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

March 10, 2010

Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked


By Tom Spurgeon

* there's a two-page Dan Clowes Wilson story in this week's New Yorker that isn't in the forthcoming D&Q collection of the same name.

image* the big publishing news story of the week is Fantagraphics working with longtime scholar/translator/writer/editor Matt Thorn on a line of comics featuring translated manga. Highlights of the announcements, which were spread out among official PR and a number of posts from those involved, were as far as I can figure it as follows:
+ the first two books will be Drunken Dream a collection of short stories from Moto Hagio in multiple genres from the years 1971-2007. (PR)
+ the first book will be the first in a multi-volume series called Wandering Son from Shimura Takako. (PR)
+ both of these initial hardcovers will be released right-to-left style. (PR)
+ the legendary Hagio will be attending CCI 2010 as a special guest in support of that first book. Usually that means multiple signings, a spotlight panel and perhaps participation on a secondary, group, themed panel. (PR plus my own supposition regarding standard opportunities for international guests at CCI)
+ the line has its origin event the Comics Journal issue on Shojo manga (#269, that featured an interview with Hagio. Then-managing editor Dirk Deppey worked with Thorn on that interview and that issue, which was a precursor to this more involved publishing commitment. (Deppey's Second Statement, details confirmed by Cohen via e-mail).
+ it didn't make the PR, but Deppey describe the deal as an agreement signed with the publisher Shogakukan in addition to it being a line edited and curated by Thorn, so I guess that would be the source of most of the comics they'll be doing. (Deppey Initial Announcement)
+ Deppey will be a consulting editor on the line (Deppey's Second Statement)
+ Matt Thorn has in mind the line-up for the Hagio book, part of which he put together with the help of other knowledgeable manga readers by suggesting an imaginary anthology of its kind. (Thorn)
+ I remain genuinely interested in the length of time -- four years -- the line took in development, just as a process story if nothing else. Although I'm not sure Fantagraphics' Jacq Cohen's answer to my query on the matter really explains much of anything, it is highly amusing. "Good things take time. Fantagraphics likes to marinate on the books we publish. We want to make sure we hold up to to our slogan/mission/tagline/barometer, 'Publisher of the world's greatest cartoonists.' So, starting a line of manga (and I specify 'line' not an 'imprint') there was a lot of careful planning that went into what books, creators, content, etc. Also, everyone is really fucking busy around here." I'm also not sure exactly why the line/imprint distinction is important, but hey, noted.
I join the chorus of voices that looks forward to what sounds like a great line of comics.

* the Steve Kelley/Jeff Parker recent launch Dustin has pushed past the 100-client market, a sign whenever it happens of a likely hit strip that will be around for a while and a sign in distressed times such of these that the strip has been extremely well-received.

* the writer Gail Simone will be leaving a high-profile run on DC's Wonder Woman title at some unspecified near-future time. Simone has been on the prime superheroine's title since 2007. She will continue with the writing gig on the title by which she (mostly) made her name: Birds Of Prey. J. Michael Straczynski will take over the character, which along with his writing duties on the Superman character makes him a formidable force at the icon-interested new DC, an observation I'm sure has been made in countless blogs I barely scan. Wonder Woman is a difficult character in that she's a licensing A-teamer and a Direct Market as its currently constituted in terms of a devoted readership C-teamer.

* since the publication of Girl Comics put into play the opportunity that female creators get in the mainstream comic book part of the comics market, it's nice to see Marvel launch a summer mini-series that give Kathryn Immonen a multiiple-character book to write for a very talented artist and features a bunch of Marvel's underrated roster of female characters (Valkyrie and the African-American Captain Marvel seem like pretty good characters to me, anyway). Marvel's done a pretty good job developing not exactly A-list characters in those space opera comics they've done, and I think efforts like that that also pay attention to just getting certain talented creators more work would be a fine, Marvelish way to rectify some diversity issues.

* finally, a friend of mine sent me an e-mail noting that Marvel isn't the only one trying to make an all-female creator anthology work in a constrictive market: Lombard's anthology Kramix apparently launched with a first issue of only female creators, although it sounds like format has been a bigger issue in initial attempts to find a foothold for that title in an astonishingly crowded French-language market.

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