line previewed.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Teri Wood!

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April 20, 2017


Go, Look: Ronald Searle Tumblog

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Bundled Extra: DC Announces Dark Matter Line

There's an announcement at EW about a new DC line called "Dark Matter" whose concept seems to be pairing big names with one another on new concepts for the DC Universe. It's a little weird in that pairing big names with one another on new characters seems like a philosophy not for a specialty imprint but for one comics line in general, and there's an element of a meta-dig at recent statements from the Marvel camp that artists don't really move the needle for the House of Ideas these days sales-wise.

I would imagine this might be a good idea coming from a different direction: distinguishing a small run of comics as "the comics you should buy" or even just sample in an era where there just isn't a sizable enough of an audience to make hits or even marginally successful comics out of all the comics published. If I think of myself as a consumer of these kinds of books -- and I'm really not, but I think I can manage that mindset -- I imagine I'd appreciate a small sample group of titles to purchase or at least check out as much as I tend to be baffled by serial comics generally.
 
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Go, Look: Richard Cowdry

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Go, Look: Claude TC

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* we've reached the other side of a really intense period of shows. I think what I've noticed just kind of standing at the outskirts and observing is that comics professional are becoming pickier and pickier about what shows they'll do under what conditions. This isn't a new thing, but a continuation. If you can be a special guest at Show X, it becomes much easier to take a pass on being an exhibiting guest at Show Y. I think over the next few years the competition should intensify as a lot of these newer shows, some with a lot of resources, see how their audiences are develop at what that audience will sustain.

* they have shows in Alaska now.

* looks like Silicon Valley Comic Con is going to take a stab at including a lot more tech and science elements into their show. That makes total sense. It is deeply weird that we're getting to the point where comic-cons are the basis for reintroducing what used to be standard-subject trade shows into a lot of communities. Wizard's kind of attempted this with YouTube culture at a couple of their shows. It's an easy way to brand, but I would imagine a challenge to sustain.

* here are some suggestions for making better con panels. Most of them are common-sense, but that means most of them are pretty solid. I've never felt comfortable doing them, to be honest, so I'm always happy for advice.

* finally, with WonderCon out of the way, I'd say we're going to start seeing a lot of Comic-Con related or friendly articles pop up at the CCI blog. Those are usually pretty reliable engage-with-the-wider-public pieces, and I'm not sure any other show except probably TCAF does something in that spirit.
 
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If I Were In London, 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 Vermont, I'd Go To This

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

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Don't Know That I've Read A Hoppy The Marvel Bunny Story

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Shea Hennum on Ghost In The Shell. Dominic Umile on Imagine Wanting Only This.

* this article about the Hoosier cartoonist Dave Sattler ending a run of 49 years in the local paper makes a good point that a lot of these artists serve as de facto local historians. I'm always sad when a "hyper-local" cartoonist lose their place in their publication, even if it's of their own choosing. The communities they serve are less rich for their departures.

* finally: on burnout.
 
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Happy 43rd Birthday, Didier Kassai!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Evan Dorkin!

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April 19, 2017


Go, Look: A Bunch Of Kevin Nowlan Cover Process Posts

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Go, Look: David O'Connell Short Stories

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A Few Quick Updates On The Musa Kart Situation

The situation facing jailed Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart and dozens of his journalistic peers hasn't changed in the main this week, but there are a bunch of incremental-change stories that could have an effect down the line. There's an on-line campaign now for the journalists. Jake Tapper took up for Kart's situation in direct fashion. President Trump is said to have given verbal support to a recent referendum said to have increased the power of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a man whose anti-press stance is well-known and his contempt for speech through cartoons displayed over a bunch of years now.
 
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Go, Look: Colleen MacIsaac

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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.

*****

JAN171781 GANGES #6 $8.00
Great weekend up top for the kind of books that get me to the comics shop, starting with the latest issue of Ganges, the Fantagraphics series now self-published with Fantagraphics providing some distribution muscle. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm told it provides something of an ending to the insomnia cycle narrative, with all of the fragmented storytelling you might expect. Kevin Huizenga's one of the great cartoonists of the moment, and you shouldn't miss a page.

imageFEB171591 BERLIN #20 (MR) $5.95
JAN170411 ASTRO CITY #43 (RES) $3.99
FEB170652 I HATE FAIRYLAND #12 CVR A YOUNG (MR) $3.99
FEB170654 INJECTION #12 CVR A SHALVEY & BELLAIRE (MR) $3.99
FEB170656 INVINCIBLE #135 $2.99
FEB170674 SEX CRIMINALS #18 (MR) $3.99
FEB170676 SHE WOLF #8 (MR) $3.99
B170885 DOCTOR STRANGE #19 $3.99
Berlin should get a few people to the comics shop, as intermittent its publishing schedule and the general quality of the series to date. Two more issues to go. That comic series is so old it started at Black Eye. It fits in very well at Drawn and Quarterly, even though they don't even publish in this format anymore. At some point I expect some attention paid to Astro City, a titanic model of consistency and heft in a world of reboots. Skottie Young's latest kicks off a pretty strong week at image. The Injection series started out in a kind of obtuse mode but seems more of a reliable, straight-ahead thriller now. Ellis is second only to Grant Morrison when it comes to portentous set-ups in his pulp; he has a much better average executing them. Invincible is about to get bloody and disgusting, I just know it, but this issue was still calm-before-the-storm-ish. Sex Criminals feels like it's caught its stride as an extended narrative; it feels settled in in a good way. Rich Tommaso's She-Wolf continues to provide the odd beauty and, well, the straight-up odd. I buy Doctor Strange when I see it because I like buying comics at comics shops, but I still don't know if it's solved the crawl of its issue-to-issue pacing and making bigger stories. I feel like that world could be fleshed out a bit more than it has been.

FEB170758 SECRET EMPIRE #0 (OF 9) $4.99
This I separate because I have little desire to read a series about superheroes punching each other and screaming speeches, but it should be interesting to see if there's a marketplace effect. The real battle is event burnout + negative fan murmuring + a heroic character's unpleasant heel turn vs. an event with graspable stakes + all publicity is good publicity. My hunch is that there are too many of these events for them to provide any impact, and the disruption to the line is vastly minimized when the individual series are constantly shaking up their own status quo. We'll see how it goes.

FEB171824 IMAGINE WANTING ONLY THIS GN $29.95
A well-publicized stand-alone graphic novel whose publishers think highly enough of it to give it that push, which is something. I like meaning-of-life narratives and look forward to diving in.

FEB171723 SAVAGE HIGHWAY HC (MR) $24.95
High-end science fiction from Humanoids of the broken earth variety (probably the #3 strain of the stuff that we encounter of this kind of comic after "lyrical future" and "transformed city" takes). I'm sure it's terrifically crafted, and without knowing my hunch is that are several tropes we've seen before.

FEB172255 HOGANS ALLEY #21 $6.95
A view of the comics world slightly older than my own, and thus extremely valuable to me. All respect to their dedication to print and its demands for a certain rigor in the content.

JAN170544 JIM THOMPSON KILLER INSIDE ME TP $19.99
OCT160060 GROO FRAY OF THE GODS TP $17.99
DEC160085 RESIDENT ALIEN TP VOL 04 THE MAN WITH NO NAME $14.99
Three books I'd check out that I missed in serial form. I know some people were high on the Thompson, but with the critical framework being what it is, no one I read took it on as it came out so it's still a total mystery to me. Groo is Sergio Aragones, one of the great living cartoonists, and I need to own every page he publishes. Resident Alien is that weird "Longmire but Longmire is a genial doctor alien played by Paul Bettany" series, which I would watch on TV and enoy on the comics page.

DEC160056 HELLBOY INTO THE SILENT SEA HC $14.99
A showcase for the art of Gary Gianni, a imaginative talent whose work has graced a variety of gigs including a few that were self-generated. This should be attractive.

*****

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

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

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

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

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Old Joe List Blog

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Go, Look: Tales Of The Green Beret Sundays

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Alex Hoffman on Snotgirl Vol. 1.

* RJ Casey talks to Carel Moiseiwitsch, one of the stronger visual imaginations working in the 1990s. Her best-known work might have been that done in conjunction with Denny Eichhorn, but the earlier material for a variety of late-underground publications feels more important in retrospect.

* this review of an installment -- and thus generally -- of Oh Joy, Sex Toy brings up some interesting questions about how far a critic should go in suggesting a work be another kind of work entirely.

* not comics: congratulations to Dan Gearino, who will be releasing a book about the comics direct market later this year or early next.

* finally, I always liked Frank Robbins' version of the 30-years-older Peggy Carter -- I liked the way he drew women in general. I mention this because in random tweeting I found out that this was not the opinion of everyone. There a million ways to read a comic book.
 
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Happy 92nd Birthday, Jim Ivey!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Steve Schanes!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Mark McMurray!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Martha Thomases!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Max Riffner!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Michael Dowers!

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Festivals Extra: Come Work With Me

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April 18, 2017


Go, Listen: John Cuneo On Virtual Memories

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Rolling Blackouts By Sarah Glidden Wins Lynd Ward Prize

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PSU Libraries and the Pennsylvania Center For The Book have announced that the work of comics non-fiction Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq by Sarah Glidden has won its 2017 Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year.

Rolling Blackouts shows Glidden's trip with a group of journalists to research in multiple countries the effect of the Iraq War. It is in its primary purpose an exploration of the practice of modern journalism, but it also engages with the issues being covered and with Glidden's thought and attitudes throughout.

The mandated of the award is to recognize "the best graphic novel, fiction or nonfiction, published in the previous calendar year by a living U.S. or Canadian citizen or resident." The award is named after Lynd Ward, a key figure in the development of long-form comics works with a major collection at Penn State.

Glidden will receive a cash award of $2500 and the Library Of America set of six Lynd Ward novels at a ceremony this Fall. Congratulations to the cartoonist.

Cousin Joseph by Jules Feiffer and Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt were additionally named honor books by the program.
 
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Go, Look: Mandrake The Magician In Two Formats

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Go, Look: Polly And Her Pals At Animation Resources

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* Chris Arrant talks to Michael Kupperman about his forthcoming memoir that tells the story of his father, a famous quiz kid of the 1940s. It's entitled All The Answers and will be out in Spring 2018.

* I did not know that IDW had a Star Wars license, but I guess they'll be doing an all-ages comic book with those properties.

* there's an ask involved, but go here to see a bunch of what should be future Retrofit comics. Warren Craghead!

* Francesco Francavilla's The Black Beetle is returning. Those comics are handsome.

* finally, a bit of not comics: the writings of Jess Nevin on pulp-era properties has backed-up and supported a whole lot of comics.
 
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Go, Look: Startling Comics #47

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Go, Look: New Mutants Tribute Covers

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Todd Klein on Wonder Woman #13.

* David Carter's sales approximates for Image Comics at The Beat are a fun read. I don't know what to make of the Walking Dead 25-cent issue popping like that. Sure it's cheap, but I'm not sure who isn't reading that comic who would want to. I'm not suggesting that as a counter-reality, I'm mentioning it because I'm clearly wrong but it's a way the Direct Market functions I can't figure out. Mostly, though, it's some of the book by book stuff that's most interesting, which series seem clearly profitable and which maybe aren't. You always have to be careful inferring too much, though.

* go, look: Easter Egg visual puzzlers.

* by request extra: this Weird Al-related comic looks well on its way, but some of you might want to get on board.

* if you have chance to make it happen, go see Ed Koren before a live audience. Very strong cartoonist and a delightful man.

* finally: Kate Wills profiles Angelica Hicks. Chloe Veltman profiles Lisa Benson.
 
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Happy 65th Birthday, Roger Salick!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Darryl Cunningham!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Thierry Groensteen!

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Festivals Extra: Come Work With Me

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April 17, 2017


Go, Look: You & A Bike & A Road

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Missed It: Sympathetic Protest On Behalf Of Musa Kart & Other Jailed Journalists Broken Up Violently

This is a harrowing article to read, and makes news of aggressive charges against a group of Turkish journalists including cartoonist Musa Kart that much more despairing. All of my impressions about what's going on with this horrible set of activities is how easy the government has had it doing these things in what would normally think of as almost clownish levels of grim repercussion triggered. It's hard to believe your eyes; you have no choice but to believe your eyes. They just come get you; reality adjusts to fit. Unless something extraordinary happens, all of those people are going to jail for a long time on charges that represent an approach to law that crushes dissent like the heel of a boot mashes up worms.
 
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Go, Look: 1970s Comic Book Mailbag Letterhead Images

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Slate Announces Its Cartoonist Studio Prizes For 2017

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Eleanor Davis (Print Comic, Libby's Dad) and Christina Tran (Web Comic, "On Beauty") are the winners of this year Cartoonist Studio Prizes, organized by Slate. Each was selected out of a pool of ten -- we'll run the linked-up lists below with the winning comic for each category in bold.

Jacob Brogan was the Slate representative, Jarad Greene represented Center For Cartoon Studies and Karen Green of Columbia University was this year's guest judge. The winner gets $1000.

It is the awards program's fifth year.

*****

The Cartoonist Studio Prize Finalists for Best Print Comic of the Year, Winner In Bold:

* Burt's Way Home, John Martz (Koyama Press)
* Canopy, Karine Bernadou (Retrofit/Big Planet Comics)
* Hilda And The Stone Forest, Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)
* Libby's Dad, Eleanor Davis (Retrofit/Big Planet Comics)
* March: Book Three, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
* Rolling Blackouts, Sarah Glidden (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Rosalie Lightning, Tom Hart (St. Martin's Press)
* The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, Sonny Liew (Pantheon)
* The Longest Day Of The Future, Lucas Varela (Fantagraphics)
* We All Wish For Deadly Force, Leela Corman (Retrofit/Big Planet Comics)

*****

The Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Web Comic of the Year

* Greek Diary, Glynnis Fawkes
* "I Trained to Fight the Enemy," Jess Ruliffson
* Normel Person, Lauren Weinstein
* On a Sunbeam, Tillie Walden
* "On Beauty," Christina Tran
* "Rejected Anthology Submission," Meghan Lands
* Riverbound, Päivi Niinikangas
* "The Secrets in My Mother's Nightstand," Sophia Wiedeman
* The Unofficial Cuckoo's Nest, Luke Healy
* Wonderlust, Diana Nock

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Nedroid

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* I'll admit to being a little baffled as to why a publisher Dynamite's size -- and with their perceived resources -- is using Kickstarter, but it's certainly worked for them. I guess there's an argument to be made that this will distinguish that project and allow them to build from pre-sold issues, but something about that still seems sort of wrong to me.

* Ganzeer's graphic novel ask has a long way to go.

* a slower week for Peter David's GoFundMe related to back taxes, although he's also collecting donations through the mail and I think initially through direct on-line contribution not a GoFundMe.

* as a counterweight against those two bullet points, there's the fully-funded-in-10-days White Ash #1 and we can note that the Chicago Architecture Foundation has really done well.

* finally, Mark Evanier points out of a couple of charities supported by the late Carolyn Kelly.
 
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Go, Look: Just A Few More Cartoonist Photos

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Go, Look: Samples From Two Picto-Strips

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Alex Dueben talks to Jen Sorensen. Vince Brusio talks to David Pepose.

* go, look: a little-seen illustration by Katsuhiro Otomo.

* this book is kind of amazing. I'm really glad it exists, because the idea of an artist relentlessly pursuing the same ideas over and over again isn't something you're likely to see in a lot of narrative art forms. When we talk about filmmakers following a pattern, it really isn't even in the same league as this kind of enterprise.

* Andy Oliver on The Case Of The Missing Men.

* finally, it's always worth looking over Paul Gravett's shoulder when he reads the catalogs.
 
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Happy 82nd Birthday, Jiro Kuwata!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Noel Tuazon!

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Happy 70th Birthday, Kazuichi Hanawa!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Jean-Pierre Gibrat!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Ben Dunn!

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Festivals Extra: Come Work With Me

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April 16, 2017


Go, Look: A Scene From Noah Van Sciver's Patreon Memoir

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

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Happy 40th Birthday, David Aja!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Charles Hatfield!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Paul Rivoche!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Lauren Weinstein!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Steve Haynie!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Kim DeMulder!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Leonard Rifas!

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April 15, 2017


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Hotshot #1, Voiced By Friends And Family


Terry Anderson Interviewed


Jury Judge -- Fantastic Name! -- Interviewed
 
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OTBP: No One Told Me Not To Do This

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

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

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Happy 41st Birthday, Sam Peeters!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Patrick Larme!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Robert Luedke!

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April 14, 2017


Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon
 
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If I Were In SF, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean Gaffney on Species Domain Vol. 1.

* never understood the appeal of the Deathstroke character, but they keep putting him atop that flagpole, looking for salutes.

* Dan Taylor profiles Stephan Pastis. Rouwen Lin profiles Sam Hepburn. Doug Moe profiles Rodney Lambright.

* missed that the artist that slipped some political imagery into the backgrounds -- very sparse backgrounds, probably one of the reasons it was noticeable -- of yet another relaunched X-Men comic was let go by the company. I think that's the right decision. I'm no fan of assembly line comics but if you're going to stuff five people into a room (of sorts) they have to be able to trust one another. I get along with co-workers just fine on those occasions I have co-workers, but I doubt it would work as well if I decided to do something that had them scrambling to make a public apology and disavow my joke.

* finally: yeah, that's very amusing.
 
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Happy 63rd Birthday, Chuck Dixon!

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Happy 46th Birthday, David Reddick!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Katsuhiro Otomo!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Dan Clowes!

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Happy 68th Birthday, Dave Gibbons!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Gerhard!

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April 13, 2017


Your 2017 Doug Wright Awards Nominees

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Cartoonist and journalist Katherine Collins of Neil The Horse fame is headed to the Giants of the North Hall of Fame as the Doug Wright Awards fires up its nominees slate for the 13th annual edition of its Canadian-comics awards program. Big names and DWA darlings such as Chester Brown, Michael DeForge and Julie Doucet are among this year's nominees.

imageDWA Administrator Brad Mackay made the announcement this morning via e-mailed press release. The DWAs are a featured event of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival and are schedule for May 14 during that show.

As Arn Saba, Collins was a key journalist in the coverage of comics and a prolific cartoonist from the 1970s into the 1980s. Saba was the producer and host of CBC Radio's "The Continuous Art" in 1979, which featured cartoonists such as Jules Feiffer and Milton Caniff speaking to the cultural discouragement that surround the form during that era.

Collins' character Neil The Horse was a newspaper feature 1975 to 1982 and an indie-comics darling from 1983 to 1988 at Aardvark-Vanaheim and later Renegade Press. The animation and musical feel to the comic was unique for its -- and perhaps any -- time.

Collins will accept her award in person.

Here are the yearly-award nominees for this year's Doug Wright Awards.

*****

Doug Wright Best Book Award
(Best Book Published In Canada In English)

* Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus, Chester Brown (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Big Kids, Michael DeForge (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Burt's Way Home, John Martz (Koyama Press)
* The Envelope Manufacturer, Chris Oliveros (self-published)
* Bird in a Cage, Rebecca Roher (Conundrum Press)


*****

Doug Wright Spotlight Award AKA "The Nipper"
(Canadian Cartoonist Deserving Of Wider Recognition)

* Jessica Campbell, Hot or Not: 20th-Century Male Artists (Koyama Press)
* GG, These Days, Lapse (both from š! No. 25 [kuš!]), and an untitled story from Altcomics Magazine 3 (2dcloud)
* Nathan Jurevicius, Birthmark (Koyama Press)
* Laura Ķeniņš, Alien Beings (kuš!)
* Brie Moreno, Dearest, Gift Shop 3D (Oireau), Missy, an untitled story from š! No. 6 (kuš!), various web comics
* Steve Wolfhard, Cat Rackham (Koyama Press)

*****

Pigskin Peters Award
(Most Experimental, Unconventional Or Avant-Garde Comic)

* Carpet Sweeper Tales, Julie Doucet (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Draw Blood, Ron Hotz (self-published)
* Garbage, Matthew Reichertz (Conundrum Press)
* After Land, Chris Taylor (Floating World Comics)
* The Palace of Champions, Henriette Valium (Conundrum Press)

*****

The awards program is essentially double-juried: finalists were prepared by Sean Rogers, Joe Ollmann and Betty Liang. Winners will be decided by Dakota McFadzean, Sue Carter.

Admission to the awards is free but the seating is limited.

Congratulations to all the nominees and to Ms. Collins.

photo supplied by Brad Mackay; thanks, Brad

*****

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Go, Listen: Simon Roy On Process Party

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Go, Look: The Flintstones Featuring Pebbles

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Go, Look: Dispatch From A Sanctuary City

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* here's a nice report from DINK in Denver, with representative photos. That comic on a continual, mechanical role looks neat. Fun to see all three cartooning Hernandez Brothers in one place. National treasures.

* I suppose specific seminars count as events. This is one being offered this summer.

* it's more difficult than ever to find con reports: people react not via lengthy blog post but through pithy social media statements now -- some of which are word-light or word-absent. Here's something in the classic form by Sally Ingraham on PIX 2017, which I'm told was reinvigorated and solid.

* not exactly comics: cute picture, cute story.

* finally: this Aislin exhibit looks quite impressive.
 
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If I Were In London, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Ever Happen To You?

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Alex Hoffman on A Zoo In Winter. James Kaplan on X-O Manowar #1 and The Flintstones Vol. 1.

* enjoyed this post about a specific Center For Cartoon Studies classroom assignment.

* it's been fun reading these Dash Shaw articles, and I hope that movie does well for him.

* not comics: Andrew Weiss remembers Champions, the super (hero) role-playing game. Like most role-playing games, the idea of it might appeal but the reality of the actual playing seems repulsive.

* "my career is over now."

* finally, I tried to read an X-Men comic today and failed to finish. I think I'm done. It was very far away from something I might find appealing. It was a good run, though, like 40 years where I could read one and at least comprehend how it was signaling a good time.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Herr Seele!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Dennis Janke!

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Happy 61st Birthday, François Schuiten!

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April 12, 2017


Go, Look: The Body Of Work

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Go, Look: New Yorker Cartoonists Abroad

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Go, Look: August Lenox Beaver Pages

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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.

*****

JAN170566 AMERICAN BARBARIAN COMPLETE SERIES TP $19.99
This is a light week for comics of the kind I tend to read, so it might be one where I take some chance and indulge some favorites ahead of where they might usually end up on my to-buy list. One beneficiary could be a new version of Tom Scioli's American Barbarian series, which filters his sensibility through a kind of forgotten '80s animated cartoon sensibility. It might be my favorite of his.

imageFEB170762 BLACK PANTHER CREW #1 $3.99
FEB171651 ALL TIME COMICS BULLWHIP #1 $3.99
FEB170029 HELLBOY AND BPRD 1954 GHOST MOON #2 $3.99
FEB170687 WICKED & DIVINE #28 CVR A MCKELVIE & WILSON (MR) $3.99
Serial comics this week for me breaks sharply acreoss a few offerings. I like the Coates Family comics just fine so far so I will likely at some point try this newer version of The Crew in their own book. All Time Comics is the Bayer Brothers + Friends Fantagraphics retro series, and Dan Nadel's recent negative review has extended my interest in finding out what they're doing. I always have a time for Mignolaverse comics, although my heart right now is with the Paul Grist one. The Wicked & Divine series continue to churn along with its unique tone intact.

DEC160117 MANARA CARAVAGGIO HC VOL 01 PALETTE AND SWORD (MR) $19.99
This is newer work from the maker of impossibly handsome figures, Milo Manara. I find Manara's work interesting but I usually end up buying whatever individual works I own a few years after their initial publication. Preview pages here.

JAN170785 COMPLETE PHONOGRAM HC (MR) $49.99
A concurrent, overlapping project from the Wicked & Divine team tied into the idea of music deployment/enjoyment/discernment as the basis for magic. This is a nice format to have all that work in one place.

FEB171281 BABYBEL WAX BODYSUIT (ONE SHOT) (MR) $6.00
This is apparently not very thick, but with full-color and Erik Kostiuk William displayed skills just making interesting shapes is probably the comic I'm looking most forward to seeing for myself. From the Retrofit/Big Planet crew.

DEC161788 TOPPU GP GN VOL 01 $12.99
I dream of the day when another sports manga grips North American audiences. I don't think it will be this one, but it's certainly the most potentially broadly appealing manga out from a major talent this week. A debut, too. I seem to remember encountering page sets on-line.

FEB172191 ART OF NESTOR REDONDO SC $24.95
A week like this, I would also take a look at art books. Nestor Rodondo has to have passed away more than 20 years ago now, but the work remains formidable.

NOV161570 ARTIST HC (MR) $19.99
Finally, this Anna Haifisch book has been available for pre-orders, at least by about a half year, and I'm guess its listing here is part of their deal with Fantagraphics for generate. These were fun comics to read on-line.

*****

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

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

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

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

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Howard Chaykin Original Art Images

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Go, Look: True Comics #44

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Todd Klein on Unfollow #12. John Seven on My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Her Bark And Her Bite and The Excavation.

* this article on why not to work for free makes the argument that if someone asserts you'll be making way more money down the road through some mechanism they're not a good businessperson for giving up more money. All creative personnel deserve a rate and royalties; anything else is a compromise and you need to be really careful with your compromises.

* finally, Cathy G. Johnson has an on-line store.
 
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Happy 34th Birthday, Tim Sievert!

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Happy 68th Birthday, Steve Sherman!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Troy Nixey!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Tanino Liberatore!

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Happy 44th Birthday, J. Scott Campbell!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Gary Martin!

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April 11, 2017


Go, Look: The Art Class Is A Sanctuary

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On That Marvel Artist Injecting Strident Political Commentary As Imagery In X-Men Book

In case you missed it, Marvel over the weekend has removed some political references made by the Marvel artist Ardian Syaf in the art of a recent comic, distanced themselves and the other creators from their meaning and intent, and promised discipline.

It's reported that Syaf inserted two number-reference images into the art of X-Men Gold #1. They concern Indonesian politics. If I'm reading the article correctly -- and this one bubbled up through social media and into sites like this one (I'm sure Bleeding Cool was early if not first) -- the references are nods to the considerable current resistance to the rare election of a Christian governor in Jakarta, accused of blasphemy and subject to an idea lobbed in his direction that the only people elected to major office in Indonesia should be Muslim. The references are numbers relating to a protest date and Koran verse that support these positions.

This seems like a semi-standard incident of an artist putting words or messages into their art, given juice by the fact that the ideas involved are 1) political and 2) seem to work against the inclusive values that fans like to read into the X-Men comics. One of the references is placed in a way to call attention to team leader Kitty Pryde, Marvel's most prominent Jewish character and certainly not a candidate for Indonesian higher office according to the stance in question.

I have no idea what the artist's motivations are. I used to be a young man that liked to do things not like this in a political sense but in the same neighborhood as a practical joke. Looking at the panels in question through the link I wish more time had been spent making them interesting without the messaging. It's hard for me to believe that is the kind of art Marvel would put in a key relaunch. I'm not exactly an expert on superhero art, but I know that when you make everyone the same height in a crowd scene, I'm probably going to put to sleep by your other choices before the comic is through. This is pertinent because the lack of detail in the art made these references really easy to find.

Basically, though, that's a commercial gig, not a slot in a small-press anthology or creator-owned title. Do the job. If you play a prank and get caught, embrace the consequences. Even away from the political implications of the content, that's a shitty thing to do to your editors and a double-shitty thing to do to your artistic collaborators. I wouldn't want to work with that person again, and I'd resent it if I were asked to.

In the end, getting fired from a gig for being a jake is way more generous than being denied political office because of your religion.
 
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Go, Look: Alden Viguilla

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* missed this sneak peek at character designs on Kid Lobotomy, from the Shelly Bond-led imprint at IDW, Black Crown. It's all in the execution, and I like both of those creators, but there are lot of comics working that general space.

* yesterday's Jim Blanchard interview -- I'll try to jump back on here and link to it directly -- provides details on a couple of projects to come, including a 100-page collection of collaborative comics I'm not sure I knew even existed.

* here's the Star Wars slipcased very expensive edition I didn't ask for; here's the nice presentation of Akira I did. That there's a likely market for both is fascinating to me, but not surprising.

* a Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo Batman-driven but generally DCU-wide event comic has been announced with a little more fanfare than these things get anymore. It makes sense, though, because of Snyder and Capullo's track record together -- the company and those creators should get the benefit of what they accomplished if they set out to do something high-profile together in the near-future. Superhero event comics have an interesting relationship with their featured creators for sure.

* finally: you line them all up and that LOAC essentials line is a pretty great little group: some biggies name-wise even now, and others not so much. All worth reading, though.
 
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Since This Doesn't Happen Without Me I Suppose I'll Go, So Please Some Of You In Columbus Join Me

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Go, Look: The Snow Monster

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean Kleefeld on the historical significance of Sabre. David Nieves on Black Cloud #9 and WWE Wrestlemania Special 2017.

* Roz Chast is a hell of a cartooning talent in addition to being articulate and funny on her feet, so I'm glad to see her packing them in for a speech right in her wheelhouse. I look forward to her book later this year.

* I sent you to Jack Ziegler's NYT obit yesterday; I'm always interested in that one, whenever the Comics Journal republishes from their archives, and the local newspaper.

* RC Harvey profiles Gluyas Williams.

* finally, I had many concerns about a Trump presidency, and one of them was that we start sending media people to Scott Adams for his take issue to issue. Calling an electoral contest is its own skill, it doesn't confer on those who guess correctly any insight into policy or day-to-day politics, it really doesn't.
 
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Happy 42nd Birthday, Scott O. Brown!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Matt Kindt!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Michael Rhode!

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April 10, 2017


Carolyn Kelly, RIP

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Congratulations To Jim Morin Of The Miami Herald For Winning The Pulitzer Prize, 2017

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The finalists were Jen Sorensen and Steve Sack. Morin's a super-solid cartoonist and is a veteran's veteran, having been at it since the late 1970s. You can see the portfolio for all three starting here. One thing I like about the Pulitzers is they announce it in the middle of the work day, so you get all those great photos of people at work congratulating their peer. It's also one of those awards that everyone has heard of.
 
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Go, Look: Observing Jared Kushner

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Musa Kart Faces Up To 29 Years In Prison

This seems like a pretty thorough write-up of the news that Musa Kart and the other jailed journalists from the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, taken into custody almost a half year ago now, now face lengthy jail sentences. Kart's is actually the seocnd most listed after a jailed chairperson of the publication. They are accused of being adherents of Fethullah Gulen, who led a failed coup last summer.

The article points out that the paper has published countless articles critical of Gulen and his group, while most international observers remain keenly critical of the entire fiasco, with over 100 journalists imprisoned and officials claiming it has nothing to do with past work critical of the sitting government. The cartoonist isn't allowed to draw as his colleagues aren't allowed to write; blank spaces continue to appear in the newspaper under their bylines.
 
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Go, Look: A Beautiful Darwyn Cooke New Frontier Page

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* the Peter David back-taxes gofundme proceeds with some force. Many updates at David's blog.

* the Egyptian artist Ganzeer has an ambitious-sounding Kickstarter ask going.

* this project presented by Felipe Cagno just looks like the kind of thing that would come from a writer who's made good use of crowd-funding in the past: the nature of the ask and the quality of the artists involved suggests that. Turns out there are successful projects in the writer's past.

* finally, the Chicago Architecture Foundation has punched through its initial goals. That one sounded pretty cool.
 
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Go, Look: Bennie

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I Have Never Read A Private Doberman Comics Story

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Alex Hoffman on Ancestor. Todd Allen on Deathstroke: The Professional. Philippe Leblanc on A Hollowing.

* Bill Sienkiewicz pays tribute to Bernie Wrightson.

* go, look: a short video from the illustrator Mattias Adolfsson, an Internet favorite and someone whose on-line sketchwork I've enjoyed quite a bit over the years. It's on fountain pens.

* Oliver Sava profiles Michael DeForge. Jim Griffiths profiles Badiuaco.

* as far as inspirations for graphic novels go, a huge bank merger is one I've never heard before.

* I feel it's worth noting the NYT obituary for Jack Ziegler: a favorite of many of his fellow cartoonists, according to a surprising number of e-mails I've received.

* finally: how delightful is Ed Koren? I mean come on!
 
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Happy 55th BIrthday, Bill Marks!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Jacques De Loustal!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Scott Hampton!

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Happy 60th Birthday, James Hudnall!

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April 9, 2017


CR Sunday Interview: Jim Blanchard

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*****

imageIt was my great fortune to work with the artist Jim Blanchard in the Fantagraphics office in the mid-1990s. Blanchard was an intimidating but forthright and friendly presence. There was never any bullshit on any level dealing with him even in the most casual way. Blanchard worked really hard, too, in an inspirational way for a 25-year-old wannabe writer to see every single day, ploughing furiously through an art direction slate that by then was almost entirely Eros Comix-related.

I came to know Blanchard as an artist more gradually, primarily because of the expressed high esteem of his peers. He was great on Pat Moriarity's pencils, and better on Peter Bagge's. His own start-to-finish work doing portraiture, and these kind of decorative art pieces, and the occasional comic book I liked quite away and learned to love. As Jim Woodring states in his effusive introduction, they are completely satisfying as virtuoso ink-slinging but jarring in their fullness as art. They are images that stick with you.

The parts of his career not the bulk of his portrait work is the subject of Visual Abuse, a book that came out a few months back to almost no recognition by the comics press. I hope you'll consider giving it a look. There are a lot of fun, funny, profane comics in there, in the best of the tearing-down underground tradition. Blanchard's writing about his journey from a rich regional 'zine scene to early '90s Seattle and his maturity as artist across a range of styles and endeavors is as smart and to the point as much of the art. I will buy everything Blanchard does I can afford to own.

There's a nice, straight-forward and less wonky interview with Blanchard here. I edited what follows slightly for formatting and flow. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: At the end of the book, it's explained that Visual Abuse is a companion volume to Beasts and Priests. Given the amount of time since Beasts and Priests, was there any consideration to just doing one big book both the graphics and portraiture aspects of your career?

JIM BLANCHARD: I didn't include the Beasts and Priests material because that book is still in print, and was published by Fantagraphics. So there would have been too much in-print overlap. Also adding 64 portraits would have made Visual Abuse too portraits-heavy, and unbalanced. I included the stuff from Glam Warp -- another book Fantagraphics published -- in Visual Abuse because that book is out of print.



SPURGEON: How does a book work within your overall professional landscape? I think of your freelance work as being built from commissioned illustrations, prints and maybe even original art. Does the book provide you access to a different audience? Is it a way of keeping this work out there -- Fanta does a great job of keeping stuff in print. Is it just personally satisfying? What do you get out of the release of a book?

BLANCHARD: The book was churning around in my head for over a decade. I had this 20-year body of work (1982-2002) that I felt no one had really seen, unless you happened to own it in its obscure original form, which was comic books, weird limited edition art books, magazine illustrations, record covers, flyers, posters etc. The idea was to collect and arrange all this stuff into a coffee table book with a brief written narrative to provide context, and give the art some new life and hopefully get it under the noses of people who had never seen it. Stoke the coals. So yes, with luck it will provide access to a different audience. It's already happened, I've heard from people who were introduced to my art through the book.

The format was inspired by The Lowbrow Art of Robert Williams, which divided Williams' work into chapters based on styles and mediums, and adds a text introduction to each chapter. Another inspiration was Art Chantry's Some People Can't Surf, a book I've admired for a long time for its elegant layout and structure. I'm hung up on retrospective art books. "Why doesn't so-and-so have an art book?" Now I finally have an art book. It satisfies my art ego. And it's a relief to be done with it.

SPURGEON: I don't usually talk about the introductions, but that was an amazing short piece of writing by Jim Woodring. What made you think of him as someone who might provide an introduction? Is your opinion of Jim's work along the same lines of his opinion of yours?

BLANCHARD: Jim hooked me up big time and his introduction is incredibly flattering. I'm not worthy! I have enormous respect for Woodring's art. Having read interviews with him, it's obvious that he's a master of written/spoken language as well as visual language. He's one of the most unique, talented and bizarre artists around and I feel grateful to know him and consider him a friend.

imageSPURGEON: What led to the decision of your writing some contextual essays for the book? They're very strong, and they're a lot like your spoken voice. What was it like revisiting your material in order to write about it?

BLANCHARD: Writing the text pieces was very difficult. It had been 25 years since I've done any kind of serious, concise writing, and it took me weeks to get my word gears rolling again. It also took me a while to establish a "tone" I was happy with. I'm still not entirely happy with it, but editor Eric Reynolds kept telling me it was OK. The text in most art books isn't typically written by the artist, so I'm uncomfortable with it being a first person account. Then again who reads the text in art books? I almost never do!

In this case, I think the context was necessary for the book to function correctly. I tried to keep it short and sweet. Having a computer made revisiting and organizing the visual material easier, however the text was hand-written on yellow legal pads.

SPURGEON: The descriptives for musical acts that aren't you: is that taken from old articles, or did people provide material just for the book? What made you want to bring in some outside voices there?

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BLANCHARD: Since I had access to good photographs from some of the shows I did flyers for, I solicited standout memories from people who were at the shows, to further augment the layouts. Many people I asked had no memories at all after so many years. I thought the approach of adding photos/memories worked out well and helped contextualize and "set off" the flyer/poster art. Some of the shows I did crapped-out posters for have become historically notable, such as the Nirvana Motor Sports Garage show. The night of that show I was offered but turned down an inch-thick stack of the posters, which are now worth hundreds of dollars each!

SPURGEON: You begin with music, which seems to be this significant force for you, particularly in the first half of your life. Can you talk a bit more about what the appeal was to music you listened to -- stadium rock at first, then punk, then hardcore/punk -- as an artist. You hint that these musical acts helped you find your way in this isolated town, but I don't exactly know what you found aesthetically appealing there.

BLANCHARD: Hard to really nail down the source of the appeal that music had on me. It's a groove that grabs ya and that's it. As an angry teen in stodgy Oklahoma, punk was a fantastic outlet. As a younger kid, I was also a fan of pro football, baseball, and basketball, so I think my appreciation of rock music early on has to do with a similar appreciation for action and physicality -- most of the rock bands I was into were physical: The Who, Hendrix, Grand Funk, and of course after that punk and hardcore were incredibly physical. In terms of visual aesthetics, when I was young the distinction between comics, pro sports, and rock music was blurred. They all had an attendant graphic language that was similar: cool logos, bright colors, "heroic" figures, etc. I was talking to cartoonist Ed Piskor about this at A.P.E. in San Francisco a couple years ago. His Hip Hop Family Tree gets into that mixing up of "heroic" genres.

SPURGEON: One thing that interests me about your early 'zine experiences is that you had a bunch of local 'zines to see and know were publishing and from which get some practical encouragement. It seems like the regional identity was a selling point for Blatch as you continued to work on it. How important was it for you to start your work simply where you were, when you had the ability -- or maybe even close to the ability -- to get started. Was there a crucial, driving motivation there?

BLANCHARD: Well, regarding starting the Blatch zine, it was 1982, way before the Internet. At that time you got info about the music world from magazines and fanzines. I was immersed in that stuff, even though I lived in Oklahoma. My Anglophile brother subscribed to British music tabloid Sounds, and I was getting countless punk zines through the mail. One issue of Flipside would give you a pretty accurate impression of what was going on in the US punk universe at that time, through the reviews, interviews and advertisements.

To call early '80s U.S. punk rock "under the radar" is an understatement -- it was non-existent in the mainstream media. That was another motivation, to spread the news about this secret, rad shit. I think when Fear appeared on Saturday Night Live and wrecked the place, it scared the hell out of the Powers That Be in the big media. The hardcore era encouraged participation. Texas punk band The Big Boys always added "now go start your own band!" to their flyers/records/etc. At that time, the different regional scenes had well-defined differences, something that's probably been obliterated by the internet. Texas/Oklahoma punk bands and zines were distinct from the ones from New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, etc.

SPURGEON: Jim, if you don't mind saying, why did you come to Seattle when you came to Seattle? You talk about seeing a football game at Peter Bagge's house that sounds like 80 percent of the comics scene at that time -- you were early, in other words, although maybe less so for the growing music scene.

BLANCHARD: I graduated from college in 1986 and knew I wanted to get the fuck out of Oklahoma. I lived at my parent's place in Bartlesville, OK for a year and worked construction to save some money. I picked Seattle because of a chick I knew there, and because Seattle seemed like a cool place. It was certainly affordable back then. And you could find a parking place. I arrived in the summer of 1987, so the Grunge thing had yet to blow up. There were a few cartoonists, but nothing like the tsunami of cartoonists that showed up in the '90s. I dig the Northwest and have been here since '87. I think I dig it because of the air and the green-ness. And there's lots of smart people here. I ain't moving any time soon. I love Bellingham, my current home.

SPURGEON: Was moving from Seattle proper a necessity, mentally or in order to better afford your pursuit of art?

BLANCHARD: It's sad to see what's happened to Seattle. Some of the highest rents in the world. I think I paid $200 a month for rent when I moved there in 1987. Forget about buying a house. What you're left with now is tech workers; all the funky artists and musicians can't afford to hang. I suppose it's inevitable, though, and I'm glad I got to experience it when I did.

We left Seattle -- on Sept. 11, 2001! -- so my wife could go to Western Washington University and because we really liked Bellingham and had friends there. We left Bellingham for Maple Valley/North Bend in 2006 because my wife got a high school teaching job in Snoqualmie. We moved back to Bellingham in 2016. It's beautiful here but also pricey.

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SPURGEON: You mention in your chapter on psychedelia that you were already doing what people later thought was drug-influenced art before you had ever dropped a tab. If that didn't come from psychedelia, where did that come from, that intense interest in filling the page? It's not an uncommon obsession for artists to have. When you talk about the art like that you'd having an extraordinary impact, what was the young you reacting to?

BLANCHARD: Again, it's hard to nail it down specifically where the obsession comes from, or what my attraction to it was. It felt good and I did it. Psychedelic art is usually very attention-getting in one way or another. Eye candy. I assume lots of kids liked it. As I mention in the book, I was definitely influenced by psych art I saw as a child: record covers, psych poster art, those dense ads in comic books and magazines for iron-ons, posters, patches, etc. Also certain Marvel Comics artists like Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Jim Starlin, and Paul Gulacy. I think of Berni Wrightson and Frank Frazetta as psychedelic. Trippy and organically fluid. That's the stuff that got me started. At age 16, seeing underground comix busted my noggin wide open.

SPURGEON: Did you become less interested in music and making art related to music in the 1990s? It seems like those gigs fade from your work at least in volume by then.

BLANCHARD: Part of that is because the production of "physical media" dropped off. There were less LPs/CDs/45s being made. Despite that, I've done music-related art pretty much continuously since the early '80s. Once those ties are established, you tend to get lots of job offers. I still enjoy doing it. Just finished work on two 45 covers and a flyer. Flyers are typically low pressure and a chance to work wacky/spontaneously. I never lost interest in music and am still preoccupied with it.



SPURGEON: I had a couple of Fantagraphics questions. The first is that you mention working in the warehouse with Michael Dowers. I know from the book that you encountered a lot of art that you admire that way, but I also know that you didn't always like every publication. Do you feel like the industry overall serves the kind of comics you like to do -- even if not by you? Do you feel like the desire to become legitimate has worked against a kind of comics-making you value?

BLANCHARD: I rarely read comics nowadays. Occasionally I'll re-read an old R. Crumb comic or Kirby-era Fantastic Four reprint or something like that. But, I'm not drawn to them, so I don't really have any needs to be served by the comics industry. I see Fantagraphics' output when I visit their wonderful store in Georgetown, but that's about it. Most of the modern "indy/alternative" comics I see from the U.S.A. don't engage me. Too self-conscious and niceity-nice. There are a few exceptions. It seems like comics in America stopped evolving around the same time rock music did in the '80s and '90s, but I'm out of the loop so I could be wrong. To me, the last great comics generation was the group that came up in the early-mid '80s: Clowes, Bagge, Kaz, Friedman, Hernandez Bros., Burns -- all with amazing, unique artistic chops and all on a par with the best of the previous generations' cartoonists.

The last comic work I did was over 10 years ago: the Trucker Fags In Denial comic published in 2004 -- new edition of that one is in the works, btw. I quit doing them because it was too much work and there was no money in it. Not my forté. Not any stories I really want to tell. I'm much happier doing singular illustrations rather than narrative art. I did become a more proficient artist by doing them, though. Making comics forces you to draw things and situations you wouldn't otherwise, which is a good exercise.

imageSPURGEON: How did working on all of those Eros Comix so quickly as a designer have on your work? I know that with strip cartoonist who have to produce a lot of comics, or comic book artists, a regular sustained gig will lock the elements of their style into place. Were you a different designer or even artist after doing that job so intensely for so long?

BLANCHARD: Working on Eros Comix -- and the Monster Comics imprint -- was usually fun and low stress. There was way more room for silliness and gaudy type, compared to Fantagraphics' more prestigious books. Not to say I didn't give it my best effort, because I did. By the time I started art directing at Fantagraphics, I had a basic understanding of type design from doing the Blatch zine, flyers, and record covers. But I learned a great deal more once I'd been there a while, by virtue of working closely with Dale Yarger and Pat Moriarity, both of whom had extensive formal backgrounds in design. Dale Yarger taught me so much, I miss him a great deal. Kim Thompson was instrumental, too, and I also miss him very much.

SPURGEON: Bonus Fanta question: can you talk a little more about solving Peter Bagge's art style as something for you to ink?

BLANCHARD: There was definitely something a little off in the first couple issues of Hate that I inked. I initially approached it the way I had been inking Pat Moriarity's pencil art: with rather thick outlines. It took me three or four issues to figure out the best line widths and the best brushes/tools to use. Eventually it gelled. Peter has a peculiar, twisty drawing style with lots of tight curves that can be difficult to ink properly. Some of those Hates turned out swell and it was an honor to work on them. It's too bad the "pamphlet" format is dead.

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SPURGEON: I loved the number of comics we got to see in this book, even thought you sort of summarily dismiss your skill as a comics maker. One thing I didn't recall until I saw them again were some comics you did employing a really thin ink-line: "A Trip To The Hardware Store" probably being the most distinctive. That style seems to stand sharply in contrast with some of your more grandly ink-slung works -- is there a story behind that different style, or reason it wasn't used more.

BLANCHARD: "A Trip To The Hardware Store" was an experiment, really. It's a true story. After the incident that sparked the story, I took my 35mm camera to the store and took a bunch of photos for reference. All the art is inked with a 4 x 0 rapidograph, which gives it a creepy, "dead" quality. I never did enough comics to establish a consistent style. Each one was done with a different visual and story-telling technique.

SPURGEON: One thing I like about your comics are the rubbery figures you use for your characters, just inches short of being grotesques. Am I right in thinking that there's a certain amount of energy you get from designing certain characters like that? They're kind of all over the place in this refreshing way.

BLANCHARD: The grotesque characters were probably shaped from years of reading R. Crumb and other underground comix. Also Peter Bagge, Drew Friedman, Big Daddy Roth, Basil Wolverton, Don Martin, Looney Tunes cartoons, etc. My whole life I've been making wacky faces with my own face, so there's a bit of me in there, too.

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SPURGEON: The portraits we do see in this book show off a greater range than the hyper-photo look of the Beasts and Priests stuff -- although we get a few of those, too. The Charles Willeford portrait fascinates me in that the wrinkles and shading become this overt graphic element, which looking at some of the other portraits isn't uncommon at least parts of those pictures. How do you find a balance between bringing in that kind of abstraction into play and just hammering out the most visceral likeness of a subject?

BLANCHARD: Back then, I had yet to solidify the photorealistic methods I use now, so the portraits were more exploratory and I was constantly trying out new things. Some of them are perhaps more "fresh" than the stuff I do now, because they are integrating more abstraction and taking more chances. I used to like to challenge myself graphically, and dig myself into a hole that I had to find a way out of. I wasn't always successful. I don't do that much any more. Now it's all about getting the work done. I've been meaning to find time to go nuts with paint out in the shed, and try some more spastic processes.

SPURGEON: Is it harder or easier to be an artist doing what you do than it was 15-20 years ago?

BLANCHARD: It's easier in most ways. I have a larger base of customers from over the years. I don't have to accept work I don't want to do -- I've turned down doing Trump for magazines several times. But it can be more difficult to motivate yourself when you've been cranking it out for so long. Also, my vision ain't what it used to be, so the mega-detailed pen & ink stuff can be a strain on the old eyeballs.

SPURGEON: Are there any untapped vistas out there for you, yet, something that might make a full chapter in a future book like this one?

BLANCHARD Untapped vistas? I'll probably keep with the portrait stuff I've been doing the last 20 years, and that suits me fine. I'd love to do another portraits anthology some day.

One future project I'm semi-excited about is a collection of my collaborations with Chris Kegel that Fantagraphics will be publishing -- maybe through their F.U. Press imprint. The book will be called Meat Warp, and will contain 100 pages of psychotic, porno and violence comix and art I did with Chris, none of which was included in the Visual Abuse book. It should make for a stupid, twisted tome. Just what the world needs, right?

*****

* Visual Abuse, Jim Blanchard, Fantagraphics, hardcover, 212 pages, 9781606999387, 2016, $34.99.

*****

* cover to Visual Abuse
* photo supplied by Eric Reynolds
* some of that text
* that famous poster
* detail from a 1985 psychedelic drawing
* cover to Blanchard's own Eros Comix title, Bad Meat
* from "A Trip To The Hardware Store"
* the discussed portrait of Charles Willeford
* from Trucker Fags In Denial [below]

*****

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Go, Look: More Great Jungle Action Splash Pages

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Fabio Civitelli!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Ashley Holt!

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April 8, 2017


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Nacho Vigalondo Gives Interview While Comics Shopping


Bald Guy With Beard Discusses Future Of Comics


Jud Meyers Interview From Several Months Back I Don't Remember Seeing
 
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Go, Look: Gary Dunaier's Mocca Festival 2017 Photos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy 39th Birthday, Kazu Kibuishi!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Andrew Langridge!

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April 7, 2017


Go, Look: Hoppers 13

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* Elliott Dunstan provides a standard survey-article piece on nerd comics one can find on-line.

* Gary Tyrrell says goodbye to the most recent major phase in the Bad Machinery comics. Those have been ruthless entertaining comics, and from a high point of about 30 webcomics I have been down to that one and one other for a while now. I hope that whatever John Allison does next it's near as good.

* speaking of Tyrrell, there tends to be bits and pieces of publishing news in his major convention reports.

* finally, Joe Glass talks to Sarah Graley.
 
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If I Were In Luzern, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Go, Look: Suspense #23

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Phoebe Gloeckner talks to Julia Gfrörer. A small army of interviewers talks to Jay Lynch.

* Paul La Farge profiles the relationship between HP Lovecraft and fan Robert Barlow, which I'm sure interests a lot of comics fans like myself who keep meticulous track of the intersection between professional and fan communities on a variety of scales.

* this is a terrific interview with Jay Lynch that Gary Groth did earlier this year. Groth is always solicitous towards older cartoonists, and Lynch was slightly diminished here so Groth is careful with him in a way that great interviewers know how to be. The cascading details are wonderful. I'm guessing his Shannon Wheeler might by Shawn Kerri? Lynch comes across the genial soul he seems in real life. It would be nice if an intern at Fanta could find Groth a grant to interview cartoonists 70 years old and older until that money ran out. Whatever might focus his energy in that direction would be amazing. Pair it with the '90 Kane and the Sendak into its own book (unless the Kane is spoken for).

* finally, look at this lovely picture of George Herriman and his family.
 
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Happy 77th Birthday, Claire Brétecher!

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April 6, 2017


Go, Listen: Josh Bayer On Comics Alternative

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Go, Look: Another Run Of Tall Tales

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Not Comics: Arpad Schmidhammer On Pinterest

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* it's DINK Denver this weekend: that's a well-organized, well-supported show in one of our cities that's not as big a comics city as some others. I think there's an educational process there, and they'll eventually be even better.

* Mark Evanier has a thorough explanation up here as to how to nominate someone for the Bill Finger Award. That's an award -- for one living person and one who is no longer with us -- that recognizes a body of work in comics writing (comic book + MAD Magazine) that had gone under-appreciated. It is given out at the Eisners, which take place during San Diego Con, so I think it's appropriate to mention it here. I'm always happy for those families.

* speaking of awards, last year's Eisner nominations were released on the 19th, so that might happen soon.

* Gary Tyrrell writes about the cool things he experienced at MoCCA Arts Festival this year.

* MoCCA Festival Bingo from Summer Pierre. Recommended by Chris Duffy.

* finally, Jim Rugg reminds me that a revitalized PIX is happening this Sunday. That show should receive quite the boost from add John Kelly, director of the ToonSeum, to the core braintrust. I appreciate they've invited the great Dan Zettwoch. Here below is something Rugg did for the show.

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

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

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Go, Look: The Last Look!

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Michael Buntag on Man-Thing #1.

* Chester Brown and Dave Sim continue to work their way through issues present in Brown's work. There's not much of a clash here because there's not much of a baseline agreement on anything against which specifics can be argued, but if you're a fan of either cartoonist watching them walk through an example or an argument might be of interest even if what they're arguing has no interest at all.

* Rob Salkowitz weighs in on the issue of diversity through character representation. It's hard for me to parse a lot of it because it's written from a core expectation of using art to meet consumer desires that's just sort of yucky to me. I really wouldn't cry if every character not done by its original creator went away forever. That said, I'm not sure why Marvel doesn't have a profits-participation program in place considering they've done that with certain creators already, just not others. I think they'd get some decent characters that way, although not a creator's best work. The Winter Soldier is a good character.

* not comics: young leaders in the newspaper industry talk about newspapers. I like a lot of what's going on with newspapers right this moment and really dislike other stuff. The Times Of Northwest Indiana is an interesting, forward-thinking publication on a business level.

* Naomi Fry talks to Vanessa Davis.

* finally: I have little to no idea what the hell is going on here, but please nobody punch anyone in or through the face over industry interview commentary strategies.
 
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Happy 35th Birthday, Hijinx Comics!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Mark Askwith!

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April 5, 2017


Go, Look: Anna Lisa Schneider

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CRNI: Arifur Rahman Art Stolen, Exhibition Damaged; Cover-Up Alleged Over Refugee Status

Here's a grim story that should be read all the way through, cognizant of the fact that some of this is lightly reported and some as-yet-unreported avenues could have a titanic shift on how we determine what happened and why.

While I have a lot of sympathy for people objecting to art, and feel in fact that can be one of art's purposes to the point where art that is objected-to is quite often itself an objection, it's hard for me to fathom the chain of events here and I don't understand the thinking behind what is alleged of the officials involved. That a newspaper would initially play along is less surprising but of course just as distressing. That this story involves work by Arifur Rahman, whose 2009-2010 case in Bangladesh involving a cat named Muhammed seemed so alarmingly over the top to the point he moved halfway across the world with the help of rights advocates, that also has resonance.
 
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Go, Look: Post-War Marvel Female Character Covers

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By Request Extra: Brandon Rude's GoFundMe Still Active

Here. This is Steve and Jaynelle Rude's kid, and their support fell short of their initial ask back in the holiday season.
 
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Go, Look: Smith's Pharmacy

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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.

*****

DEC160115 SECRET SNEYD UNPUBLISHED CARTOONS OF DOUG SNEYD HC $14.99
It's a weird week with a lot of traditional comic-book format comics I'd check out but not so many books with spines. So let's start with a high-concept oddity: a book of unpublished concept cartoons from the Playboy cartoonist Doug Sneyd. I've learned that there are more comics, if we find a new avenue for content in the process of making comics, we'll never get to read them all.

imageDEC161679 LOVE & ROCKETS MAGAZINE #2 (MR) $4.99
FEB171354 GIANT DAYS #25 $4.99
FEB170266 FLINTSTONES #10 $3.99
FEB170459 ANIMAL NOIR #3 (OF 4) $3.99
FEB170460 ANIMAL NOIR #3 (OF 4) SUBSCRIPTION VAR $3.99
FEB170452 BOX OFFICE POISON COLOR COMICS #4 $3.99
FEB170488 STARSTRUCK OLD PROLDIERS NEVER DIE #3 (OF 6) $4.99
FEB170575 ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN #1 (MR) $3.99
JAN170768 THEYRE NOT LIKE US #15 (MR) $2.99
FEB170686 WALKING DEAD #166 (MR) $2.99
FEB171092 ELEANOR & THE EGRET #1 $3.99
My favorite thing about the first issue of the fourth volume of Love and Rockets is that it was absolutely unsparing in terms of bringing new readers on. Los Bros are what they are, and they're not stopping to make nice on their way to make as much great art they can make in the dozens and dozens of years they have left to do so. I'm sure this new issue is awesome; the last several Love and Rockets anything have been. Giant Days keep coming out in a way I'm not sure I can afford it at $5 a pop. Flintstones is still the oddest comic of the decade, and I suspect may run out of its initial steam; we'll see if that book has a second gear. I like that Animal Noir comic quite a bit; it's loose in the way comics mostly aren't anymore. I still haven't seen the color Alex Robinson books, but I'm sure I'll remember to go look at them soon. Starstruck makes three IDW serial comic books worth looking at in my opinion, a record for this colum. Rock Candy Mountain should be funny, and I always look at funny. They're Not Like Us should be beautiful and ditto. Walking Dead continues its grind through the aftermath of the Whisperers storyline. I hope they do a long, boring incremental recovery storyline about crops and windmill power or whatever. Eleanor & Egret is Sam Kieth. I'll look at that.

FEB170725 WE STAND ON GUARD TP (MR) $14.99
I thought this would be a huge hit for Image; my hunch is that it was a modest one. It felt a little mannered in its execution, as I recall, but I liked elements of it quite a bit.

FEB172092 BORUTO GN VOL 01 NARUTO NEXT GENERATIONS $9.99
Well, this makes me feel old. A sequel makes sense; I thought the strength of the first several volumes of the original Naruto was its ability to work through fight scenes logically and in terms of theme, which almost no American comics do.

FEB171151 POPTROPICA BOOK 03 SECRET SOCIETY $9.95
I read this this week, about a world of time-stuck civilizations. There were a few cute moments, but the pacing was all over the place.

DEC161858 2000 AD 40TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL $7.99
Let's stick this one at the bottom: I sure there are some fine stories with neglected characters here. 2000 AD and its characters are the original underrated comics thing.

*****

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 Luzern, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Monsieur Gravedigger

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Henry Chamberlain on American Gods: Shadows #1.

* Alex Dueben talks to Marty Two Bulls, Sr. Rob McMonigal talks to Sean T. Collins. Shawn Starr talks to HTML Flowers.

* bundled extra: when I talk about narrative exhaustion for a lot of these characters, this is the kind of thing that springs to mind. I have to imagine all the Batman bad guys have battled a few times since 2000 or so. Comics used to get around this by swapping out the entire audience, but comics has in recent years had a significant part of their audience stick around for several years.

* Mike Dawson, tell us: how do webcomics work?

* I don't know that I could stand to read an entire book about the Guardians Of The Galaxy characters, but I did think it smart that Marvel had the material slowly cooking on a back stove for a long while, for use later on in the movie or even in their comics.

* not comics: Tucker Stone writes about twenty years since the horrifying-sounding incident that looks like it saved his life.

* finally, I missed Jim Woodring drawing Spongebob.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Patrick Dean!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Joey Weiser!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Art Adams!

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April 4, 2017


Go, Look: Hmtown

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Go, Read: Interview With Barry Blitt About Covering President Donald Trump

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I thought this a fairly substantive interview with the to my memory not-very-talkative-in-general Barry Blitt, focused primarily on his New Yorker covers featuring Donald Trump. Blitt's covers haven't been making the news the way his fist-bump Obamas cover did -- the times are too weird to stop and consider the satire as it's being flung about -- but some of them have an element of grace and calm in their laceration that I have yet to find in reliable way with any of our newspaper cartoonists. I also like the hints around some of the difficulties of engaging with Hillary Clinton, and how you can work a cover away from one idea and into another, or have to drop it entirely.
 
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Go, Look: Tony Fitzpatrick At Davidson Gallery

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Missed It: Alison Bechdel Named Vermont's Third Cartoonist Laureate

I didn't miss it so much as I tweeted about it and forgot to put something up on this site. Bechdel -- eminently qualified -- follows Ed Koren and James Kochalka. That's been a great program for Vermont: tons of publicity building into their image as an island of cool, cultural calm in a raging sea of internalized politics. I don't think it will work for them if a bunch of states do it, but right now it's gold.
 
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Go, Look: Shoppers Uknown

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

By Tom Spurgeon

* this IDW book involving George Takei about his family's internment during World War 2 could be a very intriguing comic if done well. That's one of the great stories in 20th Century history, that literally within the lifespan of people still out there doing things we couldn't come up with a better solution than that. It's also something the US doesn't talk about, like the way New Orleans was just broken for several years after Katrina and you can still see the bruises. Graphic novels are good for that kind of conversation-starter.

* I would welcome any sort of Akira film adaptation if only because I'd like some deluxe option to own those comics. I think that's one of the remarkable comics from the second half of the 20th Century, how all that visual language for action and movement and body horror kind of coalesced into this one thing.

* I also hope for more attention to Emil Ferris' My Favorite Thing Is Monsters regardless of what happens to the movie. I am of course happy for the financial reward that I assume is going to the cartoonist! Ditto all of that in the direction of Faith Erin Hicks, one of comics' hardest-working cartoonists. Buy these fun comics.

* finally, one or two D+Q books for early 2018 have shown up on Amazon. That's the worst place to find out exact release dates, but a great place to find out general publishing intentions ahead of official announcements. Also: 2018! Holy shit!
 
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If I Were In Luzern, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Hap Hopper Strips, Ads

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Paul O'Brien takes a look at the entirety of IvX.

* this is not something I ever expected to see.

* Charles Paul Hoffman weighs in on the angle that Marvel is backing away from its current efforts to make their comics more diverse in terms of character representation because the sales record for such comics is uneven in certain cases. Just in the act of typing that, multiple people out there probably believe I'm presenting that in an unfair way. Hoffman makes the interesting point that a lot of fans seem to have been given the chance to vote for staying on or leaving a bunch of titles when a specific soft relaunch had a lot of creator and character continuity between one phase and another, and many of those fans chose to hop off. I suspect there are a lot of reasons for Marvel's current sales woes and none of them have anything to do with the idea of diversity. I think the lengthening of the long tail for these companies, for comics more broadly and, really, entertainment in general is a huge factor. I also think you have to take concept exhaustion seriously, particularly as Fantastic Four collapsed first. I have no idea how they reverse course.

* finally, Adam Lichi keeps making new comics.
 
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Happy 66th Birthday, Bob Rozakis!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Simon Bisley!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Dave Johnson!

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April 3, 2017


Go, Look: Fabulas Panicas

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* the writer Peter David has added a GoFundMe element to his back-taxes plea, supplementing a mail-me effort announced on Friday. People will have all sorts of opinions about an ask like that one, many of them negative. Some of you have e-mailed the site. I understand that. My take is to try to meet people at their point of need. I don't question why anyone is asking. I don't question why anyone might decline to help. I also feel some of those asks are really begging we talk about them a few months after the fact. I hope we talk about this one, and the need for freelancers to have rock-solid strategies concerning this element of their finances. I am no better than anyone else on these matters.

* there are a bunch of solid, recognizable names with comics in various stages of being crowdfunded: Jen Vaughn (right near the end of hers), Bart Sears, David Willis, Ryan K. Lindsay and Vera Greentea.

* finally, the group project Everything Will Be Okay and the No Small Plans book from Chicago Architecture Foundation look interesting to me.
 
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If I Were In Luzern, I'd Go To This

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Go, Read: CA Ex-Staff On Why They Love Comics

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apparently this was what they were able to do instead of a goodbye post
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Andy Oliver on The Times I Knew I Was Gay.

* Dan Nadel digs into Fantagraphics' All Time Comics effort. I like some of the comics that are done in that general developing genre, where the aesthetics of older junk-genre comics are taken as-is and then new material close to the old is created. The one issue of these Fantagraphics comics I read didn't offer me any kind of in into what they were doing that I can easily find, say, with the Michel Fiffe Copra comics or much of what Ben Marra and Josh Bayer do on their own. To see Nadel reject the material is therefore interesting to me and makes me want to stick with the books for a while, even if I end up in the same place Dan is.

* the writer G. Willow Wilson has an interesting and I think new response to some of the latest talk about diversity in established big-media publishing. I think Marvel has created its current marketplace in nearly every way. Blaming one element of the countless things they've done over the last several years seems like it's going to miss the mark in stupendous fashion.

* finally, Rik Offenberger talks to Joe R. Lansdale.
 
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Happy 48th Birthday, Michael Aushenker!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Mark Nevelow!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Jamie Hewlett!

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April 2, 2017


CR Sunday Interview: K. Thor Jensen

imageIt's been ten years since I spoke in interview-fashion with K. Thor Jensen, the youngest comics-maker of the early 1990s Seattle comics scene of which I stood on the periphery for most of that decade. He has a new book out, a self-published and crowd-funded work called Cloud Stories.

In sharp contrast to the epic-length single story Red Eye, Black Eye about which we talked in 2007, Cloud Stories is a thematically connected group of short stories, showing off the cartoonist's ability to craft strong visual imagery and work in stylistic variations of his comics' solid, workman-like look. I liked big swathes of it, and I love how direct and clear Jensen seems to be about his work and what he'd like to do with it. I hope we're both still around for our next chat in 2027. I tweaked this a tiny bit for flow. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: Thor, the last time we talked for CR was a freaking decade ago. That time shared some surface similarities with where we found ourselves now. For one thing, I have no idea what you're doing beyond the return address and the fact this book showed up, and I was working from a similarly blank slate a decade ago. I do remember you were on your way to becoming a dad… can you provide a snapshot of your life, and where comics fits into it?

K. THOR JENSEN: I'm still a dad! I have two lovely children, Henry and Rose. They're both nine. We moved from New York City to San Juan Island, a tiny landmass between Seattle and Vancouver, after the financial crash of 2008 obliterated our lives. Things are good here. It's quiet and people are nice.

SPURGEON: Red Eye, Black Eye was a sustained narrative but it looks like this book might have developed similarly. Am I right in thinking this is work that suggested a connective thread after a while, or was it developed that way from the beginning? At what point did you see something roughly equivalent to the final book?

JENSEN: I was drawing short stories just to draw, because I love to do it. They went in this sequence, I think: "Bolus," "KSOFM," "Punchin'," "Queer Gaspers," "Ghost of Emptiness." After that fifth one I noticed there was a loose thread of those cloudy forms showing up, completely unintentionally. And then I spent the next couple years dicking off before deciding to pick them back up again and make a book. When we launched on Kickstarter in 2013, the book was intended to be 120-odd pages and the final product is nearly twice that. There are also 4-5 stories that I couldn't get to come together the way I wanted and just had to be mercy killed.

SPURGEON: Has your worldview changed as a parent in a way you can see that change in your work? For that matter, I don't know how self-reflective you are concerning your own work. Does work stay with you for a period after you complete it? Does talking about it in interviews bring it back into your head?

JENSEN: I'm not sure how to put into words how parenthood has changed what I do. I think comics are a much smaller part of my life, but my kids love them -- and draw them -- so it's interesting. I do life drawing with my kids and it's really great and inspiring to see them learning how to observe and translate onto the page. I think watching them draw has given me some impetus to sort of re-discover how to do it and enjoy it.

SPURGEON: Can I ask why you self-published this one? I think the last one was one of the last works to squeak from the old Alternative Comics, or at least found purchase with one of the Alternative Comics refugee homes. Correct me if I'm wrong there. But there seem to be a number of small houses; were those an option, or was it self-publishing all the way?

JENSEN: Alternative is still going! Under the fine auspices of Marc Arsenault, who will be handling the Diamond distribution and digital for Cloud Stories because I am bad at that stuff. For me, I just had no idea if anybody on Earth was going to be interested in this book, and Kickstarter seemed like a workable financial model for somebody like me with a fanbase that would be comfortable in ponying up $20 up front. I really like what Spike Trotman -- who has been insanely successful on that platform -- says: if your Kickstarter failed, take that as a blessing because you dodged a bullet not printing something the market didn't want. I was incredibly gratified to see the project funded with lots of small pledges, and then proceeded to deliver the book three years late like an asshole.

SPURGEON: Have you enjoyed putting the work out yourself. I find as cartoonists get older a lot of them want to be more involved in more aspects of what they do. Does taking on this role give you a different insight into the overall creative act of placing work in folks' hands?

JENSEN: I hate it! [Spurgeon laughs] Mailing books sucks ass! Amazon orders like nine at a time every week instead of a bunch at once! Mailing a book to Australia costs $22! I'm never doing this again.

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SPURGEON: There are a number of different basic styles and approaches on display. Was that purposeful, or does range of styles reflect how you work when you're not trying to sustain a tone across an entire, single work?

JENSEN: Red Eye, Black Eye was 300+ pages of six-panel 2x3 grids. When I was done with that book I wanted to stretch out in a bunch of different ways. Some of the earliest work in Cloud Stories, most notably "KSOFM" and "Punchin'," was drawn in that sort of reactionary period. When you look back across my body of work, though, I think that's the only thing that's really constant. I like to play, I like to experiment, I like to find what's right for a story or a feeling rather than try to force it into something I'm comfortable with.

SPURGEON: I know you can be self-reflective about your work: is there one of those styles with which you feel most comfortable? Is there one looking back that drives you nuts? I liked the Porcellino one-pager and the kind of heft you get with shading in that Double-Zero story.

JENSEN: Not really, and I hope I never get too comfortable! For me the process is just as important and interesting as the product, so everything I do should be challenging. I'm actually working on an anthology piece right now where I'm going back to the style of my late '90s weekly strip, so that's interesting in itself -- what do I do differently now that I didn't 20 years ago?

There are definitely some parts of the book that I cringe at, but I got to a point where I just had to close the door and get it out. I could have fucked with it forever. It could have been 500 pages.

SPURGEON: Is there an influence you know of in your work that may be hard for the rest of us to see? Has your relationship to your influences changed as you've spent years doing this?

JENSEN: My biggest influences are literary more than visual, probably because I'm a workmanlike visual stylist and a better storyteller. The short stories of John Collier and Saki have always been my model for their clarity and dedication to taking a premise and running with where it leads you.

SPURGEON: One thing that's nice about this book is that with the different strategies you get to explore image-making a bit more -- it's not about getting through the page all the time, it can be about stopping and reflecting and looking. Some of the stories are basically just images, and you make good use of the stop and stare effect in "The Oil." Would it be fair to say this book shows off a variety of effects in terms of pacing and visuals on the page? Is that a satisfying way for you to work?

JENSEN: The creation of this book, for me, was as much play as work. I wanted to try a bunch of stuff and keep it connected by a thematic through-line to see how many different ways I could use it. I'm really happy with the results. I don't think I'll ever do a book this way again, but it was a really satisfying way to make comics for a couple of years.

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SPURGEON: We just lost Bernie Wrightson, who spent a lot of time drawing the living clashing with the dead on an almost sub-atomic level, all from safely within the Frazetta tradition. Your art doesn't embrace those exact same values, but there are a number of times when a person is mixed with an abstract effect, or you draw this really tangible visual that represents a sense memory. Is this kind of representation important to you, these visuals that break with the rest of what we're seeing?

JENSEN: Oh yeah. Again this goes back to Red Eye, Black Eye, which was a very literal book. Everything was very deliberately stripped away from that to produce something that put the reader in a real obstacle-free flow state for fast, easy reading. With this book, which is literally about obfuscation, uncertainty, amorphousness, it gave me an opportunity to stretch in those interesting directions that comics are so good at doing. Some of my favorite pieces in the book are the ones that push that boundary, like the depression bits in "The House In The Night," or the weird inhuman tongue in "Jubilation."

SPURGEON: Are you still working in a non-comics creative industry? How does that kind of secondary exposure have an impact on how you view your comics-making. It seems, for instance, you've always been happy to pivot away from a vision of your comics being all-time, money-generating hits, in part because you've experienced other models that weren't about maximum profits.

JENSEN: Yeah, comics are a hobby for me pretty much 100% now. I write for a living, mostly, and it's satisfying for a voracious brain to constantly absorb new information and get paid for it. I love that it's given me the freedom to draw these weird-ass comics and spend lots of time with my kids.

SPURGEON: Talk to me about "Seeds." Where did that one start with you, what was the compelling interest for you to move forward? I know that you enjoy conversation, you said so last time; is this a reflection of that interest, just following someone all the way out there? Can you talk about the spare, semi-scratchy style you're using to draw that story?

JENSEN: The source material for the story there is a manuscript by a guy named John North Wright who I discovered on the Internet back in 1999. He was a guy in Port Huron, Michigan who was convinced that Bob Dylan was telepathically spying on him, stealing his song lyrics (and eventually his wife!) I ordered some videos and audio cassettes from him before he died and wrote a little thing on my website, and eventually other collectors of his stuff got in touch with me to trade.

One sent me all that remained -- about 22 pages -- of his memoir, "Dr. Kaballah Meets The Telepathic CIA," which this story is recounted in. It's such a singular, intense document that dealt with some of the themes in the book -- identity loss, fear of the unknown -- in a completely different way than I could. I wanted to present it in a way that was narratively clear but also unsettling, so the visual style didn't take long to develop. I sketched out the shot of John drinking the blood from the hearts and basically went "Yeah, that's it."

SPURGEON: "Fable 27" is the other one that left me particularly curious. I'd love to know if there was an act of visual problem-solving here, and what kind of effect you get from that particular style of drawing.

JENSEN: So I did a ton of research into folklore and mythology when I was working on this book, trying to explore how different cultures perceived and interpreted clouds. I came across that poem by John Gay and I was really struck by the language in it and the way it moved, so I wanted to adapt it in a way that let it breathe but was still fun to look at. There was actually another piece in the book that used a similar full-page treatment that never came together to my satisfaction.

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SPURGEON: Would you have ended up in roughly the same place if you had been born ten years later, ,do you think?

JENSEN: God, I don't know! [Spurgeon laughs] One of the things that I'm most proud of about Cloud Stories is that, if you took the dates out, it would be pretty tough to tell exactly when the book was published. It doesn't seem like a particular product of any particular time or movement. I'm so blessed to have had the support I did as a young cartoonist, but the idea of a "career" just doesn't make any sense to me in the field like it did in the '90s.

SPURGEON: We're about a quarter century removed now from the primetime Seattle cartooning scene of the 1990s of which you were a part. Last time we talked we talked about the high-retention of comics-makers from that group of young comics enthusiasts, which might be slightly down now. Although I think we'll see more work from here, I don't think of Megan Kelso, say, as active anymore. Are you still hoping to make comics for life?

JENSEN: Oh yeah. I'm thinking about some new stuff, but it's going to be on whatever terms I feel comfortable doing it. Might do a serialized webcomic again, might do a horror genre floppy. Might collaborate on something with my wife. Who knows?

SPURGEON: I have to know… What was the best comic you read since we last interviewed?

JENSEN: Lord, the best in ten years?

SPURGEON: [laughs] That's sort of the idea.

JENSEN: I think Rosalie Lightning is an incredible accomplishment, a brutal and harrowing read by one of the greatest working today. But so much amazing shit has come out in the last decade! So many amazing cartoonists debuted! So many great new publishers are doing the do.

Fucking comics, man! They're amazing!

*****

* Cloud Stories, K. Thor Jensen, Self-Published Paperback, 216 pages, 0692642323, 9780692642320, $20, January 2017.

*****

* cover and images all from Cloud Stories

*****

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*****
*****
 
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FFF Results Post #474 -- Powers

On, Friday CR readers were asked to "Name Five Displays Of Super-Powers You Like For The Specific Artistic Depiction." This is how they responded.

*****

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Kiel Phegley

1. Frazer Irving Drawing Living Laser as a Hot Pink Ghost in the Machine
2. Scott McDaniel Drawing Nightwing as Multiple Bodies Doing Ridic Backflips
3. Tony Harris Drawing Shade All Inky Black
4. Mike Wieringo Drawing Flash Emanating Buckets of Lighting Bolts
5. Jim Lee Drawing Those Weird "TV Has Crappy Reception" Squiggles on Void

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. KIRBY KRACKLE!!!
2. Bill Sienkiewicz doing whatever the hell it is that he does with Warlock
3. Fletcher Hanks letting Fatomah and Stardust literally rip their enemies to shreds
4. Adam Warren and Empowered's costume
5. Gil Kane pulling anything & everything out of Green Lantern's ring

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Jack Kirby drawing the Thing clobbering bad guys
2. Ron Lim drawing the Silver Surfer soaring through space
3. Curt Swan drawing Superman landing at the end of a flight
4. Mike Zeck drawing Captain America doing acrobatics
5. Frank Miller drawing Daredevil using his radar sense

*****

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Mark Mayerson

1. Steve Ditko drawing Dr. Strange casting spells.
2. Jack Cole drawing Plastic Man transforming into objects.
3. Wayne Boring drawing Superman flying.
4. Jack Kirby drawing Captain America throwing a punch.
5. C.C. Beck drawing Fatman, the Human Flying Saucer.

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. Jack Kirby Drawing Madame Medusa sweeping Sandman off the floor.
2. Curt Swan Drawing Matter Eater Lad dealing with the menace of the evil chain link fence.
3. Wally Wood Drawing Clark Bent (Superduperman) using his X-ray vision. (still a Creep)
4. Keith Pollard (and Gene Day!!!) Drawing Thor gutting Arishem the Judge with the Odinsword.
5. John Byrne Drawing L.R. 'Skip' Collins "The Man with the Power" fixing the worldwide destruction caused by Ego the Living Jerk of a Planet

*****

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Brian Khepri

1. Mort Meskin Drawing Multiple Johnny Quicks To Convey Speed
2. Ramona Fradon Drawing Green Fury Blowing Fire Out Of Her Nose
3. Marc Silvestri Drawing Dazzler Shooting Lasers Via Finger-Gun
4. John Paul Leon Drawing Static Fly-Riding Atop Manhole Covers
5. Kyle Baker Drawing Plastic Man Morphing Into Inanimate Objects

*****

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Alan David Doane

1. Wallace Wood Drawing Daredevil Using His Billyclub
2. John Byrne and Terry Austin Drawing Wolverine Using His Claws
3. Jim Rugg Drawing Street Angel Fighting Crime On Her Skateboard
4. Steve Ditko Drawing Spider-Man Beating Up Multiple Opponents at Once
5. Barry Windsor-Smith Drawing The Vision Phasing Through Solid Matter

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Dave Cockrum Drawing Professor X Using His Psychic Powers
2. Neal Adams Drawing Havok Using His Energy Powers
3. Will Elder Drawing The Goodman Beaver Universe Superman Having Done Super-Things Between Panels
4. Carmine Infantino Drawing The Flash In Full Super-Speed Mode
5. John Byrne Drawing Iron Fist Dashing Around A Room Or Similar Space

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Damion Scott drawing Ghost Rider using his chain
2. Marie Severin drawing Namor parting the waters
3. Tom Mandrake drawing The Spectre's all-consuming swirls
4. Michel Fiffe's vapor trails in Copra
5. Ramona Fradon drawing Metamorpho metamorphosing

*****

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Patrick Watson

1. The astral form of Dr Strange by Steve Ditko
2. The energy ZAP of Nexus by Steve Rude
3. Reed Richards stretching his arm by Jack Kirby
4. Bruce Banner changing into the Hulk by Herb Trimpe.
5. Daredevil’s radar by David Mazzucchelli.

*****

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1. Jack Cole Drawing Plastic Man Casually Doing Extreme Stretching.
2. Jack Kirby Drawing Reed Richards Stretching An Arm With A Gigantic Freakin' Fist At The End!
3. Carmine Infantino Drawing The Elongated Man Stretching a Kneecap, Elbow, Ear, Or Some Other unlikely Body Part. [pictured]
4. Jim Starlin Drawing Adam Warlock Using His Soul Gem to Steal Souls.
5. P. Craig Russell Drawing Killraven Using His Power To Access The "Racial Memory" of Humanity.

*****

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Des Devlin

1. Jack Cole Drawing Plastic Man Being Plastic Man
2. Steve Ditko Drawing Peter Parker's Spider-Sense Tingling
3. Fiona Staples Drawing Lying Cat Identifying Deceit
4. Joe Shuster Drawing Pre-Flight Superman Super-Jumping in Single Bounds
5. Jim Aparo Drawing the Spectre's Human-to-Wood Buzzsawing Vengeance

*****

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Tim Hayes

1. Simon Bisley drawing Slaine's warp-spasm in 2000AD
2. Wally Wood drawing Daredevil's radar sense
3. George Perez drawing Wonder Woman's first bullets and bracelets routine
4. Gene Colan and Tom Palmer drawing Dr Strange's astral form
5. Dan Brereton drawing Polychrome just being Polychrome in Nocturnals

*****

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Michael Buntag

1. Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson Drawing Thor wielding Mjolnir
2. Adrian Alphona Drawing Ms. Marvel use "embiggen"
3. Naoko Takeuchi Drawing Minako Aino transform into Sailor V
4. Matt Kindt Drawing Henry Lyme's vast psychic influence
5. Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart Drawing Hellboy in his titanic final form in Hell

*****
*****
 
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April 1, 2017


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Nescafe Commercial Featuring Cartoonist


Matt Wuerker Profiled


Ed Smith Interviewed
 
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Go, Look: Jim Rugg Image Gallery

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

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

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Happy 75th Birthday, Samuel Delany!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Brad Meltzer!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Bob Lappan!

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Happy 20th Birthday, Radio Comix!


 
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Happy 54th Birthday, James Robinson!

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Happy 28th Birthday, Comix Experience!

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