Quote for the Week 1/29/11

Stop telling me what's WRONG and point to me to what's RIGHT and you'll start to get somewhere. Don't make fun of what I do read, tell me what you read and why I should be reading it. I'm not talking about telling me to read creator owned books. I mean act like a real marketer and act as if I don't know the difference between creator owned and corporate and sell me on a book. Tell me why I would love the main character, or how the plot will blow my mind, or or or. You get the point. Sell me. It's that easy. Blog about it, tweet about it. Spread the word of the actual books we love not just the general "problem" that you may see...

As comic creators, we're lucky to have our fans, and in the day of instant social networking we have their ears on stand-by. So I'll put out the call for everyone who has a blog or twitter account. Spread the word on the books you read and enjoy that may not get the attention you think they deserve. It's not about dissing the books that get attention, its about propping up the ones that need more. Give links to Amazon, or your local shop that has it in stock.
- Skottie Young, who gets it just right.

Some "Gimmick"s, With Surreality and Hints of Danger

"Gimmick Illustrated" #1 from Beekeeper Cartoon Amusements (i.e. from Jason Little!)

Where is the nation that speaks this odd language, where frogs hop through the city's alleyways, a nation with craters in the streets, and heart-breaking poverty?

Perhaps it is nowhere but in the fevered mind of comicsmith Jason Little and the pages of his new story "VLAK" in "Gimmick Illustrated", which premiered at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival last month.

Simpler in visual style than much of Little's past work, all black and white and simple, cartoony figures, each panel has a photo-frame-corner shape to match the shape the comic-book itself is cut down to. (Makes me think about the paper printouts in TV's "Battlestar Galactica".) The unique shape and size of the comic makes for a strange feeling of the macabre, like a dark comics nickelodeon.

Quite honestly, the plot advances very little for a first issue. A man loses his hat, buys a new one, boards a train, discovers a pornographic image inside his new hat... and begins to masturbate with it. The fun is in the character moments, the embarrassed looks on the main character's face for instance are priceless. The horror is in the things he discovers along the way.

Little has chosen a very strange pattern of panel-layouts with which to tell his story. Each page's panels move not rectal-linearly like comic-strips, but circular-linearly like old medieval manuscript sequential illustrations. Clockwise on some pages. Counter-clockwise on others. The result is pretty confusing upon first reading: Which panel is Panel One, the one on the top-left or the one on the bottom-left? The reader might be able to get acquainted sooner if each layout moved the same way. Small visual cues like a leaf blowing in the wind or the sound effects of the train chugging along the track serve to direct the reader's eye, but the trick doesn't always work. The panel layouts do feel like a "Gimmick".

To me, the highlight is the page with a large panel in which the main character opens what he hopes is the door to another compartment of the train, only to discover: two men feeding the train's fire with BOOKS.

Truly disturbing.

Especially in concert with the symbol on the side of the train seen five pages earlier: a star with blocky angular lines splayed from the tips.

Look closer.

'Where are we dear readers?' I hear Little asking us. I suspect he will tell us more in "Gimmick Illustrated" #2 and 3, which will give us the continuation of "VLAK".

There's a shortage of plot and a confusing panel structure at work here BUT there are also very intriguing hints of future plot points. The idea of a combined Communist-Nazi country setting for a surreal sexual spy-thriller? Count me in.


Weekly Process Roundup 01/28/10

The weekly process roundup is a collection of sketches, pencils, inks, thumbnails, everything other than finished product, from The Long and Shortbox of It's favorite artists and illustrators, hitting every Friday.

*This is one of those moments when I wish there was a button on the keyboard for an interrobang.

Wizard Magazine Closes Doors and Plans Digital Rebirth

This morning, Wizard Magazine, the long-running industry leader in popular print commentary on comics, announced the cancellation of their magazine (and its sister publication Toyfare) effective immediately.

[At left, the delightful cover of the magazine's fiftieth issue from 1995.]

The magazine will live on as a larger online news presence called Wizard World, to strengthen branding connections with the comics-convention circuit of the same name Wizard's publisher Gareb Shamus started in 1997. The new online push is scheduled for next month, February 2o11.

Shamus himself says in his press release: "The new digital magazine Wizard World will give consumers the content they want in a magazine format with which they are familiar, but distributed in a form that is always available at any time on any device. It is a natural evolution for us in this market."

[via @bleedingcool via Robot6 via Wizard World press release]

The truth is Wizard, which began publishing in 1991, hasn't been very relevant as a source of comics news for some time. Other comics news sites have mentioned the effect of the 'instant news' ability of websites and blogs (such as ours of course) in eroding the need/desire for the comics fan to purchase a monthly print magazine about comics. Why pay for nearly the same material you already got for free? But commenters are being polite and leaving out an important truth:

Many came to think of Wizard as a joke. Partially because the magazine was full of jokes. Dick, fart, poop, tits, and monkey jokes to be exact.

The saddest part is that Wizard's industry dominance killed off the excellent and sophisticated magazine called Comic Foundry [cover of the final issue at right] published by Tim Leong (@timleong) and Laura Hudson (@laura_hudson) from 2oo6 to 2oo9. (Their blog is still up here.)

Wizard Magazine was my favorite magazine for a period of my childhood. Comics industry people talking about comics with humor and irreverence. Truthfully part of why I do what I do was inspired by Gareb Shamus and Wizard. It was my generation's MAD Magazine.

This writer is hoping that if Wizard World (@WizardWorld) is making this big a change in format, it can also make the effort to make a change in tone to match the change in tone the rest of the industry has made. We can have humor and serious art commentary in the same place without dipping so deep into the vulgar stuff ten-year-old boys like.

Bring us all up a bit, Mr. Shamus.