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Another Small Press Expo has come and gone, and I have the empty wallet to prove it. My official SPX report appears at Comic Book Resources. You can also hear me blathering on about the show with Joe McCulloch and Matt Seneca over here. Short recap: It was a great show, arguably the best SPX I’ve been to in a long while.
Despite my self-induced reputation as a horrible photographer, I opted to take photos at the show anyway.
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, it’d be an eclectic bunch featuring Jesus clones, retired spec-ops workers, environmentalists and Batman. First up would be Punk Rock Jesus #2 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99), following Sean Murphy’s big-time foray into writing and drawing. Murphy’s delivering the art of his career, and while the story might not be as great as the art, it still has a synchronicity to the art that few other mainstream books have these days. After that I’d get Dancer #4 (Image, $3.50); Nathan Edmondson seemingly made his name on writing the spy thriller Who Is Jake Ellis?, and this one takes a very different view of the spy game – like a Luc Besson movie, perhaps – and Nic Klein is fast climbing up my list of favorite artists. After that I’d get Massive #3 (Dark Horse, $3.50), with what is disheartedly looking to be the final issue of artist Kristian Donaldson. No word on the reason for the departure, but with a great a story he and Brian Wood have developed I hope future artists can live up to the all-too-brief legacy he developed. Delving into superhero waters, the next book I’d get is Batman #12 (DC, $3.99), which has become DC’s consistently best book out of New 52 era. Finally, I’d get Anti #1 (12 Guage, $1). Cool cover, interesting concept, and only a buck. Can’t beat that.
If I had $30, I’d jump and get Creator-Owned Heroes #3 (Image, $3.99); man, when Phil Noto is “on” he’s “ON!” After that I’d get Conan te Barbarian #7 (Dark Horse, $3.50). I’ve been buying and reading this in singles, but last weekend I had the chance to re-read them all in one sitting and I’m legitimately blown away. The creators have developed something that is arguably better than what Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord started in 2003 and shoulder-to-shoulder with the great stories out of the ’70s. This new issue looks to be right up my alley, as Conan takes his pirate queen Belit back to his frigid homeland in search of a man masquerading as Conan. Hmm, $7 left. Any other Food or Comic-ers want to grab some grub?
If I could splurge, I’d excuse myself from the table dining with my fellow FoCers and get Eyes of the Cat HC (Humanoids, $34.95). I feel remiss in never owning this, so finally getting my hands on the first collaboration between Moebius and Alexandro Jodorowsky seems like a long time coming. I’m told its more an illustrated storybook than comic book, but I’m content with full page Moebius work wherever I can get it.
AdHouse Books publisher Chris Pitzer announced on the company’s blog that he’s shutting down AdDistro, his distribution effort to make comics from small publishers and self-publishers available for purchase through AdHouse proper. Pitzer kicked off AdDistro two years ago.
“Basically, I started AdDistro with the thought that I was bringing hard-to-find bibliogoodness to the people,” Pitzer said in his post. “Times have a-changed, and now the once hard-to-find beautiful things are a little easier to obtain.”
Through AdDistro, Pitzer has distributed comics from Nobrow Press, Bernie Mireault, Thomas Herpich, Koyama Press, Revival House Press, Malachi Ward and Benjamin Marra.” While there was once a pond that kept Nobrow from us, now you can get their stuff from Consortium. While I was once the go-to place for Koyamaness, I am proud to point you Secret Acres way. Others have joined forces with others, and honestly, it was a lot of work, at least for lil’ ol’ AdCasa,” Pitzer said. “Adding Thomas Herpich and Bernie Mireault at the end was the proverbial icings on the cake.”
AdHouse still has several of the AdDistro books available on their site, so if you’d like to get your hands on them in one big swoop, head on over there and stock up.
Back in 2010, when Thomas Scioli started bolstering his online presence and entered the realm of webcomics with American Barbarian, I was curious to see how things would play out (as may or may not have been obvious in my June 2010 interview of him). I’ll be honest and admit that now, more than a year later (and with far more of the project online to read), American Barbarian far exceeds what I expected. As much as I have always enjoyed and respected his Kirby-influenced approach to visual storytelling, after reading this double post Apocalyptic tale, I am far more impressed with Scioli’s funky ear for dialogue. It’s like reading a 1970s comic written by a minimalist version of David Mamet. Doubting my quirky endorsement of the work? Then realize AdHouse is collecting the webcomic for a 256-page/6 ” x 9 ” /hardcover release early this year. If you don’t trust my tastes, then you should definitely trust AdHouse publisher Chris Pitzer. To mark the upcoming release, Scioli and I did another of our quick email interviews. Before diving into the interview, let me take a second to agree with JK Parkin’s sentiment in this post, back in June, that DC Comics should have considered Scioli for one of the New 52 titles that it launched back in September. So I was surprised to learn (as you can read in this interview) that DC did not contact Scioli when assembling the creative team for the new OMAC title. As I edited this interview I realized it was hard to find my favorite part of our discussion, but it may be the revelation that the look for Two-Tank Omen came to Scioli in a dream. A close second was learning a bit about his next webcomic, Final Frontier. Feel free to chime in with your favorite part of this interview and/or Scioli’s work in the comments section, please.
Tim O’Shea: As an independent creator, the job of marketing your work falls to you. Do you think over the years, you have gotten more comfortable marketing yourself? On a related note, how did you decide upon doing this one minute trailer for American Barbarian?
Thomas Scioli: Even the largest comics publishers don’t seem to have a budget for promotion, so I’d say any creator, independent or mainstream, can benefit from doing their own promotion. It’s something that I’ve never been comfortable with, but do out of necessity. I think I have gotten better about it, because in the beginning, it would give me crippling anxiety, now it’s just mild trepidation. The idea for doing a trailer came from having seen other people do it. AdHouse’s own Afrodisiac trailer and [Top Shelf’s] Infinite Kung-Fu [trailer] are two that made an impression on me when they made the rounds. It got me excited about those two works, so I wanted to do the same. I’d been dabbling with animation, back when I started AmBarb so it was a natural outgrowth of that, too. Once you start doing a webcomic it isn’t long before you realize, hey, why not just do a cartoon?
A hearty and heartfelt congratulations to publisher Chris Pitzer on the ninth anniversary of the formation of his fine line of comics, AdHouse Books (and more recently its distribution wing, AdDistro). Pitzer is marking the occasion by telling the stories behind nine of the company’s releases, and the result is a mix insight into the kinds of challenges any small-press comics publisher must face, and the qualities that make this particular small-press comics publisher such a valuable one.
With an output ranging from high-end art books like Paul Pope’s Pulphope and James Jean’s Process Recess to thoughtful graphic novels like Josh Cotter’s Skyscrapers of the Midwest and Adam Hines’s Duncan the Wonder Dog, it’s tough to say exactly what “an AdHouse book” will be like, but with Pitzer’s attention to design and reproduction behind every one, you generally can count on it being gorgeous. And as the stories told by Pitzer about books like Pulpatoon Pilgrimage, Skyscrapers, Duncan and so on indicate, the chances are also good that he’s gone to bat for a largely unknown and unpublished talent. That’s an admirable thing for a publisher to do once, let alone over and over again for nearly a decade.
Conventions | The Angoulême International Comics Festival has announced the Official Selections for the 2012 festival, which will be held Jan. 26-29 in Angoulême, France. Eddie Campbell’s Alec, Craig Thompson’s Habibi and Daniel Clowes’ Mister Wonderful are among the almost 60 graphic novels on the list. [Angoulême]
Editorial cartoons | The Columbus Dispatch suspended political cartoonist Jeff Stahler after finding that his Monday cartoon was too similar to a New Yorker cartoon published in 2009. At The Daily Cartoonist, Alan Gardner posts several of Stahler’s cartoons alongside earlier pieces with similar punchlines. While one can debate whether Stahler lifted his ideas from the older cartoons, it’s obvious that he drew them in his own style, unlike David Simpson, who was recently accused of copying Jeff McNally’s cartoons. [Comic Riffs]
Crime | Several pieces of original artwork, among other items, were stolen from the car of AdHouse Publisher Chris Pitzer while he was in New York City last weekend for the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. Pitzer is offering a reward for any information leading to the recovery of the artwork. [AdHouse]
The thing that amazes/impresses me the most about Kate Beaton’ comics is how much everyone loves them. OK, not everyone — I do know one or two stragglers that refuse to find anything amusing in her sly little comics — but a lot of people from disparate fan bases really like her stuff. Indie readers like Kate Beaton, Superhero fans like Kate Beaton,, and (perhaps most notably) people who hardly ever (if at all) read comics like Kate Beaton (like my wife). She crosses boundaries in a way I don’t think I’ve seen any modern cartoonist do, let alone a webcartoonist. I think that’s even more impressive when you consider how often she relies upon (relatively) obscure historical figures and literature as the basis for her strips.
Other than that I really don’t have much to say, except that those who own her first book, Never Learn Anything From History, and haven’t bought this one yet because they’re worried it reprints the same material can relax; it doesn’t. Basically if you appreciate intelligence, wit (or smartassery) and the chance to learn something on the side, then this is the book for you.
More reviews after the jump …
Welcome to another round of What Are You Reading. Our guest this week is Annie Koyama, owner and operator of the wonderful Koyama Press, which publishes fantastic books that you should buy ASAP. To see what Annie and the rest of the Robot 6 crew are reading this week, click on the link below. Continue Reading »
I suppose on a certain level running through all the loot you nabbed at this or that convention seems a bit like bragging, even if the intention is merely to say, “Hey, here’s some cool comics you should check out.” That being said, it seems like a while since anyone’s done one of those “here’s the stuff I bought” posts, so I thought I’d run down some of the more interesting-looking books I nabbed at SPX this past weekend. Forgive me.
The Body of Work by Kevin Huizenga. In addition to promoting the release of Ganges #4, Huizenga had a couple of mini-comics for sale as well. This one features some of the comics he’s been posting online like Postcard from Fielder.
When it comes to AdHouse Books’ Chris Pitzer, there’s one basic fact: When he publishes a book, I know it’s important to pay attention to it. So when I found out about Blue Collar/White Collar, which collects the work of award-winning illustrator and painter Sterling Hundley, I immediately contacted Pitzer to see the book and (soon after checking out the book) to get Hundley to commit to an email interview. In the course of this discussion I was pleased to find out that Hundley has plans to create his own characters and stories in the future. After reading the interview, be sure to enjoy the 10-page preview that Pitzer offers interested readers.
Tim O’Shea: In the Foreword to the book, you wrote: “In a time when access has reached the Faustian ideal, information is often confused with knowledge. I refuse to accept that appropriation and homogenization are the movements that will define our generation. The search for original thought is a journey of faith – a belief that art is necessary because it isn’t necessary. The compulsion to create is emblematic of life that has moved beyond the base functions of survival. Art is evolution.” How much living and pursuing of art did you experience before realizing “a belief that art is necessary because it isn’t necessary”?
Sterling Hundley: Coming from a family that is primarily Blue Collar, I’ve always questioned the validity of a pursuit of the arts. You can’t eat it, or use it. Art serves no utilitarian function. Having lived long enough, I’ve come to realize that art is as necessary as any other basic function.
The hardcover collection will be 6″ x 9″, the same dimensions as the Afrodisiac hardcover they published last year. It ships in early 2012, according to the publisher’s website.
Both AdHouse and Scioli will have signed and numbered American Barbarian prints at SPX, free with any purchase from Scioli or AdHouse. Other AdHouse guests this weekend include Jim Rugg, Lamar Abrams, Ethan Rilly and Sterling Hundley.
This weekend marks Toronto Comics Art Festival 2011 (TCAF), where among the many great storytellers appearing, Stuart Immonen celebrates his “return to his eclectic collection of work” with the premiere of Centifolia II (and the return of the out-of-print Centifolia I). To mark the debut/return of Centifolia, I contacted Immonen for this hellaciously enjoyable interview. This exchange was a blast for me, particularly given that Immonen indulged numerous follow-up questions in our email exchanges. A great many storytellers are immensely funny people, but I genuinely think Immonen possesses a rare wit and wealth of knowledge that reveals itself not only in this interview, but more importantly, it informs his work. I wish I was attending TCAF, for numerous reasons, but the fact that “there will even be a limited (100) slipcase edition [available at TCAF] that includes a special S&N print and custom slipcase design” is the ultimate “damn I wish I was going” talking point for me. Need more convincing how great these books are? AdHouse’s Chris Pitzer (the publisher of Immonen’s Centifolia) offers consumers nine-page previews of Volume I and Volume II for everyone’s enjoyment.
Tim O’Shea: When one hears that the book is culled from your sketchbooks, it might seem a bit misleading. Not every sketchbook sports pages with fully designed logos (“9 Nuts and Why I Hate Them” for example).
Stuart Immonen: Well, I think that’s probably due to the term “sketchbook” being more often used to describe a collection of finished pinup drawings and not so much actual sketching– i.e. ideas in development, visual note-taking, idle doodling and so on. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the former– I love being able to enjoy and study the completed work of my favourite artists, but I’m also interested in process; the journey of how an artist gets to the final piece, and that’s what Centifolia tries to be.
Some of my most well-thumbed artist’s books fall into this category: Tardi’s Chiures De Gomme, Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Datebooks, Ashley Wood’s Sencilla Fanta… even Dupuy and Berberian’s Maybe Later qualifies.So… I’m interested in pulling back the curtain and showing readers a little of how I work.
Awards | Adam Hines has won the graphic novel category in the 31st annual Los Angeles Times Book Prize for his debut book Duncan the Wonder Dog: Show One. The other nominees were Dash Shaw’s Bodyworld, Karl Stevens’ The Lodger, Carol Tyler’s You’ll Never Know, Book II, and Jim Woodring’s Weathercraft. [press release]
Conventions | More than two years after canceling its Los Angeles convention, Wizard World announced it will return to the city Sept. 24-25 with Los Angeles Comic Con, to be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Big Apple Comic Con, which previously had been scheduled for those dates, will be moved to the spring. [press release]
Publishing | Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson talks with Viz Media Vice President Alvin Lu about the expansion of the publisher’s iPad app to include iPhone and iPod Touch. [Publishers Weekly]
Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca’s Afrodisiac took the comics world by storm last year and recently received an Eisner Award nomination. Only thing is, the book is currently between printings.
“To ensure that every possible Eisner Award voter has all of the necessary information to cast their ballot in a responsible and educated manner, we have decided to put the entire book online for FREE,” the team posted on AdHouse’s site. You can check it out for yourself over at the Issuu website.
AdHouse Books has a habit of producing some pretty exquisite-looking books, so it’s no wonder Stuart Immonen has teamed with them to produce Centifolia V2, an 128-page collection of the artist’s sketches, concept designs, illustrations and comics.
I believe the sold-out first volume was self-published, but AdHouse will also bring it back into print. They’re also offering a limited slipcase edition that includes both volumes and a print.
“I was very happy to be approached by Stuart to help make this happen. We’ve been con-buddies for a few years now, and I really love his work,” Pitzer said.
All three will be available starting at the 2011 Toronto Comics Art Festival on May 7 & 8. You can find the entire press release after the jump.