Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Awards | Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona has made the shortlist for the National Book Awards, only the third graphic novel to make it that far. At 23, Stevenson is apparently the youngest NBA finalist ever. Nimona is based on an idea Stevenson began toying with in high school and developed into her senior thesis at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She started posting the comic online, and a literary agent spotted it and signed her on. “I don’t know if I actually expected anything to come from signing with an agent — I assumed I’d self-publish, like most webcomic creators did,” she said. “Then my agent called me when I was in the middle of a class critique to tell me that he had sold it to HarperCollins, and that was that.” [Comic Riffs]
If you’re not already experiencing deja vu from a 2016 campaign populated by a Clinton, a Bush, a billionaire reality star who’s often threatened a presidential run, and a gaggle of hopefuls long past their sell-by dates, this may do the trick: Opus and Bill the Cat have thrown their tattered hats into the political ring once more.
It’s of course not entirely unexpected, as Bloom County creator Berkeley Breathed credits Donald Trump’s presidential bid with inspiring the recent online revival of the beloved comic strip. You see, in the waning days of the original Bloom County, which ended in August 1989, Trump was fatally injured and his brain transferred into the body of Bill the Cat, the near-catatonic drug-abusing televangelist/heavy-metal superstar/presidential candidate. The tycoon-cat subsequently bought the comic strip and fired all of its characters.
Censorship | During a panel at Comic-Con International, members of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund criticized a student’s attempt to have four graphic novels banned from her college campus. Crafton Hills College student Tara Shultz and her father, Craig Shultz, have called for Fun Home, Persepolis, the first volume of Y: The Last Man, and the second volume of The Sandman, all of which were included in a course on the graphic novel as literature, to be removed not only from the course but also from the college bookstore. The school has refused. CBLDF director Charles Brownstein noted that this is part of a troubling new trend: Graphic novel challenges at the college level. The CBLDF has been involved in 18 college cases so far this year, up from 10 in all of 2014. [Redlands Daily Facts]
Creators | “Opus’s [voice] came screaming back at me — true— when I faced those four empty panels that I hadn’t done since 1989,” cartoonist Berkeley Breathed told Michael Cavna, explaining why he is returning to his comic strip Bloom County after a lengthy absence. He also discusses the possibility of self-publishing rather than going with a newspaper syndicate: “Dead-tree media requires constancy and deadlines and guarantees. This flattens the joy. It also presents a huge income. It’s an interesting trade-off, isn’t it?” [Comic Riffs]
Commentary | David Brothers critiques Marvel’s plans to publish hip-hop themed variant covers, given that none of the newly announced creators for Marvel titles are black. [i am davidbrothers dotcom]
Creators | Kate Beaton talks about her family, webcomics, princesses, and her pony character’s guest appearance on Adventure Time. [Time]
Manga | The 13 volumes to date of Hajime Isayama’s dystopian fantasy Attack on Titan have sold a combined 30.37 million copies in Japan, making the manga only the third series to do so since market research firm Oricon began tracking the numbers in 2009 (the first two were, of course, mega-hits One Piece and Naruto). [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | John Casteele considers the acquisition of comiXology from Amazon’s point of view: “It’s easy to see how the ComiXology purchase is going to benefit Amazon. Access to the ComiXology platform not only provides the company with additional revenues from the growing digital comics market and to the comic series that had the highest-selling single issue in 2013 (The Walking Dead, which also had five of the top 10 best-selling graphic novels for the year). It could also provide synergy with Jet City Comics and the Kindle, giving both access to the ComiXology publishing platform. Amazon could also use its Kindle platform to further refine the ComiXology’s ‘Comics’ app, which is already available for the Kindle Fire but might enjoy more direct integration in the future.” [Business Insider]
Bloom County fans attending Comic-Con International in San Diego have something to look forward to: Not only will creator Berkeley Breathed attend the show, but IDW Publishing will also debut Berkeleyworks, the Art of Berkeley Breathed.
IDW publishes Bloom County: The Complete Library, and IDW’s Scott Dunbier posted the cover on Facebook this weekend: “300-plus pages of beautiful imagery and cutting commentary by the man himself.” Watch for more information on the collection soon. Comic-Con runs July 18-21, with a preview night on July 17.
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.
If I had $15, I’d walk out of the comic store with one book this week Fatale, Vol. 1: Death Chases Me (Image, $14.99). I fell off this book after the first issue, preferring to read in trades, and now that time has come. I’m looking forward to being surprised at what Brubaker and Phillips have done in this first arc as the debut issue was very promising.
If I had $30, I’d load up at Image with Manhattan Projects #4 (Image, $3.50), Prophet #26 (Image, $2.99) and Hell Yeah #4 (Image, $2.99). Prophet is becoming my favorite Image book because it unites my comic heroes of childhood (Prophet!) and one of the top cartoonists out there (Brandon Graham) with a surprising introduction of BD-style science fiction. Hell Yeah is a fun romp reimagining the staples of ’80s and ’90s comics as if John Hughes were the eighth Image founder. Last up I’d get Wolverine and the X-Men #12 (Marvel, $3.99). I was worried this series would get derailed by Avengers Vs. X-Men, but Aaron and Co. have managed to keep it on point as best as conceivably possible. It’s an ideal opening to bring Rachel Summers to the forefront, and the smirking Kid Gladiator on the cover is full of win.
If I could splurge, I’d get Michel Rabagliati’s Song of Roland hardcover (Conundrum Press, $20). I’ll always admire Free Comic Book Day, because it was there that a little Drawn and Quarterly one-shot introduced me to Rabagliati’s work. I’m surprised to see this new volume of his work not published by D&Q, instead published by Canadian house Conundrum. Anyway, this book appears to deal with the death of the father-in-law of the lead character, Paul. It’s been extremely engaging to see Paul grow through the series, and having him deal with events like this as I myself grow up and experience similar events is really touching.
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.
If I had $15, I’d first grab hold of my favorite of DC’s New 52, Batwoman #2 (DC, $2.99). J.H. Williams III has successfully kept up to the immense expectations he accumulated following his run with Greg Rucka, and the artwork seems to benefit even more by J.H.’s input into the story as co-writer. Next I’d dig down for two of my regular pulls, Northlanders #45 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) and Uncanny X-Force #16 (Marvel, $3.99). For my final pick, I’d have to miss a bunch of other titles for the chance to get the CBLDF Liberty Annual 2011 #4 (Image, $4.99). I love the anthology format, and having that plus the good cause plus the a-list talent makes it a must get; seriously, can you imagine one comic book containing new work by Frank Quitely, Williams, Mark Waid, J. Michael Straczynski, Matt Wagner AND Craig Thompson? BELIEVE IT!
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes, and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
The Grave Doug Freshley – A lot of publishers are doing Weird Western comics lately and that’s just fine with me.
Spera, Volume 1 – I like the sound of this fairy tale in which a couple of princesses combine efforts to save their kingdoms. It’s not that I’m anti-prince, but that’s a cool, new way to do that story.
Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island – Warren Ellis doing Steampunk sounds thrilling, but really all they had to say was “pirates.” I bet this is still really good though, even if you’re pickier than I am.
Roger Langridge’s Snarked #1 – After a well-loved zero-issue, Langridge’s version of Wonderland gets its real, official start.
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. We’re coming a little late today due to a power outage in my neck of the woods — due to a blackout, not because I spent the money for the electric bill on Flashpoint or Fear Itself tie-ins.
If I had $15, I’d make a mad grab for American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #2 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99); I love what Snyder and Murphy are doing here, and anyone who knows me knows how big a fan I am of Murphy’s work. Next up would be the debut of Jonathan Hickman’s Redwing #1 (Image, $3.50); after seeing Hickman blossom at Marvel, it’s great to see him re-invest in creator-owned comics. Third would be Jason Aaron and Carlos Pacheco’s X-Men Schism #1 (Marvel, $4.99); I have a sense Aaron’s the kind of writer to bring his “A” game when it comes to special stories (he did it recently in Scalped #50), so I’m interested to see what he does here. Last up would be Northlanders #42 (DC, $2.99).
Fans of FOX’s Fringe probably caught this on the show’s most recent episode — an “alternate reality” version of Berkeley Breathed’s “Opus” comic strip. Click on over to see the entire strip, courtesy of IDW’s Chris Ryall.
Much like DC’s comic-book plotlines were a little different in the Fringe reality, so too is Breathed’s famed penguin. For one thing, he’s a peahen — and presumably female — in the topsy-turvy world. Some things do remain the same, though — Paris Hilton gossip is still taser-worthy.
Single-issue comics have been the format of choice on the iPad and iPhone, but IDW is about to change all that: They announced this week that they will offer full-length graphic novels for the iPad. Each graphic novel will be a stand-alone app, priced between $5 and $10.
IDW has never been timid about digital comics, and they are jumping into digital graphic novels with a strong lineup of recent releases: Darwyn Cooke’s Parker: The Outfit, which is making a lot of best-of-the-year lists, for just $9.99, and Cooke’s earlier Parker: The Hunter for $7.99, as well as a Star Trek movie adaptation ($9.99), Vol. 1 of The Bloom County Library ($7.99), Tribes: The Dog Years ($7.99), and After the Fire ($4.99).
This is exactly what comics readers have been saying they want—recent releases priced lower than the print editions. IDW has chosen to release these comics as stand-alone apps, rather than through the IDW or Comics+ apps that carry their single-issue comics. That means iPad users who are not comics readers but are fans of Star Trek or the Parker prose novels have a shot at running across these in the iTunes store.
When IDW launched the Star Trek: Countdown iPhone comic, publisher and director Ted Adams commented, “We will sell as many iTunes apps [of Countdown] as we will of as the print version.” That kind of thinking is clearly behind this move. The initial lineup has an appeal way beyond the traditional comics audience, and by presenting them as single apps, rather than walling them off inside a comics app, IDW has made it more likely that new readers will find them.
(Image taken from the Comics Alliance piece.)
If it’s Tuesday, it must be time for Food or Comics?, where every week some of the Robot 6 crew talk about what comics we’d buy if we were subject to certain spending limits — $15 and $30, as well as if we had extra money to spend on what we call our “Splurge” item. Check out Diamond’s release list to see what arrives in comic shops this week,then play along in our comments section.
If I had $15 to spend:
Strange Tales 2 #1 ($4.99)
House of Mystery Halloween Annual #2 ($4.99)
Two $5 anthologies that should be well worth the asking price. Strange Tales II, the sequel to Marvel’s indie cartoonist anthology from last year, features new stories by Rafael Grampa, Kate Beaton, Frank Santoro, Dash Shaw, Jeff Lemire, Kevin Huizenga, Jhonen Vasquez and many more. House of Mystery Halloween Annual #2, meanwhile, features stories by folks like
Mike Kaluta, Jill Thompson, Chris Roberson, Mike Allred, Matthew Sturges and Peter Milligan. Most notably, it has a new “Lucifer” story by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, which is the big draw for me personally.
Update: I received an advanced copy of this in the mail tonight, and saw that the Madame Xanadu story isn’t actually by Mike Kaluta and Jill Thompson, as was noted in the above-linked CBR story. No, the Madame Xanadu story is actually by Matt Wagner and Brandon Graham. And it is pretty awesome.
IDW’s chief creative officer Chris Ryall reveals the artwork for the exclusive Bloom County shirt they’ll sell at their booth this year. The strip’s creator, Berkeley Breathed, will be at their booth during the con to sign it.
IDW will have lots of other con exclusives this year, including a remarqued edition of The Complete Bloom County Library Volume One and copies of True Blood #1 with a foil wrap around cover. You can see all the stuff they’re bringing to the show here.
Passings | Writer Peter O’Donnell, creator of the Modesty Blaise comic strip, died May 3 at age 90. Steve Holland notes that although the prolific novelist suffered from Parkinson’s disease, he “kept in touch with fans and continued to pen introductions for Titan’s Modesty reprints.”
Born in south London on April 11, 1920, O’Donnell wrote such adventure strips as the long-running adaptation of the James Bond novel Dr. No, Garth, and Romeo Brown before being asked in 1962 to create a new character for the Daily Express. He came up with Modesty Blaise, whose catsuit-wearing heroine fought villainy with the help of her right-hand man Willie Garvin. The strip was quickly picked up by the Evening Standard, and ran from May 1963 to July 2002.
To mark the release of Bloom County: The Complete Library, Vol. 2, from IDW Publishing, all this week USA Today has been reprinting select installments of the influential ’80s comic strip, along with commentary from creator Berkeley Breathed.
Asked whether there were aspects of the era he wished he’d poked more fun of, Breathed responds: “Honestly, there are those that I wish I’d just ignored. As we edited the new volume of Bloom County cartoons, my editor had to constantly stop me from apologizing for every Michael Dukakis cartoon that I was contractually compelled to include. Those same editors wish me to quickly add that there really are far less Michael Dukakis cartoons than my whining might indicate and don’t let that scare you off. I would only add that one is too many. Sarah Palin was born way, way, way too late. I get Dukakis.”
(via The Daily Cartoonist)
Update: On a related note, IDW is selling a limited edition of Bloom County: The Complete Library, Vol. 1, with an exclusive sketch and signature plate.