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

















August 31, 2016


Go, Look: Tex Minos

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CRNI Names Cartoonist Refugee Eaten Fish Its Courage In Editorial Cartooning Award-Winner For 2016

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You should go read Cartoonist Rights Network International's full statement on their 2016 award-winner; it's an amazing story. Eaten Fish is an Iranian national being held in the notorious Manus Island detention center. Janet Galbraith will accept the award on the detained cartoonist's behalf.

Here is his story in comics form. Here is a series of cartoons. Here's a petition for medical attention instigated by Galbraith.

One hopes the attention brought by the award might lead to changes in both the overall policy and in this artist's specific situation, and sooner rather than later. Apparently the detention center is being shut down, but those currently held there will not be brought into Australia. One hopes for the best possible outcome in all cases.
 
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Go, Look: Boris Pramaratov

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Go, Read: The Let The Whole Goddamn Thing Crash And Burn Theory Of Comics Industry Reform

imageHere. Things are a lot more complicated than that snark-filled essay allows -- the DM's role in fostering art comics by allowing marketplace entry with little capital + the overlap of the two systems and how that worked + the overlapping of at least three current systems and how that works + the general failure of broad-reach print media = things to think about for starters -- but there are several points in there worth considering. Asking people to game a system when the system is limited and counter-intuitive to most folks' wider goals is a sucker's game. I think what it comes down to is that the cost of servicing a hardcore audience with the majority of your resources usually means a reduction of general audience, now and forever.

Whenever there's a shift in the way comics are available, this debate comes up -- it's an ongoing battle in digital comics, really, if you think about it, although there are different measurements there and the element of not just hardcore niche markets but unexplored niche markets comes to bear as its own thing. It could just be that we don't have anyone pushing the virtues of a broad-based strategy in a way that leads to innovation in that area the way that we've had motivated people pushing in the other direction. It could be that such a plan doesn't exist. Who knows? Although seriously, if someone has a workable plan to effectively sell comics to a broad audience, please e-mail me: I'll facilitate the legwork through CXC and we'll both get rich.

I do think comics needs more readers right now, of all types. One reason why that's hard is the infrastructure of comics has dried up a bit -- there is less industry now because the money to be had can be had without that kind of apparatus. Part of what I do now is work on these things and think about them and find ways to give people the best chance to make art without harming their lives. That said, comics is the only place where trying to facilitate a 300 percent increase in a customer base over a decade would be seen as conservative by some who think millions of people are out there just waiting to read hundreds of different comics if they could only be presented to these audiences the right way. The reason why most of these debates focus on the DM now more than ever is both the way a lot of people still think of that as comics in their entirety and the way in which the DM books feel like the group of comics that is most underperforming. And so the debate continues.

Heidi MacDonald wrote a response to the linked-to essay here.
 
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Go, Look: JT Steiny's Trump Caricatures Discussed

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Go, Read: Phil Hester Talks About His Difficult Year

Here. You should read the whole thing, not my summation of it. We need to do a lot better as an industry and arts community to protect artists and comics-makers because so many of them are at risk. And sure, improving conditions involves improving sales, but not solely: it also involves efforts and endeavors where 90 percent of the profits don't go to people that are already wealthy. We need to be smart and we need to engage at all levels. It's going to be difficult. It may be impossible. We have to try.

All best wishes to Mr. Hester in moving forward; I greatly appreciate him sharing that story.
 
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Go, Look: Sal Buscema Originals

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Go, Read: Dr. Anita Auerbach On The Late Richard Thompson

Here. For someone with a reputation as being one of the most withdrawn, home-oriented and little seen comics makers for the bulk of his life, Richard Thompson sure brought interesting people into his orbit during those lost several years.
 
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Go, Look: I've Been Sick For Over A Year

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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.

*****

FEB160418 MIKE MIGNOLA SCREW ON HEAD & CURIOUS OBJECTS ARTIST ED HC
I love these big books, and Mike Mignola's art is super pretty to look at packaged like this. This is some of his oddest work, so even better.

imageJUN162088 LUCY & ANDY NEANDERTHAL HC VOL 01 $12.99
The latest from Jeffrey Brown, and a break from maybe a decade -- I think it might be a decade -- of humorous Star Wars comics. Brown has quietly become one of the most successful alt-cartoonists of this age with those books and I hope an audience will follow him to a new series if that's what he wants to do. I'll be there.

JUN160099 ABE SAPIEN #36 $3.99
JUN160062 GROO FRAY OF THE GODS #2 $3.99
JUN160627 EAST OF WEST #29 $3.99
JUN160637 JUPITERS LEGACY VOL 2 #3 (OF 5) CVR A QUITELY (MR) $3.99
JUN160640 LAZARUS #24 (MR) $3.99
JUN160601 SAGA #37 (MR) $2.99
JUN161499 BLUBBER #3 (MR) $3.99
This is a solid week for successful mainstream genre comics of the kind that still drive a big chunk of the DM world. We'll start with the latest Mignolaverse book, as I believe that particular series is winding down. Sergio Aragones making a comic is always worth noting, and he'd be a formidable cartoonist if all we had from him is the last ten years of limited-series comic books. I'm starting to not understand what's going on in East Of West, but it has an idiosyncratic feel I appreciate in this day and age that much more than I used to. I will always read comics drawing by Frank Quitely; good lord the narrative there has slowed to a standstill, though. Lazarus and Saga are different kinds of science-fiction but share a certain confidence in their execution that has to appeal to a lot of readers. I believe the Saga is the first book in a new narrative cycle. Finally, if all you got at the comic book shop today was the latest from Gilbert Hernandez, I would have no issue with that.

FEB160016 FRANK MILLERS SIN CITY HARD GOODBYE CURATORS COLL LTD ED $275.00
This is an even more expensive version of a comic I doubted I would want to buy at the cheaper price, but I'm sure the bells & whistles are something. One interesting thing about these re-run comics in different editions is that you know going in if you're on board or not. I didn't think they would ever be read for the comics, I thought they would be stared-at only, but I was wrong.

JUN160956 BLACK PANTHER TP BOOK 01 NATION UNDER OUR FEET $16.99
Unless I'm totally wrong and they're still putting out older material to support the series launch, this is the first trade collecting the Ta-Nehisi Coates/Brian Stelfreeze/Laura Martin take on the Jack Kirby and Stan Lee character. It's not breaking any of the current molds for doing an adventure comic that adults and teenagers that want to think like adults might wish to read, but judging from the tone, reception and box-office receipts of Marvel's movies, that general take on what these characters do has a lot of room left to entertain its audiences. I liked something weird about the issues I read: the idea that Wakanda is at once this powerful, elite nation and also this chaotic mess. Extending duality metaphors to setting seems like something somewhat new, at least to me.

imageJUN161508 DISNEY ROSA DUCK LIBRARY HC VOL 05 RICHEST DUCK $29.99
I enjoyed this comic quite a bit in advance form, as it contains the end chapters to Rosa's Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck, the single-greatest argument for fan reworkings of classic material. I have a lot of fun with Rosa's stories, which compliment the rich tradition of Carl Barks' works with engagement of the world that's a bit less of a time. What an oddball and intriguing career Don Rosa's had.

APR161372 AMERICATOWN HC $29.99
I remember like the idea of a science fiction story about American communities in other cities in a future where things kind of went to shit here in the old US of A. Here's the collected version, which I think means the comic is worth a second look.

MAR161025 STUDY GROUP MAGAZINE 4 DLX ED (MR) $19.95
The cool pivot point for all kids stumped as to what magazine or web site about comics is the best, the latest from Study Group contains several design and content elements taking the reader back to the 1977-1994 heyday of tabletop roleplaying games, generation one-point-five. Editors Zack Soto and Milo George are smart guys with a lot of talent to draw on in this day and not particularly stuffed with outlets for this kind of work age.

JUL161314 CANT WE TALK ABOUT SOMETHING MORE PLEASANT TP (MR) $19.00
JUN161436 HOW TO UNDERSTAND ISRAEL IN 60 DAYS OR LESS GN D&Q ED $19.95
Two reprints. Not sure what the publishing story is behind the Roz Chast, but that's a work worth having and if a new edition somehow encourages you to do so, it has done its job by art in comics. The Sarah Glidden book is coming out now in a new edition as an advance market assault making way for the cartoonist's latest, Rolling Blackouts. That's a traditional reprint role and a welcome one. I remember enjoying the first Glidden book.

MAR161470 REAL DEAL COMIX HC (MR) $29.99
I know this as a beloved comic for a lot of my cartoonists friends and the general category of comics brings with it some small amount of controversy because of the various portrayals in play, but I have to admit I'm way behind on comics like this generally and this title specifically. I look forward to catching up. It's certainly a striking volume.

*****

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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Go, Look: An Illustration By Rick Griffin

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

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Go, Look: BruhCooler

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean Kleefeld on Imitation Game. Tara Marie on Morning Glories. Keith Silva on Enough Astronaut Blood To Last The Winter.

* Garry Trudeau does a rare interview -- they are still reasonably rare, despite his doing more of them these days -- with Michael Cavna of Comic Riffs about the subject of his latest book: Donald Trump. Greg Hunter talks to Gilbert Hernandez.

* here's a look at the general publishing trends that come out of analyzing the staggering $100M Kickstarter.com participants have put into various publishing-related projects. The virtues of neglected work making it into print are discussed.

* go, look: Herriman dailies, via Library Of American Comics.

* if I were in the big-magazine-about-comics business, there's a feature article out there to be written about festivals that aren't comics shows folding in comics elements.

* here's a look at the community politics that sometimes swirls around a canceled mainstream title. A system that relies on pre-orders is going to be rough over the long-term, and in a creative sense already is.

* I wonder how I as a kid would have dealt with these Marvel teasers and the like. I think I would have liked them, but I'm not sure. This one made me laugh, I'm not sure why.

* hey, Glen Baxter.

* finally, this profile of the character Cutthroat stops for a while to kidney-punch Arcade a few times. I heartily approve.
 
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Happy 70th Birthday, Rick Parker!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Shizue Takanashi!

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August 30, 2016


Go, Look: Homeworld

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Go, Read: Ted McKeever Exit Interview With Alex Dueben

Earlier this year, Ted McKeever announced his current project through Image Comics would end this period of his engagement with comics.

Alex Dueben's talk with McKeever at the newly-designed CBR is less an exploration of that declaration and what it portends than a genial walk through some of the highlights of McKeever's comics-making. I like that kind of interview as it kind of re-centers me with elements of the artist's career that I hadn't considered in a while, and certainly reacquaints me with its breadth.
 
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Go, Look: Bailey Illustration

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Go, Read: Clay Jones On Making A Gene Wilder Cartoon

Don't click away once you see the cartoon, read the whole post. People don't usually write things like that, even though I bet many people in that line of work feel that way on occasion.
 
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Go, Look: Summer Hours Part 3

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* I have very little today; I don't know if we're stuck in between announcement periods or what, but there seems to be very little in the way of "here's what's coming out" kind of news stories right this moment.

* it's always fun to look at Amazon.com for future books, as long as you don't take any of them as guaranteed and realize they'll probably come out at a different time than suggested. Here's a giant book with Ulli Lust's involvement; her previous English-translation project hit hard with a lot of comics readers here.

* here's a what I would call "mainstream-plus" version of what's coming out this Fall, which serves our purposes because readers of this site that want that information are probably well-served by having it all in one place. There's some fine comics on there, for sure.

* I don't know that I've linked to this Heidi MacDonald story at PW yet or not. I welcome the comics of all of those writers as writers, they all have their virtues, but I'm greatly disinterested in news of creative business entities in one form seeking to lay claim on territory in another. That kind of art-product news depresses the shit out of me. I hope all of the authors' comics are great.

* finally, I'm unclear as to why these companies have any sort marketing focus on far-off projects when there's so much work that could be done with the comic books of right now.
 
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Go, Look: Tarzan Workbook

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Forthcoming Comics-Related Events, Through October 2016

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*****

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)
* If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This

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)
* If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

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
* If I Were In Toronto, I'd Also 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
* If I Were In Cleveland, 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)
* If I Were In Cleveland, I'd Go To This

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)
* If I Were In London, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Cleveland, I'd Go To This

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
* If I Were In Glasgow, I'd Go To This

September 27
* If I Were In Manchester, I'd Go To This

September 28
* If I Were In Dublin, I'd Go To This

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October 1
* If I Were In Oregon, I'd Go To This
* If I Were Near Bristol, I'd Go To This (BCZF)

October 6
* If I Were In New York, I'd Go To This (NYCC)
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This

October 7
* If I Were In New York, I'd Go To This (NYCC)
* If I Were In Ashburton, I'd Go To This

October 8
* If I Were In New York, I'd Go To This (NYCC)

October 9
* If I Were In New York, I'd Go To This (NYCC)

October 13
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This (CXC)

October 14
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This (CXC)
* If I Were In Kendal, I'd Go To This (LICAF)
* If I Were In St. Louis, I'd Go To This (St. Louis Small Press Expo)

October 15
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This (CXC)
* If I Were In Kendal, I'd Go To This (LICAF)
* If I Were In St. Louis, I'd Go To This (St. Louis Small Press Expo)

October 16
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This (CXC)
* If I Were In Kendal, I'd Go To This (LICAF)

October 21
* If I Were In Tulsa, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Tulsa)

October 22
* If I Were In Tulsa, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Tulsa)
* If I Were In Dearborn, I'd Go To This (Comique Con)

October 23
* If I Were In Tulsa, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Tulsa)

October 28
* If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This (Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo)

October 29
* If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This (Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo)

October 30
* If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This (Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo)

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Events For November 2016 Onward Listed Here

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Go, Look: Characters That Debuted In August Comic Books

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