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

July 30, 2015

Go, Look: Dogs And Wi-Fi Mini

posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink

Festivals Extra: Denver Group Announces An Alt-Show Called DINK For March 2016

imagePeople are drooling over photos of the Sherman Street Event Center, the space being used for a new indie/alt show launching in March 2016: DINK (Denver Independent Comic And Art Expo). The first version is set for March 25-26 in that great American city, and is brought to you by two veterans with ties to the extremely successful Denver Comic Con.

That's a city that could use a good show like this one if it comes off: there are a lot of creative people there, but the city is isolated enough that it frequently gets flown over when it's time for a tour.

I love that part of the country and hope to attend if it proves to be a good show.
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Kevin O'Neill Pin-Ups

posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink

Festivals Extra: We're In The Final Hours For CAKE's Cupcake Award Entry Cycle


I probably run too many articles on this specific award, but I'm fond of awards that both make sense in terms of who's giving it and offers real stuff. I would think these would be all fine things to have if you're a cartoonist of a certain age. You have scant hours to apply.

posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: The Lost World

posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Shea Hennum On Attack On Titan's Story Vs. Star Wars #1 News From A While Back

imageShea Hennum has a well-timed article here comparing a story about the Attack On Titan property from Hajime Isayama having 2.5 million copies of its 15 volumes in circulation and the reaction to Marvel attaching a one million sold number to a Star Wars comic when they relaunched that franchise under its own banner a while back. The one million sold into the direct market was a deeply qualified number, including a substantial purchase for a bundled-together gift package and an ice planet's worth of cover incentives. Hennum also brings in an analysis of heavily-circulated web comics.

I'm not sure beyond Milton Griepp that anyone covers numbers-related stories in broader, reliable, workmanlike fashion; I don't link to any numbers in a systematic way at this point, and I tend to shy away from number stories even when I might think they're important because I lack the tools and skill to vet them properly. I hope I can get better at covering comics this way. I should have covered both of these stories as best I could but covered neither which puts me way behind even those that covered the Star Wars over the Attack On Titan. Ideally, I imagine they both should be covered. Selling one figure into one market doesn't necessarily inform how another figure sells into another market. The formats are even different. You can't accept the publisher's narrative on the Star Wars on its face and you can't countenance the idea that manga sales into a bookstore market isn't a comics story.

So what do I think? While the Star Wars sales seem to indicate the continuing ability of bigger publishers to game their numbers in the direct market and perhaps even manufacture a hit from a solid performer by tying up so much non-returnable money into a single segment, the Attack On Titan sales figure strikes me as positive story that properties that hit with a fan base can be significant publishing events across a series, and that this can be sustained over time with a lot of emphasis at the front of a line. It suggests that Attack On Titan is a legitimate item of curiosity and perceived source for quality comics from North American readers, where the Star Wars comics number seem more like an shotgun wedding with a lot of bells and whistles pushing us to a pre-arranged outcome matching a certain kind of reader with a new comic book that brings a familiar version of prefigured thrills. It should be intriguing how -- and if -- interest is sustained in the Star Wars comics, which isn't at question with the Attack On Titan, or at least not as big a question. There's also a nearly concurrent release schedule with the different languages, which is not how the big hits of the '00s always worked. It would also indicate to me that anime shows need to be covered more effectively for publishing news, which isn't a sorting mechanism I've previously employed.

I'm also always interested when one of the young comics-makers in the manga tradition has a big hit, mostly in contrast to the American model where that's much less common. Not so much the case with Star Wars, which seems like it's been around since 1845. Then again, I should have picked up on all of this a while ago.
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Interior Art Pages From Spider-Man: Fever #1-3

posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

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


By Tom Spurgeon

* someone pointed out that until reminded I failed to list the San Francisco Zine Fest. That's actually one of the biggest events for a certain kind of qualifying comic, and it should be on everyone's radar.

* this poster up on the SPX tumblr represents the most of this year's special guests as I've seen in one place. There are a number of very talented younger cartoonists here, as appropriate to their theme of cartoonists that started to publish and produce after 2000. I'll be there, and if you're into comics I hope that's one of the shows you either do routinely or make room to do at some point in your comics-reading life.

* at some point, Hawaii shows are going to become a thing, right? Like I find myself attracted to shows now depending on where they are; it's only SPX where that doesn't play a factor and SPX environs at leat pony up plenty of restaurants.

* finally, these postcards are really cute and a clever way of advertising the Lakes show.
posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: JP Leon Images Mini-Gallery

posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink

Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Rob Clough on The Hospital Suite and King-Cat Comix & Stories #75. Chris Randle on Fragments Of Horror.

* Mike Lynch profiles Aaron Fine.

* I'm glad The Beat caught this because I sure didn't: a campaign on behalf of Norm Breyfogle heavy on the comics that were coming out during the main thrust of his career.

* Ed Piskor draws Rorschach.

* not comics: there will be many articles and thinkpieces about the exploration of sexuality depicted in The Diary Of A Teenage Girl. If the movie depicts this in anything close to the same forthright, thrilling manner of the book, these may all be thinkpieces worth reading. I greatly look forward to seeing the movie.

* this looks like several free articles about comics, which is something I want to mark so I can come back and explore it more thoroughly when I can.

* here's a resource for writing more effectively about comics art. I'll be reviewing it myself, as I have a lot of shortcomings in that area.

* I love the idea of this kind of cataloguing. In fact, I think organizing these visuals spatially with a defined sense of what the difference between those images entails pretty much makes them comics, even though we won't see them as such.

* I'm not sure that I ever provided a link to this Fusion-published series of cartoonist responses to same-sex marriage going national via the Supreme Court decision. My apologies if that's true.

* not comics: Lisa Hanawalt participates in this discussion of the credit sequence for Bojack Horseman.

* finally, go here to see a delightfully filthy cartoon illustration by Laura Park.
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink

Happy 49th Birthday, Chris Sprouse!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Happy 60th Birthday, Tom Ziuko!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Happy 39th Birthday, Dan Nadel!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

July 29, 2015

Go, Look: Michael Driver

posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink

Ted Rall Blasts Former Freelance Client LA Times

I think you can start with Ted Rall's vigorous defense against the charges made that led to his firing, here. You might have to move between some links, go back and forth and pick up some old threads, and you have to account for the primary voice, but the gist of it is there. The other important pair of documents is this combo piece featuring Rall's in-question opinion piece and the editor's note up top that Rall freelance relationship with the publication has ended.

I don't think I would have fired Ted Rall based on the LAPD's complaints, but I sure would have subjected future opinion pieces to greater scrutiny. If you hire someone to do freelance you should probably be starting from a position of confidence and trust in that person. Let's face it, though: this is not good. No, the recording doesn't 100 percent prove everything in the way that we're taught on legal dramas they have to be proved -- and you can cast aspersions at the act of recording, the keeping of the recording, and the gaps and so on -- but none of it supports Rall's side of the story. It doesn't seem like there's a shouting crowd (or they got quiet when people spoke), it doesn't seem like the cop is rude and abusive (he might have smirked), there's no appearance of another cop that saved Rall from citation (it doesn't even seem like he was saved from a citation).

Also, it makes perfect sense to me that if someone filed a complaint a recording would be kept and stuffed in a file somewhere, far more than I find it believable that Ted Rall suffered a version of Stockholm Syndrome based on a five minute incident in which he was certain of his innocence. Also, people at the beginning of a year misdate things; if they're making stuff up to protect their asses they tend not to misdate things. And so on.

There's also it seems an omission or two in Rall's full blog response, such as no mention he was allowed to speak to a reporter that investigated the claims, just not the deliberating committee at the Times. I thought it strange he was left out of the loop entirely, but he wasn't. He could have been. I know that at papers where I worked, a staffer might be treated to a full sitting committee like this but a decision to work with a freelancer or not (Rall talks about his "position," but I think he was just a freelancer) would be left to the editor that assigns work. This seems like treatment ahead of the curve.

I once lost a freelance gig that was super important to me at the time because my assigning editor distrusted me on a couple of deadline issues. I think he did so super-unfairly but after my initial "screw you" impulse I realized I didn't want to work for him, either. It happens. I hope Rall continues to find work with editors that support and believe in him, and that he in turn supports and believes in them. Clearly that's no longer the case with Rall and the Times.
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink

OTBP: Ritual

posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink

This Isn't A Library: 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.


This was a big seller for D+Q at San Diego this year, and I think should do well for them overall. It's the case of a market and a readership finally catching up to an intriguing work. Chris Oliveros was talking my ear off about this book 15 months ago.

One of the great joy of summer at the comics shop is picking up sizable work from talent that's new to you. This is the best book of that type this week, an Alternative Comics-distributed work from the Floating World nation in their Risk-Board like empire. Here's a nice look at those pages. Summer is where comics fans fall in love with creators, so look out.

JAN150673 CASANOVA ACEDIA #3 (MR) $3.99
APR150649 LAZARUS #18 (MR) $3.50
APR150554 SEX CRIMINALS #11 (MR) $3.50
MAY150528 SOUTHERN BASTARDS #10 (MR) $3.50
Here are your serial comic books of interesting, starting with the regular appearance of a Mignola-verse book -- this one features Troy Nixey and Kevin Nowland, so that is going to be one handsome comics. The latest Casanova will almost certainly be one of the sharper looking works on the stands right now; I'm having fun with this recent cycle, although I wonder how quickly it's going to have to end up moving by the time the story ends. Lazarus has become a fun book; I like it best when I don't mull over the politics, not because of their orientation but because I think the comic works best focused on its affecting lead. This is the issue of Sex Criminals with a Bryan Lee O'Malley variant and one copy out of several having a drawing from one of its creators. The story continues to bounce around in "recruitment of hero" mode, which is a fun thing on which to riff. Southern Bastards continues to do what it does very well; there's something about the way the book is concerned with a variety of different perspectives in a kind of overlapping horribleness that I find most interesting of all.

A rare quality mainstream superhero comic not best collected in trade form, but I'm sure plenty have anyway. I'd like for this comic to be done for about six months before I go back and figure it out a bit, and it looks like I'll have my wishes.

APR151501 LEAF HC $24.99
APR151499 NOT FUNNY HA HA HC $16.99
Two standalones from Fantragraphics. I've only read the second, a wry telling of two stories revolving around abortion, and even then only a part of it has been consumed. Hopefully it will do some social good as well. The first is from a Chinese artist.

Books out again after a while, all worthy of a second read or maybe even multiples if you can stand it. There is a lot of Craig Thompson being released right now, which should make the launch of his Space Dumplins that much more interesting.

WW3 is always of interest. If you store carries it, you have a good store.

It's hard for me to imagine anything on this week's list matching the fun of a big graphic design book featuring Otomo's work; my understanding is that there's an English translations of the big interview in there, too, which should make it easier for some to buy. I don't think we talk enough about Otomo as a foundational talent.

Patrick Rosenkranz has been the star writer about comics over the last half-decade, recording and publishing like mad his take on the underground comix era even as those men fade from the world and their comics fade from view. His best subject is S. Clay Wilson, who with the shift in attitudes about what makes good or responsible art has suddenly become the most interesting of that generation of artists. I'm so grateful these books exist.


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.



posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Demented Golden Age Flash Story

posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink

By Request Extra: Steve Hamaker Launches Plox Crowdfunder

imageMy personal gaming experiences ended at a tabletop role-playing session in 1982 and never had a serious digital, on-line element despite the occasional visit to the world of whatever in decidedly non-ambitious ways a couple times a year since. Steve Hamaker's PLOX still feels real according to my projected experiences I might have had in that milieu had I stuck around. I can imagine being one of its older, weary supporting cast. The strip is convincingly set in Columbus, my new home.

Hamaker, known best for his color work during several years at Cartoon Books, is one of the cartoonists that enters into a crowd-funding stage during a point in his work's development where publishing would be beneficial both as a way to reward older readers with a permanent milestone and as yet another way to build incremental momentum for the project entire. I've been terrible with the By Request column as I make my shift into concurrent publication, but I didn't want to miss out on driving some attention to Hamaker's solo work.
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Will Laren

posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink

So One Week Past The Launch Of The CR Patreon And My Entire World Of Comics Has Changed


Above is a version of Dustin Harbin's logo for the forthcoming The Comics Report, a new web publication made possible by this site's Patreon campaign. Any consideration you can give it at this late date I'd greatly appreciate. Here is this site's longer piece on what we're trying to do.

I should have the zero issue of The Comics Report out near this week's deadline if not right on it. It's been since the TCJ with the David Mazzucchelli and Ivan Brunetti covers that I tried to put together a comics magazine in less than one week's time, and back then I had a lot of stuff in the can and a lot less on my plate otherwise. Still, I think #0 will be a quality read, I think it will facilitate our finding a basic template, and I think the #0 status will allow that issue to focus on a couple of artists that maybe don't always receive the kind of attention they should. It's all Batman starting with issue #1, so don't get comfortable.

I'm getting visual help from Jessica Campbell on the first few issues because she is a quality human being and I will have more fun browbeating her into accepting payment than anyone else I know that's good with InDesign.

I have never been good at the beginning of anything, but I hope to come close with this and appreciate in advance what I hope is your patience in finding a magazine that has the best chance of what we want it to do over the long haul. I'm very excited.

We took notes last weekend from an editorial board made up of random Comics Reporter readers, I thought you folks came up with a lot of great ideas.
posted 1:45 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Shintaro Kago As Referenced On Tumblr

posted 1:40 am PST | Permalink

Please Tell Me About Any August 2015 Releases


It's a deliciously lazy month, and I'd love to hear about comics you know will be arriving on shelves during that 31 days.

It's harder and harder to tell these days when exactly US books are coming out -- there are a few August 2015 entries on Amazon that will be out in shops today. Any help is appreciated. I want to drive some attention to next month's books.
posted 1:35 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Kirby Collage Pieces

posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

By Request Extra: Pat Moriarity Could Use Some Extra Sales


Due to a minor but work-interrupting injury to his wife, the great cartoonist Pat Moriarity could use a doubling up of his monthly income for the next eight weeks or so. If you've ever wanted to buy something from him now is the time. He keeps original art for sale here and here. His originals are super-great looking, so if you're in the mood, avail yourself. You'll be doing a good thing for one of comics' finest citizens.
posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink

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