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

July 25, 2012

Alternative Comics Returns: Ted May’s Injury #4 Looks To Be First Out Of Gate; New Sam Henderson


Longtime industry fixture Marc Arsenault of the iconic distributor and small press publisher Wow Cool will apparently announce later today through PW his manning a newly relaunched Alternative Comics. Although it's a good bet details will appear in that article, the first release from the new company seems to be the recently, independently-kickstarted Injury #4, which was the subject of a flier distributed Arsenault at San Diego and part of a mailing received by this site. The cartoonist Sam Henderson, whose Magic Whistle was I believe the most prolific comics title during Alternative's initial run, was also featured prominently in that flier. Whether or not the latest Injury is published by the newly-refurbished company, or co-published by the company and Injury Comics, or simply distributed, is a bit less clear. One project mentioned on the flier indicates that the company will co-publish. Arsenault is a well-connected, effective small-press distributor and one assumes a variety of approches are on the table.

Alternative Comics was founded by Florida lawyer Jeff Mason. Mason started Alternative in 1993 as a grad student to facilitate the publishing of Indy Magazine, and expanded to include formal comics publishing by the late 1990s. Alternative was a key publisher for the second-generation alt-comics makers. In addition to Henderson, Alternative in its first incarnation published works by Jon Lewis, Rich Tommaso, Nick Bertozzi, Jen Sorensenand Graham Annable. Alternative published the best-known (and perhaps only) Monica Lewinsky comic, Monica's Story, and was one of several comics publishers to donate monies raised via comics done about 9/11.

Alternative was a significant presence at the Small Press Expo and early MoCCA Festivals before slowly withdrawing from the scene about five years ago. Significant cartoonists in the last several months of Alternative's first go-round were Tommaso, K. Thor Jensen and Joel Orff.

CR contacted Tommaso, who said that he has not been in contact with the line about new work but that Arsenault had sent him a note saying he was warehousing previous Alternative efforts 8 1/2 Ghosts and Perverso (both 2004).

Alternative Comics was also a contributor to alt-comics' presence on-line, including the extremely ambitious web magazine iteration of Indy, which was edited by Bill Kartalopoulos. Kartalopoulos told CR this morning that he had no idea if Indy Magazine was part of the new endeavor, noting that the copyright to each contribution to the version he edited was held by the writer who submitted it.

With today's biggest alternative comics companies focused on the bookstore market and longer works, including high-end reprints, I would assume there's potential space for a company focused on serial publications and one-offs. This is doubly true given the amount of talent out there, and the ability to connect with fans via small-press and 'zine shows of which there are many right now. Arsenault has excellent, interesting taste; he was early on Al Columbia, Steven Cerio and Simon Gane. I look forward to what comes next. This article will be updated with information supplied in the formal release notice.

Update: The article at PW has since appeared. The deal between Arsenault and Mason does include backstock. The Sam Henderson to debut this Fall is Magic Whistle #12 and it is scheduled for launch at this November's Brooklyn Comics And Graphics Festival. Future work is planned from Kochalka, Karl Stevens and Cerio. Arsenault plans to make the backstock available through Diamond and Last Gasp. Arsenault's plans include digital editions, starting with Josh Neufeld's Titans Of Finance, already available.
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