Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
Retailing | The Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Journal looks at the increasing popularity of custom retailer variant covers, focusing on local stores Acme Comics and Ssalefish Comics, which last week debuted an exclusive red-foil variant for Wrath of the Eternal Warrior and this week will release a cover by John Romita Jr. for Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1. The latter costs Ssalefish $18,800, which covered printing of color and black-and-white covers and Romita’s commission. “Even if we don’t make money back on the books, it’s still nice advertising,” said Bret Parks, owner of Ssalefish. “It’s a lot of fun and it makes our customers realize they’re getting something special, because although you might see a big stack of these ‘Eternal Warrior’ variants in our store, we’re the only store in the world that has them.” [The Winston-Salem Journal]
Creators | Cartoonist Roz Chast talks about her memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? landing on the 2014 longlist for 2014 National Book Award. It’s the first time a graphic novel has been nominated in that category, and Chast is the only woman on this year’s list. When The Wall Street Journal noted that, between this nomination and Alison Bechdel’s MacArthur “genius grant,” “it’s a good day to be a female cartoonist,” Chast replied, “I totally agree. Actually my first thought was just it’s good for cartoons, for the graphic form.” [Speakeasy]
Creators | Alex de Campi talks about her pioneering digital comic Valentine, widely regarded as the first long-form comic to make extensive use of digital techniques. She doesn’t think the medium has come too far since then: “We’re all still in the shallow end, congratulating each other for getting our feet wet. There’s been no significant innovation since us. The DC and Marvel stuff is still based on half-page increments so it can go to print. The Madefire stuff I have seen (not a lot, maybe it’s gotten better) is just embarrassing motion comics. It pisses me off because there is so much more to be done. And I want to do it. But it would take an investor, or a very daring multi-media entertainment company. And big entertainment companies are many things, but daring is not one of them.” [Digital Spy]
Digital comics | Amazon has removed the manga Younger Sister Paradise 2 (Imōto Paradise! 2) from the Japanese Kindle store, two days after the Tokyo Metropolitan Government declared the manga a “harmful publication to minors” because of its “glorification of incestuous acts” and restricted its sale to customers over 18. As a result, beginning Friday, brick-and-mortar bookstores in Tokyo must keep the manga in a separate area for adults only. Whether because of all the attention or because it was unavailable elsewhere, the manga was the top-selling comic in the Japanese Kindle store before Amazon removed it. [Anime News Network]
The finalists have been announced for the 34th annual L.A. Times Book Prizes, which for the fifth year include graphic novel/comic among the 10 categories. Those nominees are:
The winners will be presented in an awards ceremony held April 11, on the eve of the L.A. Times Festival of Books.
The finalists, and the winners, are selected by panels of judges — nine panels with three judges each (the fiction panel also handles the first fiction category).
Legal | The final chapter of The Oatmeal vs. Charles Carreon has been completed (we hope), and it’s not a shining moment for Carreon: A judge has ordered him to pay $46,000 in attorney’s fees to the creator of a Satirical Charles Carreon website, whom he threatened with legal action. Carreon eventually dropped his suit, but the whole dispute escalated anyway, and the judge cited his “malicious conduct” in awarding the fees. [Ars Technica]
Digital comics | Amazon has quietly launched Kindle Comic Creator, which allows creators to upload various types of files and make them into e-books to be sold in the Kindle store; the software has its own system for creating panel-by-panel view, and the finished product can be read on a wide variety of Kindles and Kindle apps. [Good E-Reader]
Having reflected back on the best (and most cruelly ignored) comics of the past year, it’s time to look forward. Here are six comics I’m really excited about reading this year. As usual, my list reflects my own alt-comix/alt-manga interests/biases. So let me know in the comments what titles I’ve been such a clod as to overlook.
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:
Tom Richmond, J.H. Williams III, Ben Katchor and Jon Rosenberg were among the winners of the 2012 National Cartoonists Society Divisional Awards, which were presented last night in Las Vegas, Nev.
Richmond, a cartoonist known for his work on MAD Magazine, won the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year. Williams’ work on Batwoman was honored in the comic category, while Katchor won the graphic novel category for The Cardboard Valise. Rosenberg won the online comic strip category for his webcomic Scenes from a Multiverse.
You can find a complete list of all the winners after the jump.
Last month, The Cardboard Valise cartoonist Ben Katchor used his strip in Metropolis magazine to envision a world where corporate CEOs were forced to work in their own stores — by which we mean all of them, every day. This month, though, the 1% is striking back. In a strip entitled “Johnny ‘The Pump’ Clematis,” Katchor chronicles a day in the life of the title character, a working stiff hired out by the heads of various multinationals to take out labor-union officials using the massive robotic boom of his cement truck. Hey, I’m sure those unions were a public health hazard, right?
Media reports on the Occupy Wall Street movement tend to express confusion about what the protestors want. This usually leads me to express confusion about whether the authors of said reports have access to Google. But regardless, perhaps OWS should consider implementing the modest proposal advanced by The Cardboard Valise cartoonist Ben Katchor in his latest strip for Metropolis magazine. In it, Katchor imagines a world in which CEOs are mandated by law to work in every store they own for fifteen minutes each, every day. Crunching the numbers and allowing for serious workaholism, that basically maxes major chains out at just under 70 branches, reasonably regionalized. But would it really improve worker conditions? Katchor’s example culminates in a “cleanup in aisle five”-type situation that raises serious questions about the policy’s efficacy in that regard, at least where janitors are concerned…
Broadway | Michael Cohl and Jeremiah Harris, producers of the troubled Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, talk candidly about the $70-million musical — or “$65 plus plus,” as Cohl says — as it shuts down for more than three weeks for a sweeping overhaul. Will the production, plagued by delays, technical mishaps, injuries and negative reviews, hurt their reputation? “It might,” Cohl concedes. “It’s a matter of the respect of those whose opinions I care about. Most will recognize that Jere and I stepped in dog poo and are trying to clean it up and pull off a miracle. We might not.”
In related news, Christopher Tierney, the actor who was seriously injured on Dec. 20 after plummeting 30 feet during a performance, will rejoin rehearsals on Monday. [Bloomberg, The Hollywood Reporter]
The Atlantic magazine has a “special report” in their May issue titled How Genius Works, which focuses on how various creative types go from vague idea to first draft, and one of their chosen geniuses is Ben Katchor, who was the first cartoonist to win a McArthur Fellowship (which I guess makes him a certified genius). Katchor presents a three-picture slideshow with a bit of commentary about what inspires him and how he works, which is more of an insight into his particular working process than a blueprint for the rest of us—but still makes interesting reading.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday 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 what we call our “Splurge” item.
If I had $15 this week, I’d probably put it towards the latest issues of series I’ve been enjoying for awhile: Batman Inc. #4, New York Five #3, Justice League of America #55 – Yes, even with my nervousness over Brett Booth’s art – (All DC Comics, $2.99) as well as Jeff Parker and Gabe Hardman’s Hulk #31 (Marvel Comics, $3.99).
If I had $30, however, I’d probably put JLA back on the shelf and add The Arctic Marauder (Fantagraphics, $16.99), instead. I found myself enjoying Tardi’s Adventures of Adele Blanc Sec earlier this year, and
Splurgewise, it’s a tough one – I’d like to pick up the collection of Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan’s second Demo series (DC/Vertigo, $17.99), but I see that the hardcover collection of Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth’s spectacular Stumptown (Oni Press, $29.99) is out this week, and that really falls into the
category of having to have it. I’ll grab Demo next week.
‘Cause I sure didn’t, but I’m glad to discover that they are, in all their full-color glory. Click here to check out “A Vacancy in the Art World,” the latest strip from the great cartoonist behind Julius Knipl, The Jew of New York, and The Cardboard Valise; then click here for Metropolis‘ Ben Katchor archive. No one’s better at exploring the strange spaces of urban living and the even stranger things people think up to put in them.
There’s nothing else in the world quite like Ben Katchor’s comics. Perhaps that’s because there’s nothing in the world quite like the people and places you’ll find in them. Best known for his newspaper strip Julius Knipl: Real Estate Photographer, Katchor is an inventor of lost culture. His comics chronicle imaginary occupations and cultural attractions, like an island whose economy revolves around tourists visiting the ruins of abandoned public restrooms, “humane hamburgers” consisting of tiny slices of meat snipped from still-living cows so gently that they barely notice, or a seaside cellphone stand whose employees hold their phones aloft at the shore for ten minutes at a time so callers can hear the sounds of the ocean for a price. All of these things are just this side of plausible, feeling like old-fashioned customs that have been rendered obsolete or great ideas that never caught on, drowned out by the bustle of life in the big city.
But in his upcoming book The Cardboard Valise, due out on March 8 from Pantheon, Katchor takes a journey beyond his customary imaginary American-urban setting. This collection of strips culled from a variety of publications tells the loosely intertwined stories of two men dealing with our increasingly small world in two very different fashions: One is a literal travel addict who can’t stop visiting distant lands and cultures; the other proudly and loudly denounces the very notion of differing nations and customs, seeking to wipe out the physical and psychological borders that divide the world. Unsurprisingly, Katchor proves himself just as adept at chronicling the dislocations of travel and internationalism as he is at showing us (to use the subtitle of one of his books) the pleasures of urban decay.
As part of Robot 6’s second anniversary spectacular, Katchor allowed us to pick his brain about his new book, the allure of exoticism, the danger of nationalism, print vs. digital, and making the impossible possible.