Digital comics | Rob Salkowitz, who’s making the rounds to promote his new book Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture, has the best summary yet of the digital comics phenomenon: “Digital doesn’t cannibalize the industry; it grows it by encouraging fandom.” (Robot 6 contributor J. Caleb Mozzocco reviewed Salkowitz’s book this week.) [Flip the Media]
Creators | Christos Gage may have created a new genre, “geezer noir,” with his graphic novel Sunset, the tale of an old soldier and former hitman who sets off after his old boss when he fears his ex-wife and child are in peril: “‘He’s got this craggy face and you see his life written in the lines of his face, and black and white makes that so much more powerful,’ the writer says. He credits artist Jorge Lucas for giving him all the facial expressions that stand in for a lot of talking: ‘He was never going to have interior monologues. I don’t think he overanalyzes what he does all that much.’” [USA Today]
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our guest is Mark Sable, the writer and co-creator of Image’s Graveyard of Empires with Paul Azaceta and the upcoming Duplicate from Kickstart Comics with Andy MacDonald. You can find his work and thoughts at marksable.com and contact him @marksable on the Twitter.
To see what Mark and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Happy Sunday and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our guest today is Kevin Church, writer of The Rack, Signs and Meanings, the new Monkeybrain series Wander: Olive Hopkins And The Ninth Kingdom and many other comics.
To see what Kevin and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
As several people have already mentioned, 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of Love and Rockets, the seminal, groundbreaking comic series by Gilbert, Jaime and Mario Hernandez. It’s an impressive feat for any cartoonist to maintain a series for so long (even given the various format changes L&R has gone through) and it’s all the more impressive when you consider the number of masterpieces the Hernandez brothers have put under their collective belt during that time period. The Death of Speedy. Poison River. Human Diastrophism. Wig Wam Bam. Heartbreak Soup. The Love Bunglers. Most cartoonists would kill to produce just one of those books. And they’re still going strong with no drop in quality.
In honor of their anniversary I thought I’d take the time to list some of my own personal favorite sequences from the series. This is by no means to be a definitive list — there are so many outstanding moments from this series that trying to narrow it down a mere six is a bit of a mug’s game. These are merely six moments that immediately came to mind when I thought of the idea for this post. I could have come up with 100 more easily. All you Los Bros fans out there can feel free to list your own favorite moments in the comments section.
Oh, and lots of spoilers exist below, so if you haven’t read the series yet and want to jump into it fresh. I’d stop reading here …
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.
While the offerings on show at my local comic store this week won’t compare with those available at Comic-Con International, if I had $15 this week, I’d pick up Sean Murphy’s Punk Rock Jesus #1 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99), the new Bloodshot #1 (Valiant, $3.99) and the final issue of the enjoyable Kirby: Genesis #8 (Dynamite, $3.99); the first for the art alone (I know very little about the story, but Murphy’s art is always worth checking out), the second for the high concept, and the third for the payoff that I know is coming from Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross and Jack Herbert’s resuscitation of the King’s concepts after following the series thus far.
That said, if I only had $30, I’d put both Punk Rock Jesus and Bloodshot back on the racks for another week, and add Darwyn Cooke’s new Parker adaptation, Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score (IDW, $24.99) to my pile, instead. Cooke’s Parker books are consistently must-buys, and I can’t see why this one would be any different.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics.
Wait a minute … “monthly”?
It’s true that we haven’t taken a What Looks Good tour in a few months, but the feature is back with an all-new approach that we hope will be more varied and useful than the old format. Instead of Michael and Graeme just commenting on everything that catches our attention in the catalog, we’ve invited Chrises Mautner and Arrant to join us in each picking the five new comics we’re most looking forward to. What we’ll end up with is a Top 20 (or so; there may be some overlap) of the best new comics coming out each month.
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.
1) Love and Rockets New Stories #5 by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics) — How do you possibly top the triumphant storytelling feat that was “The Love Bunglers”? I dunno, but Jaime Hernandez is certainly going to give it the old college try, this time shifting the focus onto the vivacious “Frogmouth” character. Gilbert, meanwhile, brings back some of his classic Palomar characters, so yeah, this is pretty much a “must own” for me.
2) Skippy Vol. 1: Complete Dailies 1925-1927 by Percy Crosby (IDW) — Percy Crosby’s Skippy might well be the great forgotten comic strip of the 20th century. Extremely popular in its day, and a huge influence on such luminaries as Charles Schulz, the strip has largely been forgotten and the name conjures up little more than images of peanut butter. IDW’s effort to reacquaint folks with this strip might change that — the few snippets I’ve read suggest this is real lost gem.
3) The Voyeurs by Gabrielle Bell (Uncivilized Books) — Tom Kaczynski’s small-press publishing company drops its first major, “big book” release with this memoir from the always-excellent Gabrielle Bell. Collecting work from her series Lucky (and, I think, some of her recent minis), the book chronicles a turbulent five year period as she travels around the world. Should be great.
4) Godzilla: The Half Century War by James Stokoe (IDW) — I usually stay as far away from licensed books as possible, but there is one simple reason I’m including this comic in my top five: James Stokoe. Stokoe’s Orc Stain has quickly become one of my favorite serialized comics, and his obsession with detailing every inch of the page combined with his ability to incorporate significant manga storytelling tropes in his work convince me he can do a solid job chronicling the adventures of the big green lizard that spits radioactive fire.
5) Barbara by Osamu Tezuka (Digital Manga) — Speaking of manga, here’s one of the more noteworthy Kickstarter projects of recent years: Digital Manga’s attempt to bring the master’s saga of a famous author and the homeless, beautiful woman he takes in and assumes to be his literal muse. This is well regarded in many Tezuka fan circles as one of the cartoonist’s better adult stories, and I’m glad to see Digital willing to take a chance on bringing more Tezuka to the West. I’ll definitely be buying this. I should also note that Vertical will also be offering some Tezuka this month, namely a new edition of Adolph (originally published by Viz in the ’90s), here titled Message to Adolph but well worth checking out regardless of the title.
Jonathan Case, artist of Green River Killer and creator of Dear Creature, was the big winner this year at the Stumptown Comic Art Awards, taking home two of the awards’ unique trophies this past weekend during the Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland, Ore.
Nominees in each category were chosen by a panel of judges consisting of comics industry professionals, journalists and retailers, and then voted on by the comics-reading public. This year’s winners are:
Jonathan Case, Green River Killer
Brandon Graham, Prophet
Jaime Hernandez, Love and Rockets
Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo: Fox Hunt
Dave Stewart, Hellboy: House of the Living Dead; Chimichanga
Best Publication Design
Petrograd, Tyler Crook and Keith Wood
Lies Grownups Told Me edited by Nomi Kane, Jen Vaughn, Caitlin M.
Best Small Press
Fugue #1 by Beth Hetland
Best New Talent
Jonathan Case, Dear Creature, Green River Killer
Vic Boone by Shawn Aldridge, Geoffo Panda
As readers of this site are no doubt aware (to say the least!), Jaime Hernandez’s contribution to the recently released Love and Rockets: New Stories #4, “The Love Bunglers,” magisterially ties together some 30 years of history for its leading players, Maggie Chascarillo and Ray Dominguez. Now, the Hooded Utilitarian’s Ng Suat Tong has shown us exactly how.
His annotations for “The Love Bunglers” take the story’s many flashback panels, including all the scenes from the story’s centerpiece two-page spread, and place them side by side with the original scenes to which they’re flashing back, some of which were first published literally decades ago. It’s stunning to see how Jaime reinterpreted and re-interpolated his previous work– hifting our POV from one angle to another, showing moments that took place between the moments he depicted in the past, and of course re-drawing classic characters and scenes in his current style. Besides being a really useful post from a story perspective–surely everyone who read “The Love Bunglers” was hoping someone would do exactly this–as a demonstration of Jaime’s artistic intelligence and prowess, it’s tough to top. But then, so is “The Love Bunglers.”
Digital | Comics by ComiXology has topped Apple’s charts as the top-grossing iPad application for the last six Wednesdays. ComiXology cited the launch of DC’s New 52 initiative, as well as many other comic companies moving to a same-day digital release schedule, as reasons for its success. “When have comic books, not comic book movies, not comic book merchandise, but the actual comic books been #1 in anything, much less high tech?” comiXology CEO David Steinberger said in a statement. “Being the number one grossing iPad application six Wednesdays in a row isn’t just a huge milestone for comiXology, but a huge milestone for comics as a medium … and we could not be prouder.” [press release]
Creators | An auction for the naming rights to a character in Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons’ The Secret Service raised $5,100 for St. Bartholomew’s Primary School, where Millar attended. The money will be used to pay for field trips for the school’s students. “I’m a former pupil at St. Bartholomew’s and have so many great memories of the place,” Millar said. “I know there’s not a lot of money in local government at the moment and I was sad to hear that the annual school trip for the children had been cancelled. By establishing this fund, I hope to have a pot the head-teacher can dip into every Christmas and take the entire school to a pantomime every year.” [Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser]
I just wanted to end Robot 6′s impromptu weeklong celebration of Jaime Hernandez and Love and Rockets by posting this portrait of “The Love Bunglers”‘ lead characters Ray and Maggie during their flaming youth. We knew them when.
But what if you didn’t know them when? What if this is your first real exposure to the worlds created by Jaime and his brother Gilbert? Jaime’s been writing his “Locas” saga — about a loose-knit group of (mostly) Latino/Latina men and women who (mostly) first met as teens in the Los Angeles punk scene — for thirty years now. Gilbert’s been chronicling his own group of characters — first the residents of the fictional Latin-American town of Palomar, then the family and friends of Palomar’s former mayor Luba, and now the on-screen and off-screen misadventures of Luba’s B-movie actress sister Fritz — for nearly as long. What if you’ve got no idea who these people are, or where you could possibly begin to learn?
That’s fine too.
I read ["The Love Bunglers"] one evening while sitting at my drawing table. When I finished it, I turned off the lights in my studio (spare bedroom), and decided to spend the evening hanging out with my wife. I knew I was done drawing for the day. It reaches emotional heights I rarely encounter when reading comics and was not prepared for.
—Afrodisiac and Street Angel cartoonist Jim Rugg, himself no slouch in the comics department, on encountering Jaime Hernandez’s astonishing work in Love and Rockets: New Stories #4. Hmmm, Rugg left his drawing table, Adrian Tomine left a signing party…I really hope no cartoonists read this book while behind the controls of an airplane or something.
In all seriousness, times when a comic emotionally incapacitates you for however long are times to be treasured. Last night, in prepping for this post, I flipped through the book one more time, and came across pages that made me gasp and swoon. Hey, kids! Comics!
Love & Rockets: New Stories #4 (2011), page 89. Jaime Hernandez.
I don’t think I’m advancing anything too controversial when I say that if there’s a Platonic ideal for the comic book page, it’s a piece of sequential art that works both as an assemblage of individual panels and as a single, unified artwork. This, of course, is a lot easier said than done. When gridded layouts are discarded to turn the page into a poster-style piece of op-art there’s always some readability being sacrificed, and the grid is all too often a vehicle for cartoonists to work inside without paying sufficient consideration to what sum their page’s parts are creating.
I’ll freely confess that at the end of the new issue when I saw how Jaime had tied together the fates of Hopey, Maggie, and Ray I started crying like a baby. When I started burbling to Jaime about all this, he said that in working on his recent comics he was thinking that if he were hit by a bus tomorrow and killed he wanted to leave behind a story that would complete his life’s work. Having achieved that goal, the question now is what will Jaime do next.
–The Comics Journal‘s Jeet Heer on his recent conversation with Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 co-author Jaime Hernandez concerning the thought process behind his magisterial story “The Love Bunglers.” The only thing more striking than the fact that Jaime set this career-defining hurdle for himself is that he freaking cleared it.
…Hernandez’s comics are in many ways an antidote to all the things that drive comics fans nuts despite their seeming appetite for wallowing in such things for weeks, months, years on end. Sexism in comics is always worth fighting because sexism is pernicious and harmful and thus worth calling into question every time it’s encountered, but for many adult fans part of the solution really is to put down the terrible comic that enrages you and buy something like Love & Rockets: New Stories #4 for its fragile, sympathetic portraits of a wide range of human experiences.
There’s a sense one gets when issues involving lousy or ugly or offensive comics are discussed on the comics Internet that the superhero genre is the extent of the comics experience. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good in the sense that for most of the North American comics market, superheroes are if not the only game in town then at least the Super Bowl compared to the Pee-Wee League games being played by other kinds of comics, so the numbers necessitate a serious engagement with the genre’s problems and the problems of its publishers. And if you treat superhero comics as paramount, then your critiques of its practices gain in urgency, an urgency that’s probably required if those critiques are to be heard and responded to.
Paying off thirty years of continuity and character development. Delivering shocks, gasps, cheers, and tears in equal measure, seemingly at the author’s whim. Offering a master class in everything from laying out a double-page spread to drawing clothes. Telling a story about beloved characters so emotionally engaging that even their most ardent fans wouldn’t mind if this were the last one ever told. Any way you slice it, Jaime Hernandez’s “The Love Bunglers” — his contribution to the recently released Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 and the conclusion to the already wildly acclaimed “The Love Bunglers”/”Browntown” suite from last year’s issue — is a hell of a comic. But you don’t have to take my word for it.
Dan Nadel, editor of The Comics Journal, has posted his own appreciation, and invited cartoonists Frank Santoro (Storeyville) and Adrian Tomine (Optic Nerve) to do the same. (SPOILER WARNINGS in effect at those links, folks.) Nadel (like Jordan Crane on the first part of Jaime’s tale in issue #3 before him) minces no words: “This is not just Jaime’s finest work, but one of the best (at this moment I’d rank it in my top five of all time) works ever created in the medium.” Santoro calls Jaime “the greatest cartoonist of all time,” saying “No art moves me the way the work of Jaime Hernandez moves me.” Tomine talks of picking the issue up at a signing event for Jaime and being so moved by a two-page spread he encountered while randomly flipping through that he actually had to leave.
I posted my review at the beginning of August, after the book had started circulating at cons but long before it hit stores, but weeks and even months later people would still post comments on the review, like they’d been hungrily seeking out anything anyone had written about this remarkable comic. I’ve got a feeling that as more and more critics read this comic, they’ll never go hungry again.