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

May 28, 2014

Go, Look: Yet Another Kevin Cannon Map

posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink

Bruno Maïorana Takes Considered Look At Comics-Making, Says, "Yeah, This Doesn't Seem To Work"

imageI'm not familiar enough with the issue, the creator or the publication to make a strong declaration as to what it means when a cartoonist like Bruno Maïorana offers up a summary declaration that making comics isn't viable, but I wanted to drive attention to it for a few reasons.

First, I don't know Maïorana's work at all, but it looks he has been part of two successful series over the last 20 years, and is in the midst of creating one right now. This isn't someone quitting on an art form a decade after it has quit on them. Second, this is kind of darkly humorous in its straight-forward engagement of what doesn't get talked about a whole lot -- just how hard it is to make a career in comics. Third, it's a sentiment that a lot of people in North America share and that you occasionally see someone express. Fourth, he cites a number of things we hear about the French-language market in particular, such as the explosion of works available right now and the effect that seems to have had on sales, both book to book and series to series.

We don't pay as much attention as we should to the idea of an art form being viable for as long as it's able to support people that are accomplished in its creation. There's a number of reasons why we rarely talks about this, and it's not all about manipulating people to do work past the point they should perhaps not be spending their time that way. Some of it is culture, some of it is privacy. Still, I hope that we can make artists making a worthwhile living a value going forward, and nudge more and more of the industry in the direction of living up to that value.

Update: This article on the ripple effect caused by the Maïorana announcement gets into the issues a bit more, in particular the strain of certain required payments by the cartoonists that don't make much money. There's also a general figure tossed out there of a lot of cartooning making about 1000 euros a month or less, which would be a little over $16K a year USD.
posted 10:55 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: The Way JR JR Drew The Uncanny X-Men

posted 10:50 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: Brian Hibbs On What That Retailer Summit Was Like

I always read Brian Hibbs' Tilting At Windmills columns at CBR and this latest was no exception. It's useful for its lengthy description of what going to a retailer summit is like, right down to how the show is physically set up. He underlines retailer sentiment concerning news that DC's sales department icon Bob Wayne will be leaving the company soon. Hibbs even mentions that there were a bunch of female retailers in attendance this year, which is super-encouraging information to have even in anecdotal form. (Under torture, I could name maybe a half-dozen such retailers, none of them new.)

I'm also grateful for Hibbs' assessment of having a comics show in Las Vegas, given that all the talk over the last half-decade of the place as an eventual -- even inevitable! -- home for the Comic-Con event. There are no public spaces in Las Vegas, not really, and while comics people are willing to spend money on comics-related things, they are much less willing to spend money anywhere else. It might be fun to have a pro/con or something similar there, though.
posted 10:45 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Profile Of Helena Bochořáková-Dittrichová

posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink

Missed It: Jade Sarson Wins 2014 First Graphic Novel Competition Sponsored By Myriad Editions

imageThis looks like one of those stories I discussed on social media but never quite did a full post; my apologies. The cartoonist Jade Sarson has won the biennial First Graphic Novel Competition sponsored by Myriad Editions. The publisher gets to develop the work that wins with an eye towards publication -- although not guaranteed, it doesn't look like.

Given the flood of new talent generally but particularly in Great Britain, I would have to imagine this works as an actual competition more than it does a promotional effort by its primary sponsor and beneficiary. The contest is open to those without a professional publication on their "works completed" list. The previous winner was Gareth Brookes for his The Black Project, eventually released by Myriad last year.

The award was given out May 23 at the British Library, home of the Comics Unmasked exhibition.

Nominees were announced earlier that week. They were:

* Henny Beaumont -- Hole in the Heart
* Francesca Cassavetti -- Panic Attacks
* Wallis Eates -- Mumoirs
* Jessica Martin -- Elsie Harris Picture Palace
* Jade Sarson -- For the Love of God, Marie
* Robert Wells -- Sack, Crack & Back (& Brain)

This year's judges were Meg Rosoff, Andy Oliver, Woodrow Phoenix, Nicola Streeten and Corinne Pearlman.

There's a nice reaction article here.

The initial, linked-to article notes that Sarson has a webcomic, Cafe Suada, and an on-line store.

Coda: Hard not to be charmed by this post.
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Joe Maneely In Cracked, 1958

posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink

Your April 2014 SAW Micro-Grant Winners

Sequential Artists Workshop announced the two most recent winners of their intermittently offered micro-grant program. The April 2014 winners are Keren Katz and Julian Voloj. Katz won for an ongoing work, "Plans to Go to St Frances and Take Up Astronomyā€¯; Voloj won for a work in progress wiht the illustrator Claudia Ahlering, Warrior/Peacemaker. Both works are described in full through the link; the Volojo collaboration is current looking for a publisher.

Runners up were Ink Brick and Baggywrinkles. Honorable Mention was Kerbop. The Workshop also mentioned they received requests for grants for comics teaching, which is outside the purview of this particular reward.

The grant is sponsored in part by the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation.
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Gil Kane Cover Images Mini-Gallery

posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: The Comic-Con Style Makeover Of BEA

imageThere's a longish piece up at Vulture that folks keep e-mailing me from a writer named Boris Kachka about Book Expo America using some of the elements of comics conventions to goose the long-running event with what they hope is crowds of book consumers on the show's last day to supplement the industry attendance that drives the rest of the show. It's a fairly thorough article in terms of describing how this is done: celebrities and movie tie-ins, basically. The piece also notes the skepticism of some publishers, one of which isn't even formally participating while "lending" authors to the show. There's no compelling argument made that this will be beneficial to anyone other than those with movie tie-in properties and celebrity authors, which I don't know is a sign that there's no such case to be made or, scarier, that everyone already knows this and has moved on. There's also a significant unanswered question as to how this is different than a book festival someone might attend, events that are frequently held in places much more fun to visit than a convention center -- the geek culture featured at a comic-con was something that wasn't getting that kind of attention elsewhere. Major authors of prose are also still more likely than comics authors to appear in major venues as solo acts.

The article also notes a significant controversy over the diversity of participants in programming, which totally escaped my attention as a thing that was even going on.

An additional thing I find sort of interesting here is that this article discusses these moves as if they're brand new and not a direction in which the Expo has been moving -- or at least talking about moving -- for years now. In fact, there's an attempt to couch this as a kind of early effort that will lead to more refined execution down the road. It could be that the talk preceded the actions for that long of a time, I don't follow the Expo enough to know. I do know that as a book reader and as a journalist intensely interested in one aspect of publishing the show isn't even on my radar anymore and when I think about it the thing I liked about it are no longer a part of the show or are not expected to benefit from a comic-con approach: the limited and informed industry audience and the way the show would take place in different cities being two of those things. I'm sure it still works for a lot of folks, though.
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink

OTBP: The Healing Island

posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink

Festivals Extra: CAB Exhibitor Application Deadline Approaching

Here. I enjoyed attending the inaugural Comic Arts Brooklyn last year, and hope to attend this year's version. That's a big buying show for a lot of people, so those table costs sounds reasonable to me.
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Latest Agent 8 At

it's at a site called Slutist
posted 1:40 am PST | Permalink Amazon Moves Away From Screwing Over Marvel Books In Attempt To Gain Control Of Profits

The hobby business news and analysis site has a short piece up here that indicates that the Marvel books distributed by Hachette have gone back to being available -- they had briefly been the victim of the retailing giant's out-in-the-open hardball policy of treating suppliers lke Hachette poorly in a a move to seize more of the digital business they'll need to start showing profit, the profit their investors are beginning to demand. Welcome to the new book market.

I'm not sure that any of these individual stories -- or even the bunch of them together -- of intimidation and open fuckery will have an effect at all on the way Amazon conducts itself in the future, except maybe they'll become more circumspect about applying pressure. I'm also not sure what if anything can be done except everyone walking around frowning in the hopes that this matters to someone out there. At least I'm not sure if anything can be done right now. I do think it's valuable to pay attention to this story as it slowly rolls its way through that market, though, because Amazon in a dominant position is the market moving forward, and what they do with that power should be filed away and not forgotten.

Getting to bitch about this almost makes me wish I were in New York for BEA. Almost.
posted 1:35 am PST | Permalink

OTBP: The Washington Tragedy Part One

posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

This Isn't A Library: Notable Releases Into The 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.


There are a lot of good comics out this week that are brand new, and while a few of them may be really good I can't imagine any will be any better than the latest IDW edition of Little Orphan Annie near the end -- I think, anyway -- of Gray's length golden age with that feature. I find Gray's stories sort of hypnotic even when they descend into creaky formula, which is all the freaking time. Mostly, though I love to revisit that world for the art, the way the figures are cut from space, the way that shapes opporess and the sky crowds in. These are beautiful comics.

I'm always interested in learning more about Neil Gaiman, but I'm particularly interested to see what Hayley Campbell does with a book. She's already a more interesting writer about art than I am, and I hope this is the first of many volumes if she want to pursue writing of this kind.

Well, it's certainly the only $100/$600 comic available on the stands this week. I don't have as big an appetite for science-fiction BD and comics that refer to that material as many of my peers 10 years or more younger than I am. I do know that just about anything Moebius does is of historial interest, even an aborted project like this one (and there's not a lot of late-period Moebius available in general, I don't think). I also think that Ladronn is an interesting choice for an artist to work in that same arena. I'd love to look at this, but I may have to wait until a subsequent formatting. Also, if your shop carries this at all, high-five your owner and tell them you love them.

I've been picking these up here and there, and while I'm not invested in that publication or even that whole school of comics to make an intriguing, specific point about what might be in any one volume, I will always pay attention to them.

I've missed out on the first of these listed, at least so far, so there's a curiosity factor there. I'm all for franchise-enders, too. The Conan I have been reading, and it hews pretty closely to the Conan books I remember as a kid. If anything there's a tendency to extend the set pieces in each issue, perhaps at the expense of the overall flow of the story. Still, I think there should always be Conan comics out there, and am glad to see these when they show up in my mailbox.

This is my favorite of the recent attempt by Dark Horse to create a bunch of series, most of which seem like they could be brought to television or film in some way. It's kind of like Longmire except with Richard Jenkins playing a mellow alien instead of that hulking brute of an Australian actor that western TV series utilizes. It's more pleasant than impactful, but I like pleasant comics.

I love the look of Carmine Infantino's 1960s work, although I own more of the Flash comics than these Batman issues. I'd sure as heck look at it were it in my shop; Infantino almost never disappoints on a considered look.

MAR140594 SEX #13 (MR) $2.99
MAR140475 TREES #1 (MR) $2.99
These are the only two genre comics that leap out at me as something to see this week; I'm sure I missed a ton. With The Bounce wrapping up it's time to focus our attention on Joe Casey's other recent stripping down of the superhero comic book. There's a lot of interesting stuff in there about milieu and setting that you tend not to see on start-from-scratch series like this one. Trees #1 is Warren Ellis working with Jason Howard on science fiction. The first issue is table-setting, but it's a pretty functional spread they've got going there.

If you don't own the comics -- and these are some of the few Kirbys that are more difficult to purchase than 20 years ago, or at least have been for me -- I can't imagine you wouldn't want this, just on principle. This was a joke comic when it came out -- it was a joke with those few kids I knew that read comics -- but Kirby could still make with the visuals and this one has plenty of those.

MAR140776 OZ OZMA OF OZ TP $19.99
I imagine this is a re-release of some sort, but anything Marvel does with the Oz property is worth noting.

Lot of heavyweight comics-making artists with work out this week: Gray, Kirby, Moebius, and now Enki Bilal, with his contribution to that series of comics about the Louvre that NBM has been publishing over here. Bilal looks like the least narratively complex of the offerings, but also the least standard in approach, and it's always a pleasure to see him draw.

MAR141169 AMATEURS GN $14.99
This is a stand-alone work by Conor Stechshulte and will probably remind anyone coming in cold as a combination of Zak Sally (re-contextualized cartoon slapstick) and Josh Simmons (horror of the transgressive moment variety). I enjoyed it, and want to read it again.

MAR141021 SPAIN & MOROCCO HC (MR) $25.00
This is a project that's been serialized on-line by Alex Fellows since 2009, here. A lot of this looked really attractive when I encountered it in that on-line form, and Conundrum's season has been strong in general, so I look forward to sitting down with that one. Fellows you may remember as the answer to the trivia question as an early content-supplier for the Fantagraphics web site.

APR141173 PETTY THEFT GN (MR) $19.95
These are the two Drawn and Quarterly TCAF debuts. They are also two-thirds of my bedside reading table (with Barnaby Vol. 2). I am moving into the Delporte presently, and should finish up the Girard tonight. I find Girard really pleasurable to read, I could read like 700 pages of his comics, and he could probably indulge in great crimes of narrative slackness and keep my attention i like the cartooning enough. This one has been pretty funny so far.


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 1:25 am PST | Permalink

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

posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Celebratory Moebius Gallery At Bristol Board

posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink

Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* hello, Hannah Chapman. Get back to work.

image* Kelly Thompson on This One Summer. Rob Kirby on It Never Happened Again. Paul Buhle on Bad For You. Bart Croonenborghs on The Last Tiger On Earth. Johanna Draper Carlson on Batman '66 #11. Laura A. Pearson on Heartless. Jake Austen on a trio of comics.

* not comics: I don't know if we're at peak superhero or if we're at a place where superheroes are just part of the landscape now. I do think there's a trend in movie-making and television shows where cheaper is better, and that there's going to be an adjustment to find superhero properties that suit that model of entertainment as opposed to the big fantasy blockbuster model. We'll see how the Guardians movie does -- with its emphasis on humor -- and, more importantly, the Netflix TV shows and how they adjust on that S.H.I.E.L.D. show to the realities of making something like that. DC seems to have found a way to do TV that should work for the next several years: plugging what they do into existing network storytelling modes.

* this is cute.

* Fantagraphics has released the first cover image from their partnership with the cartoonist Lucy Knisley: it looks very nice.

* I find the whole murky area of estates pursuing control of charactes one would assume have lapsed into the public domain freaking fascinating, mostly because of how unsettled it is, so I lapped up this Kevin Melrose post. One of the reasons I'm for creators making as much money as possible in as many circumstances that allow it is that I eventually want all of this stuff returned to the primordial soup of general culture without it feeling like something's been taken away from someone. I can hope, anyway.

* Patrick A. Reed in praise of Herb Trimpe -- which to my eye serves partly a reminder of how much Trimpe benefited from creative partnerships with Marie Severin and John Severin.

* finally, a rare freelance assignment for Mr. Chester Brown.
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink

Happy 44th Birthday, Tony Consiglio!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Happy 67th Birthday, Lynn Johnston!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Go, Bid: Stan And Sharon Sakai Art Auctions Going On eBay

posted 12:05 am PST | Permalink

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