2019 Guelph Comic Jam & 15th Annual Joe Shuster Awards

Brenden Fletcher @ 2019 Guelph Comics Jam

Brenden Fletcher @ 2019 Guelph Comics Jam

Last weekend I went to Guelph to go to the Guelph Comic Jam. It was sponsored by The Dragon, a 3 chain store owned and run by Jennifer Haines. The Dragon is an Eisner Award winning comic shop that is different from other shops as it is very family friendly store. There are two stores in Guelph and one in a nearby Milton, Ontario. I witnessed one comic creator beg Jennifer to open a 4th store near where he lived saying he would happily work there. I could write a lot more about the all the wonderful work that Jennifer does for the comics community but I think she’d rather I focus on the event she just put on.

The Comics Jam was held in the Old Quebec Street Shoppes @ 55 Wyndham St N, Guelph, ON where the Dragon’s flagship store is. It was free to attend and the Jam was in the isles of the mall. I had a good time chatting with a lot of creators, among them Sam Noir, Jay Stephens, Brenden Fletcher & Andy Stanleigh. I also enjoyed a few conversations with Robert Haines too. I took photos which you can see here.

On the night of the 14th, I also attended the 15th Annual Joe Shuster Awards. Kevin Boyd did the presenting of the ceremony, except for Jennifer Haines who presented the The Dragon Award (Comics for Kids). Robert Haines also presented a surprise T.M. Maple Award to his wife Jennifer. My audio recording and pictures of the ceremony are here. It was particularly nice to see Gerhard, who was the background artist on Cerebus get inducted to the Hall of Fame.

Gerhard gets inducted to the 2019 Joe Shuster Awards Hall of Fame

I left fairly early on Sunday as I had a long drive ahead of me and I wanted to visit The Dragon in Milton on my way home. The Guelph Art Museum did have a Exhibition on Seth’s work and I did stop by the museum late Sunday morning, but it was closed. For those that don’t know Seth is a popular cartoonist who created a number of critically acclaimed graphic novels.

Regarding The Dragon stores, they are all brightly coloured stores with a dedicated kids  area with a small table and chairs and nearby small bookshelves with age appropriate books. They focus on graphic novels but do have some comics and pop culture products there. A nice touch was a healthy diversity of stuffed animals for kids, which gave the stores a fun atmosphere. The graphic novels were broken down by genre with books going alphabetically by title. They also had a comic book section and place for gaming too. The staff were all very friendly as well.

I spent more money than I was expecting. Below is my haul from the show and the Dragon store shopping.

Guelph Comic Jam & Dragon Haul

Toronto Comicon 2019

Rhino. Toronto Comicon 2019

Rhino. Toronto Comicon 2019

Over the weekend I went to Toronto Comicon. I used to attend this con regularly but stopped going back in 2013. I won’t go into the details as to why, but I will say it was nice to go back and see some people whom I haven’t seen in many years. Compared to San Diego Comic Con and TCAF, this con was ‘light’ work for me in terms of recording panels and didn’t require me to take days off work to get my stuff online quickly. I audio recorded 5 panels and took some pictures.

Two of the panels were spotlight panels of creators I’ve recorded before at San Diego (Steve Englehart & Ron Wilson) but I learned some new stuff about the creators at both of them. I’ve recorded Denny O’Neil at other panels, but not a spotlight panel. I also learned that some colourists really don’t like working on Green Lantern books and that Marvel’s current Editor in Chief C. B. Cebulski really appreciates it when a creator makes a very difficult deadline.

All of the panels were in the same room and it was easy to find the comic guests. Having a laptop with me instead of a tablet made a huge speed difference in terms of preparing audio and pictures. As usual with this convention, there was a lot of cosplay and one could spend all their time just taking photos of cosplayers and still not get them all. I used to take a lot more photos but between going to panels, taking photos of pros’s, chatting with friends and doing some shopping for myself I no longer have the time to devote to it.

I did take a couple of short videos showing some of the fun of happening at the convention with cosplayers.

The only thing that disappointed me about the trip was the handy and close to the convention public parking lot I used to use was no longer there. It’s been replaced by large half-built condo sky scrapper, which meant finding a new place to park and going for a longer walk.

 

King Con 2019

So I went to King Con, a local convention in Kingston, Ontario, Canada that was able to bring in a surprising number of comic book creators, a prose writer, a magician and even a celebrity. The event was held at Sydenham Street United Church and Chalmers United Church as the Kingston Public Library was not yet finished it’s renovations.

David Lloyd Sketch, King Con 2019.

David Lloyd Sketch, King Con 2019.

As usual I mainly stuck to the comic books portion of the show but I did spent some time watching the magician James Harrison do magic and even teach some simple magic. I  took a number of pictures, audio recorded some panels and got to speak with a number of creators which was nice.

I almost never get sketches, but David Lloyd got me to pay for a sketch and I got a nice V for Vendetta from him. David’s sketch also came with a free issue of Aces Weekly, an online comics anthology he puts together. Georgia Webber, Chip Zdarsky, Allison O’Toole & Jason Loo signed their books for me. I got to take pictures of some cosplayers, including several from the 501 Legion, but unfortunately was unable to wait for the cosplay contest as they were running late and I was exhausted.

I did attend but did not record a Group Cosplay Panel which was really well done. I have attended a number of cosplay related panels this was the first one on this particular topic I’ve seen and those on the panel did a great job highlighting the benefits of doing group cosplay. Among the reasons were combining resources, using each others unique skill set  and inspiring each other to work on their costumes.

I had a good time at the convention, but I’m looking forward to it being back at the newly renovated library next year.

 

Will Eisner Week

A bunch of my friends on facebook are calling this Will Eisner week to celebrate the man.

In going over some old notebooks I came across some notes I took the one time I met and saw Will Eisner talk on a panel. This was at the 2004 Paradise Comics Toronto Comic Con. I was not yet recording panels so I only have the notes I scribbled down. The notes are faded and will be illegible soon so I’m putting them here to preserve them.

The title of the panel was Graphic Novel Pioneers. On it was Will Eisner, Dave Sim and Chester Brown.

2004 Paradise Comics Toronto Comic Con - Graphic Novel Pioneers panel. Will Eisner, Dave Sim, Chester Brown

2004 Paradise Comics Toronto Comic Con – Graphic Novel Pioneers panel. Will Eisner, Dave Sim, Chester Brown

Will Eisner starts off telling Dave Sim “We have to be very careful about what we say, there is an audience.”

Eisner thinks a Graphic Novel is about the content, not page numbers.

He thought readers were older and wanted to read something other than 2 mutants smashing each other.

Eisner said the President of Ballantine Books was very impatient.

Chester now accepts the Graphic Novel name. He didn’t before.

Eisner calls some books graphic narrative.

Al Capp told Eisner in 1945 he’d never make it, said he was to normal.

Rube Goldberg told Eisner that comics wasn’t nothing but vaudeville and jokes.

Spirit got 5 million in circulation, that was considered nothing then.

Eisner talked about how comic strips had huge cultural impact among immigrants.

Eisner said Superman had the same costume as strong man in circus.

Eisner said the Spirit was supposed to be short stories. Eisner did Splash pages to get attention.

Dave did Cerebus because of the direct market, the retailers took all the risk. He did things in Cerebus that he knew couldn’t do in Marvel/DC. He had almost complete freedom and he pushed boundaries.

Dave said he and the people in Beguiling (Popular Indy focused Comic Book store) thought Louis Riel was career suicide.

Eisner thought undergrounds was literature because Denis Kitchen introduced him to them.

Eisner sold his company and went into doing Graphic Novels.

Dave said Cerebus + Star Reach was called Ground Level Comics.

Eisner credits the undergrounds for the Graphic Novel.

Eisner thinks the Editor should be the reader surrogate, tell him what doesn’t work and Eisner will fix it himself. He doesn’t want advice.

Chester uses Seth as his “editor” to give him advice. Sim did it all himself.

Eisner used Dave Shiner, a friend, as an editor, he died recently. He now uses his wife Ann who never read comics prior to this.

Eisner said doing comics is like sex. He doesn’t like talking about it while he’s doing it. After he’s finished, then he goes through it.

Eisner starts writing with the ending. He writes a timeline, not the story.

With Louis Riel, Chester did his work on panels with dialog at first, did stick figures if he didn’t think he would remember.

Will Eisner

Will Eisner

Dave Sim

Dave Sim

Chester Brown

Chester Brown

Will Eisner and Chester Brown

Will Eisner and Chester Brown

Will Eisner talks to media

Will Eisner talks to media

TCAF & Doug Wright Awards 2018

TCAF 2018 – Brigitte Findakly, Lewis Trondheim, Ananth Hirsh, Yuko Ota, Eddie Campbell and Audrey Niffenegger

I went to Toronto Comics Arts Festival and audio recorded 14 panels and the Doug Wright Awards.

TCAF had a different feel this year. One of the major Canadian publishers, Drawn & Quarterly was not there. They put less tables on the main floor which made the convention more bearable to walk around and browse. In the past few years TCAF had several  popular Image Comics creators, but not so much this year. I haven’t compared numbers but friends of mine believe there were more international creators than usual.

Also different was the spaces outside of the Library being used. The Masonic Temple that normally hosted the Image creators was not utilized and the empty upstairs area of a mall across the street was. Within that space was a Zine Fest which I did not visit, but I understand it was popular. I also couldn’t help but notice the Friday Night kick off event was also less popularly attended than usual. Even the Doug Wright awards were put into a smaller room and was done in an hour.  I’m not suggesting that any of these changes were bad, some of them were quite welcome, but it gave the show an ‘off’ feeling. It will be curious to see what happens with next years show to see if this is a trend or not.

 

The Combined Best Comics & Graphic Novels of 2017!

Over the last few months there have been many, many websites with “Best of 2017” lists concerning comic books and graphic novels. If you’ve looked at a few, you may have noticed some of the same books on different lists and seen some unique to only that list.

I went through over 136 different “Best Of” Lists regarding comic books and graphic novels and combined them into a spreadsheet. There are over 2,100 different listings of books from these websites. I should note that I’ve included books that were given honorable mentions. In short, if somebody thought it was a good book that you should check out, it’s on here. Pivot tables have been created to show which books appeared on the number of lists. Here are the books with 5 mentions or more:

 

Book Title Count Writer Artist Publisher
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters 64 Emil Ferris Emil Ferris Fantagraphics
Mister Miracle 45 Tom King Mitch Gerads DC Comics
The Best We Could Do 36 Thi Bui Thi Bui Harry N. Abrams
Boundless 32 Jillian Tamaki Jillian Tamaki Drawn & Quarterly
Batman 27 Tom King Mikel Janin DC Comics
You & A Bike & A Road 26 Eleanor Davis Eleanor Davis Koyama Press
Spinning 24 Tillie Walden Tillie Walden First Second
Black Hammer 21 Jeff Lemire Dean Ormston, David Rubin Dark Horse Comics
My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness 20 Nagata Kabi Nagata Kabi Seven Seas
Shade The Changing Girl 19 Cecil Castellucci Marley Zarcone DC Comics
Anti-Gone 19 Connor Willumsen Connor Willumsen Koyama Press
The Mighty Thor 17 Jason Aaron Russell Dauterman Marvel Comics
Songy Of Paradise 16 Gary Panter Gary Panter Fantagraphics
Hostage 15 Guy Delisle Guy Delisle Drawn & Quarterly
Everything Is Flammable 14 Gabrielle Bell Gabrielle Bell Uncivilized Books
The Flintstones 13 Mark Russell Steve Pugh, Rick Leonardi DC Comics
Paper Girls 13 Brian K. Vaughan Cliff Chiang Image Comics
Monograph 12 Chris Ware Chris Ware Rizzoli
Real Friends 12 Shannon Hale Leuyen Pham First Second
Giant Days 12 John Allison Max Sarin, Liz Fleming, Whitney Cogar BOOM! Studios
Crickets No. 6 12 Sammy Harkham Sammy Harkham American Comics
Mirror Mirror II 11 Various Various 2dcloud
One More Year 11 Simon Hanselmann Simon Hanselmann Fantagraphics
Saga 11 Brian K. Vaughan Fiona Staples Image Comics
Doom Patrol 11 Gerard Way Nick Derington DC Comics
Roughneck 11 Jeff Lemire Jeff Lemire Gallery 13
The Customer Is Always Wrong 10 Mimi Pond Mimi Pond Drawn & Quarterly
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 10 Ryan North Erica Henderson Marvel Comics
Batman / Elmer Fudd Special #1 10 Tom King Lee Weeks DC Comics
Sex Fantasy 10 Sophia Foster-Dimino Sophia Foster-Dimino Koyama Press
Rock Candy Mountain 9 Kyle Starks Kyle Starks Image Comics
Silver Surfer 9 Dan Slott Michael Allred And Laura Allred Marvel Comics
Pretending Is Lying 9 Dominique Goblet Dominique Goblet New York Review Comics
Redlands 9 Jordie Bellaire, Vanesa Del Rey Jordie Bellaire, Vanesa Del Rey Image Comics
Uncomfortably Happily 9 Yeon-Sik Hong Yeon-Sik Hong Drawn & Quarterly
My Brother’s Husband 9 Gengoroh Tagame Gengoroh Tagame Pantheon
God Country 9 Donny Cates Geoff Shaw Image Comics
4 Kids Walk Into A Bank 9 Matthew Rosenberg Tyler Boss Black Mask Studios
Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero 8 Michael Deforge Michael Deforge Drawn & Quarterly
Spill Zone 8 Scott Westerfeld Alex Puvilland First Second
Wonder Woman 8 Greg Rucka Nicola Scott, Liam Sharp, Romulo Fajardo Jr. DC Comics
Iceland 8 Yuichi Yokoyama Yuichi Yokoyama Retrofit/Big Planet
Aliens: Dead Orbit 8 James Stokoe James Stokoe Dark Horse Comics
Brave 8 Svetlana Chmakova Svetlana Chmakova Yen Press
Black Bolt 8 Saladin Ahmed Christian James Ward Marvel Comics
Dark Nights: Metal 8 Scott Snyder Greg Capullo DC Comics
Pope Hats #5 7 Ethan Rilly Ethan Rilly Adhouse Press
Now #1 7 Various Various Fantagraphics
All’S Faire In Middle School 7 Victoria Jamieson Victoria Jamieson Dial Books
The Complete Strange Growths, 1991-1997 7 Jenny Zervakis Jenny Zervakis Spit and a Half
Crawl Space 7 Jesse Jacobs Jesse Jacobs Koyama Press
Secret Weapons 7 Eric Heisserer Raul Allen, Patricia Martin Valiant
Motor Crush 7 Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart Babs Tarr, Cameron Stewart Image Comics
Extremity 7 Daniel Warren Johnson Daniel Warren Johnson, Mike Spicer Image Comics
Mis(H)Adra 7 Iasmin Omar Ata Iasmin Omar Ata Gallery 13
The Girl From The Other Side: Siúil, A Rún 7 Nagabe Nagabe Seven Seas
Everyone’s A Aliebn When Ur A Aliebn Too: A Book 7 Jomny Sun Jomny Sun Harper Perennial
Deathstroke 7 Christopher Priest Diogenes Neves DC Comics
Hawkeye 7 Kelly Thompson Leonardo Romero, Michael Walsh, Jordie Bellaire Marvel Comics
The Wild Storm 6 Warren Ellis Jon Davis-Hunt DC Comics
How To Read Nancy: The Elements Of Comics In Three Easy Panels 6 Paul Karasik, Mark Newgarden Fantagraphics
Fante Bukowski Two 6 Noah Van Sciver Noah Van Sciver Fantagraphics
The Black Monday Murders 6 Jonathan Hickman Tomm Coker, Michael Garland, Rus Wooton Image Comics
Bitch Planet 6 Kelly Sue Deconnick Valentine De Landro, Taki Soma Image Comics
Language Barrier 6 Hannah K. Lee Hannah K. Lee Koyama Press
Providence 6 Alan Moore Jacen Burrows Avatar Press
Nightlights 6 Lorena Alvarez Lorena Alvarez Nobrow Press
Poppies Of Iraq 6 Brigitte Findakly And Lewis Trondheim Lewis Trondheim Drawn & Quarterly
Imagine Wanting Only This 6 Kristen Radtke Kristen Radtke Pantheon
The Wicked + The Divine 6 Kieron Gillen Jamie Mckelvie, Matt Wilson Image Comics
Pashmina 6 Nidhi Chanani Nidhi Chanani First Second
America 6 Gabby Rivera Joe Quinones, Ramon Villalobos Marvel Comics
House Of Women 6 Sophie Goldstein Sophie Goldstein Fantagraphics
Ms. Marvel 6 G. Willow Wilson Adrian Alphona, Takeshi Miyazawa Marvel Comics
The Stone Heart: The Nameless City 6 Faith Erin Hicks Faith Erin Hicks, Jordie Bellaire First Second
I’M Not Here 6 GG GG Koyama Press
Venice 5 Jiro Taniguchi Jiro Taniguchi Fanfare/Ponent Mon
Royal City 5 Jeff Lemire Jeff Lemire Image Comics
Batman Annual #2 5 Tom King Lee Weeks, Michael Lark, Elizabeth Breitweiser, June Chung, Deron Bennett DC Comics
Aquaman 5 Riccardo Federici, Dan Abnett Stjepan Sejic, Various DC Comics
Savage Town 5 Declan Shalvey Philip Barrett, Jordie Bellaire Image Comics
Mech Cadet Yu 5 Greg Pak Takeshi Miyazawa BOOM! Studios
Education 5 John Hankiewicz John Hankiewicz Fantagraphics
Sunburning 5 Keiler Roberts Keiler Roberts Koyama Press
To Laugh That We May Not Weep: The Life And Art Of Art Young 5 Art Young,‎ Art Spiegelman,‎ Frank Young Art Young Fantagraphics
Farmer Ned’S Comic Barn 5 Gerald Jablonski Gerald Jablonski Fantagraphics
As The Crow Flies 5 Melanie Gillman Melanie Gillman Iron Circus Comics
The Interview 5 Manuele Fior Manuele Fior Fantagraphics
Bolivar 5 Sean Rubin Sean Rubin Archaia
The Tea Dragon Society 5 Katie O’Neill Katie O’Neill Oni Press
The Wendy Project 5 Melissa Jane Osborne Veronica Fish Papercutz
Mighty Jack And The Goblin King 5 Ben Hatke Ben Hatke First Second
Black Panther 5 Ta-Nehisi Coates Various Marvel Comics
Black 5 Various Various Black Mask Studios
The Unworthy Thor 5 Jason Aaron Olivier Coipel Marvel Comics
Kill Or Be Killed 5 Ed Brubaker Sean Phillips Image Comics
Monstress 5 Marjorie Liu Sana Takeda Image Comics
Spy Seal 5 Rich Tomasso Rich Tomasso Image Comics
Where’s Halmoni? 5 Julie Kim Julie Kim Little Bigfoot
The Abominable Mr. Seabrook 5 Joe Ollmann Joe Ollmann Drawn & Quarterly
Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop The Reign? 5 Geof Darrow Geof Darrow Dark Horse Comics
Fire!! The Zola Hurston Neale Story 5 Peter Bagge Peter Bagge Drawn & Quarterly
Baking With Kafka 5 Tom Gauld Tom Gauld Drawn & Quarterly
Voices In The Dark 5 Marcel Beyer, Ulli Lust Ulli Lust New York Review Comics
5 Worlds, V.1: The Sand Warrior 5 Mark Siegel, Alexis Siegel Mark Siegel, Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, Boya Sun Random House
Tenements, Towers & Trash 5 Julia Wertz Julia Wertz Black Dog & Leventhal

Also of note, a handful of reviewers included a webcomic within it’s best books lists. Tilly Walden’s On A Sunbeam got the most (4) mentions this year, which is remarkable as she tied for the most mentions last year. Like last year The Nib got 2nd place as a general site and Nib hosted specific comics Sarah Glidden’s The Art of War and Jess Parker’s Who Was The Somerton Man were also mentioned. Tied for 2nd with 3 mentions is Michael DeForge’s Leaving Richard’s Valley.  It should be said that several Self-Published and very small press comics were both web comics and printed books. I did not do a through check, but it’s possible that some of those books are available as web comics and vice versa.

The full spreadsheet with pivot tables for books, writers, artists, publishers and more is available here.

Regarding Publishers:

Image was the most popular with 74 different titles.

DC was 2nd with 54 different titles.

Fantagraphics and Marvel are tied for a close 3rd with 53 different titles.

Dark Horse has 30 titles.

First Second did well with 24 titles.

58 Self-Published books made the list too.

Caveats:

Where a reviewer/writer wrote ‘best of’ lists for multiple websites, I’ve cross referenced their lists and removed books that were named twice. I did not think it would be fair if those writers could tip the popularity scale by naming the same book(s) over and over again on multiple websites.

If a writer wrote for multiple sites, but one of those sites picks was a group effort, I did not remove books that are listed twice.

I generally did not include lists that were a mixed of prose books and graphic novels.

I did not use lists where the website was not in English and the books appeared to be translated versions.

I did not use nominations/winners for awards.

With inkers and colourists I often, but not always included them within the Artist section. Where there were multiple (usually more than 5) involved in a book, or in the title’s run over the course of the year, Various was used of listing them all. In some cases I combined those involved even if they worked on the title for different issues.

For simplicity sake, if a list named a specific comic book issue or specific volume of a graphic novel, I removed those specifics and just listed the series title, with rare exceptions. Apologies to the reviewers of those books.

Some writers included books that were technically published in 2016 and at least 1 just listed best books they read that year, but the vast majority of those lists were 2017 books. The number of non 2017 books in the spreadsheet is very tiny and insignificant to the overall list.

Most of the lists were general ‘best/favourite books’ of 2017, but I also included lists dedicated to young readers, manga, etc… What type list is noted on column B in the spreadsheet.

A small number of lists also had rankings and those are included in Column C

 

A Reading Life – https://areadinglife.com/2017/11/28/best-of-2017-books-for-adults/
A Reading Life – https://areadinglife.com/2017/11/29/best-of-2017-books-for-young-adults/
A Reading Life – https://areadinglife.com/2017/11/30/best-of-2017-books-for-children/
Adventures in Poor Taste – http://www.adventuresinpoortaste.com/2018/01/02/the-year-in-queer-the-top-10-lgbtq-comics-of-2017/
Advocate – https://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/2018/1/03/best-lgbt-graphic-novels-2017
All The Wonders – http://www.allthewonders.com/podcasts/some-of-the-top-middle-grade-graphic-novels-of-2017-books-between-episode-40/
Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=17388344011
Anime News Network – https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/feature/2017-12-29/best-manga-and-light-novels-of-2017/.125750
AV Club – https://www.avclub.com/the-best-comics-of-2017-1820879242
Bam! Smack! Pow! – https://bamsmackpow.com/2017/12/31/top-comic-books-2017/
Barnes and Nobel – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/best-comics-graphic-novels-2017/
Barnes and Nobel – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/best-new-manga-series-2017/
Ben Towle – http://www.benzilla.com/?p=6266
Booklist Online – https://www.booklistonline.com/Top-10-Graphic-Novels-2017-Sarah-Hunter/pid=8966988
BookList Online – https://www.booklistonline.com/Top-10-Graphic-Novels-for-Youth-2017-Sarah-Hunter/pid=8964161
Bounding Into Comics – http://boundingintocomics.com/2017/12/27/the-10-best-comic-books-of-2017/
CBC – http://www.cbc.ca/books/the-best-canadian-comics-and-graphica-of-2017-1.4453579
CBR – https://www.cbr.com/tag/bestcomics2017/
Chicago Public Library – https://chipublib.bibliocommons.com/list/share/200121216_chipublib_teens/1058615227_best_teen_graphic_novels_and_manga_of_2017
ComicBook.com – http://comicbook.com/comics/2018/01/01/the-10-best-indie-comics-of-2017/#1
Comicon.com – http://www.comicon.com/2017/12/26/comicons-8-best-comic-series-of-2017/
Comicon.com – http://www.comicon.com/2017/12/26/comicons-8-best-original-graphic-novels-of-2017/
Comicon.com – http://www.comicon.com/2017/12/26/comicons-8-best-single-comic-issues-of-2017/
Comicon.com – http://www.comicon.com/2017/12/28/comicons-8-best-webcomics-of-2017/
Comicon.com – http://www.comicon.com/2017/12/29/comicons-most-progressive-comics-2017/
Comicosity – http://www.comicosity.com/best-of-2017-graphic-novel/
Comicosity – http://www.comicosity.com/best-of-2017-series/
Comicosity – http://www.comicosity.com/best-of-2017-single-issue/
Comics Alternative – http://comicsalternative.com/young-readers-reviews-of-good-night-planet-the-dam-keeper-and-misfit-city-as-well-as-a-look-back-at-2017/
Critical Hit – https://www.criticalhit.net/comics-toys/20-best-comic-books-2017/
Cryptoscatology – http://cryptoscatology.blogspot.com/2017/12/the-cryptoscatology-top-ten-best-comic.html
Daniel Elkin – http://www.danielelkin.com/2017/12/top-13-small-press-comics-i-reviewed-of.html
Den of Geek – http://www.denofgeek.com/us/books-comics/best-comics-of-2017/269562/best-comics-2017-comicbooks
Denver Public Library – https://kids.denverlibrary.org/booklist/best-brightest-graphic-novels-2017
Entropy – https://entropymag.org/best-of-2017-comics-graphic-novels/
EPL (Edmonton Public Library) – https://epl.bibliocommons.com/list/share/664197898_comicsprof/1032066367_best_graphic_novels_2017
EW – http://ew.com/books/best-comics-2017/best-comics-of-2017/
Fantagraphics – http://fantagraphics.com/flog/whats-store-top-comix-2017/
Fantom Comics – http://fantomcomics.tumblr.com/post/169268628241/fantoms-favorite-comics-of-2017
Forbes – https://www.forbes.com/pictures/5a2aaf04a7ea432f2e756465/best-graphic-novels-of-20/#262f8e171d9b
Forbidden Planet – http://forbiddenplanet.blog/2017/best-year-2017-matts-picks/
Forbidden Planet – http://forbiddenplanet.blog/2017/best-year-2017-richmonds-picks/
Forbidden Planet – http://forbiddenplanet.blog/2018/best-of-the-year-2017-joes-picks/
Forbidden Planet – http://forbiddenplanet.blog/2018/best-year-2017-richard-begs-forgiveness-tardiness/
Free Library of Philadelphia – https://libwww.freelibrary.org/blog/post/3168
Fresh Toast – https://thefreshtoast.com/culture/best-comic-books-from-each-major-publisher-in-2017/
Gamespot – https://www.gamespot.com/gallery/the-10-best-comics-of-2017/2900-1711/
Geeks – https://geeks.media/best-comics-of-2017-for-fans-of-every-genre
Good OK Bad – http://goodokbad.com/index.php/about/2017comics
Good Reads – https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-graphic-novels-comics-2017
Gosh London – https://www.goshlondon.com/blog/2017/11/17/the-gosh-best-of-2017-kids
Gosh London – https://www.goshlondon.com/blog/2017/11/9/the-gosh-best-of-2017
Graphic Policy – https://graphicpolicy.com/2018/01/04/alexs-best-2017/
Guide Live – https://www.guidelive.com/comic-books/2017/12/14/perfectpanels-10-best-comic-books-2017
Hell Machine Jog (Joe McCulloch) – https://twitter.com/snubpollard/status/947651965797961728
Herald Scotland – http://www.heraldscotland.com/arts_ents/15784889.Graphic_Content__From_werewolves_to_cross_dressing__our_choice_of_books_of_the_year/
Herald Scottland – http://www.heraldscotland.com/arts_ents/15783879.Graphic_Content__Cartoonists_choose_their_comics_and_graphic_novels_of_the_year/
Heroic Girls – http://www.heroicgirls.com/best-graphic-novels-2017-kids-teens/
Hipinion – http://forums.hipinion.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=115077
Hollywood Reporter – https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/best-comics-2017-1070417
i09 – https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-15-best-comics-of-2017-1821292444
ICPL – http://blog.icpl.org/2017/12/30/icpl-top-staff-picks-for-2017-graphic-novels/
ICV2 – https://icv2.com/articles/columns/view/39263/the-10-best-graphic-novels-2017
ICV2 – https://icv2.com/articles/news/view/39211/top-10-kids-graphic-novels-2017
Infinite Earths – https://iearths.blogspot.ca/2017/12/the-top-10-best-comics-of-2017.html?m=1
Inverse – https://www.inverse.com/article/39420-best-comics-2017-writers-ninjak-batgirl-kaijumax-flintstones
IVC2 – https://icv2.com/articles/news/view/39236/top-10-manga-2017
Kevin Huizenga – https://kevinh.blogspot.com/2017/12/2017-time-capsule.html
Kirkus – https://www.kirkusreviews.com/lists/best-middle-grade-graphic-novels-2017/
Kitsap Regional Library – http://www.krl.org/blog/best-graphic-novels-teens-2017
Large Hearted Boy – http://www.largeheartedboy.com/blog/archive/2017/12/favorite_graphi_6.html
Lars Ingebrigtsen – https://lars.ingebrigtsen.no/2017/12/14/the-best-comics-of-2017/
Leo Weekly – https://www.leoweekly.com/2017/12/leo-looks-back-best-comic-books-2017/
Let’s Talk Picture Books – http://www.letstalkpicturebooks.com/2017/12/best-graphic-novels-of-2017.html
Library Journal – http://lj.libraryjournal.com/bestbooks2017/graphic_novels.php
Lisa Hanawalt – https://twitter.com/lisadraws/status/946879618551726080
Matt Seneca – http://mattseneca.tumblr.com/post/169372094107/2017-a-fuck-ass-year
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2017-in-review-best-miniseries/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2017-in-review-best-new-series/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2017-in-review-best-ongoing-series/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2017-in-review-best-single-issue/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2017-in-review-graphic-novel/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2017-in-review-webcomic/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/reader-poll/2017-readers-choice/
Newsarama – https://www.newsarama.com/37961-best-of-best-shots-2017-our-review-crew-picks-the-best-of-the-year.html
NJ – http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2018/01/what_was_the_best_comic_book_series_of_2017_comic.html
NPR – http://apps.npr.org/best-books-2017/#/tag/comics-and-graphic-novels
Observation Deck – https://observationdeck.kinja.com/comic-books-2017-1821374651
Panel Platter – http://www.panelpatter.com/2017/12/james-2017-favorites-in-17-ridiculous.html
Panel Platter – http://www.panelpatter.com/2018/01/rob-m-favorite-sci-fi-and-fantasy.html
Panel Platter – http://www.panelpatter.com/2018/01/rob-ms-favorite-anthologies-of-2017.html
Panel Platter – http://www.panelpatter.com/2018/01/rob-ms-favorite-horror-comics-of-2017.html
Panel Platter – http://www.panelpatter.com/2018/01/rob-ms-favorite-horror-comics-of-2017.html
Panel Platter – http://www.panelpatter.com/2018/01/rob-ms-favorite-indie-books-of-2017.html
Panel Platter – http://www.panelpatter.com/2018/01/rob-ms-favorite-superhero-style-comics.html
Paste – https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/12/the-10-best-kids-comics-of-2017.html
Paste – https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/12/the-25-best-comics-of-2017.html
Pierce County Library – http://www.piercecountylibrary.org/books-materials/pierce-county-favorites/Default.htm
Polygon – https://www.polygon.com/comics/2017/12/22/16807870/comics-2017-marvel-dc
Publisher Weekly – https://best-books.publishersweekly.com/pw/best-books/2017/comics
Publishers Weekly – https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/comics/article/75675-my-favorite-thing-is-monsters-tops-annual-pw-graphic-novel-critics-poll.html
Readings – https://www.readings.com.au/news/graphic-novels-and-comics-we-loved-in-2017
Ryan C’s Four Colour Apocalypse – https://fourcolorapocalypse.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/2017-year-in-review-top-10-single-issues/
Ryan C’s Four Colour Apocalypse – https://fourcolorapocalypse.wordpress.com/2017/12/13/2017-year-in-review-top-10-collected-editions-contemporary/
School Library Journal – http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production/2017/12/20/31-days-31-lists-day-twenty-2017-comics-for-kids/
School Library Journal – http://www.slj.com/2017/11/reviews/best-of/top-10-graphic-novels-2017/
Scifi Pulse – http://www.scifipulse.net/comic-books-2017-the-year-in-review/
Sequential State – https://sequentialstate.com/blog/comics-challenged-2017-complete-list/
Slackjaw Punks – http://slackjawpunks.com/top-5-comics-of-2017/
Spy – http://spy.com/2017/entertainment/books-music-movies/best-graphic-novels-2017-comics-72376/
Super Skull – http://www.superskullshow.com/episodes-all/2017/12/7/super-skulls-best-graphic-novels-of-2017
SyFy – http://www.syfy.com/syfywire/syfy-wires-best-ongoing-genre-comics-of-2017
The Beat – http://www.comicsbeat.com/the-beats-best-comics-of-2017/
The Comics Journal – http://www.tcj.com/the-best-comics-of-2017/
The Comics Reporter – http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/fff_results_postr_491_books_of_2017/
The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/dec/03/rachel-cooke-best-graphic-novels-2017-joff-winterhart-driving-short-distances-grandville-talbot
The Hundreds – https://thehundreds.com/blogs/content/best-2017-graphic-novels
The Irish Times – https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/living-colour-favourite-comics-and-graphic-novels-of-2017-1.3324716
The Smart Set – https://thesmartset.com/comic-countdown/
The Verge – https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/22/16807260/best-comics-of-2017
Turnaround – https://theturnaroundblog.com/2017/12/21/top-comic-books-of-2017/
Under The Radar – http://www.undertheradarmag.com/blog/under_the_radars_holiday_gift_guide_2017_part_9_books_and_graphic_novels/
Unwinnable – https://unwinnable.com/2018/01/03/the-best-comics-of-2017/
Uproxx – http://uproxx.com/hitfix/best-comics-2017/
Vice – https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/paqaxk/the-ten-best-comics-of-2017
Villain Media – https://villainmedia.com/jorge-solis-top-10-comic-books-2017/
Vulture – http://www.vulture.com/2017/12/10-best-comics-2017.html
Washington Post – https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/the-10-best-graphic-novels-of-2017/2017/11/10/ded1688c-af85-11e7-9e58-e6288544af98_story.html?utm_term=.74d0cde5c002
Waukegan Public Library – https://www.waukeganpl.org/2017-review-graphic-novels/
WhatCulture – http://whatculture.com/comics/10-best-comic-books-of-2017
WhatCulture – http://whatculture.com/comics/10-best-comic-books-of-2017-so-far
Why So Blu? – http://whysoblu.com/best-comic-books-2017/
Wired – https://www.wired.com/story/best-comics-2017/
Women Write About Comics – http://womenwriteaboutcomics.com/2018/01/03/small-press-bites-faves-of-2017-edition/
Women Write About Comics – http://womenwriteaboutcomics.com/2017/12/30/wwacs-favorite-big-press-comics-of-2017/
Zainab Akhtar – https://twitter.com/comicsandcola/status/941346392492167168

Azad Interview

Azad at HobbyStar Toronto Fan Expo 2004Originally posted in August of 2004. Comic books were starting to enter a golden age around 2004, not only was there a lot of good stuff coming out from major publishers, a lot of great stuff from the past was being reprinted. Suddenly the standard of “average” went way up and what was better than average even 5 years prior had a difficult time finding an audience. Azad’s Sammy was one of those books.

 

Azad Interview

Azad is an Image creator, one of many that is doing a great book that you probably never heard of. It’s called Sammy, about a cat burglar and his cat Lucky. With this interview we talk about Azad’s background, his book, using computers to make comics, Marvel Comics, Image Comics and more.

 

Jamie: Okay lets start getting some background info from you. Where are you from?

Azad: I’m a born and milk-fed Montrealer. After doodling and taking art classes for years, I resigned to taking Illustration and design at Dawson College. I worked for a world renowned animation company, then apparently, went nuts and decided to draw funny books.

 

Jamie: What jobs did you have before you finally decided to do comic books?

Azad: I wish I had an interesting string of crummy jobs to complain about, but all my jobs prior to comics were drawing or print related. Graphic design, desktop publishing, and pre-press film outputing. Most notably, I was a storyboard artist for 4 years at CINAR animation working on such artistic paragons as Caillou and Arthur.

 

Jamie: You do everything for your book and it all looks very nice and professional. Did you have a mentor that taught you the ropes?

Azad: For drawing, I have a cousin named Haig Bedrossian (co-plotter on Sammy: Tourist Trap) who turned me on to the arts and encouraged me from a very early age to draw comic books. He’s now teaching animation at Max the Mutt animation school in Toronto and living a far more lucrative life than that of a comic artist.

As far as the technical side of things go, my sister (a desktop publisher) was my digital guru. She taught me how to use Photoshop, Illustrator, QuarkXpress, and all other computer related aspects of art.

But mostly, I was left to my own devices to figure Everything else out on my own. I’m not a “gifted” artist by any means. I’m a studied, learned artist. I work really hard trying not to make a fool of myself.

 

Jamie: So why did you want to do stories about a cat burglar named Sammy and his pet cat Lucky?

Azad: I deliberately wanted to make a book that was both FLEXIBLE and FUN. I have dozens of crazy adventures I want to tell, and the only binding factor between them are these two characters. And it works. I wanted to be able to stick Sammy into any situation and any genre. With that said, there IS a balance, and I know where to draw the line. I can’t really verbalize it, but I know it when I see it. For example, I could have sci-fi elements in a story, but not so far as having Sammy go into an inter-dimensional portal. He could encounter a superhero, but not gain powers of his own.

 

Jamie: Okay, Sammy is a cat burglar with a pet Cat. Why is he not dressed up as Halle Berry?

Azad: Hey, great idea!! I could do stories about Sammy being involved in Hit and Runs, and doing bad movies! A goldmine, I tells ya! Thanksabunch!

 

Jamie: Do you even own a cat? Cause there is no way a cat would do the shit you have “Lucky” do in the comic.

Azad: Funny you should ask. I think of Lucky as a cat with a dog’s personality. He’s still aloof, but actually useful.

I used to think I was a cat person. I never owned one, but my best friend has three. I would go over, pet them, scratch them under the chin. They were okay… kind of cold, kept to themselves and meowed when they wanted food and swiped at me once in a while… “Hey, its a dumb animal” I told myself… these things happen, right?

Wrong!

Then, my buddy goes and buys a DOG. Holy cow! Big difference! Dog’s are playful, they can take orders, and are genuinely happy to see you when you come home. By comparison, the dog makes the cats look like strutting turds that do nothing but sleep, shit and turn their nose up at the food you bought them. You could feed a dog its own crap, and it’ll still look at you with love in its eyes.

Fuck cats!

 

Jamie: A significant part of the Sammy: Tourist Trap mini series is done in Spanish with no English translation. Why?

Azad: Sammy is a fish out of water… he’s in a country where he doesn’t understand what is being said around him. If HE can’t understand Spanish, and we the audience are supposed to be in his shoes, then logically WE shouldn’t be able to understand, either. It’s that way to heighten the tension. Putting the translations at the bottom of the panel would have defeated the purpose.

With that said, I fully realize that there are readers out there who just skip past the balloons, or groan at the plot device… but it’s MEANT TO BE READ! Perhaps I’m asking too much of the reader, but to me it was important to do it that way.

 

Jamie: Do you think you can keep doing Sammy forever or do you have an overall plan for the character?

Azad: As long as I can continue to keep publishing the character, yes. I do have other ideas I’m working on, but I’ve got dozens of stories already written for Sammy. Literally! I have the scripts on my computer as I write this.

Keep in mind, much of the Sammy stories (even Tourist Trap) aren’t so much about the character.. it’s about the situation. He’s just the excuse (or the vehicle) to tell the story.

 

Jamie: Y’know, in the late 90’s comic books sucked so bad that Sammy would have been considered a GREAT book. Today it’s considered very good for a non- Marvel/DC comic. As such, the bar has been raised. You are now competing against Bendis, Millar, Ellis and Morrison on big name books and they’re selling like mad. How does that affect you?

Azad: If anything, I’m going head to head with indy books and smaller press. Sammy is in B&W, so immediately it’s ordered more conservatively by retailers because B&W tends to sell less than color. Plus the content is hardly spandex friendly.

As for the Big Two, I don’t see Sammy in direct competition with Marvel and DC. Different readers for different types of books. I don’t suspect I share the same readership as Hawkman lovers or Ultimate X-Men, so I don’t really worry about that.

The way I AM affected by Marvel is some of their crummy business practices. Namely trying to gobble up market share by dumping piles of unreadable books they know wont succeed into the marketplace, knowing retailers have to buy it for the rabid Marvel Zombies, all the while stretching the retailers’ purse strings until they order fewer copies of smaller press titles (including my own). THAT affects me. That affects everyone, and from the retailers I’ve spoken to, they’ve reached their boiling point.

Shit! I just killed my potential for freelance Marvel work didn’t I…Dang!

 

Jamie: Sammy is one of many Image books that is suffering the same problem of being good, but not getting any major promotion. What do you think has to be done to fix that?

Azad: Well, the responsibility is on US, the creators, to do our own promotion. Image Comics does what it can. We are treated as equal separate companies publishing under the banner of Image, thus, it’s up to us to take care of ourselves. For its part, Image gives us ad space, does our press releases and gives us a forum on their site to help gain a footing online. That’s about as much they can do for the fee they take.

The rest is up to us. I personally, did everything in my power to get the word out on “A VERY SAMMY DAY” this past May. I had a Press Release, Did 10 interviews on the net, started an ongoing online original Sammy serial called Subway Stories, and flooded internet forums with announcements and promos.

In the end, it didn’t amount to much. I’ve learned that online buzz doesn’t always translate into real world buzz. Sometimes, it’s having good word of mouth, sometimes it’s luck. You just have to keep going to cons, and plugging away until someone notices. It’s a lot of hard work.

I’m not sure what ELSE to do. Buying ads in trade papers? Calling retailers ahead of time? Emailing and mailing retailers previews ahead of time? It all costs more and more money. You can buy your way into Wizard with ads, but I don’t know if that makes a difference. I’m guessing it depends on your material. In my case, I doubt it.

 

Jamie: On your website, Guerrilla-Comics.com you use some online comics to promote your comics. Has that helped?

Azad: Marginally. In fairness, I haven’t used the site to its potential. I could have brought in other online cartoonists, maybe had some contests and promotions to go along with the website…Part of the original intent of the site was to have some activism. To get people pumped about doing comics. But life has gotten in the way of myself and my webmaster. We’d like to change that. We’re having a major Pow-Wow for a week this August. Hopefully, we’ll get things up there that should have been up last year. 3D animation, web docs, more comics, more features… hopefully, it’ll build some interest in Sammy and other future projects.

 

Jamie: I’m surprised I haven’t seen you offering Sammy: Tourist Trap as a TPB yet. Are you planning on doing this?

Azad: SALES! Sales dictate everything. The book is still a bit in the red. With that said, I’ve got a great TPB planned for it with TONS of extras. I just hope I get the green light. We’ll see.

 

Jamie: You mentioned in the back of Sammy: Tourist Trap #4 that using computers does not speed up the process of making comic books, instead it slows it down. If that’s the case, why do you use computers?

Azad: In all honesty, it’s become a bit of a crutch for me. I like the way my stuff looks better with it than without it. But it has afforded me the ability to make my artwork look as good as it is. It would NOT have been so otherwise. I’d like to change that though. J.Bone has challenged me to do a computer-less comic one day. We’ll see.

 

Jamie: How has Image changed for you since Erik Larsen took over as head honcho?

Azad: Not in any obvious way, so far. All my contracts and such were signed under Jim Valentino, so they had to honor them. Hell, I have no idea if Erik even likes my work or would have signed me at all, for that matter. I guess we’ll see how this affects me when I ask for a TPB or a sequel.

 

Jamie: When you get a fan following and respectable Sales, will you drop everything and work for Marvel or DC when they offer you lots of money and a title?

Azad: A title with the Big Two would not change my plans for world domination. Especially considering the fact that I’d want to WRITE, not draw for the Big Two. I can write fast. Real fast! Drawing takes forever and I’d never be able to maintain a monthly schedule. But then again, who wants to write pajama-boys when I get to find new ways to abuse kitties on my own book?!

Warren Ellis Interview

Warren Ellis at 2005 Paradise Comics Toronto Comic Con

Warren Ellis at 2005 Paradise Comics Toronto Comic Con

Originally published in January of 2004. I once tried to interview Warren Ellis at a 2005 convention in Toronto but that fell through. Previous to this Warren sent out a message saying he would do 4 question interviews to anybody that e-mailed him questions. Prior to that Rich Johnston posted the rumor that Warren Ellis was going to be doing a book at TOYKOPOP, who were then hiring creators to come up with their “OEL (Original English Language) Manga” line. I decided to take a gamble use the interview to ask him about it in hopes of breaking some news.

 

Interview with Warren Ellis

Warren Ellis is a writer and sometimes comic book activist. He is best known for his books Transmetropolitian, Planetary and The Authority. He also spent quite some time writing about the comic book industry and it’s need to change and improve, which along with his comic work has gained him a very large following in the industry. The following is a mini interview he allowed via his DiePunyHumans list.

 

Jamie: What are you doing for TOKYOPOP?

Warren Ellis: Um . . . nothing, yet. You seem to be playing off a rumour that I think Rich Johnston ran the other week. I’ve had a conversation with Tokyopop, but nothing else.

 

Jamie: Are you writing stuff for their young female readers or your typical audience?

Warren Ellis: See above. Sorry, but you’re way ahead of reality here…

 

Jamie: TOKYOPOP is only starting to do original material and much of that is from their fans via their Rising Stars contest winners. One might assume the company is closer to Archie or Marvel when it comes to respecting and fairly paying their creators. Are you having to guide them towards DC or better standards or have they figured that out on their own?

Warren Ellis: I haven’t even seen their standard contract and have no idea what they pay.

 

Jamie: Just off the top of your head, what do you think the better GN’s of 2003 were?

Warren Ellis: I really didn’t read many graphic novels in 2003. I certainly couldn’t name any off the top of my head. I think I went into a comics store once in that year, and that was just to say hello to someone while I was passing.

 


 

While this interview isn’t all that exciting I do have a treat for you. Warren did a nearly 2 hour hilarious, story filled Q&A panel at the 2005 Paradise Comics Toronto Comic Con. I uploaded clips of this panel roughly around 12 years ago and since then I’ve found the full audio file and I’m making it available here for the first time. Enjoy!

 

Carla Speed McNeil Interview

Carla Speed McNeil at 2010 San Diego Comic Con

Carla Speed McNeil at 2010 San Diego Comic Con

Originally published in May of 2003. The Toronto Comics Arts Festival may have been the first ‘convention’ I ever attended. I had been reading online that Carla Speed McNeil’s Finder was a great series, so I checked out her books at her table and liked what I saw. I bought the 4 Finder TPBs she was selling and have remained a fan of Carla since. I believe this is the first of many interviews I did after meeting the creator at a convention.

 

Carla Speed McNeil

Carla Speed McNeil has been self-publishing Finder since 1996. Over the years she has gained critical and commercial acclaim. The dramatic book takes place in a future world that is uniquely Carla’s making. I met Carla at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival in March of 2003. We agreed to do an interview via e-mail.

 

Jamie: Where did your middle name Speed come from?

Carla Speed McNeil: Bestowed upon the family by James II, for services to the Crown. The first James Speed was a surveyor. Back then the word ‘speed’ denoted ‘success’, as in “Good luck and godspeed.”

In other words, it’s my maiden name.

 

Jamie: I understand you went to University prior to doing comic books. Where did you go and what did you take?

Carla Speed McNeil: I attended my state university, LSU, majored in Fine Art/Painting, and obtained my BFA in 1991.

College was well worth pursuing; I got a lot of figure drawing and composition out of it, aside from the basic get-off-your-butt-and-work college stuff. But my degree didn’t give me even half of the skills I needed to do what I do now. I never touched an ink bottle until years after school was over.

 

Jamie: Did you grow up reading comic books?

Carla Speed McNeil: Sort of. There was no comic shop in my town, and I didn’t care for the stuff on the newsstand.

 

Jamie: If so, which ones?

Carla Speed McNeil: What I DID have was a huge box of tattered old EC horror comics that were given to me by a cousin. Scared the poo out of me. I loved them.
When I was about fourteen I went through my brief fling with X-MEN. That was when Paul Smith was drawing the book, and after he left, I just wasn’t interested anymore. Right about then I dug CEREBUS #53 and ELFQUEST #13 out of a waterlogged box at a flea market, and just couldn’t believe how absorbing they were… when I went back, I found a Pacific Comics catalogue, and from there, there was no turning back. I ordered black-and-whites by the pound. Best of all was Bill Messner-Loebs’ JOURNEY, with CEREBUS a close second.

 

Jamie: In Finder, your main character is named Jaeger Ayers. Is he based on anybody real?

Carla Speed McNeil: He’s based on quite a lot of real people. Not the least of these is an uncle of mine who, at the age of seventy-six, caught a live hummingbird in his bare hand, and let it go unharmed. You can’t not write about people like these.

 

Jamie: I can’t help but notice that Jeager heals quicker than ‘normal’ people and is a loner/rebel. While I feel like a geek for asking this, would Wolverine be one of the influences behind him?

Carla Speed McNeil: Can’t help but be in there, can he? That poor blown-out sock-puppet character does cast a long shadow.

It’s not really hard to understand his continued popularity. For many a long year, he was really the only GUY in comics. Plenty of males, some good, some bad, but only one GUY. Strange.

 

Jamie: Where did you get the last name Ayers from?

Carla Speed McNeil: Sort of randomly. One of my instructors had that name, and I liked the sound of it. A very minor character in a book had that name, spelled differently. When I remembered that Uluru, that enormous sacred rock in Australia is called Ayers Rock by the non-natives, it really seemed to fit.

Names, for a guy raised the way Jaeger was, are fairly fluid. He barely HAS a last name, and knows nothing about his family.

 

Jamie: With Finder you won some awards, particularly in 1998 from the Ignatz and Friends of Lulu organizations. Did these awards help your sales?

Carla Speed McNeil: They certainly help with visibility, which boosts sales to an amazing degree.

 

Jamie: By the way, Congrats on your recent Eisner nomination for Best Writer/Artist.

Carla Speed McNeil: Thank you.

 

Jamie: When did you get interested in making comic books?

Carla Speed McNeil: All through college, once I realized I didn’t really want to be an animator.

 

Jamie: Was there one particular book that made you say “I want to do comics too.”

Carla Speed McNeil: No. It was the obvious course of action. I wanted to draw and I wanted to write. One of my art instructors described his gallery show as being ‘narrative art’. ‘Narrative’? He took the class downstairs to have a look at it. His show consisted of many large canvases full of (to my eye) extremely murky abstract imagery with titles drawn from world mythology. He stood over each painting and explained in detail the myth figure he meant to depict.

Botticelli it wasn’t. I’ve seen many, many single images that did indeed tell a story for anybody to see if they put two and two together. Whatever this artist’s intention, those images did not. I wanted to tell stories in a visual medium, and that afternoon cemented for me the fact that a single image can’t do that, even with the perfect title/caption. It can evoke a complex story, sum it up in a brilliantly clever way, but not really tell one.

 

Jamie: How did you learn the details of self-publishing?

Carla Speed McNeil: First and foremost, from Dave Sim’s rants in the inside front cover of CEREBUS.

 

Jamie: Did you have any help in getting started? People you talked with that walked you through the steps?

Carla Speed McNeil: My first friend in the business was Michael Cohen, who wrote/drew/published STRANGE ATTRACTORS, MYTHOGRAPHY, and THE FORBIDDEN BOOK. I met him at my first SPX back in… yee. Must have been ’93, ’94. I had half the boards for my first ashcan to wave around. At San Diego the following year, he introduced me to a lot of the distribution folks.

I talked their ears off. I apologized in advance for the frighteningly long list of questions I had to ask.

 

Jamie: I understand your family has a strong entrepreneurial background. What did you pick up from them that is not found in most ‘how to self publish’ texts?

Carla Speed McNeil: Hm… I haven’t read most ‘hts-p’ texts. Sim’s was great for clearing out mental wool. That two-week page-a-day boot camp idea was and remains an eye-opener.

My folks were there to give me more of the same practical, hardheaded it’s-a-job save-the-artistic-meandering-for-the-story stuff, and a lot of advice on taxes, pricing, and keeping receipts. They helped me learn to look ahead two years, three years, five. I might’ve tripped over a lot of dollars trying to pick up pennies if they hadn’t intervened from time to time.

Tax returns financed the first three TPBs. Sound advice.

 

Jamie: One of the more financially dangerous things about self publishing are returns on bookstore sales. How have they been?

Carla Speed McNeil: I’m still working on getting into the returnable market. I can’t say the returns process has cut into my sales thus far.

 

Jamie: I understand, even ardent self publishers like Dave Sim have a Gerhard helping him, allowing for a monthly schedule. Does doing Finder bi-monthly allow you to do everything without burning out?

Carla Speed McNeil: More or less. Putting a little extra pressure on– as I’m doing with the Oni project now– forces me to streamline. Every work method acquires craft over time. A little blind panic over deadlines scrapes off unnecessary steps and laziness admirably.

 

Jamie: If you could afford to publish Finder in color would you?

Carla Speed McNeil: Would all my readers be happy with getting half the number of issues per year? It’d slow down production quite a lot.

 

Jamie: With all the comic book stuff in the theaters these days have you had any Hollywood types sniffing around for the rights to do Finder?

Carla Speed McNeil: Not so far.
Well, not Hollywood, anyway. Cinar did come calling. At the time, they were working on a cartoon version of AKIKO ON THE PLANET SMOO. I’ve no idea what’s going on with that one. At any rate, they asked for samples of FINDER to look at. I was bemused– this is a company that makes shows aimed at rather young children, after all. RICHARD SCARRY and things like that. AKIKO itself would have been aimed at an audience older than their usual, but nowhere near as old as the audience for FINDER. The more I talked with them about the possibilities, the less interested I was.

FINDER’s not a kid’s show. Sure, it could be made into one; you could make THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE into a kid’s show if you really wanted it to be one. Just take out all the chainsaws.

I’m picturing THE TEXAS CHAINSAW JAMBOREE.

 

Jamie: Would you want some sort of creative control over other media versions of Finder?

Carla Speed McNeil: Depends on who’s doing them. If Peter Weir came to me and said he wanted to do a FINDER film, I’d kiss his feet and let him do whatever he liked.

 

Jamie: Regarding your trip to Canada, did you have any problem getting back to the states without a passport?

Carla Speed McNeil: Actually, no, thanks to the miracle of the fax machine. I had my mother send me a copy of my birth certificate, and breezed on through.
Anybody who had a Chinese passport was in for it, though.

 

Jamie: How did you make out at the convention? Hopefully our low Canadian Dollar didn’t hurt too much.

Carla Speed McNeil: Pretty well, for a one-day show, I think. Can’t say for sure, ’cause I still haven’t gotten it all converted. Everybody told me not to do it on the Canadian side or in the airport, and frankly, I haven’t figured out what bank to try first. Dope-de-doe…

 

Jamie: Do you like our multi colored monopoly money and funky coins? 🙂

Carla Speed McNeil: LOVE the coins. I heard some people complaining about how heavy their pockets/purses can get, but I loved having change in my pocket that was actually worth something– reaching for a coin FIRST instead of a bill was great!

I’d far rather have a roll of two-dollar coins in my briefcase than that huge jersey-roll of ones I’m sadly resigned to carrying.

As for the multi-colored monopoly money, I can tell you, you’ve got nothing on Argentina. Blinding bills they have. The Powerpuff Girls aren’t as brightly colored.

 

Jamie: You said you used a Canadian Cartoon called Sawing For Teens in your note in the back of Finder: Sin Eater Vol. 1. While in Canada, did you get a chance to check out more Canadian Cartoons?

Carla Speed McNeil: No, but I did get a lead on where to find a copy of another Richard Condie film, called THE PIG BIRD. Been looking for that one for years. Condie’s the KING.

Carla’s website is http://www.LightSpeedPress.com, where she has several issues of Finder online to read for free.

Ty Templeton Interview

Ty Templeton at 2014 Joe Shuster Awards

Ty Templeton at 2014 Joe Shuster Awards

Originally published in November of 2002. At this point I had dropped all monthly comics and was only reading Graphic Novels. When I made that switch I found I didn’t like reading superhero graphic novels all that much, with the exception of Kurt Busiek’s Astro City. Ty’s Bigg Time had recently came out and I enjoyed it and I thought it was neat that he was relatively local to me.

 

Ty Templeton Interview

Ty Templeton has done a mix of big name superhero, independent and licensed cartoon comics during his career. His latest work is something different: it’s an original, black and white graphic novel published by DC/Vertigo. The book is called Bigg Time and is about something Ty is very familiar with, show business and fame. Ty comes from a very famous family. His mother was a singer with a few hits and his father was heavily involved in show business and politics. In this interview, we talk about graphic novels in general, Bigg Time, politics, his future and more.

 

Jamie: How did you like doing an original graphic novel compared to a monthly comic book?

Ty Templeton: First and foremost, it’s wonderful to have the time to stretch out and really TELL a story, rather than racing through everything in twenty two pages. I get to indulge the characters more, and indulge the pace . . .

This particular graphic novel was originally conceived as a six issue mini-series however, so many of the monthly comic book joys and headaches were all packed into the experience anyway. I wrote it in eighteen page chunks, for instance so I could get a paycheck every couple of weeks. The chapters tend to run to the same breaks that were written into the script when it was intended to be a miniseries . . .

 

Jamie: Did you find yourself trying to put in a cliffhanger every 24 pages or so like a normal comic series?

Ty Templeton: WHOOPS! See answer above! Since it was conceived that way, yup, I did . . . But we knew it was a graphic novel before I’d gotten much farther than the first dozen or so pages anyway . . . so I wasn’t a slave to that format in the end. But there are elements of that, that remained in the finished thing, because they’re in the original plot structure.

 

Jamie: I noticed with Bigg Time, you did *everything* on the comic, some things your not known for like lettering, colouring and separations. Why did you take on all aspects of doing the book?

Ty Templeton: Well, I’m not known for them cause I haven’t done them in a while. But I used to letter everything I drew, and when I worked in the independent comics industry in the Eighties, I had no choice but to do everything, including boxing issues up to be shipped. I even drove comics home from a printer once . . . I also used to colour my own covers on Batman, so I’m used to working with a computer to colour things. I’m very big on the idea that comics should be created by as few hands as possible. That’s one of the joys of the medium . . . I can conceive, write, draw, colour and (should I suddenly wish to lose money) print and publish my own comic iffen I want to. Vive la Artiste Solo! You can’t do that in Movies or TV!

 

Jamie: Did you do lettering, colouring and separations by hand or by computer?

Ty Templeton: Most of the word balloon lettering is done on a computer. All my sound effects letters are done as line art on the boards. I always feel sound effects are part of the art, and ALWAYS do those myself when I pencil.

 

Jamie: Do you think graphic novels are the future of the comic industry?

Ty Templeton: Gosh, I hope so and I hope not. I’d like to see more of them, but only good ones, of which there haven’t been that many over the years. Road to Perdition is a wonderful graphic novel, as is Stuck Rubber Baby, and Maus, and everything Will Eisner ever did with the form . . . but some of the best of the “Graphic Novels”, such as Watchmen, or Sandman, were originally serialized stories anyway. They just happen to collect up nicely. GON, and Asterix, arguably my favorite graphic novel characters, are both in ongoing series, ALSO originally printed in a serialized form . . . But, I still get a kick out of reading Batman or Wolverine’s adventures every month. Guilty pleasure, the ongoing series, who’d like to see that go? And I don’t much agree with the graphic novels that are essentially just long, long superhero stories. There’s been a few Batman or Green Lantern stories that came out as hundred page hardcover books that would have worked far better as four issue mini-series, both in terms of pace, and price. From a marketing standpoint, I’m all for my publisher making money, but the stories that make it as graphic novels don’t always deserve the format. More stuff by Eisner and Kyle Baker and folks like that, hell yeah. Superheroes belong in the monthlies, though.

 

Jamie: I’m no longer a huge superhero lover myself but it’s surprising that you would “write off” a whole sub-genre as not being worthy of a different format. How would you react if someone were to say oh.. Westerns should be off limits to a different format like free digest sized weekly books?

Ty Templeton: I don’t think I “wrote off” a whole sub-genre with the phrase “the (superhero) stories that make it as graphic novels don’t always deserve the format”. That’s more of a judgment about what’s BEEN done with the format, rather than a rule of conduct for future projects. An awful lot of the stuff that gets turned directly into a graphic novel, (rather than a series that gets collected up, such as Dark Knight, etc . . . ) just hasn’t met my particular critical standards. In my experience, the Punisher, Spider-Man, JLA, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Avengers, X-Men “direct to graphic novel” format projects that I’ve read haven’t particularly deserved the high price or high page count. I could mention specific titles, but that’s just needlessly mean to the creators involved, most of whom are fine writers and artists, and often friends of mine. Can you name an original superhero graphic novel published in the last ten years that was particularly good?
Examples of Superhero graphic novels that WERE to my liking include The Death of Captain Marvel by Starlin, Batman: Birth of the Demon, by O’Neil and Breyfogle, Superman vs. Mohammad Ali by O’Neil and Adams. Those were all a while ago, I’ll admit . . . but I haven’t found many that blew me away of late. I haven’t read Catwoman’s Big Score, by Cooke, which I’m told is pretty good, so I may change my mind any day now.
But think through your favorite superhero stories or moments over the years . . . I’ll be surprised if many, or if ANY of those moments come in an original graphic novel format. My favorite moments sure don’t. But some of my favorite moments in comics DO come in graphic novels. Cowboy Wally, Maus, The Building . . . all manage sublime moments of wonder, without a cape in sight. I think pop songs, sit-coms, poetry, candy, liquor, comedy sketches, and superheroes all work best is short doses. I’m certainly willing to watch a four hour Fawlty Towers marathon, or read Dante’s epic poems, because no rule of art and creativity is written in stone. But I don’t think a four hour Just Shoot Me marathon would keep my attention, and consider all the SNL sketch characters who get expanded out to star in HORRIFIC two hour films. But I LOVE the idea of free digest sized Westerns. Who can we contact to get started on that?

 

Jamie: Do you want to do more original graphic novels?

Ty Templeton: I might enjoy writing one. I don’t think the art side attracts me quite so much, unless I get around to actually learning to draw. I have no natural talent for art . . . I’m self taught, and hardly taught at that . . . I’m too much the perfectionist, and I sweat out each line sometimes, continuously dissatisfied with what goes onto the paper. I’m getting less angry at my hands, but I still don’t much enjoy the constant fight that illustrating is to me. I’m much better in short bursts, like single issues, or covers. Writing makes me giggle and smile though.

 

Jamie: Are not artists supposed to be this way? Perfectionists, always unsatisfied with their work, etc . . . ?

Ty Templeton: Not for their own sanity, they’re not supposed to be. I’d rather not spend my days frustrated. I get more of a hoot out of laughing and tickling my children than fighting with my lack of ability to draw. I’m a good writer, and a good inker, and I never seem to sweat that stuff, but penciling is something I’m not basically very good at, and I find it frustrating. I’ve read that Jerry Ordway and Al Williamson are like that too, and they are two of my FAVORITE pencilers in the biz . . . so there!

 

Jamie: With a monthly series, you can get some feedback along the way to what readers do and don’t like about your work. Was it any easier or more difficult to do a whole story without audience feedback along the way?

Ty Templeton: I had feedback working on the book. My wife and a number of my friends read the chapters as I was doing them, and of course, both my editors, Joan Hilty and Heidi MacDonald were good to bounce off of. I may not have had much feedback directly from fans for the story, but the story was fairly personal anyway, and wouldn’t have benefited from too many hands on the tiller.

 

Jamie: I can’t but notice that the book takes place in a very similar Toronto town, even a few blocks from here (the Toronto Expo) is the Bay Street Station. “The Bums Rush” has a familiar looking background. Why did you base this Hollywood story so close to home?

Ty Templeton: As I said, it’s a more or less personal story. If you read the “About the Author” in the back of the book, you’ll find out I’ve been in and around show biz and the famousness business my whole life, which I happened to have spent in Toronto. I didn’t see a need to put it in L.A. or New York, since I haven’t really lived in either city. I actually don’t name the city any of this takes place in, but you’re right, it’s Toronto. Besides, more movies are made in Toronto, and more albums recorded up here, than in any city in North America BUT New York and LA. Why NOT put it up here? We’re Hollywood North, ain’t we?

 

Jamie: Yes, but American entertainment companies often like to Americanize things in order to make them more commercial. Did you choose to not name Toronto so the story would be more universal?

Ty Templeton: Well, I more or less did name Toronto, by not particularly hiding that it was Toronto. T.O. Subway stations, street signs, and the Canadian Prime Minister run about the novel unmolested . . . well, the PM gets molested a LITTLE bit. The name of the town simply never came up in the script, but it was a Canadian town, since I’m a Canadian writer.

 

Jamie: How did the idea of you doing Bigg Time come about? Did you have to aggressively pitch that to DC/Vertigo or did they come to you?

Ty Templeton: While at a convention in Chicago, I pitched Joan Hilty about a science fiction project I wanted to do (and still do, btw). She told me she wasn’t buying anything SF at the time, but did I have something with a magical angle to it . . . ? I mentioned an old screenplay idea that I’d started and never finished a year or so before, and she asked to hear about it . . . liked it, and we went from there. It mutated through a mini-series, to a graphic novel, back to a mini and back to a graphic novel along the way, and the plot underwent a couple of major and a few minor changes from the pitch, but that was about it. There wasn’t much aggressive pitching on my part. Right place at the right time. Plus, the pitch made her laugh . . .

 

Jamie: How Americans do you think will get the Canadian Prime Minister Jean Crouton joke?

Ty Templeton: Believe it or not, the name was actually Chrétien RIGHT up until about a week before the whole thing went to the printer. Literally on the last proofread through, the editor called me up and asked me if Chrétien was the P.M’s real name. “Yeah,” I said . . . “Oh we can’t have that,” said the editor . . . “For legal reasons, you can’t use the Prime Minister’s real name.” So we relettered the balloon so it read Crouton . . . but here’s the best part: No one caught the fact that it was the real PM’s name, because both the editor and the proofreader thought I made the name “Chrétien” up. They thought it was a French spoof on the word cretin.

 

Jamie: Of course you noticed he resigns as Prime Minister the day after your book hits the stands. So that’s obviously your fault.

Ty Templeton: All according to plan. Now if only the Bush people get the secret hypnotic message that’s intended for them, then my work here is done.

 

Jamie: And who would you replace Chrétien and Bush with?

Ty Templeton: I have nothing particularly against Chrétien. I’ve voted for him, and might have even done it again. I’m basically a Liberal or NDP kind of vote, pretty well every election. Paul Martin seems like a fine replacement for Jean . . . I’m fairly sure he’s who we’ll get anyway. As for replacing Bush? Pretty well any creature, vertebrate or invertebrate could do a better job than that smirking frat boy clown. Don’t even get me started on the ruinous car wreck that I find his Fraudulent and embarrassing administration to be. Imagine someone actually usurping the position of “Worst American President of my Lifetime” from Nixon . . .

 

Jamie: Was this book a nice change of pace from doing all those cartoon comics for the last few years?

Ty Templeton: My whole career is a change of pace. Cartoon comics (including Ren and Stimpy, Batman Adventures, Bugs Bunny, the Simpsons) have been a mainstay of my work for the last little while, by my own choice, and as a change of pace from the mainstream superhero comics I did for a while, (Superman, Avengers, Justice League) which were a change of pace from the funky independent stuff (Stig’s Inferno, National Lampoon, Mr. X, etc . . . much like this graphic novel, in fact) that I did for most of the Eighties and early Nineties.

 

Jamie: Are there any particular genre’s and/or formats you want to explore in the future?

Ty Templeton: I’m getting a tickle to work on some more Looney Toons stuff in the future. I may or may not get to . . . but I did a little bit for the 100th anniversary issue of Looney Toons from DC, and enjoyed it greatly, and wouldn’t mind doing more. I’ve got a nibble from a friend of mine to help art direct yet another TV pilot, (making it about a dozen I’ve worked on over the years) which I hope I get to do. Beyond that, I’m focusing on Batman, the Simpsons and the other projects I have actually ON my desk. I don’t get too far ahead of the present . . . I’m a live in the moment kind of guy.

 

Jamie: According to ICV2.com Bigg Time placed #18 in the top 50 Graphic Novels, selling approximately 6,400 pre orders through Diamond. Is that better or worse than you expected?

Ty Templeton: We had a re-order a couple of weeks later that took us up to about eight thousand, I believe. That’s about what my editor and I guessed it was going to do . . . about eight thou . . . It would be nice if it could sneak up to ten thousand over the next year . . . it would be nice, but I’m not holding my breath. So it did about what we expected.

 

Jamie: What are you doing in the future?

Ty Templeton: I’m writing a mini series for DC, that’s not yet scheduled, so it’s hush hush time. More or that later. I’m doing a little more Batman work again . . . I just inked an issue, and might be writing and/or drawing a few more. I always loved Batman to work on, so it’s nice to be home with him again. Gotham City is familiar and fun territory. I did a couple of Simpsons/Bongo comics stories . . . a Simpson’s Hallowe’en special that’s just come out, and a Radioactive Man story that’s due out in a few months, I think.
I did a page in the Looney Toons 100th issue special, and had so much fun on it, I promised myself to do more with the Warner Bros characters in the future. Joan Hilty is editing the Warner Bros. comics at DC, and since we worked together on the BIGG TIME novel . . . well, we’re happy to work together again . . . so maybe a Duck Dodgers giant, or something. Who knows?

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