A couple of months ago, I needed $10,000 to self-publish a big omnibus collection of my webcomic Narbonic. By way of explanation, I am not one of your big-name webcartoonists. At this point people are vaguely familiar with my work, but I’m not one of those folks with half a million page views and people queuing up to buy t-shirts with my characters’ hip and witty comments printed on them. I have a moderate but very devoted (and very entertaining) audience, and I am in no danger whatsoever of making a living from my comics.
Joe McCulloch, who, this weekend, via SPX, finally stayed long enough in one place to really get talking, brings us the week in comics.
We just returned from SPX, which was the first convention of its kind I ever attended, and which still seems to me to be the one I always have the most fun at. (I still have never gone to TCAF, though. And the Brooklyn festival probably has a higher percentage of comics & art that I am interested in and wouldn't be able to find elsewhere. But I live near NYC, so that doesn't have the same out-of-town event feeling.) Anyway, though I missed seeing Frank Santoro and various other people who didn't make it, this was one of the most fun and successful-seeming SPX shows that I can remember. We will have further and fuller coverage of the event in the near future.
News of the death of longtime show fixture Dylan Williams could not help but cast a pall on things. He was an inspirational figure to many, and a champion of deserving work that was often almost impossibly uncommercial. Chris Mautner at Robot 6 has gathered some of the online tributes from people in the comics world who knew him (here is another), and I expect there will be many more coming. [Tom Spurgeon is collecting links about Williams here.]
Today on the website, we bring Steven Brower's examination of the dream comics of Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, and Mort Meskin.
Amazon's Omnivoracious reviews the latest issue of The Comics Journal.
Stephen Bissette shares how he responds when people ask him to draw their graphic novels.
Maurice Sendak talked to the Paris Review in advance of his upcoming book.
Mike Rhode at Washington's City Paper interviewed many of this weekend's exhibitors, including Craig Thompson, Keith Knight, etc.
Last week, Kevin Huizenga did a brief but good online q&a with the Fantagraphics website.
Dylan Williams, cartoonist, writer, and publisher of Sparkplug Comic Books, reportedly passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer. He was one of the defining figures of the contemporary independent comics world, and beloved within it. He will be greatly missed.
A benefit art auction to help pay for his medical costs is ongoing.
We're packing up the two-door sedan and heading down to SPX. You'll see me at the PictureBox booth with Matthew Thurber. Our official SPX correspondent, Nicholas Gazin, will be wandering the halls for two solid days in search of good stories. That's right, while I loll around behind the table and Tim bobs in and out, Gazin will be assembling the "real" story. I'll also be presenting an Ignatz Award with Brian Ralph, who tells me I'm to play his "straight man."
Anyhooooo, Rob Clough has a handy list of 10 Cartoonists to Seek Out at SPX. Me, if I wasn't grumpily selling books all day I'd be attending some killer sounding panels and talks. I mean, there's solo panels with Roz Chast, Diane Noomin, Jim Woodring, and Johnny Ryan, not to mention a lecture by Kim Thompson on Jacques Tardi. Damn.
That said, if you cannot fulfill all your comic book dreams this weekend in suburban Maryland, be sure to read Kim Deitch's latest installment of his memoir, in which he discusses research, booze, SF, and Portland.
And, as we're prone to say, elsewhere online:
-I missed this: Abhay Khosla and Mark Sable discuss Mat Brinkman's Multiforce. It's a surprising read.
Good morning, all. Today, we bring you Rob Clough's lengthy interview with the Troop 142 cartoonist and popular podcaster Mike Dawson. A brief sample:
It is true that Chris and I went there with two other friends, and also sadly true that we were the only four mopes at the resort not hooking up with anyone. We took that vacation at a time when we were all single. We all lived in the city, had decent jobs, and some money to spend. We thought it would be a great time. Honestly, Hedonism was a skeevy place to spend a week. Yes, a lot of the details from the story are based on things we saw or experienced. [...] The steroid guy in the story who yells at Christopher Vigliotti and his friends for not scoring, and then brags about having unprotected sex in the hot-tub, that guy was real too. He was the one who had figured out that the thing to do was book a ten-day trip, because that way you'd get two batches of guests at the resort to hook up with, since most people were there for one week. Really, almost every character in the story is based on the people we encountered down there. While the trip was a bust for me and Chris, it gave us a lot of story material.
In sadder news, the underground filmmaker George Kuchar has died. Although his primary reputation derives from his films, Kuchar also had a lot of ties with the comics world, both as a friend of such figures as Bill Griffith and Art Spiegelman (both of whom appeared in his movies) and as a cartoonist and contributor to Arcade himself. If you aren't familiar with his work, I strongly suggest tracking down a recent documentary made about Kuchar and his twin brother Mike, It Came From Kuchar. If you subscribe to Netflix, it is available for streaming right now. This is required viewing for anyone interested in underground art (as are Kuchar's own movies).
Jared Gardner returns to TCJ with his new monthly column, The Attic, in which he'll explore historical finds buried deep in the figurative Attic of comics history. We're excited for this one, as Jared is really bringing "the stuff". Welcome, Jared.
And Kristian Williams turns in a review of Liar's Kiss.
I'm looking forward to this book, and I hope you are, too. Plus: David Lasky! Anyhow, The Carter Family... coming soon.
I hope all of you had a good weekend. We spent the last few days holed up in a retreat in upstate New York, plotting out new ideas and directions for the website, & are now energized and ready to go. A sneak peek into our plans: In a few months, we are going to entirely reboot the site, creating new costumes and backstories for all of our columnists and reviewers, and generally revamping the Groth-verse into a faster-paced, "Twitter-style" "hub" for a new larger and younger audience raised on video games and sudoku. Every day the site will be redesigned and relaunched as a "#1," and readers will have the opportunity to sign on and compete with each other to become the "mayor" of their favorite stories! Lots more ideas like that are in store, but we don't want to give the whole game away, so stay tuned...
In the meantime, Frank Santoro checked in this weekend with his latest column (and Michael DeForge cartoon).
Austin English turns in a short interview with the very unusual and original cartoonist Warren Craghead.
And as he does every Tuesday morning, "Jolly" Joe McCulloch previews the Week in Comics.
1. The artist and former retailer Dustin Harbin turns in a much-discussed list of "Fifteen Thoughts on Digital Comics". It is thoughtful and worth engaging with. One caveat I have is that I keep seeing many commentators on digital publishing (both in terms of comics and of "regular" books) claiming that the "largest costs" of traditional publishing come from the physical process itself (i.e., the paper, the printing, etc.). In many cases, that just isn't so -- the largest costs come from all of the things you still may want to do with digital (i.e., hiring and maintaining editorial departments, publicity, etc.). This is worth keeping in mind!
2. The Kirby-net now sometimes seems nearly as big as the comics-blogosphere in general. Its latest big story is Rob Steibel's excellent illustrated examination of "Kirby Crackle."
3. There also seems to be something of an online revival of Cerebus talk as well, as indicated in this Journal as well as by writers such as Tim Callahan. The Hurting's Tim O'Neil has now entered the arena with the first part of what looks to be a long examination of how Cerebus is read today.
4. Greg Baldino reviews issue 301 of The Comics Journal over at Bleeding Cool.
5. In a must-read blog post, Eddie Campbell responds to a claim in a review of his work in TCJ 301. The reviewer claims that he could spot where Campbell relied on assistants in Alec. [UPDATE: Please see the comments at that post for an explanation of the error.]
6. Finally, wunderkind Matt Seneca has some thoughts on the new publishing initiative at DC Comics.
Kim Deitch is back with another installment of his memoir via music. It is now the late '60s, the underground era is in full swing, and after working at the East Village Other for a while, Kim decides to head west. A disclaimer:
Before resuming I should say this: Drug taking, by myself and others, really peaks in this chapter. It isn’t something I’m proud of or a thing I endorse. But it is the way it all happened.
Also, Rob Clough reviews MK Reed and Jonathan Hill's Americus.
Elsewhere, and catching up after a lousy week at doing this job, more links than you can read:
2. For some reason, it never really occurred to me how young Lynda Barry must have been when she was creating the strips found in Girls + Boys, etc. This picture of her at a signing for the book makes clear immediately what my inability to draw obvious conclusions from things like years and dates did not. Those are some really funny comics.
3. Jack Kirby interviewed on the radio for his 70th birthday. Don't miss the end of this, when Stan Lee calls in and they argue over who did what. [Hat tip to S. Howe.]
4. There are two comics pieces by Noel Murray over at the AV Club right now, one a "primer" on newspaper comics that is fairly solid in a conventional kind of way, and the other a remembrance of the long-running erotic anthropomorphic-animal soap opera comic "Omaha" the Cat Dancer. (I have never read a single issue of Omaha, or the comic that is always somehow linked to it in my mind, Cherry Poptart. And have never really felt like I was missing anything. Is this genre-blindness or good sense?)
5. Tom Spurgeon turns in a rambling but insightful piece on DC's recent "relaunch." It is obviously far too early to say with any definitiveness whether or not DC's strategy will "work," or even what "working" actually means (the bigger problem), but two things I can say with certainty: the publicity was everywhere (even NPR), and there were big noticeable crowds in and outside stores in New York. Does it go without saying that the comic itself (Justice League #1) was just serviceable (if stupid and unmemorable)? Does it matter? Probably, after a few weeks, when the publicity boost dies down. Maybe some of the other new titles will be more interesting? If not, I can't see how this is really much of a change over the old way of doing things.
9. The cartoonist Michel Fiffe writes a long and much-linked-to essay over at the Factual Opinion regarding the intersection between independent and alternative comics and more genre-oriented superhero and sci-fi material. (One factual caveat from the D&Q Twitter feed.)