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1. Weekend con reports: Antony Esmond and Warren Ellis on Safari Comics Festival

In the world of social media, no one does in depth con reports any more. Well, not quite true, Down the Tubes Antony Esmond has a quite detailed report on the Safari Festival 2015, the show organised by Breakdown Press and other forward looking UK comics types. Edmond’s report complete with reviews and photos (Such […]

1 Comments on Weekend con reports: Antony Esmond and Warren Ellis on Safari Comics Festival, last added: 8/25/2015
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2. SPX adds international guests: Frederik Peeters, Dylan Horrocks and Brecht Vandenbroucke

Although this year’s Small Press Expo’s theme is “Cartoonists of the 21st Century,” they are allowing cartoonists older than 30 to be guests as well. Just announced, the international slate, which consists of Frederik Peeters, Dylan Horrocks and Brecht Vandenbroucke —with more to come. And peep the Gemma Correll drawn poster above. This will be […]

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3. HELP WANTED: Sales charts, reviews

Once again, The Beat is looking for a sales chart analyst to take over the monthly Indie Sales charts. Kate Reynolds has done yeoman service but she's moving on to other frontiers and vistas. (Including hopefully some more writing for The Beat.)

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4. Fall Preview: Merry Misadventures in Julia Wertz’s Drinking at the Movies

Continuing our look at this fall’s top graphic novels, Koyama Press is reissuing Julia Wertz’s Drinking at the Movies, originally published by Three RIvers press but here reissued with all new material and an intro by Janeane Garaofolo. Wertz’s comic strips are autobiographical, but fearless in their honesty, and forgiving in bringing a light touch to […]

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5. This Weekend: Autoptic in Minneapolis

This weekend’s premiere comics event is Autoptic, the Minneapolis stop on the ongoing indie comics festival tour. Guests include Josh Bayer, Gabrielle Bell, Charles Burns, Ines Estrada, Edie Fake, Sammy Harkham, Aidan Koch, Laura Park Jillian Tamaki, and the exhibitor list is impressive, so it’s A-list all the way. The show has a few previews […]

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6. Nice Art: Welcome to Showside by Ian McGinty and friends

We’ve been telling you about the big plans from new publisher Z2 Comics for a while now, including their launch of a line of periodical comics. The flagship title is Ian McGinty’s Welcome to Showside, a charming all-ages tale about Kit, a friendly little demon, and his pals and Kit’s desire to escape from the […]

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7. HeroesCon Interview with Michel Fiffe Part 2: The Possibility of Digital, Comparisons to Cerebus, and What’s to Come in COPRA

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Continuing on from our first entry this past Friday, here is the second part of my HeroesCon interview with Michel Fiffe, creator of the self-published and much lauded action-adventure comic, COPRA.

It’s funny, the way I discovered your work actually came through a friend of mine at first, as a word of mouth sort of thing. Then I firmly jumped in when Oliver Sava starting writing about it on the A.V. Club, and you ended making a ton of these “Best of 2014″ lists, which is pretty exciting right? That sort of vindication has to be rewarding.

It’s nice, it’s nice that people like it, absolutely. Oliver’s a great supporter.

Everyone wants to make a superlative list at some point, right?

Yeah, that means a lot to me personally, and it actually translates into more readers. I think word of mouth has really worked a lot on COPRA, without any huge marketing muscle behind it. That’s been the primary thing, people are just excited about it, and that’s super flattering. To like it so much – in today’s aggressive marketplace – that they spread the word out of genuine enthusiasm… what more could you want?

That’s literally what’s happening, though the only hurdle is, of course, availability.

That’s the only hurdle right now. Bergen Street Press has been working hard for a couple of years now to get over it. We don’t want to make it super exclusive, this isn’t a super limited boutique item by any means, but it’s also not as simple as pushing a magic button for  books to suddenly appear. Others have that magic button.

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When you made the collections, which have obviously been a great way to pull in readers, you went with Bergen Street Press, and that’s Tucker Stone’s outfit right?

Yeah, that’s Tom Adams and Tucker Stone, they’re co-owners of the store, Bergen Street Comics and they started publishing and putting out “compendium” collections of the issues early on because I started selling out of the issues. So they met that demand, they helped me meet that initial burst of enthusiasm. I was too caught up creating the next issue. My financial model is that one issue pays for the next, there’s no room for reprints, that’s not within my budget. Bergen really helped make it more available and more accessible to people. The compendiums led to an official collection, the current “Rounds” as they’re called, which collects six issues at a time. That’s the kind of thing that we’re trying to get into all the comic shops across the country.

It’s showing up in stores in Atlanta, and I even think I saw copies in the UK over Gosh Comics perhaps.

Yeah, we get a lot of orders from all over the world.

Did you just have a relationship with Tucker and Tom, is that why you went with them as the distributor and publisher and go-to guys?

I trust them and respect them, and I couldn’t happier with that specific team of players. Their point of view and their involvement with the comics industry is something I can get behind.

In regards to availability though, is digital not in the cards?

It’s not NOT in the cards, it’s just something I still have to manage and deal with. There are just so many issues with it, the platform, the way it looks, the time to get everything in order. I’m still dealing with the print issues, that’s a huge thing for me, just getting one of these out every four to six weeks. I barely have any time to do anything else BUT this issue. When it comes to digital, I want to be as hands-on as possible, and that’s a time sucker. I wouldn’t rule digital out, but at the moment it’s not a primary concern. Having said that, I don’t want to exclude anyone from reading it, I understand there’s a large portion of the readership that’s gone digital because its more convenient, but personally I haven’t related to that model. So, it’s not a priority. I don’t feel like it’s something that’s burning in me to address anytime soon.

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But there is an argument you made yesterday (on a panel with Klaus Janson) about the visual of the comic as a physical object. When you go digital, you do lose that. I mean, you can put everyone of those pages, including the back cover and back matter into a digital copy, but it’s not the same.

It’s not the same, and I want to be clear that I don’t want to impose my fetish of the newsprint comic on anyone. But readers do have the option to buy the issues or NOT to buy them, and that’s the risk I take. I’m not forcing people nor am I trying to change the industry “back to the glory that it was”. I’m just doing this because it’s a model that I’m familiar with and I aesthetically like. It’s a much more intimate thing. I just don’t read that many digital comics. That’s not how I absorb this stuff. I would feel weird putting it out in the world if I’m not sure of it myself.

Cerebus

The comparison has been made, and COPRA has been compared very favorably to works like Cerebus, and that’s a comparison that I find to be really quite apt in that you’ve taken an analogous set of characters, like Dave Sim did with Conan the Barbarian, but by Round Three, you’ve expanded that world and its character set in a way not dissimilar from his work in “High Society”. Is that a comparison that you find interesting?

It is, mostly because Dave and I were born on the same day.

Really?

Yeah, so it just means we’re both stubborn and hard headed, and we’re gonna do what we want no matter what. But the COPRA/Cerebus thing… I imagine it’s more accurate than I’d like to think, but the main difference is that Cerebus started out as a parody. And my book…well, I personally fucking hate parody comics of that nature. I like Cerebus, but  I especially mean modern indie takes on this sort of stuff. It’s low hanging fruit. You’re going to make fun of superheroes, good job, you’re wasting your precious time on earth doing that. Who cares? You’re not gonna outdo Marshal Law. I love that comic to death. There was a lot of anger behind that book, but it didn’t look down at anyone. Now, you either like superheroes or you don’t, and it’s perfectly fine to dislike it. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. I have zero interest in making fun of this stuff. From the first page of COPRA, it was serious business to me, serious business while fully realizing and basking in the absurd nature of this material.

That’s a difficult balance to achieve – seriousness without being overtly grim.

I just don’t want to wink at readers. I respect the readership too much to be winking at them – like, hey get the joke? Isn’t this DUMB? It’s like, fuck that joke, it’s a terrible joke. And I think Dave Sim wised up to it early on, because he was parodying Conan and the goofy barbarian genre, but then it took on a different identity all together.

Copra WirAnd I feel like that’s where you’re headed too. Round 3 is stunning, and I think when it hits a collected edition, I think there’s going to be a lot of talk. I don’t know how else to put it. I don’t want to speak too highly here, but I think that’s going to be when – people already notice it, but I mean, my god, that chapter when Wir goes back home…

Yeah, that’s a favorite. I was worried about making that one too because it’s so bizarre, even within the norms of COPRA, you know?

It was so touching and so raw. It struck nerves for me. And then Gracie in Miami, and you’re working out some of your own feelings about the city and you even say as much on the back end.

Yeah. Every issue pretty much has at least one autobiographical component in it. And I find that interesting when I read older comics too, whether they meant it or not, I think it comes through. Especially for the older creators who really had no other option but to express themselves through The Brave and the Bold or something. But for me to actually write this stuff, I have to put some sort of personal experience in it. So every issue, there’s something there that’s really personal. But I also don’t want it to be too obvious, though.

COPRA-22-page-674x1024Let’s talk about Round Four or the presumed Round Four, about what’s coming up, what’s being developed. Spoiler alert: Dutch got it at the end of the latest issue. And clearly there’s another team that’s sort of gaining up on the COPRA side of things. At least that’s what it seems like. There’s an organized group of evil doers. What can we expect in the next couple of issues; I think there are two left in this round?

I have two left. And then I’m going to have a 25th issue anniversary-sized thing, that’s going to stand apart from the narrative, the main arc. And then starting with issue 26 that starts another arc all together. I’m going to work in six issue chunks, but there are going to be main storylines in that. I think I’m going to go up to fifty issues, so 25 will be an anniversary issue, as well as the halfway point.

So there will be an endpoint that’s set in stone?

Yes, I do have an ending set, I’ve mapped it out that far. I’m so excited for it.  Knowing that it’s going to end and that everything is building up towards it makes every step of the way that much more fun for me, much richer.

So what can you tell me that we can expect in just very general terms, without spoiling anything, for the next two issues? Is it going to be a battle between the team and this group of guys that are coming after them?

It’s going to be COPRA vs COPRA. That’s all I’m going to say.

VDO-22

You’ve got two other narratives occurring in these books, you’ve got Dieter VDO’s back cover story for Man-Head…

Which is non-canonical.

Let me ask you how that got arranged first. Are you and Dieter friends?

Oh, I’m a big fan of his work. He did a Savage Dragon story for this collection of back ups I edited. This was ages ago. Anyway, Dieter… I like spreading the word on him. I think he’s great, one of my favorite cartoonists. I wanted to have unique back matter for this current arc and he was the first person I thought of to do something. Instead of pin ups, though, I wanted a serialized narrative. Thankfully he was on board. His own weird version of COPRA? Who wouldn’t want to see that?

So what is going on between your narrative and his narrative in these orange and white pages? There’s something appearing in the sky…?

Oh, that. Well, that’s a subplot that has to do with Rax’s dimension. It’ll all make sense once you read it together, there IS a point to it; it’s not as arbitrary as it seems. I’ve been playing it quietly because if I show too much, it’ll spoil things.

When can we expect the next issue to hit?

Maybe 4 weeks, a month? After the show I’ve to get back to drawing it. I’m not really ahead, schedule-wise. As soon as the issue is done, it’s practically in the readers’ hands.

You can purchase recent issues of COPRA at Michel Fiffe and Kat Roberts’ Etsy store. While Bergen Street Press is currently sold out of both collected editions of the series, you can purchase the first collection at InStockTrades.

1 Comments on HeroesCon Interview with Michel Fiffe Part 2: The Possibility of Digital, Comparisons to Cerebus, and What’s to Come in COPRA, last added: 6/28/2015
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8. Anti-Bullying Comics Anthology RISE to Release Third Volume

by Melanie Burke

Images courtesy of Northwest Press

“It’s like an after school special but it’s a good one,” says Adam Pruett of the anti-bullying comics anthology RISE. “I’m not just saying that because it’s my book and I want to promote it—I actually believe in the material.”

Born from a frustration with caustic attitudes and gatekeeper mentalities within the comics community, RISE is the collaborative effort of editors Joey Esposito, Adam Pruett, Erica Schultz and Kristopher White. With hundreds of different contributors from all over the globe, the book currently has two issues out with Northwest Press and a third is slated for digital release this summer.

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“Out of that [frustration] came this idea, ‘Let’s do an anthology of celebrating being yourself’ and if there’s any place where that should be acceptable it’s the comics community,” says Esposito of the book’s initial inception.

The editorial team began working together in 2010 and approached Northwest Press several years later, launching a Kickstarter to fund printing costs in October of 2014. The Kickstarter platform, in addition to the for-sale issues on the Northwest Press website, made it possible to fund a book that is largely given away for free.

In addition to being available for free download at risecomics.org, RISE is distributed at all-ages events and school tours by Stand for the Silent and Prism Comics.

“It feels like we’re contributing to society,” says Esposito. “In a small but important way.”

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Part of the goal for the editorial team was to approach the issue of bullying from all sides—hence the power of an anthology that delivers such a diverse voice and wide range of art styles. The individual narratives range from tales of redemption and forgiveness between reformed bullies and their former targets to frustrated scientists with singing plants to aliens admonishing their peers for participating in late-night cow tipping.

“It’s not us and them, it’s not good guys and bad guys,” says publisher Charles “Zan” Christensen.“I think that the stories do a good job of showing that it’s not just there are bad people who do bad things, but that people sometimes do bad things.People can change, people can learn and do the right thing in the future.”

Tackling such a sensitive subject in a grand-scale way produced its own unique challenges—like coordinating such a large group of contributors.

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“We’re working on four different time zones, two or three continents, god knows how many countries,” says Schultz.“You’ll send an email off [and it] will be the end of the night, and then the next person who gets it is replying the equivalent of 2am for me.”

“It’s like herding cats,” says Esposito, laughing.

Additionally, the team had to make decisions regarding language and content for a young audience, without sacrificing the sometimes brutal realities depicted within the anthologies.

“That process was really illuminating,” says Christenson.“It was good to have those discussions and figure out how to strike that balance.”

Schultz says that the trade off to the chaos is “being introduced to creators who I wasn’t familiar with. And not just comic creators but people who work in different mediums as well coming on to write comics. That’s always great, getting to meet new people, getting exposed to different styles.”

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For Esposito, the excitement from contributors helped fuel the process. “[Seeing] the enthusiasm from everybody but seeing these really established creators come on board—donating their time and artistic talent to do something like this—was really exciting for me.”

The third and last issue of RISE will release sometime late June or early July of this year. After that, the team hopes to see the project continue in any variety of ways—potentially a once-a-year anthology.

“I hope it takes on a life of its own,” says Schultz.

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9. Darby Pop teams with Magnetic Press

side-kicked.jpgIt’s team up time. Magnetic Press, best known as publisher of a bunch of award-winning and magnificent French comics in the US, has partnered with Darby Pop, a comics studio founded by writer/producer Jeff Kline. Darby Pop’s line of graphic novels will be published as an imprint of Magnetic, starting with October’s SIDE-KICKED by writer Russell Brettholtz and artist Miguel Mendonca.

“In the current marketplace, it’s hard to get attention for any new titles, especially those not based on pre-existing brands,” Kline said in a statement. “But, in just their first year of existence, Magnetic Press seems to have found a recipe for connecting to a rabid fan base that both trusts their taste, and appreciates their commitment to the form. Originally, Mike Kennedy and I were just grabbing the occasional beer and sharing ‘war stories.’ But, at some point, it dawned on us that we shared so many of the same passions — and goals — that a partnership only made sense. ”

“Jeff has a proven track record for spotting and cultivating the most entertaining stories,” added Magnetic Press president Mike Kennedy. “The Darby Pop line promises that same engaging, animated audience experience with a whole new set of properties. We’re excited to support those debuts in the coming year!”

Sidekicks is a 96 page collection about a group of superhero sidekicks seeking the spotlight. Darby POp’s Kline is a multiple Emmy Award winner and wrote such comics as Transformers Prime, G.I. Joe: Renegades, and Jackie Chan Adventures. The line itself was first an imprint of IDW, where they published nearly 40 individual issues and trade paperbacks including CITY: THE MIND IN THE MACHINE by novelist/screenwriter Eric Garcia (Matchstick Men, Repo Men),THE 7TH SWORD by screenwriter John Raffo (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, The Relic), DOBERMAN by movie/TV writers Scott Marder, Rob Rosell, and Jack Lambert (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Unsupervised), DEAD SQUAD by multi-hyphenates Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia (Jericho, Warehouse 13, Human Target), and INDESTRUCTIBLE by Kline himself.

Magnetic Press has certainly established itself as one of the top new companies in recent years, and while the Darby POp material is a little far afield from their French material, safety in numbers!

 

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10. Z2 Comics launches Modern Prometheus production company

Z2 Comics is on a roll, having announced a new line of graphics novels, a line of periodical comics and now a productions company, Modern Prometheus, which got inked in THR.

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11. Small Press show/CAF news briefs: APE, TopatoCon, CXC

A lot of information on small press, indie. CAF evets have piled up in my inbox. Here’s some of the news: • The newly revamped APE (Alternative Press Expo) in San Jose has put out a call for programming— The Alternative Press Expo (APE), taking place in San Jose’s Convention Center on October 3 and […]

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12. Koyama Press Fall Preview: Lose #7 — now in color

It’s time to get back to what’s best in life: COMICS. The fall publishing season has been announced (and Spring ’16 is coming soon) so here’s some previews of what’s coming starting with Koyama Press . Next month will see the publication of Michael DeForge’s acclaimed series Lose with issues #7, now for the first time […]

1 Comments on Koyama Press Fall Preview: Lose #7 — now in color, last added: 8/4/2015
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13. SPX and Nickelodeon team for Call For Submissions for animation

 Here’s a on offer that many people might just get excited about: The Small Press Expo and Nickelodeon are teaming for a Call for Submissions where cartoonists can pitch ideas for an animated short. One person will be selected and get a cartoon made, working with the Nickelodeon animation staff. The offer is open to exhibitors […]

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14. Fall Preview: Dean Haspiel’s Beef With Tomato sparks a “conversational flame”

Rolling along with the Fall line-up for comics, here’s another September release, Hang Dai Studios has teamed with Alternative Comics to release their fall schedule, which includes three titles Beef with Tomato by Dean Haspiel, Smoke by Gregory Benton, and Schmuck by Seth Kushner and an all-star line-up of cartoonists. It’s a powerhouse line-up of talent, each book with its […]

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15. Miami Vice: Remix by Casey and Mahfood continues to be wilder than it has any reason to be

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It’s almost quitting time here in EDT so let’s leave the week with something FUN for a change.

Why just do a comic book based on a classically of it time TV show when you can reinvent it as an acid trip that bends time and
space? And hooray for licensors who let you get away with it. Miami Vice: Remix by Joe Casey and Jim Mahfood is anything but a dull TV show comic…it’s an audacious tale on tropes and icons, and a gem in the Lion Forge line-up.

Last month, the TV classic Miami Vice came back in a whole new way with the neo-noir, ultraviolet, action-packed Miami Vice: Remix. The first issue left readers cliff-hanging but never fear — the next installment of car chases, palm trees, and mutation-inducing designer drugs is here!

When we last left Crockett and Tubbs (still Miami’s coolest cops) they were in a sticky situation with some South Florida zombies high on Miami Bath Salts. Now they’re in hot pursuit of the dealer of this horrific nose candy, which leads them to punching cracked-out monsters in the face while zooming through Florida Turnpike traffic. Just another day at the office! But while one situation explodes, another simmers; someone who’s got serious beef with our $600-suit-wearing-heroes claims that Crockett’s got a serious debt to pay — and they’re here to collect!

Writer Joe Casey (Godland, Wildcats, Adventures of Superman) and artist Jim Mahfood (Tank Girl, Ultimate Spider-Man, Grrl Scouts) take their off-the-wall trip to South Beach to the next level with another high-energy, neon-soaked installment, in-stores next Wednesday.

 

Issue #2
Pub Date: April 22, 2015
Item Code: FEB150372

Issue #3
Pub Date: May 13, 2015
Item Code: MAR150456

Issue #4
Pub Date: June 17, 2015
Item Code: APR150489
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16. Koyama Press Fall slate includes double DeForge, Mai, Wertz and more

Canada’s Koyama Press continues to present a lively slate of boundary-pushing work, and this fall they are putting out their biggest line ever, including two books by Michael DeForge, new books by Jane Mai, Cole Closser and some newcomers, a kid’s book and a revamped version of Julia Wertz’s Drinking at the Movies. I expect one of the most interesting will be Robin Nishio’s Wailed which follows “a group of friends who also happen to be the vanguard of alternative comics making.” And you thought The Sponsor was shattering!

All the details below:

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DRESSING
Michael DeForge
ISBN: 978-1-927668-22-1
$19.95
5 ½ x 8, 120 pages, colour, paper over board
September 2015




Like Very Casual, a collection of very odd odds and sods from the outré oeuvre of Michael DeForge.

Michael DeForge makes comics like no one else. This collection of the cartoonist’s mini-comics, zines, anthology work, and more, is a follow up to the award-winning Very Casual, and shows the artist at the height of his occasionally fever-induced powers.

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LOSE #7
Michael DeForge
ISBN: 978-1-927668-18-4
$10.00
7 ⅛ x 10, 52 pages, colour, trade paper
September 2015




Lose, now in full colour!

The multi-award winning Lose series is Michael DeForge’s comics laboratory. The art form is pushed to its limits in these first-time-in-full-colour pages. Revel in a cartoonist at the height of their powers exploring the eccentricities of a woman who befriends her dad’s doppelgänger, and the realities of a flightless bird/boy hybrid.
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BLACK RAT
Cole Closser
ISBN: 978-1-927668-24-5
$15.00
6 x 7 ½, 160 pages, colour, trade paper
September 2015




This aesthetically varied collection of nine graphic short stories is loosely linked by the recurring appearance of a black rat.

Black Rat is the sleeper in the shadow, the wanderer in the woods. He walks between worlds and travels through time—slaying monsters, solving mysteries and philosophizing with his fists amidst a barrage of butchered quotes and borrowed styles in a series of seemingly disparate, sometimes violently visceral vignettes.

COLE CLOSSER is a cartoonist and a graduate of the BFA program at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri, as well as a graduate of the MFA program at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont. His graphic novel Little Tommy Lost was named one of the ten best graphic novels of 2013 by A.V. Club (the Onion), and nominated for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Award in the category of Best Publication Design at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con. Cole currently lives in Springfield, MO and teaches drawing at Missouri State University and Drury University.
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SEE YOU NEXT TUESDAY
Jane Mai
ISBN: 978-1-927668-25-2
$12.00
7 x 10, 128 pages, b&w, trade paper
November 2015




Autobio with bite.

This collection of diary comics features the ennui and wee of twenty-something Jane Mai whose emotions and art traverse the high and low. Moments of visual poetry and heartbreak are interspersed by bad body hair and bathroom disasters; much like life.

JANE MAI is a freelance illustrator and comic artist from Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in several anthologies and self-published zines. In 2012, Koyama Press published her first book, Sunday in the Park with Boys, which was followed by the zine Sorry I Can’t Come in on Monday I’m Really Really Sick.

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DRINKING AT THE MOVIES
Julia Wertz
ISBN: 978-1-927668-26-9
$15.00
6 ½ x 9, 220 pages, b&w, trade paper
November 2015




Julia Wertz is the anti-Bridget Jones; her diary comics are filled with life’s real and often really hilarious moments.

Representing Julia Wertz’s critically acclaimed first graphic memoir in a new format, with brand new material from Wertz, and an introduction by Janeane Garofalo. But don’t worry; we haven’t replaced any of the wrenching and ribald, whiskey-soaked coming-of-age tale. This is Wertz at her best, which is sometimes her worst.

JULIA WERTZ was born in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1982 and currently lives in Brooklyn. She is the author of the autobiographic comic books The Fart Party Vols. 1 and 2 (Atomic Books, 2007, 2009) both volumes were collected asMuseum of Mistakes in 2014, Drinking at the Movies (Random House, 2010) and The Infinite Wait and Other Stories (Koyama Press, 2012).

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WAILED
Robin Nishio
ISBN: 978-1-927668-19-1
$21.95
8 ¾ x 10, 80 pages, CMYK rich-b&w, trade paper
November 2015




Page through the lives of contemporary cartooning’s enfants terribles.

Wailed is an intimate chronicle of a group of friends who also happen to be the vanguard of alternative comics making. In stark black and white, the lives of these young artists are illuminated. Comics are often associated with the past, but this is a document of their future.

ROBIN NISHIO is an accomplished illustrator and storyboard artist and his artistic acumen is also reflected in beautiful and raw photographs. His high-contrast black-and-white images recall the pioneering work of Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama. Straddling two market groups, art photography and cartooning, Wailed is a book with an easy hook, but a depth that allows it to transcend easy categorization.
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CROSSWAYS
Phil Woolam
ISBN: 978-1-927668-23-8
$22.95
10 x 13, 52 pages, 3 spot colours, trade paper
November 2015




A modern Mondrian; Woollam sees cities as a latticework of vibrant colour and fluid forms.

Crossways presents the ever-changing grids that make up the modern urban center, be they intersecting streets, crisscrossing wires or the ladder that climbs up the side of a building, as pure abstraction. For Woollam, landscape is liquid and the city is a medium as fluid as ink.

PHIL WOOLLAM is an artist living in Toronto whose drawing based practice often focuses on multiples that recall the colourful geometry of the Memphis movement and De Stijl. Trained as a sculptor, Woollam has also created three-dimensional works including mascots based on the characters and designs of cartoonist Michael DeForge.

KIDS’ COMICS


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JUNCTION
Nathan Jurevicius
ISBN: 978-1-927668-21-4
$19.95
8 ½ x 10, 52 pages, colour, paper over board
November 2015




Make a face when the wind changes and it will stick, but, in this myth, you might just love it.

For generations the Face Changers have made the clay tokens that change the winds and faces of their kin. This month the youngest is tasked to take the ten thousand footsteps to the top of the mountain and engulf the town in the winds of change.

NATHAN JUREVICIUS is an Australian-Canadian illustrator who has worked in a variety of media including designer toys, video games and animation. He is best known for his acclaimed multi-platform project the psychedelic and heartfelt modern folktale Scarygirl. Nathan currently lives and works in Toronto.

“Nathan Jurevicius’ work achieves the minor miracle of being aggressively weird, deeply compelling and entirely satisfying…a rare achievement that only a true master of mysterio autentico can accomplish.” — Jim Woodring, creator of Frank and Jim

1 Comments on Koyama Press Fall slate includes double DeForge, Mai, Wertz and more, last added: 4/23/2015
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17. Tüki Save The Humans #4 delayed by Jeff Smith arm injury

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Issue #4 of Tüki Save The Humans, Jeff Smith’s saga of early humans and their migration, has been postponed from May to December due to a recurrence of an arm injury that creator Jeff Smith has been battling for a while.

“The past 12 months have been really busy,” says Smith, “and last month, after doing two issues of TUKI back to back, I noticed my arm was getting numb. I’ve had trouble with carpel tunnel syndrome before, and while I haven’t crossed the line, it’s not something I want to mess with.”

“I also have a secret project I’m working on that is adding to the workload,” he continued, “so I’ve decided the best thing to do was to slow down, move the book to where it will be best for TUKI. Sincere apologies to all of my readers, and I thank you for your patience. We plan to add a few surprises to the issue and hopefully the wait will be worthwhile!”

Tüki launched as a webcomic, with print issues following, and the third “season” wrapper a while ago.

While this is disappointing news, any “secret project” from Smith is exciting.

0 Comments on Tüki Save The Humans #4 delayed by Jeff Smith arm injury as of 1/1/1900
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18. A First Look at Pop Star Assassin

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Pop Star Assassin, the new comic by writer/creator Ed Lavallee and art by Marcelo Basile, is a mesmerizing and surreal look into the life of Bruce, an Elvis impersonator who thinks the real Elvis was his father. The explosive first issue sees Bruce thrown into a wild situation stuck between G-Men, mobsters, and shadow agencies. All of whom are trying to use him for their own needs. As the climatic events unfold Bruce is left tying to figure what is going on, who he really is and what his connection to Elvis is. If you like guns, action, espionage, the mob, G-Men, Elvis and shadow agencies then you will love this book. Definitely check it out. Here is the exclusive interview with writer/creator Lavallee.

Where did you come up with the concept for Pop Star Assassin?

Pop Star for me has been a life long endeavor heavily influenced by all of the movies and television I watched as a kid growing up in the 70’s. Celebrity back then had a certain cache and cool that studio stars of today can’t duplicate. Genuine cool. Elvis, McQueen, Bruce Lee, Star Wars, Planet of the Apes, Saturday morning cartoons and Black Belt Theater. When these stars passed away it was always under bizarre circumstances or conspiracies that just added more to their legendary status. In my mind this made a perfect idea to to build a story around.

edWhat is the story about and where do you see it going?

Pop Star Assassin is one mans journey to discover who he really is and where he comes from. The main character Bruce, believes he is the son of the King of Rock & Roll which is true to a degree, but not the whole truth. Turns out he is the catalyst in a government conspiracy involving Look-A-Like™ robot assassins hellbent on taking over the planet. In a nutshell anyway.

What are your influences comic wise and writing wise?

My influences, like I said stem from all the movies, books, comics, and cartoons I absorbed as a kid, which luckily I never grew out of. Star Wars was huge influence on me. As a kid it was THE greatest movie to ever grace the big screen. Comics – Frank Miller, John Byrne, most Marvel comics, Heavy Metal magazine, Savage Sword of Conan. Anything I could get my hands on really. The one creator I look up to the most and consider my biggest influence is Mike Mignola. Great all around creator, artist, writer. A true visionary in my opinion. My influences would not be complete without Tarantino on my list. True master of storytelling, character building and dialogue in my opinion.

Who else worked on the comic with you and what was their part?

I created Pop Star Assassin and co-wrote the first 3 issues with fellow comic book writer Matt Cashel. Matt wrote the Image comic Paradigm and is currently working on a new title called Blank Walls. Look for it soon and please support the HELL out of it as well. Us indy guys rely on each other and a grass roots kind of marketing to help get the word out there. The artist on Pop Star Assassin is the one and only Marcelo Basile from Argentina. A true master of his craft and all around great guy! His work on Pop Star is incredible. Each new page he turns in blows me away. Great stuff happening with issue 2 as I type this up.

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What is the vibe you are going for with the comic and art?

Well, Pop Star is set in late 1977, so we’re going for a funky, groovy, gritty, over-the-top, low-sci-fi action adventure trip. A Tarantino-esque vibe for sure. Definitely a strong R rating. You picked up a copy – what did you think?

What other comics are works do you have out?

I have a OGN published through Archaia titled, Revere: Revolution in Silver. Revere is my first professionally published work. I am currently working on a follow up with volume 2 – Revere: Salem’s Plot. We’re about 25 pages in on the art of it. I am also working on a couple of books for Outland Entertainment (www.outlandentertainment.com) – ITHACA and BACKLANDS. We hope to make some official announcements soon. There are a lot of great things cooking over at Outland, so check them out if you get the chance.

How was C2E2?

C2E2 was a great show. A bit overwhelming for me really. It was my first time and just the size and number of people was incredible. I am used to doing smaller, local shows so it was a real eye opener. Made a lot of contacts and new friends. Picked up some great artwork and cool books from fellow creators. Talked to a couple of pros and got copies of PSA into their hands so that was pretty cool. Over all pretty fantastic time. Denver Comic Con is next!

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What do you think about the state of independent comics?

I think independent books are on a very healthy road right now. Image is really setting the gold standard for creator owned books and is in my opinion the place to be for great stories from top flight creators. I feel like there are so many options for independents to get their books into the hands of fans with Kickstarter and crowdfunding, as well as a number of options to get books published digitally. If one door is closed, there are a bunch of others you can go through and find success. No retreat-no surrender.

What is in the works for you right now?

Right now I’m gearing up for Denver Comic Con Memorial Day weekend and then another big convention in my home town of Kansas City in August. There is a slight chance I may be attending a convention in Las Vegas in June. On the writing side of things issue 2 of Pop Star is in full effect, with finished art coming in daily. I’ll start wring Ithaca in June. Backlands issue 1 is in production. We hope to debut at the Kansas City Comic Con with an exclusive cover. I have a couple of other projects in the early idea phase just waiting for the iron to get hot. Stay tuned there is a lot more coming soon.

Any other promotional ventures you are planning for the comic?

No new promotions for Pop Star Assassin right now. I put together a special prize pack for our 500th like on the Pop Star Facebook page – will probably do another giveaway when we hit 1000 likes. Stop by the Facebook page at Popstar Assassin for all of the latest news and updates. And for those of you that don’t have your copy of issue 1 I have them available. Message me on Facebook for details.

Thanks for everything. Rock and Roll!

Follow Seth Ferranti on Twitter

 

 

0 Comments on A First Look at Pop Star Assassin as of 5/15/2015 7:23:00 PM
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19. Cruel Portents: Looking at the Past and the Future of The Wicked + The Divine

In Kieron Gillen’s talk on Alan Moore’s and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, Gillen emphasizes themes of time and cyclicality present in Moore’s graphic novel.  Temporal symbolism recurs in everything from the Doomsday clock interstitials between chapters to Rorschach’s ever-shifting face to Dr. Manhattan’s past as the son of a watchmaker.  Gillen, working alongside artist Jamie McKelvie, colorist Matt Wilson, and letterer Clayton Cowles, emphasizes similar themes of cyclicality in the Eisner-nominated series The Wicked + The Divine.

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The work is shaping up to be a structural masterpiece in the vein of Watchmen and the conclusion to the series’ second arc, Fandemonium, releases next week.  In honor of this, I’d like to take a moment to explore some of the recurring elements of the series that reexamine where we’ve been and clue us into the future of the series.

 

First Act

The premiere arc of the series is lovingly titled The Faust Act.  In it, the team establishes Laura, who is our muggle POV character, and the majority of the gods present for the 2014 Recurrence. Ultimately, we see one of those gods abruptly exit stage left.  The source of this arc’s name comes from Christopher Marlowe’s 16th century play The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Dr. Faustus.  In the work, Faustus makes a  deal with the devil Mephistopheles: infinite knowledge in exchange for eternal damnation.  Throughout the play, Faustus reveals himself to be hapless despite receiving near-infinite power.  Mephistopheles dances around the philosophical questions that Faustus poses to him and Faust spends the rest of his time conducting pointless experiments.   He is ultimately damned despite begging for salvation.

This basically summarizes Lucifer’s arc in The Faust Act.  She receives the gift of godhood and then wastes it by wasting two assassins who couldn’t kill her anyways. Ultimately, she is executed despite begging for forgiveness.  While it is clear that Luci killed her assassins, debate has raged within and outside of the text as to whether or not Luci killed the judge that tried her for her crimes.  After issue ten revealed that there was no link between the death of the judge and the attempt on Luci’s life, I decided to go back and look for some textual (or should it be panel) evidence that points to the identity of the judge’s killer.  I keep coming back to these two pages:

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I don’t believe that the WicDiv team is making this connection for giggles.  I think Luci killed the judge.  In issue 10, David Blake, the organizer of a Pantheon studies convention called Ragnarock, tells Laura that “we’ll never know for sure” who committed the crime, and I’m inclined to believe that that means Team WicDiv won’t ever give us a firm answer to the question.  They want us to speculate, and it would certainly fit the Faustian trope if Luci were the catalyst for her own demise.  The excerpted page from the first issue symbolizes her sealing her damnation, and the page from the fifth issue represents her begging for salvation.

Why would she do this to herself?  Well, throughout the series, we see several gods perform.  Amaterasu, Baphomet, The Morrigan, and most recently, Urdr.  We never see Luci perform, but during her imprisonment, she feeds Laura this line:

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What if Luci’s tragic story was her performance, and The Faust Act her stage?  Her guiding principle throughout the comic is freedom, but at the end of the first issue, she allows herself to be arrested.  There’s no reason why a few human police should be able to arrest a miracle maker.  Later on, Luci demonstrates as much by melting through her holding cell as though it were made of wax.  Luci is in control of everything throughout The Faust Act.  Everything except for the inevitability of her death.

When Luci becomes a god, the spiritual guide of the gods, Ananke, tells Luci that she will be dead within two years.  All the gods will.  That’s the cruel joke of the Recurrence: you get the freedom to do anything except stave off your rapidly approaching death. It’s the ultimate encroachment upon one’s freedom, and the only way Luci can see to cheat the inevitable and reclaim that freedom is to die on her own terms.  Getting arrested, killing the judge, breaking out of prison, and getting killed were the acts of Lucifer’s performance, and it inspires gods and men alike.

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Speaking of cruel jokes, this is the cover of issue one transitioning into the issue’s first page…MCKELVIEEEEEEEEEEE!

 

Whose story?

Towards the end of The Faust Act, Luci gives Laura a cigarette.  After Luci’s death, Laura snaps her fingers like a god, and is amazed to watch the cigarette light.  Throughout the second arc, we’ve watched Laura snap her fingers constantly, trying to recreate the magic and take her place as a god.  However, when Cassandra is revealed to be the twelfth god, that door is closed to Laura forever.  It seems, as this interstitial puts it, that The Wicked + The Divine is:

notherstory

I love the ambiguous pronoun game.

 

One of the most common criticisms I’ve heard levied against Wic+Div is that Laura, ostensibly the series’ main character, doesn’t actually get much to do.  She’s standing, dumbfounded, in the spotlight while all the gods are throwing fireballs and resurrecting people in the wings behind her.  To some extent, this is true.  Laura isn’t a protagonist in this series like Dream was in The Sandman.  However, this is also the point.  She’s not there to inspire.  She’s there to be inspired.  The first two arcs of the story take place over six short months, and Laura is already a dramatically different person.  Check out these two layouts:

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In the first chapter, Laura is starstruck.  Luci is a capital G-O-D god.  Laura looks up at Luci as she takes her hand and is led into a world beyond her and the reader’s imagination.  She’s dressed up as Amaterasu and actively seeks to become someone else.  By the time the fifth issue rolls around, Laura’s no longer hiding.  She isn’t playing at being a god.  She’s a friend of the gods.  Instead of looking up to them, she sees their flaws, and thus is portrayed above Luci.

At one point, Baal makes a telling statement:

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The gods don’t change the world.  They only appear every 90 years and disappear after two.  The gods empower regular people like Laura, and people like her–people like us change the world.  Laura doesn’t “do” much because she’s still in the process of being born.  As long as the gods are here, her actions will always be visually trumped by the flashy powers of the Pantheon.  However, even without powers, she’s managed to drive a great deal of the action in the series and inspire a lot of people.  Even David Blake, who once said that she’s “learned so little that [her] opinion is pretty much void,” turns around by the end of the second arc and admits that he was wrong.

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Gillen’s writer’s notes on the first issue serve as a piece of extratextual evidence that supports this reading of Laura.  In his blog post, he writes that Laura’s name is inspired by the eponymous Bat For Lashes song.

Some choice lines include:

partydied

“Your heart broke when the party died.”

morethanasuperstar

“You’re more than a superstar.”

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“You’ll be famous for longer than them.”

People may hate on Laura, but she is the key to understanding The Wicked + The Divine because she’s going to be the last woman standing at the end of the series.  She didn’t inherit the spirit of the gods.  She’s inheriting something better: the Promethean gift of their knowledge.  What’s left to be seen is what she does with that gift, but I have some ideas…

Once again, we return…

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Ananke utters the same words at the end of the 1920s recurrence and as Cassandra takes her place as Urdr, the last god needed to complete the 2014 pantheon.  Ananke is focused on the positive elements of cyclicality in these scenes, looking forward to the future and the beginning of the Recurrence cycles.  She neglects to mention the end of the statement.

Once again we return

tothis

to this.

In two years, her children will be dead.  Again.  She doesn’t say it, but the sentiment is revealed on her face as she watches the last of the 1920s pantheon die.  Interestingly, although Ananke is the constant and undying element of necessity that persists between pantheons, she seems to have aged dramatically over the past 90 years.  Now granted, she wasn’t exactly starring in Dove commercials in 1923 (I can’t think of a contemporary joke, sue me), but the last century seems to have worn her down and given her more wrinkles than the time stream of Looper.  She says as much in an interview with Cassandra:

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Now, this is pretty foreboding.  When Laura visits Valhalla for the first time in issue four, one of the major reasons why the other gods won’t help end Luci’s imprisonment is because it could mean the end of all Recurrences.  Forever.  As Ananke says:

allgonewrong

Superficially, one could say that Ananke fears that humans will literally kill the gods.  Now, as has been demonstrated time and time again (bullets curve around gods), this is exceedingly difficult.  However, what if humans simply stopped believing in the gods’ ability to inspire?  Ananke says that the “inspiration will leave the world forever” without the gods, but can she back up that statement?  The years have worn on Ananke and the 2014 Recurrence is not going well.  Perhaps the fault for that doesn’t lie with any of the gods.  Perhaps mankind simply doesn’t need them anymore.  To quote Nietzsche (which is always a good idea, I promise):

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers…must we ourselves not become gods…?”

Now, this is the point in the article where analysis-based hypothesizing becomes almost pure extrapolation and guesswork, so be warned.  However, I think The Wicked + The Divine is showing us the last Recurrence ever.  In Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, the author plays with the idea that gods are powered by the strength of human belief.  They exist only as long as people need them to.  If Team WicDiv is drawing from this particular school of thought, then we could be witnessing the last recurrence ever because the cycle of rebirth has run out its usefulness.  The gods were originally created to “light the spark” that allows mankind to beat back an oppressive darkness and begin the construction of civilization.  Civilization was constructed.  Civilization has lasted.  The recurrence is a cycle, a circle, a set of training wheels for mankind.  Now it’s time for them to come off.  We are witnessing the end of the era of gods as men and the beginning of the era of mankind as gods.  Who might lead mankind towards that era?  Why, Laura of course.

Let’s look back at Laura grasping Luci’s hand in issue five:

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Michaelangelo’s The Creation of Adam is probably one of the most famous paintings in the world.  God, on the right, is about the breathe life into Adam, the first man, on the left.  Laura, on the right, gives strength to Luci on the left.  Laura is the god in this allusive panel.  She is the person, “rare and blessed,” who can hear everything that “all the gods have to say,” which makes her the perfect leader for humanity when they’re gone.

How the Recurrence will end and the identity of the ultimate “darkness” that threatens civilization has yet to be seen, but I’m interested to know what you all think of the postulations above.  Let me know in the comments or tweet @waxenwings.

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As a final thought and not to take away from the gravitas of this moment, but I think it’s funny that Laura’s still wearing a coat in issue 9 even though it’s almost July.  Girl is frigid.

1 Comments on Cruel Portents: Looking at the Past and the Future of The Wicked + The Divine, last added: 5/28/2015
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20. CAKE Chicago report: perhaps 5000 people attended

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Photo via Kevin Budnick
It’s a little hard to find concrete reports from indie shows these days unless Secret Acres or Robyn Chapman post reports, from the social media, looks like CAKE Chicago this weekend was a successful indie show. I’ve heard mixed reports on sales in past years, but based on the “haul photos” I’ve seen, a lot of comics were purchased. I dug up a few more concrete reports:

Jonathan Bogart has a very funny post that reveals what Tom Spurgeon And Kevin Huizenga like to talk about, but he had a good time:

Since I’ve spent the last several years in a comics headspace dominated by European comics of the 50s through the 80s, it was great to just walk the tables and get a sort of immediate crash course on the dominant aesthetics and various kinds of scenes brewing in the self-publishing and micropublishing worlds of Midwestern and Midwestern-accessible comics. 

It was a goddamn delight to see Jillian Tamaki the rockstar of the event – I saw people walking by Gilbert Hernandez on the floor without a second glance, but Jillian’s table was mobbed every time she was there, and seemed to do good business even when she wasn’t.



Sean Kleefeld has a more comprehensive post about the current con glut and how that impacts planning:

I was talking a bit with Kevin Budnik at CAKE this weekend, and I think he hit on an excellent point. He was a bit nervous going into the show this year because his table is waaaaay far in the back corner of the space. Argueably, the worst table there: the very last table in the corner farthest away from the entrance. Yet he was doing pretty well sales-wise — possibly better than SPX, but he hadn’t done a firm tally on that when I spoke with him — and he attributed that to walk-ins.
[snip]
This year, I talked to and saw several creators at CAKE — certainly more than a dozen — that sold out of some or all of their books. If one or two people sold out, I’d blame that on them for not bringing enough, but over a dozen? That’s something else. I talked to organizer Max Morris, and he was saying that their preliminary count for Day One was 1500-2000 and the half-day numbers for Day Two looked to be half that, but given how many people were selling out, I suspect the final two-day tally is closer to 5,000.


And Matt Brady bought many comics:

This past weekend was the fourth annual Chicago Alternative Comics Expo, or CAKE, and I’m happy to say that it seemed to be a successful event for everyone involved, from the organizers, to the attendees, to the many amazing artists who were exhibiting their work. I’ve volunteered for the event in previous years, but this year they asked me to get even more involved, so I was the Social Media Coordinator for the weekend, running the official CAKE Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr accounts. I spent the weekend walking around, taking pictures on my phone, and doing lots of tweeting, retweeting, and sharing, so if you check out the past couple days of activity on those accounts, you’ll have a pretty good picture of what I was up to.


Here’s that account and a few random tweets:

Tons o’ photos in that last link:

emily hutchings, ian mcduffie

Anyhoo, sounds like after four years this show has established itself as the midwestern incie fest that Chicago has needed for a while.

Did you go? Did you like it? Sound off in the comments!

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21. Interview: Corey Fryia Raps on Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue is a comics anthology published by Stache Publishing in 2014 that has left readers wanting more. The first volume collected some fine stories under the umbrella theme of strangeness. Now, Stache is back for a second round with Out of the Blue: Volume Two. This volume will be horror themed and the stories will have a scary slant with twist endings. Stache Publishing has announced a call for short works to populate the anthology and preference will be given to works and creators with no previous publication.

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Having an anthology championed by a supportive small publisher allows contributors to have their work made available through both the online marketplace and in print, as well as directly to fans at conventions and local comics shops. To find out what is up with this anthology we spoke with Corey Fryia, who is returning as an editor on the book.


 

Seth Ferranti: What is Out of the Blue about?

Corey Fryia: Last year we partnered with Statche Publishing to produce Out of the Blue: A Collection of Strange Stories. As the title would lead you believe, this book was an unusual assortment of thirteen strange stories that transcend the ordinary. Contributors included New York Times bestselling comic creators, winners of the Eisner and Ghastly awards, and more. Thankfully, the book was extremely well received and we’ve been given the opportunity to produce a follow up.

This follow up book, which we jokingly call “Out of the Blue 2,” will be created in the same image as the first volume, but instead of just strange and unusual shorts, we’re looking to collect a group of strange shorts with a scary edge. If you enjoy reading bizarre horror stories around the campfire then this book will be right up your alley.

Ferranti: What is your role on the graphic novel?

Fryia: The talented Marta Tanrikulu and I share co-editor roles on Out of the Blue and we’re very fortunate to have an extremely supportive and involved small publisher like Stache Publishing to aid us along the way.

Ferranti: How did you get involved with Stache?

Fryia: I actually met Marta Tanrikulu through a Facebook group for indie comic creators called Small Press Commandos. She expressed an interest in compiling a book full of completed comic shorts that “didn’t have a home” or weren’t necessarily available to the public whether that be digitally or in print. I offered to help her in the process and, a year later, here we are doing a second volume of Out of the Blue. Marta spearheaded the effort to get Stache Publishing involved and we both couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out.

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Ferranti: What is your history with comics and editorial?

Fryia: Technically, I’m more of a writer by trade, but I also enjoy taking a step back and assuming the role of an editor from time to time. As a writer, I’ve contributed work to a number of small press anthologies, including Steampunk Originals Vol. 8 from Arcana Studios. I also have plans for launching a Kickstarter later this summer to help fund a project that I’ve been working on for the past several months which is tentatively titled “The Unworldly Adventures of Dr. Crowe.”

Ferranti: What are you looking for in submissions for Book 2?

Fryia: When it comes to scary stories or just horror stories in general, I personally prefer more classic horror like something you might find in the pages of Creepy. We’re also looking for stories that have unique twist endings, but this isn’t necessarily a requirement. Generally, if you have a scary comic short that you feel is well written, has quality art and needs an audience – we’ll definitely take a look. We’re very open to welcoming any and all submissions in an effort to produce the best book that we possibly can.

Ferranti: Where can people send their submissions?

Fryia: We’re asking that interested parties submit a low-resolution version of their short as an attachment or secure link to spcanthology@gmail.com. If the work was previously published or accepted for publication, please state where. A short creator bio is also requested when submitting. Submissions will be accepted between July 10 and July 31st.

Ferranti: When do you plan on releasing the book?

Fryia: The plan is to have the book completely wrapped up and ready for readers by Halloween 2015.

Ferranti: What do you like about working on comic books?

Fryia: Without getting in to too much detail, my favorite aspect of working in comics is the idea of world building. I enjoy taking character and placing them in a world that just doesn’t exist in our day-to-day life. I’m fascinated by the amount of effort it takes to create something like George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice and I strive to one day be able to even comprehend how he did it.

I’m also a big fan of collaborating with other creative people and creating comics is by far one of the most collaborative mediums out there. When you really find somebody who clicks and understands your story, seeing it come to life in every stage of the process – whether that’s the pencils, inks, colors, letters, etc. it’s incredible to watch it come to life. And then having a chance to place that in the hands of a reader and seeing how they react?  I love every minute of it.

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Ferranti: What comics do you like or read?

Fryia: There isn’t really one type of comic that I’d say dominates what I read. I’m all over the board currently. For example – I really dig what Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have done with Batman since the New 52 re-launch, I’m head over heels in love with Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples’ work on Saga, and what Frank Barbieri and Chris Mooneyham do on Five Ghosts blows my mind. I also thoroughly enjoy what Marvel has done with their new Star Wars books. Ultimately, I tend to gravitate towards creator-owned books. Image has a great crop books right now from a slew of my favorite creators. I’ll read anything Joshua Williamson writes these days. That guy is on fire.

Ferranti: What inspires the work that you do?

Fryia: Perhaps it sounds cliché, but I draw inspiration from the stuff I grew up with, I’m huge Star Wars fanatic, so I feel like there’s always a little bit of Star Wars in every single thing that I write. I also grew up watching classic westerns with my grandfather; so western elements tend to bleed into my work from time to time…especially in my dialogue. Outside of that, things that catch my eye in video games, movies or other comic books usually give me an initial idea and then I just run with it.


You can find more information about Corey Fryia’s work on her website: www.coreyfryia.net.  You can follow her on Twitter @CoreyFryia.  For more information about Stache Publishing, check out http://www.stachepublishing.com.

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22. Z2 announces new creator-owned periodical line with McGinty, Hunt, Tracy, Koplowitz and Porto

z2logoblueZ2 Comics, best known for publishing the graphic novels Escapo, Fear my Dear, Cleveland and Henni, is getting into the periodical business with three new titles. The announcement was made in the Washington Post where publishing Josh Frankel expanded on his plans noting, “There’s no house style, but these days there’s no need for a house style,” he said. “There’s a diverse audience of readers out there waiting to discover the next big thing in comics. We think this could be it. ”

“Being able to offer readers new stories from incredibly talented creators is really gratifying, and will also help Z2 Comics continue to grow,” Frankel told The Post’s Comic Riffs. “Serializing comic books is a great model for a smaller publisher, allowing us to pay all the artists and writers a livable page rate for their creator-owned comic books, which helps me sleep at night.”

“As a publisher, our job is to find ways to get our stories into the hands of readers, across multiple platforms, working closely with our distribution partners,” Frankel said. “There’s so much excitement for comic books right now, and comics readers are more diverse than ever before. It’s the perfect time to launch three equally diverse titles.”

The addition of a new creator owned line of periodicals s a pretty bold move in today’s market, but as we just pointed out, this industry needs more options.
Here’s the full line-up, with an exclusive look at the Welcome to Showside cover:
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WELCOME TO SHOWSIDE by Ian McGinty
October, 2015
Following his stint as artist on the BRAVEST WARRIORS comic book, Ian McGinty will publish his creator owned debut as a writer/artist with Z2 Comics. WELCOME TO SHOWSIDE features the adventures of Kit, a lovable kid with a monstrous secret: his dad is the Great Shadow King and he wants Kit to take over the family business of destroying the world.

“Kit is a fun-loving dude who wishes he didn’t have a care in the world,” said Ian McGinty. “But as much as he wants to skateboard, eat rad food, and hang with his buds like any kid would, well, his father is the Shadow King, Ruler of the Nexus, and that means sometimes Kit and his friends have to defend the town of Showside from ghosts, demons and monsters.”
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CARVER by Chris Hunt
November, 2015
After an absence of five years, globe trotting and notorious gentleman of fortune Francis Carver returns to Paris in 1923. He has come back to aid Catherine Ayers, the wife of a wealthy Parisian socialite and the only woman he has ever loved. Her daughter has been kidnapped by the leader of a crazed anarchist gang, a man named Stacker Lee. In order to bring the girl home, Francis will have to crawl through the underbelly of the city while confronting the demons of his past, before being faced with a final choice: succumb to the man he has become, or take that mask off and be the hero he always wanted to be.

“CARVER is my homage to CORTO MALTESE,” said Chris Hunt, “I’m bringing a modern edge and sensibility to classic, serialized adventure storytelling, starting with the first storyline CARVER: A PARIS STORY.”
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ALLEN: SON OF HELLCOCK by Will Tracy, Gabe Koplowitz, Miguel Porto
December, 2015
Allen is cowardly, directionless, and less physically menacing than a daffodil. He’s also the only son of the mightiest hero ever to plunge his sword hilt-deep into the dark heart of evil… the mighty HELLCOCK! Enjoy the ride as Allen is thrust sword-first into a not-so-classic fantasy quest that, frankly, he would rather just sit out. ALLEN: SON OF HELLCOCK is the comic book debut of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver writer Will Tracy, co-writer Gabe Koplowitz and artist Miguel Porto.

“ALLEN: SON OF HELLCOCK has it all: washed-up sorcerers and swordsmen, terrifying horse-donkeys, sensitive ogres, fashionable elves, ornery minotaur landlords, an exceedingly polite retired despot, a black-hearted but oddly lovable villain, and an idealistic young woman who’s the only one with any brains,” said Will Tracy.

“Uh, don’t forget Allen,” said Gabe Koplowitz.

“Did you mention the horrid horse-donkeys already? Oh god… the horse-donkeys…” said Miguel Porto.

 

the boutique graphic novel publisher of acclaimed graphic novels by Paul Pope, Harvey Pekar, Dean Haspiel and Miss Lasko-Gross, announced today a new line of creator owned periodical comic books. The New York-based company will launch its periodical line in the fall of 2015 with three dynamic titles: the first creator owned comic book by BRAVEST WARRIORS comic book artist Ian McGinty, an international adventure caper by Paul Pope’s protege Chris Hunt, and the comic book debut by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver writer Will Tracy and co-writer Gabe Koplowitz. All Z2 Comics standard periodicals will be 32 pages and priced at $3.99; they will be distributed at comic book stores nationwide via Diamond and will be available digitally via ComiXology.

“There’s no house style to Z2 Comics, because our comics are spectacularly diverse,” said Z2 Comics Publisher Josh Frankel. “We have an all ages comic book chock full of demons and monsters about the eternal tension between a slacker son and his ambitious father who literally wants to take over the universe. There’s a world trotting caper full of sex, intrigue and adventure. And then there’s a hilarious fantasy story about an aspiring cartoonist who must avenge his father’s death.”

“Z2 Comics are wildly eclectic,” said Frankel. “What does a graphic novel from Paul Pope, Dean Haspiel or Miss Lasko Gross have in common with the periodicals announced today? They are exceptional works from exceptional creators and comics you’ll want to read.”

ABOUT THE CREATORS:
Ian McGinty is an American artist, writer and designer based in Savannah, Georgia. He is the artist on the comic book adaptation of Pendleton Ward’s BRAVEST WARRIORS and MUNCHKIN for Boom! Studios. He is the creator of Top Shelf’s upcoming graphic novel, CHOMP! and co-creator of Frederator Books’ ROBERTO ROBERTO. Ian has previously worked on ADVENTURE TIME: CANDY CAPERS (Boom! Studios), WHICH WAY, DUDE? (Penguin), STEVEN UNIVERSE (KaBOOM!), BEE & PUPPETCAT, UGLYDOLL books (Viz Media) and the Eisner nominated HELLO KITTY books (Viz Media).

Chris Hunt is an American cartoonist born in Columbus, Ohio, and raised in Boise, Idaho. Never formally educated, Hunt developed his talents mostly through self-directed study, and the generous guidance of his friend and mentor, Paul Pope, whose comics Chris was inspired by at a young age. He worked on the Ghostface Killah comic 12 REASONS TO DIE for Black Mask, and has also done artwork for IDW Comics, Vertigo and ZIP Comics and film and music industry work for AMC, Biz3 Mgmt, Tribeca Film and the Universal Music Group. In 2010, Hunt was invited to study as a resident artist at the Atlantic Center for The Arts, under Master Artist Paul Pope. Hunt is currently working on CARVER: A PARIS STORY, which expands the story of Francis Carver, the gentleman of fortune that premiered in Hunt’s self published VOLUME ONE.

Will Tracy is a writer for HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and the former Editor in Chief of The Onion, America’s Finest News Source. He lives in Brooklyn.

Gabe Koplowitz is a writer/director who makes promos at VH1. Originally from San Francisco, he developed a love for comics by stealing his brother’s copies of GROO THE WANDERER at a young age. He lives in Brooklyn.

Miguel Porto is a cartoonist, and illustrator living in Vigo, Spain. He has worked for Redbook, El País, Mongolia, done posters for music groups (Foot Village’s European tour), and covers (the spanish edition of LORD OF CHAOS), but mostly he spends his days doing educational books and teaching drawing and color. He likes forests, ghosts, and owns two cats named Olive and Munchausen, and has enough scars to prove it.

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23. Z2 expands with fall GN line, including Abaddon, Pawn Shop and Ashes

Z2 Comics just made news last week with a new line of periodicals, and here’s their fall graphic novel line, courtesy of Publishers Weekly. The slate includes a collection of Koren Shadmi’s awesome webcomic THE ABADDON, as well as a new edition of Cleveland by Harvey Pekar and Joseph Remnent, and print editions of two Kickstarted projects: ASHES: A FIREFIGHTER’S TALE by Mario Candelaria and Karl Slominski; and PAWN SHOP by Joey Esposito and Sean Von Gorman.

“With the addition of three new books to Z2 Comics, the return of Harvey Pekar’s CLEVELAND to print and the recently announced launch of the Z2 Comics periodical line, this year promises to be our most ambitious yet. And it’s just the beginning,’ said publisher Josh Frankel.

The Eisner-nominated Cleveland was previously distributed by Top Shelf, but has sold out of its 10,000 copy initial print run, Frankel told PW.

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We’ve admired The Abaddon (above) here at the Beat many times before; it’s gorgeous and getting it in a nice print edition is a real treat.

Here’s the full Z2 line-up:

 

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ASHES: A FIREFIGHTER’S TALE written by Mario Candelaria with art by Karl Slominski.
(September 22, 2015; $19.99; 120 pages; black and white)

Matt always had an easygoing life. Girls liked him, his friends were more like family, and being a firefighter came naturally. Then the accident happened. Now, after the loss of his leg, Matt struggles to cope with his new handicap as he attempts to rebuild his shattered family and once budding career. A riveting tale about perseverance, hard work, and overcoming the odds, ASHES is a gripping tale told in stunning black and white.

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PAWN SHOP written by Joey Esposito with art by Sean Von Gorman
(September 22, 2015; $19.99; 120 pages; full color)

A widower. A nurse. A punk. A Long Island Railroad employee. New York City is an ecosystem where everybody is connected, if only by the streets they walk on. This original graphic novel is the story of four people, in a city of eight million, whose lives unknowingly intersect through a Manhattan pawn shop.
Written by Joey Esposito (Footprints) and illustrated with a gorgeous mixture of watercolor and digital elements by Sean Von Gorman (Toe Tag Riot), PAWN SHOP explores the big things that separate us and the little moments that inexplicably unite us.

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THE ABADDON written and illustrated by Koren Shadmi
(November 10, 2015; $24.99; 240 pages; full color)

Loosely based on Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit, THE ABADDON is the story of a young man who finds himself trapped in a bizarre apartment with a group of ill-matched roommates. He discovers that his new home doesn’t adhere to any rational laws of nature and comes to realize that everyone living in the apartment is missing crucial parts of their memories and identities.

CLEVELAND by Harvey Pekar and Joseph Remnant
(November DATE TK; Price TK; 128; black and white)

A lifelong resident of Cleveland, Ohio, Harvey Pekar (1939-2010) pioneered autobiographical comics, mining the mundane for magic since 1976 in his critically acclaimed series American Splendor. Legendary comic book writer Harvey Pekar’s collaboration with artist Joseph Remnant, titled CLEVELAND, was originally published by Top Shelf Shelf Comics and Zip Comics in 2012 and includes an introduction by Alan Moore. The book presents key moments and characters from the city’s history, intertwined with Harvey’s own ups and downs, as relayed to us by Our Man and meticulously researched and rendered by artist Joseph Remnant. At once a history of Cleveland and a portrait of Harvey, it’s a tribute to the ordinary greatness of both.

Disclosure: Just to be upfront, Z2 and The Beat have partnered on several events in the past, and they are an occasional client of my consulting company.

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24. Secret Acres news: Reed & Dalrymple’s Palefire and new Theo Elsworth

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Brooklyn based indie Secret Acres has just announced a couple of new projects and one of them is like an alt.comix supergroup: MK Reed (Cute Girl Manifesto, Americus) will write and Farel Dalrymple (The Wrenchies, Omega the Unknown) will draw Palefire, due out this September, a fiery story set in high school that sounds like the perfect comics YA novel:

In the small town world of Palefire, everyone knows everybody and everyone hates Dwayne, the firebug, the bad boy trouble follows everywhere. Good girl Alison finds a warmth to Dwayne, a spark everyone’s missing. Can Alison play with fire without getting burned?
Hope Larson, author of Chiggers and illustrator of A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel calls Palefire:
“Gorgeous and moving. Dalrymple’s cartooning sings, and Reed has the best ear for dialogue in comics.”


Reed has been quietly building a powerful body of work as a writer and cartoonist and Dalrymple’s work on The Wrenchies last year was spectacular. I can’t wait to see what they do together.

The duo will promote the book at the Small Press Expo. I’m sold.

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Secret Acres is also releasing two from Theo Ellsworth: Understanding Monster – Book Three and a new edition of the long sold out Capacity.
The first book of the Understanding Monster trilogy was both a Best American Comics 2014 selection and a Lynd Ward Prize Honor Book. IN book Three the story winds up.

In the Understanding Monster – Book Three, our hero, Izadore, awakes to find his mind, body and soul reunited. The last Monks of the Imaginary Man lead him on a journey beyond Toy Mountain to discover the true nature of the relationship between creativity and reality.

Adding to the excitement, Theo Ellsworth’s classic, Capacity, will be re-released alongside the Understanding Monster Book Three. Returning for a third printing in a deluxe and unique stitched, softcover binding, a limited quantity of this new edition of Capacity will include a signed and numbered artist plate tipped into the book.

Counted among the best books of its original publication year by the Chicago Tribune, the Village Voice and theHuffington Post among many others, Capacity is part autobiography, part mythology and totally beautiful. Just try to remember: this all really happpened!


Sold once again!

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25. MATT CHATS: Tyler James on the ComixTribal Magic

Independent publisher ComixTribe has been steadily growing their presence in the direct market, on Kickstarter and especially on the web. ComixTribe.com is a site that’s used not just to promote their products but also to give advice to inspiring and up-and-coming creators. I spoke to Tyler James, the publisher of ComixTribe, about building a reputation in the industry, getting sales and the publisher’s latest Kickstarter campaign for graphic novel The Standard.

How’s the experience been so far Kickstarting The Standard?

The Standard Ultimate Collection Kickstarter is going great!

It’s a tremendous feeling to launch a Kickstarter, send an email, and then 36 hours later, get the printing for an expensive hardcover fully funded… and to do so without any major media coverage or heavy advertising.

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Art by Jonathan Rector

That’s a testament to what ComixTribe has been building over the past four years and where we’re headed. And it’s validation for the extraordinary work of writer John Lees, artist Jonathan Rector, and the rest of THE STANDARD team.

This is not my first Kickstarter rodeo, rather it’s the sixth Kickstarter campaign I’ve actively managed. While the platform continues to change and evolve and add new features and wrinkles, the core of what works and what doesn’t hasn’t changed since our first successful campaign in 2012.

I hear a lot of creators talk about how stressful and nerve-wracking Kickstarters are… and they certainly can be. But I prefer to look at them like a month-long online comic book convention and an opportunity to build a deeper relationships with new and long-time fans. When you frame it like that, the stress melts away and you can have fun with it.

The Standard bears, at least on a surface level, a lot of resemblance to Mark Waid’s Thrillbent comic Insufferable. Was that a concern as you plunged into this Kickstarter campaign?

No disrespect to Mr. Waid, who is one of my favorite writers in all of comics, but when John and Jon first started working on THE STANDARD, he still had his comic book collection! So, any resemblance to Insufferable can be chalked up to coincidence and pulling from the same ideaspace that lifelong superhero fans such as Mark and John will draw on.

The fact that his has been a project long in the making is one of the things that’s so rewarding about this process.  While some people (Lees included) were shocked at how fast we were able to get THE STANDARD funded, that 36 hours was really six long years in the making.

Marvel and DC, with their double shipping and weekly series, and the direct market in general, which is built on a monthly release schedule, shape the expectations of readers to think that comics take only a few weeks to make.

And while that may be true for well-compensated professionals working for fully-staffed companies that have been around for seventy years, it’s just not feasible in the indie world.

THE STANDARD was John Lees’ very first comic book… he was literally learning how to write comics as he wrote the series.

As John says in his Kickstarter video, when he first got started on this project, he wasn’t thinking about whether he had a marketable high concept, or whether it was going to sell, or whether there were other books out there like it. At that time, he didn’t know enough about the industry to even think if he should be thinking about that stuff!

Rather, John was thinking that this might very well be the only comic he’d ever make… so why not tell the one story he wanted to tell more than anything else in the world? And why not fill it up with everything he loves about comics – heroism, horror, mystery, romance, heartbreak, innocence lost, and yes, just the right amount of superhero cheese.

Josh Fialkov (The Bunker, Echoes) was gracious enough to write the foreword for AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE, John’s break out horror series from last year. In it, he talked (lovingly) about picking up EMILY #1 and “wanting to punch John in the face” for seemingly coming out of nowhere being so damn good.

What’s great about John’s work and THE STANDARD in particular is that it’s really not trading on a super original, ironic, hip high-concept. There have been plenty of meta superhero deconstruction tales before THE STANDARD and there will be many more to come. You mentioned Insufferable, but I’d actually point to Waid’s Kingdom Come as being a little closer thematically to THE STANDARD.

But it’s not about theme or high-concept. To paraphrase True Detective, “It’s all one story, man. Light and Dark.” What’s brilliant about THE STANDARD is its execution. There’s craft and love for the medium of comics gushing out of every page.

John is going to need a bodyguard when Fialkov realizes this was the first comic John ever wrote!

So, no, to your question. We had a few concerns about launching the Kickstarter, but none of them were about the content itself. This series is rock solid.

My main concern was juggling both the Kickstarter and also at the same time promoting the direct market launch of OXYMORON: The Loveliest Nightmare, our next series launching in August.

I don’t want to ask too many questions about crowdfunding, because you cover the subject so well on ComixTribe.com, but I have to ask a couple. One is: what’s a Kickstarter that impressed you recently, and how did it impress you?

That’s a great question, and I’m always trying to study successful campaigns so I can later model things they do well on the ones I run.

Last month’s Archie Kickstarter campaign was a big story, and many people looked at that campaign scoffing at the lofty sum of $350,000 they were trying to raise for new projects as way too much money and a ridiculous, some might say “greedy”, goal.

Meanwhile, at the same time on Kickstarter,  Tim Buckley “quietly” blew past the $350K mark for a reprint of his webcomic CTRL+ALT+DEL in just a few days, later going on to raise more than $665K.

So what continues to impress me about Kickstarter is that, of all platforms available to creators – the direct market, Comixology, Amazon, conventions — Kickstarter is easily the most level playing field.

Individual creators can be more successful than 70 year old publishers on Kickstarter.

While the big numbers of some of these crazy campaigns do catch my eye, the thing I love most about the platform and what impresses me most are the guys and girls going out there and launching their first campaign and succeeding.

Guys like Bill Walko who now gets to make a quality trade collection of his great webcomic Hero Business, or Kristi McDowell whose very first comic Gamer Girl & Vixen got funded.

The numbers don’t matter. I guarantee you, Tim Buckley was no more excited (and perhaps less so) by his $666K than Kristi was about her $7K.

So, yeah, I’m impressed by people who do their homework, run great campaigns, and then fulfill them.

As a side note, the most impressive Kickstarter I’ve ever backed was John August’s Writer Emergency Pack Kickstarter… because of its massive success and because he had his act together, John was able to get rewards out to backers a few weeks after the campaign ended, months earlier than promised.  THAT was impressive, and one of the biggest tips I have for creators going to Kickstarter is under promise and over deliver.

What kinds of new lessons are you still learning with each crowdfunding campaign?

So much! The platform is ever evolving. Back in 2012, not only did you have to sell your product, but you had to sell the concept of the platform of Kickstarter itself, and educate potential backers on how it all works.  It’s nice not to have to do so much of that anymore, as Kickstarter has slipped more into the mainstream consciousness.

But there are still things I’m learning and working on.  “Cracking the code” of the “Kickstarter Deadzone”… that period in the middle of a campaign where pledges and momentum stalls after a big open and before a huge close… that’s something I’m still working on.

Another thing I’m excited about is a new podcast I’ll be debuting next month called ComixLaunch: Crowdfunding Your Comics and Graphic Novels on Kickstarter…and Beyond! I get asked about Kickstarter more than just about anything else, and the articles on Kickstarter are the most read things on ComixTribe.com.  So, I’m hoping to dive deeper with a weekly podcast laser focused on this stuff, and hopefully provide a lot of value.

Right now, more than half of all comic book Kickstarter projects fail. I know how much ink, sweat, and tears goes into creating comics and then running a campaign, so those stats are gutting to me.

But I’m very optimistic that ComixLaunch can help improve those numbers. I’ve had dozens of creators personally thank me for the Kickstarter resources I’ve posted on ComixTribe.com, and I’ll be able to go even more in-depth on the pod. Also worth noting, backers of THE STANDARD Kickstarter will be treated to an advanced listen of the first episode of the podcast.

On a practical level, is the purpose of the ComixTribe website, which features as much new content as most comics news websites, primarily to drive sales of your comics?

One of my favorite quotes is by Zig Zigler, who famously said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Success in business (and life) is directly correlated to the amount of value you bring to the world. So I get up every day trying to think about how I can best serve the comics community. The natural by-product of that is growth for ComixTribe. It is the epitome of a win win.

Now, when Steve Forbes (affable curmudgeon and ComixTribe Editor-In-Chief) and I first started ComixTribe on 1-1-2011, we didn’t have any comics to sell! We were both writing content for other people’s sites and decided to join forces and launch our own. We both have the heart (and in my case, the background and expensive degrees) of a teacher, and really do love helping other creators make better comics.

In fact, THE STANDARD is a true ComixTribe success story, as it was Steven Forbes who helped John Lees shape his rough concept into the polished gem it is today.  Let that be a lesson to all you new writers out there… if you want to increase the odds that your first comic book project is publishable, HIRE AN EDITOR!

After you figure out the basics of this comics game, every creator and every small publisher should devote considerable effort into picking their edges. By that I mean figuring out what makes them unique? Why should anyone give a damn?  What do they want to be known for?

Opening the ComixTribe kimono, so to speak, and being transparent about our successes, lessons learned, struggles and triumphs in the form of articles on ComixTribe.com has definitely helped distinguish us from other small comics publishers out there.

At the same time, as we’ve grown, and really expanded our titles, it’s been tough to balance serving both creators who are interested in our advice and readers who love our books.  While there is certainly some overlap between the two audiences, and our peers are also some of our biggest supporters, it is a challenge to be viewed as both an imprint and a web resource.

But my purpose in life is to educate and to entertain, so I’ll likely always have a toe in both pools.

Have you considered adding revenue streams like advertising or sponsorships?

Adding revenue streams has been a core focus of ComixTribe over the past few years, and is certainly one of my primary focuses this year.

Here’s a little infographic showing where the ComixTribe revenue comes from, and when we’ve added those streams to our business, and relatively how important those streams are to our business right now.

ComixTribe Revenue Streams 2015(1)

If we had to rely on any one of those streams, we’d be dead in the water.  The magic is in diversification.

Over the past couple months, I’ve been making a concerted effort to look for new partnerships, whether that be advertising, sponsorships, or affiliates that can bring value to our readers.

I spend at least ten minutes every day thinking of at least ten new ideas… ideas on everything from ways to sell more comics, to creators I want to work with, to things I love about my wife, to ideas for new lists of ideas… the list itself isn’t so important. The important thing is exorcising that idea muscle.

That practice is training me to see connections and solve problems more instinctively than before… granted most of the ideas I come up with are ridiculous and wrong for me. But it only takes a couple gems to make a significant difference in life and business.

So, yes, we’re adding new revenue streams and always looking for new potential partners, and you’ll see some of those come to life in the near future.

What are your other priorities?

Right now, ComixTribe’s top focus is readership growth.

That means increasing our direct connection with readers and the best way to do that is to get our books into readers’ hands.

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Free Comic Book Day 2015 was a huge win for us.  We increased our reader email subscribers by about 50% thanks to the 50,000 copies of AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE #0 that were given out.

And everyone who subscribes to our list gets hooked up with the first issue of our five top titles, so that’s really our single best play to turn strangers into raving fans.

But readers aren’t enough… increasing the number of retailers carrying our books is also one of my top priorities.

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Art by Alex Cormack

I’ve set a goal to double our direct market sales for our next series OXYMORON: The Loveliest Nightmare from our previous best seller.  And I’ve already committed to a print run that’s double what we printed for EMILY #1, even prior to getting our Diamond orders… so the boats have been burned, there’s no turning back, now!

Most of the comics put out by ComixTribe are about superheroes. Do you think that will change given that And Then Emily Was Gone, arguably Comixtribe’s biggest success, wasn’t?

It’s true that the first four titles we introduced to the market were all superhero books, or at least twists on the superhero genre. Joe Mulvey’s SCAM for example, is a capes books where the capes were replaced with conman capers.

But I think it’s important not to confuse where ComixTribe chose to start, with where we’re going.  Let’s remember that Image Comics, widely regarded as one of the most diverse and respected publishers today, started exclusively with superhero books.

And there’s a reason for that, right? Most creators were initially drawn to the medium by superheroes. Tracing cool panels featuring Spider-man at eight years old was my gateway into drawing my own comics.

When I first approached artist Cesar Feliciano about collaborating, I pitched him five different concepts… but he was most interested in doing THE RED TEN, a team superhero book, something he’d always dreamed of doing. (And that was the one I was hoping he’d dig as well.)

One of the great things about ComixTribe is that all the books we publish are, first and foremost, books we ourselves want to read.

And  at 36 years old, I’m still not ashamed to say I love a good superhero yarn.

That said, I haven’t greenlit a new superhero project under the ComixTribe banner in a couple years now, and would have to have my socks blown off by a pitch to do so.

The new OXYMORON series actually takes the character who debuted in THE RED TEN, and strips away any and all superhero trappings.  The high concept for the series that’s been generating a lot of buzz is asking readers to “Imagine The Joker came to a Gotham WITHOUT Batman.”  So, this series is more police procedural and cerebral horror thriller than anything else.

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Art by Alex Cormack

Likewise, we’ve got EXIT GENERATION from Sam Read and Caio Oliveira, a previously self-published gem from the UK, which is an all-ages sci-fi book with a punk rock ethos coming out later this fall.

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Art by Caio Oliveira

Joe Mulvey’s next series, CounterTERROR, which we are soft-launching at the 2015 Boston Comic Con, is a political thriller mashed up with a paranormal action popcorn flick.  Think “What if Jack Bauer was a Ghostbuster?” 

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Art by Joe Mulvey

And I fully expect Ryan K Lindsay (Negative Space, Headspace) and Sami Kivelä’s unannounced new surf noir book to raise the bar for ComixTribe again in 2016.

We also have a couple new anthology projects I’m very excited about coming up that take us into new exciting new genres.

In short, we unabashedly love superhero comics at ComixTribe, but we’re about a lot more than spandex.  

Do you have aspirations to work with publishers other than ComixTribe?

I think most people who make comics would be lying if they told you they didn’t want the opportunity to work on the icons and make a contribution to the great comic book universes that they grew up loving.

Every creator has a Spidey story, or a Batman story, or I don’t know, a Howard the Duck tale, they’d love the opportunity to tell.

For me, it was Image Comics that really ignited my passion for creating comics, so having a book with an Image “i” on the cover has long been a goal for me. (You can listen to me fanboy gush over Erik Larsen when he was a guest on the Final Issue Podcast.)

So, sure, if given the right opportunity, I’d jump at the chance to work with legendary publishers.

But that’s not the endgame for me.

It’s an interesting time in comics.  Marvel and DC, they have great talent working for them, sure. But the absolute best talent in comics are no longer found there… or at least no longer found EXCLUSIVELY there. Millar, BKV, Staples, Kirkman, Adlard, Ottley, Brubaker, Phillips… the cream of the crop all realized that the ceiling at the Big Two was far too low for their talents.

And that’s a great thing, I think, for the industry, and for comics in general.

How do you plan on continuing to grow ComixTribe?

One reader, shop, and creator at a time.

I sold my first comic at age 14 out of my backpack in school. (9 copies sold at a $1 a piece!)

Since then, ComixTribe has managed to get more than 200,000 copies of books printed and out there into the world. (Sorry, trees!) And as crazy as that number is to me, it still means we’re just a guppy in the comics industry ocean.

Still, ComixTribe has doubled its revenue every year for the past four years.

We are poised to double again this year, as long as we continue to execute.

It’s been a long, hard road to get here… a barely profitable, low six-figure business, that reinvests 100% of profits back into itself.

But it’s still early days for us.  We’re maybe on mile two of our comics marathon.

And I see the roadmap…

I know exactly what we need to do to take ComixTribe to a somewhat profitable seven-figure business, and beyond.

(This is the part where I knock on wood… and remind myself of the danger of “best laid plans” and that I could be hit by a bus or a falling anvil at any moment.)

But it’s not rocket science. And it’s not all that complicated…

The closest thing I have to a success formula goes something like this: P + A + I + N + T = S

Passion + Action + Integrity + a Network + Talent = Success.

I firmly believe that if you have all of those ingredients, the only variable in your success is TIME.

Because the truth is, those ingredients, even when found in copious amounts, do take a while to cook.

And if you’re not currently as successful as you want to be… you may be lacking one or more of those elements, and that is where you should be putting your focus.

We need a new name for it because “The Golden Age” is taken… but these are the halcyon days for being a comic book creator.   

Over the next few years, we’re going to get a million ComixTribe comics into readers’ hands.

We’re going to continue to add tremendous value to the comic creator community, through continuing the awesome free content on ComixTribe.com, and through podcasts and other educational products and ventures.

And we’re going to work directly with at least one hundred creators, and help a bunch of them break into the direct market for the first time.

How is ComixTribe going to do all this?

Well, I’ve got a plan, but I’m nimble, and will be figuring it out as I go along.

And you can be sure I’ll be doing it transparently and in plain sight, as I’ve done from ComixTribe’s inception…

So, just watch.


MATT CHATS is a weekly interview series with a person of prominence and/or value in the comic book industry. Find its author, Matt O’Keefe, on Twitter and Tumblr. Email him with questions, comments, complaints and/or suggestions praise at matt@mattwritesstuff.com.

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