§ Back from a holiday internet vacation. Sometimes you just need to release the tension on the winch. Hope you all had a good holiday.
§ Nice art: I guess the Village Voice is serious about this comics thing as here’s Wall of Shame by Gilbert Hernandez, tackling the matter of the day. (Wish someone had cleaned up the lettering guides though.)
§ Speaking of Hernandez, Rob Salkowitz looks back at Fantagraphics’ groundbreaking history and the moment it broke:
After dipping their toes in the waters of publishing original content in the late 1970s, Fantagraphics made a discovery that would change public perceptions of comics and establish the company as trailblazers, not just naysayers.
“These guys from LA sent us the first issue of a comic they were doing to review,” said Groth. “[co-publisher] Kim [Thompson] and I thought it was amazing and asked them who was publishing it. They said no one was, so we decided we had to do it.” The comic was called Love and Rockets, by two young brothers, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez (assisted by a third brother, Mario), who each wrote and drew their own stories. The character-driven epics rang with honesty and authenticity, backed by artwork that matured by leaps and bounds with every issue. It was a huge sensation in the early 80s, feeding the demands of a nascent network of comics specialty retailers that catered to fans looking for higher quality work.
§ Chris Onstad has wrapped up Achewood again, after a year of weekly strips, this time for, maybe, forever.
I relaunched Achewood a year ago on Christmas Day, putting it up on Fridays, and I wanted to give it one full, solid year. I wanted to prove I could come back as strong as I ever was. And I wanted to make you happy again. So I did (at least, the first one — the second one I can’t speak to).
And now I am walking away from it again. It’s necessary for me. Achewood takes a huge give from its producer. It’s so slippery, so complex, so vast, so old, and I hold it to such a high standard, it becomes all-encompassing. When I do Achewood, I can’t focus on or give enough time to the securities I need to build for later in life, or to my human relationships.
I wasn’t a regular Achewood reader but when I read it I liked it. It seems to me to be an Aughts thing (not that later strips weren’t just as good) but very much of that innocent wild west internet time, a minimalist strip about a cat in a black thong. The characters all spoke in their own majestic patois, one of the hallmarks of a great comic strip. Anyway, good luck to Onstd on future endeavors.
§ The Comics Reporter holiday interview series is up. A suitably discursive interview with Tony Millionaire (talk about patois) about the ending of Maakies, and an interview with a fellow named Steve Newman that turns out to be mostly about the spectacle of San Diego Comic-Con; and Sarah Glidden. It’s all good stuff.
§ BEST OFs! !’m sure I missed some during my hiatus.
Paste Magazine;s 10 Amazing Indie & Self-Published Comics You Might Have Missed in 2016 — all excellent.
Unwinnable’s The Best Comics of 2016 | Unwinnable
Women Write About Comics has many yearend wrap=ups but here’s WWAC’s Favorite Big Press Comics of 2016
§ Finally in the kind of rebellious act that only a great artist could get away with, John Porcellino presents (Some of my) FAVORITE COMICS OF 2015 [sic]
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.