I like this too-brief piece for The Guardian in which writer Neil Gaiman recounts the beginnings, and the “end,” of The Sandman and artist Dave McKean recalls the evolution of the comic’s distinctive covers.
“I’d been keeping it secret that the story would one day end. But, around issue 30, I began dropping hints,” says. “And it was explained to me that this couldn’t happen: with a successful monthly, when a writer leaves, a new one comes in. I decided not to argue. But in every interview I did, I said I hoped they would stop it when I left, because if they did I would keep on working for them. That percolated into the world and one day I got a call from Karen [Berger] saying: ‘You know, we really can’t keep this going after you’re done.’ That was the biggest thing Sandman changed: DC’s most successful comic was stopped because the writer was done. Otherwise, the brand would have been tarnished.”
As a nice bonus, there’s also a gallery of McKean’s favorite Sandman covers, complete with commentary. The Sandman: Overture, by Gaiman and J.H. Williams III, with variant covers by McKean, debuts Oct. 30.
“Well, sex is OK. I like sex. Why are there so many books about violence? Why are there so many books and stories about violence? How much violence do you come upon in your daily life? How much sex have you had? It seems out of balance. I think sex is a lovely thing, something to be celebrated and explored in every form — in film, in comics, in all sorts. I touched on it in a book I did called Cages. I had a sex scene, and I was going to do an absolutely blunt, these two people are in love and they’re going to have sex. But I kind of shied away from it because then a great big 500-page graphic novel would be an X certificate book because of three pages. That seemed ridiculous. I always fancied doing a book that was just about sex and exploring the feelings and thoughts going on in your mind when you’re curious about sex. … I really loved doing it, but there were a couple things I didn’t get to, focusing on those little moments. Not necessarily big pornographic scenes, but attraction, a little bit of voyeurism, human play. I think that’s curious. I’d like to do something about that.”
– Dave McKean, discussing where the idea for his adult graphic novel Celluloid came from, in an interview with CBR TV
Bestselling novelist and comics writer Neil Gaiman took over the Guardian Books site today — “Even as I write this the power is starting to go to my head,” he cautions in his introduction — and delivered precisely the kind of content you would expect: There’s a gallery of artwork by his longtime collaborator Dave McKean; Damian Walter’s Q&A with Harlan Ellison; an excerpt from Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane; an invitation for readers to write a story with the author (he provided the opening, “It wasn’t just the murder, he decided. Everything else seemed to have conspired to ruin his day as well. Even the cat.”); and a webchat.
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our guest today is writer and artist Jimmy Palmiotti, who you know from All-Star Western, Monolith, Phantom Lady, Unknown Soldier, Creator-Owned Heroes, Queen Crab and countless more.
To see what Jimmy and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Awards | The Guy Davis short story “The Phototaker” has been removed from the 2012 Eisner Awards ballot after it was determined to be ineligible. “The ‘Phototaker’ Eisner nomination was a mix up,” Davis wrote on Twitter. ” Jackie Estrada messaged me after I posted asking about the original English version, which came out in Metal Hurlant #9 (2003). So it’s not eligible for the 2012 Eisner nomination and has been removed. Thanks for all the congratulations yesterday, but I’m happy to clear this up and have it removed from the running.” [Eisner Awards]
Publishing | DC Comics’ Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne and Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham respond to March’s direct-market sales estimates, which saw Marvel claim three of the Top 10 spots after a February shutout. “We are pleased that we gained share, and we never expected that we would hold ten out of ten at the top of the chart for ever,” Wayne said. “I think it is better for the business if everybody is firing on all cylinders, that our competitors are doing interesting things, and we are doing interesting things. It keeps everybody on their toes and it keeps enthusiasm in the readership. The retailers remain involved wanting to make sure that they have enough of everything. I think it’s a good thing all around.” [ICv2.com]
The Los Angeles Times Book Prize judges have released their list of finalists for the 2011 prizes, and here are the five nominees for best graphic novel:
- I Will Bite You! And Other Stories, by Joseph Lambert (Secret Acres)
- Celluloid, by Dave McKean (Fantagraphics)
- Finder: Voice, by Carla Speed McNeil (Dark Horse)
- Congress of the Animals, by Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics)
- Garden, by Yuichi Yokoyama (PictureBox)
This is only the third year that there has been a graphic novel category, and it’s worth noting that this is the second time one of Jim Woodring’s books has been a finalist; last year it was Weathercraft. Also, while the selection is quite eclectic, five out of the 15 nominees in the past three years have been from Fantagraphics, which gives an inkling of the judges’ tastes.
At first I wasn’t especially excited about too much in DC’s February solicitations. However, the more I looked around, the more optimistic I became. Six months into the New 52, some connections are starting to gel, and their interactions (well, as far as what you can glean from the ad copy) seem more organic. As always, there were a few pleasant surprises in the collected editions, and some details from which to spin hopeful speculation.
But enough with the purple prose — let’s hit the books!
TO UNLIMITED AND BEYOND
The gee-whizziest news of the February solicitations has to be the digital-first format of Batman Beyond Unlimited. I have not been the quickest to adapt to digitally-conveyed comics, mostly because my personal technology level hasn’t caught up. However, I do read a number of webcomics, as well as newspaper strips online, and if the price were right, I’d gladly sample BBU’s features on my computer before picking up the print version. Having Dustin Nguyen and (yay!) Norm Breyfogle involved doesn’t hurt either.
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Legal | The Second Circuit Court of Appeals backed the 2010 decision by a federal judge to dismiss a comic writer’s claims that Adam Sandler, Judd Apatow, Columbia Pictures and parent company Sony Picture stole his idea for a hairdresser-turned-hero and transformed it into the movie You Don’t Mess With the Zohan. Robert Cabell filed a copyright-infringement lawsuit in February 2009 accusing the moviemakers of ripping off his comic The Hair-Raising Adventures of Jayms Blonde, about a Navy SEAL-turned-hairdresser who fights crime armed with a blow dryer. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Creators | The Hero Initiative reports that comics creator Josh Medors, who has a rare form of cancer, has been released from the hospital after being treated for a lung infection. [Hero Initiative]
Creators | Dave McKean discusses his most recent work, the erotic graphic novel Celluloid. [Suicide Girls]
The depressing majority of comics seem to be about violence of one sort or another, yet how much violence does the average person have to deal with in their everyday lives? Unless you live in Bogotá or somewhere similar, mostly it’s pretty petty stuff; the odd drunk looking for a fight, the odd crazy shouty person, the odd mad taxi driver, maybe. And I just don’t enjoy violence. I can see that narratively it is often a powerful spike in a story, but I certainly don’t want to dwell on it. I don’t want it in my real life, I don’t find violence entertaining in and of itself, or exciting, or funny.
But sex is happily part of most people’s lives, and crosses the mind most days, I would say, even if it’s just watching your partner get out of bed in the morning. All my stories tend to be about things that mean a lot to me and may be fragmented through dream imagery, or metaphorical settings, but basically, my stories are just about the people and places in my life.
–Dave McKean, artist of Arkham Asylum and many memorable collaborations with Neil Gaiman (including The Sandman‘s distinctive covers), on Celluloid, the upcoming porno-graphic novel from Fantagraphics that’s his first big comics project since his 1998 magnum opus Cages. I like that practical argument on erotica’s behalf. Ideally, we’ve had sex more often than we’ve thrown punches or shot bullets — why not reflect that in the art we make and consume?
McKean’s whole CBR interview with Robot 6′s own Chris Mautner makes for a fascinating read: He fills us in on how he’s been spending his time (lots of comics-esque collaborations with avant-garde musicians), talks about the unique challenging of baring it all (artistically speaking) in an erotic comic, discusses working with live models for some of the book’s sequences, and more.
John Rozum is known to comics fans primarily for his horror work, from the current Xombi and recent Hangman for DC Comics to creator-owned work like Midnight, Mass. and licensed comics like The X-Files and even Scooby-Doo. He’s also the World’s Biggest Halloween Fan. The holiday, not the movie. Though I supposed he likes the movie, too. I should ask him.
Anyway, Rozum’s started a new blog, The Grim Gallery in which he shares images from his extensive collection of horror photos and art. Like the Dave McKean piece above. It’s just getting started, so horror fans can catch up quickly, but Rozum’s updating daily, so there’ll be plenty to keep you coming back.
Hello and welcome to Wha Are You Reading? Today our special guest is illustrator, photographer, writer, filmmaker and jazz musician Dave McKean, whose works include Cages, Mr. Punch, Signal to Noise, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Violent Cases, Coraline and many, many more. He has a new book with writer Richard Dawkins, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True, coming out in October, as well as a graphic novel called Celluloid coming out from Fantagraphics in June. Special thanks to Chris Mautner for asking him to participate this week.
To see what Dave and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Today Pop Candy’s Whitney Matheson did something that some consider too revealing even in this socially networked, airport x-ray’d age: She posted 20 movies from her Netflix “Watch Instantly” queue. Like anyone else’s, it’s a motley crew of movies made possible by a massive library of films and the power to watch any of them at any time with a few clicks of a mouse — a blend of “comfort food” you want access to at all times, unwatched stuff you’re dying to see at the next available opportunity, major investments of time or energy you haven’t been prepared to make just yet, “eat your vegetables” fare you know you ought to watch eventually, and goofy guilty pleasures you’re simply tickled to be able to watch whenever you feel like it.
This got me thinking. I know there are any number of logistical and financial reasons why such a thing doesn’t exist for comics. But we comics readers are an imaginative bunch, no? And today I choose to imagine a world where I can load up pretty much any book I can think of and read to my heart’s content. So here’s what my imaginary “Read Instantly” queue would look like, circa today. Check it out, then let us know what’s on your queue in the comments!
Creators | Renowned artist Steve Rude has announced that money raised from an online art and comics auction has enabled he and his family to keep their home: “When I saw the bread coming in after Gino made her announcement (this was unbeknownst to the oblivious Dude), I was, and still am, in a mild state of stupefication. The outpouring of generosity was clearly far beyond what Gino and I could’ve asked for. Your contributions poured in from all corners of our planet; the sizeable backstock of comics and Dude related ‘higher reading paraphernalia’ were ordered by the spit-load; and Erik Larson bought his complete Next Nexus 3 issue! All said, we saved the house.” The Nexus creator is still working to regain his financial footing, so he’s selling 2011 calendars and, soon, a new sketchbook. [DudeNews]
Comic strips | Cartoonist Jim Davis has issued an apology for an ill-timed Garfield strip that appeared on Veterans Day. The strip, which appeared in newspapers on Thursday, featured a standoff between Garfield and a spider, and referred to “an annual day of remembrance” called “National Stupid Day.” In a statement, Davis explained that the strip was written almost a year ago, “and I had no idea when writing it that it would appear today — of all days.” [CNN, The Daily Cartoonist]
Ignore the “Dean McKean” at the header. The collection of artwork is by Cages author Dave McKean, consisting mainly of an impressive series of tango dancers.
Fans in the United Kingdom and the United States both have something to look forward to in the mail later this year. First, the Royal Mail will introduce new stamps (pictured above) designed by Dave McKean featuring assorted mythical beasts. In addition, if you buy a presentation pack, the stamps will include a short story by Neil Gaiman. The stamps are due June 16.
And for those of us on this side of the ocean … later this week the United States Post office will unveil the designs for stamps featuring the five main Simpsons characters — Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie. No word on when the stamps will actually hit stores, but I’m sure they’ll announce that on April 9 as well.