Adding the RSS feed for Michael DeForge’s blog to your Google Reader this year was a bit like wrapping your mouth around the business end of a firehose. Barely a day went by without DeForge posting some beautifully strange, strangely beautiful new illustration or comics page. And at the rate he was producing work, there was no telling where it would be from — his two minicomics series, the art-world satire/science fiction Open Country and the kids’-comics oddity Kid Mafia; his ongoing bug’s-life black-comedy webcomic Ant Comic; “College Girl by Night,” his gender-bending contribution to the erotic comics anthology he co-edits with Ryan Sands, Thickness; the third issue of his flagship solo anthology series, Lose, from Koyama Press; various previously published works now archived at Jordan Crane’s webcomics portal What Things Do; comic strips and illustrations for magazines like Vice, Maisonneuve, The Comics Journal and The Believer; contributions to anthologies including kus, Smoke Signal, Gang Bang Bong, Root Rot, Sundays, and probably more that I’m forgetting.
But even more astonishing than the sheer volume of his output was its quality. As I wrote in CBR’s Top 100 Comics of 2011 countdown, DeForge published his four best comics last year, and many more thrilling works besides. I focused on that killer quartet of Lose, Open Country, Ant Comic, and “College Girl by Night” for this interview with DeForge, looking back on amazing year and teasing what’s to come in 2012.
Sean T. Collins: Sexy stuff first. I have a few questions about “College Girl by Night,” the story you contributed toThickness. Since you co-created and co-edit the series with Ryan Sands, I’m wondering which came first, the idea for the story, or the idea for the anthology it eventually appeared in? Did wanting to make smut also make you want to create a publication to house it for yourself and others, or vice versa?
Michael DeForge: My idea for the story came way, way later. I think that’s why I wanted to be slotted in the second issue instead of the first – when we decided to do the anthology, I had no idea what I wanted to draw yet. “College Girl By Night” was actually my second story idea, too. My original comic was going to be a homoerotic riff on the movie Class, starring Rob Lowe and Andrew McCarthy. I did all these character designs and had all these plans on how I’d draw their outfits and the prep school the comic would take place in, but everything fell apart when I actually started to plot it out.
King City cartoonist Brandon Graham dropped this beauty on twitpic the other day — it’s a lovely tribute to Craig Thompson’s Middle Eastern epic Habibi, centered on the book’s female lead Dodola. It’s funny: I never would have thought there’d be much visual kinship between Thompson’s lush brushwork and Graham’s thin lines, but both artists have a curvilenear sweep to their work that turns out to make their styles mesh beautifully. And obviously, Graham can pack in the Thompson-esque ornamentation like whoa.
The best thing about the illustration is that no matter what you like about it, you can find more of that thing someplace online today:
Digital comics | Following the entry this week by Image Comics into same-day digital release, 40 percent of the comics that debuted in print Wednesday were also available digitally through comiXology. Asking whether day and date comics are “hitting a tipping point,” retailer news and analysis site ICv2 notes: “Publishers are gaining confidence in the concept as evidence grows that day and date releases do not negatively impact print sales. DC’s bold move to convert its entire line to day and date digital with the New 52 has been the clearest indication yet that digital sales are not cannibalizing print.” [ICv2.com]
Legal | Kickstarter, the two-year-old crowd-funding site used by a variety of artists to fund projects, has asked a federal court to declare invalid a patent held by Brian Camelio, who founded ArtistShare in 2000. Camelio, a composer and former studio musician for the rock band Journey, has obtained a patent for a process that resembles Kickstarter’s own crowd-funding model. According to PaidContent, “Kickstarter ask a federal court to declare that the patent is invalid and that the company is not liable for infringement. If the patent, described as ‘methods and apparatuses for financing and marketing a creative work,’ is valid and Kickstarter is infringing, the site could be forced to shut down or pay significant damages.” [PaidContent]
It was easy to miss amid the seemingly neverending torrent of incredible comics pages he’s posted to the Internet over the past couple years, but Michael DeForge, the Doug Wright Award-winning creator of Lose from Koyama Press, has quietly launched a biweekly webcomic called Ant Comic. Spinning out of a contribution to the newsprint anthology Smoke Signals from Desert Island Comics in Brooklyn, Ant Comic so far appears to be a series of standalone episodes in the lives of various ants, featuring exquisite coloring, existential angst, and deeply disconcerting imagery involving the fears and lusts of insects. DeForge is planning 50 installments, and he’s only up to #3 right now; a new one goes up every other Monday. Cans of Raid not included.
The winners of the 2011 Ignatz Awards were announced this weekend at SPX, the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Md. Nominees for the awards were chosen by a jury of five creators and voted on by attendees at the show.
Congratulations to this year’s winners:
Outstanding Mini Comic: Ben Died of a Train, Box Brown
Outstanding Anthology or Collection: I Will Bite You, Joseph Lambert
Outstanding Online Comic: Hark! A Vagrant, Kate Beaton
Promising New Talent: Darryl Ayo Brathwaite
Outstanding Story: Browntown, Jaime Hernandez
Outstanding Series: Everything Dies, Box Brown
Outstanding Comic: Lose #3, Michael DeForge
Outstanding Graphic Novel: Gaylord Phoenix, Edie Fake
Outstanding Artist: Joseph Lambert, I Will Bite You
The nominees for the 2011 Ignatz Awards have been announced on the website for the Small Press Expo. Awarded every year at SPX and named after the brick-throwing mouse from Krazy Kat, the Ignatzes are selected by an anonymous jury of five creators and voted on by attendees of the show. There’s nothing in comics quite like lugging around the actual, honest-to-god bricks awarded as trophies to the winners.
This year, cartoonists Michael DeForge, Edie Fake, and Sammy Harkham top the list of nominees with three nods apiece. DeForge’s Lose, the third issue of which was released this year by Koyama Press, earned him nominations for Outstanding Artist, Outstanding Series, and Outstanding Comic. Fake received an Outstanding Artist nomination for his Secret Acres graphic novel Gaylord Phoenix, which is also up for Outstanding Graphic Novel, while the the fifth issue of the series collected in the GN earned an Outstanding Mini-Comic nod. Harkham’s self-published Crickets is up for Outstanding Series thanks to its third issue, which is nominated for Outstanding Comic and contains “Blood of the Virgin,” nominated for Outstanding Story.
On the publishing side, Fantagraphics leads the pack with five nominations, split between Joe Daly (Outstanding Series, Dungeon Quest), Joyce Farmer (Outstanding Graphic Novel, Special Exits), Jaime Hernandez (Outstanding Story, “Browntown,” from Love and Rockets: New Stories #3), and Carol Tyler (Outstanding Artist and Outstanding Graphic Novel, You’ll Never Know, Vol. 2: Collateral Damage).
Secret Acres and Sparkplug tie for the silver with four nominations each. Secret Acres boasts the two nods for Fake’s Gaylord Phoenix graphic novel, plus another two for Joe Lambert’s I Will Bite You (Outstanding Artist and Outstanding Anthology or Collection). Sparkplug was tapped for editor Annie Murphy’s Gay Genius (Outstanding Anthology or Collection), Elijah Brubaker’s Reich (Outstanding Series), Dunja Jankovic’s Habitat #2 (Outstanding Comic), and Chris Cilla’s The Heavy Hand (Outstanding Graphic Novel).
Not to tip my own hand here, but as with the Harveys, it’s refreshing to see that Hernandez’s “Browntown” and Chris Ware’s Lint, arguably two of the best comics of all time, are nominated in the relevant categories for best comics of the year. You’d think you could take that for granted, but you’d be surprised! Moreover, DeForge, Fake, and Harkham’s books really are excellent, and Fantagraphics, Secret Acres, and Sparkplug are high-quality, gutsy publishers. Not a lot to be unhappy about with this list!
Hosted by cartoonist Dustin Harbin, the Ignatz Awards gala will take place on Saturday, September 10 at SPX in Bethesda, Maryland. See the entire slate of nominees after the jump.
In the immortal words of that slowed-down Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson pizza-making video, when does a dream become a nightmare? This is the question addressed by justly celebrated young cartoonist Michael DeForge, in the context of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man no less, in his cheerfully unauthorized, thoroughly unpleasant Spider-Man comic “Peter’s Muscle,” which you can now read online in its entirety at Jordan Crane’s webcomics portal What Things Do. Spinning out of the infamous (and in-continuity!) relationship between Aunt May and Doctor Octopus, the story finds the Wall-Crawler recounting a disturbing dream that starts with finding a face underneath a membranous sidewalk and somehow only gets more uncomfortably intimate from there. With any luck, a full-color edition of this strip will anchor a future Strange Tales installment, but for now, this will more than suffice.
Maintaining their respective recent hot streaks, cartoonist Michael DeForge has posted his 2010 Koyama Press release Spotting Deer in its entirety on Jordan Crane’s resurgent, resplendent alternative-webcomics portal What Things Do. Structured like a field guide to an imaginary animal that winds up revealing a surprising amount about its imaginary author, it’s also a rare full-color work for talented young writer/artist DeForge, who proves himself just as innovative with color as he is with creature design, typography, urban wastelands, and the rest of his usual tricks and tropes. If you’re tired of the same old same-old in comics, here’s something that feels exciting and new.
Hello and welcome to Wha Are You Reading? Today our special guest is illustrator, photographer, writer, filmmaker and jazz musician Dave McKean, whose works include Cages, Mr. Punch, Signal to Noise, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Violent Cases, Coraline and many, many more. He has a new book with writer Richard Dawkins, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True, coming out in October, as well as a graphic novel called Celluloid coming out from Fantagraphics in June. Special thanks to Chris Mautner for asking him to participate this week.
To see what Dave and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Cartoonists rarely produce great work right out of the starting gate. It usually it takes lots of time and lots of effort for an artist to hone their style and storytelling abilities. Debut comics — even those made by the greats — rarely offer any indication of what type of treasures lie ahead. Even Chris Ware had to make Floyd Farland before he could produce Jimmy Corrigan.
Still, sometimes a cartoonist seems to spring out of the sea foam fully formed, producing a work that not only draws attention and great buzz, but also indicates exactly where they’re headed — what direction they plan to take as an artist and what you as a reader can expect from them.
Here then, are six debut comics that made people go “Who the heck is this guy? And why haven’t I heard of him before?” I’m sure I missed someone. I always do. Be a dear and let me know who I forgot in the comments section, won’t you?
Another Toronto Comic Arts Festival has come and gone, leaving in its wake a lot of broke-but-smiling comics fans, a couple of artists with a new cause celebre, and some interesting reading.
As we reported on Friday, Canadian customs seized all five copies of the Black Eye comics anthology that creator Tom Neely was trying to bring to TCAF. The news was originally reported by Ryan Standfest, editor and publisher of Rotland Press + Comic Works, at The Comics Journal, and Ryan adds in comments that Blaise Larmee’s Young Lions was also seized from Sparkplug publisher Dylan Williams. (For those who are curious about what’s too hot for Canada, here is a preview.) Standfest posted his reaction to the Black Eye confiscation at the Rotland blog; I’m sure there will be more to say about this soon.
The winners of the Doug Wright Awards were announced on Saturday night: Pascal Girard’s Bigfoot won the award for Best Book, Alex Fellows won the Best Emerging Talent award for Spain and Morocco, and the Pigskin Peters Award, given to non-traditional and avant-garde comics, went to Michael DeForge’s Spotting Deer.
Meanwhile, the folks at the Canadian comcs news blog Sequential have posted a special TCAF edition of Sequential Pulp, which you can download as a PDF or read via Issu, with lots of good stuff, including interviews with Jillian Tamaki and Mark Laliberte, books reviews by Tom Spurgeon, Salgood Sam, and others, and pages and pages of original comics. It’s all free, so go, browse.
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival, or TCAF, is coming up May 7-8, and to promote it some friends of the organizers have created this nifty video featuring many of Toronto’s talented comics folks — Chester Brown, Michael Comeau, Steve Charles Manale, Vicki Nerino, Michael Cho, Michael DeForge, Seth, Fiona Smyth and Britt Wilson.
Nominees were selected by a panel of judges — Michael Allred, Brandon Graham, Laura Hudson, Michael Ring and Jason Leivian — from among the entries submitted earlier this year. Winners were determined by an online vote.
The winners are:
Best Artist: Emily Carroll, His Face All Red
Best Writer: Aaron Renier, The Unsinkable Walker Bean
Best Cartoonist: Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour
Best Letterer: Johnny Ryan, Prison Pit #2
Best Colorist: Emily Carroll, His Face All Red
Best Publication Design: Michael DeForge, Spotting Deer
Best Anthology: Studygroup 12 #4, edited by Zack Soto
Best Small Press: I Want You #2 by Lisa Hanawalt
Best New Talent: Michael DeForge
Reader’s Choice: Pang, the Wandering Shaolin Monk by Ben Costa
Director’s Choice: The Sixth Gun, by Brian Hurtt and Cullen Bunn, published by Oni Press
Welcome to a special Super Bowl Sunday edition of What Are You Reading? Not that it’s any different from a regular WAYR column, but you can enjoy it while eating hot wings while the TV is paused.
Today our special guest is biology professor Jay Hosler, creator of Clan Apis and Optical Allusions. His latest book, Evolution, with artists Kevin Cannon and Zandor Cannon, was recently released by Hill & Wang. Check out his blog for a story he’s working on about photosynthesis.
To see what Jay and the Robot 6 gang are reading, click below.
The third and final issue of Marvel’s Strange Tales II arrives in shops Dec. 8, and will feature stories by James Stokoe, Michael DeForge, Toby Cypress, Harvey Pekar and Ty Templeton, Nick Gurewitch with Kate Beaton, Eduardo Medeiros and Benjamin Marra, among others.
And thanks to our friends over at Marvel, we’re pleased to present two preview pages from the anthology today, featuring Stokoe’s Silver Surfer tale (who we alreayd know draws a jaw-dropping awesome Galactus), and DeForge’s Spider-Man, Jubilee and Iceman.
Check’em out after the jump.