§ There was a thing called Success in Comics and Alan Gardner took notes. Hurry on over there!
§ Warren Ellis and Jason Howard have launched Scatterlands, which is:
A largely improvised comic strip that will run here Mondays to Fridays, one panel a day. We’ll take a short break every four or five weeks, at which point we’ll run a digest of that block of panels somewhere or other (we have no serious plans in this direction beyond the intent, and are basically making shit up as we go along). But here they will be daily and free.
§ A reminder that culture can still drive technology: high-tech Akihibara Japan still loves fax machines.
The Japanese government’s Cabinet Office said that almost 100 percent of business offices and 45 percent of private homes had a fax machine as of 2011.
Yuichiro Sugahara learned the hard way about his country’s deep attachment to the fax machine, which the nation popularized in the 1980s. A decade ago, he tried to modernize his family-run company, which delivers traditional bento lunchboxes, by taking orders online. Sales quickly plummeted.
Today, his company, Tamagoya, is thriving with the hiss and beep of thousands of orders pouring in every morning, most by fax, many with minutely detailed handwritten requests like “go light on the batter in the fried chicken” or “add an extra hard-boiled egg.”
“There is still something in Japanese culture that demands the warm, personal feelings that you get with a handwritten fax,” said Mr. Sugahara, 43.
§ And a second story on a very different culture/technology intersection: Russia’s grimly necessary love of car cams:
The sheer size of the country, combined with lax — and often corrupt — law enforcement, and a legal system that rarely favors first-hand accounts of traffic collisions has made dash cams all but a requirement for motorists. “You can get into your car without your pants on, but never get into a car without a dash cam,” Aleksei Dozorov, a motorists’ rights activist in Russia told Radio Free Europe last year.
§ Ken Parille examines examines CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST’s panel layouts which were gridlike to entice small children.
§ Dan Nadel chats with Gabrielle Bell:
BELL: Yeah. I really want to do more. I had an idea for this story, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to do it, because I didn’t know if I could pull off a murder story. So I had it on the shelf, as the story that I would maybe someday have the skill to do. I have a lot of those stories — that I don’t think I can do at that moment — but Sammy Harkham [editor of Kramers Ergot] pressured me into it for Kramers. I’m very grateful to Sammy — for pressuring me to do that. He also wouldn’t take no for an answer. I was like, “Maybe,” and he was like, “Great. OK, I want it on my desk next week.” It was the same with the story that I did for him with the chair story. That story’s pretty similar, too. People think it’s autobiographical. And it’s very, very short, but there’s a lot going on in it. And also, the last line, of both stories. One of them is, “I never felt so useful.” And the other one is, “I’ve never felt so close to my father,” which is, basically, a woman being in a very bad situation, and taking something good out of it. Or turning around this whole bad situation. Anyway, that’s just what I was thinking the other day. I was thinking, these stories are similar that way.
§ Tim O’Shea chats with colorist Jordie Bellaire:
My first question is a simple one: How the heck do you juggle all the monthly books that you color?
It gets pretty hectic. I don’t get to do everything I wanted to do, I recently really wanted to sign up for a screen printing course in the city just to flex my art muscles … but realized it would conflict with deadlines. I think taking on too much work is easy for me because I like it but then when the reality of everything sinks in it gets pretty gruesome. No drinks out in town for me pretty much ever! And Fridays..what are those? I’m also very fortunate to have an assistant, Jordan Gibson. He’s a talented artist himself and really helps me get books out on time. He helps me flat pages, flat last-minute pages or covers, color-corrects using my older issues or color-corrects “rainbow flats” from a flatter — he’s just great. Normally, if I’m working on a book that’s coming in last minute he’s pulling all the same late hours I am to help prep the pages for coloring.
§ A video game art director says something which will not be at all controversial.
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.