Now available On Demand, the documentary Comic Book Independents by director Chris Brandt receives wider distribution at an interesting time. In the midst of a migration of comic book creators from work-for-hire to creator-owned projects, and just as a renewed discussion about creator rights gains momentum, this documentary offers fascinating insight on what it means to go it alone in comics.
It’s not your usual comics documentary, and if you’re a creative type yourself, or are interested by those who are, you’ll probably find yourself inspired. Framed by information from cognitive psychologist Dr. James Kaufman, the human process of creativity as it is realized in comics is broken down and explored by some of the art form’s most interesting thinkers and voices.
One of the great potential boons of digital is that it can bring back older comics at a reasonable price, without the problems of distribution and per-unit costs that caused them to disappear in the first place. Three examples popped up this week, while everyone was bickering over same-day releases of new comics:
Eddie Campbell announced on his blog that his early graphic novel Dapper John in the Days of the Ace Rock ‘n’ Roll Club is available as a standalone iPad app. The comics, a series of interlocking seven-page stories, were drawn in 1978-79. Campbell self-published them in the 1980s, and Fantagraphics did a collected edition in 1993. The app, which was produced by a Tokyo company called Panel Nine, includes not just the original run of comics but also the original small press covers, Alan Moore’s review of the comic (which started the ball rolling), and sundry other extras, some of which have not been seen in years. So it’s sort of a digital collector’s edition.
Batton Lash’s Supernatural Law is another vintage comic (well, from the 1990s) that is getting a new life in digital form. In this case, the comic is not its own app but is available via the Comics + and Graphicly platforms at a reasonable digital price: Wolff & Byrd #1 is free, and subsequent issues are 99 cents.
On general principle, I love any project with an alliterative name like Brain Boy. And even though JK Parkin just interviewed Dark Horse Assistant Editor Jim Gibbons, when I found out he had the scoop on the Brain Boy Archives that Dark Horse is set to release this Wednesday, November 16, I pestered Gibbons for a brief email interview. The 1962/1963 six-issue series serves as the only comic written by prose novelist Herb Castle. And while Castle developed the origin with legendary artist Gil Kane, after that first appearance, the actual series was drawn by then-newcomer Frank Springer. Inspired by the Cold War landscape of the early 1960s , the short-lived series proved a great springboard for discussion with Gibbons.
Tim O’Shea: How did the idea first come about to develop a Brain Boy archive?
Jim Gibbons: This was all Dark Horse Comics’ head honcho Mike Richardson’s idea. That guy knows his old comics like nobody’s business and we—as a company—wouldn’t have as extensive or as impressive an archival collection series without the passion Big Mike brings to the table for a lot of these projects. As a relatively young guy, I’d never heard for Brain Boy—and may not have had I not been assigned to work on this project with editor extraordinaire Philip Simon—but man, I enjoyed every wacky turn of this short-lived comic series.
The San Diego Comic-Con runs kicks off with a preview night on July 20, then runs July 21-24. If you are a comics creator or publisher, and you’re planning to bring something new to the con — a sketchbook, a print, a graphic novel debut, etc. — then we want to hear from you. Drop me an email and let me know if you’ll have something cool on hand that attendees should know about. Feel free to send any artwork as well. Thanks in advance!
Now let’s take a look at more stuff coming to the con, including Professor Zoom, Supernatural Law, Marvel Mini Muggs and more
Flashpoint‘s big villain, Professor Zoom, has San Diego on his schedule. Graphitti Designs will sell the above SDCC-exclusive action figure at their booth during the show, with a limit of one figure per customer.
Comic creators James Hudnall and Batton Lash have come under fire for a recent comic strip posted on the conservative website BigGovernment.com.
The duo regularly contributes a comic strip called “Obama Nation” — a play off of “abomination”– to the site, part of Andrew Breitbart’s online network. The Feb. 12th strip featured President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama eating dinner, with the president eating very small portions and the first lady eating a plate filled with hamburgers as they discuss her now one-year-old anti-obesity campaign. You can see the full strip for yourself after the jump.
MSNBC commentator Lawrence O’Donnell called it “a racist obscenity” on his program yesterday, while Mediamatters.org said, “It’s been a long time since I’ve expected anything approaching comity from the conservative media, but this is the sort of stuff most of us left at the grade school playground.” And on Technorati, Bill Schmalfeldt wrote, “… Brietbart’s hack comic drawers don’t understand satire. Instead, they show the First Lady as fat and scarfing down cheeseburgers, which she doesn’t do, they show Obama’s ears as impossibly large, the cartoon isn’t funny in the first place, and there’s no grain of truth on which to hang the satire.”
Hudnall, a former writer of Alpha Flight and Strikeforce Morituri, as well as creator of the ESPers and Harsh Realm, responded to the criticism: “There is nothing racist about the cartoon. The artist (Batton Lash) merely drew the first couple in caricature, which is what political cartoonists do. All we’ve done was to take a mild poke at the hypocrisy of the first lady. The press has already detailed the kind of foods served at white house dinners. It’s rarely diet friendly. Such as the menu at their super bowl party.”
Lash, the creator of Supernatural Law, said: “What’s racist about it? Cartooning — specifically political cartooning– has always been about exaggeration, whether it was Nixon’s prominent jowls, Carter’s toothy smile, or Bush ll’s beady eyes. If our current president is exempt because of the color of his skin, I think that would be racist. By the way, I didn’t depict the First Lady as fat — just a hearty eater!”
Welcome once again to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy based on certain spending limits — $15, $30 to spend and if we had extra money to spend on what we call the “Splurge” item.
So join Brigid Alverson, Chris Mautner and me as we run down what we’d buy this week, and check out Diamond’s release list to play along in our comments section.
If I had $15:
This one’s easy, as Wednesday sees the arrival of Jeff Smith’s latest Bone-related project, Tall Tales ($10.99 paperback, $22.99 hardcover — I’m obviously going for the paperback here). My daughter has become obsessed with Bone — to the point where she’s started making her own Bone-related comics (complete with theme music) — and is eager to pick up the latest volume, even if it does mostly collect material she and I have read before (namely the Stupid, Stupid Rat Tails series). I’ll probably pick it up on the sly this week and give it to her for for her birthday next month.
Exhibit A Press will have a new limited-edition Supernatural Law book at Comic-Con, The Gods Must Be Litigious:
When the Medusa decides to write a book—watch out! The Gorgon of Greek mythology, whose glance can turn people to stone, has been creating controversy on Earth as a bestselling author. Her highly opinionated How to Talk to a Mortal (If You Must) has brought her speaking engagements, TV talk show appearances—and lots of enemies! One of her most outspoken critics is editorial cartoonist Red Thrall, who is unrelenting in his cartoon attacks. Will the Medusa reach her breaking point and turn him to stone? How long
will Zeus tolerate all this nonsense on Earth? Looks like Medusa’s going to need some lawyers! And those lawyers are of course Wolff & Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre.
The book sells for $8.95 and will be available at the Exhibit A Press booth, #1909. Cartoonist Batton Lash will be on hand to sign copies.
If you aren’t going to the con, the Supernatural Law webcomic continues at www.supernaturallaw.com.
Batton Lash is posting the back-up story to Supernatural Law #39, which features a parody of Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, on his website in full color. The story is about a werewolf appearing as an attraction in Quimby’s Carnavale & Sideshow.
The complete press release is available after the jump. You can start reading the story here. Watch for new pages every Monday and Thursday.
The Alternative Press Expo, or APE, is coming up this weekend at The Concourse in San Francisco. The show runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Special guests include Jamaica Dyer, Phoebe Gloeckner, Dean Haspiel, Batton Lash, Lark Pien, Dash Shaw and Jeff Smith. I’ll be there covering the show, while Matt Maxwell will have a table to sell copies of Strangeways.
And over the next couple days, I’ll be posting what various companies and creators have planned for the show. If you’d like to be included, drop me the details on where you’ll be, what you’ll be selling and all that good stuff.
Exhibit A Press | Jackie Estrada dropped us a note about what Exhibit A Press (table 312) will have at the show, where special guest Batton Lash will be celebrating 30 years of Wolff & Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre.
“He’ll be signing the limited-edition Supernatural Law Tales from the Vault Anniversary Special as well as comics and trades,” she writes. “We’ll also have Batton’s ‘monster cameos,’ one-of-a-kind hand-painted miniatures of everyone’s favorite monsters. Plus: new Graphitti Designs Supernatural Law T-shirt!”
More info at www.exhibitapress.com/pages/index.php
SLG Publishing | Jennifer de Guzman sent over an update on SLG’s plans for the show. “Jamaica Dyer will be a special guest, so we will have plenty of copies of her new book Weird Fishes,” she writes. “Jamaica will also be on the panel Personal Stories on Saturday at 5 p.m. with Dean Haspiel, Phoebe Glockner, and Dash Shaw. I’ll be moderating her spotlight panel on Sunday at 12 p.m.”
NBM | Ted Rall and Shane White will be at APE; Rall will have a few copies of The Year of Loving Dangerously, while White will sign copies of the recent release Things Undone (which is sitting on my dresser in my “to read” pile; I should read it before this weekend).
Top Shelf | Brett Warnock posts on his blog that Nate Powell, Grant Reynolds and Jeremy Tinder will be at their booth, along with himself and Leigh Walton. And as always, he’ll be at the Isotope party Saturday night.
Creators | Scott Morse will be on hand doing commissions and selling the last few remaining copies he has of The Ancient Book of Sex and Science.
Manga | Deb Aoki rounds up what various manga publishers are doing at the show.
Exhibit A Press, which publishes the Supernatural Law comics by Batton Lash, has several new items available at Comic-Con this year, including a 15th anniversary special (above) and a new trade paperback. Details can be found in the press release after the jump …