Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Retrofit Comics is extending its early bird sale, allowing readers to subscribe to a full year of their comics for just $65, shipping included.
That includes original single-issue comics by Kate Leth, Olivier Schrauwen and Matt Madden, as well as some up-and-coming creators you probably haven’t heard of … yet. But wait! There’s more! They also throw in a free digital version of each comic (in PDF format) and two free gifts and you can have one of their 2014 comics sent to a friend! If that’s all too much, there’s also a digital-only option for $35.
Retrofit, which publishes single-issue alt-comics, was launched in 2011 by creator Box Brown with initial funding from a Kickstarter campaign. The idea is to allow creators to publish single-issue comics, which Brown sees as an important part of the creative process:
Conventions | With the long-planned expansion of the San Diego Convention Center stalled indefinitely, the Los Angeles Times offers an overview of efforts to keep Comic-Con International in the city past 2016, and what suitors like Los Angeles and Anaheim, California, have to offer. “The proposals we’ve received are pretty amazing,” says Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer. “It’s not an easy decision.” However, the San Diego Tourism Authority remains confident that convention organizers will sign a deal — possibly with a month — to remain in the city through 2018, based on an agreement for nearby hotels to offer their meeting space for Comic-Con programming. (The Tourism Authority has already asked hotels in the Comic-Con room block to freeze their rates at 2015 levels for the next two years.) [Los Angeles Times]
MICE, the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, is small but mighty. On Saturday and Sunday, the show will take over the second floor of Lesley University’s University Hall, better known to locals as the Porter Exchange. Admission is free, and the roster includes a mix of local creators, aspiring artists just out of school, and some big names, including special guests James Kochalka, Emily Carroll, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman and Box Brown.
We talked with one of the organizers, Dan Mazur (a comics creator and publisher in his own right), about the challenges of running a small indie-comics show in general and the unique qualities of MICE in particular.
Brigid Alverson: What is the focus of MICE, and how is it different from other comics festivals?
Dan Mazur: MICE is an independent/alternative comics show, in the vein of larger shows like SPX, MoCCA Fest and APE, and others like TECAF, CAKE, MECAF. … So it differs from the mainstream comic cons for its lack of superheroes, cosplay, etc., and for the preponderance of minicomics. But for those familiar with the alternative scene, I guess we do have more of a focus (though not exclusive) on a local comics scene, and also on kid-friendly material and activities, to a degree.
Passings | Tony Auth, editorial cartoonist for The Philadelphia Inquirer from 1971 to 2012, died Sunday at age 72. Auth, who won both the Pulitzer and Herblock prizes during his lengthy career with the newspaper, began drawing as a child, when a lengthy illness confined him to bed for a year and a half. He graduated from UCLA in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in biological illustration, and worked as a medical illustrator for a time. He began his cartooning career doing a weekly cartoon for a local alternative newspaper and then started drawing a thrice-weekly cartoon for the UCLA Daily Bruin. He left the Inquirer in 2012 to pursue digital cartooning and became the Digital Artist in Residence for WHYY’s News Works. In addition to his cartooning work, he illustrated 11 children’s books. His editorial cartoons have been collected into two books, and Temple University has begun fund-raising for an archive of his work. Michael Cavna has a roundup of tributes from Auth’s colleagues at Comic Riffs. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]
Piracy | The Japanese government is joining with 15 anime production companies and manga publishers to launch a major initiative that will target foreign pirate sites. The push will start Aug. 1 and will have two components: The government will send takedown requests to 580 pirate sites and also launch a website that directs people to legitimate sources of online manga. The Japanese Cultural Affairs Agency estimates that Chinese pirate sites cost the industry 560 billion yen (about $5.5 million) last year. [Crunchyroll]
Comics | Lidia Jean Kott talks with writer Jason Aaron about his female Thor and pays a visit to Fantom Comics in Washington, D.C., where a quarter of the customers are women and the bestselling title is Saga (the bestselling superhero comic is Ms. Marvel). [NPR]
Publishing | Spurred by the GoFundMe campaign launched last week by Dan Vado to get SLG Publishing “back on its feet,” Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture author Rob Salkowitz wonders whether a nonprofit model might make sense for some indie/niche publishers: “Contrary to popular perception, however, being a non-profit doesn’t mean you can’t make money. Lots of successful non-profits generate revenues in the millions and pay their staff, executives and contributors salaries comparable with those in the private sector. They can also pay contractors and contributors like performers or creators full market rates. They just don’t pay shareholders, and they plow any excess revenues back into their operations.” [ICv2.com]
In the final day of HeroesCon, I was fortunate enough to meet an equal mix of industry legends and new (to me) creators. Also, if you look over the previous photo posts (Day 1, More Day 1, Day 2), you see a trend of some folks giving me the thumbs up. Had I requested the pose, the trend would not be worth noting. But I didn’t; some people just opted to go for the whimsical look, and I love it. My thanks to every creator over the three days who took a moment to pose for a photo (in some cases more than a few times).
Born a poor, put-upon peasant ridiculed by those around him, he would grow up to become one of the most recognizable figures in his profession, his worldwide fame leaving an indelible mark upon the chilhoods of more than one generation. But his greatest strength, that which made him such a powerful presence on the world stage, was also his greatest weakness; that which so defined his life would ultimately kill him.
You can’t make this sort of thing up, and in telling the life story of Andre Roussimoff, better known as Andre the Giant, cartoonist Box Brown doesn’t have to make anything up — although he may have to massage some anecdotes to better fit the format of a story, or imagine visual details where none were provided. In other words, Brown has to “put over” his narrative, to borrow some of the wrestling jargon that appears throughout his story (and is helpfully contained in a glossary).
Brown’s bio-comic Andre the Giant: Life and Legend opens with an illustrated version of a 2010 interview with Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea, a man who worked with Andre for years in professional wrestling, and became one of its most popular faces during a storyline in which Andre graciously decided to play the heel, the villain to Bollea’s hero.
“There was never a fork or a knife …. even a bed!” the cartoon Bollea says. “There was never a situation where he could be comfortable.”
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Conventions | The doors open today on the 25th annual Motor City Comic Con, held through Sunday in Novi, Michigan, northwest of Detroit. Comics guests include Art Baltazar, Elizabeth Breitweiser, Talent Caldwell, Chris Claremont, Matthew Clark, Gerry Conway, Katie Cook, J.M. DeMatteis, Clayton Henry, Mike McKone, Jame O’Barr, Ryan Ottley, Dave Petersen, Don Rosa, Bill Sienkiewicz, Charles Soule, Mark Waid and Skottie Young. The Detroit Free Press previews the event, and speaks with Claremont, while Metro Times provides a beginner’s guide. [Motor City Comic Con]
Digital comics | Kate Reynolds looks at the recent Image Humble Bundle promotion and compares it to sales of hard copies of the individual titles in comics shops. Her key insight is that this is Image’s first attempt to sell comics directly to the video game audience rather than established readers: “Many people who check the Humble website with some frequency may have been surprised to see comics books on a video game page, and for many, surprise turned to intrigue. While it’s impossible to tell whether the purchasers of the Image bundle were frequent comic buyers or not, it’s logical to assume that many were not. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if for some, the Image bundle was the first comic purchase of their lives.” [feminism/geekery]
Cosplay | The Christian Science Monitor looks at how cosplay is spilling out of comics and sci-fi/fantasy conventions and into “daily life,” such as movie theaters, pubs and public squares: “The spread of cosplay owes a lot to the Internet. Social media sites build buzz around the next big cosplay event. Tumblr and Instagram allow strangers to pass around photos of past work and offer words of encouragement from afar. YouTube videos reveal how to craft foam core into realistic-looking armor and braid hair like an elf.” [The Christian Science Monitor]
Conventions | Marking San Francisco’s third year without WonderCon, pop-culture critic Peter Hartlaub relates the feelings of “confusion, withdrawal and anger” experienced by local fans, and explains why city leaders should care whether the convention ever returns from Anaheim. [SFGate]
Creators | Gary ODD Edmund combined two things he loved, comics and “marijuana culture,” to come up with the comic The Bud. While weed may be the news hook in this story, the numbers are interesting as well, as Edmund claims to have made $10,000 last year selling The Bud at comics conventions, where he typically moves 200 to 300 copies per event. He is now at the point where it’s worth his while to drop other projects to make more time for The Bud, and he figures his Bud-related income will at least triple this year. Can’t make it to a comic con? There’s a digital version as well, available via indie publisher CCP Comics. The digital release of The Bud (on 4/20, of course) drew so much traffic it crashed CCP’s website. [AOL Jobs]
Taker or Lesner? Bryan or Hunter? Wyatt or Cena? Yes, it’s once again Wrestlemania weekend, and like last year I reached out to several folks in the comic community to get their take on the WWE’s signature event. Our panel shared their thoughts, opinions, hopes and dreams for tomorrow’s big card, which for the first time will be available via the WWE Network. So let’s just cross our fingers that we get to see the entire card.
Let’s meet our panel:
James Hornsby is the cartoonist behind Botched Spot, the webcomic that satirizes pro-wrestling culture, be it televised products, dirt sheets or fandom. He also makes “Over Like Olav,” a comic that focuses on his own characters, Olav and Rad Bad DeBone, as they make their way through the wrestling world. Check out his work at www.jameshornsby.com or www.botchedspot.com, follow him on Twitter @BotchedSpot, and see him on Facebook at facebook.com/botchedspot.
Cartoonist Box Brown has toured the (comics) world, from major conventions to local festivals. Along the way he’s won over fans, and recently finished a graphic novel for First Second Books titled Andre the Giant: Life and Legend. While that book is still months away, Brown has already gotten a second wind for his unique brand of wrestling comic, and he turned to ROBOT 6 to break the news.
At the LA Zine Fest in February, Brown will launch the anthology series Number, published under his Retrofit Comics banner. The lead feature of the debut issue is “Kayfabe Quarterly,” which follows a teenage boy who awkwardly comes of age while being an ardent fan of professional wrestling. A chance meeting with fictional wrestler Diamond Dick leaves him with some surprising words of advice, which changes how he leads his life.
Brown has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive preview of Number #1’s “Kayfabe Quarterly,” as well as one page from a second story in the second story, “The Documentarian.” He is also having a sale on his original art through the end of 2013.
Brown, the artist of the forthcoming biographical graphic novel Andre the Giant: Life and Legend, was commissioned by Paste magazine talk about video games for its monthly feature the Leaderboard. Some people write for this monthly slot, but Brown draws — and tells an existential tale of the little hero of Hyrule. Check it out:
A lifelong wrestling fan, Bellen! and Everything Dies creator (and Retrofit publisher) Box Brown will make his graphic-novel debut in May with Andre the Giant: Life and Legend, a biography of the professional wrestler turned actor from First Second (ROBOT 6 interviewed Brown about the project last year). Grantland has a new Q&A with the cartoonist, along with a first look at the cover, which you can check out in full below.
“Every wrestler had a story about him, but wrestlers like to tell stories and like to embellish those stories and make them their own,” Brown tells Grantland’s The Triangle. “And they’re good at it! Even the stories that are generally accepted to be true about Andre have a mythic quality to them. I really wanted to convey his human side and that he was a multifaceted human being with all the same idiosyncrasies as anyone. In our lives, sometimes we are magnificent and sometimes we’re not so much and we’re everything in between.”