Conventions | Brian Howe looks at the rivalry between Comic Book City Con, which debuted two weekends ago in Greensboro, North Carolina, and NC Comicon, which returns Saturday in Durham. The latter, which is now co-owned by artist Tommy Lee Edwards, drew 4,000 attendees last year (its first at the Durham Convention Center), and this year doubled its exhibit space and ramped up its programming. The conflict, which manifested in a flier for Comic Book City Con that one party considers playful but the other calls “bullying,” seems to be rooted in the proximity of the dates and a perceived lack of communication. However, it’s not simply a rivalry between nearby conventions; it’s one between retailers: Durham’s Ultimate Comics organizes NC Comicon, while Greensboro’s Acme Comics operates Comic Book City Con. [Indy Week]
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our guest is Salgood Sam, who has just relaunched his independent personal anthology series Revolver. He is also completing the last chapter of a graphic novel called Dream Life after a successful Indiegogo funding drive to finance it. He also publishes the Canadian-centric comics blog Sequential. As he told me, he “usually has too many projects going on and does not get enough sleep.”
To see what Salgood Sam and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Artist Murray Groat (aka Muz, aka Muzski) has a fondness for the dementing elder gods of H.P. Lovecraft, but lucky for us, he also digs Tintin. The result is a series of fake covers pitting Hergé’s boy adventurer against C’thulhu and his kind. I can’t help but feel bad for the hero, but I’m sure Snowy will figure out how to take those demons down. Geek Art has the entire portfolio.
Conventions | A group of 21 events companies, including New York Comic Con and BookExpo America organizer Reed Exhibitions, are opposing a plan by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to tear down the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. In a letter to the governor that was also distributed to 600 other officials, the Friends of Javits said they would not patronize the much larger venue that’s to be built in Ozone Park, Queens, primarily because of its distance from Manhattan. [Crain's New York Business, via ICv2]
Conventions | Comic-Con International is just six weeks away, and you know it’s coming when Tom Spurgeon posts his annual list of tips for enjoying the convention. It’s a wealth of information, compiled over 17 years of con-going, so go, learn. [The Comics Reporter]
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.
Written by Bruce Brown and Dwight L MacPherson
Art by Thomas Boatwright
As I mentioned in last week’s What Are You Reading? (where I incorrectly referred to it as Howard Lovecraft and the Ice Kingdom), I didn’t care for Bruce Brown and Renzo Podesta’s Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom. I liked Podesta’s art for the most part, but some of his choices bothered me. Like, when a character sees a city of ice for the first time and marvels at how glorious and beautiful it is, maybe the audience should be able to see it too instead of just taking the character’s word for it. The greater problem though was that it was that it was too clunky about the way it tried to balance Lovecraftian horror with a kids comics sensibility.
There were some cool, creepy moments, but they were ruined by simplistic characterization and actions that just didn’t feel real. That’s most clearly illustrated in the scene where young Howard Lovecraft meets C’thulhu for the first time. I’m not a Lovecraft scholar (hell, I’m barely even a fan), but I know that the elder gods are supposed to be huge and terrifying; that just looking at them drives people insane. But when Howard meets this monster, he runs away and beats the Deep One by stopping short at a cliff so that the pursuing Wile E. C’thulhu flies right over. Howard then saves the repentant beast and names him “Spot,” a nickname the elder god gratefully accepts from his new master. The whole scene struck me as ridiculous and I wasn’t sure how anyone could salvage Frozen Kingdom to make a better second volume. But Brown (with the help of new co-writer Dwight MacPherson) does.
Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom picks up where Frozen Kingdom leaves off in the story, but the tone is all different. This is a flawed comparison, but I kept thinking of Edward Gorey as I read it. Frozen Kingdom tried to be all-ages by throwing in things for both adults and kids, but failed because it was too easy to draw circles around its parts and say, “This is for kids” and “This is for grownups.” Undersea’s approach is the kind that Neil Gaiman’s always advocating for: that it’s okay to tell a story for children and make it good and scary. Kids will recognize themselves in Howard Lovecraft and think it’s pretty cool that he has a monster for a friend (Howard doesn’t treat him like a puppy in Undersea), a humorously loony dad (who was genuinely disturbing in the first book), and a dauntlessly resourceful cop as a mentor (a new and very welcome character). There’s also a pretty awesome cat. And while readers are enjoying all that, they’re encouraged to be good and creeped out by the world.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week’s special guest is Simon Monk, an artist whose “Secret Identity” paintings we featured here on Robot 6 not too long ago. Monk is actually selling limited edition prints of his paintings on his website now, so go check them out.
To see what Simon and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that we don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Batwoman is still awesome!” every month. And we’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
One cool change this month and for the foreseeable future: I’m joined by Graeme McMillan who’ll also be pointing out his favorites.
Finally, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist – I admit, I tend to run hot and cold on Clowes’ output, but I’m a sucker for coffee-table career retrospectives, so the idea of taking 224 pages to look back at his career to date (with, of course, the traditional little-seen artwork and commentary) seems like a must-look at the very least. [Graeme]
Rachel Rising, Volume 1: The Shadow of Death – Terry Moore’s latest series gets its first collection and I love the premise of a woman’s waking up in a shallow grave with no memory of how she got there and needing to figure out who tried to kill to her. [Michael]
In advance of this week’s New York Comic Con, IDW Publishing announced a sequel to last year’s Infestation crossover that will run from January through April.
Infestation 2, like its predecessor, will feature a supernatural threat that spreads into several different “universes” inhabited by IDW properties. Instead of zombies, this time around the threat is the “Old Ones” from horror writer H.P Lovercraft’s stories. Duane Swierczynski (Birds of Prey, Cable) and David Messina, who drew the original Infestation series, are the creative team on the two-issue Infestation 2 series, while other creative teams will tackle the related books featuring Transformers, G.I. Joe, 30 Days of Night and more. Here’s a breakdown of the event:
- Infestation 2 #1 ($3.99, 32 pages, full color) will be available in stores on Jan. 25, with covers by Alex Garner and Livio Ramondelli.
- Infestation 2: Transformers #1 and #2 will be in stores on Feb. 1 and 15, respectively. It’s by writer Chuck Dixon and artist Guido Guidi and is set in the “Hearts of Steel” timeline.
- Infestation 2: Dungeons & Dragons: Eberron #1 and #2 will be in stores on Feb. 8 and 22, respectively, written by Dungeons & Dragons novelist Paul Krill.
- Infestation 2: Team-up one-shot will be in stores on Feb. 29, featuring the Weekly World News‘ Bat Boy and Groom Lake’s grey alien Archibald. It’s by Chris Ryall and Alan Robinson, with covers by Eric Powell and Bill Morrison.
- Infestation 2: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 and #2 will be in stores on March 7 and 21, respectively, by Tristan Jones and Mark Torres.
- Infestation 2: G.I. Joe #1 and #2 will be in stores on March 14 and 28, respectively, by Mike Raicht and Valentine de Landro.
- Infestation 2: 30 Days of Night one-shot will be in stores on April 4, by Swierczynski and artist Stuart Sayger.
- Infestation 2 #2 will be available in stores on April 11.
Every issue of the event will feature a connected cover by artist Livio Ramondelli, and IDW will produce special incentive temporary tattoos with each issue. IDW will also release promotional ashcans in November with interviews and artwork.
Update: Comic Book Resources talks to Ryall about the project. He confirms that J. Scott Campbell’s Danger Girl will be a part of the event, although she won’t have her own series or one-shot tie-in. IDW will publish a new Danger Girl series next spring.
Back in April of 2010, writer Aaron Alexovich and artist Drew Rausch’s Eldritch! battled nine other webcomics to win the monthly competition held by DC Comics’ Zuda imprint. It was a hard-fought battle, and Eldritch! would ultimately earn the distinction of becoming the last Zuda winner, as DC shut down the competitions and ultimately the entire imprint soon after.
Eldritch! never had the opportunity to begin its run on the Zuda site, but that didn’t stop Rausch and Alexovich from pushing forward. A little more than a year after their victory, their comic is finally being released by the duo in various digital formats, including through Graphicly, comiXology and via the comic’s website.
The duo was kind enough to answer a few questions about and share some artwork from the new book. You can see even a longer preview on their site.
JK: Let’s start with a question about how this project initially came together. What made you guys decide to enter the monthly Zuda contest? And how did you guys know each other before all of this?
Drew: I was aware of Aaron’s existence from reading Serenity Rose way back when it was in single issues. I remember thinking “Man, this guy can write!” Seriously, each issue was a sequential novel. And I liked that. It had substance, wit and charm what with the “spooky” cute art. Eventually, I ended up asking Aaron to do a pin up for the second volume of my creator book Sullengrey. He and I just started chatting after that and found we both had a lot of similar tastes.
Last year Drew Rausch and Aaron Alexovich’s Eldritch! was the winner of the final Zuda webcomics competition, but before the strip could begin its run, DC Comics shut down the site and imprint.
That might have slowed Rausch and Alexovich down, but it certainly didn’t stop them, as they plan to release Eldritch! “to every digital device known to God, Man, and Shoggoth alike, including your desktop, iPad/iPod/iPhone, Android, Nook, Kindle, and eNecronomicon (pending).” That includes Graphicly and comiXology, as well as directly from their website as a PDF.
The comic will debut on June 15 for 99 cents, and the first nine pages are available to preview now ontheir website.
You can find the press release, which is kind of a fun one as far as press releases go, after the jump.
The title says it all: Artist Murray Groat imagines what it would be like if the master of horror was writing Tintin.
Lovecraft is a hard act to follow, and an even harder one to adapt. “Oh you mean HP Lovecraft, the guy who came up with Cthulhu and all those cute little plush toys.” Yeah, the guy who launched a thousand little cottage industries pumping out VOTE FOR CTHULHU: THE STARS ARE RIGHT bumper stickers and Mythos Hunting Guides and all that stuff. Yeah, him. I do wonder if he’d be tickled or appalled at his legacy and all the eldritch dust-catchers and t-shirts and radio plays.
Well, he’d probably like the radio plays. He’d probably have even approved of the silent film adaptation of THE CALL OF CTHULHU, arguably his single most famous piece of fiction, certainly the one that’s lodged most deeply in the collective consciousness, for good or for ill. The film adaptation ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0478988/ for the IMDB page, and it’s streaming on Netflix) gets a solid recommendation from me, and anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m pretty hard to please as this stuff goes. Not because I think Lovecraft’s every word is sacred and perfect. I don’t. My relationship with HPL’s work is problematic, mostly in terms of the execution. I like characters. I like it when characters drive the plot. HPL couldn’t be bothered with that by and large, except when it was an incessant curiosity on the part of the players that made the eldritch secrets of the plot unfurl to their almost unerringly messy conclusions.
So I find HPL’s conceptual work rightly celebrated even if I find his prose nigh-unimpenetrable at times. Which is why I’m often attracted to adaptations of his work, where creators have a desire to stick to the template that HPL laid out, and often there’s some sense of respect for the source material, but it’s filtered through a different sense of aesthetics. HPL-inspired stuff that stars HPL himself? Not so much. Though there was that beautifully-illustrated LOVECRAFT OGN with art by Enrique Breccia that was so wonderful that I simply didn’t care about the story. Though I suppose there’s an interesting vein to mine when talking about Lovecraft as fictional construct rather than historical figure, but that’s for someone else to do.
As a part of Robot 666 week, we’re pleased to present Parasomnia by artist Greg Hinkle, who teamed up with several writers to tell the story of a young woman’s nightmares, which are the key to unlocking a deeper secret. Here’s what Greg had to say about this first story, an adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft tale:
I’ve always wanted to draw a Lovecraft story, but it’s always been a little intimidating. His stories always deal with some grandiose cosmic unknown. Usually some indescribable evil. (They discussed some of the same stuff during the West Hollywood Book Fair’s HP Lovecraft panel, earlier this month.) I knew that Lovecraft had done some short stories, and I figured I’d better start small. “The Terrible Old Man” is less than 1,200 words, and less than three pages in the book I have. It’s completely without dialogue, too, which appealed to me. Lovecraft’s approach is similar to his longer works, and he let’s almost all of the action take place off-page, leaving the reader to insert his own scary stuff. It confronts the threat from outsiders, in this case, quite literally, but gives the story a shot of the supernatural.
Parasomnias are a class of sleep disorders which include sleep walking, sleep talking, and night terrors. They’re characterized by a partial arousal, or the body becoming caught in between a state of waking and deep sleep. So I wanted a story that could set the tone for a confused state of arousal. And who better to set the stage for a confusing, dreamy state, than the grand-daddy of mind-bending horror?
Check out part one after the jump, then check back tomorrow for part two. You can also get Parasomnia from Greg Hinkle’s Etsy shop.
Good Lord, I sort of wish I hadn’t seen Vacon Sartirani’s “Mickey Mouse Against the Worms,” a monstrous mash-up of Mickey, Minnie, and gelatinous creatures out of Jim Woodring/H.P. Lovecraft/Stephen King’s “The Mist.” According to Sartirani, the piece is something of a racial allegory, which if my rudimentary Italian is any indication only makes it more troubling. You can check out the English translation at the link, provided you don’t much value your sanity and soul. And you can see more of Sartirani’s work at his website.