TCAF kicks off in style

The Toronto Comics Art Festival kicks off tonight, and it looks to be perhaps the most kick-assing-est comics event of the year. Held every other year, TCAF has gone from an exciting indie comics show held in a parking lot to a city-wide cultural extravaganza of the kind that North America needs lot more of.

Tonight’s festivities include a Kid Koala party (see below), but the entire weekend is full of events both edifying and entertaining. See the whole list here.

Chris Butcher the man without whom TCAF would not be TCAF, has posted the programming schedule here.

Click For Full_Size Poster!TCAF KICK-OFF PARTY:
Get Up! Get Down! Indoor Block Party
Thursday, May 7th, evening show
@ Lee’s Palace, 529 Bloor St. W.
Tickets $12.00 advance/$15 day of show
Presented by Live Nation

Montreal turntablist (and graphic novelist!) Kid Koala brings his LOUD PARTY / QUIET WORK WEEKEND to Toronto for The Toronto Comic Arts Festival! The LOUD PARTY goes down Thursday, May 7th at Lee’s Palace with LOUD PARTY: Get Up! Get Down! Indoor Block party. Mix mayhem on 4 record players and actual stacks of wax. Dancing, scratching, the first-ever Nufonia Pillow Fight, and a raffle! C’Mon down and Shake Your Thang!! Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 day of show, and the event WILL SELL OUT. Tickets available from Rotate This and Ticketmaster the usual places.

More at:

PLUS: here’s more of the interviews with participating cartoonists:

Carla Speed McNeil
Jim Ottaviani
Kid Koala
Faith Erin Hicks
Steve Rolston
Evan Munday
Ian Sullivan Cant
Chuck Forsman
Brian McLachlan
Jason Loo
James Turner
Brian Hoang
Bryan Lee O’Malley
Dash Shaw
Aaron Costain
Sarah Becan
Michèle Laframboise
Dave Lapp

As we’ve mentioned several times before, we weep with sorrow that we won’t be going this year, but every cool person on Earth is, so bring back full reports!

Tonght: Kitty Pryde Art Show

Kitty Barnaby Promo Sm-1
Tonight, in PDX!


WHO: Over 70 artists including: Bryan Lee O’Malley, Farel Dalrymple, Nathan Fox, Vasilis Lolos, Jeffrey Brown, Tom Neely, Brandon Graham, Corey Lewis, Zack Soto and more!

WHAT: Kitty Pryde tribute show, fundraiser for Oregon Hemphilia Treatment Center

WHEN: Thursday, May 7th, 6–10pm

WHERE: Floating World Comics, 20 NW 5th Ave #101

New business model: PictureBox advance orders

Via email and up at the PictureBox website, publisher Dan Nadel is offering a bunch of exclusives and bonuses for those who preorder two upcoming releases, C.F.’s Powr Mastrs #3 and Brian Chippendale’s In ‘n’ Oof.
The Beat We have two amazing graphic novels scheduled for November 2009 and February 2010. They are fantastic, vital works of art and we need your help to release them.

Powr Mastrs 3 (104 pages, 5.75” x 7.75”) continues CF’s visionary narrative about the complex relationships between mysterious beings in a place called New China. If ‘n Oof is Brian Chippendale’s 650 page, 5” x 7” magnum opus, a sprawling, hilarious tale of two pals wandering through a desolate, hostile landscape.

These two books are among the best graphic novels of our time, but they need your support. Like a lot of publishers, PictureBox is looking for new ways to navigate the current terrain. To that end, we are attempting to raise the money for these books ahead of time. It’s all an experiment these days.

So we are looking to you, as a community of readers, to help make these books a reality. Everyone that orders advance copies of one or both of these books (up until August 1) will receive the book itself and a signed silkscreen print upon the books’ releases. Everyone that orders in advance by June 20, 2009 will have their names hand-lettered in the book with their corresponding level of support (see below). We need about 400 of you per book to step up and help make this a reality. Let’s come together as a community.
There are previews and more info, including 4 levels of supporter in the link, so if you want to support these fine books, go and preorder.

Obviously this is an even more direct-to-consumer workaround for the new world of Diamond, and tougher times in general for small and indie publishers.

New business model: Jeff Katz and American Original

JeffkatzJeff Katz, sometime comics writer (BOOSTER GOLD) and movie producer (WOLVERINE, SHOOT ‘EM UP) has finally announced his new comics venture, which has been teased since he left Fox last fall. It’s called American Original, and he describes it as a “nerd machine.”

American Original will produce movies, TV shows, Web projects and graphic novels. Katz has inked a deal with Top Cow Prods. — which was behind “Wanted” and vidgame “The Darkness” — to publish the comicbooks.

Company will initially launch two divisions. American Original Press will publish up to 10 comicbook titles per year, with the goal of adapting them as films, TV shows, Web series or games; American Original Entertainment will serve as the production arm.

Ben Austin, a former New Line, Fine Line and Fox staffer, will be director of development.

Well, so far so good…just another comics-to-movies shingle like (fill in the blank)? In an interview at Newsarama with Vaneta Rogers, Katz explains that there will be some differences, which we’ll quote at length:

With American Original, Katz is helping geeks take advantage of their new-found power by borrowing a deal-making structure from Hollywood. In the film industry, it’s common to hear about deals called “first-dollar gross after cash break-even.” In comic books, that kind of deal is non-existent. But according to Katz, that model will be the basis of everything American Original does.

“What that means is, all I have to do is recoup my up-front nut on the print side, be that in print or through an ancillary deal, and those creative talents, once that hits break-even, their corridor kicks in for them for the next, hey, hundred years for all I care. They get to collect a piece of gross. They can sit in their underwear and make money,” he said.

“Through the life of the intellectual property, I make a toy deal, I make a video game deal, I make a movie deal, I make a toothbrush deal – through the life of the IP, they see that property; they get that gross. All I have to do is break even on my initial print run.”

Katz said he also hopes to teach comic book creators how to do all this by themselves. “My ambition is that by the time I’m finished working with these guys, they can tell me to go screw myself because they don’t need me anymore,” he said with a laugh. “It behooves everyone in the system to keep the status quo and keep everything the way it is because you don’t want your talent learning how to fish. I say screw that, because the future is in us learning how to fish for ourselves.”

Katz said that all of entertainment is cutting redundancies, and this new business model is a move in that direction. “The age of conglomerates operating like oil tankers is over. We have to be fleet. We have to be cigarette boats. And I believe that a more stream-lined model can enable that,” he said.

Although this may sound a lot like the typical “creator participation deal,” in effect it’s a bit more like that deal mixed in with the Image deal: once costs are paid, the creator and American Original will share all the money from all deals and revenue streams. And by putting the publisher and production company/agency under one roof you are cutting out a lot of middle men.

HOWEVER, if we’re reading all this PR correctly, AO will “own” the IP, so the Image Central deal is still better in many ways, with the creator getting ALL the revenues after break-even and not a piece. But, for the genre creator who wants to partner with an experienced Hollywood player, it could be an attractive — and lucrative — deal.

Scott McCloud on new, colossal Kindle

Small Giant Kindle
Is taller than it is wide a dead end?

The default shape of print is not taller than wide. It’s wider than tall just like all the rest, because the default shape of print is two pages side-by-side. And the reason is the same reason as the shape of TV and cinema and theater and surfing and all the rest: because we have two eyes next to each other, not one on top of the other.

I don’t even have a Kindle yet, so this isn’t meant as a specific critique of the device. And I’m sure its engineers had solid practical reasons to design the device the way they did. You can even turn it sideways when needed. It just reminded me when I went to Amazon this morning and saw images of the latest, how design principles in the wild can always be adjusted on the fly, but as soon as they’re embedded in hardware, they tend to stick around. For decades in some cases.

BUT…see furious rebuttals in comments.