Publishing | Sales of IDW Publishing’s My Little Pony comics, in single-issue and graphic novel format but not counting digital, have topped 1 million copies. (It does really well in the iBookstore — there are multiple issues in the Top 10 every week — although it seldom registers on the other digital comics platforms.) IDW’s Ted Adams says this is because it’s such a great comic, but shrewd marketing such as offering a special Scholastic Book Fair edition with a bonus pony figure probably helped a lot. [ICv2]
Digital comics | The motion-comics platform Madefire has secured $5.2 million in funding. In July it announced agreements with four comics publishers — IDW, BOOM! Studios, Top Cow and iTV — and the first IDW comics came out in August. Madefire also has a partnership with DeviantArt. [Publishers Weekly]
People have been saying for years that TCAF is the best comics event of the year, and although this was my first TCAF, I have to say that they weren’t exaggerating.
The reason is simple: TCAF focuses on the comics, nothing else. It is unmarred by superhero-themed cars, screeching videogame sound effects, or giant banners promoting this summer’s movies. What’s more, it’s not at all corporate. The big publishers are entirely absent, because this show is about creator-owned indie comics. Everyone is doing their own thing, not working for The Man (or The Licensor, as the case may be). It’s a show for enthusiasts.
That’s not to say there aren’t big names. In fact, the guest list reads like a Who’s Who of independent comics creators. A quick sample: Art Spiegelman, Seth, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, Taiyo Matsumoto, Ruto Modan, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Hope Larson, Faith Erin Hicks, and Michel Rabagliati, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing for a panel and who won the Doug Wright Award on Saturday evening for his Song of Roland.
Publishing | Calvin Reid looks at Archie Comics’ growing book-market presence, which has exploded since the publisher signed Random House as its distributor in 2010. [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | Matt Kindt, author of Red-Handed, writes about how becoming a comics creator has made it impossible for him to enjoy reading comics for their own sake. [The Huffington Post]
Awards | Animal Land, by Zatch Bell creator Makoto Raiku, took the Best Children’s Manga honors in Kodansha’s 37th annual manga awards. The sports manga Gurazeni won the overall award for best manga. [Anime News Network]
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival celebrates its 10th birthday this weekend with a truly stellar lineup of guests and an amazing array of events. The list of creators who will be there is impressive in both its quality and its breadth: Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, David B., Taiyo Matsumoto, Rutu Modan, Frederik Peeters, Paul Pope, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Hope Larson, Faith Erin Hicks, Derf Backderf, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, a roll call that goes from living legends to plucky creators making their own comics zines by hand.
Publishing | In advance of Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio and Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada discuss who’s reading their comics, and the creative challenges of writing about characters who have been around for generations. Asked if he was the custodian of contemporary myths, DiDio answered, “You know, I feel like a renter, to be honest. I’m in charge at this moment, and the goal is to keep these myths healthy enough so that, eventually, you can pass them down to the next person who rents them.” [Chicago Tribune]
Conventions | Christopher Butcher, the organizer of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, talks about how the show has grown and what to expect this year, including an interesting slate of international creators, from David B. to Taiyo Matsumoto. [The Comics Reporter]
Retailing | Although the 16th volume of The Walking Dead wasn’t released until June 19, 11 days’ worth of sales was enough to propel the latest collection of the horror series by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard to the top of BookScan’s chart of graphic novels sold in bookstores June. Four volumes of the popular series, including the first one, appear in the Top 20. [ICv2.com]
Publishing | Hermes Press, which has been publishing the vintage Buck Rogers collections, has announced a new Buck Rogers project: An original comic series written and drawn by Howard Chaykin, one that Publisher Dan Herman promises will be strongly reminiscent of the original. [ICv2]
Publishing| The animation studio Klasky Csupo, which gave us The Wild Thornberrys and Rugrats, is branching out in a number of different directions, including print and digital comics. Its first comic is Ollie Mongo, which stars a blue zombie skateboarder. [USA Today]
Legal | The Swedish Supreme Court has overturned the 2010 conviction of manga translator Simon Lundström on charges of possessing 39 drawings that violated the country’s child-pornography laws. The court found that while the images are pornographic and do depict minors, they are obviously drawings and cannot be mistake for real children. “The criminalization of possession of the drawings would otherwise exceed what is necessary with regard to the purpose which has led to the restriction on freedom of expression and freedom of information,” the court ruled. [The Local]
Though the full-color print version of Tony Cliff’s popular webcomic, Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant is still a ways off, Cliff has announced an all-new, black-and-white Delilah Dirk comic for the Toronto Comics and Arts Festival in May. Delilah Dirk and the Seeds of Good Fortune will be 36 pages and will feature a slightly different art style to take advantage of the detail allowed by the black-and-white format. In it, “Delilah seeks to extract a signature from a tyrannical property owner while coping with an obnoxious merchant and a handful of Turkey’s sourest apples.”
For those anxiously waiting for The Turkish Lieutenant, Cliff promises that it’s coming, but is “still a little further off. I know you are probably tired of hearing that. If it takes the sting out, know that I am much more frustrated to know that people are so eager to have this book and yet am unable to provide a satisfactory answer to the question. However, I am hoping to have some good, solid information to give you very shortly.” In the meantime, The Seeds of Good Fortune seems like a gorgeous way to wait. Cliff will make it available online and at other conventions shortly after TCAF.
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival, one of the high points of the indy comics year, has announced the first round of guests for this year. It doesn’t seem to be up on the TCAF site just yet, but Tom Spurgeon has the rundown at The Comics Reporter, and it’s an impressive list: Jeff Smith, Alison Bechdel, Guy Delisle, and Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon are the headliners. Smith will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of Bone, while Bechdel’s Are You My Mother? and Delisle’s Jerusalem are both due out shortly before the show.
But wait! There’s more! Kate Beaton, German creator Arne Bellstorf, Scottish creator Tom Gauld (whose Goliath is due out soon from Drawn and Quarterly) Gabriella Giandelli, Jennifer and Matt Holm (Babymouse), Jason, Kazu Kibuishi (creator of Amulet and editor of the Flight anthologies), Bryan Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim), Gary Panter, Michel Rabagliati, Andy Runton (Owly), Olivier Schrauwen, and Adam Warren (Empowered) will also be gracing the halls of the Toronto Reference Library this May. That’s an amazingly eclectic and talented group. If you have been thinking “Some day I’ll make it to TCAF,” this should probably be the year.
Another Toronto Comic Arts Festival has come and gone, leaving in its wake a lot of broke-but-smiling comics fans, a couple of artists with a new cause celebre, and some interesting reading.
As we reported on Friday, Canadian customs seized all five copies of the Black Eye comics anthology that creator Tom Neely was trying to bring to TCAF. The news was originally reported by Ryan Standfest, editor and publisher of Rotland Press + Comic Works, at The Comics Journal, and Ryan adds in comments that Blaise Larmee’s Young Lions was also seized from Sparkplug publisher Dylan Williams. (For those who are curious about what’s too hot for Canada, here is a preview.) Standfest posted his reaction to the Black Eye confiscation at the Rotland blog; I’m sure there will be more to say about this soon.
The winners of the Doug Wright Awards were announced on Saturday night: Pascal Girard’s Bigfoot won the award for Best Book, Alex Fellows won the Best Emerging Talent award for Spain and Morocco, and the Pigskin Peters Award, given to non-traditional and avant-garde comics, went to Michael DeForge’s Spotting Deer.
Meanwhile, the folks at the Canadian comcs news blog Sequential have posted a special TCAF edition of Sequential Pulp, which you can download as a PDF or read via Issu, with lots of good stuff, including interviews with Jillian Tamaki and Mark Laliberte, books reviews by Tom Spurgeon, Salgood Sam, and others, and pages and pages of original comics. It’s all free, so go, browse.
This weekend marks Toronto Comics Art Festival 2011 (TCAF), where among the many great storytellers appearing, Stuart Immonen celebrates his “return to his eclectic collection of work” with the premiere of Centifolia II (and the return of the out-of-print Centifolia I). To mark the debut/return of Centifolia, I contacted Immonen for this hellaciously enjoyable interview. This exchange was a blast for me, particularly given that Immonen indulged numerous follow-up questions in our email exchanges. A great many storytellers are immensely funny people, but I genuinely think Immonen possesses a rare wit and wealth of knowledge that reveals itself not only in this interview, but more importantly, it informs his work. I wish I was attending TCAF, for numerous reasons, but the fact that “there will even be a limited (100) slipcase edition [available at TCAF] that includes a special S&N print and custom slipcase design” is the ultimate “damn I wish I was going” talking point for me. Need more convincing how great these books are? AdHouse’s Chris Pitzer (the publisher of Immonen’s Centifolia) offers consumers nine-page previews of Volume I and Volume II for everyone’s enjoyment.
Tim O’Shea: When one hears that the book is culled from your sketchbooks, it might seem a bit misleading. Not every sketchbook sports pages with fully designed logos (“9 Nuts and Why I Hate Them” for example).
Stuart Immonen: Well, I think that’s probably due to the term “sketchbook” being more often used to describe a collection of finished pinup drawings and not so much actual sketching– i.e. ideas in development, visual note-taking, idle doodling and so on. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the former– I love being able to enjoy and study the completed work of my favourite artists, but I’m also interested in process; the journey of how an artist gets to the final piece, and that’s what Centifolia tries to be.
Some of my most well-thumbed artist’s books fall into this category: Tardi’s Chiures De Gomme, Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Datebooks, Ashley Wood’s Sencilla Fanta… even Dupuy and Berberian’s Maybe Later qualifies.So… I’m interested in pulling back the curtain and showing readers a little of how I work.
Here’s yet another reason to go to Toronto in May: Manga creator Natsume Ono will be a special guest at this year’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival.
Ono creates beautiful, moody manga for adults, as far as you can get from the boobs-and-battles stories that dominate the medium in this country; you can read several chapters of her tale of a skilled but shy swordsman, House of Five Leaves, and the first chapter of the modern drama not simple at Viz’s SigIKKI website. Viz has also published Ono’s Ristorante Paradiso, the story of a woman who goes to work at her mother’s restaurant, seeking revenge for being abandoned as a child, and instead falls in love with the staff of charming, bespectacled men, and the sequel, Gente.
Ono, who is making her first appearance in North America, joins a stellar lineup that includes Chris Ware, Jillian Tamaki, Mawil, and Adrian Tomine, and organizer Christopher Butcher thinks she will be a good fit, noting, “fantastic work fits squarely into the ‘art comix’ idiom that’s at the core of the Festival.”
Here’s something to get you through the dark days of winter: The prospect of the Toronto Comics Arts Festival, which takes place on May 7 and 8 this year. I’m hoping to go, as Toronto seems to have an unusually large and productive comics community. In the meantime, enjoy their new website, with lots of links and information about their guests. The site promises 170 creators will be on hand, including Jillian Tamaki, who created the awesome poster above, Chester Brown, a creator called Mawil who I will confess is new to me (but I don’t feel too bad, as his site is in German), Kean Soo, Marian Churchland, Chris Eliopoulos, Dustin Harbin, and Eric Wight (who will be debuting his new Frankie Pickle book at the show). That’s a huge amount of talent in a small space, and it should be well worth the schlep.
“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.
The folks responsible for the annual Doug Wright Awards, which recognize the efforts of Canadian cartoonists, have announced their finalists for this year’s awards. The list recognizes works by Seth, Marc Bell and a host of other Drawn and Quarterly artists, as well as some names you probably aren’t too familiar with.
The awards will be announced and handed out at this year’s Toronto Comics Arts Festival in May
Best Book :
Back + Forth by Marta Chudolinska (The Porcupine’s Quill)
George Sprott: (1894-1975) by Seth (Drawn and Quarterly)
Hot Potatoe by Marc Bell (Drawn and Quarterly)
Kaspar by Diane Obomsawin (Drawn and Quarterly)
Red: A Haida Manga by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (Douglas and McIntyre)