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















January 31, 2018


Go, Look: No Longer Ours

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Go, Look: GigiCave At DeviantArt

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Go, Look: Cut Out

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

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Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's no-doubt largely accurate list of books shipping from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. to comic book and hobby shops across North America.

I might not buy all of the works listed here. I might not buy any. You never know. I'd sure look at the following, though.

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OCT171595 BATTLE OF CHURUBUSCO GN US REBELS MEXICAN-AMERICAN WAR $22.99
I have no idea what this is, but that's fascinating subject matter for any kin of comics exploration -- the mid-19th Century in Mexico could sustain entire careers, and sort of has. It looks super pretty, too. I want to hold it.

SEP170068 MATT WAGNER GRENDEL TALES OMNIBUS TP VOL 02 $24.99
One of the artists I read early on in my transformation from spinner-rack to comic book store, Matt Wagner's work is enjoyable to me on some level nearly every time out and I will always look at new editions.

imageNOV171667 WEIRD WORLD OF LAGOOLA GARDNER $10.00
OCT171720 KAIJUMAX SEASON 3 #6 (MR) $3.99
OCT170388 ASTRO CITY #50 $3.99
Comics! The one up top is Zach Worton doing a 40-pager at Fantagraphics, which I'm dying to see. I had a hard time searching for that one, for whatever reason. Fantagraphics search the name of the book, not the author. Hopefully your store has one and you can see it up close and personal. Looks like Zander Cannon has finished another season of his sprawling examination of... well, monsters, from various origin points. Congratulations to the Astro City team as they finish up a few more issues before switching to stand-alones. That's been a fruitful serial comic book run.

NOV170523 RICHARD STARKS PARKER SLAYGROUND TP $14.99
I'm guessing this is the softcover version of the last of the late Darwyn Cooke's Parker series book with IDW. I liked this one, stripped down and very little fuss and with a forced grimy quality that really wasn't Cooke's natural inclination.

OCT171597 COMPLETE CREPAX HC BOX SET VOL 01-02 DRACULA & TIME EATER (M $150.00
OCT171600 COMPLETE CREPAX HC EVIL SPELLS (MR) $75.00
JUL171898 COMPLETE PEANUTS BOX SET 1963-1966 $39.99
I don't know who buys box sets of Crepax and Schulz, but I suspect they have more money than I do to spend on comics. I want both of these works in my library at some point -- pretty sure I have the Schulz already. I've learned a lot the last couple of year reading about and looking at the results of this resurgence of interest in Crepax.

SEP170550 STEVE CANYON HC VOL 08 1961-1962 $49.99
OCT171596 PRINCE VALIANT HC VOL 16 1967-1968 $34.99
Two beautiful series. I thought Valiant was about ten years behind the late 1960s, but I'll follow it all the way to the end no matter where they are. I'm happy to have beautiful versions of both of these works while there's enough of an audience left out there to buy the actual books.

OCT171591 DREW FRIEDMAN`S CHOSEN PEOPLE HC $19.99
I thought this had been art for a while, but if this is the new Friedman, it's a good one. They went small with the printing, it's hand-held, which is an interesting way to appreciate what Friedman does as a whole presentation.

OCT171589 SPARRING GIL KANE SC DEBATING HISTORY AESTHETICS COMICS $22.99
This is the long-promised book featuring Gary Groth's talks with is best friend the late artist Gil Kane about a variety of issues related to art-making in comics. The generational differences are important and cutting.

DEC171601 IS THIS GUY FOR REAL GN $19.99
Hey, it's Box Brown's Andy Kaufman biography. Those are always engaging and Kaufman is of perennial interest to just about anyone that pays attention to modern pop culture.

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

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

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

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

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

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Go, Look: Young Love #18

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Todd Klein on The Flash #25.

* here's a long blog post about how shots are framed on the Detectorists show, suggesting that comics pages can learn from some of the techniques used. It's like they're making posts just for me.

* not comics: hey, my favorite book from when I was 15 years old is on-line for free now.

* Noah Van Sciver draws the late Ursula Le Guin.

* apparently at the AAEC they had to break a board of directors tie with a coin flip. I think that's how I got the TCJ job, so I'm not throwing stones. Broadcast journalist and cartoonist and great friend to comics Jake Tapper dif the flipping.

* finally: that's a killer-looking Howlin' Wolf.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Grant Morrison!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Jonathan Baylis!

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January 30, 2018


Go, Listen: Scott McCloud At 99% Invisible

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Go, Read: Rob Salkowitz On Turning Casual Fans Into Hardcore Readers

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I enjoyed industry analyst Rob Salkowitz's threading of the needle here on the old casual fans vs. hardcore readers dilemma that conventional wisdom would have us believe is at the heart of many mainstream sales issues. It's a clever article.

I imagine there are characters in the libraries of these publishing houses that could be put to more effective use, no matter how you determine ideal readerships. Second-guessing big-time publishing strategies is one of the individual sports in the nerd decathlon for a reason.

One thing I would wonder after, though, is if the greater context is so different than it was in the '70s or even early '00s. Periods of relative stability with their best-selling titles have in the past allowed companies like Marvel to tear down narratives in less popular titles in a way that made some of their comics very exciting for that break with formula. When those time periods overlapped with new elements being added to mainstream comics expression more generally (violence in '70s, sex in the early '00s), new readers became not just intrigued but hooked.

These days everything's been broken, set and healed multiple times. Each and every title has to get out and push the company car over the profitability line four times a year. If we're in a wider moment I'm not sure what it is... politics, maybe? It's hard to manufacture what used to come out of left field, doubly so without allowing room for that step back on the way to three steps forward. Metaphors that may make sense when standing alone in a sentence or along the rack of a comic shop may simply be confusing lined up one after the other in paragraph form or, let's face it, taking up the whole wall of your favorite store.

I am deeply sorry.
 
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Go, Read: Steve Lieber On Instructional Books

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Sunday Was The Last Night Of Business For Zanadu Comics In Seattle's Belltown After 42 Years Open

There's a pretty standard small-business obit for the downtown location of Zanadu Comics here, stating the shop has been open in that neighborhood for 42 years. My generation of Seattle young people was a bit more familiar with the University District location, long gone.

All the standard reasons for the store's closure are listed except maybe higher rents. It was always in kind of an odd location, not really near anything else people might head downtown to do. Even at a time in my life I went into every comic shop I came within a quarter mile of standing face to face, I only ever got down to that specific location a half-dozen times a year. It was less a place to keep up on that week's books than to maybe find a hidden pile of Wash Tubbs books. It sounds like they serve an audience of mostly neighborhood folks, long since displaced.

CR readers might recall the shop tried a crowd-funding campaign that failed to find momentum. Owner Perry Plush will continue to sell some comics on-line.

There's a lot of evidence that a significant percentage of single-store shoppers give up on comics altogether when their store of choice folds. I hope that isn't as true this time out. Best of luck to Mr. Plush and any current employees. There is nothing like walking into a comic book store. Zanadu, RIP.
 
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Go, Read: Gus Bofa Profiled

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* here's a profile of the comic books Abbott, a supernatural thriller which I missed word about and features the writer Saladin Ahmed working with artist Sami Kivelä. Ahmed's collaboration with artist Christian Ward on Marvel on the Black Bolt character was extremely well-received, a not-inconsiderable achievement given the Kirby/Lee Inhumans material has been hit and miss for Marvel the last several years.

* Birdcage Bottom Books is currently attempting to crowd-fund its 2018 season. That makes it a crowd-funding story and a publishing story, especially when I forgot to do the publishing story half.

* Steve Foxe talks to Jarrett Krosoczka and reveals the cover to the cartoonist's autobiographical Hey, Kiddo.

* here's an open call for submissions to the RSM anthology. That should run another couple of weeks. I don't have the time to vet every call for submissions, but obviously I won't post one about which I've heard anything dubious. As in all things comics, just be your usual careful.

* not comics: Fred Van Lente joins Robert Rodi as writers of comics that have written a murder mystery with a comic-con backdrop.

* finally: more Kane from Paul Grist is good news.
 
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Go, Read: Little Dot As Pioneer Of Today's Avant-Garde

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Go, Look: Sal Buscema Cover Images Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* John Seven on Something City.

* not comics: hard for me to imagine a more trenchant news story right now than trying to come up with a model for papers owned by big media to be returned to local ownership. The papers in question do carry comics, if that's important to hear before reading.

* by request extra: Meredith Gran's game project Perfect Tides is available to be crowd-funded. Looks fun. It's certainly one of the more interesting answers to how you follow a life-defining project like Gran's Octopus Pie webcomic.

* finally: I enjoyed Caleb Orecchio's meditation on imagery that's maybe not compelling or excellent art that still burrows its way into your mind.
 
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Happy 45th Birthday, Michael Avon Oeming!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Ibrahim Ineke!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Tracy Hurren!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Fred Hembeck!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Denys Cowan!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Guy Gilchrist!

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January 29, 2018


Go, Look: Mort Walker Posts At The Fabuleous Fifties

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Site runner Ger Apeldoorn was a big fan of Mort Walker's work, and has for years posted material from across the breadth of the late cartoonist's career.
 
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Collective Memory: Mort Walker (1923-2018)

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this article has been archived
 
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Go, Listen: John Siuntres Talks To Dennis O'Neil

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A Few Thoughts On DMG Entertainment Acquiring Valiant

DMG Entertainment released through Hollywood Reporter news this morning they would fully acquire Valiant in an attempt to further push that comic-book bsed media company into other platforms. This is the same company that previously acquired a significant stake in the company to a similar end.

imageThe announcement comes with news that CEO Dinesh Shamdasani, one of the fans that revived the company and began publishing characters from the line in 2012, is going to transition out of the company. Part of the charm of this current revival for the top-five publisher has been the fannish joy that its executives and creators had for the 1990s version of the company.

I don't have much to say about companies aggressively trying to get comics characters into other media. The Valiant characters strike me as a pretty average group of characters for that sort of thing -- nothing with the genius of Kirby or the time-worn appeal of the DC-related icons, but certainly touching all the bases in terms of character types and featuring possible stories from a slew of working creators. I suspect there are audiences in other media as comfortable with the other-media iterations of superheroes where Valiant's riffs on several steady types won't feel confusing even if that perceived view never picks up a comic. It might be worth noting the new man in charge says that they haven't made too many plans to shake up the comics end of things, which is nice because Valiant provides a lot of work, work I'm lead to believe pays pretty well, to people I would like to see working.

I also note that this seems more in line with how long phases at media companies -- all comics-related companies -- are likely to last now. I don't see as many lifetime-invested as shaping up into an ideal as much as people working five to ten years on something and maybe doing something else. That's probably a reach, though.
 
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Go, Look: Sofie Louise Dam

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Go, Read: TCJ's Magnificent Post On Cartoonist Mark Campos

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This Paul Toomey remembrance and reminiscence of Mark Campos might be one of the best on-line posts I've ever read in relation to comics culture, and right up there with the best I've read, period.

TCJ has done a great job with similar posts about underground cartoonists, which I always took -- probably too much so -- as a testament to their relationship with that community. Those posts represented a lot of skill and editorial care, and so does this one. It's heartbreaking if you knew Mark, but I think it might read well in a completely different fashion if you didn't: a testament to all the quiet, consistent makers that don't ever gain a national audience, and maybe a spur to read some of Mark's work. Please read it. Thank you, TCJ.
 
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Go, Look: Mathilde Garreau

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Go, Read: Brian Cronin's Article On DC's Ownership Of Certain Characters From The ABC Line

imageI'm grateful for Brian Cronin engaging with the issue of why DC owns certain characters from the America's Best Comics line (Promethea, Tom Strong) but apparently not others (those from the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen). Basically, LOEG was developed along a different track with a different contractual result, but shared the ABC name for what I suspect was marketing reasons.

I'm not sure why the question didn't occur to me before I was asked a few times and went a-googling. I think maybe it's because I still adhere to the notion that you can be contractually able to do something but not compelled, so I tend to focus on the decision-making that drives a deal rather than the legal parameters that shape a deal. I'll do better.
 
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Go, Look: Julie Hauge Andersen

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* I enjoy the look of this Max Huffman comic. The ask is pretty modest, although I'm not sure how well individual comic books do on crowd-funding sites outside of a few well-worn grooves.

* a second volume of Sliced Quarterly promises more experimental comics. I bet that has different definitions for different people.

* they seem to be in the clear, but I can't imagine a crowd-funder for Mark Campos' funeral expenses would be unable to find a great use for any extra money. That guy was at every function I attended for ten years and it's hard to imagine he's not around anymore.

* finally: a comic in support of the Prairie Comics Festival promises comics from cartoonists living in provinces that aren't the cartoonist-stuffed ones.
 
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Go, Look: Kristian B. Kirk

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Go, Look: Paul Pope's Peanuts Tribute

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Tegan O'Neil on Spy Seal Volume One: The Corten-Steel Phoenix. John Seven on Red Winter. Todd Klein on March Book Two. Sean Gaffney on Infinite Dendrogram: Franklin's Game.

* Michael Cavna on Ann Telnaes and her Trump's ABC.

* Ethan Varian talks to Ed Steed.

* kudos to Joaquin Phoenix for realizing how thoroughly John Callahan was influenced by Sam Gross instead of growing straight out of nature.

* RL Cragg is profiled with a focus on his Hunter Thompson-related cartoons and comics.

* finally: here's a profile of the great Jules Feiffer that asks if he's the greatest living cartoonist. I don't think so, but he's up there.
 
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Happy 46th Birthday, Brian Wood!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Jeph Loeb!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Chad Nevett!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Ryan Kelly!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Sascha Hommer!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Robert Goodin!

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January 28, 2018


Go, Look: Mort Walker, Gag Cartoonist

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Go, Listen: Mark Newgarden And Paul Karasik On NPR

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Go, Listen: Team Process Party On Best Of 2017

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

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Happy 49th Birthday, Tony Harris!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Hunt Emerson!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Todd Klein!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Jason Aaron!

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FFF Results Post #493 -- Five By A Favorite

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name A Specific Cover Artist You Like And Name Five Covers Of Theirs You Like." This is how they responded.

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Joe Schwind

FIVE BY JAMIE CHASE

1. At the Earth's Core (Dark Horse/Sequential Pulp)
2. First World #1 (Inks-Inc)
3. First World #2: Evolution (Inks-Inc)
4. MYX #4 (Inks-Inc)
5. The Hound of the Baskervilles (Dark Horse/Sequential Pulp)

*****

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John Vest

FIVE BY GEORGE BAKER

1. Sad Sack #187 (Harvey Comics)
2. Sad Sack #211 (Harvey Comics)
3. Sad Sack And The Sarge #71 (Harvey Comics)
4. Sad Sack Laugh Special #57 (Harvey Comics)
5. Sad Sack's Funny Friends #72 (Harvey Comics)

*****

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Tim Hayes

FIVE BY DAN BRERETON

1. G.I. Joe (2001) #18 (Image)
2. The Nocturnals: Witching Hour (Dark Horse)
3. Mars Attacks (1995) #7 (Topps)
4. Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths #3 (IDW)
5. Animal Man #64 (DC)

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

FIVE BY CREIG FLESSEL

1. Detective Comics #3 (DC Comics)
2. Detective Comics #13 (DC Comics)
3. Adventure Comics #46 (DC Comics)
4. Fun Comics #45 (DC Comics)
5. Young Love ##110 (DC Comics)

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Andrew Mansell

FIVE BY FRANK ROBBINS

1. Giant-Size Invaders #1 (Marvel Comics)
2. The Shadow #8 (DC Comics)
3. The Human Fly #8 (Marvel Comics)
4. House of Secrets #123 (DC Comics)
5. Captain America #225 (Marvel Comics)

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Michael G. Pfefferkorn

FIVE BY NICK CARDY

1. Justice League of America #100 (DC Comics)
2. 100-Page Super Spectacular #DC-20 (DC Comics)
3. World's Finest #214 (DC Comics)
4. Aquaman #37 (DC Comics)
5. Secret Origins #5 (DC Comics)

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Jeffrey A. Goodman

FIVE BY GREG IRONS

1. Skull Comics #6 (Last Gasp)
2. Deviant Slice Funnies #1 -- Rear Cover (Print Mint)
3. Legion Of Charlies (Last Gasp)
4. Grunt Comix #2 (Grunt Records)
5. Dr. Wirtham's Comix and Stories #5/6 (Clifford Neal)

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Michael Dooley

FIVE BY DAVID MACK

1. Kabuki the Alchemy #1 (ICON)
2. Daredevil The Man Without Fear #21 (Marvel)
3. Samurai #3 (Titan)
4. BPRD Hell On Earth #140 (Dark Horse)
5. Hellboy And The BPRD 1953 #11 (Dark Horse)

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Danny Ceballos

FIVE BY HARVEY KURTZMAN

1. Mad Vol. 1 #16 (EC)
2. Bijou #8 (Kitchen Sink)
3. Kings in Disguise #2 (Kitchen Sink)
4. Harvey Kurtzman's Jungle Book (Ballantine Books)
5. Two-Fisted Tales #18 (EC)

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Patrick Watson

FIVE BY FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA

1. Detective Comics #874 (DC)
2. Fantomex Max #1 (Marvel)
3. Silver Surfer #1 (Marvel)
4. Black Beetle -- No Way Out #0 (Dark Horse)
5. Detective Comics #879 (DC)

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Mike Borelli

FIVE BY HOWARD CHAYKIN

1. Green Lantern #196 (DC Comics)
2. Miracleman #3 (Eclipse Comics)
3. American Flagg #7 (First Comics)
4. The Shadow #2 (DC Comics)
5. Black Kiss #1 (Vortex)

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Stergios Botzakis

FIVE BY BILL SIENKIEWICZ

1. Elektra Assassin #4 (Marvel Comics)
2. New Mutants #18 (Marvel Comics)
3. Dazzler #33 (Marvel Comics)
4. Batman #400 (DC Comics)
5. What If #43 (Marvel Comics)

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Douglas Wolk

FIVE BY BRIAN BOLLAND

1. 2000 AD #216 (IPC)
2. Batman: Gotham Knights #18 (DC Comics)
3. Justice League of America #190 (DC Comics)
4. Judge Dredd #23 (Eagle Comics)
5. The Invisibles (1997 series) #13 (DC/Vertigo)

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Sean Kleefeld

FIVE BY AL MILGROM

1. Incredible Hulk #240 (Marvel)
2. Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #79 (Marvel)
3. West Coast Avengers #35 (Marvel)
4. West Coast Avengers #16 (Marvel)
5. Rom #49 (Marvel)

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Buzz Dixon

FIVE FROM VAUGHN BODÉ

1. Sunpot (self-published)
2. Powermowerman (The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute)
3. Junkwaffel #1 (Print Mint)
4. Creepy #31 (Warren Publishing)
5. Junkwaffel #4 (Print Mint)

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Mário Filipe

FIVE BY RICK VEITCH

1. Brat Pack #1 (King Hell Press)
2. The One #1 (Marvel/Epic Comics)
3. DC Comics Presents #85 (DC Comics)
4. Swamp Thing #83 (DC Comics)
5. Roarin' Rick's Rare Bit Fiends #17 (King Hell Press)

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January 27, 2018


Mort Walker, RIP

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Go, Look: Max Huffman

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Go, Look: Early '40s Nancy Sundays

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If I Were In Las Vegas, I'd Go To This

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

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

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Happy 59th Birthday, Stefan Petrucha!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Frank Miller!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Steve Leialoha!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Sean Phillips!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Peter Laird!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Richard Starkings!

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January 26, 2018


Go, Look: Emil Friis Ernst

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Go, Look: Morbid Sense Of Humor

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Go, Look: Clara Lucie Jetsmark Bjerre

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Assembled Extra: Karl Stevens Is Back With Kill The Rich

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It's nice to have Karl Stevens back in what looks like an on-line alt-weekly based in Boston, where the artist lives. It's local enough I didn't understand half of the joke, at least not 100 percent. Stevens was last seen in the pages of Village Voice before they moved ghost-like into the machine as well. He is a unique talent and I'm not sure has ever found a maximally appropriate home. I will be happy to see Stevens' work wherever and whenever I can.
 
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If I Were In France, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Batman Sketched By José Muñoz

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean Gaffney on orange: future.

* the second half of this Graydon Carter article where he writes about the magazine business is worth reading for Vanity Fair's role as the kind of Cadillac/Tiffany's/New York Yankees of that kind of publishing for the last quarter century. The rest of it depends on how you feel about Vanity Fair.

* hey, it's an I Kill Giants movie adaptation trailer. That comic remains very, very dear to a lot of its fans and I imagine there's a great chance an audience for the work in a different medium might feel the same way.

* they're considering the notion of doing contracts in comics form for the increased clarity, even though clarity isn't really inherent to the comics form and I imagine considering changing to any other media would have the same benefit of reconsideration.

* festivals extra: these Chris Anthony Diaz photo galleries are pretty great. I am cosplaying as a pile of laundry. Five or so of these are the best photos I've seen of the subject.

* finally: that's quite a poster.
 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Jacob Pander!

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Happy 82nd Birthday, Sal Buscema!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Damon Hurd!

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Happy 89th Birthday, Jules Feiffer!

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January 25, 2018


Go, Look: Fie Anja Nielsen

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Go, Look: Ronald Searle On Walls

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Missed It: Kurt Busiek Announces Astro City To End Its Serial Comics Run And Move To OGN Publishing

Milton Griepp has a smart write-up on writer Kurt Busiek's announcement that Astro City will end its serial run this year at issue #52. The series, featuring Brent Anderson on interior art and Alex Ross on covers, arrived on the comics scene in the mid-1990s to a great deal of fanfare given Busiek's and Ross' run on the Marvels mini-series. It has been an industry-awards stalwart throughout and was a strong and frequent winner early on.

As Griepp notes, the book was initially published through Image, then by DC/Wildstorm before taking a hiatus in 2010. It returned in 2013 with DC/Vertigo. I like that that book exists, the same way I'm happy that all stable, creator-directed books are able to live a long publishing life. A last run of several years of OGNs seems like a fine idea considering how the market works.
 
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Go, Look: Cathrin Peterslund

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* here's Michael Cavna on the under-sung female cartoonists and illustrators exhibit at Library of Congress, soon to be a well-illustrated book. I think I may have run that once already, but it's not a bad thing for more attention to be driven in that direction!

* this week is Angouleme, of course, and I'm sure we'll start to get stories and feedback about the show, the awards and the general state of French-language comics.

* Richard Corben's Grand Prix win is kind of an amazing thing. He's had a mighty career, but it's not one that's generally appreciated in the US in the way that you'd expect him to be honored with one of the three great prizes in world cartooning. I do wonder after his desire to participate as next year's president -- my understanding is that he's reluctant to take the spotlight -- and don't know the man or those in his immediate circle to suss out how he might take on helping put together next year's show. Complete mystery! It'll be fun to see an exhibit focusing on Corben himself, if done up to their usual standard.

* I admire Angouleme in general for changing their awards over the years and trying to find the right formula that works. As much as the grand prix changes have been a struggle, they do address very real problems that the winners were being selected by a narrow slice of world comics culture, and that this was being reinforced with every new winner. One thing I miss is that I liked that it was announced at the end of the festival, as a kind of capper to the weekend. I always liked thinking of people at home Sunday morning in the US, people still at the show, people still en route from the show, everyone kind of perking up and paying attention to that one last bit of news. I wonder if the idea is to focus greater attention on the album-focused awards.

* finally: there are still people entering the comics convention space.
 
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If I Were In France, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Long Island City, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: This Is Not Batman

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Tegan O'Neil on Days Of Hate #1.

* a lot of people are reading this long thread unpacking how Marvel screwed themselves on its own sales by basically manipulating their sales offerings for the short-term in a way that led to longer-term dissatisfaction and abandonment by fans and potential readers. It's an argument with which I generally agree -- and definitely its target, the dumb "too much liberal politics" argument -- although I might have a slightly different formula as to what weighed heavier than other factors, like the fact that some of the featured material seemed really awful to me. One thing to note: you can't say this self-sabotaging and bad-faith partnering on Marvel's part has ended or is in the past until there is actual policy change at the company for an extended period of time. It may take longer to fix than it took to break. One advantage is that the numbers are so low just in general in comics that you can surge past sales goals with something that hits content-wise even utilizing a disrupted, ragged system. One scenario for Marvel's immediate future is system repair and encouraging creators to turn in their swing-for-the-fences pitches.

* an unsurprising coda to the GLAAD noms story.

* finally, I failed to catch that Gil Roth at Virtual Memories recently featured Seymour Chwast!
 
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Happy 45th Birthday, Chris Sotomayor!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Geoff Johns!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Turtel Onli!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Chris Marshall!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Alan David Doane!

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Happy 80th Birthday, Leiji Matsumoto!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Elin Winkler!

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January 24, 2018


Richard Corben Wins The Grand Prix At Angouleme

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The other finalists were Emmanuel Guibert and Chris Ware.
 
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Go, Look: Jam's Art Wow

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A Winter We Should All Be Extra-Nice To Comics Shops We Like

One thing of interest right now to nearly everyone who pays attention to the various comics industries is store closures and potential store closures in the Direct Market of hobby and comics shops. The store-to-store anecdotal testimony that started after San Diego last year and hasn't ceased indicates a lot of stores having a horrible time of it. I don't even really see a pattern, at least not in my inbox: some of the shops like the one discussed here seem to be classic strip-mall type stores, but I've heard from some of the hipper stores we have that their business has soured in similar fashion.

I think a run of closures could be exacerbated by timing, the fact that a lot of older, foundational comics stores are being run by guys nearer retirement age than the last time the business started to turn red and throb in a systemic way. I also think there are fewer people reading comics in the obsessive way best served by the Direct Market, even as more people may read comics in a wider sense.

Gone are the days of overlapping coverage in most big cities. I noticed while in Seattle last Fall that a neighborhood that had five stores when I moved there in the mid-1990s now had one -- and not the one I would have guessed. The same kinds of young people live in that neighborhood as lived there in 1995. Chris Pitzer noted to me this morning in an e-mail that his home base of Richmond, Virginia has gone from 12-15 comics shop to as low as two with one small chain's recent closure of its auxiliary stores.

Comic shops have never been the only way to engage with comics, and never will be, and the attention to it has always been slightly oversized due to the fact that certain genres, primarily superhero comics, are most at home there. It's a good market in its way, though, with a lot of advantages even when ailing, and one I hope makes it to the next stage of its lifespan with as little damage as possible.
 
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Go, Look: Early 1940s Post-Crane Captain Easy Sundays

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Go, Apply: Thurber House In Columbus Is Looking To Hire

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I'll stick the PDF at the bottom of this post. The Thurber House has comics and cartoon as only part of its mission, the same way its namesake was known for humor more broadly and for his prose work more enduringly than his wonderful and bizarre cartoons. Still, there aren't many jobs where I look at them and think a comics person might be uniquely suited to it, and we could occasionally have lunch.

ThurberHouseJob012318.pdf

How much posting this was based on me wanting to look at Thurber cartoons at 11:58 on a Wednesday, I cannot say.
 
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Go, Look: Aske Schmidt Rose

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

*****

OCT171593 LIE & HOW WE TOLD IT HC (MR) $24.99
A stand-alone from a visually-interesting artist probably intended for holiday shopping but slipping into the New Year? Sounds great to me, and a reason to hit the comics shop all by itself.

AUG170018 ONLY END OF THE WORLD AGAIN HC $19.99
NOV170017 VINEGAR TEETH #1 (OF 4) $3.99
Two from Troy Nixey. "Vinegar Teeth" is a great title. The first one is a Oni Press serialized collaboration involving Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell.

AUG170343 SUPERMAN THE GOLDEN AGE OMNIBUS HC VOL 05 $125.00
I can't afford these but I'm glad they exist for the possibility that one day I might be able to secure some of them. For all that Superman and Batman are kind of twin poles for the big superhero movement of mid-20th Century comics, I have huge reading holes where their comics are concerned. A lot of that is tough reading, but not all of it.

imageDEC171177 LISAS LEGACY TRILOGY HC SLIPCASE ED $80.00
This is Tom Batiuk's collection of three books featuring his Lisa character: alive, dying and then remembered. It's a good idea for a deluxe volume because the fan base for this week is very specific and wealthier than most.

NOV170566 COMIC BOOK HISTORY OF COMICS COMICS FOR ALL #2 CVR A $3.99
NOV170567 COMIC BOOK HISTORY OF COMICS COMICS FOR ALL #2 CVR B $3.99
I like these when I read them but I put it here just to make a jokey comment about the history of comic books surely including the notion that variant covers are bad.

NOV170547 TIME & VINE TP $24.99
I don't know anything about this book beyond its high-concept, film-able plot, but I always liked looking at Thom Zahler's stuff so I'd pick it up in a comics shop for sure.

NOV170731 BLACK CLOUD #7 (MR) $3.99
NOV170732 BLACK MAGICK #10 CVR A SCOTT (MR) $3.99
OCT170662 BLACK SCIENCE #34 CVR A SCALERA & DINISIO (MR) $4.99
That's a lot of black. This doesn't even include the Hickman one, which I think is the best of the quartet.

NOV171660 NOW #2 $9.99
NOV171353 LUMBERJANES #46 $3.99
SEP170753 MOONSTRUCK #5 $3.99
NOV170711 SEX CRIMINALS #21 (MR) $3.99
JAN170761 SOUTHERN BASTARDS #19 CVR A LATOUR (MR) $3.99
JAN170762 SOUTHERN BASTARDS #19 CVR B ZDARSKY (MR) $3.99
The second issue of the Eric Reynolds-edited anthology Now is surely the belle of the ball here; we are to get three this year. I always included Lumberjanes because I always think they're about fifteen issues behind of where they actually are. Moonstruck will live or die by its first trade, but I hope the perceived delay on the serial issues hurts them. New issue of Sex Criminals stakes out new narrative territory in addition to updating things about which we already know. This issue of Southern Bastards takes a hard turn towards resolving plot lines that took me totally by surprise. They're not done for a long while, but things suddenly felt more immediate and pressing than they had in a while.

NOV171677 OLYMPIANS GN VOL 10 HERMES TALES OF TRICKSTER $10.99
NOV171678 OLYMPIANS HC GN VOL 10 HERMES TALES OF TRICKSTER $18.99
I always like that both the hard and soft cover editions are released at once on this series and a few others like it. Nothing indicates how much the all-ages market has changed things than that.

SEP171632 POGO COMP SYNDICATED STRIPS HC BOX SET VOL 3 & 4 (RES) $75.00
Not how I've been buying them but this is a good deal on a beautiful looking script.

DEC172057 BEN KATCHOR CONVERSATIONS HC $50.00
I don't read every volume in this series, but Katchor is both a great interview and a difficult one so this could be fascinating.

NOV170686 SPY SEAL TP VOL 01 CORTEN-STEEL PHOENIX $12.99
Rich Tommaso's homage to French-language comics adventure storytelling and funny animal traditions finds it proper format -- at least in terms of everything being under one cover at an album's length. It's an involving read at that size.

*****

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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Go, Look: A Bunch Of Wizard Of Id Sundays

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Todd Klein on Mister Miracle #4.

* here's Graeme McMillan on the opportunities that lie before Marvel in bringing in a new Editor-In-Chief and a new Publisher. I agree with a lot of this and with the general notion of that company just doing anything else for a while will be a virtue for its fans and its creative community.

* there's a fun post at the Timely-Atlas-Comics site about Jack Kirby subbing on the Davy Crockett strip that appeared in the Daily News; it includes a more than half-year run of the strip when it was not being subbed out.

* the cartoonist Ben Passmore writes a bit about the origins of his Your Black Friend.

* I did not know this.

* finally: they have tours for everything now. I could do one for alt-comics '90s Seattle that started with all the ATMs that paid out in $5 increments.
 
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Happy 88th Birthday, John Romita Sr.!

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Happy 68th Birthday, Steve Geppi!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Ben Morse!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Lorenzo Mattotti!

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January 23, 2018


Ursula K Le Guin, RIP

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I read this series of exchanges between the artist Charles Vess and the late writer just this morning. That Vess piece above from here -- my understanding is that all of these are for an imminent republication of Earthsea with copious illustration work -- is lovely, and detailed fantasy drawings like that were basically one and the same with comics for single-digit-age me. That comics-related commentary aside, she was a huge presence as a writer in my young mind for the quality of her prose.
 
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Go, Look: Passing

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Go, Look: Early Harvey Kurtzman

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Go, Read: Facebook Thread About One Day Finding One's Own Work On Sale On eBay

imageHere. I like the swerve into the sales origin of the comics and materials in question and that the buyer who put the items up ends up being a fair- and rational-sounding person.

Super-small press material like this has seemed to me over the years to be more generally desirable to buyers than a fan used to scanning Heritage Auctions headlines or reading the old price guides might imagine; it's just that the market is smaller all-around than the others. It is undeniably rare material.
 
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Go, Look: Albert Bruun

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* it's nice to see the writer Dan Slott enjoy stepping down from his long tenure as Spider-Man writer and into a gig working with the Lee/Lieber/Heck/Kirby Iron Man character published by Marvel. Those are still the dream gigs for many creators out there, much as I might personally prefer it otherwise.

* sticking with Marvel, the publisher has signed the writer Kelly Thompson to an exclusive contract, which sounds like a smart move for both sides.

* Aftershock receives word on what one of its foundational creative deals will yield as a first book.

* looks like in June we get about 600 pages of Larry Marder's Beanworld work for $25, which sounds like a nice format for an authoritative collection of Marder's lifelong creative work.

* finally: that's a very cute Jaime Hernandez cover.
 
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Go, Look: Alfredo Alcala Swamp Thing Images

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Go, Look: Joe Staton Superpeople Splash Pages

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean Gaffney on Under The Air.

* here's a twitter essay about the strange positions into which editors can be put with their allegiances to creators and to their place within the overall publishing machine.

* pretty sure I've never seen this Mike Vosburg cover for one of the Jerry Bails books.

* John Siuntres talks to Tom King.

* not comics: another essay about the strategy of focusing on positive reviews. Since this one has focused on Peak TV, it might have more to say to comics than the average thinkpiece of its type. I think every writer has to pick their own strategy, and focusing on positive pieces is one of them. I like a range of discussions, myself, and we should be more honest generally that many people do this to avoid pushback.

* finally: go to Glasgw's Radisson Red Hotel for a look at some unique Frank Quitely work.
 
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Happy 84th Birthday, Don Wright!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Klaus Janson!

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January 22, 2018


Go, Look: Alejandra Espino

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Progress In Prageeth Ekneligoda Case Focuses On Missing Documents

Any progress at all in the case of the missing, presumed dead journalist and cartoonist follow a Sri Lankan election in which he wrote editorials against those in power is sort of a miracle. All respect to the Ekneligoda's wife Sandya for everything uncovered to date. As the article makes clear, there is still a long, long way to go to making human rights charges stick.
 
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Go, Watch: Your Black Friend


 
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Go, Look: Tatsuro Kiuchi

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* I'm still trying to figure out the comics/illustration category on Kickstarter and the general drift of on-line charity sites in general. Here's one that I hadn't seen before. Columbus-based publisher Ken Eppstein is looking for a loan. I'm on board for this one. He's my local, ethical small press publisher.

* I did see one listing that I knew was comics-oriented and that had a little bit of a pedigree to it: support for 2018's slate at Birdcage Bottom Books. Ten thousand sounds like a modest ask for a set of projects like that.

* finally: I don't know that I've ever seen a fundraiser for a store visit before, but why not? It's already successful.
 
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Go, Look: Virgil Partch In Pictorial Review

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Go, Look: Graphic Storytelling 2017

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Paul Tumey surveys a bunch of comics, including the latest Art Young collection.

* creators Kurt Busiek and Erik Larsen are having something of a sprawling Twitter argument about what might be needed in terms of narrative/concept tweaks to give a Fantastic Four comic the best chance to find an audience. I think that's a hard task; I think Marvel provided the Lee/Kirby team with some fine creators over the last ten years of their serial run. I think a lot of superhero comics would be improved by crawling out of their own asses a bit, tell exciting adventure stories without making them commentary on "the brand" of the title, but that's just me.

* I bookmarked this story about Stan Lee being swindled when it came out, but thought it worth posting again as he's been charged -- at least publicly, if not legally -- with harassment.

* finally: I believe the creators here and in almost every case like this: it's not exactly comics, but be warned there are people who hover around at all levels of creative endeavor that will take money from you that you almost certainly deserve. Be careful out there.
 
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Happy 37th Birthday, Jordan Shiveley!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Alex Ross!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Howard Mackie!

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January 21, 2018


OTBP: Awaiting The Collapse

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Collective Memory: Best Comics And Graphic Novels Lists For 2017

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this article has now been archived
 
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Go, Look: Two Alack Sinner Prints

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OTBP: The Big Me Book

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

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

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Happy 39th Birthday, Till Thomas!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Mark Martin!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Bob Weber Jr.!

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January 20, 2018


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Riad Sattouf's Advice To Young Cartoonists


Trailer For The Cartoonist From Fukushima


Trailer For Don't Worry He Won't Get Far On Foot


Shaenon Garrity Profiled


Six Shelter Stories, By Way Of Mutts
 
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OTBP: Deserto / Novem

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Happy 50th Birthday, Gerry Alanguilan!

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Happy 68th Birthday, Keith Pollard!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Alexander Danner!

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Happy 74th Birthday, Bill Griffith!

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January 19, 2018


Go, Look: Caroline Picard

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Go, Look: Amazing-Looking Opper Art On Back Of Puck Magazine

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Go, Look: GLAAD Announces Its Media Awards Nominees, Including Its Usual Attention To Comic Books

You can read a general article about the awards here. It's nice to see a broader range of books noted in the nominees stage than in the awards program's first few years, where the lists focused on superhero comics. It still doesn't feel very alt-y, even in the broadest way that is defined, but there are now wider definitions of the kind of mainstream entertainments that these awards have always covered. It makes for a more interesting list, anyway.

Here's the full group.

image* America by Gabby Rivera, Joe Quinones, Ming Doyle, Stacey Lee, Ramon Villalobos, Walden Wong, Jen Bartel, Annie Wu, Aud Koch, Flaviano, Joe Rivera, Paolo Rivera, José Villarrubia, Jordan Gibson, Tamra Bonvillain, Brittany Peer, Rachelle Rosenberg and Travis Lanham (Marvel Comics)

* The Backstagers by James Tynion IV, Rian Sygh, Walter Baiamonte and Jim Campbell (BOOM! Studios)

* Batwoman by Marguerite Bennett, James Tynion IV, Steve Epting, Jeromy N. Cox, Stephanie Hans, Renato Arlem, Adriano Honorato Lucas, Fernando Blanco, John Rauch and Deron Bennett (DC Comics)

* Black Panther: World of Wakanda by Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Yona Harvey, Rembert Browne, Alitha E. Martinez, Manny Mederos, Joe Bennett, Afua Richardson, Roberto Poggi, Tamra Bonvillain, Rachelle Rosenberg, Virtual Calligraphy and Joe Sabino (Marvel Comics)

* Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love by Sarah Vaughn, Lan Medina, Phillip Hester, José Villarrubia and Janice Chiang (DC Comics)

* Goldie Vance by Hope Larson, Jackie Ball, Brittney Williams, Noah Hayes, Sarah Stern and Jim Campbell (BOOM! Studios)

* Iceman by Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti, Ibraim Roberson, Edgar Salazar, Edgar E. Tadeo, Robert Gill, Rachelle Rosenberg and Joe Sabino (Marvel Comics)

* Lumberjanes by Kat Leyh, Shannon Watters, Carolyn Nowak, Ayme Sotuyo, Maarta Laiho and Aubrey Aiese (BOOM! Studios)

* Quantum Teens Are Go by Magdalene Visaggio, Eryk Donovan, Claudia Aguirre and Zakk Saam (Black Mask Comics)

* The Woods by James Tynion IV, Michael Dialynas and Ed Dukeshire (BOOM! Studios)

I can't be the only one to notice that they listed all the creators, which is inclusion of a different type. This is the awards program's 29th year. They have two ceremonies: one in April, one in May.
 
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Go, Look: Birth Control Is More Than Just Birth Control

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

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Go, Look: 1000 Dead Draculas

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Frank Young on How To Read Nancy. Cheryl Lynn Eaton on Mary Worth and serial drama comic strips -- an older piece that popped up in my twitter feed. Jessica Plummer on Iron Fist.

* this is an interesting piece of news, that DC Comics looks like it will be taking a deep dive into gathering up all the various properties that Alan Moore made and to which they have some claim. So much for the last vestiges of their ineffectual firewall. I wish they would uphold the spirit of at least one of their agreements with the writer, if only for novelty's sake. I don't understand why they're doing this in that these are good characters that don't hold a lot of market oomph. They're basically pissing off future and current talent for the sake of like 800 more copies sold and conceivably a chance at a slightly better story. In life more generally we've reached a kind of end of the world scramble after pennies and nickels, so at least this move fits the spirit of the time.

* not comics; critics only have the power you afford them.

* finally: Kyle Hotz draws Marvel's King Asshole Dad, Norman Osborn.
 
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Happy 49th Birthday, Barbara Canepa!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Guy Delisle!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Thomas Yeates!

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Happy 70th Birthday, Joe Staton!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Scott Tipton!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Frank Cammuso!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Don MacPherson!

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January 18, 2018


Mark Campos, RIP

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Go, Look: Arielle Jovellanos

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Go, Look: Open Letter To Sleep

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Go, Look: It Was The Worst Of Times

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Go, Look: Two Buyer's Guide Cover By Dan Adkins

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Go, Look: 2002 Steve Skroce Spider-Man Villain Designs

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Holly Raidl on The Foldings #1. Todd Klein on The Sandman Oversize Special #1.

* this Evan Dorkin recreation of a Fantastic Four cover is quite the sight. That's a whole interesting world of original art collection: cover recreations. I'm guessing that started with the artists that worked on those covers themselves, but maybe it's something like a Fred Hembeck was doing that got that going.

* Roger Langridge inking Ramona Fradon.

* go, look: Jason paying homage to Moebius.

* finally: I've never seen this Tim Truman drawing of Batman before now. I always liked Truman's single-images.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Stephen DeStefano!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Frank Quitely!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Mike Lynch!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Charles Yoakum!

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Happy 84th Birthday, Raymond Briggs!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Yvan Alagbé!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Christian Durieux!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Alan Gardner!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Patrick Lesueur!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Scott Mills!

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January 17, 2018


Go, Look: Mark Kaufman

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Go, Look: Erik Thurman

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Go, Look: A Part Of Me Is Still Unknown

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

*****

OCT171817 CRAZY QUILT SCRAPS & PANELS ON WAY TO GASOLINE ALLEY HC $70.00
This long-awaited Frank King pre-Gasoline Alley collection could be called "Unnamed Peter Maresca Project" and I bet a significant chunk of its audience would still be on board. King was an amazing cartoonist, and Peter's an amazing publisher.

imageSEP170482 LIGHTS OF THE AMALOU TP $39.99
SEP170040 SHADOWS ON THE GRAVE HC $19.99
OCT170530 FOUR WOMEN TP $17.99
AUG170497 GENE COLAN TOMB OF DRACULA ARTIST ED HC $125.00
OCT170376 SUPER POWERS BY JACK KIRBY TP $39.99
That is just a great line-up of artists: Wendling, Corben, Kieth, Colan, Kirby. It's hard for me to imagine a scenario where any of these books disappoints a reader, although I'm least familiar with the Wendling as a specific project.

OCT170201 DAMAGE #1 $2.99
NOV170530 ASSASSINISTAS #2 CVR A HERNANDEZ (MR) $3.99
NOV170531 ASSASSINISTAS #2 CVR B MCGEE (MR) $3.99
Not a lot in the traditional comic book format, so this is the day I'd look at one of the new DC drawers-up-front imprint or the Gilbert Hernandez-involved series from another new imprint. Why not?

NOV170690 KILL OR BE KILLED #15 (MR) $3.99
NOV170691 KILL OR BE KILLED TP VOL 03 (MR) $16.99
The best single-issue of the week is the new Brubaker/Phillips comic, which also has its latest trade out. I've been enjoying the Sean Phillispi

AUG171347 COMPLETE OKKO TP $39.99
I enjoyed specific cycles of this series when it was a big hitter for Archaia. I remember it being tightly drawn and sharply told, as much action-adventure work isn't really my thing.

NOV171665 EC FELDSTEIN KRIGSTEIN BRADBURY MASTER RACE HC $29.99
Yikes, what names. Krigstein in particular seems always worth reding

NOV172155 FANCY POP DESIGN SC $49.95
I don't see a whole lot of design books from the perspective of a comics publisher or comics maker, so maybe this book is that. This is an aces thing to be able to check out in the comic book store before dying.

NOV171749 FIFTY FREAKIN YEARS OF FREAK BROTHERS TP (KNOCKABOUT) (RES) $12.99
All hail the Freak Bros, and all hail the great Gilbert Shelton.

SEP171324 GIANT DAYS NOT ON THE TEST EDITION HC VOL 02 $34.99
I've been buying these in serial comic form which I didn't think would be as difficult as it has been. These creators are really killing it.

NOV171215 MUTTS SPRING DIARIES TP $9.99
In a week of great artists, Patrick McDonnell deserves a place in their company. If you hadn't read one in a while, the art just rips into you.

*****

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: Wrightson + Kaluta On The Shadow

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Go, Look: John Celardo-Era Tarzan Sundays

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Alex Hoffman on What Is Left. Oliver Sava on Portugal.

* plenty of comics towns in the 20 finalists for the giant Amazon facility that was dangled in from of the nation's mayors. I think that announcement will have an effect on the comics community in the town selected.

* not comics: here is a profile of the forthcoming movie about John Callahan. Forgot that Robin Williams wanted to play the late, very funny cartoonist at one point.

* I haven't paid any attention to it, but I have to imagine that cartoonists feeling more free than usual to go after President Trump has angered readers who want their guy to get what they feel is a fair shake.

* finally: Chandi Lahiri, RIP.
 
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Happy 59th Birthday, Jon B. Cooke!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Ann Nocenti!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Tom Brevoort!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Joseph Lambert!

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January 16, 2018


Go, Look: Bunch Of Russ Manning Star Wars Strips

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Eisner Awards Judges Committee Names Carol Kalish + Jackie Ormes To Hall Of Fame; 16 Nominees Named

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Here is the awards show's post. Jackie Ormes (1911-1985) was the first African-American woman to have a newspaper strip, Dixie To Harlem, featuring the iconic character Torchy Brown. She was a giant of the African-American newspaper industry when it was at its most powerful and most widely read. Carol Kalish (1955-1991) was a pioneer in the American comic book mainstream for her direct sales manager stint at Marvel, becoming a unifying figure in a very scattered, aggressively competitive field for her work with retailer's on her publisher's behalf.

The sixteen figures named for possible induction by vote -- the top four of sixteen make it -- are:

* Charles Addams
* Jim Aparo
* Gus Arriola
* Karen Berger
* Howard Cruse
* Carlos Ezquerra
* Dave Gibbons
* Paul Levitz
* Tarpé Mills
* Francoise Mouly
* Thomas Nast
* Lily Renée Peter Phillips
* Posy Simmonds
* Rumiko Takahashi
* John Wagner
* S. Clay Wilson

I don't see anyone that doesn't deserve to get into the Hall of Fame at some date, and I also see the possibility of an all-woman sweep. It's hard to believe that a figure both popular and well-regarded like Charles Addams hasn't made it in yet, but I bet at least one someone out there is saying that about all the candidates.

The four voted-upon candidates and the two named by judges are inducted during the Eisner Awards the Friday night of Comic-Con International in San Diego.
 
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Go, Look: Hervé Bourhis

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Go, Look: Get Lost #3

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Bundled Extra: Publisher Silver Sprocket Announces 12-Project Spring/Summer 2018 Through The Beat

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Looks like a potentially strong line-up, including a collection of Ben Passmore's political comics.
 
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Go, Look: Some Early Gordo Sundays

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Go, Look: Weird Science #18

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean Gaffney on Attack On Titan Vol. 23. Todd Klein on Boy Maximortal #1.

* prison work is very noble and very necessary to the way our culture is shaped right now.

* whoa, look at the contributors to this 1974 jam comic made at a Bay Area convention. It's hard to remember sometimes that group of cartoonists were just like every group that's come since.

* I feel this very strongly.

* Dale Martin shares some 2018 goals.

* here's a nice profile from someone who looks to be a lifelong newspaperman on the great Art Young and that fine, new Fantagraphics book.

* finally: this Swinnerton illustration is swell-looking.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Al Davison!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Eleanor Davis!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Jamie Coville!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Frédéric Boilet!

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January 15, 2018


Go, Look: Oytun Yilmaz

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Go, Look: Trump's Jerk Move On Jerusalem

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A Few, Quick Words On An Argument Portions of Which No Longer Exist

I don’t have a whole lot to say about the current set of realities facing the publisher 2dcloud. I don’t know enough not to sound stupid. In the grand tradition of CR, here then are 800 likely-to-be stupid words.

imageIn case you missed it, the long-running alt-publisher 2dcloud recently dismissed core cartoonists Andy Burkholder and Blaise Larmee due to incidents related to harassment -- details occluded both generally and here for the sake of those victimized. Then there were charges that either the incidents were known or could have been Nostradamused/Columboed from the art each cartoonist had made, which I don’t understand and don’t think art works that way. They’ve also since moved publishing control -- someone correct me if I’m wrong on the details here, please -- from longtime front man, publisher and I think co-founder Raighne Hogan to former associate publisher Kim Jooha, with various members of the immediate 2dcloud community in support.



Update: I became aware of this article with a lot more information about ten minutes after I hit the submit button. I also have to rewrite a joke that no longer applies.

While there’s been a lot of e-mailing and talk about this series of events and 2dcloud’s past/future in particular filling up my inbox, I haven’t seen a whole lot that’s public. I even had to have someone text me a snapshot of the latest pertubation in the whole affair: former TCJ Co-Editor and Picturebox Inc. Publisher Dan Nadel building on what seems like was the same argument expressed 100 social-media cycles ago by his former TCJ partner Tim Hodler: that it’s odd there was not one but that there were two harassers of the press-the-eject-button variety in the catalog, and that this state of things should be questioned above and beyond their removal. When Dan wrote it, it sounded more like 1980s James Spader saying it, I’m sure.



I don’t think Dan and Tim are wrong to have this thought -- questioning narratives is what journalists and editors of journalists do. I don’t think an open-ended question or two is the same as pursuing that kind of thought. I mean, I do that, too, especially these days, but it doesn’t make it fair or even useful. I’d have to know a lot more about the situation to figure out if my own open-ended questions would be the right ones. We lack knowledge more than we have knowledge. The big one is on timing: who knew what and when. The others are very nuanced community dynamics. It’s possible that a publisher might have a culture around it that leads to problems it later has to take action to solve. Sure. It also may be that a culture drives the solution to pre-existing problems that slipped past the previous culture; or that a culture might impede progress because of other, positive qualities; or that broken down step-by-step these aren’t issues you and I find as troubling as that community does, and so on. We should all continue to pay attention and keep asking whatever questions we feel compelled to ask, but when to come forward is another set of decisions.



This is going to sound evasive to some, but I sense there’s a lot of pain here on all sides, and in a New Year -- it’s not 2018 until I do laundry -- I’m going to at least hope for less of it. I wish for everyone, the unnamed victims to the vaguely yet seriously incriminated, the best outcome possible. I welcome and encourage the reporters and critics looking for a more satisfying truth and hope that one day those discussions can be had. I feel for Hogan and hope he’s okay; publishing is hard, publishing art is harder and publishing by force of will over a long period of time is certainly the hardest of those three things and probably impossible -- even if Groth and Thompson look to have scowled their way to front-page NYT obits. I wish the new publisher(s) the best of luck although if it’s not too late I might suggest they start a completely different endeavor with the same aspirations and less of the overall baggage. There are a lot of companies out there that divested of their first acts would be more greatly appreciated for themselves.



I’ve been talking to several of my friends with more experience in this specific world than I have, including a half-dozen either published or formerly published by 2dcloud. While having a publishing slate that does not match the values of the publisher and its attendant community is a problem worth fixing, it’s not the only problem that companies like 2dcloud face, and almost never will solutions to one problem fix another. 2dcloud raises its capital via serial kickstarters that barely make their goals, which can exhaust a company of goodwill and limit its ability to operate. Like many small companies, 2dcloud seems to struggle with both the strategy and execution of publicity. In recent years the bulk of what I hear about the company is that its projects been conceived at the far end of their ambition in terms of print runs and price points, when publishing to the realities of right now in every way except content might have been more wise. I suspect over time most publishers are judged at least as much by the ethical, positive treatment of their artists than they are by the ethics of their selection.
 
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Go, Look: Rediscovering Nicole Claveloux

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Go, Look: Alex Toth's Combat Quiz

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Go, Look: Flash Comics #29

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Robin Enrico on Orbiting.

* the colors in this Frederik Peeters single imagine are quite lovely.

* there is no bad day to read the Martin Luther King comic book, but this day is perhaps the best day of them of all.

* if I had to choose just one visual cartoonist in the general vicinity in comics to facilitate the majority of staring I got to do the rest of my life, Saul Steinberg woul be in the final three.

* I'm still pulling holiday posts out of my bookmarks. This New Yorker post of past holiday covers was quite lovely.

* finally: Frank Miller draws the Dark Knight and the Joker.
 
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Happy 33rd Birthday, Jacq Cohen!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Scott Snyder!

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January 14, 2018


Go, Look: America Isn't Ready For A Pandemic

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OTBP: The Chronicles Of Fortune

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Happy 6th Anniversary, Study Group Comic Books!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Nomi Kane!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Gabe Fowler!

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FFF Results Post #492 -- Anticipated For 2018

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Specific Comics Or Comics-Related Books You're Looking Forward To Reading In 2018." This is how they responded.

*****

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Trevor Ashfield

1. The New World: Comics from Mauretania, Chris Reynolds (New York Review Comics)
2. Why Art?, Eleanor Davis (Fantagraphics Books)
3. Coyote Doggirl, Lisa Hanawalt (Drawn & Quarterly)
4. Dirty Plotte: Complete Julie Doucet (Drawn & Quarterly)
5. Somnabulance, Fiona Smyth (Koyama)

*****

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Rob McMonigal

1. Ales Kot on James Bond (what the hell?)
2. Whit Taylor Ghost Stories
3. Tillie Walden On a Sunbeam
4. More issues of Now, Fanta's new Anthology
5. A Western World by Mike DeForge

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Garlandia, Lorenzo Mattotti And Jerry Kramsky (Fantagraphics) (pictured)
2. Slum Wolf, Tadao Tsuge With Ryan Holmberg (New York Review Comics)
3. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters 2, Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)
4. Shit Is Real, Aisha Franz (Drawn And Quarterly)
5. Somnabulance, Fiona Smyth (Koyama Press)

*****

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Marc-Oliver Frisch

1. Poochytown, Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics)
2. On a Sunbeam, Tillie Walden (First Second)
3. A Western World, Michael DeForge (Koyama)
4. Endzeit, Olivia Vieweg (Carlsen)
5. Soft X-Ray Mindhunters, A. Degen (Koyama)

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Multiple Warheads: Ghost Throne, Brandon Graham (Image)
2. Prism Stalker, Sloane Leong (Image)
3. Frankenstein Alive, Alive #4, Steve Niles/Bernie Wrightson/Kelley Jones (IDW)
4. Deathstroke Annual #1, Christopher Priest/Bill Sienkiewicz/Denys Cowan (DC)
5. Soft X-Ray Mindhunters, Alex Degen (Koyama)

*****

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John Vest

1. Mineshaft 35, Everett Rand and Gioia Palmieri (Everett Rand and Gioia Palmieri)
2. Robert Crumb Sketchbook Volume Three: 1975–1982, R. Crumb (Taschen)
3. Kramers Ergot 10, Sammy Harkham (Fantagraphics)
4. Complete Chester Gould's Dick Tracy Volume 24, Chester Gould (IDW)
5. Love That Bunch, Aline Kominsky-Crumb (Drawn and Quarterly)

*****

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Dan Nordskog

1. Land of the Sons, Gipi (Fantagraphics)
2. Idle Days, Thomas Desaulniers-Brousseau/Simon Leclerc (First Second)
3. Blackbird Days, Manuele Fior, Jaime Richardson (Fantagraphics)
4. Yellow Negros And Other Imaginary Creatures, Yvan Alagbe (New York Review Comics)
5. Be Prepared, Vera Brosgol (First Second)

*****

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Michael Grabowski

1. Clay Jones' editorial cartoons & commentary (Claytoonz.com)
2. You Don't Know Jack, Dave Sim, Carson Grubagh, Jack Van Dyke (IDW or Aardvark-Vanaheim)
3. Fritz After Dark, Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
4. Gabrielle Bell's Patreon comics
5. The Goat-Getters, Eddie Campbell (IDW)

*****

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Terry Eisele

1. The Three Rooms in Valerie's Head, David Gaffney, Dan Berry (Top Shelf Productions)
2. Four Sisters Volume One Enid, Cati Baur, Malika Ferdjoukh (IDW)
3. Young Frances, Hartley Lin (AdHouse)
4. Is This Guy for Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman, Box Brown (First Second)
5. My Favorite Thing is Monsters 2, Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. The Provocative Colette, Annie Goetzinger (NBM Publishing)
2. Eternity Girl, Sonny Liew with writer Magdalene Visaggio (Young Animal/DC Comics)
3. SCREWBALL! The Cartoonists Who Made the Funnies Funny, Paul Tumey (Library of American Comics)
4. Drawing And Life Lessons From Master Cartoonists, Craig Yoe (Yoe Books)
5. The Graphic Canon Of Crime & Mystery Volume Two, Russ Kick (Seven Stories Press)

*****

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Sean Rogers

1. Mort Cinder, Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Alberto Breccia (Fantagraphics)
2. Von Spatz, Anna Haifisch (Drawn & Quarterly)
3. Claudine, Ryoko Ikeda (Seven Seas)
4. From Lone Mountain, John Porcellino (Drawn & Quarterly)
5. Poochytown, Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics)

*****

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Mário Filipe

1. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume Four: The Tempest, Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill (Top Shelf and Knockabout)
2. Blueberry, Joan Sfar and Christophe Blain (Dargaud)
3. Poochytown, Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics)
4. Art Comic, Matthew Thurber (Drawn & Quarterly)
5. Pinheiro-Bravo [working title], Tiago Baptista (Chili Com Carne)

*****

thanks to all that participated

*****
*****
 
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January 13, 2018


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Stan Lee On Beyond Reason


Roz Chast Interviewed On NEA Podcast


Robb Armstrong On The Influence Of Charles Schulz


Faith Salie Interviews George Booth


Adrian Todd Zuniga Talks To Barry Blitt
 
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Go, Look: Somerton Man

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Go, Look: The Star-Spangled Kid And Stripesy Introduced

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OTBP: Mooz Boosh -- Spinadoodles 8

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Happy 85th Birthday, Ron Goulart!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Anina Bennett!

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January 12, 2018


Go, Look: Jan Buragay

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Go, Look: Starstream Covers

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Go, Look: Pat Barrett!

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

By Tom Spurgeon

* Tom Kaczynski will be writing a column for TCJ.com on the transformation of comics from 1985-1987. That should be good; he's a very good writer.

* finally, I always love it when Gary Tyrrell pays close attention to particulars of webcartoonist crowd-funders, a subject he knows very well. I always learn something.
 
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Go, Look: The Mountain Without A Top

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Go, Look: The Dark Mansion Of Forbidden Love Cover Images

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Jenny Robins on Portugal. Emmajean Holley on Cartoon County.

* that is a very cute dating story along with information that I'll re-post in the next "Bundled."

* Mark Evanier's unpacking of older-fan dislike of the Batman TV show reads differently now that fervent comics fandom exists in a slightly wider context that includes people for whom the show is a pleasure.

* Ron Tandberg, RIP. The variety of editorial cartoon approaches available even on the tradition British newspaper page provides some fun variety in terms of approach and tone.

* finally: George Barnes profiles Philip Uzanas.
 
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Happy 38th Birthday, Damian Duffy!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Andrew Wales!

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Happy 50th Birthday, John Jackson Miller!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Joe Quesada!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Takehiko Inoue!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Hans Rickheit!

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January 11, 2018


Go, Look: Zeke Pena

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Go, Read: Massive Personnel Shifts At Oni Press Including James Lucas Jones Moves Out Of Editorial

Here. Hard not to write an alarming-sounding headline but this sounds like a best-faces-forward re-assignment of talent.

I cant get past the stupid ad to do a proper count but basically it looks like Joe Nozemack being replaced by James Lucas Jones as Publisher started a series of changes throughout. It's not upheaval, but I can see it having definite day-to-day impact as individuals take on new roles. Congrats to, well, just about everybody there.
 
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Go, Look: Mansplaining, Explained

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A Few Brief Sentences On Stan Lee Sexual Harassment Charges

Like most people I read this Daily Mail piece about Stan Lee physically and verbally accosting healthcare workers assigned to the 95-year-old's care. Every single story of this nature needs to be taken absolutely seriously.

In this case, I join a lot of industry observers in believing it might be better to embrace a deliberate attitude as part of that seriousness and keep ourselves from skipping to the next step. The Daily Mail is a toilet with a web site. Unlike reports where an individual reaches out to the press person, there's a factual claim of a legal filing that has been disputed by Lee's camp. Either we find out such a filing was made or we find out this is not true. If that all works out to be credible, there could be issues -- not justifications but issues -- with Lee being a 95-year-old recent widower that might make us pull apart what we learn in a slightly different way than the speed and certainty that might benefit another case.

The danger is that comics frequently ignores stuff unless it's in their twitter feed right this minute, and comics entities frequently wait out stories they don't want to engage -- the Akira Yoshida story being the latest. I hope that at least the industry press will take it on themselves to keep their eye on this one if the initial facts take a few weeks to sort out. I'll be figuring it out, too. There may be a tough decision or two out there for conventions/festivals that are set to host Lee in the meantime.
 
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Go, Look: The Rise And Fall Of Milkshake Duck

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* count Phoenix among those shows that isn't messing around with recent court support of CCI's claim on the phrase comic con.

* Stan Lee has a few more Wizard shows planned. No idea as I"m typing this how much of his planned schedule he's going to keep post harassment complaint.

* speaking of Wizard, I know about a half-dozen people for whom Wizard's New Orleans show and its celebrity driven approach as become an event to attend because they get to go to New Orleans. Someone please start a small press show comics festival in that great city, please.

* here's a show in Kuala Lumpur, profiled.

* finally: here's a piece about a comics festival in Texas coming to an end after this year's show later this month. I think I could see a number of shows ending that started up in the crush of bunches of shows starting up: it's a hard gig, and the field is very crowded.
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: Thirteen Steve Rude Cover Images

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Todd Klein on The Middle Age Book Two. Andy Oliver on Maestros #1-3 and Out Of Nothing. Sean Gaffney on Sword Art Online Volume Twelve: Alicization Rising. Todd Klein on The Flash #24. John Seven on The Case Of The Missing Men. Tegan O'Neil on Sugar Town. Carta Monir on I'm Not Here.

* the groovy site person has some comics they want collected.

* i like this early-'00s Michael Chabon essay about Jack Kirby's Big Barda that someone re-posted -- I like Big Barda, too. I will point out that Thundra was Marvel's version, and that by their writers aiming that character's affection at The Thing, Marvel made a whole different group of kids nervous that wouldn't grow up to look like Chabon.

* Shawn Rogers profiles Dan Wright.

* finally: Ben Towle writes about some of the many things that delighted him in 2017.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Clint Hollingsworth!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Neil Cohn!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Sam Kieth!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Bob Harras!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Terry Beatty!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 33rd Birthday, Lucy Knisley!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Gil Roth!

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January 10, 2018


Go, Look: Woody Wobbler

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OTBP: Mister Morgen

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Go, Look: The Year In Trump

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

*****

OCT171013 THOR BY WALTER SIMONSON TP VOL 02 NEW PTG $24.99
When I'm facing a week like this one -- just in my life, not on this column -- and I don't see a whole lot of new comics I like, I'm always up for some Walt Simonson Thor. I like the way it looks, and I like the lightness of the narrative all told, not in events but in a kind of sprightly, anything-goes pace. This is a reprint. Thor #337 came out 35 years ago this November.

imageJUL170673 LIMBO LOUNGE HC $29.99
If I'm reading the PR correctly, this is the first book in a line of original graphic novels from Craig Yoe. Yoe is one of the more industrious comics publishing forces, and his experience is sort of to the left of traditional minis to series to gns path by which so many comics companies continue to cull their best works. I'm interested in seeing it, anyway.

NOV170862 WICKED & DIVINE TP VOL 06 IMPERIAL PHASE PART 2 (MR) $16.99
OCT170626 DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA TP (MR) $16.99
SEP170037 HELLBOY AND THE BPRD 1954 TP $19.99
Three standard trade collections, two from Image and then Hellboy from Dark Horse. The Divided States book is that one from Howard Chaykin that infuriated everyone with some of its depictions and politics. I'm not certain if this starts a new round of anger or not, or if this in the "store it in the bank of thoughts about the publisher" stage that a lot of similar controversies go through.

NOV171534 BARBARELLA #2 CVR A MARTIN (MR) $3.99
NOV171535 BARBARELLA #2 CVR B POPE (MR) $3.99
NOV171536 BARBARELLA #2 CVR C SEGOVIA (MR) $3.99
NOV171537 BARBARELLA #2 CVR D DALTON (MR) $3.99
NOV171538 BARBARELLA #2 CVR E SUBSCRIPTION YARAR (MR) $3.99
NOV172030 BLOODSHOT SALVATION #5 CVR A ROCAFORT $3.99
NOV172031 BLOODSHOT SALVATION #5 CVR B PALOSZ $3.99
NOV172032 BLOODSHOT SALVATION #5 CVR C ROBERTSON $3.99
NOV171522 BSG VS BSG #1 (OF 6) BLANK AUTHENTIX ED $10.00
NOV171509 BSG VS BSG #1 (OF 6) CVR A CASSADAY $3.99
NOV171510 BSG VS BSG #1 (OF 6) CVR B DESJARDINS $3.99
NOV171511 BSG VS BSG #1 (OF 6) CVR C ADAMA ACTION FIGURE $3.99
NOV171512 BSG VS BSG #1 (OF 6) CVR D BALTAR ACTION FIGURE $3.99
NOV171513 BSG VS BSG #1 (OF 6) CVR E CYLON ACTION FIGURE $3.99
NOV171514 BSG VS BSG #1 (OF 6) CVR F CASTRO ADAMA SPLIT $3.99
NOV171515 BSG VS BSG #1 (OF 6) CVR G CASTRO CYLON PROFILE SPLIT $3.99
NOV171516 BSG VS BSG #1 (OF 6) CVR H CASTRO CYLON FRONT SPLIT $3.99
That is way too many goddamn covers. Just look at that! The primary market for such material is NOT HEALTHY. The only arguments I could ever figure out for variant covers are (1) that when there's a lot of people buying comics generally, when the market is flush, certain issues they might want to have a special cover, and (2) that it's always good to see people get money for cover gigs. Everything else that seems to happen when this strategy is pursued feels pretty gross. Robbing Peter to pay while also trashing Simon's house. There's just not enough money to complicate things for retailers right now. Everybody stop it.

JUN161582 FRANK THORNE GHITA EROTIC TREASURY ARCHIVAL ED VOL 01 $129.99
JUN161583 FRANK THORNE GHITA EROTIC TREASURY ARCHIVAL LTD SGN ED VOL 0 $159.99
Again: light week. I have no interest in the erotic elements of Frank Thorne's work, but his textures have always been freaking fascinating. He was also one of those artists that got way more interesting at an age when others had been retired for a dozen years. Like many a man my age and Al Pacino movies we only know through the MAD parody, I only know Frank Thorne's characters through Cerebus. This was a crazier, off-brand Red Sonja, I think. Still, that art is fun.

*****

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: A 1949 Profile Of Ronald Searle

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Go, Look: Two Charles Vess Spider-Man Prints

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Philippe Leblanc on Blanc. Steve Foxe on Shiver: Junji Ito Selected Stories.

* people keep sending me this Comics Outreach gig listing at Kickstarter, so my apologies to whomever had it first. Any job in comics is a job in comics.

* as one might expect, Kevin Huizenga's Best Of 2017 is formidable and rewarding.

* Steve Foxe writes about the "stealth mini-series," which I take to be a mainstream (especially Marvel) strategy of not announcing a mini-series as such so that they can enjoy the sales stability of later issues as if they were ongoing series.

* finally, give Emil Ferris all the awards, that's what I say.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Rob Jackson!

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January 9, 2018


Go, Look: Vitali Konstantinov

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Go, Look: Steve Teare

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Go, Look: Jason Thibault's Big List Of Submission Guidelines

Here. I can't check the results, but I have to imagine this is a valuable resource for a few folks out there. I appreciate Thibault's hard work in putting it together, and love that the Internet can still pull that kind of effort out of people.
 
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Go, Look: The River That Became A War Zone

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* Noah Van Sciver vows to get this issue of Blammo! out in 2018.

* Brian Bendis reveals the last serial comic-book issues of his long run at Marvel. Bendis was a throwback at Marvel because not only did he innovate in terms of approaching material within the line, he remained an A-list creator in terms of sales and heft for the bulk of his time there. They'll miss him.

* Bendis' former home (and still his home in a sense while the recently ailing writer catches up with his final issues there) Marvel Comics is going to offer a Venom-related mini-event to drive some attention to their books. I think that may be good for the Schueller, Michelinie, McFarlane and Zeck Venom character, the subject of a film coming out soon. In other Marvel news where an outside publication has taken notice, Gail Simone will be the writer on a comic book series featuring the Domino character created by Rob Liefeld -- not sure who gets the art duties although there's a Land/D'Armata cover through the link. Saladin Ahmed, Javier Rodriguez and Alvaro Lopez will do an Exiles book; Ahmed has impressed people who pay close attention to that world with his work partnered with Christian Ward on Black Bolt.

* Wayno is taking over dailies on Bizarro. Dan Piraro will focus on Sundays. Wayno and Piraro have collaborated in various ways for I think about 10-12 years now -- some coloring, some guest runs, maybe even some gag work Wayno to Piraro. It would be a shocker if any other cartoonist were to take over the dailies, that's for sure.

* Everett Rand from Mineshaft e-mailed right before the new year to double-check my physical mailing address, which I suppose means we're soon to get another issue of that fine magazine,

* finally: Ryan Sands announces that there will be a second issue of Lovers Only.
 
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Go, Look: Various Yogi Bear Sundays

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Go, Look: Lost Comico Project Imagery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Paul Pope builds a cover in stages.

* this is an interesting discussion to have about The Punisher, although I don't think over the decades that the Conway/Andry/Romita character has been treated in a consistent way I would instantly blame right-wing folk for thinking that there's some imagery there for them to adopt. If it's a specific to the recent TV series alt-right use, that's a stronger and easier screw you.

* not comics: did not know about this particular TV pitch. I am fond of all the creators involved.

* here are a bunch of comics creator talking about the year behind us and the year in which we are now involved.

* finally, here's Cynthia Rose on the passing of Anne Goetzinger.
 
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Happy 66th Birthday, Frank Margerin!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Sean Azzopardi!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 28th Birthday, Minna Sundberg!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Booksteve!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Art Baxter!

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January 8, 2018


Jesse Crumb, RIP



The artist died on January 3 from complications following a New Year's Eve auto accident. He was 49. All condolences to the Crumb family.
 
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Go, Look: Anneli Furmark

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Go, Read: Brian Hibbs On The Year 2017 At His Stores

imageHere. There's a lot of just lists, double-spaced in a way that makes them seem endless, but I'm grateful to get this much information from any store let alone a high-quality duo like Brian's pair.

Direct market stores are hurting right now because of the extremely poor performance of key players that constitute the bulk of the sales profile served by such stores when they're running well. I'm not th audience for mainstream and indie-genre work, but there are a lot of talented people that work in those areas of comics and a lot of the retailers that carry books I tend to like -- like Hibbs' flagship store -- thrive when those kinds of books do well. I think an interesting question is how much of this is self-damage an how much of this is natural exhaustion for specific concepts and characters, but that would be a longer essay than Brian's.
 
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Go, Look: RL Crabb Is Running Cartoons At His Site

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Go, Read: Being Chris Ware

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I enjoyed Sarah Boxer's profile of Chris Ware and his astonishing art book Monograph -- on sale now discounted to less than $40, which may be the greatest deal in modern comics publishing history-- over at NYROB. I thought the book captured this strange tension between Ware's forthright explanations of influences and career highlights and the powerful, overwhelming way everything is presented.
 
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OTBP: John The Drone Pilot And Mary The Drone

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Go, Listen: Jeffrey Brown On Process Party

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* this kickstarter has been very aggressive since its inception about getting this column to cover it, hard for us to do in a December dominated by charitable activity. Looks like they didn't need our help! Congratulations to them.

* don't know if it's the new year, but Kickstarter right now seems particularly stuffed with projects of personal ambition featuring artists with whom I'm not as familiar as I probably should be. If your thing is helping newer artists find their feet with public support, it might be a very good time to go shopping.

* let me repeat the conventional wisdom of the entire last month. If you're a comics-shop shopper, nearly all of the Direct Market stores to whom I've spoken since mid-Fall had a brutal time of it in the second half of the year. A lot of this is general malaise, and a lot of it is that comics are largely a delivery system for a certain kind of mainstream or indie-genre comic that paired together underperformed in 2017. A continued careen or collapse would have a terrible overall effect so if there are nice things within your power to do for your store -- clean out your "drawer"/"shelf" or spend the extra $3 to buy a ship-to book at the store -- this might be a nice time to do it.

* finally: one thing that doesn't seem to work so that I ever see it is crowd-funding aimed at comic shops. I think spaces are important, and the number of readers who drop out entirely when their specific store goes away indicates they're crucial, but efforts on their behalf rarely break through.
 
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Go, Look: David Litchfield Illustration

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Go, Look: What We Saved From The Fire

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Gil Roth talks to Dave McKean. John Siuntres talks to Mike Norton.

* it's hard to imagine the story of Zunar's struggle against a repressive police force regarding his exacting but nowhere near enraged take on the foibles of Malaysian politics getting any dumber, but charges against fans of Zunar's work standing between the physical books and members of the police force might just hit the sweet spot there.

* not comics: I agree with Mark Hamill, but I'm always worried too many people suffering not too harshly want to live in these spaces full time.

* progress work from Roger Langridge; can't recall seeing that from him before now.

* finally: Michael Cavna on the latest Best American Comics anthology.
 
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Happy 58th Birthday, Domingos Isabelinho!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Ken Steacy!

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Happy 77th Birthday, Boris Vallejo!

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January 7, 2018


Go, Look: Hey, Hopey!

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Go, Look: I Just Got Back

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Happy 65th Birthday, Bob Wiacek!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Karl Kesel!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Kevin Dooley!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Aaron Lopresti!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #491 -- Books Of 2017

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Comics Or Comics-Related Books You've Enjoyed That Were Published In 2017. In The Fifth Slot, Put A Book You Feel Was Under-Appreciated." This is how they responded

*****

image

Mário Filipe

1. Deserto | Nuvem, Francisco Sousa Lobo (Chili Com Carne)
2. Showtime, Antoine Cossé (Breakdown Press)
3. Farmer Ned's Comic Barn, Gerald Jablonski (Fantagraphics)
4. Brume / Bruma, Amanda Baeza (kuš!/Chili Com Carne)
5. Education, John Hankiewicz (Fantagraphics)

*****

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Patrick Watson

1) My Favorite Thing is Monsters, Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)
2) Roughneck, Jeff Lemire (Gallery 13)
3) Fog Over Tolbiac Bridge Malet and Tardi (Fantagraphics)
4) Poppies of Iraq, Findakly and Trondheim (D+Q_
5) 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank, Rosenberg and Boss (Black Mask)

*****

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Terry Eisele

* Tenements, Towers, and Trash, Julia Wertz (Black Dog & Leventhal)
* My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)
* Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home, Nicole Georges (Mariner Books)
* Roughneck, Jeff Lemire (Gallery 13)
* The Chronicles of Fortune, Coco Picard (Radiator Comics)

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)
2. Monograph, Chris Ware (Rizzolli)
3. Boundless, Jillian Tamaki (D+Q)
4. Anti-Gone, Connor Willumsen (Koyama Press)
5. Pretending Is Lying, Dominique Goblet (NYRC)

*****

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Will Pfeifer

1. How to Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels, Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden (Fantagraphics)
2. Monograph, Chris Ware (Rizzoli)
3. Behaving Madly: Zany, Loco, Cockeyed Rip-off Satire Magazines, Edited by Craig Yoe and Ger Apeldoorn (Yoe Books)
4. To Laugh That We May Not Weep: The Life and Art of Art Young, Frank Young and Glenn Bray (and Art Young) (Fantagraphics)
5. Mister Morgen, Igor Hofbauer (Conundrum Press)

*****

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Caleb Orecchio

1. Anti-Gone, Connor Willumsen (Koyama Press)
2. Open Letter to Sleep, Alyssa Berg (self-published)
3. Crickets 6, Sammy Harkham (self-published)
4. Joan the Drone Pilot and Mary the Drone, Lale Westvind (Fume Room Press)
5. Suzy and Cecil, Sally Ingraham and Gabriella Tito (Comics Workbook)

*****

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Jeffrey A. Goodman

1. R. Crumb's Bible Of Filth (revised and expanded) (David Zwirner Books)
2. Awaiting The Collapse, Paul Kirchner (Tanibis Editions)
3. Reed Crandall: Illustrator of Comics, Roger Hill (TwoMorrows)
4. Spain Rodriguez: Street Fighting Men, Patrick Rosenkranz (Fantagraphics)
5. Beurre Fondue, Stan Liquide (Le Dernier Cri)

*****

I apologize to the pair of responders that sent theirs not in requested format. I had a very limited time to do these this week, which means very little time to do extra coding, and I hope you understand.

*****
*****
 
posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
This Site Is In Silent Running Mode Until January 8

There was a time when I covered comics in the 1990s through the mid-oughts that finding any news (barring a holiday purge at Marvel) to report or to amplify in December through January 15 or so was a nightmare. That's no longer the case. We'll keep the Random Comics feature going through the next couple of weeks on weekdays, we will break in with any major news, and we will continue to recommend artists and projects for you to discover.

imageI'm also going to re-run a few old interviews from December 25 through January 1, after which we'll make a decision about featured content January 2 to January 8.

I like pauses, I like changes in tone, and this should be a brief spell of both. If I do this right, you won't notice that for a fortnight or so I'm getting a couple of hours back. I hope that gained time shows in the New Year.

Thank you so much for another year of support, patronage and readership. I feel like there will be good things in store for CR in 2018, but talking about them doesn't matter if they don't happen so I will stay quiet until they do. I talk a big game; it's time to play one.

Comics had an extraordinary year of continued great work, a ton of very good work, a lot of work that is personally meaningful to their creators, and some small but vital progress by some very brave people in making comics less of a horrible place in which to make and engage with art. I am hopeful that work continues. There have also been some terrible stories, starting with a nasty streak of censorship overseas, the continuing exploitation of artists here and abroad, and the hammering away at elements of infrastructures in several countries that had helped many make the attempt to live more fully within their art.

I am encouraged, though, by the art itself, and the increasing realization in a number of circles that meaningful expression and ethical business conduct are mountains on which someone can take a stand to positive results.

A little business: if you would like to see your birthday mentioned on the site in the new year, I'm afraid it has to be birthdate. That's not an option for everyone, I know, but I like the reminder of time and humanity and good people defined by both that those wishes bring every day in accumulation.

Ever upward, and I hope you have as great a holiday experience as is available to you.

Tom

art from Jason's On The Camino, one of the high-quality comics inviting you into someone else's world that we get all the time now, because comics is awesome

this article will repeat until January 8, skipping Christmas and New Year's
 
posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
January 6, 2018


Go, Look: Cynthia Martin Empire Strikes Back Paintings

image
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Classic JRSR Avengers Cover Art From That Title's Classic Run With Overlapping Narratives

image
 
posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 32nd Birthday, Keren Katz!

image
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
This Site Is In Silent Running Mode Until January 8

There was a time when I covered comics in the 1990s through the mid-oughts that finding any news (barring a holiday purge at Marvel) to report or to amplify in December through January 15 or so was a nightmare. That's no longer the case. We'll keep the Random Comics feature going through the next couple of weeks on weekdays, we will break in with any major news, and we will continue to recommend artists and projects for you to discover.

imageI'm also going to re-run a few old interviews from December 25 through January 1, after which we'll make a decision about featured content January 2 to January 8.

I like pauses, I like changes in tone, and this should be a brief spell of both. If I do this right, you won't notice that for a fortnight or so I'm getting a couple of hours back. I hope that gained time shows in the New Year.

Thank you so much for another year of support, patronage and readership. I feel like there will be good things in store for CR in 2018, but talking about them doesn't matter if they don't happen so I will stay quiet until they do. I talk a big game; it's time to play one.

Comics had an extraordinary year of continued great work, a ton of very good work, a lot of work that is personally meaningful to their creators, and some small but vital progress by some very brave people in making comics less of a horrible place in which to make and engage with art. I am hopeful that work continues. There have also been some terrible stories, starting with a nasty streak of censorship overseas, the continuing exploitation of artists here and abroad, and the hammering away at elements of infrastructures in several countries that had helped many make the attempt to live more fully within their art.

I am encouraged, though, by the art itself, and the increasing realization in a number of circles that meaningful expression and ethical business conduct are mountains on which someone can take a stand to positive results.

A little business: if you would like to see your birthday mentioned on the site in the new year, I'm afraid it has to be birthdate. That's not an option for everyone, I know, but I like the reminder of time and humanity and good people defined by both that those wishes bring every day in accumulation.

Ever upward, and I hope you have as great a holiday experience as is available to you.

Tom

art from Jason's On The Camino, one of the high-quality comics inviting you into someone else's world that we get all the time now, because comics is awesome

this article will repeat until January 8, skipping Christmas and New Year's
 
posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
January 5, 2018


Go, Look: Amanda Scurti

image
 
posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: A Bunch Of Biff Baker

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Favorite Comic Ads Of The 1970s

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Brian Nicholson on Satania.

* Gosh! in London is running a big sale all month. I think we should all try to do some extra buying at our comic shops this month; the Christmas season was brutal for so many of them.

* go, read: Brandon Graham pontificates on 2018 and mourning past relationships -- in comics form.

* not comics: this is my experience with medical billing as well. Having the ability and necessary fortitude to work through any problems can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's also very true that this is almost always a privileged position.

* here are some 2017 numbers for one well-known store.

* finally: congratulations to Sarah and Fran.
 
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 42nd Birthday, Alexis E. Fajardo!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 51st Birthday, Eric Haven!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 77th Birthday, Hayao Miyazaki!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
This Site Is In Silent Running Mode Until January 8

There was a time when I covered comics in the 1990s through the mid-oughts that finding any news (barring a holiday purge at Marvel) to report or to amplify in December through January 15 or so was a nightmare. That's no longer the case. We'll keep the Random Comics feature going through the next couple of weeks on weekdays, we will break in with any major news, and we will continue to recommend artists and projects for you to discover.

imageI'm also going to re-run a few old interviews from December 25 through January 1, after which we'll make a decision about featured content January 2 to January 8.

I like pauses, I like changes in tone, and this should be a brief spell of both. If I do this right, you won't notice that for a fortnight or so I'm getting a couple of hours back. I hope that gained time shows in the New Year.

Thank you so much for another year of support, patronage and readership. I feel like there will be good things in store for CR in 2018, but talking about them doesn't matter if they don't happen so I will stay quiet until they do. I talk a big game; it's time to play one.

Comics had an extraordinary year of continued great work, a ton of very good work, a lot of work that is personally meaningful to their creators, and some small but vital progress by some very brave people in making comics less of a horrible place in which to make and engage with art. I am hopeful that work continues. There have also been some terrible stories, starting with a nasty streak of censorship overseas, the continuing exploitation of artists here and abroad, and the hammering away at elements of infrastructures in several countries that had helped many make the attempt to live more fully within their art.

I am encouraged, though, by the art itself, and the increasing realization in a number of circles that meaningful expression and ethical business conduct are mountains on which someone can take a stand to positive results.

A little business: if you would like to see your birthday mentioned on the site in the new year, I'm afraid it has to be birthdate. That's not an option for everyone, I know, but I like the reminder of time and humanity and good people defined by both that those wishes bring every day in accumulation.

Ever upward, and I hope you have as great a holiday experience as is available to you.

Tom

art from Jason's On The Camino, one of the high-quality comics inviting you into someone else's world that we get all the time now, because comics is awesome

this article will repeat until January 8, skipping Christmas and New Year's
 
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January 4, 2018


Go, Look: Julia Bernhard

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Holiday Interview Re-Run #7 -- Geneviève Castrée In 2013 On Susceptible

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*****

Editor's Note, 2018: I've thought of the late artist and musician Geneviève Castrée (1981-2016) a bunch of times in the last year: partly because of the moving tribute in her honor at the Doug Wright Awards, partly because of D+Q's announcement they'll be publishing a last work, and partly just because the work discussed in this interview, Susceptible pushed into my brain at the time of reading it and hasn't left. I think that's a great work, and i urge everyone to buy it. Please forgive the Internet for all of the ways it might have moved on past the links below. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CASTRÉE: Yeah.

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

CASTRÉE: No.

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

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

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

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

CASTRÉE: Oh, boy.

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

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

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

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

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

CASTRÉE: Yes. [laughs]

SPURGEON: What does that mean to you, exactly?

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

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

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

CASTRÉE: I did.

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

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

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

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

SPURGEON: I think they do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

*****

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

*****

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

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Go, Look: Beautiful Walter Simonson Line Art

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Scott VanderPloeg on Fantagraphics Studio Edition: Jaime Hernandez.

* here's a profile of another comics convention start-up.

* here are two ways to donate money through Lucy Bellwood for one of the recent, horrifying southern California fires that hit close to home.

* go, read: Katie Wheeler's comic about the important of traditions to help get us through periods of grief.

* bundled extra: Lawrence Lindell talks about his forthcoming comic book about mental health issues.

* finally: Chris Arrant profiles Africa's largest comics festival.
 
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Happy 54th Birthday, JP Trostle!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Douglas Wolk!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Andy Warner!

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This Site Is In Silent Running Mode Until January 8

There was a time when I covered comics in the 1990s through the mid-oughts that finding any news (barring a holiday purge at Marvel) to report or to amplify in December through January 15 or so was a nightmare. That's no longer the case. We'll keep the Random Comics feature going through the next couple of weeks on weekdays, we will break in with any major news, and we will continue to recommend artists and projects for you to discover.

imageI'm also going to re-run a few old interviews from December 25 through January 1, after which we'll make a decision about featured content January 2 to January 8.

I like pauses, I like changes in tone, and this should be a brief spell of both. If I do this right, you won't notice that for a fortnight or so I'm getting a couple of hours back. I hope that gained time shows in the New Year.

Thank you so much for another year of support, patronage and readership. I feel like there will be good things in store for CR in 2018, but talking about them doesn't matter if they don't happen so I will stay quiet until they do. I talk a big game; it's time to play one.

Comics had an extraordinary year of continued great work, a ton of very good work, a lot of work that is personally meaningful to their creators, and some small but vital progress by some very brave people in making comics less of a horrible place in which to make and engage with art. I am hopeful that work continues. There have also been some terrible stories, starting with a nasty streak of censorship overseas, the continuing exploitation of artists here and abroad, and the hammering away at elements of infrastructures in several countries that had helped many make the attempt to live more fully within their art.

I am encouraged, though, by the art itself, and the increasing realization in a number of circles that meaningful expression and ethical business conduct are mountains on which someone can take a stand to positive results.

A little business: if you would like to see your birthday mentioned on the site in the new year, I'm afraid it has to be birthdate. That's not an option for everyone, I know, but I like the reminder of time and humanity and good people defined by both that those wishes bring every day in accumulation.

Ever upward, and I hope you have as great a holiday experience as is available to you.

Tom

art from Jason's On The Camino, one of the high-quality comics inviting you into someone else's world that we get all the time now, because comics is awesome

this article will repeat until January 8, skipping Christmas and New Year's
 
posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
January 3, 2018


Go, Look: Anna Sellheim

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posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Holiday Interview Re-Run #6 -- Jaime Hernandez In 2010 Talking About Browntown/Love Bunglers

imageEditor's Note, 2018: My favorite cartoonist. Most of the material discussed here was collected this year into Angels And Magpies, the latest edition of the paperback-collection series of Love And Rockets. Please forgive the adjustment in art and if the Internet has moved past any of the following links. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

Jaime Hernandez is a widely-acknowledged legend of alternative comics and deserves every last bit of attention and approbation that comes his way. He has been applying his formidable reservoir of craft skill towards the creation of great comics for more than three decades now. Among his most famous major works are The Death Of Speedy, Wig Wam Bam and Chester Square, collections of material from one of the ten best comic book series of all time, the first volume of Love And Rockets. Hernandez is also a long-acknowledged master of the comics short story: "Tear It Up, Terry Downe," "Spring 1982" and "Izzy In Mexico" among them. His are the only comics about which my friends and I leave each other phone messages and e-mails discussing plot points that sound like we're gossiping about real people. They're real to us.

Hernandez' two interlocking tales in this year's Love and Rockets: New Stories #3, "Love Bunglers" and "Browntown," provided 2010's most powerful 1-2-3 punch and may just be the greatest comics in Hernandez' long and distinguished career. As the critic Jeet Heer points out, that means they're among the best in comics history. "Browntown" in particular carries all of the weight and emotional laceration of past Jaime work, executed with a refined, stunning precision that tells in some 30 pages a tale that hits like 300 pages of plot and thematic development. I'm honored to close this year's holiday interview series with the amazing Jaime Hernandez. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

imageTOM SPURGEON: The comics you published this year, the Love and Rockets work, came in the third issue of the new annual format. Do you miss the comic books at all? Do you miss that format?

JAIME HERNANDEZ: Yeah. Yeah, I do. I kind of miss a comic hopefully coming out regularly. Even if it was like three or four months apart, it seemed regular: having an issue there, and going through that one, and then the next one pretty soon after that.

SPURGEON: Has switching formats had an effect on the way you work? One of your peers told me -- a cartoonist that hasn't yet cut ties with pamphlet comics-making -- that he dreaded one day having to do that much work before seeing it published in print. He thought it was a boon to more regularly publish just in terms of the psychological toll that comes with making comics.

HERNANDEZ: Yeah. [slight pause] I've learned a lot. [laughs] A lot of it is frustrating: working towards one big deadline instead of a lot of little ones. It's changing the way I'm putting the work down. I miss the freedom of screwing up. If I screwed up in one issue, I could fix it in the next. Now since people have to wait a year for the next work, it's like I can't make any mistakes. I can't leave anything out because I can't fill it in right away.

SPURGEON: Do you run the risk of tightening up, or being more precious about your work than you want to be?

HERNANDEZ: Yeah, yeah. I'm afraid to put stuff down. I'm afraid to put ink down. In order to get it out for San Diego, which is usually our goal, I'm going to be busting my ass for these next few months trying to finish, even when I gave myself a head start last year. Because most of it is still in pencil stage -- light pencils, because I'm afraid I'm going to change it. Things like that. I used to slap it down, you know, and then see what came next. Now it's like I'm real cautious, so the work backs up and I'm there hurrying every day to meet that deadline. [laughs]

SPURGEON: One thing that you can do with this format that might not have been achievable in a shorter comic publication is that you have these two lengthy stories, "The Love Bunglers" and "Browntown," and one accompanies the other. "Love Bunglers" is split into two parts around "Browntown," and reading "Browntown" changes how we read that second half of "Love Bunglers." How did they become two different stories? They do complement each other and can be read as one longer piece, but they're not presented that way except by proximity. How did you develop this way of approaching those two works?

HERNANDEZ: At first it was going to be two separate stories. Period. I thought the Maggie romance stuff, the modern-day stuff, was a little weak only in that she's been falling in love since the first issue. [laughter] Even if I try to make it fresh and everything, I know it's still Maggie falling in love again. Again. Oh boy. What do we have this time? So I kind of used the other story to strengthen it, linking them together even if it was just within conversation. And also, I hate to say it, but I do think about it being collected now. I didn't use to. I didn't use to care. Now I picture that one of these days it will be a 120 page "graphic novel" and it will all be cohesive and blah blah blah.

SPURGEON: Will you collect it the same way, with "Love Bunglers" split around "Browntown"?

HERNANDEZ: Yeah, I will do that the same way. Partly, in a way, the new one I'm working on is connected as well. That's difficult because I'm trying to keep "Browntown" its own thing. I was really happy with it as a single piece and I got a lot of good response from that. I didn't want to screw it up with something else. Intruding. [laughs] So I'm being really careful with that. That's another reason I'm racking my brains doing this second one. It's almost like I have to live up to that last issue.

image

SPURGEON: Were you pleased with the response? My memory is that a bunch of readers were immediately taken with the issue, "Browntown" in particular. I assume some of that got back to you. There's so much work out there these days it's difficult for one story to make an impression, and yet I thought that one really did.

HERNANDEZ: Yeah, I was really pleased. I guess I was pleased because it was one of those stories that kind of just fell into place by itself. Where I was watching it happen. [laughs] I remember writing, putting stuff down on the page, and going, "Oh my God, this has three meanings. That's wonderful!" [Spurgeon laughs] "It's all more than just a single scene. It all kind of fits." I was really happy with that, putting that together, and then seeing that it was successful for other readers, readers that were very nice to it? [laughs] That was the payoff. Like "Oh, boy. I did good."

SPURGEON: The precision of the story I thought remarkable because, as you say, you can watch multiple themes and narratives playing themselves out at once, all with this graceful economy that makes it feel effortlessly paced. Is there a place where that story started for you, something you wanted to see, or was it all of the issues and the characters and the sense of place at once, more of an overall feel? Where did this one begin?

image

HERNANDEZ: Actually, it was a story that was stuck in my head since way back in the seventh issue of the original Love and Rockets. It was one panel in the story "Locas" where Speedy is telling his friends about his sister and kind of talks about Maggie as well. He says, "Then she moved away for three years. And then she came back and she was 13; she was a teenager." That always stuck with me, I thought, "What are the missing years in Maggie's life? What happened those three years?"

One is that it was kind of a desert town. So that helped simplify it. "They've got nothing to do. That's wonderful." Nothing happened during that time, but everything did. In one of the same panels in that story, these two women are talking about I think Maggie being put to work at the garage. And one lady says, "Well, I raised six kids, too." So there are six siblings in Maggie's family. Later, as the series progressed, I made up five. And I went back and read that issue one day and went, "Oops!" [Spurgeon laughs] "Oh my God! The sixth one!"

In Ghost Of Hoppers I have all the family together, Maggie's at a family reunion thing, and the brothers and sisters are talking. I have Maggie's youngest brother saying Calvin ran away at 16. He was a criminal, kind of. I made up that brother that wasn't around because I didn't write him. [laughter] I made him up right there, and in the back of my head since then I kept thinking about her long lost brother, and I started thinking about those three missing years. It just all came together. I think that's why it fell into place, because I had it in the back of my head for so long.

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SPURGEON: You talked about this place where nothing happens, where nothing is open and nothing is going on. Was that a place with which you were familiar, that place where the town feels deserted and you're left to your own devices? I was struck by the setting of "Browntown" as compared to some of the other places you've depicted over the years.

HERNANDEZ: A lot of it was imagined. I know these smaller California towns that are in the middle of nowhere and are kind of dead towns that I've driven through before. I've never lived there before, but I know the feel of these desert towns... where everything's brown, you know? [laughs] And then visiting cousins I didn't know when I was little. "Why are we at this place?" They lived in kind of desolate areas. It was mostly imagined. I thought about some place where nothing goes on.

Gilbert and me always ask each other, "So, what do you got in the new issue? What's coming up?" And I go, "Well, I got this one story about Maggie, blah blah blah..." and I called it "Maggie in Palomar." I kind of aimed it that way, where I'm like, "Oh, boy. A place where nothing happened." It gives them room to do everything, because there's nothing there. There's no backdrop. Nothing to get in the way of their adventures, their life. That's kind of how that story was able to have so much, yet from nothing. [laughs]

imageSPURGEON: I wanted to ask you about some of your craft choices. One piece about those comics made a big deal of a panel that also struck me, where the kids are at a movie while the parents are talking out some issues. The older kids are able to focus on the screen -- Esther's crying -- and yet Calvin isn't watching the movie, a reflection of all that he has going on in his life. It's something relatively subtle that some might not even catch on a first glance. Are those things you expect your readers to pick up on, or is it something that you think people may only sense in some indirect way? These can be such small, precise moments.

HERNANDEZ: It's something I hope they'll pick up on, but if they don't, that's okay because they know what's going on anyway. They know that these kids are kind of bummed out because it's over, they're not going to have their daddy anymore. Or Mommy and Daddy are fighting, something as simple as that. I thought Calvin had more to think about, so I had to give him an introspective look. More pissed off than sad. Or sad and pissed off at the same time. So he had to have something going on more than the rest of them. I thought, "Well, he's looking the other way." [laughs] They're looking one way, he's looking the other way.

If people don't pick up on it, that's okay, but it is intentional and it's something that's important to me. It's kind of like I leave it up to the reader. I give it to them, if they draw a different conclusion, that's fine, too, as long as we all end up in the same place.

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SPURGEON: Frank Santoro wrote a short essay about how you were constructing pages and using grids in those stories. I don't want to rehash everything he wrote, but one thing that was striking to me was the way that the rhythm of the story changed when you employed three panels across a page to replace a previous use of two. Is that something you do intentionally, control the narrative flow through page structure?

HERNANDEZ: It's also because I never put captions of "Later..." Things like that. Sometimes I know people have gotten mixed up. "Oh, wait a minute. This isn't the same scene."

SPURGEON: So the shifts are a way to indicate a transition.

HERNANDEZ: Yeah. And it's also like I give Ray's moments, they're captions, they're his thoughts, and they're done in a six-panel grid. The regular story, the flow goes to eight. I decided to give Calvin six without captions. I don't know. It's just subtle changes but I kind of do it to keep me interested. [laughter] And maybe to help break up the story. "Okay, now it's Ray's turn."

SPURGEON: There's a throwaway line in Santoro's essay, and I'm certain I'm going to mischaracterize it slightly, but I think he was suggesting that in the sequence with Maggie and Reno in the car you made Maggie a touch less visually compelling so that the reader might focus more on the dialogue and on Reno than constantly looking at Maggie. Is that something you would do, make something less interesting if it better served the story?

HERNANDEZ: I guess some of that might be unconscious. If all of the sudden the Frogmouth walks in in a skimpy outfit, it's obvious where your eye will go. Whether you like women like that or not. Yeah, I guess I might keep it normal so that you can stay on the subject; you're not interrupted. I don't know.

imageIt's also my love -- which isn't that easy to draw -- of people not doing anything. [laughs] Just talking. How many angles can I give them? The original idea for "The Love Bunglers" was Maggie and Ray's date from the minute he picks her up to the end of the night. It was all going to be done in real time; it was going to be a conversation through the whole thing. You were going to find things out through the conversation. I still kept some of that in, but done in real time it was like, "Oh my God, they're going to be at dinner for five pages?" [Spurgeon laughs] "How many times do I have to draw Maggie that same size compared to the table? I have to draw every glass where it is on the table?" I knew that would drive me mad after a while. So I broke it up. And also by the time I was writing it, I went, "Well, maybe they really don't have that much to say." [laughter] They were going to even talk about how they spent their Christmas. It was a My Dinner With Andre kind of thing. Drawing nothing is hard for a long time, you know?

image

SPURGEON: Speaking of degree of difficulty issues, "Browntown" deals in straight-forward fashion with serial child sex abuse. There is a lot of bad art made about devastating issues like that. How wary were you having that be part of your story? How do you treat subject matter like that so it doesn't get reduced to talking about an issue. Is it a focus on an individual character? Were you worried that it might be taken the wrong way or otherwise capsize the story?

HERNANDEZ: The one thing I was worried about I asked Gilbert's advice on because he does this stuff every issue. [laughter] He's a pro.

I was a little scared to do it. I wondered if all the pedophiles were going to be my fans. I was scared of that, because I've been removed from that stuff for a long time. My stuff has mellowed out a lot compared to Gilbert's. Every once in a while I want to break free, and that's how this came about. But I was a little scared. "Are we going to get in trouble?" Because I don't remember when we used to get in trouble what it was that got us into trouble. So yeah, I was a little worried about that.

As far as putting it in the story, I treated it like I treated all the other stuff. It's life, and I try to think about what they think about between the times, between the raping. Some people live with that. So the raping takes ten minutes and they've got a week in-between until the next one. Life goes on. I try to treat it that way. What does the kid do? He's not sitting in his room for a week. He has to go to school, whether he wants to or not. No matter what's going on. He's not telling his parents, because he'll get in trouble. I think of all that stuff. It's just trying to imagine what happens between the terror -- if it's an ongoing thing that nobody's talking about.

imageSPURGEON: One thing that struck me and I think other readers is that you made explicit the moment where Calvin becomes violent with his attacker, which is not something we're used to seeing from you. I wonder why you chose to depict that moment in dramatic, forceful fashion.

HERNANDEZ: I had to think about it, first. Like, okay, first of all I need the kid to have the rest of his life in trouble. I needed some kind of really, really violent... something life-altering that aside from the rape showed that he was on his way to self-destruction. I thought, "Well, usually I let the bad guys get away because that's life." You know? [laughs] "This time, I guess I won't let them get away." I even asked myself if I was getting old and conservative, the "crime does not pay" thing? I thought about that a lot. I also hadn't had one in a while -- that scene earned its place. I don't know, it was something I thought about. I don't usually think too much about that stuff. [laughter]

SPURGEON: Both of #3's stories turn on secrets and people withholding information. Maggie tells her mother the secret of the father's infidelity, and yet she's also keeping information from Ray in "Love Bunglers." The big reveal of the latter story is a secret, too, in a sense -- an astonishing one. I wondered what you thought of these situations. I wondered what your attitude was towards all of these secrets.

HERNANDEZ: Just thinking about my life, my family, my mom was never big on badmouthing family and talking about the evil parts. The history. Only once in a while would we hear about that she had a terrible father, blah blah blah. I would always hear from my cousins, the stories their moms told them, my mom's sisters. And they weren't afraid to tell anything. It was like, "Our family was craaazy!" Drama!

Not a month ago I was talking to my mom and she told me this lifelong secret about her mom. And I was like, "Whaaat? I never heard this one." I look at my brother and he says, "I never heard it, either." That's how some families are. You don't talk about things, even if maybe you did you'd feel better. I grew up in a family where if you opened your mouth, you'd get spanked. Things like that when I was little. Just thinking about it, I saw a lot of good junk to throw at Maggie and her family.

image

SPURGEON: The art book this year from Abrams, Todd Hignite's The Art Of Jaime Hernandez: The Secrets Of Life And Death. Do you feel like that's your book, or is that Todd's book that just happens to be about you?

HERNANDEZ: First of all, I couldn't believe he wanted to do it. Partly because the "art of" is my Love and Rockets career. Other than sketchbooks maybe. And also I was intimidated. I've said this a million times, but usually I can hide behind my characters and here it was with my name big on the cover. [laughs] Of course I was flattered. I try to make it clear that it is Todd's book. Yeah, it's about me and all the pictures are about me and it's me talking in the book. But he went to a lot of work to put this thing out. He was really into it. When people approach me and go, "Hey, great book!" I'm like, "Well, thanks. But here's the guy who wrote it. This is his book."

SPURGEON: There was a lot of illustration work in there I hadn't seen. In general, is there any way to characterize how doing illustration work might have had an effect on your development as an artist, a cartoonist?

HERNANDEZ: It's a whole separate thing. It's work for hire, and work for hire is not personal. I do take it personally when they edit me into the ground. [laughs] I hate that part. What they want from me is not me, really. I try to keep it separate but I try to give them a good visual because I don't want to put my name on it if it's not. [laughs] But no, it's not personal, it's work for hire. It's like if someone sent me a Spider-Man script and I drew it. As much fun as I'd try to put into it, it's still not mine.

SPURGEON: We talked earlier about your moving from a comic book format to a book format. One of the big issues this year is comics moving into the digital realm, and I wondered if you had any perspective on that at all. One thing I thought about when I considered asking you this question is that your work has been collected so many times that it's almost fitting that there's another collection out there to be had of your work.

HERNANDEZ: Right.

imageSPURGEON: At the same time, you and your brothers are such print guys. I wondered if you had any opinion on digital becoming the way people read comics?

HERNANDEZ: I guess if you still allow me to do it the way I've always done it, and this digital thing helps me reach the people I want to reach? Then it's fine. I've gotten to the point where I've stopped arguing about how I'm going to be printed, because I'm not going to argue with the market. [laughs] We went annually because of the market. I can't argue with it if it's going to help me get it out there and sell books. Thirty years ago I would be laughing at myself right now.

SPURGEON: You were more forceful about those issues back then?

HERNANDEZ: No, I just had nothing to lose then. I wasn't responsible for anybody but myself. I thought, "I'm going to do comics and see where it goes." Now I have to think of the bigger picture.

*****

* various beautiful Jaime images from the period in general examination; photo is by Whit Spurgeon

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Fairweather Forever

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posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Selections #3

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* publisher 2dcloud has announced it is breaking ties with Blaise Larmee, citing its lack of tolerance for "inappropriate and predatory behavior." Their most recent work with the cartoonist will be last, and they have pulped existing inventory. Larmee was the signature artist for that publisher in a lot of ways and I believe had a formal creative director title at the time of the relationship's dissolve.

image* Todd Klein on Newsboy Legion - Boy Commandos Special. Tegan O'Neil on Morton: A Cross-Country Journey. Sally Ingraham on X-Men: Grand Design #1.

* here are the best 2017 cartoons from Warren Brown, Andy Marlette and Signe Wilkinson.

* congratulations to Réal Bérard.

* David Owen profiles Sean Tejaratchi. Hillary Brown talks to Ben Marra. Sean Edgar talks to Chris Claremont and Ed Piskor. Steve Foxe talks to Mark Russell and Matt Feehan.

* here are the best comics from 2017 according to The Beat.

* finally: here's Joe McCulloch's best of 2017.
 
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Happy 67th Birthday, RL Crabb!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Richard Bruton!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Hellen Jo!

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This Site Is In Silent Running Mode Until January 8

There was a time when I covered comics in the 1990s through the mid-oughts that finding any news (barring a holiday purge at Marvel) to report or to amplify in December through January 15 or so was a nightmare. That's no longer the case. We'll keep the Random Comics feature going through the next couple of weeks on weekdays, we will break in with any major news, and we will continue to recommend artists and projects for you to discover.

imageI'm also going to re-run a few old interviews from December 25 through January 1, after which we'll make a decision about featured content January 2 to January 8.

I like pauses, I like changes in tone, and this should be a brief spell of both. If I do this right, you won't notice that for a fortnight or so I'm getting a couple of hours back. I hope that gained time shows in the New Year.

Thank you so much for another year of support, patronage and readership. I feel like there will be good things in store for CR in 2018, but talking about them doesn't matter if they don't happen so I will stay quiet until they do. I talk a big game; it's time to play one.

Comics had an extraordinary year of continued great work, a ton of very good work, a lot of work that is personally meaningful to their creators, and some small but vital progress by some very brave people in making comics less of a horrible place in which to make and engage with art. I am hopeful that work continues. There have also been some terrible stories, starting with a nasty streak of censorship overseas, the continuing exploitation of artists here and abroad, and the hammering away at elements of infrastructures in several countries that had helped many make the attempt to live more fully within their art.

I am encouraged, though, by the art itself, and the increasing realization in a number of circles that meaningful expression and ethical business conduct are mountains on which someone can take a stand to positive results.

A little business: if you would like to see your birthday mentioned on the site in the new year, I'm afraid it has to be birthdate. That's not an option for everyone, I know, but I like the reminder of time and humanity and good people defined by both that those wishes bring every day in accumulation.

Ever upward, and I hope you have as great a holiday experience as is available to you.

Tom

art from Jason's On The Camino, one of the high-quality comics inviting you into someone else's world that we get all the time now, because comics is awesome

this article will repeat until January 8, skipping Christmas and New Year's
 
posted 12:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
January 2, 2018


Go, Look: Alec Dolter

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posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Holiday Interview Re-Run #5 -- Colleen Coover In 2012 On Gingerbread Girl

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*****

Editor's Note, 2018: Some of the interviews we've done in the Holiday Interview Series come at a creative junction for the artist involved, even if we don't know it. This interview in early 2012 with Colleen Coover is a case in point. Her on-line work creating Bandette was just months off -- the Eisner dominance that followed a year or more in the future. I wanted to talk to Coover for Gingerbread Girl with her partner Paul Tobin, which I thought was an overlooked book in a very interesting comics space. I still occasionally think of that work, even as I enjoy hearing from both Tobin and Coover about every way they've been successful since.

Pleas forgive this interview if the Internet has moved past some of the links. -- Tom Spurgeon


*****

imageFor me, one of the happy surprises of the Fall was the Colleen Coover-drawn Gingerbread Girl, a collaborative work with her husband the writer Paul Tobin. It's presently out in collected form from Top Shelf after a reasonably high-profile run as a serialized, on-line comic. I knew going in that Gingerbread Girl would be professionally done and well-crafted given the creators involved, but I wasn't quite ready for how ambitious, slippery and endearingly odd the resulting work -- about a girl who believes she has a twin that's been lost to her, told through the perspective of multiple witnesses -- ended up being. The artwork by Coover puts on fine display her hard-won years of self-study of a range of cartoonists, and builds on the experience of work that she's done in a variety of previous professional gigs. This includes an Eros title (Small Favors), an all-ages title (Banana Sunday) and some extremely well-liked work at Marvel Comics, of all places -- a significant number of those short stories were written by her Periscope Studio mate Jeff Parker, who created with her distinct style in mind. I've been wanting to talk to Coover for a few years now, and even if I hadn't liked the new book as much as I did I would have been grateful for the opportunity Gingerbread Girl provided for the two of us to speak. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: Am I reaching you at Periscope? I talked to Jeff Parker as part of this year's series, and we spoke about how nice it was to work in a space like that one, amongst other cartoonists. Do you feel that way as well?

COLLEEN COOVER: Yeah, totally. When I first started coming in here, it was a part-time thing. I had moved here about a year earlier, and they invited me to come around. It was a really hot summer, and there was air conditioning here! [Spurgeon laughs]

imageThat was when I was still working on Banana Sunday, and I had never really been around other pros for any length of time, other than conventions and stuff, and other than Paul -- but he's a writer, not an artist. He and I would analyze other people's art. But it was like this grad school program [laughs] all of the sudden, where I had all this hands-on advice from other pros. And that just keeps on happening organically throughout the studio. We have interns from SCAD or MCAD or whatever come through, and we learn a lot from teaching them.

SPURGEON: Not only hadn't you been in a collective studio before, but if I recall correctly, you were largely self-taught. You hadn't had a lot of formal art training, period, so being around other artists in general might be a new experience for you.

COOVER: I had been an art major for one semester at the University Of Iowa, but this was like in the late '80s, where representative art was anathema. [laughs] People were doing some bullshit abstract thing and talking about the process. Illustration: oh my God! Comics: what?

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SPURGEON: You've talked about this a couple of times: you and Paul Tobin moved to Portland from Iowa. You've put out there some of the things you wanted out of the Portland community making that move. Can I ask you why those things were important to you? Because there are a lot of cartoonists that enjoy the relative isolation of living in places like Iowa City, being part of a community that's not necessarily an artistic one, or simply standing out as the local cartoonist. What was important to you about getting into a bigger cartoonists' community, aside from just enjoying being around like-minded folks?

COOVER: It was partly wanting to get our careers going. The best way to network is to be around other people doing what you do. And that worked out. We had other professional friends in Iowa, but none of them actually lived in Iowa City. Phil Hester lived 40 miles away, and he was the closest guy. We would see him at conventions. [laughter] He and Paul are old friends; they worked together in the '90s when they were both starting out. That was pretty much the extent of our Midwest network, other than at a Chicago show or something. So that was a factor.

Mostly it was a personal thing. My sister had moved to New York City, and we visited her. That was the first time either of us had been to New York. We looked around ourselves, and we're like, "We've both been living in Iowa for over 30 years, and if we don't move out, we're going to be there for the rest of our lives." As pleasant at it was to live in Iowa City, and as easy as it was to live in Iowa City -- it's a very easy place to live, it's a university town -- we weren't involved with the university, we weren't going to be involved with the university, and we weren't going to raise a family there because we don't want kids. We needed something new.

I wanted something urban and livable. Portland is totally that. I think that's one of the reasons that there are so many cartoonists here, because it's so livable. Having Dark Horse and Oni and Top Shelf here is icing on the cake.

SPURGEON: Is there any downside to living in a community like that? I know that generally it's a very artist-friendly community. Is there any time you feel too indulged in your artist proclivities?

COOVER: No. [laughs] The thing about me, is when I meet people who don't make comics, I don't know what the hell to talk to them about. "What do you mean you don't?" [laughter]

I can't think of any downside. One of the continuing upsides of the community is that there's none of this weird snobbishness that has existed in the comics industry for whatever reason -- between superheroes and independents and blah blah blah. We're all buddies, right? We've got Ron Randall here, who's been making superhero comics since the '70s, and we have Steve Lieber, who's done both. And we've got [Jeff] Parker, who's done both. And then we've got Erika Moen, who's entirely webcomics. We go to parties and stuff together. We all like each other, and we like each others' work. I'm trying to make it not sound too utopian, but it kind of is.

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SPURGEON: I want to ask you a bunch of questions about Gingerbread Girl. I thought that was an intriguing book. There wasn't a ton of press out there about it back from closer to its release, but one thing I read is that even though you and Paul have worked together for years, you still worked from a full script on this.

COOVER: Yeah.

SPURGEON: Is that how the two of you just prefer to work? And does that mean you don't have any input until after you get past the script stage?

COOVER: Paul's not really a writer who likes interaction; he's not a springboard kind of a guy. He's more of a "get on a train track and ride until he gets to the end" guy. When it came to me, then, I didn't go through and say, "Hmmm... maybe this will be better." There's always little dialogue tweaks that you do, a sort of self-editing. But that's really the extent of the storytelling collaboration.

imageSPURGEON: I read in the same piece that you will read a script multiple times before you start to work on it. What is that process like? What are you looking for when you first dive into a script? Is it just to get a feel for it?

COOVER: Yeah, it's to visualize what's going on and then break it down to storytelling elements. Paul is a very descriptive writer. He'll set up the scene pretty definitively in his scripts. I'm working on a story with Parker again right now that's way more fluid. "And this is probably happening..." [laughter] I sort of have to take it from there. Parker and I do a lot more of the back and forth, because he writes in a much looser, let-the-artist-make-her-own-way sort of style. He sits at a desk right behind me, and I can just say, "You mean like this?" And he'll go, "Well, no, more like this." And because he's an artist he can show me rather than just tell me.

It depends on the writer. When I'm working with a writer I don't know, or is in New York rather than over here, I tend to take the script that I get and follow it as closely as I possibly can. Find a way to tell the story my own way. I recently worked with some TV writers, some guys from The Daily Show: Wyatt Cenac and Elliott Kalan. They were writing these humor gags. I wouldn't even think of suggesting changes as far as the overall script. Sometimes I'll say, "Hey... maybe this dialogue can go this way, maybe?"

I try to sublimate my work more to writers I don't know as well. Because that's going to be a situation where I'm working for them work for hire. They were hired to do their job; I was hired to do my job. I feel like it's a more commercial relationship. Which is fine, because I kind of enjoy that. I enjoy that sort of restriction, because then I have to earn my way through it. When it's with someone I'm friends with, like Parker or Paul or Fred Van Lente, I can play around a little bit. I can say, "Hey, look at this clever thing that I did." And they can say, "Yes, it is very clever. Thank you, Colleen. You're very clever." [laughter]

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SPURGEON: Now the basic shape of the page in Gingerbread Girl, was that something Paul contributed? It's not a standard comic-book page; it's more squat. I think there's a four-panel grid in terms of the basic storytelling structure, too, although you hardly keep to that. What was the idea behind working at this size and with that structure?

COOVER: I remember it was a definite choice we wanted the art to be square. I drew it eight by eight. But I don't really remember why. It seemed more... graphic novelly?

SPURGEON: [laughs] Was it that you knew it would be serialized on-line?

COOVER: No. That was a suggestion of Brett Warnock's. After about two seconds of us going, "Ahhh! Giving it away for free." We went, "Oh, yeah, that is a good idea." It's such a non-genre kind of story. It's very difficult to describe. I still have real difficulty when people say, "So, what's it about?" I'm like, "It's about this thing and there's this girl and she might be crazy and maybe not and there's all these people..." I just ramble on and it sounds awful.

SPURGEON: Well, there is an aspect to Gingerbread Girl that resists easy explanation. Even exposed to it on-line, I got to a certain number of pages assuming it was going to be one kind of story, but then it turned out to be very, very different than that assumption. So it's certainly something that explains itself over several pages as opposed to a few, let alone a lending itself to a tag line.

COOVER: I feel like it was important to let potential readers make up their own mind about what it was before they went ahead and bought it. It's not a thing you can just tell people, you know.

SPURGEON: You also have superhero and all-ages readerships; both you and Paul do. I imagine it could be very alarming if you were a great fan of those genres to come to this work cold.

COOVER: I'm under no illusion that it's a story for everybody. It's kind of a mind-bender. I was so happy when I saw A Serious Man by the Coen Brothers. "Okay! It's like this!" [laughter] There are no answers. That's what it's all about. It's not about definitive answers. It's about the mystery. It's not about finding out what's what.

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SPURGEON: I thought the coloring was very attractive: a single-color used throughout the book in terms of a shading technique as well as providing texture. Was that your contribution?

COOVER: We knew that we wanted it to be a single-color book, looking at Ghost World and books like that. I picked the color because it seems kind of cinnamon-y, kind of ginger-y, which would be appropriate. It seemed like it would provide the right mood. And of course we have this rainbow cover that Tim Leong designed so brilliantly, and it makes for a nice juxtaposition.

SPURGEON: Had you worked with a single color before?

COOVER: I had worked with graytones before, and to me it's basically the same thing. It's just picking the right hue. I thought a little bit about blue, but it made it a bit too Fun Home-y, or too much like the Parker books. I wanted to give it its own color and identity.

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SPURGEON: How picky are you about color? Because your work holds color very well.

COOVER: Oh God, I'm so picky about color, Tom. Have you seen me rant about purple on-line before? Because man, I hate purple in a comic book. [laughs]

SPURGEON: You're anti-purple.

COOVER: I'm so anti-purple. I go off on these rants where I'm like, "It's a passive color!" I don't understand why all these comic book covers are purple.

SPURGEON: You know, that is sort of odd.

COOVER: Isn't it? Because purple says, "I'm hiding; I'm a shadow."

SPURGEON: It's used as a default shading sometimes, too, which is strange, because it makes it look like everything takes place in one very specific time of day. Everything is 6:53 PM.

COOVER: Everybody wants to be a Wyeth. [laughter] Or something. Purple has its use, and that's to make yellow pop because they're complementary colors -- or to clothe Lex Luthor, because he's a bad guy. So I have this thing about purple.

Usually when I go off on these rants I'm wearing a purple shirt, and some wiseass will say, "Well, you're wearing purple." And I'm like, "I don't live in a comic book."

SPURGEON: [laughs] Has it been difficult to adjust to other people coloring your work?

COOVER: I've only been colored by someone else once. It was brilliant. It was Bettie Breitweiser. For Girl Comics. Oh my god, it was so pretty. She asked me if there was anything I didn't want her to do, and I told her not to use any purple. Apparently someone else doesn't like her using a lot of orange. I'm okay with orange, but purple is out.

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SPURGEON: The figure drawing in Gingerbread Girl, and maybe this is too facile an observation, but the characters are, for the most part, good-looking people. The main ones, anyway. Is that purposeful within this story, or is that a tendency of yours given your style? Do you naturally make attractive people, or did this story call for them? Was it important to you that the characters, particularly the leads, be pleasant-looking people?

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COOVER: Well, yeah. Generally, I've always found it a fault of mine that everybody's always so cute and perky. [Spurgeon laughs] You know? As an artist, you want to have a broad range. The women characters are both young and lovely; hopefully the men are meant to be attractive as well. There was a stupid stoner kid that tries to shoplift beer. I intentionally gave him pants around his ass and tried to make him a little bit more of a big nose, galumpy kind of a guy.

It's a visual form, and the character designs tell a lot about the personalities. I do tend to go more for beauties; that tends to happen naturally. So, yeah: I just indulged my own aesthetic.

SPURGEON: I wondered if there was a specific advantage here, because sometimes it can be frustrating to deal with characters that may or may not be telling the truth or not. I wondered if their being attractive might be a way past that. If we like the characters because they're attractive, nice people, then maybe we're less resentful when they start bending our minds.

COOVER: I never thought about it that way, but yeah. If they weren't people you'd want to spend time looking at, maybe people wouldn't put up with their shit as much. [laughs] If they weren't so doable. [laughter] Maybe Annah consciously or unconsciously takes advantage of that. She is being mean to her boyfriend and her girlfriend. She knows she can get away with it, at least temporarily.

SPURGEON: With the superhero monolith in comics, it seems like everyone that doesn't draw giant, muscle-bound figures gets lumped in together into their own group, where you may or may not have all that much in common. I know the Hernandez Brothers were an example for you because of how they employed their style, but I wondered about the style itself that you employ. I know that you've studied a wide range of cartoonists; is there anyone you see in your work that maybe nobody else does?

COOVER: I learned a lot from Milton Caniff.

SPURGEON: Well, okay. My goodness.

COOVER: I know, right? For a long time I considered him one of my major influences, along with the Hernandez Brothers. They would be the people I mentioned when someone asked.

SPURGEON: Is it the way he frames panels?

COOVER: Yeah. I also studied the way he would tell stories, and even though I don't use it very much the way he uses shadow. I've been using that a little more. I've been doing some more moody, sort-of horror genre things that I'm trying to incorporate some of that. Trying to get a little bit of [Alex] Toth in there as well.

Jaime and Beto totally informed my work because it was one of those things where I also grew up reading Harvey and Archie comics and was obviously heavily influenced by them. They showed me how you can take that influence and apply that to more sophisticated storytelling, with Love and Rockets. I feel that sort of funneling through Love and Rockets made me able to do stuff like Small Favors and then Banana Sunday.

One of the things I'm most proud of in my own work is that my style is entirely my own. I attribute that to having read, and analyzed, and thought about so many different artists. I'm profoundly influenced by Wendy Pini because I read Elfquest like it was candy-covered crack. When I was a teenager, I read Cerebus and Love and Rockets. I read X-Men.

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SPURGEON: Something I remember from Wendy Pini's work that I might see in your work as well is the physical relationships on the page, the way characters interacted with one another. She has a nice sense of pantomime.

COOVER: She had really good acting, in Elfquest especially. I think some of her more recent stuff is a little bit more sterile -- or at least the stuff I've seen lately. I could be wrong; I haven't really examined it closely. But yeah, especially in the first Elfquest story arc, the four volumes that were out in the '80s, the acting is great. I was reading that really heavily [laughs] when I was 14, 15.

I think Beto has really great acting in his work as well. His cartooning is... I hate it when it's like a contest between Jaime and Beto, because there are things that appeal about both of them. But for a long time I thought Beto really spoke to me more. Especially with some of that really prime Heartbreak Soup stuff. That really hit me. That's something that I think about a lot. I was a theater major for a little while, because all my friends were doing it [laughter] so I had to go ahead and do it, too! So I think a lot about acting and body language. I think that's a fairly common thing for cartoonists that have done a little theater.

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SPURGEON: You've mentioned your own style, your sense of your style. Do you have a sense of how it's developed? Do you have an idea how it's different than it was five years ago, say?

COOVER: Oh, I do. When I first started cutting my teeth on Small Favors, my very first few strips for Small Favors were heavily photo-referenced. Somewhere along the line I started cartooning. Something switched. I don't know exactly what happened. I know one thing that happened is that Paul bought an original illustration by Seth. I looked at it, and I said, "Ah-ha!" I had one of those little ah-ha moments. That occasionally happens. I remember having an ah-ha moment looking at Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai. I had a little light bulb actually go off over my head. Every once in a while I'll have one of those little ah-ha moments. It happens less frequently now, although I think that's more because it comes externally my colleagues showing me stuff rather than me analyzing work on paper.

Bit by bit, little pieces just keep adding. I swore to myself years ago that if my style becomes locked in a zone, where I feel like I have nothing more to learn, I might as well quit. I think that's when people start to suck. When they stop telling stories, and start becoming hacks, is when they feel they've learned everything there is to learn and they know exactly what they're doing.

imageSPURGEON: I very much enjoyed Small Favors, but it's enough in the rearview mirror at this point I don't really have a question about the content of it. I did wonder about it as a publishing project, though. You did that pretty late in the run that Eros had. You were a latecomer in terms of the artists that put out critically well-received work in that line -- like Beto, or Molly Kiely. Was it different coming to that milieu at the end of it, as the Internet was pulverizing the bulk of the market for those books?

COOVER: I guess. I don't know. The motives for me doing Small Favors were rather selfish. I wasn't trying to make a big statement about what a sex comic could be. I wanted to do something that would hold my attention. One of the most difficult thigns to learn about being a cartoonist is how to have discipline. I knew that would never be boring. [laughter] It was a good genre in which to do short pieces. Being able to turn out short stories on a regular basis made me feel like I had accomplished a lot.

Also, I was looking around, and I was really frustrated by the lack of female-friendly erotic comics. I felt that needed to be addressed. I wanted a comic that had a title that you could say out loud in a store [Spurgeon laughs] without having to go, "I'd like some Cum Suck Cheerleaders, please." [laughter] I wanted covers you could display on the shelves in a women's sex shop without people being scandalized. Those were my motivations. I didn't really have any sense there was a slowdown or whatever. I also wanted to do it because I felt like it would be evergreen material. It never goes bad.

I learned a lot. People often ask me, "Did you have to make a big change in your mindset when you went from working on Small Favors to Banana Sunday, which is all-ages?" And I was like, "No." [laughs] It's like asking if you have to adjust your personality when you go from sleeping with your spouse or walking to the store. You don't. You're the same person.

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SPURGEON: The superhero material you do... it's received a lot of positive reaction, and has been covered quite a bit by writers more focused on that part of comics. The thing that interests me when someone like you with a distinctive style, a non-mainstream style, gets a hold of those characters is that the good designs seem to re-assert themselves. Do you like the superhero characters with which you've worked as designs? Did you like some more than others?

COOVER: There are certain things I won't do. I won't draw Ms. Marvel in butt floss. [Spurgeon laughs] I just won't. I'll give her actual pants that cover her ass. [laughs] I've publicly said at Women Of Marvel panels at cons that I'm tired of the French-cut bikini and would like to retire it, please. [laughs] Given the choice I'll always default back to the Silver and Bronze Age designs.

imageSPURGEON: So you like those designs.

COOVER: I think Jack Kirby was a brilliant designer. I really do. [Dave] Cockrum, he had some distinctive designs. They were a little kinky, but they're fun to draw. If Jack Kirby wouldn't draw it, I stay away from it.

SPURGEON: It's been a tumultuous year for that type of comic book. I know that superhero work is still a part of your freelance profile. As a freelancer who works in that arena, when you hear about things going on in the industry -- people being fired, new initiatives taking place -- how passionate are you about paying attention to that? Do you try to work the industry, or do you just work gig to gig to gig?

COOVER: Right now I'm like gig, gig, gig for sure. In the future what I'd like to do for superhero stuff is more writing. I don't have any illusion I'm going to be the next Jim Lee or whatever. I'm not that speedy and I'm not going to be the artist that all the fanboys want. I enjoy drawing superheroes very much. It's a personal pleasure. And the fact that there's a page rate is great. [laughter] I enjoy a restriction. I enjoy the fact that when you're working with somebody else's characters, you have to be responsible and take care of them the way the owner wants them taken care of. You tell your story within those restrictions. I really enjoy that challenge. And I like to work. I would like to do more writing. I'm working on my writing portfolio now. I'd like to do more longer stuff, too.

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SPURGEON: Do you have a similar set of ambitions for other aspects of your working profile. What about the all-ages stuff you do? Because that is its own little sub-industry now; do you have similar professional goals?

COOVER: I really like working with Nate Cosby. He was my editor at Marvel for a while, and he does a lot of all-ages projects now. He's the one giving me writing work. He gave me a few writing and drawing assignments at Marvel, and now I've done a few assignments for the Jim Henson: Storyteller anthology, and also a piece for his Cow Boy book. He gets what all-ages really means, as opposed to "I'd love to write something stupid that kids will be able to read and that won't offend their parents." He understands you can have a complex character with problems and still have it be child-appropriate. I appreciate that. I enjoy doing all-ages stuff. I don't think I would enjoy doing stupid stuff for kids.

SPURGEON: I want to wind things down with a couple more Gingerbread Girl questions. There's a nice sense of rhythm on the page in that book. It's clear you're not just playing around with your layouts; it seems like you're setting up specific storytelling beats. When you do a single-panel page, for example, I always feel like it's important to you that we stop and take in that page; you're not just trying to get to the next drawing. How important is a sense of storytelling rhythm to what you're trying to accomplish; how closely do you pay attention to how your work might be read?

COOVER: A lot of this stuff I worked out with Paul. He writes rhythmically. He'll write a page with 20 panels on it with one or two words in a panel: the "This is what Annah likes..." pages. Or he'll write a big splash and have it be a beat. So part of that is what I work out with him. I consciously try to know what the point of view is supposed to be. If a story is meant to be from a specific person's point of view, I don't put that character in the background, I put them in the foreground and put the focus of their attention in the background. That way, we're standing there with that chracter looking at what they're looking at. It's like sentence construction. There's a subject and an object and you have to figure out how to tell that story.

Rhythm is hugely important. I wish people would figure that out. Something happened at some point where border panels became a thing that artists stopped doing. [laughs] It made comics become this sort of rambling, "blah blah blah blah blah." [pause] That probably won't translate very well. [laughter] The first time I met Darwyn Cooke, I shook his hand and said, "Darwyn, I'd like to thank you for bringing panel borders back."

imageSPURGEON: There's a lot of what I'd almost call proscenium work in Gingerbread Girl, where you have people in the direct foreground interacting with the reader. At the same time, there are plenty of panels with loaded backgrounds and depth, and you do get the sense of a changing camera; it's not static at all. That seems to me two wildly different approaches. Is it hard to get multiples ways of approaching a scene to work on the same comics page?

COOVER: There's a lot of comic book specific iconography in Gingerbread Girl, like the rebuses or the fantasy panels where it's a visual representation of concepts. Like where Annah's personality is sucking up Ginger, and all of these Gingers are being sucked in. That's a very comic booky thing; that wouldn't really work in another medium. So I think it's just whatever was appropriate to that part of the story.

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SPURGEON: So we know what you were trying to do. But did serializing Gingerbread Girl on-line have the intended effects?

COOVER: I think it did. It's a scary thing to plop $13 down on 120 pages of something you don't know what it is -- especially where the artist and writer are going, "I don't know what it's about, really." [laughter] So the best thing to do is to say, "Here's what it is." And let people make that decision for themselves. And it did. It got a lot of buzz, at least in the parts of the Internet I looked at. It's gotten a little bit more buzz this week. Someone on Think Progress was analyzing it in terms of mental health and fiction. That was pretty cool.

SPURGEON: You're off to that medical conference on comics, Colleen. [Coover laughs] I can feel it.

COOVER: The book came about when Paul was reading a book on neuroscience that he picked up for free when he was working at Powell's Books. He read about the Penfield homunculus, the concept of it, and went, "Hmm. That's an interesting notion. I'll write a story."

*****

* Colleen Coover
* Gingerbread Girl

*****

* arresting single-page image from Gingerbread Girl
* photo by me, I think
* Banana Sunday single-issue cover
* Nick and Nora Charles (and Asta)
* cover to Gingerbread Girl
* panel from Gingerbread Girl
* the four-panel grid used in Gingerbread Girl
* the basic approach to the single color in Gingerbread Girl
* Coover's work looks nice in color
* cute
* not-so-cute
* a Wendy Pini-style silent moment; that could be Cutter and Skywise, I swear
* a panel loaded with depth and detail
* a Small Favors cover
* a superhero page
* another superhero drawing
* from that Storyteller collection
* what I would call "a proscenium approach"
* a very comic book type of effect
* a drawing in ink and wash (below)

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Evan Dahm

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Go, Look: Emeric L. Kennard

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Alex Hoffman on Poppies Of Iraq. Roy Thomas on Fantastic Four #1.

* in a holiday mini-episode of his fine podcast Virtual Memories, Gil Roth brings sad news that the brilliant translator Anthea Bell isn't doing well.

* B. Clay Moore writes on one of the many "supers being normals" scenes that helped endear the X-Men to a generation of comics-reading fans. I'd like to write extensively on those comics at some point, what they did well and their limitations, but I'm still very fond of them not exactly in a nostalgic way.

* these are beautiful.

* finally: I, too, love the post office and think it's a marvel. It also has value within the community because of the repetitive nature of its service. We should make a point of teaching people how to use it.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Andy Burns!

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Happy 83rd Birthday, David McKee!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Marc Sobel!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Ethan Young!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Naoki Urasawa!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Lynda Barry!

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This Site Is In Silent Running Mode Until January 8

There was a time when I covered comics in the 1990s through the mid-oughts that finding any news (barring a holiday purge at Marvel) to report or to amplify in December through January 15 or so was a nightmare. That's no longer the case. We'll keep the Random Comics feature going through the next couple of weeks on weekdays, we will break in with any major news, and we will continue to recommend artists and projects for you to discover.

imageI'm also going to re-run a few old interviews from December 25 through January 1, after which we'll make a decision about featured content January 2 to January 8.

I like pauses, I like changes in tone, and this should be a brief spell of both. If I do this right, you won't notice that for a fortnight or so I'm getting a couple of hours back. I hope that gained time shows in the New Year.

Thank you so much for another year of support, patronage and readership. I feel like there will be good things in store for CR in 2018, but talking about them doesn't matter if they don't happen so I will stay quiet until they do. I talk a big game; it's time to play one.

Comics had an extraordinary year of continued great work, a ton of very good work, a lot of work that is personally meaningful to their creators, and some small but vital progress by some very brave people in making comics less of a horrible place in which to make and engage with art. I am hopeful that work continues. There have also been some terrible stories, starting with a nasty streak of censorship overseas, the continuing exploitation of artists here and abroad, and the hammering away at elements of infrastructures in several countries that had helped many make the attempt to live more fully within their art.

I am encouraged, though, by the art itself, and the increasing realization in a number of circles that meaningful expression and ethical business conduct are mountains on which someone can take a stand to positive results.

A little business: if you would like to see your birthday mentioned on the site in the new year, I'm afraid it has to be birthdate. That's not an option for everyone, I know, but I like the reminder of time and humanity and good people defined by both that those wishes bring every day in accumulation.

Ever upward, and I hope you have as great a holiday experience as is available to you.

Tom

art from Jason's On The Camino, one of the high-quality comics inviting you into someone else's world that we get all the time now, because comics is awesome

this article will repeat until January 8, skipping Christmas and New Year's
 
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January 1, 2018


Happy New Year, Now And Always...

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here's a few magazine covers from 100 years ago, for no particular reason
 
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Happy 43rd Birthday, Steve Hamaker!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Nick Abadzis!

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