Category Archives: News and Analysis

For the more advanced comics reader, explore the ins and outs of an industry trying to reach new audiences.

Op-Ed: Hate is not a belief

In a special op-ed, columnist Wayne Rée examines a recent controversy in comics.

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Adventures of Superman #1 (cover by Chris Samnee)

Last week, Chris Sprouse – the artist that was scheduled to work with writer Orson Scott Card on DC Comics’ new anthology series The Adventures of Superman – left the project. Sprouse’s departure, unsurprisingly, has reignited the flame of controversy that has surrounded Card and DC since the initial announcement of the Ender’s Game author’s involvement.

Some fans are calling for the publisher to remove Card, citing his anti-gay marriage stance as one of the reasons why Card should stay away from comics’ most prominent bastion of Truth and Justice. Some fans, however, think it’s unfair to blacklist a writer based on his beliefs.

And I agree with both those parties. DC Comics shouldn’t drop Card because of his beliefs.

Hear me out. I was raised Catholic, but left the faith a couple of years back. I’ve seen a lot of people pick out pretty unsavory passages from the Bible to show just how ‘vile’ and ‘despicable’ religions like Catholicism are. And, granted, these excerpts don’t exactly paint the church in a positive light.

I, however, have seen for myself that religion can be, and usually is, more than just passages from a book. Most of my friends still identify themselves as Catholic – and they’re all good people. I’m sure a lot of you could say the same thing about your religious friends too, regardless of what god or gods they worship. Because religion and hate are not synonymous concepts.

Orson Scott Card isn’t a hateful person because of his religion. Mormonism, no matter what its teachings, should never be used as a reason to can his Superman story.

But Card isn’t just a person who believes that homosexuality isn’t natural; as a board member of the National Organization for Marriage, a body dedicated to blocking the legalization of gay marriage, he’s a man who’s actively trying to stop people who’re in love from tying the knot. People whose sexual orientation does not, in any way, harm others. Simply put, he’s preaching hate.

As Michael Hartney so perfectly put it in his open letter to DC Comics, “There’s a difference between having conservative political beliefs and being an active force of bigotry and hatred.”

So, like I said before, no, I don’t think DC Comics should drop Orson Scott Card for what he believes in.

But hate is not a belief.

Wayne Rée’s been writing professionally for about ten years. He’s worked in everything from advertising to publishing, and was even part of the team that created Singapore’s very first tattoo magazine. He’s currently putting together his very first short story collection. He blogs about his upcoming book, storytelling and other things at http://waynereewrites.tumblr.com. And contrary to what you might think, he really likes Ender’s Game and the Bean series.

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Pixel Pages: Digital comics making money, more webcomics on small screen

Here’s your latest webcomics and digital comics news. I was hoping to get this out last week but things got away from me. There were also a lot of big stories I felt deserved coverage but unfortunately that meant I had less time to dig up stories on less high profile comics. Remember, if you’re a creator of such comics, send me your news, press releases, announcements, etc. The internet is a big place so I can’t see everything. I’d be happy to cover your comic.

Top stories

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# Digital comics publisher MonkeyBrain Comics announces their Summer of Print, where they will release print versions of their digital-first comics for the first time. MonkeyBrain and their creators will team up with traditional print publishers Image Comics and IDW Publishing. The super-villain series Edison Rex by Chris Roberson and Dennis Culver will be released by IDW in June. The Depression-era superhero anthology Masks & Mobsters by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson will be released by the Shadowline imprint of Image in July. And then fantasy series Amelia Cole and the Unknown World by Adam P. Knave, D.J. Kirkbride and Nick Brokenshire will come out in August from IDW. “Print collections have been a main goal from the beginning and it’s really exciting to see such a major piece of the plan fall into place,” Allison Baker says, “especially since it means even more people get to discover the amazing work of our creators!” More collections will be announced in the near future. Wired has a story covering the news and more about MonkeyBrain’s business model and goals.

# Mark Waid spoke at the Tools of Change for Publishing conference recently. His presentation “Reinventing Comics and Graphic Novels for Digital” walked people through the challenges of bringing comics to the digital space, and how his digital-first model on Thrillbent is succeeding. One thing I found interesting is that the sales from collections of 4 weeks of content through ComiXology recoups their production costs. And that’s just one revenue stream they only recently started.

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# ComiXology released the first ever digital convention exclusive at the just-concluded Emerald City Comicon this past weekend. According to the press release, con goers were given a special code for a free download of the all-new short story Atomic Robo: Along Came a Tyrantula by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener which will be released this Wednesday. The fancy gif above reveals that the story was made exclusively as a digital experience, using similar techniques used by Thrillbent and Marvel’s Infinite Comics.

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Spotlight on… Look Straight Ahead by Elaine M. Will. One of the final recipients of the Xeric Award grant, Will has been serializing her beautiful graphic novel online since last summer before the eventual print release. Look Straight Ahead, which was nominated for a 2011 Joe Shuster Award in it’s original form as a self-published comic book, is a story about a teen boy’s struggle with depression and mental illness. Will herself had suffered from a mental breakdown in 2002. This led her to research mental illness and when she found a lack of coverage in comics, she decided to change that. In addition to the rock solid line work and layout skills, there’s some fantastic imagery that wonderfully visualizes some of the abstract and intangible sensations of mental illness. Check out page 4 from Chapter 1:

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Page 4 of Look Straight Ahead by Elaine M. Will (click for full effect)

In other news

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MonstHer by Kelly Yates

# Kelly Yates launched last week MonstHer, a new all-ages adventure series released as a digital comic at Artist Alley Comics. A 0 issue is free (and is an adorable and awesome tribute to the classic children’s book The Monster at the End of This Book: Starring Lovable, Furry Old Grover by Jon Stone and Mike Smollin), and issue #1 is only $0.99. The series is about Eva Monst who helps her father run a halfway house for monsters who were once humans. Yates is probably best known for his other creator-owned sci-fi adventure series, Amber Atoms, which started life in print at Image Comics and now also lives at Artist Alley Comics.

Artist Alley Comics is unique from other digital comics distributors in that they let you download a PDF file that you can keep, instead of leasing you a digital file stored by them. They’re still formatted like print comics, so they read best on tablets like iPads, even though they don’t have an app yet (and their website’s navigation isn’t the best despite a nice and clean look). But the low price ($0.99 instead of $2.99-$3.99) and a true purchase are where digital comics should be. They also put the focus on the creators, which always wins points with us (one of their taglines is “creator-driven digital comics”). They have digital comics by Craig Rousseau, Todd Dezago, Jason Copland, and other quality creators.

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# Warren Ellis and Jason Howard launched a unique web-comic last week. Borrowing from daily newspaper comic strips, Scatterlands is being released Mondays through Fridays but only one panel at a time. The comic is fully improvised, so while it sounds like some rough mapping out might’ve been done (it’s probably going to be a sci-fi tale), there’s no telling where it will go. Every four or five weeks, they’ll take a brief break and release a digest collection but haven’t quite worked out the details on that yet. Watch WarrenEllis.com for future installments.

# Friday saw the release of the first episode of Strip Search, the reality game show by the Penny Arcade gang looking for America’s next top webcomic maker. The full episode is above. We meet the contestants as they arrive at the house where they’ll be competing against each other. I’m still kind of torn about this whole thing. I’m not a fan of reality shows like this and was hoping for a bit more Penny Arcade-style humor. They also apparently had some technical problems. Their host’s mic must’ve died because his audio was clearly re-recorded at a later date and awkwardly dubbed in. But it’s cool to see comics get this kind of mass appeal attention. I know that Hollywood has been trying to get a show like this made for years and I’m glad it came from comics people. I’m also already rooting for a few contestants, so they must be doing something right. Future episodes will go up every Tuesday and Friday.

# Chris Onstad wants to bring his award-winning webcomic Achewood to animation. A teaser trailer is above and once again Wired covers the story. Unlike the Cyanide & Happiness crew, Onstad is not yet burnt out from trying to deal with Hollywood and keep his creative freedom. In fact, according to this blog post, he’s just started trying to work out a deal with a studio or network, although he has a promising partner in producer Josh Lieb, formerly of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Simpsons. While it’s a shame he seems to be done making comics, best of luck to him.

# iVerse Media, which runs the Comics+ app and web store for digital comics, last Wednesday announced a partnership with Archaia Entertaiment, publishers of comics and graphic novels such as Mouse Guard, Return of the Dapper Men and Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand. Archaia has been releasing a number of their comics digitally first in their partnership with ComiXology and I would imagine (and hope) they’ll do the same through Comics+. Perhaps most notable is that the partnership will benefit iVerse’s ComicsPlus: Library Edition, which provides digital comics to libraries.

Resources

# Readers: discover webcomics at Comic Rocket and inkOUTBREAK.

# Webcomic Creators Google+ community is a great way for creators to talk shop with others.

Pixel Pages: Michael Poe needs help, webcomics heading to TV

Pixel Pages covers webcomics news. The Monday holiday helped me catch up. Still not exactly sure on what kind of frequency I’ll be able to manage, ideally weekly or more, maybe bi-weekly, but we’ll keep this thing going as often as possible, and running out-of-cycle if a particularly big story calls for it. As ever, feedback is welcome (email, Facebook, Twitter).

Top Stories

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An excerpt from Errant Story by Michael Poe

# Michael Poe of Errant Story and Does Not Play Well with Others was admitted to the hospital for acute renal failure earlier this month. He’s home now, but the medical costs will surely continue. If you’d like to help them out, donations could actually do more harm then good due to financial assistance terms, so instead please consider buying original art pages from his Etsy store and/or online store. Errant Story concluded on March 19, 2012, but the entire story has been re-running on the site with new author commentary from Poe. A sequel series of short stories called Errant Tales will follow. Poe was one of the early innovators of webcomics, his cult hit Exploitation Now was one of the first to have a print release.

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Strip Search

# Penny Arcade’s Strip Search, an American Idol-style reality show but with webcomic creators, announced their contestants, selected from over 1,000 applicants:

Each artist has a short video of them introducing themselves, apparently recorded soon after they arrived for the show’s recording. I’m wondering how accurate of a snapshot this group is of the webcomics artists demographics. Portland’s cartooning vitality is certainly represented by being the only city with two contestants. With no one over 31 years old, is webcomics really a twenty-something field? A 50/50 gender split is pretty common for these types of shows, which could also explain the age thing as well (although they claim in this interview with Michael Cavna that they weren’t looking at that kind of stuff and were surprised when they ended up with six males and six females). Either way, should be interesting, and hopefully not too reality TV-ish. The winner will get $15,000 and a year of job security being “integrated into the Penny Arcade machine”. Winners will not be voted on by viewers, but instead by the judges and Penny Arcade’s Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins. Episodes will air online Tuesdays and Fridays starting later this month.

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# The creators of Cyanide & Happiness launched a Kickstarter campaign on Thursday, February 14th, to finance an animated series of the webcomic. Kris Wilson, Rob DenBleyker, Matt Melvin and Dave McElfatrick set an ambitious goal of $250,000 for The Cyanide & Happiness Show but it doesn’t look like they need to worry because within 24 hours they received over 3,000 pledges. As of this writing, they’re well over halfway to their goal. The creators had several opportunities to sign with Hollywood networks, but each deal required they release control and ownership over the finished product. They announced last month that they would instead go it alone using Kickstarter so they could provide an online show that could reach a global audience.

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# Spotlight on… Our Adventure Continues by Steevan Orr and Harold C. Jennett III can be about anything. Whether it’s a superhero story, a western adventure, or a farcical strip about making comics, Our Adventure Continues is about whatever the creators feel like creating. First up is an 8-page story called “Priorities” starring Captain Might. It’s the tale of a super hero just trying to make everything in his life work and just what is really important. Following that is “Variety Smack,” a strip about a couple of fellas going through the trials and tribulations of making a webcomic. The two struggle to create something new and fresh but usually wind up just getting in each other’s way. Our Adventure Continues is also running a contest to appear in a strip this July, so check it out and see if you can win!

In Other News

# Nokia has been using webcomics to promote their phones. The anonymously-created #Switch Comics (they were made by people at the marketing firm Wunderman and an unnamed illustrator at the graphic design agency Jelly London) recently finished a weekly run on Nokia UK’s social media sites. Nokia UK’s Digital Marketing Manager Selena Harrington spoke with the blog NokNok about how successful they were for the company.

# Digital comics and webcomics are on the rise in India based on a look at their presence at Comic-Con India, according to this overview from Times of India. The Beast Legion by Jazyl Homavazir and Sufi Comics are featured.

# The Night Belongs to Us by L.R. Hale has launched Chapter II with a new schedule of every Mondays and Fridays. It used to be Wednesdays, so now we get twice a week of this great looking comic.

# Solstoria by Angelica Maria also has a new schedule, now updating Mondays and Wednesdays. Great coloring on this fantasy series.

# Michael David Johnson has released Negative Space: Year Two, which puts into print all 365 comics from his daily autobio comic Negative Space in one hardcover book.

# Zoe Coughlin (The Last Cowboy) contributed the short story “Ghosts on the Water” in the print anthology Seqapunch Quarterly. Here’s a preview, which looks as beautiful as The Last Cowboy.

# Missed it: HillSide Campus by Vince Matinde and Movin Were is considered Kenya’s first digital comic. It launched last month on Capital Campus, a Kenyan site about college life. (via Robot 6)

Events

# Little Fish Comic Book Studio presents How’d You Do That?: A Step by Step Demonstration of Different Digital Comic Creation Processes on Monday, March 18 at 6:00 PM PST. As part of their monthly Google+ Hangout, this live video conference hosted by Patrick Yurick (American BOOOM!) will present five different digital comic creators walking through their comic creating process. Announced guest panelists include the following experienced artists:

Resources

# Readers: discover webcomics at Comic Rocket and inkOUTBREAK.

# Webcomic Creators Google+ community is a great way for creators to talk shop with others.

Send your press releases, announcements, news tips, comments, etc.

Pixel Pages: Doonesbury swipes at digital, hackers attack Blind Ferret

Welcome to our first installment of Pixel Pages covering webcomics news. We’ll be learning as we go (read more here) so feedback is welcome (email, Facebook, Twitter). No doubt this will be an evolving beast. First, playing some catch-up from earlier in the month of February:

Top Stories

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Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau (Saturday, February 2, 2013)

# “Stick with print, folks” says the fictional Zonker in a February 2nd installment of Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau, in a quick break from the then current storyline. Naturally, it quickly prompting irreverent Photoshopped responses from webcomics creators and fans, some collected here by Adam Manley. An editor’s note was added to Doonesbury’s Blowback site at Slate to address some of the blow back:

Editor’s Note: Sometimes things really are what they seem. I checked with the home office, and the strip is nothing more than a simple gag about the state of newspapers. It was intended for the readers of the 1,100 daily and Sunday print editions that publish the strip. While understandably sentimental about his roots in print media, GBT was an enthusiastic, early adapter to digital platforms, creating three different CD-ROMS (1995), a web-based motion-capture video project (Duke2000), a milblog (2006), e-book editions of his anthologies, and of course, this website, launched in 1995, long before most webcomics were created. He first wrote about the social impact of computers, a favorite topic, in 1972.
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Blind Ferret Entertainment

# Hackers took down the main servers of Blind Ferret Entertainment, which provides hosting for a number of popular webcomics, reports Fleen. Local archives were also lost which meant that years upon years of work were potentially gone unless the strips had their own backups. Some webcomics were down for a week. Blind Ferret worked hard to restore most files but each strip seemed to have certain holes to fill in. It looks like most have been able to recover almost everything. R.K. Milholland was going page-by-page to restore broken links and other oddities on Something Positive. Danielle Corsetto of Girls with Slingshots received some help in recovering her hover text thanks to Bernie Hou of Comic Chameleon, which will be carrying her strip when the app launches. Ryan Sohmer and Lar deSouza’s Least I Could Do, which is celebrating its 10th year anniversary this month, lost their forum and had to postpone the annual Valentine’s Day contest but otherwise seems to have made out OK. Goblins by Tarol Hunt and Danielle Stephens also lost their forum, although their fans created a temporary substitute.

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The Cartoonist Studio Prize

# The Slate Book Review and the Center for Cartoon Studies announced the nominees for the first Cartoonist Studio Prize. Winners will be announced on March 1st, with the winner in each category, one for webcomics and one for graphic novels, getting $1,000. Nominees were chosen by guest judge Françoise Mouly (art editor of The New Yorker and publisher/editorial director of TOON Books), Slate Book Review editor Dan Kois, and the faculty and students of the Center for Cartoon Studies. The nominees in the webcomics category:

  1. Ryan Andrews, Sarah and the Seed
  2. Gabrielle Bell, Lucky
  3. Boulet, Bouletcorp
  4. Vince Dorse, Untold Tales of Bigfoot
  5. Patrick Farley, The First Word
  6. Dakota McFadzean, The Dailies
  7. Randall Munroe, xkcd
  8. Winston Rowntree, Subnormality
  9. Noelle Stevenson, Nimona
  10. Jillian Tamaki, SuperMutant Magic Academy
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Chromatic Press

# Chromatic Press is launching this summer with Sparkler Monthly, an online multimedia magazine that will include serialized comics, prose and audio dramas targeted for girls and women aged 15-30. The format is based on digital manga magazines in Japan. MTV Geek has an interview with editors Lianne Sentar, Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, Rebecca Scoble, and Jill Astley, all of whom have impressive experience with manga. One of the launch titles is Jen Lee Quick’s Off*Beat, which was originally published by the pre-bankrupt TOKYOPOP.

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Little Guardians by Ed Cho and Lee Cherolis

Spotlight on… Little Guardians by Ed Cho and Lee Cherolis is an all ages-friendly fantasy adventure epic about two kids trying to follow in their families’ footsteps. One family has been protecting the village from demons and spirits for generations and the other runs the local item shop. It’s about family, obligation, and kicking demons where it hurts. Mix in switched at birth, demonic cults, and battle-Ukulele. There are currently three chapters complete and the fourth one is being released now. Check it out!

In Other News

# Are webcomic artists subway musicians? Steve Ogden and Tom Dell’Aringa at Webcomic Alliance make the argument.

# Gwen Singley reveals the history, development, and design sketches of Saralactra, a significant character (and possibly villain) in the next 100 pages of The Wayward Queen.

# Les McClaine previews 32 Exposures with some lovely and effective animation (without devolving into a motion comic).

# Ashley Davis just finished Chapter 3 of Jailbird, which will go on hiatus for a month; good opportunity to dig into the archives if you haven’t read it.

# Guest comic submissions are now being accepted for Guardian Ghost, which is nearing the end of its first act.

# The recently-launched Alpacalypse Comics has adjusted its schedule to new comics every Wednesday at 10 p.m. GMT -3 (aka Argentina Time).

# Lukas Sapach has relaunched Joules on Tumblr: “An incredibly important story told by an incredibly quirky man, starring himself and his two incredibly odd friends during two incredibly horrid wars.”

Events

# Comic Rocket February Meet-Up will be this Thursday, February 21, 6-9 PM, at McMenamins on Broadway in Portland, Oregon. Step away from the drafting table/monitor and join fellow creators for a few hours of conversation. Bring business cards, sketchbooks, whatever and chat with other local webcomickers and Comic Rocket’s creators.

Resources

# Readers: discover webcomics at Comic Rocket and inkOUTBREAK.

# Webcomic Creators Google+ community is a great way for creators to talk shop with others.

Send your press releases, announcements, news tips, comments, etc.

Two classic comic strips, one classic gag

Compare and Contrast exercise:

Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz (first published December 18, 1950):

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Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson (first published December 28, 2007):

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GoComics has been re-running Richard Thompson’s excellent comic strip Cul de Sac since his recent retirement due to Parkinson’s disease. I’ve been reading the reruns, and I also happen to be reading Fantagraphics’ The Complete Peanuts: 1950-1952. Both of the above installments occur early in the respective strips’ syndicated runs, about 2-3 months after their debuts.

Thompson is a beloved, award-winning cartoonist, and for good reason. You could fairly easily draw a straight line from the legendary Peanuts to Calvin & Hobbes to Cul de Sac in regard to popularity, skill and influence. The benefit book Team Cul de Sac is chock full of artists paying tribute to Thompson and his comic strip. It was released last year to help raise funds to battle Parkinson’s.

Is an accusation of plagiarism, committed sub-consciously or not, appropriate? I think we can reasonably dismiss that while at the same time taking a closer look at both strips. Acknowledgments to the Peanuts comic appear to be too overt to be a sub-conscious swipe. Charlie Brown and Nara in the last panels have similar expressions, opened-mouth and stunned, even looking down at similar angles. The zig-zag on Alice’s hat seems to be a clear reference to Charlie Brown’s iconic yellow shirt (not yet created in the 1950 strip above). Thompson would also be foolish to consciously try to rip off Peanuts, which has a world-wide fan-base that would surely catch the offense. Indeed a commenter at GoComics at the 2007 link above pretty quickly makes the connection. The opening line about a “new model” is also a likely reference to a Peanuts strip first published a little over a month later from the original adult conversation comic, on January 29, 1951:

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Thompson concluded his strip by taking the adult conversation joke one step further. Alice’s rhetorical question is probably implied in Schulz’s strip, but it could be Thompson acknowledging the past and picking up the baton. Charlie Brown walks off alone to contemplate his future as a mundane adult. Alice arrives alone but leaves with a friend, perhaps in the next moment promising each other they’ll be different when they grow up.

These are some of the thoughts I had when looking at these two comics. What about you? Whatever the real reasons and intentions behind both comics, they offer a great opportunity to take a closer look at two masters.

Dig Comics: Comic-Con Evolution

Guest columnist Miguel Cima, director/host of the award-winning documentary Dig Comics, looks at what makes comics so great, and what’s holding them back.

It’s hideously cliché to rag on the Comic-Con International: San Diego these days. We all know the complaints. It’s grown too big, has become overcrowded. Tickets are hard to get, accommodations can be next to impossible. Studios, games and toys have taken over most of the floor space. Indy professionals can’t afford the ballooning booth & table fees (if you can even get a table other than by signing onto a 3-year wait list). Even seasoned pros struggle for badges & beds (a top Vertigo writer, in fact, made his feelings know on Facebook; Comic-Con International required him to show a copy of his pay stub to verify his credentials as so to be approved for complimentary Pro Badges – he decided to stay home). Fewer opportunities to really spend quality time with fan favorites.  Getting into decent panels is a game of long lines and serious time investment. And forget Hall H. I never go anywhere near Hall H.

But we love it. And we need to find a way to fix it. Each year, you can see the problems growing. The tension in the halls is palpable. People are more rude, even aggressive, crammed in and frustrated as they are. The good deal has become elusive. So merely plugging leaks isn’t going to cut it anymore – we have to think to the next level. The common conversations and planning currently surrounding this topic are cosmetic and sorely lacking in ambition. You’ve heard them: move the Con to Anaheim. Or Los Angeles, even Las Vegas – which to my mind makes the most sense, even though it’s not my kind of town really. Scuttlebutt has it that the Convention Center will be expanded straight to the water, getting rid of the park and marina, leaving room even for additional lodging to be constructed. I took a long hard look at the proposed area makeover, from above and the ground, just didn’t look convincing to me: amounts to nothing more than a much bigger band-aid than usual. Conventional wisdom has become useless. There has to be a bold leap, a real mutation (if you will) from a difficult-to-manage jumble that leaves many wanting to a whole new way of life for the Con.

And I’ve got an idea or two on that.

  1. Say Goodbye To The Annual Event: Welcome The 365 Attraction

    I’m not kidding about this. What’s San Diego all about tourist-wise? Attractions. And why not? The weather is awesome, the gorgeous beaches alone are half the lure. But what else do you do in San Diego? There’s the Zoo – pretty damned famous. And Sea World. Visit some Missions, cross the border. Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland are doable by car. Great fun for the kids. So…how about San Diego’s newest attraction, The Great San Diego Comic Con? Sure, it may sound crazy. Basically, the Con would have to permanently occupy the San Diego Convention Center (or whatever space they end up using) and it would be open, like a park, all year long. You could break things up by section, sort of like they already are, just think like a theme park: Toy Land, Video Game World, TV Place, Movie Scene, Chotchke Heaven – and of course, Comics Corner. But rather than make all booths permanent, part of the beauty will be that the floor will always be dynamic. The summer can see robust film studio presence. The fall can be more of a TV vibe. Of course, Halloween will bring horror. Christmas will focus on toys, etc. And always – comics. And mix up the booths with some more traditional attractions. Comic-themed rides? Again you can follow Disney. Just ape the groove of It’s A Small World, taking a graphic trip through the comics of international artists. Drawing classes for kids? Automatronic Kirby creations? You can even have comic-themed games of chance. The scale could be as small as a carnival or as huge as Six Flags, either way, it’ll help keep visitors coming. And everybody would have a chance to go. Fans will have a plethora of calendar dates and preferred events to choose from. Retailers can come and go, as can publishers, artist booths and so on. The volume of an endless con will make it possible to charge attendees and exhibitors more affordable rates. The halls need not be as crowded. The current hotel stock could better handle demand. The little guys can get more space. The big guns can take over seasonally. You could go to Con five times a year and see five totally different shows. Regular people will want to go there. They will see comics. Their kids will bug them to buy comics. More people will read comics – hell, a retailer from their home town they never knew could be on the floor. I myself would go often.

  2. Move The Con To Disneyland

    No, I am not kidding about this either. Why not? For the love of Mickey, Disney owns Marvel. We’re already halfway there. But a park’s not a convention center, right? Doesn’t have to be – if you’re willing to shake up the paradigm. Think of book fairs. All the booths are outside, people walking around in fresh air, pleasant atmosphere and those visitor thoroughfares have lots of space to set booths up on. Plus you gotta admit it – setting it all up in Disneyland would be awesome. Stroll through Main Street USA on a bright day, browsing back issues and new works. Move on to drunk late night studio parties on Space Mountain. And they have the hotel bandwidth in Anaheim for sure. I’d move it to a colder month – say October – which is Disney’s down season anyway, so it might even make more sense. No need to consider facilities – obviously Disneyland has that covered. And we could get existing rides done up in comics designs – anyone up for an EC Comics-style makeover of Pirates of the Caribbean? Nerds would own the park for a week – or maybe a little longer. A longer duration would allow events and panels to be repeated, perhaps relieving the waits and affording more access to more eager fans. And if there are lines – look, it’s Disneyland. That’s where lines were born. Besides, they could make good use of the neighboring, less popular Disney California Adventure to alleviate the crowds (you can drink there, but not in Disneyland, so maybe THAT’S where the studio parties happen). I like this as a second option.

  3. Jekyll And Hyde: Split The Baby In Two

    I’m not as sure about this one, but it’s worthy of some chatter. How about one Con for fans, and another one for Pros only? One Con can be all about the geeks coming to buy and check out cool stuff. Another can be about people buying and selling their work, networking, pitching, etc. The pro one can be like MIPCOM or the American Film Market, the other one can be more like a really cool film festival. I’m not sure as to how the dynamics would shake out, but I’ll leave it for others to decide.

  4. Double Trouble: Just Do It Twice

    Yes, this idea is just a new twist on the above idea. In Japan, they have their largest Con twice a year. Comiket is the single largest comics draw on the planet, boasting 500,000 visitors every time – or a million attendees a year. That’s like nine times as much as San Diego Comic-Con. It’s a weird Con as it focuses on self-published comics exclusively. Technically, it’s not a Con, but a Fair. Such quibbling aside, the point is that maybe having two Comic-Cons a year, keeping the current set-up, could allow the opportunity for access to allow more of the folks being squeezed out an opportunity to get their time in.

  5. Act Like A Normal Convention: Go Mobile

    My dad’s a doctor and he belongs to a bunch of medical associations. Every year they have their meetings in different cities. And it works. All of the Normals do things this way. We can be like the Normals. Don’t be afraid. Now, I don’t want to rattle off all of the variables this would introduce to the Con, but I doubt most folks would be comfortable with the idea of having to deal with a whole new town every time. Still, you could add a local flavor each time, giving professionals from the region some deference, give them their chance to shine more brightly. A Seattle Con can be most distinctive from a New Orleans venue or Boston, etc. In this scenario, rather than be held hostage by the whims of the San Diego City Council, cities will bend over backwards for the chance to host. It’ll be like the Olympics. Comic Con will leave ruinous municipal debts in its wake, while raking in the dough…

If you think these are harebrained schemes – take a closer look at what Comic-Con is really considering. My ideas can’t be any dumber – and surely there are those who may have more radical solutions, equally warranting serious consideration. Who knows? One of these might just hit the nail on the head. There’s only one thing we can all agree upon with certainty: the current model is just not sustainable. Too many people want to go. There’s not enough space. Too many folks are excluded. There’s nowhere to stay and you gotta be ruthless & obsessed or connected to get in. The top dogs are eating up the floor more and more every year. At some point, all these stresses are going to make the thing buckle. The current structure just can’t hold her. I’d rather try something nutty than to await the inevitable implosion and decline – which by the way, would solve all the Con’s problems, as it would shrink and turn back into the thing comics fans really want to see anyway.

Argentinean-born New Yorker and NYU film school graduate Miguel Cima is a veteran of film, television and music. He has worked for such companies as Warner Bros., Dreamworks and MTV. An avid comic book collector since he could read, Miguel began writing stories in 4th grade and has not slowed down since. He is a world traveler, accomplished writer, filmmaker, and comics creator. He is the writer, director and host of the award-winning documentary Dig Comics. Follow Dig Comics on Facebook. Read Miguel’s comic book recommendations.

Comic-Con Guide for Beginners (and How Comic-Con Can Improve)

As mentioned on Monday, The Comics Observer‘s Corey Blake has been commenting on Comic-Con International: San Diego this week.

At Comic Book Resources’ Robot 6, where he’ll now be blogging weekly, he challenged the notion of who should be going to Comic-Con and why they can’t, and offers some solutions and alternatives.

He also gave Four Tips for Beginners in the following Navigate the Arts interview, which you can watch right here:

More interview segments were recorded, so keep checking back for more installments.

Let us know your thoughts and questions about Comic-Con in the comments below. Did you go this year?

Penn State Press Launches Line of Medical Graphic Novels

Graphic Medicine book series announced

Partnering with the excellent GraphicMedicine.org, an online study of graphic novels and comic books that address health issues, Penn State Press is launching a new series of graphic novels targeted to medical practitioners, patients, caregivers and their families.

As mentioned last week, higher education is embracing the language of sequential arts more and more, and this is just one more example of scholars appreciating that there is a unique way in which comics engage their readers and relay information both factual and emotional.

The editors of this new line of books are currently accepting submissions, and Graphic Medicine posted the below image to their Facebook and Twitter pages to get the word out about their new Graphic Medicine line.

From the announcement:

Graphic Medicine – a new book series from the Pennsylvania State University Press

Graphic Medicine is an exciting new book series from Penn State Press. Curated by an editorial collective with scholarly, creative, and clinical expertise, the series is inspired by a growing awareness of the value of comics as an important resource for communicating about a range of issues broadly termed “medical.” For medical practitioners, patients, and families and caregivers dealing with illness and disability, graphic narrative enlightens complicated or difficult experiences. For scholars in literacy, cultural, and comics studies, the genre articulates a complex and powerful analysis of illness, medicine, and disability and a rethinking of the boundaries of “health.” The series will be diverse in its approach. It will include monographic studies and edited collections from scholars, practitioners, and medical educators, as well as original comics from artists and non artists alike, such as self-reflective “graphic pathographies” or comics used in medical training and education, providing a creative way to learn and teach.

Editorial Collective

Lead Editors

Susan Squier, Brill Professor of Women’s Studies and English, Penn State University

Ian Williams, Comics Artist, Clinician, Editor of GraphicMedicine.org

Collective Editors

MK Czerwiec, Artist-in-Residence, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University

Michael Green, Professor of Humanities and Medicine, Penn State University College of Medicine

Kimberly Myers, Associate Professor of Humanities, Penn State University College of Medicine

Scott Smith, Assistant Professor of English, Penn State University

Submissions should take the form of a 3-5 page proposal outlining the intent of the project, its scope, its relation to other work on the topic, and the audience(s) you have in mind. Please also include 2-3 sample chapters, if available, and your CV.

Questions or submissions? Contact Penn State Press:
Kendra Boileau, Editor-in-Chief
Penn State Press, 820 N. University Dr.
USB 1, Suite C, University Park, PA 16802
kboileau@psu.edu, (814) 867-2220

or the lead series editors:
Susan Squier
219 Burrows Building
University Park, PA 16802
sxs62@psu.edu

Ian Williams
Hafety Lwyd, Llanrhaeadr
Denbighshire, LL16 4PH
UK
ian@graphicmedicine.org

College Seeking Participants for Mix 2012 Comics Symposium

Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware, keynote speaker for CCAD’s Mix 2012

Over the last decade, colleges and universities have been exploring a deeper appreciation and understanding of comic books than ever before. This kind of attention in educational circles is a crucial and valuable element in a higher level of acceptance of sequential art (comics, graphic novels, manga, etc.) as a rich form of communication and entertainment beyond just “Yeah I guess comics are cool ’cause I liked that Avengers movie”. Just as college students take film appreciation, art history, and literature classes, so to should they be able to take equally in depth classes on the value of the comics form. That is happening more and more, and one art and design school is taking it to the next level with a three-day comics symposium.

The Columbus College of Art and Design will hold their inaugural Mix 2012 comics symposium October 4-6, 2012. Robert Loss, programming chair for Mix and adjunct instructor for CCAD’s English Department, has sent out a call for proposals, papers, roundtables, and workshops with a June 4 deadline an extended July 6th deadline. According to Loss:

“By bringing together artists, academics and other professionals and students interested in the comics art form, we hope to encourage substantial and lively discussion in a way uncommon to most academic and comics conferences. Panels and roundtables will feature a diversity of participants, and will be presented for an audience that is equally diverse and will include a sizable student population. We’re looking for people interested in reaching across boundaries and engaging in interdisciplinary conversations.”

Renowned cartoonist Chris Ware, who is best known for the award-winning graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth and his comic book series Acme Novelty Library, will be the event’s keynote speaker. And what’s particularly refreshing is that the symposium’s theme of epic narrative sounds like it’s going to be all about superheroes. But from the programming information released so far, while that genre won’t be ignored, they seem to realize there’s much more to comics than that.

An official website for the Mix 2012 symposium will soon follow. In the meantime, click through for more details:

Read the rest of this entry

Corey Blake talks Avengers on Part-Time Fanboy

The Comics Observer‘s own Corey Blake (OK, yes, I’m writing in third person) has appeared on two episodes of the podcast Part-Time Fanboy to discuss The Avengers movie and to recommend Avengers comic books. Keep listening to future episodes to get more commentary of comic books and related pop culture from Kristian Horn and his team. You can also follow along on their Part-Time Fanboy Facebook Page.