It's Tuesday, and Joe McCulloch is here to prep you for the Week in Comics, and also to tell you about his experiences at this past weekend's Free Comic Book Day:
"So what do you think of Convergence?"
"It's a piece of shit."
We were almost 90 minutes into our first stop, and Chris had begun making small talk with a local man of his acquaintance. There's no shortage of conversation on Free Comic Book Day; the store -- a mainline, 'full-service' comic book shop on a busy highway -- was absolutely packed. Costumed stormtroopers patrolled the parking lot as a line for free items stretched down the facade of the entire strip mall. It was sunny, and dime bins were set up outside. Local artists drew sketches and signed books, and I personally rescued a Stephen R. Bissette Tyrant print from blowing away with the springtime breeze. "Don't want this to leave again," I joked, and there were people around who understood my joke, which is unusual and nice.
If you're wondering why retailers put up with FCBD, it's because if you put a lot a effort into presentation, local hype, sales, etc., it becomes something akin to a Black Friday for comics, complete with a sizable outlay of browsers who don't often visit Direct Market establishments, and do indeed often buy stuff on top of the giveaway items. At least that's what I've been told - anecdotally, but consistently.
—Reviews & Commentary. Pauline Kal-el reviews an old Catwoman issue, and in the process gets sidetracked on why there hasn't been a Tolstoy of comics:
To imagine this mythical comic book that’s as good as War And Peace, you have to try to imagine the Leo Tolstoy of comic books. Who is this guy, who’s capable of making a 10/10 comic? The intellectual and bearded patriarch willing to spend a decade pouring his epic and expansive take on history and philosophy into the graphic format. If this dude is so smart, why’s he choosing a medium where artists work every hour god sends and are barely compensated for their efforts? Daniel Clowes once calculated that if he divided the hours he spent making comics against money he received, he worked for less than the minimum wage. You’d have to be crazy in a way Leo definitely wasn’t.
You soon realise that this guy, the comics Tolstoy, could never exist. Not just because of the money, either—Chris Ware calculated the ratio of an average novelist’s annual output to an outstanding cartoonist’s life’s work is 1:1. So you’d need six lifetimes to produce what the real Leo made in 6 years. It’s literally impossible for the human body to produce a comic of the depth and complexity of a War and Peace.
Bully notices a few recent comics in which the creators ignore or break the rules of visual storytelling.
Tom Spurgeon is a guest on the Comics Alternative podcast, in which they discuss this year's Eisner nominees.
—Charlie Hebdo/PEN: Most readers of this site are probably either obsessed with this controversy and have already read everything I will now link to, or are exhausted by the whole thing, and would prefer not o read another word. But here are some of the more important or interesting things that have been written since last week. Andrew Solomon and Suzanne Nossel, who lead the PEN American Center, explain why the organization plans to honor Charlie Hebdo. The journalist Masha Gessen (brother of protest letter signee Keith Gessen) argues that the award is appropriate. Jon Wiener at The Nation argues that it is not. This New York Times piece does a good job at reporting the award opponents' views at their strongest. On Twitter, Dylan Horrocks compares the controversy to the Salman Rushdie/Satanic Verses affair. On video, Philip Gourevitch is interviewed by France 24 about the controversy. Caleb Crain has video of and translates Christiane Taubira's speech at one of the Charlie cartoonists' memorial service. (Taubira is the French minister of justice, and the person depicted in one of the most controversial covers.) Art Spiegelman, Alison Bechdel, and Neil Gaiman have agreed to host tables at the PEN event to replace some of the boycotting writers.
And last, but not least: Samplerman.