Continuing my ever-ongoing look at new comics from relatively new publishers, here are three books I recently received from the New Jersey-based Hic & Hoc:
The Hic & Hoc Illustrated Journal of Humor, edited by Lauren Barnett & Nathan Bulmer ($10): It’s about time we had a decent humor-themed anthology; we’re long overdue. While none of the contributions contained in this 64-page comic reaches the level of divinely inspired hilarity, there are nevertheless some pretty great contributions from folks like Noah Van Sciver, Bort, Sam Henderson, Grant Snider, Dustin Harbin and Julia Wertz. My favorite is probably a sex comic by Sam Spina in which the participants say the most bizarrely un-sexy things (“I have to tell the rainforest a secret,” “Mash my bean bags”). The stories run from the outrageous to the gentle and observant but it all flows together nicely. Good job everyone. I look forward to the second volume.
Me Likes You Very Much by Lauren Barnett ($14): Here’s a case of a cartoonist finding a unique niche and working the hell out of it. Just about every gag in this 192-page book involves fruit, vegetables and birds being absolutely horrid to each other. (Baby bird: “My tummy hurts.” Mom bird: “That’s because you’re filled with lies.”) Her art style is deliberately crude — (her occasional realistic renderings of animals suggest she does have some genuine artistic talent — which adds to the general absurdity of the gags. For the most part, this stuff is pretty funny, or at least funny enough to make you forgive the occasional weak punchline or just plain odd non sequitur. But while it goes down pretty quickly, I suspect these types of comics work best in small doses, i.e. a minicomic or thrice-weekly webcomic. I’m not sure this chunky book format offers the best sort of presentation for her work. That’s not to say it’s not worth reading. There’s enough funny stuff here that will provide some good chuckles and the occasional guffaw. Perhaps it’s just that I’d like to see her extend her reach a bit beyond the static one-panel gag format the next time she publishes something of this size.
On June 14, the New Beverly Cinemas played host to the premiere of Bitter Orange, written and directed by acclaimed cartoonist Hope Larson (Chiggers, Mercury, A Wrinkle in Time), and now, just days later, it’s available for viewing online.
Starring Brie Larson (United States of Tara, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World), Brendan Hines (Lie to Me, Scandal) and James Urbaniak (The Venture Bros., The Office), the short is set in the 1920s and follows Myrtle, a career girl who, while in the company of the bootlegger Jack, is forced to choose between a legitimate career and success at any cost.
As 2012 draws to a close, the holiday season is now officially in full swing, and that means it’s time to think about the next year, and also maybe get a little greedy in the process. With all that in mind, here are five random things that I’d like to see from 2013′s comic books.
Ryan North’s (Dinosaur Comics, Adventure Time) Kickstarter for his illustrated prose book, To Be or Not To Be is way past being fully funded with 24 days still to go, so this isn’t a plea for action so much as it is a public service announcement. Because, dude …
North is putting together something that he can’t call Choose-Your-Own-Adventure for legal reasons, but totally is, only it’s for grown-ups, based on Hamlet, allows you to play as various characters including the ghost, and is illustrated by an insane line-up of artists like Kate Beaton, Chip Zdarsky, Chris Hastings, David Malki, Dustin Harbin, Jim Zubkavich, Kazu Kibuishi, Ray Fawkes, Vera Brosgol. … Seriously, I’m going to embarrass myself by leaving someone awesome out and the list is loooong. Check out the Kickstarter page for the full scoop.
$15 gets you a PDF copy, but $20 gets U.S. residents the PDF and a paperback copy too. Backers outside the U.S. are asked for a $30 pledge to cover shipping costs. And of course there are other goodies for pledging more.
Another Small Press Expo has come and gone, and I have the empty wallet to prove it. My official SPX report appears at Comic Book Resources. You can also hear me blathering on about the show with Joe McCulloch and Matt Seneca over here. Short recap: It was a great show, arguably the best SPX I’ve been to in a long while.
Despite my self-induced reputation as a horrible photographer, I opted to take photos at the show anyway.
One of the best things about comics — about any media, really, but for some reason it always feels more special when it happens to me with a comic — is when you’re reading something that you already had high expectations of, and end up bowled over by how easily those expectations were beaten.
I remember being so stupidly nervous about Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour, for example, convinced that my anticipation of the final chapter and love for everything that had come before was somehow dooming the book to an entirely unearned doom, and the feeling after finishing it that it had, somehow, been better than I’d expected. Or the fourth issue of Kevin Huizenga’s Ganges, with Huizenga playing with the iconography of calendars and time in a way I couldn’t have imagined in the middle of a story about insomnia that felt bold and inventive and completely unexpected. There’s something about that realization that, hey, this thing called comics can hit you on all these different levels at once and leave you dazed and amazed as a result.
Dustin Harbin has been publishing his Diary Comics online on a more or less daily basis for some time, and Koyama Press has published the first three volumes, so this should come as no surprise: The publisher will release the fourth volume this fall. Here’s the note that Ed Kanerva sent with the announcement:
Dustin Harbin’s DIARY COMICS may have begun as a sketchbook exercise, and first seen print as a quotidian daily journal, but over their lifespan they’ve morphed into something more meaningful. They’ve become an exploration, not only of a person’s life, but of their own changing perception of that life. While the comics are no longer a daily-style journal, they still meander through whatever is on Harbin’s mind, warts and all, using the everyday events of his life to comment on the world and what it all might mean to one dumb cartoonist.
Of course you can read it all on Harbin’s website, but there’s a lot to be said for a nice collected edition in print.
Crime | A trailer filled with convention set-up and inventory of Avatar Press was stolen from the parking lot of Corner Store Comics in Anaheim, California, on Tuesday as the publisher prepared to head to Seattle for the Emerald City Comicon. The trailer contained cases of several graphic novels, including Neonomicon, Crossed, Freakangels, Night of the Living Dead and Fevre Dream, as well as limited-edition copies created specifically for conventions and large quantities of books by author Max Brooks. Avatar founder William Christensen asked West Coast retailers to keep an eye out for anyone looking to sell large quantities of Avatar books as they continue to work with local law enforcement. “Needless to say, this is a significant setback for us in terms of lost inventory, but I want to assure everyone that we have additional inventory of the graphic novels warehoused and available for restock to comic retailers and bookstores. As word of this has spread and people have been asking me what they could do to help, the other thing I’ve been mentioning is to simply keep asking your local retailer for books from Avatar Press. As for upcoming conventions, we will still be attending every con on our schedule, so we hope to see you at upcoming shows as well.” Any information on the stolen books can be sent to email@example.com. [Bleeding Cool] Continue Reading »
This weekend, I made my way up to Charlotte, N.C., to catch up with my pals Johanna Draper Carlson and KC Carlson, who also drove down to attend the 35th Anniversary of the Charlotte MiniCon. I enjoyed attending the Minicon (seeing folks like the always photogenic and hilarious Dustin Harbin [yeah, I had to photograph him...again], as well as Jason Latour, Matt Wilson, Bridgit Scheide and Rich Barrett). Yet as I was in the middle of having fun, I realized I wanted to enjoy it as a consumer, not cover it as a journalist. So if you are looking for coverage of the Minicon, I highly recommend Johanna’s coverage over at Comics Worth Reading.
Most people would settle for being a death-defying stock-market genius and leave it at that, but noooooo, not Annie Koyama. She had to go and form Koyama Press, creating a home for acclaimed cartoonists like Michael DeForge and Dustin Harbin, and racking up Joe Shuster Awards for Outstanding Comic Book Publisher and, via the comics duo Tin Can Forest, Outstanding Comic Book Cartoonist. Not one to rest on her laurels, Koyama has provided Robot 6 with an exclusive look at her very strong-seeming 2012 line-up. It features new books from Tin Can Forest, DeForge, and Harbin–including the children’s comic The Playground War, whose cover you’re getting a peek at above–as well as the Koyama Press debuts of Jesse Jacobs (Even the Giants) and Julia Wertz (The Fart Party).
The full press release and the covers for the new Jesse Jacobs and Tin Can Forest books are after the jump.
Cartoonist Dustin Harbin posted a tribute comic for the late Sparkplug Comic Books publisher Dylan Williams today, and it’s a fitting tribute indeed.
Harbin’s point is that Williams created a publishing house designed to make the kinds of comics he wanted to see a reality, so that thinking about his death is as much thinking about the presence of comics he brought into the world as it is about the absence of the man himself. And with the welcome news that Sparkplug will be continuing under the auspices of Williams’ wife Emily Nilsson, his friend Tom Neely, and his colleague Virginia Paine, it looks like that aspect of his legacy will continue to be honored.
With the San Diego Comic-Con just days behind us, I guess there’s enough nerd culture in the air to permeate the brains even of comics folk who don’t make a living off capes and cowls. How else to explain the near simultaneous salutes to science-fiction cinema from two of alternative comics’ most talented draftspeople, Dustin Harbin and Lisa Hanwalt?
First up, Diary cartoonist and Casanova letterer Dustin Harbin brings us “The Faces of RoboCop,” a 16-panel portrait of the cast of Paul Verhoeven’s Detroit-dystopia sci-fi satire. I’m particularly fond of “Psycho That ’70s Dad,” but you’ll have to click the link to see him. I’d buy that for a dollar! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
Next, I Want You cartoonist and Pizza Island member Lisa Hanawalt reviews Michael Bay’s Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon in words and pictures. It’s a harrowing, heartbreaking, ultimately uplifting tale of human perseverance in the face of adversity and atrocity — I’m talking about the review, not the movie. (Oh God, definitely not the movie.) It also features the best portrait of Rosie Huntington-Whitley ever drawn. Chewy indeed!
Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading. JK Parkin is off in San Diego trying to get that Elvis Stormtrooper’s autograph, so I’ll be your host today. Our special guest this week is George O’Connor.
O’Connor is probably best known as the author of the ongoing Olympians series of graphic novels, which attempt to retell classic Greek myths (the latest, Hera, just came out from First Second). He’s also the author of such books as Journey Into Mowhawk Country and the children’s picture book Kapow, as well as the artist of Ball Peen Hammer, which was written by Adam Rapp.
To see what George and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading …
This marks the third year I have covered FLUKE for Robot 6. In past years, I was pressed for time and was unable to stay long. This year, my 11-year-old son was able to join me. As a Georgia native, I am embarrassed to say FLUKE 2011 was the first time I ever set foot in the legendary 40 Watt Club. I promised myself that unlike last year, I would not leave FLUKE without seeing Joey Weiser. It helped that the main reason my son wanted to attend FLUKE was to get an autograph from Weiser, the creator of one of his favorite comics, Mermin.
Here’s the challenge for someone like me–I stink at being a networking journalist and a parent at the same time–my ability to focus as a journalist falls by the wayside. Case in point: In my search for Weiser, I asked friend of the blog/SCAD professor/Crogan Adventures creator Chris Schweizer–as he stood in front of Dustin Harbin’s table, if he knew where Weiser had a table. Imagine my mortification when Schewizer pointed out I was literally standing next to Weiser. Really. So, at that point I realized, if my son and I were going to have fun at this year’s FLUKE I was going to have to focus on that and be a journalist later. (Did I mention we could only stay two hours? I swear one of these year’s I will have my entire Saturday free for FLUKE promise, just not yet…)
So this year, rather than giving a play-by-play of my walk-around of the FLUKE floor, I am letting folks that had tables at FLUKE 2011 share their perspective.
There was no way I could include everyone, so if you attended or participated in some fashion (or have any kind of opinion), by all means chime in, in the comments section.
Legal | Two Los Angeles men accused of selling counterfeit passes to this year’s Comic-Con International have pleaded guilty to theft and were placed on probation for three years. Farhad Lame and Navid Vatankhahan, both 24, were each ordered to pay a $750 fine, complete 10 days of community service and pay restitution to the victims.
Prosecutors say the two photocopied Comic-Con badges and sold them on Craigslist to people looking for last-minute memberships. They were arrested in July after two of their victims attempted to enter the convention using the counterfeit badges, which the women bought for $120 each. [The San Diego Union-Tribune]
Technology | Tech blog Chip Chick names DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson as one of its “Top 13 Women Who Impacted Technology in 2010.” [Chip Chick]