Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Hello and welcome to a special birthday bash edition of our weekly “What Are You Reading” feature. Typically the Robot 6 crew talks about what books we’ve read recently, but since it’s our anniversary, we thought we’d invite all our friends and colleagues from Comic Book Resources and Comics Should Be Good! to join in the fun.
To see what everyone has been reading, click below …
The San Diego Comic-Con is the gift that keeps on giving, this time in the form of an interview with Love and Rockets co-creator Jaime Hernandez by CBR’s Kiel Phegley. Ask anyone who’s reading the series in its book-formatted New Stories incarnation — including this autumn’s #4, which picks up where last year’s massively acclaimed “Browntown”/”The Love Bunglers” storyline left off — and they’ll tell you: Jaime’s making some of the best work of his career, some 30 years after L&R made its debut. Unfortunately, that left him floundering when it came time to come up with a story for next year’s volume:
I almost blew my wad on these last two issues. I was so proud of it, and I wrapped up so many loose ends, and I was so proud of myself. And I said ‘Okay, now it’s time to do a new issue’…and I was blank. I swear, I was blank! I was actually looking out the window, looking for something, some kind of inspiration, you know? That happens to me once in a while, but this time — I mean, big! I was just wandering around, asking my wife, ‘Do you need me to go do something out in the back yard, or…?’ I just felt like the most useless human being. It’s what I always call the post-comic withdrawal, where after I’ve just gone BANG on one issue, after it’s done, I feel so useless. I need to do something, but it’s like nothing’s there. It always comes, but I can’t make it come. It’s an organic thing with me, where it comes when it comes. Luckily, it’s always come within the deadline.
Watch the entire fascinating interview, which reveals a lot about Jaime’s creative process and his desire to do comics outside his usual “Locas” world, above.
Part one-crazy-night comedy of errors, part Curb Your Enthusiasm-style comedy of discomfort, part heartwarming second-chance romance, part cartooning master class, Daniel Clowes’s new book Mister Wonderful packs a lot of delights in between its long covers. The book began life as a weekly strip in The New York Times Magazine‘s “Funny Pages” section before Clowes reformatted, edited, and expanded it for its new incarnation from his frequent publisher Pantheon. Now the misadventures of Marshall, a middle-aged divorcé with a penchant for second-guessing pretty much every word out of his own mouth, and his fateful blind date can sit comfortably on your bookshelf instead of lying in your recycling bin after the weekend’s over. And the added bonus to any new Clowes comic, of course, is new Clowes interviews.
Over on the CBR mothership, Clowes spoke with Alex Dueben, who elicited from the cartoonist a provocative take on the much-lamented demise of the alternative comic-book series (a la Clowes’s own Eightball):
Interviews with Love and Rockets co-creator Gilbert Hernandez are increasingly rare treasures. It seems the man behind the decades-spanning Palomar/Luba/Fritz saga — a story at first centered on the people of a remote Latin American village, then on one of its more irascible and memorable leading ladies, then on her irresistible but troubled sister — has preferred to let his work speak for him. So I was delighted to discover that he’d opened up again, this time to our own Chris Mautner. And in Chris’s interview with Beto over at CBR, Hernandez is not mincing words. He speaks like a man fed up with restraints of any kind — those placed on him by his early, beloved “Palomar” tales, or by his fans and critics, or by the financial limitations of professional cartooning, or by the shape of the market, or by what he sees as the timid state of contemporary comics itself. None of this all that surprising given his ever more savage, unsparing work, particularly in the “Fritz” cycle of graphic novels ostensibly adapted from the low-budget films in which the character starred, but hearing him say it all in so many words makes for a bracing read. Take a look:
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll be calling it quits here early today, what with it being New Year’s Eve and all, but don’t worry — we’ll be back soon. This Sunday marks our second anniversary, and like last year, CBR head honcho Jonah Weiland is handing over the keys to the Comic Book Resources home page. We’ve got a lot of cool stuff lined up for Sunday, including interviews and exclusive previews, so be sure to check back around 6 a.m. Pacific, then come back all day between football quarters and movie marathons!
Happy New Year, and we’ll see you again on Sunday!
At least that’s my takeaway from Alex Dueben’s excellent interview with Farmer for Comic Book Resources — and given the book’s extremely intimate subject matter of the cartoonist caring for her aging parents as their health declined leading up to their deaths, I’m not surprised.
CBR News: What was it like putting together a graphic novel for the first time? You’ve made many comics in the past, but a project this large is something else.
Joyce Farmer: First of all, I didn’t know what I was getting into. Second, I didn’t really know how to write something like this. I don’t consider myself a writer. It was overwhelming, and because it was overwhelming, it took me thirteen years. I would work and get to a certain point and then get overwhelmed both by the problem of putting my parents on paper and by the problem of a book. Then I wouldn’t work for as much as a year and then I’d beat myself up that I’d figured out this wonderful book and should get going before somebody else thought of it or it wouldn’t be of interest. Because the book is set in a certain number of years, named years in the book, I couldn’t let it go on forever, although I nearly did.
It was overwhelming. I think these younger people who do graphic memoirs seem to use a lot of paper and ink to say very little and it takes them quite awhile [to say it]. I’m not saying what they say is not worthwhile, I’m just saying that they’re not as condensed as I intended to be. It was way more work than I ever thought. Every time I’d get the book to a certain point, like the first drawing, somebody would suggest something that would be so obviously needed, I would have to go through the whole book and fix it. Then later when I’m inking, the same type of thing happened.
The first thirty-five pages I threw away after they were inked. I started completely over.
Dang. Special Exits ranked #29 on CBR’s countdown of the Top 100 Comics of 2010, and as I said in my write-up, it made me cry. Please do check it out, and read the whole interview, too.
Hello and welcome to Send Us Your Shelf Porn, where fans can show off what they’ve got, so long as what they’ve got involves comic book collections. Would you like to show off your shelves? Drop me an email and let’s see what we can do.
If you haven’t been following the drama around the big reveal of the identity of the villain Twilight in Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, here’s a quick rundown on what’s been happening since Thursday. And I promise I’m really not trying to be a smart ass when I say SPOILERS WARNING, just in case you haven’t heard the news or seen any of the numerous covers depicting who exactly Twilight is (It’s nobody from the books/movies of the same name, so let’s just get that joke out of the way, and it’s not Freddie Prinze Jr. either, if you had him in the betting pool) and want to stay in the dark …
A few weeks ago Jonah Weiland, the owner/proprietor/executive producer/big kahuna of Comic Book Resources, sent me an email asking what I thought we should do for Robot 6’s first anniversary.
First anniversary? I thought. And no, I didn’t mean that in a “Wow, it’s already been a year?” kind of way. I mean that in a “Wow, it’s only been a year?”
The sheer amount of news, announcements and change that’s been rolling out over the past 365 days has been exciting and sometimes even a bit overwhelming. Companies were bought, people stepped down, legends died, titles were canceled, projects were announced, cons went to war, comics exploded onto electronic devices, new sites were launched … I mean, damn. I took a week off at the end of summer and came back to find out Marvel had been bought by Disney. I went back to Texas a few weeks ago to visit family and came back to find that DC had announced about 10,000 new projects (OK, I may be exaggerating there). I’m afraid to go anywhere now because I might miss what happens next.
It’s been a pretty good year to be a blogger. There’s been plenty to talk about.
So yeah, it was only a year ago today that we officially kicked off the new blog here at CBR. And it feels like we’ve been running at full speed ever since. If you think we’re slowing down today, well … think again. Y’see, Jonah and I did come to an agreement on what we should do for the blog’s first anniversary — due to a brief and atypical lapse in judgment on his part (I feel like I should add a Mwahahahaha! here), he’s letting us take over the CBR home page for the day. And what a day we have planned. Stick around, and you’ll see some cool, exclusive stuff sent to us by several of our friends around in the industry. Expect a couple of interviews, and maybe a special feature or three. Heck, we have so much stuff, it may be more than just one day can possibly contain, so we may have to spill some of it over into tomorrow (don’t tell Jonah).
It’s been a great year here at Robot 6 in our new digs at CBR, and I have a few miles worth of names I should probably thank. But I’m afraid if I start now it’s the only thing we’ll get to today. So to everyone who ever submitted a tip or link, or sent us your Shelf Porn, or talked with Tim, or sent us a review copy, or bought an ad, or clicked on an ad, or guest blogged, or told me how much you dig Comics A.M., or supported our auctions for Carla and Lance, or emailed me a press release, or gave me a press pass to a con, or let me look through your sketchbook, or linked to something we did, or retweeted one of our posts, or just made comics better, or … well, you get the idea …THANK YOU! None of us are in this alone.
Thanks to the folks who contribute to Robot 6 on a regular basis — I love you all. Thanks to the folks at CBR who keep the place up and running. And thanks to you, our readers, whether you’ve been here since we kicked off a year ago or this is your first time to visit the site.
Happy New Year, everyone! As always, stay tuned for much, much more …
Here are a few more pictures I took at the San Diego Comic-Con last week, many of which appeared on the CBR Live blog already, but I thought I’d group them all together over here. The picture above shows the four sets of Iron Man armor (Iron Men?) from the Marvel booth this year.
A few Robot 6 contributors will be in San Diego this week, so be sure to check back here for live reports, photos and other fun stuff. And a few of us will be at home, watching the news and posting about it here … so stay tuned for that as well.
You can also follow us on Twitter for moment-by-moment updates, wisdom and fits of insanity:
And if you’re on Twitter, don’t forget to subscribe to Robot 6 and Comic Book Resources. Not only will you receive links to all the panel reports, interviews and posts coming out of the con, but we’ll also be posting other little news bits throughout the week as well on both feeds.
This will be our last update on the SDCC ‘09 Fat Bastard Challenge before the big weigh-in at San Diego. As you’ll recall, Comic Book Resource head honcho Jonah Weiland challenged Monster Attack Network/Highwaymen/Genius co-writer Marc Bernardin to a weight loss contest, where both competitors are attempting to lose 20 lbs. before the big show.
The rules are:
The final weigh-in was set to take place on the CBR Yacht at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Thursday, July 23, but I think that may be in flux due to some scheduling difficulties. However, we will see this through, even if I have to drag a scale into one of Marc’s panels or interrupt one of the interviews Jonah will be doing on the yacht.
Anyway, let’s, see where our contestants stand before the big show ….
As I’ve been following the current Thunderbolts run by Andy Diggle, particularly the subplot involving Songbird and her mission to take down Osbourn’s team, one of the questions that’s been on my mind is, “Where the heck are the rest of the original Thunderbolts?” It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Atlas, MACH-IV and the rest of that crew, and you figure if Songbird’s going to ask someone for help, wouldn’t it make sense to give her old friends a call?
Well, in issue #134, that call goes out.
As revealed in yesterday’s Cup o’ Q&A with Joe Quesada over at the main CBR site, the original team is coming back to help Songbird. Two other fans apparently had the same question that I did, and asked Marvel’s Editor in Chief about Baron Zemo — the team’s original leader — and the rest of his crew.
“It’s a great question, Steven and Mike, and I guess you can say you heard it here first,” Quesada responded. “Old school T-Bolts fans rejoice! Songbird is actually going to begin to assemble the original TBolts in issue #134. Her mission basically is to destroy Norman Osborn and his crazy pack of killers who have taken the good name of the original T-bolts. And yes, Zemo has been discussed internally, so stay tuned. We haven’t decided just yet… or maybe we have and I’m just not going to tell you. [laughs]”
From the artwork above, it looks like at least MACH-IV and Techno are back, teaming with Songbird and … well, if you’ve read the most recent issue (or even if you just recognize those bracelets) you know who they’re standing with …
It’s been a couple of weeks since we last checked in with our contestants in the SDCC ‘09 Fat Bastard Challenge. As you’ll recall, Comic Book Resource head honcho Jonah Weiland challenged Monster Attack Network/Highwaymen/Genius co-writer Marc Bernardin to a weight loss contest leading up to the San Diego Comic-Con. Both competitors are attempting to lose 20 lbs. before the big show.
The rules are:
The final weigh-in is set to take place on the CBR Yacht at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Thursday, July 23.
I tossed a few questions at Marc and Jonah to see how they were doing, especially in light of the holiday weekend:
JK: It’s been two weeks since the last weigh in, and we had a little something called the Fourth of July in between then and now. Barbecue, potato salad, beer, ice cream … did you go all out on the 4th, or did you hold back?
Marc: I held back as much as I could, but there was beer to be imbibed, burgers (sans buns) to eat, and a 4th of July party that served something called Monkey Bread. Which, as I learned, basically consists of cinnamon sugar-covered munchkins crammed into a bundt cake mold and doused with a melted-butter-and-brown-sugar death goop. Ye gods, man. Evil dessert, that. So there was some weight, er, fluctuation around Independence Day, yes.
Jonah: No holding back — I’m a firm believer that vacation and time off should be spent enjoying yourself, especially so since it’s really the last break I get prior to Comic-Con. I dove in head first — burgers, hot dogs, chips, bean dip, a cocktail or 15. YOU NAME IT! That said, I did continue to exercise, even visiting with my trainer Michael Blanks the morning of July 4th.
Last week CBR’s main man Jonah Weiland challenged Entertainment Weekly editor/comics writer Marc Bernardin to a weight loss contest leading up to the San Diego Comic-Con. Dubbed the SDCC ’09 Fat Bastard Challenge, both competitors are attempting to lose 20 lbs. before the big con.
Their motivation is:
We’ll be checking in with them every week leading up to the final weigh-in, set to take place on the CBR Yacht at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Thursday, July 23. Now let’s hear how they did this week: