One of the under-analyzed indicators of comics’ recently improved health is the seemingly exponential growth of convention attendance. Rarely does a Comics A.M. goes by where some convention, even a smaller, regional one, isn’t reporting how attendance is up from the previous year and they’re expecting even more the next; often it’s in the thousands, headed into tens of thousands.
That seems to be in direct contrast to conventional wisdom: Digital comics sales are increasing, most comics creators are a tweet away, and travel in this still-sluggish economy is still cost-prohibitive for a lot of fans. Yet, just as print sales in the direct market have been steady, and even improving, attendances at comics conventions is up virtually across the board.
The leader of this pack is easily New York Comic Con. In just seven short years, it has positioned itself as the comics convention of the year, providing stiff competition for the long-held leader Comic-Con International. In fact, New York Comic Con hit San Diego-sized attendance numbers this year.
Fantagraphics Books announced today at Comic-Con International in San Diego that it will publish the work of Australian cartoonist Simon Hanselmann, best known for his ongoing series of “Megg, Mogg and Owl” strips that he now releases on his blog Girl Mountain.
Titled Megahex, the hardcover will feature than 200 pages of Megg and Mogg comics, including 70 never-before-seen pages. It will debut in summer 2014.
For those that aren’t familiar with Hanselmann’s work, Fantagraphics’ press release aptly sums up its unique appeal:
Megg (a green-skinned witch), Mogg (a black cat), and Owl (an anthropomorphic owl) are a trio of ne’er–do–well roommates cohabiting in a suburban flop house. Megg and Mogg spend most of their time smoking pot and having sex while Owl works various office jobs and usually comes home to find himself the as the butt of every joke. Behind the fart jokes and stoner humor are the depressed and misanthropic lives of these characters. Each possess their own tragedy which weighs on their shoulders, keeping them from escaping the nihilistic pit into which they’ve fallen. Equally funny and melancholic, Hanselmann is able to evoke empathy for his characters, making it easy for readers fall in love with this disdainful bunch. Part Ernest Hemingway, part Johnny Ryan, Megahex will make people laugh, cry, and then take a shower.
“This is literally a teenage dream,” Hanselmann goes on to say. “Fantagraphics has been my favorite/the best comics publisher since forever. I’ve had a Fantagraphics poster hanging over my bed since I was fourteen. My brain is doing confused celebratory cartwheels.”
This is indeed excellent news. As anyone whose read Hanselmann’s comics knows, he’s one of the most interesting cartoonist to come out of the Internet in recent years. While taking the basic template of your average stoner comedy (albeit with some fantasy and funny animal elements), Hanselmann isn’t afraid to take his characters into some very dark (and given their recreational habits, logical) places. It’s emotionally powerful, raw and uncompromising work that also happens to be really funny.
You can read the full press released after the jump, along with a short Q&A I conducted with Hanselmann via email.
This past HeroesCon, I briefly met writer/artist Jason Horn. Stemming from that brief encounter, I learned about his webcomic Ninjasaur ["about a dinosaur who is also a ninja (not the other way around)"]. During this email interview we also briefly dug into another project of his–a continuation of a Norwegian folk tale–Gruff, as well as drawing superheroes for children in the streets of Guatemala (and juxtaposing that with his experience at SDCC). My thanks to Horn for his time and for the opportunity to discuss ninjas and David Lynch in the same sentence.
Tim O’Shea: How did you first come up with the idea of making a dinosaur into a ninja?
Jason Horn: I was at my second FLUKE, a small press convention in Athens Georgia, and I’d had the word Ninjasaur in my head for a few days. I was with my friend, Dean Trippe, who I’d met at FLUKE the previous year, and I told him that I had this word but I didn’t know what it would be. He quickly convinced me to convert that ridiculous word into an awesome webcomic. And, with his help, that’s what I did. Ninjasaur is pretty much just what it sounds like, an absurd comic about a dinosaur ninja that fights people/things while saying something sarcastic.
At 80+, Stan Lee is the iron man of comics; he is all over SDCC this weekend, appearing not just with Boom! Studios but also touting his work for Archie Comics and Viz manga. Boom! Studios kicked things off by announcing that they will be publishing three superhero comics based on characters created by Lee and his company Pow! Entertainment: Soldier Zero, written by Paul Cornell (Doctor Who) with art by Javier Pina (Superman); The Traveler, written by Mark Waid with art by Chad Hardin (Amazing Spider-Man), and Starborn, written by Chris Roberson (iZombie) with art by Khary Randolph (The X-Men). CBR has posted interviews with Cornell, Waid, and Roberson about their work on the three titles.
Full press release after the cut.
SLG Publishing‘s booth at SDCC [Booth #1815, right next to DC Comics] is going to be extremely busy this year with a number of SLG creators making appearances. Three first-time graphic novelists, Joe Pimienta, Lindsay Hornsby, and Lauren Affe, will be debuting their book, A Friendly Game, at SDCC–and will be at the SLG booth as well. The book (which SLG gave a 10-page preview here) is described as follows: “Friends play many kinds of games with each other: cops and robbers, checkers, tag. The best of friends will make up their own games. Todd and Kevin’s friendship is built on such a game. However, the rules and premise are far from the typical childhood games. A dispute amongst the two splits them into very different directions: one sees the game for the cruel act that it is, while the other decides it must move to the next level. Imagine No Country for Old Men crossed with Lord of the Flies, or even imagine if Johnny the Homicidal Maniac were once a little kid. There you have a Friendly Game.” Thanks to assistance from SLG’s Dan Vado and Jennifer de Guzman, I was able to email interview all three characters. If you’re at SDCC, be sure to check this book out while you’re there–and even if you’re not, once you read the preview–SLG’s made it quite convenient for you to order the book. It was a pleasure to interview the three creators and I hope this is the first of many times we’ll be seeing their names in years to come.
Tim O’Shea: Did the idea for this story find its start at Savannah College of Art and Design ([SCAD] where all three of you attended)?
Joe Pimienta: Yes. It originally started as an 8-page story I did for scripting class. But part of the assignment was to have drawn pages and character designs, so, I asked Lindsay to do that. Once I finished the assignment, I put it away and didn’t think about it until 6 months later when Lindsay took advanced scripting and asked me if we could develop the story more. I was surprised, since the subject matter was so different from what she normally does. We talked about a bigger story arc, making my short story only the first pages for the final story arc. It wasn’t until senior project, 2 years later, that we actually started drawing pages for it.
If you aspire to become a real manga artist and draw for a Japanese magazine, like American Felipe Smith has done with Peepo Choo, here’s your big chance: Kaori Kitamoto, editor of Chi’s Sweet Home, will hold portfolio reviews for Morning magazine at the Vertical booth at Comic-Con International.
Published by Japan’s largest publisher, Kodansha, Morning and its sister publication Morning 2 are seinen magazines aimed at young men and are the source of such critically acclaimed series as Takehiko Inoue’s Vagabond, the cute cat manga Chi’s Sweet Home and Naoki Urasawa’s Billy Bat.
Vertical’s marketing director Ed Chavez says Kitamoto will be on the lookout for possible series to run in the magazine as well as entries for the Morning International Comics Competition, with the emphasis on the latter. She wants to see stories that are no more than 50 pages long, and she is open to “any style but with clear paneling, strong character development and thoughtful narrative,” Chavez says. Take a look at their site (in Japanese) to get an idea of the range of art styles — it’s not all big eyes and spiky hair by any means.
The 2010 Eisner Award nominations were announced today, with David Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp receiving four nominations. Fanfare/Ponent Mon’s My mommy is in America and she met Buffalo Bill and The Photographer both received three nominations, while Naoki Urasawa received multiple nominations for 20th Century Boys and Pluto: Urasawa X Tezuka.
Other titles receiving multiple nominations include Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life, Robert Crumb’s illustrated version of The Book of Genesis, Mike Carey and Peter Gross’s Vertigo series The Unwritten and Mark Waid and Peter Kraus’s series Irredeemable and DC’s Blackest Night event miniseries.
On the creator front, Urusawa, Mazzucchelli, Crumb, Jean Regnaud, Émile Bravo, Emmanuel , Carey, Waid, and Ed Brubaker all received multiple nominations.
Named for acclaimed comics creator the Will Eisner, the awards are in their 22nd year of highlighting the best publications and creators in comics and graphic novels. The 2010 judging panel consists of academic Craig Fischer (associate professor of English, Appalachian State University), librarian Francisca Goldsmith (staff development instructor/consultant, Infopeople), reviewer John Hogan (GraphicNovelReporter.com), writer James Hudnall (Harsh Realm, The Psycho), and retailer Wayne Winsett (Time Warp Comics, Boulder, Colorado).
Check out the complete list after the jump.
We aging superhero fans have a reputation for being stuck in the past, but I’m looking back at what I wrote last year about Comic-Con, and … well, 2008 looks a whole lot more exciting by comparison.
Last year, DC announced Neil Gaiman’s Batman story, Flash: Rebirth, new spotlights on the Milestone and Red Circle characters, the revamped Supergirl (which helped set up the “New Krypton” mega-arc), and a Zatanna ongoing series. While we’re still waiting on Zatanna, I think it’s safe to say the rest have each been pretty important to DC in one way or another.
This year, though? Pretty quiet. Oh sure, there were new Flash and Justice Society titles announced, plus the integration of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents into the DC lineup and Astro City going monthly. These are all noteworthy, and I do not mean to diminish any of them. I’m just saying that overall, they don’t make as big of a splash. I thought DC’s Comic-Con news would overshadow last week’s October solicitations, and it kinda didn’t.
Therefore, let’s try to sort it all out.
This week’s controversy over the scheduling of a Twilight movie at San Diego Comic-Con raised an issue that we at Good Comics for Kids have been thinking about for a while: Why don’t girls’ comics (and their other enthusiasms, for that matter) get any respect? Even the comics bloggers who leaped to defend the Twilight fans often speak with contempt of genres aimed at tween and teen girls, an attitude that was on full display later this week when Yen Press announced it would be publishing a Twilight manga.
So I sent out the Bat-Signal to my fellow Good Comics for Kids bloggers and asked what they thought.
Robin Brenner: I find it especially distressing that the SDCC crowd, made up of fans who have been typically dismissed and marginalized by the larger culture including comics fans, fantasy fans, and sci-fi fans, seem to think it’s perfectly warranted to dump on fans who you would think they have a lot more in common with than traits to divide them.