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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Cartoonists, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Remembering Jeremy Dale and his death

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Photo by Luigi Novi. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

This weekend’s SC Comicon will feature a tribute to artist Jeremy Dale who died at the tragically young age of 34 last November. Now Dale’s good friend Joe Peacock whas written an amazing piece called What The Heck Happened To Jeremy Dale?? talking about what caused his death.

A few weeks ago, Jeremy’s wife, Kelly Dale, finally received the results of the autopsy performed on Jeremy. There have been so many questions about how and why his death happened, and now, there are finally answers. We took the time to process this information, and she asked me to write my account of how it all went down.


A Drink and Draw remembering Dale will be held on Saturday, March 21, from 7PM until at the Quest Brewing Company in Greensville.

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2. Dave Sim resting comfortably after surgery

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As detailed in the Moment of Cerebus blog, Dave Sim, 58, checked himself into the hospital after suffering severe abdominal pains, which was a good thing because he has an intestinal blockage and had to undergo surgery (performed by a Dr. Monica Torres, for everyone keeping track.) He’s recovering and in good spirits. There are a number of comments referencing some kind of hand problem that has prevented him from drawing, and you can see him wearing a hand brace in the photos. I missed out on the origins of this, but hope that he gets that fixed up, too. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

•Simplified explanation, read the blog for the gory details.

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3. BookCon to feature “Comics Are Awesome” panel with Smith, Telgemeier, Hatke and Holm

BookCon—the consumer-focused book show that is tacked on to the trade BEA show—is expanding to two days this year, May 30-31, with way more authors, more exhibitors and more more. And there will be a very cool panel on comics, on  Saturday, May 30th at 11:30am. Here’s the logline:

 COMICS ARE AWESOME!

Join comics superstars Ben Hatke (Little Robot), Jenni Holm (Sunny Side Up), Jeff Smith (Bone), and Raina Telgemeier (Sisters) as they talk about how comics work, how they make their own comics, and what makes comics so completely awesome.  If you’re a fan of comics, don’t miss this great discussion – it’ll have amazing authors sharing their latest work and exciting art drawn right before your eyes!  Moderated by Heidi MacDonald (Publishers Weekly).

That’s right, this super awesome panel will be moderated by me; I’ll try to live up to the awesomeness. But getting to listen to four such talented creators in a whole new arena is a very exciting challenge. Be there!

Ticket information for BookCon are in the above link.

comicsareawesome

3 Comments on BookCon to feature “Comics Are Awesome” panel with Smith, Telgemeier, Hatke and Holm, last added: 3/17/2015
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4. Interview: James Kochalka conjures up the latest adventure of The Glorkian Warrior

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By Cal Cleary and Harper Harris

James Kochalka, the first Cartoonist Laureate of Vermont and an Ignatz and Harvey award winner, has had quite a varied career, ranging from fronting his own band (James Kochalka Rockstar), to creating comics, to collaborating on video games. His long running online comic strip American Elf continues to have a strong fan base, and his SuperF*ckers comic book has become a popular animated series on YouTube’s Cartoon Hangover channel. His newest work, the Glorkian Warrior series, sees the release of both a video game based on its characters and the second book in the series, The Glorkian Warrior Eats Adventure Pie. We got a chance to chat with Kochalka regarding his career as well as his lovably bumbling hero, the Glorkian Warrior.

How did you get started as a cartoonist? 

Professionally?  Well, that road began when I bought an early issue of Eightball by Dan Clowes.  Then, a couple months later I saw there was an interview with him in The Comics Journal, so I bought that.  I had never encountered that magazine before.  In The Comics Journal I think I saw something about some mini comic, and decided to order it through the mail.  Before very long I trading my own mini comics with other cartoonists through the mail, and soon after that I was a full time professional cartoonist.  It all happened within a period of about two years or so… from discovering Eightball to becoming a professional cartoonist and quitting my job as a waiter at a Chinese restaurant.

Did you read a lot of comics as a kid, or was it something you got into later as an artist? 

Excerpt from The Blue Drip (1976)

Excerpt from The Blue Drip (1976)

I read them constantly as a kid, and drew them constantly too.  I have over 2000 pages of comics saved that I drew when I was a kid.  There was only a very brief period of not drawing comics… the first couple years of college I didn’t draw any comics, but the rest of my life I was always working on something.  Long before I knew that mini comics were a “thing” I was making them and selling them to my friends at school.  I drew my first graphic novel when I was a kid in the 1970’s… which probably marks it as one of the first graphic novels ever drawn, although noone has seen it beyond one of my childhood friends.

The Glorkian Warrior has been a resilient idea, starting with a short comic for Pop Gun, going into a Kickstarter-funded video game with Pixeljam (Glorkian Warrior: The Trials of Glork), before your current three-book deal. What is it that keeps bringing you back to Glork?

I just love to draw him.  As soon as I did the first little doodle of the guy, he just felt so real to me, so alive.  Basically that’s how I create my characters, I just doodle until one of the doodles has an undeniable spark of life.

Now, with Glorkian Warrior… I was working on this at the same time I was working on my autobiographic comic, the American Elf diary strip.  And then when I quit American Elf, and my elf-avator stand-in was gone, I suddenly started to think of Glork as my stand-in.  The spark of life that Glorkian Warrior has is my spark of life.  What makes me a living being is the same thing that imbues Glorkian Warrior with life.

I hope that doesn’t sound too weird.  I just like to draw him.  He’s elastic and springy, and he does silly things.

What made you go with First Second as a publisher for the Glorkian Warrior series?

Excerpt from The Blue Drip (1976)

I thought the book would fit in well with their line, and I wanted to see what a new publisher could do for me.  I asked Top Shelf’s advice before bringing it to another publisher, and they were all for it.  I don’t need permission to do books with other publishers, but I always talk it over with Chris Staros before I do.

Your work has had lots of multimedia crossover…with SuperF*ckers you had the animated series (which you did a voice on too), and with Glorkian Warrior you’ve got the video game. Were these things you thought of initially when formulating the characters, or just natural extensions of the kinds of stories you wanted to tell?

Glorkian-300rgbI just love making art, music, anything. I just like making stuff, anything, all the time.  I like writing songs, I like making sand castles, I like inventing new recipes, I like to draw, I like to design board games, I like to invent drawing games.  I also like to move my body and dance, or swim, or hike in the woods.  I just feel like a creative, active life is more fun.

Regarding, Glorkian Warrior I came up with the basic idea for the video game before I started drawing the comics, but then I started drawing the comics before I started actually making the game.

You’ve obviously got a pretty wide range of work…what was it like going from something like SuperF*ckers to Glorkian Warrior? 

Easy.  The transition is easy.  Whether I’m working on books for adults or books for kids I feel like I’m still exploring the fundamentals of human nature.

What inspired you to write books aimed at a younger audience?

First it was accidental.  I wrote Monkey Vs. Robot and Peanutbutter & Jeremy and Pinky & Stinky thinking I was making them for an adult audience.  Kids just happened to like them.  Then once I had my own kids I started drawing books with them in mind as my target audience.  So the Johnny BooDragon Puncher, and Glorkian Warrior books were all written as bedtime stories for my own kids.

You were Vermont’s first Cartoonist Laureate. What was that experience like?

It was like being named the State Flower.  I’ve always been proud of being a Vermonter, but it was an amazing feelingGlorkianWarriorII-sampler_Page_3 to think Vermont is proud of ME.  Honestly, it just felt so good I think the good feeling might last the rest of my lifetime if I’m lucky.  And every time a new Cartoonist Laureate is named, I feel like I’m being honored all over again.  Ed Koren, the amazing New Yorker cartoonist, is the current Cartoonist Laureate of Vermont.  He’s also a volunteer fireman in the town where he lives.  Anyhow, he called me up for advice a few times leading up to his inauguration.  It was rather amazing to be in the position of offering advice to such a seasoned master of cartooning.  Oh, and we did a drawing together about it.  That was really fun.

One of the most charming things about the Glorkian Warrior stories is the fantastic hand lettering. Do you feel lettering plays a strong role in the way you tell stories? 

Yes!  Oh thank you so much.  I’ve been waiting for the last twenty years for someone to notice that there is something special about my lettering.  Secretly I’ve always coveted a “best lettering” Eisner award, I don’t know why.  Partly because it’s probably the worst Eisner award, the most laughable.  But also because lettering is actually incredibly important in comics.  Meaning is conveyed through the artistry of the lettering, or at least it can be if you do it well.  I try to use my lettering to convey emotion, it’s one more tool to that effect in addition to the words themselves and of course the drawings.

I also letter with a brush and ink, which I think very few people do.  Most letter with a pen.  And I know why, it’s because lettering with a brush is outrageously difficult.  For several years I’ve inked my taxes with a brush and ink… but that’s probably a colossal waste of my time.

What is your technique when it comes to illustrating the Glorkian Warrior books? Have you found your style changing dramatically with new technology?

I draw with a brush and india ink, but I do all the coloring on the computer.  I use a Cintiq, so I can draw the color right on the screen.  So, all the swirling colors in the backgrounds of the Glorkian Warrior books were drawn on the Cintiq screen, in photoshop.  Yeah, that’s a big change.  I wouldn’t be able to do that without the Cintiq or something like it.

The Glorkian Warrior stories tend to have an interesting shaggy dog structure. How do you go about plotting these stories? And how hungry are you when you’re writing them?

I write them fairly stream-of-consciousness style, and then I go back and edit to give them some kind of narrative structure.  There’s just enough, I think, so you feel like maybe something actually happened.

I’m hungry all the time, except when I’m drawing or when I’m full.

What were your inspirations for the original characters Glorkian Warrior and Super Backpack? Are you drawing from any other bumbling hero analogs? 

James.KochalkaIt comes from me carrying my sons on my back or shoulders when they were little.  I sometimes still like to lift my 11 year-old up on my shoulders and carry him around.  I plan to continue to carry them both until I’m just not physically able.  Anyhow, I’m the bumbling hero.  The bumbling hero is me.

By the end of the third book it should be clear that the Glorkian Warrior graphic novels are a sprawling metaphor about fatherhood and raising children.

I know you’re passionate about video games, and Baby Alien seems like the cutest homage to Super Metroid I’ve ever seen. Do you have any plans or hopes to work on another video game anytime soon?

Yeah, I love the baby Metroid from Metroid 2.  I was definitely inspired by that for Baby Alien.  I also took inspiration from Space Invaders and also my cats.  My Baby Alien is like a space invader with a cute kitten face who sucks on your head like a baby Metroid.

Gosh I hope I make another video game.  I’ve been designing some games, but I need to find a developer who’s willing to take them on and work with me.  But if Glorkian Warrior is the only commercial video game I ever make, at least I had fun and it’s a good one.  I’ll never stop designing new games in my mind, though.

A few years ago I invented a new version of chess that I’d like to turn into an iPad app, and I may have just found GlorkianWarriorII-sampler_Page_4some guys who want to make it.  We’ll see if they can handle it.  Last year I invented a really cool new way for three people to play tic-tac-toe.  I amaze myself with this stuff, probably more than I amaze anyone else.

What can readers look forward to in the third volume of Glorkian Warrior?

Gonk joins the Junior Junior Glorkian Warriors, we finally meet the Glorkian Super Grandma, and there’s a new villain introduced: Quackaboodle the Space God.

Any other upcoming projects you’re excited for readers to get their hands on?

Yes!  I’m making another animated cartoon, a short pilot episode, for a major kids network.  I think I’m not supposed to talk about it, and it’s killing me to keep quiet.

The Glorkian Warrior Eats Adventure Pie will arrive in stores near you from First Second on March 17th.

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5. Interview: Robert Kondo and Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi team up with First Second to further explore the world of The Dam Keeper

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By Harper Harris

In one of the most visually and emotionally striking films nominated for Best Animated Short Film at this year’s Academy Awards, The Dam Keeper has garnered a lot of well-deserved praise. The creators, Robert Kondo and Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi, have worked as art directors on such films as Toy Story 3, Ratatouille, and Ice Age, but got together to create The Dam Keeper as a very personal short film, and it shows. The film, done in a gorgeous painted style with almost no words, is unique and heartbreaking despite its short running time of only 18 minutes. What’s more exciting than such a great short? Why, how about a series of graphic novels by the creators, published through First Second, that explores this world?

The Dam Keeper is set in a sort of post-apocalyptic world with anthropomorphic people living in a valley, the only safe haven from the dark and dangerous clouds that surround it. Keeping this darkness at bay is Pig, a young boy with no family who must wind the windmill every day to blow back the clouds. In the short, he meets a girl his age, Fox, and through a series of wordless interactions, they become friends. However, a misunderstanding causes a rift between the two that has drastic consequences for the entire valley, which leads to the dramatic climax. Kondo and Tsutsumi recently announced that they plan to elaborate on the world of The Dam Keeper through a series of new graphic novels. I got a chance to speak with both creators to hear about this interesting cross-media expansion on their celebrated short film. The below answers come from the team collectively.

Where did the initial idea for the short film spring from?

The Dam Keeper was our first effort to write and direct together as a team.  Initial ideas of an unsung hero in a polluted world went through different variations in discovering our creative process.  Along the way, we rediscovered a childhood folktale, The Little Dutch Boy, about a boy whose little act of sacrifice ended up saving his town.  We wondered, “What if our character held the responsibility of saving his town not just once but every day?”How did you decide on the very unique visual style for the short film?

We spent time thinking about what might distinguish us as a team.  Because we worked closely together for over seven years at Pixar and had influenced each other’s artwork, we actually could paint like each other.  This made us unique within the art department there and it felt like the unique thing we could apply to our film.  Not to mention, creating a painted look seemed a more natural route for us at the time than building a 3D CG pipeline.

With over 8,000 painted stills, it must have been a painstaking process! How long did the film take to create?

still_4The actual production and post-production ran for 9 months — a long process, but considering we all had full-time jobs during the day, it was an extremely well run production thanks to our producers Megan Bartel and Duncan Ramsay.

Part of what makes the short so interesting is how little we as an audience really know about the circumstances in this world where a dark cloud constantly threatens the valley beneath. What made you decide to explore this world more deeply?

For us, on one level, the dark cloud represents our character’s internal demon.  On another level, it also speaks to us quite literally, and so we have always imagined other cities and people living on the other side of the dam.  It feels natural for us to explore how different societies might deal with this deadly fog and how the particular inhabitants of each civilization would have their own respective social issues, just as we saw with Pig’s idyllic-seeming town in the short.

Speaking of, will the book series focus primarily on Pig’s future as he grows up, or will there be a look into the past of this world as well?

There will be elements of both, with a very emotional storyline for Pig and his friends set against the ticking time bomb of their polluted world.  But there will be a lot of laughter along the way, too.

One of the many things that makes The Dam Keeper so endearing is its lack of dialogue…do you plan to keep the companion graphic novels in the same silent style?

Dialogue will be an important addition to the story and we hope to use it while maintaining the feeling and tone of the short.

Will these companion pieces be graphic novels in a comic book style, or more along the lines of illustrated novels?

Much as we did with the short, we are exploring different ways to execute this new form of storytelling, not just in terms of format but as a team, since we haven’t done a book together before.

Why a graphic novel series to continue the stories in this whimsical world instead of, for example, an animated series?

We are concurrently pursuing an animated feature adaptation of The Dam Keeper.  Our company, Tonko House is open to telling stories in different formats.  We believe graphic novels are different than films, but are great vehicles for narrative just the same.  We are inspired by stories like Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki‘s This One Summer and Gene Luen Yang‘s American Born Chinese.

What kind of adventures can we hope to see Pig, Fox, and Hippo get into?

Pig and Fox’s adventures will be epic, wondrous, revelatory and daunting all at the same time — they will be taken out of their element and challenged as they come of age.  And they will be joined on this journey by a most unexpected ally or enemy, depending on whose point of view it is.

What inspired you to jump the story ahead to their teen years rather than continuing to explore their youth?

The early teen years are such an interesting rite of passage, when innocence challenged by one’s awareness of the world forces growth in character.  The underlying story is based upon a personal anecdote that fits well at this point in our characters’ lives as they are forced to engage with who they are and who they want to be.

While the short covers some darker territory, it maintains a childlike tone that is both charming and quite beautiful; can we expect the story to get a little more adult in tone in the continued story as the characters grow older?

still_8We believe in the balance of light and darkness, and we will strive to capture both to connect with international audiences of all ages.  We want the choices our characters make to have real consequences, whether it is neglecting your responsibility and letting the darkness in, or something new and possibly more far-reaching.  We feel that if our characters and their motivations ring true, then this journey of boys becoming men will be enjoyable by many regardless of age.

How did you come to choose First Second as the publisher for this series?

We are big fans of First Second first and foremost as readers.  As creators, since conceiving the larger story of The Dam Keeper, we have been searching for the right people to work with in both film and publishing to help protect it and take it to the highest level of work we are capable of.  When we met our editor, Mark Siegel, there was an instant connection and the kind of partnership we had sought after.  We feel we are in great hands to learn this new medium for Tonko House.

How many books do you foresee being in the series?

It’s a bit of wait and see!

Do you feel that you may hand the reins over to a different writer or artist at some point to let them explore this world, or will this always be a personal project for the two of you?

We would most likely always be involved with how the world of The Dam Keeper expands. The story we are working on now is based on our own personal life experiences, and we hope any artists or writers we work with will bring the same level of personal investment and motivation into this world.   Coming from big feature animation studios where teamwork is essential, we hope always to collaborate with and learn from other artists since those experience have proven to be extremely rewarding time and time again.

When can we expect the first book to release? Where can fans follow both of you and your work?

We’ll be working around the clock to have the books ready as early as possible.

Any news related to The Dam Keeper will be found here:
https://www.facebook.com/TheDamKeeper
http://www.simplestroke.com
https://instagram.com/robertkondo/


The first of two graphic novel sequels to The Dam Keeper will arrive in 2016 from First Second.

2 Comments on Interview: Robert Kondo and Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi team up with First Second to further explore the world of The Dam Keeper, last added: 3/12/2015
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6. Gabrielle Bell Art Sale!

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Gabrielle Bell is having an art sale on most of the July Diary that makes up jher book Truth is Fragmentary. Pages are a reasonable $100, shipping included. Bell is having the sale as a fundraiser, and while it’s neat to be able to get original art by a great cartoonist for next to nothing, it’s also telling that a cartoonist of Bell’s stature still has to sell art to makes ends meet. NYC, you’re bumming me out in a supreme fashion.

Bell also posted a new comic visible in the link.

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7. Interview: Andi Watson crafts up a monstrous three courses with Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula

PrincessCount-Cover-300rgb

By Harper Harris

Andi Watson is a British cartoonist whose work has spanned from projects such as Dark Horse’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer to his creator owned work like Skeleton Key. In recent years, he’s moved into more youth-oriented material like Glister and Gum Girl.

Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula, his newest original graphic novel from First Second, centers on the title princess, and her struggles to run the monster-filled Underworld, in the wake of her layabout father doing little else than eating and complaining. After her father fires the chef, Princess Decomposia replaces him with a vampire baking whiz named Count Spatula. Their budding relationship is told within the pages of Watson’s latest offering.

I had an opportunity to sit down with Watson about the genesis of this new work, monsters, cooking, and his creative process.

What were your biggest influences on Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula? What was its genesis for you?

My biggest drive was to create an original graphic novel front to back. After a couple of decades of making comics I had never actually made a single volume that was over sixty-odd pages or hadn’t been serialised. I felt like it was a challenge I hadn’t overcome yet, and after making a lot of comics over the years, finding something fresh is always welcome. I also wanted to tell a story that combined the relationship and romance side of my work with fun genre things to draw. I’ve kind of flipped between the two, but in this book I put them together. So it was satisfying to write and a pleasure to draw.

How would you compare the process of working on Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula with your works just previous like Gum Girl or the Glister books? 

PrincessAndCount_100-29I guess they are all stories with a beginning, middle and an end. That was good training before stepping into a hundred-and-sixty page book. I find figuring out structure and pacing beforehand really helps me. With Gum Girl it was with twenty page stories and I found that discipline really useful. Being concise is a handy skill in comics, and it helped keep me on track. What set this book and Glister apart from Gum Girl was the lack of a long gestation period. I find I do my best work by knuckling down and just getting on with a story. When I’m drawing the pages and am ‘in the zone’ I don’t want any hold ups. Delays of even a few days make it harder to get back to ‘peak fitness’ so I prefer to keep my head down and keep working. That doesn’t always fit in with the publishing process but it’s how I’m best able to concentrate and maintain focus.

Compared to Gum Girl, Princess Decomposia has a bit more of stripped down artistic style (particularly being in black and white), why that choice? 

Gum

Gum Girl interior art

Funnily enough, if you look at the Gum Girl line art, they’re quite stripped down too. That’s because it’s a colour book and I wanted to have lots of open shapes to hold the colour and little to no black. Working with colour meant spending a lot of time squinting at a computer screen and I wanted to cut that back with Princess Decomposia. I aimed to have as much of the work complete on the page as possible – including the lettering – and as it’s set in the Underworld, the black and white art is appropriate. I was also determined to work on the pace and rhythm of the pages rather than get bogged down in rendering realistic stonework. If the reader is absorbing and understanding the story without even realising it, then I’ve done a good job. The art is there to tell the story, not draw attention to itself. Having said that, the most satisfying aspect of drawing a comic is bringing a character to life, getting their body language and facial expressions right. If I do that and do it concisely, so much the better.

What was your process in writing this book? Did you have a set place you wanted to the story to end up, or did you let the characters run with the themes you determined?

Starting a new book is the hardest part of the whole process. I find it intimidating. The beginning is always made up of page after page of scribbled notes. I might have characters, but no story, or an interesting setting, but no characters. Everything has to mesh and the themes grow organically out of the material. Plot and character have to interact and shape each other. It’s a bit like pushing a very heavy bicycle up a steep hill. At a critical point I know I have enough and the story starts to come together and I can cycle down the other side of hill. I like to have a structure in place and an ending. I make sure I have room to maneuver and if new and better ideas, or a better ending occur to me, I can incorporate that into the story.

A good deal of your work centers on female protagonists, particularly in your all-ages titles, what draws your creative voice to the opposite gender so often? 

I guess it began way back when I made Skeleton Key. That was a reaction to what was on the shelves at the time: few female characters wearing fewer clothes. That’s changed quite a bit, not only are there more female characters but many more female creators. But I do enjoy drawing women and because gender stereotypes are pushed so heavily on women, I think they provide more dramatic story opportunities. Want to write a female physicist, plumber or warrior? That’s a story in itself.

Although done in an all-ages style, Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula definitely explores some grown-up problems…stress of work, delegating, the relationship with an older parent. Did you find maintaining a balance between the conflicts and the style difficult?

I think Princess Decomposia’s experience is one that kids and adults can relate to. A princess has a certain amount of privilege, but that is countered by her many responsibilities. A child understands having a parent in their life telling them what to do. An adult sees the responsibilities in their life that constrain their freedoms. The Princess is stuck between being a child and an adult and the story is about how she navigates that. I think a good story can appeal to everyone, there are different things that different age groups pick up on, stuff sitting under the surface.

You say in the back of the book that you make comics for “grown-ups and children and those somewhere in between.” What has led you down that unique path? Is it difficult to try to appeal to both children and adults?

It’s possible to make a book that appeals to both audiences, and it’d be nice to think that a parent and their child PrincessAndCount_100-30could find something to appeal to them in the same comic. It’s possible in movies and animation if you look at what Pixar have created, and I always return to Ghibli and their films as the best examples of that. As for myself, I’ve made books for kids and grown ups and enjoyed both. Breakfast After Noon was as challenging to make as Glister. They were equally fulfilling. I enjoy trying new things and although it makes career sense to find a niche and dig in, I’ve worked in different genres and looked for fresh challenges. That’s what keeps me interested in the medium, the freedom to work in different ways and tell all kinds of stories.

What were your inspirations for the designs and personalities of the characters, in particular the Princess, the Count, and the King?

The Princess arrived quite quickly in my sketchbooks. I knew I wanted iconic designs for the characters, being able to recognise them from their silhouettes. She has the distinctive bat-wing hair and puritan collar and cuffs in a nod to Wednesday Addams. The Count is a chef, so his outfit is the usual hat, jacket, necktie and checked trousers. He also has the smooth bald head and pointed ears like Nosferatu … his skin probably sparkles a bit too, like a sugar cube in sunlight. The King was tricky in that I needed him to look both old and healthy. So the shape of his face is rounded but within that he’s rather wizened. He also has the crown, so again, he’s recognisable from his outline.

Looking at your past works, you seem to have a soft spot for monsters, working on books like Buffy the Vampire SlayerHellboy, among others. Where did this love for monsters come from?

PrincessAndCount_100-31The monsters go even further back than that. There was a quilt monster, giant cat and hockey-playing Chinese hopping-vampires in Skeleton Key. The short answer is that they’re a lot of fun to come up with and a welcome change to draw. If my main characters are ‘human’ shaped then it’s a nice gear change to draw something unusual. And monsters are fun to write, even more so when they’re the protagonists, as in Princess Decomposia.

You also have done some coming of age and slice-of-life style stories…how did you decide to combine real life problems with the gothic setting of Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula?

The story and themes came naturally out of the characters. If the Princess is a dutiful daughter then I find it interesting to dig in and explore the relationships. If she has a certain kind of dynamic with her father then how will she react to Count Spatula? This spills out into the supporting characters like Clove the sous chef. If one character is overworked then Clove is the one who appears to have the balance right. It all goes into making the characters interesting and giving their actions a real-life foundation that readers can relate to.

Although a lot of the cooking in the book is fantastical in nature, did you do any research on cooking? I think what I’m really trying to ask here is…  Andi, are you fond of cooking?

I’m a lousy cook but an enthusiastic baker. Nothing super fancy, but I began when my daughter was little and we’d have fun making fairy cakes and covering the kitchen with flour. I’d recommend it as a way to get into baking, there’s no pressure, it’s enjoyable and even a slightly scorched rock cake is delicious. Time is a consideration, so I don’t have hours to spend on delicate confections, but I love making cookies, cakes, tray bakes and buns. Those recipes are hard to mess up.

What made First Second Press the best place to publish Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula? How did all of this fall into place on the publishing side?

In retrospect it was a big risk making an entire graphic novel without a publisher on board and it wasn’t until it was finished that I began to look around and get an idea of my options. Because First Second are graphic novel publishers, have a strong record with books for different age groups and have published things like Anya’s Ghost, I decided to give them a go. I thought they’d be a good fit, but publishing being the contrary beast it is, figured they’d give it a pass. I was delighted when they decided to go with it, and against expectations, things moved really quickly. I’ve really enjoyed working with the team there, it’s been a delight.

For readers of Princess Depcomposia, what are you hoping is their key takeaway from your work here?

I hope it’s a fun and entertaining read for everyone, with attractive art and a sweet story. I’d also like to think that there’s more than that under the surface for those who want to come back for seconds.

 What are your future plans after this big release?

I have a webcomic, Princess at Midnight that finishes at the end of January. It’s been years in the making, a kind of Game of Thrones for kids, about sibling rivalry in a fantasy world. I’m hoping to find a publisher for that as it’d be lovely to get it in print. I’ve also completed a graphic novel for grown ups that I hope to find a home for this year. As for new stuff, I’ve finished writing a new spooky graphic novel that I’ll start drawing soon. And if Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula finds an audience, I’d love to do more with those characters.

1 Comments on Interview: Andi Watson crafts up a monstrous three courses with Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula, last added: 2/24/2015
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8. Review: Real Life Lessons from Help Us! Great Warrior

By: Lindsey Morris

HUGW

Lesson #1 : Appearances can be deceiving. 

Help Us! Great Warrior is the latest effort from cartoonist Madeleine Flores, who took the strip from humble beginnings on Tumblr to the eight-issue limited series it now has with BOOM! Box. The comic found a strong following quickly when it was introduced online, so it’s no surprise that this new iteration has already seen acclaim and success. Who wouldn’t be able to relate to a lumpy warrior whose main concerns are looking cute, eating junk food, and defeating evil?

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Lesson #2 :  The sooner you beat the baddies, the sooner you can have dessert.

Flores and colorist Trillian Gunn create a landscape of pastel imperfection where monsters roam freely, sleepy time is mercilessly interrupted, and there is just never enough cake to go around. A cruel world, indeed. The titular Great Warrior is constantly called upon to help fight demons, but sometimes she just has better things to do, you know? All work and no play never worked out for anyone.

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Lesson #3 : Honesty is the best policy. 

From lamenting her lack of deodorant, to trying to pawn off heroic missions on her friends, Great Warrior is a charming goofball of a lead character. Her supporting cast of ladies, Hadiyah and Leo, bring personalities that help balance the levity of the book, offering more serious tones to the mix. Between the three of them, and Great Warrior’s new companion Buckets, they make a ragtag group of champions that will surely dominate the day in the issues to come.

Help Us! Great Warrior #1 is an excellent introduction to a great all-ages comic steeped in fantasy, snacks, and friendship.

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9. Mariko and Jillian Tamaki on This One Summer winning the Caldecott and Printz Honors

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By Harper Harris

Mariko and Jillian Tamaki‘s This One Summer was one of the most highly acclaimed graphic novels of 2014, popping up on a great number of top ten lists as well as winning an Ignatz Award for Best Graphic Novel. To say it was an attention grabber for the already heralded Canadian creators is an understatement.

Just last week, this tale of two childhood friends on the cusp of adolescence was awarded with the prestigious Caldecott Honor, being the first ever graphic novel to do so, along with the Printz Honor (and joins Gene Luen Yang‘s Boxers & Saints as the only other graphic novel to notch that award as well).

Mariko and Jillian were kind enough to join me for a brief Q&A regarding the recent wins and the creative process on this landmark work.

Where were you each when you learned you won the Caldecott Honor? Who called whom?

Jillian Tamaki: I was in bed.

Mariko Tamaki: I think we eventually texted each other about it.

Is there a sense of accomplishment or “I’ve made it” for winning such a prestigious award? Jillian, how does it compare to your Eisner nominations or the Ignatz award that This One Summer also received?

JT: The feeling is one of gratitude. I’ll never felt like “I’ve made it!” until I’m like a hunched-over old person still making things.

Is it more gratifying to get recognition outside of the world of comics, which you’ve done multiple times at this point?

JT: Both are gratifying. Honours granted by librarians are special to me because it represents a knowledgeable, discerning audience that actually works with young people. Honours granted by comics people are special because it means perhaps I am creating something of value within the medium.

Were you relieved that you both got nominated for this award, rather than one or the other as in some past awards?

MT: When one of us gets nominated, I generally see it as a misconception of how graphic novels work.  So, yes.

Do awards matter to you? I hope that’s not a weirdly loaded question.

JT: Um, they are nice, yes. Especially when there is money attached, because comics are not lucrative. But I try to not let outside validation determine the micro and macro decisions I make as a creative person.

MT: I guess awards help sales.  There are many awesome comics and books out there that have not been nominated, so we’re in good company either way.

This One Summer ended up on many top ten lists for 2014…how does it feel to have one of the most critically acclaimed OGNs of the year among fans? Is it rewarding to see that fans of more mainstream comics are picking up and really enjoying works like yours?

JT: Of course!

As cousins, were you making comics as kids together? When did you decide to pursue sequential art collaboratively?

MT: We lived in distant cities as kids, so there was little comics making.  It wasn’t until we made our first mini comic of Skim back in…2006 (?) that we started working together.

How long has this idea been gestating, and how long did it take to actually script and illustrate This One Summer?

JT: It took probably 3 years in total. It took a year of solid work to do the final artwork.
MT: Roughly 6 months to script.  Plus changes.

What was your working process on This One Summer? Especially since I understand you don’t live near each other? Was there an initial script first and then an art stage, or was it done in a more section by section basis?

JT: We Skyped a lot. Mariko scripts the dialogue with occasional actions. I do a sketch version. We edit it together, a lot. Then I do the final art.

Where were your individual high and low points in the creative process of this book? Were there any parts that drove you crazy or were difficult to pull off?

JT: The most difficult part was the editing of the sketch phase. As it is with any book, I’m sure.

When I started reading This One Summer, I almost thought it was autobiographical…do either of your personal experiences play a role in the story? Were any of the designs of the characters based on real people?

MT: Nope.  There is an actual cottage area that inspired TOS, up in Georgian Bay, Ontario, which I highly recommend people visit.

What is it about the adolescent stage of life that attracts you?

MT: I think most people spend their whole lives trying to figure out how and what to be.  As I understand it, it’s not something that stops with adulthood.  I think adolescence is interesting because it’s the start of this process.  Everything is just that much more on the surface that it is when you’re an adult.

I love how you use Rose and Windy watching horror movies as a kind of metaphor for seeing the world in a more adult way…are you big classic horror movie fans, or how did that aspect of the story develop?

JT: No, I am a chicken. It was easy for me to draw the freaked-out kids.

Your capturing of the pre-teen voice and body language is wonderful…where do you pull that from? Is it based on your memories, or did you embark on any research?

JT: I am fascinated by the storytelling potential of bodies. We are very attuned to what they are communicating and I like to stretch that to effect. Sometimes I get very hung up on tiny details that I’m sure no one will see, but I think it adds up to an overall sensitivity.

MT: I am a chronic eavesdropper.  Although the other day on the subway I was pretty sure some kid called me out for doing it so, I’m going to have to learn to be a little less gleeful listening to teenagers talk.

Rose’s family is fraying apart for much of the book. Why was it important to highlight the onset of familial strife, particularly seen from the eyes of a younger character?

MT: Who doesn’t have a little familial strife in their lives these days?  It would seem kind of weird to me not to include it, whether writing about kids or adults.

This One Summer is considered to be all-ages, but there are different elements that clearly resonate with adults, which sort of mirrors how Rose is beginning to see the world as well. Who do you feel is the intended audience for the book? Or do you feel like This One Summer is fairly wide-ranging in its appeal?

JT: I only think of a few ideal readers when I work on the book. Some of those readers are real people, some are imagined. They’re usually not young kids. Some are teenagers. Most are my age.

MT: I think a books audience is self selecting.  I don’t see a 10 year old reading this book cover to cover.  Beyond that I think the idea is to write about not for.

What made First Second your choice of publisher, and why return to them after Skim, specifically?

JT: Groundwood, which published SKIM, put out TOS in Canada, and they have done a wonderful job. First Second made sense in that they had very strong ties to the American library system, in addition to the Macmillan network. But I think it has been excellent having both publishers, as Groundwood can prioritize the Canadian industry. After all, we are Canadian authors and the content is largely Canadian.

How are your next individual projects coming along? Mariko, I understand you’re working on a new YA novel, and Jillian it sounds like you’ve got some more “irons in the fire” in addition to your work on Adventure Time.

JT: My webcomic “SuperMutant Magic Academy” comes out in book form in April from D&Q. Also in April, Youth in Decline is publishing a short story of mine called SexCoven. It will be part of their “Frontier” series.

MT: My next prose YA book, Saving Montgomery Sole, will be released by Roaring Brook/Penguin Canada in Winter 2016.

This One Summer is available through First Second and on sale at your local book retailer

1 Comments on Mariko and Jillian Tamaki on This One Summer winning the Caldecott and Printz Honors, last added: 2/15/2015
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10. Review: The Sculptor is a page-turning meditation on life, art & love

Sculptor5 Review: The Sculptor is a page turning meditation on life, art & love

By Harper Harris

Although Scott McCloud has worked on fiction comics before, it’s been a while. He wrote and drew his fantastically unique superhero series Zot! in the mid-eighties, and since then the only major return was writing a few issues of Superman Adventures in 1996 and The New Adventures of Abraham Lincoln in 1998. What he’s most famous for is his work within comics theory, in the form of the seminal Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics, and finally Making Comics. These are highly regarded works amongst the comics community; reading the first often marks the beginning of a true devotee to sequential storytelling, acting as a kind of benchmark in fandom. McCloud set a pretty high bar for himself with this series when he set out to return to comics fiction with his massive new graphic novel, The Sculptor, and luckily for him, it mostly holds up to the sort of scrutiny that he brought to the comics world with his analytic books.

The Sculptor revolves around the life of David Smith, a young artist who we find at his lowest: the acclaim surrounding his earlier work has faded away, he has no family left, and he’s spending his last few bucks on a cheap diner meal for his twenty sixth birthday. The inciting action of the book is a Faustian deal with death: David agrees that for the power to create great art, he will only live for 200 more days. Although his new found powers–the ability to sculpt any material with just his bare hands–grants him artistic ability, he still struggles to deal with the fickle art world and most importantly, the fact that he may have met the love of his life with just a few months to live.

 Review: The Sculptor is a page turning meditation on life, art & love

The writing is quite strong. David, while not the most likeable guy in every circumstance, is relatable and familiar, especially if you’ve ever known a fine artist. He’s frustrating but inspiring, and his struggles, both existential and tangible, hit a lot of the right emotional beats. It’s a massive graphic novel at just under 500 pages, but for the majority of the book it is a page turner; I found myself not knowing where things were going, in a very exciting way. McCloud throws in many different conflicts, from a breakdown in communication with a loved one to the inability to make art that is both crowd-pleasing and truly great. Perhaps most noteworthy is his portrayal of depression, which comes across as refreshingly true-to-life, not using it as a plot device but rather making it a crucial part of character development.

The art, too, is perhaps McCloud’s best. There’s an excellent sense of pacing that subtly draws you into the perspective of David, with things moving along quickly with smaller gutter space when he’s excited or scared. The book is two-toned, being in black and white with blue shading, and it looks fantastic. McCloud’s cartooning is pretty phenomenal, capturing the moods of each of the characters often with only a look, and particularly important to the book is his rendering of the actual sculptures, which are visually interesting and feel true to both real life abstract sculpture and David’s character. The Sculptor subtly plays with storytelling techniques that are exciting and fresh, crafted with the ambition of a young artist but the forethought of a cartooning master.

 Review: The Sculptor is a page turning meditation on life, art & love

My biggest issue with the book comes with the last act, as David’s life is winding down. Things take a narrative twist at this point, and while I wasn’t wholly against the twist, it loses a lot of the “down to earth-ness” that it had up until that point. There are moments when it truly shines–a life flashing before your eyes sequence with literally hundreds of panels over ten pages stands out–but the book loses a lot of momentum and latches onto some unfortunate narrative cliches. The ending is not a mess, but it feels rushed and a bit of a misstep compared to the rest of the book, which is plotted with a lot of care and subtlety and has a unique unpredictability.

That said, the book tackles some fascinating themes. The Sculptor captures what it is to be a frustrated artist better than most stories, and does it in a way that is visually gorgeous, especially if you’re a fan of black and white cartooning. Throughout the bulk of the book, it brings in characters, ideas, and narrative devices that are distinctive and oftentimes quite beautiful. The way in which death is portrayed and explained, for example, and how he shows David the afterlife as a terrifyingly blank page are worth a lot of rumination, and while they reference earlier works (The Seventh Seal in particular), McCloud brings his own visual language to the whole concept.

Sculptor300RGB 211x300 Review: The Sculptor is a page turning meditation on life, art & love

Although the last bit left me a bit less than 100% engaged, the majority of the book had me cancelling plans so I could continue reading. Overall, it’s a major graphic accomplishment, one that is both a compelling page-turner and a relevant meditation on life, art, and love, presented by one of the most important cartoonists of our time. It’s certain to be the start of many best of 2015 lists, and despite my issues with it, I can’t say I wouldn’t consider it among the better graphic novels in the last several years. The Sculptor‘s careful storytelling and alluring art far outweigh the narrative problems that slowly creep in towards the last part, and in the end, it’s a book I would strongly recommend with just a few qualifiers.

The Sculptor releases on February 3rd. If you act fast, you can still order signed copies through Barnes and Noble. See ScottMcCloud.com for details on the book tour.

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11. Interview: Scott McCloud on expectations, the creative process, and getting kicked out of a Holiday Inn for The Sculptor

Sculptor300RGB 724x1028 Interview: Scott McCloud on expectations, the creative process, and getting kicked out of a Holiday Inn for The Sculptor

By Harper Harris and Kyle Pinion

In The Sculptor, David Smith is an out of work artist, who feels as though he never quite reached the level of fame he always thought was right within his grasp. When the physical representation of Death comes offering a deal: the power to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands with the caveat that his life ends in 200 days, David cannot resist the possible benefits of such an ability. The after-effects that this bargain has on his friends, New York City, and his love-life become the center-piece of this newest graphic novel by acclaimed cartoonist Scott McCloud.

30 years in the making, McCloud’s new opus is available on February 3rd through First Second. McCloud was kind enough to sit down with us for a lengthy discussion about the new book, critical expectations, his creative process and how he balances his busy speaking schedule and the creation of a 500-plus page graphic novel.

Kyle: How is the press circuit treating you?  I know you’ve been on interviews for weeks now.  Are you exhausted? 

Scott McCloud:  No, I store energy like a cactus stores water and five years squirreled away in my hobbit hole drawing, you store up a lot of energy.  So I was definitely ready to come out into the sunlight and talk to people.  And the reception so far has been amazing.  So far it’s been really encouraging I think is what I mean to say.

Kyle: Well, that’s good to hear.  That actually pivots over to one thought that I was curious about.  Over the past 15, 20 years now, though you’ve of course published books like Zot! and you did some work with DC in the past as well on the Superman Adventures, you’ve been known as the guy that breaks down comic book storytelling via Understanding Comics and the like.  With critical response in mind, did you ever feel a certain level of pressure as someone expected to live up to that analysis with The Sculptor?

McCloud:  Oh yeah.  There was definitely a big target on my chest when I did this thing, but it was a good kind of Sculptor Ex1 208x300 Interview: Scott McCloud on expectations, the creative process, and getting kicked out of a Holiday Inn for The Sculptorpressure.  The pressure was pretty strong after Understanding Comics, that anything I did in the way of fiction afterwards would be judged with that in mind. I did one or two pieces of fiction that are best left forgotten, that didn’t do so well.  But after Making Comics, there was definitely a bulls-eye on me because I wasn’t just telling people how to read them, I was telling people how to make them. I had to put my money where my mouth was.  But in the end, I thought that was a really healthy kind of pressure because it meant that failure was not an option.  I had to really give this my all and I was lucky enough to have an editor who had the same attitude about it and gave me a little extra room, a little extra time to do so.  This was originally going to be a three year book and we allowed it to grow to five years with his blessing because he felt that we could pull off something really wonderful.  But yeah, I was trying to apply all of these ideas that I had been talking about in books like Making Comics, I’ve been trying to apply them in this work but I’ve also been trying to make sure that they’re hidden, transparent, not on the surface.  I didn’t want people thinking about panel transitions and compositions and my use of bleed while reading the thing.  I wanted them to be thinking about the story and I hope that’s the effect people will have in the reading experience.

Harper: To delve into The Sculptor itself and how you got started with it, one of the concepts in the book is just how David, an out of work sculptor, feels like he’s got this unrealized potential…he’s got all this creativity stored up and then he feels like he can be this big famous sculptor but he doesn’t have the means to do it yet.  As a writer, when you were getting started with this project, do you feel like your creative soul was restless or you had something big you had to accomplish and you just were ready to get it out?

McCloud:  I felt like that when I was in my 20s.  When I was the same age as David, I felt a lot more like David than I do now.  I’ve been lucky because I’ve actually gotten some attention and I’ve been able to get my work out there, but I have a lot of feeling for those who don’t have that, who haven’t had that luck.  Whether they’re young and just starting out or if they’ve been at it for 30 years, there are a lot of people who have trouble getting their work out into the sunlight and who rightly feared that their work might be forgotten someday, maybe even in their lifetime.  Something that happens to a lot of artists is being forgotten in your lifetime. I can easily put myself in that mindset again of imagining that and imagining that fear, the fear that comes with that.  And then the fact that David has this family that’s already gone, both in terms of their physical lives but also in terms of the memories of them, even though they were all three very creative people, his parents and his sister.  That made it a much more urgent need on his part to not be forgotten.

Kyle: Now this is a concept that you created decades ago.  I think I heard once it was about 30 years ago, is that correct?

Scott McCloud:  Yeah, it was really terrifying when I realized it was 30.  I was saying 20 and then I think it was Ivy, my wife, just reminded me “nah, it’s actually more like 30.”  That’s a long time!

Kyle: It’s a concept that’s older than Harper here actually.

McCloud:  It’s older than a lot of readers.  It may be older than most of the people who will read this book, some may be younger than the idea for the book itself.

Kyle: I wonder, how has your life experience changed the way you’re approaching the material than if you had written it back in 1980, whatever year it was that you initially thought of it?

McCloud:  Well, I think it’s a better book for having been written much later but the important thing for me was I had this young man’s idea and had had a lot of the things we associate with young ideas.  It has lots of bold, preposterously ambitious ideas in it.  It’s trying to address questions of life and art, mortality, the nature of existence and that sort of thing.  I think as we get older, we’re more likely to just address the struggles of getting your coffee in the morning and going to a job you hate or whatever.  People tend to scale down their ambitions a little.  My goal for this one was to see if maybe I could take that young man’s idea and capture the enthusiasm I had when I was a young man and channel that crazy ambition but channel it in a direction that was informed by the perspective I’d gained as an older man, nearly twice the age that I was when I first came up with it, when I started to work on this thing.  And hopefully I’ve been able to do that.  To not castrate it, not rob it of the vitality of that young idea but try to preserve the vitality while giving a perspective, direction and a more meaningful shape through what I’ve learned in the intervening years.

Harper: Being that this was an idea that gestated for such a long time and you added things and changed things as you were thinking about it, when you actually sat down to start putting pen to paper and writing it, what was your process like?  Were you coming up with a script first, or was it just a rough draft, or were you doing thumbnails?

McCloud:  The first part of the process was when I realized I really wanted to work on this book, it was just as I was starting a 50 state tour in support of that previous book, Making Comics,  2006 and 2007.  And I was so desperate to Sculptor Ex2 208x300 Interview: Scott McCloud on expectations, the creative process, and getting kicked out of a Holiday Inn for The Sculptorwork on The Sculptor but all I could really do was sit in the passenger seat while my wife drove.  I’m not allowed to drive.  I’m a terrible driver.  And just think about it for a year.  And in a way, that was actually really good.  That first part of the process was just thinking about the story and taking lots and lots and lots of notes.  Then I got to work in earnest after we had a publisher and we were ready to start active work on the thing.  I started to create the layouts and for the first year, I did nothing but create these layouts which were – my layouts are pretty tight.  They look a lot like a finished comic, just a rough version.  But all of this takes place before there’s any finished art, right?  So I make this thing, I make the whole thing.  I send it to my editor, Mark Siegel.  I also send it to my “five kibitzers” as I call them – friends who I know will be honest and tell me what parts suck, whatever parts of the story don’t work.  And then I revised it based on their input and I revised it again and I revised it again.  I did four revisions of this nearly 500 page book in layout form.  Took me two years.  This is all before I ever drew a single finished panel.  And then I started drawing the real thing and that took three years.  It took me three years to draw those near 500 pages and that was done on my Cintiq tablet in Photoshop.  It’s entirely digital even though it has that slightly rough hand-drawn quality to it, the entire thing was done digitally.  In fact, the layouts were all done digitally too.  40 pages at a time in a giant Photoshop document.

Harper: Why is sculpture was the main thrust of the book as opposed to him being a painter or something that was a little bit maybe closer to your own craft?

McCloud:  Well on the one hand, sculpture makes good visual theatre in the sense that it exists in three dimensions, it’s dynamic.  The idea of going up against that hard surface, in the case of the sort of things that David is doing, has a nice sense of explosive physical conflict to it.  But beyond that, the choice of sculpture as opposed to any other form, I have to be honest, I never even considered anything else simply because that was the starting point.  That that was this idea in its original state as it existed in that little three ring binder that I have been carrying around with me since high school where I would write down ideas.  That’s where it began, the idea of a sculptor in particular.  I don’t really know if it would be quite as effective if it were say flat visual arts like painting or drawing, although interestingly enough, a book that I really enjoyed, Dylan HorrocksSam Zabel and the Magic Pen is I think coming out around the same time and in a way, he does have that notion of the artist being given supernatural abilities of one sort or another, in his case through literally a magic pen.  So he gets to explore a slightly different side of that artistic deal with fate.

Kyle: Did you have to do any sort of background research at all?

McCloud:  I researched the art world in that area as far as just the cultural and business aspects of it and then just looked at a lot of sculpture.  But in the end, I think it’s important to note that what David makes in many ways fails.  It fails the test and he’s unable to get a wider audience for it for much of the book.  The only things that David ever makes that gain the favor of that world, we don’t actually see.  We don’t see the work he makes before the story begins that had gotten him some attention early on, we don’t see the work that he makes that his friend Ollie considers very promising.  That stuff is off panel.  What I felt I was able to draw or what I was able to imagine is the sort of work that a sculptor might not get recognition for.  And so I was able to just pour my crazy imagination into it and then knowing that I wasn’t presenting this as some kind of masterpiece that would be universally acclaimed, I was presenting his sculpture as something that would probably confound or be uninteresting to that world.  But I did research some of the experience of living in that world, talked to a couple of people who are part of it. In large part, I was just researching what it is to live in New York in 2000 something because of course this took place over several years and just try to get the city right, just try to show the physical environment of the city as well as the cultural environment.

Kyle: In order for David to gain his amazing abilities, he had to strike a bit of a Faustian pact with the embodiment of death.  Do those type of stories fascinate you?  It’s basically the fulcrum that this story into motion, at least in the beginning stages before we get to know the characters better.  Do you find yourself a fan of tales like The Devil and Daniel Webster and the like?

McCloud:  Now that you mention The Devil and Daniel Webster, I actually really enjoyed that but it’s been literally 40 years since I’ve read that one, but I remember really being into it.  I don’t know that the story was in any way commenting on those other stories, but in some way, I think the important departure here is that it is a deal with death and that the ultimate result is still oblivion, as shown in the blank pages towards the beginning of the story.  Like most Faustian bargains, the ending is not in question, right?  You know the final fate of the character.  But this time, because of that notion of oblivion rather than eternal damnation, it’s kind of the secular version of that story, isn’t it?  And I think understanding the difference between that secular, updated version and versions that are more tied to questions of morality than to questions of existential terror, that was interesting to me.  I think that was the main thing was that the way in which the echoes of religious beliefs were resonated a bit through this story, but of course it’s a profoundly non-religious story despite the supernatural element that sets it in motion.

Harper: David can be frustrating at times when he is making the wrong choice, which he does quite often. Did you find it difficult to write a protagonist that has those flaws?

McCloud:  Well interestingly enough, David was even less likeable in early drafts of the layouts.  A lot of my friends who were reading it over, and my editor, pointed out ways in which he was a difficult character to get into.  You can have a character with very negative aspects to their personality who audiences still have a passageway into.  That was my goal primarily was that even when David is being frustrating, I wanted my audience to be able to get inside his head, to see what it was like to be him from the inside.  It goes in a slightly different direction from the question of likeability.  Relatability and likeability, I’ve come to understand are two slightly different things when writing characters.  He had to be relatable first and foremost and that was one of the goals that I internalized when I was going through rewrite after rewrite, to make sure that we could understand where he was coming from, and to get a sense of what drove him forward even when he was being frustrating or stubborn. Part of that was understanding the difference between wanting to be remembered and being terrified of being forgotten.  They’re two different things.  Understanding that difference, I think, was one of my crucial procedures as I constructed and reconstructed this story.

Kyle:  I’d like to also talk a little bit about one of the other key themes that hit me while I was reading, you display clinical depression in this book with a lot of nuance and that’s not something you see done particularly very well in really many forms of media – television, film, comics, whatever we might be talking about.  How much thought and work went into giving that characteristic to that particular character – or was there personal experience at all involved there that sort of informed how that character was resolved?

McCloud:  Yeah, there was a lot of personal experience that went into that and that was crucial to being able to capture those thought processes and the kind of relationship that one might have with somebody going through that.  I think in early drafts it felt a little bit more pat, a little bit more like just a mechanical necessity of the plot and I think it gained in resolution and nuance I think with the rewrites.  That was something that we were very concerned with, that it not simply be a plot device but that it be part of the texture of the story without necessarily departing from what the story was about.  One of the things about getting increasing specific in the portrayal of something like that is that you don’t want the story to become about itself, you don’t want to lose sight of why the story exists in the first place.  And so that was the balancing act, making sure that this felt like a real emotional story but an emotional story that existed within the universe of the ideas of the story as a whole.

Kyle: This is strange to say, but it’s probably my favorite part of the book because it felt so real to life.

McCloud:  That’s really cool.  I have to say, much of what I was doing there was channeling because sometimes when you have direct real life experience, sometimes you just close your eyes and let a character speak from experiences.  You can hear the voice in your head.  You know what words come next because it’s part of the texture of your own life.  It’s not a trick you can do often because you – unless you have profound relationships with many, many people which I suppose normal people do.  Maybe that’s just me speaking as an overworked comic artist that I’m only able to slot in a few in the course of a lifetime.

Harper: Looking at taking the writing process into the art process, how much thought goes into the panel to panel storytelling, or the perspectives that you choose, or whether you’re going to have an establishing shot to set the mood first, or whether you just go back and forth between the two characters? 

McCloud:  Every single composition, every single panel choice and pacing choice was done very deliberately, but always with the goal that it wouldn’t seem deliberate.  I wanted this book to feel as if it Sculptor Ex3 208x300 Interview: Scott McCloud on expectations, the creative process, and getting kicked out of a Holiday Inn for The Sculptorhad just written itself, so transparency was the goal.  One what that I tried to do that was by being very rigorous about capturing the rhythm of ordinary conversations, right down to the silence is something that Mark Siegel encouraged me to do.   Sometimes it’s important, those pauses between speech are vitally important to capturing a credible rhythm of speech.  Something that a lot of comics feel they don’t have the time to do, especially if you’ve got a 23 page story, having a panel of somebody just in between sentences, taking a sip of coffee or something, you’re not going to see that.  And yet that’s something that we intuitively recognize as the music of humans in conversation.  And when we recognize it, they become real.  And when they become real, you stop thinking about panel transitions, you stop thinking about composition choices, you stop thinking about bleeds and you are lost in the world of the story.  The first line of offense in conquering the reader’s perception of a real illusionistic world inside that story is the way people act with other people.  You get that right and you’re more likely to be able to cast that spell and keep readers in the story.

Kyle: In looking through the panel compositions, it seems like there’s a push and pull between the opaque and the transparent and one of the things Harper pointed out to me was this really interesting use of how you show distance, utilizing either opaque figures or transparent figures, or to emphasize perspective and focus.  Was this a tool you consciously decided to use on the book as a visual theme or is this just a natural part of your storytelling tools?

McCloud:  Yeah, I think that’s something that I’ve wanted to try out for a long time but I don’t really know that I ever had the opportunity.  Nothing I’d done before would have been appropriate for that particular technique.  Part of it is the fact that we have a POV character and with a POV character, you can play with perception and emotion visualized in a way that you can’t with a third party objective: omniscient viewpoint.  It’s very manga.  Manga was interesting to me for a lot of reasons when I first got into it in the 80s and one of the reasons I liked it was that notion of emotional and perceptional participation.  That sense that you are here, you’re part of the story.  You are the protagonist.  And that was done in a number of ways, sort of sliced up aspect to aspect, pieces of perception of the world around you or moving along with the moving character rather than just watching the character move. There were also all of these emotional expressionistic techniques.  If the character was nauseous, for instance, the whole world might become a little bit wobbly around them because you were perceiving the world through their eyes.  So I tried to do that and I found with the two colors, there were lots of opportunities to do that.  As you mentioned, through transparency, opacity, by using colored contours rather than black contours.  I think 100 years of CMYK printing tends to condition us to always have a black contour, but there are plenty of reasons not to.  So I use them as depth cues and I use them as you said to indicate the perspective of the character, like when he’s focusing on one particular person at a party and everybody else is dimmed out because we’re seeing his mental map of what matters and what doesn’t.

Harper: I know a lot of your work in the past has been black and white.  Was there ever a stage that this book was going to be in color or a different style of color use than the way you used it in the book?

McCloud:  No.  There were practical considerations of cost but there was also the creative considerations that I really like to do it all myself and I’m a shitty colorist.  I’ve never had a good color sense and it looks good to me and then everybody else tells me, no Scott, that’s not good, so.  But I can choose from a Pantone swatch book, that I can do.  And two colors to me is just a little bit nicer than one because with that second color, I can use it not only for the techniques we talked about but just for the simple utilitarian task of clarifying form.  When you have that second color, you can make it more quickly obvious to the eye, even at a casual glance, what the forms are on the page, where are the faces versus the background, where the figures and silhouettes are and sense of depth.  All of these things really come into sharp, immediate focus when you have that second color.  So there were a lot of reasons to go for it.

Harper: In picking the light blue tone that permeates the book; was that a difficult choice or was that something that as you were working through the art, that was just the obvious choice?

McCloud:  Actually in May, when time had pretty much run out and it was time for Scott to pick the damn color, I was in Atlanta at the offices of a company called MailChimp.  I had given a lecture there either that day or the day before, I’ve forgotten which.  And they very kindly gave me their Pantone swatch book and an hour or two in a quiet room in the offices to just sit and select which color it would be.  And I will forever be grateful to MailChimp for saving my ass because my Pantone swatch book was locked up in an office here in California, the office I’m sitting in right now.  I had the key in Atlanta and there was nobody there who could go and retrieve it for me and those things are expensive, so thank god that MailChimp came to my rescue and gave me that Pantone swatch book and I was actually to select the magical hue 653.  I will never forget that number.

Kyle: Between Serial and Scott McCloud giving them praise, MailChimp is having a great couple of months here. I’m trying to couch my next question as carefully as possible here, because it deals with sort of the latter half of the book.

McCloud:  Sure.

Kyle: The actual production of the art towards the end, especially in a selection that is full of a lot of panels, was that a physically stressful piece to produce, especially if you were producing it multiple times in multiple drafts?  I’m referring to the very end of the book.

McCloud:  Oh yeah.  No, I know what you’re referring to and it was tremendously difficult, but it was a kind of difficulty that I had come to relish.  I really loved the hard work.  The hard work of this book was gratifying work.  I loved working hard, I loved being challenged, I loved being forced to do something that I had never been able to do before.  That was great.  What wasn’t great was the fact that I was straining the limits of my system, that it was taking forever to save these files.  It was so complex at 1,200 dots per inch – at least I think it’s 12, not 1,000.  I think the book is 12 – 1,200 dots per inch, in RGB no less, even though it was a two color book.  The thing was just enormous.  Those files were enormous.  They were like half a gigabyte each and boy, was it slow churning out these things and saving them.  That was the hard part was the waiting.  Do I save and have to stop drawing for a couple of minutes or do I wait and risk a lightning storm and a blackout or whatever.  That was hard, that was hard.  But I don’t know, generally speaking though, the hardest things about this book were also the most gratifying because that’s when I felt like I was really finally climbing the mountain.

Harper: One thing I noticed that I really enjoyed in the storytelling was how you used the gutters as far as for pacing.  So the distance between the panels in calmer, normal section of the book, there’s a little bit of distance and there are white gutters and then when there’s these parts that are a little more intense or – for example, when David discovers he has these powers and he’s running home to figure out what’s going on and to try them out, the gutters completely disappear and it’s just this thick black line in between panels. It really changed the pacing a lot and the feeling of timing.

McCloud:  As you mention it, I’m not sure that I did this much in my first comic Zot!, but there was a pretty rigorous practical set of standards for when that might happen, when I might go to a different gutter style or when I might go to a bleed, for example.  And it’s just like for any given moment in the story, the question was: does it pass the test?  Is this the kind of moment where David is overwhelmed by what’s happening, where he’s sent into just an emotional rhapsody of one sort or another, of rage or wonder.  In those cases, the borders do collapse to a single black line in between panels and it goes full bleed.  All of those are full bleed as well.  To me, it feels right.  And I guess what it is is I had seen other artists who had done that.  Sometimes artists just do that for everything.  There are a few artists who always have that single black line and full bleeds throughout an entire book. It just has this – I don’t know, it’s like in Wagner when the extra trombones come in.  It just seems to be that orchestral color that tells you that something of great weight is happening.  And this is a story where I decided to use the full orchestra, so that was one of my tools.

Kyle: I know you speak to a number of different companies professionally, you’re probably on speaker bureaus and the like…

McCloud:  Actually you know what, I’ll tell you a secret.  I do it all myself.  People just email me and I say well, here’s how much it is and I’m either free or I’m not and then we do it.

Kyle:  That’s even easier.

McCloud:  It’s incredibly informal, yeah.  It’s really weird.  I should have representation for it.  I have representation for Hollywood, I have representation for my books but when it comes to speaking, I don’t know, I just haven’t found anyone that could do it better.  It’s weird.  So yeah, I just do it all myself.  It’s kind of insane.  Although I will say for the First Second book tour and my European tour, February, March and April, a lot of that is delegated to the individual publisher.

Kyle:  Of course. How do you balance that schedule with your creative time?  Is there a lot of creative time being done in hotel rooms?  How does that work?

McCloud:  We did a lot on hotel rooms last year when we were doing the technical finishes on the book.  In fact, I particularly remember writing the entire book to  – was it a Holiday Inn in St. Louis maybe or someplace, but we were driving west and we’d stopped for the night and I actually had to unpack my Mac Pro and the Cintiq and everything and it was finally done and we were writing – we got kicked out of our room.  So I actually wheeled the Mac Pro out to where the elevators were and Ivy and I were sitting there and while all of these files are being written to a drive, copied to a drive so that we could run to FedEx and send it out.  And we looked like homeless people.  Our dog was with us and all our coats and we looked like we had camped out next to the elevator and were asking for handouts or something.  But all it was was like I had all of this equipment and all of our suitcases just waiting for a file to copy.

Kyle: I’ve never heard of Holiday Inn ever kicking anyone out of a room.

McCloud:  *laughs* They were very sweet, they were very sweet.  We just explained it and – but it was just nuts.  I mean yeah, we’ve had extreme moments like that where it was just really crazy.  But as far as the travel schedule versus the work schedule, I worked 11 hours a day, seven days a week for five years, except for the last year where it was more like 14 hours a day.  And then I would still travel but in a given month, if I do two or three lectures, that’s really only, what, six days lecturing, traveling and lecturing.  So the six days out of 30 is – is that 20%?  So 80% of the time I’m working.  Of course, Ivy always makes fun of me for this, is that I will say “oh yeah, I was working except when I was traveling.”  And she’s like “that’s working too, you know”.  It’s not like when I’m hopping on a plane to give a lecture at Google, it’s not as if that’s not work.  Of course that’s work.  So yeah, I pretty much only work.  But then when the book is done, then we have fun, then we play and that’s what we’re going to do this year.

Harper: Was the publishing deal worked out before the creative process or afterwards?  I know you had the idea obviously, but was this something that you presented to the publisher and then you went from there?  What made First Second the logical choice for that?

McCloud:  Well, we went to four publishers and they were all interested in the book to varying degrees.  And for various reasons, we went with First Second, but one of the most important reasons of all was just talking to Mark Siegel and seeing that they were willing to put a lot of resources behind it but they also had that sensibility where Mark – Mark is kind of unique.  I talked to some real world class editors but Mark has I think the rigorous demanding aesthetic sense of grand, traditional New York 20th century editor while at the same time, also having tremendous chops as an artist and a writer himself. That’s a very unusual combination to find and it turned out to be essential to this particular book, because I really don’t think anybody else could have pulled this story out of me the way that Mark did.

Kyle:  What can your fans expect when you’re on the book tour?  Will you be speaking at all or will you be displaying any excerpts at all from the book itself?

McCloud:  We’re going to be bringing along visuals but for the US tour, the 14 cities in 16 days coming up in February, which’ll probably be this month by the time this goes out.  For those where it’s going to be mostly conScott.McCloud 276x300 Interview: Scott McCloud on expectations, the creative process, and getting kicked out of a Holiday Inn for The Sculptorversation format, so I’m going to be in conversation with somebody.  But then I’ll have some visuals standing by so I can show process stuff, I can show excerpts,  I can show art from the book, things like that.  But otherwise, I had suggested that it be conversation format just so that each talk is different.  So if you see me in New York or Chicago or LA, each one of those conversations is going to be different and that way if – for the ones that wind up on the web, they’ll all be their own unique conversation which ought to be a lot of fun.  But there will still be some visuals thrown in.  And I should mention, I’m still doing the full prepared visual lecture thing.  That’ll also be happening and already we have about five more talks in the spring that are slipping in between the cracks, even though I’m also going to six countries.  It’s kind of insane.  We’re doing 14 cities in 16 days followed by England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France and the Netherlands, all of it in February, March and April.  But I’ve also managed to slot in talks in Mississippi, Virginia, Ohio and Vermont into that same period and with a couple of others that are about to land as well. Those things that are a bit separate that I’ve arranged for separately, those are going to be the full stand up, hour long visual lecture which has hundreds of images going by very fast and that’s quite a show. These were organized separately, they’re not just a part of the promotional tour, though of course I’ll talk about The Sculptor a little.

Harper: The Sculptor is a dense book and it’s got a lot of really big ideas and themes about art and life and love and all sorts of different things. What do you hope is the key takeaway or the key message that you hope readers pull from it as they’re picking it up?

McCloud:  Well, there will be a lot of talk about the themes and the ambition of the book.  I think a lot of people already are looking at it as a bid for consideration as a big, serious book.  But, my very first goal for the book, and in a lot of ways still my most important goal, is just to create something that is an enjoyable read, that’s a page turner, that has a kind of narrative momentum that just carries you from panel to panel and page to page.  If I can pull that off first and foremost, I’ll be happy.  I want it to be something that people really get into, that’s engrossing, that they can lose themselves in.  And hopefully something that they can find as a rewarding re-read as well.  That’s a lot of stuff in there that I think will become apparent on second reading and third reading.

Kyle: Is this going to mark a trend of more fiction based writing from you or are you going to return to analysis after this?

McCloud:  Actually, my next book will be a nonfiction book and it’s going to be about visual communication and some of the common denominators across different disciplines in terms of visual education.  I feel as if there are common principles to data visualization, information graphics, educational animation, and educational comics.  People in all of these fields I think are knocking on the same door and I think it might be useful to see if I can discern some of the fundamental principles that lie behind all of those disciplines and put them in one work, so that’s the next project.  That’ll also be with First Second Books.

Kyle:  Lastly, where can people find information about the upcoming book tour?  Will that be on First Second’s website or will that be on your website?

McCloud:  It’s on First Second’s website now.  I tweeted about it just the other day and as soon as I’m done with today’s interviews, I am so finally putting up a blog post on my own front page at ScottMcCloud.com and updating my side bar, which is still telling you all about the things I did last year.  By the time people get to hear this, they’ll definitely be up.

You can pick up The Sculptor in book stores or your local comic shop starting February 3rd. 

For those who are so inclined you can also listen to the full audio of the interview below:

4 Comments on Interview: Scott McCloud on expectations, the creative process, and getting kicked out of a Holiday Inn for The Sculptor, last added: 2/3/2015
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12. Meanwhile in Angoulême: Charlie Hebdo gets special prize; Comixology coverage and just how big is it?

1 3 LAUREAT2015 CH2 Meanwhile in Angoulême: Charlie Hebdo gets special prize; Comixology coverage and just how big is it?

The 42nd Angoulême International Comics Festival is well underway, wrapping up the second day of exhibits as you read this, and the year is dominated, of course, by the Charlie Hebdo killings. Matthias Wivel is offering on the scene reports, and security is very high for the festival this year the checkpoints and bomb sniffing dogs.

BIZARRO WORLD A rain-drenched Angoulême has been preparing for the annual influx of people from all over the world for weeks, scrambling to take the necessary precautions against possible terrorism. Bomb-sniffing dogs around the Noveau Monde comics tent and body searches with portable metal detectors, backing up visitors at every entrance is the new reality at Angoulême.

Angou2015 CH memorial 2015 01 29 650x866 Meanwhile in Angoulême: Charlie Hebdo gets special prize; Comixology coverage and just how big is it?
The Charlie Hebdo massacre looms large everywhere, even as people are trying to carry on as usual. The Lewis Trondheim-designed festival mascot appears on the cover of the official program brandishing the ubiquitous JE SUIS CHARLIE sign, while absent festival president Bill Watterson’s delightful official poster, hanging in shop windows around town, reminds one of a (seemingly) more innocent time in comics.

Charlie Hebdo itself has been given a special prize, and the names of those slain loom over the entrance to the festival, a shown in the photo above by Wivel.
comixology angouleme Meanwhile in Angoulême: Charlie Hebdo gets special prize; Comixology coverage and just how big is it?

• Comixology is back at FIBD and has a big All Access Angouleme program going on via TwitterTumblr,Facebook, and Google+ channels.

ComiXology, the revolutionary cloud-based digital comics platform, celebrates this year’sAngoulême International Comics Festival with a sale spotlighting comics, bandes dessinées (BD), graphic novels and manga from all over the world from January 29th through February 1st. ComiXology will also be covering the show through their social media channels under the “All Access Angoulême” moniker – giving fans around the world a way to experience the festival. The AngoulêmeInternational Comics Festival takes place in Angoulême, France and runs from January 29th to February 1st.

 

They also have an Angoulême sale going on and just announced a deal to carry Humanoids comics. Both sections reward browsing.
Prixjeunesse Meanwhile in Angoulême: Charlie Hebdo gets special prize; Comixology coverage and just how big is it?

• LES ROYAUMES DU NORD by Stéphane Melchior and Clément Oubrerie (Aya), an adaptation of Phllip Pullman’s The Golden Compass won the YA prize. I already like it better than the movie.
A65380 Meanwhile in Angoulême: Charlie Hebdo gets special prize; Comixology coverage and just how big is it?

• Local resident Jessica Abel has a few tweets of note:


AND she has a new book, Trish Trash! Finally!


And her eating guide in case you haven’t figured out how to buy a crepe.

§ The Sodastream controversy continues, with an open letter signed by 110 cartoonists and allies protesting the sponsorship by the Israeli company that has factories on the West Bank. Festival director Franck Bondoux has responded:

“We are no longer in the same situation as last year,” remarked Bondoux, whom we reached last night. “SodaStream announced in 2014 that the factory under discussion will be moved. This means that the problem is in process of being resolved and has been understood.” The executive director of the festival further believes that the letter “moves into a broader proposal with terminology that goes much farther in its call for a boycott.” “We have moved from a discussion where one speaks of a specific problem to a total generality.” “This is an incitement to a stronger, more militant form of resistance.” Bondoux refuses to “judge” or “comment” if only to say “that in the current situation [reference to Charlie Hebdo and Kosher supermarket attacks], I’m not certain whether this is a time to welcome such proposals.”

But the petition organizers Ethan Heitner (NYC) and Dror Warschawski (Paris) have also responded:

On the eve of the 42nd International Comics Festival in Angoulême, the open letter we have sent to the festival director has more than 110 signatories, including 14 cartoonists having been awarded prizes at Angoulême and 7 Grand Prix laureates.

Additional signatures are still coming in from illustrators outraged by the contempt that Mr Bondoux displays towards them.  Several of them had initially not thought it necessary to sign this letter, feeling that the one sent last year had served as a warning, at a time when Mr Bondoux could plead naivety.  This year, with the facts out in the open, they cannot accept that the art of comics be used to whitewash the crimes of colonization and complicity in war crimes, be it in Angoulême or elsewhere.

Last year Mr Bondoux challenged the truth of the information we had provided and claimed that the Sodastream factory was not situated in territory militarily occupied by Israel since 1967.  This year, without blushing, he declared to the press that “the Sodastream firm announced in 2014 that the factory would be relocated.  The problem is being resolved.” (Sud Ouest newspaper, 23 January 2013).  Firstly, as of now the factory has not been relocated, and Sodastream is still a sponsor of the Angoulême festival.  Secondly, the “problem” is not being resolved and it is now 67 years that the Palestinians have been waiting for a solution.  Finally, cartoonists cannot accept that their art form be exploited by a firm that will, in addition, profit from the expulsion of Palestinian Bedouins in order to install its new factory on their land, and thus participate in the ethnic cleansing policy carried out by the State of Israel.

Mr Bondoux adds that “In the light of current events, I am not sure that such excessive remarks are appropriate”.  We suggest that Mr Bondoux discuss it with Willem, a Charlie Hebdo survivor, Grand Prix laureate in 2013, president of the Angoulême Jury in 2014, and a signatory of the letter.  We also suggest that he speak with the artists to whom his own festival has awarded prizes, and especially with other Grand Prix laureates (Baru, Jean-Claude Mézières, José Muñoz, François Schuiten, Tardi, Lewis Trondheim…).  It is they, rather than Mr Bondoux, who make this festival what it is.  Their voices must be heard, and the Sodastream firm must be driven out of the Angouleme festival.

 

• According to the Matthais Wivel account, China is very much involved as a sponsor in this year’s festival, so you can see cultural clashes of this kind will continue.

• It wouldn’t be an Angoulême without some kind of particularly Gallic controversy, although this year the Hebdo situation has swept most of that aside. Before the fest there was a huge controversy about Bondoux, who actually works for a firm contracted by the festival to put it on, taking aggressive steps to trademark the name of the festival, an event that got everyone’s dander up and forced the Angouleme minister of culture to make a public show of his outrage. Locals tell me that there is a three way battle over the festival between L’Association (no relation to the publisher) which puts it on, 9e Art+, the contractor, and the local government. While this tussle has been put on hold due to the greater events sweeping over the French cartooning community, it hasn’t been solved.

• Finally, this comes from the NY Post of French comics coverage, so add some salt, but along with the above controversy, there have been claims that FIBD (Festival Festival international de la bande dessinée d’Angoulême) has inflated it’s attendance figures and does not draw the 200,000 that is claimed. Quelle horreur! A lot of the evidence seems to be based on whether 40,000 is a typo for 400,000, which is flimsy, but there have been other claims about this perviously. Speaking for myself, after actually going I’d guess that 200,000 people don’t all show up every day, but there are more than 50,000 people every day, too. Also, in the rough Google translation, it seems that, SDCC-style, scrutiny is being given to the costs versus the amount spent by attendees, with a study by the local tourism board showing major expenditures: the festival costs € 4.3 million, € 1.9 million of it public money, but brings in € 1.1 million for restaurants and € 0.72 million for hotels, with visitors spending some € 1.42 million (About US$1.6 million.) That actually amounts to….$18 per attendee, so the French may also be a living embodiment of the Single Can of Tuna Theory*.

3 Comments on Meanwhile in Angoulême: Charlie Hebdo gets special prize; Comixology coverage and just how big is it?, last added: 2/1/2015
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13. Bendis on working for Marvel

powers001 cov 654x1024 Bendis on working for Marvel
On his Tumblr, Brian Micheal Bendis was asked about why he’s stayed with Marvel when so many others have gone 100% creator owned.

Seems like most of the guys from your generation (Fraction, Brubaker, Millar) made a name doing their own stuff, built up a name at one of the big 2, then left to do their own stuff but with a bigger following. What makes you stay on at Marvel? Do you think you always had different goals from the start?


and he pointed out some very good reasons to stay:

Everyone to their own path. 

but it’s weird that I keep being labeled, by some, as just marvel dude because I do produce as much if not more creator owned work as everybody else doing creator owned work. in fact with the powers TV show just a few weeks away I am as involved in the benefits of creator owned then just about anybody on the planet aside from Robert Kirkman. it just so happens that Marvel is also my home for creator owned work and have been publishing powers for over a decade

 but why Marvel? I absolutely love it. I feel an immense honor being  one of the caretakers of these characters that mean so much to so many. my kids are little and all of their friends love the guardians or the avengers and the thrill they feel when they find out I’m somewhat involved is very inspiring.  I am afforded a great deal of freedom to express myself in characters that mean the world to so many.

 so I get the best of both worlds.  why wouldn’t I do both?


You know, there’s nothing wrong with sticking with a job you love, especially when you have a “TV” show coming out that will potentially rewards the fruits of creator-owned labor over many years. Bendis has had one of the most successful careers in comics history, ad having choices is what helped make it so.

5 Comments on Bendis on working for Marvel, last added: 2/2/2015
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14. The OSU Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum acquires Tom Tomorrow’s paper

tom tomorrow1 The OSU Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum acquires Tom Tomorrows paper
OSU’s Billy Ireland library and Museum continues to amass more important collections or archival papers with the announcement that editorial cartoonist Tom Tomorrow aka Dan Perkins will be donating his papers to the institution. Tomorrow is a alt.weekly mainstay whose made the transition to the inetrent world, with his trenchant comics found in 70 papers, Daily Kos, The Nation, and The Nib.  

Perkin’s collection has a large historical value, as he explained in a statement: “At this point, it represents not only a history of my own work, but of the alternative press itself, and I hope there’s some value in that for some scholar someday.  So when Curator Jenny Robb said The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum would be interested, I was thrilled — not only is all this material going to be preserved and accessible, but it will be in the biggest cartoon library in the world.  I can’t think of a better home for it all, though it does rob my young son of his eventual inheritance of many boxes full of old newspapers.”

With more and more papers being donated to various comics-friendly institutions, not only is the life of the packrat vindicated, but future generations and scholars are the richer for it.
TomTomorrow2 The OSU Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum acquires Tom Tomorrows paper

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15. Phoebe Gloeckner’s Diary of a Teenage Girl wows them at Sundance

DOATG Phoebe Gloeckners Diary of a Teenage Girl wows them at Sundance

518DtXCE33L Phoebe Gloeckners Diary of a Teenage Girl wows them at Sundance
Every few years, a comic book movie that is based on real life appears, and most often they appear at Sundance, the January-set indie film festival that rival Comic-Con for celebs, parties and standing in the street looking for a place to drink free alcohol.

The American Splendor film triumphed at Sundance back in 2003; more recently Save the Date, based on the work of Jeffrey Brown, had a more modest debut.

But this year, The Diary of a Teenage girl, based on the hybrid novel/comic by Phoebe Gloeckner, and directed by Marielle Heller is getting very strong reviews. The film stars 22-year-old Bel Powley as Minnie Goetz, a teenage girl whose emerging sexuality finds an outlet in an affair with her mother’s boyfriend. (Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard play the mother and boyfriend.) Strong reviews have led the way to the film already being picked up by Sony Classic Pictures.

diary of a teenage girl Phoebe Gloeckners Diary of a Teenage Girl wows them at Sundance

Todd McCarthy at The Hollywood Reporter loved it:

In this gutsy, intimate and assured debut, Marielle Heller accomplishes just about everything all young independent filmmakers say they want to do when starting out: to create a personal, fresh, distinctive work in their own “voice” that will then, of course, make their careers. Heller has pulled this off in a remarkably vibrant and frank look at one precocious teen’s emerging sexual life — a film with the stuff of life coursing through its veins and sex very much on its brain. The Diary of a Teenage Girl is the kind of film Sundance prays for every year: one that indelibly puts on the map a talented director the festival can then forever claim as one of its own. This will be one of the significant indie titles of the year and a good commercial bet — a film many young women will see more than once.

 

Anisha Jhaveri of Indiewire gave it an A-

Shocking but genuine, poignant and hilarious, “Diary of a Teenage Girl” could well become one of the more memorable entries in the Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. competition. Minnie’s story may be a singular one, but its essence will undoubtedly strike a chord — not just for women, but for anyone who recalls the befuddling emotions that plagued and enriched their teen years in equal doses.

Variety’s Dennis Harvey also liked it:

Translating tricky source material to the screen with flying colors, actress Marielle Heller’s feature directing debut, “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” manages to plunge into the too-precocious sex life of a 15-year-old girl without turning exploitative or distasteful. This adaptation of Phoebe Gloeckner’s heavily autobiographical novel is ideally cast and skillfully handled, making for a salable item likely to stir some attention-getting controversy and win favorable reviews in territories where the subject matter (which is depicted not graphically, but with a fair amount of nudity) doesn’t create daunting censorship problems.

Gloeckner is a powerful storyteller and she has found a sympathetic collaborator in Heller, who previously adapted the material into a stage play; animations based on the comics part of the book are used throughout the film. The cartoonist, who currently works as a professor at the University of Michigan, was on the set for filming and went to Sundance for the premiere. Several interviews with Gloeckner about the experience are available: this audio interview and a profile here.

Bonus video: Wiig and Skarsgard talking about their characters.

 Phoebe Gloeckners Diary of a Teenage Girl wows them at SundanceThe acclaim for the film will hopefully give some of Gloeckner’s other works some attention as well, although they aren’t that easy to find. A Child’s Life, which collects most of her comics, including ones which expand on the events of Diary, is OOP, although you can readily get a used copy. Hopefully that will change soon, and also maybe Gloeckner will do some more comics? A voice as honest and clear as hers is always needed in comics.

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16. Marge and Bill Woggon selected for the Eisner Hall of Fame, 13 on the ballot

Marjorie “Marge” Henderson Buehl, the magazine cartoonist who created Little Lulu, and Bill Woggon, creator of Katy Keane, an early example of crowd sourced comics, have been selected for the Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame by this year’s judges. An additional 13 names will be on the ballot for the awards: Lynda Barry, John Byrne, Chris Claremont, Howard Cruse, Kim Deitch, Matt Groening, Denis Kitchen, Frank Miller, Francoise Mouly, Paul S. Newman, Lily Renée Peters Phillips, Bob Powell, and Frank Robbins. Four will be selected for the Hall and announced at the ceremony at Comic-Con.

Online voting is now open for industry professionals (writer, artist, cartoonist, colorist, letterer, editors, publishers) as well as retailers, graphic novels librarians, and comics historian/educators. The deadline is March 31.

eisners2015 hof buell 1 Marge and Bill Woggon selected for the Eisner Hall of Fame, 13 on the ballot

Marjorie Henderson Buell (“Marge”) (1904–1993)
Marge started drawing Little Lulu for the Saturday Evening Post in 1935, creating a mischievous tot with a spark for ingenuity that we know to this day. Lulu was created as a foil to the existng character Henry. It was turned into a comic strip eventually and the comics by John Stanley and Irving Tripp. Although the Stanley Lulu stories are the best known today, Marge’s Lulu was very popular in its own right, with many licensing deals—including one as the mascot for Kleenex from 1952-1965–and an animated series. Marge was a cartoonist from the age of 16 and created other comic strips and illustrated many books.

Marjoriebuell Marge and Bill Woggon selected for the Eisner Hall of Fame, 13 on the ballot

eisners2015 hof woggon 1 Marge and Bill Woggon selected for the Eisner Hall of Fame, 13 on the ballot

Bill Woggon (1911–2003)
Bill Woggon created “Katy Keene, the Pinup Queen” for Archie Comics in 1945, a fashionable character far above the usual Riverdale shenanigans. readers were encouraged to send in their own designs for clothes and other series props, and Keene would use them in the strips, giving credit to readers. The strip was revived in the 80s with some newer artists but Woggon was still around to take an active hand. He also worked on Millie the Lovable Monster for Dell, and his elegant, streamlined style for perfect for the fashions that the strip spotlighted.
po Marge and Bill Woggon selected for the Eisner Hall of Fame, 13 on the ballot

2 Comments on Marge and Bill Woggon selected for the Eisner Hall of Fame, 13 on the ballot, last added: 1/24/2015
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17. The cartooning world—and the rest of the world—reacts to the Charlie Hebdo attack

January 7th, 2015 will always be a grim date in for free speech, tolerance and French cartooning. As we all know, 12 people, including 10 staffers and four cartoonists were killed in a terrorist attack on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo yesterday morning. The attack—which some called the 9/11 for France—left grieving and reeling for those lost and for a world in which such a senseless act could occur. The four cartoonists killed—Georges Wolinski, Charb, Tignous, and Cabu—included one Angouleme Grand Prize winner, Wolinski, who won in 2005. It was a grievous toll.

Some developments: The two gunmen were quickly identified when they left their ID in a vehicle they abandoned. As I write this there are conflicting reports about whether they have been apprehended, but nothing definite enough to link to.

10367683 10152482798576612 299126935450636576 n The cartooning world—and the rest of the world—reacts to the Charlie Hebdo attack

• Rallies were held around the world last night, with thousands showing up at various vigils in France. (Below The cartooning world—and the rest of the world—reacts to the Charlie Hebdo attack is from Lyon.) A rally was also held at Union Square in NYC, with Art Spiegelman photographed there.

 

• The world of editorial cartoonists quickly reacted with many drawing showing their solidarity with those slain in the name of free speech. The Washington Post has a fine round up.

• This cartoon by James Walmesley found a lot of support.

Screen Shot 2015 01 07 at 7.37.21 PM The cartooning world—and the rest of the world—reacts to the Charlie Hebdo attack

• Craig Yoe sent me this one.

• Comics scholar, and French comics expert Bart Beaty wrote an excellent piece explaining the role that the editorial cartoonist has in France:

Unlike in the United States, where comic strips, comic books, and editorial cartoons are generally regarded as only distantly related wings of the same art form, in France the integration of the three is much closer. Each of the four cartoonists killed today worked not only for Charlie Hebdo, but for other newspapers, and for French comic book publishers. The publishing industry in France is both smaller and more central than it is in the United States. With so many cartoonists living in and around Paris, the overlap between different media are quickly eroded in a context where it can sometimes seem that every working cartoonist knows every other one and works across publishing platforms.

• Controversial editorial cartoonist Ted Rall wrote a fine piece for the LA Times where he recalled meeting the Hebdo staff on a trip to Angouleme, and reiterating the power of editorial cartoons to inflame passions…and even thought:

Not to denigrate writing (especially since I do a lot of it myself), but cartoons elicit far more response from readers, both positive and negative, than prose. Websites that run cartoons, especially political cartoons, are consistently amazed at how much more traffic they generate than words. I have twice been fired by newspapers because my cartoons were too widely read — editors worried that they were overshadowing their other content.

Scholars and analysts of the form have tried to articulate exactly what it is about comics that make them so effective at drawing an emotional response, but I think it’s the fact that such a deceptively simple art form can pack such a wallop. Particularly in the political cartoon format, nothing more than workaday artistic chops and a few snide sentences can be enough to cause a reader to question his long-held political beliefs, national loyalties, even his faith in God.

That drives some people nuts.

• Showing caution, many news outlets did not show the controversial Hebdo covers which led to threats against the magazine.

• For something of an alternative take, Jacob Canfield at The Hooded Utilitarian suggests that Free Speech Does Not Mean Freedom From Criticism and that Hebdo’s cartoons were deliberately provocative, Islamophobic and racist.

• Although Canfield certainly doesn’t suggest this, I did see a bunch of places suggesting that the “Je suis Charlie” show of solidarity around the world should not be used because it supports racist cartoons. I would gently suggest that racism is a horrible and bad thing, but it is not punishable by death, and showing solidarity for people who were murdered for expressing their views in a non violent way is probably not a terrible thing. Just because you supported “Boston Strong” after the Marathon bombing doesn’t make you a Red Sox fan.

• I doubt anything I just wrote will settle this issue.

• Probably the smartest thing I read all day yesterday was by Middle East analyst Juan Cole. (Yes I know he is controversial himself.) Cole writes that the killings were not really about the cartoons at all but rather a recruiting tool for extremism: by ginning up anti-Muslim sentiment in France and around the world, currently non-secular Muslims will be more receptive to recruitment.

The operatives who carried out this attack exhibit signs of professional training. They spoke unaccented French, and so certainly know that they are playing into the hands of Marine LePen and the Islamophobic French Right wing. They may have been French, but they appear to have been battle hardened. This horrific murder was not a pious protest against the defamation of a religious icon. It was an attempt to provoke European society into pogroms against French Muslims, at which point al-Qaeda recruitment would suddenly exhibit some successes instead of faltering in the face of lively Beur youth culture (French Arabs playfully call themselves by this anagram). Ironically, there are reports that one of the two policemen they killed was a Muslim.

Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, then led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, deployed this sort of polarization strategy successfully in Iraq, constantly attacking Shiites and their holy symbols, and provoking the ethnic cleansing of a million Sunnis from Baghdad. The polarization proceeded, with the help of various incarnations of Daesh (Arabic for ISIL or ISIS, which descends from al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia). And in the end, the brutal and genocidal strategy worked, such that Daesh was able to encompass all of Sunni Arab Iraq, which had suffered so many Shiite reprisals that they sought the umbrella of the very group that had deliberately and systematically provoked the Shiites.

The goal of 9/11 was not to knock down the World Trade Center, or even to shut down state fairs because of terrorist fears. Its well documented goal was to throw the West into such a foment that the entire world economy and established political alliances were destabilized. The plan worked perfectly and bin Laden won. It would be horrible if the Hebdo murder were another triumph for extremist propaganda.

• All that said, cartoonists around the world showed solidarity for their slain colleagues with this “Weapon of Choice” meme. I’ve culled a few from my FB and Instagram feeds…there are dozens more. Here’s a small gallery. Ultimately, art outlives death.

 

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Mark Chiarello

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Janice Chiang

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Lauren Panepinto

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Dave Dorman

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Dan Panosian

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Cully Hamner

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J. Scott Campbell

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Denys Cowan

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Laura Martin

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Derf

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Bill Sienkiewicz

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Dean Haspiel

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18. A sad day for cartoonists...


A sad day for cartoonists... 

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19. Dave Gibbons named the first Comics Laureate in the UK

dave gibbons Dave Gibbons named the first Comics Laureate in the UK

Hm let’s see, we need an ambassador of comics who can work with schools, educators and more to show how comics can contribute to literacy and learning. We need someone who is smart, distinguished and universally loved…

I know! Let’s get Dave Gibbons!

And so it has been announced at this year’s Lake Festival which is being held this weekend.

Bestselling graphic novelist Dave Gibbons is to become the first Comics Laureate. The announcement was made by internationally acclaimed comics authority and graphic novelist Scott McCloud at the launch of new charity Comics Literacy Awareness (CLAw) at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival on 17th October.

The role of Comics Laureate is to be appointed biennially to a distinguished comics writer or artist in recognition of their outstanding achievement in the field. Their role is to champion children’s literacy through school visits, training events for school staff and education conferences. Dave Gibbons has won universal praise for his comics and graphic novel work for Marvel and DC Comics including the ground-breaking Watchmen (with Alan Moore), as well as the UK’s own 2000AD and Doctor Who. “It’s a great honour for me to be nominated as the first Comics Laureate,” he says. “I intend to do all that I can to promote the acceptance of comics in schools. It’s vitally important not only for the pupils but for the industry too.” Dave Gibbons takes up his two-year position from February 2015.

Comics Literacy Awareness (CLAw) is a new UK charity formed by a group of passionate, highly experienced professionals from the fields of education and comics. Its primary aim is to improve the literacy levels of children and to promote the variety and quality of comics and graphic novels today, particularly in the education sector.

The Board of CLAw’s trustees includes renowned graphic novelist Bryan Talbot, winner of the 2012 Costa Award for Best Biography for Dotter Of Her Father’s Eyes (a collaboration with his wife Mary Talbot). He says, “In many other countries, comics and graphic novels have been used extensively in literacy drives. The sheer accessibility of the medium, the way in which complex information can be easily absorbed through its combination of words and pictures, actively encourages reading in those intimidated by endless blocks of cold print.”

The other trustees are Julie Tait, Director of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival; Ian Churchill, comic book artist for DC and Marvel, and writer/artist on his Image Comics title Marineman; Emma Hayley, Managing Director and Publisher of UK’s independent graphic novel company, SelfMadeHero; Paul Register, school librarian and founder of the Stan Lee Excelsior Award; and Dr. Mel Gibson, comics scholar and senior lecturer at Northumbria University.

Alongside the Comics Laureateship, CLAw will work closely with schools on a number of initiatives, including staff training events and classroom visits by comics professionals. They will liaise with museums and galleries on a variety of comics-related projects, and provide reading lists and general guidance to school staff and parents unfamiliar with the comics medium, demonstrating the wider educational benefits it can offer.

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20. Buy a copy of The Walking Dead Vol. 1 with an original oil painting by Ben Templesmith for an absurdly low price

Walkingdead5 Buy a copy of The Walking Dead Vol. 1 with an original oil painting by Ben Templesmith for an absurdly low price

Well, $412 seems absurdly low to us, anyway. 

Renowned horror/fantasy artist Templesmith has been experimenting with hand-painted covers for several books, and this is an original one of a kind oil painting done on a copy of The Walking Dead Volume 1. The painting was varnished, and I don’t know if you can read the book inside, but it seems to me that this is a pretty darned sweet collectible…especially for Halloween.

Also…Christmas is coming.

More Templesmith stuff at the 78Squid retail website.

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21. James Sturm hits a nerve among cartoonists with ‘The Sponsor’

1 8MG0 KVU3JiBL0VNc7u7A1 James Sturm hits a nerve among cartoonists with The Sponsor

On Monday, James Sturm, cartoonist and director of the Center for Cartoon Studies, posted a cartoon at The Nib called “The Sponsor”. I’m sure if you are a cartoonist you’ve already read it, since it was the talk of the town for a few days. Basically it concerns cartoonists, jealousy, the low bar for success, anxiety over one’s abilities, tumblr hits, Kickstarter and more. All in 24 panels. I’d call that a good job.

The basic conceit is that as in various 12-step programs, (the subtitle is “The first step is admitting you have a problem”) cartoonists have sponsors they can call in moments of stress. A young cartoonist named Casey calls his sponsor, Alan, in the middle of the night to fret about another cartoonist named Tessa who has a six figure Kickstarter, a line out the door at a Rocketship signing,  and a book deal with D&Q. Tessa’s success sends Casey into such a tizzy that he has to work things out and consider grad school, despite Alan’s insistence that Crumb never thought about hits. And despite his “stay strong” rhetoric to Casey, Alan soon picks up the phone to call his OWN sponsor.

Of course we all know that judging your own success by someone else’s is a short cut to despair. By the same token, we’ve all done what Casey does, looked at other people’s book deals, Facebook likes, retweets or dinner companions and found ourselves feeling shitty about someone else’e\s perceived success. It’s human nature. You do it, I do it, we all do it. And then, if we want to actually be a success in some measure, we move on.

1 kQnfDwOEK1ZxkSLxlxUhvA James Sturm hits a nerve among cartoonists with The Sponsor

I know this cartoon ignited much talk in cartooning circles, but the one I caught spun out of this one by Colleen Frakes:

You can see the responses from MK Reed, Johanna Draper Carlson, Mike Dawson, Alison Wilgus and more. To be honest, the gender question here is, for once, a red herring. I think Sturm’s satire—and it is a satire, not an autobiographical comic—was based on the image of two white guys fretting over the success of a younger female cartoonist. That was kinda the POINT. This cartoon was about the toxic effects of jealousy not about gender relations—that the more successful, nimble cartoonist is a woman backs up setting as the twilight of the “pap pap era” that is implied by the reference to Crumb.

Another subtext of “The Sponsor” is that Alan and Casey are only reacting to the external aspects of Tessa’s career, and eschewing an examination of the artistic merits of her work that might lead to inspiration as opposed to mere envy. We get better at what we do by studying better things, and applying what makes them better to our own work, in a sensible way. Easier said than done, I know.

BTW, for those who think this is a lonely cry for acceptance by a put upon white male cartoonist, more of those thoughts are publicly expressed in this Metafilter thread, including guesses as to the real Tessa and so on. Come on people…IT’S A SATIRICAL STORY. I am well aware that all art is filtered through the social status of the creator, but but interpreting all storytelling as confirmation bias is the ultimate no-win situation. Can you imagine if Dan Clowes’ “Dan Pussey” came out today?

No, “The Sponsor” is about insecurity and the trivial uncontrollable fretting that destroys your own creativity. A few years ago I linked to this piece by Rob Liefeld called “How to Beat The Haters”, and you know, if Rob Liefeld can do it any one can—although external criticism is far from the corrosive internal struggle discussed in “The Sponsor.” But some of the same rules apply. You can only control one person’s work—your own. And yes, I am aware of the irony of quoting a cartoonist whose entire career seems oblivious to the painful self-examination Casey and Alan are dealing with.  The way forward lies somewhere in the middle.

Kind of tangential to this, but I’ve updated the Beat’s “How to Get Into Comics and Survive Once You’re There” page with a few links. It’s still only an outline. Share more resources or self-help or ideas for what Casey and Alan should do in the comments.

And a final PS: Man, the Nib is awesome. That is all.

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22. DesignerCon Tells a Toy Story All Its Own

By David Nieves

Even though Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world, ten years ago, you’d be remiss to find comic conventions, toy shows, or most other forms of pop culture gatherings. The monthly mini show at the Shrine Expo was at times more a flea market than a convention and Frank and Son’s collectibles is always basically a swap meet. Today, there’s an overabundance of conventions and expos in L.A. for every facet of fandom. Seems like very weekend, fans of the popular arts have a place to gather somewhere in Southern California and that’s far from a bad thing.

This weekend in Pasadena CA; artists, toy makers, and vinyl sculptors of all kinds gathered at the convention center for DesignerCon or Dcon as it’s commonly known. If you’re an art connoisseur or a collector of unique toys this show is for you. Dcon smashes together collectible toys and designer goods with urban, underground and pop art. The show is over 70,000 square feet and features over 300 vendors, art & custom live demonstrations, and much more. Attendees can get prints by quirky artist Michelliezoid, the barbwire covered bat from Skybound Ent, or something from Prints On Wood by Tara McPherson and Greg “Craola” Simkins.

Dcon also host a limited number of informative and fan panels covering topics such as crowdfunding, character design, and building a style all your own.

However the real star of the show is the floor. Traversing the straightforward rows of aisles is simplicity. A person could walk the entire floor to get the lay of the land and easily find the booths they want to get back to. One of the most interesting parts of Dcon is that no two booths are even remotely alike. First you see the adorable art of Unicorn Crafts and then turn around to look at the zealously detailed horror dioramas of Jackorama. One of our favorite exhibits was the Lego recreations of some iconic comic book covers by ComicBricks. The Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle cover was exquisite right down to its tiny bottle of hooch.

The show has a very niche appeal. If you’re looking for comics, or figures from Mattel you won’t find them here. But if you enjoy innovatively designed toys like Giant Robot or gallery quality art by masters like Jeff Soto then this show is well worth the low low price of $7 for entrance.

Dcon continues Sunday from 10am-5pm at the Pasadena Convention Center. Find out more info at DesignerCon.com. Check out a few pics from the show below.

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23. Angoulême fest announces line-up of exhibits and spotlights: Watterson, Kirby, Moomins, Taniguchi

The Angoulême Festival International de la Bande Dessineé for 2015 has released the schedule of art exhibits, spotlights and other goodies. They attached this as an English-language pdf which I’ve inserted below.

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There are several amusing typos on the list, see if you can spot them. All that aside, this is a pretty stunning—and cosmopolitan—line-up, with comics from around the world including the Finnish Moomin saga, the Americans Jack Kirby and Bill Watterson, manga giant Jiro Taniguchi and so on. When they say exhibits, these are museum-quality shows that enhance your experience of even familiar projects. Truly Angouleme is the temple of comics. I think extending its esthetic to more comics is a great development.

There are obviously a lot of changes coming to this most Franco-Belgian of all comics events, and a lot of behinds the scenes turmoil which I’ll be reporting on in a separate post.

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24. The New Yorker’s Cartoons of the Year is out, with Wheeler and Karasik

Screen shot 2014 11 13 at 6.19.53 PM The New Yorkers Cartoons of the Year is out, with Wheeler and Karasik

Although The Beat is a loyal New Yorker subscriber (it’s the only thing that holds our attention whilst on the elliptical) just beause you’re a subscriber does’t mean you get the Cartoons of the Year special edition. However if our email is to be believed, this issue includes several new pieces that may necessitate a trip to the newsstand.

Michael Maslin has an index of the cartoons reprinted within—among them Emily Flake, Shannon Wheeler and Liana Finck. HE also made a screenshot of the cover, so we can find it on the newsstand.

comicteaser The New Yorkers Cartoons of the Year is out, with Wheeler and Karasik

Shannon Wheeler has also drawn a 3-page comic strip about Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson (no relation) the “father of the comic book.” His granddaughter Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson (an occasional Beat contributor) sent out a teeny preview to whet our appetites.
anatomy of a gag The New Yorkers Cartoons of the Year is out, with Wheeler and Karasik
Paul Karasik has also written a two page article dissecting a Charles Addams cartoon. He also sent along a preview!

CoverStory Time Warp Richard McGuire 690 949 13173805 The New Yorkers Cartoons of the Year is out, with Wheeler and Karasik

This week’s regular issue has a cover by Richard McGuire referencing HERE, which comes out any day now. There’s the usual cover feature explaining it:

“As I walk around the city, I’m time-travelling, flashing forward, planning what it is I have to do,” Richard McGuire says about this week’s cover. “Then I have a sudden flashback to a remembered conversation, but I notice a plaque on a building commemorating a famous person who once lived there, and for a second I’m imagining them opening the door. This is the territory of my new book, ‘Here,’ playing with time in both a historic and personal way.”

 

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25. Interview: Gregg Schigiel on Creating and Promoting ‘Pix’

By Matt O’Keefe

A few months ago, editor-in-chief of The Beat Heidi MacDonald shared on social media that she’d been interviewed for the comic book podcast Stuff Said. I really enjoyed her conversation with host Gregg Schigiel, and soon after listening to that episode I devoured the rest of the show’s catalogue. I learned that Gregg Schigiel is also a very talented cartoonist, best known for his work on SpongeBob SquarePants comics. He has a new original graphic novel called Pix available now online and coming out through comic stores on February 11th. I spoke to Gregg about the book, from its development through marketing Pix with interviews like what you’ll read below.
PIX OWW Title 685x1028 Interview: Gregg Schigiel on Creating and Promoting Pix
 
You originally drew the first two chapters of Pix as a black and white ashcan. Why did you decide to make the graphic novel color?
Originally, I was pitching it over at Image in 2007/2008 under their Extreme line of books that Casanova and Fell came from. The concept I had at the time was that each chapter would be 20 pages and you could collect every 5 and it would be a $1.99 book for younger readers. The ashcans were black and white because it was cheaper to go into Nickelodeon and use their photocopiers and print black and white copies. The intent for the book was always to be color if and when it got printed
Why did you decide to self-publish?
I’ve wanted to self-publish forever. Well, forever’s probably overstating it, but I’ve been interested in self-publishing even since i was an assistant editor at Marvel. People like Jeff Smith and Terry Moore did really interesting work when I was in college and are still doing interesting work now, really making self-publishing work for them. I found the process super interesting and wanted to at least understand what it took to see something from start to finish. At a certain point with this project, I also saw that the self-publishing process would be faster than trying to shop it around and get somebody else to publish it. I knew what I wanted from it and the most efficient way to get that final result was to self-publish.
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The first page of the prologue.

Why did you start the preview on the Pix website with Chapter 1 instead of the prologue?
I thought the prologue would be a nice treat for someone who read the first chapter online and then picked up the book and saw that there was something before Chapter 1. Also, a lot of the prologue is going to be in a book trailer that I’m working on when I’m not working on other things, so it will show up in some format. But I thought Chapter 1 worked as its own chunk of content. It seemed like a good intro to the character and the world.
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The first page of Chapter 1.

The first page of Chapter 1 was a lot of exposition, but it’s really good exposition. I love how it takes advantage of the comics form, in that you can flip back to it if you forget something about a character like their name.
Yeah. I wanted this to be an entry level book where you knew what you had. It’s an incredible advantage of comics that you can do a lot in a single page and share that information very quickly.
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Gregg Schigiel describes the art in ‘Pix’ as his natural style.

You spend a lot of your time drawing SpongeBob, who you have to draw exactly the right way for licensers. Is Pix more your natural style?
Yes, Pix is much closer to how I draw. Although, I’ve done so much licensing work and that’s had a… this will sound pretentious but it’s given me an eye for style. A lot of that is in the finishing so I could do Pix in a different style if I chose to but, for efficiency’s sake, this is the closest to my natural style at the moment. it’s always developing and shifting and changing. I tried to work a little looser on Pix to work a little faster because I can, like so many people, really overthink and over worry about a drawing. Making lines perfectly smooth, making sure not a single thing is out of place. So I tried to chuck that and tell the story. I spent more time on the construction and making the figure work solid and less time on the final linework.
PIX OWW 20 675x1028 Interview: Gregg Schigiel on Creating and Promoting Pix
Like I imagine many did, I first discovered your work through your podcast. Why did you start Stuff Said?
I started it in 2011 because I didn’t hear a podcast like it and I wanted there to be that show out there. I found the conversations on podcasts like Bullseye hosted by Jesse Thorn and WTF with Marc Maron super engaging and wanted that sort of thing in comics and cartooning. After listening to enough shows and complaining to friends it got to a point where if I thought I could do it, I should do it. So I went ahead and did it.
It’s nice to get the perspective of a cartoonist. Doesn’t seem like there’s enough of that in the podcast world.
Thanks. Yeah, it’s funny because that was clearly what I was going for, but it didn’t quite dawn on me that it was what i was doing until I spoke to Jamal Igle early on. He said that our talk was a different kind of conversation because we were coming from similar places. It was a peer to peer conversation as opposed of fan to pro or store to creators. It’s hopefully a little bit interview, a little bit commiserating as fellow professionals in this business.
PIX OWW 22 675x1028 Interview: Gregg Schigiel on Creating and Promoting Pix
Has the podcast helped build your name in the industry?
I don’t know. That’s a great question. I think it all depends… I’m not sure. I was at NYCC and had people come up and say they liked the show. Some of them were people in the industry and some who I presume were just fans who came across the show. I have no idea who knows who I am. I tend to think I’m a certain level of obscure but then people know who I am. I was at SDCC 2011 after two episodes had aired and met Skottie Young for the first time. I mentioned I did this podcast and he was like, “Oh yeah, I know.” I asked, “How do you know? The show is brand new!” He said he’d heard about it from somebody so I guess some people are listening to the show. I don’t have the full information on who’s listening to it and who knows who I am by name. I don’t think it’s that many people, though, and that’s not me being modest. I genuinely think that it’s not that many people. I wish it was more and interviews like this will hopefully help get my name out there.
PIX OWW 40 675x1028 Interview: Gregg Schigiel on Creating and Promoting Pix
After years of SpongeBob and now a self-published graphic novel, do you have any interest in working on a project that’s more mainstream for typical comic fans?
I might have at one point, but I haven’t worried about it much lately. I mean, Pix is certainly is certainly not geared towards a mainstream comic book fan, though I do think a mainstream comic book fan would like it and enjoy it and get something from it… No. The answer is no because I’ve seen over the years what the various fanbases are like and there’s something very, very satisfying about the reactions of kids when they read stuff and are super into it. I feel that with SpongeBob and I feel it when sitting next to Chris Giarrusso at conventions. Kids and families are super into G-Man. Raina Telgemier’s work draws a huge audience. There’s something very heartwarming… this might sound a little sappy… about seeing that kind of reaction. I see it less with mainstream comics. That’s not to say mainstream comics fans don’t appreciate the work, but I’ve become less concerned with appealing to that specific fanbase. I have been part of that fanbase and am not dismissing that fanbase. I just don’t do those kinds of comics at this point. I think my stuff is more suitable for a different audience.
PIX OWW 44 675x1028 Interview: Gregg Schigiel on Creating and Promoting Pix
What’s next for you?
Next for me is promoting and trying to sell Pix to comic stores and elsewhere. That’s the biggest and hardest challenge of this project so far. It’s the one thing I’ve not been able to have the most control over because to sell the book I need to promote the book. To promote the book I need people like you, thank you very much, to talk to me. Or I need distribution and need a distributor to sell the book on my behalf. When it comes to drawing it, I can just do what I do. Writing and drawing is the easy part and the fun part.
So there’s that and more Stuff Said because that’s part of my new comics output. And at some point i need to start working on Book 2 of Pix and I still work on the SpongeBob comics because that pays the bills. I’ve also been working on a new podcast that has nothing to do with comics that I’ll announce on the December 15th episode of Stuff Said. That will launch at the end of December and I think it will appeal to comic book fans but it’s not a comic show at all. It has nothing to do with comics, which is a fun departure. There’s always stuff I want to do. Like every person making comics and telling stories the list of things I want to do that I  haven’t gotten to is only going to be longer than what i’ve been able to get done so the list continues. There’s still time, though. I’m not that old yet!
You can buy a copy of Pix in digital or print here or ask your local comic shop to order it in the December catalog: item #DEC141546.

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