Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Romanian Manga

Cory Doctorow has a story in Forbes about how manga has invaded Romania, and how it has morphed into two distinct cultures: those who insist on absolute fidelity to the source, and those who are appropriating and remixing it into something resembling the old American underground scene.

(BTW, those adaptations of Doctorow's short stories that IDW is publishing? Rather good, I think.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tara Tallan and Galaxion

this is what happens when you let engineers run looseSequential Tart's Donielle Ficca interviews cartoonist Tara Tallan, whose sci-fi comic Galaxion is on its third iteration, now as a Webcomic on Girlamatic.
The best thing [about working on a web comic] is having no costs other than my art supplies – and instant world-wide distribution, for them that wants it. Self-publishing in the 90's was more or less a zero-sum game for me. I didn't lose money, but I can't say I made a lot of money either. On the web, I can still tell my story and still reach lots of readers (though there will always be those that for one reason or anther simply don't want to read comics on their computer), but without the money issues! Also, by the time I'm ready to collect all this stuff into a graphic novel, I'll have done half the work by already having established a fan base. Not all web readers will buy, of course, but it's a decent head start over trying to sell something sight unseen.
I was a fan back in the day, and was disappointed when the regular comic version disappeared. I'm looking forward to when Tallan gets enough of the new version completed to release a paper-based collection. (I just don't like to follow long-form works online.)

(This is the sort of 'other avenue' that I was referring to previously.)

(link via Dirk)

Colleen Coover (Again)

Writing for The Oregonian, Steve Duin reminds us that there are other women working in comics besides than Gail Simone; in this case YACB fave Colleen Coover. It's a rather nice profile of her career so far.

In regards to our previous post about women creators at the big four, I am reminded that, while Coover has been doing semi-frequent back-ups for X-Men: First Class, they are rarely if ever mentioned in the solicits. On the one hand that makes it always a nice surprise when her work shows up; on the other, maybe it would behoove Marvel to mention her participation as a selling point?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Virtual tour of Periscope Studio... In German!

A short photo tour of Periscope Studio, by a visiting German cartoonist: Fotos aus dem Studio

Women Creators at Marvel & DC (and Image & Dark Horse)

David Welsh's recent post about tips for media writers when writing about female comic creators got me to thinking: just how many women are writing or drawing comics at the major pop comics publishers?

Let's go counting through the April solicits!

(Note: I'm not counting manga or OGNs.)


Writers: 2: Robin Furth on Dark Tower & Lords of Avalon; Jessica Ruffner on Anita Blake.

Artists: 1: Adriana Melo on Ms. Marvel.


Writers: 2: Amy Wolfram on Teen Titans Year One; Gail Simone on Wonder Woman & Welcome to Tranquility

Artists: 2: Nicola Scott on Birds of Prey; Sandra Hope on World of Warcraft


Writers: none

Artists: 1: Laura Allred on Madman Atomic Comics

Dark Horse:

Writers: none

Artists: 1: Jan Duursema on Star Wars: Legacy

So as far as creator gender representation in mainstream comics goes, things are no better than they were ten, twenty or thirty years ago--the days of Louise Simonson, Jo Duffy, Ann Nocenti, June Brigman, Marie Severin, Ramona Fradon, etc.

One might think that, with more titles being pushed out these days, there would be opportunities for more creators, and that some of those slots would be filled by women creators.

It's hard to address the why of the gender imbalance without speaking in supposition and generalities. I think that there are a combination of factors at work, some of which boil down to a lack of desire on the part of female creators to work on corporate super-hero comics when there are plenty of other avenues available for their creative expression.

(1/28: Edited, 'cause I totally spaced and left off Jan Duursema.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Diamond 2007 Chart Position and Sales

Near the end of his discussion on the ICv2 Diamond Sales Estimates for December, Tom Spurgeon remarks:
There also seems to be growth at the bottom of the comic sales chart, a slight shift of 20 or so place for equivalent sales, which is a phenomenon I don't know that I've seen convincing analysis on, but I would imagine has to be encouraging.

Ask and ye shall receive, Tom!

I looked at ICv2's Sales Estimates charts for all of 2007, grabbing the sales figures for positions 1, 10, 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, and 300. (I also did the graphic novel charts for positions 1, 10, 50, and 100.) Here's what we get:

Diamond 2007

(The Y-axis on the chart is on a logarithmic scale.)

The only thing that jumps out at me is that for comics, for every position but 50 & 1, the Jan 2007 numbers are darn close to the Dec 2007 numbers.

Frankly, I was expecting to see more connections. I thought that high numbers at the top would mean low numbers at the bottom, as the big selling titles would eat away at the mid and lower ranks. This is slightly true, as we can see that the highest numbers for 150, 200, 250 and 300 come in October, when positions 1 & 10 are at the lowest.

But every time I thought a pattern was emerging, along came a data set for the month which quashed the pattern.

(In case you're wondering, the big numbers at position 1 in the beginning of the year are from Civil War #s 6-7, then Captain America #25.)

As far as the graphic novel position data goes, it seems to be completely divorced from anything.

Does anyone else see anything different in the data?

(There is also no doubt a better analysis to be made, such as adding all top 10 slots and comparing to the total of the bottom 50 or something like that. This is just what I came up with for a quick look...)

Monday, January 21, 2008

New Library Comics: Week of January 14, 2008

Here's a list of the comics we added to our library collection last week:

Azuma, Kiyohiko. Yotsuba &! / Houston, Tex. : ADV Manga, 2005- vol. 5

The best American comics 2007. / Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006-

Brown, Jeffrey (Jeffrey David), 1975- Incredible change-bots / Marietta, GA : Top Shelf Productions, c2007.

Elfworld / [San Francisco?] : Family Style ; London : Diamond [distributor], 2007-

Emond, Steve. Emo boy / San Jose, CA : SLG Pub., 2006- vol. 2

Fillbach Brothers. Maxwell Strangewell / Milwaukie, Or. : Dark Horse, 2007

Flight / Orange, CA : Image Comics, c2004- vol. 4

The Ganzfeld. New York : Kaput Press no. 5

Georges, Nicole J. Invincible summer : an anthology / Bloomington, Indiana : Microcosm Publishing, 2007.

Gothic classics / Mount Horeb, Wis. : Eureka Productions, 2007

Hernandez, Gilbert. Chance in hell / Seattle, Wash. : Fantagraphics, c2007.

Hickman, Jonathan. The nightly news : (a lie told in six parts) / Berkeley, Calif. : Image, 2007.

Hinds, Gareth. William Shakespeare's King Lear : a graphic novel / Cambridge, Mass. :, 2007.

I keee you!! : a collection of overheards / Baltimore, MD : Atomic Book Company, 2006.

Isaacson, John. Do-it-together silk printing / Bloomington, Ind. : Microcosm Pub., 2007.

Jason, 1965- I killed Adolf Hitler / Seattle, Wash. : Fantagraphics ; London : Turnaround [distributor], 2007

Kim, Derek Kirk. Good as Lily / New York : Minx, c2007.

Kindt, Matt. Super spy / Marietta, GA : Top Shelf Productions, c2007.

Knapp, Bill. A thorn in the side. / Lafayette, IN : Carbon-Based Books, 2007.

Lat. Town boy / New York : First Second, 2007.

Lay, Carol. Goodnight, Irene : the collected stories of Irene Van de Kamp / San Francisco, Calif. : Last Gasp, 2006.

Marzocchi, Leila. Niger / Seattle : Fantagraphics Books ; [Bologna, Italy?] : Coconino Press, c2006- no. 2

Millionaire, Tony. Sock Monkey : the inches incident / Milwaukie, OR : Dark Horse Books, c2007.

Morse, Scott. Scrap mettle : fast art / Berkeley, CA : Image Comics, 2007.

Nilsen, Anders, 1973- Dogs & water / Montreal : Drawn & Quarterly ; New York : Distributed by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.

Petrucha, Stefan. Beowulf / New York : HarperTrophy, c2007.

Road, Cristy C. Distance makes the heart grow sick : a book of postcards / Brooklyn, N.Y. : Croadcore ; Portland, Or. ; Microcosm Publishing, c2007.

Robel, Nicolas. Joseph / Montreal : Drawn & Quarterly, 2007

Ryan, Johnny. Johnny Ryan's XXX Scumbag party. Seattle : Fantagraphics Books, 2007.

Schulz, Charles M. (Charles Monroe), 1922-2000. The complete Peanuts 1965-1966 / Seattle, WA : Fantagraphics Books, c2004-

Staros, Chris. Chris Staros' Yearbook stories, 1976-1978. / Marietta, Ga : Top Shelf Productions, c2007.

Strip AIDS U S A : a collection of cartoon art to benefit people with AIDS / San Francisco : Last Gasp, Ron Turner publisher, c1988.

Takahashi, Rumiko, 1957- InuYasha / San Francisco, CA : Viz, LLC, c2003- vol. 31

Taniguchi, Jirō. The walking man / Wisbech, Eng. : FanFare, 2004.

Tomine, Adrian, 1974- Shortcomings / Montréal : Drawn & Quarterly, 2007.

Vaughn, J. C. Antiques, the comic strip / [written by J.C. Vaughn ; art by Brendon and Brian Fraim. Timonium, Md. : Gemstone Pub, 2007.

Weird science / Timonium, Md. : Gemstone Publishing, c2006- vol. 2

This listing is now available as an RSS Feed!

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Big Three Return

RASL #2There has been much speculation over the past year or so on the death of self-publishing, particularly for the comic book serial. Not surprising, as many self-publishers have either gone to established publishers (e.g. Linda Medley), gone to the Web (e.g. Phil & Kaja Foglio), or essentially given up (e.g. Mark Oakley).

I think that 2008 will be a make-or-break year. Three of the biggest names in self publishing have new projects starting up: Jeff Smith with RASL, Terry Moore with Echo, and the granddaddy of all Dave Sim with Glamourpuss.

The success of these three enterprises will tell us a lot about the viability of self-publishing comic books in the current era. Will their fans take to their new projects? And if so, will they buy the periodicals or wait for the inevitable trades? (Sim claims that the collection of Glamourpuss most likely won't come out until 2012 or thereabouts.)

However it goes, 2008 should make for an interesting year in comics publishing.

Monday, January 14, 2008

New Library Comics: Week of January 7, 2008

Here's a list of the comics we added to our library collection last week:

Abel, Duane M. Zed : backstage pass : a cartoon collection / Carrollton, Ohio : Published by Corkey Comics, c2005.

Brubaker, Ed. Point blank / La Jolla, CA : WildStorm Productions, c2003.

Brubaker, Ed. Sleeper / La Jolla, CA : WildStorm Productions, 2004-2005. vols. 1-4

Chippendale, Brian. Battlestack galacti-crap foods. [Sunderland, England] : Reg Vardy Gallery; School of Art, Design, Media and Culture; University of Sundrland, 2005

Eisner, Will. Fagin the Jew / New York : Doubleday, 2003.

Fortier, Ron. The Boston Bombers special / Plymouth, Mich. : Caliber Comics, 1997.

Gaiman, Neil. The absolute sandman / New York : DC Comics, 2006- vol. 2

Graphic witness : four wordless novels by Frans Masereel, Lynd Ward, Giacomo Patri and Laurence Hyde / Richmond Hill, Ont. : Firefly Books, 2007.

Lewis, Jon. Ghost ship / San Jose, CA : Slave Labor Graphics, c1996- no. 1

McInturff, Don. The mighty offenders / [Richmond, Va.] : Young American Comics, 2004-

Owen, James A. Starchild / Mesa, AZ : Taliesin Press, c1993- no. 12

Stoops, Tracy. Dark fury / Plymouth, Mich. : Webb Comics, [2002]- no. 1

Styrk, John. Boomtown scabs / [Belleville, Mich.?] : Boomtown Press, 2005- nos. 1-2

Tagami, Yoshihisa. Grey / San Francisco, CA : Viz Comics, c1988- no. 1

Takemiya, Keiko, 1950- To terra -- / New York : Vertical, 2007- vol. 3

Van Lente, Fred. Cowboys & aliens / Los Angeles, Calif. : Platinum Studios, 2006.

This listing is now available as an RSS Feed!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Monkey Covers

Sunday is Monkey Covers day here at YACB. Because there's nothing better than a comic with a monkey on the cover.

Today's cover hails from 2006: Disney's Comic Zone vol. 2, featuring Art Balthazar's Gorilla Gorilla.

(Standard disclaimer about double-names gorillas not really being monkeys applies.)

Image courtesy of the GCD. Click on the image for a larger version.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Favorites of 2007 - Comic Books

Last Tuesday I presented my picks for my favorite graphic novels and manga of the past year. Today I complete my wrap-up with my favorite "pop" comics from 2007:

Superhero Comics

All Star Superman by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely

If the twelve-year-old Dave from 1982 to come forward in time twenty-five years, this is the sort of comic that he would be delighted to see. As such, All Star Superman tickles not just my inner twelve-year-old super-hero itch, it also appeals to thirty-seven-year-old Dave's desire for intelligent, well-crafted stories with gorgeous artwork. It is also the work of a maturing Grant Morrison, trading the surface flash of his JLA and the showy weirdness of Doom Patrol for something with more subtlety.

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane by Sean McKeever, Takeshi Miyazawa & David Hahn

Where A-S Superman strikes at my inner-twelve-year-old boy, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane appeals to my inner twelve-year-old girl. I don't think there was a single issue of this that when I finished I didn't say to myself: "That was a darn fine comic." These out-of-continuity tales of MJ & Peter in high school had just the right amount of angst, sentimentality and humor. The title was canceled with McKeever's departure for a DC exclusive (where so far his talents are being wasted on drudge like Countdown). Although Terry Moore has been tapped to restart the title sometime in 2008, it remains to be seen if this will come to pass since apparently Spider-Man no longer loves Mary Jane in the Marvel Universe.

Marvel Adventures The Avengers by Jeff Parker, Juan Santacruz, Raul Fernandez, & Leonard Kirk

Issue #12, featuring "Ego, the Loving Planet," was quite simply the most fun super-hero comic of the past five years (at least). Add in issue #9's story featuring the Avengers transformed into M.O.D.O.C.s with one of the most brilliant covers of the year, the Giant Size Special featuring Parker & Kirk's Agents of Atlas, and several other enjoyable done-in-one stories. Would that all of Marvel's super-hero comics be this enjoyable to read!

Love & Capes by Thomas F. Zahler

Super-heroes as romantic comedy have been done before, but Zahler's take in Love & Capes is so spot-on that it rises to the top of the pack. All the main characters are intelligent and nice with a sense of humor about themselves that they're easy to like and root for. Zahler's art is done in an attractive animated style in an eight-panel grid, and he packs in a lot of story and characterization into each issue.

The Spirit by Darwyn Cooke

Cooke successfully updates Eisner's The Spirit for the modern age while still remaining a classic feel as The Spirit. Plus, his art is very pretty to look at.

Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil by Jeff Smith

Smith's Shazam! miniseries was a comic not without its faults, but it makes it onto this list on the pure power of Smith's version of Mary Marvel. Every time Mary appeared on panel, the comic raised its normal entertaining level up to pure delight.

Other Comics

The Nightly News by Jonathan Hickman

The most graphically-innovative comic of the year, and also the angriest. Hickman's The Nightly News requires a shift in the way that one normally perceives and reads comics, requiring that the reader enter a level of engagement with the material that reject a surface experience. The comic also frequently lies to its readership in its tale of secret societies, violence and corporate media, which again forces a closer reading of the material. It remains to be seen if Hickman's approach will work with other material, but for this subject matter it's near perfect.

Glister by Andi Watson

An all-ages title that works on multiple levels, Watson's Glister is an engaging story of a precocious girl who deals matter-of-factly with the strange happenings in her life, including literal ghost writers, wandering houses, and missions to faerie. It reminds one of cherished novels of childhood without seeming derivative.

Honorary mention: not at the top of the list, but still greatly enjoyed this past year were Fables and Jack of Fables; DMZ; Y, the Last Man; Captain America; Green Lantern's "Sinestro Wars"; Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel: After the Fall.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Favorites of 2007 - Graphic Novels & Manga

Let me state up front that this is not necessarily a 'Best of' list; I didn't have time to read everything and I'm sure that there's some good stuff that came out in 2007 that I just haven't gotten to yet.

That said, here are my picks for my favorite graphic novels and manga from 2007 (I'll follow later in the week with a post on favorite comic books):

Original Graphic Novels:

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

The Arrival actually came out in 2006 in Tan's native Australia, but it didn't really hit U.S. shores until this year so I feel justified in including it. Tan, generally a creator of picture books for children, has created a wordless graphic novel that seeks to give the immigrant experience to the reader. Our nameless immigrant travels across the ocean to a strange land; at first we think we're in a early 20th century on Earth milieu, but soon we discover that we're in a world that clashes with the bizarre and wouldn't be out of place in a Jim Woodring comic. The sights are odd, the flora and fauna are odd, the customs are odd, and we don't understand the language. I don't know if it's possible for a comic to be a truly immersive experience, but The Arrival comes about as close as possible.

Bookhunter by Jason Shiga

Set in the early 1970s, Shiga's Bookhunter takes the police procedural and sets in the world of a major city public library. For anyone who enjoys a good comic this is entertaining; for a library geek like myself, it's paper-and-ink crack. Bookhunter goes a long way in solidifying Shiga's reputation as an unheralded comics genius. (You can read Bookhunter online in its entirety here, though I strongly suggest that this is a comic best experienced in print.)

Zombies Calling by Faith Erin Hicks

You might expect that at this point there wouldn't be anything new in zombie comics. I would have thought such an opinion to be correct, had it not been for Faith Erin Hicks' debut graphic novel Zombies Calling. Three university students find to their surprise that their campus is being overrun by zombies, and they use their knowledge gleaned from watching zombie movies to survive. It has just the right mixture of humor, satire, action, drama and pathos; and Hicks's agreeable art (reminiscent of fellow Canadian Brian Lee O'Malley) is perfect for this kind of story.


Yotsuba&! by Kiyohiko Azuma

2007 saw the resumption of English publication of one of my all-time favorite manga series, Kiyohiko Azuma's delightful slice-of-life comedy Yotsuba&! No other comic being published today makes me laugh so much, and it's good clean fun at that. Charming, sweet and fun, it serves as a perfect example of how to make good comics.

Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms by Fumiyo Kouno

A collection of two (or three, depending on how you count them) stories dealing with the long-term effects of the atomic bomb on the people of Hiroshima, Kouno's Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms pulls off the tough task of being an 'important' work without seeming like it's trying to hard. Despite the sometimes depressing themes, this is not a depressing book. We see the bomb as a ghost hanging over the people, but it is a ghost that they learn to deal with. Heartbreaking, yet strangely uplifting in the way the characters not just survive but also live. It has stayed with me ever since reading it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

2007 Fiesta Bowl

While there were a few good bowl games this year, there was nothing to compare to excitement that was the conclusion to last year's Fiesta Bowl. Now thanks to Hulu, we can all relive it.

We pick up late in the fourth quarter as Boise State, with an eight point lead, is trying to run the clock out against Oklahoma...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Monkey Covers

Sunday is Monkey Covers day here at YACB. Because there's nothing better than a comic with a monkey on the cover.

For our first cover of 2008 we have Evan Dorkin & Sarah Dyer's cover to Biff-Bam-Pow! #1, on which One Punch Girl has laid the smackdown on Nukular Jones, the gang of "low rent monkey muscle."

(Standard disclaimer about monkey muscle not really being monkeys applies.)

Click on the image for a larger version.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

YAMR: Best of 2007

Christmas is over, so it's time to retire the Christmas 2007 Mix on Yet Another Music Radio; it was very popular during the holidays, but we're moving on.

Our new playlist at YAMR for the next little while is Best of 2007, nearly 100 tracks of my favorite music from the past year.

You'll hear songs by:
Abra Moore, Adrienne Young, Alison Krauss, Aly & AJ, Amanda Abizaid, Amy Winehouse, The Apples in Stereo, ATB with Heath Nova, Ben Lee, Bethany Dillon, Brandi Carlile, Britt Nicole, Chantal Kreviazuk, Celtic Woman, Colbie Caillat, Deana Carter, The Dollyrots, Dolores O'Riordan, The Electric Soft Parade, Elini Mandell, Emmy Rossum, Feist, A Fine Frenzy, Flyleaf, Fountains of Wayne, Green Day, Her Majesty's Sound, Iowa Super Soccer, Jane Monheit, Joss Stone, Julie Marcell, Julie Doiron, Kelly Sweet, Kim Richey, Kristin Hersh, Laura Veirs, LeAnn Rimes, Lisa Kelly, Lisa Miskovsky, Mandy Moore, Marié Digby, Martina McBride, Meg Baird, Miranda Lambert, Missy Higgins, Mocean Worker, Nichole Nordeman, Noisettes, Patty Griffin, The Pipettes, The Puppini Sisters, Richard Shindell, Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby, Rihanna, Rilo Kiley, The Rocket Summer, Samantha James, Sara Bareilles, Sara Evans, Sarah Johns, The Section Quartet, Silversun Pickups, Sleepthief & Kristy Thirsk, Suzy Bogguss, Tegan and Sara, Todd Snider, Tracey Thorn, Uncle Earl, THe Unlovables, vicky Beeching.

It's nearly six hours of great music, so tune on in!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Graphic Narrative Discussion Group

I briefly mentioned yesterday that last night we were having our inaugural meeting of a Graphic Narrative Discussion Group. The group is a spin-off of sorts of our Fantasy & Science Fiction Theory Reading Group. Every year for the past few years that group has chosen a graphic novel as one of the selections; this new group is for those of us who want to do more than just one a year and/or things that don't necessarily fall under fantasy or science fiction.

Last night we decided to do a somewhat major work every other month (we haven't decided yet what, if anything, we'll do in the intervening months). Here's the slate we came up with for our first year:

February: Global Frequency by Warren Ellis and various artists (both volumes)

April: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

June: Yotsuba&! by by Kiyohiko Azuma (first 2 volumes)

August: Mister O by Lewis Trondheim

October: Palestine by Joe Sacco

December: Get A Life and Maybe Later by Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian

To me this seems like a good batch offering plenty of variety and potential discussion.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Blogging About Not Blogging is a Sin

Things this week on YACB are pretty quiet. I'm working on my Favorites of 2007 post, which should be ready to go early next week. Also, tonight is the very first meeting of our new Graphic Narrative Discussion Group, so hopefully tomorrow I'll have a brief report on that.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year 2008

Little Dot Dotland #38
Little Dot and Yet Another Comics Blog with you a Happy New Year and a prosperous 2008, with plenty of good comics!

(Cover to Little Dot Dotland #38)