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Just a note as I'm recovering from the annual Amerikuh tradition of over-eating for a day (a day? isn't that the new normal now...) that I am blogging on an irregular schedule about webcomics and other pop culture topics at ALTERTAINMENT.
Howdy comics fans! Well hope you had a nice summer, I sure did. Still evaluating plans for what to do with COMIXTALK 2: THE TALKENING but I figured I owed someone a post about something.
CONVENTION TIME: Washington DC has both SPX and Intervention happening this month. Plus Baltimore's Comicon is this weekend. When it rains it pours (except when it's humid and it just kind of sticks). I am going to try and make SPX and Intervention this year.
Intervention is on a different weekend this year, September 21-23 (RELIEF - both cons on the same weekend last year was a killer!) and has more of a general cool stuff from the Internet vibe to it. Still a different animal than a standard comicon but an altogether experience than SPX too. A great list of guests this year -- Shaenon Garrity and Jeffrey Wells, Danielle Corsetto, Jennie Breeden, Pete Abrams, Rob Balder, Christopher Baldwin, Jami Noguchi, actually more more more (I give up, just go to their website).
READING COMICS: I read Drama by Raina Telgemeier. REALLY GOOD - will have a real review up soon. Also got a copy of Superhero Grammar. My kids who are already full fledged GRAMMARIANS said they thought it might be a good book for younger kids learning grammar. (Scholastic gave COMIXTALK review copies of both books). Also saw that AMULET 5 is out -- I need to get ahold of that! I have also been rereading a lot of webcomics over at Comic Rocket; many posts at my new blog ALTERTAINMENT are about that -- check them out.
Just to make it official-like, ComixTALK is on a bit of a hiatus, at least for a chunk of the summer months here in Norte Americano. This website is a project that I love and have had a wonderful time writing for in all of its incarnations over the last almost-but-not-quite a decade, but it's also run out of steam for me. I'd really like to bring it back as something different about comics so stepping away from it will hopefully give me a chance to try and make that happen.
Also, I started a new blog called ALTERTAINMENT where I still do write quite a bit about comics but will mix in other subjects too. For whatever reason, it felt like the right time to make a new home for me somewhere else on the web. It's still a work in progress, but since it's not ComixTALK, I get to make up what it is everytime I decide to post something.
DIG THAT DIG DUG: I played the Dig Dug back in the day day so I read with some interest the massive tweetstorm about the webcomic drive to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the game. All of it is organized by ShiftyLook, the Namco/Bandai portal of webcomics based on old video games. The list of creators in on this includes - among others - Brian Clevinger (Atomic Robo), Dean Haspiel (ShiftyLook’s The Five-Dimensional Adventures of Dirk Davies), Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik (Penny Arcade), Scott Kurtz (PVP), David Maliki (Wondermark), R. K. Milholland (Something Positive), Ryan North (Dinosaur Comics), Krishna Sadasivam (PC Weenies), Kris Staub (chainsawsuit), Zach Weiner (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal) and Jim Zubkavich (ShiftyLook’s Wonder Momo, ShiftyLook’s Sky Kid).
LUCKY DUCKY!: Earlier this month Reuben Bolling announced a kind of "club/pledge drive" for his brilliant Tom the Dancing Bug comic. For $9.99 you get six months of inner access to the comics, including insight into the work process. What does it say about alternative weeklies in terms of comics though that one of their absolute superstars has to refocus even more on the web?
Let's Rock This Joint In The Old School Way: Have you all been following Ed Piskor's Hip Hop Family Tree over at BoingBoing? It's a super interesting, entertaining look at the origins of hip hop music. I also love the "family tree" icon Piskor uses to show the archives of the webcomic. The latest one is posted here.
COME ON FEEL THE HYPE: I really dig Zen Pencils - which presents inspiring and famous quotations in comic format. Really creative interpretations, more than solid artwork -- I am pondering buying prints of almost half of his archives.
Poorcraft: The Funnybook Fundamentals of Living Well on Less began as a successful Kickstarter effort back in late 2009. It is now a real live book about to drop in on the world this May 20, 2012. Written by C. Spike Trotman and drawn by Diana Nock -- Poorcraft makes excellent use of the comics medium to deliver some very practical advice on how to make the most of your resources. A book that will be pretty handy not only for many starving comic artists but anyone trying to stretch their means, especially when just starting out on adult life.
Spike who is perhaps best known for her Twin Peakseque webcomic Templar, AZ, has done an impressive job here -- the book is well organized and shows a tremendous amount of research and thought. The book opens with a general chapter on the philosophy of "poorcraft" and then moves to chapters organized around practical issues like: housing, food, clothing and health. Spike also covers transportation, education, emergencies and entertainment in other chapters. There is also a huge chapter with additional links and resources at the end of the book. The idea of "poorcraft" is a collection of tips to do more with less, be financially savvy, and take more advantage of free and low-cost opportunities where they exist.
All of which might make this sound like a dry, dull resource book. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's a very fun read with all of the information presented as a dialogue between the poorcraft-savvy Penny and her neighbor Mil, who like a lot of us has fallen into a lot of financial and lifestyle habits that most of us don't even stop to question why. Spike makes the comic as much a story as a how-to book, following Penny's efforts to help Mil learn poorcraft and get out of the many financial problems she has wandered into. Between Spike's snappy dialogue for both characters and Diana Nock's fun, loopy, entertaining artwork, the book is a good, fast read. One that you will want to go back to individual chapters to review when you're interested in the particular advice on that subject.
Definitely worth checking out. If I was organizing a "gift guide" from comics -- this would be a great gift for someone leaving the "nest" for the first time. Unlike countless other books on the subject this one is almost certainly going to be the most fun one to read.
FUND A WEBCOMIC? This Kickstarter drive, titled "Fund Our Webcomic: Montgomery X. Chesterfield" is actually what it says -- give the project money and Salvatore Pane, Mark Kleman and Kat Larkin will make a free webcomic. "The more money we generate, the more frequently we can update MontyX.com with more free material." Honestly, while I'm not going to begrudge anyone trying anything to help themselves make comics, this surprises me that Kickstarter approved it. Granted they are only asking for 100 bucks but there's no real there there to what the project is funding. It's not even a commitment to a particular update schedule or a number of comics or finishing a story or...
EXPENDABLE: I like the title on this one -- the funds will go to printing a Henchmen for Hire graphic novel which will collect the first story of the webcomic in a large, full-color 140+ page paperback format.
Tomorrow Jones is about a 14 year-old girl named Tomorrow who comes from a family of superheroes. While she may be strong enough to fold an armored truck into origami, Tomorrow has to pretend to be a normal girl at school. Her father won't take her seriously, and her traditional heroine mother expects Tomorrow to follow in her footsteps. But Tomorrow doesn't want to dress in skimpy spandex though, and starts fighting crime unmasked and simply wearing jeans and a T-shirt with her real initials on it. All the while her parents keep trying to get her to do things "the traditional way" and Tomorrow finds she might be getting in over her head in the superhero community.
Whew - got one more post in before the beginning of May. That brings my 2012 average up to -- what? -- one post every 2.5 weeks or so. Thanks for bearing with me (well whomever is bearing out there in Internet-land). New job, new projects, shifting priorities means less time for ComixTalk which isn't likely to change this year. I do have some great ideas for building a couple of webcomic-focused sites that I really want to use on a regular basis. I suspect others would find them useful too. Unfortunately not sure when any of it will happen.
iWEBCOMICS:Jerzy Drozd linked to this story on the new Marvel infinite comics format for the iPad. I've always been a fan of the web part of webcomics. But there's a way to stretch comics without breaking it and then there's motion comics... This approach by Marvel looks interesting -- it appears to leave control of the viewing/reading experience in the hands of the reader and it still maintains the panel as the atomic unit of storytelling. I'll be curious to read the reactions from the blog-o-comicsphere.
FINDING NEMO -- AND COMICS: I've checked out Just the First Frame a couple times -- my big problem with it is that as a hand-crafted webcomic, it ain't scalable and that success will kill it. Still I always suspect Lauren Davis is smarter about this stuff from me so let's all give it another look this week.
MAILBAG: Richard Pulfer writes that his webcomic, Blue Yonder (illustrated by Diego Diaz and written by Richard Pulfer and Luke Perks) is starting its second storyline:
When readers last saw Jared Davenport, aka Blue Yonder, the young hero had flown the coop from Claremont Apartments after learning his new allies included an ex-cop convicted of stealing evidence and a black ops solider with an even more checkered past. Will his old friends, the police-themed N-Forcers, be any help in locating his missing family? What about Voltra, the young girl who befriended him at the run-down Claremont Apartments? The answers to these questions and more will be revealed when Blue Yonder continues its weekly updates on Wednesday.
This year's [EISNER Best Digital Comic] nominees in particular feel like a world where instead of the Emmy awards, the Motion Picture Academy had just added a "Best Television Movie" category to the Oscars.
ACBF has a lot of cool features: support for creator metadata; per-panel/page definitions; multiple text-layers for multiple languages; text formatting and style data; auto-indexing and more. The format is CC-BY-SA, and can be found on Launchpad, along with GPL'ed viewers for GNU/Linux and Windows.
EVENTFUL: I don't know why I'm stumbling on to Rare Words so late to the party but the Internet is a biiig place I guess. Rare Words is a blog where Mark Burrier draws sketches based on phrases submitted through the website. There will be an exhibition of his work this June at the Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Maryland.
While we're here let's open up the ComixTALK mailbag:
Chance Argabright-Wees writes that Fat Cat Gameworks is going to collaborate with Christopher Hastings, of the webcomic, Dr. McNinja, to create a game based on the comic. It is planned to be "a free-to-play, retro-style platformer for iOS, Android, and the web" which I suspect means something! A third Penny Arcade videogame and a Dr. McNinja videogame? That's... four webcomic-based videogames! There's a kickstarter for this project too!
Ray Hayden writes in about his webcomic Agatha Crup -- "Three issues in and we've got over 50,000 unique visits on the site." He plans to put out another issue around the end of April along with an animated 3 minute video with characters from the comic.
An interesting mix of new and familiar names (to me at least) and a range of styles and subject matters to boot. I haven't read any of these so here's my quick ill-informed reactions and/or paraphrasing of the about pages:
The full title of John Neufeld's webcomic is Bahrain: Lines In Ink, Lines In The Sand and follows Mohammed and Sara, two young Bahraini editorial cartoonists who found themselves on opposite sides of Bahrain's short-lived Pearl Revolution. Neufeld met Mohammed and Sara at workshops he led while visiting the tiny Persian Gulf country on a U.S. State Department trip. Neufeld documents their impressions of the events, through their words, experiences, and their own cartoons, which were published as events unfolded. A self-contained, non-fiction, journalistic effort.
Mike Norton's webcomic is about a giant pug. OMIGOD PUPPY!! On-going serialized comedic, fantasy adventure tale.
Tony Cliff's webcomic takes place in 19th-century Turkey where an officer in the Janissary army must struggle to repay a brash adventuress for saving his life, even though she was the one who endangered it in the first place. Another serialized adventure story albeit much less wacky than Battlepug.
Dylan Meconis' is a fable brought to webcomic form.
Ryan Andrew's webcomic also has the feel of a fable or better still an alegory. Both Dylan's and Ryan's efforts are self-contained, completed works of fiction.
I realize this is far from the due diligence of actual reviews but even so, it's striking how challenging it must be to try to compare the merits of such diverse work with such clearly different artistic and other goals. This year's nominees in particular feel like a world where instead of the Emmy awards, the Motion Picture Academy had just added a "Best Television Movie" category to the Oscars.
Richard Reynolds writes in about his webcomic,St. Shawshank's Infant School which he describes as "basically a re-telling of The Shawshank Redemption... only set in an infant school, and with all the added innocence that that implies." That's an interesting twist alright!
Sasha Peric writes in to ask us to take a look at a new comic, Pustinja, hosted on Google+. It's a wordless mini-comic, with artwork suggestive of wood-cuts. He's from Bosnia, and this new work looks like it's in a similar vein to previous examples of his comics.
iWEBCOMICS: So the new iPad 3 is out and it has a gloriously densely pixelated screen - RETINA-VISION or some such marketing moniker. Of course I think this bodes well for comics. It doesn't mean legacy publishers won't continue to bobble their opportunities but for everyone not tied to the direct market, printed past, this is the best of times. As far as digital goes I thought it pretty good news that Mark Waid is embracing digital and selling off his comic book collection, if not effective at raising funds is still a keen meta-commitment to his new direction
FINDING NEMO WEBCOMICS: I also heard about Just the First Frame from Fleen and it's a nifty idea. Time always tells whether it's a practical idea that one can use on a daily, regular basis but I'm intrigued enough to play with it. Finding webcomics -- filtering -- well it IS the problem for the reader today. This site's approach is to show the first panel of a comic so that you can click through to it. It doesn't really do any recommendation though and the guy behind the curtain is creating the panels manually (crop and paste) so I wonder how long it will be around.
MAILBAG: Lee writes that his webcomic, RiGBY, is updating on a regular basis again. Update were slow for awhile when he was working on the new Screamland series for Image Comics. That series has since concluded, and updates to RiGBY are now back 3 times a week.
GOATS IV: BACK IN THE SADDLE:It's finally over and I managed to get my pledge in before it finished. Looking forward to my autographed book. Pledges passed $50,000 easily. People love goats I guess.
Fubar Press: These guys have made their goal but they've still got nine days to go. Their project is to print up an anthology to give away on Free Comic Book Day this year. Free comic book day is an annual event, held on the first Saturday in May where just about every major comic book company distributes a few titles for free to comic shops all across the country. The idea is to bring in new fans and get old fans back in on what ends up being one of the busiest days of the year for comic shops.
We've got a ton of material, we've got graphic designer Christopher Kosek to help us, and we've got a $7,500 quote from a printer. Whether we get 250 books or 1000, the price doesn't change much because most of the printing costs are for getting everything set up to print in the first place. 100% funding means a print run for us!
YEAR OF THE DWAGON:This one is also over but Rob Balder met his goal for Erfworld and ran a pretty impressive Kickstarter campaign while he was at it. Did I say "met his goal"? I meant smashed it, raising almost $85,000.
This Friday, March 23, is the deadline for voting in the Hall of Fame for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. The Eisner Awards judges have selected pioneering newspaper cartoonist Rudolph Dirks (The Katzenjammer Kids) and comic book artistHarry Lucey (co-creator of Archie) to be automatically inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame this summer. The judges have also chosen 14 nominees from which voters will select 4 to be inducted. These nominees are Bill Blackbeard, Howard Chaykin, Richard Corben, Carlos Ezquerra, Lee Falk, Bob Fujitani, Jesse Marsh, Tarpé Mills, Mort Meskin, Dennis O'Neil, Dan O'Neill, Katsuhiro Otomo, Trina Robbins, and Gilbert Shelton.
Online voting is now open. To vote, you must be a professional working in the comics or related industries, as a creator (writer, artist, cartoonist, colorist, letterer), a publisher an editor, a retailer (comics store owner or manager), a graphic novels librarian, or a comics historian/educator. Eligible voters can visit www.eisnervote.com to register and then select up to four picks in the Hall of Fame category.