INTERVIEW: "Fantastic Four" EP On Character-Driven Approach, Sequel Plans
Comic Books, Film
Welcome to Best of 7, our new weekly wrap-up post here at Robot 6. Each Sunday we’ll talk about, as it says above, “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out on Wednesday.
So without further ado, let’s get to it …
While the original 2002, five-issue miniseries was in color, the 128-page trade collection ($19.99) will be in black and white but will feature two new pages by the Love and Rockets co-author.
ROBOT 6 readers with good memories might recall that I wrote about Grip earlier this year, lamenting that it was, to my knowledge, the only work by Hernandez that had never been compiled into book form.
To describe Grip’s plot takes some effort, as this is one of Hernandez’s more surreal and deliriously and wacky stories, involving a wide cast that includes an amnesiac young man, a pair of police detectives, a trio of Amazonian adventurers, another trio of gun-wielding gangsters, a sweet little old lady, a dwarf couple and a little girl with an eyepatch. As I wrote in May:
The story begins with the amnesiac young man wandering around a nondescript city and being assaulted by some of the people mentioned above for reasons that are murky at best. The story takes an even stranger left turn, however, when the man literally loses his skin at the end of the first issue and starts walking around beaches spouting seemingly half-remembered phrases. The skin starts to take on a life of its own as well.
2013 has blessed us with a bumper crop of great books by Hernandez that includes the critically acclaimed Marble Season and Julio’s Day, as well as Children of Palomar and Maria M. With Dark Horse planning to release Grip in addition to the collected edition of his more recent Fatima miniseries, it seems as though 2014 will continue that trend well into the new year.
I talked with Hernandez over the phone a few days before Thanksgiving about the new collection, the not-so-secret origins of Grip, and what else he’s working on.
Creators | Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson and Cul de Sac cartoonist Richard Thompson discuss their mutual admiration and their excitement about exhibiting their work together next spring at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at the Ohio State University. [Comic Riffs]
Legal | Chinese cartoonist Wang Luming, who uses the nom de plume “Rebel Pepper,” was arrested Wednesday, one day after he posted an online cartoon critical of police who were facing off with protestors rather than helping flood victims in the city of Yuyao. Residents have been critical of the government response to the flood, which put 70 percent of the city underwater, but a recently passed law suppressing online commentary has muted the criticism on social media. The Beijing Times (part of of the traditional media, which is heavily controlled by the Chinese government) claimed that Wang was arrested not because of the cartoon but because he spread a false rumor online (Reuters reports the police told his girlfriend it was because he forwarded a post about a woman and her child who starved to death in the floods). He was released Thursday and tweeted, “When I have time, I’ll tell you about the interesting night I spent at the police station.” [Foreign Policy]
Digital comics | It took three years for comiXology to reach 100 million downloads, but just one year for it to reach 200 million. Matthew Flamm profiles the company and its CEO, David Steinberger, who first saw a business opportunity in comics when he was trying to sell his collection and couldn’t find software to catalog it. The next big moment for comiXology is likely to come in October, when the fourth season of The Walking Dead premieres on television the same week the 10th-anniversary issue of the comic is released. Image Comics projects it will sell 300,000 print copies and another 45,000, or about 15 percent, as digital. [Crains New York]
Creators | Writer Mark Waid admits he didn’t think he’d be a good fit for Daredevil, because he doesn’t write in the darker style favored by his predecessors. “I’m better at swashbuckling adventure,” he says. “When I was asked to take that tack, I was in.” [Comic Riffs]
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]
Creators | Stan Lee, characterized by CNN as “the Godfather of comic book heroes,” is modest about his own achievements in a new interview: “If my publisher hadn’t said ‘let’s do superhero stories’ I’d probably still be doing A Kid Called Outlaw, The Two Gun Kid or Millie the Model or whatever I was doing at the time.” He reflects on the increased female audience for comics and discusses some new projects, including a new superhero, The Annihilator, created specifically for a Chinese audience. [CNN]
Comics| Chris Huntington reflects on the importance of Miles Morales for children of color, like his son: “… To see Spider-Man pulling his mask over a tiny brown chin – to see a boy with short curly hair sticking to the ceiling of his bedroom— well, something happened. Dagim has been Spider-Man for two Halloweens in a row. He takes a bath with his Spider-Man and a toy killer whale. He has Spider-Man toothpaste and a Spider-Man toothbrush. If Spider-Man offered medical coverage, I think he would want that, too. My son somehow understands that there is a Peter Parker Spider-Man, who is vaguely grown-up and my age, and a younger Spider-Man, closer to his age. That’s just how Dagim likes it. He even understands that Peter Parker — like Superman, like Batman – wasn’t raised by his birth parents. The best superheroes were all adopted like him.” [The New York Times]
Conventions | Attendance at Denver Comic Con topped 48,000, well over last year’s total of 27,700. Crowds were so heavy on opening day that the fire marshal and convention staff turned away 6,000 people. Guests included Star Trek‘s William Shatner (who was filling in for a double-booked Stan Lee) and George Takei, who stayed late on Friday so every fan could get an autograph. [The Denver Post]
Creators | Gilbert Hernandez talks about Marble Season, which is quite a departure from his previous graphic novels: “I’d been doing too many zombies and too much horror and crime, and I wanted to back off and do something pleasant. But I thought, can I do a pleasant story? And the only pleasant story I have is good memories from childhood. I wanted to connect to readers in a more genial way.” [The Telegraph]
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival celebrates its 10th birthday this weekend with a truly stellar lineup of guests and an amazing array of events. The list of creators who will be there is impressive in both its quality and its breadth: Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, David B., Taiyo Matsumoto, Rutu Modan, Frederik Peeters, Paul Pope, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Hope Larson, Faith Erin Hicks, Derf Backderf, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, a roll call that goes from living legends to plucky creators making their own comics zines by hand.
Letting It Go (Drawn and Quarterly): When we last saw Miriam Katin, it was in the pages of her We Are On Our Own, her 2006 graphic memoir about how she and her mother survived the Holocaust, hiding out from the Nazis in the Hungarian countryside. Her new memoir continues that story, by skipping ahead to her current life as a middle-aged artist living in New York City and harboring the deep and bitter prejudices against a city, a country and a people that her childhood understandable instilled in her.
The subject matter is awfully heavy, but it’s presented quite lightly — this is a fun, funny comic about a grown woman coming to terms with the irrational prejudices and bias born of the irrational prejudice and biases of others.
When we meet the Miriam of Letting It Go, she and her husband are seemingly living an idyllic artistic life, he in a room playing his clarinet, she procrastinating starting to draw something. When her grown son says he wants to move to Berlin, she reacts negatively instinctively, and gradually comes to terms with it, visiting him in Berlin, and then returning a second time almost immediately in order to see some of her art hanging at a show there, learning the word vergangenheitsbewältigung (coming to terms with the past) and how to start doing it … if not how to pronounce it.
Katin’s graphic novel is border-less, the “panels” implied ones formed by the consecutive, often overlapping images, giving the artwork a winding, rhythmic flow that moves over the pages like water. That and the somewhat-sketchy nature of the art, in which you can see each and every line that goes into the drawings, gives the book an incredibly intimate feel, as if a reader has simply discovered Katin’s sketchbook, rather than something mass-produced.
What’s that, you say? You find it hard to believe there’s a comic book series by Gilbert Hernandez that’s not only out of print but has never been collected in trade paperback?
Oh, but it’s all too true. Read on to learn more …
What is it about childhood that makes us forget about ours so easily? Whether consciously or not, we seem all too eager to not only put our younger years behind us, but obliterate them from our memories. Even as parents we frequently grow exasperated and angry with our own children, seemingly incapable of remembering what it was like to be little.
While many cartoonists are cited for their “childlike” abilities, precious few are able to accurately convey what it actually feels like to be a child – what makes up the significant joys and anxieties of your average 12- or 6- or 3-year-old and how they best express those complicated emotions.
There are a few, however. Lynda Barry is one, Kazuo Umezu is another. Add to that short list Gilbert Hernandez, as evidenced by his latest book, the excellent Marble Season.
It’s the episodic story of Huey, a the middle child of a moderately sized family living in California in the mid-1960s. His adventures, such as they are, consist of avoiding scary things, like neighborhood bullies or the crazy lady in the spooky house down the road; discovering cool stuff, like Mars Attacks cards; and inventing and playing games with the kids in the neighborhood. Taking a page from Peanuts, we never see Huey’s parents or any of his teachers (indeed we never see him in a classroom). The entire book is staged and presented from the viewpoint of Huey, his brothers and their friends.
Graphic novels | Two volumes of The Walking Dead Compendium topped BookScan’s list of the Top 20 graphic novels sold in bookstores in March, and Vol. 60 of Naruto was No. 3, but ICv2 thinks the new Avatar: The Next Airbender graphic novel premiering at No. 4 is headline-worthy. [ICv2]
Awards | With his duties complete, Charles Hatfield describes what it was like to be an Eisner judge. [See Hatfield]
Creators | Gilbert Hernandez talks about his childhood and that influences, from Dennis the Menace to Steve Ditko, that shaped his latest graphic novel, Marble Season. [The Chicago Tribune]
Publishing | Image Comics provided the retail news and analysis website ICv2 with worldwide pre-order figures for 15 of its March titles, allowing for comparison with estimates of Diamond Comic Distributors sales to U.S. direct market stores. [ICv2.com]
Creators | Mark Waid pens a tribute to the late Carmine Infantino. [Hero Complex]
Creators | Gilbert Hernandez distinguishes between autobiography and art in his new graphic novel, Marble Season, which takes on a 1960s suburban childhood not unlike his own. [Chicago Reader]
Awards | A last-minute reminder: Today is the deadline for Eisner Awards submissions. [Eisner Awards]
Creators | Grant Morrison looks back on his run on Action Comics, which ends today with the release of Issue 18, and touches upon Multiversity and his long-discussed Wonder Woman project: “This is some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time, because it’s a completely different type of comic book. Usually I don’t do masses of research, but for Wonder Woman, I’ve actually been working my way through the entire history of feminism. I want this to be fucking serious, you know? I want this to be really, really good, to reflect not only what women think, but what men think of women. I’m trying to do something really different from what’s been done with the character before. That one’s been amazing fun, because it’s nothing like anything I’ve ever done before.” [Entertainment Weekly]
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at all the comics and other stuff we’ve been reading lately. Our special guests today are Brendan Tobin and Pedro Delgado, who run the March MODOK Madness site. And with this being March, the madness is in full swing, so head over there to check out a lot of fun art featuring everyone’s favorite big-headed villain.
To see what Brendan, Pedro and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.