Sure, everyone gets worked up about turning comics into movies, but what about the other way around? Cartoonists have been attempting to cram great works of literature or art into tiny panels since the birth of Classics Illustrated. But many of these adaptations, despite the noblest of intentions, fall horribly flat or fail to evoke a tenth of the original work’s greatness.
There are exceptions of course; comics that not only manage to capture or add to the spirit of the original work, but in a few cases are the equal or better of the source material. Here then are six such examples. Feel free to include your own nominations in the comments section.
As 2012 draws to a close, the holiday season is now officially in full swing, and that means it’s time to think about the next year, and also maybe get a little greedy in the process. With all that in mind, here are five random things that I’d like to see from 2013′s comic books.
Comics | Johan Palme talks to Nathan Hamelberg of The Betweenship Group about the continuing controversy over a Swedish library’s decision to re-shelve some Tintin comics because of racist caricatures and colonialist attitudes. The books were put back following an uproar, but the move has sparked a larger conversation, and it even has its own hashtag, #tintingate. [The Guardian]
Conventions | Heidi MacDonald and the Publishers Weekly team (including Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson) post a comprehensive report on New York Comic Con, including debuts, new-title announcements, and a quick look at logistics. [Publishers Weekly Comics World]
Conventions | Dave Smith looks at one of the most vexing problems of New York Comic Con: the lack of decent wireless access, a situation troubling exhibitors and media alike. [International Business Times]
Organizations | Following the abrupt closing on Monday of the Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art’s decade-old New York City location, President Ellen S. Abramowitz promises, “MoCCA is not dead. Some reporters assumed we were going to a virtual gallery, but that is not the case. There will be a new physical space.” She tells The Comics Journal that the new space, expected to be announced at the end of the month, will be an improvement over the old one, which occupied 975 square feet on the fourth floor of a SoHo building. [TCJ.com]
Publishing | ICv2 provides more evidence of an increasingly robust direct market with the news that eight comics, driven by Marvel’s Avengers vs. X-Men and DC’s New 52, sold more than 100,000 copies in June, tying the number in November 2011. Those two months had the most titles over 100,000 since January 2008, when nine passed that milestone. In addition, three graphic novels sold more than 10,000 copies in June and and two sold more than 20,000. [ICv2]
Here are three June releases from Drawn and Quarterly: Kevin Huizenga’s Gloriana, Chester Brown’s Ed The Happy Clown and Dan Zettwoch’s Birdseye Bristoe.
They have several things in common, aside from the fact that they are all hardcover releases from the same publisher. They are all handsomely designed, for example, they all make lovely coffee table and bookshelf-filling objects, and they are all more or less important comics releases.
One of them is different in several significant ways, however.
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 walk out of the comic store with one book this week Fatale, Vol. 1: Death Chases Me (Image, $14.99). I fell off this book after the first issue, preferring to read in trades, and now that time has come. I’m looking forward to being surprised at what Brubaker and Phillips have done in this first arc as the debut issue was very promising.
If I had $30, I’d load up at Image with Manhattan Projects #4 (Image, $3.50), Prophet #26 (Image, $2.99) and Hell Yeah #4 (Image, $2.99). Prophet is becoming my favorite Image book because it unites my comic heroes of childhood (Prophet!) and one of the top cartoonists out there (Brandon Graham) with a surprising introduction of BD-style science fiction. Hell Yeah is a fun romp reimagining the staples of ’80s and ’90s comics as if John Hughes were the eighth Image founder. Last up I’d get Wolverine and the X-Men #12 (Marvel, $3.99). I was worried this series would get derailed by Avengers Vs. X-Men, but Aaron and Co. have managed to keep it on point as best as conceivably possible. It’s an ideal opening to bring Rachel Summers to the forefront, and the smirking Kid Gladiator on the cover is full of win.
If I could splurge, I’d get Michel Rabagliati’s Song of Roland hardcover (Conundrum Press, $20). I’ll always admire Free Comic Book Day, because it was there that a little Drawn and Quarterly one-shot introduced me to Rabagliati’s work. I’m surprised to see this new volume of his work not published by D&Q, instead published by Canadian house Conundrum. Anyway, this book appears to deal with the death of the father-in-law of the lead character, Paul. It’s been extremely engaging to see Paul grow through the series, and having him deal with events like this as I myself grow up and experience similar events is really touching.
This month marks the re-release of Kevin Huizenga‘s Gloriana (originally self-published in 2001, then first collected by Drawn & Quarterly in 2004). The writer/artist recently accepted my invite for an email interview about the new 96-page hardback edition, which includes four stories (The Groceries, The Sunset, The Moon Rose and Basketball). I was particularly pleased to talk to Huizenga about Basketball, given how he notes in the interview working on that story proved “surprisingly emotional for me at the time”. My thanks to Huizenga for taking my questions (and correcting me when I was misinformed with some aspects of my queries).
Tim O’Shea: Back in 2004 Tom Spurgeon interviewed you. At that time you were increasingly using computers with your work, also you discussed with Tom experimenting with the size of your original art (trying to work on larger pages). How large are the pages now that you work with and have you incorporated computers more into your work?
Kevin Huizenga: Readers of your website will be fascinated to hear that I draw at about 150%. As far as computers, doesn’t everyone use them for everything now? I fix and edit in Photoshop and have done so for many years now. I’m pretty sure everyone else does too, but I don’t use tablets or anything like that—it’s still pen and paper. I’ve been using the same scanner since 2000! An Epson. Now that I’ve said that I’m sure it will break tomorrow.
Libraries | A committee recommended Monday that Stuck in the Middle: 17 Comics from an Unpleasant Age, an anthology of comics about middle school edited by Ariel Schrag, should remain in the Buckfield Junior-Senior High School library in Dixfield, Maine, after the mother of a student challenged its appropriateness because of “objectionable sexual and language references.” The local school board will make a final ruling in January. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom sent a letter of support for the book prior to the hearing. A school board in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, pulled the graphic novel from middle-school libraries in November 2009, but allowed teachers to continue to use it in class. [Sun Journal]
Digital | Charlie Sorrel looks at the iPad comic reader called, appropriately enough, Comic Reader. [Wired]
If ever there’s been a time where I’ve been tempted to have a column literally consist of “[Name of Comic]. You guys. [Name of Comic Repeated for Emphasis],” then it’d be today, because Ganges #4. You guys. Ganges #4. Continue Reading »
An important point is that Igort’s original vision [for the Ignatz comics line] was all about finding a way to help cartoonists get paid more. I can get behind that. I’d love to see more of that.
—Ganges author Kevin Huizenga on Italian cartoonist and publisher Igort’s motivation for launching the Ignatz line of high-end alternative comics. Now more or less defunct, the Ignatz line was co-published by Igort’s Coconino Press and a variety of international publishers, including Fantagraphics here in the United States. Boasting a line-up that included Huizenga, Gilbert Hernandez, David B., Zak Sally, Igort, Gipi, Gabriella Giandelli and more, the Ignatz line embraced an unusual format: oversized 32-page staple-bound comics with dust jackets. The idea was that the simultaneous release of individual comics in multiple languages made possible through Coconino’s co-publishing agreement would go a long way toward financially supporting the creators involved. The problem, as Huizenga explains in his interview with Robot 6′s Chris Mautner over at CBR, is that with all those creators and all those publishers in all those countries, there were too many variables for the project to function effectively for any prolonged period of time. Still, I’m with Huizenga: It’s nice to see an effort of that artistic pedigree be formulated not just for the fun of publishing good comics, but a sincere desire to see the makers of those good comics get paid well.
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 a slow week, this week; if I had $15, I’d use it to catch up on some recent enjoyments like Action Comics #3 (DC, $3.99) and OMAC #3 (DC, $2.99), two of my favorite titles from the New 52 relaunch–OMAC in particular has been a really weird and wonderful joy–as well as the final issue of Marvel’s great and sadly underrated Mystic revival (#4, $2.99). I’d also see if the parody-tastic Shame Itself #1 (Marvel, $3.99) lives up to its potential, because “Wyatt Cenac + Colleen Coover” sounds pretty promising to these ears.
I suppose on a certain level running through all the loot you nabbed at this or that convention seems a bit like bragging, even if the intention is merely to say, “Hey, here’s some cool comics you should check out.” That being said, it seems like a while since anyone’s done one of those “here’s the stuff I bought” posts, so I thought I’d run down some of the more interesting-looking books I nabbed at SPX this past weekend. Forgive me.
The Body of Work by Kevin Huizenga. In addition to promoting the release of Ganges #4, Huizenga had a couple of mini-comics for sale as well. This one features some of the comics he’s been posting online like Postcard from Fielder.
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.
Ganges #2 (2008) page 3. Kevin Huizenga.
Comics’ panel-by-panel mode of presentation is incredibly effective at sucking people in. The simple fact that we say we “read” comics when we describe following strings of pictures attests to how strong a tool for immersion sequencing is. And it’s especially strong when we step back for a moment and think about just how weird, how alien cartoons look. A single panel of a comic, especially one drawn with the blend of simplification and exaggeration that forms the look of newspaper strips and many alternative comics, is as much a conceptual statement about form as a depictive drawing. Where the real depiction comes into play is with the sequencing, which turns cartoons from abstractions into living vehicles for movement and action.
Kevin Huizenga is one of the cartoonists whose work addresses comics’ conflict between the abstract and the literal most frequently and interestingly. Huizenga’s attempts at using comics to mimic the visual effect of video games are especially notable: rather than creating the simulacrum of reality that the vast majority of comics do, what is brought forth instead is a simulacrum of a simulacrum, a copy of a copy, something already abstract abstracted further, its ties to reality stressed and stretched about as close to the breaking point as they can go.
My, but this has some oomph, doesn’t it? That clean block lettering (Helvetica? font geeks, help me out here), all that black…I know I’m excited. The latest installment in Huizenga’s oversized solo anthology series is due in August from Fantagraphics.