Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. Below you’ll find a breakdown of the big announcements that came out of this weekend’s Emerald City Comicon, our contributors’ picks for the comics of the week — from Age of Ultron to Al Capp — and the top events to look for in the next seven days (hint: convention season is fully under way).
This March marks the 35th anniversary of the publication of Will Eisner’s influential graphic novel A Contract with God, and to celebrate, the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation is hosting a 10-day series of events in more than a dozen cities. The theme is one that’s worth getting behind — “Read a Graphic Novel.”
“This year, we will be having Will Eisner Week celebrations in more places than ever before,” said Will Eisner Week Organizing Committee Chair Danny Fingeroth in a press release. “The people doing the events are planning some amazing happenings that will spread the word about how cool graphic novels are, and that celebrate Will Eisner’s astonishing body of work done over a career that spanned seven decades.”
Events will take place across America, from Oregon to Arkansas to New York, and will include panels at cons, guest lectures and readings, and screenings of Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist. Check out the event poster and schedule below.
Comic-Con International has announced the Will Eisner Hall of Fame is now online, with a browsable catalog of the more than 120 creators — from Neal Adams to Wally Wood — who have been inducted since 1987. Each entry, arranged in alphabetical order, includes a brief biography of the creator, the date of induction and, in many case, a photograph or illustration.
Publishing | DC Comics may no longer hold the rights to create new stories about The Spirit and other pulp heroes like Doc Savage and The Avenger, but it does retain the license to publish The Spirit Archives for “the foreseeable future,” according to Denis Kitchen, agent for the Will Eisner estate. Most of the hardcover collections are out of print. [The Beat]
Digital comics | Third time’s the charm for retailer Steve Bennett, as he goes through three different tablets (one was stolen, one malfunctioned) on his way to the ideal digital comics experience. [ICv2]
Creators | Tom Spurgeon kicks off his annual round of holiday interviews with a lengthy conversation with Alison Bechdel, creator of Fun Home and Are You My Mother? [The Comics Reporter]
Conventions | Creators like Neal Adams, Tim Bradstreet, Howard Chaykin, Amanda Conner and Scott Lobdell will headline the Long Beach Comic & Horror Con, held Saturday and Sunday at the Long Beach Convention Center. “I think most of our artists are thrilled to come back each year,” said Phil Lawrence, principal sales director for the event. “This is the earliest we sold out our Artists Alley and we have almost 190 tables. By focusing on the artists and giving them their due, they seem to keep coming back and signing up earlier — and they promote the show, which helps us out, too.” [Gazettes.com]
Creators | Alan Moore will make a rare convention appearance in September — his first in 25 years, according to this article — at the inaugural Northants International Comics Expo in Northamptonshire, England. To attend Moore’s hour-long talk on writing comics or the hour-long question-and-answer session, convention-goers are required to donate graphic novels to the Northamptonshire Libraries, which will have a table at the event. [Stumptown Trade Review]
Creators | Mark Waid gets the NPR treatment, as Noah J. Nelson interviews him about his digital comics initiatives. “I got news for you: I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and this is the hardest writing I’ve ever had to do,” Waid says of creating digital comics. [NPR]
Publishing | Abrams ComicArts editorial director Charles Kochman discusses the publisher’s spring lineup, which will include William Stout’s Legends of the Blues, Darryl Cunningham’s What the Frack, a history of Bazooka Joe comics, and a Will Eisner artbook written by Paul Levitz. [ICv2]
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, it’d be an eclectic bunch featuring Jesus clones, retired spec-ops workers, environmentalists and Batman. First up would be Punk Rock Jesus #2 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99), following Sean Murphy’s big-time foray into writing and drawing. Murphy’s delivering the art of his career, and while the story might not be as great as the art, it still has a synchronicity to the art that few other mainstream books have these days. After that I’d get Dancer #4 (Image, $3.50); Nathan Edmondson seemingly made his name on writing the spy thriller Who Is Jake Ellis?, and this one takes a very different view of the spy game – like a Luc Besson movie, perhaps – and Nic Klein is fast climbing up my list of favorite artists. After that I’d get Massive #3 (Dark Horse, $3.50), with what is disheartedly looking to be the final issue of artist Kristian Donaldson. No word on the reason for the departure, but with a great a story he and Brian Wood have developed I hope future artists can live up to the all-too-brief legacy he developed. Delving into superhero waters, the next book I’d get is Batman #12 (DC, $3.99), which has become DC’s consistently best book out of New 52 era. Finally, I’d get Anti #1 (12 Guage, $1). Cool cover, interesting concept, and only a buck. Can’t beat that.
If I had $30, I’d jump and get Creator-Owned Heroes #3 (Image, $3.99); man, when Phil Noto is “on” he’s “ON!” After that I’d get Conan te Barbarian #7 (Dark Horse, $3.50). I’ve been buying and reading this in singles, but last weekend I had the chance to re-read them all in one sitting and I’m legitimately blown away. The creators have developed something that is arguably better than what Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord started in 2003 and shoulder-to-shoulder with the great stories out of the ’70s. This new issue looks to be right up my alley, as Conan takes his pirate queen Belit back to his frigid homeland in search of a man masquerading as Conan. Hmm, $7 left. Any other Food or Comic-ers want to grab some grub?
If I could splurge, I’d excuse myself from the table dining with my fellow FoCers and get Eyes of the Cat HC (Humanoids, $34.95). I feel remiss in never owning this, so finally getting my hands on the first collaboration between Moebius and Alexandro Jodorowsky seems like a long time coming. I’m told its more an illustrated storybook than comic book, but I’m content with full page Moebius work wherever I can get it.
Graphic novels | The Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation and the American Library Association will launch the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Prize for Libraries at the ALA summer conference, held June 21-26 in Anaheim, California. Three libraries each year will be selected to receive all the books nominated for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, as well as a $2,000 voucher to buy additional graphic novels and a $1,000 stipend to hold comics-related or author events. Libraries to register to win at the ALA conference; winners will be announced June 24. [Publishers Weekly]
Graphic novels | Calvin Reid and Heidi MacDonald look at the graphic novel presence at last week’s BookExpo America. [Publishers Weekly]
Publishing | Bob Wayne, DC Comics’ senior vice president of sales, and John Cunningham, vice president of marketing, discuss May sales figures, which show the publisher edging closer to Marvel in market share and Batman topping Justice League. Wayne also explained why DC won’t change its practice of publishing collected editions first in hardcover, then as inexpensive paperbacks: “While certain titles do get a deluxe or an Absolute Edition at some point, we think our retailer would be leaving a lot of money on the table if we didn’t give consumers the chance to buy hardcovers first on select titles. The sales we are having in both channels on Batman and Justice League in the month of May indicate that we don’t have that many people waiting the trade, looking for that cheaper edition. A lot of people seem to want a nice durable hardcover and we plan to follow this model for the foreseeable future.” [ICv2]
Piracy | Manga scanlators (and proprietors of other bootleg comics sites, such as HTMLComics.com) have argued that reading manga on their sites is no different from checking it out of the library. Librarian and graphic novel expert Robin Brenner explains why that just isn’t so. [About.com]
Passings | Steve Roper and Mike Nomad artist Fran Matera has died at the age of 88. Matera, who worked briefly in the Quality Comics bullpen, where he worked on Doll Man and other titles, before enlisting in the Marines during World War II, also drew such comic strips as Dickie Dare, The Legend of Bruce Lee and Nero Wolfe. His comic credits also include the “Chuck White and Friends” feature in Treasure Chest, and issues of Marvel’s Incredible Hulk and Tarzan. [Rip Jagger's Dojo]
Publishing | Dark Horse manga editor Carl Gustav Horn takes the long view and refuses to give pat answers to questions about trends and hot properties: “This August, the longest-running manga in the North American market, Kosuke Fujishima’s Oh My Goddess!, turns eighteen. We started OMG! during the era of manga marketed as comic books, continued it into the era of manga marketed as graphic novels, and transitioned into the era of manga marketed as tankobon (Japanese-style GNs). Now we’re moving ahead into the era of manga marketed for e-reading.” [ICv2]
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Ivan Salazar, public relations and marketing manager for Studio 407.
To see what Ivan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading (and playing), click below.
The publisher does the heavy-lifting of finding, formatting and even contextualizing the work of one of comics’ undisputed (and, in some way, unrivaled) masters and putting it all together in an easy to find and read source, making Barks’ influential work available to casual readers to either easily finally find out why The Good Duck Artist has the reputation he has, or to discover his work for the first time.
Before cracking the cover, I will admit there was one aspect I was a little leery about. Because so many of Barks’ stories dealt with the Ducks visiting exotic lands, because the stories in this collection were produced between 1948 and 1949 and because Disney doesn’t exactly have the most sterling reputation when it comes to representing diverse nationalities or ethnicities, I was sort of concerned about what the lily-white ducks would be faced with when they journeyed to South America or Africa. Or, more precisely, how Barks would present what they would be faced with.
Reading Will Eisner’s Spirit comics and being confronted by his Ebony White or Osama Tezuka’s work and seeing the various racial stereotypes that pop up in it can be a bit like finding a fly in your soup—by biting down on it. It’s great stuff, but there’s that extremely unpleasant moment you could have done without, you know? (Also, while I haven’t read it, it’s my understanding that Tintin may have had at least one less than politically correct adventure in the Congo).
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]
Action! Mystery! Thrills!: Comic Book Covers of the Golden Ages, 1933-1945
Edited by Greg Sadowski
Fantagraphics Books, 208 pages, $29.99
Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1
Edited by Blake Bell
Fantagraphics Books, 224 pages, $39.99
Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics
Edited by Michael Gagne
Fantagraphics Books, 200 pages, $29.99
Our current publishing era has been dubbed the Golden Age of Reprints by a number of online pundits, myself included, and it’s not too hard to see why. Classic comics that fans and scholars never thought would make it to the bookbinders, let alone be available in an affordable version, are now coming off the presses at a staggering rate.
One of the benefits of this plethora of reprint projects is it allows us to re-examine certain noteworthy periods of comics history, help us discover long ignored artists and fully consider cartoonists who, though their names might have been recognizable, have largely been unappreciated except by a few. The alleged Golden Age of comics in particular has benefited from this scrutiny, not only in illuminating people like Fletcher Hanks but in showcasing work by folks like Jack Cole and Bill Everett.
One of the people leading the way in this specific endeavor is editor Greg Sadowski, who, in anthologies like Supermen! and Four Color Fear, has given average readers access to comics from well-covered eras (i.e. the early superhero and horror trends) merely by republishing stories that didn’t come from Marvel (or whatever it was called at the time), EC or DC.
Sadowski’s latest book, Action! Mystery! Thrills! has a somewhat even narrower focus, dealing entirely with comic book covers from the Golden era. It makes a certain amount of sense. While covers are still an integral part of marketing and selling a comic, they were even more essential back in those early, heady days, when you competed with hundreds of other titles and an eye-catching cover could mean the difference between profit and cancellation (or at least that’s what many editors and publishers of the time felt).
The Quality Companion is a great book for lovers of comics history. It starts out with nine comics featuring heroes such as The Ray, Phantom Lady and The Human Bomb, with art by Jack Cole, Lou Fine and other comics luminaries, and then there is a detailed account of the history of the company. You may not have heard of Quality Comics (I hadn’t), but it was one of the early comics publishers and the original home of Jack Cole’s Plastic Man. Many of Quality’s characters were eventually absorbed by DC. The book is well-written and detailed, and the comics in the front are at once cheesy and fascinating.
TwoMorrows makes the book, and most of its other titles, available in two formats, a hardcover print book and a digital version. The digital book is a PDF, which means it can be downloaded and read on any device, without any concern about the distributor disappearing and taking it with them. That also means it could be easily pirated, and there’s a note in the front of the book telling people that if they downloaded it for free, they did so illegally. “Go ahead and read this digital issue, and see what you think,” the note continues. “If you enjoy it enough to keep it, please do the right thing and go to our site and purchase a legal download of this issue …” This makes so much sense that I don’t know why everyone else doesn’t do it.
It seems as if TwoMorrows has found a digital/print balance that works, at least for this type of book. The print edition is priced at $31.95 (marked down to $27.16 at the moment), and if you spring for it, you get the digital edition free. That’s quite a reasonable price for a book like this. Even better, the digital edition is priced at only $10.95. The print edition will obviously appeal to collector, but for someone like me, who wants to read the book and have it as a reference, the digital edition is a great deal, especially with no DRM.