Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Ohio State University has announced it will establish the Dylan Williams Collection of small-press and self-published comics in honor of the late creator and publisher of Sparkplug Comics who passed away Sept. 10, 2011. The collection will be part of the university’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. From the announcement:
Beyond his leadership as a small press publisher, Dylan was a constant advocate of under-appreciated artists, and a champion of raising awareness of cartoon art history among his contemporaries. As a friend and disciple of Bill Blackbeard, whose San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection resides here at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, a collection in Dylan’s name also serves as a fitting acknowledgement of that lineage. Though Dylan’s impact on the comics world is irreplaceable, his spirit lives on through the small press publishers that have risen in Sparkplug’s likeness, the artists who have thrived from his influence, and this collection which is intended to represent and support both as he would have done.
The collection will place a special emphasis on handmade works and small-press comics published since 1970, and in-kind donations are welcome. The library’s Caitlin McGurk will be at Small Press Expo this weekend and will participate in a panel on Institution Building and Comics on Saturday afternoon.
Before he passed away last September, Sparkplug Books‘ Dylan Williams was working on three projects–the graphic novel Nurse Nurse, by Katie Skelly; a new issue of Reich by Elijah Brubaker; and The Golem of Gabirol by Olga Volozova. The publisher is using the crowdfunding site IndieGoGo to raise money to publish them.
“These books are of special import not only because they are amazing in themselves, but because they are the last projects on which Sparkplug founder Dylan Williams was working before he died of cancer in September 2011. We are honored to see these through to completion and work with such great talent,” the IndieGoGo page reads.
Sparkplug Books announced last week that they plan to release a collection of Katie Skelly’s Nurse Nurse minicomics, which she has been creating since 2003. The collection will come out in April, in time for a debut at the Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland, Ore. and the MoCCA Festival in New York.
The eight Nurse Nurse minicomics are set in a future where mankind is attempting to colonize other planets, and star the nurses sent to treat the colonies as they become poisoned by the new atmospheres. In particular, the story is about Gemma, a nurse who travels to her new assignment on Venus where a mysterious substance is having an amorous effect on the Venusians … but is it a conspiracy, or just … science?
The 180 page, black and white paperback will retail for $15.
Legal | The U.S. Justice Department and the FBI on Thursday shut down the popular file-sharing site Megaupload, seized $50 million in assets and charged its founder and six others with running an international enterprise based on Internet piracy that’s cost copyright holders at least $500 million in lost revenue. The FBI has begun extradition proceedings in New Zealand to bring company founder Kim Schmitz, aka Kim DotCom, to the United States. He and three other associates are being held without bail until Monday, when they’ll receive a new hearing. Three others remain at large. They face a maximum of 20 years in prison.
News of the shutdown was met with retaliation by the hacker collective Anonymous, which attacked the websites of the Justice Department and the Motion Picture Association of America.
As far as I can recall, it’s the only picture I ever took of him. Now, with Dylan taken from us, far before his time, and long before the many, many people who’s lives he’s touched ever thought they’d have to let him go, I’ve found myself thinking about that photo, about that moment, about how Dylan never got a copy of it, about what he might have been thinking when he brought me over to that wall, wanting me to take his picture. The other side of death is the deep scary mystery that we humans, even after all this time, don’t really know how to truly approach or comprehend, but I need to believe that such a vivid and thoughtful person as Dylan can’t just stop existing. I need to believe that this photo is some kind of message from Dylan from the other side of his life and not an irony. This photo needs to be a victory.
—Theo Ellsworth, author of Sleeper Car, on the photograph of the late Sparkplug Comic Books publisher Dylan Williams you see above. I gasped audibly the first time I saw this picture and read Ellsworth’s post about it — how it was taken at the request of Williams, who’d already battled the cancer that would eventually claim him and was well aware of the challenges he might again have to face. And as I’ve made my way through the tributes and anecdotes and encomiums popping up all around the comics internet, I’ve been moved almost as powerfully time and time again.
Through the tributes of his fellow cartoonists and publishers, a picture of Williams emerges. He was a kind person who provided many friends with empathy they felt they could never properly return. He was an ethical person who ran his publishing business in a way that centered on treating, and paying, his artists fairly. He had an eye for talent, able to spot not just good cartoonists but also the good things about not-so-good cartoonists, both of which he nurtured to make them better. He was a comics die-hard who made contributions to the form in nearly every conceivable way—retailer, distributor, cartoonist, publisher, historian, organizer. And he really, really loved Alex Toth.
Sales charts | Dollar sales of comics sold through Diamond Comic Distributors were up more than 15 percent in August, while graphic novel dollar sales rose by more than 31 percent when compared to the year-ago period. ICv2 puts the gains in perspective, noting that comic sales were down 17 percent in August 2010 and graphic novel sales were down 21 percent. August 2010 also had four ship weeks compared to August 2011’s five. DC Comics topped the August charts with Justice League #1, followed by Flashpoint #5, Fear Itself #5, Flashpoint #4 and Ultimate Comics Fallout #4. Serenity Better Days and Other Stories from Dark Horse was the no. 1 graphic novel for August. John Jackson Miller offers commentary as well as a look at the best-selling comics of this century, a list that will include Justice League #1. [ICv2, Comichron]
Comics | The Centers for Disease Control has awarded a roughly $145,000 contract to Terminus Media to create motion comics to educate young people about HIV. The comics will be offered on “internet-capable platforms” including desktop computers, laptop computers, video gaming systems, wireless phones and tablet computers. [Politico, Via]
The good folks at Portland’s Periscope Studios are holding a fundraiser for Sparkplug publisher Dylan Williams, who is dealing with a serious illness. Several of the artists who work out of Periscope, including Jonathan Case (who painted the showdown between Thor and Galactus you see above), Steve Lieber and Colleen Coover, have contributed artwork to an auction to benefit Williams.
You can find all the available pieces on Periscope’s eBay page.
Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Elisabeth Forsythe, marketing manager for online comic shop Things From Another World and frequent contributor to The Blog From Another World.
To see what Elisabeth and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, read on.
Portland retailer Jason Leivian of Floating World Comics has announced that his store will be holding a benefit sale for Dylan Williams, the ailing head of independent publisher Sparkplug Comic Books. 100% of the proceeds generated at the store on Monday, August 29 and Tuesday, August 30 will be donated to pay for the medical care of the gravely ill Williams, who has no health insurance.
In addition, Leivian is organizing a benefit art show to raise additional money for Williams’s medical expenses, with a theme of Phillip K. Dick book covers. Leivian says he plans to post the contributing artists’ pieces on a dedicated blog, sell the originals on eBay, and sell prints of the contributions online, at retailers, and at cons like SPX and APE. Full details on this will be available Monday.
And remember, if you don’t live in Portland or aren’t in the market for original art, you can simply stop by Sparkplug’s online store and buy anything you like. (I suggested a few titles to start with the other day.)
The full press release on the benefit sale at Floating World is after the jump.
Critic Rob Clough reports that Dylan Williams, the publisher of the idiosyncratic small-press outfit Sparkplug Comic Books, is dealing with a serious health crisis. And as with many problems involving people who’ve dedicated their lives to this art form, there’s a win-win solution: You can help support Dylan financially simply by buying some of Sparkplug’s awesome comic books.
Which ones, you ask? Good question! My first and foremost recommendation would be John Hankiewicz’s Asthma, one of the very best comics by anyone since the turn of the millennium — a cutting, haunting masterpiece of image-making and image-juxtaposing that’s one of the rare instances where calling it “comics as poetry” doesn’t make you feel like an idiot. There’s also Chris Cilla’s The Heavy Hand, a funny, foul-mouthed and strange science-fiction comic, or Inkweed by Chris Wright, a stunningly well-written short story collection about Muppet-like monsters in very human struggles.
Williams does important work with Sparkplug, putting out work of sparkling intelligence, with visuals that run the risk of not having a built-in audience for them. By publishing what he publishes he seeks to create that audience. That takes guts, putting your money where your mind is like that, and Dylan deserves to be rewarded for it, in sickness or in health. Right now, it’s in sickness, which makes buying his books an even better idea.
It happens every year. Amidst all the hullaballoo of the big-name releases and show-stopping events and sleeper hits there are those titles that, for whatever reason, fail to generate any reviews, discussion or sales (or in some cases all three) whatsoever. 2010 was no exception. In fact, the wealth of stellar material that was released this year made it seem like there were an extraordinary number of great comics that garnered not even a peep from the blogosphere and press.
After the jump are six books that I think got nowhere near the amount of attention they deserved. There are lots more that I could include if I had the time. And I’m sure there are books that you read that you don’t think got enough praise as well. Be sure to let me know what they are in the comments section.
• Apple is getting in on the Comic-Con pre-show hype by highlighting all their comic book applications within iTunes. In their “App Spotlight” newsletter, they wrote: “We’re dusting off our Klingon costumes — it’s time for Comic-Con. From Marvel Comics favorites to more recent releases such as Twilight: The Graphic Novel, you can now enjoy comics and graphic novels from past and present right on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.”
• The Comic-Con International site this year introduced a scheduling feature that allows you to pick and choose the panels, films, etc. you’d like to attend, and then export them to your mobile device of choice. In addition, it also shows you how many people have indicated which panels they plan to attend, which is a fun way to see how popular certain panels are.
My wife used it over the weekend; it took her about half an hour to set up, browse the extensive schedule, make her selections and subscribe to it so she gets updates directly on her iPhone calendar (the bulk of that time was going through the schedule and deciding what she wanted to attend). At the time, it looked the Glee and Joss Whedon panels were the most popular.
The Alternative Press Expo, or APE, is coming up this weekend at The Concourse in San Francisco. The show runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Special guests include Jamaica Dyer, Phoebe Gloeckner, Dean Haspiel, Batton Lash, Lark Pien, Dash Shaw and Jeff Smith. Here are a few more items of interest if you’re attending …
Fantagraphics | Fantagraphics sent over their signing schedule for the show:
11AM – 1PM: Jon Vermilyea (MOME) & Frank Santoro (MOME)
12:00–12:45 Spotlight on Dash Shaw
1PM – 3PM: Dash Shaw & T. Edward Bak (MOME)
3PM – 5PM: John Pham
5PM – 7PM: Renee French (MOME) & Andrice Arp (MOME)
11AM – 1PM: Jon Vermilyea (MOME), Frank Santoro (MOME) & Dash Shaw
1PM – 3PM: T. Edward Bak (MOME) & John Pham
3PM – 5PM: Renee French & Andrice Arp
They’ll have many new releases on hand: The Troublemakers by Gilbert Hernandez, Conceptual Realism: In the Service of the Hypothetical by Robert Williams, Pim & Francie by Al Columbia, Sublife #2 by John Pham, The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D. by Dash Shaw, MOME Vol. 16 by various, The Great Anti-War Cartoons by Craig Yoe, and Ganges #3 by Kevin Huizenga.
“As an added bonus, Dash Shaw is an official APE guest this year and will be signing copies of his new book, The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D.,” writes Eric Reynolds. “For anyone who buys the book at one of his Fanta signings during APE, Dash will do an original PAINTING on the front cover! You will not want to miss out.”
Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading. Pull up a chair and sit down, won’t you? Our guest this week is Bill Kartalopoulos, who teaches classes about comics and illustration at Parsons, is a contributing editor for Print Magazine, and a comics reviewer for Publishers Weekly. But he’s probably best known as the Programming Coordinator for the SPX convention in Bethesda, MD.
Bill and everyone else has quite a number of books by their bedside table this week, so we’ll get right to it. Be a dear and click on the link below, won’t you?
Welcome once again to What Are You Reading. Our guest this week is the esteemed critic and blogger Robert Clough. Rob is probably best known for his contributions to the seemingly now inert Sequart.com, though you can find most of his recent reviews on his blog, High-Low.
To see what Rob and the rest of us are reading, just click on the link below …