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The Ignatz Awards were handed out Saturday night at Small Press Expo in a ceremony that culminated with a mock wedding in which Simon Hanselmann married Comics (represented by a stack of graphic novels and real-life creator Michael DeForge).
Named in honor of the brick-wielding mouse in George Herriman’s Krazy Kat strip, the festival prize recognizes achievement in comics and cartooning. Nominees are selected by a panel of five cartoonists, and then voted on by SPX attendees.
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.
While I’m wary (to put it mildly) of throwing around trite phrases like “breakout artist” and “hot new cartoonist,” it sure seems like Sam Alden has a certain enthusiasm building around him in indie circles. Reading Wicked Chicken Queen, it’s not hard to see why. Whatever your initial reaction might be on glancing at that title, I can tell you I didn’t expect anything nearly as graceful, thoughtful and moving as this comic turned out to be.
Cartoonist Sam Alden has had quite a year in 2013 — and 2014 looks to be in even better.
The artist, who won this year’s Ignatz Award for Promising New Talent for his work on Haunter and Hawaii 1997, will release Wicked Chicken Queen through Box Brown’s Retrofit Comics. Debuting in February, Wicked Chicken Queen will be Retrofit’s flagship book for spring 2014, to be joined by comics from Zac Gorman and Madeleine Flores.
Retrofit has given ROBOT 6 the exclusive first look at the cover to Alden’s next work, which we’re happy to show off here.
Digital comics | ICv2 has a fascinating interview with Gagan Singh, Viz Media’s chief technology officer, in which he discusses not only the nuts and bolts of the publisher’s digital manga program — it now encompasses a number of e-reader platforms as well as a dedicated app — but also the larger questions of piracy, trends and, most importantly, growing the manga audience: “My favorite example is when you’re in the digital domain, your biggest competition is not the next manga or the next book, your biggest competition is Angry Birds because it’s only one click away. When you get into debate over mind share, I’m not just trying to get them to read the next book, I’m trying to get them to not listen to that song or play that video game. That is a bigger challenge where marketing and mind share is concerned.” [ICv2]
Comics | A CGC-certified 9.6 copy of 1963’s The X-Men #1, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, fetched a private-sale record of $250,000 in a deal brokered by Pedigree Comics. That same comic, said to be one of just two certified near-mint copies in existence, went for a then-record $200,000 in March 2011; a 9.8 copy sold at auction in July 2012 for $492,938. The all-time record remains the $2.6 million paid in a 2011 auction for a near-mint copy of Action Comics #1. [CGC Comics]
Comics | Joe McCulloch puts together a nice guide to the self-published comics of Steve Ditko. [Comics Alliance]
Comics | If you want to read Franco-Belgian comics but don’t know where to start, Jared Gardner has you covered, with a brief introduction and some recommended works that have been translated into English. [Public Books]
If you haven’t heard of Sam Alden yet, it’s because he’s still working on his first graphic novel, as detailed in this interview on a local-news site in Sitka, Alaska, where he’s doing a summer fellowship.
This is the sort of article you glance at and think “Huh, this guy will be interesting in a couple of years.” Then I took a look at his art blog, Gingerland, and realized this guy’s got it going on now. Check it out for some gorgeous black-and-white and watercolor drawings. And then you can read the first few chapters of his work-in-progress, Eighth Grade, as well as some of his other comics. And then, about a year from now, you can say “Oh, yeah, I was reading his stuff ages ago …”