X-POSITION: Phoenix, Upstarts & More Tear Up Bowers & Sims' "X-Men '92"
Publishing | Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater responds to Singapore’s ban of the third volume of Life With Archie, which features the wedding of Kevin Keller and Clay Walker: “Riverdale will always be about acceptance, equality and safety. I’m sad readers in Singapore will miss out on the chance to read such a pivotal moment in comics.” [The Hollywood Reporter]
Business | Devin Leonard looks at the possible effects of a Fox/Time-Warner merger on superhero movies; Time-Warner owns DC Entertainment, and Fox has the movie rights to some Marvel characters. The New York Times offers a broader overview. [Business Week]
Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out. So get ready to fly really, really fast as we reverse the Earth’s orbit and head back for a look at the last seven days in comics …
Last week, when I was packing my bags to go to the Angoulême International Comics Festival, I kept having to explain to people — even comics people — what it was.
Now that I’m back, it’s not a problem any more.
This year’s selection of Bill Watterson as the winner of the Grand Prix d’Angoulême, and the president of next year’s festival, has put Angoulême on the map for more U.S. readers — or at least, it has sent the cartoonist’s fans scurrying to the map to see where it is.
What follows is a series of first impressions from my first trip to Angoulême; check out Publishers Weekly (which provided me with a press badge) for more solid coverage, and of course no one can capture an event like Heidi MacDonald.
There are a lot of reasons to go to Angoulême — the international array of creators and publishers who are there, the opportunity to get the hottest new BDs and of course, French food, scenery and wine all spring to mind — but to me, the most impressive thing about it was that I was in a place where comics really mattered. Comics aren’t a niche product in France; they are available everywhere, they are widely read, and they are taken seriously. In my previous sojourns in France, long before I was a comics journalist, I was accustomed to seeing a rack of hardcover, full-color comics at the grocery store, train station, and bookstore.
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I missed out on Pat Grant‘s debut graphic novel Blue when it was initially released in 2012. But now that Top Shelf has the book back in print, I got in touch with the Australian writer/artist to learn more about the 96-page book, described as “a fascinating blend of autobiography and fiction with a sci-fi twist.” The story has an interesting mix of several elements, including teenagers surfing, aliens with tentacles, conflict, bigotry and a quest for a dead body — all of which just scratches the surface of this ambitious work.
Creators | Ahead of the premiere of Kick-Ass 2, Abraham Reisman profiles Mark Millar, with an emphasis on his subversion of the genre — and the new prominence he’s about to achieve with the films based on his comics: “By decade’s end, he’ll have had more of his creations translated into movie form than any comics writer other than Stan Lee.” The piece also includes criticism of his work, with Colin Smith observing, ““Millar does indeed have a history of producing work which represents less powerful groups in an insensitive, and often deeply insensitive, manner. There are massive contradictions between his words and actions as a private citizen and the apparent politics of some of his books.”[The New Republic]
Conventions | Matt Arado looks forward to this coming weekend’s Wizard World Chicago Comic Con (it’s actually in Rosemont) with some creator interviews and a look at the way the con has evolved over the years. [Daily Herald]
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:
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.