Since 1992, the Xeric Foundation, founded by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Peter Laird, has awarded grants to comic creators that allowed them bring their comics to the world. Late last week Laird announced that the foundation would stop providing grants to amateur creators, noting that “the advent of essentially free web publishing has forever altered the way aspiring comic book creators can get their work out into the public eye.” The foundation will instead devote its grant funds to charitable organizations.
The barriers to entry for getting your comic work out in front of people may have changed, but as Sean Kleefeld points out, the Xeric Foundation provided another benefit to comic fans. “…here’s why I’ll miss the Xerics: they have been an incredibly powerful shorthand for identifying great comics,” he wrote on his blog. “Oh, there’s other comic awards out there, of course, but those always come across as hit or miss for me. Just because a comic won a Harvey or an Eisner or whatever doesn’t mean I’ll really enjoy or appreciate it. But the Xerics, I’ve found, are consistently high quality and enjoyable. I have yet to read a Xeric-winning book that I didn’t enjoy, a claim I can’t make regarding the Eisners.”
So when I threw out the idea to do a Six by 6 list highlighting some of our favorite Xeric Foundation recipients over the years, I didn’t realize what I was asking; it didn’t register just how many completely awesome creators out there have benefited from the grant. So, when I say “Six Xeric Foundation grant recipients we love,” that’s not to say that they are the only ones we love. Hell, just throw all the names in a hat and pick out six, and you’ll have a list just as legitimate as this one.
Also, it was interesting to see how my fellow bloggers interpreted my request for entries for this list; while some, like Chris Mautner, did what I was expecting and talked about what one of their favorites went on to do after receiving the grant, others reached out to some of them to get their thoughts on the discontinuation of the grants. So the content of the list is … varied.
As always feel free to share thoughts on some of your favorites in the comments section. You can find a list of all the recipients here.
Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew talk about the comics and graphic novels that they’ve been enjoying lately.
Today’s special guest is Ryan K Lindsay, a staff writer for comic news and reviews site The Weekly Crisis. He also runs a comic scripting challenge site called thoughtballoons where each week a character is picked, and every member of the site must write a one-page script about that character. He’s also been known to throw a think piece up at Gestalt Mash and is hoping one day to have his many comic pitches drawn by people with pencils.
To see what Ryan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading this week, click the link below …
What does it take to make a story just right for some creators? As revealed in this interview with Megan Kelso, with her latest book, Artichoke Tales (released by Fantagraphics a few months ago and praised by Brigid just yesterday)–it took 10 years. Not every storyteller takes the time to indulge my questions in the manner that Kelso did, an effort for which I’m extremely grateful. Here’s the scoop on the book: “Artichoke Tales is a coming-of-age story about a young girl named Brigitte whose family is caught between the two warring sides of a civil war, a graphic novel that takes place in a world that echoes our own, but whose people have artichoke leaves instead of hair. Influenced in equal parts by Little House on the Prairie, The Thorn Birds, Dharma Bums, and Cold Mountain, Kelso weaves a moving story about family amidst war. Kelso’s visual storytelling, uniquely combining delicate linework with rhythmic, musical page compositions, creates a dramatic tension between intimate, ruminative character studies and the unflinching depiction of the consequences of war and carnage, lending cohesion and resonance to a generational epic. This is Kelso’s first new work in four years; the widespread critical reception of her previous work makes Artichoke Tales one of the most eagerly anticipated graphic novels of 2010.” Fun aside, in clarifying a detail about this interview, I learned that Kelso created a iGoogle theme, which can be accessed here. One last item, Fantagraphics posted a 16-page preview here.
Tim O’Shea: Creating Artichoke Tales represented more than six years of your creative life–can you describe how relieving (or what emotion you felt) when you finished the tale?
Megan Kelso: Truth be told, it was more like a ten year project. I think for some reason my publisher wanted to down play how friggin’ long it took me to finish this book. It was very protracted because I took a lot of breaks to do other things; freelance work, a wedding, moving, having a baby, moving again. I actually finished pencilling the last two chapters in 2005, which is really the heart of the creative work. I pushed myself on that because I wanted to be done with the storytelling part of it before I was pregnant. But then the final denoument, the inking, the computer shading, the corrections – I didn’t begin that work until two and a half years later. It was kind of excruciating doing all the final work on the book after it had been completely drawn – I think because the urgency and excitement of getting the story out was over. Then it was just drudge work. I finally finished all the work just before Thanksgiving of 2009 and I was 100% thrilled and happy about it for months. The let-down, “nothing left but doubt” part of finishing a huge project did not set in until I recently saw it in printed form. I am totally happy with how the printing and production came out, but even still, there’s a bit of a void. I think I’m fending off a bit of a mid-life crisis.
As the final days of summer start to waste away and you’re looking for something to enjoy before hitting the books for school, there’s no better place to find some good stuff to read than right here in our weekly What Are You Reading? column.This week our guest is journalist/blogger Heidi MacDonald, of The Beat and Publishers Weekly fame.
To see what Heidi and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
There’s much to chew on in writer/artist Megan Kelso’s interview with CBR’s Alex Dueben, from the history of her decade-in-the-making fantasy graphic novel Artichoke Tales for Fantagraphics to the reason for her current hiatus from active comics-making. But I was particularly struck by her observations regarding “Watergate Sue,” the strip she did for The New York Times Magazine‘s “Funny Pages” comics section.
Serializing the story one page a week is a very different beast from telling a story in comic books or serializing a story that way.
Yeah, and I don’t know about you, but I had a really hard time following other peoples’ stories. I became a loyal reader, but it was not easy. Even if I really liked the story, that week to week thing was just really hard going for the readers. They had to be really motivated to read it every week and remember what happened last week. I just think it asked a tremendous lot from the readers to read comics in that form. They were doing the prose stories at the same time, and those people got a few pages, so what they were able to cover in their episodes was so much more than what the cartoonist was able to do. I just think that, as cool as it was that the “New York Times” did that, and they did it for many years, they had a serious commitment to it, but I still think it was a flawed experiment. I’m glad they did it, but I just think it was hard for the cartoonist, and it was hard for the readers, to do comics in that form and to read comics in that form.
Kelso has a lot more to say on the subject: about being the first woman cartoonist to contribute comics to the Times, about how Seth’s strip for the paper showed her what not to do, about stepping in only after Marjane Satrapi turned the gig down, about being too “headstrong” and not tailoring her strip to the paper…like I said, much to chew on.
I came to shop.
Seriously, I was just about as excited for this past weekend’s MoCCA festival as I’ve ever been for any comic convention. And it wasn’t because of the guests or the panels or even getting to see so many of my friends and colleagues — it was because of the comics. The best thing about a small-press show is your ability to dig into the tables and come away with enough treasures to keep you reading happily for weeks. Proceeding from the top left of the picture above in as logical a fashion as I can manage, here’s a rundown of my personal treasure trove…
Megan Kelso, creator of Squirrel Mother, returns with a new graphic novel in 2010 called Artichoke Tales, which is about a young girl “whose family is caught between the two warring sides of a civil war, a graphic novel that takes place in a world that echoes our own, but whose people have artichoke leaves instead of hair.” Courtesy of Fantagraphics, we’re pleased to provide this exclusive preview of the book.
You’ll find two more pages and additional information on the book provided by the publisher after the jump …