Axel-In-Charge: Waid & Samnee on "Black Widow" and the Dawn of the All-New, All-Different Era
Missed out on the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival? Want to check out new comics, zines, and prints from some of the show’s buzziest attendees and exhibitors? BCGF co-organizer PictureBox Inc. has you covered. Dan Nadel’s brainchild has stocked its online store with new books and art from a who’s who of folks at the show, including Frank Santoro, Anya Davidson, Matthew Thurber, CF, Sammy Harkham, and Leif Goldberg, and the anthologies Mould Map 2 (edited by Hugh Frost and Leon Sadler) and Weird (edited by Noel Freibert) from Landfill Editions and Closed Caption Comics respectively. Stuff your stockings, artcomics fans.
I bought many, many books at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival this past Saturday; I won’t be showing them to you in this report. This is because I’m actually, actively embarrassed by just how big my haul really was. I spent so much money at this show that I’m ashamed to even obliquely reveal it. Eighteen years from now, when I’m complaining about the cost of sending my daughter to college, the last thing I need is for her to dig through the Robot 6 archives, find my BCGF 2011 haul, and say “Oh really?”
But whatever it means for my finances, the surfeit of compelling new comics at BCGF can only mean great things for the show. As I told nearly everyone I encountered there — and I encountered more friendly critics and creators here than at any other show I can think of, often in marathon back-to-back-to-back meet-and-greet encounters that would slowly choke off an aisle as more and more people stopped to say hello — BCGF is my favorite comics show, hands down. I’d go so far as to say that it’s the best comics show, in fact, in that its relentless, carefully curated focus on the cutting edge gives it a sense of cohesion, purpose, and excitement that’s all but unmatched.
Hark! A Vagrant cartoonist Kate Beaton’s no stranger to superheroes, and her salty take on Wonder Woman really brings out the best in both women, real and imaginary. This time around, Beaton’s Wondy receives advice on how to be more awesome from Superman, Batman, some DC honchos, admiring fans, angry detractors, and more. Needless to say, she’s having none of it. Go read, but be careful not to touch that tiara. It looks dangerous!
Webcomics wunderkind Emily Carroll is taking her deliciously dark comics to dead tree. According to Publishers Weekly, Simon & Schuster’s Margaret K. McElderry Books will be publishing His Face All Red and Other Stories, a book-length collection from the celebrated (mostly) horror-comic creator. The book will also be released in the UK through Faber & Faber and in Italy through Stile Libro.
As a big fan of Carroll’s vibrant colors, exquisite pacing, and genuinely creepy, genuinely bleak stories of murder and monstrousness, I’m really looking forward to this one. I’m doubly curious to see how her existing stories, which frequently make use of the “infinite canvas” of the web in terms of layout, translate to the printed page.
Carroll, might I remind you, had never drawn a comic prior to May 2010. So, y’know, holy smokes.
Remember that unpublished cover Geof Darrow drew for J. Michael Straczynski’s “Grounded” arc on Superman that we posted the other day? Remember Darrow saying to Inkstuds’ Robin McConnell that it never ran as a cover and that “it’ll never see the light of day” despite his “really nice guy” editor’s assurances to the contrary? Good news, Darrow fans: Both Darrow and DC confirm that the finished cover will appear in Superman: Grounded Vol. 2, on sale this Wednesday, Dec. 7. The crazy cat lady will get her time in the sun at last!
That was recently?
Oh yeah yeah. I liked it. I thought it was funny. It was this whole thing, Superman is on a walkabout, kind of rediscovering America. They asked a bunch of guys to do like—Kevin Nowlan was one of them and they said, you can draw whatever you want. Superman, that’s the thing. He’s rediscovering America. You just can’t show him in New York. So I thought about it. I thought, “Well, flying in front of Mount Rushmore, all this stuff…” I said, “I know!” I drew him having tea with this cat lady in this room, she’s like a little old lady and she’s serving him tea and cookies and he’s sitting on her couch having tea with her and there’s all these cats around and all these pictures of her family on the wall. I thought it was funny! That’s kind of America. They didn’t run it. The issue was supposed to run and they had to change it, it was Lois Lane-centric and they had pffft! I was like…and the editor was a really nice guy, he was very “We’re going to use it someday and blah blah blah.” But I don’t think they ever will, because I’m sure someone will say, “Wait a minute…”
[laughs] “Nothing’s getting hit!”
The other ones are pretty much what you’d thought they would be, him flying with clouds—and they’re all beautiful, I just thought mine was kind of funny. But it’ll never see the light of day.
—Hard Boiled and Shaolin Cowboy cartoonist Geof Darrow reveals his lost Superman cover to Inkstuds’ Robin McConnell. Looks like the Crazy Cat Lady is one villain not even the Man of Steel could defeat.
In all seriousness, though, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of McConnell’s career-spanning interview with Darrow, originally conducted and aired in February and recently transcribed in full on the Inkstuds website. Darrow has stealthily become one of the most influential comics artists in the English-language comics world — recent works by Chris Burnham, Brandon Graham, James Stokoe, Rafael Grampa, Nate Simpson, Ulises Farinas, and Sam Humphries & Steven Sanders all bear his imprint in one way or another — and McConnell’s interview is a treasure trove of anecdotes about Miller, Moebius, Métal Hurlant, The Matrix, and more.
When I finally sat down to work on my next comics project, I felt obligated to attempt a real “graphic novel.” I was looking at these giant tomes that some of my peers were working on, and I felt really envious of that kind of achievement. It also just seemed like that was the direction everything was moving in, and my old habit of publishing short stories in the comic book format was already an anachronism. So I pursued that for awhile, doing a lot of the kind of preparatory work which is actually the hardest part for me, and the whole time I had these nagging thoughts like, “Do I really want to work on this for ten years? Do I want to draw and write in the same way for that long? Does the material really merit that much of an investment?”
I actually completed about twenty pages of this material — completely written, drawn, and colored — and I still couldn’t shake the growing suspicion that I was headed down the wrong path. The scope of the project was completely draining any amount of joy from the work for me. Then when my daughter was born and I essentially became a stay-at-home dad, that really changed everything. I felt like that needed to be the main focus of my life for the time being, and I’d need to find a way of working that would accommodate that. So returning to short stories seemed like the right solution, and now I honestly think that, at least at this point in my life, it’s the mode that I’m best suited to. I love being able to draw twenty pages in one style, finish that story, then start the next one completely fresh.
—Optic Nerve cartoonist Adrian Tomine tells CBR’s Jorge Khoury about his failed attempt to create a big fat graphic novel in the vein of…well, pretty much everyone in literary comics these days, I guess. Anytime I read about lost projects and abandoned pages like this I feel a twinge of regret, but it seems to have led Tomine to an epiphany about the kind of work he wants to be doing and the kind of life he wants to be living. If that’s failure, then we should all fail more often.
As a longtime admirer of H Day cartoonist Renee French’s delicate pencil art, and the frequently disturbing things she uses that delicate pencil art to portray, I’d been a bit dismayed by her Blogspot blog‘s radio silence this autumn. For several years she’d been posting art on a daily basis — what happened? Well, she appears to have switched over to her previously little used Posterous site, as I discovered this weekend. Add it to your RSS reader and your flow of French will remain largely uninterrupted.
Looks like Wizard Magazine/Wizard Entertainment/Wizard World founder Gareb Shamus is taking a more hands-on approach to the internet component of his comics-related empire. After years of communicating with his audience (or at least putting his signature on these communications) solely through press releases, editor’s letters, and the occasional confrontation over unrefunded subscriptions to the now-defunct Wizard magazine with a white Lando Calrissian cosplayer, Shamus has started a blog and opened a Twitter account. Meanwhile, Wizard Magazine’s much-ballyhooed digital incarnation — previously touted by Shamus as “the smartest business decision I’ve ever made” — appears to have disappeared from the Internet.
On Twitter, Shamus is following a dozen people, including Brian Michael Bendis, Jim Lee, Kevin Smith, and Whitney Cummings of the NBC comedy Whitney. So far his only tweet is a retweeted link to an interview with Siggy Flicker, matchmaker and star of VH1’s Why Am I Still Single? (Ironically, perhaps, that last bit reminds me of the weird fake Gareb Shamus twitter account that’s been following virtually all of us ex-Wizard employees for a couple of years now.)
On his blog, Shamus has posted interviews with creators Bill Sienkiewicz, David Mack, Marv Wolfman, Phil Jimenez, Greg Capullo, and Kevin Maguire, as well as his thoughts on chocolate chip cookies. That’s actually a pretty fun line-up.
But Wizard World, the digital magazine that replaced Wizard‘s print iteration after it and sister publication ToyFare were unceremoniously canceled? Nowhere to be found on its dedicated URL WizardWorldDigital.com. And on Wizard’s main site, currently billing itself as the place “Where Pop Fi Comes to Life,” Wizard World‘s death has gone unnoted as well. Perhaps White Lando can direct inquiries about this matter to @gareb.
Can you find the acclaimed comics creators behind The Death-Ray and The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists in this photograph by Adrian Tomine from their trip to the Miami Book Fair? Just be patient and keep searching — I’m sure you’ll see them in there eventually!
Move over, Ana Alexandrino’s photo of Killoffer — there’s a new sheriff of Awesome Pictures of Cartoonists-Town.
No one tell Frank Miller, but Occupy Wall Street has donned the mantle of the Bat. During last Thursday’s “Day of Action” march across the Brooklyn Bridge by New York City-based protesters, a powerful light projector bathed the monolithic side of the nearby Verizon Building with OWS slogans, in a move directly inspired by the Gotham City Police Department’s preferred method of contacting Batman.
In an interview with Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing, project coordinator Mark Read had this to say:
It came up at an action coordination meeting. We were talking about what to do on the 17th. We had a sense that the morning on Wall Street would be forceful and confrontational, and we wanted to not do the same kind of thing in the afternoon. Initial talks focused on having a thousand people taking the bridge in the afternoon, and continuing in a militant mode of activism. But we started thinking about creating a more unifying moment. A celebration of the birthday of Occupy Wall Street. Maybe taking the roadway and having lots of arrests might not be best thing. What if we took the pedestrian walkway, and gave out LED candles? We would give out 10,000 LED tea candles, a river of light streaming over the walkway.
And a guy named Hero, who has been central to a lot of facets of the occupation since the beginning, turns to me and says, “We need a bat signal. The 99%.”
I said, I think I can do that. I know just enough about how the technology works that I think I can pull that off. And for the past two weeks, I’ve worked full time on figuring that out.
It’s hard to say what my favorite part of this story is. Batman inspiring a real-life fight for social justice? The low-income housing resident who bravely donated her apartment as a base of operations? The choice of positive, uplifting slogans projected in light, against the metaphorical backdrop of a pretty ugly week for the country? The use of the face of a big building as the canvas for the OWS-signal, a la Gotham Cathedral in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns? The fact that the dude who came up with the idea is named “Hero”?
Read the message in full and watch a video of the signal in action (both via Boing Boing) after the jump.
I’m not even paraphrasing! In a lengthy and fascinating interview with Nadim Damluji, the writer whose thoughtful critique of Craig Thompson’s Habibi spearheaded the discussion of Thompson’s use of Orientalist tropes and stereotypes in his depiction of Arab and Islamic culture and people (particularly women), Thompson comes right out and welcomes all the sticky, tricky, at times uncomfortable and unpleasant associations his use of harems, slavers, sultans and so on call to mind.
Consider the tale of Annie Koyama, the publisher of the eponymous art-comics outfit Koyama Press, as explained to Robot 6’s Chris Mautner (him again?) for CBR.
Her successful career as a producer in film, television, and commercials came to an end when she was handed a terminal diagnosis of multiple brain aneurysms. Unable to work, she started playing the stock market with no experience whatsoever…and ended up generating enough cash to form both a nest egg for herself and a slush fund for local artists whose work caught her eye. Meanwhile, a risky surgical procedure saved her life: “I still have another aneurysm but choose to mostly ignore it” is how she describes what remains of her condition. And now she’s responsible for getting gorgeous comics by Michael DeForge, Dustin Harbin, Steve Wolfhard and more into our hot little hands. Kickass Annie, I salute you.
Read the whole thing for much more on Koyama the person and the press, and what they both look for in art and comics.
The book exists on a crossroads between family history and comics. And explaining the geography of where the work sits involved answering both questions pretty fully, and it was very difficult to reenter, I’ve got to say. Very painful….Well, you know, you get calluses when you work, and it protects you as you do your gardening, and during the thirteen years of Maus, I got my protective layer of dead skin, so that I could kind of deal with my family and history at least, and even get the comics done efficiently, if thirteen years is efficient. But those went away. You get new skin. And re-entering, looking at my dead family, rereading, and further reading, on an area where I haven’t really been focused, i.e., the death camps, and reading more, is really painful — and even looking back at my own work, and how it’s affected my work life since is difficult. So, I avoided the project for a long time. The first month or so was really devastating. Then the callouses came back, and I could go on to shaping and making a byoo-ti-ful book. So that’s why, basically.
—Art Spiegelman on how revisiting his masterwork Maus was hazardous to his mental health, in an interview on the exhaustive new Maus-umentary book/DVD MetaMaus with Robot 6’s Chris Mautner for The Comics Journal.
I have to say that even if I were dismiss the difficulty of having this personal and painful a work as your personal career centerpiece, and even if I were to discount his editing of RAW, his New Yorker covers, his illustration and children’s books, his publishing work, In the Shadow of No Towers, and the expanded re-release of Breakdowns, I’m still much more sympathetic than many with regards to Spiegelman’s supposed failure to produce another work commensurate with his Pulitzer Prize-winning family history of the Holocaust. That comic changed the entire art form for the better, and that’s one more art-form-changing comic than most people have drawn.
And while we’re on the subject of big BCGF news, how’s this: Cartoonist and editor Zack Soto has announced the launch of Study Group Magazine, with a first issue slated to debut at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival on December 3rd. Spinning out of Soto’s long-running Studygroup12 anthology (the last issue of which debuted at last year’s BCGF) and co-edited by Soto and former Comics Journal editor Milo George, Study Group Magazine will include both comics and comics journalism. On the latter score, the first issue will feature an interview with Craig Thompson by George, an interview with cover artist Eleanor Davis by Soto, and a profile of Brecht Evens by Greice Schneider. As for the comics themselves, look for contributions from Soto, Michael DeForge, Jonny Negron, Trevor Alixopulos, David King, Aidan Koch, Daria Tressler, Chris Cilla, Malachi Ward, and Jennifer Parks. And be sure to visit Soto’s blog for some gorgeous purple-and-yellow two-tone preview art.