X-POSITION: Bennett Talks "Years Of Future Past's" Teenage Mutant Savior Heroes
The taxman cometh, and that, says publisher Dan Nadel, is why boutique comics publisher PictureBox Inc. is having a 30% off sale for the rest of April. In addition to acclaimed comics like Renee French’s H Day, CF’s Powr Mastrs, and Brian Chippendale’s If n’ Oof and various art prints and music projects by their affiliated cartoonists, PictureBox also offers everything their book about the album art of legendary Pink Floyd/Led Zeppelin designers Hipgnosis to a vinyl statue of Beat icon Allen Ginsberg designed by Sof’Boy creator Archer Prewitt. If you can’t find something to buy, that’s on you, man.
The Comics Journal, a venerable, influential and controversial mainstay of comics journalism that had developed an air of the walking wounded in recent years, has radically revamped and relaunched its online presence. Its new editors are Dan Nadel and Tim Hodler, best known as the minds behind Comics Comics magazine and, in Nadel’s case, the art-comics publisher PictureBox Inc.
The print version of the Journal will continue to be helmed by founding editor and Fantagraphics co-publisher Gary Groth, acting in a more hands-on capacity as of the forthcoming Issue #301 than he has in years, by the sound of it. Kristy Valenti serves as editorial coordinator. Contributors to the new TCJ.com include Frank Santoro, Jeet Heer, Joe “Jog” McCulloch, Ken Parille, Ryan Holmberg, Rob Clough, Richard Gehr, R.C. Harvey, R. Fiore, Vanessa Davis, Bob Levin, Patrick Rosenkranz, Nicole Rudick, Dash Shaw, Jason T. Miles, Andrew Leland, Naomi Fry, Jesse Pearson, Tom De Haven, Shaenon Garrity, Matt Seneca, Tucker Stone and Hillary Chute. On a Robot 6-related note, my colleague Chris Mautner and I will also be contributing.
A look at the new site reveals a multifaceted approach, with reviews, columns, interviews, lengthy features and essays (the current lead feature is a look at the legacy of, and turmoil surrounding, Frank Frazetta by writer Bob Levin), an events calendar, selected highlights from the magazine’s archives, and more. The biggest news, perhaps, is that Hodler and Nadel plan to have literally the entire 300-issue Comics Journal archive scanned and posted online by the end of this year and made available in its entirety to the print magazine’s subscribers. Click here for Hodler and Nadel’s welcome letter, in which they explain some of the changes and reveal a bit of what’s ahead. (And click here for their farewell letter to Comics Comics.)
I tweeted it after I got back home the night of the show and I stand by it now: Book for book and creator for creator, the second annual Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival was the best comic convention I’ve ever attended. I’m not sure I can articulate exactly why — certainly not in a comprehensive fashion, as I was in and out of the day-long show within three hours and didn’t even attend any of the programming (though I could see it was pretty much standing room only from my vantage point by the hot dog stand that provided grub for the attendees). I’m sure people who stayed longer, participated more, and took advantage of all the show’s ancillary events could paint you a bigger and better picture. But from my admittedly narrow perspective, it came down to a sense of…well, of giddiness — that’s the best way I can put it. Pretty much everyone I saw or spoke with at the show seemed head-over-heels happy, not because of proximity to cool parties or big-money media extravaganzas, but because of proximity to comics — tons and tons of unusual, gutsy, great comics.
Programming Director Bill Kartalopoulos has released the programming schedule for the upcoming 2nd annual Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, taking place on Saturday, Dec. 4 in Williamsburg, and it’s a doozy. Lynda Barry & Charles Burns and Françoise Mouly & Sammy Harkham will be paired off in panels that are perhaps the highlight of the show, while other spotlighted cartoonists include Golden Age artist Irwin Hasen (in conversation with Paul Pope, Evan Dorkin, and Dan Nadel) and Big Questions author Anders Nilsen, who drew the still-awesome poster you see above.
Check out the full schedule in the BCGF press release after the jump.
Like the characters he chronicles in If ‘n Oof, his new book from PictureBox Inc., Brian Chippendale is prone to wandering. He just returned to his home base of Providence last week following a tour with his acclaimed two-man music group Lightning Bolt, whose sound can be best described as “What if Thor’s hammer and Loki’s helmet formed a band?” He’s also gearing up to hit the road again in another couple of weeks for a brief cross-country book tour with fellow PictureBox cartoonist CF.
But it’s Chippendale’s artistic travels that interest me the most. Each new Chippendale book feels like an experience miles removed from its predecessor. Maggots is a tiny softcover with incredibly dense pages, drawn on top of a Japanese book catalog so that even the white spaces are filled with visual noise. Ninja is a gigantic hardcover with a smoother approach to Chippendale’s trademark “snake-style” layout — you read the first row of panels on a page from left to right, then hop down to the next row and read that one from left to right, then down another level from right to left, and so on back and forth — and a healthy dose of comics he drew as a kid thrown in. If ‘n Oof is a doorstop-sized softcover in manga dimensions in which every page is a splash page or part of a spread. And while all three share Chippendale’s unmistakable rough-hewn line and love of sci-fi, fantasy, and action — an approach forged in the hallowed halls of the late great Fort Thunder collective, alongside artists like Mat Brinkman and Brian Ralph — If ‘n Oof‘s buddy-movie storyline of two lovable creatures battling their way through a wasteland in search of home (and snacks) is the artist’s most accessible work to date. Robot 6 managed to get Chippendale to settle down long enough to talk to us about the new book, how it stacks up against his new webcomic Puke Force, and the tantalizing possibility that as far as If and Oof’s world is concerned, we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.
Did you see that first still of Thor, Odin, and Loki from Kenneth Branagh’s upcoming Thor movie and think it needed more Kirby Krackle or Walt Simonson Psychedelia? You’re not alone. Dan Nadel, head of the art/comics publisher PictureBox and editor of their house mag Comics Comics, lamented what he perceived to be the costumes’ conservative superhero-movie style, as opposed to Kirby’s “mind-bendingly intricate mythological armor and sets with a nearly psychedelic color palette.” And dammit, he’s gonna do something about it!
Nadel will award the first-ever “Know Prize” to the person who best recolors the image. If you wield Photoshop like Mjolnir, give the Asgardian Royal Family a Rainbow Bridge makeover and send the results to knowprize (at) comicscomicsmag (dot) com (72dpi RGB jpegs only, please) by midnight tomorrow, Wednesday, July 21. The winner will receive a Thor comic hand-selected from the infamous collection of cartoonist Frank Santoro, plus the satisfaction of knowing that he/she be worthy. That deadline’s approaching faster than Ragnarok, so get ye cracking!
Want to exchange your money for rad things? Jim Rugg, Dash Shaw, Johnny Ryan and Frank Santoro are but a few of the cartoonists who are willing to take you up on that offer right now on behalf of a fundraiser for Comics Comics, the fine magazine-cum-blog of comics and criticism. Edited by Dan Nadel, Tim Hodler, and Frank Santoro and published by Nadel’s PictureBox Inc., the mag’s in the red, and it needs your help.
You can check out their eBay listings for original art from Rugg, Shaw, Santoro, and even Gasoline Alley‘s Frank King, or drop them a line and commission a portrait of yourself being “erotically violated” by Johnny Ryan. (The portrait’s by Johnny Ryan, not the erotic violation. Not necessarily, I mean.)
And if you’ve never checked out Comics Comics before, you can’t go wrong with the $10 three-issue Comics Comics Fun Pack. Where else can you find serious, stimulating writing on topics like Steve Gerber, Paper Rad, Guy Davis, Dick Ayers, Berserk and the Masters of American Comics exhibit, by everyone from top-notch critics like Tim Hodler, Joe McCulloch, and Jeet Heer to cartoonist-critics like Santoro and Shaw to guest stars like Peter Bagge, Kim Deitch, Brian Chippendale, and Mark Newgarden?
You can also purchase a hand-selected pack of five books from Santoro’s infamous back-issue bin, featuring some of the best indie and mainstream hidden gems of the ’80s, or snag a pair of deluxe art books from Led Zeppelin/Pink Floyd album artists Hipgnosis and the ’70s-tastic West Coast airbrush art scene for $25 total. I’m telling you, it’s tough to go wrong here. But act quickly, because a lot of these offers end within hours!
Having introduced the comics-reading public to such obscure or long-forgotten creators as Herbert Crowley, Fletcher Hanks and Walter Quermann in his seminal book Art Out of Time, editor and publisher Dan Nadel opted to try something a little different for his sequel, the recently published Art in Time.
While the new book, like its predecessor, does feature a number of barely-known or long-forgotten golden age and underground cartoonists (Sam Glanzman, John Thompson), it also offers a new look at some familiar and in some cases already well regarded figures, in the hopes of either giving scholars and fans a chance to reconsider their artistic abilities (as in the case of Mort Meskin and Pat Boyette) or re-examine their work in a new light via previously unregarded material (John Stanley, Archie artist Harry Lucey, Wonder Woman artist H.G. Peter)
I had the opportunity to talk with Nadel over email about the book and its rather specific goals recently. Though he was in the midst of celebrating all things Jack Kirbyish at the Fumetto Festival in Lucerne, Switzerland, he was kind enough to take the time to offer some thoughtful, considered responses to my flailing questions, for which I am ever grateful.
How did Art in Time develop and did it change at all in conception as you worked on it?
The first idea was actually to take well known artists like Kirby, Ditko, Everett, et al and show their lesser known work. This became a little less interesting as the reprint boom took hold. By less interesting I mean not necessary. I tend to think of books as being necessary or not necessary. And then, when necessary, as being well done and useful, or badly done and destructive. Anyhow, as an outgrowth of my publishing activities, and as a kind of strategy of moving away from any perceptions about Art Out of Time, I began to look at adventure comics a lot, particularly crime stuff like Pete Morisi and Harry Lucey. And then I thought of the underground stuff I like and realized (again — maybe I’d forgotten? I don’t know.) that what drives my “scholarly” (or whatever) interests was pretty much the same as what drives my publishing interest, i.e. in my head CF and Bill Everett are pretty much on the same playing field. So I latched onto the broad idea of “genre” comics and then went a little micro and focused on an idea of “adventure” that can include gumshoes and psychonauts and utopians. Then I really dug in and had some fun.
Because no nation may remain neutral where the King of Comics is concerned! PictureBox publisher Dan Nadel has posted a mouth-watering assortment of pictures from the Jack Kirby art show he and British critic Paul Gravett have curated for the Fumetto comics festival in Lucerne, Switzerland. The show occupies three (count ‘em!) floors and consists of 150 pages of Kirby art, including the complete Kamandi< #6 and almost the entirety of Fantastic Four #54. You can find out more about the exhibition at Fumetto’s website, and much much more from Gravett’s lengthy essay on Kirby in general and the exhibit in particular. Can some of North America’s convention organizations start thinking along these lines, please oh please?
* Organized by Desert Island‘s Gabe Fowler and PictureBox‘s Dan Nadel, the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival made its debut on Saturday, and I’m awfully glad I was able to make it. (I didn’t think I’d be able to, but my wife and mother-in-law gave me a reprieve from going to see New Moon for the third time. Hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!) I live on Long Island, so having an artcomix convention on my very own land mass is a cause for celebration. And provided you’re willing to brave a dreadful mile or so on the BQE and the Kosciuszko Bridge, it’s not even that much of a hassle to get there — parking in Brooklyn is a snap.
* Less easy was dealing with the weather, which was awful. Freezing rain and, eventually, snow. I figured this would do a real number on attendance levels …
It’s not exactly Mickey Mouse buying Spider-Man, but it’s fascinating news nonetheless: Indie publisher PictureBox Inc. will be selling digital versions of its comics and graphic novels through the iPhone comics app Panelfly. Available titles include C.F.’s Powr Mastrs Vols. 1 & 2, Frank Santoro’s Storeyville, Lauren Weinstein’s The Goddess of War #1, and Yuichi Yokoyama’s Travel. Panelfly‘s other publishers include indie outfits NBM and SLG.
That even PictureBox — the artiest of the artcomix publishers, known for envelope-pushing material, extremely high production values, and a publishing line that straddles the comics and fine-art worlds — is going digital says a whole lot about the industry’s perceived need to get a foot in that particular door, not to mention about PictureBox’s willingness to seek out an audience outside of the traditional art/alt/underground comics venues.
Multiple cities | Watchmen returns to theaters with additional footage for a limited run in Los Angeles, New York City, Dallas and Minneapolis. Details can be found here.
Baltimore | Geppi’s Entertainment Museum hosts Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology editor Keith Chow, art director Jerry Ma, artist Alex Tarampi and writer Larry Hama from noon to 4p.m. for a presentation, discussion and signing.
Portland | Cosmic Monkey Comics hosts a 24-hour zine challenge beginning at 10 a.m. and ending, naturally, at 10 a.m. the next day.
Puyallup, Wash. | Comic Evolution will host a March of Dimes benefit that includes a silent auction and several artists doing sketches for donations, including Paul Gulacy, Clayton Crain and many more.
San Francisco | Isotope Comics hosts a signing and party for Geoff Johns, writer of Blackest Night, Green Lantern and various other titles. They’ll have free buttons and a selection of Lantern Corps. cocktails. The signing begins at 4 p.m. and the 21+ party begins at 7 p.m.
While I did not attend Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) Art Festival 2009, held back on June 6-7, I was struck at the amount of constructive feedback that came out of people’s reports after the festival. It goes without saying that almost everyone thought the new venue (the 69th Regiment Armory) needed air conditioning and many folks were understandably dismayed with the logistical challenges and delays that occurred at the festival’s start. While reading a great deal of reactions from attendees and exhibitors, I was curious to get a lessons learned perspective from the organizers. Fortunately, Karl Erickson, MoCCA Director, was willing to take my email questions. In his answers, Erickson seemingly made it clear he was open to constructive feedback. While my questions aimed to cover a great deal of various concerns, I welcome folks to chime in with additional thoughts in the comments section. My thanks to Erickson for his time.
Tim O’Shea: The first question has to be–did you explore the possibility of air conditioning this year? Was it deemed just too cost prohibitive? If you’re staying at the Armory, do you intend to have air conditioning in 2010?
Karl Erickson: We did explore air conditioning for the Armory, but, yes, it was just too expensive. As far as staying at the Armory we are looking at dates earlier in the spring to help alleviate the heat.
O’Shea: Can you speak to what happened to cause the hour-long delay on Saturday and logistical challenges (like delayed book deliveries, only one trashcan on the show floor [by some reports], names missing from the guide book)–and are you establishing measures to try to minimize these situations next year?
Erickson: The delay was due to a few different factors, the major being a severe miscommunication with the trucking company that was to deliver not only many of our exhibitor’s books, but all of our supplies for the festival, not least being our cash registers and other check-in essentials. Of the problems that we did have, having one trashcan for the entire show floor was not one of them. We definitely had many trashcans.
We are certainly taking steps to contain and minimize the mistakes of this year, the most important of which is getting a much earlier jump in the planning and execution of the Festival. This includes a lengthy review of the 2009 Festival with practical solutions suggested. These include moving the Festival earlier in the spring (as this is not the first year we have had heat problems, AC or no), starting on every aspect of the Festival earlier, and creating a new MoCCA website that will deliver information much more effectively to exhibitors and attendees.