HYPE ALERT!!! Over the summer one of the projects taking valuable time away from The Beat was work on a second volume of THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY, Vol. 2, a spine-tingling, mind-warping anthology of work by offbeat horror master Thomas Ligotti. I am happy and proud to say that the book is coming out NEXT WEEK and you all need to run out and buy a copy. A couple of previews have gone up this week — including a huge preview of “Gas Station Carnivals” by Joe Harris and the award-winning Vasilis Lolos. Ain’t It Cool News is also running a contest/preview. But as the editor of the book, I am proud to run the first ever preview of pages from ALL FOUR STORIES. As I always say, putting together an anthology is like casting — finding the right people for the job at hand is always a challenge but when it clicks the way it did here, the result is thrilling. I think that for NIGHTMARE FACTORY 2, we found four incredible artists, and working with them was a treat. Above is the cover by Jon Foster.

Above, an EXCLUSIVE page from “Gas Station Carnivals” by Joe Harris and Vasilis Lolos.

Above, “The Chymist” by Stuart Moore and the vastly underrated but TOTALLY brilliant Toby Cypress.

Above: “The Clown Puppet” by Joe Harris and Bill Sienkiewicz. Yes, THAT Bill Sienkiewicz. After 25 years of friendship, we finally got to work together, and the result was thrilling.
FINALLY, “Sect of the Idiot” by Stuart Moore and Nick Stakal, another brilliant young artist that we’ll be hearing a lot more from in the coming years.

I’ll have more previews and news of many events and signings in the next few days. Suffice to say I am INCREDIBLY proud of this book and the very hard work everyone did on it. I don’t think anyone will be disappointed by the results.

Below the cut, official PR from our publisher, HarperCollins:

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Even more on Anne Cleveland

Cleveland Pub Bar1
Shaenon Garrity takes a look at the history of her fellow Vassar alum Anne Cleveland:

So who was Anne Cleveland? Hardly anyone remembers. In addition to drawing cartoons about Vassar life, she published It’s Better with Your Shoes Off, a lovely and very out-of-print collection of Gluyas Williams-esque cartoons about Americans living in Japan. A Vassar girl, a cartoonist, and a proto-weeaboo; could I choose a more perfect role model? I think not. And so, this summer, when I returned to the Vassar campus for the first time since graduation, I tracked down all public evidence of Anne Cleveland.

This is sort of gratifying to me, since I made a bit of a stink about Anne Cleveland a few years ago, in a post on the Old Beat, now removed, but archived a bit here by Garrity. My point then was not that Cleveland was a lost seminal genius of cartooning, but quite the opposite — she was a talented and somewhat successful female cartoonist whose name had been completely lost to the sands of time in the great lost era between Rose O’Neill and Julie Doucet, and how women of her level of achievement were almost always lost to the sands of time, leaving those who come behind to have to reinvent the wheel over and over again.

I was struck again by this, though, when reading a short bit on the Comics Reporter this morning:

By the way — Sean T. Collins noted to me in conversation that Art Out of Time has led to something like a half-dozen books or future book projects, which will likely add to its reputation over the years as an important book.

Art Out of Time: Unknown Comics Visionaries 1900-1969 is a wondrous collection of obscure and little-recognized cartoonists or roughly the O’Neill to Doucet Era, give or take 15 years on the modern end, and all 29 artists within are men, a fact that author Dan Nadel has had to defend several times, but, to his credit, he always sticks to his guns. At the Post Bang Symposium back in June, in a panel with Nadel and museum curator John Carlin, Nadel mentioned how canons were inherently limiting and many cartoonists awaited discovery. But he also said that no women cartoonists of the period made the cut of cartoonists who should be rediscovered because their work wasn’t on a high enough level.

This thought always depresses me no end. Women artists of the period were talented enough — they made up their share of the greatest illustrators of the era — but comics were a dead end for that talent, whether through social forces (i.e. “sexism,” whatever that is), inherent lack of interest, or other even more mysterious forces.

My personal inquiry remains ongoing.

Grant Morrison is God

Or talks to God or whatever. IGN-UK has a big interview with him which has tons of pull quotes on everything and anything. We’ll quote the bit everyone else has, but you have to read the other parts, too:

I’ve been listening to people talk about ‘saving’ the ‘industry’ for over 20 years while comics have continued to be published and have, in fact, become better, to the point where the only conclusion I’ve come to is that comics are best ‘saved’ by sealing them in Mylar bags! Everything else is just messianic inflation. Just do good books and stop trying to be the savior of a whole medium that’s been doing okay without you and will continue long after you’re gone.

Yes, I think Kirkman’s right, in that I’d like to see more of our creative community unleashing their wild imaginations onto the page and less of the obvious ‘movie pitch on paper stuff’ that’s come about recently as a result of comic creators chasing the Hollywood dollar but I don’t have a problem with writers and artists working on Marvel and DC properties if they enjoy it. I’d rather read a good Green Lantern story by someone who cares than work my way through a ‘creator-owned’ project that’s been created solely to appeal to lowest-common-denominator movie executives.

Otherwise, he’s possibly being slightly disingenuous by issuing this ‘call to arms’ at a time when, to be honest, I can’t think of any significant comic book writer for Marvel or DC who doesn’t have creator work on the go. Apart from Geoff Johns, who’s told me he much prefers writing DC superhero books, everyone else – me, Warren Ellis, Mark Millar, JMS, Garth Ennis, Matt Fraction, Brian Bendis, Kurt Busiek, etc etc – seems to be hard at work creating new properties, so I’m not entirely sure where the problem lies.

Superheroes rule the summer

This story from Variety rounds up the summer’s box office leaders, and surprise, surprise, every studio has its superhero hit. Of course, Warners led the way with DARK KNIGHT, but the other studios followed suit:

Paramount is a close No. 2 in summer market share thanks to “Iron Man…”

…Universal is No. 3 in market share, turning in a slate of strong performers, led by “The Incredible Hulk” ($134.4 million), “Wanted” ($133.8 million) and “Mamma Mia!”

…Sony’s biggest hit of the summer was Will Smith starrer “Hancock,” which has cumed just north of $212 million.

…The Mouse House headline of the summer was Disney-Pixar’s critically acclaimed “Wall-E,” which cumed $216.7 million. Disney’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” cumed $141.5 million — something of a disappointment since the first “Narnia” film earned far more at $291.7 million.

…Of all the majors, Fox had the roughest summer…

Fox had NO SUPERHERO MOVIE is why.

Our prediction? More, more, more!

Death comes suddenly…unexpectedly…

This week’s DC purist thorn of pain comes from the new issue of TEEN TITANS, in which Wendy and Marvin, two characters birthed from the insufferable SUPERFRIENDS cartoon, return, only to be savagely slaughtered by Wonder Dog, who then feasts on their grisly remains.

That is how to do it! I understand that SUPERFRIENDS is a low point, not just in superhero history but the annals of animation (indeed, the name Margaret Loesch in the credits must be seen as one of the true harbingers of cartoon doom.) It is only fitting that Wendy and Marvin get what was coming to them.

Plus, let’s face it, if Grant Morrison or Alan Moore had written this issue, we’d all think it was genius.

Happy Friday!

Yes, we are still loafing. In a summer in which we spent ZERO hours lying in the sun, reading a book, going to the beach, or simply sitting in the park, we can be allowed some late posting, especially when we’ve been so excited by conventions, speeches, sexy VPs and so on.