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

















August 25, 2016


Go, Look: Get Kissed Properly!

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Assembled Extra: Robot 6, RIP

imageSo it looks like the Robot 6 group blog that ran under the Comic Book Resources umbrella has been killed in a site-wide blog purge and redesign. The content that ran on the news and commentary blog will apparently be mainstreamed into the CBR site proper, but that immediately sounds problematic: it wouldn't make any sense to give unprofitable content a bigger platform. We'll see.

Even if CBR publishes more work of interest under this new arrangement, the shift in presentation will be jarring. The nice thing about Robot 6 was that it was a bunch of stuff related to comics that comics-interested adults might want to see all in one place (or pull from in one go, or access via one feed, etc.). There were also a lot of good writers there over the years: Brigid Alverson's news round-ups were invaluable; all of her work for that site was good. There were a ton of others.

I have no idea what this means for comics in general. I would assume this is a choice by CBR's new owners to focus more on broader, more popular content to try and make the site maximally profitable. There's also something to these sources moving towards a focus on phone interaction at the loss of some of the crunchier aspects of sites that I like; this has certainly greatly reduced by consumption of sports-related content, not that they'll miss my old ass. The loss of Robot 6 in this form strikes me as a wider story for comics in that a lot of the standard industry tools are starting to go away. There's a point at which I think that becomes a problem for everyone.

I hope all of those writers are able to write about comics as they desire to write about comics and as close as they can come to being properly rewarded for their work. I am grateful for the writing they did, and for their engagement with the comics form. RIP.
 
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Go, Look: The Three-Foot Sleuth!

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Go, Look: Mike Pence Was Once A Not-Accomplished Cartoonist

Here. They're ruthlessly ordinary, but it's nice to see some sort of artistic glimmer in any politician's eyes. I guess. I don't know. This whole year has been so weird it's hard for me to make any commentary at all. These could be a fake, there could be alarming ones, it's hard to see any of it making a dent in our understanding.
 
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Go, Look: A Wretch Like Me: Sad/Black/Ugly/Queer

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

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By Tom Spurgeon

* here's a straight-faced retelling of last weekend's Wizard show in Chicago, without any mention of the gun seller exhibitor and a lot of play given the Captain American shields they give out to local heroes at every show. I held one of those shields in Columbus from some nice man that wanted people to hold it. It was very sturdy. That show is moving to even later in the summer next year, August 24-27.

* seemed like there were a bunch of stories out there about comics shows I haven't been tracking. Fort Collins. Frome, Somerset. Columbia.

* Palm Springs I've heard of. Maybe not both of them but at least one of them. That seems like you could have a pretty good convention there if someone pumped money into it.

* you can spend a few weeks this Fall learning about Daniel Clowes from the Mitchell & Webb of modern cartooning, Dave Lasky and Greg Stump. Someday I will take one of their classes...

* think I'll take a little break tomorrow from organizing a con and play this game about organizing a con.

* Marc Bernardin has some words of wisdom for what to do after you've hit a con and used it to seek work. That's always a great idea for an article. Even if you don't have work to do, I always feel like comics people zone out a bit until after New York Comic-Con.

* finally, Tom Gauld did a nice-looking program cover for thise year's Small Press Expo (SPX). That's it below.

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

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Forthcoming Comics-Related Events, Through September 2016

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*****

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)
* If I Were In London, I'd Go To This (Safari Festival)
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This

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

*****

September 1
* If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This (Fan Expo Canada)

September 2
* If I Were In Baltimore I'd Go To This (Baltimore Comic-Con)
* If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This (Fan Expo Canada)
* If I Were In SF, I'd Go To This (SF Comic Con)
* If I Were In Helsinki, I'd Go To This (Helsinki Comics Festival)
* If I Were In Atlanta, I'd Go To This (Dragon Con)

September 3
* If I Were In Baltimore I'd Go To This (Baltimore Comic-Con)
* If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This (Fan Expo Canada)
* If I Were In SF, I'd Go To This (SF Comic Con)
* If I Were In Helsinki, I'd Go To This (Helsinki Comics Festival)
* If I Were In Atlanta, I'd Go To This (Dragon Con)

September 4
* If I Were In Baltimore I'd Go To This (Baltimore Comic-Con)
* If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This (Fan Expo Canada)
* If I Were In SF, I'd Go To This (SF Comic Con)
* If I Were In SF, I'd Go To This (SF Zine Fest)
* If I Were In Helsinki, I'd Go To This (Helsinki Comics Festival)
* If I Were In Atlanta, I'd Go To This (Dragon Con)

September 5
* If I Were In Brussels, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Atlanta, I'd Go To This (Dragon Con)

September 8
* If I Were In Montreal, I'd Go To This

September 9
* If I Were In Richmond, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Richmond)
* If I Were In London, I'd Go To This

September 10
* If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This (Rose City Comic Con)
* If I Were In Richmond, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Richmond)
* If I Were In KC, I'd Go This (KC Zine Con)

September 11
* If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This (Rose City Comic Con)
* If I Were In Richmond, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Richmond)

September 15
* If I Were Near Kenosha, I'd Go To This (Kenosha Festival Of Cartooning)

September 16
* If I Were Near Kenosha, I'd Go To This (Kenosha Festival Of Cartooning)

September 17
* If I Were In Bethesda, I'd Go To This (SPX)
* If I Were Near Kenosha, I'd Go To This (Kenosha Festival Of Cartooning)
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This

September 18
* If I Were In Bethesda, I'd Go To This (SPX)

September 19
* If I Were In Montreal, I'd Go To This

September 21
* If I Were In Durham, I'd Go To This (AAEC)
* If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This

September 22
* If I Were In Durham, I'd Go To This (AAEC)
* If I Were In Boston, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This

September 23
* If I Were In Austin, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Austin)
* If I Were In Durham, I'd Go To This (AAEC)

September 24
* If I Were In Providence, I'd Go To This (RIPE)
* If I Were In Austin, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Austin)
* If I Were In Durham, I'd Go To This (AAEC)

September 25
* If I Were In Providence, I'd Go To This (RIPE)
* If I Were In Austin, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Austin)

September 26
* If I Were In London, I'd Go To This

*****

Events For October 2016 Onward Listed Here

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Go, Look: Three Commissions By Gene Colan

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean Gaffney on Attack On Titan Vol. 19.

* French bookstores are suffering from tourism losses due to widely-publicized acts of violent terrorism. Although for most comics readers the idea of going to Paris and having money to drop in a lot of bookstores is some sort of dream-life far away from present reality, I hope no one alters their travel for anything except direct, imminent, certain danger. Derf comments here.

* this is a sort-of fascinating encapsulation of Internet rhetoric in terms of how discussions over the value of art are shifted and folded and manipulated and apologized for and explained rather than than simply argued. Let me suggest it's okay to keep on disliking something when the popular pushback position presents itself. My hunch is you're very likely forming the bulk of your opinions about that thing on its merits because most people don't have the time to build a lattice-work of minor-key misassumptions when they process art and entertainment. Positioning should never matter to you when you react to art. It's okay just to react.

* the great question is asked. The answer is, "Batman was co-created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane."

* Chris Sims pulls out a two-issue run of the ha-ha Justice League comic book series for examination. I remember that comic book in question mostly for how much it profited due to a massive tonal shift from what had come before. That's something you really can't get anymore when the tonal shifts come all the time and are marked by new series numbering.

* not comics: I've been voting to shut down any and all comments that aren't personally vetted since 2000 or so, based on my experiences with TCJ's messageboard when a threshold had been passed so that there were enough goofballs out there willing to spend hours fucking with other people that TCJ attracted its first serious batch. The fact that almost no one writes letters when given that option indicates this was always about performance, not dialogue.

* finally, Nick Hanover talks to James Romberger.
 
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Happy 69th Birthday, MW Kaluta!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Andrew Aydin!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Steve Conley!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Antony Johnston!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Chris Roberson!

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August 24, 2016


Go, Look: Alive

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Sandman: Overture Wins Best Graphic Story Hugo Award

imageI read about it here, although I'm certain there are several entertaining wrap-ups focused on the cultural skirmish that dominated this year's awards as it did last year's awards. The tally there is that only two awards were given the No Award designation meaning that the bulk of the voters couldn't find anything in those categories they wanted to reward enough for it to win the category. Last year five categories saw that happen.

I'm less interested in the nature of the controversy and the pack of idiots seeking to manipulate an awards program for some sort of strained, dumbass point as I am in a community finding a way out of the traps set before them by folks manipulating the spirit of a rules set. I'm happy for the program and the people for whom it's meaningful if they've managed to stem the tide of this particular stupidity. If there are cultural battles out there worth fighting, and this isn't one of them, it's not at the awards-show level. That's like fighting inflation at a screening of The Price Is Right.

The other nominees as seen here were Invisible Republic Vol 1, The Divine, Full Frontal Nerdity and Erin Dies alone. CR extends a hearty congratulations to all the contributors to a nominated work, both in this category and the categories we skipped over to get to this one -- even if you were one of the weird ones.

The win for the collected Neil Gaiman/JH Williams III/Todd Klein comic books serie may remind people that a previous Sandman stand-alone project, The Sandman: The Dream Hunters was nominated for a Hugo back in 2000. That was back when this kind of thing was still enough of a rarity it was worth noting for the novelty of the occasion, not just the righteousness of the acknowledgment. I believe that was a broader category-nod, too, with this particular category being added in 2009. Those with longer memories may remember that a World Fantasy Award win in the early '90s for an issue of the original series helped put the title on the cultural map.
 
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Go, Look: Ode To Crumb

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Go, Read: JR Williams Talks To Peter Bagge

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There's a lot of fun and idiosyncratic detail in this Peter Bagge interview with cartoonist JR Williams, in support of the Neat Stuff collection recently published by Fantagraphics. That's a mighty tome. Bagge is a significant figure in American comics and American comedy.

Some of the fun details include the two cartoonists in a shared apartment in Redmond, Washington, shouting out to each other during the workday. Also, Bagge seemed to collect a high number of death threats, and you can tell they amused him not at all.

Anyway, sign me up for a Peter Bagge appreciation movement. Tell me where to push. Comics and I think a lot of media would be very different if he had chosen to do something else, and I'm grateful for the breadth of his career as shown in Neat Stuff in particular.
 
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Go, Look: A Bunch Of Frazetta

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By Request Extra: Brian Buniak Needs Assistance

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Here. Buniak was briefly a late-period underground artist, did some work for 1980s independent publishers and was a faculty member at the Kubert School. You can read his Lambiek.net profile here. He is perhaps best known for his caricature work, or potentially the comics done with the Thunder Bunny character created by Martin Greim.
 
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OTBP: Swim Team Superstar

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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.

*****

APR160152 RG VEDA OMNIBUS TP VOL 01 (C: 0-1-2) $24.99
JUN160554 AMAZING FOREST TP $24.99
This is a really light week for comics at the comic book store from my perspective on the field, even from the viewpoint of the imaginary rich version of me that usually inhabits this column. I don't even have Jog's ability in a down week to pull out 17 European graphic novels only he has heard of. So I'd be looking to take a chance on stuff slightly outside of my interest, perhaps one of these two books. RG Veda is Clamp, and it's been a while for me and that group of creators. This is super-early work if not the first, so there'd be that interest as well. Amazing Forest is a collection of a series with a pair of writers and rotating artists that might reveal a cohesion in collection its own formatting choices might thwart.

imageJUN160059 USAGI YOJIMBO #157 $3.99
JUN160222 HELLBLAZER #1 $2.99
JUN160223 HELLBLAZER #1 VAR ED $2.99
JUN160635 INVINCIBLE #130 $2.99
JUN160636 ISLAND #10 $7.99
JUN160657 SHE WOLF #3 (MR) $3.99
JUN160658 SNOTGIRL #2 CVR A HUNG $2.99
JUN160659 SNOTGIRL #2 CVR B O`MALLEY $2.99
JUN160821 CIVIL WAR II ULYSSES #1 (OF 3) $4.99
This is an odd week for comic books, and will likely see me take some interesting things home. I always love some Stan Sakai, I like that inspector character, and this is the conclusion of that mini-arc. Sexy Constantine from the New 52 era I found to be one of the more hilarious characters in comics history, particularly in the context of a super team. Sexy Rebirth Constantine just sounds gross, so maybe they're doing something different with him, I don't know. I list the comic here because I like that Moritat fellow, he's an old-fashioned mainstream workhorse building up long runs here and there over the years. I'm interested in what this one looks like. Invincible is on a 15-issue countdown, and I'm hoping for at least two dozen crimson masks between this and the final issue, #144. Congratulations to Island for reaching double-digits; I think the best issues are yet to come, which is exciting for any anthology. She Wolf is about as pretty a comic as Image has made. I have yet to dive into Snotgirl but I still intend on making that happen. The Ulysses character in the Civil War II comics I've read was so boring I almost want to read this comic to see how a comic book about the character is possible. He whines and has visions, just like some of the old hippies I know that can still afford to live in Portland.

FEB160015 FRANK MILLERS SIN CITY HARD GOODBYE CURATORS COLL HC (C: 0-1 $175.00
This is the Dark Horse version of the color-photocopies of black and white original art served up at the size of the original art and accompanied by fancy extra. The Sin City stuff bores me to tears in any format -- it physically makes me cry to read these comics -- but I have to imagine that for fans this would be a great way to read this visually arresting material. I'm not sure how I feel about people knocking off this approach, but I get creators wanting to work with their primary publishers when and if they can.

JUN162058 FORGING THE PAST SETH & ART OF MEMORY HC (C: 0-1-0) $60.00
I think Seth has become a very interesting cartoonist and one that would invite a lot of intriguing commentary. I'm not sure I'd pay educational prices to experience that thinking, but if that class were available to me in college I would have enjoyed the heck out of it and then complained about my grade.

MAY161913 SENSUOUS FRAZETTA SC (RES) (MR) $24.95
I will always look at a Frank Frazetta book. The one I like is a mid-'90s exhibition catalog done in hardcover, but that was $200 even back then.

JUN160409 MARCH GN TRILOGY SLIPCASE SET $49.99
Finally, why not end the summer with this version of the March series? Once they get going, they don't stop, and when you realize that in John Lewis' view this story ends in 1964 and the immediate aftermath of that year's laws, that's a lot more interesting than a broad survey stretched across the entire '60s decade.

*****

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 Edinburgh, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Images From The Help The Sakais Benefit

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