Gene Luen Yang
Awards | Slate Book Review and the Center for Cartoon Studies have awarded the Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Graphic Novel of 2012 to Chris Ware for Building Stories, and the prize for Best Web Comic to Noelle Stevenson for Nimona. Each winner receives $1,000. [Salon.com]
Comics | Tom Spurgeon talks at length to Gary Groth, co-founder of Fantagraphics and editor-in-chief of The Comics Journal, about the prospects for young creators today versus years ago, changes at The Comics Journal, and Groth’s own interview with Maurice Sendak, which runs in the latest issue of TCJ. [The Comics Reporter]
Digital comics | The manga publisher Viz Media has signed on to iVerse’s digital comics app for libraries; this is big news, because manga, especially Viz’s teen-friendly line, is still very popular in libraries. [press release]
Publishing | In his address last weekend to the ComicsPRO annual meeting in Atlanta, Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson urged the audience to continue asking “What’s next?” [Comics Alliance]
Retailing | Journalist and retailer Matthew Price wraps up the ComicsPRO meeting, noting Diamond’s report of a healthy year for comics retailers, with comics sales up 16 percent, graphic novels up 13 percent, and merchandise up 9 percent from last year. [The Oklahoman]
Since its launch in 2006, First Second has built a solid reputation as a publisher of high-quality graphic novels: Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese, Emmanuel Guibert’s The Photographer, Mark Siegel’s Sailor Twain, and Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado’s Giants Beware testify to both the breadth and the quality of the company’s line.
I was offered the opportunity to interview editor Calista Brill and designer Colleen AF Venable about the past year at First Second and what we can expect in 2013, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to sneak in some questions about the nuts and bolts of working with creators and editing graphic novels.
Creators | Gene Luen Yang, creator of American Born Chinese, has revealed his latest project Boxers and Saints, a set of two graphic novels about the Boxer Rebellion in China; one story is about a peasant who joins the Boxers, while the other is about a woman who converts to Catholicism. First Second will publish them as a slipcased set. There’s a 10-page preview as well as an interview at the link. [Wired]
Comics | Jim Rugg notices that his print copy of Hellboy in Hell doesn’t look as good as his friend’s digital copy, and where most of us would have just shrugged and moved on, he takes the time to think about why that is and how careful publishers can ensure that print comics look their best. [Jim Rugg]
Digital comics | Sony is shutting down its PSP Comic Store as of Oct. 30. After that, readers will no longer be able to purchase new comics from the store, although they will be able to download at least some previously purchased comics until January 2013. After that, the whole thing is just gone. Sony pulled something similar in Japan, but its new PS Vita store includes a manga service. The PSP doesn’t seem to have been a very popular medium for reading comics in the United States, but it’s too bad that those who did take a chance on it have no way to permanently preserve their comics in a way that isn’t dependent on an aging piece of hardware. [Engadget]
Publishing | The Brooklyn Daily chats a bit with Sean Howe, the writer of Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, whose book includes an account of Marvel founder Martin Goodman, a Brooklynite who gave Stan Lee his first gig but was barely remembered by the company when he died. [Brooklyn Daily]
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.
It’s an odd one for me this week; if I had $15, I’d probably just grab two of DC’s Zero Month books (Batman Incorporated and Flash, both $2.99) and then skip straight to the $30 portion of the week so that I could pick up the Showcase Presents Amethyst, Vol. 1 collection (DC, $19.99), if only to reassure me that the original series was good after last week’s revival.
If I were to splurge, I’d step outside of DC’s purview and go for IDW’s Joe Kubert Tarzan Artist Edition. I was one of the many people who didn’t really “get” Kubert as a kid, but his linework won me over as I got older, and the chance to see some of his best-looking art in ”real size” is something that I’d love to be able to embrace.
If I had $15, I’d get Batman Incorporated #0, probably the only DC zero book I’ll get, and Vol. 11 of Yotsuba&!, because I could use some irrepressibly cute manga about an adorable green-haired girl right about now.
If I had $30, I’d put away Yotsuba&! and get Barbara, Osamu Tezuka’s manga about a would-be artist who takes in a lovely but strange homeless woman, only to become convinced that she is his personal muse. I know there was a bit of grumbling that DMP went the Kickstarter route in getting this published, but honestly, I’m just happy to have more Tezuka in print.
What constitutes a splurge purchase? How about six, hardcover, slipcased volumes of Robert Crumb’s sketchbook work, priced at about $1,600, courtesy of the fine folks at Taschen? Yeah, I think buying that would be a “splurge purchase.” It would also constitute sheer madness and a one-way trip to the poorhouse, but at least you’d have all those nice Crumb books to keep you company. I’m sure they’d make a fine pillow.
Derek Kirk Kim was at the American Library Association midsummer meeting last weekend, and he went through the Artists Alley with a video camera asking the creators what they think of ALA versus comic conventions. The lineup includes Dave Roman, Raina Telegemeier, Gene Luen Yang and Cecil Castelucci, among others, and the answers are interesting; several people focused on the way that the ALA attendees (who are, obviously, mostly librarians) are very engaged in the subject matter and interested in learning about something new, while comic con attendees tend to be looking for more of the same familiar comics.
Check out the video; it’s 10 minutes well spent.
As a former editor myself, I was naturally drawn to Calista Brill’s first-hand account of a day in the life of a First Second editor at the company blog. But as I was reading it, I kept going, “Hey, wait! They’re publishing that?!”
Like, I didn’t realize First Second was publishing a new book by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, the creators of Skim. But here it is: Awago Beach Babies, due out next year. And Calista shows off some tiny samples of art from the book she is currently editing, Relish, a book about food by Lucy Knisley, which seems like the perfect project for Lucy and a bit of a departure for First Second.
Another project I didn’t know about — but that I’ll be following from now on — is Jerusalem, written by filmmaker Boaz Yakin and illustrated by Nick Bertozzi. It’s the story of a Jewish family at the time when Israel was just becoming an independent country. Also coming up: new books from Gene Luen Yang and Paul Pope and a sequel to their popular anthology Nursery Rhyme Comics, this one featuring fairy tales.
With a lineup like that, being an editor at First Second is my new dream job, even if the microwave in their kitchen isn’t working properly. (Here’s a recent CBR interview with Calista and her boss, Mark Siegel, that mentions a few of these projects.)
Publishing | Single-issue comics sales last month were up 22.26 percent over February 2011, and graphic novels were up 15.6 percent, making for a good month for publishers and retailers. (Of course, there were five Wednesdays in February, which may have something to do with it.) As in previous months, DC sold the most comics but Marvel, with higher cover prices, topped its competitor in terms of dollar share. [ICv2]
Publishing | The top-selling graphic novel in bookstores last month was part one of Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, written by Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese). The Walking Dead books took four of the top 20 spots, or a healthy 20 percent of the list, and 13 of the bestsellers were manga. [ICv2]
Publishing | Marvel is cutting costs on its $2.99 comics by going with “self covers,” which just means that the covers are the same paper as the inside of the comic, rather than heavier stock. As the insides are glossy paper anyway, Todd Allen feels the difference is barely noticeable—and that the real news is that Marvel is finding it necessary to cut costs once more. [The Beat]
Awards | The gold medal for Best Graphic Album at the Angoulême International Comics Festival went to Guy Delisle for Jerusalem, and the jury awarded a Special Prize to Jim Woodring for his Congress of the Animals. Veteran French creator Jean-Claude Denis was awarded the Grand Prix de la ville d’Angoulême, so he will preside over next year’s festival, as Art Spiegelman did this year. Two manga won awards as well: Kaoru Mori’s A Bride’s Story won the Intergenerational Award, and Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s autobiographical A Drifting Life received the World Outlook Award. The Heritage Award went to Glenat’s edition of Carl Barks’ Donald Duck. [Paris Match]
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.
If I had $15, I’d try something new first with the Xeric-winning Fantastic Life GN (Big If, $9.95) by Kevin Mutch. I’ll always give Xeric winners a second look, and this looks built for me: slackers, punk rock, zombies. Next up I’d get the ongoing adventures of Butcher Baker – the Image one – with Butcher Baker Righteous Maker #8 ($2.99). I’ll admit that the series went off a little bit around #5, but I’m still holding on for hopes it’ll right itself or I’ll figure out what I’d been missing. Lastly, I’d get Secret Avengers #21.1 (Marvel, $2.99). Seriously, is Rick Remender becoming the writer of all-things secret in the Marvel U? I’m not complaining though, as he’s bringing his Uncanny X-Force mojo and, from what it looks like, a lot of new cast members.
If I had $30, I’d get my usual pull of The Walking Dead #93 (Image, $2.99) and a Hickman two-fer, Fantastic Four #602 (Marvel, $2.99) and FF #14 (Marvel, $2.99). If you would have told me two years ago I’d be seeing two Fantastic Four titles (and two I’d be reading, no less) I would have been gobsmacked. Hickman does it again. And that’s it.
What, you say I didn’t spend my full $30? It’s a light week for me, so I’d spending the remaining on bags and boards or, *gasp*, food as it says in the title. Tijuana Flats, Taco Tuesday, be there.
Coming back if I could splurge, and I’d put down my tacos and pick up the ADD HC (Vertigo, $24.99) by Douglas Rushkoff, Goran Sudzuka and Jose Marzan Jr. From the outside it looks like The Hunger Games meets Ender’s Game, and Rushkoff looks to be just the one to make that mash-up more than, well, a mash-up.
On the Dark Horse blog, editor Dave Marshall shares the cover process for Avatar: The Last Airbender — The Promise Part 1, from writer Gene Luen Yang’s rough ideas to art duo Gurihiru’s cover sketches to Avatar co-creator Bryan Konietzko’s notes to the final product.
The 80-page graphic novel, the first in a series of digests continuing the adventures of Aang and his friends, arrives Jan. 25.
Legal | Authorities in Clinton Township, Michigan, tracked down two men mentioned in police reports by comics retailer Michael George after his wife’s 1990 murder who were never questioned. The judge gave police 48 hours to locate and question them. One of the men passed away, while the other, John Fox, will be questioned Friday about a family car that is similar to one seen near the comic book store where Barbara George was killed. [Detroit Free Press]
Digital comics | Heidi MacDonald talks to SLG Publisher Dan Vado about plans to release the company’s serialized comics digitally rather than in print. Vado reveals SLG’s popular Johnny the Homicidal Maniac by Jhonen Vasquez will be released in digital format. [The Beat]
Comics | Lisa Fortuner notes that this week’s Green Lantern Corps #1 story shares a title with a Nazi propaganda film: “That’s a beheading, followed by cutting a woman in half, followed by the loss of a finger, followed by a reference to an infamous Leni Riefenstahl film. For those of you who are new to the Internet and it’s population of history snobs, Leni Riefenstahl was an early 20th Century pioneer who made inroads for women in the field of Evil. She did a Nazi propaganda film called ‘Triumph of the Will’ which to this day is still inspiring horror of authoritarian power in film classes and museums. It is probably not the best choice of titles for a book where the main heroes are fueled by willpower.” [Written World]
Retailing | Sacramento, Calif.-area retailers are relatively unconcerned about DC Comics’ newly launched digital initiative or an immediate threat to their bottom lines from digital comics. “I just see it as another way of kind of expanding the whole readership,” says Dave Downey, who runs World’s Best Comics. “If you missed an issue of Spider-Man, and you can’t find it anywhere, you can always go online and read it that way.” However, Kenny Russell of Big Brother Comics sees a time, “years off,” when that will all change: “It’s inevitable, and this is kind of the first step. In no time, iPads are going to be good enough, and it’s going to be easy enough, and it’s going to come out the same day where people are going to just read their comics on their iPads.” [Sacramento News & Review]
Comics | Gene Luen Yang explores the tangled history of comics and Christianity, both of which, he points out, were started by a bunch of Jewish guys who loved a good story. (Good-sized excerpt at the link; full article requires free registration.) [Sojourners]
Gene Luen Yang, creator of American Born Chinese and The Eternal Smile and writer of Level Up, announced on his blog Tuesday that he is undertaking a new project: He will be writing the upcoming Avatar: The Last Airbender graphic novel, The Promise. Yang is working closely with Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the creators of the original cartoon series, on the book, and the artwork is being handled by the Japanese duo Gurihiru, who illustrated some of the earlier Airbender comics and have done work for Marvel as well.
As Yang points out in his blog, this is not quite his first Avatar comic: When the movie came out last year, he drew a webcomic protesting the casting of Caucasians in roles that were clearly derived from Asian traditions. This book is based on the television series, not the movie, though, and Yang says he hasn’t seen the movie and doesn’t want to see it: “the only A:TLA universe I want inside my head as I’m writing these comics is the animated one. The real one.”
Oh, and don’t get too excited about an Avatar-Monkey King crossover—that’s just a bit of fan art that Gene drew to celebrate the occasion.