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Need To Know… 16.12.13

only what you need

only what you need


Hey Everybody, the year is almost done and the new year is almost upon us after which another year will pass and it all repeats on and on with new presents and different wrapping and more comics every week more comics….

Ahem. It’s all getting a bit much really, isn’t it? Let’s dial down the noise, and dial into some good stuff. Like Dan Didio feeling Christmassy and undoing the Detective Comics #27 mess. Like pages from new Darwyn Cooke Parker book, Slayground. Or a comic featuring the worst sidekick ever, for the hero who really deserves better. The opportunity to read The End of The Fucking World online for free at whatthingsdo. An early glimpse at The Midas Flesh, perhaps. Best of all, the ultimate beginner’s comic-making kit.

Ooh, that feels better. If you want to feel even better, Comics Alliance’s epic 5-part (and growing) Best Comic Books of 2013, is a hell of a way to celebrate the year, and comics. Tom Spurgeon’s Five For Friday: The Year in Comics is a diverse celebration, too, while more thoughtful types will want to ponder his Things I’ll Be Thinking Over as 2013 Becomes 2014.

Too thinky, too soon? Look, pretty Tomer Hanuka! Pretty creepy Laurie Lipton!

For those of you who can’t get enough best of 2013 lists, look here, here, and here. For the forward-looking among you, 2014 looks like rich pickings, promising new Gilbert Hernandez, a Bat-leap into the future, Tradd Moore Ghost Rider (yes, I mention this every week but I DON’T CARE and now there are new images!), a new DC weekly, Hitch’s Real Heroes (preview pages, so at least we know some of it is done), Jae Lee back on Batman/Superman, Scioli’s Transformers vs GI Joe, Nijigahara Holograph from Inio Asano, and of course…

Marvelman. Recoloured. Which will require some context. And poses an interesting conundrum.

Wonder whether Marvelman does without all of these cliches?

Seems like the season of Rucka, right now, with The Beat and CBR picking his brains. Gabriel Rodriguez tries to make up for ruining Christmas with this reflection back over Locke & Key’s life. And for those of you bamboozled by Godland’s finale, Chad Nevett is on hand to help out. And if allthat’s a bit talky, check out this political webcomic with the most impeccable creator pedigree we could imagine.

Last of all, solicits are up for March’s shipping. Check ’em out, & let your retailer know what you want!


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… 22.7.13

only what you need

only what you need

It’s been a long time, I shouldna left you, without some dope links to click to (while we’re rapping, here’s 99 Problems like you’ve never imagined it). But to make up for the unexpected absence (and thank you for the flowers and concerned fruit baskets) this is an extra-sized balls crazy $8 edition of Need To Know… Seriously, if you’re done with this by the end of today you’re either a speed-reader or in Lying Cat’s bad books.

Catch-up first, here’s a bunch of links from the week before last which I just couldn’t let go, and like all leftovers, warm ’em up or munch while cold, they still taste gooooood.

We open with some slick visuals to pretty up your walls and sharpen up your mind, before going all Cadbury’s Egg on you and asking “How do you read yours?“. That last one is a great key into why some pages pull you onward, and some drag you down.

Marvel didn’t even wait for San Diego to make announcements, spilling on the new Marvel Knights books a fortnight ahead. If you’re wondering, they’re Hulk, Spidey, and X-Men. As if Fantomex MAX wasn’t crazy enough. At least they’re still planning on actually making a funny book, though.

Over in DC land, the big question was: “invisible plane, or invisible muscle car?“, and whatever side you come down on, there’s no question that DC Nation’s animation is some of the best stuff at the Distinguished Competition, they’re golden. Tangentially, Greg Capullo’s art prompted this great piece exploring the “uncanny valley” as it pertains to comics, and may explain why you aren’t crazy about Greg Land’s art.

Last of the leftovers is this Pretty Deadly preview. Sweet.

And now for the freshness. Chances are you missed Watson and Holmes because it was unexpectedly popular, but don’t fear if you did, because this is all the Sherlock you need.

We didn’t all love Day Men, but since it enabled (along with this Dennis Culver tumblr post) this article about writer-artist collaboration and perceived primacy, we’ll hold off judging for now.

And without further ado, San Diego happened. This is probably the best master list you’ll find for a comprehensive rundown of what went down in San Diego town. But we have our favourites, so let’s start by congratulating the Eisner winners, and looking over the Harvey nominees. Christmas came a little early for Hellboy aficionados, Vertigo continued to announce new books, the most interesting panel belonged (surprise surprise) to Image, Marvel announced more Wolverine Origin, Young Avengers jam (not that kind, although…), and Marvel UK (?). Most importantly, IDW announcedSweet dreams of Slumberland, and more Parker. Proper Parker. Fantagraphics have some sweet Eleanor Davis and Simon Hanselmann books upcoming, both names you might want to get to know, plus repackaged Jim Woodring, along with Tony Milionaire and Joe Sacco projects! 2000AD representing with Thrillpower. But could SDCC ever live up to these hopes?

“I guess he wasn’t expecting a mutant arctic fox.” was likely the best line from last week’s comics.

Gail Simone’s on Red Sonja, so take a peek, but don’t look too long. She’s bringing friends. But from the looks of things there’s one heavy-hitting female creator missing from the Red ranks, Plume’s K. Lynn Smith. Actually, there may be a hell of a lot of names missing, even though they’ve been in comics for quite some time. While we’re waxing historical, here’s a little comics culture lineage for you, regarding the Japanese street theatre superfolks who pre-dated Superman.

Animated Prison Pit may be the only thing grosser than that Scientifically accurate Spider-Man thing we posted earlier in the year, so exercise viewer discretion. Or for a safer bet, anything billed as “Tron meets Dali” has to be a class act, doesn’t it? And its just one of a bunch of great titles from Floating World. For those who’d rather be guided than explore, here are some good reviews for several UK small press comics that are likely malingering in the West Wing. Maybe some will be worthy of your time time capsule?

Finally. Print this list. Laminate it. Put it in your wallet, purse, clutch, or better yet on a lanyard around your neck. Abide by it.

Need To Know… 10.6.13

only what you need

only what you need

Beginning as ever with the Big 2, DC wants you to choose your own digital adventure and wait longer for cheap online comics, while Marvel are getting Mighty Diverse with another Avengers team (because we need at least one more, right?), which doesn’t change this unsettling situation. Bottom line: Al Ewing will write the hell out of that book, and we should focus on the double positive of a talented young writer on an Avengers title, AND a new book with a more diverse cast. IMO.

Speaking of diversity, comics made out pretty good at the Lambdas (that article also gives a little context on the Cannes win, too), while the whole annoying “Kelly Sue only has a career because of Matt Fraction” thing got rehashed, which was sad, but did permit various people to rally inspiringly. All of which lead to the question: “do we write about gender too much?”. Well?
The 2D Comic Con in Derry happened the weekend before last, and from the sound of it should be an easy add to your convention calendar, especially with launches like this one by Roger Langridge happening there. Of course, this weekend just passed was HeroesCon in Charlotte, and by way of a taster Tom Spurgeon interviewed two legendary Heroes panellists who every year host an epic panel on a different topic, this year’s involving Peter Bagge and music comics. If all this gives you the comics travel bug (but you haven’t got San Diego bank) then some say Brussels is the spot that’s hot.
Darwyn Cooke is pretty great at art stuff, isn’t he? And so I want to believe he’s just about the greatest guy, too. But Hooded Utilitarian takes a close look at his work on Before Watchmen, and has some strong words for our boy. Controversial, perhaps, so lets go with the positivity of the art link, and let Rob Davis talk us through his Quixotic process. While we’re communing with the makers, here’s Todd McFarlane keeping it simple, Moore making new magic, Mizuno being the best kind of mad, and Matt Miner talking Liberator (there are only so many “m”s!). Particularly with the Moore and McFarlane interviews, they’re good reminders of how much more interesting some creators are than the fan worship they inspire. I’m sick of hearing about Moore, the mage/genius, but this interview was beautiful, clear, and unpretentiously inspiring. Just like every other interview I’ve ever read with him. And McFarlane’s just refreshingly offhand.
Since this NTK was clearly brought to you by the letter M, let’s address Manga. If you’re not a regular manga reader, here are two perfect entry points, out now, and a whole load of art that may sell you on Sunny’s creator, while for those particularly interested in Horror Manga, the Mercurial Blonde wants to hook you up. Plus… the perfect place to read manga. Is there a comics equivalent? Also, Bartkira. Its no joke. Nor is a new blog post from James Stokoe, especially if you’re jonesing for Kaiju.
We’ve had Summers of Valiant, but it loos like this summer is going BOOM! with Six-Gun Gorilla in June and Day Men in July. Good-looking comic-booking. But there’s a new player in town this season, Fried Comics, and they’re taking your orders for Deadskins and Pregnant Bitches of War with some tasty covers. Yeti Press have some sizzling summer deals on their books. Don’t know Yeti? Now you do. Pretty sure I’ve mentioned these before, but Heck, it’d be a shame not to mention them again. Lot to take in so far, isn’t it? Well, don’t get distracted, just look straight ahead.
If you’ve been thinking of trying out some Jaime Hernandez stuff, how about sampling a scary freebie of his online? Or if you’re pressed for time, surely you can make a minute for a Tiny Story? The Comics Journal has a quartet of webcomics worth your eyeballing (especially Meat and Bone), but if you’re really that worried about making reading time then ask yourself “is the world my park, or my cage?“.
We’re almost there, so time for treats. Here is the secret of how events are made. Yes, this is the Best Art Ever (This Week). And allow me to introduce Peter Kuper, a very talented man.
Last, a word of support for Inkstuds, one of the best comics interview podcasts out there. To support the continuing podcast activities, there’s a Digital Book of all the creator interviews he’s done. Should be a great read. Especially for $5.
Keep your noses clean kids. Don’t wanna end up like these guys.

status quo

Yes, I have heard it

courtesy of (who said “Copying is an act of love”)

Superheroes tend to aim at the preservation of the status quo, and secondarily at its improvement.

But in the real world, the preservation of the status quo is the core mission of tax dodging corporations, pollutant multinationals, and overpaid lobbyists. Change is aimed at by many, achieved by few, fought for by fewer.

We change our world, not special individuals demarcated by superhuman abilities and costumes. Us. Or we don’t.

So can comics escape being metaphors for our dreams of impact? Can they be compelling and escapist, but anchored to a continuity like our own? Would that work?

Its been tried, but inevitably anything too tangible gets backgrounded, palmed off to the supporting cast. Stark Resilient is left to Pepper while Tony fights stuff and goes galactic. Batman Inc is backpedalled and replaced with Bruce fighting for his son’s life, then to avenge his death. Reed Richards joins the council of Reeds and builds a nu-Earth for us to escape to, then drops the idea, and takes a family trip (to try to figure out why they’re all disintegrating). Every grounded, proactive effort beyond punching the baddie is eventually ditched.

There are two ways of reading this.

Superheroes are valiantly defending us from a worse status quo, acting as a necessarily reactive countermeasure to the disruptive.

Superheroes are victims of their own special status.

The former is pretty sound. It lacks romance or excitement, but its not negative, putting superheroes on a par with peacekeeping forces and emergency services.

But the latter… Isn’t it the false premise on which our culture’s inflated self-esteem is built? That if it weren’t for all the villains holding us down we’d be make everything better? That we’re special, but unable to exercise our special-dom fully because of pesky other people who’ll screw everything up if we aren’t there to sort it?

Are superheroes unwittingly complicit in our ever-worsening dooshbaggery?

Need To Know… 15.4.13

only what you need

only what you need

First off, I’m posting this as the Boston Marathon happenings unfold. What a horrible thing. Here’s hoping that the suffering of the victims is minimal, that those responsible are prosecuted, and that this event isn’t co-opted into any greater ideological narratives.

Now, comics.

We all love Saga, right? To the extent that maybe we forget how graphic some of the stuff in it is (I definitely do, who cares about beautifully drawn gang-bangs when if you turn the page you may get to see Lying Cat?). Fortunately, Apple don’t forget. Or wait, is that Comixology? Okay, just what the hell happened with Saga, Comixology and iTunes last week? Your best answers come from Mark Waid, and CSBG’s Greg Burgas. Whatever happened, it was an interesting counter-point to the Big 2’s biggest reveal of the week (unless you count this “Hunger” tease, which we don’t), that a Batgirl supporting cast member is transgender. By way of further related reading, Bob Temuka posted thoughtfully, and entirely unrelatedly, about Gender Issues in comics, and tangentially this Sean Kleefeld post is a great intro to Sinfest and a concise rumination on racist humour in comics. For what its worth, the Saga issue just proves clusterfucks aren’t the exclusive province of the Big 2, and the transgender announcement is a significant event, but in no way makes the comic better. Hell, that character may never feature again.

But WAIT! I promised MoCCA coverage, even if belated, so here’s a solid overview from Publisher’s Weekly, The Beat’s summaries of the Art as a Profession and SelfMadeHero panels (both well worth reading, for creators and fans alike, especially Boulet’s input to the Art as a Profession talk), a review of 10 MoCCA debuts (different to last week’s 10 previews!), and The Comics Reporter’s hub for all the other coverage you could want!

Back to the NOW! and Margaret Thatcher has died, though way more upsetting is the news that Winter Soldier has been cancelled with #19 (a shame, as its the best book you’re not reading). But as one door closes another cliche fairy dies, so as consolation I remind you that Ales Kot’s Suicide Squad is almost in our hands, and Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez may be doing a superhero book soon…? Speaking of future releases, here’s your homework before Sheltered drops from Image (courtesy of Ed Brisson) in July, while iFanboy works double-time to cover your pre-movie Mandarin studies, and offer recommends as the antidote for your spandex overdose!

To save you the effort, someone has used Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred #4 as it was intended to be used! Almost makes you wonder… “is it a comic?“. Another benevolent soul has started translating the visual language of comics via the fight scene, using King Kirby’s royal screeds, no less! And here’s some creator advice you should question. Oh, and Tom Spurgeon, Jim Rugg and then Corey Blake got into it about what comics should aim for, so… what do you think, 200,000 or 2 million? Also, Creativity: Do not exceed the recommended dosage.

In the world of crowd-funding, somebody’s finally launching a Lovecraftian Art Zine (we’ve waited so long)! This campaign wants to beautify your Meatspace, but as always, you gotta, gotta, gotta beware of the Video Nasties. They’ll mess you up (but they are free, at least). Noah van Sciver has a new site up with collaborator Joseph Remnant and their free comics, point being if you can’t find something to read this week, well, its you, not them.

I’m not sure whether this is a “WTF” or a “What If?”, but Remender and Albuquerque once had big plans. Elsewhere (Elseworlds?) Paula Andrade draws a whole lot of women. Which can’t leave her much time to practice her Tie Chi.

In signing off, I leave you in the capable & colourful hands, of The Realist.

Need To Know… 8.4.13

only what you need

only what you need

Last week was a sad week for comics. Carmine Infantino’s passing was marked by the New York Times, and I include it as tribute to the efforts made by him and his generation that resulted in institutions like the NYT considering comics creators’ lives worthy of notice. Anyone preferring to celebrate his life will want to see this. There’s little else to say, except Rest In Peace Bob Clarke, George Gladir, Carmine Infantino, and Roger Ebert. You’ll be missed.

Accentuating the positive, this week ComicsAlliance’s Best Art Ever lived up to its billing, and Superheroines got clothes. Also, a late addition from WonderCon saw Terry Moore and Jeff Smith share insight on self-publishing, and Jim Zub continued his deep dive into the fiscal reality of digital and print, which is more heartening than you might anticipate.

But let’s drag ourselves back to the Big Two for a minute. DC continued to slaughter sacred cows this week (Year One Zero, anyone?), announcing a college-age Carrie Kelley for the New 52. However, they also launched an IndieGoGo campaign for a very good cause, so we forgive them (at least until we read the issue!). Truth be told, I found this Josh Simmons Batman strip I’d forgotten, with a great Vorpalizer review, and DC announced more Tom Strong (at Vertigo, no less… sign of a revival?), and after that I didn’t care so much about Carrie Kelley shenanigans any more. Meanwhile, Marvel had a Spidey week, announcing Superior Foes of Spider-Man, “Superior No More”, Superior Spider-Man Team-Up, Superior going to Shadowland (that one makes us really nervous), and Superior Carnage. Hopefully we’ll have recovered from reading all that by the time the new Casanova hits, with Michael Chabon back-ups (and to hear Fraction and Chabon talking, go here). Marvel did not, however, announce any charity initiatives. 1 – 0.

Speaking of giving, maybe you’ll want to lend your support to this Starstruck Kickstarter? Or any of this excellent selection, particularly Bingo Baby, or this project, which will SAVE EARTH THROUGH CARTOONS. You may, of course, be looking for another one of those cool comics subscription arrangements, know what I mean? Yeah, Dude. And if you want the obvious route to good indy comics, just walk into the West Wing at Orbital Comics and indulge in some Decadence, it’s good for you! Speaking of comics collectives, we reckon Partyka have something for everyone.

Of course, its still lean times for many of us, so maybe take a free bite with Sharkmouth, check out some sexy new Dylan Horrocks, visit the refreshed and much improved Thrillbent (my favourite by some way is Clown in The Mirror), or just Throw Your Keys Away. If you’re feeling really lean, maybe dispense with everything but colour? Actually, now we think of it, all you really need is a few good covers.

Looking to learn? How about this stellar list of The Greatest Stories Ever Told over at CBR, voted for by you! I got particularly excited by the What If…? and Brian K Vaughn entries. Maybe this will be the week you “get” Zippy. Or the beginning of an epic Reread. Dennis Hopeless has much to share regarding Avengers Arena and how much crap comics fans can fling, too. Or a slice of history, with the First Parody Account.

Here’s a question: Should these awards exist? Maybe the answer lies through this question: How many of those comics or creators had you heard of?

Baseball’s boring, but this comic book is beautiful!

MOCCA news will have to wait until next week, but here’s a smorgasbord of the tasty comics on offer. No Chinese retro superhero comics unfortunately, but wait, Sonny Liew and Gene Luen Yang gotcha back! And who knows what this will look like, but a Joe Casey tease is always worth a peek.

And forget the Mankankosappo. Its the Vader you need to watch out for.

Need To Know… 25.3.13

only what you need

only what you need

I think its fair to say that DC won last week’s skirmish in the eternal war for coverage, for reasons good and not good… They announced a new, nostalgic digital Batman title, and Robot 6 interviewed Andrea Sorrentino and Pete Woods about life in the Big 2, on big books. Comics Alliance cornered Kyle Higgins on Dick and the Bat-shadow too, and reading those articles makes you realise, DC have some great creators on board, people with interesting ideas, who are looking to grow and evolve as storytellers. Shame they can’t keep them, then, though its nice they’ve clarified John Stewart’s safety (for now!). The upside of this upheaval is we get this fun fact, and an excuse to brush up on J’onn J’onzz’s history. So overall, a win! Unless you’re Vibe. Or is that premature? Across the street, Marvel’s announcement of the week was… Angela. Yay?

Paul Gravett brings a clear eye to the Lichtenstein debate, and if you want to get involved with the artistic response to the exhibition, let Rian Hughes know. While you’re on Paul’s site, check out his guide to May in comics, it’s eye-opening, and maybe if you swing by Comiket in April you can discuss it with him? Speaking of comics critics worth watching, Tom Spurgeon celebrated Mini Comics Day by posting an old entry of his. Show-off!

For those of you living under rocks, Brian K Vaughan and Marcos Martin blew up the internet with Private Eye (go. buy. read. smile.), and Warren Ellis made this sanguine observation of the event. He also posted a lovely collaboration with Molly Crabapple, and got his own Avengers rumour, to boot, so Monsieur Ellis had a pre-tty good run last week! Bleeding Cool ran this timely piece on French attempts to legislate for authors in a digital/print world. Oui, oui… and while we’re Francophone, the Finalists for Canada’s Doug Wright Awards were announced (lots of NTK favourites on there, and more to discover besides!). If you’re unfamiliar with Doug Wright or the Awards, Seth’s speech from their inaugural year is an intelligent, spirited introduction. Enough of French though, as our very own Si Spurrier is bringing you Six Gun Gorilla… and he’s no surrender-monkey (I apologise, it was just there, I’m so sorry).

Kickstarter’s popping fresh this week, with this anthology based around body/gender, and this volume of Humour and Despair, but I’m pre-ordering Devastator. Because I’m intimidated. Not as intimidated as I am by Shamification, though. Unless its for Steve Ditko’s benefit… because then its okay, right? Right.

All a bit heavy this week, so far, isn’t it? Sorry. Here, check out these Super-moves. Or this Tumblr has you covered. Or a funny look at one artist’s demons. Whatever you do, just don’t have a cow, Tetsuo, be like Mateus Santolouco, and say Cowabunga! Lengthier, but just as inspiring, Rick Remender gives a great interview. Eddie Campbell also has a theory (I’m not sure it’s really his though…), but the man with the plan this week is Five Ghosts’ Frank Barbiere. He brings you the new blood. Seriously, the guy bleeds ink and love.

Sometimes helping an artist out reaps serious rewards, sometimes you read a review and recall how much you loved the comic they’re reviewing (mermaids, humour, and solitude are in that mix), and sometimes you want a creator to hold your hand through the building of pages.

But sometimes, all you get is Toxoplasmosis. Or Aquaman in a bustier. Either way, you go on, richer for the experience.

Need To Know… 11.3.13

only what you need

only what you need

Comics folk had a pretty tough week last week. First of all, legend Jerry Ordway posted on his blog about his experiences being exclusive and underused at DC. Then The Beat ran this thoughtful follow-up, including Jerry’s reactions to the outpouring of sympathy and support. And over at Robot 6, the Grumpy Old Fan himself made the (strong) case for Ordway getting a book pronto! All of which was compounded by the news that Fantagraphics’ co-publisher Kim Thompson has cancer, and the Allreds were burgled.

Meanwhile as Steve Rude launched a Kickstarter campaign and the Stripped feature documentary on “the world’s best cartoonists” launched their final push, the Sullivan’s Sluggers debacle ignited again as James Stokoe sought to distance himself from a new (and now cancelled) campaign. All of which resulted in two good things, this tee shirt, and this The Gutters. Plus, that whole Orson Scott Card thing got laid to rest, for now.

On the topic of good things, check out this interview with Paul Levitz about the re-issued History of DC Comics, or this cute/cool Avengers print, this upcoming Fearless Defenders cover, or this new entrant to the small press comics subscriptions market from Space Face! And combine eye-candy with homework, by preparing for May’s The Dream Merchant with some of Konstantin Novosadov’s art.

On the digital front, Comixology has opened for submissions, with none other than Becky Cloonan leading the way! Elsewhere in cyberspace, Marvel went Unlimited (well, kinda), then announced some actual cool stuff, while DC thought of the children. On the topic of kids and comics, iFanboy makes a good point, and Ted Naifeh bids farewell to his terrific kids book, Courtney Crumrin. If you’re looking for good comics online, try to catch Black Death, or just Activate Comix.

For a quicker fix, check out CBR’s Week of Cool Comic Book Moments, or catch up with Multiversity’s 31 Days of Abe Sapien (they’ll also help you assimilate in the Mignolaverse, if you abide by their Hellboy reading notes). Or learn Jae Lee’s Secret Origin, read up on Ultron (he’s more than a mad robot!), and if I’m killing you with links, make like Lazarus.

Here’s a gallery to help you spot your favourite creators. So you can BE NICE! Maybe you could even help them celebrate the 80th anniversary they didn’t know existed?

And remember American Eagle? Badass.

A late addition from the ever helpful, resourceful and comics-loving Robin Harman, Mark Waid talks you through the potential for Digital, and he should know!

Need To Know… 18.2.13

Monday night and BOOM!

So, who’s excited about London Super Comic-Con this week-end? Come say hi to me and the Orbital Comics gang, we’ll be there with all the goodness we can fit on two tables! (which we spent today boxing, labelling, and chin-scratching over, so please excuse the slight hysteria of the previous sentences)

There are a shit-ton of guests, but I’m guessing most people are pumped to meet Neal Adams? I’m more interested after reading that interview. Well, while you’re queuing for him to sign or sketch, maybe you could make the most of this reading list for writing comics from Denny O’Neil? Or Mark Waid’s hot tip for a comics history read? Perhaps let Amy Reeder school you on perspective in storytelling? If, instead, LSCC inspires you to check out what great comics UK-based creators are making, you might scroll through Luke Pearson’s gorgeous & unpronounceable Ahuizotl, or let Roger Langridge tell you the Charles Xavier story you always wanted to be told? I never really got the fuss about Luke Pearson from casually flipping through some pages of his, but Ahuizotl won me over.

Beyond London gatherings The Gutters has the two biggest stories covered for you. You have to wonder who will take up the mantle (ring?) of writing Green Lantern, I’m crossing my fingers for Tom Scioli to write and draw. Tom Scioli. You know, who does the best Evil Superman comic ever, and draws the first instalment of a new series over at Trip City. Speaking of evil and Superman, we mentioned that exciting new digital title DC’s launching last week, but many are up in arms about DC’s lead creative choice... While on a lighter note, Ty Templeton finds the humour in mainstream entertainment’s ham-fisted approach to diversity.

Last week brought us Mylo Xyloto, Polarity is upcoming, and Orchid just ended, but there’s one musician-created comic we’re especially pumped for, right? How are you feeling about the upcoming New 52 Constantine title? Would a preview help you decide? And with Miniature Jesus arising in April, Comics Alliance wants to get you better acquainted with Ted McKeever’s work. Let them. Even better is this paper on the Visual Linguistics of David Mazzuchelli, but as always feel free to ignore the words and just drink in his (hard to find) art! And anybody who has access to copies of his Rubber Blankets… get at me!

Subscription services are the new thing in small press comics, and I’d recommend you try this one from Box Brown’s Retrofit Comics. Or, failing that, peruse the offerings from newly launched and alternative-minded Black Mask Studios? It can be hard to choose from the wealth of small press and indy creators out there who you’re going to check out, and harder to discover whose work you really dig. In this instance, let The Comics Journal advise you, as Windowpane is a seriously rewarding read (or whatever the comic-specific verb is). Or you can just take my word for it, and bank on either Farel Dalrymple’s It Will All Hurt (he’s part of Team Prophet after all), or anything by Boulet!

That was a lot of words. Sorry about that. Here, relax your reading muscles and feast your eyes on a James Jean Retrospective (words included, but optional). Gaze adoringly at Adrian Alphona’s preparation for a return to comics (with Uncanny X-Force #3).

Ready for a big finish? Gary Groth is interviewed by Jim Rugg et al on the Tell Me Something I Didn’t Know podcast, newly relaunched. It’s a good listen. My Back Pages is a lovely piece on the comics you remember fondly, with great Dan Slott penned Daffy Duck cartoons. And finally, Kate Beaton wants to know: Are You Nasty?

See you next Monday!