Duncan the Wonder Dog
Back in 2010, when Thomas Scioli started bolstering his online presence and entered the realm of webcomics with American Barbarian, I was curious to see how things would play out (as may or may not have been obvious in my June 2010 interview of him). I’ll be honest and admit that now, more than a year later (and with far more of the project online to read), American Barbarian far exceeds what I expected. As much as I have always enjoyed and respected his Kirby-influenced approach to visual storytelling, after reading this double post Apocalyptic tale, I am far more impressed with Scioli’s funky ear for dialogue. It’s like reading a 1970s comic written by a minimalist version of David Mamet. Doubting my quirky endorsement of the work? Then realize AdHouse is collecting the webcomic for a 256-page/6 ” x 9 ” /hardcover release early this year. If you don’t trust my tastes, then you should definitely trust AdHouse publisher Chris Pitzer. To mark the upcoming release, Scioli and I did another of our quick email interviews. Before diving into the interview, let me take a second to agree with JK Parkin’s sentiment in this post, back in June, that DC Comics should have considered Scioli for one of the New 52 titles that it launched back in September. So I was surprised to learn (as you can read in this interview) that DC did not contact Scioli when assembling the creative team for the new OMAC title. As I edited this interview I realized it was hard to find my favorite part of our discussion, but it may be the revelation that the look for Two-Tank Omen came to Scioli in a dream. A close second was learning a bit about his next webcomic, Final Frontier. Feel free to chime in with your favorite part of this interview and/or Scioli’s work in the comments section, please.
Tim O’Shea: As an independent creator, the job of marketing your work falls to you. Do you think over the years, you have gotten more comfortable marketing yourself? On a related note, how did you decide upon doing this one minute trailer for American Barbarian?
Thomas Scioli: Even the largest comics publishers don’t seem to have a budget for promotion, so I’d say any creator, independent or mainstream, can benefit from doing their own promotion. It’s something that I’ve never been comfortable with, but do out of necessity. I think I have gotten better about it, because in the beginning, it would give me crippling anxiety, now it’s just mild trepidation. The idea for doing a trailer came from having seen other people do it. AdHouse’s own Afrodisiac trailer and [Top Shelf's] Infinite Kung-Fu [trailer] are two that made an impression on me when they made the rounds. It got me excited about those two works, so I wanted to do the same. I’d been dabbling with animation, back when I started AmBarb so it was a natural outgrowth of that, too. Once you start doing a webcomic it isn’t long before you realize, hey, why not just do a cartoon?
A hearty and heartfelt congratulations to publisher Chris Pitzer on the ninth anniversary of the formation of his fine line of comics, AdHouse Books (and more recently its distribution wing, AdDistro). Pitzer is marking the occasion by telling the stories behind nine of the company’s releases, and the result is a mix insight into the kinds of challenges any small-press comics publisher must face, and the qualities that make this particular small-press comics publisher such a valuable one.
With an output ranging from high-end art books like Paul Pope’s Pulphope and James Jean’s Process Recess to thoughtful graphic novels like Josh Cotter’s Skyscrapers of the Midwest and Adam Hines’s Duncan the Wonder Dog, it’s tough to say exactly what “an AdHouse book” will be like, but with Pitzer’s attention to design and reproduction behind every one, you generally can count on it being gorgeous. And as the stories told by Pitzer about books like Pulpatoon Pilgrimage, Skyscrapers, Duncan and so on indicate, the chances are also good that he’s gone to bat for a largely unknown and unpublished talent. That’s an admirable thing for a publisher to do once, let alone over and over again for nearly a decade.
Welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Chris Duffy, editor of First Second’s Nursery Rhyme Comics. We spotlighted this anthology project all week here on Robot 6; check out our interviews with Chris as well as contributors Scott C., Aaron Reiner, Richard Sala and Eleanor Davis.
And to see what Chris and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Awards | Adam Hines has won the graphic novel category in the 31st annual Los Angeles Times Book Prize for his debut book Duncan the Wonder Dog: Show One. The other nominees were Dash Shaw’s Bodyworld, Karl Stevens’ The Lodger, Carol Tyler’s You’ll Never Know, Book II, and Jim Woodring’s Weathercraft. [press release]
Conventions | More than two years after canceling its Los Angeles convention, Wizard World announced it will return to the city Sept. 24-25 with Los Angeles Comic Con, to be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Big Apple Comic Con, which previously had been scheduled for those dates, will be moved to the spring. [press release]
Publishing | Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson talks with Viz Media Vice President Alvin Lu about the expansion of the publisher’s iPad app to include iPhone and iPod Touch. [Publishers Weekly]
AdHouse Books announced on their blog yesterday that Duncan the Wonder Dog, by Adam Hines, has won the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize. This is the first year for the prize, which is sponsored by the Penn State University Libraries and administered by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, which is affiliated with the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. The judges award the prize, which consists of $2,500 and a copy of the Library of America’s two-volume set of Lynd Ward’s graphic novels, to the best U.S. or Canadian graphic novel published in the previous calendar year by a living author.
Duncan sold out in print back in January, and AdHouse has published it as a digital graphic novel while waiting for the new books to arrive. Hines has also posted Show One at his blog, although he mentions plans to take it down this month when the print edition becomes available again.
Fantagraphics notes on their blog that Drew Weing’s Set to Sea is a runner-up for the prize. The Center for the Book people haven’t sent out an official announcement yet, but the internet runs faster than the printing press. On that note, it’s interesting that both these book awards went to graphic novels that have significant digital releases—and in fact, are both available in their entirety online. It seems like the opposite of Ward’s handmade, low-tech ethos, but really it isn’t—handmade by their creators with minimal editorial interference, webcomics really are the new woodcuts.
(Via The Beat.)
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.
Adam Hines’ Duncan the Wonder Dog has done pretty well — a little too well, as it turns out. The first printing has sold out, and the second won’t be ready until later this spring. So Hines did the logical thing and took the digital road, but in this case, it’s the road less taken: Rather than go with a comics app like comiXology, he is releasing Duncan in downloadable form via MyDigitalComics.com. MyDigitalComics allows users to either download comics in PDF or CBZ format or keep them in the cloud and read them via an online web viewer.
Chris Pitzer of AdHouse, which publishes the print version of the book, talked to Laura Hudson of Comics Alliance about the decision to publish the graphic novel via MyDigitalComics rather than comiXology. One factor was that comiXology needed to reformat the files for mobile devices like the iPhone, which neither party wanted to do. On the other hand, since the files were already in digital form, no prep was needed to sell them as PDF or CBZ downloads, so the digital cost is lower than print.
And if you want to view it for free, take a look at Adam’s blog, because hard as it is to believe, all of Show One is up there now. So why pay for a download? Because unlike a PDF, the web isn’t forever — Hines plans to take Duncan back offline in March.
Need to know more? Publishers Weekly reviewed Duncan this week.
If you’re looking for a company that started and ended strong 2010, look no further than AdHouse Books, the independent company that’s published books by Joshua Cotter, Paul Pope and James Jean, among others. Although they aren’t the kind of company that puts out a huge amount of books, they are one you can always count on to put out something interesting.
As for those bookends for the year, AdHouse kicked off 2010 with the release of Afrodisiac by Brian Maruca and Jim Rugg, and ended it with Duncan the Wonder Dog by Adam Hines, which landed at the top of some folks‘ best comics of the year lists. (Including my own; it came in at No. 16 on CBR’s list for 2010).
I spoke with AdHouse Publisher Chris Pitzer about the previous year, the above two books, their new AdDistro initiative and what they have coming up for 2011. My thanks to Chris for sending over a lot of cool art to show you as well.
JK: Thanks for agreeing to talk to us today, Chris. I thought we could start off talking about 2010, and in particular some the bigger projects you put out.Let’s start with something that seems like it came out a long time ago, Afrodisiac. It seemed to garner a lot of attention when it came out in January.
Chris: Thanks for the interest in AdHouse, JKP! I dig what the Robot 6 blog does, so I appreciate the opportunity to chat about this stuff. In regards to Afrodisiac, it was an HONOR to work with Jim and Brian on that. We’ve been “dancing” around the topic of publishing it for years, and it was nice to finally have it happen. Yeah, it feels like so long ago, doesn’t it?
Hello and welcome to a special “birthday bash” edition of our weekly “What Are You Reading” feature, where the Robot 6 crew talks about what books we’ve read recently. Usually we invite a special guest to share what they’ve been reading, but since today isn’t just an ordinary day for us, we thought we’d invite a whole bunch of special guests to help us out — our friends and colleagues from Comic Book Resources, Spinoff and Comics Should Be Good!
To see what everyone has 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!
Every once in awhile in the course of a year, a book gets my attention in a way that other books do not. Adam Hines‘ Duncan the Wonder Dog (coming out from AdHouse in September) is one of those books for 2010. I hope my gut instinct is right and that this book lands on many “best of” lists for 2010. Hines’ story challenged me immensely in terms of the questions I wanted to ask–and thankfully he indulged my abundance of queries . Here’s AdHouse’s description of the book: “What if animals could talk? Would some of them form a militant group in reaction to how humans treat them? Would humans treat them different? Come explore this dense tome of an alternate universe where the lavish renderings recall Dave McKean.” My thanks to AdHouse’s Chris Pitzer for allowing me to get an advance peek at the book.
Tim O’Shea: How and why did you come up with the iconic dialogue aspects early on?
Adam Hines: It was a solution to a problem. I wanted to show crowds of people talking, but without ascribing them any real character beyond their appearance and only giving the conversations’ general topics. It’s a nice little effect that can only be done in comics, and I thought a way to just fade into the world slowly, like hearing a conversation between two people far down a hall as you approach them.
AdHouse has a nice-looking book called Duncan the Wonder Dog shipping in September, by Xeric recipient Adam Hines. The description of the book reads:
What if animals could talk? Would some of them form a militant group in reaction to how humans treat them? Would humans treat them different? Come explore this dense tome of an alternate universe where the lavish renderings recall Dave McKean. 2009 Xeric winning Duncan the Wonder Dog WILL be one of the most talked about books of 2010.
After the jump you’ll find a preview of the first few pages of the book, but there’s an even longer one over on AdHouse’s site, available as a PDF. Go check it out.