Be it stand alone comics or an ongoing storyline, everyone enjoys a good webcomic. But I need some new ones to follow and explore. With that in mind, I asked our panelists this question:
I’ve put together my first short fiction collection. It’s called Women and Other Constructs. There are six previously published tales, plus two new ones, and just for fun, a sonnet about a murderous robot. The “Introduction” talks about the broader themes behind the book, and “About the Stories” gives a quick look at what inspired each of them
Here’s the table of contents…
We’re going to slip, just a little, into mainstream territory, and talk about one of my favorite comics from the early 1990s: The Maxx, created by Sam Kieth. In 1993, I was living in the Bay Area and shopping at Comic Relief—now closed, but once the greatest comic book store in the area. I found Love and Rockets there, discovered the new Vertigo titles that were just coming on the scene, and fell in love with a bizarro comic about a homeless man, a scantily-dressed social worker, and a nightmare-Outback full of predators and prey.
A few weeks ago, a friend who works in a bookstore (and often pulls trades of indie comics for me) handed me a stack to look through. Along with a lot of spandex superhero stuff I didn’t need, and the first two trades of Tank Girl, which I bought, was a single, scuffed, graphic novel with a purple and black cover. Volume 1 of The Maxx.
Now in its 25th year, the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards have announced their nominations for 2013. Voting is still open to industry professionals, and the winners will be revealed at the June 19th gala held during Comic-Con International: San Diego. The nominees as selected by a panel of judges who have chosen from titles submitted during the January open reading period (whether work is printed or online, it needs to have first appeared between January 1 and December 31 of the previous year). This year’s judges are reviewer Michael Cavna (“Comic Riffs,” Washington Post), academic/author Charles Hatfield (Cal State Northridge), retailer Adam Healy (Cosmic Monkey, Portland, OR), author/educator Katie Monnin (Teaching Graphic Novels), cartoonist/critic Frank Santoro (Storeyville; TCJ), and Comic-Con International registrar John Smith.
A huge number of nominees are independent and small press companies, not affiliated with DC, Marvel, Vertigo, Dark Horse, or IDW. Though Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’s Fatale (published by Image) and Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye (published by Marvel) each garnered five nominations, they share that distinction with Chris Ware’s Building Stories, published by Pantheon.
Sharing the next spot on the list, with four nominations each, are all indies: Boom!/kaboom with Adventure Time, Monkeybrain with Bandette, and You’ll Never Know, Book 3: A Soldier’s Heart (Carol Tyler’s memoir comic), published by Fantagraphics. Speaking of Fantagraphics, they lead the pack with a grand total of 24 nominations—seven more than Image, who came in second on that list.
The nominees you might be most interested in are:
Carrie Cuinn is an author, editor, bibliophile, modernist, and geek. She writes speculative fiction – including science fiction and apocalypse stories and magic realism and fucked up fairy tales – and non-fiction on a range of academic and technical subjects. FISH is her third published anthology as an editor.
CHARLES TAN: Hi Carrie, thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, Fish is a peculiar speculative anthology. How did you conceptualize it, decided to dedicate it to your son, and to have a children’s book atmosphere for the book?
CARRIE CUINN: Fish is meant to be the first in a four-part series. I wanted to do a set of anthologies that included a mix of genres but that all together would cover a huge range of stories. I thought that if I could choose themes that were wide enough, I could encompass the kind of variety I like in my own reading. Science fiction, magical realism, interstitial fiction, fantasy… you can find it all in Fish.
Tony Millionaire’s Billy Hazelnuts is a child-like fantasy, at once impossible but also intricately detailed. The story focuses on the love triangle between two children — a young girl inventor and scientist, and a literary boy who first tries to woo her with poetry — and a boy-type creature the mice made out of trash. The mice are hoping for a hero to save them from the woman with the rolling pin. The boy is hoping to learn enough science to make his love poetry more appealing to the object of his affections. The girl mainly wants to be left alone with her work.
This well-designed collected edition of Carbonneau and Ng’s webcomic about the life of occultist Jack Parsons looks like a magical grimoire the book’s subject would have been proud of. An overlooked gem that deserves more attention. (from MTV Geek)
Publisher: Cellar Door Publishing officially released this graphic novel by Richard S. Carbonneau and artist Robin Simon Ng in 2010. I met the creators at that year’s New York Comic Con, where I picked up the book. They had a booth, copies of the book, promo materials… but less than three years later, it’s almost impossible to find. Amazon doesn’t carry it. Neither does Powell’s, or any other retailer that might have listed it online. Luckily, it’s still available in its original webcomic form (we’ll get to that at the end).
[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]
Many readers have different gears when reading books. Some books are ones in which you luxuriate and spend time with, others are such a ride that you turn the pages rapidly, carried along through them at warp speed.
We asked this week’s panelists about this phenomenon:
Here’s what they said…
As a fitness professional, I have a hard time comparing books to popcorn and candy. I’m sorry. It goes against my nature. Is it all right if I call them fruits versus vegetables? Fruit is yummy, quick to eat and always fun. Vegetables can be yummy, are a bit more work to eat but you know they’re extremely good for you.
I always read because I want to be entertained and I admit I don’t always read because I want to learn something, or broaden my mind. Sometimes, I really just want to have fun and read an entertaining book. That’s when I turn to the fruit.
The fruit books I grab for a quick, fun read are urban fantasy. Give me a Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, Diana Rowland, Kat Richardson, Kevin Hearne (the list goes on and on) and I’ll disappear. I’m not saying that urban fantasy can’t be mind expanding or explore important issues, when they’re well done they certainly do that, but I don’t need to rethink my entire life to read them.
I’d also list horror books under this category, though it depends on the author. Some of those are a mix of fruits and vegetables with a side of bloody dip.
My vegetable books tend to be fantasy that take after the Tolkien mold. These are the stories I want to dive fully into, to be immersed in the world the author has created and linger there, enjoying every aspect of the characters, the setting and the story.
I’m interested to see other people’s responses on the books they savor, because I know I need more vegetables in my reading diet.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: FISH is an anthology of fiction of various stripes, swimming around the titular subject in a variety of ways.
PROS: A few strong, memorable stories that tent-pole the collection; beautiful cover and interior art; strong diversity in approaches to subject matter.
CONS: Category may be too broad; a number of the works were underwhelming.
BOTTOM LINE: An anthology that shows off the contributors’ and editor’s talents.
A young man with a fishbowl head and fish for eyes…a deep-sea’s fish to the unknown world of the surface….a god in fish form offers a Hawaiian fisherman a perilous bargain…a seamstress’ needlepoint fish threaten to change the fate of two kingdoms…the Just So story of why catfish have a flat head…
These and many other characters and situations are to be found within the stories in FISH, an anthology from Dagan Books.
In 2005, Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo published the first Trese comic. Not a cop, but working with them, Alexandra Trese and her faithful assistants solve the crimes that can’t be brought before a judge. Manila is her city, left to her by her father and his father before him, and she’s going to protect the people in it by whatever means necessary. When you live in a Manila where all of the old Filipino folklore is true, that involves making deals with some monsters, and destroying others.
Originally the Trese komiks were photocopied ashcans, passed around through fans and sold whenever you could find the author or artist to buy one. The graphic novels are published by Visual Print Enteprises, a small press in the Philippines. Their financial success, popularity, and awards led Tan and Baldisimo to sign with Flipside Publishing Services Inc., which is currently releasing the individual issues as eBooks. But even now, as huge as the komik’s creators are at home, they’re still considered outsiders, unknown by most US readers.
Those of you who are just hearing about Trese for the first time have been missing out on something amazing.
When I started this column I talked a little about what independent comics were, but not how we got here. Presently there are two major “mainstream” comics publishers in the United States: DC and Marvel. DC also produces comics under the Vertigo imprint. There are a handful of other large publishers, also working in the superhero genre, who are considered mainstream for a combination of size and content (though some of their titles are “creator owned”): Dark Horse, Image, Valiant, and so on. It wasn’t always this way.
Before there was the independent comics of today, there were the alternative comics of the 1970s and 80s. Before that, we had underground comix, bringing all of the sex and drugs and violence the Comics Code Authority (formed in 1954) banned from mainstream comics. Before that was twenty years of transition from comic strips to comic books to angry parents and preachers burning comic books in defiance of their wicked depictions.
We call that the Golden Age of comics.
Archaia Entertainment has a promising new comic on the horizon with Charles Soule’s Strange Attractors. The book is a love letter – partly to New York city, object of affection for so many writers and artists, and partly to math, which Soule credits with the power to keep chaos at bay. From the publisher:
A young graduate student discovers that his aging professor has been saving New York City from collapse by a series of “adjustments,” ala the Butterfly Effect, only to be informed that he must be the one to take over keeping the city alive. A grounded sci-fi thriller in the vein of Source Code and The Adjustment Bureau.
Strange Attractors (no, not this one) is written by Soule with art by Greg Scott, colors by Art Lyon and Matthew Perez, and includes beautifully intricate maps by Rob Saywitz. The story ventures into urban fantasy, in the sense that it needs the city to be its own character, another living, breathing, part of the tale. Without New York City being so intrinsically New York, there’s no story here. There’s otherwise little “fantasy” in the plot, which is very nearly science fiction. It must be, because of course such events couldn’t be occurring at this moment, keeping the greatest city in the nation alive and running… though, it could be true. Very nearly true, anyway.
It’s that doubt which puts the story into the realm of science fiction. Call it a potential future, and leave it at that.
What secrets belong only to a fish? Dive in and find out! Explore this genre-bending anthology of 33 delightfully fishy tales. Fantasy, science fiction, retold folklore, new myths, and more await you.
Here’s the table of contents…
Daniel Clowes is an American cartoonist most well known for his book Ghostworld, which was made into a movie starring Steve Buscemi and Thora Birch, and Art School Confidential, a movie based on some of his comic strips. Clowes co-wrote the screenplays for both movies. He’s also created advertising campaigns, movie posters, and several covers for the New York Times.
Fans of his cartooning know him as the creator of Wilson, Mister Wonderful, and the long-running series Eightball, where half of his comics first appeared (including Ice Haven, Art School Confidential and The Death Ray). His work is solidly in the camp of the independent – small press, off-kilter, strange, and decidedly not mainstream. He got his start drawing for Cracked and then scored space in an issue of Love & Rockets, before finding a home for his first series Lloyd Llewellyn with Fantagraphics. They also published the original Eightball issues, though other companies later reprinted portions of them.
French cartoonist Lewis Trondheim brings a darkly humorous book to Fantagraphics with the publication of Ralph Azham 1: Why Would You Lie to Someone You Love? Trondheim previously worked Bourbon Island 1730 with co-writer Appollo, on the long-running series Dungeon with Joann Sfar, and has a number of other titles not yet available in English. Ralph Azham was previously published in French, and Book 1 translates the first two issues of the original series into a landscape-style 8.5″ x 6.625″ hardback.