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Warren Ellis


Coming to the end of April -- there's a great cover from AP Furtado coming up for May.  The sponsorship slot (upper left hand corner of every page here) is open and cheap.  I'm tweeting at and in my backyard.  Remember anyone can post here at ComixTALK -- just log-in to your account here and post a "talk post" -- well-written and interesting posts will get promoted to the front page.  If you're already blogging somewhere else about comics it's easy to set-up an auto-import of those posts to your account at ComixTalk (log-in and click on the "add a feed" link).  And now the newsy stuff:

Over at Brad Guigar answers a question about artist collectives.  I think the most critical thing to remember is that a group is no more than the sum of the people involved.  Make sure you can work with everyone before you commit time to a group.

A comic from Maira Kalman covering a visit to the U.S. Supreme Court titled, May It Please the Court. (h/t to Journalista! and Scott McCloud.)

Journalista! linked to a recent video tutorial by Mark Crilley on "how to draw a manga-style eye" and Crilley's series of video tutorials is a nice free resource.

Dylan Meconis' BITE ME is now available in a single edition printed object you can purchase.  Great, funny story about vampires in the French Revolution

Copyright is a really interesting topic in these days as technology allows for more and more creative re-use of material that seems to be remain under perpetual copyright (see this Techdirt post for a discussion of some copyright holders view that copyright should last forever minus one day).  While I'm sure many creators instinctively support copyright, I think many webcomic creators also now deeply understand how a more flexible approach to utilizing their copyright rights actually works to their benefit.  And then of course there are those webcomics that are built on someone else's copyrighted material, although in some cases the webcomic goes so far beyond the original work you wonder if they could make the argument that it's transformative (which btw is the crux of the current copyright dispute between the A.P. and Shep Fairey over his iconic Obama/Hope poster.)

This is weirdly interesting - Wikimedia (parent of Wikipedia) is suing a group of artists who were using Wikipedia for their art project.  Maybe some webcomic should have thought of this! 

GI JOE Resolute - scripted by Warren Ellis himself was pretty nifty for it's less stupid take on G.I. Joe than the original 80's-ish era saturday morning cartoon series.  Ellis points to the finale on youtube.

Who Are You?: An Interview with Neil Kleid (Action, Ohio)

whoareyouWhat if superheroes, created by analogues of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, were real and based on actual people with powers? What if they were hidden away in a sleepy town since the 1950’s? And if there are superheroes, are there supervillains?

Action, Ohio, written by Neil Kleid and illustrated by Paul Salvi, was originally one of the hopeful competitors trying to win a contract with Zuda Comics. The comic follows heroine Andi Bruce, a Detroit detective with a sad past, who is compelled to solve a brutal murder. Her investigation gradually leads her to learn about the existence of superheroes in a town on the Michigan-Ohio border. Eventually, she must decide between solving her case or protecting the heroes’ freedoms by keeping things quiet.

I first encountered Action, Ohio, when Jack, Anthony, The Doctor, Delos, and I did a round of reviews at Comic Fencing. I heard about the comic again when Neil sent out a press release that the comic had moved to Shadowline, an Image Comics affiliate that begun publishing webcomics in October 2008. I did some quick research, and it quickly dawned on me that Neil Kleid was prolific. Winner of a Xeric Award (for Ninety Candles), writer for several print comics published by NBM to Slave Labor to Image, art director for Comedy Central and Miramax campaigns, creator of several webcomics…. Good God, y’all.

A large sample of his work can be found at his Rant Comics site.

I contacted Neil if he’d like to do an e-mail interview, and he graciously accepted. Neil had already conducted two excellent interviews with Newsrama and io9. I wanted to touch on subjects that hadn’t yet been covered at the other sites: what it was like working for Zuda and Shadowline, what common themes were within his body of work, and … why Ohio?

DRAFT List of 100 Greatest Webcomics: Comedy and Drama

Last year I posted a couple times (Previous posts on this "research" project were here and here) about a possible article on "ComixTALK's 100 Greatest Webcomics" which would be something like the American Film Institute's list of the greatest movies of the last 100 years.

A recurring comment to the previous two posts was what is the criteria for this.  I'm always a little hesitant to give too much guidance when part of the point of asking this kind of thing out loud is to listen to the resulting discussion of what everyone else thinks the criteria should be.  For the AFI list judges picked films based on criteria such as Critical Recognition, Major Award Winner, Popularity Over Time, Historical Significance, and Cultural Impact.

That sounds about right to me.  We've got a round decade plus a year or two of webcomics to look at it.  Critical reception (both from peers and critics), and popularity are both relevant to thinking about the impact of a webcomic.  WCCA awards are somewhat indicative of what peers were impressed with in a given year and more recently awards like the Eisners and Ignatzs have recoginized webcomics.  Historical significance and cultural impact are a little harder to pin down but various "firsts" in webcomics are important and comics like Penny Arcade have had a much wider impact on popular culture than most comics do these days (put aside the legacy superheros of comics -- what other "new" comic, let alone webcomic, in the last decade has had a wide cultural impact?)

Another thing AFI did that might be useful here to help sort through the vast numbers of webcomics one could talk about is to also think about categories or genres of work.  Just as a simple matter of numbers if a webcomic isn't one of the best of a larger type of story -- or frankly, so startlingly unique it's hard to categorize -- then it's hard to imagine it's one of the 100 Greatest...

So to move things along I'm listing another "draft" of titles submitted by the crowds but this time I've tried to break them up into drama and comedy so as to help avoid complete apples to oranges comparisons.  In doing that I've realized (1) it's hard in many cases to decide; and (2) there are probably more comedic than drama on the list so far.  I think it would make sense to whittle down the two lists to 75 each so as the final list is no more than 3/4 of one type or the other.  Of course we could further do genre type lists but for now this was enough work on my part.

So -- your assignment (if you choose to play):

  1. Name the comic you're talking about (you're also welcome to nominate ones not on the list -- I KNOW there are many I haven't even thought about yet -- it takes time to review all of the corners of the web)
  2. Tell me where on one the two lists (comedy and drama) it should be (you could give a range of slots if you're not sure). (If you think I've got a drama on the comedy list or vice-versa let me know!  I'm not "done" - this is fairly dashed off still at this point)
  3. Tell me why!  Referencing awards, critics, historical achievements, strengths and weaknesses of the works are all really helpful!

PW Beat: Webcomics among top stories of 2008, part deux

Dark Red: Issue #3 Page 64 - Not in the Book

Issue #3 Page 64 - Not in the Book

It's Friday again, so that means a new episode of Dark Red is up. The story-telling from the past is over for now and we're back to the present. I liked doing the laptop pictures for this page and the little magic war was also fun. As always you can look at the behind the scenes pictures for Issue #3 here.

November 14th DRAFT version of 100 Greatest Webcomics List

This is an update to a previous post here, thanks for the cumulative suggestions on that thread.  JUST so we're clear - this is open-sourced to everyone research for a possible article to appear next month at ComixTalk.  I don't endorse the list or the order at all; at this point I've tried to include all of the suggestions I've gotten and I also went through all of the comics ComixTalk has ever reviewed and pulled quite a few titles.

We're at the point where it'll be most helpful if you tell me comics you think should go on the list, where (what number approximately) and which comic should get bumped.  If you just want to change the order you can do that to but there'll be another post before the month's through asking for help with that.  

Marvel On Cell Phones in Europe

Todd Allen finds a story on Marvel comics distributed on cell phones in Europe and wonders if this is Marvel's pilot program before bringing it to the U.S.  Assuming that to be the case, Allen surmises what it would look like here:

The books in the demo on the CATOOZ website include the Planet Hulk run of Hulk, Astonishing X-Men, the Warren Ellis “Extremis” reboot of Iron Man and Millar’s Spider-Man run, so we might not be looking at terribly current comics here, but we also have a hint of how Marvel might handle new releases digitally: Something along the lines of $1.50 for a single issue, $7.50 for a bundled subscription

Towards A More Perfect Comics

Tom Spurgeon has a long post on how he, if he was "emperor of comics" would fix things.  It's interesting and covers a range of topics from awards (Keep the Eisners, nix the Harveys) to direct market retailers to digital strategies.

I attended the Small Publishers panel at SPX this year and it was interesting -- it included someone from Sparkplug, Buenaventure, Bodega, (and one more publisher I can't remember this sec) but not encouraging.  It's not surprising that it's a barely profitable to profitless business (all four panelists were hoping that growing back catalogues would eventually sustain their business) but it was also revealing that there is a great deal of art and guesswork to making a go of it.  There were different approaches to selling through AMAZON, various levels of website-driven sales, different ideas on marketing.  All I think had a background in working for larger publishers and all said they were doing it for the love of comics.

I've sometimes given thought to getting into publishing but I would certainly do it from a web-heavy approach.  One of the publishers that seems very savvy so far is AVATAR which is handling Warren Ellis' Freak Angels comic and I suspect will sell massive amounts of the print collection driven by the comic's serialization on the web.

Don't Go Back to Cuba: Weekend News Update

A shout-out to the conclusion of A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge which was an amazing webcomic - telling the story of several different people in the midst of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans.  There will be a book next year from Pantheon Books.  Congrats to creator Josh Neufeld - this is one of the best works of the year so far and I hope everyone has given it a read.

D.J.Coffman is working on a (politically-minded band) Flobots-inspired comic called Rise of the Flobots: Architects of Change.  Simil;ar Coffman art but definitely a different vibe for him than previous work.

Desmond Seah's webcomic Bigger Than Cheeses is often pretty funny.  Lately though he's spent an inordinate amount of time mocking a particular scene and storyline from Tim Buckley's Ctrl-Alt-Del.  I don't think there's much of a legal problem using the one bit of art from C-A-D in Seah's comic (perhaps a taste problem but I'm not going there...), but when you do it over and over and over and over again... I don't know what my point is, but it's beginning to feel like an Andy Kaufman sketch or something.

Why not give Ellis his own category - he gives me a reason to write about him enough.  I forgot to mention this bit on Freak Angels from last month:

When we started FREAKANGELS, some webcomickers were heard to say “weekly webcomics suck.” Like there was only one way to do a webcomic, and that the daily newspaper strip was somehow inherently superior to six-pages-a-week. Even now, I’m not seeing a lot of weekly webcomics. If you know of any, stop by and tell me about them. Hell, maybe we could generate a weekly programme guide out of them.

Weekly comics don’t suck. You can read them anytime. You can wait for weeks and read several episodes at once. But it’s nice, I think, to have landmarks in the week. Friday is FREAKANGELS day. You don’t have to be there at 12noon UK time when Chief Mechanic Ariana pushes it live. But it turns out that tens of thousands of people like coming over here on the day a new episode goes live. FREAKANGELS Friday. And I like doing that for people.

Weekly webcomics are great when they give you a satisfying chunk of an update like Freak Angels' six pages does.  Update no more often then you can keep up with and design your update "chunk" plus frequency to both ensure you can keep up with the schedule but also so that you can break up your story into satisfying chunks.

This Day in ComixTalk: September 5th

Pete Abrams celebrated 10 years of Sluggy Freelance, and Ellie Deyneka wrote about finding an audience for her webcomic The Paranormals.

Rich Stevens strikes a deal to syndicate Diesel Sweeties to the newspapers (he ended that arrangement in 2008), musician Thomas Dolby wrote about the use of his lyrics in a Wapsi Square comic, and Bryant Paul Johnson was one of the finalists for the Science Idol comic competition.

The encyclopedia site was just getting started, and Brad Guigar was organizing a webcomics telethon for Hurricane Katrina relief.

We were in the midst of the first big site overhaul at ComixTalk...

The manga anthology site Wirepop added Eversummer Eve to its lineup, and we recommended readers check out Warren Ellis' Artbomb comic site.