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 snap up a book I’ve been trying to track down for years: Amazing Spider-Man: Hooky (Marvel, $4.99). This 1986 lost classic features Bernie Wrightson drawing a webhead story featuring monsters and alternate worlds – looks like a real gem. Now to convince Marvel to republish John Paul Leon’s Logan: Path of the Warlord… Next up would be Secret Service #1 (Marvel/Icon, $2.99). I’ll buy pretty much anything Dave Gibbons puts out these days, and seeing him with Mark Millar is bound to be a unique experience. Next up is Saga #2 (Image, $2.99); Brian K. Vaughn is really setting up a world – like a sci-fi sitcom here, with loads of direction to go in. Lastly I’d get Conan the Barbarian #3 (Dark Horse, $3.50). Can I admit I might like this more than Northlanders? Brian Wood’s definitely expanding how people think of him with this story, and Becky Cloonan is making a lot of editors look foolish for not putting her on these kinds of books sooner.
If I had $30, I’d start out with Secret #1 (Image, $3.50). Manhattan Projects seems more up my alley than this story, but Jonathan Hickman’s built up some credit in me to try anything new he puts out even if I’m not too interested. Next up would be Northlanders #50 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99), which I’m sad to see go. I think this will be one of those series that achieves more popularity after it’s over, and it’s a shame DC can’t find a way to continue it. After that it would be Glory #25 (Image, $2.99). I was a bit shaky on the story after Joe Keatinge’s first issue, but everything after has really put the pieces into place and Ross Campbell seems to be finding his footing to really land the superheroics of this story. Last up would be Secret Avengers #25 (Marvel, $3.99); Rick Remender’s clearly put his own spin to this series, so much I’m surprised Marvel didn’t use this as a chance to renumber the series… but I’m glad they didn’t.
If I could splurge, I’d throw money at my comic retailer for Pete and Miriam (Boom!, $14.99). Big fan of Rich Tommaso, and he seems to be honing his craft like a knife, creating more pointed and poignant stories here. And Miriam, she’s a real gem.
Creators | Watchmen writer Alan Moore responds to recent comments made by The Dark Knight Returns creator Frank Miller: “I think that the Occupy movement is, in one sense, the public saying that they should be the ones to decide who’s too big to fail. It’s a completely justified howl of moral outrage and it seems to be handled in a very intelligent, non-violent way, which is probably another reason why Frank Miller would be less than pleased with it. I’m sure if it had been a bunch of young, sociopathic vigilantes with Batman make-up on their faces, he’d be more in favour of it. We would definitely have to agree to differ on that one.” [Honest Publishing]
1. What comic-related gift or gifts would you recommend giving this year, and why?
2. What gift (comic or otherwise) is at the top of your personal wish list, and why?
Ho-ho-hopefully you’ve gotten the chance to check out the previous three installments. If not, it isn’t too late:
Part 1: Jim McCann, Matt Kindt, Daryl Gregory, Jim “Zub” Zubkavich, Jamie S. Rich, Ryan Cody
Part 2: Jeff Parker, Tim Seeley, Ross Campbell, Kody Chamberlain, Ian Brill, Jamaica Dyer
Part 3: Mike Carey, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kagan McLeod, Kevin Colden, Thom Zahler, Van Jensen
And here is today’s round-up …
1. For the kids (or kids-at-heart): Okie Dokie Donuts by Chris “Elio” Eliopoulos – One of my favorite books of the year. Each page is crammed to the brim with kinetic artwork and fun comics!
For the art lover: “Behold! The Dinosaurs!” print by Dustin Harbin – Absolutely gorgeous print featuring one of my favorite subjects: Dinosaurs!
For the comic strip enthusiast: Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson – Super engaging strips that are full of life and very funny. I’m very glad that Fantagraphics is publishing these.
For the manga reader: Cross Game by Mitsuru Adachi – A recent series that I’ve been infatuated with after having it recommended to me by several friends. A manga with a very welcoming atmosphere and tons of heart.
For the indie-minded: A few comics from Blank Slate Books: Dinopopolous by Nick Edwards and The Survivalist by Box Brown – Two great-looking books from a publisher that might be off some folks’ radars at the moment. I haven’t even read these yet, and I feel confident recommending them!
2. Well, my dad has a long-standing tradition of giving me a volume of the Complete Peanuts collections for birthdays and holidays, so I’ve got that covered. Let’s see…
I suppose there are a few Japanese imported books that would make the top of my list of things I’ve had my eye on, but haven’t had the chance/extra cash to buy for myself. These fall under the category of “Things That I’m Not Likely to Stumble Across In-Person and Say, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to get that!’” Two that come to mind are One Piece Green, a “databook” which contains a treasure-trove of sketches and notes from Eiichiro Oda from the years leading up to and during his epic manga series One Piece. I’ve also been eyeing some Shigeru Mizuki (Gegege No Kitaro, Onward Towards Our Noble Death) yokai encyclopedias that pop up on eBay. Those look Beautiful with a capital B!
While the rest of the world is going digital, Box Brown is heading in the other direction: Last month he launched Retrofit Comics with plans to publish 17 print comics by new and independent creators in the next 17 months. He got the seed money for Retrofit with a Kickstarter drive, and the launch comic was James Kochalka’s Fungus. All the books are by different artists, and most are one-shots, although Brown said he is open to creators incorporating their Retrofit comics into their ongoing series. This month’s release is Drag Bandits, by Colleen Frakes and Betsy Swardlick, which Brown describes as “kind of like The Scarlet Pimpernel, a woman dressed as a man and a man dressed as a woman, and it’s really exciting.” Comics by Pat Aulisio and Josh Bayer round out this year’s offerings, and plans for the future include an anthology in the spirit of the Japanese underground-manga magazine Garo, a project that Brown says was the brainchild of Ian Harker, editor of the free alt-comic newspaper Secret Prison. The comics are sold both in selected retail stores and by subscription, and Brown estimates he has 150 subscribers to the four-month package and a handful with six-month or twelve-month subscriptions.
While he is handling all this, Brown, who recently won two Ignatz Awards, continues to self-publish his own work, and Blank Slate will publish his graphic novel The Survivalist in December. We talked to him this past weekend about the genesis of Retrofit Comics and what it’s like to run a really, really small press.
New York may get the big shows, but Boston has a vibrant local comics scene and is building up a nice slate of events throughout the year. Boston Comic Con was like a teeny-tiny version of NYCC, with name creators (Darwyn Cooke, Stan Sakai, Frank Quitely) chatting with dozens of fans in small conference rooms. MICE, the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, is like a mini-MoCCA, just one day long and featuring a number of talented creators. The lineup of exhibitors includes Box Brown, Kevin Church, Alexander Danner, Ming Doyle, Gareth Hinds, Dirk Tiede, and Tak Toyoshima, plus lots of people you never heard of who are quietly doing interesting, innovative work (that’s not a punt—I saw a lot of these people at BCC.)
The schedule includes lettering, coloring, and webcomics workshops and panel discussions on comics for children (featuring my Good Comics for Kids collaborator Robin Brenner), comics and social justice, comics and fashion, and more.
It all happens Saturday, from 10 a.m to 4 p.m., at Lesley University in Porter Square, Cambridge. Here’s an insider tip: It’s in the same building as a Japanese mall, which has lots of inexpensive noodle shops, one nicer fish restaurant, a bubble tea stand, and a lovely Japanese/French bakery, so plan to stay local for lunch. Admission to the show is free, and there’s plenty to see. I’m planning to make a day of it, and if you are in the Boston area, I’d highly recommend it.
Box Brown started Retrofit Comics as a Kickstarter project, with the intention of publishing 16 alternative comics. And by “alternative comics,” we mean 32-page floppies, not webcomics or graphic novels but old-school ink-on-paper pamphlets.
The enterprise bore its first fruit last week with the publication of James Kochalka’s Fungus, which features two mushrooms that are also characters in the video game he is developing; Kochalka described both in a recent interview with the A.V. Club. The next comic is Drag Bandits, by Colleen Frakes and Betsy Swardlick, and it’s due out in October. The current plan is to publish one comic a month for 17 months, at a cover price of $5 each. Four- and six-month subscriptions are available; each gets you a free comic.
In the original Kickstarter solicitation, Brown opined that floppy comics are important for creators because they allow them to connect with their audience while the work is still evolving:
Without the floppy comic (or mini-comic) the artist is forced to work on a largescale graphic novel mostly in private and THEN sell it. What if it doesn’t sell? What if the audience isn’t there? What if there are kinks that could have been worked out somehow? The artist basically has to go back to the drawing board. If there is an avenue and audience to work with, the artist can produce better and more refined work.
But he hasn’t neglected the retail side: He has already arranged for a number of retailers to carry the comics, which should bring them more (and more regular) traffic from indy-comics fans. Check the Retrofit website for updates as well as sample pages from upcoming comics; looks like there’s some good stuff in the pipeline.
The winners of the 2011 Ignatz Awards were announced this weekend at SPX, the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Md. Nominees for the awards were chosen by a jury of five creators and voted on by attendees at the show.
Congratulations to this year’s winners:
Outstanding Mini Comic: Ben Died of a Train, Box Brown
Outstanding Anthology or Collection: I Will Bite You, Joseph Lambert
Outstanding Online Comic: Hark! A Vagrant, Kate Beaton
Promising New Talent: Darryl Ayo Brathwaite
Outstanding Story: Browntown, Jaime Hernandez
Outstanding Series: Everything Dies, Box Brown
Outstanding Comic: Lose #3, Michael DeForge
Outstanding Graphic Novel: Gaylord Phoenix, Edie Fake
Outstanding Artist: Joseph Lambert, I Will Bite You
Eightball. Love and Rockets. Hate. Yummy Fur. Grit Bath. Meatcake. Palookaville. Dirty Plotte. In a distant time, serialized staple-bound solo anthology series dominated the alternative comics scene, and these (more or less) regularly published floppy-formatted comics roamed the earth in huge hordes. They also gave people interested in genres other than superheroes a reason to come back to comic shops week after week. Today they’re on the verge of extinction, supplanted by graphic novels and webcomics as the venues of choice for alternative work, with only a quixotic few — Alvin Buenaventura’s Pigeon Press, Igort and Fantagraphics’ Ignatz Line, Anders Nilsen’s recently completed Big Questions, the occasional issue of Uptight or Optic Nerve — keeping the torch lit.
But cartoonist Box Brown is looking to pull this fabled format back from the brink in a big way with Retrofit Comics, a new Kickstarter-funded publishing imprint seeking to publish fully 16 32-page pamphlet-format alternative comic books in a single year. Brown’s assembled an impressive line-up of creators for Retrofit Year One, including James Kochalka, Liz Bailie, Noah Van Sciver, L. Nichols, and Chuck Forsman — as well as a murderer’s row of retailers committed to carrying the comics, including The Beguiling, Jim Hanley’s Universe, Quimby’s, Desert Island, Floating World, Bergen Street, Chicago Comics, and Forbidden Planet UK. I think this last part is key. Brown explains that he’s doing this in part to provide alternative comics creators with the regular feedback of an audience as opposed to having them disappear from view for years at a time to draw a graphic novel, but that’s the sort of thing publishing to the web can take care of. What it can’t do is create an incentive for altcomix fans to visit their local comic shop, which would presumably drive more demand for similar books down the line. That’s worth pushing for.
How can a harmless, feel-good bumper sticker get people so riled up? That’s what Box Brown sets out to explain with his webcomic “To Exist,” which traces the history of the “COEXIST” bumper sticker. Famous or infamous, depending on your political leanings and/or feelings about sloganeering, the sticker cobbles the word “Coexist” out of symbols for major world religions and has a tendency to spur some religious and political conservatives to paroxysms of conspiratorial rage, as you can see in the excerpt above starring Representative-Elect Allen West.
In addition to cataloging some of the more outlandish reactions to the sticker, Brown also traces its origin to the work of Polish designer Piotr Miodozeniec; the version you’ve likely seen is an unauthorized knockoff, making “COEXIST” the “Calvin Peeing” of the bleeding-heart set. Brown also advances some theories about why people would answer the equivalent of “Can’t we all just get along?” with such a resoundingly angry “NO!”, all while working through what looks to me like a pretty heavy Seth influence. Read the whole thing.
(via Jess Fink)