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SLG Publishing has been a major part of the American comics industry, helping to usher in notable creators like Charles Soule, Jhonen Vasquez and Jim Rugg. But for the past few years the publisher has been struggling.
Founder Dan Vado has been public about the company’s financial status, turning to crowdfunding platforms for help in keeping the business afloat — but with little success. He organized two unsuccessful Kickstarter campaigns in 2012, and returned this year, first with a GoFundMe effort and now with Patreon.
While none of the campaigns have reached the stated goal, Vado remains hopeful. The comics industry has witnessed numerous successful crowdfunding campaigns (even on a publisher level, such as with Fantagraphics), but SLG’s plight underscores that, unfortunately, they don’t all work out that way. But what’s so different about SLG’s situation?
Manga | Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto comes to an end in next week’s issue of Shonen Jump, but it’s not going away. Already side projects are popping up, including a miniseries that will launch in the spring, marking the 15th anniversary of the manga, and a series of novels about the different characters in the franchise. It all seems to be part of something bigger, the “Naruto Shin Jidai Kaimaku Project” (Naruto‘s New Era Opening Project), and the official Naruto website has a countdown to an announcement on Monday. [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | Tom Spurgeon talks to comiXology’s Chip Mosher about the comiXology Submit program, which is tailored for small publishers and self-published work. To prepare for the interview, Spurgeon gathered questions from creators at the Small Press Expo (which comiXology co-sponsored), and he talks to Mosher about the nuts and bolts of the Submit program, including payments, processing and the willingness to handle unusual formats. “We’ve had people sell thousands of copies and we’ve had people sell one or two copies,” Mosher says. “People have told me they’ve paid their rent with money from Submit. Or they were able to work on more comics with the money they made from Submit. It’s great to offer our customers such diverse comics from the program and at the same time be able to support the creation of more diverse work.” [The Comics Reporter]
Rick Geary, creator of the various “Murder Treasury” books published by NBM Publishing, will be on hand this weekend at the Alternative Press Expo to debut his new book Madison Square Tragedy: The Murder of Stanford White.
Here’s a description:
Stanford White is one of New York’s most famous architects having designed many mansions and the first Madison Square Garden. His influence on New York’s look at the turn of the century was pervasive. As he became popular and in demand, he also became quite self-indulgent. He had a taste for budding young showgirls on Broadway, even setting up a private apartment to entertain them in, including a room with… a red velvet swing. When he meets Evelyn Nesbit, an exquisite young nymph, cover girl, showgirl, inspiration for Charles Dana Gibson’s “The Eternal Question” and for the later movie “The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing,” he knows he’s on to something special. However, Evelyn eventually marries a young Pittsburgh decadent heir with a dark side who develops a deep hatred for White and what he may or may not have done to her, setting up the most scandalous murder of the time.
Geary has proved to be an adept and engrossing storyteller as he recounts the stories around these murders, so if you’re attending the show, be sure to stop by the NBM table (#203) and check this one out. Alternative Press Expo runs Saturday and Sunday at the Concourse in San Francisco.
Drawn and Quarterly has announced its debuts and signing schedule for this weekend’s Alternative Press Expo, which will be your first opportunity to buy the newest book from APE special guest Anders Nilsen (Big Questions).
“Anders has always created pretty epic works in the past, and I think Rage of Poseidon really falls into that category,” D+Q’s Tracy Hurren said in July at Comic-Con International. “It combines his interest in philosophy and religion and myth, which we saw in Big Questions, in a style that’s more similar to what’s seen in ‘Monologues for Calculating the Destiny of Black Holes,’ although you can see the style’s a little divergent from that, too, using silhouettes with very sparse backgrounds.”
If you’re attending the Alternative Press Expo this weekend in San Francisco, be sure to check out table 523, which will be the temporary home of Rina Ayuyang’s Yam Books. The publisher will be debuting the latest haunting-yet-mesmerizing book by cartoonist Renee French, Hagelbarger and That Nightmare Goat.
As the press release states, Hagelbarger and That Nightmare Goat is “a stunning vignette full of rich imagery and comics hi-jinx that tells the tale of Renee’s favorite bulbous aquatic hero, Hagelbarger, in a perilous adventure with his pals Tiffo and Hap, battling that villainous goat.” No doubt it will be equal parts adorable and frightening.
Check out the full cover below. The Alternative Press Expo, or APE, runs Oct. 12-13 at the Concourse in San Francisco.
This year will mark the 20th anniversary of the Bay Area’s Alternative Press Expo, and Comic-Con International has announced the special guests who will be in attendance when it returns to the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco Oct. 12-13 for what will be its last show at the venue.
This year’s special guests are:
APE was started in 1994 by SLG Publishing’s Dan Vado and was held in San Jose until 1999. It moved to San Francisco after that and has been held at the Concourse since 2004. But according to CCI, the show will be looking for a new home next year. “Sadly, we have been notified that this will be the last year for APE at that location,” a statement on the show’s website reads. “The Concourse is scheduled to be razed at some point in the future to make room for new condominiums.”
The Alternative Press Expo, or APE, kicked off today in San Francisco, and I made the trek up north to partake in comic culture-dom. I missed the show last year, and in fact haven’t been to a comic convention since SDCC in 2010, so it was fun to get back into the con groove. And APE is just the place to do it, with its laid back vibe and focus on making, buying and talking about comics.
Like I said, I missed last year’s show, so I have no idea how the crowds compared or the size of the place compared. Since I first started attending the show in 2007, they’ve switched up the layout of the place, and it seemed much bigger, with more exhibitors, than it has in the past. There seemed to be a bunch of people there, many with kids, and the folks exhibiting who I talked to for the most part seemed to be happy with the turn out. The weather was beautiful, which can sometimes be a hindrance; San Francisco doesn’t have that many days per year where there’s lots of sunshine and it’s very warm outside, so you never know when someone might decide to hit the park instead of, say, a convention. It’ll be interesting to hear what the CCI folks say about attendance this year
The Alternative Press Expo, or APE, returns to the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco this weekend. The show’s special guests are Groo creator Sergio Aragonés, Flood creator Eric Drooker, all three legendary Hernandez Brothers, The Cardboard Valise creator Ben Katchor, jobnik! creator Miriam Libicki, and Weathercraft creator and giant pen owner Jim Woodring, all of whom have spotlight panels over the course of the two days. In addition, other guests attending the show include Shannon Wheeler, Stan Mack, Justin Hall, Derek Kirk Kim, Jason Shiga, Thien Pham, Jamaica Dyer and many more.
In addition to the spotlight panels, the show has panels on politics and comics, censorship, queer cartoonists and a “Gigantes” meet-up with the Hernandez Bros. and Aragones. They also have workshop panels if you’re interested in making comics and a “creator connection” that allows aspiring creators to find writers or artists to work with.
The show is usually one of my favorites of the year, mainly because it’s so easy going and loaded with opportunities to discover something new and cool. Here’s a round-up of some of the folks you can see and buy cool stuff from at the show, as well as things to do inside and outside of the Concourse:
Prism Comics, the nonprofit group that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender creators and comics, has opened submissions for this year’s Queer Press Grant.
The grant is awarded to writers/artists or teams working on comic books, comic strips, webcomics or graphic novels with significant LGBT characters and themes. Creators don’t need to be LGBT to apply; entries are judged by the Prism board and past recipients based first on artistic merit, and then financial need, proposal presentation and the work’s contributions to the LGBT community.
“The Queer Press Grant is a significant resource to help promote LGBT themes in independent comics, and to support up-and-coming cartoonists bringing their projects into the world,” Justin Hall, Prism’s talent relations chair, said in a statement. “Every year, the QPG gives both financial support and extra publicity to a worthy recipient.”
Past winners include Robert Kirby, Eric Orner, Megan Gedris and Ed Luce.
Guidelines can be found on the Prism website. The deadline is Oct. 1, with the winner announced at the Oct. 13-14 Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco.
Distributors | Johanna Draper Carlson catches a couple of tweets from publishers indicating that independent-comics distributor Haven, formed in 2008 from the assets of Cold Cut Distribution, is shutting down at the end of the month. Calls for confirmation this morning to Haven’s Skokie, Illinois, offices went to voicemail. The company’s closing would leave Diamond without any significant competition for independent comics distribution — print comics, at least. As Johanna notes, the industry giant still has a rival in another quarter: digital distributor comiXology. [Comics Worth Reading]
Legal | The defense rested in the Michael George trial Tuesday after the comics retailer, who is accused in the 1990 murder of his first wife, chose not to take the stand. His lawyers argued that if he were to do so, his testimony would become the sole focus of the trial. George’s current wife Renee, who was kept out of the courtroom for most of the trial in case she was called as a witness, also did not testify. Closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday, and then the case will be sent to the jury. [Detroit Free Press]
Legal | Defense testimony began in the Michael George trial Monday after the judge denied a motion by the defense to order an acquittal. George’s daughter Tracie testified that she remembers her father sleeping on the couch in his mother’s house the night in 1990 when his first wife Barbara was shot and killed in their Clinton Township, Michigan, comic store. Another defense witness, Douglas Kenyon, told the jury he saw a “suspicious person” in the store that evening and that Barbara George, who waited on him, seemed nervous. [Detroit Free Press]
Conventions | Last weekend’s Alternative Press Expo inspired Deb Aoki to offer a burst of suggestions on Twitter as to how it could be made better. Heidi MacDonald collected the tweets into a single post, and the commenters add some worthwhile points (including not scheduling it opposite the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, which attracts much of the same audience and is free). [Deb Aoki’s Twitter, The Beat]
Awards | Ian Culbard’s adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness won the British Fantasy Award for best comic/graphic novel, presented Saturday by the British Fantasy Society. [The British Fantasy Society]
Comics retailer Isotope Comics in San Francisco is once again hosting their annual mini-comics award competition, and — AHHHH!!! — entries are due Monday by midnight!
“It’s my favorite time of year, when we get an opportunity to help spotlight a creator who is toiling in the underground making something magical that almost no one has seen yet… seriously, what could be more exciting?!” said Isotope retailer James Sime, “I consider the winner to be the comic industry’s Miss America for the year, it’s the Isotope’s job to get their work out there to the comics press and reviewers. And I’m proud to say that winning this award has helped some amazingly talented folks get noticed and published by some of the best and coolest comic publishers in our industry. So don’t be shy… I know that many of you out there are hand-crafting some mini-comics brilliance, let us help share your work with the world!”
Past winners of the award include Joshua W. Cotter, Max Riffner, Daniel Merlin Goodbrey and Danica Novgorodoff, among many others. To enter this competition, simply send five copies of your mini-comic to Isotope’s address (326 Fell St. San Francisco, CA 94102) before the Sept. 26 deadline.
Wheeler is also one of the special guests at the show this year, which also include Kate Beaton, Daniel Clowes, Craig Thompson, Matthew Thurber and Adrian Tomine. APE runs Oct. 1-2 in San Francisco.
Over on the CBR mothership, two potential “book of the year” candidates are talking about what makes them tick. First up is Daniel Clowes, author of Wilson. In a report on Clowes’s Dan Nadel-hosted spotlight panel at APE, CBR’s Karl Kelly reveals that Clowes thinks none too highly of the readability of classic comics even by artists he admires:
“I realized at a certain point that the thing that keeps me drawing comics and the thing that has always moved me along is that comics history is really disappointing,” Clowes responded. “It’s not the same as the history of novels, history of art, history of movies, the body of work is pretty spotty. The things we imagined don’t really exist. We imagine that Alex Toth did really amazing comics in the 50s that really worked, that were like Howard Hawk’s movies, but he didn’t do that. He never made a comic you could read. It’s terrible, and I say that thinking that he was one of the greatest geniuses of the 20th Century.”
Pigeon Press wuz robbed! Publisher Alvin Buenaventura reports that his new publishing venture had two copies of the legendary, gigantic, expensive hardcover anthology Kramers Ergot 7 stolen from its table at APE this past Sunday morning. Buenaventura, who’s had a rough enough year as it is, is looking for help from any APE exhibitors and attendees who may have witnessed the thieves in action. With a book that size, they’d be hard to miss.
If you were at APE and you saw something, say something! Not only will you help catch a thief and (hopefully) facilitate the return of some very expensive merchandise, you’ll also help solve the mystery of how anyone could waltz away with two copies of a book roughly the size of a Great Dane.