Gabrielle Bell Art Sale!

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Gabrielle Bell is having an art sale on most of the July Diary that makes up jher book Truth is Fragmentary. Pages are a reasonable $100, shipping included. Bell is having the sale as a fundraiser, and while it’s neat to be able to get original art by a great cartoonist for next to nothing, it’s also telling that a cartoonist of Bell’s stature still has to sell art to makes ends meet. NYC, you’re bumming me out in a supreme fashion.

Bell also posted a new comic visible in the link.

Meanwhile in Angoulême: Charlie Hebdo gets special prize; Comixology coverage and just how big is it?

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The 42nd Angoulême International Comics Festival is well underway, wrapping up the second day of exhibits as you read this, and the year is dominated, of course, by the Charlie Hebdo killings. Matthias Wivel is offering on the scene reports, and security is very high for the festival this year the checkpoints and bomb sniffing dogs.

BIZARRO WORLD A rain-drenched Angoulême has been preparing for the annual influx of people from all over the world for weeks, scrambling to take the necessary precautions against possible terrorism. Bomb-sniffing dogs around the Noveau Monde comics tent and body searches with portable metal detectors, backing up visitors at every entrance is the new reality at Angoulême.

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The Charlie Hebdo massacre looms large everywhere, even as people are trying to carry on as usual. The Lewis Trondheim-designed festival mascot appears on the cover of the official program brandishing the ubiquitous JE SUIS CHARLIE sign, while absent festival president Bill Watterson’s delightful official poster, hanging in shop windows around town, reminds one of a (seemingly) more innocent time in comics.

Charlie Hebdo itself has been given a special prize, and the names of those slain loom over the entrance to the festival, a shown in the photo above by Wivel.
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• Comixology is back at FIBD and has a big All Access Angouleme program going on via TwitterTumblr,Facebook, and Google+ channels.

ComiXology, the revolutionary cloud-based digital comics platform, celebrates this year’sAngoulême International Comics Festival with a sale spotlighting comics, bandes dessinées (BD), graphic novels and manga from all over the world from January 29th through February 1st. ComiXology will also be covering the show through their social media channels under the “All Access Angoulême” moniker – giving fans around the world a way to experience the festival. The AngoulêmeInternational Comics Festival takes place in Angoulême, France and runs from January 29th to February 1st.

 

They also have an Angoulême sale going on and just announced a deal to carry Humanoids comics. Both sections reward browsing.
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• LES ROYAUMES DU NORD by Stéphane Melchior and Clément Oubrerie (Aya), an adaptation of Phllip Pullman’s The Golden Compass won the YA prize. I already like it better than the movie.
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• Local resident Jessica Abel has a few tweets of note:


AND she has a new book, Trish Trash! Finally!


And her eating guide in case you haven’t figured out how to buy a crepe.

§ The Sodastream controversy continues, with an open letter signed by 110 cartoonists and allies protesting the sponsorship by the Israeli company that has factories on the West Bank. Festival director Franck Bondoux has responded:

“We are no longer in the same situation as last year,” remarked Bondoux, whom we reached last night. “SodaStream announced in 2014 that the factory under discussion will be moved. This means that the problem is in process of being resolved and has been understood.” The executive director of the festival further believes that the letter “moves into a broader proposal with terminology that goes much farther in its call for a boycott.” “We have moved from a discussion where one speaks of a specific problem to a total generality.” “This is an incitement to a stronger, more militant form of resistance.” Bondoux refuses to “judge” or “comment” if only to say “that in the current situation [reference to Charlie Hebdo and Kosher supermarket attacks], I’m not certain whether this is a time to welcome such proposals.”

But the petition organizers Ethan Heitner (NYC) and Dror Warschawski (Paris) have also responded:

On the eve of the 42nd International Comics Festival in Angoulême, the open letter we have sent to the festival director has more than 110 signatories, including 14 cartoonists having been awarded prizes at Angoulême and 7 Grand Prix laureates.

Additional signatures are still coming in from illustrators outraged by the contempt that Mr Bondoux displays towards them.  Several of them had initially not thought it necessary to sign this letter, feeling that the one sent last year had served as a warning, at a time when Mr Bondoux could plead naivety.  This year, with the facts out in the open, they cannot accept that the art of comics be used to whitewash the crimes of colonization and complicity in war crimes, be it in Angoulême or elsewhere.

Last year Mr Bondoux challenged the truth of the information we had provided and claimed that the Sodastream factory was not situated in territory militarily occupied by Israel since 1967.  This year, without blushing, he declared to the press that “the Sodastream firm announced in 2014 that the factory would be relocated.  The problem is being resolved.” (Sud Ouest newspaper, 23 January 2013).  Firstly, as of now the factory has not been relocated, and Sodastream is still a sponsor of the Angoulême festival.  Secondly, the “problem” is not being resolved and it is now 67 years that the Palestinians have been waiting for a solution.  Finally, cartoonists cannot accept that their art form be exploited by a firm that will, in addition, profit from the expulsion of Palestinian Bedouins in order to install its new factory on their land, and thus participate in the ethnic cleansing policy carried out by the State of Israel.

Mr Bondoux adds that “In the light of current events, I am not sure that such excessive remarks are appropriate”.  We suggest that Mr Bondoux discuss it with Willem, a Charlie Hebdo survivor, Grand Prix laureate in 2013, president of the Angoulême Jury in 2014, and a signatory of the letter.  We also suggest that he speak with the artists to whom his own festival has awarded prizes, and especially with other Grand Prix laureates (Baru, Jean-Claude Mézières, José Muñoz, François Schuiten, Tardi, Lewis Trondheim…).  It is they, rather than Mr Bondoux, who make this festival what it is.  Their voices must be heard, and the Sodastream firm must be driven out of the Angouleme festival.

 

• According to the Matthais Wivel account, China is very much involved as a sponsor in this year’s festival, so you can see cultural clashes of this kind will continue.

• It wouldn’t be an Angoulême without some kind of particularly Gallic controversy, although this year the Hebdo situation has swept most of that aside. Before the fest there was a huge controversy about Bondoux, who actually works for a firm contracted by the festival to put it on, taking aggressive steps to trademark the name of the festival, an event that got everyone’s dander up and forced the Angouleme minister of culture to make a public show of his outrage. Locals tell me that there is a three way battle over the festival between L’Association (no relation to the publisher) which puts it on, 9e Art+, the contractor, and the local government. While this tussle has been put on hold due to the greater events sweeping over the French cartooning community, it hasn’t been solved.

• Finally, this comes from the NY Post of French comics coverage, so add some salt, but along with the above controversy, there have been claims that FIBD (Festival Festival international de la bande dessinée d’Angoulême) has inflated it’s attendance figures and does not draw the 200,000 that is claimed. Quelle horreur! A lot of the evidence seems to be based on whether 40,000 is a typo for 400,000, which is flimsy, but there have been other claims about this perviously. Speaking for myself, after actually going I’d guess that 200,000 people don’t all show up every day, but there are more than 50,000 people every day, too. Also, in the rough Google translation, it seems that, SDCC-style, scrutiny is being given to the costs versus the amount spent by attendees, with a study by the local tourism board showing major expenditures: the festival costs € 4.3 million, € 1.9 million of it public money, but brings in € 1.1 million for restaurants and € 0.72 million for hotels, with visitors spending some € 1.42 million (About US$1.6 million.) That actually amounts to….$18 per attendee, so the French may also be a living embodiment of the Single Can of Tuna Theory*.

Bendis on working for Marvel

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On his Tumblr, Brian Micheal Bendis was asked about why he’s stayed with Marvel when so many others have gone 100% creator owned.

Seems like most of the guys from your generation (Fraction, Brubaker, Millar) made a name doing their own stuff, built up a name at one of the big 2, then left to do their own stuff but with a bigger following. What makes you stay on at Marvel? Do you think you always had different goals from the start?


and he pointed out some very good reasons to stay:

Everyone to their own path. 

but it’s weird that I keep being labeled, by some, as just marvel dude because I do produce as much if not more creator owned work as everybody else doing creator owned work. in fact with the powers TV show just a few weeks away I am as involved in the benefits of creator owned then just about anybody on the planet aside from Robert Kirkman. it just so happens that Marvel is also my home for creator owned work and have been publishing powers for over a decade

 but why Marvel? I absolutely love it. I feel an immense honor being  one of the caretakers of these characters that mean so much to so many. my kids are little and all of their friends love the guardians or the avengers and the thrill they feel when they find out I’m somewhat involved is very inspiring.  I am afforded a great deal of freedom to express myself in characters that mean the world to so many.

 so I get the best of both worlds.  why wouldn’t I do both?


You know, there’s nothing wrong with sticking with a job you love, especially when you have a “TV” show coming out that will potentially rewards the fruits of creator-owned labor over many years. Bendis has had one of the most successful careers in comics history, ad having choices is what helped make it so.

The OSU Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum acquires Tom Tomorrow’s paper

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OSU’s Billy Ireland library and Museum continues to amass more important collections or archival papers with the announcement that editorial cartoonist Tom Tomorrow aka Dan Perkins will be donating his papers to the institution. Tomorrow is a alt.weekly mainstay whose made the transition to the inetrent world, with his trenchant comics found in 70 papers, Daily Kos, The Nation, and The Nib.  

Perkin’s collection has a large historical value, as he explained in a statement: “At this point, it represents not only a history of my own work, but of the alternative press itself, and I hope there’s some value in that for some scholar someday.  So when Curator Jenny Robb said The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum would be interested, I was thrilled — not only is all this material going to be preserved and accessible, but it will be in the biggest cartoon library in the world.  I can’t think of a better home for it all, though it does rob my young son of his eventual inheritance of many boxes full of old newspapers.”

With more and more papers being donated to various comics-friendly institutions, not only is the life of the packrat vindicated, but future generations and scholars are the richer for it.
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Phoebe Gloeckner’s Diary of a Teenage Girl wows them at Sundance

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Every few years, a comic book movie that is based on real life appears, and most often they appear at Sundance, the January-set indie film festival that rival Comic-Con for celebs, parties and standing in the street looking for a place to drink free alcohol.

The American Splendor film triumphed at Sundance back in 2003; more recently Save the Date, based on the work of Jeffrey Brown, had a more modest debut.

But this year, The Diary of a Teenage girl, based on the hybrid novel/comic by Phoebe Gloeckner, and directed by Marielle Heller is getting very strong reviews. The film stars 22-year-old Bel Powley as Minnie Goetz, a teenage girl whose emerging sexuality finds an outlet in an affair with her mother’s boyfriend. (Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard play the mother and boyfriend.) Strong reviews have led the way to the film already being picked up by Sony Classic Pictures.

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Todd McCarthy at The Hollywood Reporter loved it:

In this gutsy, intimate and assured debut, Marielle Heller accomplishes just about everything all young independent filmmakers say they want to do when starting out: to create a personal, fresh, distinctive work in their own “voice” that will then, of course, make their careers. Heller has pulled this off in a remarkably vibrant and frank look at one precocious teen’s emerging sexual life — a film with the stuff of life coursing through its veins and sex very much on its brain. The Diary of a Teenage Girl is the kind of film Sundance prays for every year: one that indelibly puts on the map a talented director the festival can then forever claim as one of its own. This will be one of the significant indie titles of the year and a good commercial bet — a film many young women will see more than once.

 

Anisha Jhaveri of Indiewire gave it an A-

Shocking but genuine, poignant and hilarious, “Diary of a Teenage Girl” could well become one of the more memorable entries in the Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. competition. Minnie’s story may be a singular one, but its essence will undoubtedly strike a chord — not just for women, but for anyone who recalls the befuddling emotions that plagued and enriched their teen years in equal doses.

Variety’s Dennis Harvey also liked it:

Translating tricky source material to the screen with flying colors, actress Marielle Heller’s feature directing debut, “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” manages to plunge into the too-precocious sex life of a 15-year-old girl without turning exploitative or distasteful. This adaptation of Phoebe Gloeckner’s heavily autobiographical novel is ideally cast and skillfully handled, making for a salable item likely to stir some attention-getting controversy and win favorable reviews in territories where the subject matter (which is depicted not graphically, but with a fair amount of nudity) doesn’t create daunting censorship problems.

Gloeckner is a powerful storyteller and she has found a sympathetic collaborator in Heller, who previously adapted the material into a stage play; animations based on the comics part of the book are used throughout the film. The cartoonist, who currently works as a professor at the University of Michigan, was on the set for filming and went to Sundance for the premiere. Several interviews with Gloeckner about the experience are available: this audio interview and a profile here.

Bonus video: Wiig and Skarsgard talking about their characters.

child's lifeThe acclaim for the film will hopefully give some of Gloeckner’s other works some attention as well, although they aren’t that easy to find. A Child’s Life, which collects most of her comics, including ones which expand on the events of Diary, is OOP, although you can readily get a used copy. Hopefully that will change soon, and also maybe Gloeckner will do some more comics? A voice as honest and clear as hers is always needed in comics.

Marge and Bill Woggon selected for the Eisner Hall of Fame, 13 on the ballot

Marjorie “Marge” Henderson Buehl, the magazine cartoonist who created Little Lulu, and Bill Woggon, creator of Katy Keane, an early example of crowd sourced comics, have been selected for the Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame by this year’s judges. An additional 13 names will be on the ballot for the awards: Lynda Barry, John Byrne, Chris Claremont, Howard Cruse, Kim Deitch, Matt Groening, Denis Kitchen, Frank Miller, Francoise Mouly, Paul S. Newman, Lily Renée Peters Phillips, Bob Powell, and Frank Robbins. Four will be selected for the Hall and announced at the ceremony at Comic-Con.

Online voting is now open for industry professionals (writer, artist, cartoonist, colorist, letterer, editors, publishers) as well as retailers, graphic novels librarians, and comics historian/educators. The deadline is March 31.

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Marjorie Henderson Buell (“Marge”) (1904–1993)
Marge started drawing Little Lulu for the Saturday Evening Post in 1935, creating a mischievous tot with a spark for ingenuity that we know to this day. Lulu was created as a foil to the existng character Henry. It was turned into a comic strip eventually and the comics by John Stanley and Irving Tripp. Although the Stanley Lulu stories are the best known today, Marge’s Lulu was very popular in its own right, with many licensing deals—including one as the mascot for Kleenex from 1952-1965–and an animated series. Marge was a cartoonist from the age of 16 and created other comic strips and illustrated many books.

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Bill Woggon (1911–2003)
Bill Woggon created “Katy Keene, the Pinup Queen” for Archie Comics in 1945, a fashionable character far above the usual Riverdale shenanigans. readers were encouraged to send in their own designs for clothes and other series props, and Keene would use them in the strips, giving credit to readers. The strip was revived in the 80s with some newer artists but Woggon was still around to take an active hand. He also worked on Millie the Lovable Monster for Dell, and his elegant, streamlined style for perfect for the fashions that the strip spotlighted.
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Angoulême fest announces line-up of exhibits and spotlights: Watterson, Kirby, Moomins, Taniguchi

The Angoulême Festival International de la Bande Dessineé for 2015 has released the schedule of art exhibits, spotlights and other goodies. They attached this as an English-language pdf which I’ve inserted below.

There are several amusing typos on the list, see if you can spot them. All that aside, this is a pretty stunning—and cosmopolitan—line-up, with comics from around the world including the Finnish Moomin saga, the Americans Jack Kirby and Bill Watterson, manga giant Jiro Taniguchi and so on. When they say exhibits, these are museum-quality shows that enhance your experience of even familiar projects. Truly Angouleme is the temple of comics. I think extending its esthetic to more comics is a great development.

There are obviously a lot of changes coming to this most Franco-Belgian of all comics events, and a lot of behinds the scenes turmoil which I’ll be reporting on in a separate post.

The New Yorker’s Cartoons of the Year is out, with Wheeler and Karasik

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Although The Beat is a loyal New Yorker subscriber (it’s the only thing that holds our attention whilst on the elliptical) just beause you’re a subscriber does’t mean you get the Cartoons of the Year special edition. However if our email is to be believed, this issue includes several new pieces that may necessitate a trip to the newsstand.

Michael Maslin has an index of the cartoons reprinted within—among them Emily Flake, Shannon Wheeler and Liana Finck. HE also made a screenshot of the cover, so we can find it on the newsstand.

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Shannon Wheeler has also drawn a 3-page comic strip about Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson (no relation) the “father of the comic book.” His granddaughter Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson (an occasional Beat contributor) sent out a teeny preview to whet our appetites.
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Paul Karasik has also written a two page article dissecting a Charles Addams cartoon. He also sent along a preview!

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This week’s regular issue has a cover by Richard McGuire referencing HERE, which comes out any day now. There’s the usual cover feature explaining it:

“As I walk around the city, I’m time-travelling, flashing forward, planning what it is I have to do,” Richard McGuire says about this week’s cover. “Then I have a sudden flashback to a remembered conversation, but I notice a plaque on a building commemorating a famous person who once lived there, and for a second I’m imagining them opening the door. This is the territory of my new book, ‘Here,’ playing with time in both a historic and personal way.”

 

James Sturm hits a nerve among cartoonists with ‘The Sponsor’

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On Monday, James Sturm, cartoonist and director of the Center for Cartoon Studies, posted a cartoon at The Nib called “The Sponsor”. I’m sure if you are a cartoonist you’ve already read it, since it was the talk of the town for a few days. Basically it concerns cartoonists, jealousy, the low bar for success, anxiety over one’s abilities, tumblr hits, Kickstarter and more. All in 24 panels. I’d call that a good job.

The basic conceit is that as in various 12-step programs, (the subtitle is “The first step is admitting you have a problem”) cartoonists have sponsors they can call in moments of stress. A young cartoonist named Casey calls his sponsor, Alan, in the middle of the night to fret about another cartoonist named Tessa who has a six figure Kickstarter, a line out the door at a Rocketship signing,  and a book deal with D&Q. Tessa’s success sends Casey into such a tizzy that he has to work things out and consider grad school, despite Alan’s insistence that Crumb never thought about hits. And despite his “stay strong” rhetoric to Casey, Alan soon picks up the phone to call his OWN sponsor.

Of course we all know that judging your own success by someone else’s is a short cut to despair. By the same token, we’ve all done what Casey does, looked at other people’s book deals, Facebook likes, retweets or dinner companions and found ourselves feeling shitty about someone else’e\s perceived success. It’s human nature. You do it, I do it, we all do it. And then, if we want to actually be a success in some measure, we move on.

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I know this cartoon ignited much talk in cartooning circles, but the one I caught spun out of this one by Colleen Frakes:

In this link, you can see the responses from MK Reed, Johanna Draper Carlson, Mike Dawson, Alison Wilgus and more. To be honest, the gender question here is, for once, a red herring. I think Sturm’s satire—and it is a satire, not an autobiographical comic—was based on the image of two white guys fretting over the success of a younger female cartoonist. That was kinda the POINT. This cartoon was about the toxic effects of jealousy not about gender relations—that the more successful, nimble cartoonist is a woman backs up setting as the twilight of the “pap pap era” that is implied by the reference to Crumb.

Another subtext of “The Sponsor” is that Alan and Casey are only reacting to the external aspects of Tessa’s career, and eschewing an examination of the artistic merits of her work that might lead to inspiration as opposed to mere envy. We get better at what we do by studying better things, and applying what makes them better to our own work, in a sensible way. Easier said than done, I know.

BTW, for those who think this is a lonely cry for acceptance by a put upon white male cartoonist, more of those thoughts are publicly expressed in this Metafilter thread, including guesses as to the real Tessa and so on. Come on people…IT’S A SATIRICAL STORY. I am well aware that all art is filtered through the social status of the creator, but but interpreting all storytelling as confirmation bias is the ultimate no-win situation. Can you imagine if Dan Clowes’ “Dan Pussey” came out today?

No, “The Sponsor” is about insecurity and the trivial uncontrollable fretting that destroys your own creativity. A few years ago I linked to this piece by Rob Liefeld called “How to Beat The Haters”, and you know, if Rob Liefeld can do it any one can—although external criticism is far from the corrosive internal struggle discussed in “The Sponsor.” But some of the same rules apply. You can only control one person’s work—your own. And yes, I am aware of the irony of quoting a cartoonist whose entire career seems oblivious to the painful self-examination Casey and Alan are dealing with.  The way forward lies somewhere in the middle.

Kind of tangential to this, but I’ve updated the Beat’s “How to Get Into Comics and Survive Once You’re There” page with a few links. It’s still only an outline. Share more resources or self-help or ideas for what Casey and Alan should do in the comments.

And a final PS: Man, the Nib is awesome. That is all.

Seth’s Dominion documentary is showing in Montreal

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A film has been made about Seth, the single named Autuer of Clyde Fans, It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken, Palookaville, and countless illustrations. It’s called Seth’s Dominion, it’s directed by Luc Chamberland and it is described as “a hybrid documentary/animation film exploring the life of master cartoonist Seth.”

Given that Seth is a perfectionist, you’d expect no less of a film about him, so to no one’s surprise the film has won the Grand Prize for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Ottawa International Animation Festival.

The film will be shown this week in Montreal as an official selection of the Festival du Nouveau Cinema.

Saturday, October 11th, 4:30 pm: 
Auditorium Alumni H-110, Hall Building 
Concordia University, 1455 boul. de Maisonneuve Ouest 
Tickets available here. 
Seth will be present and signing at this screening only!

Thursday, October 16th, 3:00 pm: 
Pavillion Judith-Jasmin Annexe 
UQAM, 405 rue Sainte-Catherine Est 
Tickets available here.

Add this to Root Hog or Die, the John Porcellino movie, Rude Dude, the Steve Rude movie—ON SALES TODAY, I might add— and some others in the works and you have a nice library of in depth films about comics makers beginning.

SPX memories…like a magical unicorn

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You can read my official SPC report at PW, with news and notes, but I’m guessing that  everyone who was at SPX is probably, like me, realizing that the magic is over and we have a whole year to go, or maybe a few weeks if you count APE, but in the meantime, I can keep the magic going a few moments more by rounding up some of the magical, mystical memories of SPX. I said there were a few people who didn’t have a good time, and you can find one of two on Tumblr who sat outside hotel rooms sadly waiting for the person with the key to come back. But if you could open your heart, SPX would make you love it. As the above picture shows, SPX is the only con where you can find Julia Wertz and Renee French just sitting and smiling with each other. It’s also the only place where someone would leave their computer just sitting out on a table (as one prominent comics personage di don Friday)and feel pretty secure that it would be just fine.  There is a reason why people puts up so many pics and blog so much about this show—it’s a full on love affair.

§ Webtooner Even Dahm gets right to the heart of the matter comparing SDCC with SPX—really the indispensable alpha and omega of US shows:

SDCC was fun but kind of discouraging, and presents an image of what is now, I guess, the Entire entertainment industry in a bluntly capitalistic way: the most space is given to the companies with the most money for it, and the events and products are talked about according to a similar hierarchy. I don’t like it but it makes its own kind of sense and it’s how things are: work that makes money has more mobility in the culture, and barring any strongly-principled management at events like this, the amount of money the work makes will be the thing that decides its place. I try really hard to not get pessimistic about this. And of course popular things can be quality things! I like a lot of popular things. But the connection between popularity and your or my specific notion of quality is tenuous.

I leave SDCC and shows like it having spent huge amounts of money the exhibit there and feeling like what I’m doing is insignificant and untenable. I want to emphasize that this is an issue I have with the philosophy of the show, not with the attendees. I have met some very excellent people who attend SDCC every year.

I came out of SPX this year extremely excited about the huge volume of beautiful and idiosyncratic work being produced by artists working outside of entrenched & monied institutions. It’ll never be the same amount of room as the Marvel Cinematic Universe or whatever, but there is room in the culture for this stuff, in terms of attention and money and enthusiasm. It’s hugely inspiring to me to see so many people making work independently or with publishers they know personally and believe in, and seeing that a lot of that work is sustainable for them, and seeing that a lot of it takes full advantage of its independence by being brutally honest, or strange, or socially conscious.

§ Loser City’s David Fairbanks, an occasional Beat contributor, made his first journey and was swept off his feet:

The next two days were a blur of comics with SPromX right in the middle, and I can honestly say I have never been in an environment that was so pro-comics. Whether you had been making minicomics as long as folks like John Porcellino and James Kochalka, you were a cartoonist fresh out of (or still in) school, or you had never once put pencil to paper to craft a comic, you were among peers. I think I speak for most of the attendees when I say that the environment at SPX felt like home, despite knowing virtually no one there before my plane landed. Over the course of the first twenty-four hours, I made fast friends with artists and fans, and I get the feeling these are friendships that are going to last. From the (sometimes exhausted) smiles I caught on the faces of nearly everyone there, I would imagine I was not alone in my joy, and I think a great deal of it stemmed from the communal feeling of SPX.

§ Even grizzled veteran Derf shared the love:

This year’s theme was a celebration of the alt-weekly cartoons, from Jules Feiffer to the end, which I believe was reached sometime last week. It’s something that is long overdue. The peak of the genre, from 1985 to 2000, produced, in my opinion, the finest, most original comix of the time. Discounting hacks like me, of course.  We were always kind of the bastard stepchildren of both the mainstream comic strip community and the indy comix community. I always felt like an outsider to both. Now I’m a B-minus Indy Comix Star, so those days are behind me, as are comic strips, but it’s nice to see the genre get it’s due.

 

§ Jane Irwin, like many, had a stellar show sales wise:
This year I had the best SPX I’ve ever had — but for some reason I neglected to take any photos other than the sad, blurry one at the top of this post (the lettered balloons were to identify the blocks of tables — I was in the “L” block). It may have been because I was just so busy at my table — the crowds were incredibly heavy and were extremely generous — I heard some folks could barely stop selling long enough to go to the bathroom, and several people sold out of books entirely on the first day, including C. Spike Trotman and my next-door neighbor, Pregnant Butch author A.K. Summers. I sold out of Clockwork Game mid-day on Sunday, but I was able to take orders for a few more copies (they went out this afternoon, and should arrive soon!) and I know I could’ve sold a dozen more, if I’d only had them on hand.
§ Roger Langridge didn’t even break even and he still had a great time:

I attended SPX this past weekend. As usual, I had an excellent time. Despite it not being a successful trip from a financial point of view (although I covered my biggest expense, I’m still somewhat out of pocket at the end of it) I’m really glad I went. I find I need SPX in my life every so often as a kind of course corrective; a reminder of the kind of comics I ought to be doing.

I have a really strong attachment to this show. SPX was the first show I ever attended in the USA, back in 2000. I was just there as a visitor, not even as an exhibitor; it was the year Will Eisner was there, I remember. I bought minicomics from Craig Thompson. I met Dean Haspiel for the first time, who went out of his way to make me feel like a part of the community, which I will always be grateful for. Attending that show energised me to turn my Fred the Clown webcomic into a self-published comic book, which in turn has led to every opportunity I’ve had in comics since then. Without SPX, it’s probably fair to say that my subsequent career wouldn’t have happened.

So I keep coming back. Not every year, but I try to do at least every other year. And each time, I feel like it’s a timely reminder that these are the kinds of comics I ought to be doing: comics straight from the cartoonist’s brain to the reader’s hands, without compromises.

 

§ It’s not just a place to hang out! You can get work!!! Game designer \ Daniel Solis says it’s a great place to find new talent. And I know animation scouts go every year:

I came into the fandom a bit late, but it’s such a welcoming and vibrant community that I never felt out of place. After weeks of awful news coming from gamer culture, it was such a positive experience at SPX seeing diverse creators and fans in a niche community all supporting each other. It can happen, people! I’ve seen it! But I really recommend SPX to tabletop game designers because it is an excellent place to network with lots of undiscovered and rising talent. You can check out the artists I talked to at SPX on my pinterest board here. Specifically for “SPX 2014″ tag in the description. Also check out the SPX Tumblr and Twitter feeds for more cool arts.

 

§ Joshua O’Neill of Locust Moon captures the unique nature of Camp Comics at the Marriott:

As usual, half of the reason for the glory of SPX is due to the Bethesda Marriott Hotel, whose comfy confines are given over completely to the endless array of misfits that we call a comics industry. It’s more than just a con venue — it’s the eye of the storm, for one brief weekend this one building is the center of the comics universe. You exhibit there, you drink there, you draw there, you sleep there. (You eat elsewhere and abruptly realize there’s such a thing as outside.) By the end of the weekend it feels like home. I’m not sure Jesse Reklaw ever put on a pair of shoes. To the maids and bellhops it must be kind of like going to the zoo, if the animals were all inside of your house. Their hospitality was stunning, and can in no way be attributed to the eight bazillion dollars they generated in overpriced drink sales.

 

And visual representations:

And so on and so forth….I probably could have found a half dozen more similar tributes, but I’ll leave with just a few representative photos.

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Am I the only person who caught the TV in the bar switching from football to vibrator infomercials on Friday?

 

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Can you believe these people are all FIRST TIME SPXers? Okay Chris Butcher went before, but he hadn’t been to the “new” venue, which is really the only venue most people know. Amy Chu, Louie Chin, Murilo, Butcher and Brigid Alverson were all converts by the end of the weekend.

 

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Fun and frolic at the SPromX. Looks like it will be back next year…and so will I.

Move over Haspiel, there’s a new shirtless cartoonist in town


We’re all for body confidence here at Stately Beat Manor, so go Simon Hanselmann! A lot of brides tone it down after getting married, but he is staying fabulous.

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Meanwhile, tour mate Michael DeForge managed to MAKE A COMIC WHILE ON TOUR. Move over rest of the comics industry.

The Deforge/Hanselmann/Kyle tour is coming to a town near you.

Michael DeForge’s shelf porn is made for action

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Zainab Akhtar’s excellent Comics and Cola blog runs a feature called “Comics Shelfies” which includes pictures of various comics collections. Usually the Expedit or Billy is called into play, but for Michael DeForge, the plastic milk crate is the basic storage unit. I can definitely relate, as for years my life was based around the much loved “Mard” from Ikea, which they stopped making ten years ago. DeForge’s collection is gorgeous and somehow poised for just the kind of action you’d expect from the animator/cartoonist.

Hanselmann, Deforge and Kyle on tour

cute-bos tour

Simon Hanselmann, Patrick Kyle and Michael DeForge are going on tour together, an event that will doubtless span a thousand autobio comics. DeForge is the best known of the group, acclaimed for Lose, Ant Comix and many more of his abstractly horrifying enquiries into social systems human and animal. Hanselmann’s Megahex presents a sit-com for millennials, as an owl a witch and a cat struggle with depression and ennui. I have read Kyle’s Distance Mover yet, but the blurb has me sold:

Mr. Earth can move incredible distances in his improbable Distance Mover, a wondrous vehicle that reflects the fantastic world it traverses. He, and his young art-star protégée Mendel, explore culture-rich crystalline cities, challenge the mighty Council of the Misters, try to overcome the all-conquering Ooze, and much more!

The crew kicks off on Thursday at Atomic Books, travels to SPX, hits Bergen Street, the Brooklyn Book Festival, Secret Headquarters, Floating World, Fantagraphics and even Vegas. Here’s the whole schedule:

September 12th – Baltimore, MD – Atomic Books
(with Charles Burns, Ed Piskor, Noel Freibert and more!)

September 13-14th – Bethesda, MD SPX

September 15th – Charlottesville, VA – Telegraph Gallery
(with Noel Freibert)

September 16th – Philadelphia, PA – Locust Moon Comics
(with Farel Dalrymple, Annie Mok and Noel Freibert)

September 20th – Brooklyn, NY – Bergen Street Comics
(with Eleanor Davis, Jesse Reklaw, Matthew Thurber, Mark Connery, Alex Degen and Noel Freibert)

September 21st – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Book Festival

September 23rd – Manhattan, NY – The New School

September 24th – Pittsburgh, PA – Copacetic Comics
(with Annie Mok and Noel Freibert)

September 27th – Columbus, OH – Kafe Kerouac

September 30th – Chicago, IL – Quimby’s

October 2nd – Minneapolis, MN – Boneshaker Books

October 4th – Las Vegas, NV – TBA

October 5th – Los Angeles, CA – Secret Headquarters

October 7th – San Francisco, CA – Mission Comics

(with Ed Luce)

 

October 9th – Portland, OR – Floating World

October 10th – Portland, OR – Gridlords

October 11th – Seattle, WA – Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery
(with Lane Milburn and Conor Stechschulte)

October 12th – Vancouver, BC – Pulp Fiction
(sans Simon Hanselmann)

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The Floating World event takes place on October 9th and here’s some more info:

Celebrating the release of each of their own new comics, Hanselmann’s Megahex (Fantagraphics Books), DeForge’s Lose #6 (Koyama Press), and Kyle’s Distance Mover (Koyama Press), the trio are traveling from coast-to-coast starting at Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda, MD and ending at The Fantagraphics Bookstore in Seattle, WA. Going from state-to-state, they will be signing books and selling an exclusive tour poster collaboration, silkscreened by Telegraph Gallery.

These cartoonists represent the new generation of underground comics. All contributing to the medium in different ways with very stylized humor comics, they each gained popularity posting their comics online before branching out onto the printed page. Now together and in planes, trains, and automobiles, Simon, Michael, and Patrick are taking their comics on the road to meet the fans (and crash on their couches). A few other special guests will join them along the way so find your city and plunk your butt down in front of the store for a good time.

You’ve been warned!
WHO: Simon Hanselmann, Michael DeForge, and Patrick Kyle
WHAT: Book release party
WHEN: Thursday October 9th, 5-8pm
WHERE: Floating World Comics, 400 NW Couch St

 

Chris Ware reveals his love of sitcoms

 

Photo: Nicolas Guerin/Contour

Photo: Nicolas Guerin/Contour

Chris Ware is only the second cartoonist to get the Paris Review interview treatment—Robert Crumb was the first—and it’s said to be one of his longest and most revealing interviews ever. With scholar Jeet Heer doing the interviewing, how could you expect less. But in a surprise twist, you can only read the whole thing by purchasing a copy of The Paris Review! However there is an online excerpt just to set the table:

Television was probably my first real drug. I have little doubt that it fired off the same dopamine receptors in my brain that marijuana later did. Specific hours of my childhood day would be tonally defined by what was on. Monday through Friday at three-thirty meant Gilligan’s Island, and so that particular half hour always took on a sense of bamboo and Mary Ann’s checkered shirt, later to be replaced by the tweed and loafers of My Three Sons. I was sensitive to the broadcast vibe of ABC versus CBS versus NBC versus PBS and to how their particular programs made me feel, even how the particular resolution of each channel was different.

So yeah, go buy a copy of The Paris Review already.

Photograph: Nicolas Guerin/Contour

Denis KItchen on The Best of Comix Book–“One of the Greatest Things Stan Lee ever Did”

The Best of Comix Book: When Marvel Went Underground

is in B&W/  and Full color, HardCover  an exclusive Kitchen Sink Press imprint under Dark Horse  ISBN:978-1-61655-258-9

Intro by Stan Lee

Forward by Denis Kitchen

Designed and Edited by John Lind

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Pam Auditore

Tall, affable, plain spoken Wisconsinite, Denis Kitchen smiles wistfully, “I loved putting this collection together.  It’s a nice anniversary.”  Hardly the hippie, bomb throwing revolutionary Nixon might  associate with with the words: “Undeground Comic Artist.”

In 1973 Denis Kitchen and Stan Lee pulled off what can only be considered, in hindsight, a  coup.  Bringing together the Marvel and Underground Comic Book Creators in almost unimaginable collaboration.  Taking place during the turbulent spill over from the 1960s with the The Vietnam War winding down; Watergatewhite flight from citiessocial unrest  and a New York City as grey and dilapidated as “Taxi Driver” depicts.

At the time, Stan Lee and his bullpen at Marvel were struggling to churn out Super Heroes, Westerns, Science Fiction, Fantasy, War Comics, Hot Rods, Romances and whatever would keep the company alive and paying their bills.

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Reacting to and expressing the societal upheaval and the angst of the times, Underground Comics emerged first in Head Shops, then local Bookshops.  Artists like SpainBill GriffithR. CrumbTrina Robbins were free to do what creators at DC and Marvel could not, express freely and personally what they saw going on in their own lives and the world around them without having to censor for  profanity, nudity or subject matter. Expressing their own visions through writing and artwork.

It may seem quaint now, in the time of a Deviant Art Digital hyperspace, where one can upload  and share  with just about everyone anything conceivable,  from Justin Beiber fan fiction to Banksy’s or Shepard Fairey’s latest and greatest.  Yet, once, Underground Comic Art was not only ground breaking, but dangerous and could have serious consequences such as shutting down businesses, along with jail time and financial ruin.

Back then, the US Mail was your only delivery system or your car.  Your tools–paper, pencil, ink, mimeographs, with  Xerox Copiers expensive even for Marvel.  Your only means of distribution were friends, Comic Shops, Head Shops, and some BookshopsMarvel’s were mainly Newsstands, local groceries, local bookstores and candy shops.  Getting kicked off of any one of those racks could mean never making a cent again.

 

Among those first to collect and publish his own Underground Comics was Denis Kitchen with his Mom’s HomeMade Comics in 1969. Issues of which Kitchen sent to publishers like Stan Lee and Harvey Kurtzman.  Kitchen later went on to publish other Comic Book creators under Kitchen Sink Press.  Such legal  issues of censorship and community standards is why Mr. Kitchen is one of the Founder of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

By the ’50s and ’60s Marvel, DC, and Harvey Comics  were squarely  aiming at the growing demographic of Baby Boomers while laboring under a self imposed Comics Code to protect minors.

Which made the explosion of Underground Comics during the hey day of suburbia and the middle class all the more “subversive” and “scandalous” with its humor, nudity,  crudity,  and profanity, would feel so refreshing and right for the times.

Clearly not meant for the young teens or little kids the major Comic Book publishers were catering  to.  These comics dealt with political and social issues were generally called, “anti-establishment”, made for a slightly older, “hipper” crowd–late high school to college crowd. Many Underground Cartoonists would find their way into the glossy folds of “Mad magazine” and “National Lampoon“, but others like Mr. Kitchen and, others of his cadre like  Art Speiglemen, were charting a more independent, less conventionally commercial path.  Creating space for other self-published  Independent Comics to flourish in the ‘80’s, like those of  Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, and the Hernandez Bros, then Terry Moore and Peter Bagge in the ‘90’s and so on into the future.

With ever a sharp eye on popular culture, Stan Lee, no doubt , was eager to capitalize on the Underground audience hoping to expand Marvel’s.

Maus--Marvel Comix Book

Maus–Marvel Comix Book

According to Kitchen,  his collaboration with Lee, “Stems from  a time when Underground Comics were florishing and suddenly we had what we called ‘the Crash of ’73.”  A glut of material in Head Shops and local book stores and a Supreme Court ruling that threw obscenity laws into local jurisdictions. It was deadly to the Undergrounds, a lot of Head Shops and Bookshops were suddenly paranoid that they would be busted due to obscenity.  I genuinely feared Kitchen Sink Press and all my cohorts would go under.”

Luckily, Denis had been corresponding with Lee.  “We had this curious pen pal relationship.  He offered me a job a couple of times.  Of course, I was flattered but said, ‘No,’ until the Crash. He happened to call and I said, ‘Let’s talk.’  I flew to New York City and found he was amazingly receptive to an experimental magazine. One where we hoped to take the essence of the Underground and plug it into Marvel’s distribution system.

It took a lot of negotiating to find out how far Marvel could compromise.  Stan ended up being amazingly receptive to using four letter words, and we even got away with full frontal nuditity, anything we wanted.”

Katrina Robbins

Comix Book –Wonder Person by Katrina Robbins

But don’t think it was a collaboration without conflict.

“There were fights over copyrights and getting art back, too “But we wore him (Stan Lee) down, so by the Third issue he said, “Goddamit, you can have your rights back, you can have your art back.’  So all this stuff that they had never done before, I was able to persuade him to do.”

The end was nigh when word of this new magazine began reaching the ears of Stan’s regular bullpen of writers and artists “it turned into a Pandora’s Box for Stan.  The regulars and freelancers were like, ‘How come you’re doing this stuff with these Hippies? And you’re not letting us?  We’ve been with you longer?’  And it was hard for Stan to walk that back.”

Consequently, “After the third issue, Stan pulled the plug.  I had a couple of issues in the can and I asked him if he’d let me print the rest under Kitchen Sink, and he agreed, which was amazingly generous. ”

The Corpse Goblin Ogre by S. Clay Wilson

The Corpse Goblin Ogre by S. Clay Wilson

“In retrospect it’s kind of astonishing. When I look back at it now, that it happened at all and the kind of latitude we had.  Artists like S. Clay Wilson, Justin Green, Trina Robbins, Art Spieglman (including the first national appearence of “Maus”).  You can go down the list, all the big guys in Underground Comics, except Crumb, were in it.  And most Underground Comic fans today don’t even know it happened.”

“When we decided to collect it Stan, graciously agreed to the intro.  He actually called it one of the greatest things he ever did,” Denis Kitchen beams.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Denis Kitchen and Stan Lee signed a special insert in 250 special copies ot the The Best of Comix Book only available only from Things From Another World, Dark Horse’s online retail outlet.