With hundreds of panels to choose from at San Diego Comic-Con, the show can be an overwhelming experience — and it’s far too easy to miss a panel you think you might have loved, or to find yourself on the wrong side of the con floor five minutes before a great panel is about to start!
Take heart, brave reader. ComicsAlliance has sifted through the schedule to offer up our pick of the best programming at the con. Today we offer our suggested highlights for day three, Saturday July 26, 2014 — with an emphasis on comics programming. We’ll also let you know where and when you can find ComicsAlliance contributors at the San Diego show.
A nomination for a Harvey Award, named for legendary MAD Magazine cartoonist and editor Harvey Kurtzman, is unquestionably the most prestigious honor that has ever been bestowed on a comic book about NASCAR. Seriously. It happened in 2009 with NASCAR Heroes.
The Harvey Awards have released the list of this year's nominees. As you might expect, the usual suspects like Hawkeye and Daredevil were honored, along with other nomination leaders Saga and Quantum and Woody. Archie, Valiant and Image all received a good amount of nominations, but it's BOOM! Studios, along with its Archaia imprint, that earned the most recognition with 26 nominations; well more than any other publisher.
Even if you don't know Jim Woodring's name, there's a decent chance you've seen his work somewhere in the past 30 years or so of comics. His character Frank was one of the pivotal indie comics characters of the mid-to-late '90s, and Woodring has written Star Wars and Aliens comics for Dark Horse.
Woodring's most personal work, however, has been in the series simply titled Jim, which ran in the late '80s and mid '90s, and which took a surreal look at the day-to-day life of Woodring (or at least a fictionalized version of him). Fantagraphics will be releasing the first-ever collection of Jim's 10 issues next month, and has released a 21-page preview, which you can check out below.
With comics being the visual medium that they are, there's no shortage of pictures of the characters. With the exception of media darling Stan Lee or commercial star Rob Liefeld, however, most comic book creators exist behind a much deeper veil of obscurity -- especially in the Golden Age, when their names were rarely attached to the comics they worked on. When you hear names like Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster or Jack Kirby, you think of the creations rather than the people.
Now, artist Drew Friedman is attempting to change that, at least a little, with Heroes of the Comics, a Fantagraphics hardcover book of portraits of the pioneers of the golden age, from the creators we all love like Siegel and Shuster, above, down to the villains like Bob Kane and Frederic Wertham.
Ever since Fantagraphics started up their collection of Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse strips, I've been looking forward to finally getting to read "Mickey Outwits The Phantom Blot." This was the story that I'd heard of even when I wasn't paying attention to Disney comics from the '30s, the influential saga that provided Mickey with his most intriguing villain, and one that returned again and again over the years and inspired creators like Osamu Tezuka. It came with a pretty solid reputation, and when I finally got to it in the latest hardcover, I've got to admit that it lived up to it. It's every bit as exciting as I'd hoped it would be.
Unfortunately, it's collected in a book alongside some of the most grotesquely offensive stories that I've ever read. That's the sort of thing that spoils the experience a bit, even when you're making allowances for the time.
With his first two English language releases, What A Wonderful World and Solanin (both published by Viz), Inio Asano had gained a reputation for creating thoughtful slice-of-life stories that earned him the reputation as being the voice of a generation. March saw the debut of the Fantagraphics' edition of Nijigahara Holograph, a book that's as difficult to read as it is stunning to look at. Ostensibly about the repeated sacrifices of a young woman to save the world from apocalypse, the introduction of alternating timelines (with no clear delineation) and mature elements elevates it beyond exploitation, even as it forces the reader into uncomfortable territory that's reminiscent of the work of David Lynch.
When the first volume was released more than a decade ago, David Beauchard's imaginative autobiographical comic L'Ascension du haut mal ("The Rise of the High Evil"), the English title of which was simply Epileptic, critics praised it to the heavens. It eventually won an Ignatz award for Outstanding Artist in 2005.
The story, which focuses on the family's attempts to cure his brother's epilepsy, and how the struggle with the illness led the artist to dig deeply into a fantasy world of mythic creatures and ancient soldiers, has been adapted into an animated film helmed by director Christophe Gérard which appears to nail the look and feel of the comic.
The comic book, animation, illustration, pinup, mashup, fan art and design communities are generating amazing artwork of myriad styles and tastes, all of which ends up on the Internet and filtered into ComicsAlliance’s Best Art Ever (This Week). These images convey senses of mood and character — not to mention artistic skill — but comic books are specifically a medium of sequential narratives, and great sequential art has to be both beautiful (totally subjective!) and clear in its storytelling (not so subjective!). The words and the pictures need to work together to tell the story and create whatever tone, emotion and indeed world the story requires. The contributions of every person on a creative team, from the writer to the artist(s) to the letterers, are necessary to achieving a great page of sequential storytelling.
It is the special nature of comic books that we’re celebrating in this recurring feature: Best Sequential Art Ever (This Week).
In mid-September of 2011, cartoonist Lucy Knisley and her friend Jane, who worked in the wine business in France, were at a tasting after-party when their host observed they both had unconventional careers. He put this down to the fact that they were in their "age of license," that time in your life when you're young and free enough to experiment.
Knisley took the phrase for the title of her next book, one of the two travelogues that Fantagraphics will be publishing. An Age of License, due this fall, chronicles a 2011 trip to attend a Norwegian comics convention, which Knisley uses to visit friends and family in Europe, and spend an extremely intense time with Henrik, a Swedish boy she had just met in New York. The second book, Displacement, is scheduled for summer of next year, and tells the story of a 2012 cruise with her elderly grandparents.
Both trips took place between the time she had completed Relish, her acclaimed, three-years-in-the-making memoir about food and growing up, but before First Second had published it in 2013, which seemingly catapulted the young, not-yet-thirty artist into a whole new level of cartooning success than she had been able to achieve with her previous work, like the 2008 travelogue French Milk and her mini-comics and anthology contributions.
The two new travelogues obviously aren't due in comics shops any time soon, but that doesn't mean the announcement didn't get a lot of folks excited, us included. We took the opportunity to talk to Knisley about the books, how they compare to her previously published work and what we can look forward to from them.
2013 was a great year for comics. It feels like a similar statement is made after every year concludes, but 2013 unquestionably saw exceptional work from several creators, across multiple publishers and genres within the medium. To close out the year, we offered what we felt to be the best comics of the year, highlighting dozens of writers and artists whose creative output we felt deserved to be celebrated.
But now we want to hear from you. Readers often offer us their opinions, via the comment section or social media, as to what they’re enjoying, or what they think we missed. Now we’d like you to let us know with your vote, as this week we’re launching the first annual ComicsAlliance Reader Choice Awards. We’ll have two categories per day throughout the week, and you can vote more than once if you like, though you’ll have to wait an hour at least before coming back to vote again. Voting will be open until February 11 at 10 a.m. EST, and we’ll announce the winners shortly after.
Click after the jump to vote for your favorite writer/artist in the past year.
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