Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Comics | More than 3,000 copies of the comic book Brink City Special Edition: Kids Lives Matter will be distributed to children in Cleveland to promote gun safety and encourage toy gun buy-back programs. Just last November, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed in Cleveland by a police officer who mistook his airsoft pistol for a real one. Funded by private foundations, the comic was produced by the Rid-All Green Partnership. [Fox 8]
Passings | Mennonite cartoonist Joel Kauffmann, creator of the religious-humor strip Pontius’ Puddle, died last week at age 64. The son of a Mennonite pastor, Kauffmann grew up on a farm in Hopedale, Illinois, and started drawing early: “He was always drawing wherever he was, including the many hours he spent in church,” said his sister, Mary Kauffmann-Kanel. Pontius’ Puddle ran for over 30 years in over 200 publications; Kauffmann also wrote the screenplay for the movie The Radicals, which told the story of two early leaders of the Anabaptist movement, and he was producing content for the Museum of the Bible project funded by Hobby Lobby president Steve Green. [Mennonite World Review]
Creators | The Southern Poverty Law Center, which compiles an annual list of hate groups operating in the United States, said it will add artist Bosch Fawstin to its 2016 report. He drew the winning entry in the Prophet Muhammad contest in Garland, Texas, where two gunmen were killed Sunday in a foiled attack. The American Freedom Defense Initiative, which sponsored the competition, is already included on the list. Heidi Beirich of the SPLC described Fawstin’s work as “virulently ugly” and “hate views.” The artist, who was raised as a Muslim but is now an outspoken critic of Islam, responded, “So they want to put a cartoonist on there who doesn’t act out violently? Go for it.” Fawstin, creator of the “anti-jihad superhero” Pigman, also vowed to continue his work despite fears for his safety: “I understand the threat, but I’m not going to be cowed by it. I still intend to go up there and I still intend to speak out.” [Reuters]
Dustin Harbin has been a ROBOT 6 favorite for a while, so we’re pleased to share some pages from his upcoming Diary Comics collection. Due from Koyama Press in May, the collection features Harbin’s documentation of “the ups and downs and sideways of his life in comic form.”
Check out the preview below.
In what other medium can a someone get an original work of art made just for them by a creator whose career they’ve followed? Not movies, television, music or fine art, unless you’re a millionaire. But in comics, many of today’s artists are for hire to fans looking to own a piece of their work — and even commission something especially for them. Comics are crazy that way, but that’s a good thing.
It’s nothing new, of course. The idea itself goes back into the roots of fine art, but with the advent of conventions and now the internet it’s available to virtually everyone — with some creators even reaching out to fans to make it happen.
If you’re looking for some original art, artist Dustin Harbin has a deal for you: He’ll draw a portrait of any real or fictional person, “as long as they are moderately famous and/or universally recognizable,” for $50.
The catch? He’ll only draw each person once, “so if there’s someone you’re really into, act fast. The only exception to this is if it’s a sufficiently separate instance of that person: i.e young Bill Murray versus older Bill Murray, or Han Solo in his winter gear in Empire Strikes Back, versus his vest-style outfit in Star Wars.”
Conventions | While the South Jersey Times and Philadelphia Inquirer focus on the fans who turned out over the weekend for the 14th annual Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con, Philadelphia Business Journal zeroes in on its economic impact: an estimated $5.9 million, which seems like a lot, until you compare it to the expected $16.2 million impact of the 6,000-person American Industrial Hygiene Association conference. [Philadelphia Business Journal]
Conventions | First-timer Michael Smith reports on the Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con. [Liberty Voice]
Creators | John Romita Jr. talks about moving from Marvel to DC Comics to draw Superman and about comics being his family business; and his father, John Romita Sr., chimes in as well. [The New York Times]
On the first day of HeroesCon 2014, the 32nd edition of the Charlotte, North Carolina, comics convention founded and still run by Shelton Drum, I tried to cover a lot of ground in taking photographs. When possible I found out about the current or upcoming projects in the pipeline for the creators photographed.
Many artists utilize Tumblr primarily as a promotional platform, but I find Dustin Harbin’s blog to be a little more layered, as he also uses it as a process/teaching tool.
He frequently shares pages from his sketchbooks, and includes the size of the pieces and the tools he used to draw them. Below are a few of his sketchbook pages.
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.