It’s been a big couple of weeks for U.K. comics publishing, and a lot of that might have to do with this weekend’s Comica Festival (a.k.a. “the 10th London International Comics Festival”). There has been a rush of titles from British graphic novel publishers of late, no doubt timed for a big push at this most art-centric of U.K. comics conventions (it’s hosted this year at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, and I dare anyone of a certain vintage to think of that place and not start humming this).
There’s a lot of great stuff out there at the minute that’s maybe not getting enough coverage internationally, so let’s do a round-up, shall we? There’s a myth that the American comics audience is insular, so let’s disprove it: These books are even already available in English, although their spelling is a bit suspect at times. Yeah, you heard me, buy a dictionary, limeys!
• The Man Who Laughs, the oddest of Victor Hugo’s novels, adapted by David Hine and Mark Stafford, published by SelfMadeHero: Hine has posted a host of panels from the book at his blog. I was previously ignorant of Stafford’s work, but these are some handsome-looking samples; they reminded me a little of the great Dave Cooper. Hine is always good value, and has a track record of making some genuinely unsettling comics (Strange Embrace, The Bulletproof Coffin), so this sounds like the perfect alignment of talent to source material.
Comics | Reporter Henry Hanks asks three experts about the increasing tendency toward “headline-grabbing plot twists” in comics, such as the death of Damian Wayne, and which ones they think have been the most successful. “I strongly believe that The New 52′s Batgirl can be seen as a great example of a major plot shift or re-imagining of a story that required readers to let go of a long-loved character (Oracle) and begin to believe in Batgirl as a new character, one who’s recovered from a life-threatening attack,” says Dr. Andrea Letamendi, a clinical psychologist and convention speaker. “The character essentially presented the determination, resilience and psychological strength that she needed to put the cape back on after a severe injury, just as readers were challenging her ability to represent a strong rebooted character. It’s as if we could relate to the weight on her shoulders, because we were a part of that process. [CNN]
Conventions | Jason Knize makes a case for New York Comic Con potentially becoming “the Comic Con” next year, surpassing Comic-Con International as the completion of renovations on the Jacob Javits Center frees up an additional 90,000 square feet of space. However, he notes that space and attendance — NYCC’s 116,000 this year versus CCI’s 130,000 or so — certainly aren’t the only determining factors. [Panels on Pages]
Comics | Don MacPherson, who’s a newspaper reporter as well as a comics blogger, ponders Clark Kent’s departure from The Daily Planet in this week’s Superman #13: “In the scene in which Clark issues his ideological proclamation, Perry White retorts, ‘Go easy on us mortals, Clark. Times are changing and print is a dying medium.’ The challenges the Planet faces in the story reflect not only real-world ones in the newspaper industry, but also those faced by DC Comics itself as it struggles to stave off ebbing readership and find a way to foster an audience for online comics. Digital-publishing initiatives in the world of comics aside, I feel it important to argue Perry is wrong. Print isn’t a dying medium. What’s dying are past business models.” [Eye on Comics]
Another day, another couple of great books announced in the United Kingdom. I’ve jokingly referred to “the U.K. graphic novel renaissance” a few times recently, but I really am starting to believe we’re living in some sort of Golden Age.
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.
Warren and Gary Pleece have always been brothers, but at one time, they were also creative collaborators–back in the 1980s and 1990s with Velocity. This past Friday marked a resumption of their collaboration to a certain extent, when Warren launched the new webcomic, Montague Terrace, at ACT-I-VATE. The new project (which Gary will be involved in as his schedule permits) is summed up as “Unsuccessful megalomaniacs, brain frazzled ex-pop stars, Special Ops pensioners, haunted children, writers, fighters, nervous magicians and magic bunnies. 1930s detectives, fake pet psychics, hounded inventors, randy postmen, landlocked seamen, diabolical architects and secret societies. And all under one roof…” Warren and Gary made me feel like a pop culture idiot–considering the wealth of topics they referenced in this email interview. But I was overjoyed to enter territory I knew, when Gary mentioned the Monkees’ 1968 film, Head. Tears nearly welled up in my eyes when he mentioned it (for the love of God, this film [with the likes of "Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Teri Garr ... Annette Funicello, Frank Zappa and Sonny Liston"] cries out either for the Criterion folks or the gang at Cinematic Titanic…). My thanks to Warren and Gary for a fine time.
Tim O’Shea: The last time the two of you collaborated was in the late 1980s/early 1990s–what sparked the decision for you two to collaborate again?
Warren Pleece: Montague Terrace actually showcased in the last edition of Velocity, no. 6 way back in ’96 as a place we could develop countless characters, stories and interlink them into some grand scheme. As was usually the case, the ideas were there, but the means and time to carry it off was another matter. I got more work for DC, Gary did his thing, we both started families etc. and like so many other ideas the whole thing became relegated to the cardboard boxes of our minds and Velocity 6 became the last edition we did.