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

May 29, 2015

Go, Look: The Warrior's Good Fortune

posted 2:30 pm PST | Permalink

Matt Bors Announces Changes To The Nib

The editorial cartoonist Matt Bors, who was running the well regarded comics site The Nib for Medium, has announced a sweeping structural change in the way that the site The Nib will present work. What was a combination of regular features and occasional one-offs of different size and scope -- some with a life on other platforms -- will become what is roughly described as a more experimental effort dependent on the networking aspects of what Medium does.

I'm sad to see many of these cartoonists lose the eyeballs and whatever financial reward was involved; it's brutally tough out there for cultural and political comics, which was a singificant part of The Nib as initially constituted. Bors did a fine job with that site, at least to my eye. I think I read every single thing published under the old arrangement. My understanding is that the cartoonists with whom he worked were treated honorably. A site that publishes comics that are more wholly dependent on the way on-line media works now as opposed to the way it might have worked ten years ago is very exciting. I look forward to what the site does next.

We still don't know at this time if anyone was let go or if any arrangements were changed on the editorial/financial, or even for sure what exactly triggered the move -- it's the kind of thing that until now might have been the subject of a funny cartoon at The Nib. Contacted by CR before the statement, Bors deferred to Edward Lichty at Medium. Mr. Lichty deferred to Bors' statement at the end of business Friday. If any more information becomes available, I'll pass it along.
posted 2:25 pm PST | Permalink

Go, Look/Bookmark/Follow: La Grande Guerre

the cartoonist Warren Craghead taking his unique approach to comics art and applying it to a 100-years-later treatement of World War I? that's not just a yes, that's a hell yes...
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink

Group Of Armed Bikers To Draw Muhammed Outside A Mosque

What could possibly go wrong?

I pray for the best possible, most peaceful outcome here. I extend that to every last person involved but I am particularly pained for the public servants that will likely be dragged into this because some folks are frustrated in a way that makes them want to act on darker impulses. I don't believe in free-speech stunts. I don't think they're necessary, and I think they play into a political construction that's valuable to mad men and destructive social forces in a way that would make someone who just dropped $200 on penny-tossing games at a county fair roll their eyes, point and laugh.

If something does happen, I hope calmer heads mitigate the potential horrors that might result. I also hope any members of the media out there will stop paying specific attention to the personalities involved with this kind of thing in a way that affords them free PR and allows them to accrue power and influence, limited though it may be.
posted 8:55 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Things To Come

posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink

DC Experiments With Return To Partial-Page Ad Placements

I guess between this story by Bleeding Cool a week or so ago and this story by Alexander Lu earlier today derived from a freelancer's tweeting of photos of an example, we know that DC Comics is going to attempt half-page ads that are placed within the flow of a comics story. I guess the mechanism -- and no doubt the the source of the original leak/rumor -- is that creatives have been told to construct pages that allow for this kind of restructuring.

imageIt's not a new approach, as this classic Bat Lash page indicates. In fact, Bat Lash is the only comic that my memory churned up as doing this kind of thing, although that can't be true at all. It's probably more likely it's the only comic of the general period with which I'm familiar. Anyway, go to the Lu link for a look at the new ad placement. It probably doesn't help matters that for some reason it looks like they're using the ugliest, most garish ad ever created. I wouldn't want that on the same coffee table as my work.

It's a weird choice. One of the general narratives for comics within wider culture over the last three decades is that they're a serious vehicle for stories and as such emphasize their artistic accomplishments over being a junky vehicle for advertising. This is a story they tell outside, potential readers, yes; it's also a story they tell the readers they already have, a way of serving them and their conception of comics as a worthwhile activity. I don't know why you'd mess with that. I know I've read recent fan pushback against traditional whole-page advertisements in the flow of the a comic, so I think that sentiment is pretty strong in comics. The comics readership is fragile in a lot of way right now. It doesn't seem out of the question this could be the back-breaking straw for a certain number of readers.

One reason this hasn't been an issue with ads more generally it that print advertising of every kind has dried up to a significant degree: back covers, inside covers, full-page, component-page. It's hard for me to think that a half-page ad with some comics is more appealing than a full-page ad, but I guess someone out there might think so. Artists and writers will adjust; strip-makers routinely follow a kind of baroque structure for multiple Sundays formatting that makes this kind of effort look easy as pie. I can't imagine they'd want to, but a job's a job. It's hard for me to imagine this being around for a long time or becoming popular, but I've been wrong before.

I imagine this will also make companies revisit the idea of ads in trades and in on-line iterations of work, where there would be even more flexibility. Then again, I'm having a hard time seeing much of a future in advertising within narrative content.
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Alone On The 2 Train

posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* the writer and critic Zainab Akhtar notes that Jake Wyatt's Necropolis is being run on-line again, as part of an on-line/print hybrid strategy.

* Gary Tyrrell discuses the two on-line winners from the NCS Divisional Awards given out Memorial Day weekend: he approves.

* Akhtar again: it looks like her post here was a source on Steve Morris' mini-report here about Boulet's Notes series spawning an English-language version at Soaring Penguin Press. As I understand it, that series is the primary print home for the Boulet comics that find an initial life on-line through his mega popular Internet accessible efforts of that kind.

* I'm not sure I'm caught up with Bandette but I will be once this post goes up and I can go look.

* here's the Topatocon exhibitor list. I think that has the potential to be a real player in the Fall season in the years ahead.

* GoComics announces four new comics for the end of May.

* finally, Fantagraphics has re-launched their site, and in celebration would like to make available a variety of items at 20 percent off. That represents a significant amount of work for someone or several people, so consider the kindness of a purchase.
posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink

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

posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink

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

posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink

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

posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink

If I Were In New Orleans, I'd Go To This

posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink

Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Eisner voting for 2015 ends over the weekend. Good luck to all the nominees and good fortune to every votess

image* Zainab Akhtar on R.A.T. Todd Klein on The Sculptor. Sean Gaffney on Kagerou Daze Vol. 1. Henry Chamberlain on Fertility and Tuff Ladies. Noah Berlatsky on Ranma 1/2. Johanna Draper Carlson on Lumberjanes #14. Michael Buntag on Thor #8. Richard Bruton on Hollow Girl. Kim Jooha on How It Happened.

* Hillary Brown talks to Nate Powell. Abraham Riesman talks to Dan Clowes. I like the idea he entertains here that something like plagiarism shouldn't be forgiven, but that also doesn't mean an active, festering grudge.

* Sarah McIntyre draws various Mad Max: Fury Road characters in a style akin to a child's. It's a sign how solid those designs are that they withstand all of these different treatments.

* Bob Temuka suggests that DC had three paths they could take in the late 1990s. I do think one of the more prominent earths out there has Mark Waid running that show at some point, that seems like a really divergent reality that could have happened but didn't.

* I'm very fond of the idea of things like sketchbook collections finding a frequent home on-line.

* I quite liked this Brian Nicholson piece on two very different comics that utilize the two panels on a page approach -- a distinctive and under-used form of comics making.

* what a lovely portrait of Don Knotts by Ronald Searle.

* finally, I totally missed Jilian Tamaki's Worm Comic.
posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Neal Adams 1970s Cover Gallery

posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink

Happy 64th Birthday, Larry Marder!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Happy 58th Birthday, Jim Salicrup!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Happy 41st Birthday, Aaron McGruder!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Happy 46th Birthday, Max Ink!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Happy 71st Birthday, Ryoichi Ikegami!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

May 28, 2015

Go, Look: Joel Millerchip

posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Laura C. Mallonee And Cartoonists' Plights, 2015

This article with a pair of publishers by Laura C. Mallonee provides a quick survey of some of the hits that international cartoonists have taken this calendar year. Its brevity might make it a good choice for a quick catch-up as to the shape of things out there. Cartoonists being murdered is its form of noxious evil, but cartoonists having their lives destroyed by court decisions involving money, jail time and physical violence against the person is just as real if a step back from that kind of severe sanction. I'm not sure what can be done: we've seen in Turkey that even focused attention on certain free-speech matters has limits, even with huge inducements at stake. We can never look away, though.
posted 8:55 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: La Sonnambula And The City Of Sleep

posted 8:50 am PST | Permalink

By Request Extra: One More Push For James Hudnall

People in the comics community have been very generous in terms of seeing that some money gets to the writer James Hudnall, who lost his foot just as he was making a life-transition that left him without the usual safety net.

It looks like he's survived the winter and is about ready to head back home, where public assistance will pick up some of the slack. If you're inclined to give or able to, I hope you'll consider it.
posted 8:45 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Tyne Lowe Draws

posted 8:40 am PST | Permalink

Bundled Extra: Icecubes Comic Crowd-Funder On Last Day

One of the more aggressive crowd-funder in my inbox in terms of asking for coverage has been this one for a project called Icecubes. I'm going to watch it on its last day for the reason that it seems like there's been a surge for projects on their last day. Now something as small as this one that could just be manipulate by a couple of outside players, but I think I'm seeing it with bigger projects, too. It seems like the Broken Frontier one roared past the finish line near the end, too, for example. For a model where conventional wisdom says that the two primary surges in publication are right at the beginning and then late when goals are met and stretch goals are being rolled out, an impulse to get people over the line playing a bigger role would be a key change for that whole culture.
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink

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