Creators | Stan Lee, characterized by CNN as “the Godfather of comic book heroes,” is modest about his own achievements in a new interview: “If my publisher hadn’t said ‘let’s do superhero stories’ I’d probably still be doing A Kid Called Outlaw, The Two Gun Kid or Millie the Model or whatever I was doing at the time.” He reflects on the increased female audience for comics and discusses some new projects, including a new superhero, The Annihilator, created specifically for a Chinese audience. [CNN]
Comics| Chris Huntington reflects on the importance of Miles Morales for children of color, like his son: “… To see Spider-Man pulling his mask over a tiny brown chin – to see a boy with short curly hair sticking to the ceiling of his bedroom— well, something happened. Dagim has been Spider-Man for two Halloweens in a row. He takes a bath with his Spider-Man and a toy killer whale. He has Spider-Man toothpaste and a Spider-Man toothbrush. If Spider-Man offered medical coverage, I think he would want that, too. My son somehow understands that there is a Peter Parker Spider-Man, who is vaguely grown-up and my age, and a younger Spider-Man, closer to his age. That’s just how Dagim likes it. He even understands that Peter Parker — like Superman, like Batman – wasn’t raised by his birth parents. The best superheroes were all adopted like him.” [The New York Times]
Manga | Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump has announced that One Piece will go on hiatus for the magazine’s next two issues because creator Eiichiro Oda has been hospitalized for a peritonsillar abscess, a complication of tonsillitis. The popular series is expected to return June 10. One Piece, which has been serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump since 1997, has sold more than 280 million volumes in Japan alone. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly share their thoughts (and sometimes disagree) on their own world, the comics world in general, and digital media. [National Post]
I walked into MoCCA Arts Fest a few minutes after it opened, with my friend Erica Friedman, and we noticed the difference right away: The last two shows have had an improvised, “Let’s have a comics show! We can use my father’s barn!” kind of feeling. They weren’t disorganized, exactly, and the talent has always been top-notch, but the show floor felt crowded, cluttered, and confusing.
This was the first year that the Society of Illustrators was running the event. Organizers had a lot to prove, and they proved it. The show felt professional. The aisles were wider. A very simple addition — a bright red backdrop that ran behind the tables — made a huge difference, giving visitors more focus and eliminating the distraction of looking out across that cavernous space. The red curtains also set off a small gallery at the back of the armory that featured original comics art from the Society’s collection, a gentle reminder that they have been welcoming comics creators for more than 100 years. Visitors could buy a slick, nicely produced catalog for $5, and there was a modest cafe downstairs, a pleasant addition that allowed friends who met at the show to sit down and have a bite and a chat without disrupting the experience too much.
It seems like only last year that artist Lisa Hanawalt’s illustrated reviews/reactions to movies like War Horse and The Vow at online magazine The Hairpin were making me laugh and grab the closest person to the computer to cajole with “Dude, you have to read this!”
And now Drawn and Quarterly has released a beautifully designed collection of some 120 pages of Hanawalt’s work, including those illustrated humor pieces, comics and straight-up “fine art” artwork.
What’s that? It was only last year? Wow. D+Q sure didn’t waste any time on putting a Hanawalt collection together, but anything that brings the artist to the attention of more readers is fine with me — it will cut down on my cajoling friends, family and co-workers.
My Dirty Dumb Eyes assembles a great deal of Hanawalt’s previously published work from all over, meaning you can find much of it online for free, but the book format doesn’t bombard you with a low dose of electrical radiation, and is therefore much safer to read.
Conventions | Small Press Expo organizers apologized to exhibitors for the problems they experienced trying to register for the show. Despite several server upgrades ahead of time, the site went down when the “tsunami” of applications hit on Sunday morning. They then opened up PayPal to take the table orders, but they were unable to shut it down when all the tables were sold. They are sorting it out now, and if the tables were oversold, refunds will be issued. Roger Langridge depicted his registration experience on his blog. [SPX Tumblr]
Publishing | After 13 years of publishing and promoting yuri manga, Erica Friedman is stepping down as Yuricon events chair and giving up on publishing: “I can’t afford print, you don’t want digital, the JP companies won’t talk to me and all the many differences between JP publishers and US fans are so huge and insurmountable. I don’t have the energy or clout or money to bridge the gap.” [Okazu]
Digital comics | So, your $3.99 comic comes bundled with a download code for a free digital copy, but you’re strictly a paper person. What to do? Todd Allen has a fascinating article about the secondary market in unused download codes, not just the fact that they are being sold fairly openly but also what that market tells us about the true value of comics: “Outside of eBay it’s relatively easy to use Google to find somewhere to swap or purchase Ultraviolet codes. The Home Theater Forum’s classified ad section has codes sprinkled in, with a low $2-$3 looking like a common price. Codes are also easy to find on Reddit, including a dedicated subreddit, though codes on Reddit are swapped or given away, not sold.” [The Next Web]
Conventions| Small Press Expo announced its first round of guests for the Sept.14-15 convention: Seth, Gary Panter, Lisa Hanawalt, Gene Yang and Frank Santoro. [SPX]
Sales | Sales of comic books and graphic novels to comic books stores through Diamond Comic Distributors increased 27.5 percent in January compared to the same month in 2011. Comics were up 32 percent while graphic novels were up 18 percent compared to 2011. DC Comics dominated all 10 spots at the top of the chart, with Justice League #5 coming in at No. 1. Batman: Through the Looking Glass was the top graphic novel for the month. [ICv2]
Passings | British comics artist Mike White, who illustrated Alan Moore’s The Twisted Man and numerous other stories for 2000AD, Lion, Valiant, Action and Score ‘n’ Roar, has passed away after a long illness. [Blimey!]
Publishing | Because the world demanded it, apparently, Random House plans to publish e-books of all the collected editions of Garfield newspaper comics. [Down the Tubes]
Lisa Hanawalt’s illustrated review of Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-bait World War I drama War Horse has a lot in common with Pablo Picasso’s immortal masterpiece Guernica. They’re both an example of their artists at the peak of their powers. They’re both an artistic response to a traumatizing early 20th-century military conflict. They both prominently feature horses. And they both contain, like, subliminal messages of skulls and shit. Three of those four statements are true — to find out which, read the review.
You might be accustomed to seeing the comics of Matt Furie and Lisa Hanawalt in avant-garde anthologies like Kramers Ergot and Thickness, or in their solo humor series from Pigeon Press Boy’s Club and I Want You, or in the stylishly sleazy pages of Vice magazine. But now you can share your love of these modern masters of anthropomorphic mayhem with your little ones!
Sandy Bilus of I Love Rob Liefeld notes that McSweeney’s, the literary magazine-slash-publisher with a very comics-friendly track record historically, has officially launched a subscription plan for its new children’s imprint McMullens with books by Furie and Hanawalt. Furie’s The Night Riders chronicles the bike-based adventures of a frog and mouse on a nocturnal journey, while Hanwalt’s Benny’s Brigade follows “the world’s smallest, chattiest, and most gentlemanly walrus” as he attempts to find his way home with the help of two little girls and three brave slugs. Presumably these books will be as beautifully drawn as any of Furie and Hanawalt’s comics, but with far fewer dirty jokes.
The books retail for $17.95 each, but are the launch titles for a McMullens subscription package that will get you eight books for $80 total, including shipping. Not a bad deal at all.
The featured guests for the third annual Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival have been announced, and whoo boy, it’s quite a line-up. And it runs the gamut, too: MAD Magazine legend Jack Davis, book-design kingpin Chip Kidd, The Diary of a Teenage Girl author Phoebe Gloeckner, Asterios Polyp/Batman Year One artist David Mazzucchelli, Providence artcomix vets CF and Brian Ralph, grossout-humor queen Lisa Hanawalt, and minicomics patriarch John Porcellino. An opportunity to encounter Gloeckner live and in person is not to be squandered, folks, and that’s just for starters.
Organized by publisher PictureBox Inc., retailer Desert Island, and scholar Bill Kartalopoulos, this year’s BCGF will take place on Saturday, December 3 from noon to nine at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with programming hosted at the nearby Union Pool. If the last two years are any indication, it’s the alternative comics show to beat.
What is it with Lisa Hanawalt and the use of automobiles for untoward purposes? Last week she drew a review of Nicholas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling’s neon-noir crime flick Drive, and now she’s selling an original art piece entitled “Car Wreck Totem Pole.” Originally created for the (very comics-friendly) Panorama issue of McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, the watercolor illustration was inspired by Crash, author J.G. Ballard’s novel about accident victims who’ve become sexually fixated on car crashes. (You may also recall director David Cronenberg’s kinky film adaptation, starring James Spader at his James Spaderest.) It’s on sale for $220 at Hanawalt’s new online store. Where does she go from here — The Road Warrior, Death Race 2000, Vanishing Point, Duel, Cars, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Herbie the Love Bug? The possibilities are endless and/or unleaded.
And hey, while we’re on a Ballard kick, it’s never a bad time to check out The Diary of a Teenage Girl author Phoebe Gloeckner’s extravagantly NSFW illustrations for Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition — well, unless you’re at work, in which case it’s a very bad time to do so. There’s also this examination of Ballard’s book covers by Simon Sellers and Rick McGrath, featuring striking from artists such as Salvador Dali, Chip Kidd, Max Ernst, David Pelham, Bill Botten, and Chris Foss. Finally, this is a bit farther afield from comics, but the excellent BBC4 rockumentary Synth Britannia, which is now available in its entirety on YouTube, spends some time tracing Ballard’s influence on early synthesizer-heavy experimental and synthpop acts The Human League, The Normal, John Foxx, and Gary Numan. Buckle up!
Look, I have a baby. The only movies I have a chance to watch air on Saturday afternoons on Lifetime. (Odd Girl Out is the best.) But Lisa Hanawalt has provided one of her patented “illustrated responses” to Drive, the instant cult-classic crime film starring Ryan Gosling as … I dunno, someone many people find attractive, I’ll bet. I haven’t seen the movie, and so I’m not reading the review, in hopes that I can eventually see it, perhaps if Lifetime acquires the broadcast rights. But don’t let that stop you.
It’s New York Fashion Week, that time of year when labels and designers show off their wares for the upcoming spring season, and Project Runway starts getting really good. What better way to mark the occasion than with Lisa Hanawalt’s painstakingly detailed drawings of animals wearing bizarre hats for the Hairpin? Let’s face it, a poodle wearing a pillbox with a chia pet on top really isn’t any odder than the actual headgear sported by any number of people at the VMAs or William & Kate’s wedding, so Hanawalt really may have a future as a cutting-edge haberdasher ahead of her.
With the San Diego Comic-Con just days behind us, I guess there’s enough nerd culture in the air to permeate the brains even of comics folk who don’t make a living off capes and cowls. How else to explain the near simultaneous salutes to science-fiction cinema from two of alternative comics’ most talented draftspeople, Dustin Harbin and Lisa Hanwalt?
First up, Diary cartoonist and Casanova letterer Dustin Harbin brings us “The Faces of RoboCop,” a 16-panel portrait of the cast of Paul Verhoeven’s Detroit-dystopia sci-fi satire. I’m particularly fond of “Psycho That ’70s Dad,” but you’ll have to click the link to see him. I’d buy that for a dollar! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
Next, I Want You cartoonist and Pizza Island member Lisa Hanawalt reviews Michael Bay’s Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon in words and pictures. It’s a harrowing, heartbreaking, ultimately uplifting tale of human perseverance in the face of adversity and atrocity — I’m talking about the review, not the movie. (Oh God, definitely not the movie.) It also features the best portrait of Rosie Huntington-Whitley ever drawn. Chewy indeed!
New York Magazine has a slideshow up this week about Pizza Island, the Greenpoint, Brooklyn, studio where six comics creators make the magic happen.
The slideshow includes self-portraits of Julia Wertz (Fart Party, Drinking at the Movies), Kate Beaton (Hark, A Vagrant) Lisa Hanawalt (I Want You), Sarah Glidden (How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less) Domitille Collardey (whose works are mostly in French), and Meredith Gran (Octopus Pie) as well as comments on each one by a co-worker. (It was Lisa and Domitille who commented on that Frank Quitely piece, so it’s interesting to contrast their self-portraits with his version of a woman cartoonist.)
There’s a whole lot of talent working in that small space, and if you’re fortunate enough to be going to MoCCA, be sure to check out their panel, which will feature all six. If you’re not, then head on over to the Pizza Island blog, where, at the moment, everyone is showing off their work spaces and discussing the quirks of their desktops.