Legal | The final chapter of The Oatmeal vs. Charles Carreon has been completed (we hope), and it’s not a shining moment for Carreon: A judge has ordered him to pay $46,000 in attorney’s fees to the creator of a Satirical Charles Carreon website, whom he threatened with legal action. Carreon eventually dropped his suit, but the whole dispute escalated anyway, and the judge cited his “malicious conduct” in awarding the fees. [Ars Technica]
Digital comics | Amazon has quietly launched Kindle Comic Creator, which allows creators to upload various types of files and make them into e-books to be sold in the Kindle store; the software has its own system for creating panel-by-panel view, and the finished product can be read on a wide variety of Kindles and Kindle apps. [Good E-Reader]
A few years ago, Viz Media published Inio Asano’s manga Solanin and What a Wonderful World to great critical acclaim. Set in present-day Tokyo, they show the lives of twentysomethings trying to navigate their place in the world.
Now Fantagraphics Books has announced it will publish another Asano manga, Nijigahara Holograph, but it’s not a slice-of-life manga; it’s a horror story. Matt Thorn, who has translated the other Fantagraphics manga titles, including Moto Hagio’s A Drunken Dream and Other Stories and Shimura Takako’s Wandering Son, will translate this one as well. The story is complete in a single, 200-page hardcover volume, which will retail for $26.99. Here’s what Fantagraphics President and Co-Publisher Gary Groth has to say about the book:
Inio Asano’s Nijigahara Holograph is both a departure from and entirely consistent with our growing line of manga graphic novels. It is considerably and consistently darker than either Moto Hagio’s or Shimura Takako’s work, using a much more deliberately involuted literary structure, but it’s also in keeping with our editorial imperative to publish unique artistic voices. We’re proud to make this landmark work available to an American readership.
As it happens, Shaenon Garrity just wrote a column about Asano’s manga; here’s her take on Nijigahara Holograph:
Asano blends character studies of directionless young adults with shocking violence, supernatural horror, time travel, and the end of the world, creating a work that’s sort of half Magnolia, half Donnie Darko, with a splash of Stephen King.
Solicitation text and sample artwork can be found below:
The online retail giant Amazon, which already has a publishing arm of its own, has added digital comics to its portfolio with the release of Blackburn Burrow, a comic that is — they make no bones about it — a movie pitch. In fact, the comic originated as a screenplay in Amazon Studios, which is a sort of crowdsourcing commons where people can upload scripts, videos and other projects, and those with the best feedback rise to the top of the heap, apparently. Amazon has a number of projects from Amazon Studios in development, although none are in actual production yet, but it’s early days for them.
Blackburn Burrow was produced by 12 Gauge Comics, an actual comics publisher, and the creative team of writer Ron Marz and artist Matthew Dow Smith has some serious comics cred. I actually read the comic: It’s not bad, but it doesn’t really rise above its genre. It’s a horror comic set during the Civil War, featuring a blind ex-soldier who starts off killing some kind of a witch and then gets sent by the War Department to investigate mysterious doings in a small Georgia town. The art is serviceable — honestly, it looks like it was done in a hurry, but Smith has a deft style and it’s very readable. A lot of horror comics load up the panels with details and gore, but his restrained hand suggests he is going for story over effects. So far, the comic hasn’t broken any new ground, but it’s entertaining enough.
At the end of the comic (which is hosted on Graphicly and can also be read on the Kindle) there’s a link to an online survey, and if you complete the survey, Amazon will send you a $5 gift card. The survey is pretty painless, but there are a lot of questions about the comic so don’t try to cheat and skip the required reading.
Happy Father’s Day and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where each week we talk about what comics and other stuff have been on our reading piles. Today’s guests are two of the contributors to Skullkickers #18, which features several “Tavern Tales” short stories by different creative teams. Joining us today are Charles Soule of 27, Strange Attractors and Strongman fame, and Aubrey Sitterson, winner of the Skullkickers Tavern Tales Contest. He’s also the writer of Gear Monkey for Double Feature Comics and community manager for WWE Games.
To see what Charles, Aubrey and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Following up the teaser we received earlier this week, former BOOM! Studios editor and Darkwing Duck writer Ian Brill has revealed the details behind Dracula World Order, a self-published one-shot that will be available next Wednesday at select retailers and digitally through comiXology.
Joining Brill in creating the comic are four different artists — Tonci Zonjic, Rahsan Ekedal, Declan Shalvey and Gabriel Hardman. The comic is broken into four chapters, each drawn by a different artist, with a cover by Shalvey and colorist Jordie Bellaire. The story revolves around Dracula’s son Alexandru leading a rebellion against his father and the one-percent “vampire elite.”
From a publishing/distribution standpoint, Brill seems to be following the model that worked very well for Sam Humphries last year with his self-published comics Our Love is Real and Sacrifice (Brill even mentioned Humphries in his press release). The one-shot has a print run of 300 copies, creating a collectible item, but it’s also available digitally so anyone with a mobile device or web connection can read it through comiXology. (If you’re interested in more about Humphries’ approach, he spoke extensively about it at Comic-Con last year at a panel we were both on, which is available for your listening pleasure here).
You can find some preview artwork and a list of shops selling the comic below. I have some questions out to Brill about it, so watch for an interview soon.
Sam Costello’s Split Lip horror comic has been popular with reviewers and readers alike for a couple of years, so it was a surprise when Costello announced earlier this week that he is ending the comic, which is written by him and illustrated by different artists. We checked in to see what happened—and what will happen next.
Robot 6: When you first started Split Lip, what were you hoping to accomplish?
Sam Costello: There’s a big answer and a small one. The small one is that I just wanted to make comics, to write stories that would let me express some of the things inside me and demonstrate that perhaps I could be a writer of good comics. That’s not the interesting answer, though. The interesting answer is the big one: I wanted to make a different kind of horror comics.
This may seem like an odd thing to say about a comics market crowded full of titles filed under horror, but I think there are actually vanishingly few true horror comics. There are lots of comics with horror elements or themes, but many of them are actually something else: action with horror in them, romance with horror in them, adventure with horror in them. In my analysis, there are relatively few true horror comics, comics that peel away the social niceties and shared delusions we use to make the basic horror of existence (that we live in an indifferent universe, that’s there’s no meaning to life other than what we instill it with, how fraught and confused and misunderstood our relationships with others can be) bearable.
Legal | Comics reviewer and journalist Don MacPherson was notified by his web-hosting service of a complaint accusing him of violating the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. According to MacPherson, the complaint was filed by Scott Courrier, owner of Geeks Galore Computer Center in Marmora, Ontario, who lost a copyright-infringement lawsuit in 2009 after using one of cartoonist Rich Koslowski’s 3 Geeks images without permission. MacPherson wrote about the original judgment; he also posted a follow-up noting Koslowski hadn’t been paid and that the computer center was still using his artwork about a year later. In his complaint to the web-hosting service, Courrier accuses MacPherson of infringing on his copyright by “using my personal name and business information in a negative way without consent.” MacPherson’s hosting company briefly took down his site, but has since restored it, saying it won’t pull it down again unless ordered to do so by a court. MacPherson also followed up with Koslowski, who said the computer center is still using his artwork and hasn’t paid him the court-ordered monetary award from his case. [Eye on Comics]
Passings | Jan Berenstain, who with her husband Stan created the popular children’s book characters the Berenstain Bears, passed away Friday at a hospital near her home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Berenstain, 88, had suffered a stroke earlier in the week. Since the release of The Big Honey Hunt in 1962, the Berenstain Bears series has grown to more than 300 books and sold about 260 million copies worldwide, inspiring animated television specials and series, museum exhibits and a stage show. Stan Berenstain passed away in 2005 at age 82. [The Washington Post]
Events | This year’s 24-Hour Comics Day will be held Oct. 20. [ComicsPro]
Comics | Here’s a variation on the comics-aren’t-for-kids-anymore theme, with reasonable parents who know they need to check what their kids are reading, and a retailer who gets it. [WNYT.com]
Joëlle Jones mentioned the other day that she was working on a new horror comic for Oni Press with Cullen Bunn, writer of The Sixth Gun, and that piqued our interest. The folks at Broken Frontier were interested, too, and they got a few more details. “[The project] is currently planned as a limited series,” Bunn said. “It’s definitely one of the darkest things I’ve written so far – a kind of horror mash-up that I’m pretty excited about it.”
While Bunn has been busy with The Sixth Gun, Wolverine and his upcoming stint on Venom: Savage Six, Jones has brought her lively, slightly retro style to a stack of teen and young adult books, including Dark Horse adaptations of PC Cast’s House of Night and Janet and Alex Evanovich’s Troublemaker, and a new adaptation of O.T. Nelson’s The Girl Who Owned a City. These two are a killer combination, and I for one can’t wait to see what they have brewing.
[KRISTY] VALENTI: I think there is a wolf cycle going on right now in indy comics; there was that werewolf anthology they put out at CCS.
[TOM] NEELY: I haven’t seen it.
VALENTI: I don’t know if it was the whole vampire-werewolf-zombie cycle or —
NEELY: I have no idea. I have specifically avoided reading most comics while working on The Wolf. Except for a few exceptions from friends, but I didn’t want to be influenced by anything contemporary or any external ideas. But I was very conscious of Twilight and all that stuff happening around me. And my mom was always like, “Oh, I think your book is gonna do really well, because everybody’s into werewolves and scary stuff.” And I’m like, “Mom …” And she’s like, “You should market this to the Twilight…” And I was like, “I’m not marketing my semi-pornographic book to teenage girls.”
[Valenti laughs.] That will get me arrested [chuckles].
It’s just a coincidence. It wasn’t any specific attempt to tap into that market, I was just off doing my own werewolf thing in my cave. And apparently there’s other stuff going on too — I didn’t even realize Jason did a werewolf story until somebody told me that the other day. So I haven’t really kept up with anybody [chuckles]. That’s what’s nice about finishing it, is now I’m getting to read all these books that I’ve avoided for the last five years. And someone else brought up that there’s a lot more sex in indy comics right now too. And I was unaware of that as well. Maybe there’s just something in the collective unconscious that’s leading us down that path. But it wasn’t any conscious attempt at being a part of that. I’m largely unaware; I guess there is a lot of it.
—Cartoonist and painter Tom Neely on pop culture and alternative comics’ mutual season of the wolf, in conversation with The Comics Journal‘s Kristy Valenti. He’s right — altcomix really are having a bit of a sexy time right now, and horror has gone hand in hand with that, for whatever reason. It’s interesting to think that even some of the artists responsible for this don’t realize it until they emerge from the trees enough to get a good look at the forest.
Valenti’s life- and career-spanning interview with Neely is a must-read, and not just because of insights like these into Neely’s wordless psycho-sexual-surreal-semiautobiographical graphic novel The Wolf, one of the year’s best comics. It paints a compelling portrait of how a restless and idiosyncratic artist can maintain a balance between pursuing his vision and the need to work with others — peers, publishers, day-job providers — to do so. His revelations about his failure to come to terms with Top Shelf for publishing his breakout book The Blot, the pros and cons of working as an animator for Disney, and his interaction with the alternative-comics scenes in Los Angeles and Portland all make for reading that’s both depressing and instructive. Check it out.
There’s not much I can say by way of an introduction to Tom Neely that the above image can’t do better. Combining the gangly, jaunty character designs of classic comic icons like E.C. Segar’s Popeye and Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse with a take on horror that’s equal parts metal album cover, ’70s horror mag, and sexualized Surrealism, Neely’s comics, paintings, and illustrations wed a high level of craft to intense imagery that often literally tears its characters apart. It’s a style Neely has deployed with surprising versatility since the high-profile release of his self-published graphic novel debut The Blot in 2007; in that time he’s riffed directly on his influences with the Popeye reinterpretation Doppelgänger and the horror-mag cover collection Neely Covers Comics to Give You the Creeps!, adapted the songs of punk mainstays the Melvins in Your Disease Spread Quick, created a series of strip-format comic poems in Brilliantly Ham-fisted, put an alternative spin on the gag comic in the anthology Bound & Gagged, and most famously helped craft an ode to the timeless love affair of hardcore legends Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig in Henry & Glenn Forever. I’ve enjoyed all these comics. But The Wolf, Neely’s new self-published full-length graphic novel, is the leader of the pack.
It’s easy to enjoy (if that’s the right word) The Wolf as a thrilling, chilling onslaught of monsters, bloody combat, and graphic sex — and indeed I do. But beneath the werewolves and zombies and tree-headed monks is a moving exploration of couplehood, as our male and female protagonists deal with the pain of the past and the threats of the present in order to build a (literally) brighter future together. As with The Blot, The Wolf‘s wordlessness emphasizes Neely’s powerful images, with a clever use of single splashes and double-page spreads propelling us through a story that at any moment can toggle between nightmare, wet dream, and peaceful reverie. It’s like life with the volume cranked up.
With The Wolf‘s release party scheduled for this Friday, July 8, at L.A.’s Secret Headquarters (although you can already purchase a copy through Neely’s website), Neely has provided Robot 6 with a selection of preview pages from throughout the book, and took the time to answer a few questions about its origins, influences, style, substance, subtext, sex scene, and more.
Hans Rickheit, who made Sean’s list of deeply creepy “alt-horror” cartoonists last Halloween, has just launched a new webcomic, Cochlea & Eustachea, which is even more surrealistic and deeply creepy than his slightly older (and much praised) Ectopiary.
On the About page, Rickheit notes that the lead characters have appeared in many of his other comics, starting with Chrome Fetus #5, but this is the first time they are getting their own comic. He only has two pages up right now, so it’s a good time to get on board.
(Via Scott McCloud.)
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.
John Rozum is known to comics fans primarily for his horror work, from the current Xombi and recent Hangman for DC Comics to creator-owned work like Midnight, Mass. and licensed comics like The X-Files and even Scooby-Doo. He’s also the World’s Biggest Halloween Fan. The holiday, not the movie. Though I supposed he likes the movie, too. I should ask him.
Anyway, Rozum’s started a new blog, The Grim Gallery in which he shares images from his extensive collection of horror photos and art. Like the Dave McKean piece above. It’s just getting started, so horror fans can catch up quickly, but Rozum’s updating daily, so there’ll be plenty to keep you coming back.
Ok, maybe that’s a bit stereotypical, but it gives me a chance to fill you in on this innovative new series that’s being previewed free online. Created by writer Geoffrey Wessel and artist Jeff Simpson, the soccer crime serial Keeper is a very strong piece of work with an very unique concept ripe for success.
The creators are serializing pages of the comic online every Wednesday while also building towards a full first issue for print release.The comic has gotten some good accolades from veteran comic creators like Phil Hester, Rob Williams and Jacen Burrows — with the latter describing it as a “sports horror hybrid”.
Both creators were on hand earlier this month at C2E2 showing off their book in the Web Pavilion. For more, you can visit their site keeper-comic.com