X-POSITION: Phoenix, Upstarts & More Tear Up Bowers & Sims' "X-Men '92"
The nominees for the Doug Wright Awards for Canadian Cartooning have been announced, with Montreal-based publisher Drawn & Quarterly netting five of the six spots in the Best Book category.
In addition, James Simpkins, creator of Jasper the Bear, will be this year’s inductee to the Giants of the North Canadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame.
Conventions | ReedPOP Senior Vice President Lance Fensterman looks back at New York Comic Con 2015, which drew 167,000 people over four days; the increase came from making Thursday a full day, he says. Fensterman also offers some thoughts on conventions in general, saying the market is starting to become saturated, but not in terms of fans, who will always go to a cool show: “I think the saturation is more so on the side of content, and by content, I mean exhibitors, brands, guests, studios,” he says. “They don’t need that many shows.” Dealers will always show up, but, Fensterman says, “Fans don’t want to pay a ticket price to come in to spend money. There needs to be content that is engaging, exciting and unique. And there’s a limited quantity on that.” [ICv2]
Drawn & Quarterly has announced the October release of Killing and Dying, the newest collection of Adrian Tomine’s long-running Optic Nerve series. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the cartoonist’s acclaimed comic.
“D+Q first published Adrian Tomine’s comics in 1995 and in the ensuing two decades it’s been a real privilege to see how he has continued to evolve as an artist, a writer, and overall as a cartoonist,” publisher Chris Oliveros said in a statement. “Killing and Dying just might be my favorite book by Adrian. We’ve come to expect from him an eloquent visual sensibility and insightful, complex storytelling, but there’s something else going on here: these stories are darkly funny, and they’re tinged with a very particular acerbic wit that we haven’t seen all too often before this.”
In an interview with The New Yorker, Tomine reflects on the evolution of Optic Nerve — he began self-publishing the comic at age 16 — and why he’s stuck with the “pamphlet” format.
Although the book was teased in Drawn & Quarterly’s Free Comic Book Day listing, the publisher has now officially announced the September release of Kate Beaton’s Step Aside, Pops, the follow-up to her bestselling 2011 collection Hark! A Vagrant.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the 160-page book will combine new material with strips from Beaton’s wildly popular webcomic, including her “Broadside Ballads” series. The cartoonist talks briefly with the newspaper about Hark! A Vagrant, its historical and literary influences, and how she settles upon topics.
“Kate’s wit is sharper than ever in Step Aside, Pops,” acquiring editor Tom Devlin said in a statement. “She’s found the perfect way to explore her love of history, while effortlessly deflating the pompous, self-righteous figures of authority we were taught to respect in school. Her restlessness has made her drawings even funnier.”
Beaton, who’s been producing her webcomic since 2007, has won four Harvey Awards for her work. The 2011 collection of Hark! A Vagrant spent five months on The New York Times graphic books bestsellers list.
Step Aside, Pops will be previewed along with Jillian Tamaki’s SuperMutant Magic Academy in Drawn & Quarterly’s FCBD offering.
Get Over It
by Corrine Mucha
Secret Acres, 104 pages, $15
It’s my strong suspicion that Mucha’s memoir, about her attempts to cope following the breakup of a long-term relationship, will largely be appreciated by the under-30 crowd. I’m not saying that older readers, especially those who have been through the mill a few times, will dismiss her story or be unsympathetic as she relates her woes, but I do expect them to regard some of Mucha’s realizations and self-help profundities with a shrug and a muttered, “So what else is new?”
At a certain point in your life (usually past your 20s), you come to understand the importance of allowing yourself to properly mourn the death of a relationship, either through simple contemplation or hard-fought experience. There’s nothing thematically in Get Over It that a certain segment of the population doesn’t already know (even if they have trouble adhering to that wisdom).
Comic-Con International has come and gone, and like every year, we’re left with a metric ton of announcements, hints, speculations, sneak previews, leaked footage and open questions.
There also seemed to be more pre-convention announcements than I can remember seeing in previous years. If the past week or so of frenzied news wasn’t enough, panel coverage and from is still rolling out. Based on the past several years, we should see those continue to be doled out for the next week or two.Comic-Con is truly a month-long event, maybe almost two months when all is said and done. So it’s understandable if it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of what was announced when or to even remember that awesome thing I was so excited about a week ago but can’t name now.
There are plenty that stuck with me, however; I’ve already written about comiXology’s DRM-free titles, and some of Image’s upcoming titles, and there were plenty of others. Of course, I can’t mention all of the cool things to emerge from Comic-Con — that would just be a near duplication of everything we’ve heard about for about a month now. So instead, here are six (more) things from Comic-Con I can remember thinking were extra-awesome:
We’re a little more than halfway through the year, which makes it the perfect time to pause and separate the truly exemplary comics from the merely mediocre.
Below are six of my favorite comics of the year thus far. Many of them will likely make their way into my final “best of 2014″ list come December, but I reserve the right to completely change my mind between now and then.
In any case, let me know what comics you’ve enjoyed reading thus far (or how crazy I am for forgetting Graphic Novel X) in the comments section.
Digital comics | In today’s Amazon-acquires-comiXology article, Rachel Edidin deflates much of the hype, and the panic, surrounding the deal, pointing out that comics distribution is already a monopoly, large corporations already run the comics market, and comics have been available on Kindle all along: “Is the concern […] a distribution monopoly? If so, the direct market is in no position to criticize: over the last 15 years, Diamond Comics Distributors has consumed almost all independent print distribution in comics, and dictates practices and policy to retailers and publishers alike. The idea that print comics are somehow more independent than their digital cousins — or a scrappy underdog fighting the good fight against evil corporate profiteers — is frankly ridiculous.” [Wired]
Awards | Michael Cavna talks with Kevin Siers of the Charlotte Observer about winning the Pulitzer Prize in cartooning. [Comic Riffs]
Normally, when we talk about art – which, of course, is different from mere entertainment – we like to phrase it in rarefied terms. We tend to want our art to focus on the examination or discussion of high-minded ideals like truth, beauty, justice, wisdom, or the existence of a sentient spiritual being and subsequent afterlife. Stuff like that. We want our movies, music and books to be concerned with the ethereal world, and not so much with the physical one, especially unpleasant or embarrassing tasks like defecating or sexual congress. Being reminded that only a thin layer of skin holds in all those slimy organs, blood and other icky stuff keeps us from musing on what special snowflakes we all are (not to mention the horror of our own eventual death).
When we do acknowledge that stuff, it tends to be in the form of “low” comedy or horror films, where jokes about going to the bathroom, violence, lustful urges and other aspects of our daily physical lives that make us uncomfortable, can be digested more easily because we often exhibit it in as loud and gross a manner as possible.
But delving knee-deep into viscera and body fluids doesn’t ipso facto mean you have to forego subtlety, nuance or poetry. Take Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit series for example.
Drawn and Quarterly has an extensive list of releases planned for the first half of the new year, including the debut book by Belgian cartoonist Brecht Vandenbroucke, White Cube. The 64-page book will go on sale in March for the list price of $22.95, and Vandenbroucke will appear in April at MoCCA to help promote it.
White Cube is a collection of wordless gag strips mostly involving a pair of twins who attempt to interact with the worlds of art, fashion and high culture in general, with humorous results. Although this is his first book, Vandenbroucke’s work might be familiar to you, as he’s done comics for Nobrow and illustrations for The New York Times.
Below, you can read D&Q’s press release and sample a five-page preview.
Not content to wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday, DC Comics and Drawn & Quarterly have gotten a head start on holiday sales.
Beginning Tuesday, DC Comics Digital will give away the first issue of a different digital-first comic each day for the next week: Tuesday is Legends of the Dark Knight, Wednesday is Batman ’66, Thursday is The Vampire Diaries, Friday is Smallville Season 11, Saturday is Batman Beyond 2.0/Justice League Beyond 2.0, Sunday is Batman: Li’l Gotham, and Monday is Adventures of Superman.
Drawn & Quarterly isn’t waiting, however: Between today and Dec. 2, the publisher is offering a 40 percent discount on any item — books, comics, posters, etc. — from its web store. Those include works released this year, including Gilbert Hernandez’s Marble Season, Rutu Modan’s The Poperty, Brian Ralph’s Reggie-12 and Anders Nilsen’s Rage of Poseidon.
A young girl ventures into an abandoned, labyrinthine city in order to find her lost brother, despite it’s being haunted by malevolent demons. One of the strengths of Wartman’s debut graphic novel is that he doesn’t vary much from that core story outline. He dabbles in a lot of overly familiar genre and mythological tropes to be sure (there’s some business with the demons being named and people entering the city forgetting who they are) but he doesn’t play up these elements too strongly or let them overwhelm the story, instead keeping the focus on the girl and her desire to locate her brother. I also liked the relationship between the girl and a somewhat helpful demon who seems so astonished that someone would willingly enter the city that he ends up acting as a benefactor. Again, it’s a familiar trope, but paces the story well enough that it never once feels rote or cliched.
Another key to the book’s success is the city itself. I can’t emphasize enough the need for cartoonists, especially young cartoonists, to set their stories in a well-defined universe. This is especially true in fantasy stories, where the reader needs to get a sense of the physical world the characters inhabit in order to be willing to accept the supernatural and logic-defying events that occur in the story. You can’t map out Wartman’s city in your head, but the seemingly endless panels of well-detailed corridors, stairs, gardens and passageways give a sense of scale to the story. The city seems so foreboding and ancient, you worry the characters really will lose their way. Overall I just appreciated this well-structured, engrossing adventure tale and hope it’s a sign of more good things to come from this particular cartoonist.
What is it about childhood that makes us forget about ours so easily? Whether consciously or not, we seem all too eager to not only put our younger years behind us, but obliterate them from our memories. Even as parents we frequently grow exasperated and angry with our own children, seemingly incapable of remembering what it was like to be little.
While many cartoonists are cited for their “childlike” abilities, precious few are able to accurately convey what it actually feels like to be a child – what makes up the significant joys and anxieties of your average 12- or 6- or 3-year-old and how they best express those complicated emotions.
There are a few, however. Lynda Barry is one, Kazuo Umezu is another. Add to that short list Gilbert Hernandez, as evidenced by his latest book, the excellent Marble Season.
It’s the episodic story of Huey, a the middle child of a moderately sized family living in California in the mid-1960s. His adventures, such as they are, consist of avoiding scary things, like neighborhood bullies or the crazy lady in the spooky house down the road; discovering cool stuff, like Mars Attacks cards; and inventing and playing games with the kids in the neighborhood. Taking a page from Peanuts, we never see Huey’s parents or any of his teachers (indeed we never see him in a classroom). The entire book is staged and presented from the viewpoint of Huey, his brothers and their friends.
Note: My schedule has been all goofy lately which means I haven’t been able to post on a regular weekly basis or contribute to Cheat Sheet or What Are You Reading in the manner I’d like to. I know: Wah, wah, wah.
Meanwhile, the books keep piling up. And piling up.
So, in an effort to assuage my guilt, I attempted to run through some of the titles I’ve received in the mail in the past few months. Warning: I might do this again. I might not. I’m mercurial.
You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack by Tom Gauld (Drawn & Quarterly)
As appreciative as I am that we live in an era when cartoonists are encouraged to, and do, create lengthy, thoughtful, multi-layered stories, there’s something to be said for the simple pleasures of a gag strip – the fleeting joy that a really short, well-constructed joke can provide. I didn’t realize how much I missed that sort of thing until I read You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, a collection of short strips that cartoonist Tom Gauld did for The Guardian. The bulk of the strips play upon classic stories, genre fiction or publishing in general. Gauld’s jokes are are silly enough and play upon familiar cliches well enough to make the reader feel smart even if you haven’t read, say, Zola’s “Germinal.” His minimalist, silhouetted style helps get the joke across as well. He’s also rather fond of diagrams and maps, which puts him in good company with folks like New Yorker cartoonists Roz Chast and Jack Ziegler I didn’t care much for Gauld’s last book, Goliath, which I thought milked a rather weak joke (gosh, the Biblical Goliath was actually a really nice guy!) but Jetpack had me frequently laughing out loud in the way that only my favorite comic strips do. Comics need more of this sort of “get in, get out quick” work right now and I’m happy that Gauld is here to fill that void.
Having reflected back on the best (and most cruelly ignored) comics of the past year, it’s time to look forward. Here are six comics I’m really excited about reading this year. As usual, my list reflects my own alt-comix/alt-manga interests/biases. So let me know in the comments what titles I’ve been such a clod as to overlook.