Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? It’s an abbreviated edition this week — maybe everyone’s doing their taxes, like I am today — so let’s just get to it …
Digital comics | So, your $3.99 comic comes bundled with a download code for a free digital copy, but you’re strictly a paper person. What to do? Todd Allen has a fascinating article about the secondary market in unused download codes, not just the fact that they are being sold fairly openly but also what that market tells us about the true value of comics: “Outside of eBay it’s relatively easy to use Google to find somewhere to swap or purchase Ultraviolet codes. The Home Theater Forum’s classified ad section has codes sprinkled in, with a low $2-$3 looking like a common price. Codes are also easy to find on Reddit, including a dedicated subreddit, though codes on Reddit are swapped or given away, not sold.” [The Next Web]
Conventions| Small Press Expo announced its first round of guests for the Sept.14-15 convention: Seth, Gary Panter, Lisa Hanawalt, Gene Yang and Frank Santoro. [SPX]
Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Elisabeth Forsythe, marketing manager for online comic shop Things From Another World and frequent contributor to The Blog From Another World.
To see what Elisabeth and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, read on.
Warning: Pretty much every image in the linked article is flagrantly, joyously NSFW. If your eyeballs disintegrate and hair grows on the palms of your hands when you click the link, well, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Underground comics are by their nature transgressive, so it comes as no surprise that the Comix Classics: Underground Comics app produced by Toura, an app platform often used by museums, and Comic Art Productions and Exhibits, ran afoul of Apple’s content guidelines. As Kim Munson, who designed the app, explained to Michael Dooley of Imprint Magazine, the app is not a digital comic but “more of an interactive art exhibit.” It’s based on James Danky and Denis Kitchen’s book Underground Classics: The Transformation of Comics into Comix, and it contains all the comics from the book and the exhibit plus some new graphics.
Oddly, when the app was submitted to Apple, the iPad version was accepted as is (with a string of warnings to potential consumers about sex, nudity, etc.) but the iPhone version was rejected for “excessively objectionable or crude content.” Munson removed 16 images, which apparently shifted the ratio enough to make the Apple folks happy. (For those who like to skip straight to the good stuff, the deleted images are at the link.) Munson noted that “The deletions were plainly based purely on the visual representation, not the context of the pieces.”
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on what we call our “Splurge” item.
Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.
If I had $15 this week, IDW would be seeing a lot of it. It’s a cheat, because I’ve actually already read both Doctor Who Vol. 2 #1 and GI Joe: Cobra II #12 (both $3.99), but both are licensed comics done right in my opinion; Who in particular really catches the tone of the TV show in a way that the last series, as fun as it was, didn’t quite do (despite the writer, Tony Lee, being the same for both), and Joe has an ending that’ll get the nostalgics in the audience jumping up and down. It’s a weird mix of anti-nostalgia and art appreciation that gets me looking at my other pick of the week, Marvel’s Invincible Iron Man #500, which I’ll be picking up less for the story – although I like the “What if this really was #500 of the current series, and set 40-odd years in the future?” idea behind it – than the art, seeing as the wonderful Nathan Fox, KANO and Carmine Di Giandomenico join the okay-if-you-like-photo-tracing Sal Larroca for this oversized issue.
Technology | Apple said it is adding new security measures to its iTunes store after a developer reportedly hacked into numerous customer accounts to boost the ranking of his comic apps, which briefly dominated the book category. The company claims the weekend incident was an isolated — about 400 of its 150 million iTunes users were affected — but customers tell The Wall Street Journal that hackers have hijacked accounts before, with Apple doing little to stop them. [The Wall Street Journal]
Conventions | Heidi MacDonald looks at the tug of war between San Diego, Los Angeles and Anaheim for Comic-Con International, and the tough decision facing event organizers. “This has been by far the most challenging thing we’ve ever done,” said David Glanzer, the convention’s director of marketing and public relations. “Nobody thought we wouldn’t have a decision by June.” The board hopes to make a decision before this year’s event kicks off in two weeks. “If we don’t [make an announcement],” Glanzer said, “a lot of the focus is going to be on that.” [Publishers Weekly]
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
Today it’s time (long pat time actually) to take a look at one of the most influential and undisputed masters of the comics medium, Harvey Kurtzman.
Via press release, Dark Horse Comics and Denis Kitchen announced this week that the publisher plans to release a collection of Kitchen’s past work, including his comix, paintings, covers for underground newspapers and comix, rare strips and illustrations, and historic photos of Kitchen and many of his contemporaries. The Oddly Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen is due in June.
While many probably remember Kitchen as the longtime publisher of Kitchen Sink Press and the founder of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, he was also a comix artist in his own right. He’s also currently working with BOOM! Town to distribute projects like Harvey Kurtzman’s The Grasshopper & The Ant and a set of Robert Crumb trading cards.
The complete press release from Dark Horse can be found after the jump.
A few weeks ago we learned that BOOM! Studios, publisher of everything from Mark Waid’s Irredeemable series and Farscape to Disney/Pixar comics like The Incredibles and Cars, was branching out into the alt.comix arena. Their new imprint, BOOM! Town, will publish and market “literary comics,” selective reissues of out-of-print works and merchandise.
Their first few projects include:
- A Too Much Coffee Man mug.
- A political satire/collection of prose pieces and artwork called Repuglicans.
- I Thought You Would be Funnier, a collection of Shannon Wheeler’s rejected New Yorker cartoons.
- A reissue of a set of 36 trading cards by R. Crumb that were originally released by Kitchen Sink Press in 1991.
- A reissue of The Grasshopper and the Ant by Harvey Kurtzman.
The line is being overseen by BOOM! publisher/co-founder Ross Richie and their marketing director Chip Mosher. I interview Mosher via email over the last week about the new imprint, what their plans are for it and the online reactions to one project in particular. My thanks to Chip for his time.
IDW announced yesterday their next big strip collection project for their Library of American Comics imprint — Al Capp’s L’il Abner. Volume One will cover 1934-36 and feature an essay by Bruce Canwell, and an introduction by Denis Kitchen. It will be a 288 page hardcover, retail for $49.99 and be available in stores in April.
Those with long memories will recall that Kitchen had attempted to publish Abner’s complete run back in the 1990s via his Kitchen Sink Press, but never completed the project due to the company’s going under. The strip, about a colorful group of hillbillies, ventured frequently into political and social satire, and was one of the most popular comics of its day. Capp’s eventual turn into hardline conservatism, however, left a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of cartoonists and critics in following generations, and the strip has fallen a bit out of favor in recent decades. It will be interesting to see how this new attempt at collecting the material is received.
Read the full press release after the jump:
Publishers Weekly reports that BOOM! Studios is launching a separate imprint called BOOM! Town, under which they plan to publish and market “literary comics,” selective reissues of out-of-print works and merchandising. And they’re working with a couple of well known names in this area: former Kitchen Sink publisher Denis Kitchen and Too Much Coffee Man creator Shannon Wheeler.
Although their publishing plans are still being finalized, they’ll start off by reissuing a set of 36 trading cards by R. Crumb that were originally released by Kitchen Sink Press in 1991. They also plan to release a Too Much Coffee Man mug and I Thought You Would be Funnier, a collection of Wheeler’s rejected New Yorker cartoons that can be read online at the Activate site.
It also sounds like they may be publishing some of Harvey Kurtzman’s work, based on this quote from Kitchen:
“Denis Kitchen Publishing has four R. Crumb card sets that are perennials, [Harvey] Kurtzman’s The Grasshopper & The Ant and other books that could do much better in the marketplace with a real company’s attention. So I’ve entered into a distribution arrangement with Boom! to free myself more to represent clients as a literary agent but also to do more directly creative things like writing and packaging new books.”
It’s been a big week for BOOM! news; in addition to BOOM! Town, they’ve also got a Samuel L. Jackson-written series on the way, a new ongoing featuring Scorpius from Farscape and something in the works with CBGB.