Publishing | Dark Horse President Mike Richardson discusses how he became one of the first publishers of manga in the United States, explains how the company selects its titles, and suggests some manga for first-time readers. [Previews]
Digital comics | Retailer Ron Catapano points to the comiXology server crash triggered by the response to the free Marvel comics promotion as “the problem with digital content that fans keep complaining about”: “I can’t read the books I paid for because I can’t save them on my own computer and I’m limited in what I can save to my tablet by the small storage on tablets. Instead, the books I pay for are kept by comiXology and as long as I have a high speed internet connection available… I can log on and read my books on their web site or I can download a few to my tablet. BUT NOT TODAY … because someone decided it was a good idea to put 700 Marvel issue #1′s up for free at the same time.” [ICv2.com]
Location, location, location. It’s said those are the three important things when it comes to real estate, and cartoonist Dan Goldman knows that more than just about anyone.
Born in Detroit, raised in Miami and coming of age in New York City, Goldman spent the past few years living in São Paulo, Brazil, before returning late last year to New York. A longtime proponent of digital comics, he was among the founders of Act-I-Vate, and launched his current comic series Red Light Properties in 2010 on the website of book publisher Tor. But recently Goldman decided to hitch his boxcar to a different train when he jumped to upstart digital publisher Monkeybrain Comics to continue his 300-plus page run on that title.
Red Light Properties is all about location (location, location), but in a supernatural sense, as it follows a Miami real estate agency whose specialty is to survey, repair and re-sell distressed homes. But these aren’t your normal condos; they’re possessed by the ghosts of dead former tenants. Jude Tobin, the man behind RLP, is a clairvoyant whose powers only come to life when he’s “under the influence,” so to speak, and his associated family and busniess partner have to deal with his problems while also handling their own. It’s as if William S. Burroughs wrote Ghost Whisperer, but you know, with even more hallucenigenics.
I reached out to Goldman to find out more about this new era for Red Light Properties, but also to get his perspective on being an American cartoonist living with Brazil, and the story that took him there and brought him back.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where every week we talk about the comics, books and other stuff topping our reading list. Our special guest today is Rafer Roberts, creator of Plastic Farm–”The strange, terrifying, and hilarious story of Chester Carter’s messianic journey through madness and self-loathing.” Roberts is currently raising money for the second volume on Kickstarter.
To see what he’s been reading, along with the Robot 6 crew, click below …
Crime | An energetic thief stole all 64 volumes of One Piece from a Japanese bookstore by stuffing 10 volumes at a time in his duffel bag. As One Piece is the most popular manga in Japan, he could have gotten a good price for his booty at a used manga store, had the forces of law not intervened. [Kotaku]
Creators | Kiss member Gene Simmons still remembers the postcard he got from Stan Lee as a kid. [Noisecreep]
As long as I have been covering the comics industry, it seems like I have always found reasons to support the work of Dean Haspiel and/or his many talented associates. So when Trip City, a Brooklyn-filtered literary arts salon, launched at the start of last month it struck me as a good time to reach out to the founders for an email chat. While Trip City has four key members (Haspiel, Seth Kushner, Chris Miskiewicz and Jeffrey Burandt) the bulk of the discussion involved Kushner and Miskiewicz, with a brief check-in by Haspiel (discussing the start of a new Billy Dogma story, The Last Romantic Antihero [TLRA]). Haspiel also gave me a head’s up on a December 8 TLRA live reading at BookCourt at 7 PM (163 Court St Brooklyn, New York 11201/718-875-3677).
Tim O’Shea: When did TRIP CITY first get conceived–and how did the two of you come to be involved? How early in the planning was it determined that a podcast would be important to the venture?
Chris Miskiewicz: Dean was leaving Deep6 and starting a new studio. Seth Kushner and I were the first people he asked along. Although my film schedule is always in flux and I wasn’t sure how often I’d actually be there, the idea of sitting around others and not being by myself writing appealed to me. So we formed HANG DAI Studios.
If you put three creative people in a room together stuff happens. What happened was TRIP CITY. We spoke about the concept for about five months. Who would be a part of it, what we’d do, how we’d do it. We didn’t want to revamp ACT-I-VATE but we did want comics, along with prose, fiction, a web-series, and a podcast. What we did was create a multimedia site that catered to our individual interests blending them together into a whole.
Recently I was lucky enough to see a preview of Roger Langridge‘s Snarked! #0, his all ages series for Kaboom where the writer/artist uses Lewis Carroll‘s “Walrus and the Carpenter” poem (from Through the Looking-Glass) as a springboard for his storytelling. For every consumer that railed against the cancellation of Langridge’s Thor: The Mighty Avenger, here’s your chance to support Langridge again. For every pundit and website commenter who opined that Thor would have flourished, had it not been caught in the deluge of Thor titles that dashed any chance of it succeeding, take note.
A quick look at the CBR front page reveals a full court press for every new DC #1 coming our way in September. And we should be covering the DC relaunch, don’ t get me wrong. But I am fearful that some great books coming out around the same time, say this one, for example, are going to get overlooked. Roger Langridge’s Snarked! should not be overlooked. This is the comic that non-comics reading parents are looking for when they wander into a store seeking something to give their kid. This is a fun comic. This is a funny comic. This is an intelligent comic. This is a comic with puzzles, mazes and word searches. This preview issue is only a $1. This is a project that I hope to see on many folks Best of 2011 lists (I know it will be on mine).
Langridge chatted with me briefly in this email interview, and Kaboom was kind enough to give us a preview of Snarked! (provided at the end of our discussion). While the preview is not on sale until August, of course it is in Previews this month, with orders due June 30 [Diamond Code: JUN110963]. I can count on one hand the number of active creators that write and draw as engagingly a story as Langridge. If that does not win you over, the book stars a talking walrus (Wilburforce J. Walrus, as noted by Kaboom: “that’s right, the same Walrus that inspired the Beatles song “I Am the Walrus” is now in Roger Langridge’s merry, mad hands”) for the love of God. Check it out, I think you’ll agree it should be on everyone’s must-read list, no matter your age. To paraphrase Langridge fromthis interview, I hope this project is something that people will want to re-read many times–and if that’s not the definition of a great comic, I don’t know what is.
Tim O’Shea: How long have you been a fan of the work of Lewis Carroll?
Roger Langridge: It’s tempting to say “since I could read”; I’m sure it can’t have been quite that long, but I know I was very, very young when I first read the Alice books. And I’ve gone back and re-read them every couple of years since then, pretty much. They’re that rare thing, books which hit you in one way when you’re a kid, and in a different (yet equally powerful) way when you’re an adult, when you appreciate some of the really black humor and the general pricking of pomposity. They reward repeated re-readings more than most.
If you didn’t have a chance to make it to your local comics retailer this past Saturday, never fear — it’s always Free Comic Book Day on the web. Here are a few places you can find digital editions of the FCBD comics released on Saturday, plus a few more freebies because, hey, free comics:
- Both of Dark Horse’s FCBD books, Criminal Macabre/Baltimore and Avatar: The Last Airbender/Star Wars: The Clone Wars, will be available for download from Dark Horse Digital starting today through the end of the month.
- Image’s offering, the Super Dinosaur Origin Special, can be downloaded for free from comiXology.
- BOOM!’s Elric book can be read in full on Comic Book Resources, along with Th3rd World Studios’ The Intrepid Escapegoat.
- Jay Hosler has posted an eight-page story he did for Evolution of Adventure, a minicomic given away at The Comic Swap in State College, Penn.
- Dr Pepper is serializing a Thor and Sif comic on their website. It’s titled “Rescue,” I wonder if it’ll end with Thor’s thirst being rescued by the cool taste of Dr Pepper? Joking aside, it’s by Jeff Parker and Kev Sharpe, which definitely makes it worth checking out.
- Paul Maybury has made an eight page comic called “Clock” available for free.
- Eisner nominee Frank Stockton has posted his nominated short story, “Hamburgers for One,” on his blog.
- Finally, ACT-I-VATE today posted a one-shot comic called “Hurricane Wilma” by Omar Angulo.
Late last week, Panels for Primates editor Troy Wilson (who I interviewed at my pop culture blog in 2010) gave me a heads-up that this Wednesday’s installment of the “charity anthology for the Primate Rescue Center, featuring an eclectic mix of primate stories by both well-known and up-and-coming creators” was going to be written by industry veteran Roger Stern with art by Canadian animator Caleb Hystad. With the installment fast approaching, I begged Stern for a brief email interview about his new story. Normally, if I had more time, I would love to do an in-depth, career-spanning interview, but time was of the essence. Rest assured, Stern is open to the idea of doing a longer interview down the road, so that will happen eventually, but for now, here we go. My thanks to Stern for his time and to Wilson for the tip. [Update: Stern and Hystad's story is now online. Enjoy.]
Tim O’Shea: Your story is titled: “All Monkeys are Primates, But Not All Primates are Monkeys!”. First off, how did you become involved in the Panels for Primates project. How did you arrive upon telling this particular tale?
Roger Stern: It all started when I received an email from Troy Wilson (the author of Perfect Man), asking if I would contribute a four-page strip to an anthology of monkey comics — with all of the proceeds going to a worthy animal-related charity.
The idea really tickled me. The more I thought about it, the more ideas came to mind. And that eventually led to the creation of Morty Monkey, the star of our little four-pager. In fact, the hard part was restricting myself to four pages. I could probably have written a whole book about Morty.
In what could possibly be considered a Robot 6/ACT-I-VATE crossover, our own Michael May and artist Simon Roy contribute a story to the Panels for Primates project. And as all the stories feature primates of some sort, it was only natural that May and Roy’s comic, “It’s Never as Simple as it Seems,” would feature Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs.
Our work here is done …
Editor’s Note: With the recent discussions going on around the comics community about creator-owned comics, we’re pleased to welcome one of the voices in those discussions, 30 Days of Night and Mystery Society creator Steve Niles, to Robot 6 for a series of columns on creator-owned comics.
by Steve Niles
Second column and I’m already late! Here’s a creator tip I can’t seem to get through my thick skull: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. That said, here I am again and happy to be here talking about my favorite creator-owned books and creators.
This week I’m going to talk about a creator who dominates the modern creator-owned scene with both his work and his relentless support of other creators.
I wanted to talk about Ellis for many reasons: his talent, his persistence and his vision. Warren Ellis approaches his work with the strategy of a learned zombie killer. Don’t run into the stinky crowd swinging and shooting like a crazy person, find a place to settle in and let them come to you.
Warren Ellis has not only created worlds within his work, but also a world for himself online where you can follow his daily work routine, check out what he’s reading/watching himself, or meet and discuss his and other people’s work on the various forums he’s overseen. He has created a perfect fort for all of us Ellis zombies to swarm.
The webcomics collective ACT-I-VATE celebrates its fifth birthday today — congrats, guys! — by launching a new “tongue-in-cheek” horror comics anthology called Everywhere. The strip, created and written by Chris Miskiewicz, will feature artwork by Dennis Calero, Rodney Ramos, Bobby Timony, Nathan Schreiber, Seth Kushner and many more. The first strip, “Horses Everywhere,” is up now and features artwork by Andrew Wendel.
“Five years ago, eight independent cartoonists allied and presented personal signature works, online for free, and ACT-I-VATE was born,” said Dean Haspiel, creator of Billy Dogma and co-founder of ACT-I-VATE, in a press release. “Five years later, ACT-I-VATE expanded its roster, created a PRIMER graphic novel, and helped confirm publishing options between print and web. A bold example of how a curated destination point for new stories and ideas can sustain, ACT-I-VATE continues to break ground as the industry transitions to the Digital Age.”
The webcomics collective Act-i-vate has kicked off a new ongoing anthology called Panels for Primates, where various comic creators will create comic strips featuring monkeys, apes and other primates to help raise awareness and, hopefully, money for the Primate Rescue Center in Nicholasville, Ky.
While the stories can be viewed for free, they include a promo at the end encouraging readers to donate money. Per a press release, upcoming stories will “offer an eclectic mix of creators and content, with the only common denominators being high quality and primates.” The first story, “Ilya’s Back Pages” by Stuart Moore and Rick Geary, is up now. The cover, above, is by Robert Wilson IV.
There are more comics being produced now than ever before — from new releases to reprints and re-issues to comics coming in from outside the United States. And while the number of comics arriving weekly to your favorite store grows every year, the shelf space doesn’t. As comic books fight for your attention, some of the more entrepreneurial-minded creators are engaging their public directly. They do it with forums, newsletters, Facebook, Twitter and interviews with the comics press — but when does that leave time to … you know… create comics?
That’s where publicity person and uber-fan Jeff Newelt comes in. Newelt, who often goes by the moniker of “Jah Furry,” worked for years as a publicity director for major companies such as Samsung, but left it all to go solo and to take his love of comics — and the craft of making comics — to the people.
As the minister of hype for webcomics collective ACT-I-VATE and working with friends such as Paul Pope, Newelt has brought attention to their work by reaching out to journalists and by communicating directly with fans through Twitter and Facebook.
He’s also parlayed his skills into editing, as the comics editor for the online magazine SMITH and in gigs for Heeb and Royal Flush. He also headed up the recent grassroots Harvey Heads gallery, with artists from all over the world drawing a rendition of Harvey Pekar. Newelt also edited The Pekar Project, and is speaking at the “Remembering Harvey Pekar” panel next weekend at New York Comic Con.
Through it all, Newelt has become an indispensable part of the comics world, as well as a staple of the New York City comics scene. In many ways he’s a 21st-century Stan Lee — goodwill ambassador for comics to the outside world. He offers a unique perspective on the creators he works with, and the vibrant scene he lives in. Don’t expect any hard-hitting journalism — this is just me seeing what makes the man tick.
This has been a year of ups and downs for Dean Haspiel.
He’s riding high after last week’s win at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. He, along with the crew of the HBO series Bored To Death, won for outstanding main title design, and Haspiel returned to his native New York City to continue the promotional blitz for his upcoming graphic novel Cuba: My Revolution with artist and family friend Inverna Lockpez. He just had a short feature published in Marvel’s Deadpool #1000 and has more work on the way for the House of Ideas. But this was also the year his friend and longtime collaborator Harvey Pekar passed away.
Throughout it all, Haspiel has become one of the strongest independent voices of comics (or “comix,” as he would say). His years of networking and socializing in the New York City comics scene came to fruition in 2006 with the inception of the ACT-I-VATE collective, resulting in several series making the jump from web to print in IDW Publishing’s ACT-I-VATE Primer. He continues to be a driving force in webcomics, with the third installment of his semi-autobiographical series Street Code just out from Zuda‘s newly transplanted home on Apple’s mobile-phone platform.
Today, he has a girlfriend, a studio full of friends dubbed DEEP6, a Sept. 15 signing at Midtown Comics, and new work appearing later this month in the second season of Bored To Death. On a recent morning, I talked to Dean by phone before he rode his bike to his nearby studio.
Today James Smith‘s Gang of Fools makes its ACT-I-VATE debut. To mark the debut, he and I did a brief email interview. I apologize to Smith for perceiving the tale as being set in the future, but rather than edit my mistaken perceptions out, I leave them intact to avoid further confusion. Here’s the official description of the story: “Aditi’s got one week to come up with ten grand for rent. Diane needs a cool condo in a hot neighborhood to boost her Q rating. Paul simply cannot keep it in his pants. Ishmael’s keeping a secret from his own dancehall revolutionaries. Laila’s autobiographical porno has attracted the Russian mob, and Mr Chips hates you. Yes, yes he does.” As part of the run-up to today’s debut, Smith collaborated with animator Daniel J. Kramer on this animated clip. And I’m really grateful that Smith was willing to discuss important trends like pants.
Tim O’Shea: In reading this brief reaction to your work by comicsgirl in which she characterizes it as ” futurist urban paranoia”. Would that be an apt description or would you go about describing it differently?
James Smith: Probably would take issue with the “paranoia” bit, as I don’t think the comic betrays any sort of fear or discomfort at all the admittedly horrible social conditions it portrays. And if I’m feeling particularly bloody-minded, maybe I’d whine about the “futurist” part too. All the fancy, sci-fi stuff in Gang of Fools is only a slight embellishment on what our most precious natural resources– drug-addled MIT engineers– are working on as I type this. “Urban” works, though.
At MoCCA the tagline I used was “sci-fi action hipsters and the people who hate them.” I consider it slice-of-life with a sprinkling of autobiographical porn and floating robot cops. You know, like how we live today.