Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary in style May 11-12 with a truly stellar lineup of guests. Let’s get right to that, actually. Here’s the list, straight from the TCAF site:
The annual Small Press Expo, better known as SPX, will arrive at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Convention Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Saturday and Sunday. This particular SPX promises to be excellent — mayhap the bestest SPX evar — so allow me to run through some of the goings-on if you happen to be in that area this weekend.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. Michael and Graeme have each picked the five new comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a Top 10 of the best new comics coming out two months from now.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Blacklung HC (Fantagraphics Books, $24.99): This one grabbed me as soon as I read the high-concept in the solicits: A man decides to be as evil as possible so that he’ll be reunited with his dead wife in Hell when he dies. Depressing, existential AND romantic? I couldn’t sign up quickly enough for Chris Wright’s original graphic novel debut.
Chris Ware: Building Stories HC (Pantheon Books, $50.00): To be honest, I run hot and cold on Ware’s work; as a formalist, he’s wonderful and his work is technically perfect, but I don’t always get the emotional hook that I want from his work, and that’s a real problem for me. Luckily (or not? This is a pricey book to gamble on), the technical aspects of this box set of interrelated publications, all seen for the first time here, sounds interesting enough to sample no matter how cold the writing leaves me. Damn my curiosity about comics formats!
Happy! #1 (of 4) (Image Comics, $2.99): I’ll admit it; I’m more than a little dubious about the “It’s a hit man teaming up with a magical flying My Little Pony” set-up of this new series, but it’s Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson, so I almost feel a sense of “How bad can it actually BE?”
Steed and Mrs. Peel #1 (BOOM! Studios, $3.99): I’ve always enjoyed the old Avengers TV show at something of arm’s length, having only seen a handful of episodes (but enjoyed them greatly); what draws me to this new series is the presence of Mark Waid, who seems to be on fire these days between Insufferable and Daredevil.
Stumptown: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case #1 (Oni Press, $3.99): Oh, you should’ve seen me when I found out this was finally coming out. Not only did I absolutely love the first Stumptown series a couple of years ago, but I’ve also been on a Greg Rucka novel re-reading kick recently, so finding out that Dex’s client for this new story is the lead character from A Fistful of Rain made me almost impossibly happy. Easily my most-anticipated book of the month.
The New Yorker art editor, Françoise Mouly has a Tumblr and it is awesome. In addition to cool miscellania like the ’80s photo above, Mouly also runs a weekly, “Theme of the Week” contest where artists can submit covers based on themes like this week’s “In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb.”
Mouly says that “this blog and contest are informal and not affiliated with The New Yorker magazine, but I’m always on the lookout for ideas. When I find them, I’ll get in touch with the artist, all on a case by case basis.” She also asks artists to “keep submissions confidential in case they are later selected for publication,” so it’s more than just for fun.
(via The Beat)
Another thing which is never brought up or mentioned, but it’s very intriguing, forever going back to the old days of The New Yorker and through now, as far as women and men cartoonists are concerned, there is no problem. None of this bullshit that’s been plaguing almost every other endeavor or business, this war of the sexes. Not a trace of it in cartooning. It just isn’t there. It may be because we all have a sense of humor. I don’t know what it is, but it’s very interesting and it’s nice.
— Legendary cartoonist Gahan Wilson of Playboy, National Lampoon and The New Yorker fame, explaining to CBR’s Alex Dueben that things apparently aren’t as contentious over issues of sex and gender in Francoise Mouly’s shop as they are in other parts of the industry. (Cf. recent New Yorker roster addition Kate Beaton’s ongoing victory lap …)
Publishing | Mark Evanier, who is providing editorial assistance on Fantagraphics’ long-awaited Walt Kelly Pogo collections, notes that the first volume has gone to print. “My friend, the lovely Carolyn Kelly, lovingly supervised the loving restoration of her lovely father’s lovely strip and she also did the lovely design of this lovely book and its lovely dust jacket and the lovely imprints under that lovely dust jacket. Sure sounds like a labor of love to me. Not that the contents need any help but the strips are supplemented by a foreword from writer (and friend o’ Walt’s) Jimmy Breslin and essays/annotations by Steve Thompson, R.C. Harvey and myself. If I were you, I’d read all that text stuff after I read the strips themselves about eleven times.” [News from Me]
Comics | Todd Allen runs through some of the “actual changes” to the DC titles come September, noting the eight new (or fairly new, or returning after being absent) writers, plus four who have been “poached” from Vertigo. [Indignant Online]
Comics | Martin Wisse takes The Atlantic to task for publishing an “utterly dull and middlebrow” list of 10 nonfiction graphic novels they called “masterpieces.” He notes that when commenters call out the author for not listing any works by Joe Sacco, she responds that she “chickened out” on including Footnotes in Gaza because “the topic is so polarizing.” Tom Spurgeon has commentary as well, noting, “It’s galling that an author can admit to not including something for publication because they were afraid of Internet reprisals and not be automatically fired and/or laughed out of town.” [Wis[s]e Words, The Comics Reporter]
Toon Books, the early-reader comics imprint helmed by Francoise Mouly, is relaunching three of its iPhone apps: Silly Lilly and the Four Seasons, by Agnes Rosensteihl; Jack and the Box, by Art Spiegelman, and Little Mouse Gets Ready, by Jeff Smith. Yes, you can get comics by the creators of Maus and Bone for free! All are worth a look on their own merits, and they also make an excellent distraction should you find yourself in the company of bored, fidgety children.
Of course, the free app is just the start—as soon as you open it up, you get the option to purchase an audio version in English or a variety of other languages.
I looked over the Little Mouse app, and it looked good, although the automated page turns are a little disconcerting. (You can turn that off from the start menu but not once you are reading the book.) All three books were originally published in a landscape format so they fit nicely on the screen, and the resolution is good even when blown up to double size for the iPad. And compared to $12.95 for the hardcovers, the free app is a steal.
To paraphrase Mary McCarthy, every word in Françoise Mouly’s interview with CBR’s Alex Dueben is fascinating, including “and” and “the.” It’s a marvelously insightful look at nearly every aspect of the legendary RAW, New Yorker, and Toon Books editor’s multifaceted career: The status of Toon Books, the challenges of producing educational books for children that are also fun to look at and read, her personal history with comics, the importance and legacy of her and husband Art Spiegelman’s seminal alternative-comics magazine RAW‘s production values, the shift among underground/alternative cartoonists’ careers from character-focused (a la Zippy, Jimbo, and Adele Blanc-sec) to creator-focused, her duties and work style as The New Yorker‘s art editor, working with visual artists from across the comics and illustration spectrum, her dream of an increased presence of actual comics in the magazine, R. Crumb’s apparent New Yorker beef, Toon Books’ upcoming slate…pure gold from one of comics’ most influential figures.
Programming Director Bill Kartalopoulos has released the programming schedule for the upcoming 2nd annual Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, taking place on Saturday, Dec. 4 in Williamsburg, and it’s a doozy. Lynda Barry & Charles Burns and Françoise Mouly & Sammy Harkham will be paired off in panels that are perhaps the highlight of the show, while other spotlighted cartoonists include Golden Age artist Irwin Hasen (in conversation with Paul Pope, Evan Dorkin, and Dan Nadel) and Big Questions author Anders Nilsen, who drew the still-awesome poster you see above.
Check out the full schedule in the BCGF press release after the jump.
There’s a horrific beauty to the art of Renée French. With her most recent work, H Day (published by Picturebox and set to ship on October 15), the beauty is built on pain, given that the book’s creation was partially fueled by French’s struggles with migraines. The last graphic novel that both challenged and engaged me in such a manner as H Day did is likely Joshua Cotter‘s Driven by Lemons. I’ve been interviewing French for a number of years, and I never tire of discussing her craft with her. Back when I last interviewed her, we briefly discussed a (then upcoming) project, Towcester Lodge, and I was glad to find out the fate of that project (as well as how H Day grew out of that creative effort). French is one of the special guests at this weekend’s APE 2010. My thanks to French for her time, and to Robot6 6’s own Sean T. Collins as well as Picturebox’s Dan Nadel for helping make the interview happen.
Tim O’Shea: How early in the development of H Day did you realize the bed scenes would play such a pivotal part?
Renée French: I’d been doing line drawings and diagrams of the inside of heads, sort of diagrams of the pain that comes with a migraine, and once I decided to try to draw the stuff I visualize when I’ve got a headache, (the city drawings) the diagrams progressed into the sequence that is in the book (the bed drawings). How confusing is that?
When Francoise Mouly started the Toon Books line two years ago, she set it up as an independent publisher because no one was willing to buy into the notion of comics for preschoolers. When I spoke to her at the American Library Association meeting last June, she recalled talking to the publisher from one major house who loved the books but balked at investing the time and money necessary to create a new category.
So Mouly did it herself, publishing the Toon books as an imprint of RAW Junior, a small publishing company she runs with her husband Art Spiegelman. Until Oct. 1, when Toon Books will become an imprint of Candlewick Press, which is based in Somerville, Massachusetts. This means that both current titles and the backlist will be distributed by Random House, rather than Diamond Book Distributors, and Toon will continue to release four or five new books per year.
Full press release after the jump.
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
Today we’ll be traipsing through the body of work of one of the most significant (if not exactly prolific) American cartoonists of this modern age, Art Spiegelman.
Dan Clowes graces the cover of this week’s new Yorker, as seen above, and in the video below, he and New Yorker Art Editor Francoise Mouly, along with several other contributing artists, talk about how the image came to be. (found via D&Q)
Harry Bliss makes comedy and storytelling work on many levels. How do I know? He crafted comedy out of my dry questions in this email interview. In all seriousness, I credit Bliss’ collaborations with Doreen Cronin (including 2003’s Diary of A Worm and 2005’s Diary of a Spider) as being a key catalyst (by tapping into my son’s sense of humor) in sparking an increased interest in reading for him. So when I found out about Bliss’ new book (for Françoise Mouly’s Toon Books), Luke on the Loose (“Luke looks on at the pigeons in Central Park, while Dad is lost in ‘boring Daddy talk’, and before you know it—LUKE IS ON THE LOOSE! He’s free as a bird, on a hilarious solo flight through New York City”, a story in which he handles both the writing and illustrating roles), I jumped at the chance to email interview him. My thanks to Bliss for his time–and to Ron Longe for his assistance in making this interview possible.
Tim O’Shea: You’ve worked with Françoise Mouly for years at the New Yorker–in terms of Luke on the Loose coming together, did she seek you out to work with the Toon Books imprint–or did you seek the publisher out yourself?
Harry Bliss: Francoise asked me to contribute to Toon Books and she is the publisher, so…
O’Shea: You’ve collaborated with several children authors, including Doreen Cronin, Kate DiCamillo, Alison McGhee and Sharon Creech. Were there any storytelling assets or lessons you took away from these collaborations?
Bliss: I learn many things from all the wonderful authors I’ve had the good fortune to work with over the years, mainly, how to integrate words and pictures. It’s really a dance, trying to pair up the text with the art, not simply illustrating the words, but to move the story forward visually. If something is not enriching the story/characters, then it needs to go. This was especially critical with Luke. The author and I went back and forth constant- wait, I wrote Luke! Sorry.