Weekender: Small Press Day, Ron Wimberley and ‘Full Circle’
What a week! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to sit back and read some comics. The weekend is finally here, and the world can relax and rest once more — but the comics industry has been busy too, and the last seven days have seen a flurry of comics-based news and announcements fly past at high speed.
ComicsAlliance has got your back with a look at some of the stories you may have missed. New comics, new stories, new podcasts, new art being made — it’s all part of the ComicsAlliance Weekender!
Stela launched this week, in a pretty confusing explosion of Twitter updates from the multitudes of writers and artists involved in making comics for the digital publisher. Working on a subscription model, the idea is that each week sees the release of a new chapter for each story on the app, for a flat monthly fee of $5. It’s a big new addition to the comics landscape, although not without a few issues, as Elle Collins addressed in a piece on the site a few days back. Elle's review is essential reading, not least because it’s the only place I’ve seen a coherent list of all the comics currently available on the app --- the opening ‘preview week’ has not been as clear as it could’ve been!
Speaking of Stela (pronounced Steel-a), here’s an interview with upcoming Stela comics-maker Ron Wimberley, for his series GratNin. Some comics seem destined to be the spotlight stealers, like Bandette was for Monkeybrain, and GratNin already feels set up to be the go-to comic from Stela over the next few months.
Somewhat more streamlined is the Kickstarter currently running from publisher 2dcloud, setting out the stall for a ‘Winter Collection’ of comics and zines. You understand the general aesthetic just from taking a look at the way 2dcloud has laid out the Kickstarter; that slight ramshackle style that belies an energetic and enthusiastic approach to comics-making and art. Alongside the Kickstarter, the team put out an essay on Medium that goes into detail about the financial aspects (and obstaclles) of attempting to grow an indie comics publisher. Fascinating stuff.
Small Press Day has been announced in the UK, in which retailers across the country invite in ‘small press’ comics creators for signings and book launches. The offer is left for other retailers around the world to also get involved --- however, I suspect this is a project that will naturally flourish in the relatively small and well-connected UK comics scene.
I live in the UK myself, and the fact that I recognize the names of most of the comic shops taking part is a pretty sure sign that the comics scene here is small and heavily networked. Small Press Day 2016 takes place on July 9th, with updates coming from the Twitter account here.
The Off Panel Podcast continues on at one-man comics force Sktchd, with David Harper sitting down to chat with a series of hugely talented artists across the last few months. The most recent edition is with Sanford Greene, the artist on Power Man & Iron Fist, which provides the focus of the the episode. You can also find episodes with Shannon Watters, Marcos Martin, and Declan Shalvey.
ICV2 have been running a series of articles over the last few days about manga, and its apparent resurgence in recent years. One piece of coverage that caught my eye was a two-part interview by Milton Griepp with the "Dark Horse Manga Brain Trust." In part one, they discuss retailing and sales, looking at retailers and trends across print and digital Manga releases. Part two focuses more on Dark Horse’s specific output, as well as the effect of piracy and streaming on the fanbase and readership.
BBC’s Newsbeat, a news service aimed at a teenage audience, profiled several artists and cartoonists who use social media to post work exploring and challenging perceptions of mental health. The one thing that really comes across is how many people relate to and find help from the works put out by these artists, and the range of responses and sources of feedback they receive. Sylvie Reuter’s image, seen above, certainly resonated with me.
The Comics Journal has a much-discussed opinion piece from Monica Johnson, in which she suggests that modern feminism in comics often attaches itself to the importance of women as creators, rather than to any type of active feminist bent within the comics themselves. In particular, Johnson draws attention to two well-praised books at Image, Bitch Planet and Monstress, and questions the idea of the main character in the latter being conventionally comic-book-attractive. There’s much to agree with and disagree with in the piece, which makes it well worth reading.
Neill Cameron is the writer and artist behind How To Make Awesome Comics, but he’s clearly not done offering advice! Here’s a blog post with a few quick, smart pointers about how to make comics legible for readers. Is there anybody doing better work on getting young fans to make comics?
NEW AND UPCOMING COMICS
A webcomic I’ve had an eye on for a short while now is Full Circle from artist Christianne Goudreau, colorist Genue Revuelta, and writer Taneka Stotts (whose name might be familiar from her work in the Beyond anthologies, which just opened up submissions again). Having started in 2014, the comic has a simple premise: in a fantasy world called Ves, two companions travel together. One wants desperately to make their way home: the other wants to do absolutely anything to avoid having to go home at all. It's thoroughly charming and wonderful.
Ryan K. Lindsay and Sami Kivelä have returned to Kickstarter for a second Deer Editor story, their digital noir comic which features an investigative journalist who is, uh, also a deer. The approach to the Kickstarter is the same as last time, in that if you pledge $1, you get a digital copy of the comic. Simple as that! This second story featuring the eponymous stag heading straight from the smoke and into the fire, as he pushes further into the gritty and unrelenting side of his city.
Sonny Liew’s The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye is finally here thanks to Pantheon! Ostensibly a biography of a comics artist across a career that spans several years, the book shifts through styles as it progresses through time, exploring notable moments of his life and occasionally showing off excerpts from inside the comics he made. There is, of course, a twist. I’d expect to see this one in the spotlight throughout 2016.
Vixen from Vixen Varsity pointed me to an incredibly worthwhile crowdfunding campaign launched on behalf of budding 14-year old artist Jawan. An eager comics fan, Jawan has been making art for a very long time, and his mother was so impressed with the work that she started posting some of it online. It garnered so much positive feedback that he’s been offered paid work already --- but in order to take up the offer, he needs to raise money for a tablet he can work on. If you want to throw in a few dollars, here's the place to go.
Have a great weekend, everybody!