Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
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 week, I’d continue to support the DC relaunch by picking up Wonder Woman #1, Legion of Super-Heroes #1 and Green Lantern Corps #1 (All DC, $2.99). I’d also grab the first issue of IDW’s new ongoing Star Trek book ($3.99), which adapts episodes of the original TV show into the new movie continuity, because I’m nerdy like that.
Fantagraphics sent over their list of books debuting at the San Diego Comic-Con later this month, and boy is it packed tighter than my suitcase on vacation day. The publisher will have almost two dozen new books at the show, including the last Mome; new stuff from Michael Kupperman, the Hernandez Bros. and Johnny Ryan; tons of Eurocomics; a Lou Reed/Edgar Allan Poe joint; and more. Check them out:
Love & Rockets New Stories 4 by Los Bros Hernandez: Featuring new stories by Jaime and Gilbert, including new material featuring Maggie set in the present and during her teen years.
Mark Twain’s Autobiography by Michael Kupperman: Probably the one I’ve been looking forward to the most, Kupperman publishes Mark Twain’s “biography” since the day the author/humorist died through last year — including his affair with Marilyn Monroe and his time-traveling adventures with Einstein.
Prison Pit Vol. 3 by Johnny Ryan: More deranged, twisted ultraviolent fun from Ryan.
Playing off of the often-misquoted Twain quote about exaggerated reports of his death, Kupperman tells us what Twain has been up to since the author and humorist “supposedly” passed away. It involves the Yeti, the Six Million Dollar Man and the “skin trade,” if this post from Kupperman is any indication. It sounds like a lot of fun.
Retailing | Borders Group says it’s determined that fewer than 150 customer names and emails were “obtained” by outsiders when a website published a searchable database of information associated with the retailer’s Borders Rewards loyalty program. The site, apparently set up by the marketing firm that helped the bookseller design and implement the program, was shut down over the weekend after Borders learned of its existence. A spokeswoman said the company is continuing its investigation. Borders Rewards has more than 41 million members. [AnnArbor.com]
Retailing | Amazon’s first-quarter profits tumbled 33 percent, even as revenue rose 38 percent, due largely to the costs of expanding its warehouse and data centers. [The New York Times]
Conventions | For the first time, organizers of the American Library Association’s Annual Conference & Exhibition will make space available for an artists alley — for free. This year’s conference, which will draw about 19,000 librarians, is held June 23-28 in New Orleans. [American Library Association, via The Beat]
“Considering a career in illustration? The money now is LESS than in 1980s, + you spend half your time chasing it cuz NOONE WANTS TO PAY YOU.”
— The great cartoonist and illustrator Michael Kupperman, whose Tales Designed to Thrizzle is legitimately one of the funniest comics ever made, serves up some real talk on Twitter. Congress failing to extend unemployment benefits is still the most depressing thing I read about the economy this week, but Michael Kupperman — Michael Kupperman! — having a hard time getting paid to draw things is a close second.
“Bad Romance” yes! Bad comics no! Making its debut at last weekend’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival, Prison for Bitches is a no-holds-barred fanzine tribute to Lady Gaga. Taking its name from a segment in Gaga and Beyoncé’s instant-classic “Telephone” video and edited by Same Hat!’s Ryan Sands and newly minted Doug Wright Award winner Michael DeForge, the ‘zine contains artistic tributes to Lady Gaga from a host of underground art and comics stalwarts and up-and-comers, including Johnny Ryan, Michael Kupperman, Hellen Jo, Lisa Hanawalt, and Nick Gazin.
The book’s slated to go on sale online today; in the meantime, click the link for sample spreads, and click here for DeForge’s strip, which foresees another 86 years of world domination by the Haus of Gaga. (And click here for previous Robot 6/Gaga goodness.) Don’t be the last little monster on your block to get a copy!
Happy day-after-Free Comic Book Day to everyone, and welcome to another edition of What are you reading? Our guest this week is Rick Marshall, editor of MTV’s Splash Page blog. To see what Rick and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading this week, read 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…
A sequel to Marvel’s surprise-hit alternative-superhero anthology Strange Tales has long been rumored, and now a post at cartoonist Paul Hornschemeier’s blog reveals the truth: Strange Tales 2 is on its way. No official word on when it’ll arrive, or on who else will be joining the anthology this time out, but based on what The Perry Bible Fellowship‘s Nick Gurewitch has said about a Galactus strip he’s working on, and this table of contents from Jeffrey Brown’s Process minicomic boasting the inclusion of Strange Tales sketches, they seem to be likely candidates. Meanwhile, I’ve heard tell that Becky Cloonan and Michael Kupperman will be making their triumphant returns to the project. Stay tuned!
Free-form radio is an awesome but endagered art form, but this week it’s getting a shot in the arm from one of the media’s few other real Wild Wests: comics. Creators Matt Fraction, Evan Dorkin, Michael Kupperman, Danny Hellman and Brian Musikoff are pitching in to raise money for New Jersey-based WFMU via an exclusive donor prize pack available through The Best Show on WFMU.
There’s really no way to adequately explain The Best Show, which airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays on listener-supported WFMU and online. Its host, Monk and Tom Goes to the Mayor writer Tom Scharpling, describes it as “three hours of mirth, music and mayhem.” It’s part traditional call-in show, albeit with a legendarily cranky host and weird group of regular callers. It’s part showcase for indie rock and alternative comedy, with luminaries like Patton Oswalt, John Hodgman, Ted Leo, Tim and Eric, Paul F. Tompkins and Aimee Mann making regular appearances. But at its core it’s comedy in and of itself, courtesy of Scharpling’s partner, Superchunk and Mountain Goats drummer Jon Wurster, and the bizarre characters he concocts as callers to the show. Ranging from the hoagie-eating, Eagles-worshipping Philadelphia native Philly Boy Roy to a vicious send-up of Gene Simmons to an ultraviolent senior citizen called the Gorch who claims to be the inspiration for Happy Days‘ Fonzie, The Best Show‘s rogues gallery and their long, largely improvised not-quite-prank calls need to be heard to be believed. It’s sort of like a three-hour inside joke, but once you’re on the inside, it’s so funny you never wanna get back out.
Fraction (who’s a regular guest on the show), Dorkin, Kupperman, et al are all a part of “The Best Show on WFMU 2010 Chump Steamroller Fun Pack,” a prize package available to donors who pledge $75 or more during tonight’s show. The Fun Pack includes a DVD starring Fraction, Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, Tim and Eric, John Hodgman, Todd Barry, Yo La Tengo, Aimee Mann, Ted Leo and more. It also includes a set of Best Show Trading Cards designed by Chris Moses and Joe Allen, featuring art by Kupperman, Dorkin, Hellman, Musikoff and more. After tonight’s show is over, they’re gone forever, so be sure to pledge at 800-989-9368 or online at wfmu.org. In the words of The Best Show, “Good guys win — bad guys lose!”
Eustace Tilley’s loss is our gain! Michael Kupperman, writer/artist of Tales Designed to Thrizzle and Twitterer extraordinaire, has posted a slew of comics that didn’t quite make it into the pages of The New Yorker.
His submissions, which can be viewed on his Twitpic account, include a look at Microscopic Goings-On About Town, Pigeons in Film, Slightly Cursed Merchandise, Other Species’ Currency, and the eternal question seen here, How Much Do You Know About Your Mutual Fund Manager? And because he’s that kinda guy, Kupperman has even shared a pair of strips that actually wound up in the mag.
Kupperman’s trip down memory lane was prompted by a request from The New Yorker to pitch them some comics again. The problem there, he tweeted, was that “after years of working for them and other magazines like them, I am in the wrong income bracket to adopt their worldview/sense of humor.” Here’s hoping that at some point soon, the likes of Hendrik Hertzberg and David Denby will once again be guarded by McGritte the Surrealist Crime Dog.
Brian Michael Bendis! At least according to Samuel Rules of Are You a Serious Comic Book Reader? In a post stuffed with evidentiary linkage, Sammy proclaims “No one used Twitter better in 2009 than Bendis,” citing the Siege writer’s honesty and humor, as well as the “little insights into his life” he provided. “I used to talk a lot of trash on him,” Sammy recalls — “Upon discovering his Twitter, however, I started to understand him as a person, and then kinda wanted to hang out with him.”
Which got me thinking: Who would I proclaim comics’ Twitter-er…Twit…uh, Tweeter of the year?
Would I stick with Bendis, for his informative Q&A alone?
Michael Kupperman, for a consistently hilarious feed that’s like reading Tales Designed to Thrizzle in pictureless 140-character snippets?
Paul Pope, for his philosophical musings?
Ryan “Agent M” Penagos, for having more followers than the rest of the comics industry combined?
But then I remembered the one man whose Twitter account impacted my life, or at least the blogging side of it, more than anyone else. For my money, no one tops the ever-interesting, refreshingly candid Tom Brevoort. Why, just the other day he took to his feed to breathe a sigh of relief about Captain America: Reborn finishing before The Flash: Rebirth as he predicted, size up his chances regarding Siege finishing before Blackest Night, criticize Rebirth artist Ethan Van Sciver for drawing convention commissions while his book is delayed, and defend Reborn artist Bryan Hitch from accusations of habitual lateness. Can you imagine if everyone in comics were that forthright? I can, and it looks like heaven from here. Tweetin’ Tom Brevoort, we salute you!
Tales Designed to Thrizzle, Vol. 1
by Michael Kupperman
Fantagraphics Books, 160 pages, $24.99
The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book
by Joe Daly
Fantagraphics Books, 112 pages, $22.99.
It’s tough to be a humorist these days. Time was when simply pointing out the money-grubbing crassness of our culture in a clever way was enough to ensure laughs. Not no more. These days we’re well aware the stuff we like is junk. We’re far too hip to be told that the emperor wears no clothes. Surrounded by an increasing array of banal and inane pop cultural detritus, what can the modern satirist do but mock the utter absurdity of it all?
That’s the path taken by two cartoonists in the Fantagraphics stable — Michael Kupperman and Joe Daly, though they travel down that path in very different ways.
As a kid, I was a big fan of both comics and action figures; I probably spent my allowance equally on Uncanny X-Men comics and Star Wars action figures. The day I got my Emperor action figure in the mail was almost as good as the day I found a really cheap copy of Uncanny X-Men #129 at a used book store. Unfortunately, those two passions rarely met. It was a post Mego, pre-action figure boom world that I grew up in, so with the exception of the short-lived Secret Wars and Super Powers figures, there weren’t a lot of superheroes to be found on the toy aisle.
Nowadays, though, you can find action figures of just about any comic character on the shelves, from secondary X-Men like Forge and Banshee to independent characters like Madman. But there are still a few out there that the world needs, which is why Chris suggested we list a few characters who we felt needed to be captured in three-dimensional plastic with a kung fu grip.
So here we go …
1. Firestar (David Gallaher)
In looking over my collection, I thought about a character whose history dates back almost 30 years. Playing the lead role in one of the best Marvel cartoons, she starred in her own limited series, was in a couple of coloring books, was a member of the Avengers, an enemy of the X-Men, a founding member of the New Warriors, and is currently starring in Marvel Divas. Even better still – she was featured in her own Hardees kids meal!
Welcome to What Are You Reading, where we talk about stuff, but mostly books, especially comic books. Our guest this week is our fellow CBR blogger Brian Cronin, whom most of you no doubt know via the excellent blog Comics Should Be Good and author of the new book Was Superman Was A Spy: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed!
To discover what Brian and the rest of the crew are reading, simply click on the link below.