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Archive for ‘Graphic Novels’


Alex Fellows: Spain and Morocco

Alex Fellows checks in to let us know that his new comic Spain and Morocco has begun its online serialization. If anyone wants to get in on the ground floor, now’s your chance.

Looks like a good start to me, and the cover is pretty cool too.


General Update: Drawing, Typing, and Talking

In the next few weeks, I’ll be finishing the first draft of the layouts for my graphic novel (working title, The Sculptor). Then on to revisions through February and production of the actual artwork over the course of two more years (it’s about 400 pages). It’ll be done in early 2012 (and yeah, 3 years for a GN may be a long time but hey, at least it’s still quicker than Habibi).

I’m not talking about The Sculptor much on this forum yet because it’s too early, but I’ve been more consumed by this project than anything I’ve ever done, so it’s definitely on my mind night and day. If First Second and I decide to share any of its progress visually next year, you’ll read about it here first. For now though, enjoy all the other great GNs on the market and know that I’m working seven days a week, eleven hours a day on this book when not answering email or traveling.

Speaking of which: My email inbox remains an ongoing avalanche, so please forgive me if my responses have been sluggish. I really am trying to answer all those various requests and urgent messages as fast as I can, there are just so many of them. Seriously, picture Ringo Starr in that Simpson’s episode where he gets around to Marge’s fan mail. That’s me.

I’ll be updating the travel sidebar soon, with upcoming engagements in Portland, Pennsylvania, Indiana (again) and London (twice). Not all are public, but I’ll try to give you fair warning if I’m coming to your city or school.

Back to the tablet!


Visualizing Religion

Today is the release date for R. Crumb’s massive, fleshy, and strangely literal adaptation of the book of Genesis. It will make some people happy, other people mad, and still other people shrug, but from a purely comics perspective, all you really need to know is that it’s 224 pages of new Crumb artwork (Hell, I’d buy it if it was the official R. Crumb adaptation of the Boise, Idaho Yellow Pages).

Coincidentally, on NPR this morning, I heard this depressing story about “feuding” Atheists. Apparently, even though I’m a sometimes “angry” atheist myself, I would actually be classified as “old school” according to this story. The idea of going out of one’s way to offend believers seems pointless and self-defeating to me—a resounding demonstration of how religion can dominate a person’s life instead of a good case for a compelling alternative.

I don’t know about you, but I always thought the alternative to blind faith was knowledge. If some people insist on ignoring scientific evidence (150 years of research on evolution for example) maybe it’s because we’ve done such a bad job of teaching that science. There are no quick fixes, but I can’t help thinking that simply getting knowledge out the door by any means necessary is our only way out of the swamp.

In a way, Crumb’s Genesis is a step in that direction, because it makes visible a document that even the faithful are sometimes a bit sketchy on as they cherry-pick the lessons that sound warm and fuzzy and conveniently forget all that weird, crazy, ancient gibberish. I can think of one instance where actually reading the Bible finally convinced one Catholic to give it all up.

Note that I have no idea if that was Crumb’s intent or not.  All I know is that I’d be much happier if everybody had a fuller understanding of all religions and all sciences and could simply make up their minds based on information instead of merely taking sides among warring tribes of fanatics.

I’ve said it about art, but I guess it applies here too:

We can’t define ourselves by what we’re not.


Professor Jenkins Suggests…

Henry Jenkins is a long-time friend of the comics medium (and many other historically marginalized art forms). Recently he tapped up a list of graphic novel recommendations along the lines of DC’s recent “After Watchmen” campaign, except in this case, it was an “After Zot!” list for a friend who had enjoyed the recent collection. On the assumption that a few of you might benefit from the same list, you can read the full entry here.


Two Down, Two to Go

I wrote about four upcoming graphic novels a while back, and since I let you know when the first one came out, I might as well mention the others as they’re released. Check out David Small’s terrific, creepy graphic novel debut here (and, one hopes, in bookstores everywhere).


Spain Part Two!

Yes I know I was only in Barcelona a few months ago, but it’s back to Spain again this week, with Ivy, for Viñetas Desde O Atlántico.

As usual, updates may be spotty while I’m on the road, but we can hopefully offer some cool pictures and memories before we’re done.

While you’re waiting, be sure to check out Ng Suat Tong’s lengthy round-up of peoples’ reactions to Asterios Polyp, my favorite GN of the year (in case you hadn’t already guessed from my relentless plugging).


A Study in Contrast: Lisa Hanawalt and Laurie Sandell

I got a TON of books at San Diego. It would take me half a day just to list and show them all, much less review them, but a couple which caught my eye toward the end of the day on Sunday offered some interesting contrasts I thought worth noting here.

I Want You by Lisa Hanawalt is a 32-page black and white pamphlet with color covers from Buenaventura Press. It’s filled with weird, sexually-charged or scatological short subjects. Some are funny, some are disturbing, many are both. It would look at home in Kramers Ergot.

The Imposter’s Daughter by Laurie Sandell is a 245-page full color graphic novel from Hachette Book Group. It’s an autobiographical account of the author’s relationship with her father, an Argentine immigrant whom she gradually discovers is a fraud who’s taken advantage of everyone around him for years, including his own family. The art is simplistic and straightforward.

The number of comics readers in San Diego’s mammoth exhibit hall who’d be likely to bring home and enjoy both comics could probably be counted on the fingers of one hand, but I’m apparently one of them. I liked both for different reasons.

Hanawalt’s pages are aggressively experimental. She takes her art seriously, even when the subject matter seems tossed-off. Her line-work crackles with energy. The details almost overwhelm her jumbled compositions, but bold contours always step in just in time to make sure the form isn’t lost. There’s no pretense of a “story,” but there is content; an echo chamber of fleshy obsessions and violently upturned social mores.

Meanwhile, Sandell’s graphic novel is a mainstream book in nearly every sense. The (presumably) true story is told as literally as possible. Sandell is no virtuoso artist, but her layouts are sensible and the drawings get the job done. Cars look like cars, bottles look like bottles, and hands have five fingers. Every line and color choice serve the story, and the story is an engaging one, filled with mystery, sex, addiction, and the parade of celebrities Sandell encountered as a reporter and contributing editor at Glamour. It’s a beach read.

Whereas Hanawalt was showing her wares in person at Buenaventura’s table—a venue so lovably alternative that you might expect denizens to refer to Fantagraphics as “The Man”—Sandell’s book was being offered in a tidy, cookie-cutter Hachette booth that looked like it hopped directly over from Book Expo, and being given away, perhaps on the assumption that everyone is a retailer (and thanks to a great cover designed by Julianna Lee it had no trouble finding takers).

I can imagine each of these books rubbing someone the wrong way. In some respects, Sandell’s glamour-sprinkled tell-all is a hard-core comics lover’s worst nightmare; a book deal fueled by celebrity, completely bypassing comics history and craft, ready to leapfrog more serious or well-crafted graphic novels onto The Today Show or even Oprah. Meanwhile, Hanawalt’s work is the type often dismissed by artists I know as “pretentious” or “self-indulgent.”

I like Sandell’s book though, because it was a fun read. It can gently coax new readers into comics who would have never cracked open an Asterios Polyp much less a Blankets, and because a healthy mainstream has never precluded a healthy alternative. And I like Hanawalt’s work because it creates sensations I’ve never seen comics achieve and opened my eyes to radical possibilities.

It’s a good sign that 2009′s comics scene can accommodate both. I hope neither feels squeezed out in coming years.


Some Thoughts on Asterios Polyp

First of all, if you haven’t read David Mazzucchelli’s fantastic graphic novel Asterios Polyp, I strongly recommend getting yourself a copy. And stop reading this post now until after you’ve read the book.

If you’ve read Asterios Polyp once…

Read it again.

Seriously, Mazzucchelli’s book is a great re-reading experience. There are things you’re only likely to notice the second or third time around, and at least a few locked doorways in early sections that only open with keys from later chapters. And they’re much more fun if you find them on your own, so again you might want to ignore the rest of these ramblings if you haven’t plunged back in yet.

If you’ve read Asterios Polyp more than once…

Okay, NOW we can talk.

(more…)


Stop Reading the Reviews –

– start reading the book!

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli is finally in bookstores everywhere.

I’ll have more to say after I’ve read it a second and maybe third time, but I can tell you already that if you buy one graphic novel this year, this should be it.


Bee-yutiful

Congratulations to Jason Little who recently finished his online serialization of the latest Bee story “Motel Art Improvement Service.” It’s available from Jason’s comics page, a treasure trove of inventive wonders.

Reading the story over again, I was reminded of what a unique, uncategorizable gem Bee is. It’s cute, sexy (NSFW in fact), brainy, slapsticky, and subtle, all at once. Definitely worth sitting down with to read the whole thing.