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

July 23, 2014

Koyama Press Announces A. Degen's Mighty Star And The Castle Of The Cancatervater For Spring 2015


imageKoyama Press this morning through Ed Kanerva and Anne Koyama announced that they will collect Mighty Star And The Castle Of The Cancatervater by the Brooklyn-based A. Degen in Spring of 2015. Described by the publisher as a "surreal superhero epic," the book presents a silent narrative reminiscent of early film and world animation.

The book was originally serialized on-line at Study Group. The printed version will be expanded, with a brand new prologue, epilogue and series of spot illustrations.

Degen's previous books were Area CC (Snakebomb) and Soft X-Ray Mindhunters (Birdcage Bottom Books), both released in 2013. He has contributed to Future Shock, Sonatina and Chromazoid.

Koyama's Mighty Star And The Castle Of Cancatervater will run 172 pages, in softcover for black and white interior pages. Koyama plans a $15 price tag, and a release in May of next year.

Below please find a selection of prologue pages provided to CR by the publisher.

posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink

On Gluyas Williams' Birthday, It's Always Fun To Visit And Stare At The Art

posted 2:40 am PST | Permalink

Plastic Babyheads From Outer Space Receives Quiet E-Book Double Launch: Andrews McMeel, comiXology

imageAndrews McMeel Universal continues the drumbeat that is its acquisition of comics work to be made available in all the formats available to them: their on-line serial strip repository, e-books, printed books, and through the comiXology service. The one that caught my attention this time out -- well, after the creator gave me a heads-up that it had gone down -- is Geoff Grogan's Plastic Babyheads From Outer Space, now available as e-books through AM's site and via comiXology.

There is so much material out there right now that the sheer volume dictates a lot of the subsequent publishing decisions. For one thing, I think there is much more material out there than the audience and infrastructure built around it. I have no idea how this sorts out or, really, if it sorts out. In the meanwhile, maybe look at Grogan's work a bit. I enjoyed that when I saw it as a hand-sold comic at an old Brooklyn show.
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Go, Look: An Honest Performance

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All Eyes On San Diego: Comic-Con International Preview Night Launches San Diego Con Weekend

imageIt begins tonight in San Diego with Comic-Con's official Preview Night opening, followed by an official opening for business tomorrow. By "it" I mean Comic-Con International, both the event itself and the overlapping set of experiences that will also bear its name. It really does begin tonight. Because of the lack of dedicated programming running concurrent to what's happening on the floor, and because of valuable incentives in the form of con "exclusives" being made available by some of the vendors, Wednesday night has grown from a bonus event to a crucial part of the exhibition weekend.

There is also an Image Expo being held today -- that's one of the Image Comics events that involves a presentation of publishing news combined with a signing/interactive element. Image putting an Expo here throws the spotlight on the increased looseness of Comic-Con as a home for mid-year comics publishing news. More and more companies are pushing their news as far back as a couple of weeks before the show so as to maximize the attention that comes with Comic-Con. I think the idea is that by announcing beforehand, you get your own piece of spotlight and you go into the weekend with a storyline that people will remember as you make use of the on-the-ground elements of exhibiting and dealing with media. In other words, as a journalist I know there's a Thor story going into Comic-Con; if there's a Metamorpho story, I haven't been told that yet, and will have to notice when it happens and then make room for coverage based on my other plans.

So that's one change at Comic-Con on which I'll be keeping an eye. Not just the publishing news announcements themselves -- we'll have a good half-dozen of those here, and will track all the others -- but the way in which each publishing company and similar entity uses the convention. The convention has changed in massive fashion over the last ten years, and most comics publishers and creators are no more resource-stuffed in order to affect change than they were in 2004. Comics people are clever, though, and the work continues to be of a high quality and worth announcing to the world. More people than ever are interested in covering it. It's about time that a lot of comics really begins using the unique opportunities of this weekend rather than only continuing to claim about them. I think that will be in play this year. I expect comics to have a good con.

There are some fine stand-alone books to pick up, and I'd like to see that lock in more explicitly as a big part of this show. Bryan Lee O'Malley's Seconds is a book of the show just by being here, so effective a publishing phenomenon was Scott Pilgrim. I hear good things about the work, too. The art comics publishers are going to have a bunch of stuff out on tables -- I think if I had to suggest a single volume from that world it would be Eleanor Davis' How To Be Happy (Fantagraphics), but there are going to be a bunch. I think we get to see several copies of the next John Porcellino, and I'm very excited about that. IDW has new Artist's Editions, including I believe the Mignola. It's not just books. The NCS will have paper copies of a new magazine launch, and Jeff Smith will have an honest-to-god color comic book. It would be nice if San Diego Con continued to offer a rich slate of debut books moving forward; any late-summer or early Fall launch but also previews of any work ahead that a publisher is willing to have previewed. I'd like to see this more thoughtfully pursued rather than simply kind of tossed out there. Almost no one wants to carry around a grocery cart's worth of books, not anymore, but a few signed books in a variety of formats? Sign me up. It may even provide some marketing focus. Thinking more broadly, a focus on a few potential hit books is also a way that comics can continue to distinguish itself -- comics isn't just showing people commercials; we also have the real experience available, in a variety of ways, right there.

imageI'm interested in the sprawl of the show business side of things, the way that events have seeped out into the parking lots and hotel rooms and theaters of the San Diego that touches up against the convention center. There is a significant slate of events and things being done away from the comics show, starting but certainly not ending with that Image Expo. On the one hand, this makes total sense to me. I've been saying for 10 years and will say so again that there's an opportunity for someone to park a small press show somewhere in the vicinity. Also, with marketing budgets to be justified, bigger events make sense as a supplement if not a more fully-controlled replacement for a presence at the show. I feel bad for Comic-Con, in a way; it has to be sort of like people parking winnebagos outside a big house party you're throwing and promising people more party. If someone is dissatisfied by an out-of-convention-center event with that nice young man from Chuck, they're likely to blame Comic-Con as much as that individual event.

I'm interested in how harassment issues currently of significant and welcome interest within comics-culture circles might play out at an event this size. By adhering to their existing policy, Comic-Con leaves themselves open to criticism if the perceived results fail to fall in line with what people would prefer. Because of the nature of the debate, and the enormous, culture-wide disinterest in doing serious work making it stop, I'm sure there will be some opportunities for criticism. Keep an eye on more public flourishes of piggish culture on display at the event, particularly in terms of cosplay: video chronicles, photosets, on-line commentary about same. Also look at the more public meeting places -- the hotel bars -- and see if there's a shift in tone and mood there. As always I urge everyone right now to pay attention to this stuff to the point of dismantling or backing away from behavior that dances up against the line of unwelcome attention. What's going on isn't just correction, it's correction and resetting our baseline expectations. And it's about time.

I'm basically interested in the whole damn thing. I think we're at a moment where a lot of elements about comics culture and comics publishing have saturated to the point where they constitute a new normal, a status quo we've felt for a few years now even as we haven't explicitly acknowledged its existence. That's structural and well as about personnel; it's about the kind of art as well as the demographics buying it. It's about the future and how we perceive the past.

There's a good feeling in the air for a lot of comics people this year, which may make for a potentially strong Comic-Con weekend. I'll be there: doing a few panels, buying a few comics, seeing a few great artists talk, having the obligatory meetings. I hope you'll make this site a part of your convention weekend. We'll have about a half-dozen project announcements and will cover the whole lot of them. Eisner winners with linked-to nominees as soon as we can post. Observations and notes on Tuesday.

Everyone be safe and have a rewarding time, whether you're in San Diego or whether you're not.
posted 2:25 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Furor Over Appropriated Xaime Imagery

imageAsher J. Klassen has the best only-time-to-read-one-SDCC-is-right-now piece up on the band Everclear making use of an artist's appropriation of Jaime Hernandez's amazing red and black Love and Rockets band image. It opens up that whole thing about homage versus appropriation, which is something that I think a) you have to feel your way through, b) it's not that hard to do that.

I'd say in this most reasonable standards would say the artist and those supporting the artist's action through pay and use are in the wrong. As Klassen points out, making an homage to fulfill a paid assignment is dicey territory. The fact you could reasonably look at this and not knowing which image came first not be able to tell kind of makes a lie that one image is a tribute paid the other. Eric Reynolds points out that the image was never part of a work for hire deal by which the artist would have ever not had the rights, which isn't an angle I've ever considered.

It would be nice if a proper poster were commissioned from Los Bros instead, although the problem with that is that Jaime Hernandez prefers working on his comics and may not want to take on that job, or work for those folks. I wouldn't. Maybe another solution would be to pay him for this one as if he had worked on it. Because he did.
posted 2:21 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: The Room Of Madness

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DHC Announces 12 Creator-Owned Series Ahead Of SDCC

imageDark Horse Comics sent out a press release yesterday -- you can read it in full here -- confirming their intention to publish 12 forthcoming creator-owned titles in the months ahead, from a wide variety of working creators. Dark Horse has always spent some significant portion of their resources in this area, and as recently as a few years ago re-invested in facilitating this kind of work from people like Peter Bagge and Steve Parkhouse.

The 12 titles includes a comics sequel to the film and prose work Fight Club, which makes me believe word on some of these was already out there.

The books, their basic creative teams and their announced release dates are:

* Colder: The Bad Seed, Paul Tobin And Juan Ferreyra (October)
* Hellboy and the B.P.R.D., Mike Mignola And John Arcudi And Alexander Maleev (December)'
* Lady Killer, Jöelle Jones And Jamie S. Rich (January)
* Dead Vengeance, Bill Morrison And Stéphane Roux (January)
* EI8HT, Rafael Albuquerque And Mike Johnson (February)
* Neverboy, Shaun Simon And Tyler Jenkins And Kelly Fitzpatrick (March)
* The Black Hammer, Jeff Lemire And Dean Ormston (March)
* PastAways, Matt Kindt And Scott Kolins (March)
* Rebels, Brian Wood And Andrea Mutti And Jordie Bellaire And Tula Lotay (April)
* Harrow County, Cullen Bunn, Tyler Crook (April)
* Alabaster: The Good, The Bad, And The Bird, Caitlin R. Kiernan And Jöelle Jones (May)
* Fight Club 2, Chuck Palahniuk And Cameron Stewart And David Mack (May)

There's a lot there that's potentially interesting, and I'm happy that so much of it is brand-new material. I think that makes for a healthier marketplace.
posted 2:19 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Alien Worlds Gallery

posted 2:18 am PST | Permalink

Not Comics: Two Sizable Articles On The Perils Of The Internet-Era Economy

Jason Schreier looks at a gaming kickstarter that went a half-million in the hole and then basically disappeared from view -- or at least significant parts of it did. This rambling, personal essay at Deadspin on one writer's experiences with a popular on-line publishing venue offers up several dropped-jaw moments.

The vast majority of the projects made possible by the rise of the Internet are not like this. Still, I hope everyone is careful out there, and, when it's applicable, choose to see the arrangement involved as a service being provided by those paying for something rather than a service to the person being paid.
posted 2:15 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Comic Art In America Cartoon Selections

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Bundled Extra: Publishing News Newsbriefs, Stories, Commentary & Links From Comic-Con International


By Tom Spurgeon

What follows is a list in brief of comics publishing news stories that have come to light during and just preceding Comic-Con International weekend. If you've seen one that we haven't,


* the writer Justin Jordan will be doing three projects with the publisher, starting in November. (July 3)
* Roger Langridge will be doing an original all-ages project starting in December. (July 18)
* the writer Grant Morrison will be doing a project with the publisher. (July 22)
* Filip Sablik was named the President Of Publishing And Marketing. (July 16)

Monkey Brain Comics
* Neil Kleid and Dan Gasl announce Kings And Canvas. Partial Image Below. (July 22)

* 64-page free digital magazine National Cartoonist launches at NCS site and at ISSUU.

* Katie Skelly launches My Pretty Vampire on Tumblr in full-color with limited animation effects. Mini-comic version planned for SPX. Partial image above. (July 21)



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Go, Look: Air Fighters Comics #3

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Go, Look: Bernie Wrightson's Edgar Allan Poe Imagery

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This Isn't A Library: New And Notable Releases Into Comics' Direct Market



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.


Two positive publisher-creator relationship share the spotlight SDCC week. Charitable efforts on behalf of Stan and Sharon Sakai reach the published-book stage with Dark Horse's collection of material from other artists featuring the Usagi character. Top Shelf made its name on the basis of its strong service on behalf of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill with the League Of Extraordinary Gentleman books; this is the collection of the latest cycle -- particularly discounted in the standard way that's a lovely, lovely price point.

imageMAY141240 TUKI SAVE THE HUMANS #1 $3.99
Jeff Smith is showing up in San Diego with a full-color comic book for you to buy, the first print collection of material from his Tuki webcomic, which was launched and then relaunched on-line. Smith is indulging the adventure-comics side of his personality here, and it will be interesting to learn how that material looks on printed page.

MAY140038 GROO VS CONAN #1 $3.50
MAY140726 SAGA #21 (MR) $2.99
MAY140739 TREES #3 (MR) $2.99
APR140614 VELVET #6 (MR) $3.50
MAY140882 STORM #1 ANMN $3.99
These are all the standard comic books that jump out at me this week not by Jeff Smith. I haven't seen a single panel of this final capper series to the Elfquest saga, and four issues seems like it would be enough for me to jump on board. New Goon series; I'm not a reader of that one, but that art is certainly pretty. I like both Groo and Conan, so sign me up for at least picking that one up for a few seconds. The Batman I believe is the last in this current cycle of early Batman stories, featuring the Riddler. That's not material for me, but it seems visually distinctive and well-executed compared to the rest of the line.


MAY140641 SEX TP VOL 02 SUPERCOOL (MR) $14.99
I like this title, which I think plays well into writer Joe Casey's fascination with trying to figure out how certain comic book and comics narratives works: this time around it's 1980s world-building.

I'm still reading this in serial form. While I wasn't a fan of this storyline as anything other than a very standard adventure story, I do appreciate the opportunity it gives Kirkman and Adlard to take things in a different direction beginning right after.

I've read this material in bits and starts and nearly all of it is enjoyable in that standard Marvel comic book way -- these are the kind of things you read in a hammock while waiting for the 30 minutes of non-swimming time to pass after lunch.

MAY141431 SHADOW HERO GN $17.99
Gene Luen Yang is on board and thus, so am I. I haven't caught up to this material yet so I look forward to seeing it all in one big gulp.

The feel-good book of the summer, if by feel-good you mean you're going to be somewhat relieved when it stops because it's so heartbreaking and sad. It's good to see this work get another iteration, though, it's awfully well done.

Well, you're not going to enjoy looking at anything any more than this one, even that Mignola book.

APR141654 ALTER EGO #127 $8.95
APR141655 BACK ISSUE #74 $8.95
I salute my peers devotion to print and I pay additional respect to over 200 issues of those first two, at least when combined. That's quite something.

MAY141442 SMILE SC NEW PTG $10.99
One giant-selling comic and one about to become one. They are fine, fine gifts, all of these books.

MAY140979 STREET ANGEL HC $19.95
Finally, Jim Rugg and Emily Carroll gather together material in their separate projects that were extremely well-liked in earlier forms. It's good to have them back.


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 San Diego, I'd Go To This

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

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Go, Look: The Damned #2-3

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Johanna Draper Carlson on Mixtape #5. Rob Clough on Bad For You. Todd Klein on Aquaman #32. Grant Goggans on Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Rob McMonigal on Lok Zine #5 and Paper Crush #4. Robert Loss on This One Summer.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco pulverizes a bunch of weird, catty and sort of untenable jokes floated in what sounds like a pretty navel-gazing product from DC Comics. I have no idea why anyone uses a creative platform that way. It's basically just turning office gossip into art, which seems to me an incredibly weird and unpleasant way to make art.

* here's a nice report on the Portland 'Zine Symposium. With Dylan Williams gone, I'm kind of unclear as to how much the 'zine and comics worlds cross over in a more significant sense than a few people like to hang out in both. There was a moment about five years ago when I thought that there might be a resurgence in that world as it pertains to comics. I have no idea where we'll be five years from now.

* finally, Don MacPherson writes about superhero underwear -- the kind that's licensed to people in this world, not the kind worn by superheroes in their worlds.
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Happy 67th Birthday, Mike Vosburg!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Kelley Jones!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

July 22, 2014


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By Request Extra: Justin Green Pays Birthday Tribute To S. Clay Wilson, Offering Art


The underground great Justin Green pays birthday tribute to another iconic figure of comix, S. Clay Wilson, on the occasion of the latter's birthday. Green is also offering some nice incentives for anyone that donates to Wilson's trust.

Between Green and Wilson you have about 68 percent of taboos broken in terms of comics content as they existed by the mid-1960s. If you read and enjoy this site, or the vast majority of the comics covered, you have those two men to thank.
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Star*Reach #6

posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Homeless Advocate Accuses San Diego Police Of Rousting Street Sleepers Pre Comic-Con

Here. I assume one of the majors had this so that people could find it and e-mail it to me, so I apologize to whichever of my peers found it first.

I'm not sure what to think of the story. That police would be doing this a week before the show does indeed seem kind of odd, so the police rep makes a good point there. I've done homeless advocacy before and used to argue with people about this kind of policy -- it's horrifying on a human level, but I also sort of understand the impulse.

As a longtime SDCC attendee, it seems to me that most of the homeless population has in recent years scattered to the frontier of gentrification in that part of town -- whether there's an artificial, temporary aspect to that or not, I couldn't tell you. That frontier is further away than it used to be, but it's still there if you amble off north or east. To get slightly old-man about it, it used to be you could park a couple of blocks off of the main strip and then step over homeless people on your way to con stuff -- but that was when that part of town had a much narrower nice section.
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink

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