no cape no mask

who needs a costume when you have words?

Month: August, 2013

Need To Know… 27.8.13

only what you need

only what you need

I took a skip week (involving camping, movies, and wiiiiine thanks for asking!), but now NTK is back in a fifth week, to mark the coming of a very BIG week. Specifically, Jack Kirby’s birthday week. Tomorrow, on what would have been The King’s birthday, 40 artists will Wake Up and Draw, but Tom Spurgeon urges you to consider waking up and giving, instead. Need a reminder as to why you should mark it at all? Here’s 10 big reasons from MTV Geek, and one Big Barda (amongst other Kirby ladies), to jog your memory.

Second of all, Ben Affleck got cast as Batman and the world was outraged. This does not get a link. Hollywood made Superman kill, made Batman’s entire career last a few months, and Affleck is what people get really upset about? Here, get upset about the new look Lobo, instead. And then maybe try to figure out exactly who in DC Editorial is responsible. That should keep you busy.

Busy like Canadian comics culture has been, recently, what with Toronto Fan Expo, the Joe Shuster award winners announcement, this handy primer from CBR on Canadian superheroes, and the bombshell of Justice League Canada with Jeff Lemire. But why should those wacky Canucks get all the attention? We had the 9th Art Award over here in good old Blighty, and a very deserving winner! All of which was part of a seemingly unprecedented barrage of comics cutlure coverage here in the UK last week, including this bounty from the Guardian. Nilsen, Modan, Beaton, Ware, and Brown all in one paper!? Yay!

Actually, its not just been the UK producing thoughtful, cross-sector thinking about comics (was it ever just the UK?). The Beat started thinking about variants, and their place in the comics market, particularly torture variants, and sparked the direct opposite of the Batfleck debacle: reasoned debate. Which could also be found on Twitter of all places, when critics started talking Marvel NOW!. It seems like the kind of thing Scott McCloud would approve of. If he wasn’t busy getting punched in the face by Hellboy, in an image which reminds us all how important it is that we read Understanding Comics, purely to see why so many people feel such animosity towards him! The Hellboy mention is timely, too, what with Itty Bitty Hellboy #1 dropping tomorrow, so its the perfect time for a refresher on 20 years of Hellboy.

Which we suppose makes Hellboy old school. Then again, when it comes to making comics, sometimes old school is just cool. Though new school keeps it simpler. Of course the simplest way to do anything is to find the shortcuts, and for that Michel Fiffe has you covered. Now you’re all set to go check out BOOM!’s Facebook and get published! You’re welcome.

Welcome like they make you at Autoptic, another con we didn’t get to *grumble grumble*. Here’s the best con report ever, and here’s the spare-no-details “it’s like I was there” version. However you look at it, its better than a trip to Battle Zoo. Humans must kill for their freedom inside Battle Zoo. That may not have anything on the savagery of parts of The End Of The Fucking World, though, which has been out a couple weeks and would fit real nice in your reading pile. Mind you, lots of people seem to feel that way about this, but we’re not sure why. What do you think?

Couple of tasty previews this week, one you may not have on your radar, one you most likely do, and one you probably will put on there after seeing this. Plus, advance reviews of something Mighty appealing. The future’s bright, alright, but this glimpse you may want to tuck away for November’s Godland Finale, as Joe Casey gets deep about bringing the series to an end.

Introductions and spotlights for this week are Heather Benjamin, in regard to whom the N in NSFW stands for “never; Matthew Southworth, the guy who made Stumptown rock (and whose site is an interesting example of the mix of work some of the more memorable, less often seen artists do when they’re away from comics); Jillian Tamaki, here riffing on Irish myths; Matthew Lau, whose digital art embraces the digital in the art and shines brighter for it; and Valerio Schiti, whose work on Journey Into Mystery cam only indicate great things to come. If you like catching up on artist’s work, and you haven’t checked out Multiversity’s Artist’s August, then seriously, what is up with you? One final introduction, Crumb, meet Dick. Magic.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Because only two things are certain: Death and Coffee. Well, and sex, violence, and sexual violence in comics, but that’s okay provided there’s a “redeeming level of quality“. Right? Or is it actually Freddy Wertham who was right all along?

See you in 7!


Need To Know… 19.8.13

only what you need

only what you need

Welcome back folks, to the column that provides continuity your comics can’t (or won’t). Specifically, after last week’s cluster of mildly depressing watercooler outrage surrounding Millar, McFarlane, and the ladies, this week brought the nominations for the Ignatz Awards for excellence in independent comics and they’re a hit list of diverse, interesting creators you will enjoy looking up. She may not be on that list, but Faith Erin Hicks won last week in comics by taking the Neil Gaiman route to make a comic out of the whole furore. Also upcoming in the independent quarter is SPX, whose Tumblr is chock-full of compelling comics launching there (probably to include something by Ze Jian Shen, fingers crossed!), including this UK anthology. More cool UK comics, you cry? How about Raygun Roads? Or The Mice? It’s enough to make you a patriot, but there’s even more, as Gareth Brookes details his unmissable The Black Project for Paul Gravett. God Save the Queen.

In a shocking turn of events, this week’s chit-chat revolves around varying readings of a seminal Batman comic. Wait, people are actually talking about comics, not their creators or the industry? Excellent! Including mainstream media appreciation of Kirby? Dang! Of course, one comic everybody was talking about was the Hickman-conceived Infinity #1, which I did enjoy (kind of), but its hard to imagine enjoying any event comic as much as we enjoy poking fun at them. That’s event comics for you, yet what’s important is that Hickman’s creator-owned East of West is still ringing people’s bells, inspiring these great annotations, and making Nick Dragotta a very, very happy man.

Well, a happier man than a Smiths-mashed Charlie Brown, anyway, but maybe not quite as happy as the folks over at Archie comics, who are easily making the most culturally relevant comics out there, if not necessarily the hardest-hitting reportage. Speaking of hard-hitting, this tale of one manga fan’s ordeal is an eye-opener about the high prices to be paid for liking things outside the mainstream. More power to him.

This is a different kind of fan hardship, the kind felt by those who love cool characters that rarely get written into good comics, while over at CBR there’s a great takedown of nostalgic and negative comparisons, centred around Waid’s Daredevil. Old ain’t always better, folks, so check out the New School.

Last week’s post introduced you to Annie Koyama of Koyama Press, and this week’s introduces their upcoming releases, making extra room for an Ant Comic sneak peek (treat yourself). Also lifting the skirt a little are Dark Horse, who’re bringing you Monsters!, possibly the best silent comic of the last couple years, while Image make the Dark Arts look gooooooood. Of course, if you want real darkness, the kind that only lightning can pierce, you look to Esad Ribic, who wasn’t always appreciated. That’s something Harley Quinn can relate to, though a new ongoing should help her feel more part of things. Especially with that creator list, its tasty!

This week’s Kickstarter is plain awesome, and will especially appeal to those who read Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, and dug on the Don McGregor sections. But if you want rewards without investment, take heart, for Tucker Stone returned to The Comics Journal last week. Where else will you find elaborate poop routines, critical analysis of comics fight choreography via Lone Wolf and Cub, and incisive Paul Pope deflation all in one column? I love that guy’s writing.

Finally, when graphic just ain’t enough, go Super Graphic. You won’t regret it.

Need To Know… 12.8.13

only what you need

only what you need

Hey everybody, it’s a big week for the Orbital crew, what with the new Dead Cats exhibition from Christian Ward opening Thursday, Peter Hogan signing on Saturday, and the pop-up stall at the Ritzy for their Kick-Ass Cape party on Saturday night!

But this could be a big week for you, too, because everything seems aligned to help you become the next great comics creator. First off, Antony Johnston clarifies the illusory Artist vs Writer debate, then Andrei Molotiu has a glossary of comics terms so you can speak the lingo, coupled with some venerable examples for your learning ease. Once that’s done, conquer your fear of the blank page, learn how to make your drawings speak without words, and then ensure you have the proper attitude to the inevitable, but by no means insurmountable, rejection, courtesy of Evan Dorkin. Or you could just pony up $2000 for the Sean Murphy apprenticeship. Good to go! Just beware the Tyranny of the Muse.

But it’s paragraph 3 and DC hasn’t done anything dumb yet! Oh, wait. They either rejected a Paul Pope Kamandi pitch, or said they make comics for 45 year-olds. Or both. But that did at least contribute in some infinitesimal way to Battling Boy‘s existence, so that’s not a total fail. They fired Kevin Maguire from Justice League 3000 in usual tacky fashion, but that gave Bendis the chance to play shining knight in armour, so we get a Maguire issue of Guardians of the Galaxy. Ah, this is more like it, they screwed up their biggest 2013 event, and screwed retailers and readers over in the process. Oh, DC. But on a more thoughtful note, J. Caleb Mozzocco considers the current state of the New 52, its latent potential, the myth-making that accompanies rejected pitches, and many other things. It’s a great post. What are DC doing right, though? That’s The Question.

Catching even more flak than DC last week was Mark Millar, whose press junket pre-Kick-Ass 2 launch lead to a surge in coverage of the negative kind, catching a snowball effect from a controversial panel featuring McFarlane, Wein, and Conway (which Conway had further, more developed thoughts on afterward) to spark fierce and thoughtful criticism from Comics Alliance, CBR, The Comics Reporter, and io9. That’s what you get for saying rape is “the same as, like, a decapitation”.

Okay, enough with the criticisms, let’s get back to celebrating comics, shall we? Look, a Saga preview! East of West still looks best! DC still make great cartoons, and of the Metal Men, no less! Benjamin Marra has combined Blades and Lazers, to make the ultimate 80’s comic! This almost certainly hasn’t happened to you! Dan Berry hasn’t quit comics! More Hellboy is approaching! Its almost Love and Rockets time again! 2000AD looks like the place to be on 18th September!

All better?

Also worth celebrating are the mind-bending colour bombs of Niv Bavarsky, the ever-awesome and still improving pencils of Mitch Gerads, an unleashed renegade sex machine (well, maybe not “celebrating” so much as “keeping a watchful eye on”), and definitely, definitely, Wally Wood’s designs for Daredevil and his supporting cast. They could not feel fresher.

For your edification, let Steven T Seagle share his Genius with you, take a whirlwind video tour of manga history (8 minutes is all you need), and for those of you who are currently without any “unicorn” comics to quest after, Ron Marz shares his “secret handshake” titles. We’re ecstatic to have received the Koyama Press books we ordered at Orbital, and this interview should help you understand why. If you don’t understand after reading, well, its not like its the end of the fucking world.

Regular listeners of The Orbiting Pod will recognise this phrase: Backmatter matters. It’s true!

Until next week, what do you collect? And should you be collecting answers instead?

Need To Know… 5.8.13

only what you need

only what you need

This week’s post will be a little shorter than usual (don’t sigh with relief, I can hear you), but I had to make room to answer a question which has long dogged me: can a fondness for butts be reconciled with feminism? The answer, I feel sure, lies in the pages of The Big Feminist But, an anthology which just keeps generating good word of mouth, and is pretty generously previewed in that link. Phew. And in a rare follow up to a previous Need To Know…, last week I said you never forget your first, and this week I found a list to help you remember a few landmark firsts. Speaking of landmarks, take a MOME-ment. MOME has been like a directory of interesting indy creators since its inception, and Rob Clough’s coverage is a perfect intro.

In news, it was a good week for Grant Morrison fans, as we got a cover for his Annihilator (from Legendary), and JMS fans got a preview of Sidekick, the latest Joe’s Comics joint. More importantly, Legend of Luther Strode is almost done, have you jumped on board yet? Grant Morrison is completely done with Batman, are you jumping off yet? Along those lines, if you don’t know who Sloane Leong is yet, please make her acquaintance! Just don’t bring up this week’s hot-button topic: Money and Comics. I wonder what Barry Windsor-Smith would have to say about it.

Remember poor, afflicted, homeless Borb from previous Need To Knows? Well, you can bring him home now. Shame the same can’t necessarily be said for Molly Crabapple’s new friends in Guantanamo. And covering the big issues isn’t restricted to maverick creators, have you read Archie recently?

Do you ever feel like giving up? Well, be like the bird. Or the frog. Something. Or is it that you feel like no-one hears what you say (this comic being a perfect example of the cool debuts we miss by not being at TCAF. ugh)? Do you ever wish someone would ask you what you want from comics industry coverage? Do you ever… wait, LOOK OUT! Okay, false alarm, anyway I was saying, how does a curated pull list sound to you?

Enough questions, Multiversity have begun their Artist August again, and have lead off with, amongst others, Greg Smallwood and Marcos Martin. Win. Presumably they’ll get around to this guy soon… And Bogdanove’s back, via Kickstarter, with a muscular moustache-twirler! Yeah! Moustaches! Woo!

That’s it. Moustaches. Can’t get better.