As usual, Publishers Weekly is the first out of the gate with its best-of-the-year lists — if tradition holds, Amazon’s should come along within the next couple of weeks — even if they are a little incomplete (the children’s fiction category is coming “very soon”).
The five titles in the comics category are:
• March Book One, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
• Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, by Ulli Lust (Fantagraphics)
• The Property, by Rutu Modan (Drawn & Quarterly)
• RASL, by Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books)
• Boxers and Saints, by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
“There are some really good reasons to do work-for-hire. It’s a valuable way to build a reputation. It’s probably not wise to devote 100% of your time to it, but only you know what your priorities and appetites are, and no one else has a right to judge them. And, yes, every job has its drawbacks and moments where it’s better to be flexible than absolute. I truly, truly understand having to take work you don’t love, or work with folks you don’t love, in order to make the rent. And early on, there are things I put up with that I now regret, and there are opportunities I lost because I pushed back, and there are still things I do sometimes to be a get-along guy that aren’t always in my best interests. Everyone’s threshold is unique, and sometimes you let someone take undue advantage because the cupboards are bare or because you’re dealing with a friend who’ll get yelled at if you don’t toe the line. I get that. Circumstances are circumstances. But if you never listen to another word I say, and I talk a lot, please know this: the only one watching out for your future is you.”
– industry veteran Mark Waid, from a lengthy “Open Letter to Young Freelancers” that’s a must-read not only for comics creators — of any age, and at any stage in their careers — but also for freelancers in other fields, to say nothing of editors, publishers and consumers.
“It might, if what DC was doing was impacting on their sales at all — but it really isn’t. Doesn’t mean we’re going to change the way we go about our business or anything, but for all that there’s a lot of uproar on the internet about whatever decisions DC is making, their sales remain constant. Sends a very clear signal to folks in charge both over there and elsewhere that it really doesn’t matter who works on what series, or how well or poorly they’re treated. So as a whole, the readership will reap what it sows.”
– Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president-executive editor, responding to a fan who wondered if, “with DC continuing on their weird way of interfering with creative teams and basically hating people does this kinda give you guys a new sense of that you’re on target for the quality of product and creative composure that needs to help make the industry thrive.”
The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards celebrated its 25th anniversary this year at Comic-Con International in San Diego. For a quarter century, the most prestigious award in comics has been recognizing the best — or, depending upon your perspective, getting it wrong for two and a half decades. However you feel about the results, the Eisners are established as our most respected and classy way for the industry to recognize excellence and put its best foot forward to the larger world.
It didn’t seem like there was a lot of acknowledgement of the anniversary, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to dive into the archives, sift through way too many numbers and names, and present 25 fun facts, figures and random whatnots.
So here now are 25 fun facts about the Eisner Awards:
“If you’re an aggressive individual and you want to make this your field — and there is no school. You make your own school. You make your school. I say that you borrow arms and legs and heads and necks and posteriors from anybody you can. In comics, which is a peculiar field, every man — every artist — is the other artist’s teacher. There’s absolutely no school for it. People can teach you the mechanics of it, which is good. I can see a good reason for that. But drawing a good figure does not make you a good artist. I can name you 10 men, right off the bat, who draw better than I do. But I don’t think their work gets as much response as mine. I can’t think of a better man to draw Dick Tracy than Chester Gould, who certainly is no match for Leonardo Da Vinci. But Chester Gould told the story of Dick Tracy. He told the story of Dick Tracy the way it should have been told. No other guy could have done it. It’s not in the draftsmanship, it’s in the man.
Like I say, a tool is dead. A brush is a dead object. It’s in the man. If you want to do, you do it. If you think a man draws the type of hands that you want to draw, steal ‘em. Take those hands.
Jack Kirby, the legendary artist who, with Joe Simon, created the genre of romance comics before going on to co-found the Marvel Universe with the likes of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Don Heck, would have turned 96 today.
If you’ve enjoyed stories about Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, Challengers of the Unknown, Thor, Etrigan the Demon, Nick Fury, the X-Men, Klarion the Witch Boy, Black Panther, Ant-Man, the Wasp, the Incredible Hulk, Darkseid, the Red Skull, Kamandi or Mister Miracle — in comics, in film or on television — you should thank Kirby, who created all of those characters (and many, many others) either in collaboration with Simon or Lee, or on his own.
But most people reading this blog already know that. What you may not know is what’s being done today to celebrate Kirby’s birthday — and how you can help.
Writer Jeremy Holt sure got people talking—er, tweeting—on Wednesday when he tweeted “…I don’t believe in upfront pay when producing creator-owned comics. Corrodes the team.” Holt does believe in sharing revenues with the artist, but he is quite vehemently opposed to just paying the artists for their work. Here’s more:
From my experience, artists mostly interested in pay don’t truly care about the project.
It’s not that I refuse to pay artists. I can’t. If they want to work on spec, that’s their prerogative.
Paying collaborators have never yielded the results I want.
Last time I did I was left with an incomplete project after spending $2500 as the artist went MIA. Paychecks can’t be the goal.
Artists I’ve worked with that only want $$$ never spent the time to discuss/collaborate on the project.
They more often than not were juggling other paying gigs to make more $$, and our work suffered.
you’re a good dude, but if an artist getting paid is killing their interest in your work, maybe the problem’s with your work
Publishing | ICv2 has one of its periodic Big Interviews with DC Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, this time covering how new readers are finding digital comics, how variant covers are working and graphic novel sales in bookstores, among other topics. Here’s Lee’s rather elliptical take on the flurry of recent changes in creative teams: “Without getting into the specifics, from the outside looking in, it might look like there’s a string of changes that point to one common theme, as you suggest. But from the inside looking out, you’ll see that each one has a different set of circumstances and conditions that ultimately led to the conflicts or the resignations or changes in creative personnel.” [ICv2]
Retailing | ICv2 also reports that Amazon and Overstock.com are having a price war on graphic novels, and readers are the beneficiaries. The website did a little shopping around and found a handful of graphic novels priced at up to 70 percent off full retail. [ICv2]
Hawkeye and Saga lead the ballot for the 2013 Harvey Awards, tying with nominations in seven categories, including best new series, best continuing series, best writer (for both Matt Fraction and Brian K. Vaughan) and best artist (for both David Aja and Fiona Staples).
ROBOT 6 was nominated for best biographic, historical or journalistic presentation, alongside Alter Ego Magazine, Jack Kirby Collector, Team Cul de Sac: Cartoonists Draw the Line at Parkinson’s and Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.
Named in honor of the late Harvey Kurtzman, the cartoonist and founding editor of MAD magazine, the awards are selected entirely by creators. Voting is open now through Aug. 19. The winners will be presented Sept. 7 during Baltimore Comic-Con.
The full list of nominees can be found below:
Zak Sally’s announcement that his latest Sammy the Mouse book is ready for purchase also includes some commentary about his experience with publishing the first book himself:
printing it was a nightmare. at the end of that process, i had to face the fact that the 5 months of frustration and banging my head against the wall of the “steep learning curve of being an offset printer” was all time taken away from the primary goal, which is MAKING the COMICS. and it was too much; both the time and the frustration.
This volume will be published by Uncivilized Books, which spares Sally the hassle of getting it printed while allowing him to sell it directly to consumers, which is the part he likes about self-publishing.
It’s a point that anyone considering funding their next book through Kickstarter would do well to consider. It has always seemed illogical to me to have every creator handling their own print run of 5,000 books individually — for one thing, not everyone is good at it, as Sally can attest. Beyond that, though, one of the most valuable functions a publisher can serve is streamlining the less creative parts of the process. Book production is a tricky business, and publishers have experienced people who know how to navigate the fairly technical process; a creator taking a book to the printer for the first time is likely to make mistakes and waste a lot of time. What’s more, an individual creator is never going to be able to negotiate a better price than a publisher who sends a continuous stream of business to the printer.
While many of us were enjoying our holiday, Comic-Con International organizers were busy releasing the programming schedule for Thursday, July 18, the first full day of the San Diego convention. The rundown for Friday, July 19 should come along early this afternoon.
As we’ve come to expect, Thursday’s lineup is a healthy mix of comics, television, toys, fantasy and film (although light on the latter, which take center stage on Friday and Saturday). The comics programming includes panels from Avatar Press, Bongo Comics (it’s the publisher’s 20th anniversary), BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse, DC Entertainment, Kodansha Comics, Marvel, Monkeybrain Comics (it’s that publisher’s first anniversary), TwoMorrows, Vertigo, Viz Media and Warp Comics.
However, that’s only for starters, as there are spotlights on Chris Samnee, Jeff Smith, J.H. Williams III, Dan Parent and Gary Frank, The Walking Dead‘s 10th-anniversary panel, and discussions about digital comics, gender in comics, LGBT webcomics and much, much more.
Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule:
The co-creator of such characters as Firestorm, Killer Croc and Vixen, Conway has launched the Comics Equity Project, described as “a crowd-sourced effort to provide creators of characters for DC Comics since 1975 with equity participation contracts.”
As Conway explains in his introduction, since the mid-1970s, DC has offered creators “equity participation,” which means that with the appropriate paperwork, they can receive a share of the profits generated by the characters they created. That means if, say, Firestorm appears on a television show, in a video game or as part of an action-figure line, Conway will get a check for that. More specifically, when the Firestorm supporting character Felicity Smoak was introduced on The CW drama Arrow, the writer was eligible for compensation.
“[Y]ou may think this is only fair, but in the ’70s it hit the business like a revelation,” he writes. “And for more than thirty years it’s given quite a few creators an extra bit of income — in some cases, for some older creators, the only real income they receive from comics.”
When you know you don’t have a lot of time, you prioritize.
That’s what Zachi Telesha did. In August 2008, age 7, the Allentown, Pennsylvania, youth was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Telesha set himself a series of personal goals, and he died this week, at age 12, a published comics writer.
Telesha was a fifth-grader at McKinley Elementary School when the publisher Rodale, a corporate sponsor of the school, learned of his illness and his desire to write a comic. He spent five months working with Rodale staffers and teachers from his school to produce the graphic novel, Hero Up!, which features four superheroes — one of whom, Venom Transporter, was based on Telesha himself. “He can get bit by the most poisonous snake and spider at the same time repeatedly and still just get stronger,” Telesha explained in a YouTube video.
With the Boston Comic Con being postponed due to the lockdown that was in place until last night as police searched for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, several area comic shops are holding impromptu events this weekend with various creators. Here’s a rundown if you’re looking for something to do in Boston today, and if we missed any, please let us know in the comments section:
• As noted in CBR yesterday, Larry’s Comics in Lowell, Mass. is hosting a mini-con — Slum-Con? — featuring Mike Choi, Sean Gordon Murphy, Cesar Feliciano and many more. Check out the shop’s Twitter feed for a live stream of the event.
• Comicazi in Davis Square, Somerville, has announced that it will host a “Not-The-Boston-Comic-Con Get-Together,” with guests Tim Seeley, Tim Sale, Don Rosa, Agnes Garbowska, David Mack, Ming Doyle, Erica Henderson, and possibly some others on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Friendly Neighborhood Comics in Bellingham will have a meet-the-artists event featuring Carlos Pacheco, Craig Rousseau, Kelly Yates, and others from 12-4 p.m. on Saturday.
• Studios at Porter Mills, in Beverly, will host a Beverly Comic Con from 4-9 p.m. on Saturday. “Tons of artists on hand (including many that would have been at Comic con) and a few special guests!”
• Comicopia will host Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb, the artists for the Adventure Time comic, from 1-3 Sunday.
(Hat tip: Brigid Alverson)
“I want to remind readers of this column that all the Marvel NOW! launches are going strong — none have been canceled or RE-relaunched in a whole new direction after 3 or 4 issues — which is a testament to the talent and coordinated effort of our writers, artists and editors,” Marvel’s Axel Alonso said in last week’s Axel-in-Charge column. Yeah, it’s another trademark swipe by Marvel at its competition, but he isn’t wrong. Putting aside the snarkiness, there’s something to be said for a.) making a plan and sticking with it, b.) having faith in the choices you made, and c.) not undermining your creators and your fans with sudden shifts in creative teams.
I of course have no insight into how things are really being run at DC. But from an outsider’s perspective, it feels like its editorial strategy is inspired by the likes of The Hunger Games and Battle Royale. Every man for himself, blink once and they’re gone, blink twice and their replacement is gone. On the day DC announced the new new writers for the Green Lantern books, I remember seeing a tweet that said something like, “Oh, I figured they wouldn’t announce the new writers until [next weekend's] WonderCon.” My first thought? Just wait — maybe they will.