Manga | Hiroaki Samura will bring his long-running samurai revenge epic Blade of the Immortal to a close in the February issue of Kodansha’s Monthly Afternoon magazine (on stands Dec. 25) after 19 years. The series is published in the United States by Dark Horse; the 25th volume was released in North America in August. [Anime News Network]
Political cartoons | NPR talks to several editorial cartoonists about the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo‘s decision to run cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed. The general sense seems to be that while the magazine had the right to do so, it wasn’t a good idea given the turmoil already caused by the YouTube trailer for Innocence of Muslims. Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker said, “Over the last few years, people have gotten the idea that cartoons are radioactive because they have the power to inspire riots. That doesn’t help cartooning in a certain sense.” And Daryl Cagle observes that the long-term effect is to make editors more timid. [NPR]
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald catches word that Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik is moving on to a new job, which will be announced next month at Comic-Con International (Rich Johnston contends that gig is at BOOM! Studios). Friday will be Sablik’s last day at Top Cow; Social Marketing Coordinator Jessi Reid will assume his marketing duties. [The Beat, Bleeding Cool]
Creators | Through its partnership with the Small Press Expo, the Library of Congress has acquired works by cartoonists Matt Bors, Keith Knight, Jim Rugg, Jen Sorensen, Raina Telgemeier, Matthew Thurber and Jim Woodring. Dean Haspiel’s minicomics collection was added to the holdings just last week. [Comic Riffs]
Conventions | Despite the $500-plus price tag, the least-expensive tickets for MorrisonCon, the Grant Morrison-focused convention being held in September in Las Vegas, are already sold out. Remaining tickets cost between $699 and $1,099. Morrison says the high-priced event combines “visionary ideas, occult ritual, music and spoken word performances, art workshops, experimental films, DJ sets and in-depth discussions inspired by the comics.” [Hero Complex]
Publishing | Industry veteran Jim “Ski” Sokolowski, who was let go in October as Marvel’s chief operating officer ahead of a round of layoffs, has been hired by Archie Comics as senior vice president-sales and business development. The publisher also promoted Harold Buchholz from executive director of publishing and operations to senior vice president-publishing and operations, Paul Kaminski from editor to executive director of editorial, and Alex Segura from executive director of publicity and marketing to vice president-publicity and marketing. [Archie Comics]
After winning over the comics faithful with Street Angel and Afrodisiac, Jim Rugg has become a pencil-carrying force in independent comics. He was enlisted by major publishers to draw books like DC’s PLAIN Janes and Dark Horse’s The Guild series, and even partnered with rock stars such as in the book One Model Nation. Next month he’s poppping up as a guest artist on DC/Vertigo’s iZombie #24, but before that he’s doing something even more special: a solo exhibition of ball-point pen drawings on notebook paper.
Titled Notebook Nerd – Jim Rugg, this exhibit at the iam8bit gallery in Los Angeles will show a side of his art comics fan haven’t seen much of — the complex linework possible with a simple ballpoint pen. Dubbed by the gallery as a “Swiss Army Knife of artists,” Rugg is seemingly pulling back to an earlier era — one of calculator wristwatches, pocket protectors and Trapper Keepers.
The exhibit will open on Friday, May 25 at iam8bit’s gallery on Sunset Boulevard, and continue through June 24.
One Pittsburgh retailer didn’t find the poster for Jim Rugg’s upcoming art show, This #*?! Isn’t Very Funny, very funny.
The poster, which advertises a show that kicks off March 29 at Pittsburgh’s ToonSeum, features a crotch-level shot of a superhero who is wearing his underwear on the outside of his costume. According to the ToonSeum Facebook page, Pittsburgh comic book store Eide’s Entertainment “refuses to put up poster for comic artist Jim Rugg’s upcoming show, unless it is censored.” In the comments thread that follows, ToonSeum added, “So we did ask that they place it downstairs, respectful that they may not want to put it in the window. The objection was that it features a male crotch in underwear.”
I’m not sure if the poster ToonSeum asked Eide’s to hang was the black-and-white version, pictured to the right, or the color version, which you can see in my original post about the art show. I’m guessing it is the black-and-white one, where it might be difficult to tell that the superhero is wearing a costume under the underwear and isn’t just walking around in his skivvies.
I reached out to Jim Rugg to see what he thought, and he provided me with this statement:
“I like the store that refused to hang up my poster so I don’t want this to sound negative. I think it is up to a retailer to decide whether they want to promote an event or hang up a poster. I contacted several stores, and made it clear that I would understand if they did not want to put up my poster in their store. I expected some resistance from some stores. I was surprised that this store objected. One of the things I like about their store is that they carry a wide range of material – art books, European comics (I’ve been buying a lot of old Catalan Communications graphic novels from them over the last year and last time I was there, they had a copy of the Compleat Sally Forth, which I had spent a long time looking for – picked up a copy at Heroes last year so anyone looking for a copy, these guys have one).
“They are an old school comic book shop, and I have a soft spot for old school comic book shops. When I started reading comics, comics felt a little dangerous based on the reactions I’d see among adults, and this store maintains that atmosphere. They are also a music and movie store and they display a ton of posters and other content that seems potentially more controversial than this poster (my favorite are Double Impact action figures). I’m personally disappointed they chose not to help promote the show. I’m surprised they would show the poster if it were censored because it doesn’t seem provocative to me. I chose this image because I thought it was an obvious nod to the history of comics, particularly the once dominant superhero genre, without being offensive. But I don’t want this to be an indictment against the store. I like their store. I’ve bought a ton of comics from them over the years, and I intend to continue to support them. The last thing I want to do is suggest a retailer is wrong. Any retailer than can maintain a store in today’s economy deserves a lot of credit. And they certainly know their customer base a lot better than I do.”
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, UF’s Comic Conference series this year carries the theme of “Monsters in the Margins” for its April 14-15 event Gainesville, Florida. The papers and panels being presented this year will explore the representation of monsters and the monstrous in comics around the world.
Organizers have tentatively planned talks on subjects as diverse as “Hulk as a Metaphorical Monster,” the portrayal of God as a monster in Preacher, and the works of Hitoshi Tomizawa. In addition to scholarly talks, the biannual conference will also host panels with comic creators such as Jim Rugg, Jonathan Case and Ben Towle. Another interesting event is a workshop by cartoonist Tom Hart, who recently set up the Sequential Artists Workshop school in Gainesville.
Unbeknown to many comic fans and Florida residents, including myself, the University of Florida has a focused “Comic Studies” track inside its English department, led by Dr. Donald Ault. It’s also home to an expanding special collection of comics that holds many gems. So if you’re in central Florida next month, it’s worth a visit.
This #*?! Isn’t Very Funny features Rugg’s work on Street Angel and Afrodisiac, as well new and seldom seen pieces. You can find the press release and some additional Rugg art after the jump.
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 start with Thief of Thieves #1 (Image/Skybound, $2.99). The gang at Skybound gave me an advance PDF of this issue, and I like it so much I want to hold the physical thing in my hands. Shawn Martinbrough really nails this first issue, and Nick Spencer really puts his Marvel work to shame with this story. Next up I’d get my favorite DC Book – Batwoman #6 (DC, $2.99) – and favorite Marvel book – Wolverine and The X-Men #5 ($3.99). I’d finish it all up with Northlanders #48 ($2.99). I’m not the biggest fan of Danijel Zezelj’s work, but I can’t let up now to see my long-running commitment to Northlanders falter at this point.
If I had $30, I’d dig into Richard Corben’s Murky World one-shot (Dark Horse, $3.50). Corben’s one of those “will-buy-no-matter-what” artists for me that Tom Spurgeon recently focused on, and this looks right up my alley. Next up I’d get Secret Avengers #22 (Marvel, $3.99) because Remender’s idea of robot descendents intrigues me, and then Wolverine and The X-Men: Alpha and Omega (Marvel, $3.99). I didn’t know what to expect from the first issue, and after reading it I still don’t know where this series is heading – but I like it so far. Finally, I’d get Haunt #21 (Image, $2.99). The combination of Joe Casey & Nathan Fox is like a secret code to open my wallet.
If I could splurge, I’d take the graphic novel Jinchalo (D+Q, $17.95) by Matthew Forsythe. I loved his previous book Ojingogo, and this looks to continue in that hit parade.
Publishing | Longtime industry hand Jason Thompson has written a thoughtful essay on why the manga industry is in trouble, going beyond the American scene to point out structural problems in the Japanese market: An aging readership, the decline of print and the reluctance of Japanese publishers to embrace digital publishing in any coherent way. “Perhaps wary of creating an iTunes-like behemoth which could drive prices down,” Thompson writes, “publishers haven’t united in any reasonable way to create a consistent digital newsstand/bookstore format for their titles.” This, of course, has just made life easier for the scanlators. He also points to a shift toward the individual creator — it’s the big publishers who are hurting, while self-published and indy manga are on the rise. All this may sound familiar to American comics fans, but Thompson’s prescriptions for the future — more gag manga, simpler art, more color, and motion comics — don’t seem like convincing ways to rescue the industry. An iTunes-like behemoth is probably the way to go. [io9]
Awards | The Horror Writers Association has released the preliminary ballot for the 2011 Bram Stoker Awards, which includes a graphic novel category. [Horror Writers Association]
As a newspaper broadsheet it was always able to do so literally, but now the alternative comics anthology pood has folded in the unfortunately metaphorical sense. Writing on the pood blog, co-founder and co-editor Geoff Grogan says the publication’s fourth issue will be its last.
Through pood, editors Grogan, Kevin Mutch, and Alex Rader published a wide array of challenging, often unfashionable altcomix work, by creators ranging from Jim Rugg to Hans Rickheit to (in the anthology’s fourth and final issue) DC and Dick Tracy artist Joe Staton. But Grogan says that the project, always a labor of love, was a quixotic one in today’s marketplace: Its unconventional newsprint format, uncommercial contents, and budget-necessitated lack of a dedicated PR person made it impossible to generate enough revenue to continue the series.
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!
SPX, or the Small Press Expo, returns to the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Bethesda, Md. this weekend.
The show’s special guests include Roz Chast, Jim Woodring, Diane Noomin, Jim Rugg, Ann Telnaes, Chester Brown, Johnny Ryan, Craig Thompson and Matthew Thurber, and fans who attend will also have the opportunity to meet and/or hear from Kevin Huizenga, Anders Nilsen, Jessica Abel, Sarah Glidden, Alex Robinson, Brian Ralph, Mike Dawson, Meredith Gran, Roger Langridge and Julia Wertz, just to name a few. I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that our own Chris Mautner will be attending and conducting a Q&A with Johnny Ryan on Saturday, so be sure to tell him hi for us.
Legal | The Los Angeles Times reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Toby G. Scammell with insider trading. Scammell has been accused of using confidential information “surreptitiously gleaned” from his girlfriend to make $192,000 off of Disney’s 2009 acquisition of Marvel Entertainment. Scammell’s girlfriend was an intern working in the corporate strategy department at Disney. [Los Angeles Times]
Comics | Heidi MacDonald rounds up questions creators have raised about the Womanthology project, which raised $109,000 on Kickstarter, specifically about how the extra money will be used and whether the creators who are involved will be paid. Organizer Renae De Liz has posted additional details on the Womanthology site. [The Beat]
Conventions | Wizard World Chicago Comic Con gets into full swing today in Rosemont, Illinois. Comics guests include Brian Azzarello, Jim Cheung, Mike Deodato Jr., Gary Friedrich, Patrick Gleason, Mike Grell, Dave Johnson, Ariel Olivetti, Eduardo Risso, Bill Sienkiewicz and Ethan Van Sciver. The Chicago Sun-Times briefly spotlights attending artists Ivan Brunetti and Don Kramer, while the Daily Herald interviews Brunetti and Nate Powell. [Wizard World]
Rather than try to write a summary of my HeroesCon 2011 experience, I have opted this year to share as many photos as possible. My camera was out-of-commission yesterday so all photos were taken during the second day of the show (Saturday).
After a stellar run as the back-up story in Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon, the Michel Fiffe-edited series Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies is making its way toward the bookshelf with a collection that boasts some amazing extras.
The collected Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies is scheduled to hit this July as an over-sized 144 page book, collecting all 12 back-up stories as well as some new material from the likes of Tom Scioli, Jim Rugg, Jasen Lex, Paul Maybury, Zack Soto and others.
If you missed it in singles, this collection is worth a flip through. You have to admire Larsen’s agreeance to allow Fiffe and his team of creators to do this liberal a take on his characters. It really allows each of them to play to their strengths, and wish more creator-owned cartoonists would consider giving over the reins of their characters like this.