The Alternative Press Expo, or APE, kicked off today in San Francisco, and I made the trek up north to partake in comic culture-dom. I missed the show last year, and in fact haven’t been to a comic convention since SDCC in 2010, so it was fun to get back into the con groove. And APE is just the place to do it, with its laid back vibe and focus on making, buying and talking about comics.
Like I said, I missed last year’s show, so I have no idea how the crowds compared or the size of the place compared. Since I first started attending the show in 2007, they’ve switched up the layout of the place, and it seemed much bigger, with more exhibitors, than it has in the past. There seemed to be a bunch of people there, many with kids, and the folks exhibiting who I talked to for the most part seemed to be happy with the turn out. The weather was beautiful, which can sometimes be a hindrance; San Francisco doesn’t have that many days per year where there’s lots of sunshine and it’s very warm outside, so you never know when someone might decide to hit the park instead of, say, a convention. It’ll be interesting to hear what the CCI folks say about attendance this year
The Alternative Press Expo, or APE, returns to the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco this weekend. The show’s special guests are Groo creator Sergio Aragonés, Flood creator Eric Drooker, all three legendary Hernandez Brothers, The Cardboard Valise creator Ben Katchor, jobnik! creator Miriam Libicki, and Weathercraft creator and giant pen owner Jim Woodring, all of whom have spotlight panels over the course of the two days. In addition, other guests attending the show include Shannon Wheeler, Stan Mack, Justin Hall, Derek Kirk Kim, Jason Shiga, Thien Pham, Jamaica Dyer and many more.
In addition to the spotlight panels, the show has panels on politics and comics, censorship, queer cartoonists and a “Gigantes” meet-up with the Hernandez Bros. and Aragones. They also have workshop panels if you’re interested in making comics and a “creator connection” that allows aspiring creators to find writers or artists to work with.
The show is usually one of my favorites of the year, mainly because it’s so easy going and loaded with opportunities to discover something new and cool. Here’s a round-up of some of the folks you can see and buy cool stuff from at the show, as well as things to do inside and outside of the Concourse:
I’ve described some artists here as having “escaped” comics for the rarified air of the fine art world. I get the feeling Glenn Barr would deny that description, I remember seeing him describe his work before as “low brow art”. Anyway, I love it. There’s an interview with him over at the 1XRun blog, discussing the latest limited-edition print he’s produced for them, The Alien Bride.
Lots more art below, including Sergio Aragones, Jon Haward, Dan McDaid and Brendan McCarthy. Continue Reading »
MAD Magazine will release an iPad app featuring exclusive content, interactive stories, MAD videos and access to MAD library on April 1, the birthday of their legendary mascot Alfred E. Neuman. The app will be free to download through the App Store and will include a mixture of free and paid content, including a free preview of the magazine.
“We’re delighted to bring MAD to the iPad,” said MAD editor John Ficarra in a press release. “We think the MAD app may be just the thing to turn the struggling iPad around and make it successful -though most experts think it may be just the thing that kills it altogether.”
The MAD app will include interactive versions of all current issues, access to a library of back issues and books, animated covers and “fold-in” pages and promo videos from the MAD Cartoon Network show. In addition to the regular issue interactive “fold-in,” digital issues will also include a second, classic interactive “fold-in” from a past issue. Fans of Sergio Aragones’ MAD Marginals will enjoy a feature that allows readers to “pop-up” the margin artwork for a larger, more detailed view.
Crime | A trailer filled with convention set-up and inventory of Avatar Press was stolen from the parking lot of Corner Store Comics in Anaheim, California, on Tuesday as the publisher prepared to head to Seattle for the Emerald City Comicon. The trailer contained cases of several graphic novels, including Neonomicon, Crossed, Freakangels, Night of the Living Dead and Fevre Dream, as well as limited-edition copies created specifically for conventions and large quantities of books by author Max Brooks. Avatar founder William Christensen asked West Coast retailers to keep an eye out for anyone looking to sell large quantities of Avatar books as they continue to work with local law enforcement. “Needless to say, this is a significant setback for us in terms of lost inventory, but I want to assure everyone that we have additional inventory of the graphic novels warehoused and available for restock to comic retailers and bookstores. As word of this has spread and people have been asking me what they could do to help, the other thing I’ve been mentioning is to simply keep asking your local retailer for books from Avatar Press. As for upcoming conventions, we will still be attending every con on our schedule, so we hope to see you at upcoming shows as well.” Any information on the stolen books can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. [Bleeding Cool] Continue Reading »
When Disney bought Marvel Comics in 2009, much of the coverage of the move cited the publisher’s catalog of 5,000 characters. DC Comics, which was founded a few decades earlier and had gobbled up the character catalogs of many other publishers over the decades, must have a catalog of characters even deeper.
The cast of The Simpsons hasn’t grown quite that large, despite its 23 seasons and over 500 episodes, but there are an ever-increasing number of name characters within the city limits of Springfield, most of whom should be capable of supporting their own comic book. At least for one issue, right?
Case in point: Ralph Wiggum, Lisa Simpson’s dim to the point of zen nothingness classmate and the son of incompetent Police Chief Wiggum. The malapropism-spouting bit player usually only gets a cameo in episodes, when he appears at all, but those appearances tend to be the funnier bits of the episodes (and I say that as a lapsed fan who thinks the show might have climaxed a good 10 or 15 seasons ago, and started running on fumes a few seasons back).
Of course, on the show, Ralph works in small doses. Can he work in bigger doses? Bongo Comics gave us the chance to find out this week, with Ralph Wiggum Comics #1, a 25-page one-shot full of short stories starring Springfield’s most guileless resident.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
Congratulations, Dark Horse: You pretty much own my first $15 for the week, with Dark Horse Presents #8 ($7.99) and Star Wars: Dawn of The Jedi #0 ($3.50) both being my go-to new releases for the week. DHP has the new Brian Wood/Kristian Donaldson series The Massive launching, as well as more Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson and new Skeleton Key by Andi Watson, which is a pretty spectacular line-up, and the new Star Wars book coincides with the latest flare up of my irregular longing to check up on that whole universe’s goings-on. Apparently, I’m keeping it local this week, who knew?
If I had $30, I’d add Action Comics #6 (DC Comics, $3.99) and OMAC #6 (DC Comics, $2.99) to that pile — I’m particularly treasuring the latter before it goes away, although I have to admit that the time-jumping nature of these Action fill-ins has gotten me more excited than I should ‘fess up to — as well as a couple of Ed Brubaker books, Winter Soldier #1 (Marvel, $2.99) and Fatale #2 (Image Comics, $3.50). I wasn’t bowled over by Fatale‘s debut, but it intrigued me enough to want to give it another go, while the noir + super spy sales pitch for the new Marvel series pretty much guarantees my checking the first issue out at the very least.
When it comes to splurging, there is nothing I would buy – were I rich enough — more quickly than IDW’s John Romita Sr. Amazing Spider-Man Artist Edition HC ($100), because … well, it’s classic Romita as the pages originally looked on his drawing board. How anyone can resist that (other than the price point), I don’t know.
Conan the Barbarian meets his dumber alter ego in April when Dark Horse presents a four-issue Conan/Groo the Wanderer crossover. While Conan is clearly the brainier of the two mighty warriors, Groo creators Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier are scripting the comic, so Groo will have the home-team advantage. Thomas Yeates is handling the art and Tom Luth the colors. Yeates has penciled other Conan comics as well as Dark Horse’s adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The Outlaw Prince.
While April 1 would be a logical release date for a book like this, the chances are that no one would believe it, so it’s due out on April 18.
Crime | A man in Lincoln, Nebraska, told police that a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, valued at $15,000, disappeared from his home sometime between Oct. 27 and Monday morning. The 1962 issue was kept with other comics, but the man claims several people had been in and out of his home since he last saw it. A near-mint copy of the comic, which features the first appearance of Spider-Man, sold at auction in March for $1.1 million. [Lincoln Journal Star]
Creators | Writer Greg Pak has set up a page to take donations for former comics writer Bill Mantlo, whose tragic situation was detailed in an article last week. “Bill Mantlo has had a huge influence on me as a writer and reader,” Pak said. “His Micronauts stories blew my mind as a kid and his Incredible Hulk run laid the groundwork for the themes I explored my five-and-a-half year run with the character.” Money donated through the site goes directly to Mike Mantlo, Bill’s brother, for Bill’s ongoing care. [Greg Pak]
Creators | Longtime Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont is donating his archives to Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The collection includes materials for all of his major writing projects over the past 40 years, notebooks with story ideas, drafts of short stories, plays, novels and comic books, and materials from his early training in the theater and his career as an actor. “We hope this is the first of more comics papers to come to the University,” said Karen Green, Columbia University’s ancient/medieval studies librarian and graphic novel librarian. “We want it to be a magnet for these kinds of archives in New York City, where the comics medium was born.” [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | Michael Cavna talks to two comics creators with very different takes on Occupy Wall Street, sequential journalist Susie Cagle, who was arrested as part of the Occupy Oakland protests, and conservative editorial cartoonist Nate Beeler, who walks past the Occupy D.C. site every day and regards it as “quaint,” smelly, and out of step with the rest of the country.” [Comic Riffs]
I was going to open with some snotty Wow, the holidays went by super-quickly! comment, but then I read the first issue of Justice League in seven weeks. Sometimes DC gets ahead of itself; sometimes it’s a little behind. Happens to the best of us — sometimes you do two solicitation roundups in three weeks….
Anyway, with the January solicitations, the New-52 books each turn five issues old. Series wrapping up their first arcs this month include Blackhawks, Batwoman, Animal Man, and the Deadman feature in DC Universe Presents. (Not to worry about the latter, because there is a lot of Deadman in these solicits.) I’m not sure why five issues is such a wonky number for story arcs — there are five-issue miniseries all the time and they collect just fine. Still, I expected most of the New-52 books to take six issues for their introductory stories, and most of them may yet do that. Only a few books look to finish their first arcs after December’s issue #4s (Hawkman and Frankenstein, probably OMAC, maybe Batgirl), and those plus this month’s are barely an eighth of the relaunched line. It makes next month’s solicits more intriguing, I suppose.
Regardless, we live in the now (as it were…) so — onward to January!
Continue Reading »
Warner Bros. and video game studio Monolith are working on a new downloadable, multiplayer, first-person shooter Batman game called Gotham City Imposters. The game will let everyone can be Batman, or at least “a Batman.” According to Destructoid:
The idea is this: regular, everyday folks — bored with their decidedly average vanilla lives — have decided to take things into their own hands. On one side, you have folks dressed like Bats, personalized variations of the Gotham’s crime fighting Dark Knight. On the flip side, you have the Jokerz, mischievous citizens who’ve identified themselves more with the Clown Prince of Crime himself, The Joker.
That underlying narrative lends itself to Gotham City Impostors’ reason for existing: team versus team online multiplayer shooting. It’s also a great setup for allowing a wide range of player customization, which will allow players to carve their owner Jokerz/Bats identity online.
I call dibs on this guy:
It looks like Bongo Comics is doubling the funny with a new series by Sergio Aragonés titled, aptly enough, Sergio Aragonés Funnies. According to the advance solicits, this monthly series will feature “an assortment of autobiographical anecdotes, perplexing puzzles, slap-happy short stories, as well as Sergio’s unique and hilarious pantomimes and gags”.
Back in January, Bongo head honcho Bill Morrison talked to CBR about it briefly, saying:
Sergio Aragonés’ “Funnies” is a new ongoing series that not many people may know about, but it’s coming from Bongo Comics this year and will most likely premiere at Comic-Con International San Diego. As the book’s editor, I hope I’m not coming off as self-serving by mentioning it here, but I’d be talking about it anyway, just as a Sergio fan! This book will be completely written and drawn by Sergio and will be unrelated to “The Simpsons.” He’ll continue to write and draw Simpsons stories as well, but this will just be Sergio doing what he does best; drawing the funniest cartoons in the universe!
But this isn’t Aragonés’ first stint in The Simpsons creator Matt Groening’s comic line — Sergio started contributing to the publisher’s line back in 2009 beginning with Bart Simpson #50. Aragonés continued as a regular contributor to Bart Simpson, even starting an ongoing feature called “Maggie’s Crib.”
Although Bongo might be defined in readers’ minds as The Simpsons comics, it’s wholly owned and operated by Matt Groening outside of the framework of Fox and the The Simpsons animated series. In addition to hosting Aragonés’ work in various series, Bongo has also run stories by another comics funnyman, Evan Dorkin, for years.
Publishing | Dynamite Entertainment CEO Nick Barrucci talks frankly about the state of the marketplace, digital comics, and his company’s plans. He also acknowledges some missteps: “Green Hornet was a license we paid a lot of attention to last year, probably too much attention. Going back to what we were talking about earlier, putting out too much product, we put out too much Green Hornet product. Part of it is that we wanted to get trade paperback collections out in time for the movie, and we did that, we succeeded. We built up our market share and we generated more revenue for us and the retailers. I’m going off on a tangent here, so I apologize, but we took that money and reinvested into projects like Vampirella, like Warlord of Mars, like the upcoming Kirby: Genesis. But we overdid it, and that we realize, which is why you don’t see us doing four Vampirella titles and four Warlord of Mars titles.” [ICv2.com]
Creators | For its annual Comics Issue, the Village Voice takes a fascinating, lengthy and very depressing look at the often-grim financial reality faced by cartoonists — an environment to which, it turns out, the Village Voice contributed. “I’m not sure how much you’ll be allowed to write about this,” says Dan Perkins (Tom Tomorrow), “but of course the Village Voice Media chain is one of the major culprits in this —their decision to ‘suspend’ cartoons [in 15 papers in 2009] dealt a serious blow to the struggling subgenre of alt-weekly cartoons.” It’s noted parenthetically that Tom Tomorrow will return to the paper “within a few months,” and that “many of the artists in this issue aren’t getting paid, but have contributed work for the exposure.” [Village Voice]
Awards | Art Spiegelman on Sunday won the Grand Prix at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, marking only the third time an American has received the honor (the other two were Will Eisner and Robert Crumb). “Considering my poor skills, I’m looking a little like the president Obama receiving the Nobel Peace prize,” he told the festival by telephone from the United States. Spiegelman will serve as the grand marshal for next year’s event.
Other winners at the four-day festival, which drew an estimated 200,000 visitors, include David Mazzuchelli for Asterios Polyp (Grand Jury Prize), and Naoki Urasawa and the late Osamu Tezuka for Pluto (Intergenerational Award). The full list of winners can be found here. [Agence France-Presse]
Retailing | The beleaguered Borders Group announced on Sunday that it’s delaying January payments to vendors and landlords in an effort to save cash while it tries to complete a debt restructuring. This marks the second round of delays for the bookseller, which has been pressuring large publishers and distributors to agree by Feb. 1 to convert late payments into $125 million in loans. The bookstore chain announced just last week that it secured a $550 million credit line from G.E. Capital, but only if several tough conditions were met — including an unlikely agreement from publishers. [The Wall Street Journal]