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Whatever I’m Working On Is The Best Thing I’ve Done: An Interview With ‘Death Note’ Artist Takeshi Obata

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Takeshi Obata is an icon. His work on the horror manga phenomenon Death Note, with writer Tsugumi Ohba, defined horror for a generation of comic fans. The manga Hikaru no Go, with Yumi Hotta, spurred the ancient board game Go to sudden contemporary popularity in 1998. Another Ohba collaboration, Bakuman -- a manga about the creation of manga -- has over 15 million copies in circulation. Obata also illustrated the manga adaptation of All You Need is Kill, a military science fiction light novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka that was recently adapted for the screen as Edge of Tomorrow.

And Obata's art is gorgeous. He handles Gothic triptychs and domestic scenes alike with incredible skill, bringing sociopaths, pop singers and teen artists to vibrant life. I keep copies of Death Note and Bakuman on my shelf of manga for "people who think they don’t like manga," because his work transcends the boundaries of fandom. He is a master, and he isn't even close to being done.

ComicsAlliance was thrilled to have the chance to speak with him at New York Comic Con 2014 about his work, his influences, and international success.

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Be Weird, Be Inventive, Go For It: Talking ‘Dirty Diamonds’ With Editors Claire Folkman & Kelly Phillips [Interview]

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The Dirty Diamonds booth at this year’s Small Press Expo was impossible to miss, both because of its bright signage and because of its eye-catching display of tote bags, zines about Weird Al Yankovic, and, of course, the Dirty Diamonds all-woman anthology.

Brighter still are its co-editors, Claire Folkman and Kelly Phillips, who were among the most ardent lovers of comics in the room -- and with good reason. The Dirty Diamonds anthology series is their passion project, collecting semi-autobiographical comics by women since 2011, and it's enjoyed particular success of late. Their recent Kickstarter was a hit; the Library of Congress singled Dirty Diamonds out for inclusion in its permanent collection; and the contributor list for the latest volume reads like an Ignatz Award nominations list from 2020.

Eager to learn more, ComicsAlliance hunkered down behind their bustling booth to talk the future of crowdfunding, apartments full of books, and just how rad the women of comics really are.

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Hire This Woman: Cartoonist Carla Berrocal

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In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”

Cartoonist Carla Berrocal writes, draws, colors, and letters her comics. She has published comics in her home country of Spain and is a contributor to Vertigo's Dial H and CMYK: Magenta anthology. She is currently at work on an original graphic novel.

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Beware the Valkyries: Kate Leth On Organizing Women Comic Book Retailers [Interview]

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Behind the scenes in comics, there are a number of shadowy groups pulling the strings of the industry... Okay, that's not entirely true, but there is a group that operates behind the scenes and affects the industry, and that group is the Valkyries. The Valkyries is a group of women who work in comics retail that have banded together. They push books that they particularly love, and work with creators, publishers, and fans to sell more comics -- to women especially. But above all, the group functions as a private support network for women in the comics retail business, and offers its members help when confronting some of the more unpleasant dimensions of the comic book business and geek culture as they relate to women.

Started by cartoonist and retailer (and ComicsAlliance contributor!) Kate Leth, the group just hit 300 members total.We chatted with Leth about the group, its purpose, and its plans for the future.

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Gwen Stacy As Hero, Not Victim: Latour, Rodriguez & Renzi On ‘Spider-Gwen’ [Interview]

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Gwen Stacy was meant to stay dead. Her death back in 1973 in Amazing Spider-Man #121, by Gerry Conway and Gil Kane, was a mark of maturation for the genre, a sign that superhero comics were ready to embrace more sophisticated storytelling. Her death became as defining to Spider-Man's story as that of his Uncle Ben. It could never be undone.

But there's no such thing as "never" in superhero fiction. Gwen Stacy is back -- sort of. The character's debut as another reality's Spider-Woman in Edge of Spider-Verse #2 by writer Jason Latour, artist Robbi Rodriguez, and colorist Rico Renzi was so well received that the character will spin off into her own ongoing series, Spider-Gwen -- created by the same team, and set in a world where Peter Parker is just as dead as Gwen Stacy is in the main Marvel Universe. ComicsAlliance spoke to Latour, Rodriguez, and Renzi, to find out more about their plans -- and their response to Spider-Gwen's new-found popularity.

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The Mainstream Version Of Everybody Sucks: An Interview With Joshua Hale Fialkov

The Bunker. Art by Joe Infurnari
The Bunker. Art by Joe Infurnari

Writer Joshua Hale Fialkov has been building a positive reputation in the comics industry for years now. His work for Marvel and DC -- including Ultimate FF and I, Vampire -- may be what he’s best known for, but his creator-owned work -- including Oni's The Bunker and The Life After -- has built up its own fanbase.

One of the most interesting things about Fialkov is his serious, business-like approach to even his most creative endeavors. Many comic creators have their own ways of getting work done -- with varying success when it comes to meeting deadlines -- but there’s something particularly fascinating for me as an editor about creators who plan and schedule their time, analyze their own work, and still produce art that is innovative and entertaining. Fialkov's blog, How Fialkov Do, offers a thoughtful and entertaining view into how he gets his writing out into the world. I've spoken to Fialkov about his process a great deal over the years, and I thought ComicsAlliance readers might be interested to read more about it.

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Sidekicked: How Superhero Publishers Are Failing Kids

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Comic readers are often annoyed by the outdated assertion, “but comic books are for kids!” As those of us within this culture know, comics today are usually made for and marketed to adults, especially single issues and superhero comics. However, comics, as a medium, should and can serve a vast variety of demographics. Publishers simply need to be ready to create the books that readers will read.

Most comic readers can point to some great comics for kids, including Smile, Bone, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and Adventure Time -- but for many parents and young readers, there is a huge void in the comics that exist today. There are very few high-quality, positive, superhero comics for kids.

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‘Shaft’ Comics Writer David Walker On The Character’s History In Media [Interview]

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Next month, the world's most famous fictional Private Dick / Sex Machine / Bad MotherSHUTYOURMOUTH will make his first-ever appearance on comic shop shelves, when Dynamite Entertainment releases the premiere issue of Shaft, by the creative team of David Walker and Bilquis Evely. And while John Shaft is a well known figure to moviegoers and soul music listeners worldwide, this title promises to focus on the rough-and-tumble version of the character that originated in Ernest Tidyman's series of novels. We spoke to series writer Walker about the character's long history in multiple media, and his plans for the comic incarnation.

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Hire This Woman: Cartoonist and Publisher Spike Trotman

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In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”

Spike Trotman is probably best known for her webcomic Templar, Arizona which she creates entirely herself, and the sex-positive Smut Peddler anthologies she's published through crowdfunding on Kickstarter.

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The Deadly Power Of Ideas: James Tynion IV And Eryk Donovan Go In-Depth On ‘Memetic’

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Later this month, BOOM! Studios will release the first issue of Memetic, an oversized-format, three-part limited series by the team of James Tynion IV (Batman Eternal, The Woods) and Eryk Donovan (The House In The Wall) with colorist Adam Guzowski that puts a distinctly modern spin on classic apocalyptic fiction formulas. The title is an adjective referring to memes -- self-replicating ideas or entities that start with an individual before spreading to more people and across various media.

The story of Memetic is kicked into motion by the unleashing of the kind of adorable animal image many of us have seen and shared. In this case, it's "Good Times Sloth," and it becomes the most viral piece of internet content in history. Unfortunately, Good Times Sloth turns out to be weaponized meme that leads straight to the end of the human world as we know it.

It's a fascinating and unique concept, and to get a bit more insight, we spoke to Tynion and Donovan about the project's inception from initial idea to finished product.

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