no cape no mask

who needs a costume when you have words?

Need To Know… 23.6.14

only what you need

only what you need

This might be the last NTK for a bit, or at least, it may change in nature. See, I’m leaving comics retail and going into something very different, so I don’t know that I’ll still be filtering the comics press. You can always follow my Tumblr though, I’m often found reblogging cool art. Anyway, ONWARD!

September Solicits are up for DC, Marvel, IDW, Image, and Dark Horse, so go do your duty, and when you come across the solicit for POP, you can refer to this interview for reasons to support anything Curt Pires does. Since that’s a link to Multiversity, might as well do all the Multiversity links as they had another crazy good week of content, so: continuing last week’s “if you like it, pay for it” thread, there’s also a retailer perspective, and a handy reminder for next time you’re tempted to dismiss a creator’s efforts that hey, its hard making comics. The only thing harder is marketing them. Oh, and one last thing, wave bye bye to affordable comics.

Now, tell the truth, do you like the rough stuff? Amazon do. Do you dig on the art of death (Game of Thrones style)?

There are truly comics for everyone, be they kids, lovers of the “hybrid quirky graphic novel”, or those seeking a UK small-press subscription with flair. If none of those work, you could always go to Gumroad, where Claude TC has comics for downloading NOW.

Maybe you’re just seeking inspiration? Sorted. Or for a more technological approach, try the John Martz method. Chris Samnee’s art will do something to you, while early Tradd Moore may be Hateful, but it’ll damn sure give you ideas. And a mashup’s always good for shaking things loose, especially when it’s Frank Miller and Shulkie getting mashed. And back in the old days, NTK used to link to more of these.

Quick history lesson, anybody? Consider the noble toothbrush.

It’s worth reminding you all that Box Brown is bigger than Andre the Giant. Just like Kirby was bigger than anatomical precision. And Wally Wood was bigger than all of them (its illegal to see this and not reblog it). Moebius, of course, was biggest.

Not precisely comics, but here’s some interesting insight on the plight of storyboarders, and proof that some galleries tick every stereotypical snooty box. Snootiness leads nicely into this discussion of canon (which all too often means the obvious names). Really, its enough to make you Cringe.

Breakdown Press are making moves… alternative manga moves, that is. Whatever your taste in manga, or comics, this manga creator three-way talk is pure heaven.

Aaaand finally… WTF?

Need To Know… 16.6.14

only what you need

only what you need

Before you do anything else, bookmark this for Wednesday. Or if you must spoil the surprise for yourself, then go here. And keep your peepers peeled for this.

Something else to look forward to: Diversity at DC! Seriously, DC are really trying, you guys (and gals). No, really. Meanwhile Marvel make progressive history (in small steps), and Jim Rugg shows everyone how its done. It’s all a far cry from this. Fun times. While we’re waxing nostalgic, do you know Russ Heath like you oughta? And remember that time when Herbie the Love Bug’s Nazi cousin had it out with Cap?

At the risk of sounding mean, you know its a slow week when people are discussing anything Chuck Dixon wrote, but they were, with greater clarity and depth than maybe the piece deserved, while the work in question even got the New Yorker‘s attention.

Paul Pope live-action short, anyone?

If you, like me, missed ELCAF, you can still shop like you were there, even the PEOW stuff from those crazy Swedes! It would be remiss to comment on ELCAF without giving props to NoBrow, too.

Paul Gravett sees a rich August crop a’comin’, though he may not be to everyone’s taste. More generally, here are some words on singles and creator-owned comics: if it is creator-owned and you like it, pay for it.

Comics, how do you read yours?

And this week’s Tumblr recommendation: Sam Hiti.

Need To Know Lite… 2.6.14

only what you need

only what you need

Hey everybody! This week’s NTK will be a little lighter than most, mainly because half the week was spent wondering if Marvel was pulling a DC. The mind boggles. That wasn’t the only weird piece of news, as Alan Moore, renowned grumpy magic man of comics, suddenly went all Zuckerberg, announcing Electricomics. It’s either a digital toolkit or an app. Or an anthology. Its something, you’ll figure it out. Maybe. Of more transparent use to you is this handy, free-to-download How To Draw guide from The CCS. Simples! There’s also this Humble Bundle with some great Top Shelf titles in it, but it is polluted with pictureless books too, fair warning.

Are you fit to enter the Houses of the Holy? More importantly, who’s the black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks? Of utmost importance, Batman is a.. Time Lord?

Remember when Lenny Bruce had a cartoon (sorta)? Remember when comics used to have awkward attempts at pop culture relevance crammed into them in the form of ill-conceived, potentially offensive characters? *sigh* Still, we mustn’t fear the silly. It can’t hurt us.

And somebody put the kibosh on your favourite excuse for not reading ALL of Love and Rockets, “I just don’t have the right soundtrack”. Now you do.

Do you really have what it takes to be a Teenage Sidekick?

Need To Know… 26.5.14

only what you need

only what you need

Now, over the past fortnight, something has become clear. If you’re not reading Comics & Cola on a regular basis, you are probably missing out on nice things and good writing. So Go Fish, check out a freebie, or plummet into the curious case of OK soda. Of course, Zainab isn’t the only comics blogger out there making good noises, Sean Kleefeld has some deep words for you on labels.

Cannon’s almost here… permission to squeal and hop from foot to foot GRANTED!

And how much are you enjoying the current all-ages renaissance? Wayward is looking like a sweetspot bullseye already, and any title that can generate two separate but interesting interviews has to have something going for it, right? But do all-ages comics really sell? Or is it just Tumblr noise? By way of an answer, what’s Batman’s monthly print run again? Heh. Plus, we have a new, European take on Doom to await, and you didn’t forget about Chicacabra, did you? And if all-ages isn’t quitedoing it for you, have a CAKE preview, too, from a certified Space Queen.

Let’s get this out of the way, Big 2 news this week was dominated by DC’s tragic/ironic/cynical bad math, and David Goyer’s limited/offensive take on She-Hulk, a complete timeline of whose fallout is here. As ever, Comics Alliance had some thoughts on the matter, worth reading. If that leaves the fans of strong female protagonists a mite jaded, Kickstarter has you covered for comics, or for action figures!

Many things are happening on Kickstarter at present, actually, like the superlative Oh Joy Sex Toy campaign, the more esoteric Bright Spiral campaign, and a look at just how many comics Kickstarters get funded. It’s pretty good news.

Dynamite are stepping up their game. Good. David Ziggy Greene wants you to get Scene and Heard (do it, do it!). And its never too late to be welcomed to the Metrodome.

Going into new territory, you may enjoy charting Lale Westvind’s intergalactic terrain, and Terry might just be your left-field purchase of 2014. But beware the Man Cat! And watch out, Sam Alden lurks in the Hollow. On a lighter note, you know how to pre-order a comic, don’t you?

Why do we insist on using film terminology for comics? Well, because. If that isn’t clear enough, maybe Darwyn Cooke, Steve Lieber, Emma Rios, Frank Santoro, or Eleanor Davis can guide you to a right way of thinking about comics. Then maybe next year you’ll be one of these folks.

How much have you actually thought about creator rights? Just askin…

And most important of all… Do you love yourself?

Need To Know… 12.05.14

only what you need

only what you need

It’s good to break your own rules every now and again. If you haven’t already seen this Constantine trailer, hopefully when you have, you’ll understand NTK breaking it’s “we’re about comics, not movies/TV/videogames” rule. Along the lines of moving pictures drawing attention to comics, the upcoming TMNT movie looks and sounds like a turkey, but a plus is it’s throwing light on TMNT history. For a more niche half-shell hero, check out Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew’s The Shadow Hero. Classic thrills and encoded themes all in one! And the most interesting thing about the recent Spider-Man movie? Deciding whether it’s a hit or a flop (though this article on Gwen Stacy’s death is eye-opening).

This is just one of those interesting confluences, as The Beat revisited the Kirkman/Bendis fracas from a few years ago, and Danny Djeljosevic talks setting up online in the NOW. Which nicely segues into a larger than usual “aren’t Study Group amazing?” link for this week, as they’re going Pro with a couple new hires, and going BIG with cool comics titled Land of Possibilities and The Age of Play. Both rock. But if they just aren’t paper-y enough for you, here’s proof that Matt Kindt feels you, brah.

Been to the library recently? Or did you make it to TCAF?

This conversation is still going. As it should be. Supplementary reading includes Kleefeld on -isms and historical context, and io9 on why we care what super-ladies wear.

If that was all a mite heavy, here’s a Bill Sienkewicz gallery. And some classic (instructional) Disney. Or some Romance, RoyalBoiler style or with a sci-fi inflection. And this guy, who’s just out there. Maybe not as out there as this guy, though.

Back in the room? Good! Then set course for a second helping of Treasure Island, check out a Fabulous Five from Koyama, a resurgent Oni Press preview, and the graphic novel re-issue that oughta go on your must-read list.

We may have opened with a rule break, but try as we might, we can’t go a week without a DC dig. Nor can Bill Finger’s family. Maybe some people at DC need to read these great books on comics, and get their facts straight? To be fair though, they have given us (via CBR) this sweet top 75 allies and enemies for Bats.

Try a Brazilian.

This is the interview of the week, some process, some history, some industry perspective, an interesting creator life, and a damn fine graphic novel to hang it all off. Seriously.

And when life gets you down, just remember, even Snoopy had worries.

Need To Know… 06.05.14

only what you need

only what you need

Sweet cream on an ice cream sammich! It’s been how long? THIS SHALL NOT STAND!

Apologies for the skip week last week, but this bumper edition should reassure you that you were, as they say, always on our minds…

By now you’ve doubtless heard the Amazon/Comixology news, but The Comics Reporter has collated everything you could possibly need to read about it, then written his own take. It’s worth a read. For those of you behind on news, you may be behind on reading newspapers too, so its just as well the Guardian put the star-laden comics from their Saturday supplement up on their site, isn’t it? In industry news, Marvel’s mid-list has something amiss, while DC may have forgotten what business they’re in, or at least, how to keep creators happy. Oh, and there were cons, too, which we won’t even pretend to be up to date with, but here’s CBR’s C2E2 coverage, and more appealingly, a rundown of the burgeoning Seattle underground scene.

There have been a couple of standouts in the world of comics coverage recently. Zainab Akhtar has been killing it over on Comics and Cola, with everything from Breakdown Press previews, through infuriating us with tantalising tastes of foreign-language comics we can’t read and hand-holding us into the world of manga, to curating your May in comics for you. Similarly, Multiversity are celebrating turning 5 in style, initially with their Lettering Week (complete with obligatory Nate Piekos interview); and latterly with a slew of industry figures talking ch-ch-ch-changes of the last half decade, AND still finding time for cool previews. They’re killing it, though nothing looks as nice this week as the Bartkira exhibit over at Floating World Comics. Wish we could have been there. Wish we could’ve made this Vanessa Davis/Ben Katchor/Anders Nilsen/Mimi Pond talk too, although this post-talk catch-up may be more in depth than the talk was.

Do you know your Spidey outfits? Do you really? Or are you a lying cosmic scoundrel? Did we lose you? Here, have a comic map. And a growing selection of the ultimate #protips.

Are you comics?

Hadn’t thought of this perspective on male and female superhero comics before, but it is compelling. Alternatively, you might like a more scientific perspective. And hey, who’d a thunk it? Anyway, maybe after reading about all this backward comics behaviour and thinking righteous thoughts, you’re left feeling a little sluggish, lethargic even. Could be your diet. You comics diet, that is, and Robot 6 has a plan for you! Alternatively, you could just be asking the wrong questions.

Poor crow. He looks like he needs some Decadence in his life. Or some Vanessa Davis. Hell, a little Basewood might do the trick!

And finally, just in case anyone was unclear

Need To Know 21.04.14

only what you need

only what you need

Did I miss a week? I’m so sorry!

Okay, everybody, I hope you’re having a great Easter Monday, and that your week-end was good, because we have a couple serious things to talk about today. This well-argued criticism of a proposed DC launch cover, from critic Janelle Asselin, generated a response that began as defensive, and developed into full-blown misogyny. It’s easy to shrug and say “trolls gonna troll”, but perhaps this incident is closer to a tipping point, as suggested by the wealth of commentary it’s generated, from Ulises Farinas (in two parts), from Comics Alliance (whose advice is pretty on the nose: don’t be a fake geek guy), and numerous other sources excellently gathered by The Comics Reporter. So last week there was a lot of talk. Let’s hope this week is about thought, and maybe every week after can be about people taking positive personal actions. Just not this one.

Alright, on the sunnier side of gender relations and parity in comics, there’s insight over at Wired (hot week for them) on the importance of the Carol Corps, courtesy of Rachel Edidin, while Laura Hudson gave Sex Criminals the attention it deserves. And a positive, go anywhere, do anything comic to put the sparkle in your smile? Well, look no further than Natalie Nourigat’s travelogue! It’s awesome.

Comics Oscars time! The Eisner nominations were announced, leading to accusations of neglect, the predictable CBR puff-piece, and a typically balanced Multiversity take. If you think the Eisners run on a Usual Suspects-type process, then check out the Inkwell awards. Small world, comics, apparently. It could leave you at your wit’s end, but to save you, here’s a generous peek at Witzend, coming soon (but not soon enough!) from Fantagraphics.

WonderCon happened again, and the CBR directory of coverage is here, with the announcement of even more Artist’s Editions to come. There’s something here about how arcs/titles people don’t normally speak of often become special, coveted even, when they’re available in this format, almost as if this was the only way people could really appreciate the art. Is the rise of the artist’s edition a parallel to the fall of the marquee artist? Do they say something about the mainstream/superhero comics market’s fetishisation of visual art in contrast to its commoditisation of writing comics? Either way, for our money, Linework sounds like the place to be this time next year! After all, it’s co-founded by Study Group’s own Zack Soto, and by the way, have you heard the word about Study Group 3D? The word is GOOD.

Talking alt-comix for a minute, Oily’s Spring season looks slick, while the FP blog shares a sweet preview of how awesome the new Owen Johnson comic is, and Zainab wants you to know that NoBrow #9 should be in your stack if you like pictures, art, paper, or colours.

Does this remind anyone else of Black Science #1, but with less eye-boggling art, and more fun? While questions are flying, this “Multiversity” thing that bald Scotsman is rabbiting about… will it actually ship? And have you ever encountered the Brothers of Blood?

We end with proof, if it were needed, that Bendis’s best work is his Tumblr.

Alex Alice and The Terrorizing Scale of Beauty


Siegfried is a comic book adaption by Alex Alice of Wagner’s classic Norse Mythos inspired opera Ring of the Nibelung, it follows the titular Siegfried on his archetypal journey toward destiny. It has been published by Archaia and volumes 1 and 2 are available now wherever fine comic books are sold.


The other day I got into a conversation online a bit about what I see are the intrinsic failures of digital comics despite their huge advantages of accessibility(anything that allows me not to go to the shitty LCS and get treated like a childish idiot is a good thing for my money and sanity).  Basically what I said was that for the most part because of the size of the tablets on which most of this work is displayed for the reader, much of the oomph and awe that a comic can produce has been removed.  I have a…

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Need To Know… 09.04.14

only what you need

only what you need

Bruce Timm returned for Batman’s 75th, which is a darn sight more than any of these heroes will get for their anniversaries. Honestly, I found the short underwhelming (and here’s a handy chart to explain that), but the interview is pretty solid, and you can catch both here. However, good news for Big Blue, who’s getting the Rude treatment in DC’s best Superman title. Go check it out, unless you mind giving money to Amazon, the new owners of Comixology; and if you’re not sure whether to mind (or care), here are the 6 thoughts worth mulling about this news.

Awards time in LA, and Ulli Lust gave a masterclass in the micro-genre of “Acceptance Speech Comics“. Meanwhile, Glyph nominations were announced, GLAAD tidings for Young Avengers (and kudos to Kieron Gillen for finding time amid the glad-handing to recommend British comics on Tumblr), and a reminder that hosting awards is expensive, and your help can make them extra-specially awesome.

Have some Chris Ware, and check whether you even register on the geek-o-meter compared to this guy.

There are many good comics incoming, like the return of Greg Smallwood’s delicious stylings on Dream Thief, what might well turn out to be your first Transformers comic (even James approves!), more from Mary Talbot (this time addressing suffragettes!), and a bunch of amateurs. The Amateurs. And Charles Burns is almost done with his trilogy! It has a cover!

Fiction and Real Life are different. But Death stalks both realms, and sometimes it’s worse than Death, it’s… Superdeath. Which is what’s happening to Archie sometime soon, right? Oh well, at least ROM’s getting a new lease of life, and helping Bill Mantlo in the process; and while we wait for new Prophet, Omni magazine are bringing the alien worlds eye candy we need. Although if you like your alien worlds a little stranger, Superworld should cover you. That art is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

What aliens say about us.

Need To Know… 7.4.14

only what you need

only what you need

Another week, another con, another bunch of comics you might want to hunt down after scrolling voyeuristically through these MOCCA reminiscences. Take comfort in the fact that the entire North American comics web has been slowed by some phenomenal ECCC crud. Still, if you got to attend interesting panels like this one on Realism in Comics, you’d probably deal with a little crud, right? Also, late-breaking but still interesting, here’s a nice run-down of the Seattle comics scene. And as if the cons weren’t enough, the 2013 Doug Wright Awards nominees are up, and they make for fun discoveries, check ’em out, check ’em ALL out!

Going DC/Marvel for a minute, do you understand just why Steranko’s Cap was so important, so pivotal? And would “political” be among the first words you’d use to describe Marvel comics? Across the continent, as Batman gets to 75, he gets an insightful write-up from Chris Sims at Comics Alliance, and Bruce Timm comes back, maybe to make up for Beware the Batman? That’ll take some doing.

There are a ton of projects worth backing this week, from 80’s action genius to Tank Girl (not that big a leap, really), to a new instalment of the always awesome Suspect Device! Oh, and that Study Group Kickstarter is still running, and this week there’s a Comics Reporter gabfest with Zack Soto and a Short Con (different kind of con, you’ll see) on the Study Group site, all to entice you… Ooh, and Superbitch is launching a Kickstarter imminently, too, which you might want to keep an eye out for!

Hey everyone, colorists matter and DC are a little backward! Wait, we knew this already… didn’t we? Oh, and the Bechdel Test might not just be a critical tool for equality, it might actually be a business booster. But you’re probably aware of all this. After all, you’re a rational person.

There’s a wealth of good stuff online, not least of which is a Grant Morrison/Rian Hughes silent collaboration for the BBC on Freedom (in what is perhaps the most unexpected combination of words you’ll see all week?). Paul Gravett profiles a creator who may tickle the fancies of the Lynch-ians among you. Jeff Smith has upgraded and revamped the site for his new webcomic, Tuki Save the Humans (that just wrapped Season One), so it’s actually a joy to read now, honest! There’s competition though, as Decrypting Rita may just become your new favourite webcomic. Oh, and that Fiffe guy who does COPRA? He just put #1 online for free. Excuses destroyed.

Things to look forward to? To live for? Fret not, Image has you covered with a slice of Southern sass you’ll be sucking on for some time, yes, Southern Bastards is almost here, and the early word is good! Frank Barbiere keeps coming up with good ideas, too, and answering questions raised long ago in Powers, while Mignola prepares you for more Hellboy with a guided tour of Big Red‘s evolution. But whatever you do, however big your right hand, don’t mess with Pinocchio.

This Ghostly Undertaking looks set to haunt the Summer, so why not peek at Danica Novgorodoff’s Cartoonist’s Diary to prepare yourself?

To finish, have some Toth.