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.
If you’re in the New York City area and looking for something to do to get you into a MoCCA mood, Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn is holding a book launch/art show for “the awesome double-issue-flip-book anthology Rabid Rabbit #13 & C’est Bon Kultur #14.” The opening reception starts at 8 p.m. Eastern tonight. You can find all the details on the BSC site.
Of course, the really great thing about this weekend’s MoCCA Festival is the huge flock of individual creators who go there to show off their work. Here’s the full list, and here are a few of the highlights that jumped out at me. Feel free to point out the good stuff I missed in the comments section.
Neil Kleid will happily sign copies of his comics, mini-comics, and graphic novels (The Big Kahn, Brownsville), and anything else he has work in (including the Fraggle Rock anthology), but if you really want to make his day, bring him an obscure soda.
Stephanie Yue, who illustrates the Guinea Pig: Pet Shop Private Eye graphic novels (not just adorable, but funny for both adults and kids) will be there, as will her editor Carol Burrell, who draws SPQR Blues under the nickname Klio.
Rica Takashima will have a special doujinshi just for MoCCA. Rica is a yuri (lesbian) manga creator and the author of the much-acclaimed Rica ‘tte Kanji?, which Shaenon Garrity described, approvingly, as “as cute as a blender full of kittens.”
If your tastes tend more toward the retro-bizzare, check out Coin Op Studio, which will be debuting the charmingly titled Coin Op No. 3: Municipal Parking and Waterfall at the show.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and The Beat are hosting a party in New York Saturday night featuring a wide array of guests who worked on Marvel’s Strange Tales anthologies, with proceeds benefiting the CBLDF. You can find complete details after the jump or in the above flyer by Paul Maybury.
MoCCA Fest 2011 is this coming Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10, and as always, the show is bulging with new artists and established creators showing off their latest, most experimental, projects. I’m going to round up of some of the announcements that have come our way, starting with those from publishers.
Fantagraphics plans to have creators signing at their booth pretty much the whole time, with a roster that includes Kim Dietch, Peter Bagge, Dash Shaw, Michael Kupperman, Gahan Wilson, and others too numerous to mention—check out the full list at their blog. Their people are also going to be involved in a ton of panels, and with a four-table block (J1, J2, K1, K2), they should be hard to miss.
Abrams will have their usual crowd of A-list creators at their booth: Jerry Robinson, Michael Uslan, Chip Kidd, Al Jaffee, and Craig Yoe. Jaffee will receive the 2011 Klein Award for volunteer of the year, and Uslan and Robinson will be on the panel Batman, the Joker and Beyond on Sunday.
Top Shelf will be debuting two new books, Liar’s Kiss by Eric Skillman and Jhomar Soriano, and Night Animals, by Brecht Evens. Both Skillman and Evens will be there to show off their new books. Jess Fink will also be in attendance, although her Chester 5000 isn’t due out until May.
The Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art in New York, or MoCCA, today announced they’ve hired two new staff to replace departing Museum Director Karl Erickson, who left late last year.
“During the search process, the Board of Trustees realized that the museum’s growth has made it necessary to fill a wide variety of skill sets in order to help MoCCA achieve its future goals,” said Museum President Ellen Abramowitz. “There was clearly a need to build greater leadership capacity at the staff level in order for us to continue growing. Sometimes when you have big shoes to fill, it makes more sense to add an extra set of feet.”
Cartoonist Doug Bratton will take on the role of museum manager/director of development, and Mell Scalzi has been hired to serve as registrar. Per a press release that you can find after the jump, both have worked with the museum in the past.
Both will work on the upcoming MoCCA Festival, set for April 9-10, as well as “a 10-Year Anniversary Celebration that will include the unveiling of future plans for a permanent, state-of-the-art facility.”
Check out the full press release after the jump.
When she set out for Israel, Sarah Glidden was carrying some baggage — strong opinions about the country and some suspicion about the sponsor of her tour, Birthright, which provides all-expenses-paid trips to Israel for young Jewish people. “How shall I put it? … When there is an expensive trip offered for free, there is always bound to be a downside to it,” she told the magazine Haaretz.
To keep her skeptical eye, Glidden decided to make a graphic novel about her trip, and the result is How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, which came out this week. Glidden shares her experiences in Israel, and discusses how she turned that into a graphic novel, in the Haaretz article, which is well worth a read. But this Horatio Alger aspect is what caught my eye:
“I can’t BELIEVE MoCCA’s table prices. They are drinking the same hubris Kool-Aid as SPX. Why are the charity shows always the cheekiest? I saw it and I was like *slaps head*. Although to be fair, I’ve never exhibited there, just been a crowded hot attendee. (I read some interviews with them after the super hot year, they were all like ‘hey listen, it’s summer, it gets hot.’) Not to mention how expensive NYC is in general! Just makes it easier to skip. Also today I got my acceptance letter (???) for APE, after applying 3 months ago. Due date for payment: 1 week from now. I had always heard about how well-run HeroesCon is from guests, but now I see why. Indie shows are organized like block parties. Except the kind of block parties where they charge you like $50 to come in, then charge you for beer too. ‘Dude it’s for charity!’ SPX is pretty fun, but TCAF is the best one easily–plus Toronto = my favorite city! Wait, please exclude TCAF from that mini-rant. TCAF is a dream, a dreammmm. Other shows take note! Okay back to lettering, sorry.”
—Cartoonist, Casanova letterer, and “nicest guy in comics” candidate Dustin Harbin has an uncharacteristically grumpy moment on Twitter over the prices that the MoCCA Art Festival is charging exhibitors, and the administration of indie/alt-comics shows generally (except TCAF, of course). It’s hard out there for a minicomics creator.
I’ve been collecting David Bowie sketches from comics artists at shows and cons since MoCCA 2007. What can I say? He’s my favorite superhero. In that time I’ve amassed drawings of the chameleonic musician from 97 different artists, and adding to the collection is always a high priority for me at every show. I had exceptionally good luck at this year’s MoCCA — you better hang on to yourself as we flip through this year’s haul!
Niklas Asker (above): Oh man, look at that, just look at it. How can a sketch be shiny? Niklas Asker pulled it off with maybe the most elegant and sexy Bowie of the batch–no surprise, if you’ve seen his graphic novel Second Thoughts.
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…
Conventions | On the eve of the inaugural Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, the Chicago Reader examines the escalating competition between convention owner Reed Exhibitions and longtime Chicago Comic Con organizer Wizard Entertainment: “It’s but one battleground in a war the two powers are waging across the country — an epic struggle that some observers see as a contest between the forces of good and, well, not so good.”
Writer Deanna Isaacs touches upon the rise of Wizard’s Rosemont event to the second-largest comics convention in North America, and its more recent decline. She quotes a couple of local retailers who have become “disenchanted” with the show. But Wizard CEO Gareb Shamus shrugs off the complaints: “Everybody’s going to tell you this or that. You’re talking about one person. We have 1,000 vendors at our show in Chicago, and they make a lot of money.”
The Daily Herald interviews C2E2 show-runner Lance Fensterman, who says he expects between 35,000 and 40,000 attendees this weekend. The Chicago Tribune, meanwhile, offers its own preview, with eight “must-see” convention events, and brief Q&As with Alex Ross and Jeff Smith. [C2E2]
Publishing | When Japan’s largest publisher, Kodansha, set up shop in the United States last fall, many expected a major shake-up in the North American manga market. But so far, Kodansha USA Publishing and Kodansha Comics have been awfully quiet, re-releasing only the first volumes of Akira and Ghost in the Shell. So Gia Manry goes to the source, the general manager of Kodansha USA, and learns … not a whole lot, actually. Except that the manga giant plans to create a website. [Anime Vice]
Publishing | Comics publishers are generally tight-lipped when it comes to sales figures — unless, of course, those numbers are really, really impressive. That’s the case with the hardcover collection for Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s Kick-Ass, which Marvel reports has shipped nearly 100,000 copies since its release on Feb. 17. Almost 40 percent of those has gone to the direct market. [press release]
If there were an award for best convention report, Seth Kushner would surely win with this series of portraits from last weekend’s MoCCA Festival featuring such notables as Bill Ayers, Kyle Baker, Gabrielle Bell, Dean Haspiel, Jaime Hernandez, Chip Kidd, David Mazzucchelli, Frank Miller, Paul Pope, Frank Santoro and Dash Shaw.
Publishing | Helped by March’s five Wednesdays, sales of periodical comics jumped 20 percent last month, while graphic novels dropped 10 percent. Combined, sales were up 11 percent over March 2009.
The final issue of DC’s Blackest Night led Diamond’s Top 300, selling an estimated 135,000 copies, followed at No. 2 by Marvel’s Siege #3 with about 113,000. Retail news and analysis website ICv2.com notes that “publishers show no signs of being able to shake their addiction to the use of variant covers as their primary sales incentive,” as DC used 1-in-25 variants to increase sales of its Blackest Night and Rise and Fall tie-ins, while Marvel turned to 1-in-15 Deadpool variants to boost sales of its Siege books. Multiple covers also paid off for Dynamite Entertainment, whose Kevin’s Smith Green Hornet #1 landed on the chart at No. 20, with about 54,000 copies.
The graphic-novel chart was topped by Marvel/Icon’s Kick-Ass premiere hardcover, with about 7,200 copies, followed by the sixth volume of Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, with about 7,000. [ICv2.com]
Hard to believe that MoCCA Art Festival is nine years old. Its creation was a no-brainer, when you think about it: An alternative and independent comics convention was a natural fit for New York City, given the sheer volume of their creators scattered through the boroughs and ‘burbs–Manhattan and Brooklyn in particular–and the city’s general level of interest in the arts. In a way, I’ve come to see it as emblematic of the success of comics in the ’00s, which was a similar story of taking advantage of the talent available and getting it into the hands of an audience ripe for the tapping.
But the show had a pretty heavy hiccup last year. Its move from the much-beloved Puck Building to the 69th Regiment Armory seemed to flummox the organizers, who ended up stuck in traffic with a whole lot of books, leaving exhibitors with nothing to sell well into the initial afternoon and forcing attendees to wait in the sun. Meanwhile, broiling heat turned the venue into something approximating a pottery kiln, making every minute on the floor an endurance test. The MoCCA organization’s original response to complaints was on the lackluster side. Would they fare better the following year?
The answer is yes. For starters: It was cooler inside. Last year’s inferno was still very much on people’s minds–I heard publishers and visitors alike complaining about it, and one writer pointed out that the unpleasant conditions were a surefire way to keep casual fans from walking in the door. So the move to April was a smart one, and the gorgeous spring weather a lucky break, given that the city had hit 90 degrees earlier in the week. It still got a little sweaty in there by the end of each day, but that’s more or less par for the convention course.