"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
Comic strips | The art from cartoonist Bill Watterson’s surprise return to the comics page earlier this month for a three-day stint on Pearls Before Swine will be auctioned Aug. 8 on behalf of Team Cul de Sac, the charity founded by Chris Sparks to honor Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson, who has Parkinson’s disease. The proceeds benefiting The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. A painting by Watterson of one of Thompson’s characters sold in 2012 for $13,000 as part of a benefit auction for Team Cul de Sac. [Team Cul de Sac]
Creators | The tech news site Pando has fired cartoonist Ted Rall, just a month after hiring him, along with journalist David Sirota. While Rall wouldn’t comment on the reason for his dismissal, he did say the news came “really truly out of a clear blue sky. I literally never got anything but A++ reviews,” and he added that editor Paul Carr gave him complete editorial freedom. While Valleywag writer Nitasha Tiku speculates that the two had rubbed investors the wrong way, Carr disputes that, as well as other assertions in the article. Nonetheless, both Rall and Sirota confirmed they were let go. [Valleywag]
Emily Carroll, Drew Friedman, Brandon Graham and Mimi Pond will make their Small Press Expo debuts, joining previously announced guests like Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry and James Sturm at the Sept. 13-14 event in Bethesda, Maryland.
“Having Brandon, Emily, Drew and Mimi for the first time at SPX is a great thrill for both the SPX Executive Committee and the SPX community,” SPX Executive Director Warren Bernard told The Washington Post. “Their diverse styles and the mediums they work in really reflect the wide view that the SPX community has of the comics world. We are totally stoked about them coming to this year’s show.”
As we noted just last week, it’s been a particularly good year professionally for Carroll, who won both the Cartoonist Studio Prize and a Doug Wright Award. The first print collection of her fairy-tale horror comics, Through the Woods, will be released next month by McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster.
Small Press Expo has announced that Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry and James Sturm will be among the special guests Sept. 13-14 for the 20th anniversary event, which will focus on alt-weekly newspaper comics.
“This spotlight on the cartoonists of the alt-weekly world for our 20th anniversary show is long overdue,” SPX Executive Director Warren Bernard told The Washington Post. “Starting with Jules Feiffer almost 60 years ago, the unfortunately now-declining alt-weekly has a rich heritage whose influence extends into today’s graphic novel and comics scene.”
An Academy Award and Pulitzer Prize Winner, Feiffer is considered the godfather as alt-weekly comics, as his strip Feiffer ran in The Village Voice for more than 40 years. Barry, whose new book Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor, arrives in October from Drawn and Quarterly, is well known for her long-running comic strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek, which began in the Chicago Reader in 1979. Co-founder of the Center for Cartoon Studies, Sturm also co-founded The Onion and Seattle’s legendary alt-weekly The Stranger.
Other announced guests include Tom Tomorrow, French, Box Brown and Michael DeForge.
Conventions | Registration begins Friday for the Small Press Expo 2014 Exhibitor Table Lottery, a new system designed to both bring the old process into the 21st century and address rapidly increasing demand. Online registration will continue through Feb. 14, with lottery winners announced on Feb. 21. There’s a good deal of information to absorb, but convention organizers have created a lottery FAQ. [SPX]
Publishing | Reports of the demise of Ape Entertainment turns out to have been premature. The company, which had one of the bestselling digital comics a few years ago with Pocket God, has been quiet of late and recently canceled a number of outstanding orders. However, COO Brett Erwin emerged Tuesday to say the publisher is simply going through a period of reorganization after the departure of CEO David Hedgecock, who now works for IDW. Ape will release a new Fruit Ninja comic at the end of the month. [The Beat]
Giant robots and wisecracking cats. They’re such great cartoon tropes that you wonder why someone hasn’t tried to mesh them together before now. But mesh they do in Brian Ralph’s Reggie-12, an episodic comic strip about an constantly plucky, ever-optimistic Astro Boy-like robot who constantly is saving the city he lives in from danger (usually in the form of other, bigger robots), only to face withering indifference from everyone back home, especially the afore-mentioned cat.
Originally serialized in the pages of Giant Robot magazine and other assorted comics anthologies, the Reggie-12 strips have now been collected in a handsome, oversize, hardbound book from Drawn and Quarterly. Ralph was at the Small Press Expo this year, signing copies of his new book and generally helping man the D& Q booth. I pulled him away for a bit and, once we found a place to sit down, peppered him with questions about Reggie-12.
Chris Mautner: When was the first appearance of Reggie-12? Do you remember when you started these strips?
Brian Ralph: You know, I don’t. I had done comics in Giant Robot earlier before Reggie-12. There was this thing I did called The Legend of Giant Robot. It wasn’t funny. It was trying to be an ongoing serialized comic. I just didn’t have the storytelling chops yet. I ended it and wanted to start something new. That’s when Reggie-12 started and it was such a better fit for the magazine. It’s hard to do a daily strip in a magazine that comes out every month. I got so much more story packed into a smaller space. I don’t know the exact year [it began] though. Ten years ago?
As promised, here are some thoughts on this year’s SPX, along with some sorta short reviews of some of the more notable comics I picked up at the show (that I’ve read thus far.
If you paid Roger Langridge for a sketch at Baltimore Comic Con but never came by with your sketchbook to collect it, he has a message for you on his blog:
[…] I’ll start posting some of the sketches I did, which should keep us busy for a while. First, though, a plea to whoever it was at Baltimore who asked me to draw “my favourite childhood cartoon character”. According to my list, you paid me money for this one and were going to bring your sketchbook along later for me to draw your picture – but you never came back! I would like to either refund your money or send you this picture which fits your brief – it’s Frankie Stein, a big favourite with me when I was a lad, created by the great Ken Reid but drawn (very nicely!) by Robert Nixon by the time I discovered him in the pages of Shiver and Shake.
Hopefully the lucky person will step forward and collect his or her original sketch, but in the meantime, the rest of us can enjoy it as well. Langridge was in town for both Baltimore Comic Con and Small Press Expo, so watch for his sketches and impressions of both cons over the next few days.
Awards | Gilbert Hernandez is the recipient of the 2013 PEN Center USA award for outstanding body of work in graphic literature. Drawn and Quarterly announced the honor along with news that it will publish Hernandez’s next graphic novel, Bumperhead. [The Comics Reporter]
Conventions | “SPX is all about the hugs,” says Heidi MacDonald, who relegates her business piece on the Small Press Expo to Publishers Weekly and turns to her blog to discuss not only her impressions but what folks were saying on social media. [The Beat]
I’ll be posting some thoughts on the Small Press Expo, along with a short rundown of the more notable books I received, later this week. For now, though, here’s a varied look at this year’s convention from various folks’ Twitter feeds and Instagram accounts that I culled together using Storify. Enjoy!
Awards | All the presenters for last weekend’s Ignatz Awards ceremony were women, and that was no accident: This year’s host, New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly, explains, “More and more of us are now in the business, unlike previous years, and I wanted to celebrate that fact by bringing attention to it.” [Comic Riffs]
Creators | Tom Spurgeon has an in-depth interview with experimental cartoonist Warren Craghead. [The Comics Reporter]
Creators | Stan Lee, in town for Wizard World Ohio Comic Con, chats with reporter Michael Grossberg about superheroes as modern fairy tales. [The Columbus Dispatch]
One of the biggest indie comics events of the year, Small Press Expo (aka SPX), will take place Saturday and Sunday at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in North Bethesda, Maryland.
It’s a must-attend show for me, and this year will be no different. Well, it will be a little different, as my 11-year-old daughter will be coming along for what will be her first-ever comics convention. She will have copies of her own comic, Indefinable, for sale, so if you see us wandering the aisles, say hello.
Traversing the aisles of SPX with a pre-teen might prove to be a bit of a challenge, but I’m going to try to cram as much age-appropriate comics fun in the weekend as possible. Here’s some things I’m looking forward to/hoping to buy.
Five comics I’m planning on buying:
1. Wild Man: Island of Memory by T. Edward Bak. I’m a big fan of Bak’s Service Industry and really enjoyed the story he was serializing in Mome, about explorer and scientist Georg Steller. Wild Man: Island of Memory collects and reworks that material, the first part of what will be a projected four-volume series. Based on what I’ve read so far, I feel expect that this will be one of the more talked-about books at SPX this year.
2. Frontier #2 by Hellen Jo. Jo has been relatively quiet comics-wise since she released Jim and Jan a few years back. Now, via Ryan Sands’ relatively new publishing venture, Youth in Decline, she’s got what’s sure to be a swell mini collecting various paintings, pencils and other artwork.
3. Monster. It just wouldn’t be SPX if Hidden Fortress Press didn’t have a new volume of this usually reliable anthology. This year looks to be especially good, with 200 pages of comics by such noteworthy names as Marc Bell, Mat Brinkman, Jordan Crane, Michael DeForge, Edie Fake and Leif Goldberg. That’s a pretty killer list of talent – when was the last time we saw a new Brinkman comic, anyway?
4. Gold Pollen and Other Stories by Seiichi Hayashi. It’s nice to see more and more classic manga from people that aren’t Osamu Tezuka coming to Western shores. This is a collection of short stories from the author of Red Colored Elegy, a book I was a bit flummoxed by initially but that has slowly won me over more in ensuing years. The Picturebox site still labels it as “coming soon,” but it’s listed as a debut book on the SPX site. Basically, if it’s there, I’m buying a copy.
5. Love Stories by Mat Tait. New Zealand will be duly represented at the show by Tait, who will have this collection of stories available for sale. I’ve heard good things about Tait’s work and am excited to delve into it.
Once there was a blogger who had a dead-end day job at a coffee shop, using it to fund a hopeful career as a journalist. Then came along a ghost who possessed her roommate, transforming him into a paranormal investigator.
No, this isn’t auto-biographical (I wish!) but instead it’s the premise of the indie-comic series Tales of the Night Watchman. Created by writer David Kelly and artist Lara Antal, the series debuted earlier this year online and at various Northeast comic conventions. The blogger in this case is named Nora, and her roommate is Charlie, and together they are baristas by day and heroes by night once they come into possession (literally!) of this spectral detective called the Night Watchman.
The first issue unveiled this startling tale with the introduction of the Night Watchman as well as the appearance of his arch-nemesis Merrick. At the Small Press Expo this weekend in Bethesda, Maryland, Kelly and Antal will debut the series’ second issue as well as a spinoff one-shot with artist Molly Ostertag subtitled The Night Collector.
The creators have provided ROBOT 6 with a sample of the first two issues of the main series as well as The Night Collector.
The Small Press Expo has announced the nominees for the 2013 Ignatz Awards, the festival prize named in honor of the brick-wielding mouse in George Herriman’s Krazy Kat comic strip.
Nominees are selected by a panel of five cartoonists — this year it was Lisa Hanawalt, Dustin Harbin, Damien Jay, Sakura Maku and Jason Shiga — and then voted on by SPX attendees. The winners will be announced Sept. 14 during a ceremony at the Bethesda, Maryland, convention. The nominees are:
Following a failure of the online-registration system last week that left many would-be exhibitors out in the cold, the Small Press Expo announced it’s expanding the number of tables available for the Sept. 14-15 convention.
In a statement posted last night on the SPX Tumblr, organizers said they’ve reserved the full ballroom at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, allowing for an increase in the number of tables from 210 to about 280. While that won’t accommodate all of those shut out March 17, they believe it should take care of most of them.
Exhibitors who attempted to register for tables should be contacted later this week about their status; there will also be a waiting list. Those who are still unable to secure tables are invited to attend SPX, where two free two-day passes and a tote bag will be waiting for them at the registration desk.
“So, to be clear, this will be an experiment — and an acknowledgement that we let our community down last weekend,” the statement reads. “This expansion may not be a permanent move for SPX, but we’ll do our utmost to make sure that this year’s show is the best — and best attended — yet. As to whether the expansion is permanent will be dependent upon how well you exhibitors do in terms of sales and the resultant feedback we get about this expansion after the show.”
Conventions | Small Press Expo organizers apologized to exhibitors for the problems they experienced trying to register for the show. Despite several server upgrades ahead of time, the site went down when the “tsunami” of applications hit on Sunday morning. They then opened up PayPal to take the table orders, but they were unable to shut it down when all the tables were sold. They are sorting it out now, and if the tables were oversold, refunds will be issued. Roger Langridge depicted his registration experience on his blog. [SPX Tumblr]
Publishing | After 13 years of publishing and promoting yuri manga, Erica Friedman is stepping down as Yuricon events chair and giving up on publishing: “I can’t afford print, you don’t want digital, the JP companies won’t talk to me and all the many differences between JP publishers and US fans are so huge and insurmountable. I don’t have the energy or clout or money to bridge the gap.” [Okazu]