Comics strips | Matt Saracini looks at the impact on Australian cartoonists of a cost-cutting decision by media giant News Corp. Australia to replace individual comics pages in their largest newspapers with one national page. In the process, some more expensive locally produced strips were jettisoned in favor for cheaper syndicated ones from overseas, like Garfield and The Phantom. News Corp. owns more than a hundred daily, weekly, biweekly and triweekly newspapers. [SBS.com]
Creators | Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, now living in Kuwait after troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attacked him and broke both his hands, talks about his decision to portray al-Assad explicitly in his cartoons, rather than sticking to more generic themes like freedom and human rights: “It was a big decision to start to draw Bashar and, yes, I was scared of what might happen, particularly when I was attacked. But I had a responsibility to do what I did. If I am not prepared to take risks I have no right to call myself an artist. If there is no mission or message to my work I might as well be a painter and decorator.” [The Guardian]
Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. After an almost-uninterrupted string of U.S. conventions, from Emerald City Comicon and Fabletown & Beyond to WonderCon and MoCCA Arts Fest, eyes turn to Europe this weekend for the Torino Comics festival.
Meanwhile, our contributors select their picks for the best comics going on sale Wednesday, including Batman: Li’l Gotham #1, Relish and The Flash Chronicles, Vol. 4.
Digital comics | Today, Viz Media marks the first anniversary of the launch of its digital magazine by changing its name from Shonen Jump Alpha to Weekly Shonen Jump (the same as its Japanese counterpart) and going to simultaneous release of most series with Japan as well. Editor-in-Chief Andy Nakatani talks about the changes as well and looks back at how the magazine has done in the year since it changed from a print monthly to a digital weekly. [ICv2]
Digital comics | The U.K. children’s comic The Phoenix just became available internationally with its release as an iOS app, and I interviewed Russell Willis of Panel Nine, which created the app, about the challenges involved. Panel Nine has also published Eddie Campbell’s Dapper John comics, David Lloyd’s Kickback, and the works of underground cartoonist Hunt Emerson as standalone apps, and Willis has big plans for more digital indy comics in the future. [Good E-Reader]
With Labor Day weekend upon us, now is a good time to stock the virtual longbox with some digital comics. We reported the other day that Image has made 20 of its #1 issues free on comiXology; here’s a roundup of some other free’ n’ cheap digital comics to check out over the holiday.
Centsless Books is a website that rounds up all the free Kindle books on Amazon, and it has a dedicated section for comics and graphic novels. There’s a preview of Batman: Earth One up there, and a lot of first issues of different indy series. Some of the graphic novels aren’t really — at least one book I checked was prose not a graphic novel, and Little Nemo’s Wild Sleigh Ride is a picture book that uses Winsor McCay’s illustrations (which are in the public domain). Well worth checking out, especially if you’re a First Second fan, are the two Between the Panels books, which are promotional pieces put out by Macmillan, with creator essays, character sketches and side stories, all related to different First Second graphic novels. Aside from that, it’s a pretty mixed bag, but one that looks like it will be fun to rummage around in. These Kindle comics will also work on the Kindle iPad and Android apps.
Infinity is a free iPad fanzine from Panel Nine, which has published Eddie Campbell’s Dapper John and David Lloyd’s Kickback as standalone iPad apps. The inaugural issue includes an interview with Lloyd, a preview of Dapper John, a roundup of digital-comics news, a couple of app reviews, art by Simon Russell, and an interview with PJ Holden, the creator of Murderdrome, a short comic that was booted from the iTunes store for being too violent (it’s actually a spoof). It’s a nice collection and well worth the effort of clicking that iTunes button.
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our guest today is writer and artist Jimmy Palmiotti, who you know from All-Star Western, Monolith, Phantom Lady, Unknown Soldier, Creator-Owned Heroes, Queen Crab and countless more.
To see what Jimmy and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Here’s a digital choice for you: You could pay $3.99 for a single issue of some Marvel comic, or you could get two plump e-books by well-known creators for a penny less.
First, Panel Nine is offering its collection of Eddie Campbell’s Dapper John comics, Dapper John: In the Days of the Ace Rock ‘n’ Roll Club, for $1.99 for the month of August, to celebrate the release of the app on iPhone as well as iPad. The collection is regularly priced at $9.99, so this is a temporary deal. Panel Nine is a small publisher that is developing comics as single apps; it’s also behind the iPad version of David Lloyd’s Kickback. When you have a bit of time, check out From Under the Stairs, the blog of publisher Russell Willis, who’s pulling out his 1990s British comics memorabilia and posting it online.
Meanwhile, Top Shelf is publishing a volume a month of James Kochalka’s diary comic American Elf, with each volume covering a year of Kochalka’s life. The first volume includes 1999 and a bit of 1998, so it’s 454 pages altogether. And each volume is priced at $1.99
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop 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 a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d walk out of the comic store with one book this week Fatale, Vol. 1: Death Chases Me (Image, $14.99). I fell off this book after the first issue, preferring to read in trades, and now that time has come. I’m looking forward to being surprised at what Brubaker and Phillips have done in this first arc as the debut issue was very promising.
If I had $30, I’d load up at Image with Manhattan Projects #4 (Image, $3.50), Prophet #26 (Image, $2.99) and Hell Yeah #4 (Image, $2.99). Prophet is becoming my favorite Image book because it unites my comic heroes of childhood (Prophet!) and one of the top cartoonists out there (Brandon Graham) with a surprising introduction of BD-style science fiction. Hell Yeah is a fun romp reimagining the staples of ’80s and ’90s comics as if John Hughes were the eighth Image founder. Last up I’d get Wolverine and the X-Men #12 (Marvel, $3.99). I was worried this series would get derailed by Avengers Vs. X-Men, but Aaron and Co. have managed to keep it on point as best as conceivably possible. It’s an ideal opening to bring Rachel Summers to the forefront, and the smirking Kid Gladiator on the cover is full of win.
If I could splurge, I’d get Michel Rabagliati’s Song of Roland hardcover (Conundrum Press, $20). I’ll always admire Free Comic Book Day, because it was there that a little Drawn and Quarterly one-shot introduced me to Rabagliati’s work. I’m surprised to see this new volume of his work not published by D&Q, instead published by Canadian house Conundrum. Anyway, this book appears to deal with the death of the father-in-law of the lead character, Paul. It’s been extremely engaging to see Paul grow through the series, and having him deal with events like this as I myself grow up and experience similar events is really touching.
Conventions | ReedPOP has officially announced it will fold the New York Anime Festival into New York Comic Con, rather than continue them as separate events held at the same location. “This move has nothing to do with our loyalty or commitment to the anime community and everything to do with the growth and identity of New York Comic Con as a leading pop culture event,” ReedPOP’s Lance Fensterman said in a statement. “NYCC embraces all elements of the pop culture world, including anime, and we have evolved to a point where the existence of NYAF outside our universe is almost a contradiction. We will be better able to serve the anime community from within the NYCC infra-structure rather than have a show which is separate and which will always be dwarfed by everything that New York Comic Con represents and is.” [press release]
Passings | Cartoonist Jim Unger, whose one-panel comic Herman served as an inspiration for Gary Larson’s The Far Side, passed away Monday at his home in British Columbia. He was 75. The comic appeared in about 600 newspapers worldwide from 1974 until Unger’s retirement in 1992. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Creators | Rich Burlew discusses the staggering $1.25 million Kickstarter campaign for reprints of collected editions of his Order of the Stick webcomic, and reveals initial postage for the five waves of shipments is estimated at $350,000. He also delves into how much time he devoted to the fundraising drive, and his strategy for reinvestment. [Publishers Weekly]
Conventions | Table space for September’s Small Press Expo has sold out: “The hardest part about producing SPX each year is not being able to accommodate all of the awesome talented folks who would like to exhibit at the show. Even with our largest show floor ever we’ve sold through all of our available table space in record time.” [SPX]
Publishing | Three million-dollar Kickstarter drives, including Rich Burlew’s $1.2 million campaign for The Order of the Stick, make the fund-raising site look like a pot of gold to some folks, but it’s not that easy: Suw Charman-Anderson, who;s contemplating a Kickstarter drive herself, looks at the factors that make the big money-makers so successful. [Forbes]
Editorial cartoons | The New York Times has responded to Daryl Cagle’s criticism of its hiring policy and fees for editorial cartoonists, saying the newspaper will delay bringing political cartoons back to its Sunday review section until editors have had time to revisit their policies. [The Cagle Post]
Editorial cartoons | For those who want a look at the bigger picture, Columbia Journalism Review surveys the landscape of editorial cartooning and in particular, the economics of syndication. [Columbia Journalism Review]
From Hell #7 (1995), page 12. Eddie Campbell.
One of the most consistently interesting aspects of Eddie Campbell’s comics art — whether it’s drawn in paint or ink, with pens or brushes, in color or black and white or hazed in screen tones — is the push and pull between chaos and control it always carries. Campbell sticks to the grid as much as anyone. His stories progress in an almost uniformly metronomic, evenly measured, deliberate fashion, more concerned with catching clear pictures of as many moments as possible and letting readers come upon the important ones naturally than thrusting anything into the audience’s face. But there is always a strong element of wildness present in Campbell too. No matter the tools or the approach he’s using, there are always lines or brush strokes or tone dots that wriggle away from whatever figurative content his panels hold and out toward the edges, seeking the place in the frame where they can best exist as nothing but media on paper, set free from the picture’s meaning in search of their own. It’s the way these two truths of Campbell’s work interact, now in harmony, now struggling for control, that brings the comics to beating, vibrant life.
One of the great potential boons of digital is that it can bring back older comics at a reasonable price, without the problems of distribution and per-unit costs that caused them to disappear in the first place. Three examples popped up this week, while everyone was bickering over same-day releases of new comics:
Eddie Campbell announced on his blog that his early graphic novel Dapper John in the Days of the Ace Rock ‘n’ Roll Club is available as a standalone iPad app. The comics, a series of interlocking seven-page stories, were drawn in 1978-79. Campbell self-published them in the 1980s, and Fantagraphics did a collected edition in 1993. The app, which was produced by a Tokyo company called Panel Nine, includes not just the original run of comics but also the original small press covers, Alan Moore’s review of the comic (which started the ball rolling), and sundry other extras, some of which have not been seen in years. So it’s sort of a digital collector’s edition.
Batton Lash’s Supernatural Law is another vintage comic (well, from the 1990s) that is getting a new life in digital form. In this case, the comic is not its own app but is available via the Comics + and Graphicly platforms at a reasonable digital price: Wolff & Byrd #1 is free, and subsequent issues are 99 cents.
Sales | The comic book market was up more than 19 percent in November when compared with the same period last year, with comics up 23 percent and graphic novels up 12 percent. So far this year the comics and graphics novel market is up 1.87 percent versus the first 11 months of 2010. If December cooperates, this could be the first up year for the market since 2008.
DC Comics was once again the top company in terms of market share. The company took six of the top 10 spots on Diamond’s Top 100 Comics list, with Justice League #3, Batman #3, Action Comics #3, Green Lantern #3 and Marvel’s Point One #1 making up the top five comics of the month. Batman: Noel took the No. 1 spot on the Top 100 Graphic Novels list. [The Comichron]
Publishing | IDW Publishing has promoted Chief Operating Officer Greg Goldstein to president, with a focus on new markets and acquisitions. He joined the company in 2008 from Upper Deck. [ICv2.com]
If ever there’s been a time where I’ve been tempted to have a column literally consist of “[Name of Comic]. You guys. [Name of Comic Repeated for Emphasis],” then it’d be today, because Ganges #4. You guys. Ganges #4. Continue Reading »
Okay, now I’m picturing the authors of Alec and Subway Series standing shoulder to shoulder, swords in hand, fending off the critical Ringwraiths as Craig Thompson cowers Frodo-style in the background. So yeah, the headline’s a bit dramatic. But in light of critic and scholar Nadim Damluji’s thoughtful and widely linked critique of Thompson’s massive new book Habibi, I thought it worthwhile to direct you to a pair of acclaimed cartoonists’ responses.
Damluji argued that in treating the Orientalist art and literature of the past as just another genre to play with, Thompson ended up perpetuating some of the very stereotypes he presumably set out to subvert when he decided to set his near-future fantasy in a fictional but still recognizably Arab/Islamic culture — particularly where sexuality and male-female relationships, often used by Western nations as a pretext for action against Middle Eastern ones, are concerned. Eddie Campbell responds that Thompson’s interest in these topics, or more generally Love, are consistent; the Middle Eastern trappings of the tale are just the vehicle Thompson selected to get where he’s going: