Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our guest this week is Spanish artist Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque, who drew the comic Elle for Soleil. He’s also working on a story for the upcoming Skullkickers #18 with J. Torres.
To see what Alberto and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Conventions | David Glanzer, Comic-Con International’s director of marketing and public relations, looks back on this year’s WonderCon, which was held in Anaheim, California, rather than in San Francisco, touches upon the uncertainty about the location for next year’s show — “we just don’t have dates at the Moscone Center yet” — and discusses changes to pro and press registration for Comic-Con. [ICv2]
Conventions | Grant Morrison talks about MorrisonCon, the Sept. 28-30 convention billed as “a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” “It’s not going to be ‘Come here and buy some comics and listen to a few panels,’ ” he says. “After two days you will be a changed person.” Tickets for the Las Vegas show, which is limited to 1,000 attendees, cost $767, and include a two-night stay at the Hard Rock Hotel, access to the guests and after-hours parties. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Sex in the City meets The Book of Eli? Not quite, but it’s hard to describe cartoonist Angie Wang‘s Girl Apocalypse without pushing you to actually read it. The 24-page comic stars a group of “hungry and inexplicably fashionable young ladies” roaming a post-apocalyptic wasteland en route to the little hamlet of Bridal Veil, Oregon. Why? You’ll have to read it — either online or in a well-crafted print edition Wang just put on her website.
Hailing from the comics mecca of Portland, Wang balances cartooning with illustration work for such magazines as The New Yorker and Wired. In comics, she’s had stories in anthologies like Dark Horse Presents and Popgun, and has released several well-received minicomics prior to this one.
Check out pages from Girl Apocalypse below.
Being a judge in the Eisner Awards meant making hard choices. It’s like being an admissions officer at Harvard: You could make a top-notch set of picks, throw them away, and still have a strong field for the second set. With six judges each having a different voice, sometimes a book that one or two of us think is the greatest thing since sliced bread doesn’t make the final cut.
Here’s my short list of comics that, if it were up to me, would have gotten Eisner nominations.
Best Limited Series
One of my favorite series of 2011 was Spontaneous, by Brett Weldele and Joe Harris. It’s a great crypto-mystery about spontaneous human combustion, with a nerdy know-it-all played off against an aggressive reporter. The story has its flaws, but I couldn’t put it down.
Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)
Nina in That Makes Me Mad: We had an unusually strong field of children’s books, even after we split the category into two age groups, but this book was my first choice for a nomination. The writing is sharp and perceptive, and Hilary Knight’s illustrations are amazing. Even the page layouts are awesome. This is a book that speaks directly to children, in a voice they can understand, yet does it with an elegance that adults can appreciate as well.
Retailing | The retail news and analysis site ICv2 contends sales of graphic novels in the direct market may be better than recent numbers indicate because of the way Diamond Comic Distributors reports those figures. While the distributor’s calculations are based on the wholesale value of shipments, ICv2 based its estimates on the retail value, and found graphic novel sales rose 24.4 percent in March, rather than declined 5.7 percent (versus a year ago), and climbed 27.7 percent in April, rather than just 12.6 percent: “The big differences between the wholesale and retail rates of change in recent months appear to be caused by big increases in the number of graphic novels liquidated through Diamond in March and April. So retail dollars were up, while wholesale dollars lagged. ” [ICv2]
Conventions | Audrey Gillan previews this weekend’s Kapow! in London by casting a spotlight on organizers Lucy and Sarah Unwin — they’re partnered with Mark Millar — and their efforts to create a female-inclusive comic convention. “We ourselves as women organising the show have been accused of misogyny because of the obviously male guest list, but there is just this lack of female creators and it’s the nature of the industry,” Lucy Unwin said. “There’s no point in taking it to heart because I don’t employ the creators. I would love there to be more women at the show in terms of guests.” [The Guardian]
Brigid Alverson will have her own MoCCA report up soon, no doubt, but I thought I’d share my own reminiscences of last weekend’s show, via some pics I took while wandering around the aisles.
Becky Cloonan has premiere the final cover for The Mire, the follow-up to her acclaimed minicomic Wolves. The self-contained story is set on the eve of a battle as a humble squire is tasked with delivering a letter to a decrepit castle within a swamp. “Met with mysterious apparitions,” the artist writes, “he slowly unveils the truth about why he was sent there, as his past is re-written over the course of twenty-two pages.”
Pre-orders are being accepted now through Big Cartel, with The Mire set to debut May 5 at the Toronto Comics Art Festival. The comic can be purchased for $5; for an extra $20, Cloonan will add a sketch of one of the characters. Check out the full cover below.
If you’ve already made your way through Chris Mautner’s recommended reading list for Cecil and Jordan in New York creator Gabrielle Bell and were thinking, “Man, I wish I had more to read,” well, it’s your lucky day. Bell announced on her blog yesterday that The Voyeurs, a collection of stories from her autobiographical mini-comic Lucky, along with 30 unpublished pages. And the announcement is even in comics form, so head over there to read it for yourself.
The collection will be published by Uncivilized Books in August.
Creators | The Simpsons creator Matt Groening has given $500,000 toward the creation of a chair in animation at the University of California, Los Angeles. The Matt Groening Chair in Animation at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television will “allow visiting master artists to teach classes” and “bring working professionals with wide-ranging expertise” to work with students. The cartoonist, a graduate of Evergreen State College in Washington, makes an annual $50,000 donation to UCLA to help students who create socially conscious animated shorts. [The New York Times]
Legal | Attorneys for comics retailer and convention organizer Michael George, who’s serving a life sentence for the 1990 murder of his first wife Barbara, made arguments Monday on a motion for acquittal or a new trial — that would make George’s third — on the basis that there was insufficient evidence for conviction, and that the prosecutor raised a new issue in closing arguments. [Detroit Free Press]
To see what Ao and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Sparkplug Books announced last week that they plan to release a collection of Katie Skelly’s Nurse Nurse minicomics, which she has been creating since 2003. The collection will come out in April, in time for a debut at the Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland, Ore. and the MoCCA Festival in New York.
The eight Nurse Nurse minicomics are set in a future where mankind is attempting to colonize other planets, and star the nurses sent to treat the colonies as they become poisoned by the new atmospheres. In particular, the story is about Gemma, a nurse who travels to her new assignment on Venus where a mysterious substance is having an amorous effect on the Venusians … but is it a conspiracy, or just … science?
The 180 page, black and white paperback will retail for $15.
A whole new contingent of fans are getting to know Ross Campbell thanks to his work on the upcoming Glory, but whether you’re a new or old fan of Campbell’s work, there’s one project you probably haven’t seen: Mountain Girl. Originally only available directly from Campbell at conventions, Ross has agreed to share the second Mountain Girl minicomic here with us today for our anniversary.
Launched in 2006 as a self-published mini-comic, Campbell continued to produce new installments of Mountain Girl annually for two more years. A fourth installment was thumbnailed but never completed. The comic stars Naga, a savage warrior princess living in a post-holocaust world. The daughter of a tribute of mystic cannibal barbarians, Naga’s story in the Mountain Girl comics shows the brutally muscled and tattooed badass fighting Beaver Gods, Shark Goddesses and other enemies. Thematically it’s similar to Conan or Cavewoman, but Campbell’s cartooning pulls no punches in its depiction of violence and savagery.
Although Campbell hasn’t produced any new Mountain Girl comics in a couple years due to other projects, the artist recently self-published a book containing the three minicomics and the thumbnails for a fourth. Campbell says he has plans to do a “rebooted/revamped” Mountain Girl in the near future. This exclusive preview today is the first time any full-length Mountain Girl comic has ever been published online. Thanks, Ross!
As the end of 2011 approaches, websites and publications are unveiling various year-end lists and gift guides — so many that keeping up is a challenge. Here’s just some of what’s been released in the past few days:
• The Village Voice shares their list of the best comics and graphic novels of the year, a list that includes several collections of older material, Animal Man, Spaceman, Mister Wonderful and more.
• Comic creators Jim Woodring and Anders Nilsen, along with Thor star Chris Hemsworth, landed in the bottom quarter of Pop Candy’s annual 100 People of the Year list. The rest of the list will roll out all this week.
• The top ten comics list by Joe Gross of the Austin-American Statesman includes Criminal, Journey Into Mystery, Finder and Hark! A Vagrant, and is topped by Love & Rockets: New Stories #4.
• John Lucas at The Straight lists his favorite graphic novels of 2011, including The Cardboard Valise by Ben Katchor, Paying For It by Chester Brown and Habibi by Craig Thompson.
Jeffrey Brown, Ming Doyle, Michael Kupperman and several other creators have contributed to The Comic Book Fan’s Worst NIGHTMARE!, a mini-comic that highlights the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund‘s current casework. In particular, the comic highlights the case of “Brandon X,” who is facing a minimum sentence of one year in prison for possessing horror and fantasy manga on his laptop computer. His case is expected to go to trial in 2012, and legal expenses are estimated to run around $150,000.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if everywhere you shopped this holiday season offered a minicomic with a $50 purchase? Fantagraphics is doing just that, through their online store. They’ve created 21 mini-comics by a variety of their creators that are available free with the purchase of their “matching” book or books, or for simply purchasing $50 worth of stuff from their catalog.
“I always was very fond of the mini-comics format — take two to four 8 1/2 x 11 sheets, fold them once, staple, and voilà!” wrote Kim Thompson. “You have an adorable little 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 comic book for mere pennies. But I could never really figure out what to do with this old-school, low-tech format. Until now!”
The contents of the mini-comics are fairly unique, too; there’s a David B. one featuring a never-before-translated-into-English tale, and a Stan Sakai one that reprints a Nilson Groundthumper story that originally appeared in the Critters anthology back in the day. There’s one featuring out-of-print Peter Bagge strips, and one featuring a full-color 10-page summary of Tony Millionaire’s doomed attempt to get Billy Hazelnuts onto television. And more, by the Hernandez Bros., Jim Woodring, Johnny Ryan, Richard Sala, Bill Griffith, Ivan Brunetti and even Doc Winner, E.C. Segar’s assistant on Popeye.
The big chain stores might have cheap TVs this weekend, but how many of them come with a Tony Millionaire mini-comic? Not nearly enough, I tell ya.