With the Holiday season in full swing, there is lots of list-making and news-summing going on in the comics world. Here are a few recent stories that caught our eye:
Item! The CBC has its annual gift book guide, and the thing is chockfull of comics, including graphic novels and collections by Joe Ollmann (Happy Stores About Well-Adjusted People), Bryan Lee O’Malley’s (Seconds), Pascal Girard (Petty Theft), Guy Delisle (Even More Bad Parenting Advice), Sarah Lazarovic (A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy), and Julie Delporte (Everywhere Antennas). Each book has a preview and a nice write-up (see here) and the Joe Ollmann page (“Joe Ollmann is to graphic novels what Alice Munro is to fiction”) even has a link to the time Joe was interviewed on Tapestry.
Item! Tempest in a jampot: By now you know if you have been accepted as an exhibitor at TCAF. Festival co-founder Chris Butcher took to Facebook to address some disappointed members of the Toronto Comic Jam. According to Butcher, The Jam itself was rejected because “TCAF is generally populated by folks who are making a concerted effort to make comics and art their vocation, and I don’t get the sense that’s what the Jam is all about.” Butcher popped into the group itself to add: “Shitting on other exhibitors because you didn’t get a table is really awful behaviour by a group that purports to be supportive of a local scene. I’m incredibly disappointed as, until this point, I’ve been a big proponent and supporter of TCJ.”
Item! Speaking of Toronto-based comics-related events, Pre-registration for Anime North begins January 2.
Item! Harking back to conversations we shared back on this site in 2007-2009, Comic Book Daily’s Scott VanderPloeg rounds up a gaggle of comic shop owners to talk about the sexy topic of exchange rates and how U.S. comics get priced now that the Canadian dollar is plummeting in value once again. The most informative comment comes from Paul Stock, of Librairie Astro in Montreal: “I was somewhat dismayed a couple of weeks ago to find that DC has resumed showing Canadian prices on their TPBs and HCs: 20%. I thought it had been well established by (and at) the last RRP that Canadian retailers simply didn’t want publishers to try and keep up with the rates. We’re quite capable and accustomed to doing it ourselves, ensuring that neither we, nor our customers, get stung by currency speculation, which is what Canadian cover prices boil down to being.”
Item! Calgary comics scholar Bart Beaty is taking a break from the study of obscure French graphic novels to tackle something little more familiar to North American readers: the Archie comics of the 1960s. Beaty’s book 12-Cent Archie comes out next year and he talked about recently in the Toronto Star: “While I was writing this book I was head of the department of English at the University of Calgary. And so I had staff outside my door who would actually come in every once in awhile because I’d be sitting at my desk laughing as I’m taking notes. There were stories that I found genuinely funny. I was always surprised to be a middle-aged man reading Archie comics and thinking this is actually quite good — not all the stories, certainly. I sat down and I just read these 1,000 comics. It took me probably six months to track them all down. And then I simply sat down and read them, from beginning to end, taking notes on them, not knowing at all what I was going to find. […] I think what I learned is that just because something is formulaic and just because it’s predictable doesn’t mean that it’s not interesting. We tend to focus as scholars on exceptional works. We write about the best that has been thought and said in our culture. We write about Shakespeare and we write about Milton. For the most part we don’t tend to focus on the average or the typical work because we don’t find that there’s a lot of value there. For me the book is about thinking through what it meant to be producing work that was not exceptional but that found its place in the hearts and minds of a very young readership because it wasn’t cutting edge and avant-garde and experimental, but because it was easy to read and easy to understand.”
Item! We missed out on linking to this new anthology when it came out a few weeks ago but the author has informed Sequential that Hogtown Spirits “is a noir comic anthology series created by Kevin Parnell and Barb Felix.” Each issue focuses on a resident of the titular Hogtown City in “a self-contained story.” Scratchy-styled hardboiled genre stuff, for sure. I guess there are a ton of Canuck web/electronic comics available through Comixology? This is one of the few that I’ve been made aware of. Send us yours!
Item! Another thing that we don’t cover a lot here is Patreon. Everyone is looking for patrons these days. I know Sequential’s own publisher Salgood Sam has one to support his comics work (and potentially this site) and the big one I heard of recently is Michael DeForge’s. DeForge is promising a “12-20 page short story” comic emailed every month to anyone who coughs up $3 or more. For the minimum pledge of $2 Salgood has a basic package of digital subscriptions to his Revolver Quarterly and membership in the Spilt Ink Patrons club, “an extended suite of digital & print ready publications,” including, eventually his graphic novel Dream Life. He also has an bunch of “Milestone” goals that would change his life if they were met. I think this Patreon stuff beats the heck out of the old blog and webcomics tip jar. It’s kind of a scale-able subscription model with benefits that has tons of potential and could actually sustain a large number of people who already have an audience who are willing to put up a little scratch in micropayment form. Please Send us your Patreons!
Item! Speaking of fundraising efforts, the Pow Pow Press Kickstarter made its initial goal and will be translating four of its graphic novels into English. There are only a few hours left on the whole campaign and they are now going for a stretch goal to translate one more book, Cathon and Alexandre Fontaine Rousseau’s Vampire Cousins.
Item! Back to lists: Multiversity has come up with a pile of “breakout” comics writers with strong debuts in the comics world in 2014. Included are Canadians Brendan Fletcher (DC’s “Gotham Academy” and “Batgirl”), Curt Pires (“Theremin” and “Pop” for Dark Horse), and Ryan Ferrier’s (“D4VE” for MonkeyBrain/IDW). Pires takes the number one spot for his Grant Morrison-like “inventiveness and ability to juggle grand ideas with small, human moments.” Congrats on all who made the list.
Item! There is a thing called Geek Out in Montreal and the next one is this Saturday: “Geek OUT!s are a fun, free celebration of the things that make us geeks. For an afternoon, you get to play board games, hear presentations of local projects, do arts and crafts, eat snacks and laugh in the company of other geeks. The next Geek OUT! is happening on Saturday, December 13th at Burritoville, 2055-B Bishop Street, Montreal (between Sherbrooke and De Maisonneuve) and will go from 2:00 pm onwards. Then at 8:00 PM we’ll all head down to Brutopia for a few drinks and some more board games!”
Item! I loved the animated holiday special “A Cosmic Christmas” when I was a kid. The film was made by Nelvana in 1977 and being screened this Saturday December 13 at at The Royal Cinema in Toronto at 2pm “along with a bevy of other seasonal specials and ephemera,” hosted by the Toronto Animated Image Society and the publishers of the book Kid Power, about cult films for kids. The comics connection? Rick Trembles did a poster for the event in his celebrated style.