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§ Roz Chast did not win the National Book Award—Evan Osnos won for Age of Ambition— But she’s still a winner in my book! There ceremony also saw Neil Gaiman presenting Ursula K. LeGuin with a lifetime achievement type award. LeGuin had things to say:

As she delved into the state of the publishing industry today, Le Guin’s speech was not without message. “Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and a practice of an art,” she said. Le Guin, too, referenced the Amazon issue, citing a “profiteer trying to punish publishers for disobedience.” She continued, “I have had a long career and a good one, in good company. Now, here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want and should demand our fair share of the proceeds. But, the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.”

§ Rob Salkowitz recently summed up Five Trends In Digital Comics To Watch including Google maybe not being in the mix on digital comics yet. And also this blunt assessment that sort of points out the elephant in the room:

Dark Horse Digital needs… help

There is no polite way to say this: Dark Horse’s app was already falling behind in 2012. The company has left piles of money on the table by cutting itself off from the broader market and denying readers a decent digital experience.

On the upside, this situation has kept Dark Horse from getting entangled with Comixology, even at the level of core technology (Comixology tech powers most of the industry’s “white label” publisher apps, including DC and Marvel). Dark Horse would be well advised to get out of the app business and turn its digital distribution over to a competent partner. That presents a good opportunity for anyone ready.

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§ I loved this post: Ines Estrada looks back on 2014 and it was pretty great from the micro press/small press/ indie side…at least artistically. I assume everyone is living on a single can of tuna a day as they share precious Risograph ink cartridges, but the comics look great.

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§ Welp, that new Wonder Woman by the Meredith and David Finch team came out yesterday. Tim Hanley was underwhelmed. Tech Times felt it
“deliver[ed] some captivating mysteries” and Graphic Policy felt it “does what it needs to have done.” One thing is for sure, WW is back to having that whole “boobs and butt” look.

§ Speaking of BnB, J. Caleb Mozzocco comments on the return of 90s icon Jim Balent:

Here his art isn’t even recognizable (to me) as that of the same guy, but I guess it has been 20 years or so. I’m guessing it’s largely the coloring, which gives the figures a sickly, wax dummy-like appearance. The way Catwoman’s kicking though, that’s definitely a Balent pose. And, looking closely, they’ve definitely got Balent proportions…although, like I said, Harley’s breasts look remarkably realistic, at least in the way they get smooshed like real breasts when wearing a super-tight corset (Also, that’s a really nice background and, if you look closely, you’ll find a cat shape hidden in it, something Balent used to do with his covers for the Catwoman).

§ The 4th Letter Blog, mainly run by David Brothers, with help from Gavin Jasper, is closing up shop. Brothers now has a busy job with Image Comics, and it had fallen into silence, so it’s no surprise, but let’s give it the 21 kb salute…or whatever you ive when a website goes away. Brothers was a passionate advocate for Manga and for diversity and lots of other stuff. He’s taken his passion behind the scenes now and that’s good, but so few really strong “personality blogs” remain…their time has passed I guess.

§ – Andrice Arp interviewed Simon Hanselmann for Gridlords and it was highly amusing. Hanselmann totally has the comics rock star thing down pat.

§ A look at this years Best American Comics by Paul Morton is called Emancipation from Irony—and Scott McCloud did catch a certain zeitgeist, even if it is a bit normcore.

The Best American Comics 2014 reads as a sequel to McCloud’s theoretical studies. Previous guest editors instructed readers to thumb through the anthologies and choose work that interests them most just as they would browse the shelves in a comics shop. McCloud asks that you read his anthology in order, cover-to-cover, and that you treat it as a critical narrative. He divides his book into discrete sections, presenting a taxonomy of genres. The book is an argument on the state of comics in the second decade of the 21th century.

§ As a counterpoint to the above there’s the upcoming The Mammoth Book of Cult Comics which collects a bunch of lost comics. I was particularly happy to see Gregory Benton’s Hummingbird and Jeff Nicholson’s Through The Habittrails resurrected here.

§ Peoples like to make lists. Here’s Paste Magazine’s 10 Great Comics for Adolescent Girls.

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§ Cartoonist Ted Slampyak drew Little Orphan Annie until it was cancelled, and his own Jazz Age Chronicles. He also draws occasional informational comic strips for The Art of Manliness, such as this truly essential one showing How to Gird Up Your Loins which tuns out to be a very practical and important thing.

§ Finally a followup to that Matt Thurber Letter to a Young Cartoonist that we were all talking about a few weeks ago in the form of a letter FROM a young cartoonist :

I am a 19 year old young cartoonist who lives in Malaysia. WHAT? MALAYSIA? If not for the two airplane incidents, I am quite sure the majority of the US population will not know where Malaysia is at all, let alone comic creators in Malaysia.

Which is interesting isn’t it? Here’s something to consider: would people like you, the comment reader, be able to notice Malaysian creators if not for the internet? Would people like you know who Hwei (lalage) is? Would people like you be able to know who I am (well, hello, I am here and I don’t mind work)? Let’s take this further: would people like you be able to read European comics, South American comics, Indian comics, Russian comics, Australian comics, Indonesian comics, African comics, even some AMERICAN comics, if not for the internet?

Would we even have this comic surge right now without the internet?

The reason why we even have a comic surge in the first place is because we’ve finally opened up doors for creators of different races, cultures, nationalities, identities, opinions, political parties, viewpoints, EVERYTHING to express themselves. And that’s good! Because this opens up the audience too!

To shift away from the internet is to reduce opportunities for young cartoonists like me. To reduce flavour in an increasingly globalised industry.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Yup. I knew about Malaysian comics before the Internet (well, before it became ubiquitous):
    LAT. (Another member of Friends of Lulu recommended the title, late 90s.)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lat
    First Second reprinted his first collection of biographical comics, but it didn’t sell well enough for future volumes. (Which are readily available, thanks to that small town on the southern tip of the peninsula.)

    But I’ve always sought out the new and unusual. That comes from having a mother from Germany, specifically Hannover, the hometown of Wilhelm Busch. Also from growing up in Omaha, in the middle of nowhere, where one must find one’s own excitement. First stop: Waldenbooks and B. Dalton’s at the local shopping center (Bloom County, Life in Hell, RAW). Second stop: The Antiquarium, a legendary used bookstore downtown (Playboys (for Little Annie Fanny), older collections, Harlan Ellison).

    Yes, I even visit foreign language bookstores in NYC to sample comics. (Scott McCloud used to do that when he worked at DC.)

    Let me pay this forwards:
    New Zealand: You’ve already read “Hicksville”. Now read “Footrot Flats”.
    Germany: The Genius of Wilhelm Busch: Comedy of Frustration : An English Anthology (translated texts, plus biography and literary analysis)
    Anglo-America: Comics, Comix & Graphic Novels by Roger Sabin. (2001, but a good overall history)
    Sweden: Swedish Comics History by Fredrik Stromberg

  2. Thanks for the mention, Heidi. I do want to clarify one point, though—4l! was a two-man operation for most of its run. I didn’t mainly run the blog with help from Gavin. It was more that we both did our thing alongside each other, shoulder-to-shoulder. It was only “my” site in terms of being named after me. Gavin’s my equal, full stop.

  3. Ursula LeGuin’s comments don’t make any sense. Publishers are also profiteers and actively work to pay authors as little as possible.

    If anything Amazon has the higher committment to “art” since anyone can publish pretty much any ebook through them while traditional big publishing houses act as gatekeepers against trends, ideas, and genres that they don’t like.

  4. I won’t even bother reading the free comics at Dark Horse Comics online reader site. I’d be an idiot to actually drop a cent on one of their comics there, it’s no wonder it’s failing.

Comments are closed.