Losers Of The Week
The conservatives dug into the legal system that went after Farghadani.
Quote Of The Week
"When I was in prison, I wasn't aware of outside events and the news about me, especially in 2015, when I was on a hunger strike in the gruesome Gharchak prison. At that point, I was absolutely hopeless and thought I would die there, without my voice ever being heard. But I kept going with the strike, constantly thinking that even if I die, I have a clear conscience for I've died for my beliefs and goals." -- Atena Farghadani
If You're AT SDCC, Please Consider Watching Me Talk To Derf At His Spotlight Panel
A big-day Saturday event given over to a comics-maker, this should be fun. I always like talking to Derf. If these words are still here, I did not get information on a room or a time in time for me to post them in advance here, but they should be easily findable.
Here are links and commentary related to news being generated the weekend of Comic-Con International. The following will be broken up by day of publication, but certainly there's no restriction as to when something might end up being discussed. The daily breakdown is to help those who are reading this column on subsequent days, as it's added to.
Wednesday, July 20
I'm not seeing a whole bunch of news right away. Not publishing news, anyway. There some leaks of some announcements, and rumors of same. The two formal Wednesday news-generating events of recent memory -- the ICv2.com conference, Image Expo -- have been moved elsewhere.
People are arriving in town and setting up for whatever it is they do on the weekend. I've been able to score some interviews despite some REALLY LATE asks, which indicates to me that it's still not a big comics-press weekend in terms of in-depth work. I think that's fine, though. Not every weekend has to involve seven hours of intense podcasting from one's hotel suite. You aren't going to get several months of work done the next four days. You'll probably get less work done than usual. I also think that the industry has had a hard time adjusting to new show realities because there's not much of an industry anymore at least in terms a solid base of the kind of activity one might expect from a business supporting an art form. I don't know what you can do at a show like this one for mid-list and lower-selling books that doesn't involve a huge amount of guesswork.
Of what's promised to happens this weekend pubishing-wise, there's not a ton that interests me. I'm looking forward to seeing how Fantagraphics does in the old Top Shelf island space and if Top Shelf finds a solid home at the IDW space. IDW was a company that took a while to find a formula that works for them on the show floor whereas relative to its size I always felt Top Shelf comfortable there. The cartoonists appearing at Drawn and Quarterly are super-solid. Image seems loaded for bear, too, while DC becoming a wider-entertainment booth seems like a potential remember-this-year moment. Derf scoring a Saturday panel seems to me something worth noting on Abrams' behalf. The cocktail party seems pretty set; the outdoor media events do not.
I've noticed some drift in focused excitement for shows in general, but I think SDCC is sort of immune to those things. People are always ready to go out to dinner and stand around hotel balconies with drinks in their hands. I think rank and file indie/alt suffers right now, but they're not here.
We've had some terrifying terrorism incidents in different places around the world in the last 24 months, and it's not out of the question that we could see one with our large gathering of people. If you're going to Comic-Con in a group, I'd have the discussion about how to meet if things get weird or crazy (pick a walk-to spot in town), although there's not much you can do if the unspeakable happens except keep your wits about you. The con community came close to some scary incidents at the 2015 show without our folding in the possibility of an outright aggressive, planned event. Be well. Be safe.
We should also remember that Comic-Con's strategy is to emphasize paid security and a formal protocol designed to have that paid security catch incidents of harassment or abuse. Whether this is enough is a conversation for the other 360 days a year. Until then, for this weekend in particular, it's on the community to police its own as best as it is able. Comics suffers from a longtime sickness in terms of harassment as toxic and hard to flush as its embrace of economic exploitation. We should go as far as we can in the other direction to make sure everyone has a safe, hassle-free weekend. Keep an eye on each other. Check your own perceived right to act out or have a certain kind of fun. Remember that this is a professional event, and hold those around you to the expectations of that as a bare-minimum standard. It's not like we aren't getting to be children every other way possible.
Thursday, July 21
I'm going down to the show today after spending a brief, brief, brief time in Los Angeles with a close friend and then a family member. I'm coming in on train, if anyone is taking the 6:00 AM.
Still haven't seen a lot of news. Some of the discussion about the show outside the show continues.
I just realized that one of the reasons I'm not seeing a lot of news is that I'm not looking very hard. I will do better tomorrow. I will tell you that you have to cross the street from the San Diego train station to get a cab and that wasn't the case several years ago I don't think. Also that Amtrak business class no longer reserves seats, they just keep free the number of seats in the business class car. That's kind of right up next to useless.
This is interesting: creators revisiting old-ground using the time-honored tradition of near-copies and not-reallys to explore ground they might have wished to explore with a character or two.
The first comics person I saw was that nice man Rob Salkowitz.
Friday, September 22
The funniest thing I heard yesterday was Brigid Alverson complaining that everyone think she's a librarian. "I'm not glamorous enough to be a librarian."
The second funniest thing I heard yesterday was Andrew Aydin pitching a non-March project. "It's not terrible."
Everything else was tied for third.
I moderated three panels: Lisa Hanawalt's spotlight, one of those weird panels where they stick a bunch of people to get them another panel and provide the talk with a terribly broad name ("Indie Comics") and the Barnaby panel. Everyone on them was great. It's such a pleasure to talk about a 70-year-old comic strip in a giant convention hall in a room halfway to Mexico, RC Harvey barking out random observations like an old-timey AM Radio Show Host.
One publishing tidbit I pulled out of Lisa Hanawalt is that she works on multiple projects for herself as opposed to commercially-inspired projects and that she's done a bunch more pages for Coyote Doggirl she hasn't shown anyone that will one day be published.
As far as Barnaby goes, Eric Reynolds confirms it hasn't sold as much as he thought it might, but that Fantagraphics will conclude the series and right now volumes four and five are slotted for 2017 and 2018.
Fantagraphics still expects to publish Comics As Art: We Told You So this calendar year. A ton of people have told me they greatly anticipate that one, in a way that indicates something other than just being nice. Last chapter, organized by writer Mike Dean, is apparently over 55,000 words, which is almost more than twice the commissioned length of the entire book as conceived in 2005.
Nate Powell looks super-happy to have March Volume 3 in the rear-view window.
Book of the show in terms of a kind of mass sales event may be Bone: Coda or whatever specific volume holds this Bones-Going-Home work. Those are great-looking comics, and I'm slightly surprised more hasn't been made of Smith's return to that material in such a significant way.
Keith Knight is collaborating on a series of kids book that will come out starting next Spring.
I was sorry to hear that Hooded Utilitarianwill be going into hiatus, and may not come back. They published a lot of talented writers whom I hope will have other outlets if they seek them out. I apologize for missing this news: my access to on-line material has been somewhat limited heading into this year's SDCC.
Scholastic announced a kind of wide-open publishing challenge. I tend to process news like that through my experience working on the Fantagraphics slush pile, which was nightmarish. Gina Gagliano assured me that the material they got submitted on a regular basis is actually quite high, and they may one day soon publish someone brought to their attention by an open submission -- I hope that's generic enough she won't get mad at me.
Joe Casey pointed out he thought we would be drowned in Pokemon GO players, but that's been the case at all.
It's sticky hot here, by the way -- for San Diego weather, anyway. I resemble one of those bad guys that opened the ark of the covenant at the end of Raiders.
The biggest item of discussion is the obviously increased security. The second biggest item of discussion the changing nature of the show: less cosplay overall, none of the super-intense fandom displays of the mid-2000s. The crowds seem under control, and it's like every tiny little fandom has found a place to be welcome.
Not the theatre actor, Crawford was a funny and prolific cartoon-maker for The New Yorker. He had in recent times taken to crowd-funding to assure a last-life transition without financial burden. Maybe I'm just to sensitive now but I feel like 2016 has been an awful year for New Yorker regulars of the 200+ placement variety, particularly regulars from the Shawn era.
Creator: Tim Hensley Publishing Information: Fantagraphics, slipcased and signed softcover, 40 pages, full-color, 2016 Ordering Information:Order directly here.
There were fewer celebrities when I was a very small child, even with an influx of larger-than-life figures from the 1930s that entered back into the public consciousness in the late 1960s. Alfred Hitchcock worked back then, but his was a broader, brand-specific presence. He made scary movies, and when you saw his TV shows or listened along to one of his record albums you were definitely present to be entertained by a master of that world. Such was his dominance of the master scare artist identity that his quirks worked its way backwards and helped define the archetype. If you had asked eight-year-old me, I could have been convinced he was a character in the Charles Addams books I read without permission.
I don't think I've enjoyed a comic in some time as much as I took pleasure in Tim Hensley's beautiful, accretive biography of Alfred Hitchcock, Sir Alfred No. 3, built from casual anecdotes and ridiculous stories from the director's colorful public profile along with whatever racy filmmaking storie fit the same general tone. Hensley's style isn't as perfectly suited to the kind of biographical comic he's aping here as it was to the teenager books being examined in Wally Gropius, but his flat, colorful art is beautiful, and the whole project evinces a kind strange sumptuous based on presentation and style that stands in constant, funny contrast to the sheer squirrelly nature of every single character moment as revealed. Hensley is a smart writer and terrifyingly facile artist, despite a semi-rigid style. As is the case with Gropius he finds grotesque corners of expression in Hitchock's life story that one would dream would look that ugly or raw in the style Hensley employs.
This is a comic I'll remember for a while, and it's one of the few I set out to find and purchase of my own volition this year. Hensley may be a great cartoonist by a much more exacting measure than gets applied to that term. Like Deitch, like Drew Friedman in comics form, the images haunt with a peculiar power that shouldn't be possible given this much abstraction and this many obtuse approaches to narrative and story. Like Hitchock himself when it comes to many of his films, Hensley's presence dominates the pages in and out and around the material construction of this comic book. I wish we had a dozen cartoonists like Tim Hensley.
* I don't know I've mentioned the ShortBox curatorial service Zainab Akhtar has put together a whole lot thus far, but that's the smartest extension of an on-line area of expertise since the Penny Arcade gang started doing gaming shows. The new box looks great.
* there was a time about five years ago that I thought coverage of San Diego Con would be really future-forward in terms of the techniques employed, but it seems to have slightly regressed. I actually think that's more to do with changes in what's being covered not matching the technology than anything else, but that's more hunch than anything else. I also know that somewhere out there someone is trying to put together a gaming interface for news because of the success of Pokemon Go. But for now it's written articles, some video and social media updates for the eighth year in a row.