INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
Publishing | Dark Horse President Mike Richardson discusses how he became one of the first publishers of manga in the United States, explains how the company selects its titles, and suggests some manga for first-time readers. [Previews]
Digital comics | Retailer Ron Catapano points to the comiXology server crash triggered by the response to the free Marvel comics promotion as “the problem with digital content that fans keep complaining about”: “I can’t read the books I paid for because I can’t save them on my own computer and I’m limited in what I can save to my tablet by the small storage on tablets. Instead, the books I pay for are kept by comiXology and as long as I have a high speed internet connection available… I can log on and read my books on their web site or I can download a few to my tablet. BUT NOT TODAY … because someone decided it was a good idea to put 700 Marvel issue #1’s up for free at the same time.” [ICv2.com]
Publishing | Viz Media announced that Ken Sasaki, formerly the senior vice president and general manager of the manga and anime publisher, will take over from Hidemi Fukuhara as president and CEO. Fukuhara is being promoted to vice chairman, which apparently involves little of the day-to-day management of the company. [Crunchyroll]
Publishing | Johanna Draper Carlson counts the pages in some recent DC and Marvel comics and finds lots of house ads — and very few paying ones. This raises the chicken-and-egg question of whether the comics publishers are losing interest in selling ads or the advertisers are losing interest in buying them. [Comics Worth Reading]
Digital | Nerdist Industries’ CEO Peter Levin has joined comiXology’s advisory board. [comiXology]
Writer Douglas Rushkoff repurposes the familiar acronym for the title of this original graphic novel, only here it stands for Adolescent Demo Division rather than Attention Deficit Disorder (although the association with the original definition is certainly attentional, and somewhat apropos).
The kids of this ADD are professional beta testers and something of a focus group as intentional society. They were raised from the cradle to test things, and to compete as the athletes of the near-future, where video game competitions are apparently the dominant professional sport.
Something’s a little off with these kids though, as civilians and their competitors all notice and never fail to point out, and they all seem to have some sort of developing superpower, as well. Protagonist Lionel can see through electronic information and codes of all kinds to the message and intent behind, his friend Takai can build and un-build just about anything, and so on.
When some of the kids themselves discover something’s off regarding their origins and the company that keeps them pampered prisoners, they try to escape. Rushkoff’s plot is well-structured, if quite familiar and predictable, and he obviously put a lot of care into crafting the near-future slang of the teens, most of which struck me more as funny than convincing (“Dekh” for decode, “Kopa” for cool by way of copacetic, “nexy” for a blend of new, next and sexy, etc).
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Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
If I had $15, I’d start out with Prophet #22 (Image, $2.99) by Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; it’s an Old West pioneering comic set on an alien world. Next up would be my favorite comic from Marvel these days, Uncanny X-Force #22 (Marvel, $3.99). Remender was raised on Claremont-era X-Men, and this is excavating the intricacies of Captain Briton and late ’80s Excalibur comics for Otherworld, Jamie Braddock and a swashbuckling Nightcrawler. Last up with my $15 bounty would be A Long Day Of Mr. James – Teacher (Blank Slate, $7.99). A great looking piece of cartooning from an artist, Harvey James, I’m looking to learn more about.
If I had $30, I’d double back and first pick up Dark Horse Presents #9 (Dark Horse, $7.99). Seriously, this is the comic that some fans were hoping for several years back: one book containing new stories from Paul Pope, Mike Mignola, Neal Adams, Brian Wood, Kristian Donaldson… and pin-ups by Geoff Darrow? Seriously, I second-guess any comics fan I meet who isn’t buying this. Next up would be Wolverine and The X-Men #6 (Marvel, $3.99) by Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw. Seeing Wolverine and Kid Omega going to an outer space casino sounds like everything the X-Men haven’t been in over two decades, but I’m liking it. I can only hope they run into Lila Cheney. Lastly, I’d pick up Jeff Smith’s RASL #13 (Cartoon Books, $3.50). The last issue was history-heavy focusing on Tesla, so I hope this one is bit more kinetic.
If I could splurge, I’d go back for a second Blank Slate book—Hector Umbra (Blank Slate, $26.99). I’ve heard nothing about cartoonist Uli Oesterle, but after seeing the preview on Blank Slate’s website I’m kicking myself. Long story short, DJ kidnapped during his set (at Robot Mitchum nightclub no less, best club name ever), and his friend Hector Umbra, an artist-turned-detective, goes after him. Some people compare Oesterle’s art to Mignola,but I see some Paul Grist in there as well.
Cartoonist Shannon Wheeler isn’t one to rest on his laurels; heck, do you know how uncomfortable laurels can be on your backside? After making a name for himself with the alt-comic series Too Much Coffee Man, Wheeler branched out and in recent years began aiming to join an exclusive club: artists whose comics are published in The New Yorker. And after achieving that, he’s showing off the plethora of comics that were turned down, and the accepted ones, in a new art exhibit in his hometown of Portland, Oregon.
Titled “Shannon Wheeler’s One-One-One-One: One-Man Show of One-Hundred-and-One One-Panel Comics, “this exhibit at Portland’s Center for the Performing Arts opens Thursday, and continues through Dec. 1.The life of a New Yorker cartoonist is arduous; for every accepted strip there are countless ones that end up rejected. The latter are often more intriguing than those that made the cut, for the joke inside as well as the imagined reasons why the editor passed on them.
Too Much Coffee Man creator Shannon Wheeler has signed a three-book deal with BOOM! Town, the “lit comix” imprint of BOOM! Studios.
As a part of the deal, BOOM! will publish a new collection of Too Much Coffee Man stories, subtitled “Cutie Island & Other Stories,” as well as a follow-up to last year’s I Thought You Would Be Funnier, a collection of Wheeler’s rejected New Yorker cartoons. The third book is an original graphic novel titled Grandpa Won’t Wake Up, written by simon max hill and illustrated by Wheeler.
Too Much Coffee Man started as a self-published minicomic in the 1990s, and was self-published by Wheeler until it was picked up by Dark Horse a few years later. An omnibus collecting four volumes of the series is due from Dark Horse in July. The comic has also been adapted into an opera.
BOOM! announced their BOOM! Town imprint last year. You can find the full press release after the jump.
BOOM! Studios has put together a promo video for the Two Much Coffee Man animated mug that they’re releasing under their BOOM! Town imprint, featuring some of the talent around their office.
A few weeks ago we learned that BOOM! Studios, publisher of everything from Mark Waid’s Irredeemable series and Farscape to Disney/Pixar comics like The Incredibles and Cars, was branching out into the alt.comix arena. Their new imprint, BOOM! Town, will publish and market “literary comics,” selective reissues of out-of-print works and merchandise.
Their first few projects include:
The line is being overseen by BOOM! publisher/co-founder Ross Richie and their marketing director Chip Mosher. I interview Mosher via email over the last week about the new imprint, what their plans are for it and the online reactions to one project in particular. My thanks to Chip for his time.
Yesterday we learned that BOOM! Studios was kicking off a new imprint called BOOM! Town, under which they’ll release “literary comics” projects as well as merchandising. One of the first products they’ll release is a Too Much Coffee Man coffee mug, featuring Shannon Wheeler’s famous creation.
Its appearance changes when you fill it with a hot beverage, though I’m not sure which of the above mugs represents the before and which one represents the after (I assume an empty mug = death, and thus the skull).
Publishers Weekly reports that BOOM! Studios is launching a separate imprint called BOOM! Town, under which they plan to publish and market “literary comics,” selective reissues of out-of-print works and merchandising. And they’re working with a couple of well known names in this area: former Kitchen Sink publisher Denis Kitchen and Too Much Coffee Man creator Shannon Wheeler.
Although their publishing plans are still being finalized, they’ll start off by reissuing a set of 36 trading cards by R. Crumb that were originally released by Kitchen Sink Press in 1991. They also plan to release a Too Much Coffee Man mug and I Thought You Would be Funnier, a collection of Wheeler’s rejected New Yorker cartoons that can be read online at the Activate site.
It also sounds like they may be publishing some of Harvey Kurtzman’s work, based on this quote from Kitchen:
“Denis Kitchen Publishing has four R. Crumb card sets that are perennials, [Harvey] Kurtzman’s The Grasshopper & The Ant and other books that could do much better in the marketplace with a real company’s attention. So I’ve entered into a distribution arrangement with Boom! to free myself more to represent clients as a literary agent but also to do more directly creative things like writing and packaging new books.”
It’s been a big week for BOOM! news; in addition to BOOM! Town, they’ve also got a Samuel L. Jackson-written series on the way, a new ongoing featuring Scorpius from Farscape and something in the works with CBGB.
I recently caught up with seasoned industry veteran Shannon Wheeler for an email interview. This interview took place before Wheeler’s recent announcement that he was contemplating a project at ACT-I-VATE–I mention this only as an explanation as to why I ask no questions in that regard. As noted in this recent post, his work has frequently been picked up by The New Yorker as of late, while he continues his work on How to Be Happy. And, of course, we get in some discussion about his overall Too Much Coffee Man work. My thanks to Wheeler for his time.
Tim O’Shea: You are a creator with a long, proven track record, who covers a great many concepts in your work (judging by this tag cloud). This page offers me a wealth of topics to ask you about, but I’ll focus on one. In a down economy like this current one, does it make it easier (or even too easy) to tackle consumerism in the strip?
Shannon Wheeler: It makes it easier to criticize capitalism/materialism/consumerism when the economy is South in that you have specific things (like unemployment and poverty) to point at. Some of the humor becomes more poignant because the reality is more harsh. But that’s very external. To me it feels like the humor has stayed the same.
A lot of the cartoons are about my personal struggles. Consumerism is something I wrestle with. I love buying DVDs, collectibles, art. At the same time I think owning things, wanting things, is ridiculous.