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Abrams buys U.K. graphic novel publisher SelfMadeHero

U.S. art and illustrated book publisher Abrams announced Wednesday it plans to buy London-based graphic novel publisher SelfMadeHero. Financial terms weren’t disclosed for the deal, which is expected to be finalized in the next several weeks.

Founded by Emma Hayley, SelfMadeHero launched in 2007 with its much-publicized Manga Shakespeare line, which reinterprets the Bard’s plays, and Eye Classics, which adapts classic works like A Tale of Two Cities and The Picture of Dorian Gray. The publisher expanded in 2009, adding original fiction, Sherlock Holmes adaptations, and biographies (beginning with the well-reviewed Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness, published in the U.S. by Abrams ComicArts).

Hayley will remain as managing director, but distribution in the U.K. and export markets will be handled by Abrams & Chronicle Books. In spring 2012 SelfMadeHero will launch a North American graphic novel list that includes Chico & Rita by Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal, Kiki de Montparnasse by Catel & Bocquet, The Lovecraft Anthology: Volume I edited by Dan Lockwood, But I Really Wanted to Be an Anthropologist by Margaux Motin, and Best of Enemies: A History of U.S. and Middle East Relations by David B. and Jean-Pierre Filiu.

“Having long admired SelfMadeHero’s publishing program and Emma Hayley’s eye and taste for original and exciting graphic novels and material for both adults and children, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with her and her team to bring the books to even larger audiences,” Abrams President and CEO Michael Jacobs said in a statement. “We at Abrams have been looking to expand our reach in the still growing markets for comics and graphics and think that with SelfMadeHero we have found a perfect complement to our existing Abrams ComicArts publishing program.”

Abrams’ comics line includes Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Art of Jaime Hernandez, Nat Turner, Mom’s Cancer and Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?

Robot Reviews | Willie & Joe Back Home and Will Eisner’s PS Magazine

Willie & Joe: Back Home

Willie & Joe: Back Home
by Bill Mauldin
Fantagraphics, 288 pages, $29.99

PS Magazine: The Best of Preventive Maintenance Monthly
by Will Eisner; Selected and with an overview by Eddie Campbell
Abrams, 272 pages, $21.95

There can arguably be no finer example of how to completely sabotage a successful career than what cartoonist Bill Mauldin did upon returning back to the United States at the close of World War II. The youngest person (he was 23) to win the Pulitzer Prize at that time, his gag cartoons, featuring dirty, worn-down, battle-hardened, embittered soldiers (most notably the pair known as Willie & Joe), which ran in Stars and Stripes and later in national newspapers, allowed soldiers to vicariously let off steam — someone out there knew what they were going through — and gave the citizens back home a look at the war that few media outlets at the time provided.

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Abrams to feature art of Star Wars comics in new book this October

Star Wars art by JH Williams III

LucasFilm and Abrams Books have teamed up for Star Wars Art: Comics, a collection of artwork from “the entire history of Star Wars comics publishing,” from the first Star Wars adaptations published in 1977 by Marvel to the present day.

According to the press release, the artwork has been “hand-selected and curated” by George Lucas and will feature interior pages and fully painted covers from artists such as Al Williamson, Howard Chaykin, Adam Hughes, Bill Sienkiewicz, Dave Dorman, and many more. It will also feature newly commissioned art by 20 creators, including John Cassady, Sam Kieth, Mike Mignola, Paul Pope, Frank Quitely, Jim Steranko and, as seen above, J.H. Williams III.

“I wanted something that was a new character of my creation,” the artist wrote on his blog. “I had been told that George was a longtime comics fan. So I also wanted to go for this classic giant monster versus hero idea, like stuff you might see in old [Jack] Kirby comics, but here it needed to be a mechanical weapon that looked like a creature, giving a sense of story beyond fighting a giant monster. This gives more weight for the snippet of a bigger unseen plot idea. And the scene had to have a strong design sense to it, so it could have a signature look that could be identified with my sensibilities, but still felt like Star Wars when you look at it.”

This is the second book in Abrams’ Star Wars Art series; the first one, subtitled Visions, was released last year. Star Wars Art: Comics has an introduction by Virginia Mecklenburg, a foreword by Dennis O’Neil, and a preface by Douglas Wolk. It features a cover by Dave Dorman and is due in October.

SDCC ’11 | Abrams to publish Walking Dead books

Abrams joins the transmedia parade with two books about The Walking Dead, the Robert Kirkman zombie comic turned AMC television series.

The first book, called The Walking Dead Chronicles and due out in the fall to coincide with the opening of season two of the show, will cover both the comic and the making of the first season of the TV series and will contain lots of behind-the-scenes material, including interviews with Kirkman and someone almost as important, make-up artist Greg Nicotero, as well as comparisons of the comic and the show. No word yet on the second volume.

Abrams will, of course, be at Comic-Con and they will be promoting the book there, so stop by and have a look.

Comics College | George Herriman

Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George Herriman

Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.

This month we’re looking at a man routinely regarded as one of the most significant creators in the history of the medium, and his central work one of the finest comics has ever produced. I’m speaking of Mr. George Herriman.

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Make mine MoCCA: Publishers

MoCCA Fest 2011 is this coming Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10, and as always, the show is bulging with new artists and established creators showing off their latest, most experimental, projects. I’m going to round up of some of the announcements that have come our way, starting with those from publishers.

Fantagraphics plans to have creators signing at their booth pretty much the whole time, with a roster that includes Kim Dietch, Peter Bagge, Dash Shaw, Michael Kupperman, Gahan Wilson, and others too numerous to mention—check out the full list at their blog. Their people are also going to be involved in a ton of panels, and with a four-table block (J1, J2, K1, K2), they should be hard to miss.

Abrams will have their usual crowd of A-list creators at their booth: Jerry Robinson, Michael Uslan, Chip Kidd, Al Jaffee, and Craig Yoe. Jaffee will receive the 2011 Klein Award for volunteer of the year, and Uslan and Robinson will be on the panel Batman, the Joker and Beyond on Sunday.

Top Shelf will be debuting two new books, Liar’s Kiss by Eric Skillman and Jhomar Soriano, and Night Animals, by Brecht Evens. Both Skillman and Evens will be there to show off their new books. Jess Fink will also be in attendance, although her Chester 5000 isn’t due out until May.

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What are you reading?

Savage Sword of Conan Vol. 1

Welcome to another round of What Are You Reading, where we all sit around the virtual coffeehouse and talk about the books we’re currently enjoying (or not as the case may be). Our guest this week is Wilfred Santiago, author of the soon to be released biography of Roberto Clemente, 21. Look for an interview with me and Santiago about his new book in the coming weeks. In the meantime, click on the link below to see what he and my fellow Robot 6ers are reading this week.

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Comics A.M. | Another One Piece sales record, another cartoonist layoff

One Piece, Vol. 6

Publishing | The 60th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s popular pirate manga One Piece sold more than 2 million copies in its first four days of release. It’s the first book to move more than 2 million copies in its first week of sales since the Japanese market survey company Oricon began reporting its charts in 2008. As we reported last week, this volume’s 3.4 million-copy first printing set a record, and propelled the series past the 200 million-copy mark. [Anime News Network]

Editorial cartoons | Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Matt Davies has been laid off by the Gannett-owned Journal News in White Plains, N.Y. [Comic Riffs]

Publishing | Abrams has made three comics-related promotions: Susan Van Metre to senior vice president and publisher, overseeing all comic arts books as well as Abrams Books for Young Readers and Amulet Books; Charles Kochman to editorial director of Abrams ComicArts; and Chad W. Beckerman to creative director, overseeing design for all comic arts books as well as Abrams Books for Young Readers and Amulet Books. [Abrams]

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Robot 666 | Your video of the day: The Horror! The Horror!

This has to be the book title of the year: The Horror! The Horror! Comic Books the Government Didn’t Want You to Read! The good folks at Abrams ComicArts have put together a pretty swell little trailer for this collection of pre-Comics Code horror and crime comics from the ’50s, edited and contextualized by Jim Trombetta with an introduction by Mr. Goosebumps himself, R.L. Stine. You can gather a couple of salient points from the video: 1) These things really were almost unbelievably lurid and gross, especially when you consider the relentlessly wholesome state of pop culture in general at the time; 2) Based on the video’s snippets from an anti-comic book TV report called Confidential File, which is included in its entirety on a DVD that comes with the book, men in suits took this stuff way too seriously back in the day.

SDCC ’10 | The many faces of Abrams

HerevilleHaving been an art major in college, I associate Abrams with slab-like, beautifully produced art books of great intellectual and physical weight. In the back of my head, I expect their comics to be equally ponderous. But not so! If there’s one thing the Abrams line has, it’s variety. Their recent and upcoming books include a hardback, slipcovered edition of the Archie Marries… graphic novel, Audrey Niffenegger’s seriously literary The Night Bookmobile, historical tomes like The Horror! The Horror! Comic Books the Government Didn’t Want You to Read! and Shazam! The Golden Age of the World’s Mightiest Mortal, Jason Shiga’s choose-your-own-adventure book Meanwhile, and the lively kids’ graphic novel Hereville. Something for everyone, in other words. If there’s a book that seems really Abrams-y, in my older conception of their line, it’s The Art of Jaime Hernandez: The Secrets of Life and Death.

Naturally, the Abrams folks will be at SDCC, holding down the fort at Booth #1216. Full schedule, including signings and panels, is below the cut, and if I were going, I’d make it a point to stop by.

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Comics College | Harvey Kurtzman

Mad Archives Vol. 2

Mad Archives Vol. 2

Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.

Today it’s time (long pat time actually) to take a look at one of the most influential and undisputed masters of the comics medium, Harvey Kurtzman.

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In Search of Lost ‘Time': An interview with Dan Nadel

Art in Time

Art in Time

Having introduced the comics-reading public to such obscure or long-forgotten creators as Herbert Crowley, Fletcher Hanks and Walter Quermann in his seminal book Art Out of Time, editor and publisher Dan Nadel opted to try something a little different for his sequel, the recently published Art in Time.

While the new book, like its predecessor, does feature a number of barely-known or long-forgotten golden age and underground cartoonists (Sam Glanzman, John Thompson), it also offers a new look at some familiar and in some cases already well regarded figures, in the hopes of either giving scholars and fans a chance to reconsider their artistic abilities (as in the case of Mort Meskin and Pat Boyette) or re-examine their work in a new light via previously unregarded material (John Stanley, Archie artist Harry Lucey, Wonder Woman artist H.G. Peter)

I had the opportunity to talk with Nadel over email about the book and its rather specific goals recently. Though he was in the midst of celebrating all things Jack Kirbyish at the Fumetto Festival in Lucerne, Switzerland, he was kind enough to take the time to offer some thoughtful, considered responses to my flailing questions, for which I am ever grateful.

How did Art in Time develop and did it change at all in conception as you worked on it?

The first idea was actually to take well known artists like Kirby, Ditko, Everett, et al and show their lesser known work. This became a little less interesting as the  reprint boom took hold. By less interesting I mean not necessary. I tend to think of books as being necessary or not necessary. And then, when necessary, as being well done and useful, or badly done and destructive. Anyhow, as an outgrowth of my publishing activities, and as a kind of strategy of moving away from any perceptions about Art Out of Time, I began to look at adventure comics a lot, particularly crime stuff like Pete Morisi and Harry Lucey. And then I thought of the underground stuff I like and realized (again — maybe I’d forgotten? I don’t know.) that what drives my “scholarly” (or whatever) interests was pretty much the same as what drives my publishing interest, i.e. in my head CF and Bill Everett are pretty much on the same playing field. So I latched onto the broad idea of “genre” comics and then went a little micro and focused on an idea of “adventure” that can include gumshoes and psychonauts and utopians. Then I really dug in and had some fun.

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Make Mine MoCCA: Publishers on parade

The Swedish are coming!

The Swedish are coming!

MoCCA is just around the corner—tomorrow, actually—and the cards and letters are still rolling in from folks who plan to be there. Top Shelf is kicking things off tonight with a Swedish Invasion party, and they will be debuting their new lineup of Swedish graphic novels as well as James Kochalka’s SuperF*ckers, Matt Kindt’s Super Spy (vol. 2): The Lost Dossiers, Jeffrey Brown’s Undeleted Scenes, and Dodgem Logic, edited by Alan Moore. Guests will include Alex Robinson and Kevin Cannon.

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Thin wallets, fat bookshelves: Abrams’ 2010 spring catalog

Art in Time

Art in Time

Art book publisher Abrams jumped into the comics world with both feet last year with their new ComicsArts imprint. What do they have lined up for 2010? Poking around their Web site, I was able to figure out their plans, both via the imprint and their children’s line. They’ve slowed down their output a little but still have a rather impressive array of titles coming out. Fer instance:

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The 30 Most Important Comics of the Decade, Part Two


Continuing our countdown of (in our opinion, obviously) the most important and influential comics of the past ten years, here’s the second half of our list, from #15-1. If you missed it, you can read part one over here, with an explanation of how we put the list together and the (admittedly somewhat arbitrary) ranking. Can you guess what made number one? (hint: it’s not one of the books sampled in the collage above.) Read on to find out!

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