The Canadian cartoonists who just completed a successful Indiegogo campaign to publish their homegrown superhero anthology True Patriot are back, but this time they aren’t in it for themselves: They’ve just launched a second Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the Red Cross.
As the text on the Indiegogo page explains:
Even at this advanced point in the decades-long flowering of the graphic novel, both in public esteem and in mainstream publishers’ plans, David Nytra’s The Secret of the Stone Frog stands out as a remarkable book, one that accomplishes something I don’t remember seeing any other similar work manage.
It’s from Toon Books, editor Francoise Mouly’s imprint of Candlewick Press, which for years now has been producing superior, hardcover kids’ comics for readers of various ages. And at 77 pages, it’s the first to be explicitly labeled a graphic novel.
The story is a traditional one of two children, brother and sister, the latter of whom is on the cusp of adolescence — their parents think Leah is now old enough to get her own room, rather than sharing one with her younger brother Alan — and one night when they go to sleep, they awake in a world that’s similar to the one they know, but with familiar aspects exploded in fantastical directions. The setting, or settings, suggest Victorian England, and Nytra’s artwork suggests classic children’s literature from in and around the same period.
His elaborate and detailed black-and-white art, drawn with a crowquill pen and india ink, resembles that of John Tenniel’s illustrations for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Pauline Baynes’ for C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia series; although the fine line work and classic-looking subject matter may also suggest to you E.H. Shepard’s illustrations for A.A. Milne’s Pooh books, or Beatrix Potter’s drawings for her many animal tales, or the full-page illustrations that appear in the various Andrew Lang colored fairy books.
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.
J. Torres explains his newest project:
A number of my Canadian comic book pals and I grew up reading Alpha Flight, Captain Canuck, or Wolverine comics and we’ve always thought that there should be more Canadian superheroes out there. Over the years, we’d periodically get together and inevitably talk about the Canadian superheroes we’ve created (sometimes dating back to childhood) and always wanting to do “something” with them.
Well, we’re finally about to do something — something pretty big, and pretty cool. Kinda like Canada itself, eh?
That something is True Patriot, an anthology of short stories featuring homegrown Canadian superheroes, and Torres has announced a stellar roster that includes Scott Chantler (Two Generals), Ramon Perez (A Tale of Sand), Andy Belanger (Kill Shakespeare), Faith Erin Hicks (Friends With Boys, The Adventures of Superhero Girl) and the team of Jack Briglio and Ron Salas. The anthology will be 100 pages, full color (or “colour,” as they say north of the border), and available in both hardcover and digital formats. Watch for the campaign to go live on IndieGoGo on Oct. 1, but in the meantime, check out Torres’ blog for some cool character designs.
Digital comics | The Japanese web portal JManga today launched an unlimited-access site JManga7, although it won’t be putting any actual content on it until October. Unlike JManga, which sells digital manga one volume at a time, JManga7 operates on an “all-you-can-eat” model, with single chapters of a variety of titles available for free, and a wider selection with a paid subscription. The site will be updated daily and will include a mix of genres, with some new content that is being published close to its Japanese release date as well as some older series. The idea is for readers to check out the manga at JManga7 and ultimately buy them for keeps at JManga. To encourage readers to pre-register, JManga is raffling off seven Nexus 7 tablets and seven free subscriptions. Plans for the site were unveiled last month at Comic-Con International in an exclusive interview with Comic Book Resources. [JManga]
Since the first time I hung out with Monkeybrain Books founders Allison Baker and Chris Roberson at the Westin hotel bar during HeroesCon a few years back, I have longed to do a joint interview with them. While their publishing house Monkeybrain Books has been in existence since 2001, in July Baker and Roberson launched a creator-owned comiXology-distributed digital imprint, Monkeybrain Comics. While much is known of Roberson, not everyone knows Baker’s background. As detailed at their company website: “Allison Baker has worked in feature film and political media production for more than 13 years, while also managing the day-to-day operations of Chris Roberson and Monkeybrain Books.” Please allow me to apologize in advance for not quizzing Roberson about my new favorite Monkeybrain work of his, Edison Rex. Update: After I finished posting this article, Monkeybrain announced that tomorrow (August 14) would mark the release of a 99-cent autobiographical story by Kurt Busiek, Thoughts on A Winter Morning, drawn by Steve Lieber (a story which was originally appeared in Negative Burn: Winter 2005).
Tim O’Shea: Which came first, the decision to move to Portland or the decision to move Monkeybrain into the digital realm?
Allison Baker: The move to PDX was definitely decided first. Monkeybrain Comics started out as an idea and theory, trying to solve a lot of the problems creators run into when working within a traditional publishing model. The final piece of the puzzle came to us at the end of last year. After that we started actively putting it all together in the beginning of 2012.
Chris Roberson: Yeah, we’d been planning our move to Portland for well over a year, and talking about it for a year or two before that. The germ of the idea that would eventually become Monkeybrain Comics was planted around the same time, but didn’t take its final form as a digital comics imprint until the end of last year.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. Michael and Graeme have each picked the five new comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a Top 10 of the best new comics coming out two months from now.
As usual, 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.
Blacklung HC (Fantagraphics Books, $24.99): This one grabbed me as soon as I read the high-concept in the solicits: A man decides to be as evil as possible so that he’ll be reunited with his dead wife in Hell when he dies. Depressing, existential AND romantic? I couldn’t sign up quickly enough for Chris Wright’s original graphic novel debut.
Chris Ware: Building Stories HC (Pantheon Books, $50.00): To be honest, I run hot and cold on Ware’s work; as a formalist, he’s wonderful and his work is technically perfect, but I don’t always get the emotional hook that I want from his work, and that’s a real problem for me. Luckily (or not? This is a pricey book to gamble on), the technical aspects of this box set of interrelated publications, all seen for the first time here, sounds interesting enough to sample no matter how cold the writing leaves me. Damn my curiosity about comics formats!
Happy! #1 (of 4) (Image Comics, $2.99): I’ll admit it; I’m more than a little dubious about the “It’s a hit man teaming up with a magical flying My Little Pony” set-up of this new series, but it’s Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson, so I almost feel a sense of “How bad can it actually BE?”
Steed and Mrs. Peel #1 (BOOM! Studios, $3.99): I’ve always enjoyed the old Avengers TV show at something of arm’s length, having only seen a handful of episodes (but enjoyed them greatly); what draws me to this new series is the presence of Mark Waid, who seems to be on fire these days between Insufferable and Daredevil.
Stumptown: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case #1 (Oni Press, $3.99): Oh, you should’ve seen me when I found out this was finally coming out. Not only did I absolutely love the first Stumptown series a couple of years ago, but I’ve also been on a Greg Rucka novel re-reading kick recently, so finding out that Dex’s client for this new story is the lead character from A Fistful of Rain made me almost impossibly happy. Easily my most-anticipated book of the month.
If you only checked Twitter today for your news, you know that, among other fun facts, Anderson Cooper is gay, Big Sean gave Justin Bieber a pinkie ring and Chris Roberson announced the new digital comics initiative Monkeybrain Comics is coming July 4.
Make that was coming, actually–due to the attention they received today, Monkeybrain and comiXology decided to launch the line early.
“With “#Monkeybrain” trending worldwide on Twitter most of the day, Monkeybrain Comics and comiXology have taken the unprecedented step of releasing the entire launch line of Monkeybrain Comics two days early. Available now at this link, fans worldwide can stop tweeting about “#Monkeybrain” and start experiencing this great new line of comics. (But seriously, don’t stop tweeting about it either! – Chris and Allison.),” read the press release from comiXology.
Available now from comiXology are:
- Aesop’s Ark by J. Torres and Jennifer L. Meyer
- Amelia Cole and the Unknown World by Adam P. Knave, DJ Kirkbride and Nick Brokenshire
- Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover
- Edison Rex by Chris Roberson and Dennis Culver
- October Girl by Matthew Dow Smith
I’m downloading Bandette as I type this, soon to be followed by the rest. The comics are 13-16 pages each for 99 cents except for Amelia Cole and the Unknown World, which is $1.99 for 31 pages. I mean, seriously; 99 cents for a Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover comic? I’m all over that. You can check out artwork from each of them over on CBR.
In January, illustrator/cartoonist/artist Stephanie Buscema launched The Little Tales of Otto & Olive, a new all-ages webcomic as part of the Saturday Morning Webtoons site. Infused with her love of cats as well as a healthy appreciation of carnival sideshows (and carny kids), the quirky adventures of a young girl and a sophisticated talking feline caught my attention immediately. Buscema was kind enough to recently entertain a series of questions about this new project, as well as an upcoming collaboration with author Carolyn Crimi on Pugs in a Bug (Dial Books [set for release on March 15]) and a cover assignment for KaBOOM! Studios Adventure Time comics. I loved getting to gain some insight on Buscema’s approach to her craft–particularly the lessons learned from working with industry great Marie Severin.
Tim O’Shea: How did you come to be involved with Saturday Morning Webtoons?
Stephanie Buscema: I was approached by J. Torres about contributing to Saturday Morning Webtoons back in September. I loved idea, the work of everyone involved and jumped at the chance to play around with a new all ages comic.
J. Torres brings to our attention the premiere of Saturday Morning Webtoons, a new web “channel” linking readers to a lineup of all-ages webcomics from some familiar names: Boo Bear & Flo, by Jack Briglio (Digger & Friends, Scooby Doo) and Agnes Garbowska (Marvel’s Girl Comics, You, Me and Zombie); Gobukan, by J. Bone (Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Owl Magazine), The Little Tales of Otto & Olive, by Stephanie Buscema (Rocketeer Adventures, Pugs in a Bug); Orchard of Laughs, by Eric Orchard (Maddy Kettle, Yo Gabba Gabba: Comic Book Time); and Princess at Midnight, by Andi Watson (Glister, Skeleton Key).
In addition to the stable of weekly and biweekly comics, the site also offers each month a free downloadable comic; first up is Lopopo’s Lost Sock, by Alex Serra (Handy Manny, Teen Titans Go). Next will be Funnies Farm, by J. Torres (Archie & Friends, Disney/Pixar’s WALL-E) and Tracie Mauk (Comic Book Crossfire, Fight).
J. Torres and Sean Galloway have teamed up on a new science fiction webcomic– Bastion’s 7, which began running on Galloway’s blog last week. Galloway says to look for a new page each week,either on his blog or on the Table Taffy Deviant Art site he’s set up with Ryan Benjamin.
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 be a judicious comics buyer and pick the top four out of over 20 titles I’d want this week. DC/Vertigo makes it slightly easier by making the new Brian Azzarello/Eduardo Risso joint Spaceman #1 only $1. This dollar price point for first issues combined with the $9.99 price point they sometimes do for the first volume of comic trade paperbacks surely gets a lot of traction. Next up I’d get Jason Aaron’s new era of the X-Men in Wolverine & X-Men #1 (Marvel, $3.99) with Chris Bachalo. I’d also get my regular pulls of DMZ #70 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) and The Walking Dead #90 (Image, $2.99) and last–but first in my stack to read-–would be Secret Avengers #18 (Marvel, $3.99). I hear some Ellis guy is writing it, but the big draw for me is artist David Aja. His Iron Fist run is one of my top favs in comics in the past ten years, and he’s a titan in my book.
You might have heard the phrase “power lunch” and thought of a business meeting over food, but with the word “power” in it weren’t you hoping for some more … fun?
J. Torres and Dean Trippe rescue the phrase from its stuffy business origins and turn it into a action-packed grade-school drama. If Captain America is a super-soldier due to his superpowers, then Power Punch‘s Joey would be a super-student!
Trippe has described Power Lunch as “elementary school superheroin’ w/snacks”, and that’s just the half of it. Joey gets different superpowers depending on what he eats, from flight to invisibility and even some earth-shaking powers. To keep himself out of trouble he sticks to a strict dietary regimen, but as young kids are wont to do — sometimes they break the rules, especially when it can impress their friends.
An advance read of the book gave me a real thrill for this young-readers book, so look for it when it hits shelves in October. The creators have provided an exclusive five-page preview of the book, which you can check out after the break:
J. Torres is a pretty prolific comics writer, with credits that include Alison Dare, Lola: A Ghost Story, Wonder Woman, Jinx, and the Degrassi: Extra Credit graphic novels. Now even his Tweets are being turned into comics, thanks to Eric Kim (Love as a Foreign Language). The two are collaborating on Twit, a single-panel gag strip based on Torres’s Twitter feed. There are just three comics up so far, but already a theme has emerged: Torres is the father of a new baby, and that has factored into all three episodes. The humor is pretty good, and Kim’s deft art makes these comics easy on the eye, so stay tuned for more Twitter funnies.
Back in April, writer/artist Matthew Loux released the fourth volume in his all ages Salt Water Taffy series for Oni Press, Caldera’s Revenge (Part 1). This installment (as detailed by Oni): “Part 1 of Jack and Benny’s first multi-volume adventure! The boys are having a hard time reading The Hidden History of Chowder Bay, given to them by Captain Hollister. So when a spooky whaling ship appears in the bay, it’s no time at all before the boys abandon the tome and find themselves in the middle of the action, searching for the fiercest whale that ever lived: Caldera!” The advantage of an interview like this is the fact that back in June 2009 Loux and I discussed the early days of Salt Water Taffy for Robot 6–and this second go-round allowed me to consider Loux’s work then and now (when developing my questions). Thanks to Loux for his time and thoughts. As happens periodically with these discussions, Loux has a question for his readers at the end.
Tim O’Shea: The most recent volume (Vol. 4/Caldera’s Revenge) of Salt Water Taffy was the first part of a two-parter tale (to be completed with Volume 5). Was there any trepidation on your part to do a two-parter split between two volumes, or in fact are you hoping it will draw readers even more into the story than if the two volumes were standalones?
Matthew Loux: When I was working out the story for Caldera’s Revenge I had originally figured it to be one volume like the previous three Salt Water Taffy‘s, but once the script was finished and I started laying out pages, I quickly realized that there was no way I could fit it all and still do the storytelling justice. We were faced with the option of doing a larger book and breaking from the original format, or splitting it into two. I was in favor of keeping the original format and doing two books instead of one. Luckily I was able to end Caldera pt. 1 on a really nice cliffhanger which became a perfect place leave off, and it will be a great spot to pick up again in Caldera pt. 2. Even though I didn’t originally write the story with that in mind, I think It works extremely well for both books.