Examining "Rebirth's" Treatment of Legacy & Promise of a Less "Grimdark" DC Universe
Retailing | The New York Times pays a visit to a comics store that’s unusually hard to find: Joseph Koch’s Comic Book Warehouse, which is tucked away in an industrial area in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. There’s no sign on the door to the second-floor shop, but at the moment Koch is doing the majority of business online, selling comics in bulk to overseas retailers: “If you go to a comic book store in Iceland,” he said, “they’ll probably know who I am.” In New York, not so much, but he has plans to make the store more amenable to walk-in customers. [The New York Times]
Manga | Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto comes to an end in next week’s issue of Shonen Jump, but it’s not going away. Already side projects are popping up, including a miniseries that will launch in the spring, marking the 15th anniversary of the manga, and a series of novels about the different characters in the franchise. It all seems to be part of something bigger, the “Naruto Shin Jidai Kaimaku Project” (Naruto‘s New Era Opening Project), and the official Naruto website has a countdown to an announcement on Monday. [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | Tom Spurgeon talks to comiXology’s Chip Mosher about the comiXology Submit program, which is tailored for small publishers and self-published work. To prepare for the interview, Spurgeon gathered questions from creators at the Small Press Expo (which comiXology co-sponsored), and he talks to Mosher about the nuts and bolts of the Submit program, including payments, processing and the willingness to handle unusual formats. “We’ve had people sell thousands of copies and we’ve had people sell one or two copies,” Mosher says. “People have told me they’ve paid their rent with money from Submit. Or they were able to work on more comics with the money they made from Submit. It’s great to offer our customers such diverse comics from the program and at the same time be able to support the creation of more diverse work.” [The Comics Reporter]
On the eve of the launch of The Multiversity, the nine-issue miniseries by Grant Morrison, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Chris Prouse, Karl Story, Ben Oliver and Frank Quitely, the information is kind of slim: You can hover your cursor over just three Earths — Earh-0, Earth-8 and Earth-23 — to get details, but DC states, “New Earths are being revealed frequently so visit often.”
Set in a dystopian future where drones fill the skies, The Key opens with the apparent government execution of a man in a straightjacket with a bag over his head (BBC News notes the similarity between the pointed corners of the bag and Batman’s mask).
Avengers: Endless Wartime (Marvel Entertainment): Marvel’s new line of original graphic novels — note the “Marvel OGN” logo on the spine — is off to a pretty strong start with this continuity-light Warren Ellis-written, Mike McKone-drawn story of an Avengers squad facing a new form of semi-sentient weapon evolved from a generation-old attempt to marry Nazi science with Norse magic.
That’s a good conflict for an Avengers comic, as the team includes a Nazi-fighting hero and a Norse god, and, better still, both Captain America and Thor were tied to the this new weapon’s origin.
Ellis does his usual fine job of mixing current science, speculative next-level science, elements of our zeitgeist and corporate superheroes with something that feels appropriate, cool and like the writer has something to say. Additionally, he has a pretty decent handle on the characters, and does a relatively good job of singling out particular voices (this is the first time in a long time that I’ve read an Avengers comic where everyone didn’t talk like Brian Michael Bendis).
Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Wolverine, Captain Marvel, Black Widow and Hawkeye, who reflects Matt Fraction’s version, are a bit of a rag-tag group, but they seem to be assembled primarily for their military backgrounds. “Do you know, I just realized I’m the only non-soldier in the room,” Tony Stark says at one point, and Captain Marvel sneers back, “That’s right, Tony. You’re just an ex-arms manufacturer in a metal death suit.”
This week finer comic shops will have Rian Hughes’ Soho Dives, Soho Divas available for purchase. The previews don’t really do justice to the book, which collects Hughes’ portraits of London burlesque artists. Read on …
Events | Heidi MacDonald beats everyone else to the punch and files the definitive report on the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which featured a flurry of graphic novel debuts and appearances by artists as diverse as Taiyo Matsumoto (Tekkonkinkreet) and Andrew Hussie (Homestuck). [Publishers Weekly]
Publishing | BOOM! Studios will publish a line of Robocop comics beginning in August. Dynamite Entertainment had the license previously, but company President Nick Barrucci said the rights reverted to the licensor, who granted them to BOOM! [ICv2]
Publishing | Brian Truitt takes a look at Valiant’s lineup for the second summer of its new life, and he talks to the creators about the relaunch and their plans for the future. [USA Today]
You may have already heard about Orbital Comics’ Image Duplicator art show in London (probably via this piece at The Beat): This story is right in my wheelhouse, but I was resisting writing about it until there was a large enough stockpile of art from it to present here. The show is a reaction both to the recent Roy Lichtenstein exhibition at the city’s already-iconic Tate Modern gallery, and to the BBC’s coverage of the event (which I wrote about at the time elsewhere).
Dave Gibbons is a long-standing critic of Lichtenstein (you can find footage online of him complaining about what he calls Lichtenstein’s “dishonesty” from as far back as 1993). Gibbons appeared on the BBC’s documentary to put the case for the accusations of plagiarism that may always dog Lichtenstein’s reputation. The segment featuring Gibbons debating with presenter Alastair Sooke was filmed in front of the famous “Whaam!” canvas. Sooke was all too dismissive of Irv Novick, somewhat deriding his work in order to flatter Lichtenstein. It seems odd Sooke chose to criticize Novick’s compositional decisions and praise Lichtenstein’s, when every element of Roy’s piece was lifted from Irv’s. Anyway, these new perceived slights seem to have been enough to stir Rian Hughes, Jason Atomic, and the Orbital Gallery regulars into action.
Comics are more than just drawing pretty pictures and great muscled physiques. They’re about telling a story, through sequences of images but also through the image itself. And British artist Rian Hughes has spent years figuring out how to tell a story, in sequential art as well as in standalone images, package designs and even fonts.
After bursting onto the comics scene as an artist in Escape and 2000AD, Hughes expanded his skills to become a designer and illustrator for comics in England, Europe and the United States. He went on to design a number of logos and mastheads for DC Comics, Marvel and Valiant, and his work on Wildcats 3.0 and Invincible Iron Man proved to be high-water marks for comic book covers. Image and Knockabout Books recently began reprinting some of Hughes’ early comics work, and this summer will see the release of an artbook chronicling his portraits taken from London’s underworld burlesque scene.
For this week’s “Conversing on Comics,” I spoke with Hughes about his forthcoming art book and other upcoming projects, and received a look at his past work, including a never-before-seen set of designs he created for Invincible Iron Man.
Comics | Scottish publisher DC Thomson has asked Dundee City Council to rename a street in the city’s west end to honor the Bash Street Kids, stars of the long-running comic strip in The Beano. An unnamed street adjacent to 142/144 West Marketgait would be called Bash Street as part of the celebration of the magazine’s 75th anniversary. [LocalGov]
Retailing | North Hollywood will get a new comics shop on Nov. 10, when Blastoff Comics opens its doors. Owner Jud Meyers seems to think it is an essential part of a hip neighborhood: “They want restaurants, they want bars, they want supermarkets, they want gyms. What didn’t they have? They don’t have a comic book store, every neighborhood has got to have a comic book store.” The opening will feature an assortment of comics guests, including Mark Waid, Greg Hurwitz, and Jim Kreuger, whose The High Cost of Happily Ever After will premiere at the event. [Patch.com]
If you didn’t have the massive ticket price for MorrisonCon last weekend, perhaps this is more your speed: the fifth annual Dundee Comics Day at the University of Dundee, Scotland. Much of the day’s event sounds like a redux of the program for Morrison’s high-end Sin City shindig, sans the pop magick angle:
The Dundee Comics day once again welcomes a stellar line-up of top industry talent, this time to celebrate the comics of award-winning Scottish writer Grant Morrison (MBE). Grant will be discussing his approach to writing comics, his thoughts about superheroes, as expressed in his recent book Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero, and his experience of working with some of the best comics artists in the industry.
This exploration of the comics of Grant Morrison is timely given his recent award of an MBE, but also because the University of Dundee is currently leading the way in the emerging field of Comics Studies with modules on comics at Undergraduate and postgraduate level, including the UK’s first MLitt in Comics Studies in the School of Humanities, launched in September 2011. DJCAD has also launched very successful modules on creating comics. The University of Dundee is therefore delighted to have this opportunity to celebrate the huge success of one of Scotland’s most influential and successful authors. The Comics Day talks are designed to appeal to everyone with an interest in comics, and will be accompanied by an exhibition of comic art work.
A raft of Morrison’s past collaborators will be joining him in Dundee, including Cameron Stewart (Seaguy, The Guardian), Frazer Irving (Klarion The Witch Boy, Batman), Frank Quitely (Flex Mentallo, New X-Men, WE3, All Star Superman, Batman & Robin, Multiversity), Rian Hughes (Dare) and Jill Thompson (The Invisibles). Two days prior, the college’s cinema is hosting a showing of Talking to Gods, the seldom-screened documentary on Morrison’s life and career.
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.
As British designer/comic book artist Rian Hughes once wrote, “When musicians remake an old hit, it’s called a cover version. When a painter copies an illustrator, it’s called fine art.” Hughes’ article features numerous impassioned quotes from Dave Gibbons on the ethics of fine artists appropriating imagery from comic artists. Brian Bolland recently pursued the Icelandic artist Erro for a particularly blatant act and to a certain extent, won the argument. But comic books remains catnip to the fine art world, the dirty little habit it can’t kick. Plenty of art below the break.
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our guest today is Caleb Goellner, pug lover and senior editor of ComicsAlliance.
To see what Caleb and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
The crossing over of street art and comics is nothing new, with street artists trying all sorts of narrative tricks and co-opting comic book characters, and comic book artists like Jim Mahfood and Damion Scott proving that the influence runs in both directions. The street artists Jim Rockwell, Vision and Probs of the End Of The Line crew have recently completed two murals, one in tribute to Jean “Moebius” Giraud, and another publicizing the East London Comics And Arts Festival. They’ve done a decent job of copping the styles of Giraud and McBess (designer of the original ELCAF 2012 poster), and it’s fun to see Major Grubert on a London street corner.