Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Baba Yaga is a popular and enduring character from Slavic and Russian folklore, distinguished from her fellow witches by both her unique mode of conveyance (a flying mortar and pestle) and home (a semi-sentient cottage perched atop a pair of chicken legs). Undoubtedly a creature created in oral tradition, like most folkloric heroes and villains she’s appeared in every media as its been invented.
In comics, she’s had recurring roles in Bill Willingham and company’s Fables and Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. The Marvel Universe has its own Baba Yaga, and naturally Zenescope’s Grimm Fairy Tales has a “sexy” Baba Yaga among its sprawling cast. But if you want to know what the best Baba Yaga comic is, I would say it’s 1992’s The Sandman #38, by Neil Gaiman and artists Duncan Eagleson and Vince Locke.
Or at least I would’ve said that if you asked me a few weeks ago. Now that I’ve read Baba Yaga’s Assistant, a new graphic novel by first-time writer Marika McCoola and artist Emily Carroll, I’m not so sure.
This week, Ross Richie of BOOM! Studios wrote an editorial, and Matt Gagnon gave a thoughtful interview, on the topic of diversity in comics, and they followed it up with a Twitter hashtag, #comicsforward. It certainly got people talking, although perhaps not always in the way Gagnon and Richie intended.
The first thing that happened was exactly what they had in mind, which was a bunch of folks jumping onto Twitter to celebrate their favorite comics and creators or just applaud the idea. It’s definitely worth checking that hashtag to see some great recommendations.
Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods is currently making the rounds on various year-end “Best of” lists and no doubt will be under a few trees later this week. But if you want a little horror in your holidays before you get to the unwrapping, the webcomics creator has posted a brand new holiday-themed horror tale titled “All Along the Wall” on her website.
So grab some eggnog, curl up with your favorite electronic device and beware the monster in the corner …
Conventions | The Rhode Island Convention Center exceeded capacity Saturday for what may be the first time in its history, leading the state fire marshal to temporarily bar entry to Rhode Island Comic Con. At one point, about 1,500 attendees were left out in the rain, including some people who stepped out for a minute and couldn’t get back in. Organizers sold a reported 23,000 tickets for a venue that holds just 17,000, and the way the show was configured reduced the capacity to about 15,000. They apologized Saturday afternoon for the “hiccup.” [Providence Journal]
Comics | Joshua Rivera picks the best comics and graphic novels of October. [Entertainment Weekly]
[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
Two sure signs the year is drawing to an end: It’s snowing in Massachusetts and the Best of the Year lists are starting to appear. Publishers Weekly released theirs yesterday, and there’s something interesting about it: Although there is a separate category for comics, several graphic novels are nominated in other categories as well.
This is by no means unprecedented—after all, Maus, one of the first graphic novels, won a Pulitzer Prize—but we seem to be seeing more of it. Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? won the inaugural Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction. This is a prize with only three categories, yet two graphic novels made the final round (the other was Cece Bell’s El Deafo, which was a finalist in the Young Readers category). Gene Yang was a speaker at the National Book Festival gala in September, giving him a prominent platform to speak to general readers who might pick up a graphic novel, as opposed to die-hard fans of the medium, and it’s become more and more common for graphic novels to make the shortlists for general book awards.
Emily Carroll, who chilled us with such haunting webcomics as “His Face All Red,” “Margot’s Room,” “Out of Skin” and “The Hole the Fox Did Make,” is back with some Halloween thrills with “When the Darkness Presses.” She explains it as a comic “about being haunted,” so we’ll just leave it at that.
MICE, the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, is small but mighty. On Saturday and Sunday, the show will take over the second floor of Lesley University’s University Hall, better known to locals as the Porter Exchange. Admission is free, and the roster includes a mix of local creators, aspiring artists just out of school, and some big names, including special guests James Kochalka, Emily Carroll, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman and Box Brown.
We talked with one of the organizers, Dan Mazur (a comics creator and publisher in his own right), about the challenges of running a small indie-comics show in general and the unique qualities of MICE in particular.
Brigid Alverson: What is the focus of MICE, and how is it different from other comics festivals?
Dan Mazur: MICE is an independent/alternative comics show, in the vein of larger shows like SPX, MoCCA Fest and APE, and others like TECAF, CAKE, MECAF. … So it differs from the mainstream comic cons for its lack of superheroes, cosplay, etc., and for the preponderance of minicomics. But for those familiar with the alternative scene, I guess we do have more of a focus (though not exclusive) on a local comics scene, and also on kid-friendly material and activities, to a degree.
Legal | The San Diego Police Department is asking anyone with video of the July 26 car accident during the annual SDCC ZombieWalk: San Diego to come forward. Police already have several videos of the incident, in which a driver plowed into the crowd, injuring at least three people, but they are hoping to get additional information. [Fox 5 News]
Legal | A Tokyo District Court judge sentenced Hirofumi Watanabe to four years and six months in prison for sending more than 400 threatening letters to venues connected with the manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The 35-year-old man admitted during his first day in court that he had sent the threatening letters, but he also refused to apologize or pay restitution and says he does not feel guilty. [Anime News Network]
A few of the short, scary stories in Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods evoke elements of classic fairy tales. Some are quite direct, like the young woman in the conclusion who dons a red hood and cape to walk through the wilderness, avoiding a wolf. Others are more indirect, like the possibly murderous, Bluebeard-like husband in “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold,” or simply in the patterns of repeating events, like what happens to the three sisters in “Our Neighbor’s House” or to the pairs of characters in “His Face All Red” and “My Friend Janna.”
However, there are two sharp and immediate differences between Carroll’s stories and the fairy tales they sometimes evoke.
First, Carroll’s stories are told in comics form, although more artfully constructed than what you might expect to find on the new racks each Wednesday (her book comes courtesy of a Simon and Schuster imprint, rather than a traditional comics publisher).
Second, they’re terrifying, some of them more H.P. Lovecraft or August Derleth than August Derleth or Wilhem and Jacob Grimm at their, well, grimmest. For example, the Little Red Riding Hood allusion in the conclusion, part of the set of stories that bookend the five gothic (in the traditional, literary sense) short stories that form the bulk of Carroll’s collection, ends with the wolf, if that’s really what it is, appearing in the dark outside the girl’s window.
Publishing | John Jackson Miller mines the circulation statements provided once a year to put together a 54-year sales history of Archie Comics’ flagship title Archie (the publisher is one of the few that still prints annual statements of ownership, allowing the numbers to be traced back, unbroken, to 1960). As he points out, Archie was a big newsstand title, selling almost 600,000 copies in the late 1960s, but it didn’t fare well when comics moved to the direct market — although Archie Comics has done well nonetheless with its digests, which far outsell its single-issue comics. [Comichron]
Publishing | Annie Koyama of Koyama Press talks with Dan Berry about how comics publishing works, and how she got into the field. [Make It Then Tell Everybody]
Emily Carroll, Drew Friedman, Brandon Graham and Mimi Pond will make their Small Press Expo debuts, joining previously announced guests like Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry and James Sturm at the Sept. 13-14 event in Bethesda, Maryland.
“Having Brandon, Emily, Drew and Mimi for the first time at SPX is a great thrill for both the SPX Executive Committee and the SPX community,” SPX Executive Director Warren Bernard told The Washington Post. “Their diverse styles and the mediums they work in really reflect the wide view that the SPX community has of the comics world. We are totally stoked about them coming to this year’s show.”
As we noted just last week, it’s been a particularly good year professionally for Carroll, who won both the Cartoonist Studio Prize and a Doug Wright Award. The first print collection of her fairy-tale horror comics, Through the Woods, will be released next month by McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster.
Cartoonist Emily Carroll, who has entertained (and unnerved) with such haunting webcomics as “His Face All Red,” “Margot’s Room” and “Out of Skin,” is back with another chilling tale called “The Hole the Fox Did Make.” I won’t say anything to spoil the story, except to say that it includes those dark fairy-tale elements you probably already love about her work.
It’s been a particularly good year professionally for Carroll, who won both the Cartoonist Studio Prize and a Doug Wright Award. The first print collection of her work, Through the Woods, will be released next month by McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster.
The winners of the 2014 Doug Wright Awards, recognizing the best in English-language comics by Canadians, were announced Friday in conjunction with the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. This year’s recipients were:
Best Book: Paul Joins the Scouts, by Michel Rabagliati (Conundrum Press)
The Spotlight Award (aka “The Nipper”): Steven Gilbert for The Journal of the Main Street Secret Lodge
Pigskin Peters Awards (for experimental or avant-garde work): Out of Skin, by Emily Carroll
Taiyo Matsumoto and Emily Carroll are the recipients of the second annual Cartoonist Studio Prize, presented by The Slate Book Review and the Center for Cartoon Studies.
The two were selected by The Slate Book Review editor Dan Kois, the faculty and students of CCS and this year’s guest judge, Chris Butcher, manager of The Beguiling in Toronto and co-founder of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. Each winner receives $1,000.
Crime | A man in Augusta, Georgia, told police someone stole his collection of nearly 30,000 comics from a storage building at his friend’s home sometime between Nov. 13 and Dec. 30. Although the 85 boxes allegedly included signed issues, police valued the comics at just $1 each. [The Augusta Chronicle]
Publishing | ICv2 concludes its three-part interview with Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley with questions about variant covers, Marvel NOW!, and staying in New York City. [ICv2]
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald profiles new graphic novel publisher Magnetic Press, which is spearheaded by former Archaia and BOOM! Studios executives Mike Kennedy and Wes Harris. Magnetic will launch in April with a varied line that will focus strongly, but not exclusively, on translations of French comics. [Publishers Weekly]