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Archive for June, 2006
Amusements: Svetlana Chmakova
By Tim Leong
BET ON SVET
With the hit OEL manga Dramacon (TokyoPop) under her belt, Svetlana Chmakova is considered one of the next big creators in the field. Educated at Canada’s Sheridan College with a degree in classical animation, Chmakova has also drawn for How-to-draw-manga books, RPG manuals and online comics. Chmakova was able to take a break from the freelance life to reveal her inspirations and amusements.
RECENT MOVIES SHE’S SEEN:
The Fugitive three weeks ago and Aeon Flux a few weeks before that. I don’t really have time to watch TV or movies, unfortunately. The Fugitive was a re-watch and I love that movie. Aeon Flux was new and I very much enjoyed it, also, though I thought it was a bit slow.
NON-COMICS BOOKS SHE’S READ:
I tend to have several books on the go and am slowly making my way though Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman, BONO in conversation with Michka Assayas, and A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. And by slow” I mean last time I picked up either one of these was a couple of weeks ago and it’s been even longer before then.
IN HER NETFLIX QUEUE:
I don’t use that. Movies that are on my shelf and waiting to be watched, though:
Garage (Russian movie)
Sacrifice (Russian movie)
China Rises (not really a movie, I guess — a documentary)
Monty Python’s Life of Brian
Teen Titans first season (cartoons count, right?)
An Awfully Big Adventure (I bought it because is has Alan Rickman in it)
TOP 10 SONGS ON HER PLAYLIST:
(which is composed mainly of good work-music right now):
Shivaree, Goodnight Moon
Linkin Park, Numb
Mike Mutantoff,& the Killektiv, Dead Prezidents
Death in Vegas, Hands Around My Throat
Holly Cole Trio, Neon Blue
Yoko Kanno, Lithium Flower
O-Zone, Dragostea Din Tei (a year later and I still love this song. SEND HELP PLEASE…)
Arrogant Worms, Canada is Really Big
Dublin Fair, California
Favourite cd of the moment (meaning I don’t skip a single song on it) is Tom Waits’ Real Gone. Everyone should own that.
VIDEO GAMES SHE PLAYS:
I’m not a gamer (though I would be, if I had the time!). I play Dance Dance Revolution Extreme and In The Groove for fun/exercise but that’s about it. Unless Tetris and Freecell count.
WEB SITES SHE FREQUENTS:
It used to be 5 times this number, back when I wasn’t chained to the drawing
For more information on Chmakova, check out her Web sitePosted by Tim Leong on June 5th, 2006 filed in Story Archive |
Company Profile: Vertical Inc
By Justin Jordan
BIG IN JAPAN
It’s not just Gwen Stefani who’s fascinated and enthralled by Japanese culture these days. Sudoku puzzles are published in even the most rural newspapers. Nearly all of the most popular children’s cartoons are at least inspired by the style of Japanese anime, if they’re not actually anime, translated and packaged for the US audience. J Horror, the stylish and often deeply creepy take on genre, has spawned several extremely American remakes of Japanese hits like The Ring and The Grudge, with more remakes and retreads on the way. But there’s something conspicuously absent from the flow of books, games, movies and media coming from Japan.
While a number of the country’s classic novels and non fiction works have been translated and published in America, there’s an ocean of popular books, fiction and nonfiction alike, that have been left untouched and, in the US, largely unknown, something that publishing house Vertical intends to change.
Vertical is taking a different approach to Japanese literature, selecting titles that are literate and engaging, allowing new readers to jump right in even if they aren’t familiar with the island nation’s history and culture. In short, Vertical is putting out the books that people will actually want to read, from horror titles with a built in audience like The Ring trilogy to the classics like A Rabbit’s Eyes to the epic fantasy of the Guin Saga.
They’re also not afraid of nonfiction and manga, publishing books from the ubiquitous Sudoku to the acclaimed epic Buddha by Astro Boy creator Osamu Tezuka. Anything worth reading has a shot at winding up on the energetic publisher’s plate.
Vertical was founded five years ago by Hiroki Sakai, a veteran book editor and reporter in his native Japan. Despite speaking little English and not having much in the way of start-up capital, Sakai came to New York with the ideas and ambition that would lead to the creation of Vertical.
Director of Marketing and Publicity Anne Ishii tells the tale: “Hiroki Sakai, our president, had the idea to start packaging and agenting Japanese children’s books in the US. The idea stopped short of actually publishing, until Sakai met Ioannis Mentzas, our Editorial Director and co-founder of Vertical, who convinced Sakai of the viability of a market for contemporary entertainment from Japan that wasn’t just for kids. I think the motivation for the company was a combination of the ability to do it on the part of two aimless visionaries and evidence of an interest in their ideas from the general public.”
Since then, working with funding from Sakai’s former employer Nikkei and the Japanese trading house Itochu Vertical has built a staff with an excellent academic and practical pedigree, with several degrees in Japanese literature floating around the office as well as a wealth of experience in publishing and translation. The name on the staff that will be most recognizable to the average comic fan is art director Chip Kidd.
Kidd is perhaps best known to comics readers for the work he’s done for Dark Horse and DC Comics on Frank Miller’s Sin City and The Dark Knight Returns, as well as inventive work with Chris Ware for The Acme Novelty Report to Shareholders and other graphic novel releases from Pantheon Books. He has also designed award-winning covers for numerous book publishers, including the iconic cover for Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park, and he is no stranger to Japanese fiction, having designed the cover to Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
So while Kidd is making sure that Vertical’s books look good, it’s the editorial staff that makes sure that what’s inside the book is as good as what’s on their cover. They work to find the books in the Japanese market so that they are not only great books, but great books for an American audience.
The differences between cultures mean that just because something might be a huge hit in Japan doesn’t mean that it will be something an American audience will appreciate. The art is in finding the books that can cross cultures.
“Number one on our selection protocol is the crossover capabilities of the title. We might see a title that is really good, but if the subject is very obviously not American reader-friendly, we won’t publish it,” explains Ishii. “Our motto is ‘Read different. Read Vertical,’ so I’d like to think we look for new-ish things.”
Vertical isn’t all about the new, however. Their premiere comics import is the classic manga Buddha by Osamu Tezuka, which was originally published in the ’70s and ’80s. The eight-volume tale has won Eisner Awards two years running, with nominations again this year, with the entire series now available in hardcover, and the first few volumes recently reprinted in paperback.
Rather than take a stodgy, ascetic approach, Tezuka’s take on the religious leader is gritty, sexy and often humorous; it offers a view of the future holy man more real in its emotion than any history book could ever be. More than just a tale of enlightenment and spiritual awakening, it’s also got sex, violence and the occasional cursed monk, all rendered in the Tezuka style that defined the look of manga and anime.
Vertical has another big Tezuka project coming in the fall, as explained by Ishii: “This October we’re coming out with Ode To Kirihito, which is like Tezuka’s Elephant Man. It’s an 800-page adult graphic novel with themes of deformity and acceptance, Christian virtue and the eternal and internal battle of man vs. beast. I’m hoping this publication will nail the coffin shut on Tezuka’s moniker as the guy who wrote Astro Boy.”
There’s a lot in the Vertical catalog for horror enthusiasts as well. There’s also a number of books by Koji Suzuki, such as the Ring trilogy that would form the basis for the successful series of Japanese and American movies or the book Dark Water, the title story of which was also recently made into a movie.
But if you’re not a fan of trippy reality-bending horror stories, then there’s A Rabbit’s Eyes, a classic novel by a veteran teacher about a first year teacher and her hard luck students. There’s also the aforementioned Guin Saga, a story of heroic fantasy centering around two young princes saved by a mysterious leopard-headed man. Or maybe even Saying Yes to Japan, a nonfiction book on the history and future of Japan’s service sector.
Yeah, I almost fell asleep reading the description of that last one, too. But it’s an example of the wide net Vertical has cast in trying to find the right titles to bring to an American market. There’s something for virtually every reader, even if your tastes don’t run strictly to gaming and comics.
Vertical has an advantage in this regard in that they don’t have to gamble on authors, since their ability to cherry pick the best titles means that they’re able to bring in titles that have already proven themselves.
That approach allows the company to avoid some of the risks and sundry grind work associated with publishing and focus on the philosophy that led to the creation of the company; to bring in books from Japan that tread the line between literary works and simple reads.
Vertical aims to bring books in that their only real clue to Japan is the name of the author, books with universal themes. The goal isn’t to educate in any overt way, but there’s always going to be a certain amount of the cultural ingrained in the works themselves.
The company may not be out to help people learn about Japan, but they’re going to regardless, showing the casual reader a world of entertainment that’s more than big eyed cartoon characters and giant robots.
Vertical’s publishing plate might always be expanding, but they’re helping to make the world a little smaller, giving people a chance to experience a wealth of new authors and ideas. A little more culture, in short.
And a little culture is never a bad thing, even if it’s someone else’s.Posted by Tim Leong on June 5th, 2006 filed in Story Archive |
By Jordan Cooper
What shoots webbing, climbs walls and feasts on human flesh? Zombie Spider-Man was one of many characters in the recently finished Marvel Zombies mini-series written by Robert Kirkman and penciled by Sean Phillips. Every issue came clad with a painted rendition of a classic Marvel comic book with zombie characters. The covers, as well as the series, were so popular that every printing of each issue featured a new cover. Arthur Sudyam, the incredibly talented cover artist and creator of current series Cholly & Flytrap (Image Comics) and Mudwogs (Heavy Metal), recently stopped by for a short interview for Comic Foundry.
Comic Foundry: What was the first comic book that you ever read, and how did it affect you?
Arthur Sudyam: GI Combat, Russ Heath. Soldiers with Dinosaurs during WWII. There was this story about a GI with a robotic GI partner stranded on a Pacific island full of dinosaurs. I thought that was just great and I wanted to read more comics. That was the start. After that, I got into all the Marvel Universe (Jack) Kirby/ (Steve) Ditko/Stan Lee comics.
CF: Did you go through any fine arts schooling?
AS: No. Self taught. My uncle took correspondence courses with Norman Rockwell when he was young. I inherited his notebooks and they were a help along the way — especially when it came to drawing drapery.
CF: How long have you worked in the comic book industry?
AS: Since 1972.
CF: How did you and Marvel first become connected?
AS: I first started working for Marvel in 1998; I did a Conan book for them. I have always appreciated the more creative and open atmosphere at Marvel.
CF: Do you have a natural penchant for zombies, or just right place, right time?
AS: Actually, zombies give me the heebie-jeebies, but I’m a life-long student of human anatomy and the Zombies projects gave me an opportunity to put all of that hard study into play.
CF: How do you feel about working on the first alternate universe story to come out of the Ultimate Universe?
AS: There are certain teams that come along once in a blue moon that really click and work. Me, Kirkman and Phillips, I think, are one of those teams. We’re all on the same page. It’s great to be able to stretch one’s creative wings, especially on tried and true characters. I think it’s an underused concept that could really open things up for other series as well.
CF: What was your reaction to the awe and praise your covers received?
AS: Of course it felt great. It’s very flattering and I appreciate it. I’ve always had these ideas of how characters could be represented, how it could be. I’ve been waiting a long time to show what I can do with these characters.
CF: Was it fulfilling for them to come back over and over with each subsequent printing for you to paint new covers?
AS: Yeah, very much so. Each cover was more fun than the previous one. I’m told that the same people who already bought the first printings went back again to buy the second, third and fourth printing just to get the covers. And I paint for the fans, not for the money. So that’s the greatest compliment an artist can receive.
CF: How did the opportunity of donating the oil painting of a zombie Batman to the Pittsburgh Comicon come about?
AS: I was approached by the organizers of the Con, who told me that they were holding an auction to benefit the Make a Wish Foundation. I’m an active supporter of many charities, especially ones for kids, including Children’s International, Operation Smile, and a lot of others. Once I knew it was for kids, I decided to donate my artist proof of the zombie Batman to them to help them raise as much money as they could.
CF: Was it your choice to donate all profits to the Make-a-Wish Foundation? Do you have a withstanding relationship with Make-a-Wish?
AS: Well, the organizers are the ones that set up the profits, and they deserve all the credit for that. As far as my relationship with Make-a-Wish, this is my first time supporting them directly. But as a kid who spent a lot of time in the hospital, I whole-heartedly support any organization that helps to make the hard times go a little more smoothly.
CF: Was the painting part of your personal collection or did you paint it specifically for the convention?
AS: That painting was the rough sketch for a large painting that I’m working on that I re-adapted with a zombie theme just for the charity auction.
CF: How large was the painting? How much money did it end up raising?
AS: It was pretty small, as it’s a sketch that I use for my work. I’m told that it broke the record for the highest sale ever for one of the auctions. But I don’t know the exact amount.
CF: Do you have any other works in the future with Marvel?
AS: With Marvel, we’re working on it right now so it’s too early to talk about. But of course working with the folks at Marvel has been a good experience. As for other publishers, David Spurlock and his company, Vanguard, have just published “The Fantastic Art of Arthur Suydam,” a compilation of my work in both hard- and soft-cover. Spurlock did a great job on this one. Also, I’ve got irons in the fire with publishers both here and internationally.
CF: How dedicated are you to pursuing future works in comics?
AS: That’s like asking somebody how dedicated they are to breathing. This is what I do.
CF: Is there any advice you would like to give to any aspiring comic book artists?Posted by Tim Leong on June 5th, 2006 filed in Story Archive |
AS: Endeavor to be the best.
A Whole Gallon of Joe
By Tim Leong
A WHOLE GALLON OF JOE
Since becoming Editor in Chief of Marvel Comics in 2000, Joe Quesada has been credited with leading the company to a full revival from the bankruptcy of the ’90s and creating an industry leader. Sales are up and the depiction of characters smoking cigarettes is down. He’s done good so far, but what does Quesada have up his sleeve for the future? The passionate penciler sat down with Comic Foundry so we, and you, could find out.
1. How do you think you’ve evolved as an editor since you became Editor in Chief?
I’m a little more patient. I think a lot of it has to do with when we first started this thing at Marvel, there was a real sense of urgency in the comics industry. Every month the business was getting worse and worse and worse. So there was a real sense of “We better fix this or we’ll all be out of a job and there isn’t going to be a comic industry left.” So, I’ve grown a bit more relaxed in the sense that we’re building this and now we can plan long term. When we first started, we were planning three months out, six months out, with respect to what we were doing with our stories. Now we’re literally a year, two years out knowing what’s going to happen in the Marvel Universe so we can strategically plan the course of things. It’s the same thing with our writers too. There are certain people who started out as beginning writers at Marvel when I started as Editor in Chief, or at least just beginning at Marvel. (Brian) Bendis, (J. Michael) Straczynski, Mark Millar – these guys were all really playing with the toys for the first time, as was I. And now there’s a sense of proprietorship. We’ve been in the trenches now, we’ve worked with these characters for a long time, we’ve grown more accustomed to them, so we’re able to do different things with the characters. At times we’re more reverent, at times we’re significantly less reverent. And also we understand the durability of the characters. Like, it’s okay to take a character and push it to the wall where it almost breaks, knowing that there’s resiliency there and that you can bring it back. So it enables you to do really wonderful things with the story to a place you’d never expect, knowing that you can bring it back. There’s a feeling that we’ve earned the right to do certain things as well. And I think the fans have earned a certain amount of trust and also learned to expect a certain amount of craziness that we do, too.
2. Do you read every book that you publish?
It’s impossible for me to read every book. At one point or another, I try to read the majority of the books before they go out. What I can’t read before it goes out I try to at least read somewhere before it goes to press. But it’s impossible to do. There are certain books you can trust a creator to deliver a great product. Usually the stuff I get to immediately is the stuff that may be problematic or the stuff we’re trying to commercially juice up a little bit. So surprisingly, the bigger titles are the ones I get to a little bit later because they’re the ones that are usually running healthy and okay.
3. In the market share you and DC are always neck and neck, but Marvel is usually ahead. What do you think you do as a company that creates that gap?
I think it’s a testimonial to the characters, the Marvel brand and the creators we have. Cross town they have some very good creators, but I think pound for pound, when you start adding up your A-list artists and writers, we just have three times as much. We do beat them most of the time in market share and in dollars and titles sold. I think the competition is also great. I’m thrilled they’re putting out some great product now. It’s just good for comics and great for the industry. I think that’s what everybody really wanted was just a really good dogfight at the end of the day. And I love the fact that fans are like, “I love Marvel! I love DC!” It’s fantastic. That’s what it’s really based on. Even at the end of the day, those that say, “I hate Marvel” – they’re probably picking up a couple of titles. And even the guys that say, “I hate DC” are picking up a couple DC titles as well. But that wonderful rivalry, it’s proven very healthy for our business and something I’ve been preaching since I began, so I’m glad to see it.
4. The industry is pretty healthy right now, especially in comparison to when the bottom dropped out in the ’90s — are you forecasting or aware of what might push the industry over that cliff again?
That’s a very slippery slope. From day one I’ve been preaching that this industry is going to start growing. And I pray that it’s slow, steady growth. We don’t want to have happen what happened in the ’90s. It was great — a lot of people got rich, and most of those people aren’t even in the industry anymore. They took their money and they ran. They literally just raped and pillaged this industry and didn’t give a damn about it when it’s all said and done. So at the end of the day, I prefer slow, steady, healthy growth. What that indicates to me is readership. If all of a sudden this month or next month we grow by 10 percent or 20 percent, my alarm bells would go off. It’s indicative of a whole different thing. That’s not what we want. I’m very, very happy with this, but looking forward, it is one of those things we look for. We keep an eye out for industry growth to see how fast is it growing and how it is growing. And ultimately, you can’t really prevent it if it happens. You just have to be smart about it.
5. What goals do you have for the company for this year?
The same goals that I have when I started. And it’s not just for the company, it’s for the industry as a whole, which is: I want mainstream respect. I want anyone who reads comics, anybody who knows what we do for a living — not just at Marvel but the industry as a whole — to understand the sophistication of the industry, what it’s capable of, the fact that it’s just as viable of an entertainment medium as movies, TV, novels, plays. And just as sophisticated as many of those. I hope for a day in my lifetime that comic artists, comic writers are as revered or respected as great novelists, great playwrights, classic painters. That’s the world I want to live in. I want to live in a world where the comic creator is as much a celebrity as Stephen King. And I don’t see why that can’t happen, except for the fact that there’s a prejudice in particular in America. They don’t have this problem in Japan or most of Europe. But because of the whole censorship over the ’50s with Wertham’s book that really got it into America’s head that not only is it a child’s medium, but it should only be a child’s medium. I think we suffered long enough with that. And I know it’s happening slowly, as I see comics incorporating everything.
6. When you first started as Editor in Chief, how many exclusive artists and writers did Marvel have?
Not many. Four or five.
How many do you have now?
I don’t have the actual number, but it’s a lot more than that. A lot more than that.
What do you think caused that spike?
I think everybody wants to lock in talent. And for talent, the benefit of getting locked in is a lot more money. In a lot of ways it’s sort of this Cold War, nuclear arms race where people are trying to lock in the best talent for their company. Like anything – I predict this now, this pendulum will swing again and what’ll happen is that it’ll become in vogue for creators to work for everybody. It’s going to happen. This is just one of those many cycles in comics. And it’s not much different than in the ’60s in a lot of ways where there wasn’t exclusivity but (Jack) Kirby was at Marvel. That was the thing. Kirby was Marvel. Curt Swan was DC. Stan Lee. There were certain guys you expected to be at Marvel all the time and certain guys you expected to be at DC all the time. Then there was that day that Kirby went to DC and holy mackerel – and the world’s axis shook. While there wasn’t exclusivity, there were certain expectations and certain people play on certain teams. But it’s the modern world we live in with contracts and lawyers and money involved and all sorts of crazy stuff. You could almost make the same correlation to professional sports. You expect a guy to be on a team but now if his contract is up, he could be gone.
7. What’s the hardest part about your job?
For me it’s how much drawing I had to give up. Only because I sometimes think back — I’ve been doing the Editor in Chief thing six years, I’ve been at Marvel nearly eight. I think back on, wow, what projects could I have drawn over those six years? What projects could I have created? Etc, etc. I don’t know. Hindsight is 20/20. But I often look back on that and really miss being able to draw. And if I’d drawn for six straight years, where would my artwork be now? What would it look like? In a lot of ways, that and the time away from my family is the big sacrifice. And when I say time away from my family it sounds dumb because this is kinda a 9-to-5 job, but if I’d decided in college that I wanted to enter the whit e collar executive world, my expectation in my head is that requires me to be a 9-to-5 guy for this many years of my life. Until I reach retirement or become my own boss. Well that’s not what I decided to do. I decided to become a freelance artist. And then being successful at that says to me that I have the ability at any given point to work from home. All daylong. So knowing that I could do that but knowing that I’m 9-to-5 gets to me sometimes. Because I know that if I drop this job tomorrow, I could go back to freelancing and being with my family and daughter all day long. But it’s those few hours – I go home and she’s getting ready for bed. Those are the great regrets.
8. And with the Marvel site recently being redesigned and you guys are doing trailers now for books, are you really trying to focus on this more multimedia angle?
I sure hope so. I’ve been preaching that for a while. I think we’re getting to that point. The world of comics as we know it — we provide great content, we provide great stories. I think we need to find additional outlets for these great stories and I think the electronic world is going to have a great future for us. It has to be.
9. With Civil War going, what’s the scariest part about doing a company-wide crossover?
The scariest part is that it’s a tremendous, tremendous amount of work. The easiest way to do a big crossover is to dictate the terms and the stories to your creators. That’s not the way we do business here anymore. We have some of the best creative minds in the world, so we try not to dictate terms and stories. Obviously the biggest fear in doing a crossover is that it drains your entire staff. It drains everyone. It’s an exhausting thing to do because there’s so much work involved. So if you’re not careful you can just burn people out. You run less of a risk of doing that if you’re not dictating everything.
10. And to close it out, what do you think is the most important thing you’ve learned since entering the comics industry?Posted by Tim Leong on June 5th, 2006 filed in Story Archive |
I’ve learned a lot of stuff. And you learn every day. I’ve learned everything from how do you handle large groups of people better, better ways of communicating with fans, better ways of communicating with the media, better ways of writing stories. One of the ways that I’ve grown in my job is as a writer. I feel like I’ve learned so much through osmosis — just working with the best guys in the business and editing some of the best guys in the business. I’ve learned so much about my own influences as a creator. It’s like going to school everyday when you get to work with the guys that we work with. Every day is a learning experience and it has to be. If I just came in here with my set ways and that’s the way it’s going to be, we would’ve been out of business a long time ago.
How Micropayments Are Changing Comics
By Patrick Rollens
Picture this: you’re surfing your favorite artist’s site, enjoying the fresh postings, when you stumble across a small Paypal button. Beneath it is a gentle reminder that the artist does this stuff for free, and if you like what you read, why not fluff up the site’s bank accounts with a few spare bucks?
It’s called micropatronage, and it’s a relatively new web development. Folks aren’t quite sure what to make of it. It’s not begging, but web readers aren’t necessarily getting a physical product, either. It’s something in-between, a puzzling resurrection of the Renaissance-era system whereby wealthy landowners financially propped up burgeoning artists, allowing them the freedom to pursue their works — but with strings attached. In those days, financiers supported artists for years and irrevocably owned the finished products. On the other hand, without the patron system, we would never have the Mona Lisa or Sistine Chapel. Now the scope has changed; a few dollars sent anonymously over Paypal buys web surfers peace of mind and a dose of self gratification. They don’t “own” the finished product, but they have bragging rights that they help fund the site.
There have been a few success stories (described below) but in general only media that can be distributed digitally can have a hope at micropatronage. Stuff like music, essays, stories, photography — and, yes, art. Comic book writers and artists — many willing to work for free just to get exposure — can take advantage of the uniqueness of micropatronage.
Micropatronage has its roots in community. “If you create relationships with your audience, allow them to feel part of your group, then the gifts start to flow,” says Ian Gilman, founder of Micropatronage.org. Gilman describes successful micropatronage as a sort of group project: a number of people bring finances, and the producers render a product for their patrons.
The most important aspect of micropatronage, says Josh Ellis, is quality of work. “Tell people what they’re paying for,” Ellis says. “Seriously.”
In April 2006 Ellis conducted his own experiment in micropatronage. He successfully funded a $600 trip to the Trinity Test Site (where the first atomic bomb exploded in 1945) using little more than a Paypal button on his web site and good publicity. The end result of the trip — a 5800-word essay and multimedia project posted for free on his web site — made nearly everyone who contributed feel like they got their money’s worth.
Contrast this with Jason Kottke, who quit his day job in early 2005 and attempted to fund a year’s worth of blogging entirely through micropatronage. The suggested donation was $30, and in addition to netting nearly $40,000 in donations, Kottke also got more than a little scorn and derision heaped on him for the marginal results that 40 grand bought.
Kottke’s experiment got him money and notoriety. Ellis’ Trinity trip, conducted at a vastly smaller scale, got him exactly what he wanted. What’s the difference between the two?
Adam Greenfield posted this on his blog soon after Ellis announced his intentions to travel and write about the Bomb:
“I think the difference lies in the disproportion between what was asked, on either hand, and what was produced in response. I’ve been thinking (and writing) about the ethics and economics of being an independent content provider for a reasonably long time, and I can see important lessons to be learned here by those who would follow.
“In the year of his micropatronage experiment, Jason Kottke offered content that appeared little different than what he had been offering for nothing, expanding on it greatly neither in subject nor depth.
“Ellis was equally explicit in telling potential supporters what they could expect in return for ponying up their aggregate total. His exertions resulted in exactly what he promised, something which by the standards of the Web is unusually concrete - a compact, discrete, all-but-graspable package of writing, imagery and reportage.”
Ellis offers some even more applicable suggestions to comic creators looking to garner a few bucks via micropatronage. “Treat your online work the same way you would an assignment from Marvel or Image or DC. Don’t half-ass it because it’s the Internet…at least not if you want people to pay for it.”
Micropatrons are notoriously fickle; it’s a positive effort on their part to contribute money, so artists need to produce at the top of their form to keep up. But many artists and writers have personal web sites they use to showcase work, so adding an unobtrusive Paypal button shouldn’t be too difficult.
Micropatronage is just one facet of a new movement to allow interested surfers to part with small amounts of their own money in return for a concrete result.
Fundable.org takes the concept one step further with a sort of “managed patronage” setup. The site allows users to set up ‘fundables’ to gather money for a specific event. The fundable’s moderator specifies both a monetary goal ($200, for example) as well as a minimum contribution (say $10). There’s a specific time frame to collect the donations. As each person signs up to participate, they agree to pay the requisite amount.
Here’s the catch: Fundable doesn’t actually collect on these commitments until the entire lump of money has been spoken for. So if your fundable falls short of its goal, the entire thing implodes and nobody’s Paypal account is charged. It just fizzles away, and you can start over again if you wish. However, if your goal is met, each person on the list is then billed for the amount. The total is then transmitted to the fundable’s moderator, who then is responsible for giving contributors their goods, services, etc.
It’s a setup that has a lot of potential for writers and artists. A quick glance at some recent fundables shows a variety of subjects: one woman’s hoping to raise money for jaw surgery, another group is raising money for AIDS orphans and a third company is making a limited print run of a new t-shirt. An artist, producing high quality prints, or a writer with short stories to publish can conceivably find a haven at Fundable.org.
Other players offer different options for diligent self-publishers BitPass bills itself as “the easiest way to buy and sell digital content.” It’s a micropayment system similar to Paypal, except BitPass specifically focuses on digital transactions: users send money and receive the product electronically. Rarely does a real-time exchange of goods take place. Interestingly, Ellis is the co-founder and creative lead at MPeria, a BitPass spin-off that specializes in independent musicians. “When I first met BitPass’s co-founder, Kurt Huang, the two big areas I saw micropayments succeeding in were music and microjournalism,” Ellis says.
It’s not too difficult to extrapolate “microjournalism” into “microcomics.” In fact, the leap has already been made. BitPass hosts a section of the site dedicated to vendors actively marketing pay-per-view online content — and it’s no surprise that “Comics” is a category, located just below “Business” and right above “Education.”
For many fans, the joy of comics lies in the tactile experience of buying, reading and re-reading an actual print magazine. Digital content offers none of this, so predictably the prices one can expect to receive are lower. Scott McCloud’s “The Right Number,” a web comic available from the BitPass “Comics” department, can be enjoyed for 25 cents. Fans can read Jim Zubkavich’s entire 176-page web graphic novel “Makeshift Miracle” for a measly 99 cents. Each of these prices also allows a limited number — sometimes 30, 60 or 90 — re-readings of the given content within a span of time (a month, for example).
BitPass transacts sums as low as one cent, and unlike Paypal, there are no large service fees. Fans can rest assured that the money they pay goes through BitPass and ends up almost entirely in the hands of the artist they’re supporting.
It’s a viable option for comic creators looking to produce content on a limited budget. But the success of micropayments depends on changing an established paradigm — not an easy thing to do, says David Hopkins, creator of Antihero Comics.
“The response is always ‘people want their stuff for free on the internet,’” says Hopkins. “How do you get beyond that? Numerous cartoonists post their work for nothing, and some other dude (equally talented) wants to charge? That’s a tough sell.”
Hopkins points to the success of Apple’s iTunes — itself an excellent example of micropayments at work — as the catalyst that might change the system.
“BitPass can do for comics what iTunes is going for music,” Hopkins says. “And it can be profitable.” But what the industry needs, he says, is a mega-networking portal that can host literally hundreds of different creators and their individual portfolios — rather than require the reader to seek out each creator individually.
Until that time, micropayments and micropatronage will be the realm of a few hardworking creators, folks who get fifty cents per read from their on-demand webcomics.
“We’re the first generation,” Hopkins explains. “Other people, communities and online technologies will build from what we’re doing and make it more accessible.”Posted by Tim Leong on June 5th, 2006 filed in Story Archive |
Minx High Jinx
By Tim Leong
Indie comic writer Andrea Grant is engaged in a legal battle with DC Comics over the word “Minx.” Grant, who is known for dressing like her character for promotion, released the mini-comic Andrea Grant’s Minx. DC claims it owns the trademark for the title “minx,” via an eight-issue series by Peter Milligan and Sean Phillips that was published in 1998. Now, Grant expands on what happened, what’s next and what it means for the rest of the indie comics community.
CF: Tell us about Minx — Where did it come from?
Andrea Grant: I started using the Minx character in 2000. And it originally ran as a very small comic strip in the back of Copious Magazine, which was an art magazine that I was producing at the time. Minx became a character that I’d use in performances and other projects. And then I had been wanting to do a full length comic book for some time, and I was moving to New York City and found the right artist and got the project going. Then we released the mini-comic at the New York Comic-Con and we’re gearing up to release issue No. 1 now.
CF: The first issue is 40 pages, self-published. When are you releasing it?
It’s supposed to be out this summer, [with a print run of] 1000 copies.
CF: You exhibit your creativity in a lot of different media — why comics?
I feel like the comic book audience would understand the multimedia aspect of my work. Certainly it’d be a good forum on top of that. I could have a book and then have an audio recording disc in the back as a bonus item, or video, even. It’s kind of a subculture audience. [Minx] can translate into the mainstream, but it’s not really that mainstream, so I hope they’d understand it a little more.
CF: You talked about this multimedia aspect — how has that aspect played into the marketing of the book?
When issue one does come out, there are going to be a lot of collages and they’re going to get a bit of the poetry and that alternative writing style. And they’re going to get some of that mixed with the comic and I hope it’ll be well received.
CF: Then what do you envision the frequency being after the first issue?
I’ve been asked to do something in an anthology for Halloween, which is great. It’ll be an eight-page story that is independent as well. Issue two…it’s probably going to take about six months before I get issue two out. So probably Fall or Winter.
CF: Now, why do you think it’s so important for the indie comic industry to exist?
I think it’s because of the love. There’s so much heart in it. People put their lifeblood into producing their independent projects. It’s really, really strong. People are pretty supportive of each other. I think that it’s not just about money. Of course everybody dreams about making a living do what they want to do, and that’s great. But, there has to be that level, I think. And it comes to someone who starts out doing comics in their basement as a teenager and saving up every bit of their allowance money to produce one issue versus who have a lot of money and maybe don’t have their hands on the pulse of the subculture….It seems like they go in a variety of directions and they’re not necessarily so predictable.
CF: Do you think that’s contrary to the mainstream or just more intensified in the indies?
I think the problem with the mainstream is that everything is so dumbed down.
CF: In what way?
Everything in the mainstream is created to be accessible to the lowest common denominator — the general public. It’s safe, it’s vanilla, it’s not risky. It’s formulaic. It’s the same in the movies. With something like Sin City, it’s a little bit more risky versus something like Spider-Man. Maybe they’re both well done but they’re definitely different. I heard a lot of reviews of Sin City with people saying they didn’t get it and were perplexed by it. I think it’s great to have that range.
CF: What’s going on with DC?
Everybody wants to know what’s up with DC. I received a very polite Cease and Desist letter a few weeks ago saying that they had trademarked the word “minx” and they’d like for me not to use it in my title. In anticipation of something like this ever happening, I called my mini comic “Andrea Grant’s Minx,” so I’m already sort of different with the title. To add to that, there’s a lot of companies using the word “minx” — there’s a modeling agency, a restaurant, a band and minx is a noun in the dictionary. It’s very difficult to monopolize a noun. I understand not wanting to have consumer confusion, but I think my project is very different. They haven’t even released anything, first of all, and they’re thinking of doing a magazine for 12-year-old girls. It’s a very different market.
Minx is not a traditional superhero comic. My goal with this project is to re-work into myths and it’s part of my intent to tell basic stories in modern consciousness, especially Native American legends. I’m part Native American and I don’t think that these stories have been told enough. They’re traditionally told orally and then lost. When I started I had a very different from a teenage magazine.
CF: How did they hear about your project?
They mentioned something about the New York Comic-Con, so I guess it caught their eye.
CF: So what’s the next step?
Well I have my lawyers dealing with it. They’re communicating with DC and sent a letter out today, so that’s nice. And I guess there’s been a little flurry in the press, just so DC knows that I’m not completely willing to cave in. This happens all the time. A lot of creators get these kinds of letters — I’m not the only one. A lot of writers and artists are very confused about the difference between copyright and trademark and the laws, of course, vary from country to country. A lot of people get these letters and get nervous and give up. I’m fortunate to have good lawyers and Minx is something I’ve been using for a very long time. You can’t trademark something and then not use it for many years. You can’t just buy out every title that you might one day want to do something with and then not do anything with it for 10 years then say, “Oh, sorry, it’s ours.”
CF: Have you read the version they’re referencing?
I know there was something called “The Minx” that was many years ago. I think it was about this girl that was taken over by this spirit and I know it was discontinued a long time ago. Then this magazine for girls, I don’t really know what it is. I haven’t seen anything on it yet.
Because you dress up in costume for the comic and for performances, Minx is almost like an auxiliary brand of yourself. How have you been able to take advantage of that so far in your work?
Initially when I started finding my creative voice, it gave me a feeling of faith, working as another character as I came to terms with putting my work out there. It’s so personal and a lot of it is very raw and very emotional. When you start creating these things it’s’ definitely something that takes a bit of time to get used to and there’s a transition period to feel comfortable with yourself as an artist. I feel like most people w hen they start out are timid about their work.
CF: Not just comics, but performance or whatever?
Yeah, exactly. I thought it’d be fun. I liked the idea that all the characters exist in real life. What I’m trying to do is almost have a film quality to it and it’s almost actors playing in the comic. Though I doubt I’m a superhero in real life. There’s no megalomania attached to it.
CF: So, what’s going to happen if you lose the case?
The lawyers are taking care of it. I can’t really say too much about the process and what’s going on. But, I think it’s important to stand up for what you believe in and I do believe there’s validity to my case and the point I’m trying to make. I don’t think it’s that serious — they’re not saying, “Change the name of the character, don’t use the character.” They’re just saying don’t use it in the title. But for me there is a brand recognition quality and they’re trying to be polite to me as well. We’ll just see what happens and hopefully we can move forward. I don’t want this to be a negative experience. I think it’s important for me to stand up because a lot of people are interested in this and a lot of people have had this happen to them. So I think it’s definitely important to take the hard line and take a strong stance because I think people need to see somebody do that. I have nothing personal against DC Comics or their large company. I’m independent and I’m trying to get this book out and it’s a lot of work and a lot of money and I want it to be well received and want to be associated with something positive.
CF: What do you think is the most important thing you’ve learned through this experience thus far?
You can’t be too paranoid. When you start a new project a lot of people are afraid to show anybody their work or send anything out. I think personalizing it as much as I did is definitely a good idea. It definitely helped me out in the end.
For more information on Andrea Grant and Minx, check out her Web site.Posted by Tim Leong on June 5th, 2006 filed in Story Archive |
Kevin Huizenga Interview
By Chris Allen
READ THIS, OR ELSE
Kevin Huizenga has been making comics for over half his life, gaining new fans and garnering near-universal praise with each new effort. Having risen to the top of the mini-comics field, while not abandoning it, Huizenga now collects past work in Drawn and Quarterly’s series OR ELSE and the upcoming collection of short stories, CURSES (due in October), as well as Fantagraphics new series, GANGES, in their Ignatz imprint. As challenging and elusive an interview as his own comics are, Comic Foundry thanks Huizenga for chatting with us.
Comic Foundry: Kevin, when did you start making comics and what led to that?
Kevin Huizenga: When I was around 13 or so, I started buying Marvel comic books from the drug store down my block (a kind of store that Walgreens has drove almost extinct). My first love was Captain America drawn by Kieron Dwyer. I immediately started drawing superheroes, like that very day. Until then, I guess I was a normal kid, except for reading a lot. This was the first time I had felt like drawing since I was a kid messing around with crayons. Haven’t really stopped since then.
What is your artistic background?
Since around the time that I discovered comic books, all I ever was interested in was drawing comics. My whole world revolved around reading and drawing comics. Sometimes I wonder what I got out of that — just power fantasies, I suppose, and a sense of fantasy, and action. Maybe there’d have been more value in becoming a poetry nerd, or jazzbo, or a folk music nerd or something. It’s not like there’s a lot of wisdom about life found in the kind of comic books I was into. But I did check out Peanuts and Lynda Barry and etc. from the library — the kind of comics that change your life and that are worth dedicating your life to, and I loved that kind of stuff, too — but sadly most of my time was spent thinking about Wolverine vs. Aliens or something like that…being a Marvel Zombie. I subscribed to Fantastic Four and Iron Man, even though both were terrible at the time. I have no idea why I thought it would be good to subscribe. I don’t know if they have this anymore, but there used to be ads in comic books for these mail order companies which would hype certain “hot” new comics, and I’d get suckered into ordering. I believed the hype and then ended up with an issue of “‘Nam” drawn by John Romita Sr. where Captain American and Ant Man fought in Vietnam.
I started drawing and making comic books with my friends in high school. Since I had never really drawn before, I had to learn by copying comics. That’s why I still really struggle with the drawing and am not very good at it. My comics friends and I xeroxed our stories, made a few anthologies. Our model was “Dark Horse Presents.” We drew mostly superhero/sci-fi stuff.
Cerebus was the comic that got me out of superheroes–it seemed so smart and mysterious to me in high school. Then, after getting into mini-comics, especially King-Cat and Optic Nerve, I began moving in that direction. My friends stopped drawing comics and I started drawing more artsy comics, auto bio, etc. around the time I went to college.
But also I could mention that my mother really inspired a love of reading in me. I really devoured books growing up — a lot of it was sci-fi junk and Stephen King and Tom Clancy, but good stuff too — and if things had gone differently — if Walgreens had put that drug store out of business a few years earlier — I’d probably have tried to become a novelist. In college I didn’t plan on studying art at all. I was planning on studying philosophy and then going to seminary. I didn’t do English Lit because after a class or two I learned that I wanted to spend as little time as possible with English Lit students. They were even worse than the philosophy students, who were pretty insufferable. The nicest and most fun students were, in my experience, the nursing majors, followed by maybe art majors and the science types. At the absolute bottom were business majors and English majors. All this time I was drawing comics during my spare time, and printing up my mini-comics at the cheap copy shop on campus.
During my second year I took an art class for non-majors, and the teacher saw my comics and made me realize that — whether I felt comfortable admitting it or not — I was an artist, and so maybe I should just be an art major. In retrospect that wasn’t really necessary, but it did give me some direction. I was half-hearted about seminary anyways. So I took art classes and made sculptures and paintings and all that, but after I graduated it was a relief to go back to just comics.
The only real “marketable” skill I picked up in college was from working part-time in a graphic design office, where I was able to pick up Photoshop and graphic design.
CF:Why the name “Supermonster” for these relatively quiet, reflective stories? Irony?
Well, originally I was drawing comics with monsters and time travelers and the like. But the name “Supermonster” came from one day when I was in high school — my dad said, “It’s such a nice day outside, why don’t you go out and enjoy it instead of always sitting down here in the basement drawing your….supermonsters or whatever.” I thought it was funny that my dad said such a weird word. I didn’t know that technically a “supermonster” is like what you call Godzilla, King Ghidrah, Gamera, etc. until later. Eventually I grew embarrassed by the name. I hated telling people that I drew a comic book named Supermonster.” They’d get the wrong idea.
Alliterative names certainly are nothing new to comics — Peter Parker, Wally West…why Glenn Ganges?
Those are the names of two towns in Michigan. There’s a photograph in Or Else #4 of the exit sign off the highway I used to drive past in-between Chicago and Grand Rapids. I went to college in Grand Rapids. At the time I was drawing the first version of “Wild Kingdom” and I needed a name for the main character.
How close has Glenn Ganges life reflected your own? Has the degree changed or fluctuated over time?
It’s fluctuated. A lot of the stories come from my own experiences, but it’s pretty heavily fictionalized. I’m not like Glenn — I tend to be more negative and spend much more time complaining and whining. I’m not interested in doing autobiography anymore because I feel like it’s weird to draw yourself and become a “character,” and all the things that go along with saying, “this really happened to me” and pretending like you’re giving people the whole story.
Let’s talk about “Green Tea,” especially since readers can at least read the first part here. The story takes some unusual turns, with Glenn studying so obsessively he experiences sleep deprivation and a disturbing hallucination, followed by a jump back in time to the writings of a similarly obsessed researcher, and then back out. What were you attempting with this story?
I was attempting to do a good scary story for my friend Dylan William’s anthology “Orchid.” The concept behind the anthology was to take a public domain Victorian ghost story and draw a comic of it. Glenn was put in the story because Victorian ghost stories often are set up with one person narrating a story that they heard from another person, and so on, with the pretense that this ghost stuff “really happened.”
In 2004, you began Or Else for Drawn & Quarterly, which has so far been a way to collect stories from your mini-comics and other anthologies in a handy place. I notice on the back of Or Else #1 a note that claims this is “KH Book #3,” following mini-comics Sermons and The Feathered Ogre, with Untitled already done and waiting to publish, apparently. Is Or Else going to collect everything you’ve done, or are you selecting the best material? Will there be new material for Or Else eventually?
I’m not going to collect everything. A fair amount of it is new. Starting with #5 it will be all new, I think.
The monologues of the various diner patrons is great — was this recorded by you from real people or made up from whole cloth?
A little of both.
Obviously, there isn’t time to delve into every story you’ve done, but “NST ‘04″ is a rich one and contains much of the defining elements of your work, such as the evocation of nature and respecting nature to the extent that you seem to let it guide, often end, your stories. This technique of using silent panels of nature to express mood shows up again in one of your most affecting stores, “Al and Gertrude.” John (King-Cat Comics) Porcellino also does this frequently. Is there a kinship there?
John P is a huge inspiration and a great guy.
The second long story in Or Else #1 is “Chan Woo Kim,” which uses text from actual adoption papers, set against peaceful mountain scenes in, perhaps, China. what were you intending with this contrast? Also, how was the shading achieved on the mountains? Was it a kind of wash?
I had become very interested in Chinese landscaping painting in college, and this was what I did with that. It’s all just ink and pencil. The adoption papers were something I came across through a friend, who had been asked to evaluate the child’s medical records.
Let’s discuss some of Or Else #3 next, as it appears to predate what was collected in Or Else #2. “March 6, 1999″ is easily one of your more emotionally freighted stories, bypassing Glenn Ganges for what appears to be your own voices narrating a day of worry over your other’s cancer. If it wasn’t in your work, I wouldn’t ask, but did she pull through it?
Yes, it went away and came back a few times, but she’s been in remission for a long time is doing well.
The storytelling is markedly different from much of your other work, veering away from the trademark humor, naturalistic dialogue and inventive page design — the most characteristic element is a very flat narration. Was this a way to work out your emotions on paper without getting maudlin? Was it a conscious concern?
I try not to be maudlin. It was just something I had written in my journal that I thought would make an interesting little story.
“I Stand Up for Zen” is another celebrated story collected here, regarding your time working for a wholesale arts and crafts distributor and having an issue with a piece of copy calling some cheap trinket “fashionably Zen.” Was this a real internal conflict you had?
I worked in the marketing department. I have wondered if I should have made this a Glenn Ganges story, since the story drifts somewhat from what really happened.
With “The Groceries” in Or Else #2, you appear to want to develop the world of Glenn and Wendy with details on Wendy’s family and showing Wendy pregnant. The story also contains one of your finest examples of Glenn’s tendency towards looking to the future with often negative results. Was there a conscious decision on your part to move Glenn and Wendy into another stage in their lives — parenthood? This kind of picks up from “The Feathered Ogre,” an adaptation of an Italian fairy tale you did in Drawn and Quarterly Showcase #1. Any reason that has never been explored since?
I don’t know. I’m just making it up as I go. In this case I sat down one Christmas to draw and I drew a man and woman emptying groceries, and the woman was pregnant. It went from there. I struggled a lot with that story, and ultimately it’s pretty ridiculous.
The next story, “The Sunset,” is one of your most experimental and hardest to pin down. Are stories like this more of an attempt to push yourself, to get out of a comfort zone? Despite its nonlinear nature, the page designs are extremely involved, so I’m guessing you did a good deal of planning on this one. It was inspired by a mini-comic by Ben Jones named “Thaz.” It’s one of the best comics I’ve ever read–probably 100 people have seen it. Also I was listening a lot to Bach’s Mass in B Minor.
“The Moon Rose” is perhaps the apotheosis of what some would call the “Huizenga as educator” stories, where whatever you happen to be into or have knowledge of, whether arcane lore such as Jeezoh or in this case, the scientific basis for a blood red moon, is worked into a story. This time, you break away from Glenn for several pages of diagrams. Is it a concern for you–the balance between making entertainment and passing along information?
After I moved to St. Louis I worked at a company named XPLANE, “the visual thinking company,” and we did “visual explanations” for different companies. Mostly what we did was try to explain dot-coms’ software to their venture capitalists and customers. Around that time I really got interested in diagrams. I think diagramming is an under-appreciated and under-practiced form of communication. There should be expert diagrammers charging big fees to clearly explain this and that.
In pieces like the back cover of Or Else #2, which diagrams basketball’s pick-and-roll, there is a sense of play, a sort of, “yes, reader, I’m really going to take this all the way,” that is another similarity I see between your work and Chris Ware’s.
It’s more like you just want to draw a diagram about something that lends itself to a diagram — I suppose the way that a writer wants to write about something.
Untitled is “KH Book 4″, after Or Else #1 (KH3) and before Or Else #2, and it, like Sermons (KH1) and The Feathered Ogre (KH2) is more a mini-comic like the Supermonsters that provided most of the Or Else material, rather than the fancier Drawn and Quarterly stuff. With the upcoming CURSES collection being KH10 and yet not new material, I guess I have to ask what your numbering system is all about?
CURSES is #10 because the majority of it hasn’t appeared in any previous of the “Kevin H books.” I wanted a way to organize all the books I do, whether published by someone else, or a self-published mini. It’s a golden rule thing — there are artists who I am a big fan of, who I wish had some system for keeping track of their work, so I wouldn’t miss any of it. I don’t know if there is anyone who would want to be a “Huizenga completist,” but if so, bless their hearts.
Also, it’s a way for me to measure how many books I’m doing. Eventually I want to get up there in the 60s, like John P.
Untitled is perhaps one of your most underrated releases, a return to mini-comics in a tiny format but providing great insight into your process if one cares to look. It’s about your struggle to come up with the title for the series that would become Or Else (as well as Ganges, another strong contender judging by the number of sample cover sketches). Among the dozens of titles you run through in several pages of lists and sketches and word association exercises, we have such also-rans as “Omega Bodega,” “Gunk of Crud,” “What’s Good and What’s Not” and “Billy Goat Plum-Stinger.” It’s simultaneously one of your loosest efforts, with very little actual cartooning to speak of, and yet one of your most intense, as you effectively, if humorously, convey the creative struggle. Explain why you chose to publish this one.
It seemed like it would make a nice book. I have a hard time coming up with titles that I like. I’d like to do more books like it — notes and sketches and fooling around.
“Jeepers Jacobs” for Kramers Ergot #5 is a signature work of yours, one of the longest Ganges stories and one which most explicitly explores your faith. Was this something you had wanted to do for a while? And what kind of balance have you made between your Christianity and the Buddhism you showed interest in in the late ’90s work?
You shouldn’t really think of it as exploring *my* faith. I have a different view of the world than Jeepers. But that’s not important to know about while reading the story. I guess in a way I was trying to come to terms with the Dutch Reformed Christianity that I knew growing up. I even went to a Dutch Reformed college — Calvin College. I was brought up to believe in hell, but it wasn’t really ever discussed. But specifically the story is about the disagreement in theology of hell between those who think the Bible teaches that nonbelievers are annihilated and those who think nonbelievers are tortured eternally. That particular issue I had never thought about or read about until I was working on the story.
With the start of the Ganges series for Fantagraphics’ Ignatz imprint, what is the plan for Or Else?
Nothing specific. More comics.
How did you come to be involved with the Ignatz line and Fantagraphics?
(European cartoonist and editor of the Ignatz books) Igort approached Sammy Harkham, and Sammy got me involved. I didn’t really want to do it, but Sammy talked me into it, and I talked him out of it. I’m glad I’m doing it, though — it’s a real honor and a challenge.
Looking at Ganges #1, it appears that with the larger page size you are taking advantage of it, with some elaborate, expansive storytelling. What are your goals for Ganges?
Nothing specific. Taking it an issue at a time.
“Time Traveling” features some involved storytelling devices to play with time (and making great use of the addition of a second color to your work), and yet, in terms of plot, it’s essentially a very small story not unlike something you would spend a page or two on before: Glenn going to the library and remarking on how often he’s made the same walk. Is there a concern in having this new series with the luxury of space you have?
I don’t think it’s a very small story — it has a diagram of every possible universe in it! That’s big. It could have even gone longer, but I only had 32 pages and I wanted to the “Bed” story and have enough room. It’s not really a luxury as much as it’s a challenge to write a 32 page comic book that’s worth $8.
How did you achieve that kind of crayon look with the blue shading in “The Litterer”?
The blue crayon look is pencil on vellum tracing paper, scanned in and made blue. I like it OK but decided not to do the whole book that way. It’s nice to switch things up sometimes.
“Glenn in Bed” is the final story in Ganges #1, and a real triumph. Since it ends the day for Glenn and Wendy, it was going to be the last story anyway, but did you know it was such a strong closer? What’s your favorite piece in the issue, or do you just look at it as a whole?
I thought up the stories backwards, which is usually how it goes. I felt like it would be an interesting story. I would try to make it affecting and beautiful and I was looking forward to drawing it. But I felt like I had to earn it, so I wanted to do some other stories first.
I think of it as a whole and as parts. But I think at this point I’ve done too many stories with Glenn speculating.
Tell us a little about the USS Catastrophe shop you run with fellow cartoonist Dan Zettwoch.
We sell other people’s self-published comics we think are worth buying. We pay the artists 60 percent of the cover and keep the rest for cocaine, etc.
You have the Curses collection coming in October, and another Ganges issue or two before that. Any other plans?
Actually it looks like GANGES #2 won’t be out until after CURSES. Right now I’m working on a booklet about the Center for Cartoon Studies. After that it’s GANGES #2 and OR ELSE #5. A collection of OR ELSE should be ready for late ‘07. And probably something for the next Kramers Ergot. And some self-published things, I hope.
Kevin Huizenga’s fine books may be found at Fantagraphics Books and Drawn & Quarterly Publications. He has also recently started his own blog, The Balloonist.Posted by Tim Leong on June 5th, 2006 filed in Story Archive |
Buy The Numbers: Crisis Aftermath: The Eternals #1
By Marc Mason
IN THE CROSSHAIRS:
THE ETERNALS #1
Coming June 21 from Marvel Comics
Hello again, all, and welcome back to BUY THE NUMB3RS. Every month, I, Marc Mason, put on the ol’ swami hat and try and determine just how many copies a comic is going to sell. Or, in some cases, not going to sell. This time around, I’m putting one of the year’s more interesting and high-profile projects into the spotlight: THE ETERNALS.
What makes this an interesting book? Two words: Neil Gaiman. After almost three years away from comics, the legendary novelist has returned to the sequential playground. Not content to sell millions of copies of his novels, write high profile screenplays, and option his stories into film, Gaiman does occasionally return to the place where his fame and talent really developed. However, his choice is an odd one: THE ETERNALS, a less-than- memorable Jack Kirby creation, isn’t quite what fans were anticipating. There were rumors he’d take on NICK FURY; barring that, perhaps THOR. Instead, he’s teaming up with another comics legend, John Romita Jr., and giving some under-developed characters a turn in the spotlight.
Now, putting Gaiman’s name on the cover means one thing: this book will sell. Boy, oh, boy will it sell. But considering the obscure characters and the proliferation of high-profile books like CIVIL WAR eating up the fan dollar, the question of how much it will sell is a tough one. Let’s look at some past numbers, captured from ICV2 involving these creators.
Sales for MARVEL 1602 #1, the last book that Gaiman wrote: 150,569. This was an alternate universe take on the Marvel characters, but it involved all the major characters. Throw in that this was Gaiman’s first comics project since SANDMAN ended, and interest was strong.
Sales for SANDMAN: ENDLESS NIGHTS (HC), Gaiman’s hardcover original graphic novel featuring his most beloved characters: 7,362. Of course, that was just in comics shops. Bookstore sales pushed that total into the reported six figures. Even for comics shops, that’s very healthy for a $24.95 hardcover of original material.
Sales for SENTRY #1, Romita’s latest miniseries work: 77,894. The series was penned by Paul Jenkins, another British writer who has moved himself to the states, just as Gaiman has. Buoyed by the character’s presence in NEW AVENGERS, this is a very healthy number.
Sales for BLACK PANTHER #1, which Romita drew for filmmaker Reggie Hudlin: 50,490. Now, this is a nice number. Very solid. But it also makes me sad. Christopher Priest’s excellent run on PANTHER never got the marketing push that Hudlin and Romita got, and their PANTHER isn’t even remotely as good a book. Ugh.
Sales for WOLVERINE #20, the first issue of a year-long storyline written by fan-favorite Scotsman Mark Millar: 116,831. Short on plot and long on action and carnage, the duo’s run on the Canadian X-Man proved to be immensely popular.
Gaiman is one of the most popular writers in the world, period. Romita Jr. is in a class by himself as far as his ability to render the street-level and the cosmic. Together, they’re going to sell a nice chunk of books. However, I don’t believe that this series will do quite as many copies as Gaiman’s last effort, 1602. Instead, I think ETERNALS will top out around 137,000. More readers are waiting for the trade paperback, and the $4.00 price tag on issue one will scare away others.
FOLLOWING UP: Column one featured my guess at AVENGERS/POWER PACK: ASSEMBLE #1. My guess for the initial orders was 10,225. Now the final numbers are in. And as it turns out, I was more than a little generous: initial orders for APPA #1 were estimated at 7859! Even though I predicted a large downturn for this series of books, I didn’t anticipate just how far the order levels would drop. So if you didn’t buy my numb3rs that month… I tip my cap to your superior intellect.Posted by Tim Leong on June 5th, 2006 filed in Story Archive |
Amusements: Jamie S. Rich
By Tim Leong
LOVE THE WAY YOU AMUSE
Jamie S. Rich has already published Cut My Hair and I Was Someone Dead through Oni Press. His next book, Love the Way You Love, features art from Marc Ellerby and hits stands this month. But before that happens, Jamie sits down with Comic Foundry to share his inspirations and amusements.
RECENT MOVIES HE’S SEEN
A lot of my watching as of late has been for reviews that I have done for both my column on the Oni Press website and DVDTalk.com. For my own personal viewing, however, I’ve been revisiting a lot of Orson Welles films. This was prompted by the release of the amazing “The Complete Mr. Arkadin” from Criterion. It has three versions of the same film, mapping the restoration journey towards trying to recreate the film Welles intended. Around it, I have watched “Citizen Kane” and “The Stranger.”
Non-Welles, it has been “Caché,” an excellent thriller directed by Michael Haneke, and the Alain Resnais films “Hiroshima Mon Amour” and “Night and Fog.”
MOVIES IN HIS QUEUE
I don’t have Netflix or anything like that, but I have an extensive personal collection. Movies I am hoping to watch next include:
“Dial M For Murder”
“House of Bamboo”
“Murder, My Sweet”
“Quai des Orfèvres”
I am focusing almost primarily on crime pictures at the moment. I am working on the script for the book that Joëlle Jones and I will do after our October graphic novel, “12 Reasons Why I Love Her,” and it’s going to be our homage to film noir and hardboiled fiction.
BOOKS HE’S READ
I’m horrible about reading. I always intend to do more reading of prose books, but I fall down on the job. Like, I started Marquez’ “Love in the Time of the Cholera” but had to abandon it because it was requiring more attention than I could give it. Right now, I am focusing on short stories, things I can digest easier, so I have “Night & Fear,” a collection of Cornell Woolrich, on my nightstand–which also fulfills the crime criteria.
The last books I finished:
“Miss Misery” by Andy Greenwald
“The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kudnera
“Bonjour Tristesse” by Francois Sagan
SONGS ON HIS PLAYLIST
“Johnny Boy Theme” - Johnny Boy
“I Wonder Why My Favorite Boy Leaves Me In the Rain” - The Marshmallow Kisses
“The Reputation of Ross Francis” - My Latest Novel
“You Are What You Love” - Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins
“You Have Killed Me” - Morrissey
For more information on Jamie, check out his Web sitePosted by Tim Leong on June 5th, 2006 filed in Story Archive |
25 Most Influential Moments in the Past 25 Years
By Brian Cronin
FOR BETTER OR WORSE
Comics are experiencing a new Golden Age, some say. Others feel things are dire. The fact remains that comics today are quite different from the ones you grew up reading. Change is inevitable, and the comics of today can’t help but reflect past developments. In that spirit, we present an unscientific list of 25 of these events and developments that have brought comics to where they are now.
25. “Batman: The Animated Series” -
The release of this cartoon series in 1992 began a miniature boom in the comic market of comic books geared toward children, which has continued to this day, with DC’s Johnny DC line of comics. In addition, the series gave the comic book world Paul Dini, Bruce Timm and Darwyn Cooke.
24. Death as marketing tool -
One could argue that major superhero deaths were occuring in the late ’70s, but it was in the ’80s that death went from being something that writers would occasionally use to shock the readers to a consistent marketing tool. The success of titles like “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” “Dark Knight Returns” and “A Death In the Family” showed that, in the comic book world, death is a real sales tool.
23. Elseworlds -
With the release of “Dark Knight Returns,” the concept of Prestige format stories set outside of continuity became an important piece of the mainstream comic market. Big name creators who would never agree to become the regular artist or writer on a monthly series would be willing to do a one-shot or limited series where they were not constrained by continuity, or even time and setting! Few writers can turn down the chance to do Batman any way they please, and artists really appreciated the format that “Dark Knight Returns” originated, which became the standard format for Elseworlds, as the nicer paper did wonders for the presentation of their artwork. Such notable stories as “New Frontier,” “Kingdom Come,” “Gotham By Gaslight,” “Batman/Captain America,” “Superman: Red Son” and many, many more would never exist if it were not for Elseworlds.
22. Treatment of Original Comic Art -
Not so long ago, all the original art left over from the production of comics was thrown in the trash. Can you imagine that today? The treatment of original art has changed dramatically in the past 25 years. There have been a number of exhibits in museums devoted to comic books and comic book art, and a popular feature of comic book conventions has become the display of original comic book art. Moreover, the sales market for original comic art market has skyrocketed in the past decade or so, and it provides a new income for artists that did not exist 25 years ago. Along the same lines, many artists maintain a tidy income solely on doing original art for fans.
21. Comics Code -
In 1989, the Comics Code Authority had a major overhaul of the rules, and this was mainly in response to the simple fact that the power of the Code had severely decreased during the 1980s. The days of living in fear of the Code were over, as more and more comics were simply being released sans Code approval. The relaxing of the Code’s standards in 1989 was a step in the right direction, although books still continued to be released without the Code, particularly those comics released in the Direct Market. Finally, in 2001, Marvel dropped the Comics Code entirely, choosing instead to adopt their own rating system (which has evolved into an absolutely indecipherable mess: A for All Ages?!). [see related story here]
20. The Mini-series -
Another “new” creation that did exist in the 1970s, it was in the 1980s that the mini-series became a staple of comic book publishing. Whether it be a quick tie-in to a big crossover or a small, personal mini-series by a company not willing to devote an ongoing series to a new talent, mini-series have become an important part of the comic book industry. Can you imagine trying to squeeze something like “Dark Knight Returns” into the regular Batman title? Or if “Watchmen” was an ongoing? The mini-series has become a great storytelling tool, and also gives publishers flexibility, not having to agree to an ongoing series. In addition, mini-series are a great way of establishing trademarks on characters. Marvel needs only to release a Captain Marvel mini-series every few years to maintain their trademark protection for “Captain Marvel.”
19. Digital Coloring -
This is an innovation where the final result has yet to be seen. With the advances made with computer coloring technology (which made its big mainstream debut at DC in the mid-’80s by, of all people, legendary Silver Age artist Murphy Anderson), more and more comics are being produced where the pencils of the artist are digitally colored, without an inker being involved. This is a major change, as a) It puts a lot of inker jobs at risk, and b) We have seen the creation of a new artistic category. Not knocking the work of Cary Nord or Luke Ross, but when one is reading “Conan” or “Jonah Hex,” it is likely the digital coloring of Dave Stewart and Jason Kieth that readers are noticing, not so much the pencils of Nord and Ross.
18. Xeric Grant -
In the early ’90s, comic creator Peter Laird created the Xeric Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides funding to charities, but more importantly, for the comic book world, provides the Xeric Grant, which provides monetary assistance to promising self-publishing comic book creators. Some of the creators who have received the Xeric Grant have gone on to become big names in the independent comic scene, like Adrian Tomine, Jason Lutes and Jessica Abel.
17. Marvel’s bankruptcy -
This could more properly be titled “Bill Jemas takes over.” Marvel going bankrupt ended up being one of the most important creative events of the past 25 years. With the company in shambles, Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada basically had free reign, resulting in a staggering number of ambitious projects. Not all of these ambitious comics were good, but enough of them were to make this era in Marvel history stand out. And once Marvel was better financially, that ended the same “try anything” atmosphere.
16. Kevin Smith -
While he may end up remembered most for taking four years to complete a six-issue mini-series, Smith did demonstrate two truths that would become important to comics of the past five years: 1. Successful writers outside of comics would be glad to write comics and 2. Comic companies would be glad to have successful writers outside of comics write for them. Without that, we wouldn’t have Joss Whedon, Greg Rucka, Brad Meltzer and, well, a whole pile of other writers, good or bad.
15. “Maus” -
Winning a “special” Pulitzer Prize for this Holocaust memoir did not lead immediately to a raft of graphic works of like quality and ambition, but it does stand as the first moment literary critics accepted a graphic novel as being on par with prose novels; ie, the recognition that “Comics is Art.”
14. Special Covers -
Back in 1991 or so, did anyone suspect that the Silver Surfer gleaming up at them in all his foil-covered glory on the cover of “Silver Surfer” #50 would usher in an embarrassing, lucrative half-decade of similar excess? Within that time, cover enhancements became such an important part of comic marketing that you could honestly tell how important your comic was by what kind of special cover your book received. Even today, variant covers have become a standard sales tactic used by Marvel to help garner extra sales, and by smaller companies, who rely upon the extra sales from variant covers to make or break the success of the comic (and with Diamond’s new minimum sales requirements for a comic to be listed in Previews, those extra few copies sold due to variant covers are extremely important).
13. Comic Book movies -
There have been a number of successful comic book movies in the past six years, with little obvious influence on the comics produced afterward. However, comic book movie success has had an impact on how companies have sprung up hoping to cash in by selling the movie rights to a comic book property. This is not only a boon to comic publishers, but it is also a way for comic book creators to make a nice income as well. Of course, there are those critics who feel that this has led towards smaller publishers only being interested in comics that they think can be made into films, including writers more concerned about writing something they could sell as a movie, rather than just writing a good comic book.
12. British Invasion -
The British comic book industry is rich in history, however, it has not always exactly been rich in terms of wealth. Therefore, for British creators, the real money in comics lies in America. In the early 1980s, America came calling for them. Editor Len Wein led the charge, mainly, with his hire of Dave Gibbons for Green Lantern. Through Gibbons, Wein came into contact with other notable creators, such as Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neill and Brian Bolland. Moore’s success, in particular, paved the way for a number of writers from the British Isles, all of whom have, in total, helped to greatly shape the comic industry of the past 20 years, as their different influences helped add new energy and ideas that helped revitalize many American comic characters. Imagine the comic book industry without Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Jamie Delano, Mark Millar, Steve Dillon, Barry Kitson, Simon Bisley, Mark Buckingham, Eddie Campbell, Glenn Fabry, Dave McKean, Bryan Hitch, Alan Davis, Steve Yeowell and Frank Quitely just to name a few!
11. Crossovers -
When Marv Wolfman began constructing his massive crossover storyline, “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” 20 years ago, part of his plans for the story involved other comics interacting with the mini-series. The concept of crossing over was not new, of course, as it had gone on as far back as the 1940s, although not usually in DC Comics. Marvel had crossovers on occasion over the years, most notably the Avengers/Defenders War. However, no crossover was ever as big as Crisis, and therefore, it should not be too surprising that most editors were hesitant to lend their book to Wolfman for the crossover. However, after early sales results came in, suddenly, Wolfman was inundated with requests to be included in the crossover. This began the 20-year trend of the major crossover. Companies have discovered that crossovers serve to (if only for a limited time) bring the lower-selling titles up closer to the level of the higher-selling titles, and the higher-selling titles generally do not lose sales, either, as a result. This has become a major sales tool, and routinely affects the way writers write books, knowing that they sometimes have to interrupt their plots to work the comic into the crossover.
10. Death of Superman -
Crossovers were one of the major sales tools of the ‘80s and ‘90s, but the “Death of Superman” was a whole other creature. Like Crisis, other books had the option to tie-in to the Death of Superman, but no other book (save “Justice League America,” which was written by Superman writer Dan Jurgens) chose to partake in the story, figuring it not to be a big deal. How wrong they were! The mainstream media attention to the “Death of Superman” shocked everyone in comics, and for the next few years, companies tended to gear their efforts as to tap into that “Wow! Look at what they’re doing NOW!” speculator’s market. This, of course, did not last long - but the effects were dramatic and systemic.
9. “Watchmen” -
More influential than even ”Dark Knight Returns” (Frank Miller was reading the limited series in production, so his own book reflects ”Watchmen’s” influence) for its darker look at superheroes, this “grim and gritty” or deconstructionist mode of superhero storytelling was so popular a model it was almost a mandate for any new book, and naturally, it became a creative dead end, for Moore and everyone else not as talented as him.
8. Image Comics -
The formation of Image was a significant step in comic book history, as a group of popular creators got together and decided to form their own comic book company. The ’80s saw the rise in importance of the writer-artist, exemplified by Frank Miller, John Byrne and a handful of others, and the Image founders–almost all of whom were known much more for their art than their writing — followed in their footsteps, showing that art alone could sell books in large numbers. Image founders like Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefeld were treated as though they were just as important as the characters they were creating, and were given freedom accordingly. It was this sales power that led to the artists feeling confident enough to form their OWN company, which exists to this day, about fifteen years later. The “cult of personality” continues today, in the form of DC selling projects based upon the name Frank Miller and the name Jim Lee, and to a lesser extent, creators like Alan Moore and Grant Morrison (whose picture accompanied the ads for his “Seven Soldiers” project).
7. Independent Comics -
Independent comic companies were around in the ’70s, like Last Gasp and Eclipse Comics, but it was during the ’80s that people first really began looking at independent comics as a viable alternative to the Big Two. Eclipse Comics was around, but in 1983, First Comics made its bow. Soon after, a major step was taken by a small parody comic with a print run of 3,000 copies. The book, of course, was “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” and the stratospheric success of the comic (due to TV and toy tie-ins) led to a tidal wave of new independent comics looking to similarly strike oil. Meanwhile, in 1986, Dark Horse made its debut, and 20 years later, is still going strong. In late 1989, Caliber Press began, the same year Jim Shooter and Bob Layton founded Valiant Comics. While a major tie-in between all these notable entries in the comic scene is that all of them, save Dark Horse (and those pesky Turtles) no longer exist, the fact remains is that the 1980s began a new era for independent comic companies, which still stands today with Dark Horse, Image, Fantagraphics, IDW and more.
6. Manga -
The success of comics in Japan after World War II has been nothing short of stunning. However, the success of Manga was fairly slow in affecting American comic books. In the 1980s, this began to change, as Marvel had great success with an adaptation of the famous Manga, Akira. Today, there are many new, English language comics produced in the format and conventions of manga, more mangaesque art appears in mainstream North American comic books, and the highest selling graphic novel of 2005 was Full Metal Alchemist Vol. 1, and the highest selling series of 2005, ”Fruits Basket,” which saw a number of its volumes reach the top of the charts during various months of 2005. [see related story here]
5. Libraries -
Twenty five years ago, you would be lucky to see a few copies of comics kept mixed in with the magazines at a library. In the past ten years or so, though, libraries became more and more cognizant of the great utility of comic books in encouraging young adults and children to read. Nowadays, there are many libraries that have large collections of graphic novels, becoming a starting point for many a new comic fan’s entry in the world of comics. It comes as no surprise that many stores have cross-promotions with libraries for Free Comic Book Day, as comic book stores and libraries are now side by side in the hunt to get kids to read comics, each for their own reasons, of course.
4. Desktop Publishing -
Publishing your own comic book used to be a monumental task that few could ever dream of achieving. Nowadays, all it takes is enough determination to weather the creation process, as the act of actually making a comic has become so much easier in the past 25 years. The advent of computer technology like Photoshop has made it possible to quite literally publish comics from your desktop. And, as with anything, whenever a development comes along that allows more voices to get their creative visions across, it is good for the industry and the art form (and, well, us the readers).
3. Bookstores -
Libraries have become important tools in getting kids to read, but if there are no comics being published, then those kids won’t have anything TO read, which is why bookstores have become increasingly important. The sales of graphic novels (Manga and American comics) has become so popular these days that you can simply track the development by looking at the shelves of your local book store. Where once, comics had perhaps A shelf, with every comic just thrown together, now comics often have their own SECTION, with Manga being sectioned off from the rest of the comics. The success of graphic novels is good for the book industry, but it is certainly good for the comic industry as well. In fact, as of this month, total graphic novel sales are JUST on the heels of overtaking total comic periodical sales in America, a sales development that would not have seemed possibly a mere seven years ago. Bookstores look more and more to be the saving grace of the comic book industry.
2. The Direct Market -
The Direct Market existed before 1981, but clearly, it was the 1980s that the Direct Market became what it is now, which is the main area where comic periodical sales are derived. What is interesting, though, is how little people seem to realize that the Direct Market has had giant effects that are not so easily seen. When the Direct Market came into effect, comic sales were at roughly 25 precent sell-through. In other words, if a comic book sold 100,000 copies, the comic company was printing 400,000, and ultimately pulping 300,000 of them. Therefore, if a comic cost 8 cents to produce, companies were spending 32 cents per each issue sold. With the direct market in place, comic companies could sell 90,000 copies, but not have to produce the 300,000 copies that were pulped (as to why they had to make 400,000 if they did not think they were going to sell that many, it was because that is how many copies the stores would order under the returnability system that periodicals work under), and therefore, would make MORE money selling LESS comics. Because of this, comic companies could afford to spend more money making the comics LOOK good. This is why the coloring process and the paper in comics are so much nicer now. The comic companies can spend twice as much money producing the comics and STILL make a better profit than they did in the old days. This is why comic companies could afford enhanced covers (they’d never be able to afford such covers under the newsstand system), this is why companies had more mini-series, and this also enabled more independent companies to open up, as they had a market they could use, efficiently. Therefore, a good deal of the comic innovations of the past 25 years owe a debt of loyalty to one innovation - the Direct Market.
1. The Internet -Posted by Tim Leong on June 5th, 2006 filed in Story Archive | 3 Comments »
Its importance is self-evident; after all, how are you reading this article? The Internet has allowed for fans to have access to so much more information about comics than they ever were in the past, and it has also served as a giant swap meet/comic club, where fans can share their opinions about comics with each other (i.e. bitch and moan). In addition, the Internet has allowed for a level of interaction between fans and creators that would unimaginable 25 years ago. In fact, this interaction is not just between fans and creators, the internet has created a new level of interaction between writers, artists and editors that has provided a brand new manner of collaborating. The Internet has perfected buyers’ ability to purchase comic books. The Internet has become a new arena for artists to deliver their comics to the masses in the form of web comics. Beyond original web comics, the internet is always introducing new arenas of delivery media, and one such new delivery method is downloading scanned comic books. Right now, it is a fairly systemic practice, although illegal. Still, the technology exists for comic companies to use to provide LEGAL downloads, as well (which Marvel has begun to do on their website). The Internet has even caused DC Comics to do away with letter columns, choosing instead to interact with its fans on the internet at DC’s official message boards. With all of these things taken into consideration, it is no wonder that the Internet is the biggest event in comics in the past 25 year.
Make the Ultimate Thing costume out of real rocks
How to make the ULTIMATE THING costume out of real rocks. This trooper made a 110-pound costume out of real rocks for Comicon.
Check out the full HOW TO here.Posted by Tim Leong on June 5th, 2006 filed in Blog | 1 Comment »
Cutting Corners with Infinite Crisis
A recent e-mail from Spencer Beck, art dealer and owner of www.theartistschioce.com:
As you may have seen, DC recently solicited a Hardcover Collection of the 7 Infinite Crisis Issues. Due to turnarounds associated with getting the individual issues out close to their original schedules, certain artistic choices were made in the interest of expediency that they are now choosing to fix as part of the Hardcover collection. Until the decisions are made as to which pages will be modified and how those modifications are to be done, DC editorial has chosen to not release the pages back from Issues 2-7 until this process is complete.
As to the other pages, I wish I had better news to tell you or be able to give you an ETA as to when DC will complete this process. Since DC does not have a schedule for the completion of this process, I don’t have one to give you.
I’m sorry for any frustration this may cause you. This is the first time this has ever happened at either DC or Marvel with a book after publication and hopefully the last.
Hmmm….certain artistic choices were made in the interest of expediency? Sure, it happens all the time, but what corners did DC cut with their biggest title of the year?Posted by Tim Leong on June 2nd, 2006 filed in Blog | 2 Comments »