§ As people reacted to comics great George Pérez’s announcing his retirement from comics, 13th Dimension got folks to pick their favorite covers by Perez. There are a lot of great ones, but THE BEAT’S favorite can be seen above.
§ A few little business notes as we enter a year of uncertainty. John Porcellino is revered as a cartoonist, and admired for running his own distribution company for mini comics. Spit and a Half has been a stalwart of the super indie scene for years. but Porcellino has announced he’s taking time off.
When I restarted Spit and a Half, in 2009 or so, it was with the hope I could grow it into a part-time job… something to do a few days a week to bring in some extra income and lift the financial burden off trying to survive as an artist alone (which is tough, everybody knows). Then there was a point when things kept growing where I thought, “Wow. This is really filling a need in the comics community… this is a real business.” It became a full-time job (but it didn’t really pay like a full-time job). And then it became a six-and-a-half days a week job that paid like a full-time job. (Thank you!) Now if you’re working a six-and-a-half days a week job, packing comics in boxes, answering the endless parade of emails, texts, Facebook messages, Instagram messages, twitter messages, dealing with problems, headaches, setbacks, mistakes, first of all, one thing is clear — you sure as hell aren’t gonna be drawing your own comics. Second — every tiny lapse compounds upon itself. Wait, you have a doctor’s appointment? The pile of work grows higher. You have to take your dog to the vet? Higher. You’re just so depressed and tired you can’t get out of bed? Higher.
Honest to god, running any kind of distribution company a hard, hard work for a tiny cut of the money flow. People do it for love in the indie comics biz, and it’s understandable that Porcellino would want a break. In an update he noted that he will be running Spit and a Half “at a drastically reduced level, with a small, highly specific and rotating selection of books. Something that I really can take care of easily on a one or two day per week schedule.” Good luck to him.
§ On another note, we’ve been supporting and enjoying the pdf downloads of the MNT comics newsletter for a couple of years, but they announced a change in format in an email to patreons. The short version is – now you can read regular news updates at The MNT WEBSITE.
This isn’t a “we’re closing down” post, because we’re sticking around! What we are looking to do is change our format, however at least for the short term, and we’d like to make sure it’s something that our readers and patrons are happy with. As of January, we plan to pivot away from the newsletter and focus more on the website, meaning the newsletters will tentatively stop for the new year. All breaking news stories will be covered on the website hopefully as and when they occur, and our guest features and articles will appear on the site across the weekend. You’ll get just as much from us – probably more – but it’ll be in a public rather than private format. .
The reason for this is that arranging and producing the newsletter is time-consuming, and constrictive, as you’ll probably be aware. It also means we run on a one-month delay. We will be looking at resuming the newsletter at some point in future, but for now we want to make the website an up-to-date and relevant destination. Putting everything behind a paywall is all well and good, but when we’re talking about harassment or bad business practices, it feels wrong to not make these articles available to everyone. By being a website first and foremost, we can also give you reviews on current books, talk about breaking news, and interview people as and when their new projects come out.
I have nothing but admiration for The MNT’s Steve Morris and Christian Hoffer and the rest of their wonderful staff, but I am a little amused that a website turns out to be a more efficient news delivery system. When “a newsletter” was suggested back in the day, everyone (meaning folks on twitter) said they’d love it! But, yeah, a monthly newsletter isn’t quite timely enough these days. At any rate, The MNT is already one of the very best comics sites out there, so bookmark, or subscribe to Twitter or however it is you do it.
§ Oh speaking of The MNT, here’s a great interview with retailers James Sime and Ryan Higgins:
What’s something you always try to keep in stock because it’s a consistent seller?
Sime: So many things! Right now Natasha Alterici’s Heathen is absolutely huge at the Isotope and I have to restock stacks of that book every single week. And another new book from Vault Comics that just came in, Zojaqan, is definitely going to be another weekly must-restock. Of course we also do great on books that everyone is probably selling a ton of right now – Tom King’s Batman, Saga, Monstress, Dark Knights: Metal, March, The Wicked and The Divine, Thor: Goddess of Thunder, Black Science, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters and also classics like Infinity Gauntlet, Kingdom Come, Maus, Watchmen – even after all these years those books still always sell out.
Higgins: It’s interesting to see what sells now compared to five years ago, and then compared to 15 years ago. Dark Knight and Watchmen still sell, but nowhere near what they once did for us. Have they hit critical mass, or are new audiences just not into 80s dark drama? Civil War and Infinity Gauntlet are selling better now than they did at release because of the movie connections, but that doesn’t translate into sales for a general Doctor Strange or Ant-Man comic. I actually don’t have a great answer to this question because it really does change all the time.
§ Ben Passmore on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
§ A rare interview with Brian K. Vaughan about his massive success writing actual comics:
Writing, particularly comics, is just so time-intensive. If you are going to spend years of your life on something I only want to work on something that I feel strongly about — moreover, that I feel strongly about it in a way that I want to write honestly about, that I’m terrified about or confused about. I want to be invested. I hope it begins with the character rather than just like, “Oh, I’ve got an incredible cookie-cutter high concept that will make for a great movie someday.”
§ Urasawa alert! DAMN YOU LA! A Naoki Urasawa ehibit is opening on Wednesday, with an apearrance by The Man himself.
Manga fans have something special to look forward to this month. Renowned manga author Naoki Urasawa has his own exhibition—This is MANGA – The Art of NAOKI URASAWA—scheduled to kick off in LA on January 23, with the retrospective to run until March 28. The exhibition will be held in JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles, featuring over 400 original drawings and storyboards along with selected stories from seven of Urasawa’s major works and four consecutive YAWARA! stories every other week. It all starts on January 23 with an artist talk and book signing, “Drawing My World: An Interview with Naoki Urasawa.” The artist himself will be available to sign books and engage with fans through an interview moderated by manga researcher and translator Frederik L. Schodt. Urasawa will be illustrating his responses on a screen throughout the interview, which will cover his influences and many other topics.
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.