His last major work of fiction was Big Questions, a 600-page epic fable involving a community of birds. If Big Questions was a graphic novel (in the most literal sense of the word “novel”), then his latest work, Rage of Poseidon, is more of a short-story collection. Here the cast of characters is grander: All seven of these stories star characters from Judeo-Christian belief or classical mythology and sometimes both, including Prometheus, Abraham, Isaac, Jesus, God and a good chunk of the Olympian pantheon.
But whether writing through birds or gods, the mundane or the divine, Nilsen’s true subject matter remains much the same: explorations of metaphysical and existential concerns, here more directly concerned with faith and religion than elsewhere.
Nilsen’s writing is spare and efficient; you could even say curt. In all of the stories, he writes quite conversationally, usually easing into second-person storytelling. “So imagine you are Poseidon, god of the sea,” the title story begins. That story is set in the present, but features the ancient Greek god; the same goes for “Prometheus” and the book’s longest and most compelling story, “The Girl and The Lions.” The stories “The Flood” and “Leda and the Swan” take place in their original settings. “Isaac” (“So imagine your name is Isaac and you are standing on a moutaintop with your dad”) is fairly true to the Biblical telling, but the ending finds Isaac playing a video game his father let him buy at the market (It’s Exodus 6: The Reckoning, if you’re wondering). The final story, the single page “Jesus and Aphrodite” is set in a bar in heaven.
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.”
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:
- Colleen Coover, co-creator (with husband Paul Tobin) of Gingerbread Girl and the Eisner-nominated Bandette. She’s also the creator of Small Favors and Banana Sunday.
- Bill Griffith, the legendary creator of the comic strip Zippy the Pinhead.
- Anders Nilsen, creator of Big Questions, The End, Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow and Dogs and Water.
- Diane Noomin, creator of DiDi Glitz and editor of the Twisted Sisters anthologies of women cartoonists.
- Raina Telgemeier, creator of the popular all-ages graphic novels Smile and Drama
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.”
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.
It’s beginning to look a lot like the final Wednesday before Christmas (and the final full one of the year), so with my $15, I’d get some gifts for myself that I know I’ll enjoy: the second issue of Chris Roberson (and now, Dennis Calero)’s Masks (Dynamite, $3.99), the third issue of Brandon Graham’s Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity (Image, $2.99) and Francesco Francavilla’s The Black Beetle: Night Shift #0 (Dark Horse, $2.99). Also, I suspect that I’ll be unable to resist the first part of Vertigo’s adaptation of Django Unchained (DC/Vertigo, $3.99), too.
If I had $30, I’d add another pile of favorites to that list: Judge Dredd #2 (IDW, $3.99), the by-now-amazingly-late-but-still-enjoyable Bionic Woman #6 (Dynamite, $3.99), Hawkeye #6 (Marvel Comics, $2.99), and the latest issue of the always-wonderful Saga (Image, $2.99).
When it comes to splurging, however, then I’m going to be playing it relatively cheaply: That Star Trek 100-Page Winter Spectacular (IDW, $7.99) feels like it might offer just the kind of space-age cheer I’ll be grateful for by mid-week … Happy Warpspeed Holidays, all.
Comics | Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan, appears to be embracing its role in this week’s Avengers#1 as a target of an alien “origin bomb” that struck the city, changing its biosphere and altering billions of years of evolution in mere minutes. Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice present and executive editor, tells a local newspaper he’s unsure why Regina and Perth, Australia, were selected, but local retailer Chad Boudreau seems glad it happened. “We had no advanced notice of it,” he said. “It just happened that someone reading the comic saw it in there.” He expects strong sales at Comic Readers, with those who don’t typically follow comics buying the issue out of curiosity. [The Star Phoenix]
Fantagraphics has made a number of notable publishing announcements over the past few weeks, but the new release of its spring/fall catalog reveals even more intriguing books coming down the pike next year. I thought I’d take it upon myself to run through what I feel are some of the more interesting titles scheduled for 2013, avoiding some of the more expected titles, like the new Donald Duck or Steve Ditko collections, or paperback editions of previously released material. If all goes well, I hope to do this sort of thing again with other small press publishers as we get closer to the end of the year.
The Amazing, Enlightening and Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley by Kim Deitch. Deitch’s latest graphic novel (his first original one, his previous works having been serialized in anthologies and other series) concerns a young actress in early 20th century America who gets a plum role in a movie serial, only to discover all is not what it seems. Could alleged recordings of Christ made centuries before the invention of recorded sound be somehow involved? Could be! Printed in landscape format to give that “widescreen” feel. April, $29.99.
Bread and Wine by Samuel R. Delaney and Mia Wolff. Apparently this was published back in 1999, although this is the first time I’ve ever heard of it. Famed science-fiction author Delaney chronicles his romance with a young homeless man, with Wolff providing art. April, $14.99
Nominees for the awards were chosen by a jury of five creators and voted on by attendees at the show. This year’s jury included Edie Fake, Minty Lewis, Dylan Meconis, Lark Pien and Julia Wertz.
The 2012 Ignatz award winners are:
Outstanding Artist: Jaime Hernandez – Love and Rockets New Stories (Fantagraphics)
Outstanding Anthology or Collection: Hark! A Vagrant – Kate Beaton (Drawn & Quarterly)
Outstanding Graphic Novel: Big Questions by Anders Nilsen (Drawn & Quarterly)
Outstanding Story: “Return to Me,” Love & Rockets New Stories #4, by Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
Promising New Talent: Lale Westvind – Hot Dog Beach (Self-published)
Outstanding Series: Love and Rockets New Stories by The Hernandez Brothers (Fantagraphics)
Outstanding Comic: Pterodactyl Hunters by Brendan Leach (Top Shelf)
Outstanding Mini-Comic: The Monkey in the Basement and Other Delusions by Corinne Mucha (Retrofit Comics)
Outstanding Online Comic: SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki
The latest round of “Comics-on Tees” that debuted this past weekend at C2E2 in Chicago are now available for purchase on their website. This round is “written” by Jeffrey Brown, who also contributes the design of one of the shirts, along with Jeff Lemire, Anders Nilsen, and Paul Hornschemeier. The shirts can be bought individually, or you can get all four as a set.
Awards | Big Questions by Anders Nilsen has won the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize for 2012, the second such award given by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book. The organization also named four honorees: Freeway by Mark Kalesniko, Habibi by Craig Thompson, Life with Mr. Dangerous by Paul Hornschemeier and Zahra’s Paradise by Amir and Khalil. The awards will be presented during a ceremony at Penn State later this year. [Pennsylvania Center for the Book]
Publishing | IDW Publishing has promoted Dirk Wood to vice president of marketing. Wood joined IDW in 2010 as director of retail marketing. [IDW Publishing]
Conventions | Misha Davenport previews this weekend’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo. [Chicago Sun-Times]
Previously they’ve recruited creators like Becky Cloonan, Mike Allred, Eduardo Risso, Jill Thompson, Colleen Coover and Tony Moore, just to name a few, to create shirts. This round will be “written” by Jeffrey Brown, who also contributes the design of one of the shirts, along with Jeff Lemire, Anders Nilsen, and Paul Hornschemeier. The shirts will debut at their booth C2E2 weekend and will be available for purchase from the Threadless site on April 16.
Creators | Sarah Glidden, creator of How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, chronicles her time at Occupy Miami Nov. 15-21 in a sketchbook. [Cartoon Movement]
Creators | Corey Blake follows up on the Bill Mantlo story published by LIfeHealthPro, including some clarifications of issues raised in the story and additional details on various fundraisers over the years to help pay for Mantlo’s care. [Corey Blake]
Creators | Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society Podcast interviews Skullkickers writer Jim Zubkavich about piracy and the Stop Online Piracy Act. [Berkman Center for Internet & Society Podcast]
Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where every week we talk about the comics, books and other stuff we’ve been reading lately.
Our special guest this week is musician and comic creator Nate Powell, who you might know from his most recent graphic novel, Any Empire, or the Ignatz and Eisner Award-winning Swallow Me Whole. When he’s not creating comics, he’s hanging out at the United Nations with the likes of R.L. Stine, Ann M. Martin and other teen-fiction writers in support of What You Wish For, a collection of young adult stories and poems. Proceeds from the book will be used to fund libraries in Darfuri refugee camps in Chad.
To see what Nate and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Digital comics | Following the entry this week by Image Comics into same-day digital release, 40 percent of the comics that debuted in print Wednesday were also available digitally through comiXology. Asking whether day and date comics are “hitting a tipping point,” retailer news and analysis site ICv2 notes: “Publishers are gaining confidence in the concept as evidence grows that day and date releases do not negatively impact print sales. DC’s bold move to convert its entire line to day and date digital with the New 52 has been the clearest indication yet that digital sales are not cannibalizing print.” [ICv2.com]
Legal | Kickstarter, the two-year-old crowd-funding site used by a variety of artists to fund projects, has asked a federal court to declare invalid a patent held by Brian Camelio, who founded ArtistShare in 2000. Camelio, a composer and former studio musician for the rock band Journey, has obtained a patent for a process that resembles Kickstarter’s own crowd-funding model. According to PaidContent, “Kickstarter ask a federal court to declare that the patent is invalid and that the company is not liable for infringement. If the patent, described as ‘methods and apparatuses for financing and marketing a creative work,’ is valid and Kickstarter is infringing, the site could be forced to shut down or pay significant damages.” [PaidContent]
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]