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
















November 25, 2014


Sharon Sakai, RIP

Found on CBR via a release from Mike Richardson on behalf of the family. Sharon was the wife of cartoonist Stan Sakai, who made a personal announcement as to her passing on Facebook. As noted in the CBR story, Sharon's medical costs had become a cause for comics professionals and fans throughout much of 2014, proof of the affection with which many regarded both Sakais, together a loving and lovely presence at conventions and related comics gatherings for years upon years.

All condolences to Stan Sakai, the family, and Sharon's immense circle of friends, fans and admirers.
 
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Go, Look: Thanksgiving

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CCI Volunteer Tweets In Strident, Aggressive Fashion Post-Ferguson Verdict; CCI Cuts Ties

God bless Rich Johnston and his team at Bleeding Cool for assembling the mini-Twitter rampage of Bill Purcell, a self-identified Comic-Con committee member and I'm guessing longtime volunteer. He certainly seems to identify that way as well. Because of Bleeding Cool, I don't have to read this stuff any more than necessary. Purcell's run of tweets happened last night during the aftermath of the announcement made in Ferguson, Missouri, and address aspects of that case in a strident manner. He also directly engages with a few members of the comics community about those tweets, his right to make them, and various aspects to his life and personality he feels superior to those possessed by others on a different sort of life's journey.

I contacted David Glanzer at Comic-Con International about Purcell's tweets. His only statement so far: "This matter has been brought to our attention and we may be able to comment later in the day."

The whole thing sounds dumb, right? It is! But this is also an interesting thing. I agree with Mark Waid when he suggests here that calling for Purcell's position or volunteer job or whatever based on expressions of stomach-turning dumbassery isn't something that communities should do as a general rule. One hundred percent. But there's a growing element in comics culture that feels differently, and I think most institutions have to account for that in some way. I also think -- and Mark Waid anticipated me here, too -- there's a line to be drawn between staking out a position, no matter how loathsome or stupid, and engaging with your customer base in a way that carries even a hint of threat, or is simply so unpleasant and bothersome and noxious so as to disrupt and distract someone from the business of their day.

Hopefully, something will be done, even if it's just to engage with the fact the con would rather not get involved with an issue like that one. I expect this kind of thing to come up one or two times a year now, for everyone, and while I think I know what I'd do here, I'm not so confident I know which strategy is going to work best for every other institution over the long-term. Hopefully it's not just forgotten.

Update: The further statement from Comic-Con's David Glanzer, as promised, later on the same day.

"There is no excuse for offensive or threatening behavior. The fact that it comes from a purported member of our committee is clearly upsetting. Even though we cannot control what an individual says, we can address issues that have a direct effect on our organization or persons affiliated with our organization. We would also like to mention this individual no longer holds a volunteer position with our association. We encourage any individual who feels threatened by these comments or others to seek assistance from law enforcement."
 
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Go, Listen: Gil Roth Talks To Mary Fleener

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Bundled Extra: Nobrow Announces Line-Up For Spring 2015

Tucker Stone at Nobrow sent along a the following list of books and comics that will make up the Spring 2015 season for their company. The comics part is something of a surprise; I can't remember them doing this many works in that format in a single season before; I barely remember any of the comics.

The announced works are:

*****

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* The Spectators, Victor Hussenot, hardcover, 128 pages, April 2015.

Publisher's Description: What if we are merely shadows of our choices? If our characters are defined by simple inflections of light and chance? What if, instead of actors, we are mere spectators? Awash in subtle color, gently carrying the narrative and allowing readers to envelop themselves in the lyricism of the work, this 128 page graphic novel by one of France’s hottest young cartoonists is a beautiful watercolor story that will demand as much attention as it will reward with its poetic and philosophical introspection of man. Reminiscent of French New Wave cinema with its clipped dialog, gentle pacing and departure from a classic narrative structure, The Spectators is a gorgeous, forward-looking example of what comics has become and what the artform can share.

*****

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* Fantasy Sports, Sam Bosma, harcover, 56 pages, July 2015.

Publisher's Description: An oversized graphic novel expanding the Ignatz-award winning Fantasy Basketball to feature length and full color, Fantasy Sports tells the story of a young explorer and her musclebound friend on their trip treasure hunting in a mummy’s tomb. Brooklyn’s own Sam Bosma blends the flavor of 1960’s sports manga with the boldness of a Mike Mignola line, and the hilarity begins when their bandaged adversary demands a game of hoops! With riches in the wings (and eternal entombment as possible consequence), it all comes down to one intrepid young woman and her slam dunk skills in this YA adventure.

*****

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* 750 Years in Paris, Vincent Mahé, hardcover, 120 pages, August 2015.

Publisher's Description: War. Revolution. Architecture. Art. If you could stand still and just look for 750 years, what could you learn about the world? In August, it will be time to find out in this unique graphic novel that tells the story of one single Parisian building over the course of seven and a half centuries through all the upheavals of French history. Following his work in Nobrow 8: Hysteria, 750 Years in Paris finds Vincent Mahé grappling with the edges of communication that illustration allows in this hypnotic study of time and place.

*****

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* Vacancy, Jen Lee, comic book, 24 pages, April 2015, $5.95.

Publisher's Description: Jen Lee (the cartooning powerhouse from an Idaho farmhouse responsible for the popular webcomic Thunderpaw) is coming to print for the relaunch of Nobrow’s 17X23 single issue comic line. Now with a new, much lower price ($5.95), the 17X23 line that launched the careers of Luke Pearson (Hildafolk) and Rob Hunter (The New Ghost) will see five new releases in 2015, starting with Vacancy -- the story of a dog in a hoodie and glasses who might not be ready to live in the wild, no matter how much the post-apocalypse might need him to. A funny (and best of all, kind) take on Homeward Bound if all the animals were millennials and all the people were dead, Vacancy is the sort of comic that you’d hand to someone who just woke up from a coma -- by they time they finished it, they’d be all caught up on what today’s culture gets right.

*****

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* The Hunter, Joe Sparrow, comic book, 24 pages, May 2015, $5.95

Publisher's Description: The Hunter, the second release in the 17X23 line, sees Joe Sparrow taking a cue from Frozen and Super Nintendo with his 16-bit remix of a long, long time ago. In this acerbic fairy tale, one arrogant young hunter has grown tired of the simple bloodsport that occupies his friendless days. But when he hears of a mythical beast that sounds strangely like the animals he’s already conquered, mania takes hold. Can our (anti) hero survive with his arrogance intact? There will be (video game style) blood!

*****

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* Golemchik, William Exley, comic book, 24 pages, June 2015, $5.95

Publisher's Description: Abandoned by his friends, one young boy goes searching for fun -- and finds a golem on the hunt for the same, in this 17X23 comic by British cartoonist William Exley. But as the two go about living out their dreams of having the best summer ever, the boy realizes that golems don’t know how to take it easy! To save his town, he’ll have to get his new friend under control... or else everybody else in the neighborhood is going to do it for him!

*****

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* Lost Property, Andy Poyiadgi, comic book, 24 pages, July 2015, $5.95.

Publisher's Description: From the pen of British cartoonist Andy Poyiadgi, Lost Property is the story of a young mailman named Gerald who comes across something pretty fantastic: a small shop, packed to the brim with everything in his life he has ever misplaced. From socks to yearbooks, this surreal repository of his life sends our confused friend into the maelstrom of memory, whisking him back through the crossroads that shaped his life. But what really matters, of course, is what he decides to do next!

*****

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* Cyber Realm, Wren McDonald, comic book, 24 pages, August 2015, $5.95

Publisher's Description: Wren McDonald -- another Brooklynite, this one by way of Florida -- brings us the darkly hilarious story of a father’s revenge in a cybernetic world of horror. In a dismal future ruled by a tyrannical nerd who has taken all technology for himself, one man is making his way through the type of trials that usually face a Liam Neeson kind of guy. But instead of relying on a gravely voice and guns, our protagonist enlists the help of whatever old piece of robotics he can attach to his sweaty torso, in the hopes of an earth-shattering, revenge-earning brawl.

*****
*****
 
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If I Were In St. Louis, I'd Go To This

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Forthcoming Comics-Related Events, Through December 2014

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*****

November 28
* If I Were In Antwerp, I'd Go To This

November 29
* If I Were In Antwerp, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Charlotte, I'd Go To This

November 30
* If I Were In Cleveland, I'd Go To This (Genghis Con)
* If I Were In Antwerp, I'd Go To This

*****

December 2
* If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This

December 6
* If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

December 11
* If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

December 28
* If I Were In Tokyo, I'd Go To This

December 29
* If I Were In Tokyo, I'd Go To This

December 30
* If I Were In Tokyo, I'd Go To This

*****



*****
*****

 
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Go, Look: Frank Frazetta Memory Book

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* your great studio 360 doodle dare winner.

image* Johanna Draper Carlson on Lady Killer #1. Keith Silva on Copra #18. Richard Bruton on Good Cop, Bad Cop and Tempo Lush Tales. Alex Hoffman on Benson's Cuckoos, Nothing Whatsoever All Out In The Open and Kinderbook. Matt D. Wilson on Batmanga.

* for the life of me I can't remember if I've linked to this Nate Powell interview in comics form or not.

* here's a profile of Mike Sterling and the opening of his new store. Nat Gertler was his first customer. I wish Mike Sterling the best in this endeavor. I'm always happy when a new comics shop opens up, and Sterling's a foundational comics blogger without whom I wouldn't be doing this.

* not comics: a couple of CR readers suggested this article about a band that self-financed their own tour and self-finances generally. I'm not sure there's a lot in there for comics people because the cultures are different. I'm sure that 80 percent of the cartoonists at SPX would snap up this general financial outlook in a second if it were there for them. Still, it's interesting when people talk about money.

* Dustin Harbin draws Sinestro.

* here are one writer's choices for gateway graphic novels. I'm more of a "crash the party at any point along the wall" guy, but I always have fun reading what other people think.

* finally, Fantagraphics has updated its "How To Read Love And Rockets" page. I think it does the job. The only thing I might advise a new reader is that with such a lengthy saga it might take longer than usual to make a full appraisal as to whether or not you like it and how much. I think I had read seven full issues in the first series before it finally hit me.
 
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Happy 67th Birthday, Jean-Pierre Dionnet!

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November 24, 2014


Go, Look: Ellen T. Crenshaw

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Bundled Extra: Uncivilized Announces Spring 2015 Line-Up

The well-regarded boutique publisher Uncivilized Books announced its Spring 2015 publishing slate earlier today via a press release distributed by marketing coordinator Alec Berry. The release notes that the company is still offering a subscription plan, and is also making their newly-announced books available for pre-orders on an individual basis (1, 2, 3.

The books announced are:

*****

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* Borb, Jason Little, 9781941250020, $19.95.

Publisher's Description Of Project: Borb is a collection of connecting daily comic strips from cartoonist Jason Little. About a severely alcoholic homeless man, Little’s story draws upon the long and complex tradition of the comic strip slapstick vagabond, and, concurrently, depicts the real horrors specific to present-day urban homelessness. At once hilarious and horrifying, Borb challenges the reader with every panel.

Publisher's Description Of Creator: Jason Little was born in 1970 and raised in Binghamton, New York. He studied photography at Oberlin College, and now resides in Brooklyn with writer Myla Goldberg and their daughter Zelie Goldberg-Little. He has been drawing cartoons since he was a child. In addition to Shutterbug Follies and Motel Art Improvement Service, he’s also written and illustrated the Xeric Award-winning Jack's Luck Runs Out, as well as a number of short works for various cartoon anthologies.

*****

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* Robot Investigator, Vincent Stall, 9781941250044, $19.95

Publisher's Description Of Project: Robot Investigator follows a lonely robot to a mysterious planet, much like Earth, that it explores and questions. Both sweet and melancholy, it’s arguably cartoonist and designer Vincent Stall’s masterpiece, showcasing his constant interest in environment and texture through the eyes of something innocent. The book also includes a 16-page "Robot Parts" catalog designed by Stall.

Publisher's Description Of Creator: Vincent Stall is an artist, cartoonist and designer. Since 1999, he's run Puny, the renowned animation and design agency responsible for, among many other things, The Venture Brothers, and animated sequences on Yo Gabba Gabba!. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and daughter.

*****

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* True Swamp: Book 2, Jon Lewis, 9780988901490, $19.95

Publisher's Description Of Project: The best of Jon Lewis’s seminal comic book series, True Swamp, collected for the first time! True Swamp: Book 2 continues the misadventures of Lenny the Frog, yet expands Lewis’s strange vision of the swamp to include the likes of inventor marmots, sculptors of social interaction, collectors of human relics and the swamp’s one true religion. The stories collected here were awarded best of the year by Time Magazine in 2000.

Publisher's Description Of Creator: Jon Lewis began True Swamp in 1992. It continues today. Other cartoon works include Ghost Ship, Spectacles and Klagen. He's also written comics for DC, Dark Horse Comics and Kodansha. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the cartoonist Karen Sneider.

*****

It looks like a fine season, and I'm glad to see one of the more interesting publishers in comics grow into their seasons as they go along.

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Joaquin Aldeguer

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Festivals Extra/Personal Announcement: Cartoon Crossroads Columbus

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Hi. I'm taking a Festival Director position with Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC), a new comics show starting up in Columbus, Ohio. Here's the press release:
JEFF SMITH, LUCY CASWELL, VIJAYA IYER AND TOM SPURGEON ANNOUNCE NEW COMICS FESTIVAL: CARTOON CROSSROADS COLUMBUS (CXC)

Columbus, Ohio -- NOVEMBER 24, 2014 -- The Columbus, Ohio based Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC) has announced its formation and intention to stage a four-day, yearly comics festival beginning in Fall 2016.

The group also announced the CXC Launch Event for October 2-3, 2015. The CXC Launch Event will be a two-day show split between the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (October 2) and the Columbus Cultural Arts Center (October 3).

The October 3 portion of the event will be a one-day comics expo featuring up to 35 exhibitors.

The four-person Executive Committee for Cartoon Crossroads Columbus is:

* Lucy Caswell, Founder, Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
* Vijaya Iyer, President and Co-Publisher, Cartoon Books
* Jeff Smith, Award-Winning Cartoonist and Co-Publisher, Cartoon Books
* Tom Spurgeon, Editor and Co-Publisher, The Comics Reporter

Smith will further assume the title of President and Artistic Director. Spurgeon will serve as Festival Director, and will relocate to Columbus in early 2015.

"We're extremely excited to try and bring a first-class comics festival to Columbus, Ohio," said Jeff Smith. "I've attended and enjoyed so many great shows over the years, and hope that CXC can take its place alongside them."

"I share with the committee members a belief in the comics art form and a love for the American Midwest as a great place for comics," said Tom Spurgeon. "We also share a passion for the professional development and infrastructure issues facing so many cartoonists. We hope that CXC can become a positive force for a better community and more effective industry."

The group's organizational status, its advisory council members, its initial sponsorships, details on the 2015 Launch Event including exhibitor application information and initial plans for the 2016 Festival and beyond will be announced in early 2015.

A placeholder site can be found at cxcfestival.tumblr.com

A twitter account can be followed -- @cxcfestival

*****
*****
I'll leave off the usual contact information stuff.

I'll have a longer, directly personal post up about this soon, and what it means for CR. I wanted to hear back from people first.

I'm very excited for the opportunity, and hope that you'll make note of CXC's existence at this early stage.
 
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Go, Look: Came The Dawn

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Totally Missed It: Roc Upchurch Dismissed From Rat Queens Following Domestic Violence Charge

I have to imagine everyone in the world had this news much closer to it happening last week, so my apologies both for not having it and for not being able to figure out who had it first.

According to a statement by writer Kurtis J. Wiebe, the artist Roc Upchurch will no longer be performing art duties on the Image book Rat Queens following an arrest on a domestic violence charge. That's a fun Image comic about a group of characters, all of whom are women, adventuring in the kind of fantasy world recognizable to just about anyone who's consumed genre media since 1980. It has a devoted fan base that has responded strongly to its humor, its depiction of friendship and the resulting displays of cooperative excellence. I believe the overall numbers have been solid to good; there has been expressed interest in an animated version and the series was nominated for an Eisner Award.

I have no idea at this time if Upchurch if this is simply a change in creative assignments or if any change in potential ownership status may occur. I used the word "divestment" on a first draft of this, and Stefano Guadiano reminded me via e-mail that that's a hideous choice of words because of the implication of force and the fact you simply can't divest people of ownership of things as a basic human rights issue. What I meant is I don't know if Upchurch is involved as a part-owner -- I'm told he is, but I haven't confirmed -- and if that status could change due to something additionally being worked out.

Our hearts go out to the victim and any loved ones involved. We wish them a just outcome and as much support as is possible in getting there. This is a welcome example of a frequently silent crime not being silent, but it's still a crime and only becomes news with personal cost added to the already significant amount of harm arising from the act itself.

Issues surrounding domestic violence can be difficult to process in a hundred different ways. There has been such a systemic failure by the culture and the institutions of the culture in regards to certains kinds of crimes and awful behavior that we must now not only find what's right in the circumstances facing us but do so while keeping an eye on the forces and beliefs that have hindered just outcomes in the past. It's necessary work, though. I think we'll get better at this in the months and years ahead, and one hopes for all the speed and care in the world in getting us to a moment where best possible outcomes becomes an aspirational concept rather than an ameliorative one.
 
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Go, Look: A Hawkeye Collage

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By Request Extra: Johanna Draper Carlson On The Collapse Of Digital Manga's Osamu Tezuka Kickstarter

Johanna Draper Carlson is the writer about comics that most regularly expresses concerns about elements of the comics business from the standpoint of the consumer, so I was interested in reading her summarization of Digital Manga's failure to launch an exceedingly ambitious crowd-funder on behalf of several minor Osamu Tezuka manga licenses.

While it's fascinating to me to muse over the timing of the initial objections to the crowd-funder and how they might have interrupted and then beat down any chance that campaign had to build momentum -- I've always thought a lot of these campaigns are fragile that way -- it's also good to have Draper Carlson remind us that on a fundamental level, just coming in cold off the street at any time during that campaign's run, one might raise objections. She further trashes the responses from the company as not helpful and bad PR.

This whole thing feels a bit more significant to me than usual because of the refinement of the criticial backlash. Sometimes crowd-funding campaigns avoid criticism they might otherwise receive because of the idea that criticizing elements of a crowd-funding campaign is an attack on those that choose to support the thing you're criticizing. That is a tricky gumbo of issues to negotiate, but I think once one campaign is scrutinized the way this one was that this will make it easier for subsequent campaigns to be challenged in their assumptions and strategies.
 
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Go, Look: Prof. Jogg's Travelogs

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* a young professor is looking for help in financing a book about Walt Kelly.

* not comics: this project was brought to our attention by that great comics-maker Phoebe Gloeckner, whose sister's classroom this is.

* a couple of heavy-hitters have projects hurtling towards their initial goal: C. Spike Trotman, for a sequel to Poorcraft emphasizing budget travel; Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, the writing team that's starting to make a habit of well-supported crowdfunders, for a new graphic novel.

* I don't know the creators on this project, but it popped up on the top of my looked-at projects over there for some reason, and seems stylish.

* finally, I believe this Dylan Meconis Patreon is reasonably new. Meconis is prolific and well-liked, and thus seems well-suited to such a campaign.
 
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Go, Look: Erika Lavin

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Indianapolis Star Alters Than Deletes Gary Varvel Cartoon

A Gary Varvel cartoon uploaded Friday that criticized the decision of President Obama to halt the deportation of several thousand immigrants was first altered, then deleted by the Indianapolis Star. A bunch of the on-line site that traffic in this kind of story as a main thing had articles on it over the weekend. Here's one. It includes both cartoons.

It's a news story, too, though, for sure. I would suggest it's the alteration that makes this a more interesting than usual story, as the decision was made to eliminate the apparently race-signifying mustache of the man climbing through the window with his family to join a family sitting down for Thanksgiving fare. It's hard to track whether or not the renewed objection was to the clumsiness of that move or to simply point out that the objected-to racism and general upset with the cartoons was more than an element of the surface depiction involved. It's probably both, and I'd lean towards the latter. No matter what you think about the policies involved, it's hard to engage with a depiction of those at the heart of the executive order being clownish freeloaders except in an abstract way that a cartoon fairly voids. In addition, I think that the Thanksgiving table is such a strong, iconic image of inclusiveness, good fortune shared and charity even for those who rarely think on those terms I would imagine that many would find denying anyone a place at the table as a markedly awful thing.

Making editorial cartoons on a regular basis is a really rough gig. Varvel's cartoon is a reminder that it's not just the changing political context in terms of what we stomach and allow as discourse that make it a tough assignment -- sometimes it's hard to articulate an opinion, and that's before it has to be drawn for others. All on a deadline, too.
 
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If I Were In Lawrence, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Alex Toth In Plop! #11

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* more Alex Toth letters discovered is always good news.

image* Paul Gravett talks to Max.

* Bob Temuka looks at different sections of his comic shop and writes about negotiating the wall of covers that is a primary venue for new comics sales. I find those walls of comics absolutely headache-inducing at this point, and I really have to settle in and focus to buy comics that way. I also usually forget stuff when I go to the comic book store, but I don't know if that's the wall or just me.

* Todd Klein continues his series on digital lettering (4, 5, 6, 7).

* Rob Clough on the comics of Wade Simpson and the comics of Laurel Holden. John Kane on a bunch of different comics. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Ms. Marvel Vol. 1, Teen Titans Earth One Volume One and a bunch of different comics. Sean Gaffney on Lucifer And The Biscuit Hammer Vols. 1-2. Michael Buntag on Cosplayers #1-2. Richard Bruton on Age Of License and The Grinning Mask. Joe Gordon on 100 Bullets Book One. Alex Hoffman on Mutiny Bay.

* finally, Kelly Thompson suggests an array of comics that can be had for less than $50 a month.
 
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