Blue Boo Boo

January 15th, 2013

BluewaterBooBoo

 

It’s been a while since we’ve reported on a Bluewater Productions comic. Since then, the company has severed its ties with Diamond Distributors and gone almost entirely digital, meaning it’s a lot harder to find that random Justin Bieber comic on the shelf at Walmart. And yet Bluewater soldiers on, making one-shot comics out of famous and semi-famous individuals alike. So yes, I am here to share the news on the aptly named, 15 Minutes: Honey Boo Boo,” which hit digital shelves across a variety of platforms on January 9th.

 

BooBooMyDigitalcomicsWhat’s actually somewhat interesting and unique about this release is the way they’re structuring it: each digital distributor (i.e. iTunes, Kindle, My Digital Comics and Wowio) gets a unique variant cover. Up until now, variant covers were strictly a practice reserved for print books, with variants usually thrown into the digital packaging as an art gallery if the pieces were good enough (or is the publisher felt like throwing readers a bone). Will this actually usher in a new age of exclusivity for digital variants? Maybe if the numbers are good enough. Although as a fan of comics as much as I am the business, I’m hoping this doesn’t usher in an age of $8 digital variants; that would just be weird. The Good E-Reader blog approached Bluewater to comment on the practice, and it looks like they’re mainly trying this out to have some fun and to please the Boo Boo.

We heard from Honey Boo Boo that she wanted to be animated and loved the comic book we did on her (on the flip side, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Walters, Carrie Fisher, and Ellen DeGeneres did, too). Boo Boo wanted to be an animated superhero and how can you not give the kid her dream! So we did the homage ones in honor of her with Michael Troy and Jonathan Woodward. Then we thought to give them to our partners such as iTunes, Kindle, My Digital Comics and Wowio. We are digital with a lot more, but I did not want to flood the market.

So if you’re one of the people out there who bought the book and wondered why your cover was different than your pal Johnny over there with the Kindle, now you know why. I’m just glad the variants make her look less like a short Phyllis Diller than the regular cover does.

Survival stories

December 3rd, 2012


Graphic journalism continues to make headway into the field of “serious” comics, and this time it’s available on the format/medium of our times, the iPad. Symbolia is a bi-monthly digital magazine featuring long-form journalism in the form of sequential art, for the (relatively) low price of $11.99 for six issues, or $2.99 for individual issues. The iPad app features audio, animation, and interactive graphics. Don’t have an iPad? Well, for desktop users (and Android, a platform they seem to have forgotten exists) they also sell Symbolia in a PDF edition, same price.

What do you get for your dollars? You can check out the free preview on their site, which features stories by Susie Cagle, Sarah Glidden, Chris A. Smith and Damien Scogin, Kat Fajardo and Audrey Quinn, and Andy Warner and Lauren Sommer. We’ve previously covered Glidden here in the blog, and her piece comes from her trip with the Common Language Project, which will be expanded upon in her upcoming book Stumbling Toward Damascus. “The Rollerbladers of Sulaymaniyah” is up to her usual standards and is pretty interesting, but perhaps my favorite piece in the preview was “Sea Change”, about the environmental troubles facing the Salton Sea in California.

Happiness is a well-done tribute

November 26th, 2012

Sure, it’s Cyber Monday, but if you’re into comics at all, today is a far more momentous occasion. Today would have been Charles Schulz’s 90th birthday. The creator of Peanuts… well, I don’t need to say much more than that, do I? But for your edification John Kovalic of Dork Tower fame did a lovely strip talking about the influence that Schulz had on his own work.

There’s a Peanuts movie due in 2015. I was feeling pretty good about this until I saw it was probably going to be CG. I wonder what Schulz would have thought of seeing his work in computer-generated 3D.

An Artist, Who Escapes

May 18th, 2012

The Holocaust is a subject that’s been covered in comics before, most notably in Art Spiegelman’s Maus, but Lily Renée, Escape Artist is a graphic novel takes a lighter approach, mostly due to the fact that its subject was lucky enough to never be in a concentration camp, though she did suffer her own trials and travails as a result of being Jewish during the time of the Nazi regime.

Lily Renée Wilheim was a teenager when the Nazis invaded Vienna, which meant she was old enough to recall the events clearly, but also young enough to be shipped out as part of Kindertransport, which means the bulk of the biography focuses on events that aren’t often talked about in the greater narrative of Jewish oppression and the Holocaust. We follow Lily’s struggles as a Jewish refugee in England, being classified as an “enemy alien,” and finally her immigrant experience in America, which leads her to her ultimate status as a pioneer in women’s comics.

The book focuses on smaller details and anecdotes in Lily’s journey, like eating too much food on a train or working as a mother’s helper. This makes it easier for younger readers to relate to Lily, but it also leaves the book feeling a bit shallow since it barely touches upon the larger war narrative going on. Lily herself may not have been too concerned with the bigger picture, as she was doing her best to survive, but the book is very much written toward an educational bent, so more historical context would have been helpful in imparting a history lesson to its readers. Most of the heavy-lifting is left to the appendix in the back, which explains some of the finer historical details. In this manner, it reminds me of the American Girl books, except that those novels are definitely intended to focus on their storytelling first and foremost, better to relate to their audience of 10-year-old girls (and sell more dolls). They aren’t sold as educational materials.

The copy on the front and back covers of Lily Renée, Escape Artist seems to be aimed toward promoting a strong female role model, except that the aspect of her they promote—her comics work—is barely touched upon in the book. She doesn’t reach that point until the last few pages of the last chapter, and it really feels like they’re name-checking the titles she worked on. I would have liked to see sample pages from her work, or maybe more audience reactions, or some further indications of how this work changed her life, beyond that it paid for her mother’s operation and that one of the characters “was a fantasy” for her. If her work in comics is being used as a hook to get people to read this book, it should have gotten a lot of more page time. While I enjoyed the book, it ultimately felt unsatisfying.

Lily Renée, Escape Artist
story by Trina Robbins
pencils by Anne Timmons
inks by Mo Oh
published by Graphic Universe (New York, 2011)
ISBN 978-0-7613-8114-3

 

That is Your Childhood Self

May 9th, 2012

Yesterday Maurice Sendak died. He was the author and illustrator of Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, Outside Over There, and many other iconic and iconoclastic children’s books. He was 83. The New York Times has a good write-up on his career.

Today, in response to a request from Neil Gaiman, the New Yorker has unlocked a comic by Art Spiegelman, recounting a conversation Maurice and Art had, way back in 1993. It’s quite lovely and funny, and you can check it out over at their website.

By Art Spiegelman and Maurice Sendak

(via Neil Gaiman)

Occupy Kickstarter

November 10th, 2011

Say what you will about the Occupy movement, but its reach seems to grow every single day. Whether it be through Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or professional blogs like Huffington Post, every other post is about the Occupy movement or reaction to the Occupy movement. Well, now comic books are getting into the game. For once, Bluewater Productions are not the guys behind this effort. Instead, some of the industry’s most prolific talents are gathering to put out Occupy Comics.

The collaboration is looking to embrace the artistic nature of Occupy in order to get its message out there in a cohesive and straightforward manner. Tim Seeley, J.M. DeMatteis, B. Clay Moore, Ben Templesmith, Steve Niles, Molly Crabapple, and Marc Andreyko are just a few of the artists and writers involved. Heck, even Douglas Rushkoff is listed as a contributor. Each and every cent donated via Kickstarter will go towards paying the talent involved and to produce the book. The creators will then be able to donate whatever they receive straight to the movement so that it can continue on. As of typing this, $2,116 out of the $10,000 needed has been pledged.

The Kickstarter campaign will be available until December 9th with multiple rewards available for different tiers of donation, including a paper copy of Occupy Comics for $20, a copy of the Occupy Comics Documentary by Patrick Meaney, director of Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods and Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts for a $25 donation, and a signed and numbered anthology for $50. Or, if you’d like, $1 gets you a thanks on their website. Hopefully this will get a unified Occupy message out there to those still looking to hear one.

(via Bleeding Cool)

New York Comic Con 2011 at a Glance

October 12th, 2011

The sixth annual New York Comic Con is upon us! With it comes a fourth day of panels, screenings, back-issue browsing and celebrity sightseeing. I will once again be set up in Podcast Arena with all of my recording gear for my podcast, Comic Timing. Be sure to stop on by booth D14 in the Artist Alley to say hello, talk comics and maybe even buy some of the comics I’m getting rid of.

Before Thursday hits and we all get lost and overwhelmed, here are a few choice panels that should not be overlooked if you are looking to learn more about the nonfiction side of this here industry. I’m also including a few panels that might not be strictly nonfiction but could very well have some elements of nonfiction to them.

THURSDAY

RWP 2.0 – The Future of Comics in the Classroom
Date: Thursday, October 13
12:15 pm – 1:15 pm

Location: 1A02

Speakers: Charlie LaGreca, Dr. Michael Bitz, Jessica Abel, Josh Elder, Matt Madden

Description:
Find out how YOU can help get comics into schools and get schools into comics in this informational seminar hosted by some of the biggest names in the world of comics and education. Join Josh Elder of Reading With Pictures, Dr. Michael Bitz of the Comic Book Project, Charlie LaGreca of Comic Book Classroom and Jessica Abel and Matt Madden of Drawing Words and Writing Pictures as they unveil their plans for 2012 and beyond.

I’m including this one for any comic book professionals or teachers out there that might be interested. This is only available to those with Professional badges; Thursday general hours begin at 4pm.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Sign For More Wine

October 6th, 2011

You call it a photo-essay, I’ll call it a comic. This week’s New York Times Sunday Review, written by Ben Schott, discusses the impact the long shuttered New York City nightclub, The Stork Club, had on the way waiters and restaurant staff communicate with one another. They were the first to utilize a series of gestures reminiscent to those of a football referee or a third-base coach to get news from staff member to staff member faster than speaking. Today, Eleven Madison Park keeps the New York tradition alive with their own form of sign language.

Everything from the water preference of a table to whether or not crumbs need to be cleared can all be said through signals. When it is time to clear a plate, a gesture towards the chair of a guest will do it. Each and every member of the staff at Eleven Madison Park must be proficient at the unspoken language or else mishaps are bound to occur. They even have a set direction to walk the room (clockwise) and a specific side of a guest they should veer towards at all times (the right). Considering the place is one of the most successful and expensive restaurants in the city, I would expect the best possible service with my meal. Maybe other establishments could learn a thing or two from this method in order to improve the efficiency of their dinner hour?

You can view the full list of signs, signals and directions here. And if you do decide to check out Eleven Madison Park, come on an empty stomach; they only do four-course meals or tasting menus.

Steve Jobs and What Was NeXT

September 27th, 2011

News has been trickling out over the past month about Caleb Melby’s upcoming 60-page graphic novel, The Zen of Steve Jobs. In it, we get to see parts of Mr. Jobs’ life very few have been able to see before. Specifically, what he went through during the 1980s after he left Apple and was about to start NeXT, the company which was later purchased by Apple and is now the backbone for parts of OS X. Back then, Steve Jobs was in an in-between state and was looking for guidance; he turned to Kobun Chino Otogawa, a Zen Buddhist priest to learn meditation and to uncover design aesthetics that he still uses today.

Forbes is releasing the graphic novel along with the help of JESS3, a creative design company based out of Washington, D.C. The book looks to give fans of Apple, and even casual onlookers, a further view into what makes one of the most important men in the history of computers tick. Caleb Melby states that he put mounds of research and reporting into the graphic novel to try and get it as close to historically accurate as possible while still maintaining a narrative flow. It also informs us all that Buddhist monks enjoy Denny’s.

A release date for the book has yet to be finalized, but Melby says it will be out sometime in the fall. For now, there are five pages released; one here and four more here.

(via The Beat)

Post-Its and Subways

September 26th, 2011

There’s a new book coming out in October called Post-It Note Diaries. In it, stories are compiled from various artists and writers, including the likes of Andrew Bird, Kristen Schaal, Jeff Simmermon, and Beth Lisick. Basically, each contributor tells a short story about their life and the story is then illustrated and edited by the man who put the project together in the first place, Arthur Jones. On the book’s website, Jones describes how the concept was created.

I found 3 inch yellow pads of Post-its to be perfect little sketchbooks and I could swipe hundreds of them at a time from the supply closet without anyone noticing. Eventually I started reading these work stories in public — at bars, bookstores and art galleries. To accompany my performances I projected a slideshow of my Post-it Note drawings behind me. It was a little like narrating a comic one panel at a time or presenting a hand drawn lecture.

To promote the project’s upcoming release, the chapter written by The Daily Show’s John Hodgman has been put online in its entirety. It weaves a tale about the New York City subway system’s price increase from $2 to $2.25. Like all Hodgman pieces, it goes in a direction no one would expect it to go. Be sure to read it all the way to the end to truly understand why this tale needed to be told.

In addition, for those living in the New York area, there will be a book release party and reading this Tuesday, September 27th at Little Field in Brooklyn. Entry is free and doors open at 7pm. Hodgman will not be in attendance but a bunch of the other authors will be, so it is probably worth a look for anyone interested in the book.