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A Very Condensed Report on the Reuben Awards

Hello Comixtalk! I made a short comic report on my trip to the National Cartoonists Society 65th Annual Reuben Awards, which took place over Memorial Day weekend in Boston.

Comix Talk for JUNE 1st


June evokes feelings of tranquil, great outdoor weather for me but this year it looks to be hovering around 100 degrees. Great webcomic weather I guess. Before we get to the news check out Mason Landon's ill portraits of historical figures, including the above 5 Dollar Abe.

NCS, REUBENS and THE WEB: A contingent of independent, web-minded cartoonists descended on this year's National Cartoonists Society event, including the Reubens awards. Robot6 covers some commentary by the Half Pixelites on their attendence at the events and the Daily Cartoonist starts to round up reports on it here. This seems like a crossing one of those famous river type moments.

DC COMICS RESETS FOR DIGITAL. The other big story comes out of comic superhero land where DC Comics announced that it was hitting the reset button on its entire universe of characters.  Woven into the announcement was the fact that DC will also now release its comics digitally at the same time as printDetails on the revamped line-up of titles are seeping out.  Not that anyone who makes these decisions listens to me but let me offer up my latest thoughts on this anyhow. The biggest potential growth route for comics (let's not confuse it with superheroes which have a dandy growth path in movies) is digital.  Especially as generational change continues, comics' natural home is going to be digital.  So this is a good move by DC, especially if it makes it convenient and reasonably priced for readers to get digital comics legally.

The other part of it is potentially interesting although there's too many details unknown yet.  Most of us want good stories. DC and Marvel seem to be built more on telling a story than whether it's a good story or not. Think about television -- American television has moved from more open-ended, keep it running as long as possible series to shows with a definite end (even if the ending kind of sucks).  British television seems to always take the shorter is better approach to seasons and entire series of shows.  Comics could learn a lot from this.  Give seasons of DC comics an arc and pay-off.  Plan for their natural endings.  Don't call it a 2011 comic - call it DC Season 1.  If it's done really well, it can have an everlasting life of sales online.

The other thing is writing these iconic comics for kids again but I don't see much about that in the recent news.  I think it's a missed opportunity, but it's probably not in the cards.

Comix Talk for Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Short week but not necessarily short on comics.  Here's a few interesting stories to catch up on between catching on webcomics:

CAN YOU DIG IT: Once upon a time, Matt Madden slipped a slim jim into a comic.

SUPER ART FIGHTOn June 18, 2011, Super Art Fight returns to The Red Palace in Washington DC for a full card of bouts including marker-pugilists Super Art Fight Champion Michael “Spaghetti Kiss” Bracco, Chris “Impact” Impink, Nick “Ghostfreehood” Borkowicz, Jami “Angry Zen Master” Noguchi, Kelsey “Killer” Wailes and the undefeated Brandon J. Carr!

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Author John Scalzi has a great post up on the pros and cons of the book tour.

MILESTONE: 12 years of Cat and Girl.  That's like a 100 years for a dog; 1000 for a webcomic.

INTERVIEW: An interview with Ivan Brunetti on his new book Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice --  a 15-week master course built on his practical experience teaching at the University of Chicago and Columbia College Chicago.

COMICS!: The Rumpus has built up a pretty strong webcomics section with an alt/indie vibe.

NOT COMICS: Hey you got your Portal 2 in my Project Wonderful! No you got your Project Wonderful in my Portal 2!

Cory Doctorow on Pirates and Admirals

Wasn't Pirates and Admirals an XTC song? (maybe it should have been) Anyhoo a great short talk by author/activist Cory Doctorow on the history of copyright, technology and piracy progress.

Comix Talk for OMG Time For A Three Day Weekend See Ya Bye

Despite my eagerness to hit the road for a weekend of memoralizing, there is a lot of webcomic news out there you might want to skim through amongst you know... actually reading webcomics.

MILESTONES: One of webcomics' really nice guys, Krishna Sadasivam announced he's putting his 13 year run of PC Weenies on hold.  He offered a number of reasons for his unexpected decision:

I want to focus more efforts on my illustration.  The audience for the strip has reached a plateau that has been consistent for the past two years. It’s frustrating, and I know I could have done more to promote the strip, but in the end, there’s really nobody to blame but myself. I take full responsibility for this.  13 years is pretty long for anything. I’m happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish, which is a body of work that spans well over a decade.

And a reality check:

Bills. I gotta pay ‘em, and lately they’ve been crushing me alive. We’ve had a few emergency setbacks recently (two huge car repairs, a crazy water bill from hell, etc.) that are putting the squeeze on us financially. Big time.  The time I spend on making the comic could be better spent on other income-generating areas, and right now I have to do what’s best for my family. (You could help and buy a book. And if you have, thank you. I really do appreciate it.)

It's not a 100% closing of the door to coming back to the comic later on and Sadasivam also announced a new Tumblr site where he's posting PC Weenies toons from 1998 to 2007.

HYPE: reports on Crossed: Wish You Were Here, a new Avatar project that will employ the same web and print strategy of its successful Freak Angels webcomic.  Crossed will be Si Spurrier and Javier Barreno -- starting this October.

NOT WEBCOMICS: Vulture Magazine leads a critical investigation.  No it's not that kind of cup.

MUST SEE TEEVEE: Law & Order: Webcomic Unit.

INSPIRATION IS 99% SELF-INFLICTED PAIN: Thanks to Reality Amuck for linking to this funny Whomp! comic on the creative process.

A Future for Editorial Comics?

A few definitions first: when one says "editorial comic" pretty much everyone thinks of something like this.  Caricature + obvious summation of current news event + labels.  It's a long tradition in America that continues to hold on in major newspapers.  There's also a long standing thread of politically aware commentary in comics as a whole which one can trace back through Pogo all the way to The Yellow Kid. Somewhere in the middle is the group of comics that deals with comics and politics that mostly got its start in the weekly free newspapers that most major cities have. 

None of these comics seem to have a success story with any indepedent webcomic model.  (Please tell me if I'm wrong!)  Lately however, I've seen some interesting changes: Tom the Dancing Bug has moved to Boing Boing, a very popular blog and a progressive blog, The Daily Kos, has started a comics section organized by Tom Tomorrow of This Modern World.  It places these comics out of a "comics" context and more in the context of their point of view. 

Also worth checking out is the first part of a Daily Crosshatch interview with opinionated cartoonists Ruben Bolling, Tim Kreider, and Ted Rall.

Least I Could Do Animated Series

I didn't follow the news closely this week when Ryan Sohmer tweeted his allegations about a Candian company creating a copycat animated series using notes from meetings with Sohmer.  But apparently it turned in a positive direction with Sohmer starting a Kickstarter project to raise money to make a pilot of an animated show for his webcomic Least I Could Do.  One wrinkle apparently being that Kickstarter is limited to U.S. citizens so Randal Milholland has set up the Kickstarter effort for Sohmer.

Comix Talk for Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I think we'll be doing the rolling blog post today - check back often (or at least when I tweet "done!")

Breathers by Justin Madson is a great sci-fi story.  I've been buying the issues and I still will probably get the complete volume now that it's out.

NEWSPAPERTRON READY: I saw that and GoComics announced that they are merging their sites on June 1, 2011.  On that date, will survive and I guess will go away?  Does that really make sense? Isn't the most natural URL to keep?

KNOW YOUR HISTORY: For a guy who reviews webcomics, El Santo also makes a good comics historian.  This time he gives a history lesson on Green Lantern (last time it was Red Tornado).

CATALOG OF BROAD SHOULDERS: Gordon McAlpin got some great reviews for his first print collection of his webcomic Multiplex, including from yours truly.  Good news for Gordon -- the book is getting its first listing in the June edition of Diamond Comics PREVIEWS catalog AND it's a Staff Pick.  Hopefully that will lead to more folks checking it out.

Comix Talk for Monday, May 23, 2011

AWARDS: Last week the Glyph Awards were announced - the winner in BEST COMIC STRIP OR WEBCOMIC was The K Chronicles by Keith Knight.

GREAT WHITE NORTH, EH: Daily Cartoonist notes that each Wednesday, For Better or For Worse creator Lynn Johnston has been posting a video podcast where she shares with her fans a little peak into her world as a cartoonist and creator of the Patterson family.

TRIP THE GLOBE FANTASTIC: Art Patient reports that portrait artist Jean Tripier has started publishing Travelogue, his travel journal online. It is a unique webcomic with ink and watercolor artwork that is based on (mostly) real events -- it's on Jean’s Travelogue website.

ON THE COMICS MEDIA: Graphic Novel Reporter has an interview with Brooke Gladstone, writer of the graphic novel The Influencing Machine and an interview with the illustrator Josh Neufeld.

I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS IS MORE THAN 20 YEARS AGO: TCJ reprints a 1990 interview with Jack Kirby.

Interview with Richard Thompson of Cul De Sac

The Washington Post's comic blogger Michael Cavna has a profile of Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson in this week's Post Magazine.  It's really well-done, good read and Thompson's career and life story is particularly interesting.