Jim Zubkavich wasn’t the first creator to put some of his older work online as a webcomic, but he did it in such a deliberate way, and the work was so fresh, and he has blogged about it so much, that it feels like he was breaking new ground. Zubkavich is the writer of Skullkickers, a series that had a pretty decent following in print to begin with, and recently he started serializing the early chapters online. What he found is what most people seem to find: The online version brought him new readers without hurting sales of his print comics; in fact, quite the contrary—he is now selling tons of comics at conventions to folks who are pleasantly surprised to hear that there is a print version at all.
Now two more creators are going that route, both with graphic novels designed to appeal to younger readers: Scott Chantler announced at TCAF that he is serializing The Three Thieves, the first book in his Tower of Treasure trilogy, online, and Chris Schweizer has set up a dedicated website for his Crogan Adventures series and is offering all of Crogan’s March, the second volume, online for free through June 6, when his next book, Crogan’s Loyalty, is released. Schweizer’s site also offers a teacher’s guide to the Crogan books, printable character cutouts, and more. The move makes sense: With Borders gone, reaching younger readers is a challenge, but a popular website can go viral in a hurry—just ask Jeff Kinney, who first published Diary of a Wimpy Kid online.
The comics literacy non-profit, Reading With Pictures is dedicated to getting comics into classrooms. In addition to cultivating research on the role of comics in education, the mostly volunteer organization seeks to produce its own comics for schools to use and would like your help for their second publication. I say “mostly volunteer,” but that doesn’t include the creators of the new book. They’ll be paid for their contributions and that – plus the large print run – is a major reason Reading With Pictures needs $65,000 to complete the project.
The first Reading With Pictures comic was the Harvey-nominated Reading With Pictures Anthology that featured work by Jill Thompson, Fred Van Lente, Raina Telgemeier, Chris Giarrusso, and others. The new compilation, The Graphic Textbook will include Ben Caldwell, Fred Van Lente, Ryan Dunlavey, Chris Schweizer, Russell Lissau, Marvin Mann, Amy Reeder, Janet Lee, Katie Cook, Roger Langridge, Josh Elder, Dean Trippe, and others.
The collection will contain 12 short stories (both fiction and non-fiction) that are appropriate for grades 3-6 and include a variety of subjects from Social Studies and Math to Language and Science. There will also be a Teacher’s Guide with “lesson plans customized to each story, research-based justifications for using comics in the classroom, a guide to establishing best classroom practices and a comprehensive listing of additional educational resources.”
It’s a great cause with some great creators and some nifty rewards ranging from copies of the book and original art to being drawn into one of the stories.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest this week is Alex Dueben, who you probably know from his interviews for the main site, Comic Book Resources, as well as for sites like Suicide Girls.
To see what Alex and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Chris Schweizer (Crogan Adventures) did a bunch of 30 Rock/Star Wars mash-ups as a commission for a couple of HeroesCon staffers and he’s happy to share them all. He even encourages you to print them out and make your own popsickle-stick puppets, which sounds like an awesome way to spend the afternoon. Many many more characters at the link.
A couple of weeks ago, I got to thinking about the holidays and comics. More exactly, I started wondering what some creators might say if i asked them for their favorite comics-related memory. As I got into contact with some creators, they did not have a favorite story per se, but those recollections were definitely memorable. Bottom line, these storytellers not surprisingly had some great stories to share. My holiday memory is an odd one, as a kid in the 1970s reading the Doonesbury comic strip where Rev. Scott Sloan had opening remarks before the Christmas pageant, where he noted that the part of the Baby Jesus would be played by a 40-watt light bulb. A lifelong Doonesbury fan, there are few strips that have made me laugh longer than that one. Told you it was an odd one. Now on to the storytellers with far better tales. My thanks to everyone that responded. Once you’ve read them all, please be sure to chime in with your most memorable comics-related holiday recollection in the comments section.
Every Christmas, comics would show up in my stocking. They’d be rolled up, which I’m sure breaks the heart of every collector out there, but it didn’t bother me much. Comics were for reading. For some reason, my mother thought I liked Thor. I wasn’t a Thor guy, except when he was hanging out in the Avengers. I was, and still am, a Captain America super-fan. How could my Mom not know this? But every year I’d get a couple more Thor comics.
Fast-forward 35 years. I’m the official stocking-stuffer in the household. My wife is the queen of holiday organization, but the stocking assignment has always been mine, primarily because it’s the kind of job you can give to a procrastinator. I can run out on Christmas Eve and grab everything I need: gum, iTunes gift cards, candy bars, extra batteries… and comics. See, my son is 15, and he IS a Thor guy, so I usually try to round up something Asgardian for him, as well as a something with Atomic Robo or Axe Cop. I don’t understand the clothing my daughter is asking for (an “infinity scarf” sounds like something Dr. Who would wear), but by gum, I do know my son’s taste in comics.
Chris Schweizer just read True Grit, and as often happens with Chris, it has inspired him to pick up his drawing materials and start doing his own version. Check out the character sketches at his LiveJournal, and stay tuned for more: He just saw Sherlock Holmes …
Three creators of hotly anticipated comics have given exciting updates about their projects in the last few weeks.
Jordan Mechner (Prince of Persia) says the second volume of Solomon’s Thieves, his historical-adventure trilogy, is in the can, and artists LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland are hard at work on Vol. 3. No release date for either book has been announced, but there’s a Facebook page for fans who want the latest info on the series, including sneak peeks at artwork like this:
When I attend comic book conventions these days, I tend to avoid the Marvel and DC panels, in favor of creator-focused and/or independent comics panels. And it’s not just because it’s always easier to find a decent seat. But attending the Family Friendly Comics panel at HeroesCon this past summer was mostly a chance to catch up with the work of Chris Schweizer, Andy Runton and Chris Giarrusso. I was not looking to be introduced to new work, but the panel made me aware of Jamie Cosley, the creator of the webcomic, Cody The Cavalier. And once I became aware of Cosley, I decided to interview him.
Tim O’Shea: You just celebrated your one-year anniversary on Cody the Cavalier. How satisfying was it to reach that milestone?
Jamie Cosley: It’s very encouraging to find a character that you truly love. I believe I’m just beginning to scratch the surface with this little guy and hope to produce many more strips for many years to come!
Chris Schweizer is too busy to do a lot of Halloween sketches, but his take on Frankenstein’s monster as a work in progress is too good to pass up. Click the link for a scary story about Schweizer’s own Victor Frankenstein experience.
Art | Jerry Robinson’s cover artwork from Detective Comics #67 is expected to bring in more than $300,000 when it goes up for auction Nov. 15. “Robinson penciled and inked this cover and the detail of his art is amazing close-up,” said Todd Hignite, consignment director for Comic Art at Heritage Auctions, “particularly his shading lines on Batman and Robin, and on the feathery details of the ostrich being straddled by that bird-of-prey, the Penguin.” [Art Daily]
Business | Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment Inc. and Vuguru, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s independent studio, are partnering to produce “original digital content.” [press release]
Comics | Darryl Ayo has a small manifesto about comics that makes a lot of sense: “Things that don’t make sense in North American comics: 1) comics that exist after their creators have ceased to. 2) these comics’ existence continues despite minimal effort to applicable to contemporary culture. Things that make perfect sense in North American comics: people’s general lack of interest in comics.” He points out a number of reasons why the comics audience is small and challenges creators and publishers to “Do better.” One point he makes that is rarely mentioned: The critical importance of editors. [Comix Cube]
Chris Schweizer announced on his blog that he’s begun inking Crogan’s Loyalty, the third volume in his history-spanning, multi-generational Crogan Adventures series. In addition to sharing a few pages of art, he also says that he’s finished writing the fourth volume, Crogan’s Escape, hoping to start pencils on it as soon as he finishes inks on Loyalty.
Rather than try to write a summary of my HeroesCon 2011 experience, I have opted this year to share as many photos as possible. My camera was out-of-commission yesterday so all photos were taken during the second day of the show (Saturday).
That Chris Schweizer maquette I posted last week got me tooling about Schweizer’s site and I found one more thing that needs sharing. Schweizer drew a comics trailer for an imaginary Casablanca/Star Wars mash-up called “Mos Eisley.” His matching characters from the two movies is brilliant (Chewbacca as Ilsa Lund is as funny as it is disturbing).
Cartoonist Chris Schweizer (the Crogan Adventures series) is also a professor at the Atlanta branch of the Savannah College of Art and Design and that combination can result in some cool things. Like this Crogan maquette he sculpted as an example for a character-design class.
Schweizer talks about the benefits of this kind of exercise when creating characters for a comic, but is also mindful of the dangers:
I spend a LOT of time on preproduction, but it’s a means to an end. Never, ever, ever let it be the end. It’s self-indulgent, and benefits you nothing. ALWAYS make sure your concept work is leading to stories. Otherwise you’re just playing with yourself.
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.