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!
Hello out there!
Well SPX 2013 has come and gone. I’m very glad to have finally participated in this show, after years of hearing about it.
A commission I did for a Hellboy sketchbook (I cheated and did Amazing Screw-On Head)
Original Pancake House w/Josh Shalek (nicest guy in comics)
Everyone was extremely kind in Bathesda, MD. Thanks to everyone who came by the table to say hi and bought some comics!
So… I had the chance to do a nice interview with the folks over at IndieReader.com. We talked a bit about my process, why I make comics, stuff I’m reading, etc. Take a gander:
Thanks to Steve Urena for the fantastic interview questions!
So hey. I finally broke down and did it. I got a Twitter. And a Tumblr. If you are someone who follows those things, please follow me. Be gentle though… I’m new at this.
And some links should be showing up at the bottom of this page now… I think?
MOMENT of ZEN
Thanks ya’ll for reading!
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!
Chicago Alternative Comics Expo!
Saturday & Sunday
June 15th – 16th
11am – 6pm
Center on Halsted
3656 N Halsted
It’s here! This weekend! Seriously folks, this is going to be an incredible show. I’ll be right here:
I’ll be sharing a table with the always spectacular Beth Hetland. Keep your eyes peeled for other amazing artists exhibiting at CAKE: Kenan Rubenstein, MK Czerwiec, Ezra Clayton Daniels, Sean Dove, Emi Gennis, Lyra Hill, Marnie Galloway, and tons more!!!
If you miss this show, you’re pretty much a loser.
If you come by, mention that you follow the blog and I’ll give you some goodies.
Friday, June 14th (the night before CAKE!) is the opening for Modern Storytellers at Ugly Step Sister Gallery. I’ll be there and hope you can make it too. The show is filled with some amazing artists!
750 S. Union St.
Opening: Friday, June 14th, 6pm – 11pm
Ok friends, You’re almost out of time to reap the benefits of pre-ordering Victus #1. If I get your order before Sunday, June 16th, you can still get a free print of Celeste:
Thank you to everyone who has already pre-ordered! I’m humbled by your support. It went miles to helping me get the book finished and pay for the printing. The first round of orders have been shipping out this week, and I’m hoping most of you get them by Monday, June 17th at the latest.
If you’re a local Chicago person, or flying in for the show, CAKE will be the first chance for anyone anywhere to get their hands on the books. I’m very pleased with how they turned out and I can’t wait to share them with you!
I’ll leave you with these gems:
Jack Kirby. Showing his power in the earthly realm yet again.
Darrow and Moebius lighting it up with City on Fire.
I am completely in love with this Barry Windsor-Smith cover for X-men #186
Until next time, keep your ducks in a row. Well… geese.
Holy cow, folks! What a weekend! Stumptown Comics Fest was fantastic! Thank you to everyone who came by to show support or purchase some books from the amazing artists exhibiting. Before I launch into Stumptown details, a couple quick announcements:
I have started a (hopefully) ongoing podcast with Justin Fah of In This Issue Podcast, where we analyze older comics that we find interesting or declare “must read’s”. The first one was released this week. Check it out as we discuss Green Lantern: Willworld, drawn by one of my favorite artists, Seth Fisher. Click below or subscribe to In This Issue podcast on iTunes:
REVIEWS & SUCH
Those fine folks over at Spandexless saw fit to finish up the Gary series with another kind review:
They also took the time to explore one of my older Simon comics, “Mercy”
Now on to the wacky exploits at STUMPTOWN…
Manning the table with me was my trusty sidekick (and younger brother) Logan.
He also helped create the newest Simon comic, which we had available at the show.
I did a few throughout the weekend, including this Simon piece.
I’d like to think this is just our first collaboration.
Speaking of Brandon Graham, I geeked out at how he one-upped Simon Roy’s signature on my
Prophet TPB. Farel Dalrymple also added his own touch. Dirty fellows.
including Mr. Jack Bracken, who did this wonderfully racy poem for me.
Reid Psaltis took a time out to show me around Portland’s very own IPRC. Cool joint!
And of course, there was much food and drink to be had. From left to right/top to bottom:
Broder, Pacific Pie (x2), Little Big Burger, Biwa, Blue Star Donuts, Lardo’s, Teardrop, more Blue Star.
Not pictured: Bunk, Luc Lac, Pine State Biscuits, Wurst
I’m not great about taking pictures, so you’ll have to look through the Stumptown Tumblr to find more shots of me and other exhibitors.
In the 11th hour, I was invited to participate in the famous Art Battle at the Stumptown afterparty, hosted by Ezra Clayton Daniels! My team was doomed to lose as we were the ‘away team’ vs. the Portland home team. But we gave it our best shot, fighting through language barriers (I’ve never had to explain auto-erotic asphyxiation to a frenchman before), shake-weights, and insults. Really, I thought including Robocop in our G.I. Joe team drawing would ensure our win. But hey, it was all in good fun.
I had an awesome trip. Special shout out to The Con Crew: Josh Shalek, Neil Brideau, Reid Psaltis, Kenan Rubenstein, & Jack Bracken. Finally all of us in one place! Couldn’t ask for a better group of creators to share a convention with. Also it was great to see the incorrigible Beth Hetland, the lovely Nomi Kane, and the edgy Ezra Clayton Daniels.
I have some BIG announcements coming in my next post. So stayed tuned next week for the details!
STUMPTOWN COMICS FEST IS THIS WEEKEND! And guess who will be there? Yep… ME. And if that’s not a good enough reason to visit this amazing fest, might I present Exhibit A:
So as you can see, there is an awesome little block of tables right in the middle of the con (thanks to Neil and Kenan for the map!). I’m in the good company of Neil Brideau, Jack Bracken, Kenan Rubenstein, Reid Psaltis, our old pal Josh Shalek, and some other new friends! And as if THAT isn’t enough, I have a couple other amazing comics colleagues tabling at the show: Beth Hetland & Ezra Clayton Daniels!
Wow… this is going to be an epic weekend of indie comics! If you are anywhere NEAR Portland, you MUST come to the show! Here are some more reasons why you should attend:
I’m premiering a new Simon mini comic that I co-created with my brother.
along with a special treat for anyone who pre-orders issue 1 at the show.
Speaking of Victus:
Some images that have inspired me lately…
I saw Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color. Wow.
Hope some of you can come down to the show this weekend! Mention the blog and I’ll give you a discount on any purchase!
It’s that time when everyone is doing those ‘best of 2012’ lists. I haven’t done something of that sort for quite sometime, so I thought it might be fun. Here are some of my favorite things of 2012 in no particular order:
Left to Right/Top to Bottom: The Cage, DareDevil, Multiple Warheads, Prophet, Space-Mullet, Punisher, Last Train to Old Town, Cycles
The Cage, by Rinko Endo
Although you may not know who Rinko Endo is yet, you will soon. She has been building up a splendid collection of manga based on mental health issues and art therapy. This new personal manga is masterfully drawn and constructed. Rinko shows us a difficult struggle she went through growing up with “the chin cap”. Rinko pulls much insight and inspiration from her art therapy background, helping every reader empathize with this struggle. We all have things in our lives that hold us back, but with inspiring and insightful artworks like this we see that there is hope. Rinko’s actual drawings will blow your mind. She has an eye for detail that knows no limits. There are tons of textures and patterns which make each page pop. She also brings in the rich history of signs and signals present in japanese manga, giving way to some wonderful expression. If you can’t find this book, let me know and I’ll personally HOUND the artist until you get one. Or you can come to Quimby’s this month and beg her for your copy!
Daredevil, by Mark Waid & Paolo Rivera & others
A lot of great things have been said about this book (rightly so). Waid has dug Daredevil out of his dark hole from the early 2000’s and brought him back into a more adventurous-womanizer-swashbuckler kind of scene. There are also fun little one-shot interludes to break up those multi-issue stories. My personal favorite is when he was caught in a snow storm when taking a school bus of blind children on a field trip. Top that off with Rivera’s amazing art and you have a winner.
Multiple Warheads, by Brandon Graham
This book is nuts. Jokey, action-y, sexy, and beautifully drawn. Graham seems to constantly be pushing the ways the medium can be used in this book. His panels, word balloons, and character designs all show him assessing and pushing against the conventions of the medium.
Prophet, by Brandon Graham & Simon Roy & others
I’ve mentioned it multiple times before and pretty much everyone knows this book is amazing. It’s Conan in space. What more could a reader ask for? How about awesome short sci-fi backup stories from the best of the best indy comics artists? That’s in there too. If you don’t have this book on your shelf yet, go get it!
Space-Mullet, by Daniel Warren Johnson
I’ve mentioned Space-Mullet before. But let me be clear: Daniel Warren Johnson is an artist to watch. Jump on board now. Space-Mullet is one of those web-comics that works as individual pages released weekly, but also as an overall story. The characters are a great duo (think Calvin & Hobbs meets Jack Burton & Wang Chi) who seem to find themselves in precarious situations on a regular basis. Daniel is building a tale of intrigue, hinting at a dark past for one of our heroes. The real star here though, is Daniel’s artwork. Dynamic action featuring creative character designs wall to wall. His framing & motion are particularly strong. Tons of fun!
Punisher, by Greg Rucka & Marco Checchetto
Though I LOVE Frank Castle, I resisted this series for the first 5 or so issues. When it began, Marvel had just killed my old friend Frank in Punisher Max and I was still a tad bitter. And the Bryan Hitch covers were aweful. Though it did start slow, the series really picks up steam and builds a fresh look on ol’ Frank. Doing away with Frank’s inner monologue was a stroke of genius. Rucka also found incredible ways to ‘make Punisher work’ in the regular Marvel universe. He basically gives his ‘thesis’ statement around issues 14-15, as Frank explains to his accomplice what it really means to do what he does. It was really exciting to see another writer after Ennis ‘get’ the Punisher. Of course, this series is now canceled.
Last Train to Old Town, by Kenan Rubenstein
Kenan has been building quite a piece of work in this beautiful web-comic. On the technical side, this is the best presentation I’ve seen of a web-comic. The site gives you multiple viewing options, easy places to submit feedback, and creator insight all via a non-intrusive side bar. The comic itself blends form and content beautifully. Each character is given their own hand-written font to ever-so-slightly differentiate their speech. The backgrounds are done with minimal black, until characters directly interact with them. Conversations intersect within panels, making each interaction feel natural, bringing the reader into the characters’ world. If that’s not enough, Rubenstein’s done a print version of the first chapter of the story, which showcases his impeccable craftsmanship. It’s for sale on his website and worth 10 times what he sells it for. This is an artist hitting his stride and I can’t wait to see where the Last Train takes us in 2013.
Cycles, by Beth Hetland & Kyle O’Connell
“Hetland and O’Connell have crafted a comic as funny and thrilling as it is smart and skillful. Cycles is a deftly told tale of whimsical machinations that entertains from the first panel to the thrilling climax. Read this now!” Those were my thoughts upon first reading this book and they still stand. Hetland & O’Connell entertain you while weaving a story that gets better upon repeat readings. Hetland’s art expresses the whimsical and crafty characters that O’Connell has dreamed up. A true joy to read!
I also loved Building Stories by Chris Ware, but do any of us NOT know that he’s amazing at this point?
7 Psychopaths– A fun movie from the director of In Bruges. I generally can’t stand Colin Farrell, but he’s decent in both these films. This also features some of my favorite actors in Walken, Rockwell, and a quick appearance by Michael Stuhlbarg. A fantastic twist on the genre expectations.
The Grey– I have a serious love for Mr. Liam Neeson. From Crossing the Line, to Darkman, to Taken. He’s the man. The Grey is an intense film about group dynamics and man’s struggle with existence. And there are wolves. Really big wolves. Please don’t get upset that the wolves are not realistic. I think it’s fairly obvious they are not supposed to be.
Looper– Rian Johnson has a keen understanding of genre. This film is a prime example of what sci-fi films still have to offer. A slick blend of high concept, curveball plot points, and pitch perfect performances. Of course JGL and Willis are great, but keep your eyes out for Noah Segan & Garreth Dillahunt, who both give big (small) performances.
Dredd– Karl Urban loves comics and sci-fi. Dude didn’t take off his helmut for the whole film! Actors usually aren’t that brave (excluding John Hurt). This is a very stylized adaptation of Dredd. They made smart moves in adapting this by going for grit and keeping the humor dark. The set-up is akin to The Raid: Redemption (compliment) leaving a lot of room for wacky villians and gory action. I even enjoyed the 3-D, especially when the ‘slo-mo’ drug was in use.
The Master– I had a hate/hate relationship with P.T. Anderson until There Will Be Blood. That film blew me away (then tanked in the last 15 minutes). The Master lacks some of the highs & lows of that film, but is a phenomenal character study. Phoenix is completely transformed and steals the show from the usually scene chewing Hoffman. And this film is absolutely gorgeous.
I also enjoyed: Beauty is Embarrassing, Lockout, Cloud Atlas
clockwise: Fiona Apple, El-P, Killer Mike, Deftones
Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel
I’ve always been a casual Fiona fan. This album really cements her as a fantastic singer and song-writer for me. The album pulls from so many different influences and fuses them wonderfully. The opening and closing of the album are by far the most compelling.
El-P, Cancer 4 Cure
El-P is an un-paralleled producer. This record sounds perfect. He really turns up the sci-fi vibe on this one, bringing us into a dark future similar to what we heard on I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead. However, I think this album sounds more complete, with highs and lows and much better guest spots. The Danny Brown and Nick Diamond contributions are particularly strong. This is one of those rare albums you can listen to front to back and enjoy every track.
Killer Mike, R.A.P. Music
And El-P also contributes here with Atlanta’s Killer Mike. Mike gives us something as aggressive as it is spiritual. He pours a lot of emotion & politics into many of the songs which rally the audience. R.A.P. Music puts me in mind of N.W.A and Ice Cube, while equally conjuring Mos Def and Outkast. I hope El-P and Mike continue to collaborate going forward.
Deftones, Koi No Yokan
Not many bands you like in high school continue to produce good music as you/they get older. Deftones is (for me) the exception to that rule. Koi No Yokan is a varied, but heavy record. Less melodic than Diamond Eyes, but more rhythmically complex. Every track feels dense, while never losing the hook. Chino’s voice and cryptic lyrics are as intriguing as ever.
What did you all enjoy in 2012? Let me know!
I was blessed to have an amazing year full of travel, art, friends, and family. I hope you all had an amazing 2012 and I wish you the best in 2013!