The annual Small Press Expo, better known as SPX, will arrive at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Convention Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Saturday and Sunday. This particular SPX promises to be excellent — mayhap the bestest SPX evar — so allow me to run through some of the goings-on if you happen to be in that area this weekend.
The longstanding links between The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen‘s U.K. publisher Knockabout and the London comic shop Gosh! mean that Gosh!’s blog is the place to go for news relating to Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s ongoing opus. The retailer has posted a synopsis and cover image for the next installment, the stand-alone Nemo: Heart of Ice:
Two of America’s premier art comix publishers have released further details of a pair of high-profile releases of repackaged work by two of the art form’s most influential, if wildly disparate, creators. Top Shelf is publishing Alan Moore’s “narrative art-book” Unearthing, a new edition of a piece that began as an essay, became a spoken-word piece, and was released in various audio formats a couple of years back featuring a score by Faith No More’s Mike Patton and Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite, among others (hear an excerpt over at Pitchfork). It’s ostensibly a biography of Moore’s friend and mentor Steve “Pedro Henry” Moore (it’s now customary to write “no relation” at this juncture) in both his career as a comic book writer and in his mid-life conversion to studying magic, although with Moore being Moore, wanders off on many Iain Sinclair-esque tangents into the psycho-geography of both South London and their native Northampton.
Fantagraphics has released images on its Tumblr of Dal Tokyo by Gary Panter (including the strip seen above), as if to prove it really exists, the book being one of those long-promised Fanta projects that a lot of people had either forgotten was ever solicited, or had given up hope of ever seeing. Turns out it’ll be with retailers before the end of the month. Possibly.
• Of course you can’t have Comic-Con without news about Comic-Con itself. CBR’s Kiel Phegley spoke with CCI’s David Glanzer about the show, while Ryan Ingram spoke with Scott Morse about the Tr!ckster satellite event. And it seems like every non-comics media outlet reports on the show in some form or fashion; here’s an article by The Christian Post about religion and the show, for example. And finally, Tuesday brought the tragic news that a con attendee camping out for today’s Twilight panel was killed in front of the convention center after being struck by a car.
• I’m not 100 percent sure if it qualifies as Comic-Con news, but since it was officially announced in the Entertainment Weekly Comic-Con issue, let’s just go with it. Marvel’s big news going into the Con is that they plan to relaunch several titles later this year as part of “Marvel NOW!” Their recently released solicitations reveal they plan to cancel nine titles in October, but of course you can expect many if not all of them to come back in some form or fashion as Marvel NOW! rolls out.
• Mike Mignola and Hellboy return this December in Hellboy in Hell, the first four-issue miniseries in a series of miniseries about the title character’s post-demise adventures.
Here’s a digital choice for you: You could pay $3.99 for a single issue of some Marvel comic, or you could get two plump e-books by well-known creators for a penny less.
First, Panel Nine is offering its collection of Eddie Campbell’s Dapper John comics, Dapper John: In the Days of the Ace Rock ‘n’ Roll Club, for $1.99 for the month of August, to celebrate the release of the app on iPhone as well as iPad. The collection is regularly priced at $9.99, so this is a temporary deal. Panel Nine is a small publisher that is developing comics as single apps; it’s also behind the iPad version of David Lloyd’s Kickback. When you have a bit of time, check out From Under the Stairs, the blog of publisher Russell Willis, who’s pulling out his 1990s British comics memorabilia and posting it online.
Meanwhile, Top Shelf is publishing a volume a month of James Kochalka’s diary comic American Elf, with each volume covering a year of Kochalka’s life. The first volume includes 1999 and a bit of 1998, so it’s 454 pages altogether. And each volume is priced at $1.99
Saturday’s programming for this year’s Comic-Con International continues the grand “big movie panels” tradition typically associated with the third day of the con. Both Warner Bros. and Marvel Studios are on the schedule for Hall H; no doubt Marvel will have more than just Iron Man 3 to talk about at that 6 p.m. slot. Warner Bros., meanwhile, will talk about Man of Steel in their panel, which will also include The Hobbit and Pacific Rim.
Comic publishers are well represented, with BOOM!, Marvel, DC Comics, Archie, Archaia, Dark Horse, Image, Top Cow, Drawn & Quarterly, Skybound, Vertigo, Top Shelf and more scheduled for various panels on Saturday. CCI also puts the spotlight on Mark Waid, Morrie Turner, Klaus Janson, Stan Goldberg, Gary Gianni, Jim Lee and many more creators, and celebrates anniversaries for Funky Winkerbean, Love & Rockets, Bob the Angry Flower, Courtney Crumrin and the Gays in Comics panel. And don’t forget about the always entertaining masquerade.
Here are some of the comics-related highlights below; visit the Comic-Con website to see the complete schedule.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009 by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill is due out this week, and the U.K. newspaper The Independent zeroes in on what everyone will be talking about: The Antichrist has arrived, and he sounds an awful lot like Harry Potter:
Though the words “Harry Potter” are never mentioned, the allusions are unmistakable. One section features a magical train hidden between platforms at King’s Cross station which leads to a magical school. The Antichrist character has a hidden scar and a mentor named Riddle. (Lord Voldemort, born Tom Riddle, is Harry Potter’s arch enemy in the Potter series.) Characters resembling both Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger also appear and, at one point, the Potter character kills someone with a lightning bolt from his flaccid penis.
So is Moore lining himself up with the religious fanatics who were burning the Harry Potter books in parking lots a few years ago? Of course not. Reviewer Laura Sneddon, who has actually read the book, says Moore is using the boy wizard to critique modern popular culture:
Top Shelf has provided Robot 6 with a preview of Double Barrel #1, the digital-only pulp anthology by Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon (no relation). The 122-page first issue, which goes on sale today, begins the serialization of two graphic novels: HECK, by Zander Cannon (The Replacement God, Top 10), about a washed-up high school football player who returns to his hometown to attend his father’s funeral, only to discover a portal to the underworld; and Crater XV, Kevin Cannon’s follow-up to Far Arden, featuring a new adventure of crusty sea-dog Army Shanks.
As if that weren’t enough, the $1.99 price tag — that’s tough to pass up! — also includes extras like this introductory comic, which you can read below. Double Barrel #1 is available for download today via Comixology, Apple iBooks, Comics+ by iVerse and the Top Shelf app.
Anthologies are an overlooked lot in comics, and one of the most overlooked is the long-running World War 3 Illustrated. I myself have fallen victim to having a blind spot for the series, but the solicitation in the most recent Previews catalog drew my attention.
Scheduled to ship in July, World War 3 Illustrated #43 focuses on the subject of censorship — an all-too-current subject in the larger world of comics. Subtitled “Expression/Repression/Revolution,” this issue features cartoonists who may not be all that familiar to our readers. The best-known name is Peter Kuper, who’s joined by the likes of Mike Diana, Gianlucca Costantini and others to do stories about Occupy Wall Street, Wikileaks, the Comics Code Authority and more.
World War 3 Illustrated is a different kind of comic than what most people expect, akin to magazines like Maximumrocknroll, 2600: The Hacker Quarterly and Adbusters. Definitely an overlooked facet of comics, and something many comic stores don’t even stock. If your comic shop doesn’t, you can order World War 3 Illustrated #43 directly from the publisher, Top Shelf.
Today is Free Comic Book Day, and here’s a rundown of some of the comics that caught my interest. If you want to check ‘em out before you go, CBR has previews of many of the FCBD titles. (My FCBD comics came from my favorite Boston comics shop, Comicopia.)
Hands down, the one comic everybody wants is Archaia’s hardback anthology, which includes brand-new stories from six of their titles: Mouse Guard, Labyrinth, Return of the Dapper Men, Rust, Cursed Pirate Girl, and Cow Boy. The stories stand on their own but also tie in to the books in clever ways; the Mouse Guard story is a puppet show, and the Rust story features a boy writing a letter to his father (as his older brother does in the book). This book is a keeper; it even has a nameplate inside the front cover. Here’s a list of where Archaia creators will be doing book signings this FCBD.
BOOM! Studios has a nice flipbook with several Adventure Time comics on one side and Peanuts on the other. The Peanuts comics are mildly funny, but the Adventure Time side is edgier and features extra stories by Lucy Knisley and Michael DeForge. The stories are colorful and lively, and DeForge’s contribution, about a bacon ecosystem that supports tiny breakfast organisms, is downright surreal.
Brigid Alverson will have her own MoCCA report up soon, no doubt, but I thought I’d share my own reminiscences of last weekend’s show, via some pics I took while wandering around the aisles.
Dust off your shoes and pull your tote bag out of the closet kids, it’s MoCCA time once again. The annual indie/small press comics show hosted by the Museum will take place at the Armory on Lexington Avenue in New York City this weekend. It promises to be a grand affair, with tons of publishers, minicomics, books and panels to choose from. Underneath the link we’ve put together a quick rundown of some of the more notable and interesting (well interesting to us any way) goings-on at the show this weekend.
There’s an inherent risk in using your own life as material for your comics: When a comics creator presents himself or herself as an unlikeable person in a quasi-autobiographical comic, it gets hard to separate the artist from the work. It’s sort of a negative aura thing—if the creator looks like a jerk, it’s hard to like the comic.
This became blindingly clear to me recently as I happened to read three graphic novels about roughly the same theme—dealing with getting older—in which the attitude of the main character strongly affected my reaction to the story: Joe Ollman’s Mid-Life, Pascal Girard’s Reunion, and Jennifer Hayden’s Underwire. Ollman and Girard both fell into the trap of making their lead characters so obnoxious I never wanted to see them again, while Hayden’s character was just the opposite, approaching some serious issues with grace and humor—which probably made me like the book more than I should have.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that we don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Batwoman is still awesome!” every month. And we’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
One cool change this month and for the foreseeable future: I’m joined by Graeme McMillan who’ll also be pointing out his favorites.
Finally, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist – I admit, I tend to run hot and cold on Clowes’ output, but I’m a sucker for coffee-table career retrospectives, so the idea of taking 224 pages to look back at his career to date (with, of course, the traditional little-seen artwork and commentary) seems like a must-look at the very least. [Graeme]
Rachel Rising, Volume 1: The Shadow of Death – Terry Moore’s latest series gets its first collection and I love the premise of a woman’s waking up in a shallow grave with no memory of how she got there and needing to figure out who tried to kill to her. [Michael]
With 2012 still fresh and new, it seems like as good a time as any to look at various publishing companies’ plans for the year ahead and pick out what looks good, or at least interesting. Because the year looks to be filled with so many delights, I decided to double down and offer not just six but 12 comics I’m really looking forward to reading. Obviously this list is reflective of my own, indie-slanted interests, so feel free in the comments section to tell me what a dope I am for forgetting about Book X by Artist Y.