Awards | The National Cartoonists Society initiated a webcomics award last year, and this year the organization is splitting it in two, one for short-form works and one for long-form. The challenge with including webcomics, says NCS President Tom Richardson, is that to be eligible, creators must make the majority of their money from cartooning. “That isn’t an easy thing to quantify anymore. With online comics, we need to take into account site traffic, professionalism in consistent and regular publication, online community activity and other factors that are the hallmark of professional online work,” he says. “In some cases, it’s pretty obvious the creator is making a career out of cartooning. In some, it’s not so obvious.” [Comic Riffs]
The new season of Game Of Thrones may not be released until March, but until then I have something that’ll keep you warm and giggly on the cold nights: a A Song Of Ice & Fire comic strips. No, not an adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s novels or an adaptation of the television show; rather, it’s a comedic look at the world Martin created with all the characters played up for hilarious intent. Published under the banner Comics of Ice & Fire on Tumblr, these comics come by way of cartoonist Azad Injejikian, veteran of the Flight anthology and creator of the 2004 graphic novel A Very Sammy Day.
Launched four months ago, Comics of Fire & Ice has a great collection of one-off strip pages ranging from Daenerys Targaryen’s pompousness, portends of winter, and covers the rampant sexiness pervading the novels. Injejikian is showing himself to be an excellent cartoonist, understanding the characters and knowing where the humor is — I just hope he keeps it going!
Check out the strips he’s created so far at coiaf.tumblr.com.
Never fear, Kochalkaholics: James is busily making other comics, and Top Shelf is prepping the fifth volume of American Elf for its digital release.
As ROBOT 6′s fourth-anniversary celebration winds down, our contributors look back at some of their favorite comics of 2012, from Building Stories and Saga to Goliath and Bandette to Life With Archie and Hawkeye.
One of the hazards of writing about comics is that reading comics starts to feel like work after a while. Then I stumble across something really good and I remember why I started doing this to begin with. Here are some of the books that I really enjoyed this year.
Life With Archie: It’s a soap opera. It’s a clever soap opera, and it’s fun to see the characters I knew as a kid grow up and change in surprising ways. The dual storyline is full of twists, but the characters never forget where they came from.
Jiu Jiu: The best shoujo manga captures what it’s like to be a teenage girl and reflects it back in a new way. Jiu Jiu is a supernatural story about an alienated girl who goes to an ordinary high school but fights demons on her off hours. Her companions are two wolves who can change into hot guys, although they never really lose their doggish ways. This is shoujo manga at full strength, with lots of introspection, innuendo, and incongruity. I loved it.
Creators | Michael Cavna talks to cartoonist Richard Thompson in-depth about his Parkinson’s disease, its effect on his cartooning, and the brain surgery he had this year to combat it, and shows the cartoon Thompson drew during the surgery. The story includes an update on how Thompson has been doing since the surgery and interviews with other cartoonists, including a rare comment from Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson, about Thompson’s work and his struggle against the illness. [Comic Riffs]
Publishing | The French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, whose offices were firebombed in 2011 after it published cartoons mocking Mohammed, has released a comic-book biography of the Muslim prophet. Editor Stephane Charbonnier, who has lived under police protection since the magazine first published the cartoons, says the biography is a properly researched educational work edited by Muslims: “I don’t think higher Muslim minds could find anything inappropriate.” [AFP]
It’s become an annual tradition during our birthday bash: No matter how much stuff we line up, people we interview, etc., there are still tons of people we like to hear from and include in our giant New Year’s/anniversary/birthday activities. So, as we have in past years, we have asked various comics folks what they liked in 2012 and what they are excited about for 2013.
Check out Part One, and keep reading to see more of what people shared with us, including details on their upcoming projects. Our thanks to everyone who responded this year. Also, thanks again to Tim O’Shea, Michael May and Chris Arrant, who helped collect responses.
SAM HUMPHRIES (The Ultimates, Sacrifice, Uncanny X-Force)
What was your favorite comic of 2012?
- Simon Hanselmann’s Megg and Mogg strips at http://girlmountain.tumblr.com. Hilarious, dark, and strange.
- SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jilian Tamaki at: http://mutantmagic.com/. Beautiful, funny, and heartbreaking.
If I am grateful for nothing else, it’s that 2012 was the year I was introduced to the work of Nathan Bulmer, creator of the daily and often uproariously funny webcomic Eat More Bikes. That introduction is in large part due to Tucker Stone, who has been regularly featuring Bulmer’s comics in his weekly column, “Comics of the Weak.”
Bulmer celebrated the end of the year with the release of his new comic, naturally titled Eat More Bikes, from Koyama Press. I had the chance to chat with Bulmer about the new series, how he got into comics and the challenges of producing a daily comic.
“One of the greatest things about working in digital is the sheer disconnect between comic book professionals and webcomic professionals — this gargantuan gulf I had no idea existed. Because the myth among us comic book folk is that webcomics guys, ah, yeah there’s a couple of them making a little bit of money, but by and large they’re all losing their shirts. You know: little kids doing their little thing on the side, that’s the myth. And the reality of it is, no, actually a lot of guys are making a decent living doing this, a lot of guys. And it doesn’t mean everybody can, but it means that there’s a lot more to that, there’s a lot more money in that ecosphere than you dreamed, and some guys are making really good money doing that stuff. And while making really good money is for me not the goal, it’s just to make enough money to keep doing it, the idea that it can be done is great. And what’s also great about the webcomic community is that I have yet to encounter any sense of selfishness, any sense of proprietary ownership, any sense of trade secrets and people being very hush hush with what they’re doing, because that’s stupid. Comic books tend to do that because we’re selling to an audience of 90,000 people, but among the webcomics guys they seem to get the fact that the potential audience is 6 billion people. There’s room for all of us out there. We’re not worried about competition yet among each other.”
– Mark Waid, discussing the financial aspects of digital comics, in a wide-ranging interview with Toucan that addresses his 25-year career, his approach to Daredevil and the Hulk, collaboration and more
As we finish off Year Five of digital comics (depending on how you count things), the distribution method is positioned to bring in a continually growing sector of new readers.
comiXology, the market leader, is ending 2012 as the third highest-grossing app of the year for the iPad. That’s up from the 10th spot last year, which is even more remarkable when you consider virtually no other app made an appearance on both lists. I can’t imagine that could be accomplished strictly with purchases from direct-market customers crossing over to digital. And when you take into account that direct-market sales have also been improving, that couldn’t happen even if every reader in comics got a big raise this year and was buying both digital and print copies. Worst-case scenario, we’re winning back lapsed readers. But mixed within those two groups (current and lapsed/returning readers) has to be a third, even if only a small percentage at this time. It seems too good to be true but it’s becoming more and more likely that the elusive new reader is being reached.
As digital sales continue to grow (“getting close to 25 to 30% of print sales,” for Robert Kirkman), several elements are in place, or just about in place, that could be creating a perfect storm to increase that new readers section of the pie.
Written by Matt Moylan, who also scripted Bravoman, and illustrated by Rob Porter, the comic is based on a classic Namco platform game series of the same name that was released in Japan between 1989 and 1994; this comic marks the debut of the property outside Japan.
Both the comic and the game feature a mechanical dinosaur named Wagan, who is trying to thwart a mad scientist who is threatening his homeland. (Apparently this requires a lot of jumping from platform to platform.) Check out some art samples, plus a vintage Wagand Land ad, below.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? We are joined today by special guest Josh Hechinger, writer of The Grave Doug Freshley, Bear Beater Bunyan, and Robot + Monsters. Check out his blog or the R+M site for more from Josh.
To see what Josh and the Robot 6 team have been reading lately, click below …
The U.S. government reportedly has seized an advance payment to artist Tim Hamilton for his work on nonfiction graphic novel detailing the activities of notorious Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony in the Congo, claiming the money was being laundered for a terrorist organization.
The news comes from journalist David Axe, who collaborated with Hamilton on Army of God: Joseph Kony’s War in Central Africa, which was serialized online by the Dutch website Cartoon Movement. It will be published next year by Public Affairs.
According to a press release, the title Army of God, which is also the name of a terrorist organization, “threw up a red flag” with the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the division of the Department of the Treasury that administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions. The money was seized early this month, and neither Hamilton nor his agent have been able to secure its release; the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has been contacted.
Cartoonist Matt Bors, who edited Army of God, offers: “OFAC hasn’t responded to my request for comment yet, but their answering machine urged me to visit the U.S. Treasury’s website. Comics wouldn’t be a great way to fund terrorism. They don’t pay very well. But now we know no one fighting terrorism knows how to use Google, which sure makes me feel safe.”
Hamilton, who’s worked on titles ranging from Green Lantern to Deadpool to MAD, illustrated the Eisner-nominated adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451.
Thursday’s installment of the webcomic Sheldon is a neat little behind-the-scenes sequence in which we get to see the characters backstage, before they go on. If you’re a regular reader of the strip (as I am), the biggest shock may be seeing the main character, Sheldon, without his glasses. It’s also cool that when they step into the strip, the characters change from color to black and white, although they don’t slip into character right away. Plus they get in a few digs about the comics life. It’s well worth the click.
In the blog, creator Dave Kellett notes that this is the end of Season 13 for Sheldon, but there is a bit of uncertainty as to how old the comic actually is. Apparently Kellett didn’t date the early strips, so he’s not entirely sure when they went online for the first time. That’s an interesting problem; you’d think everything would be date-stamped automatically, but I guess back then that wasn’t always the case. It does make one wonder how many other webcomics are of an uncertain age.
Kellett also reassures readers that the strip will continue (whew!) but adds that his priorities will be changing in the next year when his documentary Stripped: The End of the Funny Pages will be released.
The finalists have been announced for the 2012 SPACE Prize, selected from among the titles collected at the 2012 Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo in Columbus, Ohio.
The winner in each of the three categories — General, Minicomics/Short Story and Webcomic — will be chosen by two rotating judges and registered 2012 SPACE exhibitors. The winner in the General category receives $300 and a plaque, while the winners in the Minicomics/Short Story and Webcomic category each receive $100 and a plaque.
Winners will be announced in January, and presented with their plaques April 13 during SPACE 2013. The finalists are:
• Binary Gray #1-2, by Chris Charton and Rowel Roque (Assailant Comics)
• Blink: Wonka Wonka Kochalka, by Max Ink (Point Media)
Here at Robot 6, we’ve been strong supporters of the notion of Mike Maihack’s (Cleopatra in Spaaace!) doing a Supergirl/Batgirl comic. It all started with a fake cover, turned into a strip that begat a Christmas strip last year, which is now (hopefully!) an annual tradition. If Maihack keeps this up, we’ll have ourselves a full issue in 17 years. Fingers crossed that DC Comics doesn’t wait that long to hire him.