A month of Image teasers: "I've never made any secret…"

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Give yourself a present: Email amnesty

It’s my birthday, and I’m giving myself a present. No, not a Longstreth style beard. Email escape amnesty. After looking at the thousands of piled up emails, Facebook requests and so on, I’m going to start fresh. Yes yes, there are some urgent emails regarding advertising, internships, and previews that I am tagging for future actions, but the big backlog is going to the great archive on the cloud. I’ve been plugging away, GTD-style, on rerouting all my garbage email from mailing lists I once signed up to in an ill-advised moment, to filters and other addresses. So if there’s something super important you need to contact me about, the new, freshly resurfaced inbox should be adequate to get immediate attention.

Although managing the electronic avalanche isn’t my forte, I will say I’ve had good success refashioning my RSS feeds, syncing everything up and getting rid of dead and useless feeds. With things slowing down for the holidays I’m feeling pretty good about this, so please don’t harsh my mellow.

And thanks for the hundreds and hundreds of birthday wishes on Facebook and Twitter and everywhere. You guys are the best, and this move is going to give me a chance to send more birthday wishes in return.

Wimpy Kid whips W sales

201011151624.jpgLast week’s books releases saw two blockbusters going head to head: George W. Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, and Wimpy Kid #5: The Ugly Truth. In the end, it was no contest: Wimpy Kid outsold Dubya 2 to 1, the Washington Post reports. Jeff Kinney’s confused middle-schooler sold nearly 375,000 copies in one day.

And yes, we know that Wimpy Kid isn’t really a comic book, but you know what we say — don’t distance yourself from success!

Viz adds old and new manga licenses


Viz has just released info on some of its spring manga license, including at least one pick-up from the now defnuct CMX line, TENJO TENGE, the very controversial manga by Oh! Great, which will now be printed in a “100% faithful” edition with 16 pages of full-color art. Other licenses include the very popular NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN and BLUE EXORCIST. PR below:

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, announced the forthcoming releases for Spring and Summer 2011. The diverse new lineup offers something for everyone, from the supernatural adventures of NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN and BLUE EXORCIST, to the rough-and-tumble action of TENJO TENGE, to a slice-of-life peek at the tenants of an apartment in Italy in LA QUINTA CAMERA, to the long-awaited artbook of the hit VAMPIRE KNIGHT series.

NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN Volume 1 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • Shonen Jump • MSRP: $9.99 US / $12.99 CAN • Available February 1, 2011 While the day belongs to humans, the night belongs to yokai, supernatural creatures that thrive on human fear. Caught between these worlds is Rikuo Nura. He’s three-quarters human, but his grandfather is none other than Nurarihyon, the supreme commander of the Nura clan, a powerful yokai consortium. So, Rikuo is an ordinary teenager three quarters of the time, until his yokai blood awakens. Then Rikuo transforms into the future leader of the Nura clan, leading a hundred demons.

BLUE EXORCIST Volume 1 • Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens • Shonen Jump Advanced • MSRP: $9.99 US / $12.00 CAN • Available April 5, 2011 Raised by Father Fujimoto, a famous exorcist, Rin Okumura never knew his real father. One day a fateful argument with Father Fujimoto forces Rin to face a terrible truth—the blood of the demon lord Satan runs in Rin’s veins! Rin swears to defeat Satan, but doing that means entering the mysterious True Cross Academy and becoming an exorcist himself. Can Rin fight demons and keep his infernal bloodline a secret? It won’t be easy, especially when drawing his father’s sword releases the demonic power within him!

TENJO TENGE Volume 1 • Rated ‘M’ for Mature • VIZ Signature • MSRP: $17.99 US / $21.00 CAN • Available June 21, 2011 By popular demand, VIZ Signature presents an all-new publication of a fan favorite—now 100% faithful to the original and in 2-in-1 editions featuring 16 pages of full-color art!

Knuckle-busting brawls, badass babes, and the toughest student body ever to mix it up under one roof. Welcome to Todo High, where the only rule is: get strong or get schooled. Soichiro Nagi and Bob Makihara have always been the meanest street brawlers around. When they enter Todo High they plan on carving out a reputation as the strongest fighters in their new school—easier said than done in a place that’s dedicated to training its students in the art of combat!

LA QUINTA CAMERA • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • VIZ Signature • MSRP: $12.99 US / $14.99 CAN • Available July 19, 2011 A charming suite of linked stories from the acclaimed author of not simple and House of Five Leaves, set in an apartment in Italy. In four of the rooms live four single men with singular personalities. Into this peculiar ménage steps an exchange student, the new tenant of the fifth room. Brought together by chance, friends by choice, they pursue their dreams together as the days drift gently by.

THE ART OF VAMPIRE KNIGHT • Shojo Beat • MSRP: $24.99 US / $28.00 CAN • Available September 6, 2011 Cross over into the world of VAMPIRE KNIGHT with the lush, full-color artwork of Matsuri Hino. This deluxe hardcover edition includes an extensive gallery with author comments, a how-to tutorial, and an exclusive poster.

Spider-Man musical: Deadly but beautiful

The Spider-Man musical is becoming more of a legend by the day. If it wasn’t epic cost overruns and cast changes, it was a stage setup so ambitious and dangerous that people were breaking bones. Safety concerns have led the Dept. of Labor to inspect the set after a stunt player broke both wrists in a horrifying accident

Aubin, one of several actors in Spider-Man costumes who catapult throughout the theater, was crouching at the back of the stage. Suddenly, he shot up into the air and came crashing down at the lip of the stage with such force, some audience members heard his wrists snap. “It was a thrilling effect, but you knew something was wrong because he hit the stage so hard,” says a source. “He maintained his Spider-Man pose, but you could see he was wincing.”

This in turn has led to yet more delays, with the opening moved from November to January:

It’s supposed to be the biggest, costliest, splashiest show of the Broadway season, but so far it’s just the most troubled. Executives with “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” said Thursday that the opening of the oft-delayed, $60 million musical would be set back once again, this time by three weeks, meaning it will miss lucrative Thanksgiving week, forgo an attention-getting bow over Christmas, and open during the box office doldrums of January.


Director Julie Taymor maintains that the show will be worth the wait and chides the naysayers:

“There are no changes coming to the actual show,” Taymor told me. “All the changes have to do with technical things. The flying, of course. But also all the wires, and the changes between scenes. We may need a little bit of an underscore to cover a move, or a small transition that needs to be smoothed. These are the things that you would work out on the road. We’re doing them here.” Taymor is not naive, but she’s surprised by the venom being spewed toward the show. “This is a time of terrible unemployment. We have around 200 people involved in this, being paid every week. Do we really want to see them lose their jobs? It’s unbelievable.”

And NOW, Vogue magazine has given us the first real look at how the costumes will look. Although Mary Jane (Jennifer Damiano) is clad in designer frocks, here at last are the musical Spidey, Carnage and Green Goblin. Says Taymor of the Carnage/MJ (in Marchesa black-and-white hand-painted crinoline ball gown) confrontation:

“I saw the inherent theatricality in it, and I couldn’t resist.”

Reeve Carney is Spider-Man, while Emmanuel Brown is his stunt double. Patrick Page is the Green Goblin.

Sign us up. This looks amazing. We want those 200 folks to have their jobs.



Beard Love: An interview with Alec Longstreth about comics and facial hair

While some creators may go in for the hairless look (as cultivated by Brian K. Vaughan and Grant Morrison) in the minds of many comic book fans beards and talent seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. While Alan Moore is clearly the standard of crazy beards implying good comics, other writers such as Warren Ellis, and more recently Jason Aaron, have cultivated their own facial hair.

Ignatz award winning Alec Longstreth, a teacher at the Center for Cartoon Studies, is one of the newest in the line of hairy comics creators. Two years ago he vowed not to cut his hair or beard until he finished his graphic novel Basewood. He’s broken down each chapter into precise percentages, and updates his Flickr account every time he completes a page. He’s currently 72.92% though Chapter 4 and has quite the impressive beard.

We asked Alec a few questions about his beard and his comics work.

Matthew: What were your reasons behind growing your hair?

Alec: I had been living in New York for about four years, and it was really hard to get work done because there was always so much cool stuff going on. So in 2008 I went up to White River Junction to be a fellow at the Center for Cartoon Studies http://www.cartoonstudies.org/. On August 1st, 2008, I cut all my head hair off, and vowed to never cut it again until I finished my graphic novel, Basewood. I knew I still had a few years of work to do on the book, so the idea was that it would provide extra motivation to get the book done, but it was also an opportunity to grow my hair and beard REALLY long, which I had never done. After I finish pencilling or inking each page, I take a photo of my beard and place in it my Flickr account, so people can see how much work really goes into a graphic novel.

When it’s all finally over, I am planning on donating my hair to Locks of Love, who make wigs for child cancer patients, and maybe I’ll make some beard bookmarks or something with my beard? Don’t worry, I’ll laminate them to cut down on the gross factor.

(August 1st, 2008: Freshly shaved.)

M: Were you inspired by Alan Moore’s beard? Did you at any time think that “long hair + beard = better comics”?

A: The inspiration was actually this guy who cut his beard off when the United States invaded Iraq after 9/11. He vowed to not cut his beard off until we were out of there, and I kept seeing him pop up in the news, year after year on the anniversary of the invasion. I thought that a beard was a cool way to visualize time. A very slow clock. I have gotten a lot of Alan Moore comparisons at conventions! But I doubt that it has magically helped my cartooning.

M: Have you ever grown a beard before?

A: I have had a beard since I was about 20. My beard grows pretty fast, so shaving was always a pain in the neck (literally!). But I never grew it beyond a few inches in the winter. This is the longest it has ever been, or will ever be.

(December 14th, 2008: 33.65% of Chapter 3 completed.)

M: Did you ever think it would take this long to complete your comic?

A: Yeah, I’m working at 18″ x 24″, and there is a lot of detail and crosshatching in Basewood, so it is a very time-intensive comic. I’m very proud of how the finished pages look, but I will never work this way again. In the future I will draw smaller, with less crosshatching. In my opinion, Carl Barks is the gold standard of cartooning. Simple line work, spot blacks, not a lot of hatching. That’s what I want to emulate in my comics after this project is done.

M: How much longer do you have to go before you’ve finished your comic?

A: Basewood chapter four (of five) will be out by the end of this year, and then I’m hoping to have the last chapter done by fall of 2011. Chapters for this book have taken anywhere from nine months to TWO YEARS. So I’m hoping I can get this done and cut my hair, as soon as possible.

(August 1st, 2009: One year anniversary.)

M: How have your friends and family reacted to you growing your hair?

A: Well, in the summer of 2009, a year after I started this project, my sister got married and my grandfather had his 90th birthday. Those were both big family events, and at that point my beard was already pretty unruly. My mother was very upset that I looked so unkempt in all these very formal family photos, and really urged me to cut my hair. I would say that for the most part my friends just think it’s funny, but it has been very strange seeing how people in general treat me differently because I have long hair.

M: Has it caused you any problems?

A: I definitely get a lot more “random” screenings at the airport now, and I have been teased by small children and made fun of by teenagers. Some guys even threw their fast food garbage at me as they drove by and yelled “Nice beard faggot!” But for every negative story like that, there is a story where some other dude with a huge beard will shake my hand or give me a wink or something, like we are in a secret club. “Beard love” my girlfriend calls it.

(September 17th, 2009: Chapter 3 finished!)

M: Do you find it strange that people you’ve met since you started growing your hair only know you as that person?

A: Yeah, I now teach at the Center for Cartoon Studies, and my students only know me as the crazy, hairy guy. Sometimes I will have a slide in one of my lectures with an old reference photo or something that has me pre-beard, and they can’t even recognize me. It’s just very strange, because under this hair, I still feel like the same person. It has been a very interesting social experiment. I’ll definitely draw a comic about it at some point.

M: Are you nervous about cutting it off at this point?

A: Nope! I can’t wait. It’s been fun and everything, but I am ready to have this over and done with. Also, I really want to finish my book, so the sooner the better, all around.

(September 23rd, 2010: 56.25% of Chapter 4 completed.)

M: What is your comic Basewood about?

A: It’s an adventure story about this guy who wakes up in a strange land, and he can’t remember who he is or how he got there. He meets an old man (with a huge beard!) who lives in the woods, and pretty soon the protagonist is growing his OWN beard, while he tries to figure out his mysterious past. There are tree houses and dragons and flying machines and love and birth and death and all that kind of stuff. I guess some people might shelve it under Fantasy?

(Panels from the intro to Phase 7 #015.)

M: What other projects are you working on right now?

A: Well, I’m serializing Basewood in my minicomic Phase 7 and in-between chapters, I’m releasing issues of non-Basewood material. Short stories, auto-bio, whatever I want really. Phase 7 is my place to explore comics. I also teach two classes per semester at CCS, do a lot of illustration work on the side, and I recently did the colors for Aaron Renier‘s graphic novel Walker Bean, which was published by First Second. Aaron is hard at work on the second Walker Bean book, so I’ll start coloring that soon!

You can check out Alec’s comics on his website, and keep track of his beard on his Flickr account. Let’s just hope it’s not another two years until Alec finishes Basewood.


Matthew Murray reads a lot of zines and comics (including Alec’s Phase 7 #015), but he always wants more.

New Wood family member


Congrats to writer Brian Wood on the arrival of Ian McMurray Wood, born last Thursday, 9 lb., 4 oz.

Real lives of the cartoonists: Bennett/Guinan party pics


The annual Halloween party thrown at the home of Anina Bennett and Paul Guinan of Boilerplate fame, seems to have been a real humdinger.


Folks around the net are linking to the webcomic OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS by Mr. Tim.

This site depicts REAL things said to me (or at least near me) by customers in the comic book shop that I work in. These are real people. This is what they look like and this is something that they actually said.

Obviously, Mr. Tim is made of stern stuff.

It's funnier when Superman does it



Kibbles 'n' Bits — 11/15/10


§ A graphic novel gift guide in the NY Times by George Gene Gustines.

§ And also from the NY Times: News of The Walking Dead’s success and the cancellation of Rubicon at AMC are handily summed up:

Mr. Lico thought “Rubicon” also suffered because it was “too complicated” to explain to viewers, In contrast, “with zombies, you get it,” he said. “It’s a one-sentence thing.”

§ Cartoonist Jim Davis is still apologizing for the bad timing of the Garfield which appeared on Veteran’s Day; the presence of an editor is also being questioned.

Davis claims that his brother is a Vietnam veteran, and his son has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the outrageous Garfield cartoon is going to haunt Davis for years, and forever change his public image. Was Davis trying to make some antiwar political point? Regardless, the Garfield character is probably permanently tarnished by the ongoing controversy. Where are editors to allow such a strip to run on Veteran’s Day?

Io9 digs up this video of a gadget sold in the back of late ’60s comics, the Digi-Comp. Reality is more frightening than the imagination some times.

§ Rob Clough has a particularly insightful review of HOW TO UNDERSTAND ISRAEL IN 60 DAYS OR LESS.

§ And Shaenon T. Garrity has a particularly insightful review of SCOTT PILGRIM:

That’s one of the great puzzles of every American generation to come along since the Baby Boomers: what does it mean to be a grown-up, anymore?  Grown-ups play video games now.  They fool around on the computer.  It’s a happier kind of adulthood, or maybe just a more pleasantly deluded one.  When people Gibson’s age read the first sentence of Neuromancer, they picture a gray, stormy sky, because that’s what a dead channel was when they were growing up.  People my age–I’m 32–picture a flat blue sky, because that’s what a dead channel looks like when you have a cable hookup.  The sky of an easy summer day.

§ Conventions: The official Secret Acres report:

- Sales were reasonable on Saturday, almost brisk! It was the strangest sales sheet we have ever seen. The sheet has our titles in a column on the left and then little check boxes trailing off to the right where we make a mark for each copy sold. Normally, there are a half dozen things that each show freaks out about, so the checks in the little boxes move left to right. Not this show. The checks moved up and down, leaving the sheet looking like some kid’s who ran out of time on the SATs and marked everything C. We sold a couple of everything, as if the people at the show checked to see what everyone else bought and bought something else. This never happens.

They also report that novelist Zadie Smith came by and bought some comics by Sean Ford.

§ Conventions #2: surely the latest and last report on New York Comic Con from The Marshalltown Chronicle, which could be subtitled “Milo Ventimiglia winked at me!”

Macaulay Culkin is randomly included in the panel because he’s guest starring in the Christmas special. Some boy asks where he’s been for the last ten years. He laughs and states, “Around.” They are all wearing silly hats. Seth Green goes off on a tangent about how awesome and cool Zac Efron is, and the audience isn’t very amused, because I think they all decided to hate Zac Efron once High School Musical was released.

§ More SCOTT PILGRIM: According to director Edgar Wright, the film once ended with a giant Gideon Graves robot.

“The original ending had Gideon turning into a giant robot,” revealed Wright. “That never went anywhere. We got rid of that because Bryan wasn’t going to do that in the comics, and also we thought it would look like a ‘Transformers’ spoof, so we ditched it.”

“It changed for something we’re all happy with,” he added. “The original ending, when we had test screenings, it would kind of divide people. Over that kind of process, Bryan changed the endings of the books and I was aware that the ending we had wasn’t quite as satisfying as it should be, so we had the chance — and Universal were totally behind the idea — of shooting something new. When we screened it again, the scores went hugely up.”

Early Green Lantern footage on EW

As everyone probably knows by now, the first public footage from the eagerly awaited Green Lantern movie starring Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively has surfaced as a teaser for a full reveal on Tuesday’s Entertainment Tonight. The reaction to this footage has been…mixed. In truth, it does look more like some kind of goofy romantic comedy than the start of a galaxy-spanning space fantasy franchise, but you know, chicks love Ryan Reynolds, and if they can be persuaded to see it that’s awesome, because every fanboy is going to see it anyway, even if it’s just to complain. Win win.


Also, as Kyle Baker pointed out in the above comment thread:

The thing about effects-heavy films is that the best WOW shots are the ones which take the longest to execute. Usually these kinds of films are still being edited days before release. I’ve worked on movies and seen the rough cuts of works in progress, and there’s really no way to tell what’s going to happen. I remember watching an early version of Scooby-Doo, and often the dog was just a storyboard drawing. I did a little bit of work with DC for this GL movie, and I have seen some breathtaking shots of alien worlds, cool spaceships and alien monsters. But that stuff’s going to take months to render and edit.

The Green Lantern movie hits theaters June 17, 2011.