Inbound #5: The Food Issue

Inbound #5: The Food Issue

The Boston Comics Roundtable sure seems like one of the most viable and interesting local comics collectives around.  They've put out several issues now in a couple of different anthology series (ComixTalk reviewed previous books Outbound #2 and Inbound #3).  The latest edition of the Inbound anthology series (subtitled "Comics From Boston") is The Food Issue which focuses on comics featuring food.  The first half of the book is titled "Food Facts" and includes stories about food and autobiographical tales with food as a prominent part of the story. The second half of the book is titled "Food Fiction" and is a more wide-ranging selection of comics, none of which purport to be nonfiction.  

The book is 176 pages and features 26 brand new stories. The contributors include: E.J. Barnes, Eric Boeker, Jerel Dye, Franklin Einspruch, Patrick Flaherty, Bob Flynn, Joel Christian Gill, Andrew Greenstone, Danny Gonzalez, Raul Gonzalez, Beth Hetland, Erik Heumiller, Allie Kleber, Braden D. Lamb, Cathy Leamy, Jackie Lee, Jesse Lonergan, Dan Mazur, Mar-T Moyer, Line O, David Ortega, Shelli Paroline, Adrian Rodriguez, Roho, Aya Rothwell, Katherine Roy, Adam Syzm, Laura Terry, Jason Viola, Rebecca Viola, Katherine Waddell, Ryan Wheeler, and Andy Wong.

Continue Reading

Road: A Sordid City Blues Graphic Novel by Charles Snow

 A Sordid City Blues Graphic Novel

Road is a new short graphic novel from Charles Schneeflock Snow.  It originally appeared as part of his webcomic Sordid City Blues which is a favorite of mine. I've always liked Sordid City Blues — it's probably suffered in awareness online because of some hiatuses from Snow.  There's also it's willingness to acknowledge and grapple with the Christianity of its characters.  Anytime an author puts an agenda over telling a good story, whether it's religion, politics or an ideology, well that can just kill the chances of a good story.  But incorporating any topic, even religion, politics or ideology, into a story isn't the same as having an agenda above the story.  And Snow does not have an agenda, but rather has a number of characters who deal with issues of faith and religion in a pretty honest and interesting way.

Road is one of the better stories from Snow and is very worthy of its book treatment.  It's the tale of the very small band Owns Big Mecha doing a short East Coast tour.  This is one of those classic — play small clubs, stay in friends' basements kind of deal — with the band driving in a van, eating bad food, getting lost and everything that goes along with that.  The band does feature three of the main characters from the ongoing webcomic, but Road feels pretty self-contained and I don't think you need any backstory to enjoy it on its own terms.   

Continue Reading

Enjoy The Book: Multiplex In Print

Gordon McAlpin is the creator of Multiplex, a webcomic about the staff at a neighborhood theater.  I first encountered McAlpin's work when he was creating the short nonfiction comic pieces under the banner of Stripped Books.  Those works, although perhaps dated now were a clue that McAlpin had ambitions to create quality work.  So I was a reader of Multiplex from the beginning (ComixTalk has interview McAlpin twice, once in 2006 and once in 2008).  McAlpin recently put out a book collecting the first year of the webcomic, titled Multiplex: Enjoy Your Show: Book One.

Continue Reading

Bone: Tall Tales by Jeff Smith with Tom Sniegoski

Bone: Tall Tales

The world of Bone is back for a series of short stories in Bone: Tall Tales by Jeff Smith with Tom Sniegoski.  Jeff Smith's creation has been told in the original black and white versions and now the full series is out in color from Scholastic.  After the release of a prequel Bone: Rose, Smith has turned to a small sequel of sorts as Tall Tales concerns four stories that Smiley Bone tells to little Ringo, Bingo, Todd and the rat creature Bartleby during a campout.  

This is a fun little addition to Boneland focused on the sillier, fun side of Jeff Smith's world with almost none of the serious side of the epic tale through the original series of books.  Most of the tall tales center around a new character called Big Johnson Bone, a Paul Bunyan-like character who is constantly telling tall tales as he wrecks a patch of destruction in his adventures.  There is also a wordy, somewhat timid monkey named Mr. Pip (who Big Johnson won in a poker game) who is a nice counterpoint to Big Johnson's bravado.  Even though the book is set after the epic series, the tall tale about Big Johnson concerns an adventure before the story in the original series. It turns out Big Johnson serves a key role in the early history of the valley when he turns back the rat creatures and rescues the forest creatures.  

While there is none of the epic quality to the original series or the prequel Rose, this book does have all of the charming humor.  The Queen Rat and her gigantic son Tyson are two great characters who add a bit more to the basic rat monster template of the stories.  The tiny dragon Stillman is also very funny – in fact there is a whole lot of "cute" in the stories with lots of baby animals and the type of scattered chatter that Smith has done before.  

Continue Reading

Mincomics to Downloads

(Web-to-print, print-to-web, part 2)

I first discovered Jason Overby's comics as printed minicomics. His "Jessica" mini really impressed me when I read it (as have others of his minis). When he ran out of printed copies he posted a pdf of the comic on his website. He's done the same with some of his other minicomics (in the sidebar of his website). Minicomics really aren't about making money (they're about losing money in most cases), they're more about creating an object and exposure. Offering a sold out minicomic as a download is a great way to allow others to read the work (and people are surely more likely to download a pdf then send money for a comic they're not sure about).

Continue Reading

Print It Yourself Comics

(Web-to-print, print-to-web, part 1)

I've been making webcomics for a few years now (since 2005), but long before that I made minicomics. There is a certain pleasure in having a physical manifestation of your comic, and the turn of page, not to mention the multi-page spread just isn't the same online. So, I occasionally make non-web minicomics. I made a set of three this summer in preparation for the recently passed here, here, and here (Warning: abstract, experimental, and barely narrative comics)). I heard from a few readers that it wasn't the easiest thing to do: you needed to print double-sided, and the margins were such that you'd only get the full artwork if you printed with a laser printer. I ended up uploading a pdf version for screen reading too (at the same pages above). But I do like the idea of downloadable piy (that's "print-it-yourself") minicomics.

I'm not the only one doing such things. I was inspired by Warren Craghead's many piy minicomics, which he's been posting online for quite awhile. If you scroll down on his home page, you'll find links to a number of printable pdfs. Warren's books are often rather complicated to fold and cut (there's one that I never did get working right) but the work is worth the trouble, it's beautiful and mysterious, not your normal webcomic by any means. His latest piy comics is a series called "A Sort of Autobiography", which take the form of a six sided "StoryCube" for every ten years of his life (projected into the future up to 2060). You can print them out and put them together. The site hosting that series "Diffusion" seems to be devoted to different piy books and cubes. They even have a page of instructions and some pdfs you can use to make your own piy ebooks.

Claire Folkman has also been offering printable versions of her webcomics. I found this out when she gave me a copy of her printable mini about making a mini from a single page at PACC. She posts webcomics at her site and often includes a printable pdf version.

Why not try one too.


Continue Reading

Grey Vampires and Green Cowboys

Gus and His Gang by Christophe Blain
First Second

Vampire Loves by Joann Sfar
First Second

This is a quick examination of some color, drawing and design techniques used in two great bandes dessinées. I've kept Vampire Loves close to my drawing table for some time now, trying to glean some ideas and inspiration from Sfar's art. More recently I picked up Gus and His Gang and that's also been both enjoyable to read and to look over, saying "How did Blain do that …?" Both artists have versatile, energetic, and very "cartoony" art styles, in the best sense of using all the tools of caricature, exaggeration, and symbolism that are available to cartoonists. They are Big Guns and worth close study. Some other artists in this vein that I enjoy, but didn't have time to fold into this post, are Kerascoet and Emile Bravo, both of whom have some work available in English (and probably a much vaster amount in French.) I hope you'll look them up!

Continue Reading