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I Mean You

Today on the site, new co-editor of the print TCJ RJ Casey writes in to state his unhappiness with comiXology's plans to exhibit at this weekend's Small Press Expo.

At SPX, Amazon will be premiering a new comic in their line of comiXology Originals called Hit Reblog: Comics That Caught Fire. This comic, which looks slopped together specifically for this show, is purposefully showcasing Amazon’s new print-on-demand technology for the small-press crowd. A free poster and volume of the comic will be given to everyone attending and there is an exclusive signing just for exhibitors. This is an overt play to get you onboard and consider their POD tech for your future comics releases. Not happy with the downfall of our country’s entire retail sector, Amazon now wants in on that little zipper bag full of singles you keep under the table at conventions.

ComiXology Originals and Hit Reblog is doing what the tech industry almost always does — taking something that already exists and making it worse. What are they doing that is so innovative? Printing webcomics on glossy paper. Amazon wants to be your publisher, printer, distributor, and, most likely, editor. But consider the repercussions. The erasure of these services will decimate what little industry we even have. This is not to mention the hit on artistic freedom and intent. I’ve held a comiXology Originals comic in my hand and can assuredly attest that Amazon’s cookie-cutter mechanisms and printing knowhow cannot replicate the electricity of Lale Westvind, the human touch of Eleanor Davis, or the vulnerability of Xia Gordon. They won’t include things that make small press books unique, like the patch on the cover of Noel Freibert’s Spine, or the all-black-everything pages of Mirror Mirror II, or the amusing bells and whistles that adorn all Perfectly Acceptable Press publications.

Annie Mok is here, too, with a review of Jérôme Ruillier's The Strange.

Opening up The Strange, I wished there was more context given to the reader, but perhaps that is part of the point: you are thrust into a world that may be confusing and difficult to navigate, just as the protagonist is. Jérôme Ruillier draws the protagonist as a bulky dog with a vacant stare, maybe made that way from trauma, living in a a beautiful but oppressive world rendered in red and gray. The story begins with the dog speaking in first-person, explaining that he and his family have "decided to leave," without saying where they were leaving from. Ruillier juts you into the narrative sharply, with the dog, using money borrowed from friends and family, procuring papers from a "fixer."

The story then transitions to one of multiple perspectives: a crow watches him; a bus driver notices him and his coat, that "he wasn't from here." It is not made clear where "here" is, and the detail seems not too important. A "strange" becomes another name for an undocumented immigrant. The story seems to take place in Europe but of course it parallels the situation with ICE in the US right now. One protestor of the detention of a strange tells a cop, "Why do we have to break up the family?" Things turn more difficult for the unnamed "strange.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The Harvey Awards have announced some of this year's winners, including their Hall of Fame inductees.

—Interviews & Profiles. Gabrielle Bell gives some pretty great, no-bullshit answers here:

WSWD: Comics is an art form that can require many years’ worth of work to make something that can be consumed in 15 minutes. Do you ever find the trade-off of time invested against the limited return to be frustrating?

Bell: I think that’s a false equivalency. If a comic I write takes 15 minutes to read and it’s a story of some meaning, perhaps that many more people will read it. So each person who reads it expands its reach and its impact beyond that individual 15 minutes.

WSWD: So you take some pride or solace in being able to reach a larger audience with a short, clearly formed idea.

Bell: Well, I’m not in the business of trying to make pride or solace. I make comics. That’s my job, and it takes the time it takes.

Rob McMonigal talks to the great Carol Tyler.

When I was thirteen, the nuns said, any time you have anything of any value or importance, you should make a little booklet about it. So of course I made my Vatican 2 booklet, I made one of being in the 8th grade, and then of course I had tickets to see the Beatles so you bet I was going to make a booklet about that, which I did.

I went to the concert. I wrote down the song list. When I got home, I dutifully wrote down all the things I could remember, all the details. I kept thinking “I’m going to make this booklet, I have to remember as much as I can.”Details like what were vendors like, some of the people I saw—it was like doing the Con here. Something phenomenal. I went home and I made a nice construction paper cover for it and stapled it onto my nice booklet. And like a spaz, I put it in a plastic bag, and I kept it for years.

The BoJack Horseman-related Lisa Hanawalt publicity blitz continues with a short Molly Lambert profile for The New Yorker.

“BoJack Horseman” is the love foal of the writer and creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Hanawalt, whose comics provided the inspiration for BoJack’s look. Bob-Waksberg, who is thirty-four, is the self-described “son of two professional Jews.” He wears glasses and is balding, and has some beard stubble and a charming gap-toothed smile. His mother and grandmother, Ellen Bob and Shirley Bob, co-owned a Jewish book-and-gift store called Bob & Bob. Hanawalt has dirty blond hair and looks like John Singer Sargent’s “Madame X” in sportswear. She is an artist who started drawing comics at “the age of six or seven.” Their friendship took off in high school, in Palo Alto, when Bob-Waksberg cast Hanawalt in a play called “The Family Continues,” which Hanawalt describes as “a super-surreal play in which I had to pretend to give birth onstage and stuff.”

The most recent guest on Process Party is Kickliy.

—Misc. Tim Hensley writes about the French publication of Sir Alfred.

When I was 14, I took French as an elective in junior high school. My teacher was named Madame Field, unrelated to the plural mall cookie magnate. I vaguely remember conjugating three basic verbs and learning about Guy, pronounced the same as Indian clarified butter, who appeared in sample conversations always seeming to have plans to go skiing.


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