When comics entrepreneur Marc Arsenault announced almost a year ago that he had bought defunct Alternative Comics in order to relaunch the publisher, a lot of fans (me included) were thrilled. Under founder Jeff Mason, Alternative introduced readers to creators like Graham Annable, Brandon Graham, James Kochalka, Ed Brubaker, Scott Campbell (of Great Movie Showdowns fame), Dean Haspiel and Josh Neufeld. So with Alternative and comiXology announcing today that the publisher’s catalog is becoming available digitally on the app, I was eager to talk to Arsenault about their plans.
Michael May: For those who don’t know you, what’s your background in comics?
Marc Arsenault: Wow. Where to begin? I’ve been a pretty behind-the-scenes guy for most of my time in comics, but this year I’ve hit the quarter century mark for working in them.
I figured out that I wanted to make comics somewhere around eighth grade when I discovered RAW, Warrior and Heavy Metal. When I found out about the comics program at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) my path was clear. I didn’t even apply to any other schools. I got to study with Harvey Kurtzman, Will Eisner, Joe Orlando, David Sandlin, Jerry Moriarity, Marshall Arisman and the very influential Jack Potter.
That experience was very relevant to Alternative Comics’ past and present because it was there that I met Sam Henderson and Tom Hart. I shared a studio space with Tom, and he and Sam had started an off-campus comics anthology called Tuna Casserole. By the fifth issue I became co-editor and we founded the first incarnation of my company Wow Cool. I ended up becoming an illustrator instead of a cartoonist, and did that freelance on and off up until about a decade ago.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Joey Weiser, creator of Cavemen in Space, The Ride Home and Tales of Unusual Circumstance, and a contributor to SpongeBob Comics.
To see what Joey and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
You’ve heard it said that children are the future, and if that’s true—and it must be, since they’ll be around for more of the future than we adults will be—it’s as true for comics as it is for whatever else people mean when they say children are the future.
So what sorts of comic books are we providing for our children, our future these days? As it turns out, some pretty good ones—hell, some pretty great ones.
This week saw the release of three particular comic books–not graphic novels or tankobon, but good-old-fashioned 20-some pages and some staples comic books—that featured superior writing and art, some of that art coming from world-class cartoonists.
And all three of those comics, oddly enough, are based on cartoon series.
When I was a child, there were comic books based on cartoons (cartoons that were often based on toy lines), and while they were readily available in drug and grocery stores, and you could buy one with a dollar bill and get change back, they weren’t exactly the highest quality product.
But some of today’s based-on-cartoons comics can put to shame much of what the “Big Six” direct market publishers release for their grown-up audiences.
Seven comics creators are among the finalists for the 2012 Oregon Book Awards, which recognized accomplishments by Oregon writers who work in genres of poetry, fiction, literary nonfiction, drama and young readers literature.
The shortlist for the Pacific Northwest College of Art Graphic Literature Award is:
- Graham Annable of Portland for Book of Grickle
- Aidan Koch of Portland for The Whale
- Sarah Oleksyk of Portland for Ivy
- Greg Rucka of Portland for Stumptown
- Joe Sacco of Portland for Footnotes in Gaza
The winners will be announced April 23 during the Oregon Book Awards ceremony. Voting is also open through April 16 for The Oregonian’s Reader Choice Award.
Gallery Nucleus showcases Graham Annable’s lovely and melancholy watercolor contributions to “The Lovers, the Dreamers and Me,” an upcoming tribute art exhibition to the late visionary Jim Henson.
“Clearly Kermit, Ms. Piggy, and Gonzo don’t know what to make of their beginnings,” the post on the gallery’s blog states, “but what we can decipher from this is Graham’s bold wit for introducing us to an unusual scenario we never expected the Muppets would run into.”
The exhibition opens Dec. 10 with a reception at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, California, and continues through Jan. 2.
Crime | Florida authorities are trying to determine whether human remains discovered Wednesday in Pasco County are those of Stephen Perry, the 56-year-old ThunderCats writer who’s been missing for more than three weeks and presumed murdered. Zephyrhills police are still awaiting the results of DNA testing on the severed arm found in a trash bin on May 16 near Perry’s abandoned van.
Tampa Tribune reporter Howard Altman, who’s been covering the Perry case from the beginning, notes police revealed the latest discovery on the same day that Warner Bros. Animation announced it is producing a new version of ThunderCats. [The Tampa Tribune]
Telltale Games has officially announced a new game from comics creator Graham Annable — Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent, which comes out in June.
After reading the description, I’d like to see Tethers team up with Jason Shiga’s Bookhunter at some point:
Special Agent Nelson Tethers, the sole member of the FBI’s Puzzle Research division, is on his way to the icy heart of the Midwestern United States to investigate the apparent stoppage of all production at the Scoggins Erasers Company–the exclusive eraser provider for the White House. No one is really sure why the citizens of this sleepy, snow-covered town have become almost paralyzed while attempting to accomplish simple day-to-day tasks; it’s up to Special Agent Tethers to unravel the source of this madness, and get the factory pumping out its much-needed erasers.
You can find more information on the game at the minisite they’ve created for it, and they’ve also got it available for pre-order for $9.95.
Telltale Games, the company behind the Sam & Max, Wallace & Gromit and Bone games for various gaming platforms, has a teaser up that features artwork by The Book of Grickle‘s Graham Annable … who has also been teasing it on Twitter for the past few weeks.
Considering Annable also does a comic strip on the Telltale site called Dunk, it isn’t surprising to see them take the relationship further, as his art style and comics fit with the sort of properties they’ve become known for. The site promises more details on May 4.
Passings | John Hicklenton, the comic artist best known for his work on 2000AD, Judge Dredd Megazine and Nemesis the Warlock, passed away last week after a long fight with Multiple Sclerosis. He was 42. Hicklenton was an advocate for better treatment of MS sufferers, becoming the subject of the award-winning 2008 documentary Here’s Johnny that detailed his struggle with the disabling neurological disease. [Forbidden Planet International Blog]
Organizations | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has announced the expansion of its management team: Cheyenne Allott has been hired as development manager, overseeing fund-raising and outreach initiatives; and Brady Bonne has joined as operations manager, coordinating the organization’s office and fund-raising logistics. [press release]
Graham Annable has been publishing his comics for so long — easily a decade or more now — that it’s seems striking that his unique brand of pitch-black comedy, his prolific production rate or his ability to move back and forth between animation and printed work (he has a day job as a storyboard artist at Laika Entertainment) with such seeming effortlessness hasn’t won him more accolades.
Dark Horse is attempting to rectify that situation with their release of the Book of Grickle, a hand-selected “best of” that features a number of short stories originally published in the now out-of-print books Annable did way back when for (I’m guessing defunct) Alternative Comics.
Annable took time out from his busy schedule to conduct an email interview with me and talk about the new book, how he fell into comics and where the word “Grickle” came from anyway.
Q. I wanted to start off by asking you how this particular collection came to be? Did Dark Horse contact you or were you shopping around for someone to publish this book?
A. I had chatted with Diana Schutz at numerous conventions over the years and we always talked about me doing something with Dark Horse. But what that specifically was I could never quite envision for myself. About a year ago I was struck with the notion that I’d love to do a collection of my past work along with some self published stories that a lot of people hadn’t seen. The first Grickle book had been out of print for nearly 5 years already and the timing seemed right. I immediately thought of Diana and Dark Horse and pitched the idea to her. Diana was stoked on it and everything kind of fell into place after that.
Continuing our current celebration of all things Graham Annable, here’s a sneak preview of one the stories contained in Dark Horse’s upcoming Book of Grickle. My interview with Graham will be up here tomorrow.
One of the most prolific – and perhaps severely underrated – cartoonists to crop up over the past decade or so is Graham Annable, who, when not indulging in his penchant for animation, delves into darkly comic tales of stick-figure like average Joes doing unsavory and unethical (and sometimes illegal) things.
Dark Horse is collecting a number of his early short stories in The Book of Grickle, which will be out in early April. Over on the main page, our parent company CBR has a preview of one of the short stories contained in the upcoming graphic novel.
I’m in the midst of conducting an interview with Annable about the book, so Grickle fans should keep an eye peeled at this blog for more details and previews over the next couple of days.
Graham Annable has a Flickr set he’s been regularly updated to entitled Stuff I Remember, which focuses on random memories of his childhood. Take the above image for instance:
I spent countless hours in our living room reading Stephen King novels and listening to cassettes over and over. Each book has a particular album attached to it that I still hear in my head anytime I see the book cover. “Pet Sematary” will be forever linked to The Fixx “Phantoms” for me.