Weekender: Mike Mignola, Genghis Con, And A Very Very Long French Comic
The weekend is here! Take a look back at what’s happened in the past seven days. New comics, new stories, new podcasts, new art being made — it’s all part of the ComicsAlliance Weekender!
Everything else in comics this week stands like a shadow before the finale of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy run. With issue #10 of Hellboy in Hell, Mignola said farewell to the character and series (perhaps not forever) in order to move away from comics for a while.
Hellboy has been around since 1993, created by Mignola, although first scripted with assistance from John Byrne, curiously enough. Since then, the character has gone on to be resentfully drawn into great supernatural battles time and time again, stopping off along the way to get drunk, eat pancakes, and sometimes get trapped under the ocean for a few years at a time. Hellboy’s been an inspiring creation for comics, a creator-made character who has established a franchise, with tie-ins and spin-offs, and two trips onto the silver screen.
Mignola says that he’s going to concentrate full-time on painting, and he hopes to have the time to really get into watercolors. Mignola’s still going to be a presence in comics, I believe, as he’ll be at this year’s Thought Bubble Festival for one thing. But Hellboy, for now, has thrown his last punch.
Kate Beaton used the arrival of the 400th piece on Hark! A Vagrant to run the official announcement for her next illustrated book, King Baby, from Scholastic. Beaton’s been moving away from the strip format of the webcomic for a while now, as she notes in the blog post accompanying the update, and the success of projects like The Princess and the Pony has established her as a real force in comics. As she says, she’s been working in comics for nine years now, moving from the webcomic to print, putting out these new books... but always returning to update the site with new work as and when something strikes her. That dedication is what's been so impressive --- and groundbreaking, to be honest --- about her career to date.
Another comics website gracefully bowed out this week, as David Harper, the one-man-band producing Sktchd, has decided to close doors on the project. The site has been around for perhaps a year, and had a focus on longform essays and interviews. It dealt a lot with Image Comics, and ran a podcast called Off-Panel that will return in August as the single mainstay of the site. That’ll be your lot, though, folks --- Sktchd was a good site, which ran a lot of interesting pieces, and I’m sure it’s another one that’ll be missed.
And Ted McKeever also used this week to announce that he’s leaving comics, certainly for the time being if not permanently. Like Mignola, he’s moving away in order to focus on other artistic endeavours, but he mentions in his blog post that he’ll still be producing specialized commissions for anybody interested in sending him a request. Currently he’s working on Pencil Head over at Image, but with the conclusion of that miniseries he’ll move on to other interests.
Among the awards presented alongside the Eisners every year is the Russ Manning Award, given to a new or breakout artistic talent of the last year. This year’s shortlist was announced a few days back, and features five names you’ll likely have heard of --- proving how quickly people can make themselves known now. The shortlisted creators are Daniel Bayliss, from the current Boom Miniseries Kennel Block Blues; Leila del Duca of Shutter; Dan Mora of Klaus; Marguerite Sauvage of Faith and DC’s Bombshells, and Tillie Walden of The End of Summer. Of the five, Walden’s the only one not to have done big work-for-hire projects, with her work appearing from British publisher Avery Hill Press.
It’s a stacked list of nominees, and it’s usually impossible to work out who will win from all of them.
Ohio’s Genghis Con, surely home to the world’s most amazing and disappointing con-based pun, will be returning for 2016 in the city of Lakewood in the Greater Cleveland area. Having run for eight years now, the conventions is home to studio press comics, self-published books, zines and cartoonists of all kinds --- and it looks as though it's just opened up exhibitor registration for this year’s event. Genghis Con 2016 will be on Sunday November 27th.
ELCAF 2016 is already underway over in East London, and was listed by Time Out as being a “lovely thing”. So... that's a jolly nice thing for them to say, pip pip.
Make It Then Tell Everybody returned this week with a one-on-one chat with the woman who has been a revolution in comics for years now: C. Spike Trotman. Dan Berry’s podcast has been a delight for anybody interested in the process --- but also the business --- of making it in comics, and Trotman has one of the most interesting perspectives you can imagine.
Best known for her work with crowdfunding comics, heading up new projects, and getting to a place where she can actually pay increasingly competitive pay rates for the artists and writers she brings in, Trotman talks in the podcast about the one thing nobody in comics ever seems to want to talk about… money. For that reason alone, this would be worth a listen, but Trotman also proves a charismatic and entertaining presence, and the chat barrels along, with Berry showing himself to be, as ever, the perfect conductor of conversation.
Writer/artist Jimmie Robinson takes to Tumblr from time to time to write up his own thoughts on various aspects of the comics-making process. Currently working on Power Lines at Image --- a series that he’s repeatedly stated is making a loss, but is a story he needed to tell as a creator --- his most recent post picks up from points made by artist Steve Lieber earlier this month. Following Lieber’s discussion of depression, Robinson writes about his own perspective and current position within comics, and does so with his singular poise. It’s harsh, and sad, but so worth reading. This is what comics are.
Here’s a quick one on a site called Fleen, which is about webcomics. They mention the rise in France of a new crowdfunding site called Tipeee, which looks to be the next big thing for French comics creators. For all the attention given to your Kickstarters, your Patreons, it’s terrific to note new systems coming to the fore, especially if they’re coming from places you wouldn’t ever expect. It seems very much in the first few phases of life at this point, but it looks promising.
For a step well sideways, away from anything you might usually find on Weekender, here’s a post on a Christian faith website that details one man’s experiences heading into a comic book shop. Having been a huge fan of comics when he was young, he decided to pass the experience to his own two children --- only for them to be told by the retailer “don’t touch anything”. That one statement put a dampener on the whole experience, which was meant to be a chance for him to bond with his kids and show them something he was passionate and excited about.
The writer, David R. Henson, is clearly a comics fan, and yet he found going into a comic store to be dispiriting. That’s a shame. And while I do feel he doesn’t go into enough depth on what exactly it was that made him regret taking his kids in there, this is the sort of story I think we need to sometimes try and remember more carefully. Comics aren’t meant to be precious --- they’re meant to be enjoyed!
Retailer and writer Brian Hibbs has written 250 editions of his ‘Tilting at Windmills’ column over at CBR, and to celebrate he talks about what he feels the term “creator-owned” means for comics --- and what it should mean.
Back to France again for a look at the world’s longest-ever comic. As part of the Lyon BD Festival this year, a comic that runs for a staggering 1,625 meters was unveiled, created by artist Jibé with help from over 200 schoolchildren, who each contributed panels to the piece. It’s so long that the only place for it to be put up was through one of Lyon’s longest tunnels through the centre of town, which you can either cycle through if you just want to get to the end --- or walk through to get to see the whole thing in detail.
Have a great weekend, everybody!