For nearly a quarter of a century, we’ve been been plagued by one nagging question: Where, oh where, is Springfield (“Meanest Town in America”)?
The town’s location has been a recurring joke, with viewers teased repeatedly by the writers of The Simpsons. But now, at long last, the mystery has been solved, by none other than creator Matt Groening. In an interview with Smithsonian magazine, the cartoonist finally reveals Springfield (pop. 30,720) is in his home state of Oregon.
“Springfield was named after Springfield, Oregon,” he says. “The only reason is that when I was a kid, the TV show Father Knows Best took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown. When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name. I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, ‘This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield.’ And they do.”
Asked whether he’d ever divulged that tidbit before, Groening says, “I don’t want to ruin it for people, you know? Whenever people say it’s Springfield, Ohio, or Springfield, Massachusetts, or Springfield, wherever, I always go, ‘Yup, that’s right.’”
One of the easiest ways to sell someone on a new thing is to compare it to something else that they’re familiar with; it’s no coincidence that high concepts are generally described as “It’s [Title X] meets [Title Y]” so often, because even if you can’t explain the complexity or appeal of something to someone who’s never experienced it, that kind of shorthand is nonetheless successful at conjuring some kind of idea of what’s going on. The problem with doing this, though…? Well, sometimes the comparison examples aren’t serving the purpose as well as you may originally think. Continue Reading »
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d first snap up a book I’ve been trying to track down for years: Amazing Spider-Man: Hooky (Marvel, $4.99). This 1986 lost classic features Bernie Wrightson drawing a webhead story featuring monsters and alternate worlds – looks like a real gem. Now to convince Marvel to republish John Paul Leon’s Logan: Path of the Warlord… Next up would be Secret Service #1 (Marvel/Icon, $2.99). I’ll buy pretty much anything Dave Gibbons puts out these days, and seeing him with Mark Millar is bound to be a unique experience. Next up is Saga #2 (Image, $2.99); Brian K. Vaughn is really setting up a world – like a sci-fi sitcom here, with loads of direction to go in. Lastly I’d get Conan the Barbarian #3 (Dark Horse, $3.50). Can I admit I might like this more than Northlanders? Brian Wood’s definitely expanding how people think of him with this story, and Becky Cloonan is making a lot of editors look foolish for not putting her on these kinds of books sooner.
If I had $30, I’d start out with Secret #1 (Image, $3.50). Manhattan Projects seems more up my alley than this story, but Jonathan Hickman’s built up some credit in me to try anything new he puts out even if I’m not too interested. Next up would be Northlanders #50 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99), which I’m sad to see go. I think this will be one of those series that achieves more popularity after it’s over, and it’s a shame DC can’t find a way to continue it. After that it would be Glory #25 (Image, $2.99). I was a bit shaky on the story after Joe Keatinge’s first issue, but everything after has really put the pieces into place and Ross Campbell seems to be finding his footing to really land the superheroics of this story. Last up would be Secret Avengers #25 (Marvel, $3.99); Rick Remender’s clearly put his own spin to this series, so much I’m surprised Marvel didn’t use this as a chance to renumber the series… but I’m glad they didn’t.
If I could splurge, I’d throw money at my comic retailer for Pete and Miriam (Boom!, $14.99). Big fan of Rich Tommaso, and he seems to be honing his craft like a knife, creating more pointed and poignant stories here. And Miriam, she’s a real gem.
If you’re a fan of BPRD, you know that the above image is from that comic and not Guillermo del Toro’s giant-monster film, Pacific Rim. You also know that Guy Davis is pretty great at designing giant monsters.
What you may not know is that Davis is the concept artist for Pacific Rim. No concept art has been shared yet, so this completely slipped by most of us. The other thing you may not know is that he’s been working on the film for almost a year, but is now done with his part of it. The movie doesn’t come out until next year, but seeing it is suddenly even more exciting; something I didn’t think possible in a project involving del Toro and giant monsters.
If you’ve been following the publishing industry (not just comics, but the whole industry), you know it’s been in turmoil for the past few years. Ebooks have made self-publishing a lucrative option not only for unpublished authors, but also for mid-list writers like JA Konrath who are reaching a dramatically wider audience than they ever did with their traditional publishers.
Though the prose arm of publishing has been having this conversation for a while, it’s been pretty quiet in comics except for the tangential conversation about creator-owned vs. corporate-owned. That’s actually a separate conversation, though. BPRD and Saga are just two examples of creator-owned comics that aren’t self-published. Who publishes your book often has nothing to do with who owns the characters and story in it. I’m glad to see First Second’s Senior Editor Calista Brill start the comics arm of the discussion, especially in the as-objectively-as-possible way that she does.
“The Hipsters don’t know what to do when I draw feet. It confuses them.”
– Rob Liefeld, following the release of DC Comics’ solicitations for July, which include his covers for
The Savage Hawkman #11, Deathstroke #11, and Grifter #11. Characters’ feet are visible in all three images.
If you’ve never read Bram Stoker’s Dracula–or even if you have–here’s some news that should warm your blood: Harper Design has released a new edition featuring illustrations by Demo artist Becky Cloonan. She shows off a few of the 50 illustrations she did for the book over on her blog. The book came out today, so look for it in finer bookstores everywhere.
The American Library Association just released this year’s list of Frequently Challenged Books, and there’s just one graphic novel (actually, a trilogy) on the list. And it’s not The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Battle Angel Alita, either — it’s The Color of Earth, Kim Dong Hwa’s quiet, rather poetic trilogy of Korean graphic novels published by First Second. The reasons cited: “nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group.” I have only read the first volume, but I can tell you that it’s not all that spicy; it’s the story of a young girl growing up with a single mom in a village in rural, 19th-century Korea, and while love and sexuality are a part of life and are discussed openly (including in the bath), much of the conversation is wrapped in nature imagery that is … not very informative. Indeed, the first volume opens with a sex scene, but it’s between two beetles.
I checked in with the folks at First Second, a publisher more at home on ten-best lists than most-challenged lists, and this is what Calista Brill, who edited the book, had to say: “We knew we were risking challenge when we published these books. But sexuality is a part of the adolescent experience, and The Color of Earth and its sequels handle this conversation with remarkable honesty and positivity. These books may have ruffled some feathers, but we remain very proud of them.”
As is often the case with frequently challenged books, this one has some critical support: the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) named it to its Great Graphic Novels for Teens list in 2010, the Texas Library Association’s Maverick Graphic Novels List and Booklist’s Top 10 Graphic Novels for Youth. Interestingly, assuming the list is in order of the number of challenges, this book racked up more challenges than The Hunger Games and frequent fliers like Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Alice books, Sherman Alexie’s Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and of course, To Kill a Mockingbird.
Creators | How did Darwyn Cooke get involved with the Before Watchmen comics? “I was kind of dragged into it kicking and screaming by [DC Comics Co-Publisher] Dan DiDio. He had been discussing this for what does amount to several years now, and the first time he had approached me about it, I had actually turned it down simply because I couldn’t see doing anything that would live up to the original. And, it was about a year later, the story idea that I’m working on now sort of came to me and I realized that there was a way to do the project, and I had a story that I thought was exciting enough to tell. So I phoned Dan up and said, ‘Hey, if you still got room, I’m in.’” [Rolling Stone]
Creators | Ron Marz discusses Prophecy, his upcoming comic that turns the whole Mayan calendar thing into a crossover event that will bring together an eclectic group of characters, and defends the idea of crossovers in general: “If your objection is “they’re not in the same universe,” or a crossover somehow offends your sense of continuity, I’d suggest you’re missing the point. More than any other medium, comics are about unfettered imagination, about making the impossible possible. If you’re going to let some perceived “rules” prevent you from telling an exciting story, you’re just not trying very hard. Having a sense of wonder, of discovery, is much more important than following some set of perceived rules and regulations.” [MTV Geek]
Matt Kindt is a writer/artist who is on the eve of being a monthly frequent occupant of retailers shelves after years of increasing recognition for his graphic novels. First up, on April 18, Dark Horse releases 3 Story: Secret Files of the Giant Man (Kindt’s follow-up to his 2009 graphic novel, 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man)–a set of three stories collected in one book that originally appeared in MySpace Dark Horse Presents. That April 18 release also features a preview of his new monthly Dark Horse espionage ongoing, Mind MGMT, which officially launches on May 23. I was interested in email interviewing Kindt to find out how it feels to be meeting the monthly deadline (as opposed to his creative process when working on standalone graphic novels). And, of course, I took the opportunity to find out more about his other major ongoing project, assuming the writing reins from Jeff Lemire on DC’s Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (his first issue on that high profile assignment goes on sale June 13 with the release of issue #10). My thanks to Kindt for his time and thoughts. I particularly appreciated his belief that the “art-form of a good monthly comic has sort of been lost”–and his resulting aim to regain some of what’s been seemingly lost. Once you finish this interview, be sure to also read CBR’s Jeffrey Renaud’s late January 2012 interview with Kindt in which they detail the upcoming Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. work.
Tim O’Shea: How hard is it to decide to take on the monthly grind with Mind MGMT? Have you had to make adjustments to your creative process, or has the demand on you increased on you (as opposed as to when you were doing standalone graphic novels)?
Matt Kindt: It wasn’t a hard decision at all really. I’ve always wanted to do a monthly book. That’s the format I grew up reading and so it’s always been kind of a dream of mine to eventually work in that format. I’ve been spoiled my whole career, starting out doing OGN’s — which is something I know a lot of monthly guys aspire to so I’m just coming at it from the other side. I still love the OGN and it’s my favorite way to create but I think you get a different experience with a monthly book. When you read a monthly, you’re growing and changing and aging along with the characters. And you’re thinking about the story and the characters month after month instead of just reading 300 pages in one sitting and then moving on. I think you begin to actually care a little more about what’s going on.
On the surface it may not look like The Return of The Dapper Men, Hawkeye and Mockingbird, and Mind the Gap have much in common, beyond the fact that they are all written by Jim McCann. One’s a fairy tale, one’s a straight up superhero comic and the third McCann describes as a “thriller mystery” with some “preternatural” elements.
But McCann says they have more in common than you might think, or at least that I thought. Last week when I interviewed him about his new Image series, McCann drew parallels between Mind the Gap and those two previous projects, noting that he had plans for a big central mystery for his run on Hawkeye and Mockingbird that never came to pass.
“With Hawkeye and Mockingbird, unfortunately that series was cancelled, but I had a two-year plan for that, and it started to lay a couple of seeds early on,” McCann told me. “Brian Bendis picked up on one of them that occurred in the last issue of Hawkeye and Mockingbird, issue #6. There was a brief moment between Clint Barton and Jessica Drew that was supposed to set up a fling between the two of them. We had talked about that before, and when the series ended he was able to take it and run with it. So there are still some ideas out there that were able to live on. I like to plan things out no matter what the story is. I think it’s important to know your ending, and I think it’s fun to plant Easter eggs and seeds.”
NOTE: The images have been removed at the request of GQ.
Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang and GQ designer Benjamin Bours have revealed Chiang’s illustration of director, screenwriter and comics scribe Joss Whedon for a feature in the May issue of the magazine titled “The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth.”
“It’s always a treat to do some editorial illustration,” Chiang writes, “and when it’s a portrait of somebody as beloved in the comics scene as Joss Whedon, I couldn’t ask for a better subject.”
See a much larger version of his illustration below, and visit Bours’ website to see more pages from the Whedon profile.
Bobby Rubio came up with a superior way for the Avengers and X-Men to resolve their differences. Less punching and more popping, heroes.
In what very well could be comics’ answer to Texts from Hillary, cartoonist Jon Morris has launched Ron Sworschach, a blog that combines “the words of Alan Moore’s doomed objectivist vigilante Rorschach with images of Parks and Recreations‘ lovingly stern libertarian Ron Swanson. Or sometimes maybe the other way around.”
Why it’s taken this long for a Ron Swanson/Rorschach mash-up is one of life’s great and frustrating mysteries …
This is pretty wonderful … Jeffrey Brown’s latest is a Star Wars “What if?’ type book where Darth Vader was actually a decent father to Luke, despite being a Dark Lord of the Sith. Y’know, the kind of father who teaches you to raid the cookie jar using the force or takes you to Bring Your Kids to Work Day on the Death Star. Darth Vader and Son comes out April 18, and the above trailer has a brief but fun scene between the two, involving ice cream. Enjoy.