§ Nice art: Mary Blair — I was looking up something for an email question and found this scan of Mary Blair’s Cinderella picture book. Blair, a scene painter, ride designer, illustrator, is perhaps the ultimate nice art.
§ Headline of the day: Holy crap you guys! There’s a Well-known cartoonist in town! The cartoonist is Lynn Johnston, the town is Thunder Bay and the excitement is real. If you’re around check out this event.
§ The library group YALSA has announced their Top Ten Graphic Novels For Teens for 2015 and they are:
Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova (Yen Press)
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Lumberjanes Vol. 1 – 2 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and Shannon Watters, illus. by Brooke Allen (Boom! Box)
Ms. Marvel Vol. 2 – 3 By G. Willow Wilson, illus. by Jacob Wyatt, Adrian Alphona, Takeshi Miyazawa and Elmo Bondoc (Marvel Comics)
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (Harper Teen)
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (Dial Books for Young Readers)
Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia (Fantagraphics)
A Silent Voice Vol. 1 -3 by Yoshitoki Oima (Kodansha Comics)
Trashed, by Derf Backderf (Abrams ComicArts)
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol 1 – 2 by Ryan North, illus. by Erica Henderson (Marvel Comics)
Only three of these comcis were drawn by men, so we really have to start asking ourselves: why are there no more great male cartoonists?
§ Retailer Matthew Price looks at sales pattern at various comics shops and as usual Star Wars and Batman are huge, but sometimes, there are surprises:
“‘Secret Wars’ did very well,” said Joey Belden, of Atomik Pop, 7884 S Western. Brian Berlin, of New World Comics, 6219 N Meridian Ave., said his top seller was actually a “Secret Wars” spinoff called “Weirdworld.” “I read it and was floored by it,” Berlin said. “It ended up being my favorite book from last year.” Nationally, “Weirdworld #1” ranked No. 371.
§ Here’s a frank report – with ratings-on various comics conventions in Philly, DC and Balitmore by Dawn Griffin. Awesome Con and Baltimore got A-, other shows got lower ratings. She invites other exhibitors to rate the shows so go over to the link and do just that. Hm, I might steal that idea for The Beat. (h/t Comics Reporter)
§ Liz Ohanesian lists the 10 Best L.A. Comic Book Shops – boy there are a lot of good shops in SoCal! She also throws in a nice ode to the nostalgia we feel for our first time:
Maybe the allure is nostalgic. If you’re a comic book reader, you probably have memories of the local shop that informed your reading habits. Mine was the now-defunct Northridge outpost of Golden Apple. I can remember my dad taking me there when reading was still a very new hobby. Later on, my siblings and I would head to the shopping center where we could stock up on summer reading before grabbing Thrifty Drug Store ice cream cones. I would flip through the indie comics as The Smiths played in the background, discovering series like Hate and Love and Rockets along the way. If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed about comic book stores, it’s that they’ll expand your reading horizons. There’s always the chance that you’ll walk out of the store with something you didn’t intend to buy, and that’ll become your new favorite.
§ Bart Beaty examines the Angoulême mystique a bit more. Surely the festival has never received so much attention in the us as it has because of the Grand Prix flap. He looks at how many best book winners are in print in the US and the answer is few. Also, the top prize may not be like winning the lotto:
I have been fortunate enough to attend the Angoulême festival seventeen times. During that time I have had the opportunity to get to know some of the cartoonists who have previously won the award. I know past presidents who have been ecstatic to receive the news, and, frankly, a couple who met it with a sort of grim resignation. The presidency is actual work – unpaid work. There is press to do, an exhibition to coordinate (or help coordinate), juries to sit on, lunches to attend. It can arrive at the wrong time for some cartoonists. It may the greatest honour in all of comics, as it is frequently called, but it can also be a bit of a drag. We’re seeing a bit of that this year.
Based on my own attendance two years ago, I can tell you this: Angoulême is just about the best time you can have at a “comic-con”, particularly if you just like comics and pictureseque towns in the south of France. The exhibits do a great job of showcasing international comics to a certain extent, but it’s still more French than anything as might be expected.
§ Frank Santoro updates progress on his freestanding comcis dojo in PItssburgh and also the shcking fact that Pittsburgh is now cool.
I want to write about the curious feeling of growing up in a fucked-up economically depressed post-industrial wasteland and then watching that postage stamp of land become the hottest real estate market in the country. That’s right, Pittsburgh PA is now the #1 real estate market in the USA. The most livable city. It’s booming and I’ve watched some of my family and friends from here get priced out of their own fucked up economically depressed post-industrial wasteland postage stamp.
Pittsburgh is a place that impoverished big city folks often talk about fleeing to, but I guess theyll have to flee somewhere else. Seriously where is the arts community gong to end up? Tulsa?
§ The Comics Workbook comcis school now has a website, btw and it’ll either make you squeal with dewlight or have an epileptic fit, just as intended.
§ Nick Hanover takes a look at the latest book from Ted McKeever, Pencil Head, and compares it favorably to Airboy. Both are roman a clefs about the comic book industry—I haven’t read Pencil Head yet but I better get my hands on a copy pronto! It’s nice to see McKeever get some critical attention, as he’s had one of the more interesting comics careers for the last 20 years.
Like Pussey! before it, Pencil Head is an unapologetically crass dissection of the comics trade, only with a heavier meta-element and a more aggressive style. Both McKeever and Pussey! creator Dan Clowes are known for their art comix aesthetics, but Clowes’ style has always been softer, more pleasing to the eye, while McKeever continues to work in the scratchy style that was so dominant in a certain area of the ’90s comic boom. Clowes also hasn’t really worked much in superhero comics as an industry but has occasionally explored the genre in his singular way, while McKeever’s superhero flirtations have occasionally moved into the realm of real relationship, ranging from Elseworlds work for DC to occasional one offs at Marvel as well as work between the superhero and art comics worlds, like Doom Patrol. Still, he’s not a chronic comics lifer like Robinson, so there is a distance to the artistic frustration in Pencil Head that isn’t as present in Airboy— the latter was a work by a man thoroughly disgusted with himself for his status as a late period hack, the former takes a curious but removed interest in the weird world of mainstream comics freelancing.
§ Pete Redrup has a nice review round-up at The Quietus
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.