[Note: The following interview was conducted in July 2009, but has not previously been published.]
Since the 1997 release of his first graphic novel, Two-Fisted Science, writer, librarian, and one-time nuclear engineer Jim Ottaviani, has been telling compelling stories about the lives and work of scientists. He’s written about everything from J. Robert Oppenheimer’s work on the atomic bomb (Fallout, 2001), to Hedy Lamarr’s invention of an early “frequency hopping” communication sytem (Dignifying Science, 2003), to Harry Harlow’s investigations into the necessity of love (Wire Mothers, 2007). Along the way, he’s worked with more than two dozen artists, including Donna Barr, Roberta Gregory, Roger Langridge, Steve Lieber, Dylan Meconis, Linda Medley, and many others.
His eighth and most recent book, T-Minus: The Race to the Moon, illustrated by Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon, relates the dual stories of the US and Soviet space programs through the late 1950s and 1960s, as they competed to be first to the lunar surface. But true to form, Ottaviani’s telling of the story focuses less on the astronauts who made the journey than on the engineers and rocket scientists who made the journey possible.
Today I'm reviewing two new books from Scholastic Publishing. It's a new series called The Amazing Adventures of Nate Banks and the first two books are Secret Identity Crisis and Freezer Burned. These book aren't really comics — they are actually text books, although each has a "comic book" insert in the middle — a separate "comic book" that exists within the larger text stories. Since each book includes at least some comics I suppose we don't have to change the name of the site to write about them.
Missile Mouse: The Star Crusher is a household favorite here. Both of the x-girls (especially the youngest) raved about the book. It's a really exciting tale, jam-packed with action and plot points. Creator Jake Parker has tremendous art chops and visually this book is like a revved-up Saturday matinee special.
An interview with Julia Wertz, creator of the webcomic Fart Party and the editor of the I Saw You anthology. Wertz constantly makes a point of saying I'm not a webcomic person (she said something similar at the SPX panel she was on last year) and I've never quite figured out what's going on that motivates her to feel the need to throw down that marker.
Copper is a beautiful comic. Kazu Kibuishi takes such care in rendering landscapes both natural and fantastic, that one can't help but be drawn into the page to fully appreciate the environment of Copper. In particular, I think Kibuishi must love drawing moving water because it is almost a constant presence in the book (The comic "Waterfall" is both a great bit of illustration but also an insightful commentary on it).
Whew, made it to Friday. Sometime next week a new version of ComixTalk at the new server will emerge — it won't be perfect but mostly what I need this year. And it should mean the end of me starting posts writing about Drupal and CSS…
I got a fever, and the only prescription… is more AXE COP! You've all read Axe Cop, haven't you? If I didn't know it was for real I might have thought Kris Straub was behind it… Coupling really funny and well-done art with scripts from his 5 year old brother Malachai, artist Ethan Nicolle has created something that is a gimmick but I swear I laughed the whole time I was reading it.
I'm on the twitters sometimes if you're interested in smaller, faster updates (also to be honest, I don't always remember to post here what I've tweeted).
iWebcomics: iPad? While it doesn't roll off the tongue quite as well as the Jesus Tablet, it'll do. My quick reaction? I think this should be an excellent consumer device for consuming media; I don't love the content-type control Apple has asserted over it's app store and I think any potential reasons for such control are much less defensible for a device such as this. I also don't like Apple's failure to support Flash – this device should be open to complementary programs to the traditional browser environment. I'll grant you that version 2 in another year will probably be a better deal but I think this product meets my imaginary expectations for a webcomics tablet. Not sure still about the pricing but at least it's better than the pre-announcement rumors. As far as comic apps for the iPad, it looks like Comixology got the first press release out the door.
For what it's worth, I've got a fresh install of DRUPAL on the dev server at home, working up a streamlined version of ComixTALK. Laid out the basic theme (moving to a 2 column layout) and now tackling cleaning up the horror that the tag and category system at ComixTALK has mutated into…. Right now I'm debating whether to port ComixTALK as is to the new server or wait until I get the redo… done.
Now that I have two book-devouring kids, I find myself much more engaged with books and comics for the 10 and under age bracket (I guess you'd call that pre-tween?). My kids read comics along with text books without much distinction at this point which is probably due to the pretty decent selection of comics in the children's section of our local library. (The Sardine in Outer Space series was a recent favorite.)
So I was pretty interested in getting an opportunity to review the latest installment in the Manga Math Mysteries series. Number four is titled The Kung Fu Puzzle: A Mystery with Time and Temperature. I think any book, comic or otherwise, should be engaging on its own merits. Educational value shouldn't be an excuse for a boring book. Kung Fu Puzzle passed that test with flying colors with both of my kids (I thought it was pretty good too). In fact I think my youngest daughter's biggest complaint is actually nice praise for the book — she was quite annoyed at its somewhat open-ended finish. I think she was hoping that the story went on longer.