Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guests are the creative team behind the upcoming self-distributed indie comic LP, Curt Pires and Ramon Villalobos. You can read more about the comic in the interview Tim O’Shea did with Curt earlier this week.
And to see what they’ve been reading lately, click below.
Theme parks | Disney CEO Bob Iger said the company has begun preliminary design work that will pave the way for Marvel superheroes to one day appear alongside familiar characters in Disney theme parks. Iger told shareholders attending the annual meeting Tuesday that the company has been working on some concepts, but hasn’t announced anything yet. Disney is currently developing attractions based on James Cameron’s Avatar film for its Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Florida, which are expected to be ready in 2015. [Los Angeles Times]
Comic strips | Alan Gardner counts 57 newspapers that aren’t carrying this week’s Doonesbury comics, which address a Texas law requiring women requesting an abortion to submit to a transvaginal ultrasound. But according to Universal UClick, no papers have dropped Garry Trudeau’s strip. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Publishing | John Jackson Miller discusses the Rule of Eight, which holds that independent publishers start to falter once they put out more than eight titles per month, and goes into the nuances of the theory with its originator of the idea, Marc Patten. [The Comichron]
Earlier this month as a part of our big birthday bash celebration, Sean T. Collins spoke to the Press Gang–Jason Leivian, Zack Soto and François Vigneault–about their upcoming projects, including a new webcomics portal that we were able to preview some of the artwork from in the interview.
And as of this past week, the portal has gone live, featuring a bunch of new webcomics, including:
- Danger Country by Levon Jihanian
- The Mourning Star: Klive’s Story by Kazimir Strzepek
- The Yankee by Jason Leivian and Ian MacEwan
- The Lone Wolf by Jennifer Parks
- Titan by Francois Vigneault
- It Will All Hurt by Farel Dalrymple
According to a post on their blog, this is just the start–Michael Deforge will contribute complete short stories every six weeks or so, Zack Soto’s Secret Voice starts Feb. 3, and yet-to-be-announced contributions are coming from Malachi Ward, Tom Neely and more.
“And there came a day, a day unlike any other…” Comics is rife with stories of team-ups and alliances formed to solve problems beyond any one member and advance the common good. Such is the story of Press Gang, one of the most intriguing small-press outlets to emerge in the year gone by. Comprising Portland retailer Jason Leivian’s Floating World Comics imprint, cartoonist and editor Zack Soto’s Study Group Comic Books and Elfworld editor François Vigneault’s publishing house Family Style, Press Gang is described on its website simply as “like-minded publishers/packagers banding together.”
Each of its individual members has taken a forward-thinking approach to the work they put out: Leivian’s excellent store has a bold art/comics “house anthology,” the cheekily titled Diamond Comics; Soto teamed with former Comics Journal editor Milo George (with an assist by Bodega Books publisher Randy Chang) to transform his long-running artcomix anthology Studygroup12 into the promising comics/criticism hybrid Study Group Magazine; and Vigneault rescued Elfworld from languishing on original editor Jeffrey Brown’s to-do list, becoming a pioneer of the seemingly ever-widening crossover between alternative comics and fantasy adventures. Any alliance between these three is worth watching very closely.
So to celebrate Robot 6′s third anniversary, I got in touch with each member of the Press Gang triumvirate to ask about the past, present and future of the Gang and their places in it. The big news here is that Soto’s Study Group Comic Books will be absorbing Chang’s Bodega Books now that Chang has officially closed up shop, and will publish Kazimir Strzepek’s highly acclaimed fantasy saga The Mourning Star from now on. And check out oodles of exclusive preview pages from Elfworld #3 and Study Group’s forthcoming sg12.com webcomics portal, launching Jan. 16. But beyond that, there’s Shonen Jump-style phonebook anthologies, the return of old favorites after long hiatuses and, quite literally, magic…
Sean T. Collins: Beyond the fact that Zack works at Jason’s comic shop, Floating World, I know very very little about the origin of Press Gang. How did the three of you hook up?
Zack Soto: I’ve been friends with both Jason and François for several years now. I know François from tabling at APE over the years, and he moved to Portland in the last year or so. Since then, we’ve become pretty good buddies and talk out our projects with each other quite a bit. Jason I’ve known since he opened Floating World, more or less. I went to check out the shop in its first, extremely tiny, space. We’ve been friends ever since, and I guess a year or more ago I started working there a day or two a week. Last year we co-published Studygroup12 #4. I probably talk with these two guys about my crazy ideas and frustrations, and listen to them talk out their ideas, more than any other people besides my wife.
Press Gang came about initially from François and I talking about our various goals as small publishers. We both basically had the same ideas about strength in numbers and what that could mean. Promotionally, it’s as simple as being able to group together some like-minded publisher/packagers at more or less the same level of the industry and bringing all of our small followings to one point. Logistically, one of the obvious strengths is being able to send one or two people to represent the group at a convention and save money. Another benefit is when we have particular skills like silkscreening or risographing or what have you, we give each other sweet deals in our areas of production expertise.
We’re basically modeling ourselves after the Wu-Tang Clan. I like to flatter myself into thinking I’m the GZA but Jason keeps telling me I’m ODB, so oh well.
And while we’re on the subject of big BCGF news, how’s this: Cartoonist and editor Zack Soto has announced the launch of Study Group Magazine, with a first issue slated to debut at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival on December 3rd. Spinning out of Soto’s long-running Studygroup12 anthology (the last issue of which debuted at last year’s BCGF) and co-edited by Soto and former Comics Journal editor Milo George, Study Group Magazine will include both comics and comics journalism. On the latter score, the first issue will feature an interview with Craig Thompson by George, an interview with cover artist Eleanor Davis by Soto, and a profile of Brecht Evens by Greice Schneider. As for the comics themselves, look for contributions from Soto, Michael DeForge, Jonny Negron, Trevor Alixopulos, David King, Aidan Koch, Daria Tressler, Chris Cilla, Malachi Ward, and Jennifer Parks. And be sure to visit Soto’s blog for some gorgeous purple-and-yellow two-tone preview art.
Tomorrow, the Game of Thrones is afoot once more. After six long years of waiting (longer, in the case of some characters), A Dance with Dragons — the fifth volume in George R.R. Martin’s fantasy saga A Song of Ice and Fire, the first volume of which, A Game of Thrones, being the inspiration for the hit HBO series — will finally be released. Personally, I’ll be so cut off from the Internet in order to read the thing that you’ll have to reach me by raven. But until then, let’s celebrate the publication of this long-anticipated hope-it’s-a-masterpiece with a gallery of the best Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire art the Internet has to offer. Please note: If all you’ve seen is the TV show, there are some mild SPOILERS ahead in the form of characters you haven’t met and, in a couple of cases (though nothing major, so don’t panic) events you haven’t seen. Just avoid that map at the bottom and you’re all set.
Many thanks to Zack Soto’s The Wall Defends Itself tumblr, Kris Mukai & Maritsa Patrinos’s Game of Thrones minizine, the #Winterfell deviantART community, and Elio & Linda of Westeros.org for helping me discover many of these treasures.
Check out the whole gallery after the jump — click on any image to go to its original source, or as close to it as I could get! And please, NO SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS, for any book in the series. I will be very strict about this. Longsword-swinging strict.
After a stellar run as the back-up story in Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon, the Michel Fiffe-edited series Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies is making its way toward the bookshelf with a collection that boasts some amazing extras.
The collected Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies is scheduled to hit this July as an over-sized 144 page book, collecting all 12 back-up stories as well as some new material from the likes of Tom Scioli, Jim Rugg, Jasen Lex, Paul Maybury, Zack Soto and others.
If you missed it in singles, this collection is worth a flip through. You have to admire Larsen’s agreeance to allow Fiffe and his team of creators to do this liberal a take on his characters. It really allows each of them to play to their strengths, and wish more creator-owned cartoonists would consider giving over the reins of their characters like this.
Nominees were selected by a panel of judges — Michael Allred, Brandon Graham, Laura Hudson, Michael Ring and Jason Leivian — from among the entries submitted earlier this year. Winners were determined by an online vote.
The winners are:
Best Artist: Emily Carroll, His Face All Red
Best Writer: Aaron Renier, The Unsinkable Walker Bean
Best Cartoonist: Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour
Best Letterer: Johnny Ryan, Prison Pit #2
Best Colorist: Emily Carroll, His Face All Red
Best Publication Design: Michael DeForge, Spotting Deer
Best Anthology: Studygroup 12 #4, edited by Zack Soto
Best Small Press: I Want You #2 by Lisa Hanawalt
Best New Talent: Michael DeForge
Reader’s Choice: Pang, the Wandering Shaolin Monk by Ben Costa
Director’s Choice: The Sixth Gun, by Brian Hurtt and Cullen Bunn, published by Oni Press
Full disclosure (not that it’s even necessary if you’ve noticed my posts on this topic for the past few months): I am a giant nerd for George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, and eagerly anticipate Game of Thrones, the new HBO series based on the books. (Go ahead and watch the first 14 minutes of the series premiere at Spinoff. I’ll wait.)
Fortunately I’m in good company: Cartoonist Zack Soto, of The Secret Voice and Studygroup12 fame, is a hardcore ASoIaF fanboy as well. In tribute, he’s launched The Wall Defends Itself, a tumblelog dedicated to the best in Game of Thrones fan and production art. That’s Soto’s rendition of one of the books’ major heavies, Sandor Clegane — aka the Hound — above. Soto says he’ll try to post at least one original piece of ASoIaF art every week — the perfect way to get your fix of intrigue, incest and the occasional undead warrior between episodes of the show!