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
















July 1, 2015


Go, Look: Self-Esteem Improvement Plan

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Go, Look: The Animation/Cartoon War, From Israel To ISIS To Iran

Robert Mackey has the broadest of survey articles up here at the New York Times about recent cartoon and animation-making in the wider Middle East by various geopolitical participants basically on the subject of ISIS, yet with so many partnerships and claims thrown in a lot of other topics are roped in. It's worth knowing about and seeing as much of it as you can; the article is lighter on the conclusions that other English-language articles have brought to the table.

The one line of reasoning that comes out in a lot of these articles is to take a line of cartoon-making and seeing it as a truer expression of the country's soul than another avenue of speaking out, or another political opportunity taken. Nation-states are usually a bit more complicated than that, and can contain with its borders multiple aims and designs and shortcomings and flourishes. Tread carefully.
 
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Go, Look: Marvel Summer Annual Cover Gallery

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Go, Look: Ripple

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This Isn't A Library: Notable Releases Into Comics' Direct Market

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*****

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

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

*****

FEB150413CORTO MALTESE GN BEYOND THE WINDY ISLES $29.99
There are a lot of comics you could put top of post this week, including four or five of the comic books. Kate Beaton also has a work out, and that's worth going to the comics shop all by itself. I wanted instead to spotlight the new volume in the Corto Maltese series. We live in a time of impossible riches for comics, and I would argue the bulk of that is in making sure we have great comics of the past to go along with all the good work, and occasional great work, of right now. That probably puts me in the opposite quadrant of most of my peers, but I'd rather have all the work reprinted since 2000 than its volume equivalent of the best new work. This is glorious work, paced and positioned like no comics before or since, and it's fun to enter into that mindspace.

imageMAY151302 BERLIN #19 (MR) $5.95
APR150669 SATELLITE SAM #15 (MR) $3.50
MAY150473 MINIMUM WAGE SO MANY BAD DECISIONS #3 (MR) $3.99
MAY150480 WE STAND ON GUARD #1 (MR) $2.99
MAY150086 BALTIMORE CULT OF THE RED KING #3 $3.99
APR150499 8HOUSE ARCLIGHT #1 (MR) $2.99
MAY150459 AIRBOY #2 (MR) $2.99
APR150522 CHEW #50 (MR) $3.50
MAY150471 HUMANS #6 (MR) $2.99
It's a big week of Image Comics in advance of their Expo and San Diego Con, but the one that all by its lonesome might get me over to Laughing Ogre is the nineteethn installment of Jason Lutes' Berlin. There's something where you're just happy with yourself that you're still reading comics when you hear about a long-lost friend like that series. Satellite Sam winds down the kids sic-fi part of its existence and will come back with a second installment on a different coast and bouncing around a different genre (westerns). I look forward to going back and reading a bunch of this at once. I wonder if Bob Fingerman has done as many issues of Minimum Wage as there are issues of Berlin despite having walked away from the project for a dozen or so years. A friend of mine very much into the Image Comics tells me US robots vs. Canadian robots We Stand On Guard has an excellent chance of being their next big thing; we'll see, but there's a lot of goodwill from readers aimed at writer Brian K. Vaughan. 8House Arclight #1 isn't the name of the theater where you're seeing the movie version of the aforementioned giant robot comic, but the first installment in a shared universe project featuring work from Brandon Graham and Marian Churchland. That sounds like a hit, too. The first issue of Airboy was interesting, using the author stand-in trope in a way that just kept going and going and going until you either accept it or bail. I think that's the only way you can do a story like that anymore, so good for those creators. Chew! 50 issues! Congratulations to those creators on one of the most unlikely successful comics ever -- by concept and by approach, not by skill of creator. Finally, the Humans are lurking around again. I like this cover.

DEC140420 ABSOLUTE Y THE LAST MAN HC VOL 01 (MR) $125.00
I read this in serial form and I'm not sure I've given it a lick of thought since. Coming out today is a break for We Stand On Guard if retailers are smart. I think if I were super rich I'd buy all the comics that were offered in these super deluxe formats.

APR150416 MIKE ZECK CLASSIC MARVEL STORIES ARTIST ED HC PI
Speaking of which, here's a collection of Mike Zeck work in the Artist Edition format, original art at size photocopied in color. I don't really know what his originals look like or even what I think of his work overall, so sitting down with this one might be fun even I'm not sure there's a bunch of stories he ever did that I liked.

MAR150098 LONE WOLF & CUB OMNIBUS TP VOL 09 $19.99
MAY151467 ASTERIX OMNIBUS SC VOL 09 $22.99
FEB150046 USAGI YOJIMBO LTD HC VOL 29 TWO HUNDRED JIZO $59.99
MAY150468 CRIMINAL TP VOL 06 LAST OF THE INNOCENT (MR) $14.99
APR151503 COMPLETE PEANUTS TP VOL 03 1955-1956 $22.99
MAR151352 PRINCE VALIANT HC VOL 11 1957-1958 $34.99
None of these comics really go together, but they're all worth at least the consideration of a buy which is interesting because 1) my god, what a financial commitment you could make to comics if you could afford, just by being a reader; and 2) I think the formats and how they're done and priced has a real effect on how I view each series with the possible exception being the Prince Valiant, which I think would be worth buying at $15 more. But there's a whole bunch that can be said about the other books. I have no interest in buying Usagi Yojimbo at a high price point, for example, not when cheaper ones are available. The Criminal I'd probably prefer to have in loose individual issues than as a book with a spine, but I really like this new series of books. The pricing on the Complete Peanuts strikes me as pretty high in terms of what I'd guess it might be if I were attacked by comics-geek hoodlums and interrogated, but those are lovely books and of course worth three times as much on merit. I wish I had known about them from the start.

imageAPR150573 AUTUMNLANDS TP VOL 01 TOOTH & CLAW (MR) $9.99
I just wanted the price, which is at that entry point level. Image is very smart in identifying trades as jumping on points for a lot of people looking to get into a continuing serial. I thought the pacing was interesting in this comic in that it never quite settled down for me but at the same time it reflects the discombobulation that is at the story's center.

MAY150481 WICKED & DIVINE #12 (MR) $3.50
MAR158209 WICKED & DIVINE #12 CVR B BROWN (MR) $3.50
APR150619 WICKED & DIVINE TP VOL 02 FANDEMONIUM (MR) $14.99
I've read these off and on; I liked the 11th issue, so I'm looking forward to the 12th in order to further make up my mind if it's something for me. One thing these comics and past ones involving Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie have is a comfort with their own way of unfolding a story. There's a very appealing confidence in one's creative choices in all of their work. I also find it interesting that they're publishing a trade right on the heels of the last issue, but I suppose everyone does that now. I'd love to get a sense of the economics where that makes sense, but it seemingly does.

APR151490 LAST MAN GN VOL 02 ROYAL CUP $9.99
This is the second volume in the mainstream series involving Balak and Bastian Vives; it's the one I've read. I liked it even though I have a very small appetite for robust takes on classic genre tropes. One thing they have down is a kind of self-aware joy from the characters in being start of a story. They also seem happy when lots of things are happening. That's a big part of what makes them heroes, I imagine.

MAY151443 DIARY COMICS GN $15.00
A big ol' collection of Dustin Harbin's diary comics. Harbin is super-suited as an artist to this kind of everyday project; he can draw just about anything at multiple distances of remove and have it be scannable, and he has an easygoing sensibility that skewers but doesn't savage an individual's personal appearance. In the past I've wondered if he has the self-criticism necessary to make compelling art out of a string of experiences, but many readers will be happy to take that burden onto themselves.

APR151954 PRINCESS & THE PONY YR HC $17.99
Kate Beaton's ceiling is Matt Groening and that's if she has one. We shouldn't get too wrapped up in our perception of anyone's career to forget to enjoy the artist themselves, and between this new book, the new Hark! volume and a bunch of interesting online material Kate Beaton has made as many good comics pages happen in 2015 as anyone in the world. I enjoyed my quick read through of this volume at a friend's studio. The art is quite evocative in an endearing, humorous way.

*****

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 Scotland, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Odd, Lengthy, Educational Comic About Food

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Richard Bruton on The Penned Guin: Out & About and Thread Bear/Attic Space & Other Stories. Shawn Starr on Lydian and Palm Ash. Todd Klein on Fables #150 and Fables Vol. 22. Paul Gravett on Death Of The Artist.

* Frank Santoro muses out loud about the famous Ghost World color switch.

* Michael Cavna selects ten cartoons of note about the recent Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage. The Mike Lester makes no sense to me, and the Nate Beeler might not make sense to people that don't know all the iconography. There certainly isn't a great cartoon among them. I'm baffled that we don't have more "nailed it" cartoons for some of these big historical moments. There wasn't one for the last entire presidential election.

* Steve Foxe talks to Marian Churchland. Someone at Inside/Within talks to Jessica Campbell. Gary Panter and Leslie Stein talk. Those are two really interesting artists. Here's a two part interview with Michel Fiffe.

* finally, there's a super-cool fold-out effort from the great Tom Gauld available here.
 
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Happy 33rd Birthday, Lee's Comics!

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June 30, 2015


Leonard Starr, RIP

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Go, Bookmark: Ice Cream

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new Alex Fellows
 
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Assembled Extra: Strangers In Paradise Joins Thrillbent

imageThe writer and digital publisher Mark Waid announced earlier today that digital versions of Terry Moore's foundational self-publishing work Strangers In Paradise will be added to the Thrillbent site that he and John Rogers own. I think that could end up being a great get, and that the work sounds like it will be employed in a way that flatters the comic and the site. If you value Moore's work in a way you'd like to read it digitally, weekly issues accelerates the value for a monthly subscription to the site. There is also a significant audience that might want to read the work beginning to end this way that missed out on it first time around and finds a commitment to paper daunting. A lot of the values of Moore's work are values that have come to define a lot of work that's come since.

I greatly look forward to seeing what happens, and I root for Thrillbent generally to find its readership. What we don't know is things like the number of people who feel that way about SiP as they intersect with Thrillbent's potential readers. I like the move a ton, though, and I think that's a great way to make use of existing content.
 
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Go, Look: Jane Mai Goes To ELCAF

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Gary Varvel Named To Indiana Journalism Hall Of Fame

There's nothing I dislike about this article on Indianapolis Star cartoonist Gary Varvel going into the Indiana Journalism Hall Of Fame. If nothing else, I like that there's an Indiana Journalism Hall Of Fame. Varvel's had an interesting career. He's a conservative cartoonist, which is a subsection of cartooning where your praise tends to come from the severity of your positions rather than your skill as a cartoonist. My memory is that he's really quick on breaking news stories, like if I look around for what editorial cartoonists are saying on an issue I almost always encounter a Varvel cartoon. He came up from a entire system of newspapers that's basically gone now. He's also done some long-form comics work for his paper on broad social concerns that I always thought could be a model for other papers putting their staff-position cartoonists to work.

Heck I'm even fascinated that the other two cartoonists in the Hall Of Fame are the great Kin Hubbard and Charles Werner, who was a baby when he won the Pulitzer Prize in editorial cartooning in '39 but worked in Indianapolis for like a hundred years.
 
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Go, Look: Carl Barks Prelim Lithographs

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Stan Lee Hospitalized On Sunday; At Movie Premiere Monday

The idea of Stan Lee being sick enough to call for help in getting to the hospital and then the very next day making an appearance at a Marvel movie premiere should make for an unimpeachable set of feature news articles today. Here's one such piece.

Lee is in his early nineties now, on the cusp of his mid-nineties. It struck a lot of people I know when he appeared at this year's HeroesCon that such engagements are likely to be very limited now, a thought to which multiple generations of comics fans for whom Lee has been a ubiquitous presence at shows and events have been slowly awakening for the past half-decade. Travel at a certain age becomes difficult even for someone as robustly healthy as a longtime take-the-stairs fitness icon like Lee.
 
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Go, Look: Larry Todd Mini-Gallery

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* you can't always trust far-frontier Amazon.com listings, but it's 3:24 AM and I gotta run with something in the arts/alt category. I sure hope Fantagraphics is doing a collection of cartoons that appeared in The Realist. That was one of the treasures of the 20th Century, that publication, and I'm not all that familiar with the best of its cartooning. I know the famous Wood "everyone at Disney having sex" illustration, and I know the Bhob Stewart cartoons, but that's about it. Of all the joys in the world with which I'm familiar, I may be most familiar with finding out about new comics and cartooning that I haven't seen before. The line-up sounds terrific.

image* Josh Cotter is close to finishing the first volume of his comeback effort Nod Away.

* the talented cartoonist Noelle Stevenson announced last week she'd be taking a step back from the full extent of her current duties with buzztastic series Lumberjanes.

* Steve Bissette writes about a forthcoming project. The world can always use some more Steve Bissette, in any form he wishes to work.

* there's a lot of superhero news out there, mostly driven by Marvel as they every-few-days announce a book that will spring to life or spring back to life following their "Secret Wars." I thought we already knew that an all-female A-Force title would survive the Secret Wars event, but maybe that hadn't been made official until last week. Marvel has a lot of pretty good female characters that could use some time on the page no matter how it comes to them. This article ponders the return of the Spider-Gwen comic with the same creative team, but also dwells on what this might for the layered "universe" in which the book exists. Or not.

* Mr. Richard Sala would like to remind you that Violenzia will be here soon.

* Zainab Akhtar informs us that a big collection of the Freddy Lombard work is on the way. That should be freakishly lovely.

* finally, behold the final cover for the new Abrams edition, content much reworked, of Derf Backderf's Trashed.

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

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Forthcoming Comics-Related Events, Through August 2015

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*****

July 1
* If I Were In Scotland, I'd Go To This (Glasgow Comic Con)

July 2
* If I Were In Scotland, I'd Go To This (Glasgow Comic Con)

July 3
* If I Were In Scotland, I'd Go To This (Glasgow Comic Con)

July 4
* If I Were In Scotland, I'd Go To This (Glasgow Comic Con)

July 5
* If I Were In Scotland, I'd Go To This (Glasgow Comic Con)

July 7
* If I Were In Tampa, I'd Go To This

July 8
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (Comic-Con International Preview Night)
* If I Were In Minneapolis, I'd Go To This

July 9
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (Comic-Con International)
* If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

July 10
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (Comic-Con International)

July 11
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (Comic-Con International)
* If I Were Near Clallam Bay, I'd Go To This (Clallam Bay Comicon)

July 12
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (Comic-Con International)
* If I Were Near Clallam Bay, I'd Go To This (Clallam Bay Comicon)

July 13
* If I Were In San Francisco, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Ruskin, I'd Go To This

July 14
* If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This

July 15
* If I Were In Seattle, I'd Go To This

July 16
* If I Were In Vancouver, I'd Go To This

July 17
* If I Were In San Francisco, I'd Go To This

July 18
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This (SPACE)
* If I were In Portland, I'd Go To This (Portland Zine Symposium)
* If I Were In Pinellas Park, I'd Go To This

July 19
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This (SPACE)
* If I were In Portland, I'd Go To This (Portland Zine Symposium)

July 22
* If I Were In Tampa, I'd Go To This

July 24
* If I Were Near Martha's Vineyard, I'd Go To This

July 25
* If I Were In Morristown, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Clearwater, I'd Go To This

July 26
* If I Were In Morristown, I'd Go To This

July 28
* If I Were In Riverview, I'd Go To This

July 31
* If I Were In Tampa Bay, I'd Go To This

*****

August 1
* If I Were In Tampa, I'd Go To This (Tampa Bay Comic Con)

August 2
* If I Were In Bristol, I'd Go To This (Rob-Con)
* If I Were In Tampa, I'd Go To This (Tampa Bay Comic Con)

August 6
* If I Were In Tampa, I'd Go To This

August 7
* If I Were In San Antonio, I'd Go To This (Texas Comicon)

August 8
* If I Were In Minneapolis, I'd Go To This (Autoptic)
* If I Were In San Antonio, I'd Go To This (Texas Comicon)
* If I Were In Dover, I'd Go To This (Dover Comic Con)

August 9
* If I Were In Minneapolis, I'd Go To This (Autoptic)
* If I Were In San Antonio, I'd Go To This (Texas Comicon)

August 14
* If I Were In Connecticut, I'd Go To This (Connecticut ComicCONN)

August 15
* If I Were In Connecticut, I'd Go To This (Connecticut ComicCONN)

August 16
* If I Were In Connecticut, I'd Go To This (Connecticut ComicCONN)

August 28
* If I Were In Helsinki, I'd Go To This (Helsinki Comics Festival)

August 29
* If I Were In Auckland, I'd Go To This (Auckland Zine Fest)
* If I Were In Helsinki, I'd Go To This (Helsinki Comics Festival)

August 30
* If I Were In Helsinki, I'd Go To This (Helsinki Comics Festival)

*****

Events For September 2015 Onward Listed Here

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Go, Look: Rackman

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Richard Bruton on Valerian And Laureline Vol. 9. Paul Gravett on Death Of The Artist. Abhay Khosla on Lumberjanes Vol. 1.

* Lynn Johnston, Mike Peters and Tom Richmond are among the cartoonists participating in a cruise that is designed to raise money by encouraging fans to come on the cruise with them. It will benefit the NCS Foundation.

* Chris Eckert uses the opportunity of discussing some shots he took in Mark Waid's direction to discuss the wider issue of being critical of older white male creators for simply being older white male creators. It does get a little weird out there when certain arguments are applied. It's a sign that those companies have been so, so, bad about hiring a diverse creator line-up that these issues even come up.

* finally, Michael Cavna has a round-up of artistic reactions to last week's SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage, including some well-received comics efforts.
 
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Happy 54th Birthday, Christopher Priest!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Shawn McManus!

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June 29, 2015


Go, Look: The Marriage Defense

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