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1. 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.
PIX OWW 03 695x1028 Interview: Gregg Schigiel on Creating and Promoting Pix

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.
PIX OWW 07 676x1028 Interview: Gregg Schigiel on Creating and Promoting Pix

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.
PIX OWW 14 675x1028 Interview: Gregg Schigiel on Creating and Promoting Pix

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.

0 Comments on Interview: Gregg Schigiel on Creating and Promoting ‘Pix’ as of 12/9/2014 7:35:00 PM
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2. 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.

0 Comments on Angoulême fest announces line-up of exhibits and spotlights: Watterson, Kirby, Moomins, Taniguchi as of 11/17/2014 2:23:00 PM
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3. 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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4. 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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5. 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.

15 Comments on James Sturm hits a nerve among cartoonists with ‘The Sponsor’, last added: 11/8/2014
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6. 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.

1 Comments on Buy a copy of The Walking Dead Vol. 1 with an original oil painting by Ben Templesmith for an absurdly low price, last added: 10/20/2014
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7. 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.

1 Comments on Dave Gibbons named the first Comics Laureate in the UK, last added: 10/18/2014
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8. Jen Wang Aims To Give Gaming A Real World Context For ‘In Real Life’

Jen.Wang  695x1028 Jen Wang Aims To Give Gaming A Real World Context For In Real LifeBy Kyle Pinion

IN REAL LIFE, a graphic novel collaboration between journalist/author Cory Doctorow and comics creator Jen Wang, centers on a young gamer named Anda who becomes enraptured by an massively multiplayer online game (MMO) called “Coarsegold Online”. While logged-in, she makes new friends, including a gregarious fellow gamer named “Sarge” and a “gold-farmer” from China named Raymond. It’s the latter whose activities, which center on illegally collecting valuable objects in the game and selling them to other players from developed countries, begin to open up Anda’s perspectives on the concepts of right and wrong, and the power of action towards civil rights.

The book was a true eye-opener for me, as I’m not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination beyond the occasional dalliance on my console system at home. I was delighted when I received an opportunity to chat with Jen Wang about the origins of this project, its underlying themes, and how much of her own gaming experience played into the development of the narrative.

How did IN REAL LIFE (IRL) find its genesis? Did you know Cory Doctorow prior to working on this project?

Prior to IN REAL LIFE I was familiar with Cory Doctorow as a blogger and activist but I hadn’t read his fiction. ANDA’s GAME, the short story IRL is based on was actually the first piece I read. My publisher First Second sent me a link to the short and asked if I’d be interested. After reading that, it was hard to say no!

What is it about the subject matter that drew you in initially?

I like that it takes gaming, which many people see as frivolous entertainment, and gives it a real life context. The internet is inherently a social platform and it makes sense that it reflects our darker tendencies, such as exploiting people. I also like that it touches on the tension between China and the West. There’s just so much interesting material to explore and at the end of the day it’s still a simple story about two teenage gamers from different countries who become friends.

Your previous work, KOKO BE GOOD, also published through First Second, was solely written and illustrated by yourself. Do you find that there are inherent advantages in the collaborative process, and is there a method you prefer over the other? 

It’s definitely a lot easier to illustrate your own work, that’s for sure. The collaborative process is more challenging, but you also get a second point a view and a direction to work towards. Sometimes in your personal work it takes a lot of soul searching to figure out what you’re trying to say but a collaborate project allows you to bounce off other people’s ideas and that’s really refreshing.

InRealLife 2P 12 1000x670 Jen Wang Aims To Give Gaming A Real World Context For In Real Life

On the day to day work on the graphic novel, what was the working relationship between Cory and yourself? Were you in constant contact? 


During the scripting phase of the book we were sending a lot of emails. I would write a draft, send it to Cory, and he would send some notes and bounce some ideas back. We went through maybe 8 or so drafts so it took a little while to nail down the final. I was pretty much left alone at the drawing stage, however.

How much of a specific vision did Cory have in the initial “Anda’s Game” script, and how much input did you have on character design before the development of IRL? Do you feel like Anda specifically has your “stamp” on her?



I had pretty much free reign as far as design went, so that part was fairly easy. When First Second approached me to do the project they wanted me to feel comfortable writing my own take, so mostly it was me pitching ideas to Cory and him giving me notes. I do feel like I have my stamp on Anda but then again I don’t know how it wouldn’t have happened naturally. She’s a nerdy teenage shut in and having been one myself I can relate to that a lot.

The gaming details throughout are very specific, do you have a significant gaming/MMO background as a user? If not, is that an area where Cory contributed significantly?

I don’t really have a background in MMOs but I played World of Warcraft for a couple weeks prior to starting the project. That plus a combination of sandbox games I’ve played were the inspiration for Coarsegold online. I mostly tried to create a game that felt familiar and yet tailored it to things I like in games. I’m very much into customization and resource management so it was fun to add things like to the book.

How do you sense that communication has changed for Generation Y and The Millennials? Do you find that you side more with Anda or her mother in what technology brings to social interaction? 

I’m definitely on the Millennials side. I can’t imagine what my life would be like now if I didn’t have access to the internet as a teenager. I met so many other young artists online and they really motivated me to create and challenge myself. Without it, I would’ve had to seek these people out in college in person and I would’ve been a lot more lonely and isolated. There are risks to putting yourself online but there are risks to be alive in the real world as well.  The best you can do is exercise caution and be smart about your privacy in the same way you would anywhere.

Is there anything from your own experience pulled into Anda’s story, at least from a characterization standpoint?

 Do you see Anda as a role model? Was that the intention all along?

I was a lot like Anda in high school. I was a teenage hermit who spent a lot of time connecting to peers online within my community of choice. Like Anda, I found my identity online because I was able to meet other people like myself. I see Anda less as a traditional role model and more as someone readers could relate to. Like Anda, most young people now are discovering the world through the internet and it can be a difficult place to navigate.

InRealLife 2P 14 761x1028 Jen Wang Aims To Give Gaming A Real World Context For In Real Life

What drove the design of the world of Coarsegold? Any specific influences?

World of Warcraft is the main one, but I also looked at the Final Fantasy games, Skyrim, and more open world games like Animal Crossing, The Sims and Second Life.

What was the thought process on the color-design that differentiates Coarsegold from “the real world”?



I definitely wanted Coarsegold to be more bright and colorful by contrast as a reflection of Anda’s feelings toward both realities. I used different filters and colored textures so that real life was a little more tan and monochromatic while Coarsegold looked lively and exciting.

When Anda somewhat bridges the gap between the two by changing her hair color to match her avatar, what kind of sea-change does that indicate for her personally?

At that point in the story Anda has finally found purpose and confidence in her role as a Fahrenheit. Not only has she befriended Raymond and discovered this world of goldfarming, but she’s taken on the task of helping him. It’s a decision she’s been able to make for herself separate from what her peers have led her to believe, and changing her hair color is a symbol of this newfound confidence.

IN REAL LIFE defies expectations a bit in that it shifts a bit touching briefly on females in gaming (with the very succinct hand-raising scene in the classroom and some of the concerns of “Sarge”) and then moves into an area centering on economics and specifically civil rights. Do you sense a strong correlation between the two themes?

Oh, for sure. As in real life, the conflict within Coarsegold comes from who is considered an “other.” As a young girl in gaming, Anda is a minority, yet she’s in a position of power compared to Raymond who is not only a foreigner who doesn’t speak English, but also a goldfarmer. They’re able to connect as outsiders of this gaming establishment and both are fighting for the right to be themselves and be seen as equals.

I have to admit that the term “gold farming” is fairly new to me (as a non-gamer), and IRL paints a very morally grey picture around that activity, what do you feel as though readers should take from the book’s portrayal of that subject?



Gold farming was new to me too until I started researching for this book. There is a lot of grey area and it’s still evolving. What I do hope the readers takes away from IRL is the ability to keep an open mind about the people on the other side of the tracks and be empathetic to their struggles. On the surface the gold farming community appears to be taking advantage of game-makers and the “purity” of the game. On the other hand the gold farmers themselves are actually big fans who can only participate by being taken advantage of.

What inspired the creation of Raymond? Both in the look of his avatar and the character’s plight in China?

I wanted the goldfarmers to look small and vulnerable compared to everyone else.  They haven’t been able to level up their characters and they’re not customized so Raymond doesn’t look any different from his peers. I also wanted them to not look human so as to “otherize” the goldfarmers in the eyes of Anda and Lucy at the beginning of the story. For Raymond’s human backstory I took a lot of inspiration from a book I read called FACTORY GIRLS: FROM VILLAGE TO CITY IN A CHANGING CHINA by Leslie T. Chang. It paints these very compassionate portraits of young female migrant workers and the everyday victories and struggles they face.  Raymond comes from a very disadvantaged background but he’s also clever and ambitious enough to get what he wants (to play Coarsegold) with the means that he has.

Do you feel a sense of responsibility to educate as a creator publishing a book within the Young Adult literary genre? Does that affect the kinds of stories you hope to tell?



I don’t make it a point to be an educator, but I hope my stories reflect the world I’d like to see and the problems I’d like us to overcome.

If there was one-key take away or message from IN REAL LIFE that should highlighted, what would that be?

Be compassionate to others and be aware of how your role in the community may be inadvertently hurting others less privileged than you.

What’s next on the horizon for you post the release of IRL next month? Any new projects that you can share?

I have a couple new projects I can’t really talk about yet, but I’m excited to share I’m co-organizing a new comics festival in Los Angeles called Comics Arts LA. It’s a one day event that will take place on December 6th. We’ve got really great exhibitors lined up so it’s going to be fun. If any readers out there are in Southern California that weekend, I encourage you to come check it out! http://comicartsla.com

IN REAL LIFE will be available in a bookstore near you on October 14th through First Second

1 Comments on Jen Wang Aims To Give Gaming A Real World Context For ‘In Real Life’, last added: 10/8/2014
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9. Seth’s Dominion documentary is showing in Montreal

unnamed 2 Seths Dominion documentary is showing in Montreal

A film has been made about Seth, the single named Autuer of Clyde Fans, It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken, Palookaville, and countless illustrations. It’s called Seth’s Dominion, it’s directed by Luc Chamberland and it is described as “a hybrid documentary/animation film exploring the life of master cartoonist Seth.”

Given that Seth is a perfectionist, you’d expect no less of a film about him, so to no one’s surprise the film has won the Grand Prize for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Ottawa International Animation Festival.

The film will be shown this week in Montreal as an official selection of the Festival du Nouveau Cinema.

Saturday, October 11th, 4:30 pm: 
Auditorium Alumni H-110, Hall Building 
Concordia University, 1455 boul. de Maisonneuve Ouest 
Tickets available here. 
Seth will be present and signing at this screening only!

Thursday, October 16th, 3:00 pm: 
Pavillion Judith-Jasmin Annexe 
UQAM, 405 rue Sainte-Catherine Est 
Tickets available here.

Add this to Root Hog or Die, the John Porcellino movie, Rude Dude, the Steve Rude movie—ON SALES TODAY, I might add— and some others in the works and you have a nice library of in depth films about comics makers beginning.

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10. SPX memories…like a magical unicorn

spx2014 3 SPX memories...like a magical unicorn

You can read my official SPC report at PW, with news and notes, but I’m guessing that  everyone who was at SPX is probably, like me, realizing that the magic is over and we have a whole year to go, or maybe a few weeks if you count APE, but in the meantime, I can keep the magic going a few moments more by rounding up some of the magical, mystical memories of SPX. I said there were a few people who didn’t have a good time, and you can find one of two on Tumblr who sat outside hotel rooms sadly waiting for the person with the key to come back. But if you could open your heart, SPX would make you love it. As the above picture shows, SPX is the only con where you can find Julia Wertz and Renee French just sitting and smiling with each other. It’s also the only place where someone would leave their computer just sitting out on a table (as one prominent comics personage di don Friday)and feel pretty secure that it would be just fine.  There is a reason why people puts up so many pics and blog so much about this show—it’s a full on love affair.

§ Webtooner Even Dahm gets right to the heart of the matter comparing SDCC with SPX—really the indispensable alpha and omega of US shows:

SDCC was fun but kind of discouraging, and presents an image of what is now, I guess, the Entire entertainment industry in a bluntly capitalistic way: the most space is given to the companies with the most money for it, and the events and products are talked about according to a similar hierarchy. I don’t like it but it makes its own kind of sense and it’s how things are: work that makes money has more mobility in the culture, and barring any strongly-principled management at events like this, the amount of money the work makes will be the thing that decides its place. I try really hard to not get pessimistic about this. And of course popular things can be quality things! I like a lot of popular things. But the connection between popularity and your or my specific notion of quality is tenuous.

I leave SDCC and shows like it having spent huge amounts of money the exhibit there and feeling like what I’m doing is insignificant and untenable. I want to emphasize that this is an issue I have with the philosophy of the show, not with the attendees. I have met some very excellent people who attend SDCC every year.

I came out of SPX this year extremely excited about the huge volume of beautiful and idiosyncratic work being produced by artists working outside of entrenched & monied institutions. It’ll never be the same amount of room as the Marvel Cinematic Universe or whatever, but there is room in the culture for this stuff, in terms of attention and money and enthusiasm. It’s hugely inspiring to me to see so many people making work independently or with publishers they know personally and believe in, and seeing that a lot of that work is sustainable for them, and seeing that a lot of it takes full advantage of its independence by being brutally honest, or strange, or socially conscious.

§ Loser City’s David Fairbanks, an occasional Beat contributor, made his first journey and was swept off his feet:

The next two days were a blur of comics with SPromX right in the middle, and I can honestly say I have never been in an environment that was so pro-comics. Whether you had been making minicomics as long as folks like John Porcellino and James Kochalka, you were a cartoonist fresh out of (or still in) school, or you had never once put pencil to paper to craft a comic, you were among peers. I think I speak for most of the attendees when I say that the environment at SPX felt like home, despite knowing virtually no one there before my plane landed. Over the course of the first twenty-four hours, I made fast friends with artists and fans, and I get the feeling these are friendships that are going to last. From the (sometimes exhausted) smiles I caught on the faces of nearly everyone there, I would imagine I was not alone in my joy, and I think a great deal of it stemmed from the communal feeling of SPX.

§ Even grizzled veteran Derf shared the love:

This year’s theme was a celebration of the alt-weekly cartoons, from Jules Feiffer to the end, which I believe was reached sometime last week. It’s something that is long overdue. The peak of the genre, from 1985 to 2000, produced, in my opinion, the finest, most original comix of the time. Discounting hacks like me, of course.  We were always kind of the bastard stepchildren of both the mainstream comic strip community and the indy comix community. I always felt like an outsider to both. Now I’m a B-minus Indy Comix Star, so those days are behind me, as are comic strips, but it’s nice to see the genre get it’s due.

 

§ Jane Irwin, like many, had a stellar show sales wise:
This year I had the best SPX I’ve ever had — but for some reason I neglected to take any photos other than the sad, blurry one at the top of this post (the lettered balloons were to identify the blocks of tables — I was in the “L” block). It may have been because I was just so busy at my table — the crowds were incredibly heavy and were extremely generous — I heard some folks could barely stop selling long enough to go to the bathroom, and several people sold out of books entirely on the first day, including C. Spike Trotman and my next-door neighbor, Pregnant Butch author A.K. Summers. I sold out of Clockwork Game mid-day on Sunday, but I was able to take orders for a few more copies (they went out this afternoon, and should arrive soon!) and I know I could’ve sold a dozen more, if I’d only had them on hand.
§ Roger Langridge didn’t even break even and he still had a great time:

I attended SPX this past weekend. As usual, I had an excellent time. Despite it not being a successful trip from a financial point of view (although I covered my biggest expense, I’m still somewhat out of pocket at the end of it) I’m really glad I went. I find I need SPX in my life every so often as a kind of course corrective; a reminder of the kind of comics I ought to be doing.

I have a really strong attachment to this show. SPX was the first show I ever attended in the USA, back in 2000. I was just there as a visitor, not even as an exhibitor; it was the year Will Eisner was there, I remember. I bought minicomics from Craig Thompson. I met Dean Haspiel for the first time, who went out of his way to make me feel like a part of the community, which I will always be grateful for. Attending that show energised me to turn my Fred the Clown webcomic into a self-published comic book, which in turn has led to every opportunity I’ve had in comics since then. Without SPX, it’s probably fair to say that my subsequent career wouldn’t have happened.

So I keep coming back. Not every year, but I try to do at least every other year. And each time, I feel like it’s a timely reminder that these are the kinds of comics I ought to be doing: comics straight from the cartoonist’s brain to the reader’s hands, without compromises.

 

§ It’s not just a place to hang out! You can get work!!! Game designer \ Daniel Solis says it’s a great place to find new talent. And I know animation scouts go every year:

I came into the fandom a bit late, but it’s such a welcoming and vibrant community that I never felt out of place. After weeks of awful news coming from gamer culture, it was such a positive experience at SPX seeing diverse creators and fans in a niche community all supporting each other. It can happen, people! I’ve seen it! But I really recommend SPX to tabletop game designers because it is an excellent place to network with lots of undiscovered and rising talent. You can check out the artists I talked to at SPX on my pinterest board here. Specifically for “SPX 2014″ tag in the description. Also check out the SPX Tumblr and Twitter feeds for more cool arts.

 

§ Joshua O’Neill of Locust Moon captures the unique nature of Camp Comics at the Marriott:

As usual, half of the reason for the glory of SPX is due to the Bethesda Marriott Hotel, whose comfy confines are given over completely to the endless array of misfits that we call a comics industry. It’s more than just a con venue — it’s the eye of the storm, for one brief weekend this one building is the center of the comics universe. You exhibit there, you drink there, you draw there, you sleep there. (You eat elsewhere and abruptly realize there’s such a thing as outside.) By the end of the weekend it feels like home. I’m not sure Jesse Reklaw ever put on a pair of shoes. To the maids and bellhops it must be kind of like going to the zoo, if the animals were all inside of your house. Their hospitality was stunning, and can in no way be attributed to the eight bazillion dollars they generated in overpriced drink sales.

 

And visual representations:

And so on and so forth….I probably could have found a half dozen more similar tributes, but I’ll leave with just a few representative photos.

spx2014 4 SPX memories...like a magical unicorn

Am I the only person who caught the TV in the bar switching from football to vibrator infomercials on Friday?

 

spx2014 2 SPX memories...like a magical unicorn

Can you believe these people are all FIRST TIME SPXers? Okay Chris Butcher went before, but he hadn’t been to the “new” venue, which is really the only venue most people know. Amy Chu, Louie Chin, Murilo, Butcher and Brigid Alverson were all converts by the end of the weekend.

 

spx2014 1 SPX memories...like a magical unicorn

Fun and frolic at the SPromX. Looks like it will be back next year…and so will I.

2 Comments on SPX memories…like a magical unicorn, last added: 9/19/2014
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11. Move over Haspiel, there’s a new shirtless cartoonist in town


We’re all for body confidence here at Stately Beat Manor, so go Simon Hanselmann! A lot of brides tone it down after getting married, but he is staying fabulous.

15245078526 72f01f60bc z Move over Haspiel, theres a new shirtless cartoonist in town

Meanwhile, tour mate Michael DeForge managed to MAKE A COMIC WHILE ON TOUR. Move over rest of the comics industry.

The Deforge/Hanselmann/Kyle tour is coming to a town near you.

4 Comments on Move over Haspiel, there’s a new shirtless cartoonist in town, last added: 9/19/2014
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12. Alison Bechdel wins a MacArthur Foundation Grant

 

bechdel 2014 hi res download 1 2 Alison Bechdel wins a MacArthur Foundation Grant

Alison Bechdel has been named one of this year’s MacArthur Foundation grant winners, often known as a genius grant.

Bechdel was cited for being

…a cartoonist and graphic memoirist exploring the complexities of familial relationships in multilayered works that use the interplay of word and image to weave sophisticated narratives. Bechdel’s command of sequential narrative and her aesthetic as a visual artist was established in her long-running comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For (1983–2008), which realistically captured the lives of women in the lesbian community as they influenced and were influenced by the important cultural and political events of the day.

The grant confers not only recognition as a leading thinker, but a stipend of 625,000, paid in quarterly installments over five years. Recipients are chosen for their future potential and the grant allows is intended to “encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.”

Bechdel’s achievements in furthering the medium of the graphic novel—and her immense potential for future work—indeed makes her a worthy recipient. As if being a great cartoonist wasn’t enough, the musical adaptation of her book, Fun Home is coming to Broadway next April.

Cartoonist Ben Katchor was the first cartoonist to win a grant in 2000.

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13. Michael DeForge’s shelf porn is made for action

shelf 1 Michael DeForges shelf porn is made for action

Zainab Akhtar’s excellent Comics and Cola blog runs a feature called “Comics Shelfies” which includes pictures of various comics collections. Usually the Expedit or Billy is called into play, but for Michael DeForge, the plastic milk crate is the basic storage unit. I can definitely relate, as for years my life was based around the much loved “Mard” from Ikea, which they stopped making ten years ago. DeForge’s collection is gorgeous and somehow poised for just the kind of action you’d expect from the animator/cartoonist.

4 Comments on Michael DeForge’s shelf porn is made for action, last added: 9/12/2014
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14. Chris Ware reveals his love of sitcoms

 

Photo: Nicolas Guerin/Contour

Photo: Nicolas Guerin/Contour

Chris Ware is only the second cartoonist to get the Paris Review interview treatment—Robert Crumb was the first—and it’s said to be one of his longest and most revealing interviews ever. With scholar Jeet Heer doing the interviewing, how could you expect less. But in a surprise twist, you can only read the whole thing by purchasing a copy of The Paris Review! However there is an online excerpt just to set the table:

Television was probably my first real drug. I have little doubt that it fired off the same dopamine receptors in my brain that marijuana later did. Specific hours of my childhood day would be tonally defined by what was on. Monday through Friday at three-thirty meant Gilligan’s Island, and so that particular half hour always took on a sense of bamboo and Mary Ann’s checkered shirt, later to be replaced by the tweed and loafers of My Three Sons. I was sensitive to the broadcast vibe of ABC versus CBS versus NBC versus PBS and to how their particular programs made me feel, even how the particular resolution of each channel was different.

So yeah, go buy a copy of The Paris Review already.

Photograph: Nicolas Guerin/Contour

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15. Yale Stewart apologizes after accusations of harassment

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Oh god where to begin. The short version is that Judge Dread artist Ulises Farinas calling out Yale Stewart over what Farinas deemed ill-advised charity efforts then led to Stewart, the artist of the webcomic JL8, being outed as a naked selfie sender, and then apologizing while putting his webcomic on hiatus.

 

farinas1

IT ALL STARTED when Farinas, above, who is something of an opinionated Internet user, called out Stewart’s practice of selling wallpapers themed to various events in the news for $1 with proceeds going to charity. What put Farinas over the edge was this one, which referred to the situation in Ferguson:
Farinas wrote:

Every fucking time there’s some big tragedy, this dude makes a wallpaper to benefit (insert charity) and it just looks like a shameless ploy at self promotion.
Instead of making a cutesy little wallpaper of DC heroes you don’t own, supporting media entities that already ignore brown people, that have news companies that spin a narrative that blames the victims of police brutality and not the aggressors, why don’t you just shutup and privately donate as much as you want to ACLU, whenever you want, and not just when #ferguson is all over twitter.
Putting two images of SPACE COPS as your “SUPPORT FERGUSON” wallpaper, and offering it for a DOLLAR, is fucking gross. And i hate that we can’t distinguish between support and capitalism.
You know the only reason the dollar is going to the ACLU, is he because the product he’s selling isn’t a wallpaper, its himself.

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This took place a few days, and led to a lot more back and forth and then, over Twitter, an increasing number of references to “Dick pics” with Stewart at the center, perhaps spurred by this Tweet of Farinas:


As far as The Beat can ascertain, rumors of Stewart sending unsolicited pictures of himself in a depantsed state have been around for quite a while. The new Twitter flutterings grew and grew, leading to Stewart to take down his twitter account and then announcing that he was putting JL8 on hiatus. Jl8 is a very adorable strip that Stewart has been drawing for a few years that is basically a “Lil JLA” strip. It is COMPLETELY unauthorized by DC—although Stewart was eventually hired to work on some officially licensed Capstone books featuring DC characters— and if there is one thing that amazes me about this whole thing is that he was able to get away with this for so long!

Anyway, while many people seemed to be aware of Stewart’s exhibitionist texts, it wasn’t until Unleash the Fanboy offered a spirited is muddled defense of him with a post called Ulises Farinas Is A Jealous Idiot. I Stand Behind Yale Stewart that the cries for proof got louder. And it all grew when Stewart, who lives at home, said that since the outcry began, his mother had received a threatening phone call regarding the situation.

While some doubted the accusers with the usual abuse, over night a picture of Stewart, tool in hand, was finally posted on 4chan, leading to his public apology:

Good morning.

As some of you may be aware, there have been some rumors circulating about my personal conduct with women in the comics industry. The accusation is that I’ve sent unsolicited intimate photos of myself to fans, colleagues, or possibly both.

Sexual harassment is incredibly serious business, and I believe anyone who has followed me for any period of time knows that I often speak against it. No one should be subject to such behavior. It’s invasive, disrespectful, and occasionally dangerous.

Have I sent intimate photos of myself to women before? Yes. I’ll absolutely admit to that. As a 26 year-old bachelor with a relatively healthy sex life in the internet age, these things happen. However, every photo sent was in direct response to either a photo received or a specific request.

Or so I thought.

Two years ago, I was engaged in two separate relationships with women whom I was sexually active with. Given the nature of these relationships, my experiences in past relationships, and various dialogues with these women, I thought it had been established within each relationship that intimate or explicit photos were acceptable, possibly even desired.

I GROSSLY misread the situation.

It has been brought to my attention that both of these women were uncomfortable with my behavior, and needless to say, I’m absolutely disgusted with myself. How I could so horribly misinterpret the situation confounds me, but that confusion pales in comparison to the shame of knowing that I did the very thing to these two women that I openly chastise people for on a regular basis. Also, beyond that, that these women felt this way for TWO YEARS without me knowing and attempting to make amends, which is wholly unacceptable in its own right.

I have reached out to both of these women and have made private apologies, but I felt it was my responsibility to make a public one as well. As stated earlier, I believe sexual harassment to be an incredibly serious issue, and while the harassment in question was a terrible and ignorant mistake, it does not change the fact that that’s what this was, and I accept full responsibility.

I strive to treat everyone with respect, as I feel those who know me personally or follow my comics work would attest, and as such I hope that helps frame how sorry I truly am that all of this happened. The best I can do is own up to it, acknowledge that I made an incredible error in judgement, and finally, make sure that I learn from this mistake and never repeat it moving forward.

In addition, if there’s anyone else out there who feels like I’ve made them uncomfortable, on any level, please let me know. Clearly I’ve misread situations before, and I don’t want to go years again thinking nothing’s wrong only to learn I’ve hurt someone.

Finally, I’ll be making a donation of $1000 to RAINN, as they’re an organization at the forefront of both preventing and aiding victims of sexual harassment and assault. Hopefully my small donation will in some way help them in educating even just one person, preventing another situation such as this.

My deepest, sincerest apologies to all.

-Yale

 

A couple of observation about all this:

• Sending naughty texts is a perfectly normal thing to do. Sending unsolicited pictures of your junk to people is not okay, however. It’s my understanding that Stewart had been accused of doing this for quite some time, and had seemingly unwittingly built a bad reputation over this.

• Now that’s he’s had his sensitivity raised and apologized—and made a $1000 donation to RAINN—after a suitable amount of time Stewart can concentrate on what he does best, drawing, IF HE BEHAVES HIMSELF. I don’t think there’s any real disconnect between doing a kids strip and doing adult things in other spheres of your life. As long as they don’t cross over, you’re good. Someone called Stewart the Anthony Weiner of comics and you’ll recall that Weiner—the one time NYC mayoral candidate who was caught sending pictures of his franks and beans to women while still married and running for office—tried a comeback and what stalled it is that he kept on sending pictures of his junk to people! The key to a comeback is learning from your mistakes and not harassing people any more.

• It’s shameful that the women who were on the receiving end of Stewart’s texts were doubted and tarred with the usual slurs and counter-accusations. Why is this it hard to believe that a male cartoonist would send out naked selfies? If I were to question anything in this WHOLE STORY it would be the threatening phone call because…

• WHO THE HELL TAKES TIMES TO MAKE THREATENING PHONE CALLS OVER COMIC BOOKS? Seriously this is becoming a thing now whenever there’s a comic book kerfuffle. That is also SO NOT COOL, people. Stop it, just stop it.

• Cartoonists doing shady, kinky things is nothing new. Neither is such behavior being talked about over dinners and drinks. BUT things have changed. This is the latest example of how harassment issues are played out over social media, and while I don’t see this going away any time soon, crowd justice is rough justice, so people, if you’re doing something bad and about to get caught, better to stop doing that bad thing and taking appropriate steps in private.

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16. Denis KItchen on The Best of Comix Book–”One of the Greatest Things Stan Lee ever Did”

The Best of Comix Book: When Marvel Went Underground

is in B&W/  and Full color, HardCover  an exclusive Kitchen Sink Press imprint under Dark Horse  ISBN:978-1-61655-258-9

Intro by Stan Lee

Forward by Denis Kitchen

Designed and Edited by John Lind

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Pam Auditore

Tall, affable, plain spoken Wisconsinite, Denis Kitchen smiles wistfully, “I loved putting this collection together.  It’s a nice anniversary.”  Hardly the hippie, bomb throwing revolutionary Nixon might  associate with with the words: “Undeground Comic Artist.”

In 1973 Denis Kitchen and Stan Lee pulled off what can only be considered, in hindsight, a  coup.  Bringing together the Marvel and Underground Comic Book Creators in almost unimaginable collaboration.  Taking place during the turbulent spill over from the 1960s with the The Vietnam War winding down; Watergatewhite flight from citiessocial unrest  and a New York City as grey and dilapidated as “Taxi Driver” depicts.

At the time, Stan Lee and his bullpen at Marvel were struggling to churn out Super Heroes, Westerns, Science Fiction, Fantasy, War Comics, Hot Rods, Romances and whatever would keep the company alive and paying their bills.

NightGwenStacyDied

Reacting to and expressing the societal upheaval and the angst of the times, Underground Comics emerged first in Head Shops, then local Bookshops.  Artists like SpainBill GriffithR. CrumbTrina Robbins were free to do what creators at DC and Marvel could not, express freely and personally what they saw going on in their own lives and the world around them without having to censor for  profanity, nudity or subject matter. Expressing their own visions through writing and artwork.

It may seem quaint now, in the time of a Deviant Art Digital hyperspace, where one can upload  and share  with just about everyone anything conceivable,  from Justin Beiber fan fiction to Banksy’s or Shepard Fairey’s latest and greatest.  Yet, once, Underground Comic Art was not only ground breaking, but dangerous and could have serious consequences such as shutting down businesses, along with jail time and financial ruin.

Back then, the US Mail was your only delivery system or your car.  Your tools–paper, pencil, ink, mimeographs, with  Xerox Copiers expensive even for Marvel.  Your only means of distribution were friends, Comic Shops, Head Shops, and some BookshopsMarvel’s were mainly Newsstands, local groceries, local bookstores and candy shops.  Getting kicked off of any one of those racks could mean never making a cent again.

 

Among those first to collect and publish his own Underground Comics was Denis Kitchen with his Mom’s HomeMade Comics in 1969. Issues of which Kitchen sent to publishers like Stan Lee and Harvey Kurtzman.  Kitchen later went on to publish other Comic Book creators under Kitchen Sink Press.  Such legal  issues of censorship and community standards is why Mr. Kitchen is one of the Founder of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

By the ’50s and ’60s Marvel, DC, and Harvey Comics  were squarely  aiming at the growing demographic of Baby Boomers while laboring under a self imposed Comics Code to protect minors.

Which made the explosion of Underground Comics during the hey day of suburbia and the middle class all the more “subversive” and “scandalous” with its humor, nudity,  crudity,  and profanity, would feel so refreshing and right for the times.

Clearly not meant for the young teens or little kids the major Comic Book publishers were catering  to.  These comics dealt with political and social issues were generally called, “anti-establishment”, made for a slightly older, “hipper” crowd–late high school to college crowd. Many Underground Cartoonists would find their way into the glossy folds of “Mad magazine” and “National Lampoon“, but others like Mr. Kitchen and, others of his cadre like  Art Speiglemen, were charting a more independent, less conventionally commercial path.  Creating space for other self-published  Independent Comics to flourish in the ‘80′s, like those of  Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, and the Hernandez Bros, then Terry Moore and Peter Bagge in the ‘90′s and so on into the future.

With ever a sharp eye on popular culture, Stan Lee, no doubt , was eager to capitalize on the Underground audience hoping to expand Marvel’s.

Maus--Marvel Comix Book

Maus–Marvel Comix Book

According to Kitchen,  his collaboration with Lee, “Stems from  a time when Underground Comics were florishing and suddenly we had what we called ‘the Crash of ’73.”  A glut of material in Head Shops and local book stores and a Supreme Court ruling that threw obscenity laws into local jurisdictions. It was deadly to the Undergrounds, a lot of Head Shops and Bookshops were suddenly paranoid that they would be busted due to obscenity.  I genuinely feared Kitchen Sink Press and all my cohorts would go under.”

Luckily, Denis had been corresponding with Lee.  “We had this curious pen pal relationship.  He offered me a job a couple of times.  Of course, I was flattered but said, ‘No,’ until the Crash. He happened to call and I said, ‘Let’s talk.’  I flew to New York City and found he was amazingly receptive to an experimental magazine. One where we hoped to take the essence of the Underground and plug it into Marvel’s distribution system.

It took a lot of negotiating to find out how far Marvel could compromise.  Stan ended up being amazingly receptive to using four letter words, and we even got away with full frontal nuditity, anything we wanted.”

Katrina Robbins

Comix Book –Wonder Person by Katrina Robbins

But don’t think it was a collaboration without conflict.

“There were fights over copyrights and getting art back, too “But we wore him (Stan Lee) down, so by the Third issue he said, “Goddamit, you can have your rights back, you can have your art back.’  So all this stuff that they had never done before, I was able to persuade him to do.”

The end was nigh when word of this new magazine began reaching the ears of Stan’s regular bullpen of writers and artists “it turned into a Pandora’s Box for Stan.  The regulars and freelancers were like, ‘How come you’re doing this stuff with these Hippies? And you’re not letting us?  We’ve been with you longer?’  And it was hard for Stan to walk that back.”

Consequently, “After the third issue, Stan pulled the plug.  I had a couple of issues in the can and I asked him if he’d let me print the rest under Kitchen Sink, and he agreed, which was amazingly generous. ”

The Corpse Goblin Ogre by S. Clay Wilson

The Corpse Goblin Ogre by S. Clay Wilson

“In retrospect it’s kind of astonishing. When I look back at it now, that it happened at all and the kind of latitude we had.  Artists like S. Clay Wilson, Justin Green, Trina Robbins, Art Spieglman (including the first national appearence of “Maus”).  You can go down the list, all the big guys in Underground Comics, except Crumb, were in it.  And most Underground Comic fans today don’t even know it happened.”

“When we decided to collect it Stan, graciously agreed to the intro.  He actually called it one of the greatest things he ever did,” Denis Kitchen beams.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Denis Kitchen and Stan Lee signed a special insert in 250 special copies ot the The Best of Comix Book only available only from Things From Another World, Dark Horse’s online retail outlet.

 

2 Comments on Denis KItchen on The Best of Comix Book–”One of the Greatest Things Stan Lee ever Did”, last added: 8/21/2014
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17. MariNaomi begins Cartoonists of Color Databse

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Cartoonist MariNaomi is starting a database of cartoonists of color (COC) and you can upload your details as explained in the link. There’s a FAQ:

What is a Cartoonist of Color?
Cartoonists of Color (COC) is a play off of the acronym “POC.” POC stands for “person of color.” A POC is anyone who identifies as non-Caucasian (non-white). In these forthcoming pages, you’ll find comics creators of various ethnicities: African American, Korean Canadian, Indian Singaporian, Turkish American, Iranian British, Japanese American and so many more. 

Why a Cartoonists of Color Database?
For visibility. For academia. For inspiration. For community building.

How can I submit my info to this database?
To submit a creator (yourself or anyone), please fill out this form.

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18. The Beat Podcasts! – Mike Dawson interview

logo-pod-more-to-come-1400.pngRecorded at Publishers Weekly, it’s  More To Come, the weekly podcast of comics news, interviews and discussion with Calvin Reid, Kate Fitzsimons and The Beat’s own Heidi MacDonald.

In this week’s podcast  Heidi interviews comics creator, Tumblr personality and podcaster Mike Dawson, creator of Freddie & Me and Troop 142 about his trials as a mid-career creator, his recent Tumblr musings on the subject and the unexpected comics blogosphere notoriety that followed.

Download this episode direct here, listen to it in streaming here and catch up with our previous podcasts on the Publishers Weekly website, or subscribe to More To Come on iTunes

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19. Cartoonist Anders Nilsen is taking on Amazon with two new projects

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Anders Nilsen—Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow, Big Questions, Rage of Poseidon—is surely one of the finest cartoonists of the last decade. Big Questions won lots of awards and helped further the cause of the graphic novel’s literary worth when it came out in 2011. The fold-out book Poseidon is an object d’art in addition to being a multi-leveled parable of humanity and divinity.

And now he’s taking on Amazon. In an email, he announced two new projects:

The first is that I just self-published a book called God and the Devil at War in the Garden (monologuist paper update IV) It’s 24 pages, 9″ x 12.25″, black and white, with a fold-out back cover. It has a story about the Devil that wasn’t quite ready for inclusion in Rage of Poseidon (it’s going to be in the German language edition of that book later this year). It’s in that format – the silhouettes. There’s also a short collaborative piece I did with a friend, novelist Kyle Beachy, and a piece about a vacant lot in my old neighborhood in Chicago. And there’s some drawings and things. It’s $15.

The first orders will also include a little 13 page minicomic about the other thing I’m writing you about. It’s called Conversation Gardeningand it’s both a comic and the beginning of a little experiment. It’ll be inserted into the binding of the big comic.

The mini and the experiment it launches were prompted by all the bullshit Amazon has been pulling lately. Maybe you’ve been following it.


This mini is perhaps the most metaphysical analysis of the Amazon Hegemony by an author released yet. I imagine the shelf of “Dialectic mini comics about the Amazon Hegemony” is slim, but Nilsen has it nailed.

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But Nilsen has also issued a call to action for those who would join him:

I’m asking people who buy one of my books (any of my books, not just this new one) at an independent bookseller (or from my online store) to send me 1) the receipt, (a formality to show it’s not from Amazon) and 2) a question or idea written on a piece of paper. I will then make a drawing in response on the piece of paper and send it back to them. I’m planning to do 100. Signed and numbered.

I have a few other cartoonists lined up to be guest artists on the project, to be announced over the next several months as they have new books coming out. The first will be Zak Sally, with the release of Recidivist #4 later this Summer.

The idea is to start a series of symbolic ‘conversations’ – questions and responses – in order to a) create an incentive for readers to buy my work from people who actually care enough about art and literature to make selling it their livelihood and b) encourage people to see their cultural exchanges as real, human level relationships. I wanted to do something that would amount to a positive response – creating something new. A boycott or an anti-trust case or vaguely shaming people for shopping on Amazon are all fine, too, but they are negative responses that try to keep something from happening. I wanted to make something new happen.


Considering the tone of Nilsen’s body of work—where the frailty and uncertainty of emotional interaction become a quest for meaning in a barren landscape—this seems like an intensely personal and cool thing to do. So let’s go buy some Anders Nilsen books and strike a blow for personal interaction.

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20. Bernie Wrightson is in hospital but doing well

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He was just at HeroesCon, running around, smiling and putting this amazing work (done with Scott Hampton) in the auction (I know it doesn’t photograph well but it had everyone amazed), but according to social media, legendary horror artist Bernie Wrighton has been hospitalized following a series of small strokes. Steve Niles has been updating Wrightson’s condition and says he’s doing well. The initial report came from Wrightson’s wife, Liz.

Okay, y’all first: Bernie is in the hospital, having suffered a series of SMALL strokes. Tests are happening; surgery may be in the cards. His cognition and spirits are good, but convention appearances look unlikely for the next few weeks. Overall he is okay, as we got him to the hospital FAST. Send good thoughts and all that… -Liz

Good thoughts are indeed going out.

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21. SDCC ’14: Careers in Creativity

 

Industry people discussing roles open in creativity.

Industry people discussing roles open in creativity.

By: Nick Eskey

In today’s world, with the level of connectivity we all share, and all the available options for entertainment, there is a greater need to stand out from the competition. To achieve this, there’s a greater need for creativity. Creative jobs exist in all different avenues, whether it be comics, movies, television, or that brand-new-fangled thing called the “internet.” Dawn Rivera, Evan Spiridellis, Brook Keesling, Andy Cochrane, Scott Campbell, and Kim Makey, all individuals who in some way are connected to creative roles. They all represent their various industries at this year’s Creative Careers in Entertainment panel.

Back in the earlier days of the internet, Evan Spiridellis and his brother began to create animated flash videos, and got wide recognition. In 1999, the brothers founded Jib Jab Studios, around a time when they felt the internet looked promising for storytelling. But when they weren’t seeing much in terms of revenue, they eventually realized, “interweb cartoons are BAD business.” At the suggestion of Evan’s brother, in 2007 the pair started Jib Jan Ecards. Their ecards allowed customers to customize them, to the point of placing their faces in the animation. “The beauty of the internet is that you can do whatever you want. There’s more room for creativity,” said Evan. And two years ago, Jib Jab launched what they felt would be the equivalent of “Sesame Street” if launched today. “Storybots is fun, safe, and with teacher approved apps such as storybooks… Storybots’ mission is to fuse art, technology, and fun to further entertainment.”

Dawn Rivera, talent development and outreach for Disney Animation, discussed the Disney legacy and mindset. “Disney believes  in making compelling stories, appealing characters, and believable worlds.” Right now, Disney is working on a new movie called Big Hero 6. It will be their first Marvel inspired film since their acquisition. If interested in Disney, they have their own school of animation.

Sitting somewhere between the level of Jib Jab and Disney, Cartoon Network Studios is always on the lookout for new talent. Brook Keesling, talent development for Cartoon Network Studios’ art program, talked of the various in house cartoons that they currently have in production, such as Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Uncle Grandpa. They all are from artists that work directly for the studio. “I’m always looking at work from students, all the way to professionals.” Aside from cartoonists, Brook also spoke of how they are always looking for storyboard artists. “They’re the ones that actually do the writing.” If you’re interested in working for Cartoon Network, look up “Cartoon Network Next Generation.”

Kim Mackey, head of recruitment for Dreamworks, talked on how the studio is always looking to grow their business, not just from the movie side of things, but also in publishing, television, and graphic design.

In videogames, such as World of Warcraft and Starcraft, Blizzard Entertainment is known for their large scale environments and their high attention to detail. Artistic recruitment lead Scott Campbell described all of the different cogs that go into their designs. Aside from the game art itself, there is also the 2D and 3D visual elements, concept art, and props that fully flesh out their games. “We rely on our cinematic artists, creative developers, texture artists, environment artists, character artists, and prop artists for the visuals of our games.” If interested in positions in Blizzard, check “Jobs.Blizzard.com.”

And the largest in my opinion in this creative pool, is one word: Mirada. Guillermo Del Toro, filmmaker and effects artist, founded the studio. What do they do specifically? Andy Cochrane, interactive and new media director, as well as FX supervisor, joked about how hard it is to describe what Mirada exactly does. “We do so much. It really depends on who we are working with or what we are working on… We’ve described a few times as ‘Guillermo Del Toro’s imaginarium.’” Mirada can range from anywhere between animators, to visual effects artists, to audio mixers. Guillermo Del Toro founded Mirada because from what he feels, “There are two people in story telling; one’s on the front of the ship looking forward, and those on the back… looking at how far they are moving away from where they came from.” Mirada is part of those who are on the forefront of where story telling is going.

From all these industries, we can see how large of a scale there are for creative individuals. If you are someone who wants a job in artistic work, research what companies are out there, and what openings they might have that match what you’re looking for.

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22. SDCC 14: Jeff Smith Spotlight, the Head of Comic’s Cool Table

By David Nieves
If you’re a lifer, comics have always been the cool thing. Certain people personify what’s “out there” and distinct about comics more so than any other industry; and at the very top of that list is Bone creator Jeff Smith. On SDCC Saturday afternoon, moderated by his friend Tom Spurgeon(The Comics Reporter), Jeff talked about all things Jeff Smith during his spotlight panel.

Opening with the news from Scholastic, Bone vol 1 will see a special Scholastic Anniversary edition of the book with colors and an eight page poem about the Rat Creatures alongside a whole bunch of pinups from Scholastic artists like Kate Beaton. Scholastic is set to release it in the Spring of next year.

You could tell by Jeff’s laid back demeanor and rocking back and forth in his seat that Tom held the opening talk with Jeff as if they were just having lunch together looking over comic books.  Jeff enlightened his buddy, along with the room 9 audience in attendance, about off-the-wall character design, getting older in comics, and meeting a larger age ranges of fans.

Jeff praised about the Rasl sculpture that was at his booth. A group of art students 3D built it for him, they took the little hints in the darkness of the engines to build something that resembles a Tesla Coil and an alternating engine. Seeing the final piece astonished Smith because he himself never knew what the inside of the engines never looked like because they were always draped in shadows, only showing hints of what was inside.

Smith was asked if SDCC was a better place to present your projects than when he started? “it’s a very different landscape then when I came into it. In 1991 there was only two kinds of comics; the mainstream Marvel and DC, then there were the alternative comics,” Smith explained. He defended the extravaganza known as Comic-Con for its potential to attract new readers.

His latest work, TUKI, is out first digitally with a print version available shortly after. What’s great about the print version is that it’s still read horizontally true to its digital roots. Unlike other digital to print books that have to crop pages in awkward ways. Jeff took the simple notion of keeping things the way they were meant to read.

One question he hears a lot was asked during this panel. Other company owned characters he’d like to do?
DC Comics said he could come do the second half of Shazam and the Monster Society of Evil whenever he wants but has no plans to do so in the near future. Unless he gets, “really bored or really broke.” The Rocket Raccoon 1 cover was also shown and he chalked that one up to it simply being, “up his alley.”

A fan asked Jeff, “when did he decide to make Bone more epic?
According to the cartoonist, the moment happened organically when he decided to turn the jokes it was based on into story. Particularly the stories he liked such as the works of Tolkien. It was a time where he couldn’t hide behind the Donald Duck style comics purely laced with jokes and running gags. In his words, “he had to come out.”

The last question was about how Smith transitioned Bone from college comic strip to real comic book. He had opportunities to bring bone to publishers but it would have required him changing or eliminating things like the Rat Creatures and selling his copyright. Before that time he’d never been inside a comic book store and during his first time inside one, saw that there were people self-publishing their own comics. It gave him the epiphany to create his own company and all the stories he’s done in his career.

With that the panel came to an end. You can listen to the full spotlight below (note: delay at beginning starts at 0:09) full of all Smith’s quips and insights about the industry. You can find Rasl, Tuki, and all things Bone on his website Boneville.com

 

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23. Interview: Rick Geary on Kickstarter, Murder, and Billy the Kid

Anybody who has read any amount of my writing, either here and elsewhere, will probably know who my favourite comics writer is*. But I also have a favourite comics artist, whose work is a constant delight to me, and by whom I have pretty much everything I can get my hands on. It’s Rick Geary. He mostly works in black & white, has almost never done any work for The Big Two, and you could just about be forgiven for not having heard of him, but he’s been making his living as a cartoonist and comics artist for nearly forty years now, and is, for me, the comics artist whose work I cherish the most.

He worked on all sorts of things for Dark Horse Comics, and many others, over a number of years, much of which has been collected, and on a shelf right beside me, as I write. In 1987 he started work on a series called A Treasury of Victorian Murder for NBM Publishing, which now stands at eight volumes of true murder tales, which has since been joined by A Treasury of XXth Century Murder, which is up to six volumes, both of which feel like his true life’s work. I’ve always been a fan of true crime stories anyway, and to have them drawn in Geary’s gorgeous black line work is wonderful. If you want to try one – and you should – they’re all available on his Author Page at NBM. It’s not for nothing that Our Glorious Leader, Ms H. MacDonald, said ‘

No season would be complete without the latest in Rick Geary’s ongoing series of 20th-century murders: with elegant, unsettling penwork, Madison Square Tragedy: The Murder of Stanford White tells the notorious story of architect Stanford White, who was murdered by a jealous husband in a theater atop the original Madison Square Garden.

As well as his ongoing work with NBM, Rick Geary has recently taken to selling books through a series of Kickstarter campaigns, with the most recent, for The True Death of Billy the Kid, still running, until Monday the 11th of August, a week from today. It’s going to be a 60-page black-and-white hardcover graphic novel, and I can pretty much guarantee it’ll turn up right on time, too, because I’ve backed his other two projects, and they did – which is more than can be said for other fundraisers I’ve ante-ed up for, but that is something I’ll wait to address here another day, in the not too distant future.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s a quick interview with Rick Geary, which I was thrilled to be given the chance to do…

Billy the Kid

Pádraig Ó Méalóid: This is your third Kickstarter campaign, at this stage. First of all, what made you decide to try out fundraising like this as a way to get your work out there?
[Link to The True Death of Billy the Kid Kickstarter.]

Rick Geary: The first time I tried fundraising on Kickstarter was about a year ago, simply out of curiosity as to how it works and to see how well I would do. I thought I should start out with the kind of true crime graphic novel I’m known for. This was The Elwell Enigma, and it succeeded beyond my wildest imagination. After that, I thought I’d try something different. A is for Anti-Christ: Obama’s Conspiracy Alphabet, a kind of satirical children’s book, was a bit of a harder and slower process, but it finally came through. At last, I thought I’d use Kickstarter to fund the kind of historical and non-fiction subjects that fascinate me but which aren’t precisely murder cases. The True Death of Billy the Kid comes out of my life here in Lincoln County, and has now exceeded my funding goal with several more weeks to go. So I have to say I’m very happy with my Kickstarter experience. I also must say that the experience has been made as smooth as possible by my friend and agent and production genius Mark Rosenbohm, who has managed all three campaigns.

PÓM: Yes, I’d noticed that all your campaigns were under Mark’s name. So, is he effectively acting as your publisher on these, or is that the wrong way to look at it?

RG: I suppose he could be technically called my publisher, although I like to think of these books as self-published. They all have come out under my little imprint, Home Town Press.

PÓM: What led you to want to try out an internet fundraiser like this in the first place, and why did you choose Kickstarter to do it on?

RG: There are certain projects in my mind that I know would never be taken on by a mainstream publisher. The Obama Alphabet was certainly one of them. I began my career publishing my own work and I’ve always believed in it. Why Kickstarter? At the time, it seemed to be the only one out there.

PÓM: Are there any drawbacks to using Kickstarter, do you find?

RG: The hardest part of a Kickstarter campaign, though I’d hate to call it a drawback, is the work that comes on the back end. I try to be very conscientious about packaging the books and other premiums and sending them out in a timely manner. Almost 200 mailings for my first project. It’s all well worth it, though.

PÓM: Are you still producing work through more conventional means, like with NBM, for instance? I know they published your Madison Square Tragedy – The Murder of Stanford White around December 2013, so is there anything more scheduled from them?

RG: Yes, I’m still producing murder stories for NBM. I’m currently in the midst of a project that’s a bit of a departure from the true-life cases. Louise Brooks: Detective is a fictional mystery featuring the actress Louise Brooks solving a murder in 1940′s Kansas. After that I plan to return to non-fiction with the story of the Black Dahlia murder.

PÓM: Am I right in thinking you’re somehow related to Louise Brooks?

RG: She was my mother’s second cousin. Though they never met, they grew up in the same area of southeastern Kansas. Brooks was my mother’s maiden name (and my middle name). My mother was born and grew up in the tiny town of Burden, Kansas, as did both of Louise’s parents. The graphic novel I’m working on, Louise Brooks: Detective, takes place during the brief time (1940-42) that she returned to Kansas after her Hollywood career collapsed. The action unfolds in Wichita and Burden.

PÓM: What is it that draws you towards these murder stories, do you think?

RG: It’s become kind of a cliché, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve been attracted to the dark side of human nature. Perhaps because I have such a light and sunny nature myself. Stories of anti-social behavior have the most drama and excitement. And the unsolved cases are the best of all, for the mystery they embody and the speculation they engender. I’m a big proponent of the essential unknowability of things.

PÓM: With the unsolved cases, do you have opinions of your own on who might have done them, or does that not matter to you? With things like Jack the Ripper, for instance, which has virtually mutated into fiction, do you have any ‘favourite’ suspects?

RG: In most cases my goal is to keep a journalistic detachment and not express opinions of my own. Some of the unsolved murders have, as you say, mutated into fiction, but I try to give equal weight to all the theories out there, no matter how ludicrous. Jack the Ripper is the perfect example. The endless speculation linking him to the royal family or other well-known people is pretty flimsy, though entertaining. My belief is that the Ripper had to be some faceless, anonymous East End resident, someone you wouldn’t even notice on the street.

PÓM: What is it about Billy the Kid, that made you want to do this particular book?

Billy 21 (1)

RG: Upon moving to Lincoln County, New Mexico, seven years ago, I found that the Kid is a very big deal here. The town of Lincoln, where he spent much of his brief life, is a perfectly preserved little western settlement, and the local historical society is very protective of his story. Accuracy is the top priority. I noticed that no graphic novel has been published that told his true story, and it seemed a natural for my next project on Kickstarter.

Billy 22 (1)

PÓM: How much research goes into doing one of these books?

RG: I do as much as I can and still fit within the deadline. I start by reading as many books with as many different points of view on the subject as I can find, and take copious notes. I fill this out with online sources, but what I find there is usually not as detailed as the information contained in books. Then I condense all the material into what I hope is a clear and compelling narrative structure. As for picture reference for period costumes, interiors etc, I usually rely on my extensive personal library. But I can also find pretty much anything I want online.

Billy 23 (1)

PÓM: Have you any plans to do more ‘Wild West’ based stories, or is Billy the Kid a one-off?

RG: Nothing specific on the horizon, but I wouldn’t rule anything out.

PÓM: What’s your feeling about fundraisers like Kickstarter, now that you’ve been through it three times? Is it the future of comics publishing, or just an interesting sideline, for you?

RG: I can’t speak for others, but my own experience with Kickstarter has been nothing but positive thus far. I don’t know if it’s the future of comics publishing, but it’s certainly my future. I plan to use it, perhaps once a year, for graphic novel projects that treat broader historical subjects and wouldn’t overlap with the murder stories I do for NBM.

PÓM: Will this, and your previous Kickstarter projects, be available for the general public to buy later on, or is this the only way to get hold of them?

RG: All of my Kickstarter books are, for the moment, sold personally by me at the SD Comic-Con and at APE, or else are available via the “RG Store” on my Website. I’ve also been selling them, on consignment, through a retail outlet in my tiny burg of Carrizozo. Whether they will eventually gain a wider distribution remains to be seen.

PÓM: Thanks very much for taking the time to do this interview, Rick.

RG: Entirely my pleasure, Pádraig. Thanks for everything.

Some Links:
The True Death of Billy the Kid Kickstarter page
Rick Geary’s own Website
Rick Geary’s Author Page at NBM
Rick Geary’s Facebook Page

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[*It’s Alan Moore, in case there was any doubt.]

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24. Must read: Mike Dawson on being a mid-career cartoonist

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Mike Dawson is talented cartoonist, a witty raconteur and a fine podcaster— you can hear his work with Alex Robinson here at Ink Panthers. And as of yesterday he was a Tumblr king with a post calledAdvice to the mid-career cartoonist who has failed to build an audience. It’s honest and in some parts brutal.

My first “graphic novel”, my three hundred page debut memoir Freddie & Me, was published by BloomsburyUSA in 2008. The final sales tally (the book is now technically out of print) was 4,805 gross and 2,748 net. I think that means I sold 2,748 copies. Not great by Bloomsbury’s standards, but by my standards, that’s my bestseller.

My second book, Troop 142 was published in 2011 by Brooklyn based boutique publisher Secret Acres. I serialized the story online as I wrote. It was nominated for four Ignatz awards at the 2010 Small Press Expo, and won for Outstanding Online Comic. The book got nice attention from NPR and the American Library Association. It got another Ignatz nomination in 2012 for Outstanding Graphic Novel. To date, the book has sold 1,435 copies.

My third graphic novel, Angie Bongiolatti, was also published by Secret Acres. It debuted at the MoCCA Festival in NYC this past April. Last week I got my first quarterly sales report.

106 copies.

Holy fucking shit! One hundred and six copies??? How has this happened?

I’ll just send you to Dawson’s post for his conclusions from this, including his ambivalence about social media, his recent switch to shorter comics, and a frank confrontation with the “What am I doing here?” feeling that all of us have at some time.

Dawson’s graphic novel career hits a lot of spots that we have come to call typical of the indie cartoonist’s life. Freddie & Me was part of the early aughts rush to graphic novels by major publishers — a premature rush that resulted in mostly disappointing sales. Troop 142 was serialized on Live Journal and got quite a bit of attention during its run, resulting in the award nominations and notice; it could be considered an “establishing” work. Angie Bongiolatti is a more enigmatic work, from the fact that I have to look up how to spell the title every time, to a plot that defies summarization at all — it’s not an art show like many indie graphic novels, but rather a narrative about people who are confused about their own lives and look to someone who seems to be less confused via politics following 9/11. IT’s also an office drama, intermixed with the work of theorist Arthur Koestler. Like I said, there is no elevator pitch for it—it’s a heart felt, thought through work.

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All three maintain a high level of cartooning and narrative skill. Although he’s never been a critics darling, Dawson’s carved a respectable place for himself. He should be just entering a strong period of confident work. Instead, he’s wondering why he’s even here.

Dawson says what a lot of cartoonists are thinking these days. You can slave away at the drawing board every night after the day job ends, but is there even a career here for most people? What am I doing? Where am I going? Will there be a cheese plate when I get there? It’s the greatest time ever for comics but it’s still a mode of self expression not a way to make a living for many folks.

The post got recognition of another kind: a take down by Abhay Khosla:

Uh, if I can add insult to injury: who did you even think your audience was? Your graphic novels had a $20 list price, and you hadn’t really made a name for yourself before trying to charge people $20 to find out if you were any good at making comics.   Did you think there were a lot of people who take that kind of risk with their money, and if so, why?  Is that how you buy comics— you just see books and then spend $20 on them, regardless of if you’ve never heard of who made them, week after week?  What kind of comic-buying budget are you dealing with that allows you to do that?


I think some of Khosla’s point are a bit harsh—Daryl Ayo answers them here—but it’s true that finding an audience isn’t as easy as falling off a log or falling on a table at TCAF. I’m a fan of Dawson’s work, but not for reasons that readily translate to a steady audience.

In a private correspondence with Dawson, I suggested that Angie B. might have done better had it also been serialized online, the way Troop 142 was. It’s true that we have a ton of tools at our disposal to promote and disseminate all kinds of work now. It’s also true, as an agent told Dawson, that building an audience on social media is as necessary as knowing how to spell for authors these days. The rugged “self publisher” of the 80s and 90s has become the “self promoter” of the internet era. Dave Sim was right!

Dawson is a fine cartoonist with a distinctive style. His books aren’t for casual reading—he has a dense style that takes a while to read, just like a “real” novel. I haven’t seen the discussion of his essay beyond the two links above, but I suspect that a lot of cartoonists rolled it around in their heads as the day progressed.

Bonus reading: Tom Spurgeon interviews Dawson interviewed at The Comics Reporter

Whit Taylor interviews Dawson at Panel Patter

Hillary Brown reviews Angie Bongiolatti at Paste Magazine

15 Comments on Must read: Mike Dawson on being a mid-career cartoonist, last added: 8/5/2014
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25. More on Mike Dawson and finding an audience

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There’s been a lot o’ talk this week about Mike Dawson’s essay on his perceived failure to find an audience. Dawson followed up on it with more thoughts.

The main point of this essay was to discuss my own shortcomings as person unable to build “an audience” for his work. I didn’t even bring up in the original post that I co-hosted a well-known comics-podcast every week for five years, as well as another show on and off over at The Comics Journal. The thing I’m failing at, is taking the dim name-recognition and modest track record that I have, and converting that into future readers for my future work.

He points out several things, including how his worry was not making a living from being a cartoonist—he has a day job—but as an artist trying to find an audience. Anyone interested should read the follow up.

Abhay Khosla also followed up on his advice, which many perceived as tough because, well, Abhay is one of the tough talking folk of the comics internet. I hope I may be forgiven for jumping to one of his concluding thoughts:

I’m not criticizing him or his books, and still I have to put on clown makeup and have a little horn I blow after every sentence like “haha or maybe I’m wrong, keep reaching for the stars, everything is okay, life is fun”-???  That’s bonkers.  That’s straight-up bonkers.  I’m sorry if your feelings or anyone else’s feelings were “hurt” or if I wasn’t “nice enough” about all the failing going on, but whatever part of me is supposed to cower about my opinions I guess is broken or I’m the bad guy or whatever but… I’m not living in a mumblecore movie when the conversation is about marketing and selling product.


So you now it turned out Dawson and Khosla had the same goal all along! Self expression.

All joking aside this kind of painful self examination and frank talk are not much seen in alt.comix outside of late night room party talk in Bethesda. And Khosla is dead on correct about the comics world’s aversion to honest discussions about finding an audience, the meaning of success, marketing vs selling out, and other practical matters, especially when this talk is delivered with brio. This is a world of overwhelmingly nice people and overwhelmingly supportive people. A dozen tumblr followers is enough success for some folks, and having the gumption to say aloud that’s a pretty low bar is seen as a social faux pas.

While I’m loathe to blast apart a world of niceness and cheerleading, I’m equally torn over whether getting tougher, as a group, will help matters either. We got this far on twinkles and a belief in self-expression as its own end. Some creators get more serious about climbing the ladder, and doing whatever it takes. And some are content with their own world, as little as it may be. Dragging people up or down may not mean more success for any one.

I guess all I can say is questioning is always good, and public questioning has been positive in this case. I’ll give the final word to Dawson:

My priority is to continue expressing myself in this medium. I am very driven to do so. I don’t think it’s an option for me to walk away, as appealing as that thought can often be.


In this, I know, he speaks for many of us.

7 Comments on More on Mike Dawson and finding an audience, last added: 8/9/2014
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