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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Comics Blogging at iTaggit -- I've posted my first article about comics at iTaggit. Take a look, and please consider joining the site if you like what you see. I plan to post two or three articles a week there, and I hope you'll check it out.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Albany Comicon -- My wife and I brought our kids to today's Albany Comicon at the Holiday Inn on Wolf Road.

Calling it a "comicon" is a bit of a stretch -- it really was just a dealers' room and a modest artists alley populated by local and regional creators like John Hebert, Todd Dezago and Matt Smith. There were no panels and really nothing at all to do except browse the dealers' wares and meet the creators, unless you count hanging out with friends, which luckily we got to do.

Former FantaCo stalwart Rocco Nigro and I had a great chat, and I asked him to keep an eye out for his former FantaCo compatriot Roger Green, who had said he might attend. Soon enough, Roger appeared as well, and we were able to spend some time chatting about FantaCo, and my and Roger's sadly never-realized plans for a regular column about the FantaCo era for -- remember this? -- "The New Comic Book Galaxy." That unrealized idea is probably my biggest regret about CBG; I really, really wanted to host -- and more importantly, read -- Roger's memories of that time. Luckily he still talks about those days from time to time, and a little bird tells me he plans at least one big post on the subject this summer.

The most fascinating, and frankly moving, part of my talk with Rocco and Roger today was hearing Roger recount his experiences the week cartoonist and FantaCo employee Raoul Vezina died. I remember that time, and Raoul, quite well, I miss him and his work more than I can ever really explain, and as I mentioned to Roger and Rocco, I remain amazed to this day that no one has really created a proper tribute to Raoul and his work on the internet.

Anyway, talking to Rocco and Roger was definitely the highlight of my day at the Albany Comicon -- it was a decent first effort, I guess, but the complete lack of any artcomix/alternatives/undergrounds/mini-comics/manga really left me pretty ambivalent about the event. Not that I was surprised, but it would have been nice if there had been some diversity beyond the relentless superheroes and Star Wars skew, which was in evidence virtually at every dealer's table. Getting together with friends and fellow bloggers is great, but it would have been really nice to come home with an armload of comics to read, and I came home with nothing (other than a freebie copy of The Daredevil Chronicles to replace my dog-eared copy).

But anytime Rocco and Roger want to get together and talk comics, FantaCo, or anything else, man, my schedule is wide open. Get in touch, guys.

Update: Roger's account of the convention is up now. Unlike Roger, I didn't win anything in the hourly raffles, although my ticket was off by only one digit late in the day...I'm glad he took home some swag, though.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Albany Comicon This Sunday -- Show of hands, are you attending? Respond in the comments.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


funny pictures

Fantagraphics Ditko Book to Debut at MoCCA -- Here's the good news from Fantagraphics:

"STRANGE & STRANGER: THE WORLD OF STEVE DITKO" to debut at the MOCCA Art Festival (June 7/8th).

Fantagraphics Books is proud to announce that Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko – the first critical retrospective of Steve Ditko, the co-creator and original artist of the Amazing Spider-Man – will make its much-anticipated debut on Saturday June 7th, 2008 at the MOCCA Comics Art Festival. The author, Blake Bell, will be on hand both days at MOCCA to sign copies of the book and will debut his slide show presentation on Ditko’s work as part of the festival’s programming. As well, a bookstore signing event at Jim Hanley’s Universe will take place during the festival weekend.

In addition to updates, teasers, and media news on Bell’s Steve Ditko web site at www.ditko.comics.org, readers will be able to keep abreast of updates on the book’s Facebook and MySpace pages, as well as multiple radio and print appearances. For example, Wizard magazine will be running a 6-page feature, excerpting from the Amazing Spider-Man chapter, in its July issue – out in early June). Also, beginning tomorrow, the book’s Introduction will be posted on www.fantagraphics.com, with an additional excerpt being made available to Fantagraphics’ 20/20 Club members.

Available in comic book stores nationwide in mid-June, and in mainstream book stores in early July, the book will explode many of the myths of Ditko’s career, as well as present reams of rare and unpublished Ditko artwork. All at once, the book functions as a biography of the artist, and an examination of his work (spotlighting over 300 images) with commentary on what makes Ditko one of history’s greatest sequential storytellers from the author and some of comics most skilled and articulate comic creators.

2008 will mark the year when Steve Ditko fans the world over will have the opportunity to celebrate the artist’s 50-plus year career with this definitive volume from Blake Bell and Fantagraphics Books.

Strange & Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko
By Blake Bell
$39.99 Hardcover
220 pages, full-color, 9” x 12”
Diamond order code: MAR08 3707
ISBN 978-1-56097-921-0

Noah Berlatsky on "A Future for Comics" -- The Comics Journal's Noah Berlatsky has posted his thoughts on my essay "A Future for Comics," which appears in The Comics Journal #289, the current issue.

Berlatsky's a sharp writer, so I can't really argue with his conclusions, except to note that I hope he's wrong and that great comic book stores continue to thrive.

I also hope you'll pick up this issue of The Journal; it's the second of their new format, and features a lengthy interview with writer Robert Kirkman as well as the usual boatload of great writing about comics. And I think Ken Smith is even missing this issue, so it's actually all about comics and comprehensible to those of us without Stephen Hawking-level IQs.

Monday, April 14, 2008

If I Picked The Eisners -- The 2008 Eisner Award nominations have been released, and I've boldfaced my selections. If nothing's bold in a given category, I either haven't read any of the nominees or have no preference.

Best Short Story
* Book, by Yuichi Yokoyama, in New Engineering (PictureBox)
* At Loose Ends, by Lewis Trondheim, in Mome #8 (Fantagraphics)
* Mr. Wonderful, by Dan Clowes, in New York Times Sunday Magazine
* Town of Evening Calm, by Fumiyo Kouno, in Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms (Last Gasp)
* Whatever Happened to Fletcher Hanks? by Paul Karasik, in I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! (Fantagraphics)
* Young Americans, by Emile Bravo, in Mome #8 (Fantagraphics)

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
* Amelia Rules! #18: Things I Cannot Change, by Jimmy Gownley (Renaissance)
* Delilah Dirk and the Treasure of Constantinople, by Tony Cliff (self-published)
* Johnny Hiro #1, by Fred Chao (AdHouse)
* Justice League of America #11: Walls, by Brad Meltzer and Gene Ha (DC)
* Sensational Spider-Man Annual: To Have or to Hold, by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca (Marvel)

Best Continuing Series
* The Boys, by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson (Dynamite)
* Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, by Joss Whedon, Brian K. Vaughan, Georges Jeanty, and Andy Owens (Dark Horse)
* Naoki Urasawa's Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz)
* The Spirit, by Darwyn Cooke (DC)
* Y: The Last Man, by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, and Jose Marzan, Jr. (Vertigo/DC)

Best Limited Series
* Atomic Robo, by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegender (Red 5 Comics)
* Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born, by Peter David, Robin Furth, and Jae Lee (Marvel)
* Nightly News, by Jonathan Hickman (Image)
* Parade (with Fireworks), by Michael Cavallaro (Shadowline/Image)
* The Umbrella Academy, by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba (Dark Horse)

Best New Series
* Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, by Joss Whedon, Brian K. Vaughan, Georges Jeanty, and Andy Owens (Dark Horse)
* Immortal Iron Fist, by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, David Aja, and others (Marvel)
* Johnny Hiro, by Fred Chao (AdHouse)
* The Infinite Horizon, by Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto (Image)
* Scalped, by Jason Aaron and R. M. Guera (Vertigo/DC)

Best Publication for Kids
* Amelia Rules! and Amelia Rules! Funny Stories, by Jimmy Gownley (Renaissance)
* Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, edited by Jeremy Barlow (Dark Horse)
* Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 and Mouse Guard: Winter 1152, by David Petersen (Archaia)
* The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain, by Peter Sis (Frank Foster Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
* Yotsuba&!, by Kiyohiko Azuma (ADV)

Best Publication for Teens
* Laika, by Nick Abadzis (First Second)
* The Mighty Skullboy Army, by Jacob Chabot (Dark Horse)
* The Annotated Northwest Passage, by Scott Chantler (Oni)
* PX! Book One: A Girl and Her Panda, by Manny Trembley and Eric A. Anderson (Shadowline/Image)
* Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow, by James Sturm and Rich Tommaso (Center for Cartoon Studies/Hyperion)

Best Humor Publication
* Dwight T. Albatross's The Goon Noir, edited by Matt Dryer (Dark Horse)
* Johnny Hiro, by Fred Chao (AdHouse)
* Lucha Libre, by Jerry Frissen, Bill, Gobi, Fabien M., Nikola Witko, Herve Tanquelle et al. (Image)
* Perry Bible Fellowship: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories, by Nicholas Gurewitch (Dark Horse)
* Wonton Soup, by James Stokoe (Oni)

Best Anthology
* Best American Comics 2007, edited by Anne Elizabeth Moore and Chris Ware (Houghton Mifflin)
* 5, by Gabriel Ba, Becky Cloonan, Fabio Moon, Vasilis Lolos, and Rafael Grampa (self-published)
* Mome, edited by Gary Groth and Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics)
* Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened, edited by Jason Rodriguez (Villard)
* 24Seven, vol. 2, edited by Ivan Brandon (Image)

Best Digital Comic
* The Abominable Charles Christopher, by Karl Kerschl
* Billy Dogma, Immortal, by Dean Haspiel
* The Process, by Joe Infurnari
* PX! By Manny Trembley and Eric A. Anderson
* Sugarshock!, by Joss Whedon and Fabio Moon

Best Reality-Based Work
* Laika, by Nick Abadzis (First Second)
* The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam, by Ann Marie Fleming (Riverhead Books/Penguin Group)
* Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow, by James Sturm and Rich Tommaso (Center for Cartoon Studies/Hyperion)
* Sentences: The Life of MF Grimm, by Percy Carey and Ronald Wimberly (Vertigo/DC)
* White Rapids, by Pascal Blanchet (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Graphic Album--New
* The Arrival, by Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic)
* Bookhunter, by Jason Shiga (Sparkplug Books)
* Essex County, vols. 1-2: Tales from the Farm/Ghost Stories, by Jeff Lemire (Top Shelf)
* Exit Wounds, by Rutu Modan (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Percy Gloom, by Cathy Malkasian (Fantagraphics)

Best Graphic Album--Reprint
* Agents of Atlas Hardcover, by Jeff Parker, Leonard Kirk, and Kris Justice (Marvel)
* Godland Celestial Edition, by Joe Casey and Tom Scioli (Image)
* James Sturm's America: God, Gold, and Golems, by James Sturm (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Mouse Guard: Fall 1152, by David Petersen (Archaia)
* Super Spy, by Matt Kindt (Top Shelf)

Best Archival Collection/Project--Comic Strips
* (The Complete) Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, by Winsor McCay (Ulrich Merkl)
* Complete Terry and the Pirates, vol. 1, by Milton Caniff (IDW)
* Little Sammy Sneeze, by Winsor McCay (Sunday Press)
* Popeye, vol. 2: Well Blow Me Down, by E. C. Segar (Fantagraphics)
* Sundays with Walt and Skeezix, by Frank King (Sunday Press)

Best Archival Collection/Project--Comic Books
* Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, vol. 1, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (Marvel)
* Apollo's Song, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
* The Completely MAD Don Martin, by Don Martin (Running Press)
* Daredevil Omnibus, by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson (Marvel)
* I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! by Fletcher Hanks (Fantagraphics)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material
* The Arrival, by Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic)
* Aya, by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Obrerie (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Garage Band, by Gipi (First Second)
* I Killed Adolf Hitler, by Jason (Fantagraphics)
* The Killer, by Matz and Luc Jacamon (Archaia)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material--Japan
* The Ice Wanderer and Other Stories, by Jiro Taniguchi (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)
* MW, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
* Naoki Urasawa's Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz)
* New Engineering by Yuichi Yokoyama (PictureBox)
* Tekkonkinkreet: Black & White, by Taiyo Matsumoto (Viz)
* Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms, by Fumiyo Kouno (Last Gasp)

Best Writer
* Ed Brubaker, Criminal (Marvel)
* James Sturm, Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow (Center for Cartoon Studies/Hyperion)
* Brian K. Vaughan, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Dark Horse); Ex Machina (WildStorm/DC), Y: The Last Man (Vertigo/DC)
* Joss Whedon, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel); Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Dark Horse)
* Brian Wood, DMZ, Northlanders (Vertigo/DC); Local (Oni)

Best Writer/Artist
* Jeff Lemire, Essex County: Tales from the Farm/Ghost Stories (Top Shelf)
* Rutu Modan, Exit Wounds (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Shaun Tan, The Arrival (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic)
* Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #18 (Acme Novelty)
* Fumi Yoshinaga, Flower of Life; The Moon and Sandals (Digital Manga)

Best Writer/Artist--Humor
* Kyle Baker, The Bakers: Babies and Kittens (Image)
* Fred Chao, Johnny Hiro (AdHouse)
* Brandon Graham, King City (Tokyopop); Multiple Warheads (Oni)
* Eric Powell, The Goon (Dark Horse)
* James Stokoe, Wonton Soup (Oni)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
* Steve Epting/Butch Guice/Mike Perkins, Captain America (Marvel)
* Pia Guerra/Jose Marzan, Jr., Y: The Last Man (Vertical/DC)
* Jae Lee, Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born (Marvel)
* Takeshi Obata, Death Note, Hikaru No Go (Viz)
* Ethan Van Sciver, Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps (DC)

Best Painter or Multimedia Artist (interior art)
* Ann-Marie Fleming, The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam (Riverhead Books/Penguin Group)
* Eric Powell, The Goon: Chinatown (Dark Horse)
* Bryan Talbot, Alice in Sunderland (Dark Horse)
* Ben Templesmith, Fell (Image); 30 Days of Night: Red Snow; Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse (IDW)

Best Cover Artist
* John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel); Lone Ranger (Dynamite)
* James Jean, Process Recess 2 (AdHouse)
* J. G. Jones, 52 (DC)
* Jae Lee, Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born (Marvel)
* Jim Lee, All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder (DC); World of Warcraft (WildStorm/DC)

Best Coloring
* Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules! (Renaissance)
* Steve Hamaker, Bone, vols. 5 and 6 (Scholastic); Shazam: Monster Society of Evil (DC)
* Richard Isanove, Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born (Marvel)
* Ronda Pattison, Atomic Robo (Red 5 Comics)
* Dave Stewart, BPRD, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cut, Hellboy, Lobster Johnson, The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse); The Spirit (DC)
* Alex Wald, Shaolin Cowboy (Burlyman)

Best Lettering
* Jared K. Fletcher, Catwoman, The Spirit (DC); Sentences: Life of MF Grimm (Vertigo/DC)
* Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules! (Renaissance)
* Todd Klein, Justice, Simon Dark (DC); Fables, Jack of Fables, Crossing Midnight (Vertigo/DC); League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier (WildStorm/DC); Nexus (Rude Dude)
* Lewis Trondheim, At Loose Ends, Mome 7 & 8 (Fantagraphics)
* Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #18 (Acme Novelty)

Special Recognition
* Chuck BB, Black Metal (artist, Oni)
* Matt Silady, The Homeless Channel (writer/artist, AiT/PlanetLar)
* Jamie Tanner, The Aviary (writer/artist, AdHouse)
* James Vining, First in Space (writer/artist, Oni)

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism
* Comic Art #9, edited by Todd Hignite (Buenaventura Press)
* Comic Foundry, edited by Tim Leong (Comic Foundry)
* The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, Michael Dean, and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)
* The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon and Jordan Raphael

* Newsarama, produced by Matt Brady and Michael Doran


Best Comics-Related Book
* The Art of P. Craig Russell, edited by Joe Pruett (Desperado)
* The Artist Within, by Greg Preston (Dark Horse)
* Manga: The Complete Guide, by Jason Thompson (Del Rey Manga)
* Meanwhile... A Biography of Milton Caniff, by R. C. Harvey (Fantagraphics)
* Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean, by Douglas Wolk (Da Capo Press)
* Understanding Manga and Anime, by Robin Brenner (Libraries Unlimited/Greenwood Publishing)

Best Publication Design
* (The Complete) Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, designed by Ulrich Merkl (Ulrich Merkl)
* Complete Terry and the Pirates, designed by Dean Mullaney (IDW)
* Heroes, vol. 1, designed by John Roshell/Comicraft (WildStorm/DC)
* Little Sammy Sneeze, designed by Philippe Ghielmetti (Sunday Press)
* Process Recess 2, designed by James Jean and Chris Pitzer (AdHouse)
* Sundays with Walt and Skeezix, designed by Chris Ware (Sunday Press)

Hall of Fame
Judges' Choices
* R. F. Outcault
* Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson
Nominees (4 will be selected by voters):
* Matt Baker
* John Broome
* Reed Crandall
* Rudolph Dirks
* Arnold Drake
* George Evans
* Creig Flessel
* Graham Ingels
* Mort Meskin
* Tarpe Mills
* Gilbert Shelton
* George Tuska
* Mort Weisinger
* Len Wein
* Barry Windsor-Smith

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Outrageous Book of the Week -- I want to bring your attention to this week's release of Most Outrageous: The Trials and Trespasses of Dwaine Tinsley and Chester the Molester, new in softcover by Bob Levin and published by Fantagraphics Books.

Levin is one of the most gifted writers about comics ever, and one of the previous books remains one of my most cherished volumes about the subject. I can't tell you how often I pluck this off the shelf and read an essay or two. It gets me excited about writing and excited about comics every time I crack it open.

Much more information at the Fantagraphics website.


Monday, April 07, 2008

End of the World Watch -- Paul Krugman, writing for the New York Times, looks at why food prices are going through the roof. And they likely won't be coming back down.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Order BLUESMAN Now! -- The BLUESMAN graphic novel is now available for preorder at your local comic book store.

Here are the details you need to have to make sure your retailer can get you a copy:

Bluesman Collected Edition HC
Diamond Order Code: APR084026
ISBN 1561635324
220 pgs, B&W, HC, 6x9

BLUESMAN is the creation of Rob Vollmar and Pablo G. Callejo, whose first graphic novel was The Castaways. BLUESMAN was serialized in three volumes and was an amazing read, with both Rob and Pablo showing great growth over The Castaways, which was pretty terrific to begin with. But they really blew the doors off with BLUESMAN, and this hardcover is bound to be a beautiful collection of one of my favourite comics of the past decade.

More details at The BLUESMAN Project, which was overhauled a bit over the weekend to reflect the pending hardcover release. Please take a look and make sure you let your retailer know you want BLUESMAN.


Friday, April 04, 2008

The Education of Hopey Glass -- There's probably not a more perfect comics reading experience than immersing yourself in a Love and Rockets collection; they're all representative of the very best that comics can aspire to be, and The Education of Hopey Glass stands out as a premier example.

The book collects over a dozen short stories by Jaime Hernandez, stories that originally appeared in the now-complete L&R Vol. 2 (Vol. 3 will be an annual series of graphic novels). The focus in the first half of the book is mostly on Maggie's on-again, off-again lover Hopey, and the second half of the book is given over to the misadventures of Ray as he falls into orbit around Vivian, AKA "The Frogmouth."

Every story in this volume is sublimely rewarding and narratively fulfilling. By now Love and Rockets really is like going home for longtime readers. The characters have, decades after their creation, become as much a part of the reader's life as any friend or family member, with all the hope for their well-being and amusement at their foibles that that suggests. Much is unsaid about Hopey's attractions and aspirations, but by watching her actions, at the eye doctor, at home, at work, learning to drive -- we love her as Maggie does. How could you not?

Ray is more challenging a character than Hopey, because he's not as honest with himself or others as she is. But ultimately he's easy to relate to because his frustrations and desires mirror our own. Both the Ray/Frogmouth and the Hopey stories feature Angel, a sexy, full-figured young woman who is the focus of the best story in the book, a four-pager about her tossing a ball around with her dad and talking about her hopes and the unfair limitations she's facing.

The effect of Love and Rockets, as any individual book or as a decades-long experience, is always a cumulative one. I read these stories when they were serialized in periodical form, and I loved them. Taken together, re-worked into one long story broken up into chapters focusing on the various characters, a different focus reveals itself and I appreciate them even more. Most comics aren't as good the second time you read them, but Love and Rockets stories are always better with repeated exposure -- like spending time with loved ones you cherish and adore. Just exactly like that, in fact.

The Education of Hopey Glass (Love & Rockets)






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