Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Alex + Ada is one of the very few stories that I cannot wait for, and so I’m reading every 20 pages in each monthly installment. I hate waiting a month, so I definitely couldn’t wait for the trade paperback. You’re lucky though, because if you’re interested in jumping on now, the first 6 issues have already been collected into the first volume.
This is the event write-up and photo diary that got so big, it took me two weeks to pull it all together. First I went from Long Beach Comic Con, to The Walking Dead premiere in Los Angeles, then to San Francisco for the Alternative Press Expo, and on from there to the annual APE Aftermath party at Isotope Comics. Here’s what happened… Continue Reading »
According to the New York Times, “studies suggest that cute images stimulate the same pleasure centers of the brain aroused by sex, a good meal or psychoactive drugs like cocaine.” With that in mind, I’m going to suggest that you take a look at some of the fantastically cute stories in the 40th Anniversary Hello Kitty book.
With two California comic book conventions coming up in the next two weeks, I’m pretty excited about the future. Usually when I write this weekly column, I’m inspired by what I’m reading or what I’m working on at the moment. For the last week I’ve been working on something very nifty for Comic Book Resources. It has taken up a disproportionate amount of my time simply because it is a project so close to my heart. Unfortunately I can’t tell you about it yet because it isn’t quite finished, and Jonah will notice if I let the cat out of the bag early. (Don’t you hate it when people do that? They tell you something interesting is happening, but then they don’t tell you what it is? Awful, but I want to talk about it because it is so consuming and fascinating to me… sorry about that.) Anyway, keep your eyes peeled over the next week or so for something visually fun on the mother-site. Continue Reading »
While this might be obvious to everyone, I only just realized that Last Gasp don’t have a logo. Or rather they do… they have hundreds of logos, practically one for each book, letter, and business cards… This was such an insane concept in amongst our uniform, mass-produced world that I had to take a moment to look at a few of the logos by old and new authors, and find out the thinking behind such an adventurous approach to branding.
Last Gasp is the one of the largest and oldest underground publishers and the most well-established company not to have a consistent logo. Founded in 1970 by Ron Turner to publish underground comix, the job of adding a Last Gasp logo was given to each individual who published a book with them, from Robert Crumb, to Bill Griffith, to Frank Kozik (see below for examples, click to enlarge). Authors are asked only to make sure that they “incorporate a skull or a skeleton reading a book or with a book. Ideally the skull should have eyeballs and a tongue.”
A few months ago I was commissioned to design a logo for the upcoming comic book Rum Row, by Andrew Maxwell and Michele Bandini. I thought you might be interested in the process of designing a logo, from brief to research, to sketching, through to the final logo (pictured on the right, click to view it enlarged).
As regular readers are probably aware, I’ve been a huge fan of Chris Ware’s work for a long time. In recent years I was happy to vote for his books Lint and Building Stories as books of the year, (along with most of the rest of the CBR staff in 2010 and 2012) but that isn’t where my appreciation for him began. Those beautiful books are the culmination of a great body of work, using skills honed over years spent producing a slew of incredible, personal, exploratory comic books. It is in those early comic books that we can see the real roots of Ware’s talent at observing and expressing the breadth of human emotion.
Snowpiercer Vol 1: The Escape is a comic book (or graphic novel) by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette (published in English by Titan Comics). 30 years since the original publication, it is a powerful example of the post-apocalyptic books of the era, depicting our ice-covered world, too cold to support life. The remains of humanity cling to life in a giant, high-speed train which is continuously moving, the poorest inhabitants stuck in cattle trains at the back, the richest living in comparative luxury at the front. After escaping from the back of the train, one man fights to reach the engine room at the front of the train and freedom, or some vague idea of it. Continue Reading »
Whenever I go to the comic book shop, they offer me a bag, but I always carry my comic books in my purse (which makes some comic book collectors cringe, but it’s a pretty big bag and they don’t get crushed). This year in San Diego at Comic-Con International people had a huge range of ways to carry their supplies and purchases, so I took a few photos of the best ones. Continue Reading »
It has only recently become obvious to me that designing for comic books has absolutely changed my life in a number of unexpected ways. While I always hoped the work would be enjoyable, I didn’t expect to find out so much about my own taste and style. I’d always thought of myself as a cautious, rule-driven designer, somewhat trapped by my visually obsessive tendencies, in fact I once met a famous graphic designer who admired tremendously, but when I showed him my sketchbook he couldn’t stop laughing. “Everything you do is in a grid, even your rough sketches. You’ve got to loosen up!” he exclaimed. It wasn’t intentional, I just couldn’t bring myself to break the grid back then…
Life is a tricky thing, it is so easy to fall into a certain way of living that we hardly need to make any choices to do so. Even the tiniest action can result in a huge life shift. In tidying up my email recently, I discovered a hidden inbox of messages from a comic book company who had offered me a job 8 years ago. I’d completely forgotten about it, but at the time I nearly took a job doing production design (i.e. I would have been designing titles, ad copy, and sound effect too). At the time I was offered a job earning twice as much in a sports and commerce advertising agency, and I elected to take that one. My logic was that graphic design was graphic design, and it didn’t really matter where I was designing, so I might as well take the job which would make me more money. Now here I am, 8 years later, happily taking on comic book graphic design work because it is infinitely more fun for me. I’ve learned a lot in the intervening years, and for all I know, the job in the comic book company might not have been much fun… Back then I didn’t know what it would be like and how it would impact my own feelings about the world. But 8 years later I can say that for me, personally, I am a much better designer in this field than I was able to be in ad agencies, and when I do create advertising designs for my clients, I am far more excited and driven, because it isn’t what I do all day, ever day. The variety of working with comic book designs has revitalized and renewed my love of design. Continue Reading »
I’m just back from San Diego and I would like nothing more than to write you some fun things about Comic-Con International, but they’ll have to wait because when I was asked (by an intelligent and well-educated friend) if sexism is a “real” problem, I had no choice but to drop everything and write about the very real abuse women in the world contend with, simply because “they’re women”. A world with these kind of prejudices impacts the quality of life for us ALL, male and female and it is in ALL of our interests to be aware of it and combat it. This is a lot of information, but it really is just the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately there is still a long way to go before sexism is a thing of the past.
With Comic-Con International beginning today, I thought I’d recommend a few new books for you to look out for, specifically Moonhead and the Music Machine by Andrew Rae, Street Angel by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca, and The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew. These are all books which might appeal to new comic book readers, so if you’re attending the convention you might consider bringing one back as a gift to get your loved ones excited about the medium… Or if you’re stuck at home, these should impart a little of the variety and excitement in new comic books coming out now.
As much as I enjoyed the last X-Men film (Days of Future Past), when Wolverine jumped out of bed in the 1970’s, his entirely hairless body came as something of a shock. Naturally I was happy enough to get a look at Wolverine’s bottom (seems fair, we see enough girl-butt in movies), but I found his complete lack of body hair incongruous, to say the least.
Now first of all, the 1970’s was definitely one of the hairiest aesthetics the world has ever seen. Secondly this is Wolverine we’re talking about, a man who’s mutant healing ability causes his bones to knit and skin to heal in front of our eyes. Does it not also ‘cause his waxed back to immediately regrow as well. Thirdly, most adult men simply don’t bother to wax or shave their bodies, particularly not men like Logan. Continue Reading »
Last week I went to see the opening of an exhibition of William Wray’s paintings. Having a passing acquaintance with his wild cartoon style I wasn’t sure what to expect, and the last thing I anticipated was a deeply touching commentary on the human condition through the medium of the California landscape and popular American superheroes.
William Wray’s paints portraits of superheroes in the context of the real world. They are heartbreakingly human, depicted in simple moments looking lost, alone, and bone-tired. Whether slouched in a corner or simply walking down a dilapidated street, Wray’s superheroes are anything but super, their bright suits standing out garishly against the faded colors of their surroundings. His perverse sense of humor and affection for the subject matter allows Wray to depict this pathos without it becoming unbearable to look at, it is as if he has taken the sting out of the reality he is forcing us to acknowledge. Continue Reading »
Below are the results of last week’s survey and thank you all for taking part, I do know how silly it was but I had fun designing the results. Overall the votes were kind of an avalanche, (I guess you know what you like), and the only interesting thing I’d note is how divided opinions were on who the worst superhero casting was, it seems like everyone has someone they love to hate! (Click the image to enlarge.)
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