Why The Russos Are The Best Thing to Happen to the MCU Since Joss Whedon
Awards | Roz Chast has won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Best Autobiography for her graphic novel Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Chast’s tale of taking care of her parents in their declining years seems to be one of those books that crosses the usual boundaries, winning recognition not only in comics circles but in general book awards such as the Kirkus Awards and the National Book Awards. [Comic Riffs]
Retailing | ICv2 continues its focus on manga with a profile of Boston’s Comicopia, where they stock a lot of manga (4,000 volumes) and the staff really understands it. Most of the manga is simply shelved by title, reflecting the fact that readers often cross the target demographics (i.e. a lot of girls read Shonen Jump), but Comicopia also has sections for yaoi, all-ages manga, and “Manga for People that Don’t Like Manga.” [ICv2]
Conventions | Ace Parking, which manages parking at the San Diego Convention Center and six other nearby lots, will move to a lottery system this year to assign permits for Comic-Con International (those lots are Hilton Garage, Petco Lots, Padres Parkade, Diamond View Tower, Horton Plaza and Gaslamp City Square). For a shot at one of those spaces, you have to email Ace Parking by April 12. A drawing will be held on April 15, with the winners receiving information about how to purchase permits for their assigned location. See the full details on the Ace Parking website. [SDCC Unofficial Blog]
Jeph Jacques, creator of the long-running webcomic Questionable Content, may have come up with the website walmart.horse on a whim, but global retail leviathan isn’t amused. In fact, Walmart has demanded the cartoonist, well, stop horsing around.
Jacques explained to Ars Technica that the webpage was inspired by the latest batch of Top Level Domains, domain-name extensions that reflect different interests. “The idea behind the site started out as a conversation with a friend of mine — we were extremely amused by the new .horse TLD and decided to register a bunch of ridiculous domain names with it,” he said.
One of these was walmart.horse; the page consists entirely of the image above, which itself is composed of two public-domain photos superimposed on one another. Jacques calls it “postmodern Dadaism — nonsense-art using found objects.”
Auctions | Sotheby’s auction of comics and comics art over the weekend in Paris brought in about $4.1 million for 189 works, including Hergé’s cover art for the 10th-anniversary issue of Le Petit Vingtième (the magazine where Tintin first ran), several Tintin pages, and pieces by Hugo Pratt, Charles Burns and Osamu Tezuka. An acrylic and crayon illustration by Dave Stevens created in 1988 for the first issue of The Rocketeer Adventure Magazine (at right) fetched $66,017, a record for the late artist’s work. [Paul Gravett, Artnet]
Creators | “Hobbes was as much my alter-ego as Calvin was”: In an excerpt from the new book Exploring Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson talks about how he came to comics, how he developed the style and characters of Calvin and Hobbes, and the continuing popularity of the strip years after it stopped running in newspapers. [Comic Riffs]
Publishing | Early analysis of 2014 manga sales shows that the category has appeared to turn around, with sales increasing last year, driven by the Attack on Titan juggernaut. [ICv2]
Publishing | Black Mask Studios, which started as the publisher of Occupy Comics and now publishes a number of series in different styles and genres, launched a YouTube channel this week as an outlet for its animation and motion-comics projects. [The New York Times]
Manga | ICv2 kicks off a week of manga coverage with a two-part interview with Kevin Hamric, Viz Media’s senior director of sales and marketing. Sales are up, with particularly strong growth in the direct market, where their older and darker series, like the Signature line, tend to do better. Interestingly, sales of shoujo (girls’) manga are up 20 percent in the direct market as well. In bookstores, as measured by BookScan, they are the number one graphic novel publisher of 2014, and they had five of the top ten best-sellers. Given all that, Hamric is genial about ceding the top spot to a Kodansha title: “Attack on Titan is #1, but whatever works and brings people into the stores and into the category is good for everybody.” In Part 2, he reveals what he expects to be the biggest book of 2015, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. [ICv2]
Ross Campbell, creator of Wet Moon and Shadoweyes and artist of IDW Publishing’s new Jem and the Holograms comic, made a big announcement on Friday:
it’s time to stop hiding! i’m transgender and over the past year i’ve been transitioning and i’m sick of keeping it all a secret. i’m on hormones now so i figured now is the time to come out. i’m going by Sophia but Sophie for short.
i don’t really feel proud or confident or anything, it’s a nightmare, but maybe i’ll get there one day.
“this is why i haven’t been doing conventions anymore and probably won’t for the foreseeable future,” she wrote on Twitter. One reason, sadly: “i’m scared to fly, airport security is not known to be friendly toward trans people,” she tweeted.
Campbell commended her editors and co-workers for their support and noted that her mother had been very accepting of the news. The reaction on Twitter and Tumblr was also overwhelmingly positive (she mentioned she had received her first Twitter troll, however), but there was a bit of a war over Campbell’s Wikipedia entry, as Rich Johnston documented.
Anne Goetzinger’s Girl in Dior, out this month from NBM, is as much art book as graphic novel. While there is a narrative thread to the story, it often looks very like fashion illustration, with models arrayed across the page, posing in careful contrapposto to show off the graceful curves of the dresses. Even panels that aren’t part of the fashion show often use this same format, with a gaggle of fashion writers or Dior employees filling the panel, each one with a single comment in a word balloon.
The plot is slight and beyond implausible, a mere pretext to bring us into the world of Christian Dior: Clara, a young girl who has just been hired as a reporter, covers Dior’s first show, is fired after a disastrous photo shoot, and ends up being hired as one of his models. She’s a pretty standard-issue character—young, smart, spunky—who exists mainly as a lens through which we get an insider’s view of the Dior atelier. Indeed, the book focuses as much on the life of the people who make and model the dresses as on the designer or even Clara herself.
That doesn’t mean it’s not a great story, though. Goetzinger brings us into the world of Dior on the day of his first show, which galvanized the fashion world. It was 1947, and although World War II had been over for two years, rationing was still in place and the French were still feeling the hardships of the war and its aftermath. Dior’s “New Look” (as it was christened by fashion writer Carmel Snow) swept that aside, replacing the practical shapes and short skirts that were the result of fabric rationing with long, flowing skirts and graceful wasp-waisted silhouettes. Goetzinger shows us the action behind the scenes as well as the buzz of the crowd, but most important of all are the dresses themselves, which she renders in loving detail.
Every year, I participate in my city’s Community Reading Day, in which adults in various professions read a book to an elementary school class. Everyone loves to read to the little kids, so I always volunteer for the older grades, and of course I bring comics.
Sometimes I get a good response and sometimes I don’t, but this year was really great, because of both the book and the kids.
The book was a no-brainer: Raina Telgemeier’s Sisters, which was the top selling graphic novel in bookstores last year and the top pick on the Good Comics for Kids blog’s list of the best children’s graphic novels of 2014.
Comic strips | Prompted by the insult-filled message left by an 8-year-old for the newspaper editor who dropped his favorite comics, Michael Cavna asks Big Nate creator Lincoln Peirce whether kids are still even reading comic strips in high numbers. His answer, at least in part: “I’m a firm believer that kids will ALWAYS want their comics…but they’ll want them in whatever formats are the newest and shiniest. So: Yes, kids are still reading plenty of comics. They’re just not reading them in their daily newspapers.” It kicks off an interesting, if brief, discussion with a cartoonist who’s found a great deal of success reaching young readers. Related: Christopher Caldwell looks back on Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. [The Washington Post]
Graphic novels | Once again, Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? leads the BookScan list of the top-selling graphic novels in bookstores. Volumes one and two of March also did well on the February chart, placing third and fourth, respectively. All four volumes of Saga made the list, along with three volumes of The Walking Dead and, shockingly, just one of Attack on Titan. [ICv2]
Creators | Jeff Lemire began getting calls from Hollywood even before the first issue of his new series Descender, a collaboration with artist Dustin Nguyen, came out. But while they sold the film rights to Sony Pictures, Lemire is determined the comic will come first: “I think one of the biggest things that went into us choosing Sony [was], we made it very clear — and they were very receptive — that we were going to tell the comic book the way we wanted to tell the comic. Meaning, if in the comic we wanted to veer left and they wanted to go right with the movie, we could do that.” [Comic Riffs]
Legal | Police interrupted a launch event for Malaysian cartoonist Zunar’s latest book, claiming he didn’t have a proper permit. The book, ROS in Kangkongland, makes fun of the Malaysian prime minister’s wife. Zunar tweeted from the event that 20 officers had shown up. “It is ridiculous to have 20 police personnel interfere in this event. This book is not even banned, I don’t even know what offence I have committed,” he said. In the end he shut down the event but told attendees they could order the books online. Zunar is scheduled to speak at the United Nations this week on the topic of freedom of speech. [The Malaysian Insider]
Libraries | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has responded to the recent removal of a copy of Gilbert Herandez’s Palomar from a high school library in New Mexico following complaints from a parent, who called the acclaimed graphic novel “pornographic.” Taking a local television station to task for its “biased reporting,” the organization notes the removal of the book by Rio Rancho Public Schools officials appears to violate the district’s own challenge policy. [Comic Book Legal Defense Fund]
Manga | Here’s an interesting insight into the Japanese publishing industry: Deb Aoki, in Tokyo as a judge for the Manga Translation Battle, collects a series of her tweets and the responses of others (including a number of pros) to the symposium that followed the awards reception. The juxtaposition of two charts is startling: Manga sales are sharply down in Japan but rising in the United States, although of course the orders of magnitude are different. In keeping with the theme, she also discusses what makes a “good” translation, with actual manga translators weighing in with their opinions. [Storify]
Drawn Onward, by Matt Madden (Retrofit Comics)
I’m mostly familiar with Matt Madden as someone who writes about the theory and practice of comics, as the co-author (with his wife, Jessica Abel) of Drawing Words and Writing Pictures, as well as the sole author of 99 Ways to Tell a Story, so I wasn’t too surprised that this comic would be an experiment in form. In fact, the name gives it away: Drawn Onward is a palindrome. The story, a tale of infatuation and obsession set almost entirely on the New York subway, reads at first like a straightforward tale of a woman’s encounter with a strange man who keeps bothering her—and with whom she becomes obsessed. But the last page of the comic is only the midpoint of the story: The narrator tells the reader to go back and read the comic backwards, and when you do, it’s the same story with the roles reversed.
The Society of Illustrators has announced the winners of the 2015 Comic and Cartoon Art Annual competition. Olivier Schrauwen took the gold medal in the Long-Form category for Arsène Schrauwen, and Bianca Gagnarelli received top honors in the Short Form category for Fish. Lauren Weinstein won the gold medal in digital media for Carriers, her five-part webcomic about learning she and her husband both had the gene for cystic fibrosis, and therefore her unborn child might have the disease.
The winning entries will be put on display in two exhibits at the Society of Illustrators gallery in New York: The Short Form, Digital Media, and Special Format exhibit will run from June 16-July 18, and the Long Form, Single Image, and Comic Strip show will run from July 21-August 15. Many of the entries will also be on display at the MoCCA Arts Fest in April.
Here’s the complete list of winners: