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 this Wednesday, it’d be all Image for me – starting with Nowhere Men #3 (Image, $2.99). The Beatles as a scientific supergroup, through the lens of Dr. Strangelove? Let’s do this. I’ve been a big fan of Nate Bellegarde for a while, and this book finally seems to capture what’s unique about him – his comedy, his stark scientific acumen, and his humanism. After that I’d get Glory #32 (Image, $3.99). Beautiful cover by Ricken here, and reads like a great manga building up to some epic battle. After that I’d get Brian Wood and Ming Doyle’s Mara #2 (Image, $2.99). I tried to hold back my expectations before reading Issue 1, and I was blown away – so now Issue 2 has something to prove. Finally, I’d get Invincible #100 (Image, $3.99) (Cory Walker’s cover, if you want to know!). I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I think Invincible is better than The Walking Dead. No need to compare the two really, though, because no matter how you cut it, this series is great … and what Kirkman and Ottley have planned for the 100th issue looks to be unique – both for the promised deaths and the promise of seeing what could have been had Mark Grayson chosen differently.
If I had $30, I’d make up for lost time and get Brian Ralph’s Cave-In (Drawn & Quarterly, $14.95) . I’m reticent to admit this, but I’ve never read this book. I loved Daybreak, but never found a copy or the motivation to seek out more … but this Wednesday that will change.
For splurging, I already have most of this in the single issues, but I can’t help but splurge on the new collection X-Men: Mutant Massacre (Marvel, $34.99). This was my first crossover in comics, buying back-issues before I discovered events like Crisis on Infinite Earths and Secret Wars. In my rose-colored glasses, it’s an ideal crossover for not being too overbearing and relating to a conflict or situation that isn’t superhero-specific. Love the Morlocks, love Uncanny X-Men and the associated books around this time, so I’m buying this and spending an evening enjoying it all over again.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what the Robot 6 crew have been checking out recently. To see for yourself, click below …
Legal | The U.S. Justice Department and the FBI on Thursday shut down the popular file-sharing site Megaupload, seized $50 million in assets and charged its founder and six others with running an international enterprise based on Internet piracy that’s cost copyright holders at least $500 million in lost revenue. The FBI has begun extradition proceedings in New Zealand to bring company founder Kim Schmitz, aka Kim DotCom, to the United States. He and three other associates are being held without bail until Monday, when they’ll receive a new hearing. Three others remain at large. They face a maximum of 20 years in prison.
News of the shutdown was met with retaliation by the hacker collective Anonymous, which attacked the websites of the Justice Department and the Motion Picture Association of America.
It’s time once again for our annual look at six books that were, for whatever reason, unjustly ignored by the public and critical cognoscenti at large. With all the titles that are published lately, it’s no real surprise that some books fall through the cracks, though in certain cases it seems grossly unwarranted.
After the jump are six books that, while they may not have made my “best of 2011″ list, I think got nowhere near the amount of attention they deserved. There are lots more that I could include if I had the time. I’m sure there are books you read this year that you don’t think got enough praise either. Be sure to let me know what they are in the comments section.
The world of comics is filled with tortured souls, but Bil Keane was not one of them.
The creator of The Family Circus passed away Tuesday at the age of 89, after what was by all accounts a wonderful life. Keane started drawing The Family Circus in 1960, and it is still going strong today — his son Jeff took over in recent years — and his 60-year marriage to Thelma Keane, the model for the mother in the cartoon, was a love match. Keane served as the president of the National Cartoonists Society from 1981 to 1983 and emceed its awards banquet for 16 years. Even before he died, his fellow cartoonists unfailingly described him as the nicest of nice guys, and startlingly funny. His niceness, apparently, had a bit of an edge.
Keane took The Family Circus seriously, seeing his mission as providing “good, wholesome, family entertainment,” a sort of cartoon comfort food for readers whose real-life families may not have been quite as warm as his fictional clan. In fact, one of the most touching tributes to his work came from Lynda Barry:
I was a kid growing up in a troubled household. We didn’t have books in the house, but we did have the daily paper, and I remember picking out ”Family Circus” before I could really read. There was something about looking through a circle at a life that looked pretty good to me.
For kids like me, there was a map and a compass that was hidden [in] “Family Circus.” The parents in that comic strip really loved their children. He put that image in my head and it stayed with me.
Retailing | A bankruptcy judge is expected to hear arguments today from the bankrupt Borders Group, which is seeking to pay $8.3 million in bonuses in a bid to retain key corporate personnel. The struggling bookseller says that 47 executives and director-level employees have quit since the company declared bankruptcy on Feb. 16 — two dozen just this month — leaving only 15 people in senior management positions. In a court filing last week, U.S. bankruptcy trustee Tracy Hope Davis objected to the bonus proposal, characterizing it as “a disguised retention plan for insiders, which also provides for discriminatory bonuses for non-insiders.” [The Detroit News]
Publishing | Todd Allen looks at sales estimates for the first issues in Marvel’s “Point One” initiative, which featured self-contained stories designed to serve as a jumping-on point for new or lapsed readers: “With the sole exception of Hulk, retailers ordered less copies of the ‘jump on’ issue, than the regular series. If you figure people picking up the title would also pick up the ‘.1′ introductory issue, this is a flaming disaster and there aren’t going to be a lot of these comics finding their way into the hands of new readers. It smack of very low buy-in from the retail community.” [Indignant Online]
Retailing | Berkeley, Calif., institution Comic Relief, opened in 1987 by the late Rory Root, “faces imminent closure” as it reportedly hemorrhages customers and grapples with cash-flow problems that led to the temporary loss of its account with Diamond Comic Distributors. According to an article in the East Bay Express, the store could be purchased by one of Root’s relatives, who would revive the name and retain the staff. Or it could be closed and reopen in another location in January.
However, Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson argues that rescue by Root’s family is unlikely, as they already own Comic Relief: “A seemingly never-ending series of colossal blunders by Rory’s family have put the store on life support, and now the store is a shell of what it once was. Comic Relief hasn’t received new product in weeks. For anyone even the least bit familiar with the business of selling comics, it should be vodka clear: No new books means no business. No business means no store. And far from being some sort of solution to the store’s troubles, the Roots are actually the cause. They took the store over against Rory’s wishes and have run it into the ground with such force, you’d think they were blasting for oil.” [East Bay Express]
Crime | Police arrested and released two suspects in the murder of Kenneth McClure, the St. Louis retailer found shot to death on Tuesday. Prosecutors have asked for more evidence before deciding whether to file charges against the 25-year-old woman, who had reportedly worked at Legends Comics & Sports Cards and had been in a relationship with McClure, and a 32-year-old man, who is related to the mother of the 13-year-old girl who accused McClure of rape. [St. Louis Today]
Publishing | DC Comics announced three promotions in its manufacturing and operations departments: Alison Gill to senior vice president-manufacturing & operations; Nick Napolitano to vice president-manufacturing administration; and Jeff Boison to vice president-publishing operations. DC Publicity Manager Alex Segura also announced this morning that today is his last day at the company. [The Source, The Source]
Drawn and Quarterly announced on Thanksgiving that it will publish the complete works of Lynda Barry, with the first volume, devoted mostly to Ernie Pook’s Comeek, coming out next fall. And there’s more:
Things to look forward to are her college strip, “Spinal Comics” (edited by none other than long time pal Matt Groening for the Evergreen State newspaper) and the precursor to Ernie Pook, “Two Sisters”. Eventually there will be many other rare or rarely seen tidbits like Lynda’s Esquire strips. We’re not completely sure how many volumes there will be but we figure somewhere around ten.
Lynda! Barry! Everything! Finally!
‘Bout time. I like that D+Q’s Tom Devlin wasn’t going to announce this but was goaded by Tom Spurgeon. Perhaps we should make it a point to annoy Devlin more often, if this sort of thing is the result.
Programming Director Bill Kartalopoulos has released the programming schedule for the upcoming 2nd annual Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, taking place on Saturday, Dec. 4 in Williamsburg, and it’s a doozy. Lynda Barry & Charles Burns and Françoise Mouly & Sammy Harkham will be paired off in panels that are perhaps the highlight of the show, while other spotlighted cartoonists include Golden Age artist Irwin Hasen (in conversation with Paul Pope, Evan Dorkin, and Dan Nadel) and Big Questions author Anders Nilsen, who drew the still-awesome poster you see above.
Check out the full schedule in the BCGF press release after the jump.
Lynda Barry did a guest turn on NPR’s Talk of the Nation yesterday, talking about how to deal with writer’s (or artist’s) block. Barry’s solution is simple: Just do it:
In her latest graphic memoir, Picture This: The Near-Sighted Monkey Book, she writes,”The worst thing I can do when I’m stuck is to start thinking and stop moving my hands.”
And if you also have doodler’s block too, or think you can’t draw?
“All I tell them is try drawing a cigarette on anybody in a magazine,” Barry tells NPR’s Neal Conan. “They always start laughing, and I can tell they always feel better.”
You can listen to the entire interview at the link.
(Via Graphic Novel Reporter.)
Legal | A former middle-school teacher in Idaho has pleaded guilty to possession of obscene visual depictions of the sexual abuse of children for downloading 70 cartoon images of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Many of the images depicted characters from The Simpsons. Boise resident Steve Kutzner, 33, faces up to 10 years in federal prison, supervised release of up to three years, a maximum fine of $250,000 and … a special assessment of $100. Sentencing is set for Jan. 5. [Idaho Statesman, press release]
New York Comic Con | Tom Spurgeon settles in for a lengthy, bulleted look at the news and announcements from last weekend’s big convention. Gareth-Michael Skarka, meanwhile, offers commentary on the digital-comics arena. [The Comics Reporter, The Designer Monologues]
New York Comic Con | Ruth La Ferla uses the convention as a chance to look at the intersection of comic books and fashion, spotlighting both cosplayers and noted designers. [The New York Times]
Groening and Barry recite a rather amusing Life in Hell cartoon in this clip (via Mike Lynch).
• Eric Reynolds has posted the official press release regarding Fantagraphics plans to publish Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy:
According to Co-Publisher Gary Groth, who inked the deal, Fantagraphics has contracted to publish the first 24 years of Nancy dailies, beginning in 1938 (when Nancy took over the strip from its former star, Fritzi Ritz) through 1961. “If the demand is there,” Groth noted, “we will of course want to continue into the 1960s and beyond, if for no other reason than to run all those great ‘hippie’ Nancy episodes. But we’ll cross that bridge in 2016 when we finish publishing the books we’ve contracted for.”
Kim Thompson will be editing the series. Each volume will contain four years worth of dallies and be designed by Jacob Covey. The books will be 8″ x 8″ in flexibound format and retail for $29.99. Daniel Clowes will pen the introduction to the first volume. There’s lots more info to discover in the link, including the news that Fanta will print an expanded version of Mark Newgarden and Paul Karasik’s seminal 1988 essay, “How to Read Nancy” next spring.
Nate Powell‘s Swallow Me Whole is a graphic novel that demands and warrants repeated readings. Released by Top Shelf last year, the publisher describes it as “a love story carried by rolling fog, terminal illness, hallucination, apophenia, insect armies, secrets held, unshakeable faith, and the search for a master pattern to make sense of one’s unraveling.” My thanks to Powell for this email interview and his level of candor.
Tim O’Shea: What motivated you to start self-publishing mini-comics at the age of 14?
Nate Powell: Well, I’d been drawing comics with a few friends for a couple of years already. We had many issues of a comic series mapped out, and a friend’s uncle suggested that we finish up each issue and self-publish it. We didn’t really know what that entailed, but soon discovered a few neglected copy machines around town and in my dad’s office. We made 100 copies of the first comic, and they all sold in about two months; we’d never anticipated recovering our expenses, or anyone actually BUYING the books, to be honest. We just wanted to have a comic too, and found the most accessible way to make them. At this time I was already into the punk subculture and had been exposed to people who made zines and released records in much the same manner, but it was not until a few years later when I started writing zines and putting out records that I saw the inherent connections between these two realms of DIY entrepreneurship.