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 …
Design is integral to comics. In its basic form, it’s used by artists to tell story through panel composition and transitions, but in broader terms it’s the logos, trade dress and visual platform by which comics are shown to the public.
Last month at HeroesCon in Charlotte, North Carolina, cartoonist/designer Rich Barrett moderated a panel that looked at the approach and examples of graphic design in use in the medium. With a panel that included cartoonist/designers like Jim Rugg, Matt Kindt and Robert Wilson IV, publisher/designer Chris Pitzer of AdHouse Books and non-comics desginer Matt Stevens, Barrett shepherded the room through slideshow series of impressive design, from page layouts to book covers to book packaging.
The indie-centric design group talked about the use of design by mainstream creators like Jonathan Hickman, Chris Ware and Chester Brown, and its changing role of design as the methods by which comics being sold have changed over the past 20 years.
Although no recording of the panel exists (as of yet), Barrett has shared his slideshow presentation here:
It’s become an annual tradition here during our birthday bash: No matter how much stuff we line up, people we interview, etc., there are still tons of folks we like to hear from and include in our giant New Year’s/anniversary/birthday activities. So, as we’ve done in past years, we asked a cross-section of comics folks what they liked in 2012 and what they’re excited about for 2013. We received so many this year that we’ve broken it down into two posts; watch for another one Tuesday.
But for now, check out all the great stuff people shared with us, including hints at new projects and even some outright announcements. Our thanks to everyone this year who responded. Also, thanks to Tim O’Shea, Michael May and Chris Arrant, who helped collect responses.
JIMMIE ROBINSON (Bomb Queen, Five Weapons)
What was your favorite comic of 2012?
Image’s Saga, Fatale, Hawkeye‘s reinvention is fresh and exciting, Peter Panzerfaust, Enormous by Tim Daniel. It’s hard to pin down just one because there is SO much good work coming out nowadays — from many publishers across the board.
AdHouse Books publisher Chris Pitzer announced on the company’s blog that he’s shutting down AdDistro, his distribution effort to make comics from small publishers and self-publishers available for purchase through AdHouse proper. Pitzer kicked off AdDistro two years ago.
“Basically, I started AdDistro with the thought that I was bringing hard-to-find bibliogoodness to the people,” Pitzer said in his post. “Times have a-changed, and now the once hard-to-find beautiful things are a little easier to obtain.”
Through AdDistro, Pitzer has distributed comics from Nobrow Press, Bernie Mireault, Thomas Herpich, Koyama Press, Revival House Press, Malachi Ward and Benjamin Marra.” While there was once a pond that kept Nobrow from us, now you can get their stuff from Consortium. While I was once the go-to place for Koyamaness, I am proud to point you Secret Acres way. Others have joined forces with others, and honestly, it was a lot of work, at least for lil’ ol’ AdCasa,” Pitzer said. “Adding Thomas Herpich and Bernie Mireault at the end was the proverbial icings on the cake.”
AdHouse still has several of the AdDistro books available on their site, so if you’d like to get your hands on them in one big swoop, head on over there and stock up.
Back in 2010, when Thomas Scioli started bolstering his online presence and entered the realm of webcomics with American Barbarian, I was curious to see how things would play out (as may or may not have been obvious in my June 2010 interview of him). I’ll be honest and admit that now, more than a year later (and with far more of the project online to read), American Barbarian far exceeds what I expected. As much as I have always enjoyed and respected his Kirby-influenced approach to visual storytelling, after reading this double post Apocalyptic tale, I am far more impressed with Scioli’s funky ear for dialogue. It’s like reading a 1970s comic written by a minimalist version of David Mamet. Doubting my quirky endorsement of the work? Then realize AdHouse is collecting the webcomic for a 256-page/6 ” x 9 ” /hardcover release early this year. If you don’t trust my tastes, then you should definitely trust AdHouse publisher Chris Pitzer. To mark the upcoming release, Scioli and I did another of our quick email interviews. Before diving into the interview, let me take a second to agree with JK Parkin’s sentiment in this post, back in June, that DC Comics should have considered Scioli for one of the New 52 titles that it launched back in September. So I was surprised to learn (as you can read in this interview) that DC did not contact Scioli when assembling the creative team for the new OMAC title. As I edited this interview I realized it was hard to find my favorite part of our discussion, but it may be the revelation that the look for Two-Tank Omen came to Scioli in a dream. A close second was learning a bit about his next webcomic, Final Frontier. Feel free to chime in with your favorite part of this interview and/or Scioli’s work in the comments section, please.
Tim O’Shea: As an independent creator, the job of marketing your work falls to you. Do you think over the years, you have gotten more comfortable marketing yourself? On a related note, how did you decide upon doing this one minute trailer for American Barbarian?
Thomas Scioli: Even the largest comics publishers don’t seem to have a budget for promotion, so I’d say any creator, independent or mainstream, can benefit from doing their own promotion. It’s something that I’ve never been comfortable with, but do out of necessity. I think I have gotten better about it, because in the beginning, it would give me crippling anxiety, now it’s just mild trepidation. The idea for doing a trailer came from having seen other people do it. AdHouse’s own Afrodisiac trailer and [Top Shelf's] Infinite Kung-Fu [trailer] are two that made an impression on me when they made the rounds. It got me excited about those two works, so I wanted to do the same. I’d been dabbling with animation, back when I started AmBarb so it was a natural outgrowth of that, too. Once you start doing a webcomic it isn’t long before you realize, hey, why not just do a cartoon?
A hearty and heartfelt congratulations to publisher Chris Pitzer on the ninth anniversary of the formation of his fine line of comics, AdHouse Books (and more recently its distribution wing, AdDistro). Pitzer is marking the occasion by telling the stories behind nine of the company’s releases, and the result is a mix insight into the kinds of challenges any small-press comics publisher must face, and the qualities that make this particular small-press comics publisher such a valuable one.
With an output ranging from high-end art books like Paul Pope’s Pulphope and James Jean’s Process Recess to thoughtful graphic novels like Josh Cotter’s Skyscrapers of the Midwest and Adam Hines’s Duncan the Wonder Dog, it’s tough to say exactly what “an AdHouse book” will be like, but with Pitzer’s attention to design and reproduction behind every one, you generally can count on it being gorgeous. And as the stories told by Pitzer about books like Pulpatoon Pilgrimage, Skyscrapers, Duncan and so on indicate, the chances are also good that he’s gone to bat for a largely unknown and unpublished talent. That’s an admirable thing for a publisher to do once, let alone over and over again for nearly a decade.
Conventions | The Angoulême International Comics Festival has announced the Official Selections for the 2012 festival, which will be held Jan. 26-29 in Angoulême, France. Eddie Campbell’s Alec, Craig Thompson’s Habibi and Daniel Clowes’ Mister Wonderful are among the almost 60 graphic novels on the list. [Angoulême]
Editorial cartoons | The Columbus Dispatch suspended political cartoonist Jeff Stahler after finding that his Monday cartoon was too similar to a New Yorker cartoon published in 2009. At The Daily Cartoonist, Alan Gardner posts several of Stahler’s cartoons alongside earlier pieces with similar punchlines. While one can debate whether Stahler lifted his ideas from the older cartoons, it’s obvious that he drew them in his own style, unlike David Simpson, who was recently accused of copying Jeff McNally’s cartoons. [Comic Riffs]
Crime | Several pieces of original artwork, among other items, were stolen from the car of AdHouse Publisher Chris Pitzer while he was in New York City last weekend for the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. Pitzer is offering a reward for any information leading to the recovery of the artwork. [AdHouse]
Awards | Stan Lee will receive the Producers Guild of America’s 2012 Vanguard Award recognizing achievement in new media and technology. “Stan Lee’s creative vision and imagination has produced some of the most beloved and visually stunning characters and adventures in history,” Producers Guild Awards co-chairs Paula Wagner and Michael Manheim said in a joint statement. “He not only has created content that will forever be in our culture but continues to make strides in the digital and new media realms, keeping the comic book industry fresh and exciting. Stan’s accomplishments truly encompass the spirit of the Vanguard Award and we are proud to honor him.” George Lucas and John Lasseter are among the award’s previous recipients. [press release]
When it comes to AdHouse Books’ Chris Pitzer, there’s one basic fact: When he publishes a book, I know it’s important to pay attention to it. So when I found out about Blue Collar/White Collar, which collects the work of award-winning illustrator and painter Sterling Hundley, I immediately contacted Pitzer to see the book and (soon after checking out the book) to get Hundley to commit to an email interview. In the course of this discussion I was pleased to find out that Hundley has plans to create his own characters and stories in the future. After reading the interview, be sure to enjoy the 10-page preview that Pitzer offers interested readers.
Tim O’Shea: In the Foreword to the book, you wrote: “In a time when access has reached the Faustian ideal, information is often confused with knowledge. I refuse to accept that appropriation and homogenization are the movements that will define our generation. The search for original thought is a journey of faith – a belief that art is necessary because it isn’t necessary. The compulsion to create is emblematic of life that has moved beyond the base functions of survival. Art is evolution.” How much living and pursuing of art did you experience before realizing “a belief that art is necessary because it isn’t necessary”?
Sterling Hundley: Coming from a family that is primarily Blue Collar, I’ve always questioned the validity of a pursuit of the arts. You can’t eat it, or use it. Art serves no utilitarian function. Having lived long enough, I’ve come to realize that art is as necessary as any other basic function.
This marks the third year I have covered FLUKE for Robot 6. In past years, I was pressed for time and was unable to stay long. This year, my 11-year-old son was able to join me. As a Georgia native, I am embarrassed to say FLUKE 2011 was the first time I ever set foot in the legendary 40 Watt Club. I promised myself that unlike last year, I would not leave FLUKE without seeing Joey Weiser. It helped that the main reason my son wanted to attend FLUKE was to get an autograph from Weiser, the creator of one of his favorite comics, Mermin.
Here’s the challenge for someone like me–I stink at being a networking journalist and a parent at the same time–my ability to focus as a journalist falls by the wayside. Case in point: In my search for Weiser, I asked friend of the blog/SCAD professor/Crogan Adventures creator Chris Schweizer–as he stood in front of Dustin Harbin’s table, if he knew where Weiser had a table. Imagine my mortification when Schewizer pointed out I was literally standing next to Weiser. Really. So, at that point I realized, if my son and I were going to have fun at this year’s FLUKE I was going to have to focus on that and be a journalist later. (Did I mention we could only stay two hours? I swear one of these year’s I will have my entire Saturday free for FLUKE promise, just not yet…)
So this year, rather than giving a play-by-play of my walk-around of the FLUKE floor, I am letting folks that had tables at FLUKE 2011 share their perspective.
There was no way I could include everyone, so if you attended or participated in some fashion (or have any kind of opinion), by all means chime in, in the comments section.
AdHouse Books has a habit of producing some pretty exquisite-looking books, so it’s no wonder Stuart Immonen has teamed with them to produce Centifolia V2, an 128-page collection of the artist’s sketches, concept designs, illustrations and comics.
I believe the sold-out first volume was self-published, but AdHouse will also bring it back into print. They’re also offering a limited slipcase edition that includes both volumes and a print.
“I was very happy to be approached by Stuart to help make this happen. We’ve been con-buddies for a few years now, and I really love his work,” Pitzer said.
All three will be available starting at the 2011 Toronto Comics Art Festival on May 7 & 8. You can find the entire press release after the jump.
Years ago, my first taste of independent comics came via Matt Howarth‘s Those Annoying Post Bros. And since then, I’ve always found myself attracted to Howarth’s visual style. So when my pal, AdHouse big chief Chris Pitzer, offered me a chance to email interview Howarth, regarding his new book The Downsized (set to be released in March) I was borderline giddy. This is an interview where I went in thinking I had done an adequate amount of research about Howarth’s career, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn there was a hell of a lot I did not know about. After reading the interview, be sure to check out the seven-page preview of the 80-page book (described as “A parent’s 50th wedding anniversary gives old friends a reason to reunite and take stock of their lives.“). My thanks to Howarth for tolerating some of my ignorance to make for a solid examination of his creative interests.
Tim O’Shea: My first question is not uniquely about The Downsized, per se–but rather your work as a whole. How did you come upon the way you draw people’s hairstyles? No one else (with the possible exception of Art Adams) draw hair in quite the unique way that you do (and I mean that as a compliment).
Matt Howarth: Years ago a friend remarked how weird my characters’ hair was, forcing me to analyze why. I’m afraid the reason is more a limitation on my part than any stylistic choice. I’ve never been very adept with a brush; technical pens are my preferred instrument because they afford me more control over the lines. So instead of inking hair with supple brush strokes, I resort to dotted lines. As far as the overall shape of my characters’ hairdos, I don’t perceive hair as a collection of strands but as a mass, not unlike a piece of cloth draped atop someone’s head. All rationalization aside, I’m afraid I draw hair the way I do because that’s just the way it comes out.
Adam Hines’ Duncan the Wonder Dog has done pretty well — a little too well, as it turns out. The first printing has sold out, and the second won’t be ready until later this spring. So Hines did the logical thing and took the digital road, but in this case, it’s the road less taken: Rather than go with a comics app like comiXology, he is releasing Duncan in downloadable form via MyDigitalComics.com. MyDigitalComics allows users to either download comics in PDF or CBZ format or keep them in the cloud and read them via an online web viewer.
Chris Pitzer of AdHouse, which publishes the print version of the book, talked to Laura Hudson of Comics Alliance about the decision to publish the graphic novel via MyDigitalComics rather than comiXology. One factor was that comiXology needed to reformat the files for mobile devices like the iPhone, which neither party wanted to do. On the other hand, since the files were already in digital form, no prep was needed to sell them as PDF or CBZ downloads, so the digital cost is lower than print.
And if you want to view it for free, take a look at Adam’s blog, because hard as it is to believe, all of Show One is up there now. So why pay for a download? Because unlike a PDF, the web isn’t forever — Hines plans to take Duncan back offline in March.
Need to know more? Publishers Weekly reviewed Duncan this week.
If you’re looking for a company that started and ended strong 2010, look no further than AdHouse Books, the independent company that’s published books by Joshua Cotter, Paul Pope and James Jean, among others. Although they aren’t the kind of company that puts out a huge amount of books, they are one you can always count on to put out something interesting.
As for those bookends for the year, AdHouse kicked off 2010 with the release of Afrodisiac by Brian Maruca and Jim Rugg, and ended it with Duncan the Wonder Dog by Adam Hines, which landed at the top of some folks‘ best comics of the year lists. (Including my own; it came in at No. 16 on CBR’s list for 2010).
I spoke with AdHouse Publisher Chris Pitzer about the previous year, the above two books, their new AdDistro initiative and what they have coming up for 2011. My thanks to Chris for sending over a lot of cool art to show you as well.
JK: Thanks for agreeing to talk to us today, Chris. I thought we could start off talking about 2010, and in particular some the bigger projects you put out.Let’s start with something that seems like it came out a long time ago, Afrodisiac. It seemed to garner a lot of attention when it came out in January.
Chris: Thanks for the interest in AdHouse, JKP! I dig what the Robot 6 blog does, so I appreciate the opportunity to chat about this stuff. In regards to Afrodisiac, it was an HONOR to work with Jim and Brian on that. We’ve been “dancing” around the topic of publishing it for years, and it was nice to finally have it happen. Yeah, it feels like so long ago, doesn’t it?
The great cartoonist Josh Cotter, whose book Driven by Lemons ranked sixth on CBR’s list of the Best Comics of 2009, is in a bad way. AdHouse Books publisher Chris Pitzer reports that Cotter’s neighbor’s apartment recently caught fire, and the flames spread to the apartment Cotter shares with his girlfriend and their cats. Fortunately no one (two-legged or four-legged) was hurt, and the property damage could have been much worse. But with no renters’ insurance, and with the costs of clean-up and storage for all their stuff while they figure out their next move, Cotter is in the midst of a financial crisis.
Fortunately, there’s two ways you can help, and both involve getting truly awesome comics and art in return. First, you can buy things from Cotter’s website — not just his magnificent graphic novels Skyscrapers of the Midwest and Driven by Lemons, but limited edition minicomics, prints, original pages from his books, and much more.
Second, AdHouse is donating 100% of the proceeds from sales of any of Josh’s stuff directly to Josh for the next three weeks. If you ever wanted to check out the work of one of the best cartoonists of his generation, there’s never been a better time.