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
















May 29, 2017


Less Is More: Twelve Tips For A Really Good Or Maybe Just Slightly Easier Comic-Con International

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By Tom Spurgeon

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Comic-Con International in San Diego is less than two months away. For all of the festivals and conventions springing up all over North America and around the world, San Diego Con is still The Big One for a big chunk of the American comics industry. It's the place to see mainstream genre-driven companies, book imprints and high-end alt-comics publishers all in one place. It's a wonderful place to take meetings. Even a minor player like this site by sitting down and talking to various publishers and businessmen has been able to do groundwork that has a positive impact for the next ten months. SDCC has a regal quality to it -- well, okay, as much as comics people can muster one -- for being an elder statesperson of such shows. They are very highly-skilled at solving logistical problems over time, and that's impressive to see up close. Comic-Con also allows comics a chance to see itself in the context of a wider entertainment industry. That can be a sobering or revelatory moment, depending on the witness, but it's a view I encourage everyone to take in at least once.

I've been doing a guide for a better experience in San Diego for over ten years now. It was one of the site's first hits. I hope to do a bigger, more comprehensive guide in the next few weeks if only because I love recycling old jokes and putting them in front of new audiences. For now, let's talk as if you've read one of these on here or elsewhere before now, and focus a bit on newer bits and pieces that have come up over the last few years.

This is a post for those going that have secured basic travel arrangements. Comic-Con has shut every door and window that I know of to score passes or snag a hotel room this late in the process, and I used to know them all.

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1. Consider First Class Tickets.

This is going to sound weird in an article directed at an industry that tries to do things as cheaply as possible, but it's worth a reminder that a lot of airlines offer discounted first class seats when they are unable to fill them. You might take a peek a month or so out. One of the advantages of a first-class ticket on a segment, say going home, is that it makes a nice end of your trip after a weekend of pushing and shoving and sore feet. If you're taking a red-eye, like I do, that upgrade can be the difference between starting a new day when you get home or going right back to bed and wrecking the first half of your work week.

Another advantage is that if you have luggage you need to bring or take home -- or both -- to facilitate your trip, you frequently get free bag check-ins with a first-class ticket. If you have two bags that you stuff to the ascribed weight limit, or plan on doing so, this might make up the difference between economy and first-class all by itself.

Delta in particular offers a steep discount close to flight time. I've had trips from one coast to the middle of the country where I live now come in at $49 for an upgrade.

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2. Maybe Park At The Airport.

I can't imagine this is welcome, and it might not even be totally legal, but this is the tip for which I've received the most thank-yous in recent memory. For about five years I was driving down to San Diego from Los Angeles. Rather than pay the $45 parking fee at my excellent hotel, I would drop my brother off or he me at the hotel and the driver would then park at the Airport. From there it was a shuttle ride to the airport itself and you could catch a bus, or you could walk to a train stop. When the time came to leave San Diego, the driver would do this in reverse, or sometimes even take a cab over to the airport. With four days at the show and $7 parking per day in one of those big lots, this cleared enough money for the hassle to be worthwhile.

There is some time spent, though, and you should look at the maps before you try it. It's possible this was only available to us because of the temporary parking situation, and that with regimented parking there's some sort of ticket-necessary step that would scotch this. Be careful.

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3. Consider Casual Clothes On Their Last Legs To Make Suitcase Room.

People made fun of this when I made it an underwear thing on last year's tips list, but it's really all about clothes in general and it's another tip for which I've received many thank-yous. Unless you're in that rare strata of working pro also hand-carrying to the convention, you may end up with more stuff going home than you had on arrival. Look at all those books! They're heavy and you need to find them room!

One way to ensure room in a suitcase is to to make your casual clothes -- your sleeping outfit, your underwear, maybe shorts or even gym shoes -- the worst ones you have at home, and thus disposable. Then, at the end of the weekend, just toss them in the trash (and double bag your underwear doing so). Look at it like they were going to be tossed eventually, so why not in a way that helps you out? Workout shoes in particular make a lot of room, and you can get in the habit of buying new ones after San Diego.

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4. Maybe Don't Do The Business Class Seats On Amtrak For The LAX To SAN Run.

This is a new one. I always recommend the business class ticket for Amtrak from San Diego to Los Angeles (or nearby) because the lines are funneled and the crowds are huge in a way that it might make it hard to find a seat on the train itself with the Economy option. I am going to reverse myself on this for trips Los Angeles to San Diego. Think about maybe skipping the business class upgrade on that segment unless 1) you're coming down at a mid-morning prime time, 2) if you're going solo and don't care with whom you sit.

According to my experience last year and talking to Amtrak's help line, you will not get an assigned seat just for being in business class. I swear you used to! Not anymore. Thus some of the comfort of that extra money spent is gone before you started, the part where you don't have to rush on and try to grab a seat for yourself or for two or more people together. Certainly the likelihood you'll get to sit next to a travel companion is pretty much ripped away 30 seconds in. People like nothing better than surging forward in a line and nerds are good at it.

All you're really buying is the ability to have a seat, to be able to sit down. That may still be worth it for you, but on most trips down it's always seemed to me the only overflow I ever saw was well south of Union Station, usually people going to the track at Del Mar.

I will skip it this year and tell you how it goes.

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5. Break Out Of The "Hollywood Ring" To Eat.

Here's a thing about the Hollywood presence in San Diego. These big entertainment companies, organized around film and TV, have not only over taken over parts of the hall and a substantial chunk of the programming schedules but in recent years they've settled into the first few blocks north of the convention center. Nearly every bit of empty commercial space has a big attraction of some kind, or has become a pop-up attraction. The crowds have responded -- both people with tickets to the show and large number that don't have them. This stuffed neighborhood feeling extends to places to eat and places to socialize on other folks' dimes. It may be even worse than just natural expansion. There were rumors last year that restaurants right next to the show that had open tables were keeping them open for celebrities and media types rather than well, you and me. I checked this out once and was turned away from a 2/3 full restaurant, but that could have been just regular rezzo issues. Plus, I'm kind of a mess.

My suggestion is to punch out of the first few blocks surrounding the show. There are a lot of locally-owned ethnic restaurants outside of the immediate ring that have seemed empty as heck the last few years. Good Italian; good Persian. If I don't have a reservation. that's where I head. Bandar, Sadaf, de'Medici, Rei Do Gado, Cafe Chloe and the Grant Grill are a few places I've eaten that are moderately to more expensively priced.

I've also walked in at cheaper places -- not that much cheaper, really, it's a big-city downtown -- that were quite good but they have a shorter lifespan so I'm not sure which ones have remained. Pretty sure Mint Downtown Thai was one. A friend of mine last year really liked Crab Hut. Pokez endures.

Eating in other San Diego neighborhoods is great, too, and easy to arrange in this age of Uber and Lyft. Since it is a summer weekend in San Diego more generally, I'd suggest finding something that lets you make a reservation. It strikes me as a great eating town.

With the show programming events into the evening and the comics industry proper no longer throwing as many primetime parties as they tried to manage once upon a time, spending a little more care with dinner and your core group of pals or workmates is a nice way to fill your off-duty hours.

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6. Take Meetings.

If you are an industry professional of any type that could use some face time with comics industry luminaries, San Diego is the best place to do it. Very few executives are so involved at the retail/on-floor level that they don't have time to meet with journalists or other interested potential business partners, except maybe hopeful creators. Further, a lot of the writers-about on hand are more interested in round-tabling a discussion with the cast of Supernatural -- Supernatural is this huge specific to Comic-Con success story someone should write about someday; just try getting that giveaway bag -- than they are at picking an Editor-In-Chief's brain about forthcoming publishing strategies or discussing with comic-shop owners what works or doesn't work in their store. That shouldn't stop anyone with an industry interest in terms of coverage or participation from reaching out; the opposite should be true, in fact. People have slots -- SLOTS -- to fill, and you can fill them.

Even if it's just an informal meeting of your people over drinks, Comic-Con's a great time to step back and take stock of the second half of any publishing or working year spent in one of these industries. I sometimes feel we survive Comic-Con rather than making use of it. Use that time to reflect, to communicate and prepare to finish the calendar year strong. If you can't think of a meeting to have,

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7. You Can Maybe See Some Big Panels Again?

I don't want to promise anything, but I use outside writers and support people from LA for CR at the show, and each of the last two years the person in this role talked about walking into Hall H mid-day with a minimum line wait. We're certainly to all eyes past the bonkers era of those deliciously fevered Twilight fans, and studios approach the big halls differently now. I also suspect there are more fans there for the general experience or a variety of favorites as opposed to soulful devotion to 1-2 franchise juggernauts, but just the possibility of this is quite the testament to how well Comic-Con International is organized.

Now, just because I wrote this it will probably be out-of-this-world again for a couple of years, but I thought it worth mentioning. No harm in checking out a line before you stand in it, and some might be worth checking out for the first time in a decade or more.

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8. The Bartender Outside The Eisner Ballroom Has A Shorter Line.

I see this every year. There's a bartender -- sometimes two, maybe? -- inside the Hilton ballroom where the Eisner Awards take place, and one in the hallway outside the ballroom. The one in the hallway almost never has a line.

In the past you've also been able to carry in. There's a deli place to buy beer right across from the other Hilton near the Omni/Hard Rock nexus you can google and then use to shove a few cheap drinks into a backpack. Or 30. It's a long night.

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9. Do Panels Half-Way Through To Minimize Time Lost In A Waiting Line.

I do panel drop-ins enough anymore that it might constitute a tip. In general, I suggest an "every half-day" strategy to planning your time at conventions. Find those events you have to do and if possible make your entire AM or PM devoted to doing that event. That way you get done what you need to get done and everything else is a bonus. So if you're dying to see your childhood hero Tom Palmer talk about inking Big John Buscema, or Los Bros reminisce, or whatever: you get in line for that one a bit early and drink in the whole event.

I do something different with the majority of the panels I see, in that I drop in about a third to half way through. You can't do this with the mega-panels, and you can only rarely do this with some of the more intimate offerings featuring bigger stars of the mainstream comics world (aka anything David Brothers moderates). There are also panels like the live-drawing panels and with con favorites like Stan Sakai that are always a tough seat. Most panels do have seats open, though, and if you just want a taste of what they're like, you can usually walk right in between ten to forty minutes in and save yourself some line time. Be respectful and stay near the back if you can, and walk deliberately in and out so as to minimize the anxiety you're causing the panelists.

As to the picture illustrating this point, I used it because it's a well-attended panel, but you can certainly see plenty of seats in there.

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10. The Big Rules Of Networking: Sideways To Go Up; Be Your Own Agent.

It's amazing to me year after year how fundamentally bereft of basic networking skills comics professionals and creators seem to be, and this isn't a group held to a lofty standard in that area. If you're going to meet people and get work done via the meeting of people, do take advantage of all official opportunities to do so. Comics can be quite good at spotting overpowering work in a way that prose and film and TV aren't, I think. I'd much rather cast Hamlet from unknown actors than start a shared-universe comics line from unpublished comics people. If you're ready to go, that will almost always be spotted so any chance to do so that's convenient to someone else should be seized. But the more conversational stuff? Getting your name and face out there? A little trickier.

First, check in with anyone you already know beforehand, if only on-line, about the chance to say hi and explicitly about anyone you might want to meet so they can help you do this. It's peers on either side that almost always get you access to someone "higher up." And it's those same peers of yours that will be the higher-ups in a half-decade's time.

I think people worry too much about not being cool, but really the only faux pas is to break into someone's social interaction or focused business time in a rude or brusque way. If you can avoid doing that, you're gold. If you want to meet someone talking with someone you know, sometimes just standing in your pal's line of sight for several seconds will give you an idea how you'll be treated stepping forward. In general, people want to introduce people they know to other people they know, to get credit for the meet and just to be friendly. I think we all can tell when that isn't going to happen. No one minds friendly conversation. The second skill is to be able to tell when you're just going to get a hi how are you and when you can actually push the conversation in a utilitarian-for-you direction. The first time is often just a meet and greet, a conversation setting up another conversation down the line.

A key for those conversations, as well? Be your own agent. Your friend is exhausted and might be hung over or just baffled by the light display on the Krull relaunch exhibit across the way. Introduce yourself when you have the space to do so. Be able to handle your part of the chat. Remember no one specifically wants to see you fail -- not until you're famous, anyway. If nothing else works, screw up your courage and imagine you're the cheesy salesman of you.

In general? Don't worry about this stuff too much. I know very few people who have wormed their way into any job or gig in comics solely based on their social abilities, and know ten times that number for whom conversation is and remains something akin to death on toast. It can be useful, though, for many people. Just be nice and read the room, even if by room it's three people facing each other as an island on a sea of costumed, exhausted madness.

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11. Follow-Up Immediately... Or Sort-Of Immediately.

It's always disconcerting how many people you talk to at San Diego that mention the same plans for this year that they had last year. I think part of this is that helpful follow-up just doesn't take place during the just-after period of collapse/recovery. Don't let things slide. The collective memory for all conventions is way shorter than it used to be, so if you don't follow up soon it may feel like you put it off for too long a while. I suggest Wednesday for brief catch-ups, just saying hi, or thanks, and the next week's Tuesday for anything that requires action -- that delay out of respect for the other person's recovery time. If you actually talked about dates to get things in, or to touch base, follow those explicitly.

One great thing is if you're hitting the circuit at more than this show, and if you do your part in prompt, professional fashion, the Fall shows serve as a reasonable place to bring up the summer connection and ask after it if nothing has yet moved on that front. I know that I get dinged a lot at the September/October weekends about promises made in July, and I think rightly so. No one wants to come back from an intense working weekend with more work, but that's the nature of the gig. Do your part.

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12. It's Not The Distances, It's What's In Your Way

It seems weird to suggest limiting your walking at a place where walking is everything, but here we are. The spread of Hollywood-related activities across the street has made getting to and from the convention center extremely difficult. I'd suggest doing what you can to limit the amount of walking you have to do. For instance, just a few years ago Jeff Smith and I moved a morning meeting from the hotel where we were both staying to a hotel with a great breakfast spread and a mostly quiet room. It took us each about 40 minutes to get there and back (a 15-minute roundtrip without people in the way), and I can't imagine any sane people walking a half-hour plus bonus period for the sake of a few more muffins now.

This mass of people has also put a great crimp on leaving for lunch (I carry in a small lunch and eat it on the back porch), and the time you spent getting to happy-hour parties or to the Eisners. It's also much more tiring. Inside the convention center you should familiarize yourself with the back of the convention center in terms of getting upstairs, with the outer hallways more generally, and maybe not take a trip to the showbiz end of the expo floor during the prime times of Friday or Saturday. Many of the comics panels are at the far end of the show now, too, so work in extra time to make it all the way to those.

If you're headed up more than a few blocks away from the Convention Center, maybe take a look at the bus schedules for a shuttle that gets you close. No shame there; that's what they're for.

My Mom was sweet enough to ask after what San Diego was like and so I took her last year. She's an old comics fan and just wanted to see the thing that kept popping up in her newspaper and in conversations with her friends. She's in her 70s, and had a great time, and was blown away by crowds and fascinated by the panels, and bought some comics. Still, the single thing she remembers more than any other is the wear and tear on her feet, and how hard it could be to get from one place to another even if you could see it from where you started. So comfortable shoes, everyone, more than ever, and think like a super-lazy person.

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photos not ganked from historical sites are by Whit Spurgeon, including the one below

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Go, Look: Murilo Martins

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Your 2017 Reuben Award + NCS Divisional Award Winners

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Ann Telnaes is your winner of the Reuben Award, given out by the National Cartoonists Society as their "Outstanding Cartoonist Of The Year." The Reuben is one of the handful of great awards in all of comics, and the NCS awards is a strong awards program more generally. It also hits a lot of areas of cartooning other awards programs don't.

Telnaes had an extremely strong 2016 working in various ways within the traditional editorial cartoon format, including well-received live-reaction sketches and clever animated work. In a year when so many cartoonists distinguished themselves with lively Trump caricatures, Telnaes' was as strong as anyone's and she did the best Hillary Clinton.

In a strong night for women at the event, the great Lynda Barry won the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award. It was presented to her by her close friend Matt Groening. Ruby Xia won the $5000 Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship. She's an animation major at Sheridan College.

This marks the second year in a row the strip-dominated Reuben went to an editorial cartoonist, with Michael Ramirez winning in 2016. Past winners include everyone you could possibly think of as a major name in North American cartooning, including Roz Chast, Charles Schulz and Milton Caniff.

This year's black-tie awards program and NCS weekend for which it is a highlight was held in the great cartooning bastion of Portland, Oregon. The ceremony was Saturday night.

What follows is the NCS divisional nominations list, with the winners from the weekend in bold.

EDITORIAL CARTOONS
* Ruben Bolling
* Michael Luckovich
* Jen Sorensen

NEWSPAPER ILLUSTRATION
* Anton Emdin
* Glen Le Lievre
* David Rowe

FEATURE ANIMATION
* Moana -- Eric Goldberg (Character Animation)
* Zootopia -- Cory Loftis (Character Design)
* Finding Dory -- Erick Oh (Character Animation)

TELEVISION ANIMATION
* The Simpsons -- Eric Goldberg
* Atomic Puppet -- Steve Lambe & Alan Stewart
* The Loud House -- Chris Savino

NEWSPAPER PANELS
* Loose Parts -- Dave Blazek
* Nick and Zuzu -- Nick Galifianakis
* Off The Mark -- Mark Parisi

GAG CARTOONS
* Pat Byrnes
* Joe Dator
* Will McPhail

ADVERTISING / PRODUCT ILLUSTRATION
* Anton Emdin
* Luke McGarry
* Dave Whamond

GREETING CARDS
* Dave Blazek
* Maria Scrivan
* Debbie Tomassi

COMIC BOOKS
* Giant Days -- Max Sarin & Liz Fleming
* Locke & Key -- Gabriel Rodriguez
* Usagi Yojimbo -- Stan Sakai

GRAPHIC NOVELS
* Cousin Joseph -- Jules Feiffer
* Black Dahlia -- Rick Geary
* The Red Virgin And The Vision Of Utopia -- Bryan Talbot

MAGAZINE FEATURE / ILLUSTRATION
* Jon Adams
* Teresa Burns Parkhurst
* Peter Kuper

ONLINE COMICS -- LONG FORM
* Octopus Pie -- Meredith Gran
* Band By Band -- Kathleen Jacques
* Check, Please! -- Ngozi Ukazu

ONLINE COMICS -- SHORT FORM
* "Sarah's Scribbles" -- Sarah Anderson
* "Donald And John" -- Ruben Bolling
* "Sheldon" -- Dave Kellett

BOOK ILLUSTRATION
* Mike Lester
* Mark Tatulli
* Dave Whamond

NEWSPAPER STRIPS
* Pickles -- Brian Crane
* Dustin -- Steve Kelley & Jeff Parker
* Pajama Diaries -- Terri Libenson

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Congratulations to all winners and all nominees.

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Go, Look: Hellen Jo As A Search Term On Pinterest

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* there's still enough time for the Jess Nevins/Shaenon Garrity collaboration to make its initial goal, although I'll repeat I'm surprised it hasn't already given those creators' general pedigree.

* Peter Cline's site indicates a Kickstarter on its front page; don't know anything other than that as it was difficult for me to get to specific pages.

* no joke, I sort of wonder how someone with anxiety disorder even makes it through a crowd-funder, but this one looked pretty safe from the start.

* this Karl Kesel project looks like to make it, too.

* the existence of this Facebook page would have seem to have implications for both the Bundled and By Request columns, so I will put a link in both.

* this bears watching. As far as I can it's using an element of one of the crowd-funder platforms in a way to facilitate the connection to the material that such sites afford without it being dependent on a certain kind of fundraising to move forward. I could be wrong, in which I case I need to watch it more to figure out what it is.

* I was to see this Christopher Sebela-related crowd-funder make its initial goals. He strikes me as an underutilized resource in the overall creative landscape. Plus dude's car got totaled. I think they had to get quite a bit beyond their initial goal for that situation to be addressed, but I have to imagine every bit of success helps right now, too.

* congrats to Kilgore Books surging past its initial ask with double-digit days left. That's a good line-up.

* finally, I like the look of this Dunce comic.
 
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Go, Look: Paste's Best Ten Artists Of The Year So Far

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Forthcoming Comics-Related Events, Through July 2017

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June 1
* If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This (WW)

June 2
* If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This (WW)
* If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

June 3
* If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This (WW)

June 4
* If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This (WW)

June 6
* If I Were In Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

June 9
* If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

June 10
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (CAKE)
* If I Were In White River Junction, I'd Go To This

June 11
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (CAKE)
* If I Were In Montreal, I'd Go To This

June 16
* If I Were In Charlotte, I'd Go To This (HeroesCon)
* If I Were In Sacramento, I'd Go To This (WW)
* If I Were Near DC, I'd Go To This (Awesome Con)
* If I Were In London, I'd Go To This (ELCAF)

June 17
* If I Were In Charlotte, I'd Go To This (HeroesCon)
* If I Were In Ann Arbor, I'd Go To This (A2CAF)
* If I Were In Sacramento, I'd Go To This (WW)
* If I Were In Detroit, I'd Go To This (Comix Party)
* If I Were Near DC, I'd Go To This (Awesome Con)
* If I Were In London, I'd Go To This (ELCAF)

June 18
* If I Were In Charlotte, I'd Go To This (HeroesCon)
* If I Were In Ann Arbor, I'd Go To This (A2CAF)
* If I Were In Sacramento, I'd Go To This (WW)
* If I Were Near DC, I'd Go To This (Awesome Con)
* If I Were In London, I'd Go To This (ELCAF)

June 23
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

June 24
* If I Were Near Birmingham, I'd Go To This (The Birmingham Comics Festival)
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

June 25
* If I Were Near Birmingham, I'd Go To This (The Birmingham Comics Festival)
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

June 26
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

June 30
* If I Were In Denver, I'd Go To This (DCC)
* If I Were Near DC, I'd Go To This (blerDCon)

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July 1
* If I Were In Denver, I'd Go To This (DCC)
* If I Were Near DC, I'd Go To This (blerDCon)

July 2
* If I Were In Denver, I'd Go To This (DCC)
* If I Were Near DC, I'd Go To This (blerDCon)

July 8
* If I Were Near Clallam Bay, I'd Go To This (Clallam Bay Comicon)
* If I Were Anywhere In The UK, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In SF, I'd Go To This (QCE)

July 9
* If I Were Near Clallam Bay, I'd Go To This (Clallam Bay Comicon)
* If I Were In SF, I'd Go To This (QCE)

July 14
* If I Were In Albuquerque, I'd Go To This (WW)

July 15
* If I Were In Albuquerque, I'd Go To This (WW)
* If I Were In London, I'd Go To This (SLCZF)

July 16
* If I Were In Albuquerque, I'd Go To This (WW)

July 19
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI Preview Night)

July 20
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI)

July 21
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI)

July 22
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI)

July 23
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI)

July 27
* If I Were Near Ft. Lauderdale, I'd Go To This (Florida Supercon)

July 28
* If I Were Near Ft. Lauderdale, I'd Go To This (Florida Supercon)

July 29
* If I Were Near Ft. Lauderdale, I'd Go To This (Florida Supercon)

July 30
* If I Were Near Ft. Lauderdale, I'd Go To This (Florida Supercon)

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Events For August 2017 Onward Listed Here

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Go, Look: Rich Buckler Images Mini-Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* John Seven on The Interview. Todd Klein on Hal Jordan And The GL Corps #12. Alex Hoffman on The Fever Closing. Henry Chamberlain on Not My Small Diary #9. Ginnis Tonik on What Parsifal Saw. J. Caleb Mozzocco on Injustice 2 #1.

* Sean Edgar talks to Tom King and Mitch Gerads. Kim Jooha talks to Chris Butcher.

* here's a nicely-conceived article on women working in mainstream comics to great effect stretching back to the 1950s. This is a needed corrective to a floated notion that comics was woman-free until relatively recently, instead of women just being vastly underrepresented.

* North American editorial cartoonists tend to take Memorial Day as seriously as they do any major holiday not Christmas. Traditionally that's been because of the chance to do something non-partisan, but I think it's more generally just a chance to do a cartoon on something about which people feel strongly. Here's the growing Cagle directory of affiliated cartoons for this year on the holiday, and it's always interesting to see how much or how little cartoonists do with a single subject.

* finally, Bob Temuka shares his state of comics 2017.
 
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Happy 43rd Birthday, Aaron McGruder!

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Happy 73rd Birthday, Ryoichi Ikegami!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Max Ink!

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Happy 66th Birthday, Larry Marder!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Jim Salicrup!

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May 28, 2017


CR Sunday Interview/Bundled Extra: Editor Eric Reynolds Of Fantagraphics On His New Anthology, Now

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One of the worst-kept secrets from TCAF became wider news this weekend as Fantagraphics Associate Publisher and longtime award-winning editor Eric Reynolds has announced his return to alt-comics anthology-making, with the three-times-a-year Now creeping into its book catalog listings. The first issue is touted as 128 pages with a $9.99 price tag. It will have an ISBN and thus be moved through book retail as well as Fanta's own store, its festival presence and through the Direct Market. It's full-color.

imageThe volumes will feature stand-alone stories from what Fantagraphics PR calls "a diverse mix of emerging and established talent."

First issue line-up includes:

* Gabrielle Bell
* Sara Corbett
* Antoine Cossé
* Eleanor Davis
* Kaela Graham
* Sammy Harkham
* Conxita Herrero
* JC Menu
* Rebecca Morgan (cover image above)
* Tommi Parrish
* Tobias Schalken
* Dash Shaw
* Daria Tessler
* Noah Van Sciver
* Malachi Ward

That's a heck of a first issue. Reynolds is an interesting editor for this anthology landscape as most of what's being done with a group release in mind is by young to very young cartoonists. Reynolds isn't of that world and I think as a result might be more rigorous in terms of which new cartoonists he finds specifically interesting. His work on MOME was pretty great, and some of those cartoonists are here -- in a different place in their career, perhaps thanks in part to the opportunities created by their appearances in that anthology.

Now #1 is scheduled for September 2017.

*****

TOM SPURGEON: What made you decide to get back in? What about the comics world makes you want to take another shot at it?

ERIC REYNOLDS: It had been nagging at me for the past year. When MOME ended, I felt like the landscape had changed and that there were more platforms than ever for cartoonists to get their work out there, and I felt good about ending it when I did. But somehow, over the past few years, I felt like the pendulum had swung back.

The idea really coalesced after last year's Short Run festival. I went to that show with a plan to really canvas the show and see what was there. I don't get to actually shop extensively at shows very often, and I ended up dropping close to a couple of hundred bucks, buying anything that looked even remotely interesting. There was a lot of good work that I felt was probably being overlooked because of either the signal to noise ratio or even just the harsh realities of distribution. If you don't live in a region that has a show like Short Run, you're likely to never be exposed to a lot the work that's there. And I came away from that show realizing that Fantagraphics can provide a platform to get the work out there. Not in huge numbers, necessarily, but in a way that not everyone has access to, whether it's Diamond distribution to comic book stores, general trade bookstores, Amazon, as well as digital platforms like Kindle, Comixology, Google Play, etc.

Once I finally decided I had to do this, I just started sending out emails to cartoonists I admire, and the enthusiastic response -- my call for entries for the first issue yielded enough material for three issues -- has really buoyed me and made me think that this was very much a necessary thing right now.

Another reason was that there are just more good cartoonists out there right now than we could possibly offer book deals to. And, frankly, a lot of good cartoonists who might not be ready for a book deal yet, and just need some room to grow.

I guess I should also add that the election absolutely motivated me, too. I think I sent out my first "call for entries" within a day or two of the inauguration. I have no desire to make Now overtly a political thing, but art is political, and it felt like something that I actually could do that would contribute to the greater good.

imageSPURGEON: What made you decide to do this one solo? You did MOME with Gary [Groth], although I'm sure his schedule meant only intermittent involvement. Did you consider a partner? What can you do as a solo act you maybe couldn't with a partner?

REYNOLDS: Oh, I don't know. I didn't decide to not have a partner, per se. I just decided that this was what I wanted to do.

I'm really not flying solo. Folks in the office, like Jacq Cohen, Jason Miles, Anna Pederson, and RJ Casey have all been enthusiastically putting work under my nose. Several cartoonists have been great advocates for work that they think I should be paying closer attention to. Jacob Covey is art directing and helping me create the best possible package. It's a team effort. When we started MOME, the reason that Gary and I co-edited initially was because at the time, he and I were talking one day and I was telling him that I had an idea for an anthology, and in the course of doing so, it became clear that he had been ruminating on a very similar idea, so we just decided to do it together.

SPURGEON: What does right now in comics publishing demand from an anthology? What function does an anthology serve?

REYNOLDS: It depends on who it's serving; whether you're talking about the contributors, the booksellers, or the reader. I'm trying to serve all three of those bases.

A long of its function has to do with boosting that signal-to-noise ratio. It's routinely thrown out there that we live in a new golden age of comics, and I think that's really true. There's also this conventional wisdom that the entry point for a young cartoonist is easier than ever thanks to the internet, self-publishing, what have you, but I think that's only true up to a point, because bookselling in general continues to be consolidated into the hands of fewer entities, and I think we're in a better position to navigate that world than a lot of folks can on their own or with a micro-publisher -- no disrespect to the many excellent micro-publishers out there right now.

More to the point, I see the function of this anthology as being a outlet for cartoonists to experiment in a healthy way, and to gain experience in working for print in particular. It's also meant as an outlet for shorter work, specifically, which is something that I think has sometimes gone by the wayside in this whole graphic novel revolution of the past 15 or more years. For readers, it's intended to be an easy way to get exposed to as wide a variety of work out there without having to spend a fortune at a show like SPX or Short Run, and to turn them on to an author's work.

I'm also making a concerted push to be as inclusive as possible and, frankly, broaden my own scope by pushing myself to seek out underrepresented voices. As you well know, we still operate in a field that is predominantly white and male. I feel a real responsibility to try to be a force for good on that front, in terms of diversity. Early on in this process, I had a conversation with Eleanor Davis that really cemented that for me. I'm aware that, to put it bluntly, I'm not getting any younger, and as you age it's all too easy to kind of settle into a comfortable groove in terms of the kind of art or entertainment you engage. So there's a little bit of me wanting to push myself and make sure I'm not getting too comfortable over here, and to try and be a force for good on that front by showcasing how much diversity is out there.

I also see this as an opportunity to publish more international cartoonists. There is so much good work going on internationally that I sometimes feel like I'm swimming in great looking foreign submissions. But translated books require so much more work and have a much higher overhead than books written in English, not just in terms of translation, but in terms of production and editing, as well, and we can only do a finite amount of these projects per year. This gives me the opportunity to take a chance on some cartoonists that I otherwise may not have a chance to work with.

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SPURGEON: Can you clarify your aspirations for this anthology in terms of what it does for the talent participating in it? I know last time you felt it important people have a place to publish that kept them working in an industry down-period.

REYNOLDS: I hope it not only gives them a place to publish work that otherwise might not easily fit elsewhere, but also inspire them to do that kind of work, if that makes sense, and to expose their work to fresh eyes.

SPURGEON: The great anthology question: serials/no serials?

REYNOLDS: No serials.

SPURGEON: Whoa. [laughs] How'd you make that decision?

REYNOLDS: Serials wore me down in MOME. Schedules get blown, and a three-chapter series ends up either being spread out over more than three issues, or balloons into more chapters than originally envisioned, or even gets abandoned before completion. I'm not pointing a finger at anyone -- it happens, and I just want to avoid it this time around. I suppose I could change my mind. More than anything, though, on a quarterly schedule, it just seems like a disservice to the reader. Serialization works better on at least a monthly or bimonthly schedule. I feel very strongly that I want each issue of Now to satisfy on its own, with zero additional context or whatever.

*****

* cover by Rebecca Morgan for Now #1
* photo of Eric Reynolds by Whit Spurgeon, early/mid 2010s
* images from #1 from Kaela Graham, Conxita Herrero and Noah Van Sciver [below]

*****

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Don't Forget The Drawn And Quarterly Sale Going All Weekend; Buying Comics Is A Great Thing

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I like a good summer book sale, and several publishers will have them over the next few months to get some cash flow moving and to better manage inventory. I'm not sure the link I was provided -- and which I put on the picture above as a click-through -- goes directly to where it's intended, but you can figure it out on the page I'm sure. The prices are cut right in the catalog entries for the individual books, so make sure that's going on.

There's a ton of great material. I really like the Ware sketchbooks at that price, and I thought Hospital Suite and Susceptible were vastly under-appreciated when they were initially out. Hard to go wrong with the D+Q line-up.
 
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One Thing I Forgot To Say We Did TCAF Weekend Is Visit The New Beguiling Location

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It was fun. I bought a Joe Decie Retrofit comic book and the latest issue of Berlin. My brother bought two Saga trades.
 
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OTBP: Ask A Cat

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

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

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

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

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

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Forthcoming Comics-Related Events, Through July 2017

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*****

June 1
* If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This (WW)

June 2
* If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This (WW)
* If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

June 3
* If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This (WW)

June 4
* If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This (WW)

June 6
* If I Were In Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

June 9
* If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

June 10
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (CAKE)
* If I Were In White River Junction, I'd Go To This

June 11
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (CAKE)
* If I Were In Montreal, I'd Go To This

June 16
* If I Were In Charlotte, I'd Go To This (HeroesCon)
* If I Were In Sacramento, I'd Go To This (WW)
* If I Were Near DC, I'd Go To This (Awesome Con)
* If I Were In London, I'd Go To This (ELCAF)

June 17
* If I Were In Charlotte, I'd Go To This (HeroesCon)
* If I Were In Ann Arbor, I'd Go To This (A2CAF)
* If I Were In Sacramento, I'd Go To This (WW)
* If I Were In Detroit, I'd Go To This (Comix Party)
* If I Were Near DC, I'd Go To This (Awesome Con)
* If I Were In London, I'd Go To This (ELCAF)

June 18
* If I Were In Charlotte, I'd Go To This (HeroesCon)
* If I Were In Ann Arbor, I'd Go To This (A2CAF)
* If I Were In Sacramento, I'd Go To This (WW)
* If I Were Near DC, I'd Go To This (Awesome Con)
* If I Were In London, I'd Go To This (ELCAF)

June 23
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

June 24
* If I Were Near Birmingham, I'd Go To This (The Birmingham Comics Festival)
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

June 25
* If I Were Near Birmingham, I'd Go To This (The Birmingham Comics Festival)
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

June 26
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This

June 30
* If I Were In Denver, I'd Go To This (DCC)
* If I Were Near DC, I'd Go To This (blerDCon)

*****

July 1
* If I Were In Denver, I'd Go To This (DCC)
* If I Were Near DC, I'd Go To This (blerDCon)

July 2
* If I Were In Denver, I'd Go To This (DCC)
* If I Were Near DC, I'd Go To This (blerDCon)

July 8
* If I Were Near Clallam Bay, I'd Go To This (Clallam Bay Comicon)
* If I Were Anywhere In The UK, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In SF, I'd Go To This (QCE)

July 9
* If I Were Near Clallam Bay, I'd Go To This (Clallam Bay Comicon)
* If I Were In SF, I'd Go To This (QCE)

July 14
* If I Were In Albuquerque, I'd Go To This (WW)

July 15
* If I Were In Albuquerque, I'd Go To This (WW)
* If I Were In London, I'd Go To This (SLCZF)

July 16
* If I Were In Albuquerque, I'd Go To This (WW)

July 19
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI Preview Night)

July 20
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI)

July 21
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI)

July 22
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI)

July 23
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI)

July 27
* If I Were Near Ft. Lauderdale, I'd Go To This (Florida Supercon)

July 28
* If I Were Near Ft. Lauderdale, I'd Go To This (Florida Supercon)

July 29
* If I Were Near Ft. Lauderdale, I'd Go To This (Florida Supercon)

July 30
* If I Were Near Ft. Lauderdale, I'd Go To This (Florida Supercon)

*****

Events For August 2017 Onward Listed Here

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*****
*****
 
posted 1:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 47th Birthday, Tony Consiglio!

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