As is my wont, I made the one-day (the one day being Saturday) trek to Bethesda, Md., along with Joe “Jog” McCulloch for the annual Small Press Expo. Perhaps the Earth’s rotation is spinning ever faster, but this year’s show seemed a bit of a blur to me, even by previous years’ standards. Before I had a chance to say “Sorry, I’m tapped out and can’t buy your mini-comic,” it was after 6 p.m. and time to go home. Fortunately I took some pictures to help my fading memory keep the show alive in my tumescent brain. Or at least, I tried to take some pictures.
Welcome to another round of What are you reading. JK is off enjoying the Labor Day weekend somewhere far away from any Internet connection, so I’m filling in for him this week.
And what a perfect week it is for me to fill in as we’ve got not one but two special guests this week! First up is Kristy Valenti, associate editor of The Comics Journal and Comixology columnist. If that weren’t enough we’ve also got Chris Arrant, who has been kind enough to guest-blog with us all this week.
Click on the link to see what they and everyone else has been perusing lately. And be sure to tell us in the comments what comics you’ve been reading as well.
Paul Pope is comics’ closest equivalent to a rock star.
It’s a reputation he’s garnered by both his comics works and his personality — and by the fact he’s an active DJ. He now splits his time between New York City and Europe, the latter of which is the first to see some of his anthology work. Last weekend, Pope and AdHouse Books stealth-released a new issue of his seminal series THB at Baltimore Comic-Con, with extra copies now available on AdHouse’s website. The unique nature of this release was due in no small part to Pope being off the shelves of American comic book stores for years while he completes the graphic novel Battling Boy for First Second.
Just moments after riding back from Baltimore, I spoke with Pope about the new THB, as well as Battling Boy and a creation of his even more rare than the new THB.
Some cool comics just got a lot easier to get your hands on. Chris Pitzer of AdHouse Books — the stalwart and stunningly designed publishing imprint behind the likes of Jim Rugg & Brian Maruca’s Afrodisiac, Josh Cotter’s Skyscrapers of the Midwest and Driven by Lemons, James Jean’s Process Recess art books, and Pulphope: The Art of Paul Pope — today announced the creation of AdDistro, a new distribution effort that will make comics from small publishers and self-publishers available for purchase through AdHouse proper. The first three additions to the roster are London-based Nobrow Press, Canada’s Koyama Press, and creator Malachi Ward. Pitzer’s got quite an eye for quality, so if you’ve enjoyed AdHouse offerings in the past, I’m sure these newcomers are well worth a look. Might I suggest starting with Michael DeForge’s excellent, award-winning Lose series from Koyama?
AdHouse has a nice-looking book called Duncan the Wonder Dog shipping in September, by Xeric recipient Adam Hines. The description of the book reads:
What if animals could talk? Would some of them form a militant group in reaction to how humans treat them? Would humans treat them different? Come explore this dense tome of an alternate universe where the lavish renderings recall Dave McKean. 2009 Xeric winning Duncan the Wonder Dog WILL be one of the most talked about books of 2010.
After the jump you’ll find a preview of the first few pages of the book, but there’s an even longer one over on AdHouse’s site, available as a PDF. Go check it out.
Technology | Apple said it is adding new security measures to its iTunes store after a developer reportedly hacked into numerous customer accounts to boost the ranking of his comic apps, which briefly dominated the book category. The company claims the weekend incident was an isolated — about 400 of its 150 million iTunes users were affected — but customers tell The Wall Street Journal that hackers have hijacked accounts before, with Apple doing little to stop them. [The Wall Street Journal]
Conventions | Heidi MacDonald looks at the tug of war between San Diego, Los Angeles and Anaheim for Comic-Con International, and the tough decision facing event organizers. “This has been by far the most challenging thing we’ve ever done,” said David Glanzer, the convention’s director of marketing and public relations. “Nobody thought we wouldn’t have a decision by June.” The board hopes to make a decision before this year’s event kicks off in two weeks. “If we don’t [make an announcement],” Glanzer said, “a lot of the focus is going to be on that.” [Publishers Weekly]
Joey Weiser is giving readers a variety of choices in order to read his latest work. In catching up on Weiser’s work, you currently have three choices: Cavemen in Space (distributed by AdHouse [PDF preview here]), Mermin (his mini-comic series with two issues released so far about an adorable fish-boy); or Monster Isle (his weekly webcomic, which he told me, was “inspired by Japanese Kaiju monsters, and it’s a lot of fun to make”). The bulk of our interview focuses upon Cavemen in Space (“A caveman named Washington and his prehistoric tribe have been torn from their era and placed aboard ‘The Wheel,’ a futuristic space laboratory…”)–but we also touch briefly upon the initial response to Mermin. My thanks to Weiser for taking the time to discuss his work.
Tim O’Shea: The main appeal to Cavemen in Space (for me) is that many of the Cavemen–transported to a future time, become accustomed to the new world/dynamics to varying degrees. Had you always intended to have that juxtaposition–or was that a nuance to the characters that evolved as the story developed? I was really pleased with the character arcs for Madison and Jefferson.
Joey Weiser: In this case, I came up with the characters first, and the story just formed around them. I wanted to work with a large cast and give them all stories that intertwined. The goofy concept of Cavemen in Space is obviously playing with opposites, so that was a core part of the characters and from that I realized how they would interact with each other and what developments I would want them to have by the end of the book.
Via the AdHouse blog comes word that comics creator Joshua Cotter has a spiffy new website. The creator of Skyscrapers of the Midwest and Driven by Lemons, who our own Tim O’Shea interviewed recently, has tons of art, strips and other cool stuff up on the site. Go check it out.
Legal | Leo Cendrowicz examines the issues surrounding the upcoming trial, set to begin Wednesday in Brussels, Belgium, over whether to ban Herge’s Tintin in the Congo for its racist portrayals of native Africans. The legal battle was launched three years ago by Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, a Congolese man living in Belgium, who wants the book removed from the country’s bookstores, or at least sold with warning labels as it is in Britain. “It shows the Africans as childish imbeciles,” Mbutu Mondondo says. “It suggests blacks have not evolved.” [Time.com]
Conventions | Amid Amidi reports that Comic-Con International has raised the price of additional-exhibitor badges from $75 to $200: “As anybody who has ever exhibited at Comic-Con can tell you, artists typically don’t earn truckloads of money at the event, and when all the costs of booth rental, travel, and lodging are factored in, the obscene $200 exhibitor badge essentially guarantees that an independent artist will leave the convention empty-handed.” [Cartoon Brew]
Every once and awhile an email interview evolves far beyond my basic questions. But never has an email interview grown into something as constructive, candid and insightful as this email interview with Joshua Cotter. Longtime readers of Talking Comics with Tim may remember my email interview with Cotter last year. Back then we discussed Skyscrapers of the Midwest as well as the (then upcoming) Driven by Lemons (a 13-page preview of which AdHouse offers here). Cotter was such a fun interview then I wanted to catch up with him again this year. I wanted to discuss Driven by Lemons some more (now having had a chance to take it all in). I sent Cotter my questions and waited. Soon he replied with the following. I was amazed that after pouring all of this effort into his initial reply he was also still willing to reply to my (compared to what he had to say) inadequate questions. I can’t agree with everything Cotter writes (nor do I think he expects or wants anyone to agree with him). Where I most disagree is his assessment of himself. He’s an acutely astute and informed observer of the human condition who does not give himself enough credit for his emotional and intellectual efforts to get to a better place, literally and figuratively.
Hey, Tim. I bet you weren’t expecting this. Below is something that came out of my brain this afternoon. I started answering the questions, but I’ve been writing for hours and wanted to send it to you, since it may take the interview in an entirely different direction than you intended. And if you’d rather just ignore the pre-question rambles, I’d completely understand. I can find an outlet for it somewhere… but like I said, I’m tired. Here goes…
- AdHouse will distribute 3X4, by Scott Morse, Lou Romano, Don Shank and Nate Wragg, the guys behind Sex and Science and The Ancient Book of Myth and War. AdHouse describes the book as “a unique collection of paintings built around the simple aesthetic of the numbers 3 and 4. Be it shape, line, texture, or color, this collection dares to boldly add a new perspective to modern art.”
- Per Ross Campbell, the sixth edition of his popular Wet Moon series of graphic novels from Oni Press is now slated to come out next year. “I’ll be finished with the book on the same schedule, but Oni has restructured their workflow a bit so their turnaround/build time is longer now, making WM6 most likely a February 2011 release,” he wrote.
- Heidi at the Beat points out that this preview of the London Book Fair by Publishers Weekly reveals that Ben McCool and Billy Tucci are working on a graphic novel adaptation of the film Alexander Nevsky by Russian director Sergei Eisenstein.
- Jim Rugg will debut a new Rambo minicomic at this weekend’s SPACE event.
- Meathaus has scans of a Charles Burns minicomic called Free Shit “with preview art from an upcoming project of his.”
- Rami Efal has self-published Never Forget, Never Forgive, which was originally serialized on the webcomics collective site ACT-I-VATE. “It is a tragedy taking place in 16th century Japan and is a cross between Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood, Sophocles’ Antigone, and Lone Wolf and Cub,” according to the author.
AdHouse Books has announced the winners of their “Objet d’Afro“/Afrodisiac art contest. At the top of this post you’ll see the contribution by “King Daddy” winner Marcussparcus; you can also check out the second and third place winners, “Cigarette Pimp” Katie Skelly and “Poppa-stoppa” Mike Shea.
Bonus: Don’t miss you chance to get a limited edition Afrodisiac T-shirt from ToonSeum.
As reported earlier this week, Amazon.com removed the “buy” button from all of the graphic novels it lists that are distributed by Diamond Book Distributors, including books from Marvel, Dark Horse, Image, IDW, SLG Publishing, AdHouse Books, Avatar and many other publishers, most likely as a result of last weekend’s price glitch. As of this morning, a few titles seem to be listed again — like Zombies Calling from SLG, for instance — but the majority are still only available from resellers.
Yesterday I reached out to a few publishers to see how this was affecting them and to see if they’d heard an update on when the issue would be resolved. I heard back from two of them, and below are their responses. I’ll follow up with any additional ones that may come in later, or with any response from Diamond, who I also emailed yesterday.
Dan Vado, Publisher, SLG Publishing
JK: If I’m not mistaken, you’re in a different boat than a lot of the other impacted publishers, as you sell your books directly to Amazon vs. going through Diamond. So how did you guys end up being caught up in all this?
Dan: Diamond uploads data to Amazon for everything it carries, our stuff included. Even though we are Amazon’s primary source for our books, they might still buy occasional books from Diamond. We also cannot list our books on Amazon way in advance while Diamond can.
JK: How much of an impact does this have on your business?
Dan: In the first quarter of 2010 Amazon has far and away outstripped Diamond on sales of our backlist titles (backlist, Diamond obviously sells more of our new releases). Right now I have negative sales to Diamond due to bookstore returns, but Amazon sales are consistent and non-returnable. Not being able to sell to through Amazon is a real killer as that channel is slowly becoming not only as important to us as the other sources, but in some ways more important.
Regular readers of Robot 6 will not be surprised to read we’re fans of Jim Rugg‘s work. Rugg and I recently did an email interview regarding his latest collaboration with Brian Maruca, Afrodisiac (AdHouse). The book is described here as: “Inspired by the blaxploitation films of the 1970s and classic superhero comics, the Afrodisiac collects art and comics starring the original super badass and featuring cool cars, sexy women, scary monsters, self-righteous superheroes, corrupt cops, aliens, Dracula, Richard Nixon.” Any interview so deeply focused on an unforgettable independent work of this caliber is a blast–partially also thanks to the wacky turns our discussion takes, including into the realm of Wolverine. My thanks to Rugg for his time and to longtime pal of mine (as well as a great publisher), AdHouse’s Chris Pitzer, for his assistance in arranging the interview.
Tim O’Shea: Before getting into the guts of the book, one quick question on the back cover. Who had the idea to do the female silhouette glaze (or what would it be called) on the back cover?
Jim Rugg: It’s called a spot varnish, son. When we figured out the front cover design, Chris Pitzer (Adhouse Books publisher and all-around awesome design guru) suggested a spot varnish for the glasses. That sounded great to me. So I wanted to take advantage of the spot varnish on the back too. But the illustration on the back didn’t really lend itself to the same treatment as the front. I wasn’t sure the back cover effect would work, but figured it was the back cover. Give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised by how it turned out.
Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading. Our guest this week is none other than acclaimed cartoonist and co-founder of the Center for Cartoon Studies, James Sturm. Sturm, the author of such books as The Revival and The Golem’s Mighty Swing, has a new book coming out next month from Drawn & Quarterly entitled Market Day, and you definitely want to check it out, it’s a lulu.
In the meantime though, let’s simply check out what Sturm and the rest of the R6 crew is currently reading.