Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
2001 (2011). Blaise Larmee.
The comic we’re going to talk about to day is a webcomic, which is cool because it means you don’t have to leave your seat to read it. That’s just one picture up there: the sequence is here. Go take a look, then come back.
You good? Ok.
The webcomics medium itself forces the artist to confront choices that the printed page does not. The most obvious as well as the most important is just that, the lack of a page. In print, everything a cartoonist does has to hang around the page, the non-negotiable single unit, the contributing part of the whole. Unless the work in question is a Sunday page-style one sheet (pretty much a dead form in comics, honestly), it has to deal with those splits, the spaces between pages. One of the most special and unique things about comics is how it can present multiple story moments for simultaneous viewing with paneled pages, but that simultaneity only extends until the end of the page. Pages break things up by the very nature of what they are.
Another Toronto Comic Arts Festival has come and gone, leaving in its wake a lot of broke-but-smiling comics fans, a couple of artists with a new cause celebre, and some interesting reading.
As we reported on Friday, Canadian customs seized all five copies of the Black Eye comics anthology that creator Tom Neely was trying to bring to TCAF. The news was originally reported by Ryan Standfest, editor and publisher of Rotland Press + Comic Works, at The Comics Journal, and Ryan adds in comments that Blaise Larmee’s Young Lions was also seized from Sparkplug publisher Dylan Williams. (For those who are curious about what’s too hot for Canada, here is a preview.) Standfest posted his reaction to the Black Eye confiscation at the Rotland blog; I’m sure there will be more to say about this soon.
The winners of the Doug Wright Awards were announced on Saturday night: Pascal Girard’s Bigfoot won the award for Best Book, Alex Fellows won the Best Emerging Talent award for Spain and Morocco, and the Pigskin Peters Award, given to non-traditional and avant-garde comics, went to Michael DeForge’s Spotting Deer.
Meanwhile, the folks at the Canadian comcs news blog Sequential have posted a special TCAF edition of Sequential Pulp, which you can download as a PDF or read via Issu, with lots of good stuff, including interviews with Jillian Tamaki and Mark Laliberte, books reviews by Tom Spurgeon, Salgood Sam, and others, and pages and pages of original comics. It’s all free, so go, browse.
Trust me, you’ll want to click this link — the image above doesn’t begin to do justice to 2001, the new webcomic from Xeric Grant winner Blaise Larmee (Young Lions). The comic’s vast starfields (and/or snowstorms) cover Larmee’s entire site, truly giving a “ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space” feel to the actions of its running, leaping, dancing, chatting characters. I’m generally a skeptic about the notion that webcomics aren’t worth reading unless they’re taking advantage of the Internet’s unique properties — no one says “I don’t use Netflix Instant because I want each ten-minute chunk of every movie to be in a separate, embeddable YouTube clip” — but when someone does do something with their digital canvas as impactful as what cartoonist (and Gaze Books publisher) Larmee is doing here, it’s worth standing up and taking notice.
On Friday, publisher Alvin Buenaventura announced he had shut down his imprint Buenaventura Press as of this past January, due to a single knockout legal/financial blow. Publicly available details are few, in keeping with the private way the move has been handled for the past six months. But comics creators and critics en masse are mourning BP’s demise and reading the tea leaves as to where its publisher, artists, and entire brand of comics will land.
Robot 6 reached out to several of the artists published by Buenaventura, as well as a few of his fellow publishers, for their reaction:
Working with Alvin over the years has been really amazing. He has introduced me to a lot of magical and influential artists and hooked me up with tons of inspiring and perverted books. His place has awesome shit scattered all over- mountains of crazy books, toys, memorabilia, gigantic figures, artwork- it’s like a bomb went off. Now that he’ll be taking a break from the business we’ll finally have more time to play Rock Band and trip out on weird TV shows.
–Matt Furie, writer/artist, Boy’s Club
A great comic review can make you feel like you’ve read the book without showing you so much as a panel…but, y’know, showing a panel really can’t hurt. And three recent reviews — Tucker Stone on Taiyo Matsumoto’s Blue Spring, Charles Hatfield on Blaise Larmee’s Young Lions, and Noah Berlatsky on Junji Ito’s Uzumaki — really struck me with their well-selected spot art. A glance at each review’s illustrations — dynamic, sexy, and horrific respectively — can probably tell you whether these books are the kind of thing you wanna check out, which is great, because each review is a solid examination of what makes them worth checking out in the first place. Click the links, feast your eyes, and see what you think.