BEST BETS: "Jessica Jones," "Big Trouble/Escape from New York" & More October 2016 Highlights
Retailing | The Sacramento, California, comic shop Big Brother Comics was severely damaged last weekend by a fire. Owner Kenny Russell, whose apartment adjoins the store, heard a loud noise on Sunday morning and opened his back door to see his store in flames. “It was all on fire, like movie-style fire,” he said. Although firefighters responded quickly, and his apartment was protected by fire doors, his store is “toast” and much of his merchandise suffered smoke damage. A GoFundMe campaign to help Russell rebuild has already brought in more than $12,000. [KCRA]
Creators | Legendary MAD Magazine cartoonist Al Jaffee now holds the Guinness World Record for the longest career of a comics artist, at more than 73 years. Jaffee was presented with the certificate, and a proclamation from the New York City Mayor’s Office declaring March 30 as “Al Jaffee Day” in a gathering on Wednesday to celebrate his 95th birthday. [DC Entertainment]
Comics | Keith Chow, editor of The Nerds of Color, responds to the New York Times opinion column that questioned the very concept of an Asian superhero, pointing out that there have actually been a number of successful Asian superheroes, several of whom debuted this year; that contrary to what the writer Umapagan Ampikaipakan says, there are a lot of superheroes in manga; and that the story of Superman, the original superhero, was essentially an immigrant story. “Coincidentally, Ampikaipakan derisively refers to Kamala Khan’s storyline in ‘Ms. Marvel’ as ‘merely another retelling of the classic American immigrant experience,’ and therefore not worthy of the universality of the superhero archetype,” Chow writes. “I guess immigrant experiences only matter so long as the immigrant isn’t brown.” [NBC News]
Graphic novels | The best word to describe October’s BookScan Top 20 is “diverse.” No one publisher or genre dominated the list, which tracks graphic novel sales in bookstores. The list boasts four entries from perennial bestseller The Walking Dead, including the first and third volume of the massive Walking Dead Compendium; five volumes of manga, including the final volume of Naruto and the first three volumes of Tokyo Ghoul; two Star Wars collections; two kid-friendly titles, the first volume of Avatar: The Last Airbender: Smoke and Shadow and the second volume of Lumberjanes; two Batman books; and Adrian Tomine’s Killing and Dying. If any one publisher dominated, it was Image Comics, with six books on the list, including the four Walking Dead titles, the fifth volume of Saga, and the first volume of Bitch Planet. [ICv2]
Conventions | Calgary Expo organizers asked an exhibitor to leave after learning the group had misrepresented itself and is affiliated with GamerGate. The group, Honey Badger Radio, raised money through crowdfunding to set up a booth at the convention, but registered under a different name (as explained on the crowdfunding site, they were in “stealth mode”). At the convention, the exhibitor displayed a poster with a GamerGate logo and monopolized the Q&A session at a panel on women in comics. In a statement released on Twitter, the event organizers said, “The Calgary Expo is a positive and safe event for everyone. We have reason to believe that the Exhibitor in question does not fall in line with this mandate … so we have politely requested that they not participate in our show or future shows.” [The Mary Sue]
Passings | Michael S. Bradley, owner of Collectors Kingdom in Huntington Station, New York, has died at age 48. The comic shop was destroyed in a fire in January, and Bradley, who had no insurance, lost all his stock. An IndieGoGo campaign to revive the store failed to meet its $25,000 goal, and Bradley’s last post on the store’s Facebook page thanked his customers and said he was “blessed to be allowed to be [the store’s] guardian.” He was rushed to the hospital on March 21 and passed away on April 6. No cause of death has been released. [ICv2]
Graphic novels | Although BookScan’s September list of the bestselling graphic novels in bookstores is populated largely by old stalwarts — The Walking Dead, Attack on Titan, Saga, Watchmen — Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1, the only Marvel title on the chart, clung to the Top 20 in its second month of release (although it slipped from No. 4. to No. 20). Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds, meanwhile, climbed in its third month to No. 6. One new manga debuted at No. 12: Noragami, about a homeless god who does odd jobs as he tries to build up his reputation; the anime is already out, which probably gave it a boost. [ICv2]
Publishing | A television reporter pays a visit to the Last Gasp offices to talk about the Kickstarter recently launched by the longtime publisher of underground comics (and other quirky books). It’s worth a look just to see the owner’s amazing collection of oddities. [NBC Bay Area]
Banned Books Week | National Public Radio’s Lynn Neary covers Banned Books Week, with interviews with frequently banned creators Jeff Smith (Bone) and Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants). Although Smith acknowledges he was initially shocked to see his acclaimed fantasy adventure among the 10 most challenged books of 2013, he soon came to terms with the distinction. “I mean my heroes are on this list,” he says. “People like Mark Twain and Steinbeck and Melville and Vonnegut, so part of me also kind of says, ‘OK, fine I can be on this list.'” [NPR]
Banned Books Week | Michael Dooley runs a brief excerpt from Fun Home, and Keith Knight does a show-and-tell of his comics that were too controversial for some newspapers. [Print Magazine]
Creators | Jeff Smith, who was named last week to the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, talks briefly about the importance of the organization, and the 2010 challenge to his all-ages graphic novel Bone in a Minnesota school. [Comic Riffs]
Comics | Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Francesco Francavilla have a few things to say about the new zombie series Afterlife With Archie. “We are taking a series of characters known to be lighthearted and young adult-oriented and doing a horror comic with them, so the mood, atmosphere, and setting are very important to make this a believable horror and not a comedy horror,” says Francavilla, who’s also the creator of The Black Beetle. “Fortunately, I am really good at making things dark and ominous.” [The Associated Press]
Now available On Demand, the documentary Comic Book Independents by director Chris Brandt receives wider distribution at an interesting time. In the midst of a migration of comic book creators from work-for-hire to creator-owned projects, and just as a renewed discussion about creator rights gains momentum, this documentary offers fascinating insight on what it means to go it alone in comics.
It’s not your usual comics documentary, and if you’re a creative type yourself, or are interested by those who are, you’ll probably find yourself inspired. Framed by information from cognitive psychologist Dr. James Kaufman, the human process of creativity as it is realized in comics is broken down and explored by some of the art form’s most interesting thinkers and voices.
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]
Earlier this month we showcased comics-as-cookbooks, and now we find on Kickstarter a veritable buffet of comics for the foodies among us. Organized by cartoonist/small press publisher J.T. Yost, Digestate is a taster’s choice of stories by 50-plus cartoonists chronicling their own food tastes.
“Each artist has approached the theme in a manner exclusive to their own personality,” Yost says on the project’s Kickstarter page. “There are some autobiographical comics (both funny and heart-wrenching), some fictional comics, some akin to an essay and others that defy categorization altogether.”
The line-up is a “Who’s Who” of cartoonists, with everyone from Renee French and Marc Bell to James Kochalka and Alex Robinson to Keith Knight and Berkeley Breathed. On the Kickstarter page there are several of the stories to be included in the print publication, including the excellent “Bacon Vs. Asparagus with Oscar” by Jeffrey Brown, which is at the bottom of this post.
Digestate is nearly half-way to its$4,500 goal with 30 days remaining in the fundraising campaign. Compared with recent Kickstarter comics drives, $4,500 seems like a relatively small amount but Yost doesn’t say what the money specifically will be going for. Regardless, remember to tip your server!
Last week The K Chronicles cartoonist Keith Knight exceeded his $40,000 goal with a Kickstarter campaign to fund I Was a Teenage Michael Jackson Impersonator, an autobiographical graphic novel about “a young man who found himself through impersonating somebody else.” Today he took to The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs blog to share what he learned from the Kickstarter experience, offering 14 tips for a aore successful fundraising campaign.”
Some of Knight’s suggestions are common sense, such as including sample art on your Kickstarter page and advertising your project on your own website. Others aren’t quite as obvious: “Be sure that your campaign launches ends during the week, not the weekend. Weekends are where Kickstarter campaigns go to die.”
I also liked this pointer, because, well, if you want to get a little you should be willing to give a little: “It’s probably not a big deal, but before I launched, I backed a few projects. ‘Cause when I check out a project, I scroll down to the little photo to see the bio, and I found myself more willing to get behind someone who has backed other Kickstarter projects themselves.”