MoCCA Festival Announces Programming

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Programming has been announced for this year’s MoCCA Festival, to beheld May 4-5 in NYC. Tickets can be purchased at the above link the poster by Michael DeForge has been unveiled, all systems are go.

As you can see from the below, the theme this year is “Art.”

Executive Director Anelle Miller says, “We are thrilled to offer two full days of discussion and learning to festival attendees and exhibitors. We have designed this year’s programming to be focused on the artists and their work and are honored to have so many talented and inspiring individuals involved.”
 
In addition to formal programming, we will also offer Table Talks on Saturday and Sunday in the Moving Image Lounge. Table Talks will feature special guests including Brendan Leach, Tim Paul, Lucy Knisley and artists from SelfMadeHero leading casual discussions and presentations.

 
2013 MoCCA Arts Festival Programming
Saturday, April 6
  
11:30 – 12:30
Art As Passion: Celebrating the spirit of comics through observation and reportage
Moderated by Dan Nadel with special guests Bob Fingerman, Miriam Katin and Stan Mack
 
1:00 – 2:00
Guest of Honor Bill Griffith in conversation with Paul Di Filippo
 
2:30 – 4:00
Art As History: Celebrating the role of counterculture comic artists in NYC 
Moderated by Paul Levitz with special guests Gabrielle Bell, Jules Feiffer and Peter Kuper
 
4:30 – 5:30
Art As a Mission: Society of Illustrators/MoCCA: Who we are, what we do, and how we do it.
Moderated by Anelle Miller and Peter de Seve with special guests Nora Krug, Arnold Roth and J.J. Sedelmaier
 
Sunday, April 7
 
11:30 – 12:30
Art As Profession: Creating, promoting, and making money in comics
Moderated by Heidi McDonald with special guests
 
1:00 – 2:00
Guest of Honor Jillian Tamaki in conversation with Ryan Sands 
 
2:30 – 4:00
Art on the Edge: Celebrating current creative innovation in comics
Moderated by Leon Avelino with special guests Zach Hazard, Annie Koyama and Mickey Z
 
4:30 – 5:30
Art in Motion: Celebrating the comics connection to animation
Moderated by Bill Plympton with special guests Signe Baumane and Joy and Noelle Vaccese 


PS: i do know who some of my special guests are on my panel — just couldn’t get them confirmed in time. You’ll read about it here when I can confirm!

REVIEW: “Do I Really Want My Name Associated with SEX AND VIOLENCE?”

by LTZ

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A while back, the Beat’s own Henry Barajas – tireless observer of Kickstarted comics that he is – took some time to preview a crowd-funded book by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Jimmy Broxton, and Juan Santacruz. Sex and Violence, Vol. 1 was laid bare (spread-eagle, perhaps) to its supporters this past week, after reaching its funding goal. The only hurdle yet to cross is for Palmiotti, Gray, and cover artist Amanda Conner to actually sit down and sign the damned things. I was part of the crowd that funded Sex and Violence; I expect I’ll get my copy in the mail any day now. In that copy, and in everyone else’s, too, there will be my name (my government name, my “goes on job applications” name), thanked for helping to finance, well, sex and violence.

I wonder if this bizarre offshoot of buyer’s remorse is common amongst Kickstarter supporters. The thing is, it’s not exactly remorse. It’s more like Schroedinger’s cat, where a funded project exists in a quantum state of being both satisfying and regrettable until you get your copy and find out for yourself. “So, goofus,” the dialogue begins, “why did you throw money at it if you weren’t sure you’d be happy with it?”

I’m not sure I have a good answer for that. I like Jimmy Broxton’s art, I guess. Getting an Amanda Conner art print or whatever else is pretty cool. As writers, Palmiotti and Gray have yet to grievously offend me, but then again, I’m not exactly snatching Freedom Fighters off the racks so roughly that the staples kink. It almost, maybe, makes a little more sense when I take the long view and consider the status quo of adult-people comics today.

Joe Casey, agent provocateur, just released a comic called Sex, which I saw praised on Twitter as “the most 2003 comic of 2013.” Brandon Graham’s Multiple Warheads, a book I love without qualifiers, started as a porno gag strip in an NBM anthology. Matt Seneca’s Very Fine Comix debuted with Daredevil 12”, a XXX Marvel comic spoof; Jane Mai just put out Blumpkin Spice Latte, a zine that’s 99% dick talk (with the best title of 2012). Sex is in the air in comics, these days, but it’s kept its edge, sticking mostly to the dim corners or weird vortices of the market.

sex-and-violence-censoredViolence, of course, is the foundation modern comics were built upon, and the sword that they live and die by to this day. I shouldn’t even need to point out examples, but the “big moments” in the Diamond-distributed scene always revolve around bloody carnage. Think Damian Wayne, freshly skewered. Glenn from The Walking Dead: turned into a piñata. Avatar Press is its own thing entirely. Both Mark Millar and John Romita’s certified hit Kick-Ass and Frank Cho and Joe Keatinge’s upcoming Brutal have promo art that looks jacked straight from the cover of Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power. DC Comics’ big multimedia tie-in for the quarter isn’t just a fighting game, it’s a fighting game built by the people who make Mortal Kombat.

So in this rough-sex-and-eyeballs-popping milieu, Sex and Violence seemed like a romp. Sure, it was being pitched as tawdry, sleazy, exploitative, and unshakably macho despite itself… but sometimes the grindhouse is the place to be. All of this is very much after-the-fact justification, but it seems to add up. But that just takes us back to Schroedinger’s cat. It could be fun and trashy. If could just be trashy and a little sad. I paid my admission, so the least I can do is find out.

There are two halves to Sex and Violence. You’d think that with the title structured the way it is, this duplex approach would lend itself to a sex story and a violence story. It almost does (one tale is certainly more violent than sexual, and vice versa for the other), but not enough to comment on the idea at any other point in this piece. The book starts with “Pornland, Oregon,” illustrated by Jimmy Broxton. In what starts as a sideways riff on the movie Hardcore, a young woman is made a deep web sensation forevermore by being murdered in a snuff film. As it turns out, in one of those funny coincidences life likes to play, her grandfather is a retired Mafia hitman, and all expected murders and executions follow in due course. The second story, drawn by Juan Santacruz, is “Girl in a Storm,” about a lesbian NYPD officer who becomes obsessed with spying on her beautiful neighbor, and has to deal with the small complication of that neighbor already having a woman to keep her bed warm. Things, as they must, get more sordid from there.

So is it any good? Jimmy Broxton’s minimalist (and very British, in a way I can’t put my finger on) style sells “Pornland” rather well. Abetted by Challenging Studios’ color palette of blue, grey, purple, and what I can only call “various shades of Dave Stewart red,” Broxton makes “Pornland” into something not unlike the crime media of the 70s, when character actors could still look like the bottoms of feet: Get Carter, The Outfit, The Squeeze, some imaginary episode of The Rockford Files with more exposed breasts… In fact, the plot of the thing is pretty much Get Carter with some serial numbers filed off, and things like “a vaguely sympathetic hero” and “romance” bolted on like a new spoiler on a Gremlin. That’s not bad, mind. If you’re going to be something in the avenge-young-relative sub-genre, Get Carter is really what you want to be.

sex-and-violence-teaserOn the other hand, “Girl in a Storm” is just… there. The story strains to be Brian de Palma, which is a noble ambition until you realize that Brian de Palma is usually straining to be other people (in this case, a Sapphic voyeur version of Rear Window) – it’s a well that quickly dries up. Juan Santacruz is a veteran superhero artist, and that’s a downside here. Instead of a claustrophobic, psychologically maladjusted story of obsession, passion, forbidden desire, violence, and all those other things that we pretend not to love, the leggy all-but-baby-oiled figures and brightly-lit colors give the whole thing a plastic shine. The look of the strip – which, in a strip about looking, is really the most important thing on multiple levels – isn’t enough to elevate an uninspired script, and both sides end up worse for it. If “Pornland” is Get Carter, “Girl in a Storm” ends up as a post-depilation-culture take on something like a Christina Lindberg movie, and not one of the really twisted, memorably corpse-mutilating ones like Thriller.

So this is what’s going to have my name tucked away in it, until we’re all dead and beyond. I don’t feel particularly embarrassed about this, I suppose. I probably should, and the sting is probably lessened by my name being so generic as to sound like an ethnic take on “John Smith.” Only half of Sex and Violence is really any fun – a statement more true than I intended it to be when I typed it – and I overpaid, based on that math. It’s not egregiously offensive (by comic book standards) and it’s not a work of genius. It just exists, and me with it, twins conjoined at the donation. It’s hard to work up a head of steam one way or the other when both pleasure and disappointment come mild.

LTZ sells comic books, and infrequently contributes to the Beat. He even more infrequently contributes to his own site, Nowhere / No Formats. He tweets about how hard this rigorous schedule is at @less_than_zero.

Manga pioneer Toren Smith as remembered by Lea Hernandez

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Photo by Lela Dowling

Lea Hernandez

[Toren Smith passed away on March 5, a pioneer of manga in America whose name was probably best known to those who were around when he was helping launch the global manga phenomenon. Jonathan Clements has a wonderful reminiscence of Toren’s career here, from his early days translating manga at Viz to his selling Studio Proteus to Dark Horse in 2004. I saw some personal comments artist Lea Hernandez posted on Facebook about Toren, and wondered if she could expand on them here—as an employee at Studio Proteus and one of the unsung manga pioneers herself she not only gives a picture of the early days but of how friendships evolve…and end. — Editor]

2013

My long-time friend Toren Smith has passed away after a protracted bout of ill health, and I’m heartbroken. I worked for him over the course of seventeen years as part of his elite Studio Proteus team; doing retouch on adult comics, and rewriting titles like 3×3 Eyes, What’s Michael? And Oh! My Goddess!. If Toren had lived another year, I would’ve known him for exactly half my life.

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1986-2013
Toren is the great unrecognized godfather of manga in the U.S., better than all the preening purists who followed him into manga in English combined. No matter how you trace the roots of manga becoming a viable market in the U.S., you’ll find yourself back at Toren.
[Read more…]

Former Marvel head in sexting scandal

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Okay he was only the head of Marvel for six months during Ron Perelman’s murky march to bankruptcy—in fact he was the guy in charge when Marvel filed—but former Marvel CEO Scott Sassa has been canned from his current gig at Hearst after steamy texts from a Las Vegas stripper showed up somewhere they shouldn’t.

“She was texting him sexy pictures, and he was responding using words you absolutely would not want your bosses to see,” a source said, adding, “He was also communicating with many other girls in New York, and wrote crazy things to them.”

But the LA stripper, helped by a boyfriend, then tried to blackmail Sassa — a single father of two daughters — saying she’d expose their raunchy messages if he didn’t give her money. A second source said, “She made a list of demands.”

When Sassa didn’t pay up, the boyfriend e-mailed the sex-text exchanges to horrified Hearst honchos, including CEO Frank Bennack Jr., Hearst Magazines president David Carey and Michael Clinton, president of marketing for the magazines.


Poor Scott Sassa. Doesn’t EVERY CEO send racy texts to their ladies on the side? He got caught doing what every school girl and school boy in the nation does.

Sassa headed Marvel for a brief, disastrous period in 1996, before ankling the gig for NBC.

Sassa’s other jobs over the years include CEO at Friendster, president at the Turner Entertainment Group, president and COO at Andrews Group and a job at Fox that ended badly. How does a person get to be CEO of so many troubled companies? That is a mystery of the finance world. On the plus side, he did greenlight Freaks and Geeks, so he was put here for a reason.

Review – Revisiting the New 52 TPBs Part 2 (Animal Man, Captain Atom, DCU Presents, Swamp Thing)

The local library consortium got a whole bunch of New 52 Vol. 1’s, so I’m going through and catching up on a few things I opted not pick up as monthlies.  This batch consists of the first volumes of Animal Man, Captain Atom, DCU Presents and Swamp Thing. [Read more…]

JManga shuts down, taking all the manga you bought with it

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It came in the night like an earthquake or a car crash: JManga, the digital manga portal set up by 39 of Japan’s biggest publishers, is shutting down. As of last night you could not make any more point purchases, as of the 26th you will no longer be able to purchase manga, and as of May 30th the entire site goes away–taking all of the manga you bought with it.

Customers with unused points will be able to swap them for an Amazon gift certificate.

JManga was launched as a last ditch effort by Japanese publishers to compete with scanlations and piracy by offering translated digital comics in a legit interface to North American readers. It took a long time for the publishers to come to an agreement and there were many complaints about the point system used to buy the comics as well as the paucity of top-notch offerings. Brigid Alverson, who covered the product from its launch, has the fullest write-up:

One of the hallmarks of JManga was its responsiveness to comments from users, and the fairness with which it treated them. I kicked the tires in early August, and along with a lot of other readers, I complained that the prices were too high and the points system, which required a monthly subscription, was too clunky. In October, they rolled back their prices in what was billed as a temporary sale but turned into a permanent price cut. And in a nice touch, they gave readers who had already purchased books at the higher price a partial refund on their points. Later on they dropped the subscription requirement as well, allowing one-time purchases. And while JManga originally served only North America, they extended the service worldwide at readers’ request. They maintained an active Twitter feed and Facebook presence and, unlike many other Japanese publishers, often responded directly to comments and Tweets.


Despite all that, the service lasted barely two years. No reasons have been given for the abrupt shutdown, but Alverson speculates:

Without any insider knowledge, I would guess that format had a lot to do with it. Manga readers are accustomed to reading online for free, thanks to the wave of pirate sites over the past few years, and JManga was slow to go onto tablets; once it did, it was with a fairly clunky Android app. It’s a shame, because JManga had many of the things fans want—an eclectic range of manga, quick access, and an unusual responsiveness to feedback—but in this environment, apparently, that wasn’t enough.


Twitter is full of post-mortems:

Johanna Draper Carlson has her own thoughts and observes that Japanese fiscal years end in March so it might have been a money matter.

Of even more portent for everyone reading digital comics, the service is taking everything you bought with it. JManga titles were only available to read on the cloud—it’s similar to what happened this weekend with comiXology’s disastrously successful Marvel #1 promotion: with the site down no one could even READ their other comics.

Now it’s worth noting that cloud storage is now Netflix and Hulu and all those popular media streaming companies also work. but you are always offered the chance to purchase for ever and ever (or until the format dies) your very own copy of the same thing.

That is not currently offered with most digital comics.

When JManga was launched they made this promise: “The digital manga you purchase is automatically placed in your very own virtual bookshelf for you to read whenever you want, wherever you are!” That wasn’t true either and manga fans are currently experiencing extreme trust issues. Animaru has more:

Up until this point the idea of a digital manga service shutting down and all purchases vanishing into thin air has been just a theoretical threat. Now when the largest player on the field has fallen, that theoretical threat is suddenly a very concrete one. From this day on people will always remember the demise of JManga before deciding to invest their money into any manga platform. Of course there are ways to sidestep these trust issues. The most obvious one is the Crunchyroll / Netflix model: paying for the service, not for the content. When there’s a fixed monthly fee, you wouldn’t be left with nonexistant purchases even if the service would shut down one day. It’s the solution everyone wants, but also a one that the Japanese publishers have not been eager to agree to.

Below is the letter sent to subscribers:

Dear JManga Members and Supporters,

It is our deep regret to inform you that JManga.com will be concluding its retail and viewing services on May 30th 2013.

Below is JManga.com’s Service Termination Schedule.
a. JManga Point Distribution and Sales Termination: 
March 13th 2013 at 11:59pm (US Pacific Time)

b. Digital Manga Purchasing Service Termination: 
March 26th at 11:59pm (US Pacific Time)

c. Manga Viewing Service Termination: 
May 30th at 11:59pm (US Pacific Time)

All JManga Members will be issued Amazon Gift Cards for use on Amazon.com as a substitute the amount of unusedJManga Paid Points (*1) possessed at March 13th 2013 at 11:59pm.

Refunds will be processed between March 21st 2013 to March 25th 2013 (US Pacific Time).

For further details regarding JManga.com’s retail and viewing service termination, please visithttp://www.jmanga.com/urgent-message

As of March 13th 2013 at 11:59pm (US Pacific Time) JManga7.com has concluded its services. JManga7 Premium Members who signed up between February 14th 2013 and March 13th 2013 at 11:59pm (US Pacific Time) will be refunded. For further details regarding JManga7.com’s service termination, please visit the Jmanga7 FAQ athttp://www.jmanga7.com/

Thank you for your support and understanding,
JManga

Here we go again: New York Comic-Con VIP tickets already sold out

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Although it’s six months away, it’s not too soon to start planning for New York Comic-Con. To wit: tickets went on sale at Noon EDT and in little more than half an hour, the VIP tickets were sold out:


Despite that status report, since then, both the $190 regular VIP package and the $475 “Ultimate Access” VIP packages which get the bearer early admission, a special lounge and two creator signings are sold out.

4-day passes and daily tickets are still available. The four day passes usually sell out well before the show date (although we heard a guy was selling them out of a box on the sidewalk at last year’s show) so you might want to consider getting one just to be sure.

More details on Make That Thing, TopatoCo’s Kickstarter Fulfillment House

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A couple of interviews with more information on Make That Thing, the new company that helps successful Kickstarter campaign actually send out all their rewards. it’s a division of TopatoCo, the webcomics’s merchandising company which already has a formidable infrastructure—a fork lift!, warehouses, employees!—and manufacturing contacts to help their cartoonists sell their merch. The program is rolling out slowly as an in house project. Todd Allen talks to David Malki about some of the metrics:

PW: How do you price this sort of service?

MALKI: Generally speaking, on the net [profits of the Kickstarter campaign]. This is another area where Machine of Death and The Tomorrow Girl are going to be our test cases to see where the bottlenecks are when coordinating between a site like Kickstarter and our existing workflows. Establishing the workflows is going to determine the pricing, and there may also be variation depending on the particulars of the project. But the watchword is collaboration: we want to be a service to creators, not a liability. We want everyone in this exchange to be successful. So by pricing on the net, we have a vested interest in efficiency, but it still scales with the success (and the complexity) of the project.


Over at Fleen, Gary Tyrell talking to the other principle, Holly Rowland:

Fleen: So once things open up and Jenny Q. Cartoonist is getting ready to Kickstart Yurt Days, when does she contact you? Are you going to need clients to work with you to lay out their campaigns, and especially their estimated delivery dates?

Rowland: Ideally, we would work with the client from the beginning. They would contact us with a short proposal (we will have an online form) and if our panel of experts decides that the project is a good fit, then we work with the creator to figure out all of the bits and what their goal should be. I have been doing A LOT of reading about crowd funding and the challenges therein, and budgeting and goals is a really big one for some.
Delivery dates are also an issue that comes up time and time again. We want to build in a 6-8 month tight turnaround, and make the artist stick to the deadlines.

Fleen: How big do you see MTT getting? On the one hand, you need to keep a schedule of projects such that your employees stay busy. On the other hand, you can’t be so packed full that an unexpectedly big success messes up your logistics for the next two months.

Rowland: We’re going to take it slow for the first year and only run one or two campaigns at a time². That feels manageable, and gives us space to tweak as we go. After that, who knows? If we could afford to hire a campaign manager for each campaign, that is something I would love to do. A Kickstarter sherpa, if you will.


So as you can see this is a pilot program that will probably stay within the company for a while, not the solution to shipping out Veronica Mars dvds. If it works out—and we can’t see why it wouldn’t given TopatoCo’s resources and strang management—we’d imaine other companies would spring up to do much the same thing.

BTW, reading between the lines of Malki and Rowland’s comments this is more a partnership than a fulfillment house. If you squint a little bit, it looks kind of like the services of a traditional publisher, only the money is coming directly from the consumers. What’s revolutionary about the whole process is that it allows the transaction between creator and consumer to be as transparent as possible, but the actual services are much the same. Sometimes everyone goes a different way to see the same thing.

Preview: Hawkeye #9 by Fraction and Aja

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Hawkeye by Fraction and Aja continues to be the most stylish and offbeat superhero comic on the stands. In this issue, enter the women: Black Widow, Mockingbird, Spider-Woman and Kate Bishop try to figure out who’s trying to kill Clint Barton.

Can the Girlfriend, the Work-Wife, the Ex-Wife and the protégé find out who’s behind Hawkeye’s headache before it too late? There’s only one way to find out – preorder Hawkeye #9 now, bro.


 HAWKEYE #9 (JAN130720)
Written by MATT FRACTION
Art & Cover by DAVID AJA
FOC – 3/18/13, ON-SALE – 4/10/13
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Titan Unveil ‘Monster Massacre’ Anthology

The Brit Zone continues, sort of, with a new announcement from Titan Comics. This week Titan unveiled a new co-publishing deal between themselves and Atomeka, which will put out ‘Monster Massacre’. This anthology will feature stories all about – you guessed it – monsters. On top of stories from creators like D’Israeli, Ian Edginton, Ron Marz, and Dave Wilkins, the book will also include a Joe Simon/Jack Kirby story, ‘The Greatest Horror of Them All’, taken from Black Cat Mystery.

The cover is far too rude for me to post on The Beat, so instead here’s a page or two of interiors.

[Read more…]

2000AD Create ‘Jump On Point’ for Prog 1824; take Mickey out of Marvel

Morning in Britain means more British comics talk! The Beat slowly forces its way into multiculturalism, and isn’t it wonderful? Hopefully eventually we’ll bring in a reporter from Fiji, and really nail this 24/7 news cycle thingy.

[Read more…]