The nominees for the third annual British Comic Awards were announced last Friday, and it's a noticeably more mixed bunch of books than previous years. The awards are divided into five categories: Best Book, Best Comic, Young People's Comic Award, Emerging Talent and Hall of Fame; the latter is decided upon by the members of the committee, whilst the Young People's Comic Award is voted upon by children in participating schools. Winners for the remaining 3 categories are chosen by a panel of judges. The award ceremony takes place on the Saturday evening of Thought Bubble comic convention, one of the UK's premier festivals.
Friends, this is the sort of comic book movie news I enjoy writing about: Naoki Urasawa (Monster, 20th Century Boys, Pluto) can now add the honor of becoming the first manga author to have his work adapted into film in Spain. Spanish director Javier Yañez obtained the rights to one of Urasawa's early short stories, Mighty Boy, from publishers Shogakukan, gaining approval from the master himself in the process. Although the film was largely privately financed, Yañez took the initiative to crowd-funding platform IndieGogo in order to raise the final $10,000 it required, and now it's finished and available to watch in full, for free (subtitled in both English and Japanese).
I spent a bit of time trying to track down Urasawa's original story online, with no luck (it's not been translated in English, and was published as part of an anthology volume), so I'm unable to comment on how the adaptation translates, or how faithful it is, but I can tell you what the film is about and if it's any good.
If you've not heard of Patreon yet, it's a service not dissimilar to Kickstarter, in that it allows you to donate money to projects and artists you'd like to support, sometimes for rewards, but largely because it's something you're invested in and would like to see continue. It's also different in that you can pledge ongoing support; giving a certain amount of money each month- say a dollar- although there's the option available to cancel at any time. As you can imagine, these factors make Patreon better tailored for those working and producing art online, as evidenced by the number of more established online artists doing well on there- KC Green, Anthony Clark, Meredith Gran, Ryan North, and more.
With so much projects and content to sift through, it's easy to miss some perhaps lesser-known, but equally excellent comics worthy of wider attention, so I thought I'd spotlight three of my favorites here. Regardless of whether you choose to support them or not, at the very least hopefully you'll be introduced to a few great comics that you may not have been aware of.
Here in the UK, the advent of November means one thing to comics folk: Thought Bubble. Britain's premier comics festival will once again see a host of international comic stars -- Jillian Tamaki, Emily Carroll, Scott Snyder, Boulet, Tim Sale, Jeff Lemire, Emma Rios, Becky Cloonan, Jason Aaron, Vanesa R. Del Rey (to name a few) -- rub shoulders with Britain's finest: Joe Decie, Dan Berry, Isabel Greenberg, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Mike Carey, and more.
With it comes the approach of the British Comic Awards, now in their third year and conceived by founder Adam Cadwell with an aim to recognize the very best in UK comics. The awards are an annual celebration that take place on the Saturday evening after the first day of the con, and consist of five categories: best comic, best book, emerging talent, young people's comic award, and the hall of fame.
I hold my hands up: I've whinged and moaned before about comics sites covering toy news, and here I am doing the very thing (I have nothing against toys/figures/collectibles; I'm just a bit of a snooty purist). Anyway, the news of Japanese 'hobby products' company, Good Smile, teaming up with Nickelodeon to create new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures based on James Jean's illustrations, was simply too good to pass up. The validity of this statement can be gleaned by glancing at the image above. The four individual large-scale models, which will roll out separately beginning with the releases of Leonardo this November, will also have the capacity to combine, creating one huge diorama.The remaining three statues will receive a staggered release over the course of 2015.
It never rains but it pours. Hot on the heels of the news that IDW will be publishing the whole of Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese in English for the first time, publishers Casterman have announced that Blacksad writer Juan Diaz Canales and Spanish artist Ruben Pellejero have been tapped to author a new, original Corto Maltese story. Due for release in October 2015, the book will be simultaneously released in French, Dutch, Italian, and Spanish, although there is no news yet of a potential English edition from IDW or anyone else.
As one of many thousands of people who keep a vigilant eye out for anything Katushiro Otomo -- author of the seminal Akira, Domu, Memories, and more -- does, it's always interesting to see what projects he does choose to become involved in. I loved the collaborative illustration catalogues he did with Japanese fashion house Comme des Garcons and British comic publishers, Nobrow, although that was mostly with the use of older images, and then there was that amazing Astro Boy cover he produced for an anime magazine, but Otomo is generally known for carefully selecting his work, often with gaps of years before something news of something new crops up.
And it looks like he's decided to go big for his next piece: 258 square feet big. Due for completion in March 2015, Otomo's currently working on a vast, as of yet untitled, ceramic mural that will be displayed in the lobby of the terminal building of Japan's Sendai Airport.
If you've not come across Blacksad before, created by Spanish authors Juan Diaz Canales (writer) and Juanjo Guarnido (illustrator), it is an anthropomorphic noir series, set in 1950s America, centering around eponymous trench-coated private investigator, John Blacksad, a lithe, witty and cynical cat. Wildly popular France since the release of the first book in 2000, it's equally loved around the world, having been translated in 23 languages, with Dark Horse doing the honors for English reading audiences. This fifth and latest volume, Amarillo, was published in its original French in November last year, with October seeing the release of the English language edition. It's a few rungs above, thanks to Canales' writing: mixing up the mystery with social issues at the time, but largely due to Juanjo Guarnido's breathtaking watercoloured art and the superb manner in which he amalgamates human and animal characteristics.
It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët's Beautiful Darkness has been one of the undisputed standouts in the not unglorious year of comics 2014. Originating from the mind and sketch/notebooks of Marie Pommepuy (she, and partner Sébastien Cosset collaborate under the pen-name Kerascoët), the story of a group of tiny people springing from the body of a dead girl in the woods and the vicious lengths and efforts they go to to survive is appreciable on several, complex levels. One of the facets of great art is that it lingers in the mind, burrows and shifts, dredging up thought and questions, analyses, re-evaluation, and Beautiful Darkness is no different. And so, to accompany my original review, I've compiled a deconstruction of sorts presented here as various questions (answered and unanswered) and theories that dig further into the text and its potential readings.
Were it not for the 3D -- a concept I am yet to be sold on in any medium -- it would appear that Study Group head honcho Zack Soto gazed into the musty abyss that is my head-space and fashioned the new Study Group anthology accordingly. At 96 pages, it contains comics by some of the artists I'm most excited by right now: Connor Willumsen, Sophie Franz, Mia Schwarz, Benjamin Urkowitz, Pete Toms, David King, Julia Gfrorer & Sean T. Collins, and more.