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
















May 25, 2017


Pierre Seron, RIP

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OTBP: Japanese Notebooks

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Go, Read: Hannah Berry On Her Probably Last-Ever Graphic Novel And Being Priced Out Of Making Comics

imageHere. You have to scroll down a bit. This is as bracing an examination of a specific but very relatable across-the-board issue in comics: most people can't make them at a pace that allows for a living, even people with a lot of skill. Some people are trying to do so by being as productive as possible all the time every day forever, but that doesn't usually end up working, either. The result is a poorer art form.

This isn't a new issue. There are strip and comic-book artists of the past that produced work at a pace where making a living involved a brutal amount of time spent on the work. I think it's relevant again because you have a few new paths to this sort-of place and more people willing to make an attempt.

I'm not sure what there is to do, either. Certainly every funding and support mechanism imaginable needs to be formed and reinforced and so on. I think comics is a uniquely sparse profession that way. I think being honest about what's out there and what's possible for most people helps. I think creators need to have the best contracts right now, including and maybe primarily when it comes to media right. I also think we should rigorously question every avenue of getting books to readers in terms of their maximizing reward to the creator, make any system with middlemen really justify their existence. Even then, making art is super tough.
 
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Go, Look: Art From FOOM Magazine #9

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Bundled Extra: Anders Nilsen Gives Comics A Hello Again Wave, Pre-Selling His Tongues

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Anders Nilsen popped up in my inbox a couple of days ago touting the first issues of his serialized Tongues, a book he's self-publishing ahead of its already-arranged book deal once collected. Self-serialization is something more than a few cartoonists are exploring, perhaps most notably Sammy Harkham and Kevin Huizenga with their series Crickets and Ganges respectively. I think it's a wonderful thing to try, although I dream even more of a specialty publisher making this model work for a lot of cartoonists including a few that just don't have the skills or mindset to pursue doing it on their own.

You can read all the press, see the cover and so on on this PDF: TONGUESchapter01PR.pdf

Looks like pre-orders are going on right now. I hope he sells a million. Anders is a very admirable cartoonist.
 
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Go, Look: Travis Charest Pages

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DHX Media Acquires Iconix' 80 Percent Stake In Peanuts

imageThe Canadian company DHX Media -- best known for its ownership of the Teletubbies brand -- has acquired the 80 percent of all that is Peanuts from Iconix in a move designed to stabilize the latter company's shaky financial standing. I don't have any clue as to what this means, but my hunch is that this is DHX is a more stable home and that the size of the purchase would make the property something the company would want to put to use. You could probably build a pretty good cable channel just from its higher-end, well-scrubbed kids properties, and Peanuts is not only a solid performer there's a lot of it.

Another bit of interesting news is that the Peanuts movie from 2015 did well enough internationally to be called an overall success. I'd always heard 3X the costs make a movie a success -- and it didn't make that -- but I also know that with a property like Peanuts even a modest performance can infuse a staid set of narratives and characters with modern relevancy.

Such a move has been floated for a while although I guess the final trigger-pulling was a surprise. When Iconix was known to be looking for a buyer about six months ago I asked Eric Reynolds, Associate Publisher at Fantagraphics -- which of course has a long relationship with that material in the publishing world -- if there would likely be any changes and he said he didn't think so. Fantagraphics of course has finished its run of black-and-white hardcovers but continues with paperbacks, a color Sunday series and the occasional themed book.
 
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Go, Look: Dinosaurs

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* here's a twitter-thread about making things more effective for retailers by shortening hours, or at least offering a counter-notion to an assertions that more hours = more better.

* hey, there are summer workshops to take at CCS. That would be fun to do one day.

* speaking of our fine institutions of cartoon-making learning, SAW is offering up an on-line course with Emily Flake. That sounds neat.

* MegaCon Orlando this weekend; a bunch of folks are fond of that show, although there's not much for my old, withered self to do at a straight-up old-school convention like that one other than stare at the spectacle of it and catch up with old friends.

* finally, Gary Tyrrell has a fine piece up on Portland as a suitable setting for the forthcoming NCS weekend. Good luck to all potential awards winners.
 
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If I Were In Orlando, I'd Go To This

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

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

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official opening tonight
 
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Go, Look: Gangster Doodles

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Bob Temuka muses on the later-career mastery of Jaime Hernandez.

* it's worth a reminder now and then that a lot of big-tent genre franchise fans are very conservative, and it's a streak you can find in almost all the corporate fandoms. It's amazing to me now how few gay people are even hinted at on many of these properties, and of course all the big connected superhero universes have spent time in similarly uncomfortable places trying to figure out how they want to reflect that obvious aspect of modern life. The broader the narrative net, the more uncomfortable the absences.

* James Kochalka is turning 50 and he's going to play a concert -- perhaps his last one -- to mark the occasion. If your lingering memory of James is that of a young man fighting with older cartoonists about the importance of craft, this whole bullet-point may be weird.

* Gary Tyrrell on We Have No Idea.

* I assume the symbolism of the rough shapes on this cover is intentional, or I'm just really tired. I like it if it's the former. I apologize if it's the latter.

* finally, some not comics: I love specific fetishes finding their way to a series of artistic expressions. Not safe for most places of work.
 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Terry Nantier!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Marc Hempel!

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Happy 68th Birthday, Barry Windsor-Smith!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Ken Avidor!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Sal Velluto!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Stan Sakai!

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May 24, 2017


Go, Look: Núria Tamarit

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Not Comics: Mitchell Hooks Pulp Art Covers

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Festivals Extra: CXC Logo And Special Guest List PR

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I hope you won't mind if I spend one post talking about the special guest and logo announcements for CXC 2017. That's the show I serve as Executive Director. A few years ago I probably wouldn't have bothered cringing my way through a self-serving post like this one, but we lack basic-information PR avenues on-line right now to an astonishing degree.

imageAnyway, this year's show special guest list is announced here.

That's Derf Backderf, Peter Bagge, Kyle Baker, Darrin Bell, Howard Cruse, Lilli Carré and Alexander Stewart, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kat Fajardo, Emil Ferris, Ann Marie Fleming, Matt Fraction, Jennifer Holm, Kevin Huizenga, Nilah Magruder, Ann Nocenti, Laura Park, Dav Pilkey, Mimi Pond, Dana Simpson, Chris Sprouse, Leslie Stein, Tillie Walden, Connor Willumsen and Judd Winick.

I'm very happy with this line-up. It's a mix of superstars and superstars-to-be, great books of the moment and great entire libraries of past, formidable work. A significant number of major disciplines/forms of comics have representation. I worked with a programming committee that did a great job building a list according to our ambitions and standards: Jenny Robb, Laurenn McCubbin, Caitlin McGurk, Jared Gardner and Jeff Smith.

People have asked if we're adding more. We don't have plans to do any more searching, but in 2015 and 2016 we did add some folks (Mark Osborne, Lalo Alcaraz) late in the year and after our initial announcements. When that works out -- and it doesn't always, we've turned down some people, too -- it's great because there's a unique energy to added guests. We have yet to lose a special guest post-announcement, but that's bound to happen, too, hopefully for benign reasons.

We will certainly have things to say about the show more generally in a heavy way through August 1 and in a focused way up to the show itself, some of which we hope surprises. Write cxcfestival@gmail.com to join our mailing list.

Graphic designer Sonia Harris and illustrator/writer/comics-maker Katie Skelly (also a great designer, Harris points out) came up with our logo and are hard at work on the poster. I really like it, so I put it up top of this post and I'm going to put it up top of everything I can. Those two are great at what they do, and what they did together I think looks fun. Please hire either or both for your making-stuff needs.

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Go, Look: A Gnawing Obsession

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

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*****

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

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

*****

MAR171778 JASON ON THE CAMINO HC $24.99
The great Jason launches his version of this year's "comics dealing with a lot of quiet time" theme with a book about a pilgrimage taken at 50 years old that involves a lot of walking and a lot of front-of-one's-face activity. I liked it a lot.

imageMAR171234 PLEASE DESTROY MY ENEMIES GN (MR) $6.99
MAR171235 YOUR BLACK FRIEND GN $5.00
JAN170729 EAST OF WEST #33 $3.99
MAR178501 SEVEN TO ETERNITY #5 2ND PTG $3.99
MAR170780 SEVEN TO ETERNITY #6 CVR A OPENA & HOLLINGSWORTH $3.99
MAR171034 BLACK PANTHER #14 $3.99
The first two are works from Silver Sprocket going into comic shops by virtue of AdHouse Books' distribution function. They're billed as books but Your Black Friend was a comic book. I enjoyed that one quite a bit. The Please Destroy Your Enemies was a bunch of folks' favorite at TCAF in t-shirt form, that's for sure. East Of West continues to power through its narrative with a lot of dire consequences for various characters; a shift from its portentous, slower-moving beginning. Seven To Eternity getting a second printing at #5 is a good sign for that series. I like the designs and the atmospherics, although I wish the narrative had more force page to page. Some of the plot developments in #6 should help. I'm interested to see if the first storyline's conclusion in Black Panther will be a jumpin-on or jumping-off point for readers of the series. I'll stick around to the bitter end, and I hope it's years away.

JAN170141 GROO FRIENDS AND FOES HC $49.99
Sergio Aragones is one of the give great cartoonists of the world and I will buy everything he does.

FEB170380 MICRONAUTS TP VOL 02 EARTHBOUND $19.99
Always wanted to try one of these new Micronauts comics. It was the last toy line with which I was deeply involved and I do remember bits of the Marvel series. Probably wouldn't be this week with all the other work out.

MAR170702 DYING AND THE DEAD SPEC ED TP $9.99
A $9.99 first volume indicates to me a potential longer run for the overall series. I'm sympathetic to books like this one, which is sort of Alejandro Jodorowsky's Space Cowboys. I enjoy reading that kind of book far ahead of my desire to make a case for others to read that kind of book.

MAR171920 BILLIE HOLIDAY HC $19.99
MAR171734 GOLEMS MIGHTY SWING GN $16.95
FEB170306 DC UNIVERSE BY MIKE MIGNOLA HC $39.99
Reprints, all of which I read in an earlier form. I'm glad for these books to be made available. One thing longtime readers don't think about is how much of the work they've enjoyed in the '90s and '00s is out of print, so a new edition helps a work continue to be added to libraries and curricula. The Mike Mignola isn't complete but it has a lot of stuff, and Mignola's early run with those characters tends to be completely ignored.

AR172009 MY LESBIAN EXPERIENCE WITH LONELINESS GN (MR) $13.99
I like the subject matter of turning to a sex worker to deal with anxiety, and I believe this had a captive on-line audience when it was originally serialized.

FEB171656 JASON I KILLED ADOLF HITLER HC $16.99
FEB171655 JASON LOST CAT HC $19.99
Two by Jason if the new one wasn't enough. Again: love work to be in print; these are all fun comics.

MAR171769 ONE MORE YEAR HC MEGG & MOGG (MR) $24.99
Another staggering Simon Hanselmann volume about 25 minutes following the last one's drop. I find his comics funny, and weirdly admirable for their unsparing nature. Also Owl is a really good Mel Cooley, and it's been a while since comics had one of those.

APR172262 SUPERMAN PERSISTENCE OF AN AMERICAN ICON SC $27.95
Yeah, I really don't get it, either.

FEB172079 EVERYTHING IS FLAMMABLE GN $25.95
Gabrielle Bell and Uncivilized seems a perfect marriage on paper, so I hope this volume hits. Since she's gone deeply into her own Patreon I don't see as much of her work as I used to.

*****

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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