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Archive for ‘Graphic Novels’


They’re Crawling Out of the Woodwork!

Well, it looks like this is turning into Promising New Talent Week!

Unsounded by Ashley Cope has a great mix of humor and drama, engaging characters, and the artwork gets better as it goes. Never heard of her, so yet another (presumably) young artist to keep our eyes on.

I’m consistently amazed by how many smart, talented new artists there are out there. It’s a shaky market and one might worry about how they’ll all make a living, but I’m encouraged that most seem to have the right skill set to not only cater to the readers we have now, but to create new readers, the way that Jeff Smith and others have over the years.

Unsounded seems to have begun about 5 months ago. I wonder what else I’m missing.

Any other suggestions?

[via Michael]


Daniel Lieske, Wormworld, and the Sense of Place

By far, the most impressive comics event while I was on break was the debut of Daniel Lieske’s online graphic novel The Wormworld Saga.

Lieske works at a German computer and console games company, and he’s obviously had years to hone his craft, but he’s a brand new name to me, and I’m glad to make his virtual acquaintance.

Despite coming out on Christmas day, when most potential readers were presumably distracted, the comic has garnered upwards of 200,000 viewers in less than three weeks, and deservedly so. It features solid storytelling and some gorgeous painted artwork. It’s also the best use of extended canvas storytelling I’ve seen in years.

Most impressive is Lieske’s all-encompassing sense of place; that rare sensation of becoming engulfed in a fully-realized new world. This is partially due to Lieske’s skills as a painter, but also to his smart use of extended establishing shots that blend into the black background behind other panels.

Set aside some time to read the first chapter. You’ll be glad you did. And if you like what you see, you can support the comic here, or contact him for work or a possible appearance here.

Oh! And congratulations to Daniel and his wife on the birth of their son yesterday! A busy month for a great new comics talent.


What did I Miss?

Some random notes from the last nine days.

Got an email from Ryan Estrada this morning announcing his latest insanity, the One Month Animated Feature. Actually sounds like a fun project. I wish him luck. Also sleep, when it’s done.

Really enjoyed the first volume of X’ed Out, the new Charles Burns series. Eager to read more.

Okay, the end of Walking Dead Episode 3… How many saw that coming halfway through #2? Show of hands. (Failed surprises aside, I’m really enjoying that series).

Via Ivy (who got it from Stephen Fry), we’ve all been enjoying the Hell out of this video.

After largely missing them in New Orleans due to explodey-chest syndrome, I had the pleasure of seeing Neil and Amanda at a great engagement party at agent-extraordinaire Jon Levin’s house Saturday. Lots of new and old friends there, but I have to make special mention of Stephin Merritt, who I’d never met before but is one of my favorite songwriters. We’d just watched Pieces of April two nights before (a Thanksgiving tradition in our home) which has songs by Merritt in it, so he was on our mind already.

Speaking of music: Two recent buys I can’t get enough of are “If You Return” by Maximum Balloon (with vocals by Little Dragon) and the criminally-catching “L.O.V.” by Fitz and the Tantrums.

Back to the drawing board!


The REAL Future of Comics

New York based Raina Telgemeier recently blogged some adorable photos of school and library visits she did here in California on behalf of the terrific “dental drama” Smile. I defy anyone to read the post and not smile just as widely as Raina and her growing family of young readers.

Reading it drove home for me again (see previous post) what an enormous opportunity every cartoonist has to translate their own experiences and interests into comics and find or even create new readers, based on the subject of that work.

One reader emailed me from a Therapy Center simply because she’d heard there was a comic explaining Crohn’s Disease (there is; it was a 24-hour comic by Tom Humberstone who suffers from the condition). Crohn’s disease affects between 400,000 and 600,000 people in North America alone (thanks, Wikipedia). Why the Hell WASN’T there a comic about Crohn’s disease until now??

Whole markets can be created out of thin air when the right subject strikes. Gan Golan (one of my 2003 seminar students at MIT) made a name for himself collaborating on the political parody Good Night Bush in ’08. Now he’s now teamed up with several other great talents to create Unemployed Man and he’s had no trouble getting coverage on CNN and a zillion other press outlets—not because of some surge in interest in the comics artform—but because Gan and co-creator Erich Origen have zeroed in on a topic with a potential target audience in the millions.

The beauty of this kind of outreach is that it only adds to the base of comics readers, and rarely do these efforts cannibalize each other. Barry Deutsch’s fantastic orthodox Jewish adventure Hereville isn’t competing for readers with the Bertrand Russell stories in Logicomix, or with XKCD, or with Persepolis. Each one is its own little community of readers, some of whom may have never read a comic before, but ALL of whom are now one comic deeper into this medium we’d all like to see grow.

Are you a cartoonist?

Are you passonate about something? Anything?

Are there others that share your passion?

Do those “others” number in the thousands?

Tens of thousands?

Millions?


Hey, It’s Out!

Delighted to realize yesterday that Jen Wang‘s eagerly anticipated first graphic novel Koko Be Good came out just last week.

Fortunately, if you’re in the Los Angeles area, you can still catch the LA release party at Secret Headquarters this Friday at 7:30pm, and be one of the first to buy a copy.

(And if you’re not, there’s always the Interwubz.)

Been salivating for this one ever since this effective little video hit earlier this year. Can’t wait to get my hands on the real thing!


I Remember this Comic!

When I was reviewing small press and mini-comics in the late ’80s, I was excited by what I saw as the closest thing (pre-Internet) to absolute freedom in comics.

By going completely outside any traditional markets, and often sold only through the mail and at local cons, these photocopied comics could go in any direction their artists wanted them to, not just what the market would allow.

None of the artists expected to get rich, but we readers knew that whatever showed up in our mailbox was going to be exactly what the artist really wanted to it to be.

Some artists stuck with light gag comics. Some produced one or two minis and vanished. Some went on to mainstream(?) success like Chester Brown. Some like Matt Feazell, John Porcellino, and Steve Willis became mini-comics legends and inspired others to make their own homemade comics.

And then there was Armageddonquest by Ronald Russell Roach.

Warren Ellis said it best:

ARMAGEDDONQUEST squirms and thrashes in a crawlspace it dug out with its bare talons, partway between the early graphic novel and classic “outsider” art. It’s the comics version of the demon-haunted work of the young Daniel Johnston, raw, passionate, demented, electric.

I really enjoyed Ron Roach’s crazy, wonderful comic when it came out, but I never expected to see it again. 900 pages is a massive hurdle for something as idiosyncratic as this. But then along came Kickstarter.

I was delighted to be the first donor. This is a worthwhile project. Please consider joining in the effort.


Congratulations…

…to Dylan Meconis on the recent release of her gorgeous Family Man collection. (Buy here).

…to Larry Marder on becoming the new president of the CBLDF. (Donate here).

…to California on at least temporarily overturning Prop 8. (Marry here).


Are there Any Comics Left that Haven’t Become Movies?

Well, okay, there are lots left I suppose (including Zot!, for that matter, though that’s just ’cause I’ve been picky).

Funny thing is, Tamara Drewe by Posy Simmonds, while it may seem like it came out of left field, is actually a perfect choice for the screen.

Simmonds’ graphic novel (originally serialized in the Guardian) is a sheer delight, and with a terrific cast and crew on board, I wouldn’t be surprised if the movie is just as much fun.

If you haven’t read the book, get it now. Then you can pretend that you read it long before you even heard about the movie, and brag about it at cocktail parties.

Though, you may have to insist more than once that “Yes. Yes it really was a comic first!


Athens, Georgia and Mr. Weing

One of the comics I read on my way home was Drew Weing’s Set to Sea. I’d been seeing pages of it on Drew’s website for awhile but reading it in book form was a delight. Highly recommended.

If you’re in Athens, Georgia tonight (Friday), you can get a copy from the author himself at the release party from 5-8pm.

Funny thing is, when I thought to make a remark on how Athens is landlocked and checked Google maps to see if Athens was indeed landlocked, I discovered that there is no label in Google Maps for Athens!

See for yourself.

WTF, Google Maps??

[UPDATE: There actually is an explanation—and it's not what you might expect.]


Art and the Marketplace

I read three books on the plane back from London: Jim Woodring’s Weathercraft, Dan Clowes’ Wilson, and James Sturm’s Market Day (thanks to Gosh! and Forbidden Planet for having them in stock).

I strongly recommend the Woodring and Clowes books. Weathercraft is a perfectly-crafted hallucination from a brilliant cartoonist at the top of his game. Wilson, while uneven, has a ton of dark, funny moments, and is far more than the sum of its parts.

But, of the three, Sturm’s Market Day made the strongest impression on me. I talked to James Sturm recently and told him that he went toe-to-toe with Woodring and Clowes and won, but I want to make it official here so he knows (provided someone tells him) that I wasn’t just blowing smoke up his ass. Market Day is the best comic I’ve read all year.

Sturm’s story follows a rug merchant in a distant time and place, but if you make art of any kind and have ever questioned your relevance in a changing world (show of hands?) this book will speak to you. It might not cheer you up, but you’ll know you aren’t alone.

I’d say more, but John Martz seems to have beat me to it, so I’ll just recommend that while all three books are worth reading, if you read just one graphic novel from the year so far, I hope it will be Market Day.