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Comics A.M. | Borders seeks bonus approval; Marvel’s ‘Point One’ sales


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]

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Comics A.M. | Comic Relief’s closing ‘imminent'; the year in digital comics

Comic Relief

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]

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Comics A.M. | Charges sought in retailer’s murder, more staff moves at DC


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]

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D+Q announces Lynda Barry collection

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.

Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival unveils artist-packed programming schedule

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.

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Stuck? Just draw a cigarette!

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.)

Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes


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]

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Video of the day: Matt Groening and Lynda Barry

Groening and Barry recite a rather amusing Life in Hell cartoon in this clip (via Mike Lynch).

Thin wallets, fat bookshelves: A publishing news round-up

Sample Nancy strip

Sample Nancy strip

• 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.

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Talking Comics with Tim: Nate Powell

Swallow Me Whole

Swallow Me Whole

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.

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Talking Comics with Tim: Esther Pearl Watson

Unlovable Vol. 1

Unlovable Vol. 1

Esther Pearl Watson‘s Unlovable Vol. 1 features an artistic style that reminds me of Lynda Barry. Clearly I’m not the first to see the similarity (and in fact Barry offers words of praise for the book). As described by Fantagraphics: “Loosely based on a teenager’s diary from the 1980s found in a gas-station bathroom, Unlovable details the sometimes ordinary, sometimes humiliating, often poignant and frequently hilarious exploits of underdog Tammy Pierce … In the epic saga that is Unlovable, Tammy finds herself dealing with: tampons, teasing, crushes, The Smiths, tube socks, facial hair, lice, celibacy, fantasy dream proms, gym showers, skid marks, a secret admirer, prank calls, backstabbers, winter ball, barfing, narcs, breakdancing, hot wheels, glamour shots, roller coasters, Halloween costumes, boogers, boys, boy crazy feelings, biker babes, and even some butt cracks. Tammy’s life isn’t pretty, but it is endlessly charming and hilarious.

Originally (and still) serialized in Bust magazine, Unlovable includes over 100 new pages created just for this edition, which is handsomely packaged in a unique hot pink hardcover format with sparkly blue glitter that would make Tammy proud.”

One great thing I learned in this interview is that this is only the first volume of Unlovable. Next year on Valentine’s Day will mark the release of the second volume. Volume 1 covers from fall of 1988 to 1989 and Volume 2 is set in 1989. Be sure to visit the book’s page on Fantagraphics, for another of its great Flickr videos, allowing one to “flip” through the book virtually. And in a literal sense, Fantagraphics has a 20-page preview of the 416-page Volume 1.

Tim O’Shea: I have to know–“I walked around with a red lollipop stuck to my butt”–was that a direct quote from the found diary that inspired Unlovable or a total (incredibly hilarious) creation of your mind?

Esther Pearl Watson: Well…I made that up.

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