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Dead Trees

Webcomics in paper formats

Comix Talk for Monday, January 25, 2010

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.

One story that caught my eye this morning was this rant by blogger-czar Jason Calacanis about comScore.  Worth reading to think about.  Another interesting story from Tom Spurgeon, who has an essay up at the Comics Reporter which I think one could summarize as "wow, there are a lot more good comics than when I was younger..."  I guess I would add, "wow, there are a lot more good webcomics than 10 years ago..."  And if you need a recap of recent webcomic news, Delos has a whole bunch of interesting links covering last week at Art Patient.

NEW BOOK: John Allison posted the cover art from the forthcoming 8th book collection of Scary Go Round: "Recklessly Yours." 

Cory Likes Corndogs: Goats scores a favorable review from Boing Boing Blogger Cory Doctorow for the second book in the new series: The Corndog Imperative.

ZUDA IDOL SCANDAL? Digital Strips reports on the departure of one of the ten finalists from this month's Zuda popularity contest. Apparently The  Thunderchickens had a good shot of winning it too, so the undisclosed reasons for its departure must be something non-trivial.

POLLS: Over at the Washington Post's comics blog, Schlock Mercenary is leading their Best Webcomic of the Decade poll, followed by Girl Genius.

INTERVIEW: Inkstuds has an (audio) interview with Bryan Lee O'Malley.

Non-ZUDA CONTESTS: El Santo reports that John Lustig of Last Kiss is having a contest -- write the best dialogue for a comic captioned by Orson Scott Card.

ALL AGES: Comics For Kids has a list of recommended comics for the classroom.

Comix Talk for Thursday, January 21, 2010

I think I've officially run out of stupid headlines for daily blog posts... thank you to everyone who gave me advice about webhosts and website software this week.

INTERVIEW: The New Yorker has an interview with comics writer Neil Gaiman. Congrats to Neil on his recent engagement.

REVIEWS:  El Santo reviews Lily of the Valley, a webcomic about a serial killer.  A mixed review - I noticed however, that the artwork reminded me a bit of Faith Erin Hick's work.  There's also a glowing review by The Trades of Kazu Kibuishi's Copper book

THE PROBLEMS WITH DEAD TREES:  Comics Worth Reading writes about Disney's decision to let the first volume of Jellaby go out of print.  The downsides to getting involved with multinational corporations...

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 BLOGS:  Drawn! blog links to Jake Parker, creator of Missile Mouse, writing about fixing inking mistakes old school style (i.e. without Photoshop).  I haven't read it yet but both of my kids have read the new Missile Mouse graphic novel and loved it.

Evan Dahm's Overside: Rice Boy and Order of Tales

Here's a fairly short review: Rice Boy is a good comic and you should read it.  I actually think the book version might be preferrable to the webcomic as it's a hefty story that lends itself to sitting down for a long stretch with it.

I'm Crazy by Adam Bourret

Adam Bourret has a lot of interesting life to work with in his autobiographical comic I'm Crazy.  Bourret won the Xeric Grant this year and he used the funds to put out a more polished version of the book.  He's also serializing it online.  Unlike many autobiographical comics I've recently read, Bourret has problems way beyond being a mopey, shy cartoonist as he suffers from various mental issues (primarily it seems to be OCD that afflicts him) that profoundly affect his life.  

Z-Blade XX Doesn't Quite Cut It

Z-Blade XX is a new comic from Atomic Basement written by Steve Palmer and illustrated by Guy Lemay.  It's a slickly-produced book -- nice colors, thick paper, etc.  But for a first issue of a new character, it's not particularly satisfying.  It's also, unfortunately, filled with a few unnecessary swear words and some visuals of explicit violence to be a good read for kids who might otherwise enjoy the straightforward story.  All in all, I know I sound like a broken record sometimes, but this is another project where putting it on the web and working on it with more immediate feedback might have led to a stronger story.


The Boston Comics Roundtable, in partnership with River Bird Studios, is pleased to announce the release of the premier issue of Outbound, a Science Fiction anthology. Outbound is a spin-off of sister publication Inbound, the anthology of comics from Boston. Outbound contains comics and short stories from a mix of Boston-based creators and artists all over the world, from Australia to South America, including a cover from talented Uruguayan artist Marcelo Buchelli.

Solving The Kung Fu Puzzle

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.

Bone: Rose by Jeff Smith and Charles Vess

 Rose by Jeff Smith and Charles Vess

Is there any fantasy series in recent memory as beloved and praised as Bone?  Jeff Smith began writing about the Bone cousins in 1991, but it was probably the publication of the books in color versions by Scholastic that truly launched Bone into the pop culture.  It's a great sprawling story with a powerful conclusion.  Bone: Rose is a prequel that fleshes out the story of Gran'ma Ben as a youth (i.e., Rose), a story that weighs heavily on the Bone saga proper.

SPX Updates from Eleanor Davis and Drew Weing

Secret Science Alliance by Eleanor Davis

I picked up the Secret Science Alliance book from Eleanor Davis at SPX this year.  I got halfway through it before the older X girl took it away.  She's finished and now the younger X girl took it to school with her today.  Both are really excited about the book.  This seems like a great book for boys and girls of a reading age (not sure how old the audience for it would be, although I found it very clever and the artwork, including the composition and layout, is equally as clever as the writing). This project also has a bunch of great people behind it.  Eleanor Davis wrote and drew it; Drew Weing inked it and Bryant Paul Johnson (Teaching Baby Paranoia) lettered it -- that's like a webcomics supergroup right there.  And Joey Weiser and Michele Chidester colored it (and it's really nicely done).

In Drew Weing news, I chatted with him and Eleanor while buying the book -- Drew has finished plotting and thumbnailing his amazing Set To Sea comic (which has wonderful E.C. Segar influences all over it) which means it WILL BE FINISHED!  In fact, in finishing the rough of it Drew said he decided he needed to make small changes here and there throughout which is why he is re-publishing it online.  Everyone should give this a read; I'm already looking forward to the whole thing (both on the web and the book to be).

I also saw Eleanor on the "Debut Cartoonists" panel at SPX where she was joined by Ken Dahl (Monsters), Hans Rickheit (The Squirrel Machine), and Zak Sally (Like A Dog).  She did very well - it's not always easy to talk about your own motivations and creative process but it was interesting to hear that she has a part time job working on organic farms.  Not a quote but basically she explained that she didn't want to do comics all of the time and that she enjoyed life better with a balance between comics and other activities (which was in contrast to Dahl who took the less surprisingly line that making it was quitting your day job).

The Ragbox

The Ragbox is a comic written by Dave Kender and drawn by three artists: Mark Hamilton, Braden Lamb, and Matthew Reinke (each artist handling one of the three chapters).  Kender is the founder of the Boston Roundtable group.  This is a short book -- the pleasures in reading it are not really for the plot so there will be spoilers ahead. (It's also available as a webcomic here; you can buy the book at the store here.)