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Jamie Hewlett + Jimmyjane = teh h0tt

May 31, 2007 Comments off

Who says you can’t learn nothin’ from reading comic books?

Anyone who might have been curious about who Jimmyjane [kinda-sorta NSFW] will be announcing as the “internationally acclaimed artist” they’ve been collaborating with for their new line of… uh… marital aides should point their browser over to the Isotope Comics’ blog. The cat, and the vibrators, are most certainly out of the bag, well ahead of their June 5th reveal on the Jimmyjane site.

Tank Girl would be hella proud.

Categories: comics, links

prison shiv collection

May 14, 2007 Leave a comment


Prison Shiv #1
Originally uploaded by James Sime.

James Sime is the proprietor of The Isotope, my local comic book shop. He just posted photos of his most recent acquisition: a collection of handmade shivs made by prisoners of the Norther California Prison System.

This is some decidedly brutal ingenuity.

Categories: comics

the comic book reading experience

May 2, 2007 Leave a comment

I’m in Las Vegas at Microsoft’s MIX ’07 at the moment.

Nathan Dunlap and Robby Ingebretsen gave one of the better presentations at MIX this year, on a comic book reader they built in Microsoft’s WPF. They talk about their collaboration with comic creators to solve issues around the reading experience, and show off some pretty impressive results (the controllable panning effect is a really beautiful contribution to the narrative).

Visually, the presentation is a knock-out, with heavy debt to Scott McCloud’s influence. To watch “ZAP! WHAM! KAPOW!: Windows Presentation Foundation and the Next Generation of Online Comic Book Reading” you’ll need to install the Silverlight plugin.

five people in comics for 2006

December 6, 2006 2 comments

This isn’t really a “best of 2006,” but my aim was to introduce you to a few of the people in the comic book industry who I’ve found myself absolutely impressed with this year. If you don’t read about comics online, or don’t stop in to your local shop more than every now and again, I’m hoping you’ll check them out – each one has contributed to my continuing geek engagement with the funny books.

  • This was the year that I rediscovered Rick Spears. His fantastic Teenagers from Mars was gorgeous, darkly funny and tremendously entertaining. He’s back with a brand new series, Pirates of Coney Island – it’s madcap, violent, and enjoyable. Not a seriously long read, from issue to issue, but I’ll plunk down for every one I can find at my shop.
  • In the same category is Dan Hipp, whose Amazing Joy Buzzards is truly “comic” – from bizarro villians to spiritual Lucha Libre heroes, the pace is kept fast and funny. While the writing quality can fluctuate from issue to issue, I absolutely dig the visuals (there’s even a character that “speaks” entirely in icons). Hipp’s latest work, Gyukashu, looks to be a departure in tone, but still a compelling and highly anticipated book.
  • I shouldn’t have to tell you to read everything Warren Ellis produces. You should just know. Fell and Nextwave, as absolutely dissimilar as they are, are two of the greatest re-examinations of genre writing to occur this year. Fell deconstructs detective stories in a format that no one else has been able to pull off in years – and every issue comes with enough extras and insight into the production of the comic to qualify as the criterion collection. Nextwave warps the “underwear perverts” (aka superhero) genre into hillarious configurations. Stop reading this, go preorder both collections.
  • I sometimes think the worst thing that ever happened to Ben Templesmith was the outrageous success of 30 Days of Night. It’s the best vampire story written in the past decade, but consumer demand for more had Templesmith drawing dark, brooding toothy creatures for far too long. It’s obvious from his collaboration with Ellis on Fell and from his (wholly created by him) Wormwood that he is an enormous talent that got typecast for a bit. He’s breaking out of it, and his explorations of different genres and styles (and writing!) is fantastic stuff.
  • There were plenty of Big Events in the industry this year, same as every year. The big changes they promise will be swept away in a year by different writers, watered down, retconned out. It’s part of comics. I’m hoping, however, that the biggest event in the industry this year will have some lasting effects. On her (previously annonymous) blog, Occassional Superheroine, former DC Comics editor Valerie D’Orazio wrote a multi-post “Goodbye to Comics” detailing her experience as a women in the comic book industry. If you care about comics ever mattering to anyone outside of the fanboy demographic, or if you truly want to know how bad it could possibly get for a woman working in an industry run by men to (in far too many ways) cater to male power fantasises, this is a read as engrossing as it is essential. Follow up articles on the impact of Valerie’s revelations can be found here and here.

Templesmith, Ellis, Hipp and Spears are all doing important and inspiring work. I can say without hyperbole that D’Orazio’s account of her time at DC is the most important thing to happen in comics in my memory. Each of these people have had a dramatic impact on me and on comics in 2006, and I’m happy to point you in their direction.

Categories: comics

amazing screw-on head

July 17, 2006 Leave a comment

The Amazing Screw-on Head

Oh man – I just found this, thanks to Convergence Culture: the pilot for Mike Mignola‘s Amazing Screw-on Head is now available for preview at SciFi.com. Here’s the link. More on this later, I need to watch it again.

[update] Yeah, that’s pretty much fantastic. This is absolutely more of a post for my Vox account, but I figure those of you who read my posts about comics might want to know about this. You can find the backstory of the original one-shot comic Mike did in that Convergence Culture link above (and elsewhere).

The pilot is more ambitious than the single issue comic, explaining relationships and tensions between the characters. The fidelity of the animation to Mignola’s style is remarkable, tho – this is what I’m hoping for from the Hellboy cartoon, but I’m pretty sure I’m not gonna get it.

[update 7/18] My friend Helen just IMed to let me know that the best place to find out more info on the Hellboy cartoon is (naturally) their Typepad blog. Check it.

Categories: comics

cover art, and the bias of the buyer

June 30, 2006 Leave a comment

Ben Templesmith is ridiculously talented. He’s one half of the duo that created Thirty Days of Night. The concept behind the comic book was clever; the series sold well enough that Ben unfortunately ended up drawing vampires for some derivative semi-sequels that ran that clever concept straight into the ground.

Those days are happily over, as Ben has not only diversified but also gotten Brain Wood-level prolific: he’s scripting and drawing Hatter M and Wormwood, and collaborating with Warren Ellis on the you-must-buy-this Fell series. Now comes word that he’ll be doing covers for Wasteland. On the subject of high-profile artists doing cover art (but not the pages inside), Ben’s got this to say:

I think I’m a bit of a cover nazi. I like the guy doing interiors doing covers, with a few exceptions…like McKean for Sandman etc and Fabry for Preacher. But they had a plan, were consistent, and knew what they were doing wasn’t just to boost sales.

James Jean‘s work on Fables belongs in that category, in my opinion. I own the cover collections from both McKean and Fabry – the work is that good.

I agree with what Templesmith is saying, but I’ll be honest that the quote made me think of the reactions some clients have when the realize they’ll be working with me instead of, say, Veen or JJG or Peter. “I want what’s inside to match what’s on the cover!” It hasn’t happened more than once or twice since I started, but it does happen. I can shrug it off and work through it (I can be very convincing), but it has led me to think about why it happens.

It seems there’s a trap that lies at the heart of raising your own profile in this business – people end up wanting to work with you. Not your firm, not your associates – you. As I’ve transitioned to leading engagements and raising my own profile, I’m realizing I’m in a position to deal with this state of affairs by encouraging clients to check out the really good work being done by the people they don’t know.

To be honest, I think that’s the choice being made by the Templesmiths, Fabrys, McKeans and Jeans of the world – they’re able to draw the attention of readers to writers and artists they might not otherwise discover. It’s not a craven cash-in, or a dishonest way to elevate sales. It’s kind of a creative public service.

Categories: comics, work

too damn hot

June 22, 2006 2 comments

For San Francisco, temperatures in the 80's are pretty extreme for June. The heat, plus the lost sleep from going to shows and waking up early for World Cup matches has completely stripped me of motivation. I do, however, have some random links to share from this week's travels across the Net:

Categories: comics, elsewhere
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