Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading?, your weekly look into our reading piles. Today we’re joined by special guest Jacquelene Cohen, director of publicity and promotions for Fantagraphics Books.
To see what Jacq and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, read on …
While the rest of the world is going digital, Box Brown is heading in the other direction: Last month he launched Retrofit Comics with plans to publish 17 print comics by new and independent creators in the next 17 months. He got the seed money for Retrofit with a Kickstarter drive, and the launch comic was James Kochalka’s Fungus. All the books are by different artists, and most are one-shots, although Brown said he is open to creators incorporating their Retrofit comics into their ongoing series. This month’s release is Drag Bandits, by Colleen Frakes and Betsy Swardlick, which Brown describes as “kind of like The Scarlet Pimpernel, a woman dressed as a man and a man dressed as a woman, and it’s really exciting.” Comics by Pat Aulisio and Josh Bayer round out this year’s offerings, and plans for the future include an anthology in the spirit of the Japanese underground-manga magazine Garo, a project that Brown says was the brainchild of Ian Harker, editor of the free alt-comic newspaper Secret Prison. The comics are sold both in selected retail stores and by subscription, and Brown estimates he has 150 subscribers to the four-month package and a handful with six-month or twelve-month subscriptions.
While he is handling all this, Brown, who recently won two Ignatz Awards, continues to self-publish his own work, and Blank Slate will publish his graphic novel The Survivalist in December. We talked to him this past weekend about the genesis of Retrofit Comics and what it’s like to run a really, really small press.
Legal | Prosecutors in Macomb County, Michigan, rested their case Friday in the second trial of Michael George, a former retailer and convention organizer accused of the 1990 murder of his first wife Barbara in the back room of their Clinton Township comic store. The judge this morning will hear a defense motion for a directed verdict, seeking dismissal due to lack of evidence, before testimony resumes.
George, now 51, was arrested in August 2007, after a detective reopened the cold case, and convicted seven months later of first-degree murder and insurance fraud, among other counts, and sentenced to life in prison. However, the judge later set aside the verdict, citing prosecutorial misconduct — George’s mug shot was shown to the jury — and the release of new evidence that could lead the jury to believe another person was responsible for the murder. His retrial began Sept. 14, and should conclude this week. Prosecutors contend that George staged the killing to look like a robbery so he could collect money from an insurance policy and a shared estate, and start over with another woman. George insists he was asleep at the time of the shooting, and that his wife was the victim of a robbery gone wrong. [Daily Tribune]
Publishing | Chip Mosher, marketing and sales director for BOOM! Studios, left the publisher on Friday after four years. Marketing coordinator Emily McGuiness will take over his duties. [BOOM! Studios]
Welcome to another round of What Are You Reading. Our guest this week is Annie Koyama, owner and operator of the wonderful Koyama Press, which publishes fantastic books that you should buy ASAP. To see what Annie and the rest of the Robot 6 crew are reading this week, click on the link below. Continue Reading »
I spent an enjoyable Saturday at the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, a.k.a. MICE, last week, and I came away very impressed with the quality of the work on display. This was MICE’s biggest year so far, with three rooms and some corridors of the Lesley College building in Porter Square filled with table after table of hand-crafted comics. For much of the day, the place was packed.
People don’t think of Boston as a comics town, like Portland or Brooklyn, but there’s a lot of talent here, much of it gathered under the aegis of the Boston Comics Roundtable; in addition, a number of the artists had come from New York, Rhode Island and Maine. Here’s a sample of some of the minicomics I picked up.
By far the standout minicomic of the show was The Potter’s Pet, by Braden D. Lamb and Shelli Paroline. The story feels like a traditional folk tale, although I don’t think it is; it’s about a potter in a Moroccan-style marketplace who makes a robot, then keeps re-customizing it to please his customers. The story is well told and the art is professional quality, which is not surprising as Paroline has been doing professional work for some time now, including the art for several of BOOM! Studios’ Muppet Show comics. In The Potter’s Pet, she carries the Moroccan theme through in the panels, which echo the shapes of Islamic architecture. I would say it’s the best $5 I spent at the show, but the book sold out before I could get a copy and I had to borrow it from a friend. I hope they make more.
Ladies and gentlemen, Captain Kitten.
Described by the artist as “sixteen pages of feline piratical exploits,” the one-shot promises cats, jetpack pterodactyls and what could be my next catch-phrase, “Knives On His Face!”
Salume will be bringing 100 copies of this one-shot with her, along with her previous one-shot Unicorn Life Cycle and a number of stickers and other art. Look her up at table #450 this weekend at APE, and buy me a copy! Seriously!
Comics retailer Isotope Comics in San Francisco is once again hosting their annual mini-comics award competition, and — AHHHH!!! — entries are due Monday by midnight!
“It’s my favorite time of year, when we get an opportunity to help spotlight a creator who is toiling in the underground making something magical that almost no one has seen yet… seriously, what could be more exciting?!” said Isotope retailer James Sime, “I consider the winner to be the comic industry’s Miss America for the year, it’s the Isotope’s job to get their work out there to the comics press and reviewers. And I’m proud to say that winning this award has helped some amazingly talented folks get noticed and published by some of the best and coolest comic publishers in our industry. So don’t be shy… I know that many of you out there are hand-crafting some mini-comics brilliance, let us help share your work with the world!”
Past winners of the award include Joshua W. Cotter, Max Riffner, Daniel Merlin Goodbrey and Danica Novgorodoff, among many others. To enter this competition, simply send five copies of your mini-comic to Isotope’s address (326 Fell St. San Francisco, CA 94102) before the Sept. 26 deadline.
I suppose on a certain level running through all the loot you nabbed at this or that convention seems a bit like bragging, even if the intention is merely to say, “Hey, here’s some cool comics you should check out.” That being said, it seems like a while since anyone’s done one of those “here’s the stuff I bought” posts, so I thought I’d run down some of the more interesting-looking books I nabbed at SPX this past weekend. Forgive me.
The Body of Work by Kevin Huizenga. In addition to promoting the release of Ganges #4, Huizenga had a couple of mini-comics for sale as well. This one features some of the comics he’s been posting online like Postcard from Fielder.
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
You know those ideas that you’d never think of yourself, but when you hear about them, they’re so brilliant and so obvious that you wonder how you couldn’t have thought of them? This is one of those ideas: The Library of Congress is creating The Small Press Expo Collection, with the intent of adding a gravely under-preserved area of comics to the permanent archives of the United States’ official storehouse of knowledge.
Spearheaded by SPX executive director and chairman of the board Warren Bernard, the Collection will serve multiple purposes. It will archive the ephemera of the Bethesda-based alt/indie comics convention itself, including the posters, badges, and programs created by cartoonists for the Expo, and even each year’s SPX website. It will also include every print comic nominated for the Expo’s festival award program, the Ignatz Awards. (For the time being, only the winner of the Best Webcomic Ignatz will be digitally archived.) And it will collect a selection of the comics that are available for purchase at each year’s show — a selection dominated by minicomics and other self-published works that are often difficult if not impossible to find once their tiny initial print runs have sold out.
As someone who’s gotten a lot out of SPX over the years, I think this is providing a vital service — a time capsule of the state of alternative and art comics, updated yearly. An Please read TCJ.com editor Dan Nadel’s entire interview with Bernard about this fascinating project. Then be sure to go to this year’s SPX next weekend, where my fellow Roboteer Chris Mautner and I will be hosting panels about the kinds of comics that will soon make the Library of Congress their permanent home.
To see what Daniel and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
And thus begins what I can guess without even googling are a thousand racy fanfics. But it’s also the premise, more or less, of cartoonist Dave Kiersh’s thoughtful, funny minicomic Amazons, which he’s now posted online in its entirety on his new site Teenage Archive. The strip imagines what life would be like if these pulchritudinous paragons of fierce femininity were to attend high school, navigating the uncharted waters of jocks, nerds, preps, angry teachers, uncaring administrators, and unyielding dress codes.
Kiersh’s About Me blurb on Teenage Archive reads “Afterschool specials and the American dream,” and that pretty much nails what his comics are like: Whimsical yet melancholy explorations of teenage lust, boredom, romance, and desire to escape — and adult desire to return. Amazons is more of a goof than his usual stuff, but underneath the silliness is something true about the way dudes idealize beautiful women and the sense of unattainable freedom and fulfillment these fantasy figures represent. Read it in tandem with Kate Beaton, Carly Monardo, and Meredith Gran’s “Strong Female Characters” for a very different but I think complementary take on the power such images have.
One of the reasons I go to comic cons is to wander the Artists Alley in search of good comics I never heard of before. I came back from Boston Comic Con with a big stack of postcards, print comics, and jotted notes, so the three comics here are just the beginning of the deluge.
Boots and Pup has been around for a while, but creator John Y. told me that he was moving to a six-day-a-week schedule this week. That’s a brave statement, because the comic has been on hiatus since 2007, but John tells me he has a two-month buffer already in place. The comic is colorful, simply drawn, and kid-friendly yet witty enough for older readers to appreciate.
At the Agreeable Comics table, Kevin Church was pushing Lydia, which is a spinoff of another webcomic, The Rack. “You can read it on its own,” he said, and indeed, I read the print comic on the way home from the con and found myself laughing out loud. It’s workplace humor with a wry twist, illustrated by Max Riffner in a nice, expressive yet simple style in black and white.
Finally, I stopped off at Jason Viola’s table to tell him how much I liked his comic Herman the Manatee, in which Herman, a manatee, bumps his head on a boat in every single episode. (In the second series, Herman does move on to other things.) Jason gave me a carefully crafted minicomic of another story, Who Is Amy Amoeba? (language NSFW), the story of an amoeba who can’t stop dividing, and suffers multiple identity crises because of it. It’s a very clever idea, well executed and simply drawn, and well worth a visit, as are all of Jason’s comics.
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Emily Stackhouse, creator of the award-winning minicomic Brazilianoir and her latest, Miner’s Mutiny.
To see what Emily and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Nate Cosby, co-writer of the upcoming Image series Pigs and editor of the upcoming Jim Henson’s The Storyteller anthology, which will feature stories by an impressive group of talented creators.
To see what Nate and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.