Or more appropriately, what’s on MY bookshelf. Recently I’ve been doing some interviews with some of my favorite artist pals (like Scott Kroll, Daniel Warren Johnson, & Isabella Rotman) and it’s always fun to see what’s on people’s bookshelves. They are a little window into a person’s influences and loves. So I thought I’d post a little look at my bookshelf over the next few posts.
Lotta special books for me up there. Some Chris Ware, H.R. Giger, Paul Pope, Bernie Wrightson. A little Frank Miller, Karl Wirsum, Geof Darrow, and Vania. And of course, my top shelf HAS to include some Katsuhiro Otomo (he’ll make appearances on every shelf) and Bill Watterson. So happy to have these books!
What’s on YOUR bookshelf? I’d love to know.
BACK ISSUES PODCAST: CABLE
Justin and I recorded a new episode of Back Issues, where we discuss everyone’s favorite time-traveling, gun-toting, metal arm-having, telekenisis spittin mutant… CABLE. We took a look at 3 different era’s of Cable (Liefeld’s X-force, Soldier X, and Cable & the X-Force), to try and make sense of Justin’s favorite marvel character. We had a great discussion for your listening pleasure:
And here’s a peak behind the secret passageway into the In This Issue Podcast studios!
That’s all for now folks!
Been a while. Sorry about that, but I assure you I’ve been busy. So let’s get to it!
8 THINGS I’D LIKE TO SEE MORE OF IN COMICS
I became aware of this topic via a tweet by Brandon “I will use my comics powers for good” Graham, then followed up on a couple other bloggers thoughts on it…
And immediately I was thinking about how I always complain about comics, but rarely do I say what we really need more of to improve the medium as a whole. All of the above gents make great points, so I’ll try not to just list the exact same things as them (though some of mine are similar). In no particular order:
1. Stylistic Diversity in Artwork
I’d like to see more artists who don’t just ‘look like (name other artist)’. Mainstream comics are like that movie Wrong Turn. They have been inbreeding so long that you end up with deformed characters drawn by artists with no sense of real anatomy and proportion. It’s like an exaggeration of an exaggeration. I don’t want to see a comic and immediately think of another comic book artist. Artists should strive not only to stand out from each other, but to make each work feel unique from the previous one.
Positive Example: Katsuhiro Otomo. We all know him for Akira, but the dude’s short stories span all genre’s and styles.
2. Influences from mediums outside of comics
We need to reach outside of the medium for influence, reference, and inspiration. If you are working on a new project and the only thing you are looking at is other comics, you are failing. We have 100’s of years of art, music, and literature to look back on, so why is it that every sci-fi comic looks like Blade Runner and every Superhero comic looks like Superman? I want to see comics influenced by Davinci! By the Venus of Willendorf or the Lascaux cave paintings! By Brahm’s Requiem and Jackson Pollock!
Positive Example: Reid Psaltis takes a very direct influence like natural history illustration and runs with it!
3. Hand Lettering
The lettering of a comic is not something that should feel pre-packaged. It’s another aspect that gives a creator a chance to literally make their mark. Hand lettered speech, thoughts, and sound effects should feel unique to the story being told and unique to that specific artist. We use hand-writing to identify people in court cases, for crying out loud! What’s more YOU than your handwriting?
Positive Example: Sam Alden (see above) uses a variety of fonts, balloons and sound effects which are tailored to each story.
4. Diversity of genres
Comics should not be a section of the book store next to Romance, History, Philosophy. Romance, History, Philosophy should be sections IN THE COMIC BOOK STORE! We all want to be taken seriously, but the extremely narrow amount of genres and topics covered in mainstream (and indie) comics is absurd. When’s the last time you read a comic about philosophy? Or religion? Or Australian Aborigine tribes? Or history that didn’t involve zombies? AND WHY ARE THERE NO ROMANCE COMICS ANYMORE?
Positive Examples: Rinko Endo makes comics about mental health issues (pictured above). They are absolutely stunning.
5. Odd shaped and non-traditional comics
Comics don’t have to be ‘standard’ sized. Especially independent comics! Why are most comics the same size as the latest issue of X-men? Why are most comics rectangles and squares? Why don’t comics fold out in multiple directions? Why are they all on paper? If a standard size comic can be read on an ipad, why should I buy the physical copy? Comics should be unique objects whenever possible, to give the potential reader a reason to buy a physical object that will take up space in their home.
Positive Examples: Beth Hetland’s ‘Hay!’ comics are unique objects AND choose your own adventure comics
6. Special Features
I love to see the process behind any piece of art. It’s interesting and gives insight into the artist’s thought process. Seeing how others make or struggle to make their work inspires me to continue on in my struggle as a creator. I’m not just talking about some sketches in the back of a trade paperback (though that’s a start). I’m talking blogs that explain how my favorite book of the year was lettered. I’m talking audio commentaries for the comic that can be downloaded and listened to while you read it. I’m talking video time-lapses of the pages being created. There are some folks that do give peeks into their process, but it’s rarely project specific and isn’t usually tied to the release or post-release of the work.
Positive Example: Kenan Rubenstein has a SLICK interface for his webcomic Last Train to Old Town, which shares insight into each pages creation and allows for readers to interact.
7. Digital Comics that take advantage of being digital
Most ‘motion comics’ are absolutely terrible. Just the worst thing that could possibly be done to a comic book. I want to see artists that choose to work in the digital medium take full advantage of it. The tablet devices are full of functionality and features. I want the digital comics to show me that they can ONLY exist digitally. Colors that change in panel. Word balloons that pop in or out depending on where you tap. Sound! And I don’t mean cheesy sound effects, I mean ambience and music.
Positive Example/s: Kenan (mentioned above) and the now-extinct Double Feature from Four Star Studios are both good examples. But my favorite digital comic is hands down Ezra Clayton Daniel’s Upgrade Soul (see above). It’s a tour-de-force in digital comics!
8. Cross-promotion between creators
Comics should feel like a community. Just like anything else we buy, you’re more likely to pick something up if it’s recommended to you by someone you trust or respect. All the advertising in the world won’t help niche weirdo comics (like everything I’m asking for above) get into a reader’s hands. But if they are at a convention, speaking with a creator, and that person is aware of the rest of the community, they can point the potential reader in the right direction. People buying ANY COMICS is good for everyone MAKING comics. So what if they don’t want to buy my book about a serial killer? They might be really interested in Gina Wynbrandt’s Tiger Beat Exclusive. So SEND EM OVER TO HER! We need to promote eachother, not just ourselves.
Positive Example: Brandon Graham is constantly pimping cool creators on his blog and in backup stories in Prophet. Can you imagine if all high-profile creators were taking time to show us the new people whose work they love?
That’s my thoughts on what we need more of. What do YOU think?
NEW BACK ISSUES PODCAST
Justin and I sat down to analyze Sam Keith’s The Maxx on the latest Back Issues. This dude was on the edge at Image, with a bizarre book that took on rape, dreams, and comics industry tropes. Oh… and there was the Crappon. We loved it. Please listen:
VICTUS #2 & SIMON: PUGILIST UPDATES
Still Plugging away at Victus #2, but getting closer every day. Here are some sneak peeks:
And Simon: Pugilist has made some great headway, with my bro really stepping it up on the writing. PEEKS:
Here are some random things I looked at lately:
Got some cool comics over the last couple weeks. Have had ZERO time to actually read them. Kirby’s 2001, Reid Psaltis Panic, Pope’s Battling Boy, Brandon Graham’s Multiple Warhedz, Darrow’s Shaolin Cowboy, Sam Bosman’s Fantasy Basketball, and some Grendels I got from DWJ.
Found this acorn nut thing on one of my walks.
Had some delicious Sukiyaki from one of my all-time favorite places, Sunshine Cafe.
That’s all for now folks!
Quick post here to let everyone know I’ll be at Small Press eXpo this weekend in Bathseda, Maryland! I’m very excited, as I’ve heard great things about this show ever since I started exhibiting at cons. It also helps that it’ll be a room full of amazing artists whose work I love and respect. It’s especially good to see some of the Panel Savants there:
Along with my good pals:
Here is a map of where to find us this weekend:
Please come by and say hi! If you mention the blog, I’ll have some free swag for you!
New episode of Back Issues is up! Justin and I put a bullet in the head of Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt. Well worth a listen, as it’s the first book we didn’t gush over:
Yeah, still plugging away. Here is today’s snippet:
A new pal, Scott Kroll, posted a very cool short sci fi story. Please take a look:
I really like this:
Hope to see some of you this weekend! A full report will follow after the show!