EXCL. PREVIEW: "Hal Jordan & the Green Lantern Corps" #1 Enforces 'Sinestro's Law'
Publishing | Zainab Akhtar looks at the success of Koyama Press and how it changed the comics small press world as a whole. She starts with the amazing origin story: Founder Annie Koyama nearly died from a brain aneurysm, and while she was recovering she played the stock market so successfully that she was able to quit her job and launch Koyama Press. For six years she provided funding for artists without taking anything for herself, and she also searched for and promoted emerging artists. “On an immediate level, Annie’s generous yet meritocratic approach validated the work of artists who were otherwise written off by the established alternative comics community, which often views this new generation of cartoonists working primarily online as somehow less legitimate,” Akhtar writes. “On a broader scale, her commitment to taking risks on emerging artists reflected an ongoing paradigm shift affecting the way alternative comics are produced and consumed.” [The Fader]
Courtesy of Koyama Press, we’re pleased to bring you a preview of Mighty Star and the Castle of the Cancatervater by A. Degen, part of the publisher’s spring lineup. Collecting the webcomic that appeared on the Study Group website, the mostly silent graphic novel puts a surreal spin on the superhero tale.
Check out a preview and additional details below, and look for it in April.
Later this year, Koyama Press will publish Confetti, a collection of the comics, paintings, sculptures and more from Toronto-based artist Ginette Lapalme. According to the publisher, “Lapalme uses cartoons and junk culture as raw material to make ‘cute’ subversive and ‘pretty’ punk.”
Check out the preview below, and look for the collection in May. Our thanks to Koyama for all the previews it provided for our anniversary celebration.
Dustin Harbin has been a ROBOT 6 favorite for a while, so we’re pleased to share some pages from his upcoming Diary Comics collection. Due from Koyama Press in May, the collection features Harbin’s documentation of “the ups and downs and sideways of his life in comic form.”
Check out the preview below.
“Imagine The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as pot-smoking punks.”
Courtesy of Koyama Press, we’re pleased to offer a look at Blobby Boys 2, the follow-up to Alex Schubert’s award-winning comic. Schubert’s bold, machine-precise images, tell the story of a band of “salacious and slimy Saturday Morning cast-offs,” and the wannabe keyboardist/fan who wants to join them.
Check out the preview and more information below. Blobby Boys 2 arrives in May.
Creators | Osamu Tezuka, the “godfather of manga,” has been dead for 25 years, but his influence lives on, not just in manga and anime but in his old neighborhood, where a restaurant features his favorite dish and merchants have their own local currency, Astro Money. There’s even a group of inventors who were inspired by Astro Boy to design a “power-assisted hand.” [The Yomiuri Shimbun]
Creators | Ivan Brunetti tried to draw Nancy and failed, but he learned how to be a cartoonist in the process: “Nancy is a harsh taskmaster; resuscitating it was a grueling task, but the challenge was invigorating and edifying. By drawing Nancy, I realized that every character (even the environment) in a strip is the cartoonist and is invested and imbued with the cartoonist’s life force. This is perhaps why continuing a strip after a creator’s death is so misguided, and it also explains the precious few exceptions that prove the rule: those cartoonists made the preexisting characters truly their own, commandeering their ink-on-paper souls.” [BoingBoing]
The small publisher Koyama Press announced yesterday that they are making a selection of their works available digitally via the Sequential app, which is an iOS-only app that focuses on indy comics and graphic novels.
The initial lineup seems to all be older books, or at least, there don’t appear to be any from this year, but there are some solid titles here from well-regarded creators: Julia Wertz’s The Infinite Wait, Nathan Bulmer’s Eat More Bikes, Julie Delporte’s Journal. And this is just the start—more titles are on the way.
The books are on sale this weekend for half off the print price, so this is a good opportunity to check out some comics you may have missed—especially as some of them are out of print.
Passings | Customers and family mourn the passing of Steve Koch, longtime owner of Comic Headquarters in St. Louis, who died Aug. 31 of a suspected heart attack. He was 55. “He knew the true value of a comic book was in the story and the art, not as it being a collectible,” said his wife Carla, whom he introduced to comics with a copy of X-Men #1. Koch’s customers praised him for running a store that was welcoming to everyone, no matter what their tastes; some have been shopping there since they were children. [Riverfront Times]
Crime | Police in Lexington, Kentucky, believe the man who robbed a local comics and hobby shop D20 Hobbies late last month is also behind three other robberies. In all cases, the robber wore a clown mask and indicated he had a weapon but didn’t show one. D20 owner James Risner was puzzled at first as to why anyone would rob a comic shop, but he speculates the thief didn’t realize his business had taken over from the previous tenant of the site, a Quick Cash store. “I guess he figured we had a lot of money,” Risner said. “Thankfully we didn’t have that much.” [Lex18.com]
It is fair to say a newlywed couple experiences a honeymoon like no other, on myriad life-changing levels, in writer/artist Jesse Jacobs‘ new Koyama Press book Safari Honeymoon — and jungle madness is only the beginning of what transpires. Jacobs’ art belies any description that accurately conveys the complexity and intoxicating absurdity of his work.
In this interview, I gain insight into his creative approach, among other areas of interest.
Legal | Attorney Tom Goldstein, co-founder of the respected SCOTUSblog, has joined with Marc Toberoff to represent the heirs of Jack Kirby in their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of the Second Circuit’s affirmation that the artist’s contributions to Marvel between 1958 and 1963 were work for hire and therefore not subject to copyright termination. In a response filed this week to Marvel’s brief urging the high court to decline review, Goldstein and Toberoff again challenge the Second Circuit’s “instance and expense” test and its definition of “employer,” and argue, “Many of our most celebrated literary and musical works were created before 1978 and signed away to publishers in un-remunerative transactions. Termination rights were ‘needed because of the unequal bargaining position of authors.’ It would be hard to find a better example of this than the prolific Jack Kirby, who worked in his basement with no contract, no financial security and no employment benefits, but without whom Marvel might not even be in business today.” [Hollyqood, Esq.]
Retailing | Memo to politicians: You don’t win friends and influence people by taking up five spots in a comic store’s parking lot with your campaign bus on a Wednesday — especially when it’s Batman Day. [The Clarion-Ledger]
We’re a little more than halfway through the year, which makes it the perfect time to pause and separate the truly exemplary comics from the merely mediocre.
Below are six of my favorite comics of the year thus far. Many of them will likely make their way into my final “best of 2014″ list come December, but I reserve the right to completely change my mind between now and then.
In any case, let me know what comics you’ve enjoyed reading thus far (or how crazy I am for forgetting Graphic Novel X) in the comments section.
Publishing | John Jackson Miller mines the circulation statements provided once a year to put together a 54-year sales history of Archie Comics’ flagship title Archie (the publisher is one of the few that still prints annual statements of ownership, allowing the numbers to be traced back, unbroken, to 1960). As he points out, Archie was a big newsstand title, selling almost 600,000 copies in the late 1960s, but it didn’t fare well when comics moved to the direct market — although Archie Comics has done well nonetheless with its digests, which far outsell its single-issue comics. [Comichron]
Publishing | Annie Koyama of Koyama Press talks with Dan Berry about how comics publishing works, and how she got into the field. [Make It Then Tell Everybody]
Manga | While at the Angouleme International Comics Festival, I had a chance to study the French manga market and talk to some of the publishers. Manga represents more than one-third of the French comics market (last year, there were more new manga releases than BDs), and sales and production dipped for the first time last year. [Publishers Weekly]
Comics | Gary Cox rounds up reactions from refugees to the Australian government’s online comic that warns them not to try to enter the country without a visa. “The people who are coming here are not economic migrants, they’re coming to have a safer, peaceful life here,” says Ibrar Hassani. And an advocate for refugees pointed out that the images of refugees suffering in detention centers were evidence that the government is deliberately mistreating them. [SBS]
Koyama Press’ latest announcement arrived in my in-box while I was on my way home from Angoulême, so I’m just now getting around to it, but it’s impressive enough to merit a bit of belated blogging.
As Koyama Press is a small publisher, the list is short: six titles all together, four for adults and two for kids. But there’s some interesting range to it, and the books are packaged attractively and displayed in a way that makes you want to read each one for different reasons, which isn’t necessarily the case if you’re just looking at a stack of random art-comix. One thing I really enjoyed, as I was reading through their catalog descriptions, was their use of high-concept blurbs. “Richard Scarry and Rube Goldberg collide in John Martz’s whimsical comic book world.” Bring it on!
While children’s comics may seem like a stretch, it’s one of the fastest growing sectors of the comics market, and one can see a niche for books that appeal to children and adults on different levels (such as Luke Pearson’s Hilda books, published by Nobrow Press) and for children’s books that are far off the commercial beaten track. The challenge will be to get them in front of parents and children who aren’t regular readers of The Comics Journal. It will be interesting to see if librarians climb on board; that could be a game-changer.
Anyway, here’s the list:
It happens every year: Despite the best efforts of authors, publishers and publicists, there are smart, funny and downright entertaining comics that fail to get their proper due. It’s a truth made more manifest every year as production and publishing costs are lowered and more and more people find ways of getting their work on print or online.
So once again I’ve put together a list of some books I thought could have used a bit more love, at least in terms of coverage if not also sales (though usually it’s both). These aren’t necessarily the best books of the past year – I’m not sure I’d swap any of them out for my own top 10 list – they’re just really good comics that didn’t seem to get enough attention. Let me know what you’d add to the list in the comments section below.