Everyone Caught This But Me: Vanguard Visionary Assets Now Majority Owner At Dark Horse
Deal described by Milton Griepp here and discussed by Heidi MacDonald here. Both stories underline Mike Richardson remains CEO and retains a significant ownership share.
I have no real opinion about this. I guess there's an angle where you point out that VVA is a Chinese company, which I'm not sure really says anything specific to comics except that there is always the promise/hope that that country can be opened as a market -- a not unreasonable expectation, I suppose, at least the chance this might happen. It does look like Dark Horse's attention to its post loss of Star Wars core properties and its creation of very friendly to film and TV properties like Resident Alien make it a more friendlier partner for media companies like Netflix. I'm grateful for artists to have those opportunities and hope they're fairly executed.
The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Shows And Events
By Tom Spurgeon
* exhibitor applications are open for VanCAF 2019 through December 15. That's a growing-in-popularity show, a very visitable city, and a region with a rich reservoir of comics talent. I've always wanted to go but the cost of the show so soon after Toronto kills me. The difficulty of getting to certain parts of North America from secondary-hub airports is a fact of life now. I'm jealous of those who get to, though.
* there was a blackface incident at Alamo City Comic Con when a prominent participant used black make-up to approximate the appearance of a dog character from a specific Disney effort. That seems deeply unfortunate no matter the intention going in, which I personally imagine -- though I could be wrong -- was wholly benign. A contest organizer and the con more generally have apologized.
* if I'm reading this correctly, it looks like Comic-Con International is going to establish firm limits on guest badges linked to professional registrations, part of their ongoing transformation of that process. I have a lot of sympathy for CCI making such changes as they've long been very generous in keeping as many old methods as possible, even as the show has continued to surge in popularity. I also know if/when they do something similar in my category, press, that I have years of being indulged under my belt and can't really object at all to most imagined outcomes of a more stringent policy.
* I always enjoy these Sarah McIntyre posts, which have this feel of coming from an alternate universe where everyone wears delightful costumes and makes cool looking stuffed creatures right out of well-designed books.
* by request extra: I don't know that there's any specific financial need tied into these offerings from Roger Langridge, but he is someone that could always be rewarded to the medium's overall benefit.
* David Beard profiles conservative editorial cartoonist Antonio Branco.
Ali Charaf Damache was sentenced on Tuesday to 15 years in federal prison in a Philadelphia. He was the Algerian ringleader of a small group that plotted to assassinate post-Danish Cartoons figure Lars Vilks, an artist who made some cartoons in the period of heightened sensitivity following the original newspaper cartoons -- I would suppose at this point, Vilks and the original participating artists have begun to blur together as history does its usual push towards a broader perspective. The chapter of the saga in question took place in 2011, some five full years after the original controversy.
Damache's sentence was I believe the maximum allowed.
* go, read: I don't know their publications arm, but it looks like Barnes & Noble commissioned an article about the giant Complete Earthsea collection out now, the one featuring tons of illustration work by the great Charles Vess.
* not comics: everything about this review runs at such a hard right angle about what I value in art it's kind of breathtaking. Same with the pages of comics shown here.
By Request Extra: Ethan Van Sciver Starts GoFundMe To Support Lawsuit Against Mark Waid
Chris Arrant hits all the talking points here. I'm not sure what to call the opportunity to support either side -- or both! -- of a legal dispute, but that both sides are covered sounds extra-depressing. Still, these are important matters and every that wants to should support.
* this is a really, really good idea: a Southern California festival focused on working artists in a variety of fields, including comics. Early September 2019. Jim Demonakos' involvement given his role in developing Emerald City will make this a show of focus for those that follow these festivals as businesses.
* this seems like a good idea. I'm not fired up for variant covers, as I think they introduce a level of distortion into the comics market that's unnecessary and maybe even harmful, but I'm not totally against marking special issues, etc. with this kind of flourish. If they have to exist, and somebody has to get those nice gigs, it's good that some of them will go to creators that are struggling.
Missed It Multiple Times: Stan Lee 1960s Press Roundtable Show
I'd heard of such footage but hadn't seen it, even missing Sean Howe's apparent posts on it. It's interesting. A lot of Stan Lee's career can be broken down into attempts at a wider media role: the early how-to book, syndicated strips, adult magazine features of the Harvey Kurtzman variety, his elder-statesman of comics role, things like this set of videos, Hollywood idea man, and so on.
Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding
By Tom Spurgeon
* this Facebook thread by longtime indie/alt mainstay Linda Medley jumped to a secondary level of attention from peers and fans concerned about the artist quitting the field forever. There's also apparently a bookmobile for sale. The difficulty of sustaining comics-making at any level should never be taken for granted, not even as a reality for people that are extremely talented. I hope there are enough devoted Medley fans amongst fellow professionals and her longtime base readership to maybe establish a more positive baseline. This supportive post from the very fine illustrator and comics-maker David Lasky provides the URL for Medley's Patreon. I own all of Linda's published work and hope one day to own additional books.
* Mark Waid's gofundme effort to defray legal costs in a suit brought against him by Richard C. Meyer of Comicsgate has done well in its initial ask. Waid's campaign is a little bit more interesting than some other recent efforts designed to combat handwringing legal action because of Waid's positions and relative financial comfort to who usually gets tagged in such legal matters. I gave as someone who wants creators of all types and at all levels of participation to speak openly and freely about what they feel is damaging or aggressively harmful behavior. All lawsuits are a lot of money, which is why it's such a dramatic step that should be held to a very high standard.
* Warren Bernard's admirable support of those sued for defamation by Cody Pickrodt continues. I hope there will be wider comics participation; the amounts given seem to me in anecdotal fashion to be pretty high by individual donor, though my perception might be wrong.
* there are a lot of asks out there right now, compounded by the political season and the spirit of the times including a significant element of hatred against which people and communities at risk need to be protected. I get that this can be frustrating from a variety of angles. I'm working my own personal database for the festival with which I'm involved, while at the same time supporting causes via donation that are more impactful and involve way more serious issues. I urge you to give to everything you feel needs your help and wherever you could make a difference. Our world is better for communal efforts, many of which need some sort of communal support. Don't forget individual artists.
* friend to CRGil Roth mentioned in a recent e-mail the free download of a Gardner Dozois tribute issue of NYRSF as something that might interest comics fans. I'm sure it would interest many, but the recommendation struck me because I was recently musing over the lingering impact of Science Fiction culture on comics culture with another friend. I think that influence is pretty significant, and kind of out of sight at this point.
* I did not see until just a few moments ago that Brian Bendis is doing the Julius Schwartz lecture this year. He's a very effective public speaker, and that should be good. I also didn't realize -- and I could be wrong, maybe it just looks this way -- that they've limited the number of times they've done the lecture, which if true I think will benefit the program in the long run.
This Isn’t A Library: New, 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.
JUN181670 BAD FRIENDS GN (MR) (C: 0-1-2) $21.95
I know nothing about this book save for what the publisher Drawn And Quarterly has published here, but it sounds great and some day you just want to go to the comics shop and dive right into something new.
FEB180031 DAVE MCKEAN SHORT FILMS HC (C: 0-1-2) $24.99
This book on the other hand is something I wasn't aware would exist in this form but certainly knew that longtime comics artist and illustrator Dave McKean was a filmmaker. The film work here seems ably supported, and stills from that work might be a uniquely attractive entry point for fans of McKean's comics. That's a fine price point, too.
AUG180345 USAGI YOJIMBO #7 (OF 7) THE HIDDEN $3.99 AUG180373 BEASTS OF BURDEN WISE DOGS AND ELDRITCH MEN #3 (OF 4) CVR A $3.99 AUG180374 BEASTS OF BURDEN WISE DOGS AND ELDRITCH MEN #3 (OF 4) CVR B $3.99
Two solid series, including the conclusion of the latest cycle of work from the great Stan Sakai and his Usagi Yojimbo character. I'd be interested to know how doing the work as a mini-series had an impact on sales as Usagi supported multiple, more open-ended series over the years and there was something about that presentation that spoke to the general high quality of the work Sakai has done storyline to storyline. Mostly, however it's presented, the thrill is new Sakai work. This specific Beasts Of Burden work is comics I have yet to read, but the creators are swell and that's a solid concept that hasn't come near to playing itself out.
APR180447 BILL SIENKIEWICZ MUTANTS & MOON KNIGHTS ARTIFACT ED HC (NET) $125.00
These were some truly fantastic-looking and very odd comics when they were originally published, kind of late-period arguments for the notion that sprung out of the 1970s generation that the way forward for greater expression and literary value in comics was through its dominant genre rather than aside it or even in opposition to it. Any kind of reprinting or printing approach that isn't soft, toilet-paper like paper stock has to be an improvement in presentation. This is one of the few comics of its types where the visual approach has a significant effect on the storytelling in which it was used, giving the mutant work in particular a foreboding, slow pace festooned with peak moments of transformative splendor. Update: This is likely coming out next week now.
AUG18019 ROYALBOILER BRANDON GRAHAM DRAWN OUT COLL TP (MR) $24.99
It's interesting to me that this would be published during Graham's personal period of long reform within the comics industry over the content, direction and intent of some Internet arguments but I'm also never sure how deeply those issues -- which are real as can be -- cut into the consumer appetite for an artist's work. Many of the traditional tools for PR are lost for sure.
AUG181999 AMULET 1-8 BOX SET (C: 0-1-0) $103.92
Just in time for Christmas, one supposes. I'm a great Kazu Kibuishi fan even as I'm not the primary or secondary or tertiary audience for a long fantasy saga at this point in my life. I'm happy for the success of this work and look forward to its conclusion so I can read it all at once. I'm a little confused about a box set this close to the end of serial publication.
AUG182189 ANDY LIFE & TIMES OF ANDY WARHOL GN (C: 0-1-0) $34.99 JUN181907 BANANA SUNDAY GN $12.99 AUG181816 DOG SOLDIERS (MR) $19.99 JUL181884 DRAWN TO BERLIN HC COMIC REFUGEE STORIES NEW EUROPE (MR) (C: $24.99 AUG181543 NATHAN HALES HAZARDOUS TALES HC VOL 08 LAFAYETTE (C: 0-1-0) $13.99 AUG181524 PHOEBE & HER UNICORN GN VOL 08 IN UNICORN THEATER (C: 0-1-0) $9.99 JUN180365 BPRD HELL ON EARTH HC VOL 03 (C: 0-1-2) $34.99
And here we find ourselves in one of those weeks where it's a bunch of book-format comics that dominate the marketplace title-count wise than serial comic books. I would say that happens one our of every eight weeks now: less frequently if you don't count collections of serialized work; more so if you focus on publishing events with a little more oomph. Andy Warhol's work might lead nicely to a comics treatment of his life; it's the execution that will either make or break this SelfMadeHero book, although that's a publisher with a fine record in terms of its biographies. I don't know what iteration of Banana Sunday that is, but I like Colleen Coover's art. Dog Soldiers is the Fillbach Brothers and in its treatment of post-war mental trauma sounds more elegant than demented, like the recent World War I comic where all the soldiers were dogs. Drawn To Berlin features Ali Fitzgerald's work in refugee workshop, which is enough to sell me on its own; Fantagraphics' imprimatur helps, though, as they seem the kind of publisher averse to some of the work cliches that might pop up. I'm not a follow of the Nathan Hale stuff, but the cartooning looks dense and fun. You could argue that the Phoebe & Her Unicorn books are the primary publishing event for which the newspaper strip serves in support, and might not even get an argument from anyone. And there's your Mignola-verse work of the week.
NOV171713 WALT KELLY POGO COMP DELL COMICS HC VOL 06 (C: 0-1-0) $50.00
This is the final volume of comic-book reprints of material featuring Walt Kelly's newspaper strip colossus. I would want to look at this in the story as I think execution would mean a lot here, but it's certainly nice to have that work accessible to readers.
SEP182074 ALISON BECHDEL CONVERSATIONS SC (C: 0-1-0) $25.00
This is at a non-academic price point or really tiny. I try not to participate in this series any longer and only do when the subject matter makes a personal request and sometimes not even then. I just don't like turning my material over to editors I don't know, and I've been burned in the past. I do know that some people consider these interview books a great boon to academia. Anyway, Alison is a great interview: smart, funny and really digs into the questions rather than falls back on talking points.
AUG181944 FANTE BUKOWSKI GN VOL 03 THREE PERFECT FAILURE (C: 0-1-2) $16.99
Noah Van Sciver's third and I think final book with the characters read to me as much funnier than the first two volumes and even breezy. Van Sciver has a nice sense of structuring in his joke-telling, though, and I've become fond of the ridiculous title character and the drama he brings into close orbit. A nice goodbye to Van Sciver's time in Columbus, Ohio.
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.
* RM Rhodes takes a look at a National Lampoon effort on french comics and how it doesn't really intersect with Metal Hurlant.
* went out and saw Arie Kaplan speak on the subject of Jewish creators' influence on mid-20th Century superhero comics. He's an engaging and very practiced speaker. Good crowd, too, for a paid engagement on a Sunday night.
* not comics: I really enjoyed this venue for the Matthew Thurber signing we had in town a couple of weeks ago. I hope it does well and I hope your PR people will add it to your Columbus tour stop lists.
* Steve Kelley takes the Post-Gazette job from which Rob Rogers was let go for his anti-Trump cartoons. Kelley is a super-solid pro and there's a positive element to any paper keeping a staff cartooning position, but that's a tainted gig and I wish anyone asked had said no -- even as much as I hate backseat driving other people's career choices.
* finally: this page of Dick Giordano inking Jose Garcia-Lopez is quite attractive.
Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital
By Tom Spurgeon
I'm sure there are stories I'm missing, but Kate Beaton shutting down one of the five great comics of the 21st Century, the singular and funny Hark! A Vagrant, with a gracious thank you and a promise to keep the archives up, should get this column's sole attention and every other award and sign of respect and gratitude this industry and all its attendant communities can generate. I'm sorry I hadn't noticed until a couple of days ago.
I hope Kate Beaton does whatever she wants for as long as she wants to do it, and I am grateful I was an active comics reader while she was making this work. What a thrill. Thank you, Kate.
* I'm certainly not smart enough to even begin to vet the math, but this twitter autopsy of writer Chuck Wendig's firing asserts that in general negative tweets may come from accounts that aren't actually people and accounts that pay attention to key opinion-leaders in whatever limited world viewpoint we're talking to find cues as to who they might attack. That could make for routine pushback against Internet controversy firings.
I'm going to be messing around A LOT with my social media use for the next two months. This will probably involve various stabs at deactivating Twitter, or Facebook, perhaps, or shifting the use I get out of various platforms.
I don't like these virtual places as outlets for human interaction. I think most of them have curdled in the same way message boards did about 15 years ago. At the same time, I'm kind of tied to them as a way of gathering information. That information is very Balkanized, and I admit to some confusion as to why. I know a lot of people that put stuff out there on one platform and just sort of expect that everyone sees it. In the last year or so, I even see people discussing information that is no longer the place it was as people delete and move on. That's weird!
My other problem is that once these platforms are available to me I tend to spend a lot of time on them telling dumb jokes, making lazy commentary and arguing with people for whom the phrase "Life Is Too Short" was invented. I think this has for the last few years been at the expense of writing I could do for the site.
I have no idea where I'm going to be on the other side of this -- I may capitulate and return; I may make permanent some changes -- but I should have things figured out by my 50th birthday in mid-December. 50! That's 43 years in regulation, seven and counting of overtime. Life is a blessing.
* Ezra Claytan Daniels working with Ben Passmore is an exciting pairing, and a great get by Fantagraphics for a summer book whose appeal should extend deep into Fall. Passmore in particular is set up for a strong 2019 with I believe work on the way from multiple publishers. I also think I recall Fanta having been in the running for Daniels' current Lion Forge work when Upgrade Soul was making the rounds, but I could be wrong about that.
* it took until the fourth issue of the relaunch for the new MAD to make news, with this pointed commentary riffing on Ed Gorey's most famous comic. I've found a couple of things I've read in the relaunched publication as kind of toothless, celebratory satire ("we're making fun of you because we love you a lot"), so I was happy to see this comic. Wanted: more like.
* the writer Chuck Wendig addresses issues surrounding his abrupt, recent firing from a Marvel Star Wars title for unrelated Internet activity of a political nature.
* a victorious Paul Karasik declares "Mission Accomplished" in this photo, regarding a beautiful Charles Addams mural discussed here returned to a place of visual access and general, reasonable platform suitability. Man, what a good-looking mural.
* aw, crap, I missed Jason Lutes at the Boston Book Festival. The prepared part of Jason's appearances at these show is first rate. If you get a chance to go, go.
* festivals extra: looks like CAB is a Sunday show this year, which I mention because some of you may be dopes like me that aimed at a Saturday arrival and departure for that weekend rather than a Sunday like a normal person that checks dates. Just double-check, is all I'm saying.
* Tony Isabella remembers Steve Gerber with a brief note. Gerber was a very interesting creator and his legacy looks better every year. I still get a thrill when I see the old Howard stuff. Pop culture worked way differently back then.
* did we talk about John Jennings getting an imprint and a checkbook for the imprint by Abrams? I think we did. It's worth noting again that one aspect of this is Abrams has been so disciplined as a publisher in terms of the number of books it publishers. So for them to go for a whole line, they must be very high on Jennings and what he has planned. Good luck to all involved.
* bundled extra: Oni Press announces a new book with Katie O'Neill. Certainly people have been delighted by the two existing works mentioned in the article.
* festivals extra: I'm not sure why I bookmarked this photo given that it's already fired through our social media, but that's a great look on Jeff's face as he picks up a couple of honors at the end of CXC 2018. I'm right around the corner, by the way. I realized I was blocking the view of those kids.
* finally: not sure how I get to this Etsy shop, or who it belongs to even, but I like the looks of this print.
Festivals Extra: Billy Ireland Announces Barbara Shermund And Latinx Comics Exhibits For Galleries
Announcement here. That's a nice pairing. The Latinx exhibit draws on OSU professor Frederick Aldama's work in that area. I've not seen a bunch of Shermund, so that should be a treat as well, and I've enjoyed past shows with which Caitlin McGurk has been involved.
The party for the former is November 3, while the party for the latter will come in 2019. The exhibits will run through March 2019.
* most of what I hear back from NYCC is positive, particularly how the show was executed. I don't remember a lot of comics announcements that made an impression on me over that four-day period, although I'll look at the new Brian Michael Bendis-directed Wonder Comics line. I was surprised how little we heard from Marvel's publishing efforts. It feels like they need to start taking some shots at the fences. I wouldn't be surprised if they snatch up one of the non-Bendis big writers currently working and completely rework X-Men. There seems some potential energy there, still. I'm sure their TV and movie panels did well.
* finally: here's a Rose City report on the future of Brian Michael Bendis' creator-owned work, the comparative infrastructure for which I think is a significant part of why the writer is at DC right now. It's interesting to me that would end up being announced by Rose City with NYCC coming four weeks later, but announcements happen all the time now.
* here's another story of an artist being robbed while at a convention. It feels like there have been a lot of recent reports. It makes sense to me that there would be an increasing number of thefts. Economic times are tough in terms of people making enough money to get by in the fashion to which they believe they are entitled. We also have more cultural approval of self-determination that includes financial gain, which many use to justify exploitation or outright thievery. I bet every one of these robberies comes with a justification as to why they were done. Anyway, be careful out there. Also remember that a lot of venues are taped, and get on asking for that tape before it's erased.
* Michael Dooley profiles Anthony Bourdain's efforts in comics, which were ongoing right up until the time of his passing. I liked Bourdain as a prose writer post his initial bro-soaked works, and he had really good taste as a comics reader, so I'm confused by his comics output. There's not a single page reprinted in that article that doesn't bore me a bit.
Raina Telgemeier is widely understood to be the most powerful commercial force in North American comics, and one of the most potent in the world. Two books from her in a calendar year is a big deal, and it confirms some early projections that 2019 may be a loaded year for comics in general.
* big piece of comics-related coverage of the day is this interview with Stan Lee, JC Lee and various current members of Team Stan at his home in Los Angeles. This is a heartbreaking piece of journalism, with a comprehensive approach to publishing everything said that gives it more authority than usual, as well as more pathos. Lee sounds exhausted and a bit uncertain of some of what's going on around him. Lee's late wife Joan is a significant, heartbreaking presence within the story. This is also the first time I remember daughter JC Lee participating in a story like this. I don't really know what the motivation behind getting this out there might have been from Lee's perspective, although I can imagine making several guesses based on the resulting story. I very much doubt there will be another public appearance for the longtime industry icon. I'm still skeptical of the $50-70M net worth figure.
This year's refurbished Harvey Awards winners were named during the Friday evening of New York Comic-Con.
I have no measurables by which to determine the success or failure of any individual awards program, although the relaunch of this particular program did drive coverage during the nominations round and right after. The winners strike me as solid but not distinctive, and in fact those taking home a Harvey are many of the same names that took home Eisners. Eisner Awards administrator Jackie Estrada receiving an industry award from the program further blurred the lines a bit. Roz Chast -- sick and unable to make the ceremony -- and Dave Gibbons went into the Harveys Hall of Fame.
I'd be surprised if the program didn't do at least well enough to be done again in 2019.
Calvin Reid served as host.
Your winners in bold. Congratulations to winners and nominees.
* Jane Lindholm and Matthew F. Smith talk to Jason Lutes.
* Sean T. Collins marchesRolling Stone readers through a brief hero history for that goofy Venom character, apparently originally conceived by a Marvel reader who got a Siegel-Shuster sized check from Jim Shooter.
* finally, a bit of assembled extra: this is a smart, encouraging twitter thread by Spike Trotman about the ability of comics creators right now to create from where they are, particularly if they are focused on the more cutting edge on-line distribution systems -- well, cutting edge to me, they seem fairly standard options for this emerging generation.
* this strikes me as unfortunate. There were very passionate arguments at one time about this kind of consumption path for comics, but in my head at least most of them were settled.
* trivia contests in comics will never be the same now that Len Wein is gone and can't express his frustration about missing a question concerning a comic he himself wrote. Killed me every time I saw it.
* I like that article, by the way, even though I'm responding to an idea floated there. I don't mean for any of that to be an indictment in any way of Rocko's clear prose, smart contextualization and well-observed remarks. I appreciate him designating the story worth covering, and I appreciate the criticism. That's not always easy.