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§ High Moon, the werewolf/cowboy comic by David Gallaher and Steve Ellis is back. After running on DC’s Zuda webcomic site (remember that?) and seeing a print edition, four new pages will be posted every Monday, in a mobile responsive interface, and available on Tapastic and Comixology as well. Nerdist has a preview , and artist Ellis, who’s also drawing the Better Call Saul comics for AMC, did a Reddit ama yesterday. The story involves bounty hunter and Pinkerton agent Matthew Macgregor investigating the spooky goings on in a Texas town seeing hard times while trying to hide his own supernatural secret. This is a good looking comic!
§ Broken Frontier examines Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch in 2015, namely Rozi Hathaway, Jess Milton, Danny Noble, Emma Raby, Alice Urbino and Adam Vian. I didn’t know any of these creators but now we know who to watch for!
§ Multiversity’s Small Press Spotlight month has wrapped.
§ The comic-Con experience is coming to every corner of this nation of ours. The second Camden Comic Con takes place March 7 at the Camden Rutgers campus:
Camden Comic Con, an annual convention that celebrates the art and culture of comic books, returns to Rutgers University-Camden for a second time on Saturday, Mar. 7. This year’s event will feature nearly 100 vendors and a host of special guest comic creators, artists and writers, such as Dave Bullock, Bryan Glass, Shawn Martinborough and Mark McKenna. Get ready to geek out on a full day of workshops and forums. There will be demos and workshops on comic art, lettering and character design, as well as special effects make-up.
….and there’s even a Fargo-Moorhead Comic Con for North Dakotan fans:
Graphic novel fans won’t have to wait months to get their fantasy fix as the Fargo-Moorhead Comic Con delivers this weekend. Illustration fans can check out vendors selling books, games, videos and more, like a costume contest for kids and adults. The fun runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., then again from 7 p.m. to midnight on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday at Baymont Inn & Suites, 3333 13th Ave. S., Fargo.
§ Various tish and tosh over the superhero tedium evinced at the Oscars. While everyone was turning up their noses at the way superhero films have taken over Hollywood, even as NINE of the 20 acting nominees have played roles in superhero films. James Gunn, who has taken his place as the nerd auteur, was first to spring to the defense.
Whatever the case, the truth is, popular fare in any medium has always been snubbed by the self-appointed elite. I’ve already won more awards than I ever expected for Guardians. What bothers me slightly is that many people assume because you make big films that you put less love, care, and thought into them then people do who make independent films or who make what are considered more serious Hollywood films. I’ve made B-movies, independent films, children’s movies, horror films, and gigantic spectacles. I find there are plenty of people everywhere making movies for a buck or to feed their own vanity. And then there are people who do what they do because they love story-telling, they love cinema, and they want to add back to the world some of the same magic they’ve taken from the works of others. In all honesty, I do no find a strikingly different percentage of those with integrity and those without working within any of these fields of film.
Badass Digest also pointed out the hypocrisy
It was destined to be an awards season heavy on superhero hate when Birdman became the front runner. After all, this movie starring some people who were bankable enough to get the film made because of their work in superhero movies was all about the idea that the bad side of Hollywood – the blockbuster side – was killing art. Or something. I’m not really sure what the movie was trying to say about that stuff, except that it’s bad. Superheroes are bad, and Birdman proves it by making one of its best scenes an action battle and another a flying sequence.
But Sujay Kumar at The Daily Beat ponders How Superhero Movies Lost Their Humanity
while suggesting Sam Raimi’s 2004 Spider-Man 2 was the highpoint of the genre and it’s been callow thrills since then.
To be honest, SM2 WAS a highpoint, and since then the Marvel Studios formula which dominates the genre has evolved into a fairly generic stylistic mold, even while allowing for some genre departures like Guardians of the Galaxy and The Winter Soldier. Entertainment is entertainment, but Kumas has a point that I’ve often made here as well: Spider-Man 2 was about a young man trying to keep his girl, while superheroics kept intruding, while every current MCU movie is about saving the world/universe. It’s kind of refreshing to switch now and then to the Fox/Mark Millar formula that involves more personal angst.
At any rate, I think most of this anxiety stems from the 20-30 superhero movies coming at us from now until 2020. That is plenty of time for the spandex set to overstay their welcome.
§ In such a milieu, it is refreshing to leave them wanting more, and that’s just what happened with Agent Cater. After an 8-episode run that gained a very fervent following—and blew Agents of Shield out of the water for quality—the show’s future is uncertain. an who’d like to see more are urged to follow the instructions in this post. Myself, I’d rather see another quality 8 episodes mini season than water it down with universe saving.
§ SPACE, the long running small press show located in Columbus, is moving to a new venue and time frame this year: July 18 &19, 2015 at the Northland Performing Arts Center. The date is the weekend after San Diego, which is not ideal, but SPACE had no choice, as organizer Bob Corby explains in an email:
The hotel which hosted the show for the past 5 years has closed its door. This was done without any notification and less than a week after they assured us we were all set for our original contracted date. We knew the hotel was having problems and were about to sign a contract with the Northland Performing Arts Center for 2016 when the closure occurred so we contacted them about a date this year. NPAC’s next open date was July 18 &19, 2015. With the support of the vast majority of our exhibitors we accepted the date. We are sorry for any inconvenience this causes anybody especially all our exhibitors and ticket holders. The exhibitors were contacted the day after we were aware of the situation. We are refunding money to any exhibitors or ticket holders if they cannot attend on the new dates. We really appreciate the overwhelming support we have received form exhibitors and other business contacts we have advertising deals with.
On the plus side the new venue has more space and will fit more exhibitors so we have opened up sale of exhibitor tables again. Info on the new venue is at http://www.npac614.com/index.asp.
The show is still in good financial shape and the transition should not be difficult thanks to Brain Kerr NPAC’s general manager. We also like to thank all the hotel employees who were very good to us for the past 5 years and are probably real victims in this closing. We wish them the best of luck in the future.
From here out only positive news as we look forward to a new era for SPACE!
While holding any comics related show in July is problematic, we’re guessing that the Comic-Con/SPACE crossover of attendees and exhibitors is very small.
§ Speaking of small presses, just about the most daring and exciting on around is Breakdown Press which consistently puts out some of the most forward looking comics available. Matt Colgeate talks with Tom Oldham, Simon Hacking, and Joe Kessler
about art and business:
Do you have anyone handling your distribution?
S: We have very good relationships with quite a lot of stores here and in the states, that we’ve generated by emailing them and meeting them at shows, which is how we do our distribution at the moment. We are in the process of organizing more sophisticated distribution networks.
T: The big offset books get printed and we send them out to our network of shops. We’re working on getting national and international distribution. But with the risograph books it’s different depending on the artist and the project.
S: There’s obviously an economy of scale, so we print significantly more of the offset books than the risograph books, which brings the unit cost down which means we can afford for the distributor to take a bigger chunk. Some of the risograph books – in fact most of them – we couldn’t distribute because it would be too much money considering all the discounts you have to give. It astonishes me how many small publishers you speak to that don’t operate under those assumptions.
§ The nominees for the Bram Stoker Awards® 2014 have been announced and here’s the comics category:
Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel
Emily Carroll – Through the Woods (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
Joe Hill – Locke and Key, Vol. 6 (IDW Publishing)
Joe R. Lansdale and Daniele Serra – I Tell You It’s Love (Short, Scary Tales Publications)
Jonathan Maberry – Bad Blood (Dark Horse Books)
Paul Tobin – The Witcher (Dark Horse Books)
§ Comic-Con announcedtheir fourth wave of guests:
Michael Cho, Writer/artist, Shoplifter
Tom Grummett, Artist, Fantastic Four, X-Men Forever, Teen Titans
Chip Kidd, Designer/author, Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz, Batman: Death by Design
Jen Sorenson, Editorial cartoonist
Bernie Wrightson, Artist, Swamp Thing, Frankenstein
§ A few days ago we told you about Space Goat’s new line of comics ; now they’ve announced that industry veteran Dave Olbrich joining them as Senior Vice President – Publishing & Business Affairs. Olbrich’s resume includes helping found Malibu Comics and founding publisher of Image Comics.
“Shon and I have been talking extensively about the evolution of the comics market and the changes in the readership in recent years,” Olbrich said. “The audience for the kinds of comics Space Goat will publish is growing, and I’ll be working to streamline the ways we can reach readers and retailers.”
§ Bleacher Creatures is putting out fuzzy DC characters. Huggable Harley. Here’s the complete line-up:
MAY (comic book line)
JULY (film line)
Superman from Superman
Batman from Batman (1989 Theatrical Film)
Batman from The Dark Knight Trilogy
Superman from Man of Steel
Zod from Superman
Zod from Man of Steel
AUGUST (TV line)
The Arrow from Arrow
The Penguin from Gotham
The Flash from The Flash
How Crazy Am I to Think I Know Where MH370 Is? — NYMag
§ Just to finish up the Oscars, which everyone has probably already forgotten —I had to look up what won Best Picture last year — DO YOU REMEMBER? Hint: it wasn’t Gravity — cartoonist Liza Donnelly live drew them on her twitter feed, and got a big write up in her local paper about it, and also did some nice drawings.
§ That said, Birdman winning is a real sign that Hollywood is in such a tizzy that the rules have changed. In the olden days, something like Unbreakable (with a less contentious director) would have been a lock. There were so many mixed messages about superhero films—Birdman’s win is definitely part of the resentment against “comic book movies” but about 70% of the presenters have one on their resume. Also, “Everything is Awesome” was awesome. Devo and Batman!
§ Meanwhile, cartooner Amy Reeder got the New York Times how do you spend your day? treatment. Hint: Karaoke is involved as the above drawing by Reeder suggests.
§ And G. Willow Wilson was interviewed on NPR about the new A-Force book.
§ Speaking of Marvel, in his weekly fireside chat, Axel Alonso summed up the changing tastes of the readership in response to Albert Ching’s question:
Marvel’s May 2015 solicitations came out on Tuesday, and while there weren’t necessarily a ton of surprises — most of the big news was announced in the days and weeks before — when looking at them as a whole, it’s striking to me that with “Secret Wars” beginning, we’re seeing things that are staples of the Marvel lineup — “Avengers,” “New Avengers” — not around for a bit, along with fewer X-books. Basically, fewer of the things that are seen as “sure things” at Marvel, and in their places are new concepts, and different takes on revisited concepts. What’s the mindset at Marvel of the risk/reward of giving a rest to some of these tried and true concepts, and bringing out some different material — has Marvel become confident that’s a worthwhile risk to undertake?
Alonso: We have. And the proof that it’s worth undertaking is in the numbers. Who could have predicted the response to “Spider-Gwen?” We’ve sold upwards of 250K. And the numbers on Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez’s “All-New Hawkeye” #1 and Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones’ “Howard the Duck” #1 are also ridiculous. I think all of this is a symptom of a changing market — the changing tastes and changing demographics of our readers. I also think it speaks to the confidence that retailers and fans have in the strength of our publishing line at this moment.
§ ComicBook.com named the five worst Superhero movies ever and Catwoman and Superman IV are locks, but what about the other three?
§ I’ve already referred to the incident where 11-year-old girl Rowan Hansen complained about DC’s lack of female superheroes, and DC responded back in the affirmative. BUT THE PR DIDN”T END THERE! Hansen actually appeared on the Today Show to talk about her letter, and DC sent her a very swell portrait of her as a superhero by Dan Panosian. But Hansen is one media savvy kid. She knows that one big PR event isn’t a solution:
“I don’t want people to think, ‘Oh they responded to her, now it’s over,’” she explained. “I want people to keep trying to make this happen ‘cause it’s really important to me.”
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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I went through the old mailbag and found some newsy bits I had previously missed.
§ IDW’s CEO/Publisher Ted Adams is joining the Board of Directors for Traveling Stories, a San Diego based non profit that builds libraries in poor cities around the world and provides story coaching at travelling story tents. Okay does it get better than that? you can find out more and how to help here.
“I’ve always been an avid reader, even when I was little. As a publisher, I’m excited to give kids in underprivileged areas around the world the same literary experience I was lucky enough to have,” Adams stated.
With this development, Adams has a platform for sharing his lifelong passion for reading on a global scale and further expanding IDW’s reach in the book-loving community.
If you want to join Adams in supporting Traveling Stories, visit www.travelingstories.org to sign up for updates about the organization and initiatives he is working on. You can also join him in becoming a Reading Warrior and donating $10 per month so Traveling Stories can continue to give children access to books. For a limited time, those who become a Reading Warrior will receive a free Traveling Stories t-shirt of their choice and a free IDW book.
§ Michael Golden is creating limited edition variant covers for The Walking Dead #1 which are available at various Wizard Worlds. Here’s the latest, for Wizard World Comic Con Indianapolis, February 13-15. Everyone gets one FREE (While supplies last). VIP attendees will receive an additional black & white sketch version of the comic.
§ Visionary Comics is running a kickstarter for a comic book called The Cackler. It’s amazing that no one came up with that name before. The world needs a Cackler. (And it’s already been funded.)
§ Viz has announced a new Hello Kitty original graphic novel HELLO KITTY: IT’S ABOUT TIME, with art by Jacob Chabot, Ian McGinty, Jorge Monlongo, and Giovanni Castro, and special guest artist Erica Salcedo. “Past, present or future, Hello Kitty and her friends are having a blast!”
§ Artist Paul Rivoche dropped us a line to let us know he won both the Gold and Silver medals in the “Graphic Novels/Comic Books category of the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles (SILA) Illustration West 53 competition. (All winners shown here.)
The Gold award is for the cover to my graphic novel collaboration with Amity Shlaes and Chuck Dixon, “The Forgotten Man Graphic Edition”, adapting her bestseller of the same name. The other, Silver award, is for my two-page comic contribution titled “Little Nemo In Planeland”, which I wrote and drew for “Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream”, published by Locust Moon Press.
§ Toy Fair is coming!!! Oh boy. Dark Horse will debut a new bust of Criminal Macabre’s Cal McDonald there. It’s designed by William Paquet. Cal MacDonald was created by Steve Niles and he’s a hardboiled supernatural investigator type.
The bust measures a big 14 inches tall. Packaged in a full-color box, with a certificate of authenticity signed by both Niles and Paquet, this hand-painted, numbered piece is limited to only 375 copies. Available August 2015 for $149.99.
The prototype will be revealed at the Dark Horse booth, #4837, at Toy Fair 2015, held February 14–17 at Jacob Javits Center in New York City.
Additionally, Dark Horse will produce a special rare winged Cal McDonald variant bust.
§ A lot more Toy Fair news and previews can be found at the Idle Hands blog.
§ FROZEN…one of the most successful and beloved movies of all time, #5 on the ALL TIME WORLDWIDE BOF OFFICE LIST. And of course, there will be more Forozen, starting with with short “Frozen Fever,” in which Anna’s birthday is threatened by a COLD, which sends her powers into sneeze mode. Can Elsa and Kristoff makes sure it’s jjsut a big party? (Maybe they should call Hello Kitty.) Here’s some stills and a featurette. The short debuts on March 13th in front of Cinderella, and the gang is all back: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad and directors Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee.
§ Finally: ComicsPRO the annual retailer meeting is also coming, and Valiant came up with perhaps the best promotion evah: Ninjak boxcutters. Might be tought to fly with those, so be sure to put them in CHCKED BAGGAGE.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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§ Ugh DISTURBING pictures in the link of a guy who cut off his nose and got horrible tattoos and implants so he could look like a disfigured comic book character. People are strange.
§ Viz is bringing out an attractive hardcover editions of Hirohiko Araki’s JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE: PART 1 – PHANTOM BLOOD, a much liked and very strange manga.
In the series’ opening volume, young Jonathan Joestar’s (JoJo) life is changed forever when he meets his new adopted brother, Dio. For some reason, Dio has a smoldering grudge against him and derives pleasure from seeing him suffer. But every man has his limits, as Dio finds out, and thus begins a long and hateful relationship!
I got a review copy of this and I look forward to sitting down and reading it.
§ It was hourly comic day last weekend and some people did draw comics all day, like Raina Telgemeier.
§ And Sophia Foster-Dimino
§ Meanwhile, Carolyn Belefski drew comics for the White House.
§ I saw this headline “Bastian talks ‘Nain Rouge’ during event at Green Brain Comics” and thought, what a new book by JEREMY BASTIAN the amazing creator of Rogue Pirate Girl, and got real excited, but then I read
“Royal Oak-native Bastian has become one of the foremost scholars on the the mythos of the legend since he started researching it for a book several years ago. He spoke in depth on the topic at a recent book signing at Green Brain Comics for his newly released graphic novel titled simply “Nain Rouge.” It was the first time working in the graphic medium for Bastian, who has also authored a trilogy of young adult books based on the legend.”
and I realized it was JOSEF Bastian, who made a graphic novel about a local cryptozoological legend. Two guys named Bastain in Michigan…crazy.
§ At Paste magazine, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki take their victory lap after their historic honors in the Caldecott and Printz prizes
Paste: Right, in 2007. And this past fall you also picked up the first Governor General Award for Children’s Literature Illustration given to a graphic novel. What does it mean to you to be recognized for non-comic-exclusive awards?
Jillian Tamaki: I think that’s great. I think that by being recognized by, say, library associations — and it’s great to be recognized by comics people as well — I think it just means that a wider variety and range of people are reading comics, which I think is a good thing for creators and the medium itself.
Mariko Tamaki: I think that comics have been kind of emerging in stages. One way to say it is that it’s a fad and publishers are getting interested in graphic novels, but I think in the larger scheme that more readers are collectively understanding that there’s a variety of ways to absorb a story. And comics being included with other literary awards is sort of a nice recognition that comics are literary, and as much as they’re beautiful, that they also can tell complex stories, which a lot of comics before this have been able to do.
§ Another con with a dubious marketing campaign.
§ Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo came out and admitted ‘We suck at dealing with abuse’ displaying the kind of far sighted observational skills that earn you a $11.5 million a year in stock options. In an internal memo that was leaked he wrote:
I’m frankly ashamed of how poorly we’ve dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It’s absurd. There’s no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It’s nobody else’s fault but mine, and it’s embarrassing. We’re going to start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them.
The big question for me is whether this surpasses or merely equals Roger Goodell in the “What CEO can get the most po’foced over abuse he didn’t want to see for years.” I’d say far surpasses, because the Twitter abuse thing is so out of control beyond anything anyone with any sense of customer service, let alone human decency, would tolerate. I wonder how Costolo would feel if his daughter or mother got abuse such as Anita Sarkeesian documented, and is super common for people (male and female) who speak on certain topics on Twitter. I only get tweets like this very occasionally, but even one can be enough to take the wind out of your sails. So good for you, Dick Costolo, maybe twitter shouldn’t be a free for all for abusive ***holes.
§ Last week marked the one year anniversary of Ms. Marvel #1 and…well it was quite a year. There’s been a tumblr celebration, which Brigid Alverson sums up, including some thoughtful essays on what the character means. The AV Club’s Oliver Sava also took a look:
It’s a been a year since Kamala “Ms. Marvel” Khan’s ongoing series debuted at Marvel Comics, and it’s safe to say that she’s made a huge impact on the current landscape of superhero comics. There’s been a considerable rise in superhero titles targeted to younger female readers—from DC’s Batgirl, Gotham Academy, and Supergirl to Marvel’s The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and the upcoming Spider-Gwen—and while Kamala can’t take all the credit, she’s certainly been leading the charge. Her introduction was heralded by lots of hype thanks to her status as the first Muslim character to headline a Marvel series, but Ms. Marvel has become one of the industry’s best titles because it’s an outstanding superhero comic created with confidence, intelligence, and a lot of style.
Art above by Jake Wyatt
, the cover to Ms. Marvel #14.
§ It was a huge Friday for comics news, obvs. Steve Morris has a fine overview of the New 24 and the creators and characters involved. Chris Sims looks at The Three Weirdest Comics From DC’s Upcoming Lineup—Bat-Mite, Prez and Section Eight—while Tom Bondurant looks back at the New 52. Ah, the New 52.
Accordingly, it’s time to let “The New 52″ — the title, that is — fade into the mists of comics history. It started with a bang, and it was hardly perfect, but it altered the super-comics landscape in ways which are still being felt. For all its faults, the “New 52″ moniker represented a concerted, line-wide effort to reach out to readers of all kinds — a promise to comics fans everywhere, whether DC realizes it or not, that it would produce something for each of them.
§ While The View biffed Marvel’s planned A-Force rollout, while I was in a taxi on Friday night (no crawling over black ice for me) A-Force was on the news feed. The last time I saw that was when the lesbian Batwoman was announced in 2006. So Marvel did get some mileage out of it.
§ Speaking of A-Force I’m looking forward to the Singularity cosplay.
§ Cartoonist A. Degan will be getting some attention soon with the release of Mighty Star in April, and he gets interviewed at Darling Sleeper:
Writing a comic that has words in it is a new technique for me. Though I don’t know if that’s anything novel for most readers of comics. This fall I put out a book from Sonatina called Junior Detective Files which I call a comic, but maybe makes more sense to call an “illustration book”. I was trying to tell a story, a very open-ended and dream-like story, through one page illustrations. It felt like a new thing for me, I was trying to push the limits on implied narrative, and I think it was successful. I’m thinking of trying to experiment with drawing comics with a brush soon. I used to paint in gouache and watercolor but found that it didn’t scan very well. But that was a while ago and I think scanner technology is better now.
§ Wizard World debuted in Madison, WI this weekend and Aaron Conklin has an entertaining diary that, like most of these con reports, mentions celebs and cosplay but not comics;
Frank qualifies as the Madison con’s most ubiquitous celebrity presence — or, if you’re feeling a little more cynical, its resident media whore. In addition to tonight’s event, Frank is part of a paid meet-and-greet event each of the event’s three days, and he spends a lot of his time tonight talking up his karate training classes and new reality show — that and showing off his tats. The vibe’s a little breezier for William Kircher, the New Zealand actor who plays the jam-loving dwarf Bifur in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy. The man wins major style points for gamely warbling a line or two from “Misty Mountain Song.”
But it’s something Ferrigno says toward the end of his stage time that rings truest: Without that cheesy-ass, low-budget TV version of The Hulk — and his menacing but campy performance in it — we might not have Mark Ruffalo playing a CGI-ified version of Marvel’s Jolly Green Giant today. And we definitely wouldn’t be gathering to celebrate a mainstream pop culture universe where the Hulk is just one of a thousand points of superhero, and sci-fi, light.
§ A Finnish graphic novel is being translated into Berber, a language spoken across much of Africa. Aɣeṛṛabu n ugafa (”The Yacht of the North”) is about mid-19th century Russo-English researchers exploring the Arctic Ocean. Will this be of interest to Berber-speakers?
”They were looking to publish a comic in Berber,” says Koskela. “The language group is quite young, so there isn’t much literature – and no graphic novels.” Koskela says the connection with the Algerian publisher was born through FILI, the Finnish Literature Exchange, which acts as a go-between for authors and translators. The publisher and Amarouche both felt that Koskela’s book was a good fit for the Berber language market.
Comics are everywhere.
I love Emily Flake for The New Yorker.
§ By chance, two websites have been devoting some time to overviews of…non Big Two Comics I guess you could call ‘em. Multiversity is running Small Press Month and offers A Brief History of Alternative Comics by Drew Bradley which offers a pretty good run down of the journey from Zap to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with stops for Arcade and The Comics Journal:
Naturally, this wasn’t a clean transition, and the term was applied retroactively to books after the shift had occurred. Like the undergrounds, alternative (or simply ‘alt’) comics were set apart from mainstream content by their target audience (20+ adults), their higher production quality, and their black and white art. Similarities aside, alt comics differed from undergrounds in two major ways. First, while underground comics had focused on shocks and rule breaking, alt comics made a concerted effort to have meaning and value. Second, and deriving directly from the first, was a greater acceptance of alt comics in the fast growing number of comic specialty shops, a place where underground never made much headway. When Phil Seuling and his Sea Gate Distribution turned those shops into the direct market as it’s known today, the alternatives had large industry access without large industry costs.
In another piece called Different Viewpoints
, a discussion of just what is “alternative” is discussed with tiers and so on.
Meanwhile, at The Mary Sue, Jordan West digs in to Small, Mighty, and Super Weird; or, A Brief Guide to Indie Comics :
So is that what an “indie publisher” is? A small company that puts out weird stories?
Eh. Sort of. Terms like “indie” and “small press” have come to mean anything that’s not Marvel or DC, which doesn’t really mean anything. We already talked about the Creator Owned model and how that distinguishes independent publishers from the Big Two. That, plus the absence of any shared universe or continuity, gives creators greater leverage and more room to move. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but writers in general and comics writers in particular tend to be pretty weird people, so yeah, given enough leeway, they’ll put out some weird freaking stories.
A little broader picture there and much of the article is concerned with Image Comics, which is stretching indie a little. In fact they also mention Archie which is…just…no.
I have to admit, I have an “Indie Comics” category where I kind of lump a lot of things that should be together. A Zenescope is not the same thing as a Drawn & Quarterly. I also have one category called “art comics” and another called “literary comics” and that doesn’t make any sense either.
Today’s comics purchasers, and by extension retailers, are a lot less snobby about publishing labels, I think. Image is definitely the hottest publisher, but creators have bigger followings than labels do.
The day is long past when a Dark Horse or Dynamite is an “indie.” There are The Front of the Books Dark Horse, Dc, IDW, IMage and Marvel” and the “Next Five” as I like to call them, Boom, Dynamite, Oni, Valiant and Avatar. (These are not the next five on Diamond’s chart, because don’t forget Eaglemoss.) And oh yeah, Archie. And Viz. And Zenescope and Titan. These publishers all put out periodical comics and in general have editors who select the personnel for these books. (Oni is kind of not doing that any more, but then, they’ve sort of been in a mutable place for a while.)
Fantagraphics and D&Q and Koyama, AdHouse, Uncivilized, Secret Acres and so on all have a different publishing focus, based on graphic novels, and maybe occasionally the slim pamphlet from a cartoonist who works very slowly. (Optic Nerve and Palookaville, for instance.)
Anyway, someday I need to fix my categories. What is an “art comic” and what is a “literary comic”? Any clues, readers? Paging Frank Santoro.
§ Speaking of Viz, I missed this exciting news that many more of their books are now available on Comixology, with 650 volumes added including
MAGI Vols. 1-10
CASE CLOSED Vols. 1-53
BLACK BIRD Vols. 1-18
THE DRIFTING CLASSROOM Vols. 1-10
HAPPY MARRIAGE?! Vols. 1-10
ITSUWARIBITO Vols. 1-13
MIDNIGHT SECRETARY Vols. 1-7
Everyone will have their own pick from these but mine is, of course, Drifting Classroom by Kauo Umezu. Other Beat picks: Sexy Voice and Robo, Solanin, Sunny by Matsumoto, Children of the Seas…oh it’s all good. (I don’t know if these were available before but I’m just poking around.)
BUT STILL NO URASAWA because he hate digital, I guess. You suck, Urasawa. Not really.
§ Nathan Reese at Complex presents Race and Gender in Comic Books which is a sound overview of all the stuff happening of late, from Ms. Marvel to Milo Manara.
“There’s nothing inherently masculine about telling stories with pictures; there’s nothing inherently masculine about superheroes,” says DeConnick. “In the ’40s and ’50s, there was a book called Calling All Girls that had a circulation of half a million monthly readers. But in the ’50s our industry became hugely dominated by the superhero genres, and comics began to be identified not as a medium, but as a genre, which was one of the first steps to the paring down of the diversity of our readership.”
§ When Emerald City Comic Con teamed up with Reed Pop, Rose City Comic Con, formerly allied with ECCC, was left alone. But it seems its heart will go on, as showrunner Ron Brister says the last event drew 26,000 people:
Rose City is already reaping the benefits of its short-lived partnership. Comic book artists and vendors are now contacting them, booking spots as far out as 2016. As far as financials go, you don’t have to work hard to figure out that 26,000 by $20 a ticket equals a pretty decent profit.
Despite their newfound reputation and skyrocketing popularity, Rose City organizers are looking to keep a reserved approach to growth, Brister said.
§ Former Diamond vp of purchasing Bill Shanes
has joined games company Cryptozoic as a VP,
as has another Diamond alum, John Parker
. That’s a strong line-up for any company.
§ I missed this interview with Jeanine Schaefer, departed Marvel editor, at DC Women Kicking Ass Schaefer left Marvel to move west with her husband, DC editor Mark Doyle, but she left her mark.
I think we’ve discussed the impact that digital can have on changing the demographics of comics – what’s the most interesting thing you saw as digital became a force in the comic business?
Ms. Marvel! Ms. Marvel is a JUGGERNAUT on the app. But I think that reflects the bigger story, which is that there’s an untapped market that’s dying to buy comics. Young women and girls especially are a large percentage of the digital comics market. But the internet has always been a haven for women to create and connect, and as social media and digital distribution becomes bigger, so do women’s voices.
§ Meanwhile, sad news in that the incomparable Zainab Akhtar is cutting back her posting to once a week. NOOOO! But she is writing some reviews fo the AV Club, such as this one on First Year Healthy:
First Year Healthy reads smoothly, its striking art cause for pause and contemplation, offering possibilities and interpretations to be gleaned. It may mean this, it could mean that; it probably means both, and something else besides. And that’s the beauty of DeForge.
§ Do you remember two years ago when a Chicago school decided to pull Persepolis from its curriculum because of a scene of torture? Well, a FOIA request has revealed the rest of the story.
The first e-mail was sent at 12:54 AM on Saturday, March 9, 2013, from Chandra James to Annette Gurley. James was the network chief for a group of elementary schools on the west side. And Gurley is the chief officer of Teaching and Learning, which oversees curricula. “I’ve attached a copy of 2 pages from the book ‘Persepolis’ that was sent to schools,” James wrote. “In my opinion it is not appropriate at all. Please let me know if I can pull the book from my schools.” Her e-mail included attachments to an image from Persepolis that showed a prison guard urinating on a prisoner, and parts in the book where the words “bastard” and “fucked” are used. At 10:13 AM on Saturday, Gurley responded: “By all means, pull them.”
Much more in the link.
§ The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar is in trouble again, after being arrested for a tweet which was critical of a court ruling that convicted the mainopposition political leader of sodomy.
Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque – better known as Zunar – was arrested on Tuesday night, hours after Mr Anwar was jailed for five years in a politically charged sodomy case. “Of course this is a form of intimidation, with the purpose that society does not question the authorities,” Fazlina Rosley, his wife, told AFP. “Zunar will not bow down to this intimidation. He will continue to criticise even if he remains in jail.”
Zunar has been fighting the good fight for free speech for a long time, but it seems Malaysia has a lot of problems with that old freedom thing
, like how you convict sometime to 20 years in jail for “sodomy.”
In recent years, as young voters have defected to the opposition and the government’s power has slipped, prosecutors have filed a raft of cases against critics, including opposition figures, a professor and a cartoonist. In the coming months, the government plans to strengthen and update an archaic sedition law, one of the main tools used to stifle dissenting voices.
This was the second prosecution of Mr. Anwar on a charge of sodomy. He spent six years in prison after a conviction in a separate sodomy trial by a different accuser but was acquitted on appeal in 2004. He has always insisted that the charges were baseless and politically motivated. Human rights groups question whether a law against sodomy should exist at all.
§ Yesterday feathers, panties and twitter feeds were ruffles by this piece in the Guardian entitled When did the comic-book universe become so banal? It was written by an art critic named Jonathan Jones , and while moaning about Scott McCloud and Chris Ware (the poor man’s Paul Klee) it finally came round to true greatness:
Joe Sacco’s drawings are sensitive and considered, rather than briskly stylish. His comics stand out for their passion and purpose. But the standard of true art in comics is surely Robert Crumb.
This Jones chap also wrote recently that “photography is not true art”, so he’s just a troll, folks. One of those annoying, posh high culture trolls, but just a troll. He happened to wander into a bookstore (possibly while wearing a paisley shirt) and had a deadline and…the rest is history. Neil Gaiman got off the most authoritative version of this zinger:
§PS: The Guardian is actually serializing a new work called “The Last Saturday” by this guy named Chris Ware. And it’s pretty neat (Although the interface is a little odd.) My advice to you is to take any time you spent being enraged by Jones and spending it reading the 21 installments of The lAst Saturday instead.
§ Luckily, there were other, actually interesting mainstream pieces on comics over the holiday weekend, such as this report on international publishing from the Taipei International Book Exposition:
Graphic novels allow artists to express their emotions more freely than traditional comics because at the time of their emergence, traditional comics in France had already settled into a certain format, Beaujean said during a graphic novel forum Friday at the Taipei International Book Exhibition.
Johann Ulrich, head of the German publisher Avant-Verlag, said graphic novels are also gaining more recognition in Germany, even though, like in Taiwan, they do not occupy as big a market share as in Japan or France. More German graphic novelists are having their works published, said Ulrich.
His publishing house, for example, publishes around 15 new works per year at present, compared with 10 two years ago, he told CNA.
§ And this Taddy Jamieson piexe from The Sotland Herald suggests that comics are an urban art form that colors how we view our cities:
I’ve been thinking about the comic strip’s urban roots this week after a visit to a small exhibition at the Anise Gallery in London (just around the corner from the Design Museum). Sequential City showcases the work of six small press and indie comic creators: Owen D. Pomery, Alison Sampson, Lando, Hannah Berry, John Riordan and Tim Bird. “Drawing allows us to make sense of the world and through Sequential City we can see how these artists view the modern metropolis,” the gallery argues.
§ Paste Magazine interviewed Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez:
Paste: You don’t really collaborate, but do you discuss the order of stories in Love and Rockets? Does it come together organically? Do you bounce ideas off one another, or do you work pretty much in isolation, apart from some kind of psychic brother link?
Gilbert Hernandez: Sometimes Jaime and I will have similar stories appearing together in Love and Rockets without us knowing it until it’s time to put the finished stories in order. In Love and Rockets #7, we both have a long adventure/fantasy story. Since mine was conceived first, mine goes first in the issue, but it’s usually a matter of what flows best and which stories complement the other. More than ever, these days we usually don’t know what the other is doing until we see the book put together.
Jaime Hernandez: Sometimes two of my stories that sit next to each other will need a large gap in between to help the flow of the drama, so I’ll need a longer Gilbert story to stick in there and vice versa. We work in isolation, but I like to know what Gilbert is up to both as a fan of his work and a person I share the book with.
§ In weekend convention news, the MCM Expo Group’s Midlands Comic Con was a hit:
He said: “From 2007 to 2013 it was just in the one hall. Last year we moved into part of the second hall and we have taken over it completely. “The support from Shropshire and the surrounding area has been amazing. There is a real appetite for it and people who come will come back next year and bring their friends.”
And a couple dressed as Super Mario took the occasion to become engaged at the con.
§ The first Wizard World Indianapolis was held and drew about 5000 people
§ Headline of the day: ‘It’s like Comic-Con… but for cat people’
Sorry there haven’t been any kibbles ‘n’ bits this week. It’s just been too cold at Stately Beat Manor, and that’s the truth. All we want to do is pile on the blankets and chug hot cocoa. But we’ve been storing things up and now there are so many we must break this into sections.
§ Retailer William Insignares of Blockbuster Comics in Brandon, FL was saddened when he found a flood has ruined some of his valuable comics, including a copy of Crisis on Infinite Earths signed by the late Dick Giordano. But he’s determined that the comics live on as something beautiful:
His plan is to now preserve these valuable comics for all to see. “I thought, why not take these valuable pages, beautiful comic art and preserve it forever,” he said. William teamed with his own Avengers from Seriously Fun LLC to redecorate starting with the front door. “What we are going to do is take some of the comic books and fuse them to the front door using a proprietary modge-podge method we use, that way they can be immortalized for life,” said David Noll, co-owner of Seriously Fun, LLC.
§ Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the Borderlands SF book store, which announced plans to close because of California’s new minimum wage law, has come up with a sponsorship plan to keep the store open.
Starting immediately we will be offering paid sponsorships of the store. Each sponsorship will cost $100 for the year and will need to be renewed every year. If we get 300 sponsors before March 31st, we will stay open for the remainder of 2015.
§ Not quite retailing, but the Outhouse looks at the ever increasing cost of comics books with many solicited titles for May going for $4.99
When we last met in this column, I discussed the possibility of giving it up. Five dollar comics routinely top the sales charts, and the most recent round of Big Two solicitations paint an even bleaker picture. Marvel’s solicits list eleven comics at $4.99, with two more at $5.99 and one at $7.99. Of course, as predicted, as $4.99 becomes an accepted “regular” price for comics, we start seeing more “special” comics at six dollars and up. DC, for their part, lists most of their books at $3.99 in their recent solicitations. This is disturbing because DC’s books, prior to the Convergence event, were overwhelmingly priced at $2.99. Will that price point return after Convergence ends and DC soft-relaunches their universe? Or will they use the opportunity to catch up with Marvel in the $3.99/$4.99 pricing bucket? Just this week, we see eight five dollar comics on the stands, and that’s without any from Marvel. Dynamite even has an eight dollar Red Sonja 100th issue spectacular on the stands this week.
§ Often jailed Malaysian cartoonist Zunar will speak before a UN human rights conference in Geneva conference and plans to vilify the current regime:
Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque or ‘Zunar’ as he is popularly known, has been invited as a speaker at the forum to touch on human rights in Malaysia as well as the welfare of cartoonists following the bloody Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris last month. “I will explain in detail… some people think Malaysia is a democratic country but I want to tell and expose how the government uses a law to intimidate and how they use the judiciary to detain a political prisoner,” he said in reference to jailed Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
§ Iranian cartoonist Maya Neyestani was jailed over a cartoon which some in his native country took offense to. he talks to The Comics Journal about this and his new book on the subject:
What is the role of cartoonists in Iran? Do people pay a lot of attention to comics and cartoons?
You know that editorial cartoons depends on the media, and the media in Iran are strictly controlled and censored therefore it is not easy to find a place to present your work as a cartoonist. Also there is no tradition of comic books in Iran for some reasons: it is a risky job for publishers to invest on comics. Books need to get kind of license or permission from ministry of culture to be published and they might be rejected due to their sexual or political or social point of view. As a comic artist you need to spend a huge time for a book and get almost nothing financially. Anyway, people like cartoons if they can access them.
§ Here’s an article someone sent me about comics in Poland, which gives a nice capsule history of their comics tradition. Seriously check this out — some beautiful panels in there. More comics and cartoonists to discover!
The first Polish comics date back to the early 20th century, when the country regained its independence. As a free press started to develop, newspapers included image boxes with text in verse underneath. They were called image films, or stories in images, and were often copies of foreign comics. The comics’ main audience was the uneducated inhabitants of big cities. They dealt with many different topics: social and political affairs or customs, always with a touch of humour. The best known titles are: Ogniem i mieczem, czyli przygody szalonego Grzesia (With Fire and Sword, or the Adventures of Mad Grzes), Przygody bezrobotnego Frącka (The Adventures of Jobless Frącek). The best comics of the period can be found in the Dawny komiks polski album series (edited by comics historian, Dr. Adam Ruska from the National Library of Poland).
That’s a panel from Janusz Christa and Henryk Jerzy Chmielewski’s Kajtek and Koko in Space above.
§ Any piece called The Carl Barks / Osamu Tezuka Connection is right up my alley—two of my personal favorite cartoonists, who separately came up with a similar style based on Disney animation. The piece is byDuy Tano but it’s in support of Peter Schilling Jr.’s Carl Bark’s Ducks is a monograph coming out from Uncivilized. SOLD.
§ When I glanced at this piece on Axel Alonso talking about various Marvel/hip-hop crossovers I thought the first quote was from Alonso and became alarmed. Luckily it was not.
“I grew up reading comics with my dad—my stepdad, but I don’t use that word—he let me just have his comic collection. So this is a very big deal for me, man,” Killer Mike told Rolling Stone. “I look forward to when this shit drops, taking him up and driving him to the comics store in North Dekalb, just to let him get out and not even tell him that it’s going down. I know he’s gonna be so proud he could fuckin’ cry, bruh.”
§ Jill Lepore’s history of Wonder Woman won the annual American History Book Prize.
§ And Olivier Schrauwen and Jaime Hernandez won medals from The Society of Illustrators.
We just received word that two of our new graphic novels have received Society of Illustrator awards in the Long-Form category! Olivier Schrauwen’s surreal look back, forward and beyond Arsene Schrauwen was awarded the gold medal while and Jaime Hernandez’s The Love Bunglers, the apex of the love affair of Maggie and Ray, has received the silver medal!
THINGS THAT HAPPENED
§ June Thomas reports on a recent Matt Groening and Lynda Barry summit.
JIMMY PALMIOTTI AND AMANDA CONNER
§ The duo are interviewed about Harley Quinn and will appear TONIGHT at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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§ Actually, Julian Darius wrote the headline used in this KnB title, but it’s the essential comics match up of all times, right? Also, Winsor McCay wasn’t a very good letterer. IN case you’re wondering where I stand, I love them both, but I’ve always been a Krazy Kat girl—there was just more substance to it.
§ Speaking of great early 20th century comic strips, here’s a write up of Peter Maresca’s recent talk on this topic, which I really wanted to go to, but couldn’t, luckily…here’s a write up by Monica Johnson.
§ In Malaysia, they are introducing the ‘Kampung Boy Award’ to recognize local talent.
Malaysian Cartoonist Club executive council member Ahmad Hilmy Abdullah said the idea to introduce the award was mooted by Malaysian cartoonist icon Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid or Lat, together with other cartoonists in the country. He said with the involvement of many cartoonists and animators in the country’s arts industry now, it was time for such an award to be introduced.
§ This Janelle Asselin interview with Archie Comics Publicity VP Alex Segura is a must read, just because Alex is one of the nicest guys in comics and one of the very, very best at his job. HOW DOES HE DO IT?
CA: What sort of responsibilities are at the top of the list for someone in your career?
AS: You have to be a good communicator, writer and people person. I’ve met people who are very organized, detail-oriented and know a lot about comics, but they can’t have a conversation. That’s fine, but you’re probably not going to be a publicist. Like I said before, you can have all the contacts in the world, but if you don’t know how to talk to them – as honestly as possible – then it’s pointless. Writing skills are key – you have to be able to craft convincing text, whether it’s an email to a reporter, a pitch letter with a review copy or a presentation to your internal staff – you have to know how to string sentences together that are clear, easy to understand and that have a point of view. We’re on a 24-hour news cycle now. I know that’s a tired term, but it’s true. If that email you send to a reporter is long-winded, doesn’t get to the crux of your pitch right away or is confusing, you’ve lost that moment and you may have lost that reporter. Also, if you make a mistake, own up to it. We’re all people, we all have bad days – I think being human in a situation where your job is all about interacting with people inside and outside your office is really important. I’m not perfect at this, but I try to be as understanding as possible. You have to be a social creature. You have to know how to have a conversation with a complete stranger without too many awkward pauses. You should be a good listener, because publicity isn’t just about telling, it’s a conversation. You should go into a pitch knowing that the detailed thing you’re offering isn’t going to come out exactly the way you planned it because it’s going through the filter of someone else. But, knowing that, you should let the people who are also waiting on the story from your side know the chance of this.
§ Graeme McMillan is back at Newsarama? Here he takes down Tim Burton and Grant Morrison for recent pooh-poohing of things they did themselves in the past:
In its way, it’s oddly disheartening to see both men — who, to different degrees, owe much success to the very things they’re campaigning against — make these comments. Part of it is the uncomfortable feeling of gratefulness that ensues, sure, as well as that awkward sense that maybe all creators eventually become curmudgeonly and begrudge that which they’re no longer a part of (See also: Alan Moore, Frank Miller). But even moreso, there’s the fact that, really..? Both men are wrong.
§ Future Wonder Woman director Michelle McLaren is interviewed at Vultere and let’s slip that Wonder Woman hasn’t actually been green lit yet. Ok.
§ Zainab Akhtar looks at The Speed Abater by the great Cristolphe Blain:
I have two favourite books set on ships (it’s a rather specific thing)- Ian Edginton and D’Israeli’s Leviathan, and this. Both manage to convey the monumental size of the engines, the scale of pipes and machines, the heat and grime, the noise, the knots of metal, the atmosphere. Much like spacecraft in sci-fi films like Alien, the ship here is a character in itself, and these are the innards; the belly of the beast which set the tone of what’s to come as the men become lost and confused, delving further into their psyches. Blain’s gone hatching happy in this panel: it’s the first time the men are seeing below deck and the combination of impressive grandeur and realistic depiction is on point- all twisty, bronze pipes, looming space, steam and shade.
I also have a soft spot for comic books set at sea where people slowly go nuts or have horrible, horrible things happen to them, including both of these. Among the others: Mattotti’s Fires, Drew Weing’s Set to Sea (just rereleased), Sammy Harkham’s Poor Sailor, and Tony Millionaire’s Maakies much of the time. There’s also Chris Wright’s Blacklung, which I didn’t enjoy as much because his character designs seemed inexpressive to me. I know that’s part of his style, but it just didn’t work for me.
§ BEST OFS! •Hugh Armitage at Digital Spy has a pretty good list.
• The Vancouver Sun
• Abraham Riesman at Vulture
• And Sean T. Collins who has the most PARTICULAR list I’ve read. That’s a panel from Koch’s Configurations above.
Sex Fantasy, Sophia Foster-Dimino
911 Police State, Mr. Freibert
Baby Bjornstrand, Renee French
Palm Ash, Julia Gfrörer
Configurations, Aidan Koch
§ And for those ready to move on to 2015 (and who isn’t?) the Comics Reporter’s Five For Friday has a bunch of lists of stuff coming out next year people are looking forward to.
§ First second twofer! Gina Gagliano addresses Should You Quit Your Day Job When You Get a Book Deal? and also I interviewed senior Editor Callista Brill for Publisher’s Weekly More to Comic podcast. She talks about the making of The Wrenchies, Andrew the Giant, and Jay Hosler’s upcoming Last of the Sandwalkers, which is all about beetles.
§ I would imagine many folks would be interested in Tips for getting ‘Staff Pick’ on Kickstarter.
§ Cosplay from the The 36 best cosplay from Mumbai Comic Con 2014. Spoiler: it’s good.
§ Peter Jackson is quoted saying he never read a comic book in his life so he can’t direct a comic book movie. Except he’s supposed to direct the next Tintin, isn’t he? I haven’t seen much talk about that in the Hobbit pr tour. Also, I think it is safe to say that Jackson has read Tintin, so…something is amiss.
§ I guess this could be construed as concern trolling, but Bleeding Cool’s makeover is actually a text only “makeunder” that goes back to the good old days of Geocities. YUCK. I mention this so I can quote the Outhouse headline: North Korean Hackers Strike Again, Deface Bleeding Cool’s Website. In protest, I made the image on the Beat’s front page BIGGER.
§ I tend to take the Good E-reader site with a grain of salt but here’s ae-Reader Industry Year in Review
§ TWO from Bob Temuka. A long interview with Dylan Horrocks and a review of the beautiful disgust of Charles Burns: X’ed Out, The Hive and Sugar Skull. The finish of Burns’ “Nitnit trilogy” as I like to call it, was one of the most perfect and amazing books of the year.
§ Finally, Norwegian cartoonist Jason reviews Lethal Weapon.
Final housekeeping of 2014: I keep trying to use WordPress’s new “lite editor interface” but it keeps posting things when I meant to save them as drafts which is why odd things popped up in the feed of late. BETA, people. The new editor does seem to be the way forward—it’s nice not to have to scroll through my huge and arbitrarily nested list of caategories— but the way forward is also a dirt road. I also discovered that the plug in Tumblr Crosspostr created more than 2000 duplicate posts on this site without me noticing. Takeaway: Do not use Tumblr Crosspostr.
§ Happy New Year, everyone!
Final Best of round up:
• A weird but endearing list from The Village Voice with some books I never heard of:
Vincenzo Ferriero and Ray Chou’s Skies of Fire (Mythopoeia, $5) focuses on Captain Helen Pierce, the only officer in the royal fleet of brass and wood dirigibles with the balls to chase bloodthirsty pirates into the Expanse, a realm of perpetual storm clouds and nihilistic gods. This steampunk epic is given believable visual heft by Pablo Peppino’s sweeping vistas and Bryan Valenza’s vintage coloring.
• I loved this list from Shea Hennum atThis Is Infamous because it covered so many things.
• At comics Alliance Steve Morris cared to say the unsayable:
Frank Quitely may be great at drawing people walking around backwards (or whatever was going on in Pax Americana) but The Society of Super-Heroes was the actual best issue of Multiversity this year.
• But I have to be honest, I think I liked Nick Gazin’s list at Vice the best as it veered unselfconsciously from Michael DeForge to Dick Briefer, and included other cartoonists’ favorites AND a sharp interview with Ed Piskor. ALSO, a reminder that Milo Manara can draw the crap out of anything, above.
The 50 Best Comic Book Covers of 2014 from Paste — I like all of these but the list could probably have been 100. That’s Deadpool’s Art of War, Cover Art by Scott Koblish above.
And: The 10 Queerest Moments in Comics of 2014
§ This article about how Fno one remember Avatar just five years later was a bit shocking.
Today is the fifth anniversary of the theatrical release of James Cameron’s 3D action spectacular. Avatar earned rave reviews, went on to become by-far the highest-grossing movie of all time, and won several Oscars. It absolutely almost immediately vanished from the popular zeitgeist leaving almost no pop culture impact to speak of. It did not inspire a passionate following, or a deluge of multimedia spin-offs that has kept the brand alive over the last five years. Few today will even admit to liking it, and its overall effect on the culture at large is basically non-existent. It came, it crushed all long-term box office records, and it vanished almost without a trace.
I guess when you’rea deep sea diving autuer who has time to make toys. I seem to remember this was the first part of a trilogy, but…would anyone want to return to…wherever it was set?
§ Several people in my feed linked to this piece called The Death of the Artist—and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur which does ties up many themes I’ve been mentioning on this site all year but…come on, weren’t folks like Mozart and Picasso entrepreneurs, too? All the tools and socials available mean there is less and less time to be creative, and more and more to promote oneself, but Mozart didn’t have indoor plumbing or a car, and that took up a lot of time, too.
§ Vulture’s Abraham iesman has a very flattering profile of Valiant Entertainment which compares it to Moneyball.
Today Kindt isn’t just a fan — he’s one of the company’s star writers. He’s participating in one of the strangest experiments in comics history: the resurrection of Valiant, a brand that had long been a failure and a punch line. It’s an experiment that involves message boards, mysterious auctions, time-traveling Visigoths, filthy cubicles, and Moneyball. The goal is to create a superhero universe that can challenge Marvel and DC’s supremacy. It’s an experiment that could very well fail. But right now, against all odds, it’s working.
the piece does acknowledge Valiants lack of diversity, which some people think is hurting it in the marketplace.
However, he thinks Valiant still has a big hurdle to overcome: “The only knock I have against them right now is the lack of diversity that is cropping up in their line, both in terms of characters and the creatives behind them.” He has a point: Few of its titles star women (and the ones that do are either team books or limited series), and its creative staff is overwhelmingly male. Even Kindt, who’s currently writing three Valiant series, thinks his company has catching up to do on diversity. He recalled going to his first Valiant writers’ retreat, which was “maybe six or seven guys, and the first thing we said was, ‘We need to get a woman in here, it’s ridiculous.’”
§ It’s long been known that cartoonists David Rees and Michael Kupperman didn’t have a great time when they were cartooning for the New York Times last year, and it ended badly. Now, Kupperman recounts the whole sad story which involves a lot of editorial meddling (or censorship) and not the greatest deal:
Then there was the money. The New York Times- get this- refused to come up from the fee for one artist, which we were to split. We finally got them to come up a little, but only a little. These strips are done in a very short time period- basically between Wednesday night and Friday morning, and I stayed up all night for a couple fo them. We were going to be making very little money, but still, it was an opportunity to do good work, maybe make some statements on serious issues and have them be seen by people. And the Times still stands for something in peoples’s minds, some kind of editorial quality.
Of course, it didn’t work out at all; their nitpicking, antiquated style of editing got more oppressive until they were killing entire strips. And it’s quite clear they were refusing to print them because they didn’t understand them. It was like being edited by hobbits.
Some commenters on the post suggest that cartoons weren’t as brilliant as the creators thought, but the main takeaway seems to be that the Times has a very very old school take on editorial cartoons in general. Anyway, thank God for The Nib and now Jen Sorenson’s section at Fusion.net.
§ One of the things I learned reading Kupperman’s piece is that David Rees now has a TV show for National Geographic, Going Deep with David Rees. HOW did I not know this? Not quite as crazy as Dan Piraro narrating the failed Utopia show, but a lot more successful.
§ Comics & Cola is now running Missy by Daryl Seitchik—comics at comcis blogs = good! Also just in case you missed it, C&C also ran a great list of people picking notable comics of 2014.
§ I don’t necessarily endorse the total validity of every entry in Nathanial Hood’s 10 Times Comic Book Creators Were Screwed Over. For instance, Bill Mantlo seems to have been compensated for the use of Rocket Raccoon in some way since the Guardians of the Galaxy movie went into production. However, it’s a handy guide to some of comics most shameful moments.
§ Augie De Blieck writes about a the most terrifying topic of all: purging comics.
In the meantime, ask yourself: What comics do you really need? Which ones will you never read again? Which ones are just taking up space? Which ones do you own more than once? Save the trade, ditch the issues. If they’re valuable, put them up on eBay and get rid of them. Take that money and invest in a better storage solution. Buy better comics, not more comics.
Easier said than done.
§ Before all the tragedies of the last week, I had bookmarked this link to Josh Neufeld’s comic on a Muslim American man who was detained for eight hours when returning from Canada for having an old traffic ticket involving a crooked license plate. It was troubling then, and it’s even more troubling now, because even more innocent people are going to get treated very badly.
§ People enjoyed this Nathan Fairbairn process post on creating the covers of Nameless.
§ Natalie Nourigat wrote to say she’s selling her skethbook on Gumroad:
This Gumroad package includes 100 pages of artwork from Natalie “Tally” Nourigat’s sketchbooks (gesture drawings, character designs, short comics, environment studies, fan art, and doodles), broken into 4 PDFs for easy downloading/viewing. These pages were drawn August – December 2014, and they consist of ALL-NEW, unpublished material, drawn after the material in the “Tally Marks: Eurotrip” series available from MonkeyBrain Comics.
§ There is a tiny but notable subset of gentleman comics publishers who happen to be former or current football players, and here’s another one, Phillip Buchanon:
On this day, Mr. Buchanon, 34, is playing a far-less hazardous position, sitting at a table with stacks of the children’s books he’s written. He chatted with kids and parents at the Bell Tower Shops, signed some books and also talked with Florida Weekly in between the youngsters and the moms and dads. Book sales weren’t particularly brisk on this special night where Mr. Buchanon and his books were only part of the attraction. “I’m competing against Santa, a bounce house, music and free food,” Mr. Buchanon said good-naturedly.
Why notable? Well, baseball, basketball, hockey and soccer players do not seem to start comic book companies. They also suffer less head trauma than football players. Discuss.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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§ After watching the new Avengers trailers several dozen times, going frame by frame, I think I can reveal a shocking twist: The Avengers will be fighting Ultron! Whoa! If you wat a more conventional breakdown, Russ Burlinghame has a breakdown of the dark brooding and forest shuffling. Also, Hulkbuster.
§ If you have read this site for a month or two, you will already have figured out 4 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Graphic Novels and the People Who Read Them. Did you know that comics aren’t just for kids? Eye opining, I know. But perhaps you can beat someone who is intractable over the head with this if necessary.
§ Fantagraphics has revealed the cover to Hip Hop Family Tree Volume 3 by Ed Piskor and it’s time for Run DMC. These books look so nice shelved next to one another.
§ ICv2 has the BookScan–Top 20 Graphic Novels list and now non fiction is added, making Ros Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More PLeasant? The #1 book for December, beating even The Walking Dead and Saga. This also means that many people may have received this funny but bittersweet memoir about aging parents as a holiday gift. Think about that for a while.
§ I know you have all seen Neil Gaiman’s amazing advice on how to become a writer but for the five people who didn’t, it’s a classic.
§ Dark Horse is publishing a hardcover edition of Cory Levine’s Bowery Boys: Our Fathers! with art by Ian Bertram (Detective Comics, Batman Eternal) and Brent McKee (Outlaw Territory). It collects the web series about rapscallion adventure in rough and tumble 19th century New York City. The book is due in August. The pr described Bertram as “up and coming” and he really is.
Just a reminder coming on yesterday announcement of ECCC being acquired by ReedPOP, that Special Edition is coming back, the smaller artist focused NYC show. Date is TK.
§ Retailer Brian Hibbs wrote in the other day to chide me and another prominent comics writer for not linking to his latest column for CBR, entitled Too Much Competition. The column features dark warnings as well as a lot of charts. Hibbs’ central thesis is that there are just too many comics books, and the sheer volume is what is driving down sales.
We’ve at very least doubled, and maybe as much as quadrupled, the number of titles produced each month, so it shouldn’t be any major surprise that circulations have dropped by 50-75%. The real answer, most of the time, to “Why didn’t the market support [your favorite comic]?!?” is “There is too much competition!” I’ve been struggling with a way to really drive this message home, because this title growth has kind of been incremental over the life of the Direct Market and so is maybe less obvious than it could be. So, perhaps, the way to discuss it is in terms of consumer behavior, and the ordering mechanism.
Hibbs does the math, offering charts for all publishers that shows how many of their books in November had no order, which had a moderate number of copies ordered, which had a lot, and how subs do or don’t fit in. Hibbs makes a good case that there is too much dross out there—and despite this being a Golden Age of Comics, few would argue that we need a little trim. He also offers a clear explanation of something that every comics creator or publisher I have hung out with for more than 15 minutes has complained about for the last 25 years: that not ordering shelf copies of books means that no one will ever discover them on the shelf. The world of pre-ordering has been criticized here and elsewhere ad nauseum but it’s how things are done. The economics don’t support a shelf copy, Hibbs says.
You’re going to see a lot of crazy low numbers, so I want to reiterate what I said earlier — retailers are committed to selling as many comics to as many people as possible. I know I am! There are, at least, fifteen publishers of which I try to stock one hundred percent of their new launches until the market shows me that it is futile. We have hundreds of customers coming in each and every month, and more than half the comics coming into my store can not sell three rack copies. That’s pretty sobering. Three copies is an important line because that’s the point where the math against having any unsold copies starts to work against you. Order four, don’t sell one, well, at 75% sell-through you, at least, haven’t lost money. Order three and only sell two? Then you’re probably, after costs, losing a few pennies. You don’t want to lose money on products in retail; that’s not your winning formula.
My little alarm bell went off a bit on this piece when Hibbs referenced Comico, which stopped publishing 25 years ago—NOTHING has the exact same business model as it did 25 years ago!—but it’s a sobering reminder for publishers that a lot of books aren’t ever going to cut it in Brian Hibbs stores, and looking at the numbers, they probably don’t make much money.
In the comments, people ask “Then why to these books get published?” and Hibbs suggest many reasons including market share. I’d also allow that other shops may have oddball customers who happen to like some of the books Hibbs can’t give way. As long as we’re using the long ago past to reference the present, those who read Krause’s Comics & Games Retailer may recall the monthly retailer surveys that ran in every issue, and how one comic sold here another there. Sure there are Sagas and Harley Quinns that sell everywhere, but marginal titles depend on marginal audiences.
§ A new Teen Boat book is coming from John Green And Dave Roman! Teen Boat! The Race for Boatlantis! Huzzah!
§ Josie Campbell has a fine historical piece here looking at how “Agent Carter” deals with real world history and the role of women:
“Agent Carter” is a superhero show about the postwar erasure of women from American culture — which is incredibly fitting, as after World War II the comics industry erased women on the page and behind the scenes. As a comics community, we need to address the fact that women in comics is not a new occurrence. Women have been here since day one, a fact that is often ignored because this postwar erasure of women from our culture worked so well.
I’d agree this aspect of the show is a pleasant surprise.
§ At ScreenCrush, Matt Singer offers The Complete History of Comic-Book Movies, which sounds like a lifetime project, but starts off with the Captain Marvel movie serial. More actual history! Nice.
This Bizarro World is a long way from the 1940s, when comic-book superheroes first transitioned to the big-screen as the subjects of serials. These series of episodic shorts were often cheaply made and sometimes shockingly unfaithful to their source material. Comics were ahead of their time, at least at the movie theater; too adventurous and imaginative to be accurately reproduced with the tools of the day. As technology improved, so did the comic-book movies, leading to a series of watershed films—‘Superman,’ ‘Batman,’ ‘X-Men’—that reshaped the entire industry. How did we get there? All superheroes have an origin story. So do comic-book movies. This column will attempt to find it, one film at a time.
§ Jack Katz, 87, creator of the oddball self published space fantasy epic The First Kingdom, and Golden Age artist, is indiegogoing a new project, called, encouragingly, Beyond the Beyond. It will run to some 800 pages, but he’s good for it. The tale is streamlined from an original 1000+ outline, but his agent told him he might not have time to finish it. Not much is revealed of the story, and the art shown is obscure, but…it is certain to be wild.
The First Kingdom is available from Titan.
§ This has been going around for a while, but just in case you missed it, Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan lay out the numbers and process, or Numberwang, if you will, for their Kickstarter for Oh Joy, Sex Toy. They grossed $69.000 but can you guess how much they netted? That’s Numberwang!
§ EW gave royal comics couple Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick the deluxe profile treatment, meaning it actually ran in print.
This comic-book power couple, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction, are camped out in zip-up pj’s among piles of books in the Portland, Ore., home their two children have just vacated for school. This sounds like a surprisingly prosaic (if cozy) morning for people whose minds are constantly flitting off to distant galaxies or warping through the time-space continuum and giving Death a daughter or gender-bending a classical hero. Stuff like that.
§ Turkish cartoonist MK Perker (Air) defends Charlie Hebdo.
§ Evan Narcisse gives us The 12 Best Comics Coming Out Right Now at io9 and it is a well written and very good list of comics periodical.
§ The second of the two Wonder Woman books is now out, Noah Berketsky’s Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peters Comics, 1941-1948 (The first was Jill Lepore’s history of Marston and his world, which we covered here many times.) Berlatsky’s focus, as the title hints, is more on the kinky stuff that everyone has felt awkward about for years and years. He talks about it at CBR, including one issue which he broke down in depth.
I read all the issues of “Wonder Woman” and that was my favorite. I knew I wanted to talk about one comic closely at great length. I talk about several comics, but I really wanted to look at this one in particular. I think it’s so wonderful, but also because I am trying to make the argument that these comics are worth thinking about as art and have things to tell us — in this case about issues of sexual violence and sexuality. One of the things that Marston is trying to do — with [his assistant-turned-writer] Joye Murchison and Harry Peter — is talk about sexual violence to an audience that is composed mostly of kids. They’re talking to young girls and boys, so they’re talking about sexual violence but also trying to talk about the way that sexuality or sex can be fun and good. They want to show the evil of sexual violence while showing the value of sexual fantasy, which is a really tough thing to do!
§ Not comics: Steven Soderbergh is now making fan films.
§ Finally, The Comics Reporter has updated its photo for the coming event column, and I feel like that bald guy with the knapsack will never get his drink now.
§ The March crew of Rep. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell talk a little about why we need this message and these reminders now with EW’s Joshua Rivera.
Congressman Lewis is aware of this, and it’s his hope that people will take the time to reflect on what came before. “This book is a guide, we can use it,” says Lewis. “This is what people tried to do, this is what people did in the late ’50s and the ’60s to try to make things better.”
§ Kelly Thompson previews some of the upcoming 2015 books that look good. It’s going to be a busy year!
§ A Funky Winkerbean/Dick Tracy comic strip crossover is HAPPENING. And Chris Sims is on it.
§ Hilary Brown has an interview with Michael DeForge mostly about First Year Healthy, and some GAWJUS preview pages.
Paste: This project also continues your interest in rural settings. You didn’t grow up in the country, right? Where does your fascination with it come from? DeForge: I’ve only lived in cities. For First Year Healthy, it was important that the story be about reintegrating into a small community, and a rural town seemed like a good setting for that. I wanted to write about the ways a tight-knit community can be supportive, and the ways it can be suffocating. There’s also something very romantic and Canadian about rural settings, which has probably wormed its way into my work.
§ I know I shouldn’t link to something that was shared over a million times but Here’s What The Cast Of “Scooby Doo” Looks Like Now.
§ Mariah Huehner, one of a handful of people that I can go full Quenya with, is recapping The Silmarillion for The Mary Sue and she gets right on it with the story of Fëanor, the jerkiest elf of them all. I can’t wait until she gets to Thingol, who might have been the second jerkiest.
If you got the impression that, at worst, elves were just kind of aloof and mopey from LOTR, well, I’m here to tell you: they can be EPIC assholes, too. And one of the biggest jerk elves, one might even call him The High Elf King of Douchebagdom, is Fëanor.
§ Cartoonist Brian Fies (Mom’s Cancer) went to all-ages oriented show LumaCon I and liked it.
What it was was charming, and the most positive experience I’ve had at a comic con in a long time. Small, simple, low-key, unpretentious. One old comics hand told me it reminded him of the San Diego Comic-Con when it started in the ’70s. The whole thing fit into one large round room at a fairgrounds, with a raised platform for panels and speakers, an Artists’ Alley, a hands-on craft zone, LARPing (live-action role playing) outdoors, and a bake sale. I’ve never been to a convention with a bake sale before.
§ Speaking of con reports, this Blerds preview of last weekend’s two big diversity-themed shows was excellent, but I couldn’t find any actual reports on either the Black Comic Book Festival here in NYC or the Black Comix Arts Festival in SF. Did you go? Send links or reports!
However, here is a video of a panel on publishing from the BCBF, with moderator John Jennings (of SUNY Buffalo and creator of “Kid Code”), and panelists Zetta Elliott (“The Deep”), Alex Simmons (“BlackJack”), and Tim Fielder (“Matty’s Rocket”).
§ An unknown woman with very nice nails has made nearly $5 million by posting videos of her opening toy boxes on YouTube.
An unidentified individual or group responsible for uploading videos that simply show a woman opening Disney toys made an estimated $4.9 million last year, more than any other channel for 2014, according to OpenSlate, a video analytics platform that analyzes ad-supported content on YouTube. Almost nothing is known about the person or people behind the channel, DC Toys Collector (DC), which exclusively features a young woman in intricately painted nails removing the toys from their packaging and then assembling them. The account did not respond to a YouTube message.
Here is some nice rope to hang yourself now.
§ The AV Club’s Noel Murray look’s at Matt Groening’s Life In Hell, and compares it to the tradition established by Zap:
In 1977, shortly after Groening moved to Los Angeles, he started drawing little cartoons for his friends to illustrate how miserable he was in his new home, using nervous-looking rabbits as his characters. He titled the comics “Life In Hell,” and eventually started publishing a weekly strip under that name in the Los Angeles Reader (where he was also writing an offbeat, highly personal music-review column). Sometimes Groening used his space in the Reader to produce one huge single-panel cartoon. Sometimes he broke the space up into more conventional multi-panel strips, with dialogue and narratives. Often he just squeezed in art and text everywhere he could, dumping all of his ideas about culture and politics onto the page and treating Life In Hell like his weekly sketchbook.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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§ A new Abhay Khosla review, this time of The Names by Peter Milligan and Leandro Fernandez is always a Cadbury Milk Tray of unexpected flavors, and this one includes a brief but smooth swipe at The Vertigo Brown:
A quick note to Vertigo colorists: If you are working for Vertigo, there is a belief that both Vertigo and you get a gross, throbbing weiner-boner everytime you get to make a page all brown. People believe that because it’s 100% true, and the only possible explanation for why all Vertigo comics ever published have been so drenched in the color brown. Nothing else makes sense; no other solution to that equation. Please consider defying your brown-obsessed masters. Look into your hearts. You know what you see? If you see the color brown, something has gone horribly wrong. I’m not a doctor, but that probably means someone has shit into your heart and you have feces pumping through your arteries. At the very least, it just sounds unhealthy from a cardiac-perspective.
Why are Vertigo comics so brown? I’ve never been able to answer that question and I worked there, and all my books were brown, too.
§ Several attractive covers were floating around on my social media yesterday:
Bill Sienkiewicz for Jupiter’s Circle, the sequel to Jupiter’s Children by Mark Millar and Wilfredo Torres.
Goran Parlov also for Jupiter’s Circle.
And a teaser image and cover for Invisible Republic #1 by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman with colors by Jordan Boyd. It hits March 18. Lookin; good.
§ Jennifer Sorenson contributes a comic about Charlie Hebdo and all the rest. If you haven’t been following the comics section at Fusion.net you need to.
§ Robert Kirby has the lowdown on New Minis from Kus!
Kuš! (pronounced “koosh”), the Latvian comics collective launched in 2007, released this new quartet of minicomics late 2014. Each Kuš! mini is a 24-page stand-alone story culled from their growing roster of international artists. Many stories feature elements of fantasy, science fiction, or magical realism, but even the ones that don’t exhibit fanciful or otherworldly qualites. The artists featured by Kuš! tend to dwell in the conceptual rather than the actual, using the art of cartooning in unique and sometimes challenging ways.
These books are so awesome. I’m not really into mail order but the Kus gang doesn’t often some to my hemisphere so…
§ A British politician totally ripped off the ‘V for Vendetta’ logo for a new nationalist party he’s trying to get off the ground. If you’re going to rip off some one rip off the best, but come on.
§ Matthew Meylikhov has announced he’s stepping down as EIC of Multiversity Comics. I always enjoyed my interactions with Matt so I’m going to miss him but send my best regards.
To some this may seem a bit of a shock. I told a few people about this before our public announcement, that I had made the decision to move on, and the most consistent response I got was, “How are you feeling?” I think people expect me to say that I am sad, which is perhaps inevitable; how could anyone not be in this situation? After all, when you spend over five years of your life working and developing something like this, it’s not exactly easy to just pack your bags and go. But I’m not sad, nor do I think should anyone else be. If I could, I’d make a video montage of all the fun memories and things I’ve gotten to do because of this site overlayed with “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles, because I have nothing but warm thoughts and fuzzy feelings for the site, its past with me and its future without me. I couldn’t be more proud of the site and everyone here, all the accomplishments and the adventures we’ve shared; from our various annual charity events at conventions, to late nights out until 3:00 AM or that time I got food poisoning at a White Castle while rooming with 5 other staffers during a con. This site and its staff encapsulate some of my favorite people and fondest adult memories.
§ Fashion retailer Poprageous is offering an outfit made from Benedict Cumberbatch images. The complete outfit sells for $125 but just the leggings—which are the essential fashion item of this time and place in the universal meta stream—are only $80. completely your red carpet look NOW. Bam! Benedict Cumberbatch leggings. BAM!
§ What it says. Artist Tommy Castillo, best known for his Batman work, is in danger of losing his sight:
Sammy Castillo here. As many of you may know, the World almost lost my husband, Tommy Castillo, in October of 2014. His ongoing battle with Diabetes took a horrible turn for the worse nearly killing him. While on the outside and to everyone it may seem like Tommy is doing better, in fact, things aren’t progressing very well. Because of this recent down turn in his health, the Diabetes is now attacking Tommy’s eyesight -which is an artist’s worst fear. To put it plainly, the diabetes is destroying the small blood vessels in the back of Tommy’s eyes causing them to bleed. Without surgery this will cause Tommy to go blind within a year- maybe less. Each surgery is $ 4,000 per eye. The doctor told us that he will need AT LEAST two treatments in each eye plus perscriptions and recovery time.
You know the drill.
§ Cartoonists from Albertine to Dylan Horrocks to Jaime Hernandez to Trondheim have signed a petition asking the Angoulême comic festival to drop Sodastream as a sponsor. Sodastream is a drink company that has opened a bottling plant on the West Bank in Palestine (although it is set to close).
We, cartoonists, illustrators, writers, editors, distributors, translators, critics and workers in the comic book industry, alongside people of conscience from countries all over the world, re-affirm our February 2014 call for the Angoulême International Comics Festival to drop all ties with the Israeli company Sodastream. Furthermore, we urge the Angoulême Festival, and all festivals, conventions, and celebrations of comics and cartooning art in which we participate, to reject any partnership, funding, or co-operation with any Israeli company or institution that does not explicitly promote freedom and justice for Palestinians, as well as equal rights and equality for Israeli Jews and Palestinians, including the Israeli government and its local consulates, so long as Israel continues to deny Palestinians their rights.
There was a live protest at last year’s fest, and I expect there will be more about it this year. Zainab Akhtar has more context.
§ Egmont’s US branch is shutting down. Although a powerhouse publisher in Europe, including a lot of Disney licenses, their kids/YA line just never caught on in the US:
The U.S. division of Egmont, which published children’s titles in the elementary, middle grade and teen categories, was established in 2008. Now, the division’s spring 2015 list (distributed by Random House) will mark its last, and its office will close on January 31. Egmont USA’s six staffers’ final day in the office will be January 30. Rob McMenemy, CEO of Egmont Publishing International, said the U.S. business, ultimately, “does not fit” with the company’s strategy, as it has not been able to become a market leader in the States. He added that Egmont was “hoping to succeed with selling the business, unfortunately this has turned out not to be possible.”
§ Also from PW, Diamond Books was down a bit in 2014 due to losing Dark Horse, who moved over to Random House:
Diamond Book Distributors, the trade book distribution side of Diamond Comics Distributors, reports sales in 2014 were “slightly” down, blaming the decline on the loss of a major publisher client. Adjusting for that loss, sales were up in all channels with DBD citing continuing international growth and plans to focus on college bookstores in 2015. Dark Horse switched distribution from DBD to Random House Publisher Services at the beginning of 2014 and the loss was felt “across the board,” at the distributor said DBD v-p Kuo-Yu Liang. “We came close to making up the loss of Dark Horse,” he said. DBD distributes titles from about 50 publishers as well as pop culture merchandise. Despite the decline, Liang said the pop culture market was strong in 2014 and DBD’s core business, “is great. Graphic novels are growing, toys and other merchandise also did well.”
§ And Dreamworks Animation is shutting down one of its main studios, PDI/DreamWorks, and laying off 500 people.
They’ll scale back to two films a year and undergo other belt tightening. You’ll recall that the studio has been trying to sell itself off, but several potential deals, including one with Hasbro, have gone bust. There are almost certainly some cartooning crossover folks who are caught up in this, and that will cause ripples as well. In the link above there are some offers from Pixar and Blizzard for potential employment. Good luck to everyone who is caught up in this very sad event.
§ Torsten covered the new “Is Comic-Con leaving San Diego???” drama quite well, but while I was digging around I recalled that the first time I wrote about the planned convention center expansion was 2010. Yikes. This is the Second Avenue Subway of the west. I get the feeling that the Chargers situation is more of a factor this time around—they have the oldest stadium in the NFL and it’s pretty decrepit, and they could also move to LA, although unlike Comic-Con, the Chargers threaten it directly and constantly. So the city of San Diego needs both a new stadium and more room for Mrs. Fields cookie kiosks. I suppose that Anaheim could make a great play for Comic-Con but as Mark Evanier points out, there are actually fewer hotel rooms in Anaheim in the summer than in San Diego.
The CCI folks seem to have been making wider use of the entire area around the convention center, and have stated that the expansion isn’t necessarily as essential right now. I suppose a move to Anaheim for a while would function in the same way a dog shakes off water…a lot of stuff would go flying away and normal functions could resume. But while it’s fun to imagine such things—or somewhat fun in the case of LA—the city of San Diego wants the con of San Diego IN San Diego, and I suspect a deal will be hammered out.
§ Meanwhile, here’s a nice round-up of the comics shops of Philadelphia, from foundational stores like Fat Jacks to nouveau comics outposts like Locust Moon.
§ George Elkind interviews Dash Shaw, one of the great modern formalists of comics, and Shaw gets right to it:
Sometime around 2010, I had a thought “comics are a collage medium — they’re collages that you can read.” Everything I’ve done since then has been extrapolating from that idea in different ways. With Doctors, I started with clips from different sources, mostly old romance comics. The first page I drew was the diver page. I clipped that diver from an old romance comic. I loved how stiff the drawing of the diver was. It was a dynamic, splash moment but it was so frozen. That’s the kind of drawings I like, like Pete Morisi and coloring book drawings. I’d alter old advertisements or general flat, clip-art like images, and add my own panels drawn in a baseline style, to connect, say, a drawing from an old romance comic of a couple on a bridge to, like, an Adidas ad for a pair of shoes.
§ Here’s a nice report by Jamal Flores on the Schomburg Center’s Third Annual Black Comic Book Festival .
§ Really, Comicbook.com?
§ Matt Singer continues his history of comic book serials with Spy Smasher.
§ Chris (Starlord) Pratt is from Seattle and Chris (Captain America, Johnny Storm, Lucas Lee, Jensen, Casey) Evans is from Boston, so the two have made a generous and handsome bet over the Super Bowl.
Both football fans and friends, Evans and Pratt made very public and very charitable bet: If the Patriots win, Pratt will don a Patriots jersey and make an appearance at Christopher’s Haven, a non-profit organization that provides support housing for families whose children are receiving outpatient pediatric cancer treatments in Boston. If the Seahawks win, Evans will show up to Seattle Children’s Hospital as Captain America, brandishing a 12th Man flag.
§ Infographics are a sneaky way to get people to pay attention to some utilitarian product, in this case blinds, but this one from Terry’s Blind on superhero lairs is really thoughtful and imaginative.
§ Vaneta Rogers quizzed a bunch of comics retailers about Secret Wars and describes them as wary but hopeful:
“Customers are curious, but as usual, Marvel is being very vague about the whole thing,” said John Robinson, owner of the nine Illinois locations of Graham Crackers Comics. “And I have no answers for [customers] as to any of the specifics on how this is going to be handled.” “On the surface, I think it sounds absolutely awful!” laughed Mike Wellman, co-owner of the Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach, California. But the retailer added, “I tend to lean more positive on these massive events and I’m sure there are some things that Marvel isn’t telling us. Their batting average is pretty high when it comes to these things and I fully trust them to make something awesome.”
As usual, everybody says they hate events, but everybody orders them anyway, and that’s why they keep doing events. A lot of comparisons to the New 52, which was a titanic sales hit, and it’s hard to imagine that Marvel won’t get a lot of attention for whatever it is they’re doing as well. However, sometimes a long memory is no friend:
“Without specifics on how they’ll be handling it, it can go either way obviously,” Robinson said. “Handled well with a clear path and understanding for the customers, then this can be great. Handled like Secret Wars II, then it can be a disaster with unnecessary tie-ins, and event that ends up doing nothing. Marvels ‘soft-reboots’ have only hurt the industry, in my opinion, over the last 10 years.
Secret Wars II, for the uninitiated, came out in 1985. I know Ralph Macchio was around then, and apparently he’ll be involved in the new Secret Wars in some capacity, but otherwise it’s a whole new ballgame.
§ Meanwhile Steve Morris
has some predictions for what will happen,
and I like Steve’s version of the future.
§ RK Laxman is a very famous cartoonist in his native India. He’s 95 years old and has been in ill health for quite a while, and is now in very critical condition. He’s best known for a comic strip called The Common Man which ran from 1951 until he become to ill to continue it. You can see some of his cartoons here. It’s hard to get a sense of Laxman’s cultural place, but newspaper give daily updates on his health.
Headline of the day from the Spanish language San Diego Red: ¿Comic-Con International abandonará San Diego?
§ Wizard World Portland was this weekend and D.M. Anderson took many pictures, some of them of cartoonists. Meanwhile, KOIN’s Tyler Dunn had to sit down from time to time from being overhwlemed:
An experience I won’t soon forget, that’s how I would best sum up my time at Wizard World Comic Con. It was my first time at the Portland convention — or any like it, for that matter. I spent all of Sunday there, along with thousands of excited fans ready to celebrate their favorite pop culture icons. My goal was simple: do as much as possible, turn down nothing, get the most out of my time in the hopes that (for those thinking about going next year) I might gather some helpful tips.
§ Another headline of the day: How’d A Cartoonist Sell His First Drawing? It Only Took 610 Tries
§ Todd McFarlane came out on FB and said he would never draw Marvel or Dc corporate characters again, not because of dislike but because of duty:
No… …the reason I don’t and won’t draw for them is that one of the many titles I have, at my various business interests, is that of President of Image Comics. And I take that responsibility very seriously. Image Comics is the THIRD largest comic company in North America, and as such we are in direct competition with both Marvel and DC Comics. As President of Image, I personally think it would be a conflict of interest for me to do work for a direct competitor. And in fact in some states being the President/CEO of a company forbids you to work for a direct competitor (The president of Microsoft won’t/can’t do freelance work for Apple Inc.) So, for me this isn’t any different. In 1992, a handful of us decided to form Image Comics, and ever since then I have not worked at either Marvel or DC Comics, and as long as there is an Image Comics, I will continue to give all of my comic book efforts towards the company I helped form.
§ Here is a sad story about cartoonist Jim Wheelock’s comics being stolen from a storage unit in Vermont.
It looks like my entire collection of several thousand comic books from the 1950s – 1990s is gone. These were in about twenty white “long boxes” about three feet long and 12 inches by 10 inches or so. The boxes had distinctive handwritten labels by me with titles (Spider-Man, Thor, etc). This includes a collection of underground comics from the ’60s, including Zap Comics and others. There were also comics in shorter and odd-shaped boxes, including at least one reading “Published Work” (I’m an artist and illustrator). This includes multiple copies of the horror trade paperback, Taboo. Most of the comics were in clear plastic bags, and the boxes were lined with plastic trash bags. Some were also labelled by artist’s names (Joe Kubert, Alex Toth and others). The books largely did not have backboards. Some were packed several to a bag, and some were not in bags, As I say, the boxes would be identifiable by me. The books probably also have a distinctive “barn” odor, making them less valuable, and possibly harder to sell. I had some of my own artwork in portfolios. It’s unclear if any of that is missing. Much of it would have my signature on it. Also some film lobby cards and posters.
§ BTW, Wheelock is the artist of a graphic novel called Inferno Los Angeles, which is really quite a thing. Check it out.
§ Finally, even in the world filled with cruelty, horrors and intolerance, the story of how Hershey has halted importation of superior Fritish chocolate inspires outrage and disgust. Basically, Hershey successfully sued a company that imported Brit choccies, and you will no longer be able to buy an Aero or Lion bar at a specialty retailer. The infuriating thing is that it’s because Hershey basically admits its chocolate is shit:
What many Britons and British-chocolate lovers are most incensed about is the difference in taste between chocolate made in Britain and chocolate made in the United States.
Chocolate in Britain has a higher fat content; the first ingredient listed on a British Cadbury’s Dairy Milk (plain milk chocolate) is milk. In an American-made Cadbury’s bar, the first ingredient is sugar.
American Cadbury bars also include PGPR and soy lecithin, both emulsifiers that reduce the viscosity of chocolate, giving it a longer shelf life. British Cadbury bars used vegetable fats and different emulsifiers.
An informal blind taste test comparing Cadbury Dairy Milk bars — muddled by this reporter’s garlicky lunch — suggested that Ms. Perry had reason to be upset.
The British Dairy Milk was slightly fudgier, allowing for a creamier taste and texture. The American Dairy Milk bar left a less pleasing coating and somewhat of a stale aftertaste.
Having just finished the last crumbs of a cache of UK Cadbury’s brought home from the holidays, I can attest to the superior smoothness, full flavor and finish of the British versions. There is no comparison. Thanks a lot, America.
A week’s worth of reading:
§ Has Manga Become a Niche Category? Johanna Draper Carlson examines some opinions on this, and quotes comments by Vertical’s Ed Chavez that I missed:
The fact that shonen continues to be the only category that is consistently strong, and that moe has kinda catching up to shojo for second is interesting. Knowing that seinen still lacks, even though vocal fans ask for it, kinda tells me that readers either grow out of manga or only stick with a specific type of it… Essentially pigeonholing it (turning it into a niche). Having talked to some comic/media critics I think it is becoming harder for them to get into manga also. Will kids still consume the stuff? Sure. I mean, most manga pubs are seeing growth while stores are cutting manga shelves. But unlike the 00’s, where a shojo boom introduced a whole new demographic to manga, there hasn’t been a culture shifting movement recently to break manga out of this current position it has settled into.
I think Manga has become a “mature” business as they say, but it’s still chugging along, if not at the heights of the 00s. On the other hand, even in Japan
where sales have long been in decline, there was a 1% uptick last year. Not exactly enough to make people knock over cars with joy, but at least it isn’t a decline:
According to the recent report by Research Institute for Publications, which is operated by AJPEA (All Japan Magazine and Book Publisher’s and Editor’s Association), the manga sales in Japan for year 2014 was 1% up from the previous year. The modest growth was supported by new top sellers including Haruichi Furudate’s Haikyu!! and Io Sakisaka’s Ao Haru Ride, both had very successful TV anime or live-action film adaptations last year, in addition to the continuously popular series like Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece and Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan.
Manga is hanging in there in the US, but it has competition from actual American comics. If you look at Bookscan’s top 20 from ICv2 for November 2014
you see six manga in the list. The list from November 2013 has eight
, a number more typical of what I’m used to seeing. OTOH in actual numbers, a lot of things we thing of as successful are niche.
§ Whit Taylor talks to Chuck Forsman about Revenger his new action comic:
Charles: I think the inspiration for Revenger is a combination of things. First are the comics that I read when I first started reading them at 10 or 11 years old. This was during X-Men’s heyday with Claremont and Jim Lee and the launch of Image Comics. The second are movies. I got back into watching John Carpenter movies like Escape from New York and Assault on Precinct 13. And even new movies like The Guest which came out a few months ago. The Guest actually made me scrap the first completed version of Revenger #1 and I started over almost from scratch. That movie reminded me that what I wanted to do was something much leaner without any fat. My original version of Revenger had a much larger world. I was worrying too much about the made-up world politics and trying to make an interesting mystery with the story. Sometimes after experiencing someone else’s work that connects with you it makes what you want much clearer.
§ Darling sleeper quizzes Sean Ford and Leslie Stein.
§ Zainab Akhtar reviews the new US edition of Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese and falls under his languid spell:
His name are the very first words of the text and Pratt goes on to declare him a ‘man of destiny,’ but more than any other quality, here he imbues cool. The closes iconography I’m reminded of is the coiled looseness of heroes in westerns- the hint of swagger but an assumed relaxed pose: quietness, cockiness, and surety all hinted at simultaneously. Take a look at the composition and body language here: head and torso positioned centrally in the panel, feet up, cigarette in hand, cap and hair shielding his eyes. He’s watchful perhaps lost in thought. The immediate next panel is a close-up side profile, and the narration is semi-admiring, semi-mocking him as he lights up ‘as if he were performing for an invisible audience.’ In fact for the whole first page he doesn’t say anything -until he’s interrupted by a drunken brawl-, an interaction that involves the reader just looking at Corto, feeling the atmosphere, the presence of the man, serving to set him up as this strong and silent type, in the know, someone cool, someone to be admired, someone to beware of.
§ This fellow, Indian artist Hetain Patel, has made a sculpture of Spider-man covered with words.
§ Ng Suat Tong has Best Online Comics Criticism 2014 and declares it a bad year for onlien comics criticism. There are some cracking good pieces there, however, including many I missed first time out. Click through! Also this:
Apart from the perennial issues of racism and sexism in superhero comics (or maybe in general?) there weren’t many critical controversies in 2014. I can’t say that this failure to engage with fellow critics and their ideas is a positive sign of health; especially if this reticence is symptomatic of intellectual torpor or a lack of breath in comics thinking.
But I think that will kick off an entire post at some point.
§ And speaking of the perennial issues of racism and sexism, Marvel Has A Serious Problem Merchandising Its Female Characters
But when you look at the merchandise for those properties, it feels like they barely exist. Despite being introduced in Iron Man 2, it would take until The Avengers for Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow to get an action figure: even then, she was shortpacked in the third wave of figures that came out months after the movie hit, with the prime first wave spots going to Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and The Hulk. It took until The Winter Soldier last year for Widow to show up in both Hasbro’s Marvel Legends Infinite 6-inch line and Funko’s wildly popular range of Marvel Pop Vinyls for the first time, a whopping four years after the character first appeared. Fast forward to Age of Ultron today and she’s once again seemingly missing — she doesn’t show up at all in the new action figure playsets. She’s not in the first set of Pop Vinyls, and neither is Scarlet Witch, another prominent female member of the cast. She appears in one of the six new Lego sets for the film (Cap’s in three, Iron Man is in four). She doesn’t appear in the team shots on the boxes of merchandise (to be fair, neither does Hawkeye. Poor Hawkeye.). Hell, the first action figure we’ve seen for her for AoU specifically is Diamond Select’s, and even then, that was revealed in a way that still, almost hilariously, managed to avoid showing an actual figure of the character.
§ Finally, as part of a piece on second acts for publisher personnel, Calvin Reid catches up with Joan Hilty.
Hilty, who is also a member of 5E, teamed with Pete Friedrich, a cartoonist and designer, in 2011 to launch Pageturner, a packaging house that develops “comics projects outside of the comics industry.” Pageturner develops projects with and for a variety of institutions, among them the ACLU, which created a comics series about the Bill of Rights. “Now we’re getting lots of interest from nonprofits and arts organizations,” she said. Pageturner has worked on projects with Chronicle Books and TBS/Turner Networks. As a freelance contractor, Hilty has worked with comics publishers like Boom! and Dark Horse Comics, and with Forbes magazine, which published the Zen of Steve Jobs in 2011, a webcomic and print graphic biography of Jobs that examines his 30-year pupil-teacher relationship with a Zen Buddhist monk.
§ Finally, after 15 yearsAndrew Sullivan has announced he’s giving up blogging. (He did it once before.) I could only nod my head in agreement at his reasons—he wants to spend time with actual humans and the toll of always being on call impacted his health. Now tat Sully’s done, the rest of us can quit with our heads held high!
By: Heidi MacDonald
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§ Norm Breyfogle suffered a stroke on December 17th, but he’s making great progress, as shown in this video; his fundraiser to help with his rehab is still underway and NOW he’s the poster child for medical bill crowdfunding, with this profile in the New York Times. It’s great to see Norm recovering and we send him all our best.
§ The New York Times also covered the Angouleme comics fest complete with a slideshow. Of course, the focus was on Charlie Hebdo, but…as someone who has been following comics media for more than a decade that is still pretty amazing.
§ Everyone was puzzled and angry about the new FF trailer, so they had to watch it over and over again to make sure of what was puzzling and angering them. And then it became Fox’s’ most watched trailer ever. Who’s laughing now, sucker?
§ Cartoonist Robyn Chapman is now employed as assistant editor at First Second, which is win win win for everyone. Congrats, Robyn!
§ Yam Rooks Rina Ayuyang has a very detailed run down of her 2014, with show reports and more. [Link via The Tiny Report]
§ And Zainab Akhtar runs down the 20 most anticipated comics and graphic novels for 2015; after a look it’s going to be a very good year.
§ I put together another list of Spring 2015 GNS for PW, but it’s still behind the paywall. I’ll alert the troops when it’s out.
§ SF book shop Borderlands Books is closing in March and the main cause is that California has raised the minimum wage to $12.25 an hour. That will increase the payroll 39% and operating costs 19%. It’s very sad that paying workers the very modest sum of $12.25 an hour will cause an unworkable business model, especially since SF is the second most expensive city to live in in the US, it seems to be a downward spiral. I wonder if this will also affect Californian comics shops?
§ FanX was held over the weekend in Salt Lake City, and it went fine, especially with capping tickets at 50,000—previous shows has some crowding, which was avoided this time:
Halfway through its third and final day, Salt Lake Comic Con announced it had sold out its FanX event and was closing on-site ticket sales.
Unlike previous comic con events, which drew as many as 120,000 attendees, ticket sales were capped at 50,000, with attendance measuring just above that, according to preliminary reports.
“I think we kept it just about the right size,” co-founder Bryan Brandenburg said. ” FanX officials ironed out logistical concerns from previous events, including the second Salt Lake Comic Con that was held just four months ago in September.
Wristbands with RFID chips kept lines flowing in and out of the Salt Palace while the limited ticket numbers ensured the previously crowded convention floor was comfortable to navigate. “I think we’ve learned a few lessons from last time,” Brandenburg said. “I think we kept it just the right size, and our customer support lines were more quiet than they’ve ever been, which is great.”
§ Joe Illidge looks at the history of Storm.
A strong Black woman who survived through poverty and the loss of her parents as a child, discovered her extraordinary gifts and used them to help her people, travelled to America to help on a global scale, lost her powers, refused to become a victim and emerged as a woman strong enough to wrest leadership of the X-Men from a superpowered comrade, became the leader of a band of underground mutants by defeating the band’s leader in battle, returned home for self-exploration, regained her powers, and married King T’Challa, thereby becoming the Queen of Wakanda, one of the most technologically advanced nations on Marvel’s Earth.
§ Stolen Sharpie has a list of fine fest and small press-y things, but it is far from complete and missing a bunch of CAFs, but clip and save and pencil in. [Link via Panel Patter]
§ Zak Sally has not only released one of the most challenging comics of the last 12 months, but he’s joining Anders Nilsen in doing an end around on Amazon.
§ While I was checking that last bit, I also noticed that Zally has lost the URL LaMano21 which is the site for his publishing company, due to missing a renewal and a squatter moved in and now he’s in a fight to get it back. Which is a good reminder. FOR GOD’S SAKE SET YOUR DOMAINS TO AUTORENEW. Or at least make sure your GoDaddy* emails don’t go to spam. It’s very difficult to get a lapsed domain back and a little attention and it will never happen.
* Yes I know GoDaddy is comprised of sexist pigs but they also make renewing very easy.
§ Finally, this Funnybook Babylon link has been making the rounds, but it is a sobering reminder of just how awful the 90s really were for comics, when Wizard Magazine was considered the hottest cool thing in the biz and ran things like panels of women and explained how hot and sexy they were. I mean yes, people didn’t have internets so they had to find wank material anywhere they could, but this was the best selling item in comics shops for several years.
Why Does Wizard Think This is Sexy? They’ve never seen a real porno magazine before, so the idea of one appearing in a comic book is mysterious and wonderful. This is a tangent, but it always bothers me when people in comic books act like their world actually looks like a comic book. People have distinguishing characteristics besides costumes and colors; if you put different people in (most) superhero outfits, no one would mistake Thor/Iron Man/Captain America/Bruce Banner for Hawkeye just because Mark Ruffalo or Chris Hemsworth put on Jeremy Renner’s costume. I think everyone could tell that it was Zoe Saldana as Gamora even though her skin color was altered, so color-corrected She-Hulk nudie photos would look like nudie photos of She-Hulk with caucasian skin. I haven’t seen anyone go “it’s cool if you post my leaked naked phone pics, so long as you Photoshop my skin to be green, that way no one will know it’s me.”
Thank god we’ve come so far since then.
§ In case you missed it, that half million dollar Tezuka Kickstarter missed the mark by a huge margin. Johanna Draper Carlson has commentary. DMP publisher Hikaru Sasahara will probably have more to say about his, as they are examining their whole Kickstarter policy.
§ A misleading headline obscures the fact that a piece of Corto Maltese art sold for a record amount—a record for a piece of HUGO PRATT art. A page from “Les Ethiopiques” sold for €391,800 ($485,500), more than twice the estimate.
§ John Kane looks back at TWILIGHT, a “prestige” mini series that came out from DC back in 1990, written by the greatHoward Chaykin and drawn by the great Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. DC is releasing a collected edition next month, and you may just want to pick it up.
TWILIGHT is the story of a bunch of people who all get what they want and it ends up doing none of them any favours whatsoever. The bunch of people in question are mainly rejigged DC sci-fi characters who had lain mostly fallow since the ‘50s and ‘60s. Tommy Tomorrow, Star Hawkins, Manhunter 2070, Space Cabbie, etc. Even Chaykin’s own Ironwolf appears briefly, and his ridiculous wooden space ship proves pivotal to events. (If Adam Strange seems conspicuous by his absence; Richard Bruning had first dibs there). There are plenty of new characters but the gist of the thing was that these were yesterday’s characters of tomorrow, today. Oh, you know what I mean.
So yeah, Watchmen for Adam Strange. In all the talk last week about Morrison and Quitely’s Pax Americana, I recalled that there have been a LOT of Watchmen-type reëxaminations of the superhero. Rick Veitch’s Brat Pack, John Ridley’s The American Way, Dawryn Cooke’s The New Frontier, The Twelve by J. Michael Straczynski. NOT all of them are even negative. CALLING ALL THESES.
§ First Second editor Calista Brill remembers late copy editor Manuela Kruger.
§ Juliet Kahn interviewed Noelle Stevenson who will probably be an even bigger breakout comics star in 2015.
I don’t think that webcomics and Kickstarter and Patreon have made print comics obsolete by any means; god, no. If anything, we just have so many more paths to succeed. We’re defining this new wave of comics for ourselves. How can you not see how exciting that is? There’s no right or wrong way to do it. That’s why I like comics! They are limitless. There are people with webcomics who are pushing the limits of what comics can be — Emily Carroll, Ava’s Demon, etc. Some comics are made to be displayed digitally and it doesn’t degrade them. And there are innovations happening in print comics too. Anyone resisting that, clinging to some kind of idea of a golden age that we’re defiling somehow… well. That’s what’s becoming obsolete. Also I think one of the big sore points that the Sturm comic inspired — and honestly, the comic itself referenced this, so I think this may have been the point that it was trying to make — is that this idea of competition isn’t actually healthy for creativity. Someone else who succeeds isn’t ‘stealing’ your success. You gotta keep your eyes on your own board and do the best you can. The more good stuff exists, the better we make the field, and the more people can succeed within it.
§ I’m not sure if I linked to this before, but Megan Byrd
has a very useful The Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching Your Comic For Review
§ Tom Spurgeon interviews Andrew Farago about his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles book and Farago touches on not TMNT affected so much of late-80s-early90s comics history
I could have spent a lot more time talking about the black-and-white publishing boom of the 1980s, but had to settle for making sure that I fit Dave Sim and Wendy and Richard Pini into the book. There was probably another full chapter to be had on the dual influences of Jack Kirby and Frank Miller on Eastman and Laird. And Tundra! Can’t forget about that. I’d have loved an entire chapter on Tundra and The Words and Pictures Museum and all of the fun stuff Kevin Eastman did during the Turtles’ biggest years. Every cartoonist I know swears that if he had millions of dollars, he’d start a publishing house and give all of his buddies all the money they needed so that they could focus on making comics without having any financial worries or editorial interference. And Kevin Eastman actually did that, and it was a wonderful, amazing, chaotic mess. A few all-time great comics came out of it, at least. Thank Kevin Eastman the next time you read From Hell or pull a copy of Understanding Comics off your bookshelf.
§ This interview reminded me that TMNT co-creator Peter Laird has a very active blog.
§ The Comics Reporter also ran one of those weekend listicles about Howard the Duck and I was reminded that the above comic is the favorite comic of 13 year old me until the universe ends.
§ Speaking of Howard the Duck, Steve Murray, whose pen name is Chip Zdarsky, get the Hometown Hero story of the weekend with “Marvel revives Howard the Duck with help of Toronto artist/”
§ Many people in my social networks were sharing this Name that Comic Book Artist quiz. I got 21/25 which, considering m profession, is pretty bad. I confess, I guessed the ones I wasn’t certain of by thinking “Who would be most likely to make that drawing error?”
§ Along similar lines, CBR is poling people on their all time favorite Wonder Woman artist. The top vote getters will Shock you! NOT REALLY.
§ And as for Wonder Woman, the new creative direction continues to be…controversial. Geek Mom Corinna Lawson writes Memo to DC: Wonder Woman Likes People. Honest And J. Caleb Mozzocco writes:
As a comics critic, I never quite know what to do with terrible comic books when I come across them. I never go out of my way to read a comic book that I suspect will be terrible without any mitigating circumstances, and, when I do read one, I then wonder if it’s better to just not mention it anywhere at all, under the ignore-it-and-it-will-go-away school of thought, or if I should go out of my way to discuss the book and its negative qualities, so as to not let the only reviews of the book to get written by positive ones.
§ KONVENTION KORNER. Rob Kirby went to Short Run in Seattle and wrote a super chatty, comprehensive piece for Festival Season:
Tabling for me is above all a social event – I don’t make a living through my comics so I can be a little more relaxed and less mercenary about the money thing than others (though perhaps I could stand to be a little more mercenary, but let’s not talk about that now). MariNaomi and I have been friends for several years now, having met at APE back in 2008. She’s great to table with. She brought an extra tablecloth (I hadn’t thought to bring one) and shared snacks with me. She helped me through a couple of Square mishaps: I kept swiping the card wrong before finally getting the hang of it. I hadn’t tabled since SPX last year and was a little rusty. She didn’t mind if took off to take photos and hobnob a little (like John Porcellino, Zan Christensen and other cartooning people I know, Mari doesn’t like to leave her table too much). What more can I say, she’s the best. Her new book, Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories (2D Cloud & Uncivilized Books), did brisk business all day long and yay, because it’s one of the finest books of the year and you should totally get it. And just because I’m biased doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to me on this.
§ BTW someone once complained to me about a con report here that began with getting up and getting to the train on time, and what he ate for breakfast and all that stuff. I find this kind of quotidian minutiae boring in most cases but for con reports it seems traditional! What do you think, readers?
§ Maia Kobabe has a list of Small Bay Area Comic Conventions that shows that the region isn’t entirely comics free.
§ 35,000 attended a comic in in Birmingham, UK that had nothing to do with comics, but did include stars from Red Dwarf and Breaking Bad. NEWSPAPER EDITORS: please include some teeny tiny mention of comics in your coverage of “COMIC CONS”.
§ Finally, according to my ancient obsolete RSS feed, John Jakala blogged for the first time in 10 months. Combine this with a coffee I had the other day with Matt Maxwell and the dream of the Aughts is alive in cyberspace.
§ Reportedly, the first issue of Marvel’s Star Wars comic by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, will sell 1 million copies, the most single issues of a comic since Batman #500 in 1993. Comicsbook.com reported this, and didn’t mention Loot Crate, which has been behind a lot of the massively selling comics of late. I know people like Star Wars, but if this number holds steady, I expect to hear that there were some kinds of massive extra-DM sales involved. That would average out to 333.33 copies per DM store, which is, I suppose, possible.
The book takes place between the original Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, so expect a lot of “We’ve got to get to Hoth” talk. Also, Jason and John, you’re buying.
§ A comic-con was held in Sao Paulo last weekend. About 20,000 people attended. What did they see?
In addition to seeing the original comic strips that inspired many major superhero franchises, guests also got a sneak-peek at future releases. There will be an exclusive preview of the next Hobbit film, “The Battle of Five Armies”, at the event, with a special appearance from Thorin actor, Richard Armitage. This mixture of attractions caused great excitement.
§ Meanwhile they are planning the first Comic-Con Portugal soon:
The Portuguese convention, which is being held for the first time, is “to make this event a national and international benchmark and to position itself as the biggest pop culture show in Portugal,” according to its organizers. Some highlights of the conference are an appearance by Clive Standen, the actor who plays Rollo in the TV show Vikings, actor Natalie Dormer from Game of Thrones, as well as Seth Gilliam, known for playing Father Gabriel in The Walking Dead.
OH BOY! COMICS.
And WHY do they call these things comic cons any more?
§ Looking for your smoking gun on Lichtenstein? this photoset from his studio has it!
§ Multiversity has chosen its breakout writers and artists for 2014.
§ Zainab Akhtar also picked 10 artists she liked in 2014 and…she nails it. Kris Mukai and Ronald Wimberly. So there.
§ Tom Spurgeon has explained more about his move to Columbus and his new job running CXC the new Columbus based CAF. The good news is that he isn’t giving up running The Comics Reporter! Running even a spuriously comprehensive blog like The Beat with another job is no easy task so, good luck! He’s also contemplating changes:
* CR, completely independent of my taking the gig in Columbus, has been experiencing trouble for quite some time. I’ll be announcing several changes in the way I do CR, changes that are long overdue and may help me to continue doing it and make for a better publication/source in the next few weeks. The model we started in 2004 and still use today doesn’t really work anymore. I hope you’ll bear with me and I hope you’ll be open to me pitching a few things at you at an appropriate time. Watch this space.
Tom is the only other blogger who does kind of the same thing I do, so if he’s changing it means our day is truly over.
§ Hilary Brown interviewed Olivier Schrauwen becuase Arséne Schwauren is one of the books of the year.
Schrauwen: The meaning of the color changes is not fixed; it depends on the context. For instance, the red can suggest a sweet and romantic feeling, but it can also illustrate hellish torment. The choice to work with two colors comes from the fact that I printed it first by myself, on a printer that can only print two different colors at a time. When you overlap the colors you can have quite a rich palette, but I figured it was more appropriate for the story to just juxtapose the colors. It’s a bit crude and brusque, but so is the story.
§ SPOILER. Apparently there is a petition to bring back **** who was shockingly killed in the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead. Sorry to say, she looked pretty dead to me.
§ Director Ridley Scott has mumbled something about why he won’t direct a comic book movie:
“I’ve had a lot of opportunities and I tend not to do that. They’re the hardest single thing to write,” he said. “Taking a comic strip character is very hard to write, because comics are meant to work in one page, to work in frames with minimalistic dialogue. And a lot of it is left to the imagination of the reader. To do that in film you’ve got to be a little more explanatory. And that requires a good screenplay and good dialogue.”
You know, I love Ridley Scott, but there’s a reason they don’t let him say things, because unless he was offered a movie version of Henry
, people can say things in movies. On the other hand, the first four movies he directed were The Duelists, Alien, Blade Runner and Legend (with the Apple 1984 commercial thrown in) so…he can kind of do whatever he wants.
And now a bunch of things I had kicking around since before Thanksgiving.
§ For some reason I bookmarked this Gerard Jones account of a trip to DC in the 80s and meeting Julius Schwartz.
§ I also bookmarked this quotes from Johanna Draper Carlson on Lumberjanes:
Lumberjanes is to today what the Dark Knight Returns was to another generation — a book that’s bringing in a whole new audience, an outreach book to a group that can love comics, once comics exist for them. Then it was older readers, those looking for mature content; now, it’s young women interested in active adventures, not appearances. It’s great to see a group of female lead characters (still rare in comics). Being a gang, they’re allowed to have different personalities and interests, instead of just being The Girl.
§ How do superhero costumes fit so well in the movies? they basically scan the actors and manufacture them to the micron. Only Kate Beckinsale and Bradley Cooper can really stand up to this kind of scrutiny.
§ James Gunn obviously hasn’t let his success as a marvel director get in the way of speaking his mind, which is pretty impressive, as with his widely quoted FB post on the flaws in the shared universe idea. He also loves posting mash-up art like Steamboat Yondu, above, and pictures of cure animals. What Gunn doesn’t really mention is that the entire Hollywood system is broken at the moment, along with everything else. It’s basically either small >$10 million films or $150 million blockbusters. No in between.
§ Finally, I greatly enjoyed this in-depth review of the Ellis/Shalvey/Bellaire Moon Knight by Beat alum Steve Morris.
There’s a real lack of baggage in Moon Knight, which is emphasized through Shalvey’s artwork. Whilst out of costume, Moon Knight looks gaunt, tired, and human. But within the costume, nothing interests or bothers the character beyond getting through his latest mission and finishing things. Shalvey puts an incredible amount of blank space in many of his panels, particularly in the fight scenes. Moon Knight’s costume at times is just an outline, with no definition – he’s an empty space within a busy confluence of fantasy, noir, action — whatever genre Ellis’ mood takes the series in. This creates a really distinctive sense of presence, even if that presence seems distant.
§ According to a recent interview, Norman Reedus and his fellow Walking Dead crew mates have their own little Comic-Con ritual, just as do you and I. Like, mine is going to the CVS in the mall and eating the berry pancakes at the Hyatt. Yours may be breakfast at Cafe 322 or buying a piece of original art from a favored booth. But because celebrities aren’t really just like us, they are god-like being made of light and peach nectar, their Comic-Con rituals are epic and recall ancient Norse manhood rites:
“We all do actually. All of us do that. I was doing it [the other] night with Greg [Nicotero] and Steven [Yeun] and Andy [Lincoln] and Chandler [Riggs], because I found all these pictures that when we were in Comic-Con, in San Diego, we have this ritual where we get up super early, and we meet down on the beach in bathrobes and then we just run into the ocean and it’s freezing, but it’s like, it’s become a tradition now, so I found all these photographs, and we had a little text chain going on,” Norman told Access. “Yeah, we do it all the time.”
The ocean in San Diego in July isn’t exactly “freezing” though, so maybe it’s all a terrible terrible lie?
§ I think the most consistently well written site about comics that I check every day is Women Write About Comics. And not just one or two writers but the whole site. I was happy to see Claire Napier get some mentions in the Comics Spire best comics writing list, but I also greatly enjoyed Megan Purdy’s piece on est em’s manga version of Carmen.
em est’s Carmen, an erotic, gay manga, is a story that works on the heart more than it does the head, but her reinterpretation is clever too — and not just because she found a way to put a new spin on it. In her Carmen, Jose is in a relationship with the toreador, here called Lucas, after the character in the Prosper Mérimée novella, rather than the opera which calls him Escamillo. Oh yes, did I fail to mention that Carmen is also a novella? It’s the source for the opera and leans quite heavily on Carmen’s unfaithful nature and Jose’s meanness. (So hard out here for a man.) In em est’s Carmen, she’s still the object of Jose’s obsession, but rather than being possessive of her, he is fixated, befuddled, and frustrated by her: “I envied her. She was everything I’m not. Perhaps I even wanted to be Carmen.”
§ Liz Prince
had a heck of a year, and her Tomboy got all kinds of attention. And now an interview on Comics Alliance with the also excellent Juliet Kahn
CA: What do think is the “state” of autobio comics today? It has very DIY roots, but with creators like Lucy Knisley, Alison Bechdel and yourself growing in prominence, it feels like a whole different ballgame than even a few years ago.
LP: I actually think that there have been ebbs and flows as far as autobio comics, and their visibility is concerned. In the early 2000s there was Craig Thompson‘s Blankets, and American Elf by James Kolchalka was very popular. Jeffrey Brown became astronomically popular because of Clumsy and Unlikely. Incidentally all of those books are Top Shelf, and that’s why I felt like my work fit with them. Then it seemed like there weren’t that many autobio comics being published, although there were a lot of diary comics online. I think the focus now is on “graphic memoirs”, and it’s really great to see that women cartoonists have been leading the charge; some of my favorite books in the genre are Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole Georges, Smile by Raina Telgemeier, and Tangles by Sarah Leavitt.
§ TCJ spotlighted a book that I had not heard of or even received a galley of: Funnybooks: The Improbable Glories of the Best American Comic Books by the noted comics historian Michael Barrier which examines the cozy, security-inspiring world of 50s funny animals comics.
In mid-20th century America, the comics published by Western Printing & Lithographing Company under the Dell label were inescapable. It had the market cornered on non-superhero licensing: comics with characters from the Disney, Warner Bros., MGM and Walter Lantz animation studios; Marge Buell’s Little Lulu; Johnny Gruelle’s Raggedy Ann; Tarzan; the Lone Ranger. Popular characters were the pull, but master cartoonists and storytellers like Barks, Walt Kelly and John Stanley were the reason people kept staying and kept certain titles’ circulation up to a million copies.
I think Barks, Kelly and Stanley inspired the most readers, but it’s instructive to recall that THIS is the era that the folks who ran comics in the 80s and 90s grew up surrounded by. It wasn’t all Carmine Infantino.
§ Many people linked to this piece on the dearth of mid-level moviemaking that I alluded to the other day. It’s a must read for laying everything out in a clear, numbers-oriented way. But the ascendance of superhero movies looms large. Steven Spielberg went on record with some dark foreboding thoughts a while ago, even if hearing the guy who INVENTED huge summer blockbusters with Jaws fret about their takeover was being hoisted on a box-office blasting petard. But, cycles end eventually:
How long, then, will the current filmmaking model hold? No less an authority than Steven Spielberg predicted last year, “There’s going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even half a dozen of these mega-budgeted movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that’s going to change the paradigm again.” Ted Hope agrees. “You look at the worst summer attendance [in 2014], box office dropped 15 percent, people like [DreamWorks Animation CEO and former Disney chief Jeffrey] Katzenberg saying that movies aren’t a growth industry, everything pointing toward the collapse of the foreign sales model.”
So, where does he think it’s going? “It feels incredibly vulnerable to me,” he says. “Look, I’m surprised the superhero stuff has the legs that it does, but you look at what Warner Brothers and Marvel have mapped out, you add into it all of the Universal monster movies and all these others platform plays, and you better hope that nobody’s taste changes for the next five years, you know? That’s not a diverse portfolio!”
Some suggest (hopefully???) that the studio system will implode as it did in the 60s, leading the amazing blossoming of the 70s. Certainly, Sony has to be reeling from having all its dirty knickers aired for everyone to see, and we haven’t seen the last of that drama. I don’t think Disney and WB are going to implode, though. BUT…people may get sick of superheroes sooner than you think.
§ Autostraddle had this list of 25 Queer and Trans Women Comic Creators to Support this Holigay Season!, but really these creators would all be good even if they were straight white men.
§ I asked for reports on Comic Arts LA and there were several, generally painting a sanguine picture.
§ It seems that Winter Con was also a hit, prompting some to seek the freedom of the outside world:
Among the numerous attendees dressed as their favorite comic book characters was Rafael Vargas, 30, an employee of Brookdale Hospital and resident of Ozone Park, who was in character as Venom, one of Spider-Man’s fiercest enemies. “This is my first show dressing up, but it’s great. I’m nervously excited,” said Vargas, whose words were muffled by his mask. “It’s awesome to see all these artists come together. It gives people who are into comics and sci-fi a reason to leave their house.”
§ In all the excitement of late, I neglected to link to this charming video of Dick Cavett & Al Jaffee talking about cartooning in a limo.
§ A terrible crime was committed in Wichita when someone stole $300,000 worth of old comics. Police continue to hunt for the culprit.
Mark Rowland, owner of River House Traders, says he lost more than $300,000 in the theft. But Rowland says he’s more upset because he’s owned some of the items for more than 50 years. KAKE-TV reports there is no description of the suspect, only that he left in a dark-colored car. Rowland now has a security system and says he will store some of his more valuable collectibles elsewhere.
BEWARE THE DARK CAR.
§ I link to The Digital Comic Museum every coupe of years, but here’s a longer appreciation of this repository of public domain comics.
The Digital Comic Museum knows that feeling and has obliged by making a vast quantity of vintage comics available for download free of charge. These are not just ordinary comics, but rather genuine vintage editions, many of which are exceedingly rare and obscure. That’s because all the comics featured are in the public domain and copyright free — which also means they’re old. The cutoff copyright date is December 1959, for example. Not surprisingly, many comics represent the mindset, politics and concerns of their era and some are not particularly politically correct, at least by current standards.
These comics are also the source of many reprints from Dark Horse, IDW and elsewhere. It’s a trove of treasure!
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§ A white, straight man named Grant Morrison said something that wasn’t stupid. I think.
Q: I love that the first issue of “The Multiversity” is full of people of color, from black superheroes and politicians to aboriginal gods and gay geeks. Why did you do this, and does it have anything to do with the super-white superheroes who have made the jump from comics to film and TV?
A: To be honest, it happened quite naturally and wasn’t something I did consciously. A couple of characters were ones I’d created for “Final Crisis” and others were new, but all of them were introduced to play specific roles in the story and it wasn’t until I’d finished writing the first issue that I realized my team of superpowerful, multiversal justice champions didn’t include a single straight white man.
I live in a world defined by a diversity of skin color, sexual orientation and opinion. I think it’s important to reflect the influence of that world in my “art.” An accident of birth has made me what I am — a middle-aged and obviously decaying white dude from the west of Scotland — so I’d never presume to elect myself a spokesperson for any minority or group. I’m not trying to make political points here but I do feel it’s important to reflect a world in the comic books that more closely approximates the world in which I find myself living. And basically, I identify with everyone who ever felt like an outsider.
§ Steve Ditko is alive and still making comics…and Kickstarting them. Long time Ditko collaborator Robin Snyder is the enabler here. hey have two 22 page books in the works, #22 and Tales of the Mysterious Traveler. The latter is making his first appearance in 30 years.
§ Speaking of long waits, the second issue of Nate Simpson’s Nonplayer has been finished! It’s been three and a half years since the first issue appeared from Image Comics. Back in 2011, Nonplayer was a beautifully illustrated comic that fit in squarely with the neo-Mobius movement that was taking place. Now Image is awash with gorgeous books, and it doesn’t stand out quite as much. Simpson spent the last three years on his day job in video games recovering from a bike accident and staying up every night until 4 am drawing one precious line a night.
§ The Comics Reporter offers many picks for books that people enjoyed in 2014.
§ Johanna Draper Carlson only blogs once a week now, but she plays catch up looking at some misdirections in comics marketing:
The problem is that so many readers are looking at exactly the same ordering material as the retailers are. Retailers like it when their customers preorder, since that reduces their uncertainty. But to have them do that, they give them the Previews catalog (or an equivalent). There isn’t a retailer-only information channel, so retailers are often left unaware of why a publisher thinks a particular comic will be a big seller if that turns on a plot event (like a death) that the publisher doesn’t want to reveal early. The publisher can’t tell their actual customer because there’s no way to keep the information from going wide to the public. That’s been an issue so long as the direct market has been around. But that’s not what I want to talk about here. (Long digression, huh?) What I want to point out is three examples of material where the publisher can and should have given retailers information that would definitely affect their ordering patterns, but chose not to.
§ Rob Kirby rounds up the rop 10 mini comics of 2014 but throws in many other picks.
§ And going back to the past, Retailer Joe Field passed along this video from 1988 of an interview with the late Marvel editor Mark Gruenwald from WonderCon of that year.
§ SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS. In a recent Marvel comic it was revealed that the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are no longer related to a character from another studio. Brett White points out that all this synergy is beginning to break down the things we love most about Marvel.