Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital
By Tom Spurgeon
I'm sure there are stories I'm missing, but Kate Beaton shutting down one of the five great comics of the 21st Century, the singular and funny Hark! A Vagrant, with a gracious thank you and a promise to keep the archives up, should get this column's sole attention and every other award and sign of respect and gratitude this industry and all its attendant communities can generate. I'm sorry I hadn't noticed until a couple of days ago.
I hope Kate Beaton does whatever she wants for as long as she wants to do it, and I am grateful I was an active comics reader while she was making this work. What a thrill. Thank you, Kate.
* I'm certainly not smart enough to even begin to vet the math, but this twitter autopsy of writer Chuck Wendig's firing asserts that in general negative tweets may come from accounts that aren't actually people and accounts that pay attention to key opinion-leaders in whatever limited world viewpoint we're talking to find cues as to who they might attack. That could make for routine pushback against Internet controversy firings.
I'm going to be messing around A LOT with my social media use for the next two months. This will probably involve various stabs at deactivating Twitter, or Facebook, perhaps, or shifting the use I get out of various platforms.
I don't like these virtual places as outlets for human interaction. I think most of them have curdled in the same way message boards did about 15 years ago. At the same time, I'm kind of tied to them as a way of gathering information. That information is very Balkanized, and I admit to some confusion as to why. I know a lot of people that put stuff out there on one platform and just sort of expect that everyone sees it. In the last year or so, I even see people discussing information that is no longer the place it was as people delete and move on. That's weird!
My other problem is that once these platforms are available to me I tend to spend a lot of time on them telling dumb jokes, making lazy commentary and arguing with people for whom the phrase "Life Is Too Short" was invented. I think this has for the last few years been at the expense of writing I could do for the site.
I have no idea where I'm going to be on the other side of this -- I may capitulate and return; I may make permanent some changes -- but I should have things figured out by my 50th birthday in mid-December. 50! That's 43 years in regulation, seven and counting of overtime. Life is a blessing.
It may be the only way I learn what's going on with you. The site will continue to run, and I hope more effectively now that I'm shaking things up to see where they might settle into place.
* Ezra Claytan Daniels working with Ben Passmore is an exciting pairing, and a great get by Fantagraphics for a summer book whose appeal should extend deep into Fall. Passmore in particular is set up for a strong 2019 with I believe work on the way from multiple publishers. I also think I recall Fanta having been in the running for Daniels' current Lion Forge work when Upgrade Soul was making the rounds, but I could be wrong about that.
* it took until the fourth issue of the relaunch for the new MAD to make news, with this pointed commentary riffing on Ed Gorey's most famous comic. I've found a couple of things I've read in the relaunched publication as kind of toothless, celebratory satire ("we're making fun of you because we love you a lot"), so I was happy to see this comic. Wanted: more like.
* the writer Chuck Wendig addresses issues surrounding his abrupt, recent firing from a Marvel Star Wars title for unrelated Internet activity of a political nature.
* a victorious Paul Karasik declares "Mission Accomplished" in this photo, regarding a beautiful Charles Addams mural discussed here returned to a place of visual access and general, reasonable platform suitability. Man, what a good-looking mural.
* aw, crap, I missed Jason Lutes at the Boston Book Festival. The prepared part of Jason's appearances at these show is first rate. If you get a chance to go, go.
* festivals extra: looks like CAB is a Sunday show this year, which I mention because some of you may be dopes like me that aimed at a Saturday arrival and departure for that weekend rather than a Sunday like a normal person that checks dates. Just double-check, is all I'm saying.
* Tony Isabella remembers Steve Gerber with a brief note. Gerber was a very interesting creator and his legacy looks better every year. I still get a thrill when I see the old Howard stuff. Pop culture worked way differently back then.
* did we talk about John Jennings getting an imprint and a checkbook for the imprint by Abrams? I think we did. It's worth noting again that one aspect of this is Abrams has been so disciplined as a publisher in terms of the number of books it publishers. So for them to go for a whole line, they must be very high on Jennings and what he has planned. Good luck to all involved.
* bundled extra: Oni Press announces a new book with Katie O'Neill. Certainly people have been delighted by the two existing works mentioned in the article.
* festivals extra: I'm not sure why I bookmarked this photo given that it's already fired through our social media, but that's a great look on Jeff's face as he picks up a couple of honors at the end of CXC 2018. I'm right around the corner, by the way. I realized I was blocking the view of those kids.
* finally: not sure how I get to this Etsy shop, or who it belongs to even, but I like the looks of this print.
Festivals Extra: Billy Ireland Announces Barbara Shermund And Latinx Comics Exhibits For Galleries
Announcement here. That's a nice pairing. The Latinx exhibit draws on OSU professor Frederick Aldama's work in that area. I've not seen a bunch of Shermund, so that should be a treat as well, and I've enjoyed past shows with which Caitlin McGurk has been involved.
The party for the former is November 3, while the party for the latter will come in 2019. The exhibits will run through March 2019.
* most of what I hear back from NYCC is positive, particularly how the show was executed. I don't remember a lot of comics announcements that made an impression on me over that four-day period, although I'll look at the new Brian Michael Bendis-directed Wonder Comics line. I was surprised how little we heard from Marvel's publishing efforts. It feels like they need to start taking some shots at the fences. I wouldn't be surprised if they snatch up one of the non-Bendis big writers currently working and completely rework X-Men. There seems some potential energy there, still. I'm sure their TV and movie panels did well.
* finally: here's a Rose City report on the future of Brian Michael Bendis' creator-owned work, the comparative infrastructure for which I think is a significant part of why the writer is at DC right now. It's interesting to me that would end up being announced by Rose City with NYCC coming four weeks later, but announcements happen all the time now.
* here's another story of an artist being robbed while at a convention. It feels like there have been a lot of recent reports. It makes sense to me that there would be an increasing number of thefts. Economic times are tough in terms of people making enough money to get by in the fashion to which they believe they are entitled. We also have more cultural approval of self-determination that includes financial gain, which many use to justify exploitation or outright thievery. I bet every one of these robberies comes with a justification as to why they were done. Anyway, be careful out there. Also remember that a lot of venues are taped, and get on asking for that tape before it's erased.
* Michael Dooley profiles Anthony Bourdain's efforts in comics, which were ongoing right up until the time of his passing. I liked Bourdain as a prose writer post his initial bro-soaked works, and he had really good taste as a comics reader, so I'm confused by his comics output. There's not a single page reprinted in that article that doesn't bore me a bit.
Creator: Lauren Weinstein Publishing Information: Youth In Decline, comic book, October 2018, $7.95 Ordering Numbers:
I forgot I put this post up, and I apologize for the lateness and brevity of this content. This is the best comic I've ever read from Weinstein, and I'm a great fan of hers. Telling the story of the birth of her second child, Weinstein pushes all of the right buttons within a direct, empathic narrative. The comic is well-observed, funny (a drawing of husband Tim Holder's face at a specific sight slaughtered me), deliberately paced without being boring, gorgeous to look at and full of wonderfully astute observations on life as lived that never slow things down in ponderous fashion. It's also something of a heroic narrative, with Weinstein herself as the rooted-for protagonist. I got caught up on the achievement of Weinstein making this comic in such an assured fashion at the same time I followed her through the life experience in question.
I teared up twice during my initial reading of this comic: once during a dog story which comes out of left field but also adds to the overall tone without detracting in any way -- a minor miracle within a greater one -- and once when Weinstein describes how her first child reacts to the second. I never cry reading comics. At least within my personal understanding of how comics work, this is testimony to the quality of the story being told and the mastery inherent in its component parts. My opinions may change over time and with subsequent readings, but right now this is one of the two or three best comics I've read this year, and I urge you to seek it out. What a gift.
Raina Telgemeier is widely understood to be the most powerful commercial force in North American comics, and one of the most potent in the world. Two books from her in a calendar year is a big deal, and it confirms some early projections that 2019 may be a loaded year for comics in general.
* big piece of comics-related coverage of the day is this interview with Stan Lee, JC Lee and various current members of Team Stan at his home in Los Angeles. This is a heartbreaking piece of journalism, with a comprehensive approach to publishing everything said that gives it more authority than usual, as well as more pathos. Lee sounds exhausted and a bit uncertain of some of what's going on around him. Lee's late wife Joan is a significant, heartbreaking presence within the story. This is also the first time I remember daughter JC Lee participating in a story like this. I don't really know what the motivation behind getting this out there might have been from Lee's perspective, although I can imagine making several guesses based on the resulting story. I very much doubt there will be another public appearance for the longtime industry icon. I'm still skeptical of the $50-70M net worth figure.
This year's refurbished Harvey Awards winners were named during the Friday evening of New York Comic-Con.
I have no measurables by which to determine the success or failure of any individual awards program, although the relaunch of this particular program did drive coverage during the nominations round and right after. The winners strike me as solid but not distinctive, and in fact those taking home a Harvey are many of the same names that took home Eisners. Eisner Awards administrator Jackie Estrada receiving an industry award from the program further blurred the lines a bit. Roz Chast -- sick and unable to make the ceremony -- and Dave Gibbons went into the Harveys Hall of Fame.
I'd be surprised if the program didn't do at least well enough to be done again in 2019.
Calvin Reid served as host.
Your winners in bold. Congratulations to winners and nominees.
* Jane Lindholm and Matthew F. Smith talk to Jason Lutes.
* Sean T. Collins marchesRolling Stone readers through a brief hero history for that goofy Venom character, apparently originally conceived by a Marvel reader who got a Siegel-Shuster sized check from Jim Shooter.
* finally, a bit of assembled extra: this is a smart, encouraging twitter thread by Spike Trotman about the ability of comics creators right now to create from where they are, particularly if they are focused on the more cutting edge on-line distribution systems -- well, cutting edge to me, they seem fairly standard options for this emerging generation.
* this strikes me as unfortunate. There were very passionate arguments at one time about this kind of consumption path for comics, but in my head at least most of them were settled.
* trivia contests in comics will never be the same now that Len Wein is gone and can't express his frustration about missing a question concerning a comic he himself wrote. Killed me every time I saw it.
* Rocko Jerome on the Olivia Jaimes panel at CXC. That's the show I help run. Olivia was great, and we're honored she did the show. She also had legitimate security concerns. As a result, one of the things we did is we switched rooms on that panel due to some structural issues with the rooms and as its own pivot. Communicating that widely via social media would have defeated the purpose of the switch. Some people got burnt on that, and I'm sincerely apologetic. We did not execute that one hundred percent as well as it needed to be executed. That must have sucked. I'm super-sorry. First, please: blame me. I'm not only responsible overall, but I introduced the idea of this specific maneuver. Anyone that wants to inquire after as much of a make-good as I can provide -- and I know I can't match the lousiness of being shut out -- My guess is that with the information I had on my plate I would have made the same decision every time out, even if I might hope to execute specific parts of that plan more effectively. We'll take steps in that direction, too: including plans for some sort of press access at events where it applies. Still, then and now, we will always put the special needs of our guests first. We have to.
* I like that article, by the way, even though I'm responding to an idea floated there. I don't mean for any of that to be an indictment in any way of Rocko's clear prose, smart contextualization and well-observed remarks. I appreciate him designating the story worth covering, and I appreciate the criticism. That's not always easy.
Castles, quests, demons, and ghosts fill the pages of our Spring 2019 season.
First up, we are incredibly excited to bring Emily Carroll's When I Arrived at the Castle from out of the long shadows and perilous corridors. Drawing on Romanticism, Gothicism, videogames, myth, horror, feminism, furries, and fan culture Carroll's comics are a melange of Atwood and anime, Blake and body horror. With her web comics and short story collection Through the Woods, Carroll has established herself as this generation's preeminent horror cartoonist and here presents a truly modern horror feast preying on the psyche of today's youth.
Next we have Wowee Zonk alum Chris Kuzma making his solo debut with Lunch Quest. Richard Scarry meets Regular Show in this surrealist slacker series of stories. Akin to Pee Wee poking around the Playhouse and finding the frozen vegetables up to no good, and the dinosaurs in the wall dealing with a familial dispute, Bunny has found that his house holds much more crazy than clutter, as he quests for his lunch.
With A Children's Book of Demons, Aaron Leighton has filled a book with demons, but they certainly aren't diabolical, rather these spirits are adorable and iconic -- Leighton is the designer behind Koyama Press' very own icon: Kickass Annie -- each one so well crafted, from their description to their illustration, that you expect them to walk off the page and star in their own Saturday morning cartoon.
For the past four years, Ben Sears has been building an incredible world of quirky characters and rip-roaring adventures under the Double+ banner. In this short time, over three standalone volumes, he has created so much awesome he has likely raised worldwide levels. House of the Black Spot is no exception!
An exciting and decidedly supernatural Spring awaits!
When I Arrived At The Castle, Emily Carroll, Softcover, 72 pages, June 2019, $15.
Publisher's Descripton: "A castle, a killer, and prey all bound and blurred by lust and blood."
Like many before her that have never come back, she's made it to the Countess' castle determined to snuff out the horror, but she could never be prepared for what hides within its turrets; what unfurls under its fluttering flags. Emily Carroll has fashioned a rich gothic horror charged with eroticism that doesn't just make your skin crawl, it crawls into it.
Publisher's Bio: Emily Carroll is a writer and artist of numerous award-winning comics, including the horror collection Through the Woods, which won both an Eisner and the British Fantasy Award for 2014. Her online comics work include numerous short stories, with subject matter ranging from haunted rivers to ravenous hand lotions. Her most recent work is a graphic novel adaptation of Laurie Halse Anderson's 1999 novel Speak. She lives in Stratford, ON with two dogs, one cat, and her wonderful and talented wife, Kate.
* Lunch Quest, Chris Kuzma, Softcover, 80 pages, 9781927668658, June 2019, $15.
Publisher's Description: "Sometimes you are so hungry that the only thing you can find in your house is rip-roaring, candy-coloured, side-busting adventure!
"Have you ever been looking for your lettuce, but instead you find skate kids shredding the moon, bunny gladiators astride bumpy frogs, and dance party dance-offs so twisty they put a bag of pretzels to shame? No? Then dig into this collection of comic vignettes to find what you've been missing."
Publisher's Bio: Chris Kuzma is an artist living in Toronto, ON with his wife, two children and their cat. He divides his time between drawing comics, doing freelance illustration and teaching at OCAD University. He is one-third of the Wowee Zonk comics collective. This is his first all-ages graphic novel.
* A Children's Book Of Demons, Aaron Leighton, Board Book, 48 pages, 9781927668665, June 19, $12.
Publisher's Description: "With this handy Necronomicon for kids, and its easy to follow how-to steps, summoning demons has never been so much fun!
"Don't want to take out the trash tonight? Maybe you're swimming in homework? Perhaps that big bully is being a real drag? Well grab your coloured pencils and sigil drawing skills and dial up some demons! But be careful, even if these spirits are more silly than scary they are still demons."
Publisher's Bio: Aaron Leighton is an award-winning illustrator and art director, as well as a fan of all things occult. His first book with Koyama Press, Spirit City Toronto, was published in 2010. Aaron lives in Toronto, ON and spends his free time wrestling with a black cat.
* House Of The Black Spot, Ben Sears, Softcover, 80 pages, 9781927668672, May 2019, $12.
Publisher's Description: "Plus Man and Hank are in it now! They've riled up a ghost, and a ghost with a knack for real estate no less!
"The Double+ gang discover that sometimes greed can extend beyond the grave, as they are thrust into a battle between revolting real estate developers and their ghoulish goon bent on destroying the idyllic Gear Town with ghastly gentrification and the most frightful sight of all... condos!"
Publisher's Bio: Ben Sears is a Louisville, KY based cartoonist, illustrator and musician. His characters Plus Man and Hank have appeared in a number of zines, online anthologies and in the all-ages adventure series Double+ where they have been perpetually in over their heads.
Koyama is a regular major exhibitor at May's yearly TCAF show, and I would expect all of these books to be available by then at that place.