People have been saying for years that TCAF is the best comics event of the year, and although this was my first TCAF, I have to say that they weren’t exaggerating.
The reason is simple: TCAF focuses on the comics, nothing else. It is unmarred by superhero-themed cars, screeching videogame sound effects, or giant banners promoting this summer’s movies. What’s more, it’s not at all corporate. The big publishers are entirely absent, because this show is about creator-owned indie comics. Everyone is doing their own thing, not working for The Man (or The Licensor, as the case may be). It’s a show for enthusiasts.
That’s not to say there aren’t big names. In fact, the guest list reads like a Who’s Who of independent comics creators. A quick sample: Art Spiegelman, Seth, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, Taiyo Matsumoto, Ruto Modan, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Hope Larson, Faith Erin Hicks, and Michel Rabagliati, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing for a panel and who won the Doug Wright Award on Saturday evening for his Song of Roland.
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary in style May 11-12 with a truly stellar lineup of guests. Let’s get right to that, actually. Here’s the list, straight from the TCAF site:
- Art Spiegelman: Author of Maus, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Co-Founder RAW Magazine. Debuting:Co-Mix
- Francoise Mouly: Art Editor of The New Yorker, Founder of Toon Books, Co-Founder RAW Magazine
- Taiyo Matsumoto Author of Tekkon Kinkreet (adapted into film by Sony Pictures). First North American event. Debuting: Sunny Volume 1. (Japan)
- Raina Telgemeier: New York Times Bestselling Author of the childrens’ and middle-grade graphic novels Smile and Drama
- Blutch: Angouleme Grand Prix Winner. First North American event. Debuting: So Long, Silver Screen. (France)
- Gengoroh Tagame: Acclaimed Japanese gay comics creator. First North American event. Debuting: The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame. (Japan)
- Dash Shaw: Author of BodyWorld. Debuting: New School.
- Maurice Vellekoop: Acclaimed illustrator and comics author. Artist of TCAF 10th Anniversary Poster.
Arriving in April, New School is a 340-page graphic novel loosely inspired by Shaw’s experiences as a teenaged foreign-exchange student. “New School is my most personal book,” the cartoonist said in a statement. “It’s all true (sort of). I dramatized and changed things to make everything closer to how it felt. The book took years of difficult work to make. Now I can’t wait to hold it in my hands!”
That same month, the publisher will release 3 New Stories, an all-new 32-page comic featuring three short stories, “from a Sherlock Holmes-style investigator who must complete his high school degree to filmed ‘voluntary’ nudity to prison camps full of jaded children.”
“Dash is one of the most intellectually curious and fearless cartoonists I’ve ever known,” said Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds. “He created one of the past decade’s most acclaimed graphic novels — Bottomless Belly Button — and pushed himself to experiment with the form even further in the books BodyWorld and The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century. New School feels something like the apotheosis of all three of those books. It’s a major work by a cartoonist in full control of his still-flowering potential.”
See art from both projects, and a fuller description of New School, below.
Remember that scary Korean webcomic that everyone was passing around about a year ago?
Webcomics are huge in Korea, and now a new site, Comic Panda, has launched that brings some elements of the Korean model to the United States. While it offers free hosting for any webcomics creator, the site is particularly looking for episodic stories that can be read in big chunks in a vertical-scrolling format, like that scary comic. This is a little different from the standard webcomics model here, with its daily or thrice-weekly single-page updates.
I poked around the site a bit and found the vertical-scrolling format is pretty easy to read; I had previously encountered it on the Korean-owned site NetComics, and of course Dash Shaw uses it in Bodyworld. Still, looking at the site raised some questions for me, and fortunately Comic Panda’s Chris Klein was ready with some answers.
Never let it be said that Dash Shaw isn’t an artist who follows his bliss. The video above represents the fourth time Shaw has drawn a faithful adaptation of a segment from the kind of gross reality show Blind Date, in which more or less attractive young people are brought together to do something “fun” and either get along terribly or end the evening swapping spit or, y’know, whatever. The amusing part of doing this as a video is that you can hear the original audio the whole time, and trust me, the sound is worth the price of admission alone toward the end there. How does the date go? Let Shaw show you!
Previously on Lost: Dash Shaw, author of Body World and Bottomless Bellybutton, and Jesse Moynihan, storyboard artist for Adventure Time and author of Forming, teamed up a couple years ago to create an innovatively formatted fold-out comic for an issue of the literary magazine The Believer. Titled “Spiritual Dad,” the strip told a multi-generational story of fathers, sons and significant others struggling to find their destinies via various chemical and/or mystical means … leading one of them to a dreamlike vision of a plane crash, an island, a mysterious bald man on a vision quest, and other events that years later would become the subject matter of a little cultural phenomenon called Lost.
Flash forward to today, when cartoonist and commentator Frank Santoro hid the never-before-digitized comic, hatch-style, at the bottom of his long and compelling interview with Moynihan for The Comics Journal. Read the whole thing and marvel at the dense meta-magic performed by Shaw and Moynihan as they weave Lost into the tapestry of their own tale. Just be sure to dig into that interview, and Moynihan’s gorgeously colored Forming art, as you scroll down toward the comic itself.
One of the more notable news stories of the week was the announcement by Mome editor (and Fantagraphics co-publisher) Eric Reynolds that the quarterly anthology would come to an end with the release of the 22nd volume later this year.
The series has had a rather remarkable and distinguished run since its inception in 2005. In addition to featuring work by such notable cartoonists like Jim Woodring and Gilbert Hernandez, it’s served as a publishing venue to highlight the work of up and coming artists like Laura Park, Tom Kaczynski and Sara Edward-Corbett, as well as introduce American readers to work by notable European creators like Emile Bravo and Sergio Ponchione.
As a memorial of sorts for the anthology’s oncoming demise, I thought I’d attempt to put together a quick list of my own favorite stories from Mome. This was a tough list to put together actually, and there are a number of names I feel a bit guilty for leaving off, but I’m sure you all can duly chastise me for my omissions in the comments section.
BodyWorld chapter 8 (2008; read), panels 291-296. Dash Shaw.
When “sequence” in comics comes up, what’s being talked about most often is the order of individual panels. But the medium is more complex than that. Comics is the herky-jerkiest, most truncated, stop-and-go medium of them all, every formal element glimpsed for a second in each panel before disappearing completely and then reconstituting themselves in the next. Word balloons, for example, don’t mimic the continuous sound of speech by popping up one after the other any more than panels with blank borders cut in between them mimic the neverending flow of light. Sequence is everything in comics; not just the way the panels link together, but the way the pages turn and the camera angles shift and the characters move and the way their voices are heard. Everything the comics reader takes in, everything we are fed, is taken in the context of the previous panels, before contributing to the context in which we take the next. Everything is sequenced.
By and large, the medium’s artists have accepted the dominance of sequence in comics and set themselves to trying to make it sing. But every once in a while there’s an interesting attempt to set the medium free from its point-by-point presentation of things and create something a little more flowing, more integrated with itself and less staccato. Walt Simonson had his all-splash-page issue of Thor, which took away the panels and allowed single images to code for long stretches of time, and JH Williams and Alan Moore’s final issue of Promethea wasn’t even pages, but one giant poster with a whole story’s worth of information on it. (There are obviously more.) Of course, neither of those comics took sequence out of the reading experience. That might well be impossible, given that the human eye simply can’t take in a whole story all at once, but has to consider its component parts one at a time. Rather, those books were attempts to take sequence out of the panels it usually occupies and place it in a less chopped-up, more immediate environment, a place for it to progress rather than rebuild itself again and again inside every new set of panel borders. Dash Shaw did the same thing in the BodyWorld sequence above, but his way was different, and to my eyes more interesting.
Finalists and winners are selected by panels of three judges composed of published authors who specialize in each genre or category. The winners will be presented April 29 in a ceremony at the Chandler Auditorium in Los Angeles as a prelude to the 16th annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
The finalists in the graphic novel category are:
• Adam Hines, Duncan the Wonder Dog: Show One (AdHouse Books)
• Dash Shaw, Bodyworld (Pantheon)
• Karl Stevens, The Lodger (KSA Publishing)
• C. Tyler, You’ll Never Know, Book Two: Collateral Damage (Fantagraphics)
• Jim Woodring, Weathercraft (Fantagraphics)
For the full list of finalists in all categories, visit the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes website.
Welcome to a long holiday weekend (at least here in the United States) edition of What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Doug Zawisza, who writes reviews and the occasional article for Comic Book Resources.
To see what Doug and the Robot 6 gang are reading, click below.
“5 years, 20 volumes, 72 artists, and 2,352 pages of comics.” Strictly by the numbers — taken from the Editor’s Notes that kick off Mome Vol. 20: Fall 2010, on sale this month — Fantagraphics’ signature anthology is a force to be reckoned with. Launched in 2005 with the intention of providing a regular home for new work by promising young cartoonists like Gabrielle Bell, Jeffrey Brown, Anders Nilsen, Paul Hornschemeier, and Sophie Crumb, it rapidly evolved into something else, something arguably more: a showcase for alternative comics of nearly every style and stripe. During its five-year history, Mome‘s diverse accomplishments have included publishing work from European greats like David B. and Lewis Trondheim, serializing Tim Hensley’s acclaimed graphic novel Wally Gropius, reintroducing Al Columbia to the comics scene prior to the release of his landmark Pim & Francie, giving Dash Shaw yet another forum for his experimental take on science fiction, providing an unlikely venue for underground legend Gilbert Shelton, showcasing up-and-comers like Jon Vermilyea and Nate Neal…and, like all anthologies, starting a good deal of debate over which contributors were any good at all. With its like-clockwork quarterly schedule, Mome is a go-to destination for finding out what’s going on at comics’ cutting edge.
Presiding over all this has been editor Eric Reynolds, who inherited full control of the anthology from original co-editor and co-publisher Gary Groth. When last I spoke to Reynolds about Mome in October of 2007, he was prepping Vol. 10, which sported a new look, new work from Columbia, and the second half of a story by altcomix titan Jim Woodring. Three years and ten issues later, the series has gotten a full-on makeover from designer Adam Grano, and is in the midst of some of its most challenging work ever from Shaw, Josh Simmons, Derek Van Gieson and more. What has changed, what has remained constant, and what lies in store? Reynolds spoke with Robot 6 about all this and more in a fifth-anniversary interview.
If I’d ask you five years ago to describe what Mome Vol. 20 would look like, what would you have said?
I would’ve said there’s no way this thing’s going to last 20 issues. Really, I’m sure I would have had no other answer.
Passings | Writer Peter O’Donnell, creator of the Modesty Blaise comic strip, died May 3 at age 90. Steve Holland notes that although the prolific novelist suffered from Parkinson’s disease, he “kept in touch with fans and continued to pen introductions for Titan’s Modesty reprints.”
Born in south London on April 11, 1920, O’Donnell wrote such adventure strips as the long-running adaptation of the James Bond novel Dr. No, Garth, and Romeo Brown before being asked in 1962 to create a new character for the Daily Express. He came up with Modesty Blaise, whose catsuit-wearing heroine fought villainy with the help of her right-hand man Willie Garvin. The strip was quickly picked up by the Evening Standard, and ran from May 1963 to July 2002.
A pair of off-the-beaten-path comics have surfaced over the past few days that are perfect for readers who like their comics with a pop-cultural flair. First up, there’s Henry & Glenn Forever, a collection of romantic one-panel gags starring those famous star-crossed lovers, Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig. If you’ve ever wanted to know how the lead singers of Black Flag and the Misfits would maintain a relationship in the face of interference from their Satan-worshipping next-door neighbors Darryl Hall and John Oates, now’s your chance. Henry & Glenn Forever comes to us from Igloo Tornado, a collective consisting of The Blot‘s Tom Neely and his artistic compatriots Gin Stevens, Scott Nobles, and Levon Jihanian, and it’s available for $4 from Microcosm.
Bodyworld and Bottomless Belly Button creator Dash Shaw will appear at Isotope Comics in San Francisco on Tuesday … here are the details:
Come celebrate Dash Shaw’s new darkly-exhilarating, mind-altering, genre-expanding graphic novel BODYWORLD at the Isotope on April 27, 2010, 7-11 p.m.
BODYWORLD presents a dystopian future in which the Hunter S. Thompson of botanists, Professor Paulie Panther, descends on the bucolic Boney Borough to research a newly discovered psychedelic alien plant that induces telepathic body-swaps when smoked. Shaw, the well-known comics visionary behind BOTTOMLESS BELLY BUTTON, THE UNCLOTHED MAN, and MOTHER’S MOUTH, bends the genre even further this time as his art dives head-first into the psychotropic experiences of his characters. Neither his characters, nor the reader will come out the same.
Come take the head-trip that is BODYWORLD with us!
Tune in and Turn on with Dash Shaw @ the Isotope
Tuesday, April 27th
21 and over please.
Never a cover.