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I got to know Ryan Sands almost 10 years ago, when he was publishing the strangest manga I had ever seen on his blog Same Hat! Since then, I’ve watched him follow his enthusiasm for innovative comics as the publisher of the Electric Ant zine, the translator of Suehiro Maruo’s The Strange Tale of Panorama Island for Last Gasp and now, as he explained to Chris Mautner in August, the creator of his own small press, Youth in Decline.
His flagship publication is Frontier, an anthology series in which each issue is a complete comic by a single creator. Frontier ended 2014 strong with comics by Emily Carroll and Sam Alden, and this year’s lineup looks equally good, with Jillian Tamaki, Anna Deflorian, Becca Tobin and Michael DeForge on the roster.
Sands has signed up some of the most interesting up-and-coming creators in the indie comics scene and has presented their works in interesting and sophisticated ways, so I asked him to talk to me in depth about his work on Frontier.
Brigid Alverson: The Frontier anthology seems to be evolving into a place for side stories or experimental work by creators who are already working on other, longer projects. Do you think these comics would be published if not for Frontier?
Ryan Sands: The goal for the Frontier series is to spotlight each individual artist and a distinct story or collection of work. I tried to set out the goal pretty explicitly on our site when starting Frontier, saying we’d focus on three types of books: up-and-coming talent in the North American indie scene, introducing the work of international artists I like, and presenting “uncommon dispatches” from more-established creators. The first year of Frontier was mostly focused on the first two goals, but with Sam Alden and Emily Carroll’s books — and now with Jillian Tamaki and Michael DeForge creating issues for 2015—I’m hoping to mix in some of these interesting stories from established creators.
Manga | There are 200 million volumes of Naruto in print worldwide as of September, according to a press release from Japan’s Fuji TV, which on Dec. 13 will feature an interview with creator Masashi Kishimoto. The two-part conclusion of the hit manga will appear today in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine; the 71st volume of the series was published last week in Japan. [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | Manga publisher Vertical Inc. announced this weekend that it has acquired the digital rights to all the manga it has published by Osamu Tezuka, including Buddha and Black Jack. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Michael Cavna talks with Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson about his just-released poster for the Angoulême International Comics Festival and his other recent public projects. [Comic Riffs]
Ryan Sands is no stranger to the world of comics. Many comics fans – especially those drawn to the strange and wacky – no doubt came across the Same Hat blog and Tumblr he created with Evan Hayden. In addition, he has worked as a translator on such marvelous manga as Tokyo Zombie and The Strange Tale of Panorama Island, and more recently, as a publisher, releasing the Electric Ant Zine and (with Michael DeForge) three issues of the acclaimed sex-themed anthology Thickness.
Last year Sands fully immersed himself in publisher waters with the creation of the imprint Youth in Decline, whose flagship series Frontier is a rotating anthology similar to DC’s Solo series in concept, highlighting unique and little-known cartoonists and illustrators.
Four issues of Frontier have been released thus far, showcasing Uno Moralez, Hellen Jo, Sascha Hommer and Ping Zhu. With his publishing venture off and running, I thought this might make for a good time to talk with Sands about his company, his plans for the future and just how he ended up here in the first place.
Manga | Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump has announced that One Piece will go on hiatus for the magazine’s next two issues because creator Eiichiro Oda has been hospitalized for a peritonsillar abscess, a complication of tonsillitis. The popular series is expected to return June 10. One Piece, which has been serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump since 1997, has sold more than 280 million volumes in Japan alone. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly share their thoughts (and sometimes disagree) on their own world, the comics world in general, and digital media. [National Post]
Publishing | Calvin Reid looks at Archie Comics’ growing book-market presence, which has exploded since the publisher signed Random House as its distributor in 2010. [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | Matt Kindt, author of Red-Handed, writes about how becoming a comics creator has made it impossible for him to enjoy reading comics for their own sake. [The Huffington Post]
Awards | Animal Land, by Zatch Bell creator Makoto Raiku, took the Best Children’s Manga honors in Kodansha’s 37th annual manga awards. The sports manga Gurazeni won the overall award for best manga. [Anime News Network]
Comics are art, never forget that. And while epic storytelling has been the staple of serialized comics for decades, it’s the art that makes these comics … well, comics. And a long-time devotee of the more esoteric and outsider veins of comic art is now putting it under one roof with a new publishing house called Youth in Decline.
Described on its Twitter page as “a publisher of lovely and strange comics & zines,” Youth in Decline is a new boutique publisher headed by Ryan Sands of the blog Same Hat, a proponent of comics zine culture and underground manga. Sands worked behind the scenes in comics for years, editing and translating manga for Last Gasp as well publishing zines like Electric Ant, the anthology Thickness and Prison For Bitches with Michael DeForge. The first publication coming from Sands’ Youth in Decline is an ongoing anthology series titled Frontier, with each issue devoted to a single artist.
Comics | The Dundee, Scotland, city council has approved a proposal by publisher DC Thomson to name a street in the city’s west end to honor the Bash Street Kids, stars of the long-running comic strip in The Beano. Dundee already has statues honoring comic characters Desperate Dan and Minnie the Minx. [BBC News]
Comics | Laura Sneddon continues the New Statesmen’s week-long series on comics with a look at children’s comics in the U.K., including the digital relaunch of The Dandy, the continuing popularity of The Beano (which sells a respectable 30,000 copies per week) and the new kid on the block, The Phoenix. [New Statesman]
Ryan Sands recently revived his alt-comics blog Same Hat, and he has a nice post up at the moment of self-published zines that use the two-color Risograph process.
Risograph is a digital printing technology that allows artists to get similar results to offset printing at a much lower price, and by using interchangeable drums, they can print more than one color. This is a very different look from standard four-color printing, though, as the colors stand on their own rather than combining to form a number of other colors; in work like this, the initial color choices really define the look. Sands, who also publishes the Electric Ant zine, has his own Risograph printing business.
If you like these, the Same Hat page has a list of links to the artists’ sites as well as to the website of Dosei magazine (all in Japanese), where these pages were published.
And for an American example, check out Hannah K. Lee’s Shoes Over Bills, which is printed by Sands.
King City cartoonist Brandon Graham dropped this beauty on twitpic the other day — it’s a lovely tribute to Craig Thompson’s Middle Eastern epic Habibi, centered on the book’s female lead Dodola. It’s funny: I never would have thought there’d be much visual kinship between Thompson’s lush brushwork and Graham’s thin lines, but both artists have a curvilenear sweep to their work that turns out to make their styles mesh beautifully. And obviously, Graham can pack in the Thompson-esque ornamentation like whoa.
The best thing about the illustration is that no matter what you like about it, you can find more of that thing someplace online today:
“Bad Romance” yes! Bad comics no! Making its debut at last weekend’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival, Prison for Bitches is a no-holds-barred fanzine tribute to Lady Gaga. Taking its name from a segment in Gaga and Beyoncé’s instant-classic “Telephone” video and edited by Same Hat!’s Ryan Sands and newly minted Doug Wright Award winner Michael DeForge, the ‘zine contains artistic tributes to Lady Gaga from a host of underground art and comics stalwarts and up-and-comers, including Johnny Ryan, Michael Kupperman, Hellen Jo, Lisa Hanawalt, and Nick Gazin.
The book’s slated to go on sale online today; in the meantime, click the link for sample spreads, and click here for DeForge’s strip, which foresees another 86 years of world domination by the Haus of Gaga. (And click here for previous Robot 6/Gaga goodness.) Don’t be the last little monster on your block to get a copy!