So, you’ve been waiting for Paul Pope’s Battling Boy in varying states of eagerness and frustration since first hearing about the project in 2006. Perhaps now you’ve seen actual physical proof that this near-mythical beast exists in the wild, and as such have allowed any despondency to be replaced again by sweet anticipation. Thinking, hey, looks like I’ll finally get my hands on this, you go ahead and pre-order it from your regular book pusher.
Well, in the immortal words of Warren Zevon, reconsider that pre-order: It turns out Pope has a special relationship going on with his local bookstore in Brooklyn, Word, and if you order it from them before Oct. 4, you can get an autographed and personalized copy instead, with the books then shipping on the official release date of Oct. 8.
Tempting, isn’t it? Just make it “To Mark, better late than never!”
(via Destroy Comics)
My favorite comic of the past year by a clear head and shoulders has been The Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon. In fact, when others were courting controversy by loudly bemoaning the absence of Marvel and DC comics in the nominations for Eisner Awards, I was to be found loudly berating anyone that would listen that it was a crime Nao wasn’t in the running at all. It should have been nominated in at least three categories, I’d argue.
History won’t judge this oversight well, I would rage. It won the Prix Spécial du Jury at this year’s 40th Angoulême International Festival of Bande Dessinée, I’d point out. The French don’t just throw those things around like confetti. They know what they’re talking about. And they hate the English, I’d generalize. How good must it be for them to forget Agincourt and Waterloo and give the prize to a Ros Bif? Then the ambulance arrived, that big guy injected something into my neck, and I can’t remember much of the next couple of days at all.
Just as Dr. Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk, we want our library community members to make their own personal transformations through books, programs, and awesome new equipment,” Tom Mukite, a trustee of the Northlake Public Library, writes on the project’s Indiegogo page. “This larger-than-life literary character will become a giant green beacon of light to highlight our graphic novel collection, our creation station … not to mention the library’s sense of humor and whimsy. The project will show off the fun side of the library and get the community talking. The HULK will force patrons to look at the library in a whole new way.”
According to the Franklin Park Herald-Journal, Mukite became a library trustee in October specifically so he could spearhead the campaign. “We’ve been working on The Hulk statue since August when we first got the idea for it,” he tells the newspaper. “It was running a bit slow. We have to get everything approved by the trustees. I figured if I was on the board, everything would be easier.”
The library has about 2,300 graphic novels and manga, but hopes to greatly expand the collection. In addition to the books and the statue, made by licensed sculptor Studio Oxmox, the goal is to purchase an iMac with a drawing pad, editing software, a 3D printer and more.
So far, the Northlake Public Library has raised $775. The campaign ends June 9.
Top Shelf Productions has announced the July debut of a series of all-ages graphic novels by veteran cartoonist Rob Harrell, and a “condensed” version of the Bible by Mark Russell and Shannon Wheeler.
Harrell’s Monster on the Hill ($19.95) is set in a fantastical version of 19th century England, where every little town is terrorized by a unique monster, much to the pleasure of the citizens, who view the ferocious creature as a matter of local pride and a magnet for tourism. That is, except for the residents of Stoker-on-Avon, whose monster Rayburn is a little down in the dumps and in need of a makeover from the eccentric Dr. Charles Wilkie and street urchin Timothy.
And then there’s God Is Disappointed in You ($19.95), the irreverent yet faithful retelling of the Bible written by Russell and illustrated by Wheeler (Too Much Coffee Man). It’s billed as “a must-read for anyone who wants to see past the fog of religious agendas and cultural debates to discover what the Bible really says.”
One of the highlights of every comics reading week for me is on a Saturday morning, when the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper has a new strip in its magazine supplement by Stephen Collins (they’re all available to see on the website). Collins won their Observer/Cape graphic short story competition in 2010, which resulted in a book deal with Jonathan Cape, the fruits of which is the upcoming The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil.
As you can tell from his weekly strips, Collins is something of a master at finding new angles to view the world from, as likely to see the absurd and the unsettling as the humorous. Liberated from the joke-of-the-week short form, Collins has produced a rich allegorical work with a certain Kafkaesque quality, with the story told in a rolling, rhyming blank verse (you can see examples on both his blog and this preview at It’s Nice That.
He’s also produced a great director’s commentary feature for Joe Gordon’s FPI blog that goes some way to show the scale of the hard work that goes into producing such a hefty end product. It’s telling that Cape have secured a quote from Raymond Briggs for the back cover. Like so much of Briggs’ own work, this book has a timeless, ageless quality, that could be as enjoyed as much as an entertainment by children or as a satire by adults.
We reported in November on the announcement of comics making it into the roster of World Book Night for the first time ever, in the form of 2000AD/Rebellion’s The Dark Judges collection. Now World Book Night has now rolled around, and to find an event tonight where you can receive a free copy of this book, consult the list of events on the website, or take a dig around the interactive map of the United Kingdom.
Brendan McCarthy has taken to Facebook to plug the upcoming Dark Horse collection The Best of Milligan and McCarthy. He’s been using it to spread rather fetching memetic images from the classic strips in the book: so far, “Freakwave,” “Paradax” and “Skin” have gone up, presumably with similar designs for “Sooner or Later” and “Rogan Gosh” to follow.
I have to admit, I have a horse running in this race, because Brendan and Pete asked me to write an essay for the book, and it proved damned hard getting the reasons of why and how much I love this material down to less than a thousand words. Anyway, I feel jealous of anyone getting to experience this (inspirational, influential) material for the first time. It’s been downright criminal that its been out of print for so long. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love, you’ll walk funny for a week.
It’s been a big couple of weeks for U.K. comics publishing, and a lot of that might have to do with this weekend’s Comica Festival (a.k.a. “the 10th London International Comics Festival”). There has been a rush of titles from British graphic novel publishers of late, no doubt timed for a big push at this most art-centric of U.K. comics conventions (it’s hosted this year at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, and I dare anyone of a certain vintage to think of that place and not start humming this).
There’s a lot of great stuff out there at the minute that’s maybe not getting enough coverage internationally, so let’s do a round-up, shall we? There’s a myth that the American comics audience is insular, so let’s disprove it: These books are even already available in English, although their spelling is a bit suspect at times. Yeah, you heard me, buy a dictionary, limeys!
• The Man Who Laughs, the oddest of Victor Hugo’s novels, adapted by David Hine and Mark Stafford, published by SelfMadeHero: Hine has posted a host of panels from the book at his blog. I was previously ignorant of Stafford’s work, but these are some handsome-looking samples; they reminded me a little of the great Dave Cooper. Hine is always good value, and has a track record of making some genuinely unsettling comics (Strange Embrace, The Bulletproof Coffin), so this sounds like the perfect alignment of talent to source material.
One of the big stories that has followed Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko over the course of his career is how reticent he to do interviews or appear at conventions. As one fan puts it, Ditko prefers to talk through his comics.
And now Robin Snyder, longtime publisher of Ditko’s work, is using Kickstarter to fund a updated second edition of the reclusive artist’s long out-of-print graphic novel The Ditko Public Service Package. Originally published back in 1991, The Ditko Public Service Package is a 110-page book working as an argument against the business practices of comic publishers. Characters include anonymous publishers, creators, journalists, fans and corporate types whom Ditko uses to tell his story. It’s not dry. however, as Ditko uses gag cartooning and some surprisingly funny methods to tell his story in an engaging and persistent way.
A famous British band once sang about how it “Just Can’t Get Enough,” which is how I feel about the work of Andrew Robinson. But luckily for me, there’s about to be a whole lot more of him this year.
Robinson has been releasing pages on his DeviantArt page from his long-awaited graphic novel The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story. Announced in October by Dark Horse, it’s a biography of the famed manager who acted as shepherd/friend/taskmaster for the revelatory music group the Beatles. The graphic novel is written by comics newcomer Vivek J. Tiwary, a Broadway veteran with 25 Tony Awards for his work on The Addams Family, Green Day’s American Idiot and The Producers.
The Fifth Beatle has been a three-year labor of love for Robinson, creating the 120-plus pages entirely by hand using pencils, pens, markers, acrylics, watercolors, gouache and more. The project has drawn him away from the public eye save for some cover work, but that time away looks to be paying off.
For a dead guy, Dracula sure gets around a lot.
All jokes aside (for now), a comics gem recently popped up on Kickstarter with the official launch of writer Mark Sable and artist Salgood Sam‘s long-hinted-at graphic novel Dracula: Son of the Dragon. Set in the 15th century, it’s one part historical and one part horror, and while it might be shelved next to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, this story isn’t a pop culture mash-up. It’s s an origin story that ties together the historical Vlad the Impaler with the fictional Dracula, beginning with Vlad’s childhood and how he was inducted into the dark arts.
In progress for more than a year now, Sable and Sam are using Kickstarter to raise funds to finance the production of Dracula: Son of the Dragon ‘s 60-page first volume, both in a standard edition and a series of limited edition versions. In addition to various editions offered to people who pledge for the fundraising campaign, the duo are offering original artwork, appearances in the book, and even a script review by Sable himself.
While something can be great on its own, the idea of mixing two things can lead to interesting combinations. Peanut butter and jelly, rock and roll, the Beatles and Jay-Z … and soon, The Simpsons and Akira. Cartoonist James Harvey is organizing a full-scale re-creation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s popular manga series with its characters replaced with members of The Simpsons.
“Milhouse is Kaneda. Lisa is Kei. Bart is Tetsuo,” Harvey posted on his blog. “Let’s do it.”
The controversial removal of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis last week from seventh-grade classrooms of Chicago Public Schools had at least one positive side effect: healthy sales of the 13-year-old graphic novel at local bookstores.
DNAinfo reports several area booksellers sold out of the memoir over the weekend following a directive by CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett telling schools to stop teaching it as part of the seventh-grade curriculum “due to the powerful images of torture in the book.” The school system is also reviewing whether Persepolis, which chronicles Satrapi’s childhood in Iran during the Islamic revolution, should be taught to grades eight through 10.
The initial order, reportedly sent by district staff without administration approval, called for a system-wide ban, with removal beginning Wednesday afternoon at Lane Tech College Prep, sparking a protest Friday by teachers, parents and students. The National Coalition for Censorship also sent a letter to the district, urging the return of the graphic novel to classrooms. According to Progress Illinois, hundreds of students at Lane Tech also participated in a sit-in Monday morning, while those at Social Justice High School organized a read-in.
According to DNAinfo, by Monday no copies of Persepolis were available at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square, Quimby’s in Wicker Park or Women & Children First in Andersonville.
“Whenever something gets banned, we kind of like to push it more,” said John Khosropour, an employee at Unabridged Bookstore in Lakeview.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund joined the Kids’ Right to Read Project and the National Coalition for Censorship in urging Chicago Public Schools to return Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis to seventh- through 10th-grade classrooms.
The award-winning graphic was pulled Wednesday afternoon from Lane Tech College Prep ahead of a district-wide ban, sparking outcry from teachers, faculty and students, some of whom planned a protest Friday afternoon. Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett then ordered principals to disregard the earlier directive, leaving Persepolis in libraries but asking that the book not be taught in seventh-grade classrooms — it was previously part of the curriculum — “due to the powerful images of torture.”
The memoir recounting Satrapi’s childhood in Iran during the Islamic revolution is also under review for grades eight through 10. A Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman said the initial directive was sent by district staff following concerns raised by teachers at Austin-North Lawndale, but it didn’t reflect the intent of the administration.
In the letter to Byrd-Bennett and the board of education, the National Coalition Against Censorship wrote, “While we are relieved that the book will remain available to older students, the restriction on access for junior high school students is extremely troubling. The title character of Satrapi’s book is herself the age of junior high school students, and her description of her real-life experiences might well have special relevance to them. The explanation that the book is ‘inappropriate’ for this age group is unpersuasive. The vast majority of Chicago middle school students are surely aware of the reality of violence and its devastating effects on people of all ages. Most have witnessed it on the news, if not in their own neighborhoods.To remove this book because of objections to its content is impermissible under the First Amendment.”
Read the full letter below.
Chicago Public Schools have been told to disregard an earlier order to remove Marjane Satrapi’s acclaimed 2000 graphic novel Persepolis. Instead, the Chicago Tribune reports, CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has asked that the autobiography no longer be taught to seventh-graders. It will, however, remain in libraries.
Word of the initial order spread quickly following the removal of copies of the book Wednesday afternoon from Lane Tech College Prep, one of the largest schools in the city. The move sparked outcry from teachers, parents and students, who had organized a protest for later this afternoon.
Although Persepolis in included in the district’s curriculum for seventh-graders, Byrd-Bennett said in a letter sent to principals this morning that it may not be appropriate for that age group. According to the Tribune, the district released images from the graphic novel depicting a man being whipped, burned with an iron and urinated on.
Depicting Satrapi’s experience is a child and young adult in Iran during the Islamic revolution, Persepolis has received almost universal acclaim. The 2007 animated adaptation directed by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud was nominated for an Academy Award.