REVIEW: "DC Universe: Rebirth" #1 Makes the Future of DC Comics Look Genuinely Bright
Derek Kirk Kim’s Same Difference and Other Stories is among the selections for the 2014 World Book Night U.S., becoming the first graphic novel to earn the distinction. (Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges was chosen last year for the U.K. event.)
Celebrated around the globe on April 23, World Book Night was established in 2010 as a way to encourage more adults to read. Every year since the event was first observed in the United States in 2012, more than half a million books are given to people who might not typically have an opportunity to read.
First published in 2004, Kim’s award-winning debut graphic novel is the story of a group of young people attempting to navigate adulthood and personal relationships.
“It’s amazing to be the author of the first graphic novel included in this celebration of books and reading,” Kim said in a statement. “I never expected the places my book would take me; it’s wonderful that now, over a decade since it was first published, my story is still reaching new readers.”
Same Difference is in good, and varied, company on the 2014 list, alongside such books as Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, Agatha Christie’s After the Funeral, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.
Graphic novels | France 24 examines the Thursday release of Asterix and the Picts — the first album by new creative team Jean Yves-Ferri and Didier Conrad — from a political perspective, noting that the story, in which Asterix and Obelix journey from ancient Gaul to Iron Age Scotland, has already become part of the current debate about Scottish independence. [France 24]
Creators | Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who spent a night in police custody last week on charges of “suspicion of causing a disturbance,” spoke to the press this week. Liming, who has more than 300,000 followers on his microblog account, first ran into trouble two years ago for one of his cartoons, but police told him that China has freedom of speech and he could continue drawing. Nonetheless, another of his cartoons, depicting Winnie the Pooh (a frequent cartoon stand-in for Chinese President Xi Jinping) kicking a football was deleted and suppressed by censors. “For them, drawing leaders in cartoon form is a big taboo,” the cartoonist said. “I think the controls on the Internet are too harsh. They have no sense of humor. They can’t accept any ridicule.” [Reuters]
Passings | Roy Peterson, editorial cartoonist for the Vancouver Sun, died Sunday at the age of 77. During his 40-year career, Peterson won more National Newspaper Awards than any other Canadian creator, but he was remembered by his peers chiefly for his sense of humor and his mentoring of younger artists. [Vancouver Sun]
Publishing | CNN contributor Bob Greene profiles Victor Gorelick, the editor-in-chief and co-president of Archie Comics who began working for the publisher at age 17, in 1958. [CNN.com]
Creators | Craig Thompson talks about the short story he wrote and drew for First Second’s Fairy Tale Comics anthology, and he reveals an interesting fact: “For six years or so, my entire income was based on drawing kids’ comics for [Nickelodeon] magazine. Later on my career shifted to drawing ‘serious’ graphic novels aimed at adult readers, but I’ve always wanted to revisit my more fun and cartoony style.” Former Nickelodeon editor Chris Duffy is the editor of Fairy Tale Comics. [Hero Complex]
Conventions | The second annual Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo attracted 25,000 people over the weekend, up from about 14,000 for the inaugural event. [Edmonton Journal]
Conventions | Tom Spurgeon reports in on MIX, the comics expo hosted by the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio, this past weekend. [The Comics Reporter]
Conventions | And Lyndsey Hewitt was on the scene at Wildcat Comic Con at Pennsylvania College. [Williamsport Sun-Gazette]
Conventions | Jim Steranko and Kim Deitch will be among the guests at the Locust Moon Comics Festival in Philadelphia this weekend. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]
Miami Book Fair International has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive first look at Paul Pope’s Generation Genius Days poster created for the 30th annual event. That of course is the artist’s own Battling Boy reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring while surrounded by monsters (the graphic novel debuts Oct. 8 from First Second).
Held Nov. 17-24 at Miami Dade MDC’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami, this year’s fair will commemorate 500 years since Ponce de Leon landed in Florida by celebrating Spain’s culture literature. Famed Spanish comic artist Francesc Capdevila, better known as Max, created the event’s official poster.
The nation’s largest literary gathering, Miami Book Fair International includes as part of its programming Generation Genius Days (Nov. 21-24), which features learning and literacy activities for children and teens.
Awards | Gilbert Hernandez is the recipient of the 2013 PEN Center USA award for outstanding body of work in graphic literature. Drawn and Quarterly announced the honor along with news that it will publish Hernandez’s next graphic novel, Bumperhead. [The Comics Reporter]
Conventions | “SPX is all about the hugs,” says Heidi MacDonald, who relegates her business piece on the Small Press Expo to Publishers Weekly and turns to her blog to discuss not only her impressions but what folks were saying on social media. [The Beat]
Gene Luen Yang’s two-volume Boxers & Saints is among the finalists for the 2013 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. His 2006 work American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award.
Published by First Second Books, Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories set against the backdrop of the Boxer Rebellion: the first is of Little Bao, a peasant boy who joins in the violent uprising against Westerners following the destruction of his village; and the second is of a girl taken in by Christian missionaries when her village has no place for her. Boxers & Saints was released just last week.
Conventions | The inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con, which sold 50,000 tickets in advance of the Sept. 5-7 event and reportedly drew an additional 20,000 attendees, has rekindled discussion about a new mega-hotel in downtown Salt Lake City Utah. The proposed $350 million project, which would have been funded in part with tax dollars, was narrowly defeated by the state legislature in March. [Fox 13 News]
Creators | Art Spiegelman talks about his life and work, touching on writing vs. art, how Maus came into being, and his lack of depth perception: “I don’t really see stereo, so it’s not good for getting in and out of cars, but when I draw something, it looks real.” [NPR]
Tony Cliff didn’t have to escape jail, run from enraged armies or travel in flying ships to complete his debut graphic novel Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if he had. The energy he invests in his story of a globetrotting, devil-may-care adventurer and the reluctant but noble soldier who inadvertently ends up tagging along suggests Cliff has a bit of the thrill-seeker in him, or at least in his pen.
Wanting to learn more about this former Flight cartoonist and his new book, I lobbed a bunch of questions to Cliff, who was nice enough to lob the answers back my way.
Robot 6: How did Delilah Dirk come to be? What was the original idea behind the character, and how did it change from the initial webcomic to Turkish Lieutenant?
Tony Cliff: It started off as a 30-page comic that I thought I’d put together just as a fun thing to do. I’d been reading a lot of Napoleonic War-era novels and wanted to make something in the same time period, with the sort of spirit I’d enjoyed in Indiana Jones and James Bond movies. Something fun, with a bunch of action and a variety of colorful settings.
I combined that first comic with a short story from the Flight anthologies, added a hundred pages to combine the two, and that became The Turkish Lieutenant as it appeared online. The print edition is more or less the same as the webcomic, though some of the text’s been finessed and there are roughly a dozen new pages of what has been described as “Delilah and Selim being cute in the woods,” a description whose accuracy I cannot dispute.
Conventions | The fourth Cincinnati Comic Expo kicks off Friday, just a week after the inaugural Cincinnati ComicCon, but administrator Matt Bredestege says he thinks his show has a broader appeal: “We are more of a multigenre show. We have a lot of celebrities and vendors that aren’t comic-related. There’s also more cosplay (costuming) and activities for the kids.” Still, he says, local comics creators are the backbone of the show. The comics guest list includes Dough Mahnke, Art Baltazar, Eddy Barrows, Andy Bennett, Heather Breckel, Rich Buckler, Mike McKone, Yanick Paquette and Thom Zahler. [Journal News]
Creators | Writer Geoff Johns talks about the DC Comics crossover Forever Evil and how it will upend the publisher’s superhero universe while making an unlikely hero of Lex Luthor. [The Detroit News]
Following the release of Tony Cliff’s 19th-century adventure Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, First Second has announced a second book, tentatively titled Delilah Dirk and the Blades of England.
As ROBOT 6 contributor Tom Bondurant recounted in Monday’s “Cheat Sheet,” the thief whose wit is as sharp as her sword debuted in 2007 in the self-published 28-page Delilah Dirk and the Treasure of Constantinople, which earned an Eisner nomination and a devoted fan base, leading Cliff to continue the character’s adventures online. That material was then collected in graphic novel form by First Second.
Conventions | The Taipei Comics Exhibition drew 582,000 people this year, up from 560,000 last year, with more than 450 booths and appearances by 49 creators, 25 of them from Taiwan. Roger Kao, one of the organizers, said that sales of Taiwanese comics were up, perhaps because of the personal appearances. [Taipei Times]
Conventions | Graeme McMillan notes some comments by First Second’s Gina Gagliano about the cost to publishers, in time and money, of attending comics conventions. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Creators | Unshelved co-creator Gene Ambaum talks with Lucy Knisley about her graphic novel Relish and food in general. [Unshelved]
I’m not sure how this slipped beneath the radar, but BoingBoing has debuted the trailer for Paul Pope’s long-awaited graphic novel Battling Boy, and it’s kind of great. There’s also a preview, part of which we’ve seen previously.
Arriving Oct. 8 from First Second, Battling Boy centers on on the son of a war god — he’s been characterized as a “haughty yet naïve superboy” — who’s sent by his father to rid the Monstropolis of monsters after Haggard West, the previous protector of the continent-sized city, is assassinated. There’s also West’s daughter Aurora, a wannabe hero with a taste for vengeance. (Haggard West starred last month in his own one-shot, which of course ended poorly for the hero. “Haggard is dead for good at the end of this one-shot,” Pope told Comic Book Resources, “but his tragic ending sets a much larger wheel in motion, which sucks in the realms of gods and monsters, battling it out in the realm of humans.”)
A second volume of Battling Boy is targeted for release next year.
Failure (Alternative Comics): Faithful readers of ROBOT 6 may recall the name of cartoonist Karl Stevens from a fall 2012 story about his Boston Phoenix strip Failure being canceled after an installment referred to Bud Light — one of the paper’s advertisers — as “diluted horse piss.” The Phoenix denied this at the time, and, coincidentally, several months later ceased publication all together (after a brief time in which it was split into five different newspapers with five different editors — Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Colossus and Magik — until Cyclops assumed control over all five papers and it took the combined might of all of the Avengers to stop him … there’s a comic book joke for you!).
While that history may not be particularly relevant to readers, Stevens covers his side of the incident in his introduction to the Failure collection, which packages the final installments of his strip — right up to, and a few past, the “horse piss” one — into 150 pages of gorgeously drawn material.
What is important is that this is some great work, of the must-read variety. Failure, at this point in its existence, had become a sort of slice-of-life strip, with one to four panels devoted to anecdotes from his own life, including his relationship with his girlfriend, funny things his friends said or funny things he overheard. There are, additionally, plenty of flights of fancy starring his descendant in the far-flung future, and recurring characters like Bongbot, a time-traveling robot bong, and Pope Cat, a cat who is also the pope (if I’ve got that right).
What keeps Failure from being as mundane as you might imagine it, based on how I just described its premise, is what an incredible artist Stevens is. He works in a lush, highly detailed, representational style, as if he were drawing portraits rather than cartoons. Check this out:
Lucy Knisley’s Relish: My Life in the Kitchen has been one of the most talked about graphic novels of the year since its debut in April at the MoCCA Arts Festival. That’s not too surprising, as the emotional pull of food and the way it intermingles with family and other relationships often makes for compelling reading. In Relish, Knisley has put together a series of short stories about her foodie parents and her own experiences in and out of the kitchen and accompanied them with some favorite recipes, all illustrated in her loose, colorful style.
For a while it seemed like everyone in the world was interviewing Knisley, and as someone who enjoys a good food story, I didn’t want to be left out.
Brigid Alverson: Obviously food is very important to your family, but why did you think it was a good theme for a memoir?
Lucy Knisley: Sense memory is a great connection to our past! I grew up with a family that cares a lot about food, and learned from them how to care about food. I have so many wonderful memories associated with foods, it makes perfect sense to tell these stories centered around the food I love.
In the prose world, food writing has become its own genre. Do you have any favorite food writers?
Lately I love David Lebovitz‘s food writing — he has a great (and hilarious) voice, and writes quite a bit about Paris (which I love) and chocolate (ditto).