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
















October 29, 2013


Go, Look: Hissssssss

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CBR: DC Is Moving The Rest Of Its Publishing Offices To Burbank

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You should go read CBR's story here rather than have me swipe all the details, particularly if you're interested in more than a few sentences on it. That's only fair. Good work by them. They have the full text of the letter they secured and you should also read that there.

Here are a few sentences. It looks like the decision to move DC to Burbank was announced to higher-ups in the last several days. As you recall, the office has basically been split since the takeover of Diane Nelson and the general regime change of a couple years back. Leaving the East Coast is a big, big deal in a lot of ways, primarily, I'd say, historically, what with New York being by far the city with the biggest claim of being the home of American comics publishing -- the presence of both big comic book publishers (and a third nearby, Archie, and the grandest name in comic strips King Features) has been a big a part of that. Secondarily: this is a big cultural shift, just in terms of people wanting to go to New York versus LA to do their industry business and the kinds of people that will begin to find work in comics because of their close proximity to companies. (You will likely see people write: "It hasn't really been the industry town I remember since XXXX" but don't pay them much heed; this may even be true beyond the fact that we all remember the communities of our early 20s with a certain fervent nostalgia, but there are more important ways that a company anchors a community than being the facilitating agent of a cocktails night.) There are potential ways a move could have an impact on the business, but there's a potential just as strong that there will be very few changes at all. Call it a potential precursor there until more is known.

The initial details say that everyone that wants to will be allowed to move and they are targeting 2015. Anyway, go read, there will be a ton of talk and word-making because of this decision. It is a big deal historically, about as big as can be without someone just giving up the ghost and shutting down.

We wish the best of luck to those that have a difficult decision to make in the coming months about where to live and to work.
 
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Go, Look: Wrightson Draws Edgar Allan Poe

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Go, Look: The Old Man In The Picture

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Missed It: Your 2013 Observer/Cape/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize Winner Is Emily Haworth-Booth

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I completely missed this weekend's announcement that Emily Haworth-Booth won this year's Observer/Cape/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize for her comic "Colonic." That's an award of interest for its canny team-up of media interests and for how it throws a spotlight on the increasingly rich comics-making scene in Great Britain.

Michael Parkin won runner-up for his story "Lines." That was apparently a four-page version of a longer, pre-existing story, something that Parkin put together to meet the contest's four-page requirement.

The winners were selected from over 180 initial entries.

I believe this is the competition's seventh year. Past winners include Corban Wilkin, Julian Hanshaw and Stephen Collins. Collins was one of the judges this year.

The Haworth-Booth story is viewable here; the Parkin here.

Both Haworth-Booth and Park will have their work exhibited as part of the Comica Festival, now going.
 
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Go, Look: Honey #1

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David Hedgecock Joins IDW As Managing Editor

IDW sent out a press release early this morning announcing that they've hired former Ape Entertainment CEO David Hedgecock to the position of Managing Editor, the latest in a lengthy series of moves and announcements from the publisher. Co-founder and CEO Ted Adams has openly discussed 2013 being an extremely strong and profitable year for the company, and IDW announced more of significance at the recent NYCC than any comics publisher. Someone to 1) coordinate the company's editors 2) work on special projects, 3) develop new talent -- that's what the PR has as Hedgecock's basic duties -- makes a great deal of sense moving forward as the company has a number of strong individual arms and significant editorial personalities manning those positions. I would imagine that seeing how another layer of organization works with a company where its editors are strongly empowered might be interesting, but it's hard to think of what they have going on right now being disrupted in any way.

Hedgecock was one of three co-founders of APE, a Bay Area company now 10 years old. I have very little in the way of preconceptions as to what that particular company is about beyond it always struck me as wanting to work an unabashed entertainment/publishing strategy similar to what IDW has favored.
 
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South African Hindus Object To Zapiro Cartoon

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The offense caused in the South African community by a Zapiro cartoon showing the deity Genesha in order to make a point about a controversy in the sport of cricket seems to be settling into a familiar pattern. The popular South African cartoonist wished to illustrate the notion that the organization controlling cricket in South Africa is willing to sacrifice the its chief executive in order to keep open its access to the necessary funding and money that comes from touring in India, where cricket is enormously popular. While the point being made seems to be sound -- the executive was removed from certain dealings during the most recent with more of the same -- using Ganesha in a way that 1) affiliates the deity with a sport, 2) affiliates the deity with a corrupt practice within the sport, 3) has him holding money, 4) has all of these things going on in close proximity to the Diwali celebrations (a five-day New Year), 5) has them taking place despite Lorgat being Muslim rather than Hindu adding to the general disrespectful feel of the cartoon, and maybe a couple more I can't think of, has angered several people of that faith.

Three organizations have been contacted thus far and asked to investigate: the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities; the Human Rights Commission; and the Ombudsman of the Press Council of South Africa.

The cartoonist and his employer have no intention to apologize, and stress that it's a clear use of the deity's metaphorical power, and not in any way comment on the actual deity or the beliefs Ganesha represents. I would imagine that this view will eventually hold given Zapiro's status and his paper's record in supporting him.
 
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Go, Look: I Am A Headline Now

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Assembled Extra: Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space Announces End To Series Due To Platinum Deal

Megan Rose Gedris, a one-time Prism grant winner and the creator of the webcomic I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space, announced yesterday via a widely-reblogged tumblr post that she would be bringing Lesbian Pirates to an end. She cites the fact that the property is owned by Platinum Studios and the deal she struck with that company won't allow her to pursue the creative options she'd like to regarding that work. Gedris' comic was a finalist in 2006 in Platinum's "comic book challenge." That led to the contract being offered along with the availability, at least initially, of an on-line platform for her to publish webcomics based on that work.

Six issues of a print comic book version came out from Platinum in 2008-2009. However, it looks like there's been little to no traction on behalf of Gedris' work since that time: she says that all subsequent work on-line was done by her without any sort of recompense, out of love for the characters and milieu, and a potential outcome that saw those characters returned to her control. Moving the property into other media has proven even more frustrating despite the cartoonist apparently laying significant groundwork for a handful of such projects. Gedris describes in that initial essay a feeling of benefiting the company by giving them a property whose continuing popularity they can claim as their own. Gedris' choice to stop working on Lesbian Pirates keeps them from taking credit for an active, popular work. It also allows her to focus on projects over which she has greater control and might see some reward.

Gedris describes the reaction to her post here. Gedris has made the material she'd done on-line available in a way that fans might seize copies of all of that work before the operation is suspended.

Gedris would have been a teen when she entered that contest, and this seems to be a classic case of someone signing a contract they would never sign in hindsight, and refocusing energies as a result. She urges young creators to not make simply getting published an overriding virtue, and to legal help in negotiating contracts.
 
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Swann Foundation Announces Another Fellowship Round

Here. The deadline is mid-February of next year, with recipients to be announced in the spring. Hard to imagine a greater, more reliable independent source of support for comics-related academia.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Assembled Extra: Crunchyroll Manga Set To Debut October 30

I've kind of been scrambling to catch up with this story about the Crunchyroll site partnering with Kodansha for a targeted digital manga service featuring a significant number of same-day releases. That launches tomorrow. Here's PW. Here's CBR. Here's Anime News Network.

imageThe details of what's available bear noting, because until tomorrow when the thing goes live it's how we picture it. Crunchyroll Manga will launch with 12 series available, including Attack On Titan. The works will be made available in 170 countries, including the US and UK (Japan, China a trio of key European markets are excluded). Any device that functions with some sort of web browser should provide you access. There will be an ad-driven free option and a ad-free + access to the back catalog subscriber's option. The subscription fee will by $4.99 per month but the service will be available for free to premium subscribers for Crunchyroll's anime offerings. A significant expansion of the titles available is planned during the first year of availability.

One of the things that North American comics have started to do that feels right is that they've moved away -- if only a bit -- from thinking about different services cutting into the same pie and thinking of various options as their own unique revenue streams. This new service strikes me as playing a way different role vis-a-vis individual offerings and the various ways in which Kodansha's titles are currently available in print and as e-books. It suggests another consumption trigger, targeting a consumer that might respond more directly to having a lot of work available at once in addition to select titles, or is comfortable enough using sites like Crunchyroll that getting some of the newer titles in the course of getting a bunch to them seems like a smart way to go. Given the tremendous backlog of these companies and their ability to put out a lot of work every week and the consumption pattern dictated by less legal (or if you prefer, simply less directly profitable to the publishers and creators) ways of getting to these comics like scanlation sites, the project makes a lot of advance sense.
 
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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I am way behind on these columns, due to bad choices and general indolence. I will try to catch up between this installment and next.

* let's start back into publishing news proper with First Second's announcement through Wired that they'll be turning Paul Pope's Battling Boy material into something of a franchise, with a prequel work planned featuring one of that book's characters. That is a significant leap of faith for First Second. The Rise Of Aurora West will be co-written by Pope with JT Petty; it is to be drawn by David Rubin. It will be out next summer.

image* Sean T. Collins and Jonny Negron have collaborated on a comic that will be out at the forthcoming Comic Arts Brooklyn.

* a forthcoming series starring Marvel's version of Loki will feature a fluid sexuality appropriate to that character's mythological background. Sounds fine to me. I'm old enough that I still find it odd that a Marvel superhero's sexuality would be part of any comic book, young enough not to have any particular prejudices as to how that sexuality might manifest itself.

* Nina Bunjevac provides a little bit of comics to an anthology featuring Toronto-related literary heavy-hitters. Bunjevac is severely underrated; she's also one of those people that you wish were less underrated because she's so good on her feet and if people paid more attention to her it would benefit the field entire.

* Red Giant Entertainment plans an adaptation of the well-liked-on-the-festival-circuit movie Blue Caprice. I guess the hook here is that this is the rare project going from movie to graphic novel rather than vice versa, but just thinking like that depresses me so let's move on.

* big double-shot of news from Evan Dorkin. His beloved -- by me, anyway -- Eltingville comics will come to a close in a two one-shot effort out in 2014. Also in 2014 is another Beasts Of Burden project, something Dorkin writes and that features as co-author the visual work of the artist Jill Thompson.

* the Brandon Graham-led team effort on Prophet will end at issue #45 and be followed by a mini-series that should wrap up the popular storyline. That's been one of those projects that's reflected well on everyone involved: Graham, his collaborators, Rob Liefeld, Image...

* this is great news: new Yvan Alagbé. It's old enough and the art isn't mine or else it would be top of page.

* Charlie Jane Anders previews Beyond.

* there will be a French-language market version of The Abominable Charles Christopher. That is a fun work, and extremely well-liked by its fans.

* Retrofit Comics has all three of the RL minis in stock now. That's the Tom Hart work about his daughter, Rosalie Lightning, and is as occasionally devastating as you can imagine.

* there are a bunch of Blacksad promotional images tied into the next album here.

* finally, Frank Santoro has announced Comics Workbook Magazine for CAB in November. All hats off to the print crossovers among us. Sam Alden is prominently featured.

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

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

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Go, Look: Explosion Of Boulet Comics

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1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* a new Asterix volume is imminent and as is sometimes the case the popular comic series will depict a situation that has a real-world counterpart. I don't find that kind of thing extremely interesting, but it does remind that this Fall a freaking fleet of trucks worth of Asterix books are going to be sold.

image* James Kennedy profiles Sam Alden. Some nice person at Kindle talks to Andy Kubert. Alex Dueben talks to Ted Naifeh. Mariella Frostrup -- I think -- talks to Joe Sacco.

* not comics: the Bechdel test, practically applied.

* Mike Sterling looks at the way the first Miracleman-devoted offerings from Marvel are being released to the marketplace. It seems like the classic case of a company -- in this case Marvel -- manufacturing interest around an admittedly sturdy sounding project rather than building on a groundswell of support out there. At least I don't detect one. The thing is, those companies are sometimes really good and generally okay at manufacturing interest, and it frequently works out when the subject of that attention is a high-quality offering from one of those companies: well-crafted, big-names, feels important. Also, Sterling dives into a run of Peanuts jokes for which he doesn't particularly care.

* Nicholas Qualls on Heck. Matt Derman on some more comics from the year of his birth. Sean Gaffney on Attack On Titan Vol. 8 and From The New World Vol. 1.

* not comics: this short video of Jen Vaughn hitting some man with a stick is sort of hypnotic. I'm sure there were a lot of pretty good cartoonist-festooned parties over the last weekend. Speaking of that kind of video effort, here's one in my bookmarks from the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

* Sean Kleefeld found a very cute something here: those are two titans of 20th Century comics, for sure. He also goes to his local library.

* I think a series of feature article on favorite books of the year may make Michael Cavna of Comics Riffs over at the Washington Post first out of the gate in terms of doing a best-of kind of offering. Someone mark down the date of the earliest piece so we'll have a bar to leap over next year. So far Cavna has talked to Nate Powell about March and dug into the Junot Diaz/Jaime Hernandez prose/illustration partnership on This Is How You Lose Her.

* finally, you have to love this Tony Millionaire self-portrait as the Sock Monkey.
 
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Happy 60th Birthday, Batton Lash!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Barry Deutsch!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Paul Di Filippo!

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Happy 75th Birthday, Ralph Bakshi!

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