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

December 17, 2013

Go, Read: The Death Of The Age Of Stuff

posted 1:00 pm PST | Permalink

Festivals Extra: Stumptown To Merge Its Events With Rose City Comic-Con, Ending Stand-Alone Show


Alison Hallett at the Mercury in Portland, Oregon has the story of the Stumptown Comics Festival ending its stand-alone show in favor of a partnership with Emerald City Comic-Con's Portland-based show Rose City Comic-Con in terms of specific aspects of its primary event, including programming and its awards. They will also seek to fulfill their non-profit mandate by pursuing non-show outreach like a potential lecture series and work with schools.

You should read Hallett's story rather than any summation or liberal quoting of it here.

imageStumptown as a stand-alone festival was an important show in the bridge period between the initial SPX era of small-press shows and the modern, more hardcore arts festivals. I enjoyed the early shows I attended at the Doubletree and had a good time at the one I attended at the convention center last Spring. That there were even shows like Stumptown at all during a period of wobbly health for art-comics making -- even given the relative standards of what health in that world means -- that was sort of a miracle. It was an unlikely thing to have in existence even five years ago. So thank you, Stumptown.

That said, Stumptown was a strange show the last couple of years. It is the most complained-about show of any I attended in the last three years. It had a strange relationship to some in the Portland comics community. I spent time with two prominent Portland-resident alternative comics cartoonists in 2013 a couple of days before the event who literally did not know which weekend the festival was until my arrival in town told them. Similarly, there were always rumors about a split on the organizing board between those that had what one Portland described to me tongue-in-cheek as "ECCC Envy," and wanted a show with the surging popularity of Seattle's Emerald City, and those that wanted more of a hardcore arts festival that reflected the city's rich tradition of alternative comics talent more wholly and explicitly. As Hallett points out, this battle for the soul of the show was frequently fought on quotidian battlefields, such as a tussle between those that thought the convention center was the only suitable venue for a show of that size and those that felt that any place with a personality would have been preferable, even if that meant a few more people couldn't exhibit or people from outside of the town proper had to struggle a bit for parking.

One thing I noticed when I was at the 2013 version is that enthusiasm for the show had been dampened ahead of anything I could tell was structurally or physically or even conceptually wrong with the event. I stayed at the host hotel within a short walk of the convention center, liked it there, the room where the event itself was held was boring and had problems but didn't seem a deal-breaker of the kind that could have killed an enthusiastic crowd, the programming rooms were fine and the programming slate smart enough, I could walk somewhere for drinks, the parties were good, and so on. But it still felt deflated, like Portland's comics community had had such a horrible argument behind closed doors that this was the final family road trip before the divorce.

There will be other Portland small-press shows. In addition to their having been two "Projects" events focusing on process and comics-making hosted by Floating World, Hallett's article hints at another announcement forthcoming, likely but certainly not guaranteed to be some sort of replacement event. I would imagine the model presented by Short Run in Seattle would be encouraging to anyone attempting to do so. It seems to me that the natural life of the previous show had expired.

posted 12:00 pm PST | Permalink

By Request Extra: I Keep Skipping The Hic And Hoc Sale And Now I Feel Like Krampus So Here It Is


The small-press publisher Hic and Hoc is having a codeword-enabled sale from now until December 31. This stand-alone post is to remind me I keep forgetting to mention it in the "By Request" posts.

I have to imagine that all the publishers and all the cartoonists and all the stores could use a few extra sales over this holiday season, so I hope you'll spend any money on comics wisely.
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Five-Page Sophia Foster-Dimino Comic

posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink

Shia LaBeouf Apologizes For Elements Of Plagiarizing Daniel Clowes' Comic For A Short Film

You can go several places on-line -- here's one! -- to track the twitter barrage via which the actor and occasional comics-maker Shia LaBeouf apologized for taking material from Daniel Clowes' comic "Justin M. Damiano" to service his extremely similar short film "" A posting of the film -- which was shown at Cannes in 2012 and was directed by the actor -- led to people quickly picking up on similarities including wholesale lifting of lines from Clowes' 2005 comic, a reasonably obscure work for the cartoonist that was published in 2007 in an anthology The Book Of Other and most recently re-appeared as part of The Daniel Clowes Reader. The film was subsequently taken down.

This will be played out in Internet court all day, and in comics Internet court for maybe the next three, where I imagine that you're going to see the actor get credit for the straightforward embrace of culpability, but also get slammed for the stuff where he crouches in the gray area between "copy" and "inspiration" as his answer to the perceived question of "what were you thinking there exactly?"

It will also be pointed out -- and it should -- that LaBeouf grew up in that industry and has enough movie experience in all sorts of different roles making them that this kind of thing should be super-clear by now. He's also a comics fan that knows and purports to respect comics.

I have to admit, I kind of thought that this might be the approach pursued. I'm certainly open to the possibility that this is a case that involves the actor just not registering this was a bad thing until it was pointed out to him, as opposed to someone slyly trying to sneak something by folks: a mutant creature of a bizarre moral orientation, self-indulgence, denial, celebrity entitlement, our world of easy borrowing and comics' traditional role as fodder for other media, often uncredited. No matter how you get there, it still sucks. That guy fucked up.

I also feel badly for Daniel Clowes, one of the great cartoonists, who I imagine in no way wanted to deal with this avalanche of bullshit, some rocks from which will likely hit him on top of his head just for having been involved. One of the awful things about plagiarism is that the person being plagiarized is suddenly attending a party against their will, a pain in the ass above and beyond then having to secure credit for your work as it stands opposed to someone else's appropriation of that work or however one chooses to react. No one wants to spend a few days before Christmas like that. I'm sure Dan has things he would much rather be doing.

No positive outcome absolves the negative circumstance that precedes it, but if you haven't read the comic, The Daniel Clowes Reader was a very strong book of its type, maybe the best I've ever read. You could do worse than to buy a copy for anyone in your circle of friends that expresses interest in this goofy story or that liked the movie (the only reader review of which I read had praise for a funny line: one direct from Clowes).

Weirdly, as reader John Boren pointed out to me on twitter -- whether his original observation or not, I could not tell you -- LaBeouf's apology seems very close in wording and tone to a response in this Internet thread on the bad/good artists steal/copy quote.

Update: Mr. Boren has tweeted the observation about LaBeouf's apology originated with this person.
posted 1:55 am PST | Permalink

Go, Read: TEOTFW Over At What Things Do

posted 1:50 am PST | Permalink

Bundled Extra: Marvel + Wizard World Launch Variants Program

I thought this bit of PR worth mentioning because, if I'm understanding it correctly, it's a program by which people that attend Wizard World shows at certain levels of money paid will get as one of their perks a variant-cover issue of a comic book. Variants aren't a new thing, but the level of specific targeting we see with variant covers is indeed something new, and conventions are one of the entities -- along with specific stores and specific comics-related charities -- participating in such programs. I am of the mind that when rampant they are generally harmful to comics in the way I want to see comics succeed -- as a popular art form driven by content as opposed to a collectibles activity driven by overt market manipulation. I wish they didn't exist. At the same time, I have a hard time working up a panic over individual instances, and can sort of understand wanting a special cover for a special issue of a series I'm following, or whatever. I suppose what I'm getting at is an orientation towards this kind of thing might become deeply worrisome, or at least needlessly distracting, and thus demands our attention.
posted 1:45 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: John Buscema Cover Mini-Gallery

posted 1:40 am PST | Permalink

By Request Extra: Various Folks In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

* efforts to help Stan Sakai as he attempts to make up a home healthcare insurance gap remain ongoing. Please note the CAPS paypal button is working again. Sakai is one of the great, classy pros out there and I hope you'll consider helping him out.

image* if you have a favorite artist and some extra cash it's worth a reminder that a lot of creative people are doing holiday sales and most of them are doing it for the reason they could use the extra money -- not in a desperate way, but in the way that making art isn't always all that secure a profession, and certainly not for as much as we get from a lot of those people. One artist just brought to my attention doing a sale right now is Joëlle Jones. Two other cartoonists with self-directed sales I've been tracking this holiday season are Gabby Schulz and Tony Millionaire. There are a ton more.

* I'm told this cartoonist is having a sale for the specific purpose of replacing a stolen laptop. That would be a nice thing for you to do, plus the comics look pretty cool.

* as I mentioned yesterday, the other basic advice I have for right is to maybe not count on any artist being able to fulfill orders at this point; some even suspend sales around this time so as not to disappoint or so as to better reflect time away from the studio and/or the piles of things being sold.

* it also might be a good day to make a trip around the established charitable comics Internet as detailed by scrolling down to #59 here.

* the Sequential Artists Workshop is seeking a few thousand dollars in support of its 2014 programs. That one has a ton of time left, but it still feels to me like it's underperforming a bit, so please check it out. That money will be well-spent.

* finally, as will be the case this entire month, Dan Nadel continues his 50 percent off sale at PictureBox as that company winds down the front-list part of its admirable life. There is so much great material there, so if you're looking for a gift for yourself or for the hardcore art-comics fan in your life, have at it.
posted 1:35 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Paul Paetzel

posted 1:30 am PST | Permalink

Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

By Tom Spurgeon

* there's a surprising amount of publishing news given that people are beginning to shut it down for the holidays. Okay, it's not a lot, but basically any amount of publishing news strikes me as odd right now. If you pair that with stuff that gets announced just as on-line booksellers grind through another month of releases making it to their sites, and it's a party.

image* Image Comics put word out of a Stray Bullets revival of some sort via a visual teaser. I don't know that I can think of anyone who would think David Lapham's 1990s to mid-'00s crime series a poor match with that publisher's current series line-up, but I guess it's possible. Sounds good to me.

* this caught my eye: one of the Marschall Books releases promised in 2010 to arrive from Fantagraphics. I asked Eric Reynolds, and they said that even though those works have been delayed, they are still on board and those should start seeing the light of day in 2014.

* finally: I made a stand-alone post of Pikitia Press announcing its 2014 publishing season highlights, but here it is in case you missed it.
posted 1:25 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Small Bernie Wrightson Gallery

posted 1:20 am PST | Permalink

Go, Look: Ruta Briede

posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink

Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* this was one of the favorite comic books I ever bought through back-issue channels; in fact, I was hugely fond of that whole post-Xavier's death mini-run on the title. I also like the Werner Roth stuff, for some reason. When I was a kid that style seemed to me to be "old comics" in a way that cleaner styles weren't. Plus they were affordable, and the Jack Kirby-drawn stuff really wasn't. But the Adams issues? I liked the way they looked, and they were obsessed with death in a way that the modern X-Men comics I was reading at the time enjoyed a fascination with things being killed. Also, for some reason I always really loved that Cyclops was sitting on a sentinel head here.

* Molly Crabapple talks to -- and draws -- Art Spiegelman.

* I'm not sure I knew that Melissa Mendes has a dedicated store.

* OTBP: Jonny Negron + Sean T. Collins = Flash Forward.

* Kevin Leslie on King-Cat. Henry Chamberlain on Pompeii. Todd Klein on Green Lantern Annual #2 and Suicide Risk #1.

* this is a really old post from Luke Pearson, I think, but the exhibit and his contributions to it both seem interesting.

* every so often I'll check out Eric Reynolds' massive edited/acquired list with Fantagraphics. No real reason, it just makes me feel good.

* Richard Sala draws Christmas holiday-themed ladies: 1, 2.

* not comics: I really, really like the Stefan Norblin.

* go, look and/or read: 1) Lucy Bellwood's origin story. 2) a Christmas story for Shark And Unicorn. 3) four drawings from Darryl Cunningham. 4) cover pencils for a forthcoming issue of Eltingvilleville Club. 5) Leon Beyond explains dating. 6) various Will Dinski pages. 7) Chris Schweizer makes posters for episodes of Sherlock. 8) actually, I'm not sure what this one is.

* not comics: former Fantagraphics and Devil's Due art director Evan Sult writes about his day job, drumming.

* finally, an exhaustive essay on the origins of the Sadie Hawkins dance. That makes it sound like I was really, really dying for an exhaustive essay on that subject, and I am perfectly fine with that.
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink

Happy 59th Birthday, Beau Smith!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Happy 45th Birthday, Matt Hollingsworth!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Happy 61st Birthday, Ronn Sutton!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Happy 59th Birthday, Michael Cherkas!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

Happy 50th Birthday, Bart Sears!

posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink

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