Conventions | More than 50,000 fans are expected this weekend at Montreal Comiccon, where comics guests include Adam Kubert, Andy Belanger, Becky Cloonan, Bob Layton, Chris Claremont, Dale Eaglesham, Dan Parent, David Finch, Karl Kerschl, Mike Grell and Rags Morales. Last year’s event drew 32,000, but organizers believe the inclusion of celebrity guests will attract significantly more attendees. [Montreal Gazette]
Creators | Artist, writer, and former carnival fire-eater Jim Steranko talks about his career in comics ahead of Nashville Comic Expo, where he will appear this weekend. He talks about learning to read — from comics — when he was a year and a half old, his many adventures outside of comics, and why he chose Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. when Stan Lee asked him which Marvel comic he would like to work on: “I could have nailed Spider-Man or Thor or the Fantastic Four, but that meant following Kirby. I might be crazy, but I wasn’t stupid. I pointed to Strange Tales and said I’d tackle the S.H.I.E.L.D. series, which was a Marvel embarrassment — the word ‘wretched’ comes to mind. I didn’t mention it to Stan, but I figured that on this strip, there was nowhere to go but up!” [Nashville Scene]
Publishing | Calvin Reid talks to publisher Josh Frankel, who is relaunching his Zip Comics (the publisher of Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland) as Z2 Comics. The first books under the new name will be reprints of a sort: Paul Pope’s Escapo, which he originally self-published in black and white, and Dean Haspiel’s Fear My Dear, which first appeared as a webcomic at Act-I-Vate. Escapo will be colored and Fear My Dear will be re-colored. The company will publish strictly graphic novels, no periodicals, and they will be distributed by Diamond Comic Distributors. [Publishers Weekly]
Passings | Toledo, Ohio, cartoonist Pete Hoffmann, whose comic strip Jeff Cobb was syndicated nationwide, died last week at the age of 94. Hoffman was also a ghost artist for Steve Roper and illustrated the panel cartoon Why We Say, which explained the meaning behind common sayings. He “got ambitious” and decided to strike out with his own strip, and the result was Jeff Cobb, a serial about an investigative reporter, which ran from 1954 to 1975. In this 2004 interview, he talks about his work and shows off his first published drawing, which appeared in the Toledo Times when he was four years old. [Toledo Blade]
Creators | Alan Moore will make a rare convention appearance in September — his first in 25 years, according to this article — at the inaugural Northants International Comics Expo in Northamptonshire, England. To attend Moore’s hour-long talk on writing comics or the hour-long question-and-answer session, convention-goers are required to donate graphic novels to the Northamptonshire Libraries, which will have a table at the event. [Stumptown Trade Review]
Creators | Mark Waid gets the NPR treatment, as Noah J. Nelson interviews him about his digital comics initiatives. “I got news for you: I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and this is the hardest writing I’ve ever had to do,” Waid says of creating digital comics. [NPR]
Publishing | Abrams ComicArts editorial director Charles Kochman discusses the publisher’s spring lineup, which will include William Stout’s Legends of the Blues, Darryl Cunningham’s What the Frack, a history of Bazooka Joe comics, and a Will Eisner artbook written by Paul Levitz. [ICv2]
Harry Bliss makes comedy and storytelling work on many levels. How do I know? He crafted comedy out of my dry questions in this email interview. In all seriousness, I credit Bliss’ collaborations with Doreen Cronin (including 2003′s Diary of A Worm and 2005′s Diary of a Spider) as being a key catalyst (by tapping into my son’s sense of humor) in sparking an increased interest in reading for him. So when I found out about Bliss’ new book (for Françoise Mouly’s Toon Books), Luke on the Loose (“Luke looks on at the pigeons in Central Park, while Dad is lost in ‘boring Daddy talk’, and before you know it—LUKE IS ON THE LOOSE! He’s free as a bird, on a hilarious solo flight through New York City”, a story in which he handles both the writing and illustrating roles), I jumped at the chance to email interview him. My thanks to Bliss for his time–and to Ron Longe for his assistance in making this interview possible.
Tim O’Shea: You’ve worked with Françoise Mouly for years at the New Yorker–in terms of Luke on the Loose coming together, did she seek you out to work with the Toon Books imprint–or did you seek the publisher out yourself?
Harry Bliss: Francoise asked me to contribute to Toon Books and she is the publisher, so…
O’Shea: You’ve collaborated with several children authors, including Doreen Cronin, Kate DiCamillo, Alison McGhee and Sharon Creech. Were there any storytelling assets or lessons you took away from these collaborations?
Bliss: I learn many things from all the wonderful authors I’ve had the good fortune to work with over the years, mainly, how to integrate words and pictures. It’s really a dance, trying to pair up the text with the art, not simply illustrating the words, but to move the story forward visually. If something is not enriching the story/characters, then it needs to go. This was especially critical with Luke. The author and I went back and forth constant- wait, I wrote Luke! Sorry.