Last year, one of the comics I was most excited about picking up from HeroesCon was a "Flashlight Comic" by Andy Hirsch. The untitled story was a creepy little masterpiece of using the form, with black linework printed on clear plastic and superimposed over dark paper, with a flashlight-shaped piece of paper that you could slip between to "illuminate" a small circle of the page, exploring a strange and ruined house along with a stranded motorist. It was fantastic, full of tricks and surprises that made the reader an active participant in the story and conveyed a sense of fear better than almost anything I've ever read, and over the last year, I've wondered how Hirsch was going to top it, or if he was even going to bother.
Turns out that he did, and once again he's using paper comics to do things that you can only do with physical objects. The story he's telling this year is called Station 38, a journey through a deadly space station sold as a cube that you unfold as you read to form the floor plan that you're exploring along with the characters. And it's amazing.
SPX, the Small Press Expo, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and to celebrate, it's centering its entire 2014 convention on a much-read -- but not-often-discussed -- type of independent comic: strips from alt-weekly newspapers.
Late last week, organizers announced the first three major guests: Lynda Barry, the cartoonist behind Ernie Pook’s Comeek from The Chicago Reader; Jules Feiffer, the so-called godfather of the alt-weekly newspaper comic, and James Sturm, who co-founded The Onion and Seattle's The Stranger in addition to being an accomplished cartoonist and graphic novelist.
Q: Why do you think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has survived and thrived for 30 years? -- @ballsmonkey
A: I have a whole lot of affection for the TMNT, and I don't think that's just because I was the perfect age to drag my parents to Pizza Hut so that I could get (and subsequently wear out) a VHS tape of the one where they fought the giant robot rats. Don't get me wrong, the nostalgia's a huge part of it, but it's not something that's unique to my age group. The fact is, if you've been a kid at any time in the past three decades, you've more than likely grown up loving those characters just as much as I did. And that in itself, the staying power that this strange franchise created by two dudes in a kitchen, is interesting.
The thing is, even though I tend to think of TMNT as the archetypical unlikely success, the more I think about it the less I think that it actually was all that unlikely.
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.
Variety in action figures isn't what it could be. Just as mainstream superhero comics struggle with the representation of women, so too do most corresponding toy lines. Not a lot of female superheroes make it to mainstream toy retailers and many that do are sexualized or at very least created with a straight, adult, male collector in mind. The new IAmElemental Kickstarter seeks to address this disparity, however, by providing young girls, their parents, and anyone else who enjoys articulated adventurer toys with a fresh line of superpowered figures
Here at ComicsAlliance, we love Michel Fiffe's Copra more than just about any other comic on the stands. It's easily one of the best comics of the past ten years, a sharp, occasionally surreal, character-driven action story inspired by DC's classic Suicide Squad, done as as done as a labor of love by one of the most talented cartoonists working today. There's really only one problem: Since the book is written, drawn and published entirely by one person, the initial print runs were very small. Even with the Copra Compendia that came about after, it all led to a fantastic, critically acclaimed comic that a lot of readers simply could not get their hands on.
Now, that's all getting ready to change. With the first 12-issue story finished and the second story underway, Bergen Street Comics Press has announced Copra: Round One, a collection of the first six issues, due out in September.
In 1838, the Mexican general Santa Anna was hit by cannon fire, resulting in a shattered ankle and the amputation of his leg, which he then had buried with full honors. He then entered politics, but when the people of Mexico rebelled against him, the leg itself was exhumed and then lost to history. This is historical fact. Obviously, there was eventually going to be a comic book about this eventually.
Then again, I don't think anyone ever expected it to take the form that it has. In an original graphic novel being funded on Kickstarter, writer Van Jensen (Green Lantern Corps,The Flash) and artist Jose Pimienta are telling the story of The Leg, and how it gains sentience and returns to Mexico in the 1930s in what can only be described as a pretty offbeat journey. This was something we had to find out more about, so I spoke to Jensen and Pimienta about where their interest in historical dismemberment started, why they went to Kickstarter, and just how much emotion an artist can get out of a severed limb.
In 2012, the first volume of Smut Peddler, the "ladycentric, sex-positive erotic comics" anthology with a roster of female creators ,was crowd-funded on Kickstarter, racking up a grand total of $83,000 after a month of funding. With that kind of success, and with reader interest only growing over the past two years, a sequel is pretty much inevitable. Last week, the second volume launched on Kickstarter and met its predecessor's total in just five days, taking in over $80,000 with 25 days left to go, and passing the money that was raised on to the creators as a bonus to their page rate.
To find out more, I spoke to Smut Peddler editor Spike Trotman about the difficulties of putting together an erotic comic and getting it out to readers, why porn isn't always the answer to how to make a quick buck, and how one contributor's teenage fan-fiction gave a boost to the funding just after it launched.
The newest evidence of that comes from the casting department. Apparently Jackass star and former Duke of Hazzard Johnny Knoxville will be the voice of Leonardo and Tony Shaloub, who played the title character on Monk for eight seasons, will be Splinter.
Ever since Kyle Starks finished The Legend of Ricky Thunder, the story of a pro wrestler whose world was shattered when he found out wrestling was fake but who still had to pull it together to defend the world from an alien invasion via single combat, I've been wondering what he was going to do next. He's done some shorter projects -- including a Wild Dog fan comic that was amazing -- and a ton of great illustrations for Tumblr, but I've been holding out hope that he'd announce another big project.
As it turns out, he did even better than that: Not only did he announce a new comic called Sexcastle, a 180-page original graphic novel tribute to '80s action movies, but the whole thing is done and ready to print, and he's funding it now via Kickstarter.
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