Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Conventions | The San Diego Tourism Authority is asking hotels in the Comic-Con International room block to freeze their rates at the 2016 level for the following two years, as part of its bid to keep the convention in the city. Already, 30 of the 50 participating hotels have agreed to do so. Meanwhile, Mayor Kevin Faulconer will attend the next Comic-Con board meeting to make an appeal to organizers to remain in the city; Tourism Authority CEO Joe Terzi said Anaheim has made a bid for Comic-Con, but the city’s convention bureau wouldn’t comment.
A plan to expand the San Diego Convention Center collapsed after the hotel-tax funding scheme was ruled unconstitutional, but Anaheim is preparing to break ground on its own 200,000-square-foot expansion. However, Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer said, “Some people had mistakenly implied that an expanded convention center would be the thing that solidified our decision to stay or go, but there are a number of factors to be addressed: hotel room rates, available space within hotels and outside the center, things that could mitigate the issue of having outgrown the convention center. An expansion would be great for the city and us, but if it doesn’t happen we’ve been able to make do without it, and if we can mitigate the concerns we do have we’ll be able to stay here.” [U-T San Diego]
After a series of short stories in anthologies like MySpace Dark Horse Presents, Chameleon and The Anthology Project Vol. 2, cartoonist Roman Muradov is making his debut as a long-form storyteller next month with (In a Sense) Lost and Found.
In the graphic novel, from boutique publisher Nobrow, Muradov uses his flowing illustrative style to follow a young woman on a quest to find something she lost and tries to decide whether she even wants it to begin with. Saying more about the plot would spoil the book, but it’s only part of the appeal of the cartoonist’s work here.
We’re a little more than halfway through the year, which makes it the perfect time to pause and separate the truly exemplary comics from the merely mediocre.
Below are six of my favorite comics of the year thus far. Many of them will likely make their way into my final “best of 2014″ list come December, but I reserve the right to completely change my mind between now and then.
In any case, let me know what comics you’ve enjoyed reading thus far (or how crazy I am for forgetting Graphic Novel X) in the comments section.
U.K. publisher Nobrow has been making serous inroads in North America, thanks largely to a colorful, lively and diverse lineup of titles that appeal to a variety of ages while showcasing the strengths of the comics medium.
The new year might possibly be the company’s breakthrough into the American market, as it’s not only making a push with a new U.S. office, but also has a lineup of intriguing comics planned. Readers can expect to see a new book in the increasingly popular Hilda series from Luke Pearson, the second volume in Jesse Moynihan’s ongoing Forming storyline, an all-ages account of Shackleton’s journey to Antarctica, a comic about neuroscience and more.
Check out details about Nobrow’s upcoming releases, as well as some swell cover art, below.
One of the biggest indie comics events of the year, Small Press Expo (aka SPX), will take place Saturday and Sunday at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in North Bethesda, Maryland.
It’s a must-attend show for me, and this year will be no different. Well, it will be a little different, as my 11-year-old daughter will be coming along for what will be her first-ever comics convention. She will have copies of her own comic, Indefinable, for sale, so if you see us wandering the aisles, say hello.
Traversing the aisles of SPX with a pre-teen might prove to be a bit of a challenge, but I’m going to try to cram as much age-appropriate comics fun in the weekend as possible. Here’s some things I’m looking forward to/hoping to buy.
Five comics I’m planning on buying:
1. Wild Man: Island of Memory by T. Edward Bak. I’m a big fan of Bak’s Service Industry and really enjoyed the story he was serializing in Mome, about explorer and scientist Georg Steller. Wild Man: Island of Memory collects and reworks that material, the first part of what will be a projected four-volume series. Based on what I’ve read so far, I feel expect that this will be one of the more talked-about books at SPX this year.
2. Frontier #2 by Hellen Jo. Jo has been relatively quiet comics-wise since she released Jim and Jan a few years back. Now, via Ryan Sands’ relatively new publishing venture, Youth in Decline, she’s got what’s sure to be a swell mini collecting various paintings, pencils and other artwork.
3. Monster. It just wouldn’t be SPX if Hidden Fortress Press didn’t have a new volume of this usually reliable anthology. This year looks to be especially good, with 200 pages of comics by such noteworthy names as Marc Bell, Mat Brinkman, Jordan Crane, Michael DeForge, Edie Fake and Leif Goldberg. That’s a pretty killer list of talent – when was the last time we saw a new Brinkman comic, anyway?
4. Gold Pollen and Other Stories by Seiichi Hayashi. It’s nice to see more and more classic manga from people that aren’t Osamu Tezuka coming to Western shores. This is a collection of short stories from the author of Red Colored Elegy, a book I was a bit flummoxed by initially but that has slowly won me over more in ensuing years. The Picturebox site still labels it as “coming soon,” but it’s listed as a debut book on the SPX site. Basically, if it’s there, I’m buying a copy.
5. Love Stories by Mat Tait. New Zealand will be duly represented at the show by Tait, who will have this collection of stories available for sale. I’ve heard good things about Tait’s work and am excited to delve into it.
Nobrow, the most art- and design-obsessed of the new generation of U.K. graphic novel publishers, has started a new kids’ books imprint, Flying Eye Books, and its first crop of releases are as typically gorgeous as the parent company’s output. Nobrow favorite Ben Newman and animator Jambonbon have created an exceedingly cute animation to celebrate the new endeavor:
Usually between all of the gang here at Robot 6, we’re able to pinpoint the great new things coming out in comics either when they arrive, and sometimes while they’re on their way. But one thing that slipped under the radar in October is now making its presence known.
High Times: A History of Aviation isn’t a comic in the traditional sense, but it’s definitely a comic. Created as part of U.K. boutique publisher Nobrow‘s Leporello series, this creation by the German artist duo known as Golden Cosmos celebrates the cultural history of aviation with an expansive art print done on both sides of an accordian-folded 54″ panorama.
Both Golden Cosmos and Nobrow are relatively unknown in the United States, but that’s bound to change. Last year Nobrow secured a U.S. distribution deal, and its epicly high-quality printing — and content to match — is slowly making its way into better comic stores nationwide. High Times is available on Amazon, through your local comic shop, or directly from Nobrow’s website.
Publishing | More than 4,000 new comic titles were released in the European Francophone market in 2012, marking the 17th consecutive year of growth. According to the Association des Critiques et journalistes de Bande Dessinée, the French association of comic strip critics and journalists, more comics were produced in the Francophone market than in the United States. [RFI]
Comics | The death of Spider-Man hits the mainstream media, with Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso asserting, “We didn’t make this move lightly.” Stan Lee called it “a helluva birthday present” but added “But then, a little voice in my head whispered, ‘never say never. Just go with it while you can because Marvel, the House of Ideas, will always have a surprise up its creative sleeve for you and the rest of Marveldom Assembled!'” Entertainment Weekly’s Geoff Boucher said the ongoing deaths of superheroes are starting to feel “a little gimmicky” but he also nailed why the publishers do it: “if you look at who’s buying Marvel and DC, it’s long term fans and those readers are going to complain about this and debate about it — but are going to buy two copies.” [New York Daily News]
Art Barrage favorite Rob Davis has debuted the cover for his adaptation of Don Quixote Part Two. Davis’ work on the first book of Cervantes’ masterpiece was that rare treat, an adaptation that crossed from one media to another and still seemed fresh rather than redundant. This is because Davis is a creator of rare intellect and taste, with his blog being the place to see the amount of thought he puts into every project he embarks upon.
When I mention here that the U.K. is going through a Golden Age for graphic novel publishing, Davis has proven to be a key figure in its renaissance. Two of the publishers now regularly producing a steady stream of great books have worked with him, with Self Made Hero releasing these Don Quixote volumes (there’s a collected edition hitting the American market in the not-too-distant future); the ground-breaking anthology he co-edited with Woodrow Phoenix for Blank Slate Books, Nelson, would surely have won a multitude of awards this year if it had been published by one of the big U.S. indies (no, really; if you haven’t read it, click the link, look at that list of contributors, and ask yourself if it isn’t worth a punt, you won’t regret it).
More below, including another Don Quixote cover by Davis, and work by Jonathan Edwards, Rian Hughes, Etherington Brothers and more.
The annual Small Press Expo, better known as SPX, will arrive at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Convention Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Saturday and Sunday. This particular SPX promises to be excellent — mayhap the bestest SPX evar — so allow me to run through some of the goings-on if you happen to be in that area this weekend.
AdHouse Books publisher Chris Pitzer announced on the company’s blog that he’s shutting down AdDistro, his distribution effort to make comics from small publishers and self-publishers available for purchase through AdHouse proper. Pitzer kicked off AdDistro two years ago.
“Basically, I started AdDistro with the thought that I was bringing hard-to-find bibliogoodness to the people,” Pitzer said in his post. “Times have a-changed, and now the once hard-to-find beautiful things are a little easier to obtain.”
Through AdDistro, Pitzer has distributed comics from Nobrow Press, Bernie Mireault, Thomas Herpich, Koyama Press, Revival House Press, Malachi Ward and Benjamin Marra.” While there was once a pond that kept Nobrow from us, now you can get their stuff from Consortium. While I was once the go-to place for Koyamaness, I am proud to point you Secret Acres way. Others have joined forces with others, and honestly, it was a lot of work, at least for lil’ ol’ AdCasa,” Pitzer said. “Adding Thomas Herpich and Bernie Mireault at the end was the proverbial icings on the cake.”
AdHouse still has several of the AdDistro books available on their site, so if you’d like to get your hands on them in one big swoop, head on over there and stock up.
First, a heads-up on the British Invasion of Toronto: This weekend, Toronto Comics Art Festival will host a number of creators from the United Kingdom, including Sean Azzopardi (Necessary Monsters), Darryl Cunningham (Psychiatric Tales), Joe Decie (Accidental Salad), Tom Gauld (Goliath), Lizz Lunney (Depressed Cat: Nine Miserable Lives) and Luke Pearson (Hilda and the Midnight Giant). Publishers Blank Slate, Nobrow Press and SelfMadeHero will also be in attendance. I ran into some other British creators at MoCCA this weekend; you’ll be hearing about that shortly.
Comics | Gary Northfield shows off some of the art from his comic Gary’s Garden, which runs in the weekly children’s comic The Phoenix:
Part autobiography, part made-up nonsense (well, mainly completely made-up nonsense to be fair), Gary’s Garden delves into my favourite thing ever – me spying on the comings and goings of all the little dudes and dudettes who dwell in my garden.
This makes me wish more fervently than ever that The Phoenix would get an app or somehow make itself available outside the UK, digitally or on paper. Adding to my pain: Jim Medway offers a peek at his new comic Chip Charlton & Mr. Woofles of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
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.
Some cool comics just got a lot easier to get your hands on. Chris Pitzer of AdHouse Books — the stalwart and stunningly designed publishing imprint behind the likes of Jim Rugg & Brian Maruca’s Afrodisiac, Josh Cotter’s Skyscrapers of the Midwest and Driven by Lemons, James Jean’s Process Recess art books, and Pulphope: The Art of Paul Pope — today announced the creation of AdDistro, a new distribution effort that will make comics from small publishers and self-publishers available for purchase through AdHouse proper. The first three additions to the roster are London-based Nobrow Press, Canada’s Koyama Press, and creator Malachi Ward. Pitzer’s got quite an eye for quality, so if you’ve enjoyed AdHouse offerings in the past, I’m sure these newcomers are well worth a look. Might I suggest starting with Michael DeForge’s excellent, award-winning Lose series from Koyama?