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Sean O’Reilly of Arcana on Borders and other matters

I was exchanging e-mails with Sean O’Reilly, the founder and CEO of Arcana Studio, just before Borders filed for bankruptcy, so when the other shoe dropped, I asked him to talk a bit about how it affects his business. Arcana is a small publisher, and I assumed the bankruptcy would have a big effect on them. What interests me about his response is the importance of the middleman, Diamond Book Distributors, in this case.

As always, I also wanted to talk about the different ways the company gets its books out to readers, and the relative importance of the different channels. Having spent the weekend at C2E2 talking about these different factors, I was interested to hear how they directly affect a single publisher.

Brigid: How much of your revenue comes from each channel—comics shops, bookstores, online sales, digital?

Sean: While digital is an ever-growing market to keep an eye on, that part of the industry is still in its growth phase. The majority of Arcana’s current sales come from bookstores and online – still primarily through Diamond Comics and Diamond Books, Amazon, eBay and of course you can find our product in local comic shops as well. That said, we’ve made a significant turn away from the ‘floppy’ comic market and are concentrating on the graphic novel market. Digital is the next step and we’re working with Comixology, Wowio, and others.

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Kickstart My Art | Ron Roach’s Armageddonquest



I vaguely remember reading about Armageddonquest back in the 1990s when it was published by Sirius Comics. The 900-page graphic novel by creator Ron Roach chronicles the life of the Anti-Christ from birth to Armageddon. “And in this story, the Anti-Christ is the good guy.” The book has received accolades from Scott McCloud and Warren Ellis, among others.

“AQ saw its first few chapters published by Starhead Comix in the 1980’s before the whole story was spotted, snatched up, and published in three 300-page volumes by Sirius Comics between 1996-1998,” Roach said in a press release. “Unfortunately, this was smack in the middle of the comic industry’s implosion during the mid-to-late 90’s. Armageddonquest was largely overlooked, and has since faded into obscurity. Tragic, I know. Now I’m hoping to achieve something I’ve always wanted to do: put the whole thing into a single giant-sized volume.”

Roach has teamed up with literary agency Killing the Grizzly and is using Kickstarter to bring the graphic novel back into print. If funding is successful, the new volume will feature a cover by Thomas Scioli and Bill Crabtree of Godland fame; design by Ronnie Casson, who did Viz’s Cat-Eye Boy volumes; and printing by Malloy, who did Bone: The One Volume Edition.

“If we can raise a minimum of $8500 we can reprint the first 1/3rd of AQ in this new edition, make it a ‘Volume 1 (of 3)’ kind of thing,” Roach said. “But if we can achieve the wild goal of raising $17,000 we can fit the whole 900-page monstrosity, plus bonus material, into a single ‘One Volume Edition’ a la BONE – the way it was always meant to be read. Either way, my hat’s off to anyone who helps us achieve even a stepping stone toward putting these comix back into readers’ hands, whatever the page count.”

Roach is offering various incentives to his Kickstarter supporters, from digital copies of the book all the way up to getting yourself drawn into a story. Head over there to see additional art and get more details on the project.

Small Press Expo announces 2010 programming

Small Press Expo

The Small Press Expo, or SPX, has announced programming for their show on Saturday, Sept. 11-12 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Bethesda, Md.

You can find the complete schedule after the jump, but I wanted to point out two panels that feature our own Chris Mautner:

Spotlight: James Sturm
1:30 | White Flint Amphitheater
James Sturm is the author of several comics and graphic novels including The Golem’s Mighty Swing, Unstable Molecules, James Sturm’s America, and Market Day. He is also the founder of the Center for Cartoon Studies, a unique two-year degree granting institution dedicated to cartooning. In this spotlight presentation, Sturm will discuss his work and answer questions from moderator Chris Mautner.

Critics’ Panel: How We Judge
3:00 | Brookside Conference Room
The accessibility of online publishing alongside traditional media has enabled a diversity of critical voices who are addressing the broad spectrum of comics being published today. A diverse group of critics will discuss the disparate bases for their own critical opinions, and the extent to which they regard different kinds of work in different ways. Join moderator Bill Kartalopoulos for a discussion with Johanna Draper Carlson (Comics Worth Reading), Gary Groth (The Comics Journal), Tim Hodler (Comics Comics), Chris Mautner (Robot 6), Joe McCulloch (Jog the Blog/Comics Comics), Ken Parille (Blog Flume), and Caroline Small (The Hooded Utilitarian).

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Quote of the day | Dustin Harbin vs. small-press comic cons

Don't mess with Dharbin

Don't mess with Dharbin

“I can’t BELIEVE MoCCA’s table prices. They are drinking the same hubris Kool-Aid as SPX. Why are the charity shows always the cheekiest? I saw it and I was like *slaps head*. Although to be fair, I’ve never exhibited there, just been a crowded hot attendee. (I read some interviews with them after the super hot year, they were all like ‘hey listen, it’s summer, it gets hot.’) Not to mention how expensive NYC is in general! Just makes it easier to skip. Also today I got my acceptance letter (???) for APE, after applying 3 months ago. Due date for payment: 1 week from now. I had always heard about how well-run HeroesCon is from guests, but now I see why. Indie shows are organized like block parties. Except the kind of block parties where they charge you like $50 to come in, then charge you for beer too. ‘Dude it’s for charity!’ SPX is pretty fun, but TCAF is the best one easily–plus Toronto = my favorite city! Wait, please exclude TCAF from that mini-rant. TCAF is a dream, a dreammmm. Other shows take note! Okay back to lettering, sorry.”

Cartoonist, Casanova letterer, and “nicest guy in comics” candidate Dustin Harbin has an uncharacteristically grumpy moment on Twitter over the prices that the MoCCA Art Festival is charging exhibitors, and the administration of indie/alt-comics shows generally (except TCAF, of course). It’s hard out there for a minicomics creator.

A con grows in Brooklyn: Thoughts on Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival

The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival (photo courtesy of Sam Walker and Rickey Purdin)

The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival (photo courtesy of Sam Walker and Rickey Purdin)

* Organized by Desert Island‘s Gabe Fowler and PictureBox‘s Dan Nadel, the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival made its debut on Saturday, and I’m awfully glad I was able to make it. (I didn’t think I’d be able to, but my wife and mother-in-law gave me a reprieve from going to see New Moon for the third time. Hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!) I live on Long Island, so having an artcomix convention on my very own land mass is a cause for celebration. And provided you’re willing to brave a dreadful mile or so on the BQE and the Kosciuszko Bridge, it’s not even that much of a hassle to get there — parking in Brooklyn is a snap.

* Less easy was dealing with the weather, which was awful. Freezing rain and, eventually, snow. I figured this would do a real number on attendance levels …

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APE ’09 | The Haul

Some of my APE purchases

Some of my APE purchases

I probably spent more at the Alternative Press Expo this year than I have in previous years. It’s probably my favorite show of the ones I’ve been hitting regularly since moving to California a few years back, if only because at just about every single table in the place you have the opportunity to discover a comic you’ve never seen before. Although living in the Bay Area I have access to shops that not only carry independent stuff, but in some cases also have minicomics, it’s nice to have a venue like this where you can find such a wide range of books and talk to the creators directly.

So here’s what I came home with …

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APE ’09 | Some quick thoughts on Saturday

Brandon Graham & Marian Churchland

Brandon Graham & Marian Churchland

• After a bout of torrential rains earlier in the week, San Francisco welcomed the Alternative Press Expo with sunshine and warm weather yesterday. APE is one of three shows put on by the folks at Comic Con International. There’s San Diego every summer, of course, and San Francisco’s WonderCon, which is usually in the winter/spring (next year it’s the first weekend in April) and then in the fall comes APE. All the shows have their various charms … San Diego is, well, San Diego. WonderCon offers a similar type of programming to San Diego without the chaos of being the mammoth event that SDCC is, while APE has a more laid back, intimate feel.

• I got there shortly after the doors opened, when the crowds were still pretty light. They’d grow as the day went on, so it was kind of nice to have a little elbow room. Most of the mainstays were in their regular places, with a few noticeable exceptions — Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Buenaventura, SLG, VIZ and Drawn & Quarterly were all where they usually are, but IDW, Oni and AiT/Planet Lar, who have been there in recent years, were missing. (Larry Young told me he wouldn’t be there because he didn’t want to be setting up for a show on his birthday, which was Friday … happy belated birthday, Larry!) And while Image didn’t have a table, they were represented by some of their creators, such as Richard Starkings, who had his own booth, and Brandon Graham and Marian Churchland, who were at the Neon Monster booth.

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APE ’09 | A few more items to add to your shopping list …

The Alternative Press Expo, or APE, kicks off at 11 a.m. tomorrow at The Concourse in San Francisco. Here are a few more updates that I almost missed thanks to an overzealous spam filter … my apologies for not getting these up earlier.

First up is Lee Post, an illustrator who is traveling down here to the Bay Area all the way from Anchorage, Alaska — the land of “Sarah Palin, meth shacks, and aerial elk-massacres,” he said in his email.

“My friend Pat Race and I will be coming down from Alaska to take part this year at booth #549,” Post writes. “I’ve been down the last four years, hanging out with Jon Adams of Truth Serum fame, but I’ve finally made the jump to booth owner this year.”

Post will be selling The Best of Your Square Life as well as a new mini-comic he did for 24 Hour Comics Day called In Alaska Everyone Has a Beard. He’ll also have this APE-themed print:


Post says that Race is an illustrator from Juneau and is part of the collective Alaska Robotics, who do webcomics, T-shirts, and video shorts, one of which was recently featured on BoingBoing.




Next up is Russ Kazmierczak, Jr. of K.O. Comix, who you can find at table 510. They’ll have the self-published Dog Town by Brent Otey, a post-apocalyptic dogs vs. cats western sci-fi epic, and Karaoke Comics #1 by Kazmierczak, an anthology featuring fictional and biographical tales inspired by karaoke — both hot off the press! Their usual assortment of superhero comics and fanzines will be available, too. Russ has more info on other stuff he’ll have on hand at his blog.


And finally, I mentioned the other day that Jamaica Dyer is a special guest and will be hanging out at the SLG table, but she sent over a few more details on what she’ll be up to …

I saw your post about APE, and wanted to say hi! I’ve been going to APE for about 7 years (a wee teenager when I started) sharing tables with friends to sell my mini-comics. This year is super exciting because my first graphic novel is coming out! I’ll be at the Slave Labor booth signing copies of the book fresh-off-the-press and have some home-made wallets and art prints, I’m on a few panels, and I’m a special guest. Very exciting!

I think her email probably encapsulates everything I love about APE — folks making comics with their friends who go on to be one of the show’s special guests.

Here’s the trailer for her new book, Weird Fishes, which you can buy at the show tomorrow:

MoCCA Art Festival moves to April; Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest announced

MoCCA 2009

MoCCA 2009

The Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art has announced that its annual MoCCA Art Festival has been moved from its usual summer-months perch in June to the weekend of April 10-11 for 2010. Founded in 2002, the Manhattan-based MoCCA (which, like Frankenstein’s monster, has taken on the name of its creator in the popular parlance) quickly became one of the highlights of the alternative/indie/small press convention circuit, drawing on New York City’s large number of local comics creators and thriving population of arts-interested consumers to cement its place alongside such venerable shows as SPX and APE.

Last summer’s MoCCA spurred a host of complaints about the event’s disorganization and the oppressive heat in its unairconditioned new venue, the 69th Regiment Armory at 68 Lexington Ave. A move to the comparatively temperate month of April, coupled with a year of Armory experience under the MoCCA organization’s collective belt, could go a long way toward remedying those problems. (The cost of a table will likely remain a sore spot, though.) Moreover, given its location in the media capital of the world and its appeal for the graphic-novel wings of major New York publishers (heck, even DC’s Vertigo imprint exhibits at the show), moving MoCCA out of the increasingly crowded and competitive summer-fall convention season makes may make it easier for the show to maintain an identity as a major-minor player in the con circuit vis a vis those exhibitors and audiences (although the spring is hardly less crowded at this point).

Meanwhile, the NYC small press scene’s bustling Brooklyn-based subset now has a show to call its own: The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest. Overseen by two of the Borough of Kings’ altcomix anchors, retailer Desert Island and publisher PictureBox Inc., the con will take place on December 5th at Our Lady of Consolation Church (184 Metropolitan Ave.) in the decade-defining hipster enclave of Williamsburg. Charles Burns, Kim Deitch, Ben Katchor, Michael Kupperman, Gary Panter, Dash Shaw, Jillian Tamaki, Matthew Thurber, and Lauren Weinstein are listed as featured guests, and admission is free. With that December date, we’re guessing a lack of air conditioning won’t be an issue…

(Hat tips: Tom Spurgeon and Heidi MacDonald)

APE is coming

APE Aftermath

APE Aftermath

The Alternative Press Expo, or APE, will take place the weekend of Oct. 17-18 at The Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco. Next week I plan to put together a preview post or two, so if you’re exhibiting, please feel free to send me information on your plans — what you’ll be selling, where you’ll be … that sort of stuff.

Also, if you’re going to APE and looking for something to do before the show starts or after hours on Saturday, Isotope Comics on Fell Street has events planned both Friday and Saturday night. APE special guest Dean Haspiel will sign copies of the ACT-I-VATE Primer at the store on Friday, while Saturday brings the annual APE Aftermath party and the presentation of the Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics. Add’em to your calendar!

ComicsLive | A guide to upcoming comic-related events

coheedevent0809Welcome once again to ComicsLive, a guide to upcoming signings, conventions and other comic-related events. Information on submitting your event can be found at the bottom of this post.


Cleveland | Claudio Sanchez of the band Coheed and Cambria and writer of Amory Wars and the upcoming Kill Audio will sign at Carol & John’s Comic Book Shop from 2 to 3 p.m.

Los Angeles | Nick Simmons will sign copies of Incarnate #1 at Golden Apple Comics from 1 to 3 p.m.

Ojai, Calif. | Opening reception for the Sergio Aragones art exhibit at the Ojai Valley Museum. This event is sold out, but the art exhibit runs through Oct. 4.

Orlando | The Mini MegaCon kicks off at 10 .m. and runs through Sunday. Guests include Darwyn Cooke, Jeff Parker, Chuck Dixon, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Dick Giordano and many more.

Pittsfield, Mass. | The Storefront Artist Project hosts Todd Dezago from noon to 2 p.m. for a class on “Story Structure and the Language of Comics,” followed by a signing at 3p.m. by Howard Cruse.

San Francisco | The San Francisco Zine Fest kicks off at 11 a.m. and runs through tomorrow at the County Fair Building.

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ComicsLive | A guide to next week’s comic-related events

3665492665_aca619bcb2_mWelcome to ComicsLive, a guide to upcoming signings, conventions and more. If you’d like to submit an event for inclusion, please email them directly to me. Please include the venue, city and state, start time, event details and any related websites where we can send folks for more information. Virtual events, like online creator chats, are also welcome.

Friday, July 3

Bloomington, Minn | CONvergence — “a celebration of the funny side of science fiction and fantasy” — continues through Sunday and will have Dwayne McDuffie and the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew as its special guests, among others. More details can be found here.

Brooklyn, NY | The comic shop Rocketship will host a release party for local artist Adam Suerte’s latest comic, starting at 8 p.m. Details here.

White River Junction, Vermont | First Friday Book Release party, with four new books debuting by Colleen Frakes, Denis St. John, Morgan Pielli and Jen Vaughn at Revolution. Details here.

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This weekend, it’s SPACE in Ohio



This coming weekend the Small Press & Alternative Comics Expo, or SPACE, blasts off at the Aladdin Shrine Complex in Columbus, Ohio. Admission is $5 a day or $8 for both Saturday and Sunday.

About 150 indie creators will be on hand to sell their comics and original art, including Eisner nominee Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole), Ryan Claytor (And Then One Day), Jay Hosler (Optical Allusions) and Matt Feazell (Cynicalman). On Saturday, Carol Tyler (Late Bloomer, Weirdo) will display some of her work from her upcoming book You’ll Never Know Book One: A Good and Decent Man. The Ohio State University Cartoon Library and Museum will host a reception on Friday night to kick off the weekend and will feature original artwork from Bill Watterson, Jeff Smith and P. Craig Russell.

For more information on panels and other events related to th show, check out the official SPACE blog.

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