Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

I recently had the pleasure of reading "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick (copyright 2007). This book wraps itself around several forms of media and self-identifies as "not exactly a novel, and it’s not quite a picture book, and it’s not really a graphic novel, or a flip book, or a movie, but a combination of all these things."

I would also say that this book falls into several genres: historical fiction, mystery, and young adult novel. The upside of all this mish-mash is an excellent way to spend an hour or two, immersed in hand-drawn illustrations and compelled by several competing intrigues found in the plot.

If I was to offer any criticism, I would say that the writing is strong but not especially noteworthy and that the physical layout of text on the page often left me feeling empty. Often, an entire page of the book contained no more than a sentence or two. If the text was laid out in a particularly artistic fashion, I wouldn't mind, but instead, I often found myself wondering why the physical book wasn't condensed into something smaller than a tome.

Even so, if you have the chance, this is a fun read.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Asterix & Obelix Turn 50

The comic Asterix & Obelix turns 50 years old on October 29, 2009.

However, recent reviews of the comic are mixed. The original writer, René Goscinny, died in 1977. Since then, many critics say the writing quality dropped like the strength of Asterix when he runs out of magic potion.

This criticism is heaped on Uderzo, the original artist, who also took over scripting after the death of his colleague. Now in his 80s, Uderzo is also hanging up his spurs, and passing his work to three (as of yet unannounced) younger artists.

While the quality of the comic may be in question, it is still a financial success. The last collection sold millions of copies.

You can read more from the BBC here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The End of Archie, Betty, and Veronica?

Archie, the red-headed step child of newspaper comics, is finally moving beyond his high school antics. For those of you who missed it, Archie married Veronica back in August 2009 (issue #600). Whether or not we liked this choice, we can agree that the gag-a-day newspaper strip finally embraced a storyline with permanent consequences.

But wait, what's this? In Archie #603, available next month (November), Archie will also be marrying Betty. No, he's not a polygamist. Archie is getting a chance at an "It's A Wonderful Life" storyline where he sees the eventualities created from both choices.

So maybe Archie isn't really changing yet. Interestingly enough, the NY Times reports that Jughead is the third most popular choice for Archie's permanent beau. We'll know that Archie is becoming a truly modern comic when this happens. Until then, I'm guessing we'll read the same old story for a long time to come.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Humans, get a freaking grip on yourselves

@warrenellis so I got this phone call from Joe Quesada and it was just the sound of him rubbing himself with money and now I am confused

@the_murphy #disneybuysmarvel #humansfearchange

Nick Main There are companies that Disney doesn't own?
If aren't a comic fanling and weren't sitting next to one at breakfast this morning, you might have missed the announcement that Disney will be purchasing Marvel comics. And count yourself blessed because the fanlings are throwing their shit in the air and fantasizing how Mickey Mouse will come into their homes, pry open their long boxes, and castrate Wolverine with pink, princess ribbons.

Humans! This is a corporate transaction. If, in a few months, there are editorial directives from on high, they'll be policy changes- no one is going to be replace Ghost Rider with Goofy. Besides, Marvel doesn't need any help in undermining their characters by putting them into terrible, cartoony, out-of-place contexts.

If you're a glutton for punishment or camp, click on The Hulk. It's a cheery CD of children's songs about a character who loses control of his emotions and kills.

EDIT: Oh, but if you'd like some serious commentary on what this could mean for both companies, obviously, you should head over to The Beat.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Hi, all.
Sorry I haven't been posting for some time now. Here's the reason why:


EDIT by Shawn: If you've never read any of Ravi's comics before, here's my warning / sales pitch: Ravi has the sense of humor of a blasphemous 5-year old. His comics will dig into your gut, crawl their way up to your brain and root around until they find the part of you that is also a blasphemous 5-year old. They'll then tickle that 5-year old until he cries, but your brain will be pulped in the process.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Collected Links

(via @CBCebulski) The Submission Guidelines for every Comic and Manga Publisher in the Universe

(via Warren Ellis) A Gross of Goblins

(via Comics Alliance) The 5 Circles of Baffling Web Comic Hell

(via @mollycrabapple) Conversation about She-Hulk and the upcoming series Strange Tales

(via @ryanqnorth) Interview with Ryan North by cbr

I'd also like to point you to Chris's review column at Comics Alliance, which you should be reading already. Also, my own short fiction can now be found at You know, in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Direct Market Continues to be Schroedinger's Cat of the Comics Industry

Comics Alliance's lead blogger, Laura Hudson, just put up a great essay on the continuing demise of the direct market. Go give it a read now if you've yet to see it.

I wish I had the historical background (or the time to look up the relevant info) to compare this to the previous publishing extinctions like the end of the pulp novel era or the, for all practical purposes, death of short story magazines, because I've got a hunch there are going to be a lot of parallels between those and what we're going to witness in comics over the next decade or so. Just like we still see short fiction magazines today, we'll still have periodical-length comic books with us for a while, but they're going to become an ever-dwindling portion of the market, a curiosity read by only the most devoted and nostalgic fans.

Recent circumstances for me have led to me switching from someone who usually waited for trades to someone who now, for the first time on any kind of regular basis, is making a weekly stop to the comic store to pick up the week's new releases. And, to be perfectly honest, as a reader I found my previous approach much more satisfying. So I'm not exactly going to be shedding tears if the trade paperback becomes the standard method of release for new comics material.

But the point raised in the piece that's really got me thinking is what this is going to mean for comics publishers trying out new talent. To jump back to a comparison, it used to be that writers trying to establish themselves would start out getting short stories published and then work their way up, but with the increasingly diminished role of short stories today that's often no longer the case. Without weekly comics as a proving ground for new artists and writers, are companies going to be willing to take a chance on publishing a new graphic novel, perhaps equivalent to 4-6 issues in length, from otherwise unknown creators? Is the web and competitions like Zuda going to become the new proving ground? Or are risk-averse publishers going to hold on tight to established creative talent whose names sell books and lean more heavily on them for material?

Also, I'm going to encourage anyone reading this to jump in with comments on Comics Alliance as you see fit. To keep up to date with the site's articles, you can follow either the Twitter feed and/or the Facebook group.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

God Comics

A few months back, I mentioned my excitement -- nay, my child-like glee -- at the web toy, Infinite Monkey Comics. Now shortened to simply Infinite Comic, all you do is type in a word and the algorithm grabs a relevant flickr image and twitter post to generate you a personal comic. I played with this for longer than anyone rightly should and I discovered the secret words that yield the best comics. The key is to choose a word that's charged - a lot of people might have tweets with the word "groceries" but "i need to go buy groceries now" isn't fodder for great comics. Profanity works decently well, so do emoting verbs and intensifiers. But the real secret to getting the best out of the site is to choose words that also require context. "Hate" might give you some interesting tweets, but images tagged with "hate" are going to be fairly homogenous. So which words did I have the most luck with: bleed, fucking, but most especially: god.

Well, now I have a confession to make. I have a bookmark on my toolbar specifically set for Infinite Comic to make me a "god" comic and I've been clicking it one to twenty times a day. Thrilling. Sometimes it fails, but sometimes you get to peer right through people's secrets into something transcendental. And sometimes it's merely hilarious.

Below is a collection of my favorites. I'll note again that I didn't create these. I just typed the word "god" (and occasionally "omg" or "goddess) into the generator. I'm the curator of this exhibit.