Thirty-six questions. Six answers. One random number generator. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where creators roll the virtual dice and answer our questions about their lives, careers, interests and more.
Joining us today is Ethan Rilly, creator of the award-winning series Pope Hats.
Now let’s get to it …
In a lengthy and fascinating article in the Indian magazine Open, Devika Bakshi explains why the close-ups of penises were pixelated in the Indian version of Chester Brown’s Paying For It, while the long-shots, and other body parts, were left alone.
Indian law says a work is obscene “if it is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest” or if its effect is to “deprave and corrupt” anyone who sees it. There are exceptions, though, for works with redeeming features (I’m paraphrasing here; the full text is at the link), works that are used for religious purposes and “any representation sculptured, engraved, painted or otherwise represented on or in (i) any ancient monument within the meaning of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (24 of 1958).”
“… obviously, you look at your own early work and you’re sometimes dismayed. Was I that bad? Did I use that cliché, miss that nuance, mess up that character beat? But it’s also why you should know to leave well enough alone – because the you that’s doing the correcting isn’t the you who wrote the original work.”
– Mike Carey, on the temptation for creators to revise their early work
A few weeks ago we looked at Fantagraphics publishing plans for 2013. Today I thought it might be worthwhile to peek into Drawn & Quarterly’s crystal ball and see what they have in store. I skipped over some re-releases and new volumes of expected material — a new Moomin collection, a paperback release of Paying for It — mainly because I’m lazy.
You’re Just Jealous of My Jetpack by Tom Gauld. Gauld’s weekly comic gets the fancy book deal. Expect lots of really funny riffs on history and pop culture in Gauld’s stone-faced, deadpan style. January, $19.95.
To see what Ethan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Here are three June releases from Drawn and Quarterly: Kevin Huizenga’s Gloriana, Chester Brown’s Ed The Happy Clown and Dan Zettwoch’s Birdseye Bristoe.
They have several things in common, aside from the fact that they are all hardcover releases from the same publisher. They are all handsomely designed, for example, they all make lovely coffee table and bookshelf-filling objects, and they are all more or less important comics releases.
One of them is different in several significant ways, however.
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.
Here’s the thing: I really can’t decide if I want to spend part of my $15 this week on Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1 (DC, $3.99). On the one hand, it’s a new Darwyn Cooke comic, and on almost every other occasion, I’d be all over that. But on the other … It’s Before Watchmen. And I don’t even mean that in the “I have moral qualms about DC’s ‘ownership’ and use of the characters” sense — although I do — but in the “I didn’t actually LIKE Watchmen that much, so why should I be interested in a prequel?” sense. Let’s table that one, then, and wait and see what happens in the store. Instead, I’ll grab Earth 2 #2 (DC, $2.99), the new Simon Spurrier book Extermination #1 (BOOM!, $1) and the weirdly-coming-out-a-month-before-the-movie Amazing Spider-Man Movie Adaptation #1 (Marvel, $2.99), if only because it’s been years since I’ve read a comic book adaptation of a movie and I want to support Marvel’s odd apparently-spoiling-itself plan.
If I had $30, I’d put Spidey back on the shelf and grab the final DMZ collection (Vol. 12: The Five Nations of New York, DC $14.99). I’ve been following the collections of Brian Wood’s series for awhile, and have been patiently awaiting this one since the series wrapped in single issues awhile back. Don’t spoil it for me, please.
Splurge-wise, I’d likely pick up the GI Joe, Vol. 2: Cobra Command, Part 1 TP (IDW, $17.99). The movie may have been put back, but I don’t care; IDW’s Joe comics are my brand of military machismo, and I dropped off the single issues in favor of collections as soon as this crossover started. Time to get caught back up and try not to think about poor Channing Tatum.
Publishing | John Jackson Miller profiles Diamond Comic Distributors to mark its 30th anniversary, offering a timeline of major events in the company’s history. [Comichron]
Retailing | Dark Horse Publisher Mike Richardson will give the keynote address at this week’s ComicsPRO Annual Membership Meeting. [NewsOK]
Retailing | Hypno Comics will open Saturday in Ventura, California. [Ventura County Star]
I don’t mind the jokes at my expense. I’m used to it. Seth and Joe [Matt] have teased me about paying for sex for years. I’m used to it.
—Chester Brown tells Tom Spurgeon that people can crack all the jokes they want about him and his patron-of-prostitution memoir Paying For It. I guess it stands to reason: “Gets emotional about things” isn’t high on a list of ways to describe Chester Brown, if that book is any indication. What’s more interesting to me is that Brown’s fellow Drawn and Quarterly-published Canadian cartoonists Joe Matt and Seth are the tough customers who hazed Brown into developing this hardened exterior. It’s a dog-eat-dog world up there.
In all seriousness, please read Spurgeon’s excellent interview with Brown, which largely eschews discussion of the book’s central topic/argument and focuses on the impeccable craft with which that topic/argument was deployed. And check out Spurgeon’s entire run of Holiday Interviews, featuring creators ranging from Colleen Coover to Stephen Bissette to Art Spiegelman to Jeff Parker to Jeff Smith, plus critics, journalists, activists and more. His comics-related New Year’s resolutions are worth considering as well.
Indy publisher Drawn and Quarterly is making its first foray into digital media—and it’s on the Kobo Vox tablet, which has not been a big comics platform up till now. D+Q is are starting slow with just two books, Chester Brown’s Paying for It and Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography, and the deal is nonexclusive, meaning the books could pop up on other platforms as well.
Both Kobo and D+Q are headquartered in Canada, which may or may not be a coincidence, but this was an interesting part of the PW story:
D&Q publisher and editor-in-chief Chris Oliveros said that e-book proceeds will be split 50/50 between its authors and the publisher, citing rights recommendations from the Writers Union of Canada. “D+Q has always been an author-centric company, it is this ethos that has shaped us into who we are today,” Oliveros said, “it only seemed natural to offer the fairest proposition to our authors.”
Of course, that’s after Kobo takes its share.
I was curious as to what other graphic novels are available on Kobo; their store lists 515 books in the graphic novel category, including Cowboys & Aliens; a selection of manga from Digital Manga, Yen Press, Manga University, and the long-defunct Comics One; Italian translations of Peanuts; and a number of graphic novels that were new to me. It’s an odd assortment, but Kobo was recently acquired by the Japanese company Rakuten so big things may be in its future.
Creators | Writer Peter David shares a “Fan/Pro Bill of Rights” related to proper behavior at conventions, starting with a “Prime Directive”: “Fans and Pros have the right to be treated by each other with the same courtesy that they themselves would expect to be treated. Fans and Pros who act like jerks abrogate the right to complain when they themselves are treated like jerks.” [Peter David]
Crime | A Denver judge sentenced Aaron Castro to 45 years in prison after Castro pleaded guilty to drug and extortion charges. Prosecutors say he ran a major methamphetamine distribution ring and laundered the profits by buying and selling valuable comics in the collector’s market. [KMGH Denver]
Digital | Robot 6 contributor Graeme McMillan catches an error in Marvel’s press release from last week: Marvel was not the first comics publisher to release an entire line of comics simultaneously in print and digital—Archie Comics was. [Blog@Newsarama]
Chester Brown’s 2003 biography Louis Riel is among the 10 semifinalists for CBC’s prestigious Canada Reads program, which for the first time has narrowed its focus to works of nonfiction, or “True Stories.”
The books, all by Canadian author, were selected by public vote from a list of 40 nominees, and will be whittled down to five finalists chosen by celebrity panelists to be defended in February during the annual Canada Reads debates.
Jeff Lemire’s acclaimed Essex County Trilogy last year became the first graphic novel to make the program’s list of finalists. However, it was quickly voted down by judges who couldn’t get past its “lack of words.”
Published by Montreal-based Drawn and Quarterly, the Harvey Award-winning Louis Riel chronicles the life of the crusader for Métis rights, controversial leader of the 1869-1870 Red River Rebellion, and “Father of Manitoba.”
SPX, or the Small Press Expo, returns to the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Bethesda, Md. this weekend.
The show’s special guests include Roz Chast, Jim Woodring, Diane Noomin, Jim Rugg, Ann Telnaes, Chester Brown, Johnny Ryan, Craig Thompson and Matthew Thurber, and fans who attend will also have the opportunity to meet and/or hear from Kevin Huizenga, Anders Nilsen, Jessica Abel, Sarah Glidden, Alex Robinson, Brian Ralph, Mike Dawson, Meredith Gran, Roger Langridge and Julia Wertz, just to name a few. I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that our own Chris Mautner will be attending and conducting a Q&A with Johnny Ryan on Saturday, so be sure to tell him hi for us.
“It’s hard to imagine a Hollywood adaptation that would stay true to the book’s political message. That would be a problem for me. I doubt I could be convinced to sell the rights to an American company — filmmakers would be very tempted to turn the ‘Denise’-and-Chester story into a variation of ‘Pretty Woman.’ The reality of our relationship is nothing like that film.”
–Cartoonist and (ironically monogamous) prostitution enthusiast Chester Brown, on the prospect of seeing a big-screen version of his memoir of life as a john, Paying For It, in an event report and interview from CBR’s James Gartler. It’s just as well, really: Based on Brown’s gaunt, vacant-eyed self-portraiture in that book, the only actor I can think of who could convincingly play the role is Jack Skellington, and I’m pretty sure that since The Nightmare Before Christmas he’s been concentrating primarily on live theater.
Drawn and Quarterly released Chester Brown’s Paying For It: A Comic-Strip Memoir of Being a John in May. It was one of the more eagerly anticipated books of the year, given the skill and reputation of Brown, and it ended up being one of the most reviewed and most discussed graphic novels of the year (so far).
The subject matter certainly didn’t hurt coverage any, in fact it’s colorful and controversial nature drove a lot of coverage: Brown meticulously chronicles every time he patronized a prostitute between 1996 and 2003, in the process formulating and defending a particular point-of-view regarding the evils of romantic love and relationships and the relative virtues of paying for sex.
Between the first time I read it and the second time I read it (it’s that kind of book), I read somewhere around 50 million reviews of it and articles about it and Brown and his position. Two months after release, and all that ink and virtual ink spilled over it, a formal review from me seems kind of superfluous at this point.
Instead, here are a few thoughts about the book…
1.) The book opens with the cartoonist breaking up with his live-in girlfriend…sort of. She announces that she thinks she’s falling in love with someone else, would like to try dating that person. Brown gives his blessing, and they decide to keep living together and see where it goes.
Cut to a scene of Brown walking down the street with the little comics avatars of his fellow Canadian cartoonists Seth (Wimbledon Green, Palookaville) and Joe Matt (Spent, Peepshow).
The pair have fairly big roles in the story—Dwight Garner refereed to them as a “wise-guy geek chorus” in his New York Times book review—and when I saw their first appearance, I felt a sudden surge of a mixture of surprise, glee, excitement, recognition and comfort.
I imagine it must be something like what little boys must have felt like reading Marvel Comics in the 1960s, and seeing Spider-Man sudden swing into a Fantastic Four comic, or Daredevil or Dr. Strange bumping into one another on their shared streets of New York City.
There’s something undeniably cool about seeing comic book characters appear where you don’t expect them, or interacting with one another, although it’s a coolness that has been diluted to the point it probably doesn’t even register in superhero comics anymore, given that Superman started playing sports with Batman and Robin back in 1941, and the modern Big Two super-universes are in constant states of crossover (And hell, Archie can meet the Punisher or president or Kiss, and Mr. Spock run into Wolverine or Cosmic Boy).
As cartoonists who are also characters in other comics, Seth and Joe Matt have a peculiar status and, in this narrative, it was the Canadian art memoir comics equivalent of, I don’t know, seeing Johnny Storm and Bobby Drake in a Spider-Man arc, only you’re seeing it for the first time.
The book even rewards familiarity with these characters and their previous adventures, like in a scene where Brown brings up prostitute review message boards, and the Matt character says it’s too disturbing to which Brown replies “How can this be disturbing for someone who watches porn almost 24 hours a day?”
Which isn’t just a quip, of course—it’s practically the plot of Matt’s memoir Spent.
Aside from the crossover thrill, it’s worth noting that the scenes with the other cartoonists are among the most enjoyable to read in the book, because they tend to be the most funny; Brown shows himself debating with himself and friends and even some of the prostitutes (to some extent) about the ethics and morality of prostitution and love, sex and relationships in general, but he’s apparently most comfortable around his friend cartoonists, so those exchanges tend to be the most honest and amusing. Continue Reading »