Manga | Yen Press announced a number of new manga licenses over the weekend at SakuraCon, including the manga series based on the Square Enix game Kingdom Hearts. The company will re-release some of the manga originally published by Tokyopop and publish some of the newer series as well. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Christopher Irving interviews, and Seth Kusher photographs, The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman: “I am certain that I will never be able to top it, and I’m coming to grips with that. It’s somewhat disconcerting that something I created when I was 23 will be something I’m remembered for when I die, when I’m 35 (or whenever it is). …I’ll be 34 in a little bit, so I wasn’t being too optimistic for myself.” [Graphic NYC]
Back in July when I interviewed Seth Kushner, he told us about a project he was doing with American Photo magazine explaining how he makes photo comics. After its debut in the magazine’s July/August issue, Kushner is now sharing the eight-page strip with everyone, online. The piece, which Kushner says is both a “discussion of a form” but also a personal highlight reel, showcases some of the varied subjects he’s documented, from Harvey Pekar to Moby.
“I decided to title the piece Understanding Photocomix and I used my own words and photos to tell the story of how I first discovered photography, first started working freelance for magazines, how I produced my book The Brooklynites (with Anthony LaSala), how Leaping Tall Buildings (with Christopher Irving) came about, and how I learned to combine my loves of comic books and photography into a wholly unique form,” Kushner says in a post. ” I had only a week to pull it all together, and it was amazingly challenging, but I am proud of the results …”
You can see those results at TripCity.net.
Passings | Artist and writer Harry Harrison, who worked with Wally Wood on many EC Comics — and persuaded them to start their sci-fi line — has died at the age of 87. Harrison is best known in science fiction circles as the author of the Stainless Steel Rat stories, and the movie Soylent Green was based on his 1966 novel Make Room! Make Room! [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | Marvel is ending its Premiere Classics line of hardcovers collections with Vol. 106. [Blog@Newsarama]
Conventions | ComiCONN is this weekend, and although it is the largest comics and sci-fi show in Connecticut, you won’t need your jet pack to navigate it, says Life With Archie writer Paul Kupperberg. Kupperberg and Peter David will be among the guests. [Connecticut Post]
Some use pen and paper to make a comic, while others employ a stylus and a computer screen. But photographer Seth Kushner moves beyond the idea of utilizing a camera to document life to instead capture images to tell a story in a sequential narrative. Y’know, comics. In the past few years, Kushner has come to be a significant force in comics, both for his photocomix like CulturePOP at Trip City and for his more traditional photography work profiling comic creators. For the latter, he’s best known in comic circles for his partnership with writer Chris Irving, which produced the website Graphic NYC and recently the printed book Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics.
As both a chronicler of comic creators and a comic creator himself, Kushner is an interesting subject to talk about the current landscape of comics. From the American reception to photocomix (as compared to the European adoration for them as fumetti) to his personal and iconic photography of comic creators that’s far beyond the grainy bygone magazine photographs we’re used to. In his work, he allows the comic creators themselves to live up to the lofty nature of the comics they produce. And his comics work, both in the photocomic CulturePOP and his more traditionally drawn series Schmuck, Kushner keeps his personal aesthetic for being “up close and personal” with his writing and treatment of his subjects.
Last month, Tim Marchman let loose with a scathing article in The Wall Street Journal criticizing the superhero-comics industry that was the talk of the internet for a couple of days and kicked up a few Twitterstorms, most notably with writer J. Michael Straczynski. But then people pretty much moved on.
The thing is, Marchman was supposed to be writing a review of Christopher Irving and Seth Kushner’s book Leaping Tall Buildings, a collection of interviews with, and photographs of, famous comics creators. You can get a taste of their work on their Graphic NYC blog, and as one who has been following them for a while, I can tell you, it’s awesome.
Although Marchman’s article appeared in the Bookshelf section of the Journal, he mentioned the book only in passing — and while his comments were positive, he billed Irving as the editor, not the writer, and skipped Kushner altogether. Now Kushner has posted a response to the piece, titled Who Reviews the Reviewer? at the Trip City site. Actually, Kushner says straight out that he isn’t reviewing the reviewer, but he does have some things to say about the article:
Legal | A Tunisian court last week convicted Nessma TV President Nebil Karoui of “disturbing public order” and “threatening public morals” by broadcasting the animated adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, which features a scene that briefly shows an image of God. The Oct. 7 airing resulted in an attempted arson attack on the network’s offices and the arrest of some 50 protesters. Karoui was fined $1,600 by the five-judge panel; two members of his staff were fined $800 each. Prosecutors and attorneys representing Islamist groups pushed for Karoui to be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Others argued for the death penalty. [The Washington Post]
Business | Target will stop selling Amazon’s Kindle devices in its stores over a dispute regarding “showrooming,” where consumers check out a product at Target stores and then go home to buy it on Amazon for a cheaper price. Around Christmas, Amazon’s Price Check app gave shoppers a 5 percent discount on any item scanned at a retail store. “What we aren’t willing to do is let online-only retailers use our brick-and-mortar stores as a showroom for their products and undercut our prices,” Target executives wrote in a letter to vendors. Target will continue to carry Apple’s iPad, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and the Aluratek Libre. [The New York Times]
As long as I have been covering the comics industry, it seems like I have always found reasons to support the work of Dean Haspiel and/or his many talented associates. So when Trip City, a Brooklyn-filtered literary arts salon, launched at the start of last month it struck me as a good time to reach out to the founders for an email chat. While Trip City has four key members (Haspiel, Seth Kushner, Chris Miskiewicz and Jeffrey Burandt) the bulk of the discussion involved Kushner and Miskiewicz, with a brief check-in by Haspiel (discussing the start of a new Billy Dogma story, The Last Romantic Antihero [TLRA]). Haspiel also gave me a head’s up on a December 8 TLRA live reading at BookCourt at 7 PM (163 Court St Brooklyn, New York 11201/718-875-3677).
Tim O’Shea: When did TRIP CITY first get conceived–and how did the two of you come to be involved? How early in the planning was it determined that a podcast would be important to the venture?
Chris Miskiewicz: Dean was leaving Deep6 and starting a new studio. Seth Kushner and I were the first people he asked along. Although my film schedule is always in flux and I wasn’t sure how often I’d actually be there, the idea of sitting around others and not being by myself writing appealed to me. So we formed HANG DAI Studios.
If you put three creative people in a room together stuff happens. What happened was TRIP CITY. We spoke about the concept for about five months. Who would be a part of it, what we’d do, how we’d do it. We didn’t want to revamp ACT-I-VATE but we did want comics, along with prose, fiction, a web-series, and a podcast. What we did was create a multimedia site that catered to our individual interests blending them together into a whole.
Several Brooklyn, N.Y. creators launched Trip City, a new “literary arts salon” website, this week, featuring free content by the likes of Dean Haspiel, Seth Kushner, Joe Infurnari, Kevin Colden, Chris Miskiewicz, Jef UK and many more.
“TRIP CITY reinvents the online arts collective with a virtual playground for a diverse set of accomplished and highly individualistic creators,” said Trip City founder Dean Haspiel, “spanning every borough of artistic endeavor from the visual arts to literature, music, video and beyond.”
Comis wise, there’s already a bunch of stuff to check out, including Dean Haspiel’s Bring Me The Heart Of Billy Dogma, Chris Miskiewicz and Kate McElroy’s Adrift, Joe Infurnari’s Memoirs of the Kid Immortal, Nick Bertozzi’s Lad Zeppelin, Kevin Colden’s Baby With A Mohawk and more. In addition to comics, the site will also feature profiles, interviews and podcasts with everyone from Moby to Henry Rollins to Michael Moore, who is interviewed by Dan Goldman in the site’s first podcast.
The release Haspiel sent out says that the group has future plans to take some of the content and perform it live on the road. “Working with so many Brooklyn locals, we have this great sense of community right out of the gate,” said Jef UK. “Then, when we take the next step and turn Trip City into a live event—which is in the works—our tribe is already gathered, so to speak.”
Broadway | Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the retooled $75 million Broadway musical, took in $1.7 million for the week ending this past Sunday, which is above the $1.2 million the producers have indicated they need to reach to stay viable. The amount made it the No. 3 musical for the week, after Wicked and The Lion King. [Associated Press]
Legal | Robert Corn-Revere, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s general counsel, discusses the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. EMA, which sought to ban the sale of violent video games to minors. He notes that the court drew upon the history of comic book censorship in reaching its conclusion to reject the ban: “Citing the amicus brief filed by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, it noted the crusade against comics led by Dr. Frederic Wertham and observed that it was inconsistent with our constitutional traditions. The Court traced the history of censorship that targeted various media directed toward the young and held that restricting depictions of violence could not be justified under established principles of First Amendment law.” [CBLDF]
Christopher Irving has a long, juicy interview with Art Spiegelman at the Graphic NYC blog, illuminated by Seth Kushner’s moody photos.
Spiegelman talks about his early comics reading and the freedom of working on comics in the 1970s, when the entire medium was caving in and there was plenty of space to create something new. He intersperses broad reflections on the medium with arresting moments, such as falling asleep in a basement full of old Happy Hooligan comics and dreaming about the iconic character (whom he later morphed in to a self-portrait, Hapless Hooligan).
When this interview first began with Kevin Colden, his Zuda (Mature Content) project, I Rule the Night (ITRN), had been on hiatus for around 10 months. So the initial round of our email discussion focused on his non-IRTN projects, including his two upcoming IDW projects (Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper and Grimm’s Fairy Tales) as well as the recent Seth Kushner-directed music video that he was part of with his band, Heads Up Display (Colden is the band’s drummer). But fortunately (for fans of ITRN and for the sake of this interview) ITRN came out off of hiatus and hit the Internet metaphorical ground running. My thanks to Colden for two rounds of an interview.
Tim O’Shea: Was Zuda waiting for the big transition (dropping the monthly competition) until they brought back I Rule the Night (ITRN)? How agonizing has it been waiting for the news to drop?
Kevin Colden: We had originally planned to bring back I Rule the Night as the first mature readers series, but needed to wait until we got the mature filter in place. It was in the works for a long time, and got caught up in changes at DC that had nothing directly to do with Zuda per se. It just so happened that everything came together at the same time. I wouldn’t say the wait was agonizing for me so much as inconvenient for the readers. Time flies in my world, so I only noticed when I looked at the calendar. The bright side is that now there’s less of a wait to read it.