Spike Trotman is a visionary. She sees possibility where others throw their hands up in defeat. She sees innovation where others see stagnation. She is fundamentally optimistic about the future of comics — and why shouldn't she be? Trotman has conducted massively successful Kickstarters — plural — organized some of the best talent in comics into anthologies like Smut Peddler and The Sleep of Reason, made money-producing Poorcraft (a comic about not having money), and, all the while, maintained Templar, Arizona, her long-running and beloved webcomic.
Comics have been good to Spike Trotman, but her success is very much the result of hard work and fresh thinking rather than chance—hard work that has left her one of the most interesting people in the industry. So, naturally, ComicsAlliance tracked down her booth at San Diego Comic-Con to talk Kickstarter foibles, “porn for chicks,” and a new golden age for comics.
Vertical Inc. publishes manga about eating disorders, adorable cat antics, 18th century prostitutes, and murderous high school cults. It brings avant-garde creators like Kyoko Okazaki and Moyoco Anno to Western eyes right alongside classic Tezuka work and more mainstream shonen fare like Knights of Sidonia and Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin. I point to Vertical when friends ask me how to get into female manga creators, how to get into horror manga, how to get into josei (women’s) manga, or how to just take a break from the cycle of standard sci-fi and fantasy.
Vertcal is utterly singular and entirely necessary to the comics industry, and it was to the Vertical booth that I sped once the doors to the San Diego Comic-Con Exhibit Hall were open this year. After examining their new releases (I recommend In Clothes Called Fat, another glance into female anxiety courtesy of Moyoco Anno), I sat down with Ed Chavez, Vertical’s marketing director, to talk about past successes, present realities, and future plans.
Paul Pope is one of comics' most respected and versatile talents. Over the past three decades, he's produced an amazing body of work, from his breakthrough self-published THB series to a number of acclaimed projects for DC/Vertigo. Last October, he unleashed his long-awaited Battling Boy graphic novel, which became a bestseller and won "Best Publication For Teens" at the Eisners last month. This coming September, First Second will publish the first of three tie-in volumes, The Rise Of Aurora West, written by Pope and J.T Petty, with art by David Rubin.
We sat down with Pope at the First Second booth at San Diego Comic-Con, the morning after the Eisners ceremony, and had a wide-ranging conversation about his creative inspirations, the changing face of the comics market, and his new and upcoming projects.
In the month or so that follows San Diego Comic-Con, things can get a little hazy. Stories can fall away, and there's some serious catching up that comes after the fervor and madness.
Case in point: When Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment released its extremely vague movie schedule last week, I speculated that one of the dozen or so movies set for release could be a Justice League Dark movie directed (or at least produced) by Guillermo Del Toro. It's a project del Toro has been talking about for a couple years. Now it seems like all but a done deal, if Del Toro's Comic-Con interview with IGN is much of an indication.
After weeks of limp ratings, the Nickelodeon animated series The Legend of Korra has been passed off to the Nick.com website, leaving many to wonder what the future holds for the series. Confusion is never far from the discussion, whether it's from spurned fans or crowing critics. The fans haven't so much hit a rough patch as been dragged through a ravine. Now it holds its breath, unwilling to be hurt again.
Which is all really unfortunate, because season three of Korra is easily the best yet. Voice actor Janet Varney’s Korra continues to be one of TV finest heroines, full of grit, passion, and unbridled talent, while David Faustino’s Mako has mellowed from a high-strung athlete to… well, a high-strung cop, but one who wears his heart on his sleeve. ComicsAlliance sat down with Varney and Faustino at San Diego Comic-Con to talk about where the series has been, where it’s going, and what its legacy will be.
When Wendy and Richard Pini released the first issue of Elfquest in 1978, the landscape of the comic industry was wildly different. The "direct market" model of retailing was still in its infancy, with a loose network of regional companies distributing titles to comic shops around the country, and there was a sharp divide (in both content and style) between the mainstream superhero titles of Marvel and DC, and the adult-themed "comix" from underground publishers. Star Wars was a pop culture sensation, and the public was hungry for more adventure, seeking out all manner of sci-fi and fantasy in theaters and bookstores.
It was the perfect moment for Elfquest to appear, and almost immediately, the Pinis had a best-selling comic on their hands. Within a few years, they sparked a second revolution, collecting Elfquest in a series of full-color paperbacks that pioneered the influx of comics into mainstream bookstores, and effectively laid the groundwork for the graphic novel market.
Now, 36 years later, they're still working on their signature creations, and have partnered with Dark Horse to publish a new series, Elfquest: The Final Quest, as well as new collections of the original series and a special "Gallery Edition," shot from the original artwork. ComicsAlliance got the chance to catch up with them at the Dark Horse booth at San Diego Comic-Con, and discuss how Elfquest has impacted the world of comics, both creatively and business-wise.
Mark Buckingham’s art hasn't just made Fables a classic — it has made it, and comics in general, accessible to reluctant readers the world over. His work on the long-running Vertigo series chronicling the lives of exiled fairy tale characters is simple, but never simplistic, and visually strong without ever sacrificing complexity. From Buckingham’s pen flow wooden soldiers of truly oaken resolve, smart-mouthed witches, rumpled detectives and alcoholic, anthropomorphic pigs, all living and loving in the little slice of New York City they've made their own.
Buckingham has helped propel the Bill Willingham-written series to the bestseller lists over and over again, inspired decadent cosplay and made Fables the kind of work that's beloved by your bag-and-boarding friends and your mom alike. Now, as the story nears its end, Buckingham is preparing to say goodbye the world he so richly imagined. ComicsAlliance found him at San Diego Comic-Con to discuss the fond farewell and what the future holds.
Chip Kidd is a one of American publishing's foremost graphic designers, a respected novelist and author in his own right, and a life-long comic book fan. He's worked with DC Comics on a number of different projects over the years, writing histories, creating logos, designing books, and even authoring stories like 2012's Batman: Death By Design graphic novel with Dave Taylor. Recently, he produced a "remix" of the first-ever Batman story (which was originally slated to be published in DC's "Detective Comics #27 Special Edition" giveaway, but ended up as a feature in the deluxe hardcover Batman: A Celebration Of 75 Years instead).
While at San Diego Comic-Con last month, we got a few minutes to drop by DC's booth and talk with Kidd about Batman, his design work, and his current (and upcoming) projects.
March: Book One was easily one of the best graphic novels of 2013. Not only did it begin a story of immense historical consequence-- the mid-20th Century fight for civil rights in the American South-- it also told that story from a strong, personal perspective. That perspective came from U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who serves as the reader's guide through some very weighty material.
Now, the pressure's on. Lewis, his co-writer Andrew Aydin, and artist Nate Powell are getting set to release March: Book Two in early 2015, and their challenge is to follow up a lauded text -- one that's been used in a good many classrooms since publication -- with a second chapter that gets more violent and shows just how difficult the struggle for civil rights really was.
ComicsAlliance chatted with Powell and Aydin for a few moments at Comic-Con International in San Diego to talk about that challenge, the difficulties of depicting such intense violence, and creating what's being regarded as an official historical text.
Lucy Knisley is a long-time favorite of ours here at ComicsAlliance – she's produced an astoundingly diverse body of work that includes travelogue comics, pop-culture commentaries, NSFW sex-positive prints, Harry Potter fan art, Adventure Time stories, and is probably best-known for Relish, her acclaimed "cooking memoir" graphic novel from First Second books.
Last month, First Second announced her next original graphic novel, an autobiographical wedding planning story entitled Something New. While at San Diego Comic-Con last month, we got the chance to sit down with Kinsley and talk about her artistic inspirations, her thoughts on attending the convention, and her recent and upcoming works.
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