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Themed convention sketchbooks

The Royal Tenenbaums, by Matt Wagner

One of the more unique aspects of comics conventions in the United States is the general amount of creativity bursting at the seems. One of the biggest signs of this is the generosity that most artists have for doing rough sketches to attendees.

Generally artists will do these for free, or for a small fee, but if you can get your hands on one it’s well worth the effort. I’ve been collecting sketches for several years at cons, and I thought myself the norm until I first glimpsed the themed sketchbook of Oni Press Editor-in-Chief James Lucas Jones.

In 2002, Jones began having artists and friends in the industry contribute to an ongoing sketchbook centered on the characters from the 2001 Wes Anderson film The Royal Tenenbaums. It’s been years since I’ve seen it, and it’s probably filled to the brim and Jones moved on to other themes. But it always sticks in my mind as one of the first themed con sketchbooks and one of the best. Here’s a sample:

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The Middle Ground #16: Play That William Tell Overture One More Time

greenhornetI’ve talked before about the oddness of Dynamite’s Green Hornet line, I think; the sheer deluge of books so quickly after launch, and the way it makes little sense to me in any way other than ensuring a lot of bookstore product in time for January’s movie release. But I’ve been reading a lot of the books recently, and now I have to admit: It makes even less sense. Continue Reading »

Six by 6 | Six great comics published by Comico

Grendel

Grendel

The birth of the direct market brought a slew of new independent publishers in the 1980s, including First Comics, Eclipse and Comico. It was the latter that really made an impact on both myself and Strangeways creator Matt Maxwell at the time.

In an email discussion earlier this week about 1980s comics, the subject turned to Comico, and Matt and I started listing some of our favorite series by the publisher. So when I decided to make them the focus of this edition of Six by 6, I reached out to Matt to see if he’d be interested in helping me out this week. “I started expanding my horizons right about the time they started publishing comics,” he told me, a sentiment I can echo. Elementals, in fact, may have been the first non-Marvel/DC comic I ever bought.

So without further ado, here are six great titles (actually seven, if you’ll note how Matt slipped in an extra title in his last entry — sneaky!) that Comico published back in the day.

1. Grendel, written by Matt Wagner, art by Matt Wagner and a host of others: I missed out on the Comico Primer and the very early Grendel material, but I came on board for Devil by the Deed, which was a graphic novel retelling of those stories that came out about the time that the Devil’s Legacy (written by Matt Wagner with art by the Pander Brothers) started up. In short, I was blown away by the range of the themes at play in Wagner’s storytelling (and by the hyper-stylized renderings of the Panders.) The first convention sketch I paid for was a Christine Spar Grendel (right before I got Stephen Bisette to draw Cthulhu). Grendel really was a comic for grownups when such a thing was a comparative rarity. I can’t do it justice in the time I have here, but really, every fan of sequential storytelling owes it to themselves to catch up on this book, which I believe is being reprinted in its entirety by Dark Horse. Romance, treachery, betrayal, crime, noir, science fiction, dark fantasy, even straight superheroics can be found in the pages of Grendel, not to mention an incredible range of formal techniques and experimentation, and work by artists who are both superstars now and all but forgotten, sadly. (Matt Maxwell)

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