Six by 6
As several people have already mentioned, 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of Love and Rockets, the seminal, groundbreaking comic series by Gilbert, Jaime and Mario Hernandez. It’s an impressive feat for any cartoonist to maintain a series for so long (even given the various format changes L&R has gone through) and it’s all the more impressive when you consider the number of masterpieces the Hernandez brothers have put under their collective belt during that time period. The Death of Speedy. Poison River. Human Diastrophism. Wig Wam Bam. Heartbreak Soup. The Love Bunglers. Most cartoonists would kill to produce just one of those books. And they’re still going strong with no drop in quality.
In honor of their anniversary I thought I’d take the time to list some of my own personal favorite sequences from the series. This is by no means to be a definitive list — there are so many outstanding moments from this series that trying to narrow it down a mere six is a bit of a mug’s game. These are merely six moments that immediately came to mind when I thought of the idea for this post. I could have come up with 100 more easily. All you Los Bros fans out there can feel free to list your own favorite moments in the comments section.
Oh, and lots of spoilers exist below, so if you haven’t read the series yet and want to jump into it fresh. I’d stop reading here …
Tomorrow DC Comics releases the second of the new reader-friendly “Earth One” graphic novels, Batman: Earth One. Originally announced in 2009, this second graphic novel is just hours away from release, and people are already looking toward the line, and this title’s, future. DC has already announced that J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis have a sequel to Superman: Earth One due out Nov. 6, and Geoff Johns let slip that he was already writing a Batman: Earth One sequel in an interview posted on Entertainment Weekly‘s website. With those two balls in the air, and DC actively looking to expand their roster of mainstream-friendly characters, I thought I’d give some unsolicited advice on what they should consider next for the “Earth One” line.
During an exclusive interview with CBR TV at WonderCon in Anaheim, bestselling author Joe Hill revealed that he’s working with his Locke & Key collaborator Gabriel Rodriguez on a “established superhero title” for DC Comics or Marvel. While he’s best known for comic creations that don’t wear a cape or cowl, Hill is no stranger to superheroes: He’s producing The Cape for IDW Publishing, and he made his comics debut in 2005 in Marvel’s Spider-Man Unlimited #8. Although news of what character (or characters), what universe, or even what format their superhero story will be, we have a few suggestions:
Perhaps one of the most ironic and galling things for anyone who cares about the work of the late Jean “Moebius” Giraud, who passed away last weekend, is that for all the heartfelt remembrances and accolades that were offered in his memory, virtually none of his work is currently available in print in North America. Oh, there are few titles certainly, most notably from Humanoids, but the bulk of his bibliography, including several of his major, most influential works, remain in the back rooms of used bookstores and warehouses for intrepid and hardy collectors to track down.
With that in mind, I asked my friend and noted comics critic Joe “Jog” McCulloch — whose Moebius knowledge far, far, far exceeds my own – to help me put together a quick “essential” list of Moebius comics in English that, while perhaps not necessarily available for dirt cheap, can nevertheless be tracked down and read. This is obviously is not a definitive type of list — how can it be with someone who had as extensive and stellar a bibliography as Moebius did? But still we hope it will offer a good starting point for the uninitiated, provided you have the time and money to track these comics down.
(Fair warning: A slighly nsfw image can be found after the jump)
It’s never been easy to make a successful comic strip, but it’s even harder these days. Shrinking newspaper space, shrinking interest in newspapers — heck a decline in newspapers in general — combined with a general refusal on the part of readers and editors to get rid of moldy, ancient “legacy” newspaper strips (remind me to tell you sometime about what happened when the newspaper where I work tried to get rid of Rex Morgan, M.D.) have resulted in what I can only describe as a hostile environment for new, let alone quirky, work.
More than ever it seems clever, funny strips are rarely given a chance to find an audience, let alone thrive. Here are six vastly under-appreciated strips from recent years that ended far, far too soon.
With 2012 still fresh and new, it seems like as good a time as any to look at various publishing companies’ plans for the year ahead and pick out what looks good, or at least interesting. Because the year looks to be filled with so many delights, I decided to double down and offer not just six but 12 comics I’m really looking forward to reading. Obviously this list is reflective of my own, indie-slanted interests, so feel free in the comments section to tell me what a dope I am for forgetting about Book X by Artist Y.
It’s time once again for our annual look at six books that were, for whatever reason, unjustly ignored by the public and critical cognoscenti at large. With all the titles that are published lately, it’s no real surprise that some books fall through the cracks, though in certain cases it seems grossly unwarranted.
After the jump are six books that, while they may not have made my “best of 2011″ list, I think got nowhere near the amount of attention they deserved. There are lots more that I could include if I had the time. I’m sure there are books you read this year that you don’t think got enough praise either. Be sure to let me know what they are in the comments section.
The news spread rather rapidly over the comics blogs this week that Dylan Williams, cartoonist and publisher of Sparkplug Comic Books, is seriously ill and in need of financial aid (i.e. please purchase some Sparkplug books).
Though they arguably haven’t always gotten as much attention as PictureBox or Drawn & Quarterly, Sparkplug has been one of the most interesting small press publishers in recent years, releasing challenging, striking work from many new and up and coming cartoonists.
Lots of people are making recommendations on what to get, but if you’re on the fence about purchasing something from the Sparkplug shop, or just plain don’t know what book to buy, I thought I’d add my own two cents with a short run down of some of my own personal favorites.
Since 1992, the Xeric Foundation, founded by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Peter Laird, has awarded grants to comic creators that allowed them bring their comics to the world. Late last week Laird announced that the foundation would stop providing grants to amateur creators, noting that “the advent of essentially free web publishing has forever altered the way aspiring comic book creators can get their work out into the public eye.” The foundation will instead devote its grant funds to charitable organizations.
The barriers to entry for getting your comic work out in front of people may have changed, but as Sean Kleefeld points out, the Xeric Foundation provided another benefit to comic fans. “…here’s why I’ll miss the Xerics: they have been an incredibly powerful shorthand for identifying great comics,” he wrote on his blog. “Oh, there’s other comic awards out there, of course, but those always come across as hit or miss for me. Just because a comic won a Harvey or an Eisner or whatever doesn’t mean I’ll really enjoy or appreciate it. But the Xerics, I’ve found, are consistently high quality and enjoyable. I have yet to read a Xeric-winning book that I didn’t enjoy, a claim I can’t make regarding the Eisners.”
So when I threw out the idea to do a Six by 6 list highlighting some of our favorite Xeric Foundation recipients over the years, I didn’t realize what I was asking; it didn’t register just how many completely awesome creators out there have benefited from the grant. So, when I say “Six Xeric Foundation grant recipients we love,” that’s not to say that they are the only ones we love. Hell, just throw all the names in a hat and pick out six, and you’ll have a list just as legitimate as this one.
Also, it was interesting to see how my fellow bloggers interpreted my request for entries for this list; while some, like Chris Mautner, did what I was expecting and talked about what one of their favorites went on to do after receiving the grant, others reached out to some of them to get their thoughts on the discontinuation of the grants. So the content of the list is … varied.
As always feel free to share thoughts on some of your favorites in the comments section. You can find a list of all the recipients here.
As we noted a week ago, Sam Humphries and Steven Sanders self-published a science fiction comic called Our Love Is Real, which subsequently sold out in print in nine hours. A second print is on the way (that’s the cover you see to the right) and it’s still available digitally through their website or comiXology.
Humphries, a former Robot 6 guest contributor and my fellow panel member in San Diego next week, agreed to share a list of what he considers to be some of the great science fiction comics. Note that he chose not to use the words “best” or “favorite” to describe the list. “‘Favorite’ or ‘best’ implies more commitment than I’m ready to give,” he said.
So without further ado …
Six great science fiction comics, by Sam Humphries
1. AKIRA by Katsuhiro Otomo
A giant of science fiction, often imitated, never surpassed. At its heart is a tale of a bromance gone wrong, two best friends who carve their years of brotherhood and resentment across Tokyo, Japan, and the Moon. The anime adaptation is superlative, but the manga, sprawled across six thick volumes of meticulously drawn, hi-octane pages, is a true monumental achievement. I’ll be gunning for this No. 1 spot ’til I die. G.O.A.T.
Cartoonists rarely produce great work right out of the starting gate. It usually it takes lots of time and lots of effort for an artist to hone their style and storytelling abilities. Debut comics — even those made by the greats — rarely offer any indication of what type of treasures lie ahead. Even Chris Ware had to make Floyd Farland before he could produce Jimmy Corrigan.
Still, sometimes a cartoonist seems to spring out of the sea foam fully formed, producing a work that not only draws attention and great buzz, but also indicates exactly where they’re headed — what direction they plan to take as an artist and what you as a reader can expect from them.
Here then, are six debut comics that made people go “Who the heck is this guy? And why haven’t I heard of him before?” I’m sure I missed someone. I always do. Be a dear and let me know who I forgot in the comments section, won’t you?
Less discussed is their vast array manga publications and the aesthetic qualities that may or may not lie therein. Having offered a memorial of sorts to the Mome anthology last week, it seemed only fitting to do something similar for the house that Sailor Moon built today.
But first an apology/explanation of sorts. The honest truth is I came a bit late to the manga revolution and didn’t immerse myself much in Tokyopop’s oeuvre, not because of a dislike towards shojo or manga in general as much as a general feeling that most of their offerings were heavily contrived and derivative, whether aimed at a male audience or a female one.
Also, my budget being what it is, there were plenty of titles I missed that I probably would have included on this list had I had the resources to track them down, like Aria and Happy Mania. Consider this more of a starting point for an ongoing conversation then, and feel free in the comments section me know what an idiot I am and what books I missed.
So taking all that into consideration, here are the six titles that I feel justified Tokyopop’s existence:
One of the more notable news stories of the week was the announcement by Mome editor (and Fantagraphics co-publisher) Eric Reynolds that the quarterly anthology would come to an end with the release of the 22nd volume later this year.
The series has had a rather remarkable and distinguished run since its inception in 2005. In addition to featuring work by such notable cartoonists like Jim Woodring and Gilbert Hernandez, it’s served as a publishing venue to highlight the work of up and coming artists like Laura Park, Tom Kaczynski and Sara Edward-Corbett, as well as introduce American readers to work by notable European creators like Emile Bravo and Sergio Ponchione.
As a memorial of sorts for the anthology’s oncoming demise, I thought I’d attempt to put together a quick list of my own favorite stories from Mome. This was a tough list to put together actually, and there are a number of names I feel a bit guilty for leaving off, but I’m sure you all can duly chastise me for my omissions in the comments section.
MTV Geek recently ran a list of their 7 Best Superheroes of the Seven Seas and it got me thinking, as these things are designed to do. I love ocean-adventure comics and appreciate the topic, but on a list of superheroes, I think we can do better than One Piece and Last Airbender. Those are great characters; they’re just not superheroes. Superhero comics are full of fantastic, undersea heroes, so this is my list. To open up spots for some lesser-known (if not exactly obscure) characters, I decided to leave off the obvious Sub-Mariner and Aquaman. We can agree that they deserve to be here; I’m just not confident that I have anything new to say about them.
I worried at first about picking seven characters for a Six by 6 column, but since the precedent has been set…here they are in reverse order:
The Inhumans are a weird, mixed bag of characters. Medusa and Lockjaw are awesome, but Gorgon and Karnak? Not so much. Others – like Black Bolt and Crystal – are entirely dependent on who’s writing them. Triton’s one of the great ones though. An outsider amongst outsiders, Triton wears his strangeness right out there where it counts: on his skin. There’s something awesomely underdoggy about characters who can’t blend in with “normal” people and Triton gets props for not only being a fish-man, but looking like one too.
It’s the end of an era. B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth: Gods #3 hits stores today, the final issue of the long-running Hellboy spinoff’s latest miniseries — and with it, the tenure of Guy Davis as the series’ regular artist draws to a close. Davis will be returning for the occasional project in Mike Mignola’s unique horror-adventure universe, and everyone involved gives his replacement, near-overnight success story Tyler Crook, their vote of confidence; given Mignola and company’s track record in selecting artists, from Davis to Duncan Fegredo to Richard Corben, I’m inclined to take them at their word. Even so, as I wrote at length the other day, Davis’ work on B.P.R.D with Mignola, lead writer John Arcudi, and colorist Dave Stewart (not to mention letterer Clem Robins and editor Scott Allie) has been one of the past decade’s absolute high-water marks for superhero (or supernatural action, if you prefer) comics. From sadness to spectacle, horror to humor, stunning creature designs to quiet character moments, there was pretty much nothing the guy couldn’t do.
In honor of Davis, Arcudi, Mignola, and Stewart’s remarkable achievement, I’ve selected a suite of my favorite moments from the Guy Davis era of B.P.R.D.. And in honor of the Ogdru Jahad, the Seven-Who-Are-One dark gods whose rise the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense is battling (perhaps in vain) to stop, I’ve expanded the list past our usual “Six by 6″ format to include seven stunning scenes. My hope is that they showcase the range, subtlety, sophistication, and power of one of the best artists working in genre comics — arguably in all of comics — today, and highlight just how well he and his collaborators worked together. Just be warned: SPOILERS AHEAD.