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July 26, 2016


Go, Look: TrumpTrump

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* this one's several days old at this point and has probably been widely seen, but Steve Brodner has been doing some fun work with the Village Voice recently.

* Dean Mullaney has the next wave of Library Of American Comics releases. Ted Adams says don't sleep on Dieter Lumpen.

* those nice men at Secret Acres sent out two old-fashioned PR announcements for two forthcoming books, due out around SPX time: a new printing of Brendan Leache's Pterodactyl Hunters in the Gilded City, as well as Reid Psaltis' The Order of Things.

* this was the foldered-out preview copy that Fantagraphics was pressing into everyone's hands during Comic-Con. It looks fascinating, and I'm told it reads equally well.

* there were likely a bunch of of corporate-partnership comics that I failed to notice during Comic-Con. One is Blizzard and Dark Horse for a comic about the Overwatch game. I just saw that one. Mostly it's stuff going the other direction.

* finally, Ken Eppstein wrote in to say that the magazine American Road has a comics focus this month.
 
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Go, Look: An Arnold Roth Process Post

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Forthcoming Comics-Related Events, Through August 2016

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*****

July 27
* If I Were In SF, I'd Go To This

July 29
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Ohio)
* If I Were In San Antonio, I'd Go To This (Texas Comicon)
* If I Were In Seattle, I'd Go To This

July 30
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Ohio)
* If I Were In San Antonio, I'd Go To This (Texas Comicon)
* If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This

July 31
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Ohio)
* If I Were In San Antonio, I'd Go To This (Texas Comicon)

*****

August 3
* If I Were In SF And Qualified, I'd Go To This

August 12
* If I Were In Baltimore, I'd Go To This (Otakon)
* If I Were In Kansas City, I'd Go To This (Kansas City Comic Con)

August 13
* If I Were In Baltimore, I'd Go To This (Otakon)
* If I Were In Kansas City, I'd Go To This (Kansas City Comic Con)

August 14
* If I Were In Baltimore, I'd Go To This (Otakon)
* If I Were In Kansas City, I'd Go To This (Kansas City Comic Con)

August 17
* If I Were In London, I'd Go To This

August 18
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Chicago)

August 19
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Chicago)
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This

August 20
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Chicago)

August 21
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Chicago)

August 25
* If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

August 26
* If I Were Near Palm Springs, I'd Go To This (Comic Con Palm Springs)
* If I Were In Cleveland, I'd Go To This (BOUND)

August 27
* If I Were Near Palm Springs, I'd Go To This (Comic Con Palm Springs)
* If I Were In Cleveland, I'd Go To This (BOUND)

August 28
* If I Were Near Palm Springs, I'd Go To This (Comic Con Palm Springs)

*****

Events For September 2016 Onward Listed Here

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Go, Look: Paul Pope Images Mini-Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Rob Clough on a bunch of comics by Whit Taylor.

* I'm all for articles exploring the issue of fan entitlement, but 1) the recent Leslie Jones thing struck me as something far different and far scarier than creators being told they suck for movie plot points and is dangerous equivalency to make, 2) you're probably not being fully honest if you don't get into the fact that big media properties just aren't about making art and asking for a culture of artistic leeway to be afforded those who are brought in to make art product like that is sort of weird. Maybe we leave Shakespeare alone but can fully expect the choreographer of Shakespeare Ice Capades will get notes.

* a little bit on Alien Fire.

* there were two Washington Post articles I planned to link to but I've reached my monthly limit of backtracking to copy the link's address directly after not getting the article.

* congrats to 2dcloud on hitting their crowd-funding goal.

* Bully focuses on toast, an optimal reaction to the excesses of Comic-Con.

* finally, Evan Narcisse talks to Chadwick Boseman. Paul Gravett profiles Igort.
 
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Happy 63rd Birthday, Bob Pinaha!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Brannon Costello!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Lawrence Watt-Evans!

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July 25, 2016


CR Review: Diary Comics #5

imageCreator: Dustin Harbin
Publishing Information: Self-Published, Mini-Comic, 44 pages, $5
Ordering: Available Here

Dustin Harbin's diary comics are extremely useful reads in addition to frequently entertaining ones. Because Harbin is a skilled craftsman, it's easier to see where his approach and orientation towards the material plays a factor in it succeeding or failing. In previous issues that might mean that at times he invested in a ethos of "getting the comic done" in a way that reduced people and events into plot points and narrative moments of far less interest than concurrent experience might suggest. Harbin sometimes assumed the reader cared about the project as much as he did. In most cases the readers care far more about the artistic experience they're having; my hunch is few think about the artist at all.

A ragged issue in terms of content, featuring comics now divorced from the idea of regular updates, Diary #5 is a lot rougher and in many ways a lot more fun than the previous four issues. There are two well-crafted, stop and stare moments: 1) an hourly comic bounces and rattles in a way that's consistently visually compelling, and 2) a full-on nostalgia piece called "Remembering The Pines" that manages to be funny and love in equal amounts. I also quite liked Harbin's dark cartoon in memory of the late Alvin Buenaventura, where with one phrase "that old" transforms a pretty typical nightmare presentation into an intriguing clue about the cartoonist's own nature. Although there are still some wasted moments and times where the cartoonist forces a structure onto some pretty unstructured moments that reminds me of a water wingless kid hanging onto the side of the pool, it feels like Harbin has stopped using his life to make cartoons and started making cartoons to figure out his life.
 
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Go, Look: Advice To Hillary Clinton

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Your 2016 Comic-Con Related News Round-Up

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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.

I failed to mention -- well, mentioned and then withdrew, hoping for a better link -- that actor John Barrowman is hosting the Eisners.

The big story heading into the show is this: increased security, and more scrutiny of what that means.

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 Utilitarian will 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.

Rich Johnston isn't here.

*****

Friday, July 22

Here on Saturday morning, Friday seems a million years ago and I'm not sure I can rally as much as I would need to present a full report.

This was my mostly free day. I had an interview with David at comiXology planned but he received some minor medial attention and we're still trying to reschedule. I stepped into a lot of panels, from Ron Wimberly to Kramers Ergot to Allan Bellman, for several minutes at a time and enjoyed them all.

Everyone is calling this a mellow show, where no panel is driving anyone to spasms of excitement and no signing line has to be capped. Everyone's having a pleasant time, though.

Got to see Image's David Brothers moderate two panels and it struck me how better at doing panels and presenting in public Brothers' generation is over my own. The baseline skill-set is way, way higher.

The Kramers' panel was fascinating, such a modest crowd for at Matt Groening appearance -- he's a fan, and he's in an issue. Sammy Harkham gives really short, thoughtful, articulate answers. He used a load-up philosophy on the book's first third, basically placing all of his personal favorites there to engage with the readers in a way that would make them trust the experience.

I fell asleep like five time at the panel. When you're seeing a panel with your friends, they all notice when you nod off. Sorry, guys!

I've talked to a ton of writers this weekend I hadn't before, from Albert Ching to the new generation of Beat writers to Abraham Riesman to Nick Sousanis. It was a great weekend that way.

Had my first not-good meal in a long time at San Diego. Rhymes with "Milton Hayfront." Strong contrast with my excellent dinner at the Grant Grill the night before. I know how self-indulgent a bullet point like this is, sorry.

Said hi to Jim Davis, enjoying his first Comic-Con. He called it a "sober Mardi Gras" and admitted he thought it would be mostly dudes. He's blown away by his interaction with the fans, which isn't something strip cartoonists do on a regular basis.

Talked to Mark Evanier and Karen Green about 100 years of Kirby next year. Talked to Denis Kitchen about 100 years of Will Eisner next year.

I'll write more about the Eisners in the final report. They were a very interesting snapshot of where the show is right now, where comics is right now.

Zander Cannon hurt his leg recently being a "cool dad" but still gets around better than I do.

I had fun tweeting the show last night.

Image booth was hopping during my one visit.

Eddie Campbell is a married man again, and lives in Chicago, Illinois. God bless America.

*****

Saturday, June 23

Sorry about the confusion on the site this morning. I meant to run my panel chat with either Lisa Hanawalt or Derf Backderf, but I forgot to record them. I do have a short talk with David Steinberger from comiXology about a few broad issues facing that company right now, and will run that soon.

By the way, Chip Mosher asking "did that recording really record?" after my interview with Steinberger has to be the worst, paranoia-inducing jump-in by any press and marketing person ever. Thanks for nothing, Mosher!

Mosher, by the way, had the best phone picture show-around of the con: a series of newspaper articles about a long-ago direct relative's shooting death where the two practically made the shooter the mayor, they seemed so happy to be rid of the elder Mosher.

imageI don't have much to say about the comiXology trading cards but I think we can all agree that Stan Sakai's lion-in-winter/ocean-as-backdrop snapshot is the best one.

Gary Groth told me that Fanta Heir Apparent Conrad Groth was working "the other convention" this weekend and I got so far off the grid at least mentally in LA that I had no idea he was talking about. In celebratory news, this chat marked the two millionth time Gary has been exasperated with me.

It looked like Fanta did fine in the old Top Shelf space. They moved their signing space to the other end of booth, and were doing well enough they sold out of their sizable number of Patience books by 3 PM Saturday. The buzz book there was Gilbert's new adaptation of the book of Genesis. Also Eternaut sold some copies after the Eisner win, which is nice to see. That's an excellent book, and many alt-folks of my generation have fond memories of that nice man F. Solano Lopez in San Diego.

I took advantage of my hotel's option to upgrade my room for $8 a night and it was worth it.

I was clearly lying about making today's entry about publishing news links.

*****

Sunday, July 24

Okay, I wasn't at the show today. I chose to fly out on a redeye to Charlotte at 11 PM Saturday night. So this is all fake news.

It sounds like people had a fruitful but exhausting weekend. One big factor in the exhaustion was the heat, unlike anything I've ever experienced down there humidity-wise. Another big factor was that everything was more diffuse crowd-wise, so there's a been a shift from a few panels being impossible to everything all over the convention center being more difficult. My toughest walk was the first block of the Gaslamp district, not anything in the hall, which makes me think there's not 100K people out there without tickets but it seems more likely that more of the attendees just naturally roam around to all corners of the place.

I was told one restaurant within a few blocks of the convention center was holding tables for Hollywood-types that made reservations and then didn't show up. They weren't releasing those tables, either. I hope they enjoyed having a house 1/2 full when there are probably hundreds of people they could have processed through there.

Two big publishing-news announcements from Drawn And Quarterly.

Ran into Jeffrey Brown, who looked slender, relaxed and happy. Jeffrey was the annual person where we spoke to each longer than we know each other and it became awkward until we actively broke it off. His new series starts soon. He's had so much success with his Star Wars-related books it will be interesting to see what happens there.

IDW was promoting the Tom Tomorrow projects it announced in May.

IDW will do a big Jack Kirby Fantastic Four Artist's Edition early next year, and that should be something. I think there are still a couple of issues that will be reprinted that they have yet to announce. There is literally no wrong choice here. The beginning of the run has work by Chic Stone and looks freaking amazing in black and white. The Joe Sinnott middle-range years are rightfully legendary. The end of the run features some of Kirby's most powerful work.

Looks like DC will be ready to announce its latest plans for Wildstorm-related properties by this Fall.

*****

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Go, Look: Dan DeCarlo Beach Covers

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Go, Read: Abraham Riesman Talks To Bruce Timm About Material In Killing Joke Adaptation

imageI don't have a ton to say about how corporate-property cartoons explore issues touching on sex and violence because I assume they'll do so in a crass way, be strongly criticized for it and then make money anyway.

I am interested that anyone would feel compelled to adapt The Killing Joke, which was to serious graphic novels of the 1980s what "Runaway Train" was to the grunge music era: the successful project that made people stop and wonder if things hadn't ended about a half-year earlier. It's a work the project's writer admitted was deeply limited and problematic. Because they're using the DC standard cartoon approach, you lose 80 percent of Brian Bolland's contributions. And because you're rewriting and expanding it, you stand a pretty good chance of losing a big chunk of craft that Alan Moore might bring as a writer. What you're left with is the idea that a Batman story can handle these delicate issues in the course of doing what it usually does. I think in this case at least, we'll learn it can't.
 
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Go, Look: These Days

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

It's S. Clay Wilson's 75th birthday, and I hope that you'll spend part of it reading and/or perhaps donating to his special needs trust. I'll suspend the usual by requests until later in the week or next Monday's column.

Wilson has been in need of specialized care for over nine years. He has the wonderful Lorraine Chamberlain in his life, who among other things of importantce was the person that set up the trust.

If you're not familiar with Wilson's career, that's a good place to start to catch up with it. If not for the potent, even repugnant quality of Wilson's imagination, the '60s would have been much less of a revolution in comics art expression than they turned out to be.
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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Not Comics: Dustin Harbin Has A T-Shirt Store

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* John Seven on Don't Come In Here. Gabrielle Bellot on Calvin And Hobbes. Austin English on The Heavy Hand.

* due to "San Diego Con Inbox" I missed this heartfelt post from Randall Kirby about the last days and life example of his comics-reading grandfather.

* the translation makes this a bit rough -- as do the abrasive opinions -- but I'm sure many cartoonists are tired of drawing shooting tragedies and I bet many of them feel like it's something they'd rather not be doing.

* take a class from Brian Michael Bendis. I can't tell where this is.

* here's a peek at Andrea Tsurumi's sketchbook.

* finally, Jade Sarson on her For The Love Of God, Marie.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Dan Shahin!

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Happy 69th Birthday, Ted Benoit!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Ray Billingsley!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Jon Lewis!

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Happy 75th Birthday, S. Clay Wilson!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Alex Wald!

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