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“When I first started doing webcomics back in the dark ages of the early ’00s, word of mouth was how people found your stuff, but it was on a much smaller scale, and much slower. You’d have to get your comic passed around via e-mail, or posted in forums or linked to by other big artists. The whole crazy gag/meme/weird fandom social media comics thing didn’t really exist back then, so maybe people were doing more original stuff, but that’s just from what I remember and might not be true. I’ve never been a big fandom person. I feel like online comics nowadays are perhaps more mainstream, whatever that word means. Like everyone’s making comics and everyone’s passing comics around and comics are just this one part of the Internet, like cat pictures or whatever, rather than this specialized section, which was how it felt when I first started making them. Comics back then felt… I guess kind of niche. Now they’re part of the rainbow of fun that is the Internet. It feels like a good thing to me, but I’m sure there’s a downside to it. I guess people could complain that the craft of online comics is slipping, like, ‘Oh, this stupid gag comic about He-Man gets a million tumblr notes, but this impassioned comic about one’s state of being only gets 400.’ But I don’t even really see that, because it seems to me that the good stuff is always rising to the top. Sure, stupid He-Man comics will always get popular play, but whatever, that’s the Internet.”
– Faith Erin Hicks, in a thoroughly entertaining interview with Tom Spurgeon about how she got started in comics, her latest project Friends with Boys and much more. Maybe what we need is an impassioned comic about He-Man’s state of being.
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.
This is one of those tough weeks when the floppies aren’t doing it for me, so I want graphic novels, and graphic novels aren’t cheap. At the $15 level, I’ll pick up vol. 1 of Soulless ($12.99), Yen Press’s manga-style adaptation of the first volume of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series. With a sharp-witted heroine pitted against vampires and werewolves, and detailed yet dynamic art by the talented rem, it is a solid and entertaining read.
My first choice of the week has to wait until I have $30, though, because Faith Erin Hicks’s Friends With Boys is priced at $15.99. Worth it! Hicks is another talented storyteller and her tale of a home-schooled girl starting high school with three brothers looming over her—but without her mother, who has recently left—is funny and sweet and very heartfelt. So when I’m done with the vampire-killings, this is the book I want to read.
For my splurge, I’ll start with the thick second volume of Archie: The Married Life ($19.99), which collects the second six issues of Life With Archie magazine. The “Archie Marries” stories are fast-moving soap operas, and this comic is one of my guilty pleasures. And then I’ll add the first volume of the Girl Genius hardcover omnibus ($34.99), which is truly a splurge as it’s a free webcomic, but I’d love to have this one in print, for keeps.
By interesting coincidence, both Tony Cliff’s Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant and Faith Erin Hicks’ Friends With Boys concluded their online runs on Saturday. The latter will be released as a slightly longer print edition this week by First Second Books, while the latter … well, Cliff is teasing that something is coming next.
You can still read both comics online in their entirety — Delilah Dirk clocks in at 158 pages, and Friends With Boys at 206 — or purchase Hicks’ graphic novel, in stores Tuesday.
Legal | Rico Venditti and six other alleged members of a stolen-goods ring pleaded not guilty Tuesday to federal murder and racketeering charges following a revised grand jury indictment in the July 2010 home invasion of an elderly comics collector. The victim, 78-year-old Homer Marciniak of Medina, New York, died of a heart attack a few hours after being tied up and assaulted during the robbery, which prosecutors claim was set up by Venditti and two others. [The Associated Press]
Conventions | Bruce Lidl looks at the potential “Comic-Con tax” that could hit attendees as a result of the expansion of the San Diego Convention Center. [The Beat]
Digital | Archie Comics will begin selling its comics through its Facebook page, which connects readers with Graphicly. With almost 120,000 fans, the page does seem like fertile ground. “It’s really a major move toward connecting the potential reader to the product,” said Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater. “We make it easy and hopefully create a new, lasting part of our fan base.” [The Huffington Post]
Retailing | Matthew Price takes the temperature in the room at ComicsPRO and says that retailers want stability — they credit the consistent shipping schedule for the New 52 for part of that line’s success — and creativity. The overall mood seemed to be optimism, with Diamond Comic Distributors reporting that comics sales were up slightly in 2011. [NewsOK.com]
Digital comics | ICv2 estimates the total value of the digital comics market in 2011 as $25 million, triple the 2010 figure, and boldly predicts that digital will account for 10 percent of the entire comics market in 2012. Digital sales grew faster in the second half of the year, which ICv2 attributes to three factors: DC’s decision to release its New 52 comics digitally the same day as print, the industry-wide trend toward same-day print and digital releases, and the proliferation of different platforms on which to read digital comics. As for digital taking away from print, the publishing executives ICv2 has spoken to over the past few months don’t seem to think that is happening. [ICv2]
Retailing | Retailer and journalist Matt Price takes the temperature at the ComicsPRO Annual Members Meeting, which kicks off today in Dallas, noting that members remain interested in DC’s publishing plans, and report “very strong sales” for Image’s Fatale and Thief of Thieves. [Nerdage]
To see what Ao and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Robot 6 has covered cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks on multiple occasions concerning her comics, but this time we’re discussing something new: what kind of living she makes as a cartoonist. Hicks recently opened up about the financial realities of her life as a working cartoonist in a blog post supplementing her current webcomic Friends With Boys, which First Second will release later this year as a graphic novel. Hicks isn’t the first to share such intimate details on the business of comics, but the picture she paints with it is surprising in many ways.
“First of all, never in a million years did I think I would be able to pay my rent by drawing comics,” Hicks wrote, “or even through doing the freelance art thing. Sometime I cringe inwardly when I tell people that I write and draw comics for a living, because sometimes it doesn’t feel like that; it’s more like I’ve taken a vacation from some real job to draw comics, and eventually I will return to the workforce when I run out of money.”
Consider this my calling my own bluff. Awhile back, I opined that no-one online really spent enough time talking about independent books that were being solicited, meaning that when they were finally released three months later, your store might have missed out because you didn’t even know to pre-order. With the March Previews coming out a week tomorrow, I figured there was no better time for me to tell you what you should be pestering your retailer for from the February edition. Here’s my pick of the top five books you should be looking to pre-order. Continue Reading »
Before her new book, Friends with Boys, comes out in February, Faith Erin Hicks will serialize the entire story on the web. The first 32 pages are already up, with plans to add new ones each weekday until the publication date.
The Zombies Calling and The War at Ellsmere creator noted that she will also be blogging on the site, “giving you lovely readers the inside scoop of what my process was during the making of this graphic novel.” She also said she probably wouldn’t be making comics if she hadn’t started reading free webcomics on the internet.
“When I first started reading comics, really reading comics, comics that I felt were made for me (a school-age girl), they were online comics,” she said on her blog. “I didn’t have a comic book store to go to, nor did I have friends who were into comics. I had no connection to the comic book industry. But I had a computer, and I could access the internet, and there were comics on the internet. These comics were made by a diverse group of cartoonists, and (at the time) most were done ‘for fun.’ Reading online comics gave me new perspective on comics, and showed me what was possible for the medium, beyond the superhero genre. Later, as my tastes evolved and I gained disposable income, I became a comic consumer. I do not think I would be the hearty purchaser of comics if it wasn’t for the online comics I read while in school.”
According to the site, Friends With Boys is about Maggie McKay, a home-schooled teenager entering her first year in public high school and who is stalked by a local ghost. “Having a ghost follow you to school on your very first day … very not cool.” It’s due in comic and book stores next February from First Second.