§ After last night’s press deadline, The Comics Reporter posted another holiday interview, this time with writer Kurt Busiek, in a thughtful talk that explores many aspects of his work. However, the pull quote we’ll use covers the matter of the day:
I’m worried about the economy in general terms, but I don’t really know what it means for comics. I keep hearing people talk about how in troubled time, comics do great, but I don’t know why they’re saying that. The “troubled times” that comics have been through include the Great Depression, during which comics flourished and grew, but grew from nothing, and the recession of the 1970s, during which sales dropped and dropped and dropped, and comics lost thousands of retail outlets, and freelancers were talking about how there’d be no comics industry at all in a few years and everyone should find something else to do. And newsstand sales never recovered from that — what saved the industry was the Direct Market, and the ability to sell more efficiently and profitably to a dedicated fan base.
§ Check out Bryan Talbot’s spiffy new MySpace page. That’s right, we said it…MYSPACE.
§ Chris Butcher expands on the pleasures of Naoki Urasawa’s Monster:
So, honestly? It’s just an exceptionally well-done comic. There’s no way to look at this and not recognize the incredibly high level of craft, the sheer ability put into this series. The character development, the labrynthine plot, and just how compelling it is as a story! There wasn’t one point while reading that dragged for me, where I wasn’t propelled into the next chapter, the next book. And the art! It’s understated, probably doesn’t give the best impression on the ‘flip-test’, but it’s pretty clear that Urasawa and his legion of assistants can draw pretty much anything; any expression, any angle, any background character, and dozens of unique faces and body-types and even body language. He has a wonderful gift for caricature too, character faces that could seem cartoony (or in some cases grotesque…) work very well within the context of the story. The series is in almost every respect fantastically accomplished.
§ We were unaware of the website ComicsCareers.com, but it appears to be dedicated to interviews focusing on craft, a welcome change from the promotional nature of most interviews around. Specifically, this time out it’s Derf and his graphic novel, PUNK ROCK AND TRAILER PARKS:
Comics Career: Otto is an unusual take on the typical nerd character. How did you approach him?
Derf: The nerd is always a staple of comics, for obvious reasons, and particularly of indie comics. But, he usually seems to be a self-loathing, miserable wretch. The world is pressing down upon him, and “Oh, woe is me.” The confessional self-autobiographical comics are particularly prone to this.
I find those characters to be really boring, so when I was thinking about characters, I thought one of the things I haven’t seen is the narcissist geek, the egomaniacal geek. We all know people like that. They walk into a room and they just fill it with their sheer force of personality. These are the guys who are running the world now. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and all those guys. I thought I should do something like that, because I hadn’t seen it before, and I like doing things I haven’t seen before. I don’t want to cover ground that’s been covered. What’s the point?
So, that’s where I started with Otto. I started building his character, and I found that I really liked what he was becoming. He kind of told me what he was. He just spoke to me off the sketchpad and said, “Put this in and put that in.” I just started working with it and piling stuff on. He formed out of thin air on his own, conjured up.