Director Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) once was campaigning pretty hard to helm a Judge Dredd movie, but the producers were already sold on Alex Garland’s script. Jones was rumored at one point or another to be in the running for Man of Steel and The Wolverine, but now he’s working an adaptation of World of Warcraft, which has been the basis for graphic novels from Tokyopop and a comics series from Wildstorm. So he (sorta, tangentially, kind of) is finally getting his wish to make a comic-book adaptation.
He’s been musing on Twitter about the sort of pipe dream that gets fans enthused: The stream of consciousness started this morning with the doubtlessly sarcastic, “When are we finally going to get a Batman reboot?” and “I’m bored of Marvel films. Can’t Kevin Feige move to Archie comics?” This train of thought then came back to Jones’ native United Kingdom, with the joke “I’m in talks with Wayne Rooney to make a Biffa Bacon tv show for HBO.”
The footballer Wayne Rooney does somewhat resemble the comic strip character Biffa Bacon: Bacon and his thuggish family are a recurring feature in the U.K. adult-humor institution Viz. This gag obviously tickled Jones, but also sent him in another direction: What if the U.K.’s film industry started to get as excited about exploiting U.K. comics for its raw material as the United States has been with its comics for the last decade?
Today Panel Nine launches Sequential, a storefront app that will make available digital editions of several publishers from the current U.K. renaissance in graphic novel publishing, including Blank Slate, Knockabout and Myriad Editions, with others set to follow.
I always think of Blank Slate Publisher Kenny Penman as one of the great patrons of the comic arts. One of the world’s most successful comics retailers, his love of the medium has led him into also becoming one of its most innovative publishers. He’s also not shy with his opinions. Recalling some distinctly anti-digital comments from him on Twitter, I asked him about his change of heart, and how going digital can only help spread the word about the great work coming out of the United Kingdom.
Conventions | The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival has come to an end, after establishing itself in just four short years as one of the most loved indie-comics events. A message posted on the event’s blog under the headline “Thank You and Good Night” reads simply, “We have decided not to continue with BCGF. We had a great run and thank all of our colleagues for their support.” [The Beat]
Creators | Garry Trudeau talks about Doonesbury, supporting wounded warriors, and his Alpha House show in a video interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Creators | Michael Aushenker profiles Rutu Modan, whose The Property, a tale of a Jewish woman returning to Poland to reclaim an apartment lost during the Holocaust, debuted at Toronto Comic Arts Festival: “When I go to vote, I have to decide who is bad and who is a good guy, but when I write I can support the Poles and the Jews. I’m much more interested in the gray areas. They’re more closer to reality.” [The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles]
Awards | Graphic Scotland and the Edinburgh International Book Festival has established the 9th Art Award for graphic fiction, which will be presented in August during the festival. Submissions are being accepted through July 31. [9th Art Award, via The Beat]
Creators | Howard Chaykin remembers Carmine Infantino. [The Los Angeles Review of Books]
Creators | Art Spiegelman talks about his long-lived classic Maus, his thoughts on Israel, and being a New Yorker. [Haaretz]
One of the highlights of every comics reading week for me is on a Saturday morning, when the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper has a new strip in its magazine supplement by Stephen Collins (they’re all available to see on the website). Collins won their Observer/Cape graphic short story competition in 2010, which resulted in a book deal with Jonathan Cape, the fruits of which is the upcoming The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil.
As you can tell from his weekly strips, Collins is something of a master at finding new angles to view the world from, as likely to see the absurd and the unsettling as the humorous. Liberated from the joke-of-the-week short form, Collins has produced a rich allegorical work with a certain Kafkaesque quality, with the story told in a rolling, rhyming blank verse (you can see examples on both his blog and this preview at It’s Nice That.
He’s also produced a great director’s commentary feature for Joe Gordon’s FPI blog that goes some way to show the scale of the hard work that goes into producing such a hefty end product. It’s telling that Cape have secured a quote from Raymond Briggs for the back cover. Like so much of Briggs’ own work, this book has a timeless, ageless quality, that could be as enjoyed as much as an entertainment by children or as a satire by adults.
It’s been a big couple of weeks for U.K. comics publishing, and a lot of that might have to do with this weekend’s Comica Festival (a.k.a. “the 10th London International Comics Festival”). There has been a rush of titles from British graphic novel publishers of late, no doubt timed for a big push at this most art-centric of U.K. comics conventions (it’s hosted this year at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, and I dare anyone of a certain vintage to think of that place and not start humming this).
There’s a lot of great stuff out there at the minute that’s maybe not getting enough coverage internationally, so let’s do a round-up, shall we? There’s a myth that the American comics audience is insular, so let’s disprove it: These books are even already available in English, although their spelling is a bit suspect at times. Yeah, you heard me, buy a dictionary, limeys!
• The Man Who Laughs, the oddest of Victor Hugo’s novels, adapted by David Hine and Mark Stafford, published by SelfMadeHero: Hine has posted a host of panels from the book at his blog. I was previously ignorant of Stafford’s work, but these are some handsome-looking samples; they reminded me a little of the great Dave Cooper. Hine is always good value, and has a track record of making some genuinely unsettling comics (Strange Embrace, The Bulletproof Coffin), so this sounds like the perfect alignment of talent to source material.
We’ve been following the progress of the free U.K. street-press anthology Off Life since July, before the launch of the first issue, and now it’s up to its fourth. It’s released today in its home city of Bristol (for a cross-cultural comparison, we’ll call it “the U.K.’s Portland”), with the digital edition arriving on Thursday; the print version hits London on Saturday.
It may also be their best issue yet, featuring work by such stalwarts of the U.K. indie scene as Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Dan Berry, Oliver East and Sean Azzopardi; a very entertaining group interview with three more of the best new cartoonists in the U.K., Hannah Berry, Jack Teagle and Isabel Greenberg; and fulfills editor Daniel Humphry’s mission statement of breaking some interesting-looking new talent, most of which I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on after this. How about some preview art after the break?
Publishing| Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso talks about bringing more Latino characters — and more diversity in general — to the Marvel lineup: “People out there reading our comic books are of all sizes, creeds and colors and it’s our responsibility to make them feel included. This isn’t some PC initiative, this is capitalism. This is about supply and demand.” [Fox News Latino]
Creators | Grant Morrison discusses winding up his run on Action Comics: “Symbolically I’m not a big fan of dealing with politics in superhero comics because I think it diminishes both sides of the argument, but I do have my own take on things. I’ve got my own politics and so they do tend to find their way in. And really for me, its more symbolic, the way story winds up to tackle all those issues and looks at them through the perspective of Superman and Red Kryptonite and weirdness. So it’s gone underground. I think the early Superman was very much more aligned with the anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian current, because I think when Superman started out that he was what entered into.” [Comics Alliance]
Awards | The National Press Foundation has named political cartoonist Robert Ariail, who draws for Universal UClick and the Spartanburg, South Carolina, Herald-Journal, as the winner of this year’s Berryman Award. [The Washington Post]
Creators | Brothers Wesley and Bradley Sun discuss their upcoming graphic novel, Chinatown; Wesley is a hospital chaplain in Chicago, and Bradley quit his job in Florida to join his brother and work on the book. [Hyde Park Herald]
Comics strips | An original 1986 Sunday installment of Calvin and Hobbes, drawn and hand-colored by Bill Watterson, has sold at auction for $203,150. The piece had been owned by Adam@Home and Red and Rover cartoonist Brian Basset, who exchanged original comics with Watterson in 1986. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Best of the year | The Top Ten lists are coming thick and fast now. Michael Cavna counts down his favorites of the year, which include Chris Ware’s Building Stories, Raina Telgemeier’s Drama, and Matt Dembicki’s Washington, D.C.-focused anthology, District Comics. [The Washington Post]
Best of the year | … and George Gene Gustines weighs in with his list. [The New York Times]
The winners of the 2012 British Comics Awards were announced Saturday evening at the Thought Bubble convention in Leeds. This is the first year for the awards, which were announced in January. Here’s the list of winners:
Nelson, edited by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix
Bad Machinery, by John Allison
Young People’s Comic Award
Hilda and the Midnight Giant, by Luke Pearson
Hall of Fame Award
Since it was first announced in the United Kingdom in 2010, World Book Night has quickly established itself as a big deal indeed, a headline-grabber, something that has re-energized the national debate here about books and literature (always a good thing). Each year, a team of more than 20,000 “givers” volunteers to distribute a million free books, selected by a committee of experts, and donated by their publishers. The charity is partnered with the BBC, which regularly features the run-up and the event itself throughout its current affairs and cultural output: The booklist was featured last night on The One Show, and will be debated tonight on Newsnight Review. Doubtless someone on the panel will look baffled by its inclusion, like a caveman presented with the keys to a Ferrari.
The books announced yesterday as next year’s selection include, for the first time, some comics in the form of 2000AD/Rebellion Publishing’s Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges. Inclusion in this event could be seen as trumping Free Comic Book Day, with tens of thousands of copies of an entire graphic novel distributed freely across the entire nation in a hail of publicity. This edition features some stone-cold classics by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Brian Bolland, Brett Ewins and others, and includes the most celebrated panel ever in Bolland’s career at the venerable British anthology:
The U.K. newspaper The Guardian marked the U.S. Election Day with a short comic called America: Elect! that uses limited animation in some very effective ways. The comic is constructed as one continuous series of panels, and as the reader scrolls downward, elements move in and out of the picture — primary candidates get crossed out, a tiny Osama bin Laden falls from the sky, sign-carrying tea partiers pop into the panel.
The comic is credited to “Guardian US Interactive Team with Richard Adams and Erin McCann“; Adams is in the newspaper’s Washington, D.C., bureau, and McCann is a copy editor who recently wrote about New York Comic Con for the Guardian blog. It’s lighthearted and clever, and will take about five minutes to read. Of course, it’s also incomplete, as the comic was posted yesterday. The story says “stay tuned for the final chapter,” but it’s not clear where that’s going to be posted.
The winners of the Observer/Jonathan Cape/Comica Graphic Short Story Competition were announced over the weekend, and the top prize winner was no newcomer: Corban Wilkin is just 22, but he has participated in the contest four times.
“The only thing I’m sad about is that I won’t be able to enter again,” he told Rachel Cooke of The Observer. “I’ve loved doing it over the past few years. The brief is tricky – a very limited format and yet complete freedom of subject matter – but it’s a challenge I relished. Once you enter, your writing improves pretty quickly. Four pages is a small space in which to tell a proper story.”
Wilkin’s winning short story, “But I Can’t,” can be seen on the contest website or his own site. The story follows two girls, starting when they are 8 years old and share a fascination with UFOs and bringing them through their teens, as they take drastically different paths. He packs an amazing amount of story into just four pages, sketching the characters in a loose, expressive style with brush and ink and a limited color palette. Wilkin, who cites Craig Thompson and Seth as his influences, is also working on a longer graphic novel, and the prize money will be most welcome, he says, as the rent is due.
The runner-up is Steven Tillotson’s I, Yeti, in which the Abominable Snowman gets all philosophical.
(via Forbidden Planet)
Graphic novels | The seventh volume of Sailor Moon was the top-selling graphic novel in bookstores in September, according to BookScan, followed by Naruto,Vol. 58, an Avengers character guide, the third volume of Batman: Knightfall, and vol. 3 of Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise. ICv2 notes that, the Avengers book aside (and it is published by DK Publishing), Marvel is completely absent from the top ten, although DC makes a strong showing. [ICv2]
Creators | Hope Larson, who adapted Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time into graphic novel form, chats with Margaret Ferguson, her editor on the project. [Publishers Weekly]