comiXology is on of those new comics websites you are seeing everywhere. The site focuses on recent comics releases, biling itself as “the ultimate indigital comics bok pull list management.” Whatever. Where they have distinguished themselves (at least in our view) is by signing up Shaenon K. Garrity and Kristy Valenti to write two excellent columns. Thus far they have been the kind of wide ranging yet accessible overviews that one hardly ever sees online — so far it’s a little Comics(x) 101. Garrity’s first “All the Comics in the World” column she weaves together Tristam Shandy, Peter Bagge, Civil War, Stumptown and All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder. In the second she discusses Pogo and the psychology of the comic strip:
Comic strips, even more than comics in general, strike me as the perfect medium for the dedicated loser. Drawing a daily strip means plugging constantly away at a neverending story, thousands upon thousands of pages long, which may, if you’re very, very lucky, succeed in making a few people chuckle briefly around a mouthful of bagel. The effort-to-payoff ratio is absurdly skewed. Most of the strip cartoonists I’ve met seem to have a fatalistic attitude about it. They’re more even-tempered than comic-book artists, who always seem shocked not to be hailed as the new Great American Graphic Novelist. Comic strippers know they’re never going to be hailed as the Great American anything. The best they can hope for is a licensed coffee mug.
Valenti has been presenting in-depth looks at some important young cartoonists, starting with the incomparable Jason Shiga in two parts. (above a panel from his Bookhunters.)Her latest covers Esther Pearl Watson. We’re not huge Watson fans, but this profile put her work into a perspective which made us appreciate it a bit more:
While teaching, exhibiting in fine-art galleries and drawing illustrations for clients such as Rolling Stone, Watson edited two books with Todd: The Pain Tree, a collection of poetry by teenagers that she and Todd illustrated, and more recently, Whatcha Mean, What’s a Zine? a well-received how-to for young adults on how to create, print and distribute a zine. It included advice from heavyweights such as Eric Nakamura from Giant Robot and minicomics master Dan Zettwoch. “My husband and I really like creating works for this age group,” explained Watson. “Most of our work is based off our growing-up years. I would have loved to have found these books in the library when I was 13.” When queried about working professionally with her husband, Watson replied, “He knows my work very well, my motivations behind pieces, what sucks. Sometimes he can be too blunt or we are around each other too much (24 hours a day).”
Other recent features on the site include podcasts with G. Willow Wilson (Cairo) and Richard Starkings and others. Where most comics websites (including this one, probably) present too much information, Comixology’s features have a quality-over-quantity feel which we quite enjoy. Bookmark.