|Catching Up With: Todd Stashwick and Dennis Calero on moving between comics and TV
||[09 Dec 2013|10:33pm]
by Pam Auditore
A one time member of Chicago’s famous Second City improv, with a long resume in TV and film, Todd Stashwick is currently best known as Father Kieran on CW’s “The Originals“ (Tuesdays, 8pm, 7pm Central The Originals). But the multi-talented Stashwick came to comic book fan attention as the Multiple Man on NBC’s “Heroes.” The show’s web-comic, which ran around the same time, brought to mainstream attention a slew of artists all ready known to comic fans, among them, Dennis Calero.. ALong the way, Calero and Stashwick decided to team up as creative partners for a variety of projects.
With Todd fighting Vampires in “The Originals” and Dennis tussling with an “Army of Darkness” for Dynamite (along with Steve Niles), you’d think they have enough to do. However, together they collaborate on the online Comic “The Devil Inside“ which Todd writes and Dennis draws.
Having multiple projects in the works, we thought it was time to take a breath and catch Up with these two talented gents:
Q) So you’re playing Father Kieran in the CW’s the Originals. What can you tell me about him and about the show?
TS: He’s a man with a lot on his mind. His nephew was hexed to commit a horrible murder. Distraught, Father Kieran left town. He’s returned to New Orleans 8 months later to take revenge on the people who fused it. At the same time he is the voice of the Human faction. We have an alliance with the witches and Vamps to keep the peace. What we may lack in supernatural abilities we make up for in sheer numbers. It’s potentially an ants and the grasshoppers situation. So we keep their secret and they keep the locals safe. I find the show fascinating. It’s structurally a Gangster show. Powerful families vying for control of a town using, violence, manipulation and coercion. They happen to be vampires. Boardwalk Vampire if you will.
Q) Are you and Dennis thinking of “Devil Inside” film? Have you thought of doing it as a KickStarter?
TS: We definitely want to do a live action version of Devil. There’s many different avenues to go with it. We haven’t thought of it as feature though. I think a longer form medium would serve it better. Kickstarter is tricky because you get one shot with it. We would need to know exactly what form we would want to do it in before we took to Kickstarter.
Q) I heard you both were doing some project with SyFy is that true?
TS: We have been developing a pilot with Syfy, an outer space adventure called Clandestine. It’s about a family of space brigands who steal an abandoned military vessel and go on the run. We have completed the writing and are now awaiting to hear what the next step is. We’ve been working with some great people. Our supervising producer is John Shiban who worked on X-files, Supernatural, Breaking Bad and most recently Hell on Wheels. We are partnered with Gale Ann Hurd and her company Valhalla, that produces Walking Dead. It’s been a great experience so far and I hope we go further.
Q) At the “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” premiere you said Batman was your inspiration for getting into writing comics? Why? Are there any other comics you are currently following?
TS: I guess I meant that Batman was what got me into comics way back when. Started me on this journey. It’s a treat to contribute to a medium that I am a big fan of. I’m reading Scott Snyder’s Batman, Walking Dead, Saga, East of West and anything by Grant Morrison and Neil Gaiman.
Q) You have a movie coming out?
I did a western with Ewan Mcgreggor and Natalie Portman called “Jane Got a Gun” and I’m continuing my role on The Originals. Cheers Everyone!
An Illustrator and Comicbook artist, Dennis has worked for IDW, Marvel, DC, Valiant, Dynamite Entertainment on books such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, Kolchack: The Night Stalker, Legion of Super Heroes, X-Men Noir, Doctor Solar, Masks and a webcomic The Little Green God of Agony for Stephen King
Q) So how was NYCC for you?
DC: Very productive, it continues to grow and I predict will soon be the show to go to mostly because SDCC is very far away and much too warm and comfortable. It’s always nice to see friends I haven’t seen for months or even years, and it’s a good chance to meet with people and see what’s coming up. I think, for me, sitting at a table is less important, surely just less possible with the amount of work I have.
Q) What are your current and future projects?
DC: I’m currently finishing up a run of Ash: Army of Darkness and am turning my attention to next year’s projects including an original tale I’m writing and drawing for Dark Horse, as well as a turn on the Vampire Diaries comic for DC digital. That’s of course in addition to Devil Inside.
Q) You once expressed interest in directing and knowing your work and having met you I think you’d be a fine one–so how is that ambition going?
DC: It’s something I continue to be interested in doing and hope the opportunity will present itself someday. It’s an interesting topic because there’s a storytelling component and a real technical and administrative component, I think, to being a great director. I’m far less interested in that side of it. You need to have a passion for both the artistry and nuts and bolts of any endeavor to really thrive. I also continue to be against the idea that film somehow is the ultimate story telling medium, with novels, comics and the like being lesser forms, mainly just because of the amount of money involved.
It also comes down to the honest sense that there are many other things that I would be for more disappointed if I never got to do, such as really sit down and write a novel or put up a solo show of my paintings and drawings.
Q) Are you and Todd thinking of “Devil Inside” film? Do you think of doing it as a KickStarter?
I think we approach Kickstarter as a last ditch effort for something deeply personal, which Devil is, and also completely unfundable by systemic means, which I think Devil is not. There’s been enough interest in Devil going into other mediums that we don’t see that as a necessary option right now.
As anyone who’s ever met Todd and Dennis at their table in Artist Alley at a Con can tell you, they are very fan friendly, creating, along with fellow “Heroes” alumnus, director/actress Brea Grant, SlamCon a fan/pro meet-up which takes place yearly at San Diego Comic Con. Read more about it here.
If you happen to be at SDCC next year and find yourself between interminable line ups for TV/Movie panels, I recommend taking a side trip to their table in Artist Alley where you can meet them and get a signed copy of the collected versions of “Devil Inside.“
Todd and Dennis would like everyone to know that Devil Inside comes out for free every week http://www.toddstashwick.com/comic.asp and you can check out Dennis’s website denniscalero.com for news and upcoming events.
|Wandering Son Vol. 6 by Shimura Takako - Photoset Preview
||[09 Dec 2013|07:55pm]
“While most manga about cross-dressing involve lots of shrieking and embarrassment, Wandering Son takes a quieter, more introspective approach.... It’s a very sweet manga with realistic characters — no dead parents or crazy teachers, just ordinary, loving families and supportive friends. This manga is a beautifully produced, hardcover book, and... it’s worth every penny.” — Brigid Alverson, MTV.com
“Wandering Son is meticulously accurate in its details, but universal in its emotions. Gay or not, readers shouldn’t find it too difficult to identify with kids who feel like their bodies and their friends are equally culpable in the worst kind of betrayal, preventing them from realizing the potential they see in themselves.” — Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
Wandering Son (Hourou Musuko / 放浪息子) Vol. 6
by Shimura Takako
220-page black & white (with some color) 7" x 9.5" hardcover • $24.99
Due to arrive in about 2-4 weeks. Click the thumbnails for larger versions; get more info, see more previews and pre-order your copy here:
SPECIAL OFFER: Add Wandering Son Vol. 7 (coming Summer 2014) or Vols. 7 & 8 (coming Winter 2014/2015) to your pre-order for just $19.99 each, a savings of at least $5 off the cover price! Use the option menu on the product page to make your selection.
|Get off the Couch to go to Floating World
||[09 Dec 2013|07:25pm]
Get Off The Couch With Couch TagJesse Reklaw's Launches His New Graphic Novel at Floating World
WHAT: Get Off The Couch Book Tour for Jesse Reklaw's Couch Tag
WHEN: Thursday Nov. 19th, 6-9pm
WHERE: Floating World Comics, 400 NW Couch St
Join Jesse Reklaw at Floating World Comics in Portland, OR on December 19th for a night to remember. From 6pm to 9pm, Reklaw will be signing copies of his twisted graphic novel, Couch Tag. Let him know which of his 13 cats was your favorite.
Veteran alternative cartoonist Jesse Reklaw, creator of the long-running weekly comic strip Slow Wave, delivers a tragicomic graphic memoir, his first long-form work. Presented as a series of comic novellas that together comprise a thoughtful, sometimes dark and often hilarious memoir about childhood, family, death, mental illness, sex and drug use, the entire book is told through cleverly inviting conceits like cat histories and card games. Reklaw's own psychological state is expressed through his erratic art-style changes and darkening imagery.
The graphic novel is told in five parts: In "Thirteen Cats" (featured in The Best American Comics), Reklaw discovers coping mechanisms that mimic his family pets; "Toys I Love" relates the author's pre-pubescent brushes with deviant sexual activity, and the way innocence converges with real sexual trauma; "The Fred Robinson Story" tells the story of Reklaw's period stalking perfect strangers; "The Stacked Deck," in which hereditary influences towards criminal behavior, drug use and depression are explored via card games the author played with his family; and "Lessoned," a family history of mental illness.
400 NW Couch St
|SDCC: Registration delayed until early 2014
||[09 Dec 2013|06:57pm]
The Comic-Con International has decided to postpone 2014 badge preregistration until early next year so they can, “fine tune their registration process.” Apparently, they have been listening to everyone’s complaints and have made four major improvements to help the hysterical process. Hopefully, this is easier than signing up for health insurance.
A shopping cart!
The new EPIC shopping cart should allow you to hold available badge inventory for all members of your party during your registration session.
Single session purchasing!
In the old EPIC Registration system, attendees had to purchase their badge first and then start the entire process all over again for their next guest. Now, when you begin your online registration session you will enter the number of people you are buying badges for and on the following page all available badge inventory should be held for each member of your party. You will not have to make a second purchase!
Landing page validation!
In the past, non-members and ineligible attendees could access the landing page and waiting room, potentially taking up space in line that should be reserved for eligible participants. In order to keep non-members and ineligible attendees out of the waiting room, we are implementing a unique registration code that must be entered prior to arriving at the landing page. This means that only eligible attendees (and possibly a few muggles) will be able to access the landing page and attempt to gain entry into the waiting room.
Have you ever tried to shove 100,000 jellybeans through a funnel all at once? The experienced engineers at Web Performance are virtually attempting just that, by following time-proven load-testing methodologies. Extensive load-testing in advance will not only give us information about EPIC’s user capacity, but also pinpoint potential problem areas.
We are thankful that so many of you offer feedback on what does and does not work. We value that information and are working to address many of those issues. Unfortunately, we are still faced with the problem of having more demand than badge availability. We hope these new features will help alleviate some of the more difficult parts of the badge purchase experience.
|Retailer roundtable: Are graphic novels a “sh*tty* business model?
||[09 Dec 2013|06:00pm]
A few weeks ago, retailer and CBR columnist Brian Hibbs commented on the Fantagraphics Kickstarter campaign, but along the way gave a few sharp-toed kicks to the ribs of graphic novels in general. Hibbs has never been a huge supporter of the economic model of the OGN, but this was his strongest salvo yet:
Original Graphic Novels (OGNs) are a shitty business model.
It is shitty for creators, it is shitty for stores and it is shitty for publishers. Especially in the face of a marketplace that is not only rock-solid non-returnable, but that has evolved a mechanism to draw significant numbers of repeat customers in for regular, scheduled and most importantly paid, weekly visits. That’s a remarkable advantage for a marketplace, and one that doesn’t have any really significant comparable in any other art form.
But-but what about those done in one GNs that are everywhere? How can something that is shitty have produced Fun Home, Exit Wounds, Scott Pilgrim, You’ll Never Know, New School, etc., etc., etc.?
I think serialization inherently produces more work, as well — beyond the lash of the regular ongoing deadline, I think that a serialization-first model allows and encourages work that isn’t already fully-formed — would we have had Chester Brown’s “Ed the Happy Clown” or Dan Clowes’ “Like a Velvet Glove” in an OGN-only world, or would those projects been abandoned when the cartoonists figured out they didn’t have an ending? I think the world is a better place for having those works (however flawed they are) in it, and I don’t think we’d have come to a place where “Paying For It” or “Wilson” could have been created if those earlier works hadn’t come out serialized originally, and the cartoonist hadn’t built an audience and a following.
I was going to write a long riposte to this about how digital sampling allows for the serialization model in a modern environment (of which Hibbs says “the connection between online viewing and making a purchase at the cash register is tenuous, at best” even though the more digital comics there are the more print comics have been selling) and I read Johanna Draper Carlson’s recent analysis of the piece, but then I thought. “Waitaminnit, I’m just a big GN reader and not a periodical fan at this time, but what do OTHER retailers think? That’s more interesting than me getting on my horse again.” So I reached out to a few respected retailers for their thoughts and this is what they said about the mix between periodicals and GNs in their stores:
I’m not nearly as negative as Brian is about OGNs, but I wouldn’t say OGNs have “radically expanded the market.”
While I do agree that an overwhelming majority of our book business is with previously serialized material, we do have a two OGNs in our top 15 for the year so far: Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang and Adventure Time OGN Volume 1: Playing With Fire.
Granted, a recognizable property like Adventure Times and a well-known graphic novelist like Gene Luen Yang make a huge difference. In my estimation, if there’s a problem with OGNs it’s that we’re in a business that revolves on constant serial entertainment. That often means, unless there is a lot of in-store personal sales focus on an item, that OGNs get a week or two in the spotlight. That works for the inertia of periodical series, but doing that with a $15-30 book with no returnability means there’s a higher risk and a short window for sell through.
Periodicals have the benefit of another issue coming out which can spur a few more sales of previous issues. OGNs are on their own with almost all promotion for them being done in the run-up to publication, but often very little follow-up once the books hit the shelves.
We talk a lot about how great the market for book format material is—and it is a solid market. But many retailers I’ve been in contact with recently are finding more life and increased sales in periodical comics. Periodicals are still the business core of the direct market while book format comics are a very nice second. Comics sales have been up by better than 10% a year for the last three years while book sales have been up and down (by 14% in 2012).
In other news, the music business is lamenting the drop in album sales while single sales are up. Different cat, same color.
Producer, New Orleans Bookfair & Media Expo
Crescent City Comics
4916 Freret St.
After looking at our year-to-date stats, I’m inclined to say that while OGNs are an important part of the industry, overall the category is much more of a dice roll than collections of serialized material. I used our POS to look at every trade paperback or hardcover that has sold at least 10 copies in 2013. 69 items met that criteria and all but 11 had been serialized and a few of those could be considered special cases for our store.
The top non-serialized GN on our list is Blacksad: Silent Hell, coming in at #7. That book’s set in New Orleans and is an easy sell to locals and tourists alike. The first volume of Blacksad (which wasn’t serialized in the U.S.) clocks in at #50 this year, more or less on the back of Silent Hell. Next up, at #17, is A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge. Full disclosure: I’m one of the featured characters, so I have reason to keep this book in stock. It’s another good souvenir for tourists, even if it’s more or less hit its peak of local awareness. Of the remaining 7, a couple might not count: Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia (#62), Fortunately the Milk (#67) by Neil Gaiman and Skottie Young, which is more of an illustrated book than graphic novel, and 3 are volumes of the excellent Avatar: the Last Airbender continuation (and you can look at these OGNs as serializations, knocking them out of consideration). Also included are Fun Home (#64) and the paperback Battling Boy (#68, which would rank higher if the HCs were included).
As with everything, it’s not a black and white situation. I can’t imagine our shelves without Blankets or Habibi or Pride of Baghdad) I loved the recent Bad Houses and moved a few copies of that–it probably won’t make the list next year, but I’m glad the customers who wanted it were able to pick it up. Anthony Bourdain’s Get Jiro fit this criteria last year and would’ve made the list–that’s one I’m glad to have on hand on the occasions someone’s looking for it. That being said, a great many OGNs just sit and sit. Heck, even something like Sandman: Endless Nights sits a lot longer than Sandman volume 10.
Anecdotally, OGNs are much more important in the all-ages section. Smile, Babysitters Club and Drama are stalwarts considering the ratio of all-ages to everything else we sell.
For those curious, our full top 10: #1:
#2: Saga Vol.2,
#3 Manhattan Projects Vol.1,
#4: Hawkeye Vol.1,
#5: Sandman Vol.1,
#6: Adventure Time Vol.1,
#7: Blacksad: Silent Hell,
#8: Fatale Vol.1,
#9: Walking Dead Vol.18,
#10: Avengers vs. X-Men.
15017 Ventura Blvd. 91403
8967 Reseda Blvd. 91324
When I opened a shop in 2003, I thought periodicals would have been phased out by now in favor of book product but that has not been the case.
Periodicals are still strong for comics shops because we are the only place to get periodicals in physical form.
Many book product sales–especially on more expensive product–have moved to online discounters. Omnibuses and Absolute style collections are discounted so deep at online bookstores it is hard for comic book retailers to compete price-wise.
But the issue you were originally asking about is periodicals vs OGNS, that is original graphic novels.
The major contribution of OGNs has been to bring a sense of legitimacy and seriousness to the medium. The works of Alison Bechdel, Chris Ware, Craig Thompson, etc. get written up in the mass media and bring attention to the comic book form as literature. In terms of superhero OGNs, the Earth One series has worked to bring in people who might not buy a Superman or Batman comic but like to be able to read a single novel. I’m not sure serializing those stories first would have had the same PR impact as the OGNs did.
But OGNs are not major sellers in comic book shops and unless there are those kind of mind-blowing reviews, it is hard for them to get attention.
Now trade paperback and hardcover collections have been essential in expanding the market so that classic takes are available to all new customers. Arguably, the best-selling collections started out as basically “serialized novels”–Watchmen, Batman The Long Halloween, Hush, Optic Nerve Shortcomings, Civil War and other event stories, Bone, Walking Dead.
Books like Walking Dead actually offer another paradigm–the collections are a serial as well.
There is a great body of OGNs that have given us new perennial sellers over the years. The crime genre has benefitted with books like Tumor and Green River Killer. Certain kids’ books like Amulet have worked too–but that is still a serial model.
I understand why Fantagraphics may not want to publish Love and Rockets issues, but the Hernandez Brothers have built up enough of an audience and after several years they have established a consistency with the Annual books of New Stories.
But Adrian Tomine still published 3 issues of Optic Nerve that were collected as Shortcomings and that allowed him to be seen in the marketplace and sell the story to two different types of customers. And sometimes, the same customer buys both formats and that adds to the bottom line as well.
Right now, Battling Boy is the big OGN this year. After that it’s a long way down before I see another OGN having an impact in our shop. And even Battling Boy wisely released a comic book issue previewing the OGN. That was an unusual marketing step for First Second but a very smart one, allowing us to transition Paul Pope’s comic book fans to the collection.
But most OGNs that come out get some face out time on a rack then become a spine out item after a couple weeks, an item that someone has to come find. The same thing happens with volume 3 of a superhero tp series–they are books you stock for the Long Tail, for that person who is looking. It doesn’t sell itself.
Terry Moore is a great example of serializing then collecting. We have great success with that work–Rachel Rising, Echo, Strangers in Paradise in all formats.
When comics like Optic Nerve, Love and Rockets, Hate, Peep Show, Yummy Fur, Stray Bullets, Eightball, Acme Novelty, Palookaville, etc., were being published semi-regularly, it made trips to the comic shop worth it to get a new taste of these exciting, groundbreaking artists. You could always find something new. And fans of this type of work had a reason to regularly check out their LCS. But the long production time between OGNs makes those trips less rewarding so I think some of those customers move away from LCS experience and just wait for Amazon to tell them the new Dan Clowes book is out.
|Plotagon lets you make your own animated movie with the help of Stan Lee
||[09 Dec 2013|03:30pm]
Okay, so there’s this new software thinger called Plotagon and once you upload your screenplay and make a few other settings it uses Sims-like animation to make a little movie out of it. Screencraft has more details, but apparently you can also purchase a Stan Lee plug-in that helps you make a superhero movie. Settings include The Lair, a bank vault, head quarters, and of course, a rooftop. Yep sounds like they covered all the bases.
A “Pride and Prejudice” module is also available. “Please Mr. Darcy, can you clean my bath tub?”
According to the corporate website:
You don’t have to learn complicated tools or know anything about animation. Plotagon animates everything for you. Press play, and environments and props are put into position, dialogue is converted into speech, and characters come alive before your eyes.
There are several samples on the site, and they are pretty damned bizarre. And yet impressive.
Maybe they’ll add a “yaoi pack” and we can really go to town.
|O’Malley’s SECONDS is nearly done
||[09 Dec 2013|03:00pm]
Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel SECONDS was delayed when the Scott Pilgrim creator injured his arm, but now he and the rest of the production team have been racing to finish it, if their Twitter feeds are any indication. And while they are biased, of course, reading letterer Dustin Harbin’s tweets, you have to be a little curious. (The rest of the team includes art assistant Jason Fischer and colorist Nathan Fairbairn.)
O’Malley has been pretty tight-lippied about the story, but it’s set in a restaurant.
I worked in a restaurant in Toronto for a little while to pay the bills while writing the second volume and planning the rest of the series, and I had a few ideas for this other story, a story about a restaurant. So, Seconds is about a restaurant, and the restaurant is called Seconds, and 90 percent of the story takes place within it. Beyond that it’s really hard for me to explain and I’m going to have to work on that so I can talk about it properly when it comes out. But it’s funny and weird and kind of big and crazy despite the mundane setting.
SECONDS is slated for release on July 1st by Random House. Until then just make do by dressing up as Ramona Flowers and following along on O’Malley’s tumblr.
|We’re going to Angoulême!
||[09 Dec 2013|01:30pm]
At long last, I’m going to the Angoulême Comics Festival! Or to give it its proper name, the FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL DE LA BANDE DESSINÉE.
The Angoulême Festival is the largest non-manga comics gathering in the world, as some 200,000 comics lovers flood the medieval town to look at displays, listen to concerts, get books signed, and if previous show reports I’ve read are accurate, drink French wine until 1 am. In other words, it’s just like a comic-con, except instead of being in a hotel with an 80s carpet, it’s in a Medieval French village. The show this year runs from January 30th until February 2nd, and yes, that means I’ll miss the Super Bowl. Oh well.
Going to the Festival has been a lifelong goal of mine and now, thanks to the Festival organizers, I’ll be covering it for Publishers Weekly.
I’ll have more details as we get closer, but I’m pretty darned excited for this. Angoulême has long been recognized for the excellence of its exhibits and the way the whole town is taken over by comics, exhibiting a respect for the artform that makes US comic-cons look like beginners. This year’s spotlights include Grand Prix winner and festival president Willem, Jacques Tardi, Gus Bofa, the Journal du Mickey, character Mafalda and Ernst and Rebecca, and much more. While my knowledge of the Franco-Belgian comics tradition is ok for a normal person, I have a lot more to learn, and hopefully, this trip will enable me to share as much of it as possible.
Cela va être merveilleux!
|Kibbles ‘n’ Bits, 12/9/13: You’ll love comics even more after you read this!
||[09 Dec 2013|01:00pm]
§ It isn’t just here, folks: in India a cartoonist has been arrested for harassing a woman over the phone. A female translator who hired him to illustrate a cover for a book complained that the unnamed cartoonist was calling her late at night with crank calls. The perp was found to have four other similar complaints against him and he was arrested in Bangalore.
§ Noelene Clark looks at the ‘Marvels & Monsters’ art exhibit, which explores Asan stereotypes.
“Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986” examines eight main archetypes: the Alien, the Brain, the Brute, the Guru, the Kamikaze, the Lotus Blossom, the Manipulator and the Temptress. “The images were largely negative,” says exhibition curator Jeff Yang. “This reflected the time frame — a period when the view of Asians was shaped by racist, xenophobic wartime propaganda” and fears related to immigration and economic and global rivalries. He adds that the pieces on display, some of which may “disturb and disquiet,” illustrate how “tenacious stereotypes” plus the nature of the medium (“an art of broad strokes and bright colors”) helped create stock villains, vixens and sages.
§ Tom Spurgeon chats with Karl Stevens, which spotlights not only what a talented cartoonist Stevens is, but also, the sudden dropping out of Jeff Mason, who published Alternative Comics before moving on.
§ Here’s another one for the Film Vault of Lost Comic Book Projects: Paul Dini’s live action Batman Beyond movie:
This screen adaptation would have been produced by Dini and Alan Burnett, his fellow producer on the Batman Beyond animated series. Boaz Yakin (Remember The Titans) was attached to direct. It would have told the origins of the new caped crusader, Terry McGinnis, and his relationship with an elderly Bruce Wayne. There were rumors this past July that Warners might rekindle the Batman Beyond live-action movie, but then just days later at San Diego Comic-Con the studio announced that Batman vs. Superman was in the works for summer 2015.
§ The BBC spotlights Egyptian cartoonist Deena Mohamed whose strip Qahera features a superheroine who combats misogyny and Islamophobia.
Her website got hundreds of thousands of hits – more than 500,000 since September alone. Egypt is the top country of visitors to the site, followed by the US.
Deena also found enthusiasm among local publishers who asked her to create a printed version as well.
“It is insane. Way more exposure than I ever expected,” the 19-year-old art student says.
§ And Al Jazeera profiles Jonathan Shapiro, aka Zapiro, South Africa’s best known cartoonist, and probably the only cartoonist to be sued by the head of state.
§ Warren Ellis has started up a new newsletter called ORBITAL OPERATIONS. You can sign up here.
§ Over in comics retailing news, the shops of Madison, WI are profiled:
Over the years, Ayers, 66, has built a steady business that has turned his shop at 1910 Monroe St. – just a couple blocks up from his original location – into something of a mecca for comic book enthusiasts. “They frequently refer to us as a Monroe Street institution,” he said. “I never realized I’d become an institution when I wasn’t looking.”
§ And Bismarck, ND, where it is currently -6 degrees, has its own new comics shop, Juke Joint Comics & More, down on 500 N. Third St.
Swenson said he has noticed an increasing number of collectors in Bismarck-Mandan and thought there was a enough demand to support his business. “They (collectors) didn’t really have a place to do buying or trading,” he said. “We’re providing that niche for them.” Swenson said his inventory is about 40 percent comics and 60 percent collectables. The store caters more to adult collectors rather than kids.
§ Finally, in St. Augustine, A= Comics and Collectibles turns into a church on Sundays:
“Walking Dead” memorabilia meets you as you enter A+ Comics & Collectibles, leading to a packed showroom filled with Batman, Wonder Woman, Zombie-themed lunch boxes and games of all ilk. But on Sunday mornings, the comic book store becomes a church. The racks are pushed to the side and curtains go up in front of most of the merchandise, although the Hulk, Batman and Wonder Woman can be seen atop a display in the back, near the table reserved for Holy Communion. “It’s like a comic book store that becomes a Transformer, too,” said owner Russ Battaglia.
§ Anders Nilsen is having a holiday sale. You will not find better comcs.
§ You know that Morgan Freeman drawing that the guys supposedly created on an iPad? It was probably faked.
§ Multiversity spotlights the breakout artists and writers of 2013.
|Zero Hour and Other Stories by Jack Kamen, Al Feldstein et al. (EC Comics Library) - Excerpt
||[07 Dec 2013|12:50am]
A new volume in our EC Comics Library series beams your way next month: Zero Hour and Other Stories, drawn by Jack Kamen and mostly scripted by Al Feldstein, with 22 pulpy sci-fi & suspense shockers full of Cold War paranoia, barely-suppressed sexual urges, desperation, alien invaders, bioengineering gone wrong, mass extinctions, lovelorn automatons, and man's folly in the face of technology he can't fully understand or control.
In our downloadable excerpt you'll find the haunting title story, adapted from a story by Ray Bradbury, sandwiched between the ultimate self-loathing tale "The Parallel" and the teleportational "Hot-Rod!"
|EVP John Rood leaving DC Entertainment as sales and marketing reorganize
||[07 Dec 2013|12:30am]
Executive vp of sales and marketing and business development John Rood is leaving DC Entertainment, a DC spokesperson has confirmed.
Rood’s position is being eliminated as the sales and marketing departments get a shuffle. Marketing, interactive marketing and publicity will go under Amit Desai, who is currently senior vice president of franchise management. Desai will add the new duties to his current portfolio.
Sales, custom publishing and business development will go back to being run under co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan Didio, with various folk running each department.
The changes take place on January 1st. Although the reorg comes in the midst of DC’s move to the West Coast, we’re reliably informed that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the move.
Rood came on board in 2010 as part of Diane Nelson’s five person executive team. He made his mark at DC over a wide variety of sales and marketing issues, including the New 52 roll out and a subsequent retailer survey and was a familiar presence at retailer functions, as well as a frequent interview subject, along with Bob Wayne, at industry sites including CBR, ICv2 and PW. He was also a big champion of DC’s digital initiatives, and in general helped moved the company forward on a variety of levels.
Rood was previously at ABC and before that at WB Consumer Products. Despite not having a background in comics, he certainly learned a lot about them in short order.
While this much is confirmed, stepping into the realm of speculation, Bob Wayne has been sidelined quite a bit of late due to some health issues (now corrected, we’re told he’s fine), so it will be interesting to see when he takes the reigns again of the sales department. Pure speculation, but with more than 20 years of DC service under his belt, Wayne could be unliekly to make the West Coast move, so the next two years could see many more changes in DC’s sales department.
|Pretty in Ink: Acknowledgments
||[06 Dec 2013|10:20pm]
From the editor: Unfortunately, Trina Robbins' acknowledgments were accidentally ommitted from her new book, Pretty in Ink: North American Women Cartoonists 1886-2013.
They will be included in the (knock on wood) next printing. Until then, Trina Robbins:
A heartfelt thank you to Kyle Ryan, Ellen Klages, Shaun Clancy, Jonathan Warm Day Coming, Patrick Ford, Bill McGrath, Christine Chambers, and Allan Holtz (and his great website, http://strippersguide.blogspot.com), for the priceless material that they provided; to Alexa Dickman, for her detective work that resulted in my finding Fran Hopper; and to Steve Leialoha, for putting together the pieces. This would still be a book without them, but it would not be half as good a book.
A special thank you to Alex Jay for his information on Katherine Patterson Rice, and for clearing up the Jean Mohr gender mystery; Jean Mohr, who was included in all my past books, is a man!
|Wandering Son Vol. 6 by Shimura Takako - Video/Photo Slideshow Preview
||[06 Dec 2013|10:20pm]
Wandering Son (Hourou Musuko / 放浪息子) Vol. 6
by Shimura Takako
220-page black & white (with some color) 7" x 9.5" hardcover • $24.99
Ships in: December 2013 (subject to change) — Pre-Order Now
SPECIAL OFFER: Add Wandering Son Vol. 7 (coming Summer 2014) or Vols. 7 & 8 (coming Winter 2014/2015) to your pre-order for just $19.99 each, a savings of at least $5 off the cover price! Use the option menu on the product page to make your selection.
Shimura Takako's sensitive and charming series about two middle schoolers wrestling with their gender identities continues, with more role-reversal play fun this time around.
The success of their performance of The Rose of Versailles in the fifth grade — in which the boys played the women and the girls played the men — inspires our protagonists to put on another gender-bending play for the junior-high school festival. This time they do a riff on Romeo and Juliet, with generous helpings of fantasy and mystery. Nitori-kun and Chiba-san write the script together, but Chiba-san has an agenda: She wants to play Romeo, with Nitori-kun in the role of Juliet. But Nitori-kun wants Takatsuki-san to play Romeo...
With her usual prickliness, Chiba-san forces Nitori-kun to confront a question he's been avoiding. Are his feelings for Takatsuki-san those of a boy for a girl, a girl for a girl, or a girl for a boy? But you know what they say of the best laid plans of mice and men: The cast is to be decided by fate, with names drawn randomly.
Meanwhile, Maho plans a trip to the beach with her boyfriend, but her parents send Nitori-kun along as an unwilling chaperone. Faced with unwanted changes to their growing bodies, Takatsuki-san discovers the wonders of "breast binders," and Nitori-kun explores the limits of his ability to "pass."
View Video & Photo Slideshow Preview in New Window
|Comic of the Week: My So-Called Secret Identity
||[06 Dec 2013|09:00pm]
One fiercely intelligent young woman, one city in which superheroes and villains are the norm, and one comic in which diversity is as natural as the real world, with one kickass female hero to cheer for. And now, in print!
When Will Brooker, Suze Shore, and Sarah Zaidan first launched My So-Called Secret Identity (MSCSI) back in the summer, it was met with great critical acclaim, from Lea Hernandez to Julian Darius to Geek Syndicate to myself. Brooker, Batman scholar and academic author, is on writing duties, alongside professional artists Shore and Zaidan, who also has a PhD in the comics field.
MSCSI: Cat by Hanie Mohd
I interviewed Will about the ideas behind MSCSI and how the comic had come to be right here on The Beat, but basically the comics follow the adventures of Cat, a twenty-something Irish-American woman living in Gloria City, a place full of celebrity superheroes. Cat is a normal person, just a student, and a cop’s daughter. Except… Cat is also the smartest person in town.
There are definite shades of Batgirl here, of Barbara Gordon, but without the usual constraints of the superhero genre. There are no daft costumes of spandex, yet there are believable costumed heroes in armour. There are outrageous villains but they are using terrorist tactics that are all too familiar to the real world. Cat is super smart, but in a way that readers can keep up with while stretching their own brains (shades of Morrison’s Batman perhaps). There are friends around her, but they’re not just there to provide emotional triggers for our lead (and they are super cute and loveable in their own different ways).
MSCSI: Connie by Amanda Braxton
It’s a subversion of Gotham City perhaps, but it has much more to say than simply prodding at the domino-masked super-genre; instead this is a celebration of the best that superhero comics can be, while also taking the gender essentialist hyper-masculine approach and the hyper-feminine opposite and telling them to fuck the fuck off.
And while I can easily point out how diverse this comic is – with many women characters, gay characters, dealing with bigotry, and not having everyone white(!) – it very much feels accidental rather than a… how should I say this, “PC GONE MAD!!” as the bottom half of the internet would say. This is not a comic just for women or for feminists, it is a comic that can appeal to everyone, for those who look for comics with LGBT characters, with feminist themes, with characters of colour, or just for great adventure or superhero comics. This is diversity as a reflection of reality. As Howard Hardiman recently said:
“I just think that the whole idea of diversity is a little bit odd because what I really see it as is just being real.”
Which is exactly what MSCSI has managed to achieve. And those not yet represented will quite possibly turn up in later issues, as we are only three issues in so far – all three of which are FREE to read thanks to their dedicated donating fanbase.
One initial fear I did have proved to be fortunately unfounded – that Cat’s PhD student status would be somewhat alienating to those from less privileged or academic backgrounds. Cat is a young woman, certainly a student, but that isn’t really a major focus of the book. I do of course say this as a PhD student myself, but having got there by way of bursaries and funding from a working class background, I stick out like a sore thumb… maybe Cat does too. When she says, in issue 1, “The problem’s not me, the problem’s other people,” I’d imagine almost every reader can relate.
Since the first issue too, more extras have been added to the website, including: Sound & Vision, with exclusive videos and Gloria City bands; Community with Cat’s favourite websites; the Lookbooks from Issues 1 and 2 which feature art from Jen Vaiano, Clay Rodery, and Carl Hoare; and interviews linked from the Reviews page.
All of which serves to give the comic a very community driven and friendly feel. Additionally the comics also feature some fab pin ups by Karin Idering, Hanie Mohd, and Amanda Braxton.
The majority of pages are drawn by Suze Shore who has a very dynamic yet pretty style – her clean lines and Zaidan’s soft colours bring a depth of realism to the slightly cartoonified characters, with crowd scenes and busy panels standing out particularly well. The consistency is fantastic, even allowing for the confidence that grows each issue. The facial expressions are spot on, and the positioning of dialogue and captions is very clever – keeping the eye busy without anything feeling out of place.
With a large cast of characters and a lot of interaction between them, it can be a shock when the artist pulls right back for a wide splash page of the city; a real jolt to the system which is used effectively to portray large and shocking events.
Panel positioning ranges from the traditional grid to playful floating scenes and cut away action – I don’t think it would be apparent to many that this is Brooker’s first time writing a comic, though given I’ve heard others refer to him as ‘Dr Batman’ his skill is perhaps no great surprise! Interspersed throughout the comics are lovely pages by Zaidan, primarily on pages that convey a lot of information, often investigations that Cat is working on to pinpoint connections.
There is at times a little repetition between what is being stated and what is being portrayed, but as the comics continue there are some real moments of great pacing and where the art really shows what it can do with respect to storytelling. In short, you can see the improvements visibly from each issue to the next, and considering how much I loved the first issue, that is pretty good going.
I spend a lot of time thinking, writing, and researching issues surrounding the representation of women in comics, and the difficulties encountered by women who want to work in superhero comics. It’s a fascinating subject but one that is all too likely to result in frustration and gloominess – it’s not a happy place! To see a group of people actually doing something positive with this issue, using it as a creative spark to generate a piece of work that reaches beyond those problems and puts the story and art first while appealing to a genuinely wide audience is nothing short of wonderful.
Really, it just makes me smile to read, excited to see updates, and thrilled to see it appearing in print, in a book shop, and hopefully getting into even more hands. That the team have done so through the power of their own enthusiasm, backed with donations by a happy audience is terrific, and I hope that other readers – like myself – are suitably inspired.
Issues 1 and 2 of MSCSI are now available in print, in Geeked Magazine #5 which can be ordered online here, or bought in the Charing Cross Road branch of Foyles in London.
Issues 1-3 can be read for free on the MSCSI website. As much as I love reading it there I do greatly prefer print so I’ve ordered my copy today.
Laura Sneddon is a comics journalist and academic, writing for the mainstream UK press with a particular focus on women and feminism in comics. Currently working on a PhD, do not offend her chair leg of truth; it is wise and terrible. Her writing is indexed at comicbookgrrrl.com and procrastinated upon via @thalestral on Twitter.
|Hickman and Brevoort disagree over nature of “jumping on” point
||[06 Dec 2013|08:00pm]
In an interview at CBR, star scripter Jonathan Hickman and executive editor Tom Brevoort argued a bit over whether Avengers #24.NOW was really a good “jumping on point’ for new readers, as the “.NOW” issues have been billed:
Jonathan Hickman: It’sa terrible jumping on point. I don’t think I’ve written an issue 20something of anything that I’ve done that is a good jumping on point. With the way you can download all the books now and everything is collected in trades, I’m not even sure I buy into the validity of the argument that every issue should be able to be read as if it was somebody’s first issue. That, of course, may be a complete construct to prop up my inability to do that. [Laughs] So yeah, it’s a terrible jumping on point –
Tom Brevoort: I don’t know about that.
Hickman: You think it’s a good jumping on point?
Brevoort: I would argue that it is. #24.NOW is effectively a single issue story. It introduces a new character. It shows you the Avengers doing the stuff that they do. It also shows us a little bit of where they are in the aftermath of “Infinity” and how they’re going to be moving ahead. The Avengers have 50 years of history, now, so whether we have a #1 on the book or not, there’s always going to be stuff hanging. But issue #24.NOW is a way easier entry point than issue #23 was. [Laughs]
So yeah….two viewpoints, two ways to jump: one is springboard; one is platform.
Hickman just finished writing the event “Infinity” which tied in with the whole Avengers line, but, it was still only the tip of the story iceberg, as Brevoort comments later in the piece:
…nothing is going to get any smaller or easier from here. As massive, crazy, and epic as things have been up to this point, it’s only going to become more so in both “Avengers” and “New Avengers” as we move forward. It’s leading to the maddest thing possible at the end of a road that we’re only now really starting to wrap our hands around as an actual story as opposed to something that was hypothetical. It was like, “We’ll do this! And then we’ll get to this big thing!” Now we’re at the point where we’re delving into things and figuring out how it will all work, and it’s absolutely mind boggling and ridiculous.
I’ve said this since we launched, and I don’t know that people always take me seriously when I say these things, but “New Avengers” is the most crucial book to what is to come that we are publishing right now. “Avengers” is important too, but “New Avengers” is phenomenally important.
There’s a lot of hyperbole about a lot of things since it’s comics, and that’s what we do, but genuinely, a few years from now, people are going to look back and go, “Oh yeah. ‘New Avengers!’ That was important. I better go back and read all those back issues, collections and digital copies. I wish I had been following all along.”
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