Update! The Combined Best Graphic Novels of 2016!

Since I posted this I’ve had a couple of people point out some sites I’ve missed. This list has now been updated with those lists and the new totals.

Over the last few months there have been many, many websites with “Best of 2016” 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 120 different “Best Of” Lists regarding comic books and graphic novels and combined them into a spreadsheet. There are over 2,000 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
Paper Girls 42 Brian K. Vaughan Cliff Chiang Image Comics
March: Book Three 41 US Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin Nate Powell Top Shelf
The Vision 40 Tom King Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Michael Walsh Marvel Comics
Patience 35 Daniel Clowes Daniel Clowes Fantagraphics
Rosalie Lightning 29 Tom Hart Tom Hart St. Martin’s
Black Panther 27 Ta-Nehisi Coates Brian Stelfreeze and Chris Sprouse Marvel Comics
Monstress 23 Marjorie Liu Sana Takeda Image Comics
Ghosts 23 Raina Telgemeier Raina Telgemeier Graphix
Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq 20 Sarah Glidden Sarah Glidden Drawn and Quarterly
The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye 18 Sonny Liew Sonny Liew Pantheon
Dark Night: A True Batman Story 18 Paul Dini Eduardo Risso DC/Vertigo
DC Universe: Rebirth 18 Geoff Johns Various DC Comics
The Sheriff of Babylon 17 Tom King Mitch Gerads DC/Vertigo
Mooncop 17 Tom Gauld Tom Gauld Drawn and Quarterly
Saga 15 Brian K. Vaughan Fiona Staples Image Comics
The Wicked + The Divine 15 Kieron Gillen Jamie McKelvie Image Comics
Panther 15 Brecht Evens Brecht Evens Drawn and Quarterly
The Flintstones 14 Mark Russell Steve Pugh and Chris Chuckry DC Comics
Faith 14 Jody Houser Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage Valiant Entertainment
Sir Alfred 3 13 Tim Hensley Tim Hensley Pigeon Press
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 13 Ryan North Erica Henderson Marvel Comics
The Legend of Wonder Woman 13 Renae De Liz Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon DC Comics
Tetris: The Games People Play 13 Box Brown Box Brown First Second
Superman 13 Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason Patrick Gleason, Jorge Jimenez and Doug Mahnke DC Comics
Black Hammer 13 Jeff Lemire Dean Ormston Dark Horse Comics
Mockingbird 13 Chelsea Cain Kate Niemczyk and Ibrahim Moustafa Marvel Comics
Midnighter/Midnighter and Apollo 13 Steve Orlando ACO, Fernando Blanco, Various DC Comics
Hot Dog Taste Test 13 Lisa Hanawalt Lisa Hanawalt Drawn and Quarterly
Omega Men: The Complete Series 12 Tom King Barnaby Bagenda DC Comics
Beverly 12 Nick Drnaso Nick Drnaso Drawn and Quarterly
Hellboy In Hell 12 Mike Mignola Mike Mignola Dark Horse Comics
Giant Days 11 John Allison Lissa Treiman and Whitney Cogar BOOM!
Black Widow 11 Mark Waid Chris Samnee Marvel Comics
The One Hundred Nights of Hero: A Graphic Novel 10 Isabel Greenberg Isabel Greenberg Little, Brown
Wonder Woman: The True Amazon 10 Jill Thompson Jill Thompson DC Comics
The Fix 10 Nick Spencer Steve Lieber Image Comics
Big Kids 10 Michael DeForge Michael DeForge Drawn and Quarterly
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous 10 G. Willow Wilson Adrian Alphona Marvel Comics
Peplum 9 Blutch Blutch New York Review Comics
Paul Up North 9 Michel Rabagliati Michel Rabagliati Conundrum Press
Libby’s Dad 9 Eleanor Davis Eleanor Davis Retrofit/Big Planet Comics
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur 9 Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare Natacha Bustos Marvel Comics
Blammo #9 9 Noah Van Sciver Noah Van Sciver Kilgore Books
Demon 9 Jason Shiga Jason Shiga First Second
Megg & Mogg in Amsterdam 9 Simon Hanselmann Simon Hanselmann Fantagraphics
Someone Please Have Sex With Me 8 Gina Wyndbrandt Gina Wyndbrandt 2dCloud
The Arab Of The Future 2: A Childhood In The Middle East, 1984-1985: A Graphic Memoir 8 Riad Sattouf Riad Sattouf Metropolitan Books
Providence 8 Alan Moore Jacen Burrows Avatar Press
Superman: American Alien 8 Max Landis Various DC Comics
Plutona 8 Emi Lenox and Jeff Lemire Emi Lenox Image Comics
Laid Waste 8 Julia Gfrörer Julia Gfrörer Fantagraphics
Moebius Library: The World of Edena 8 Moebius Moebius Dark Horse Comics
Doom Patrol 8 Gerard Way Nick Derington DC/Vertigo
Kill or Be Killed 8 Ed Brubaker Sean Phillips Image Comics
Nod Away 8 Joshua Cotter Joshua Cotter Fantagraphics
Bitch Planet 8 Kelly Sue DeConnick Valentine De Landro and Taki Soma Image Comics
Carpet Sweeper Tales 8 Julie Doucet Julie Doucet Drawn and Quarterly
Goodnight Punpun 8 Inio Asano Inio Asano Viz Media
Goldie Vance 8 Hope Larson Brittany Williams and Sarah Stern BOOM!
Wonder Woman 7 Greg Rucka Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott DC Comics
We All Wish For Deadly Force 7 Leela Corman Leela Corman Retrofit/Big Planet Comics
Soft City 7 Hariton Pushwagner Hariton Pushwagner New York Review Comics
The Nameless City 7 Faith Erin Hicks Faith Erin Hicks and Jordie Bellaire First Second
Future Quest 7 Jeff Parker Various DC Comics
Huck 7 Mark Millar Rafael Albuquerque Image Comics
Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus 7 Chester Brown Chester Brown Drawn and Quarterly
5,000 km Per Second 7 Manuele Fior Manuele Fior Fantagraphics
Frontier #11 7 Eleanor Davis Eleanor Davis Youth In Decline
Adulthood Is a Myth 7 Sarah Andersen Sarah Andersen Andrews McMeel Publishing
Last Look 7 Charles Burns Charles Burns Pantheon
Hilda and the Stone Forest 7 Luke Pearson Luke Pearson Nobrow
Moon Knight 7 Jeff Lemire Greg Smallwood Marvel Comics
Wonder Woman: Earth One 6 Grant Morrison Yanick Paquette DC Comics
Clean Room 6 Gail Simone Jon Davis-Hunt and Quinton Winter DC/Vertigo
Princess Jellyfish 6 Akiko Higashimura Akiko Higashimura Kodansha Comics
Fantasy Sports No. 2 6 Sam Bosma Sam Bosma Nobrow
Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! 6 Kate Leth Brittney L. Williams and Natasha Allegri Marvel Comics
Our Mother 6 Luke Howard Luke Howard Retrofit/Big Planet Comics
4 Kids Walk Into a Bank 6 Matthew Rosenberg Tyler Boss Black Mask Studios
Darth Vader 6 Kieron Gillen Salvador Larroca Marvel Comics
A.D.: After Death 6 Scott Snyder Jeff Lemire Image Comics
Orange 6 Ichigo Takano Ichigo Takano Seven Seas Entertainment
Ganges #5 6 Kevin Huizenga Kevin Huizenga Fantagraphics
Seven to Eternity 5 Rick Remender Jerome Opeña Image Comics
Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride 5 Lucy Knisley Lucy Knisley First Second
The Mighty Thor 5 Jason Aaron Russell Dauterman, Steve Epting and Rafa Garrés Marvel Comics
Shade, the Changing Girl 5 Cecil Castellucci Marley Zarcone DC/Vertigo
Snotgirl 5 Bryan Lee O’Malley Leslie Hung Image Comics
Secret Wars 5 Jonathan Hickman Esad Ribić and Paul Renaud Marvel Comics
Spidey-Zine 5 Hannah Blumenreich Hannah Blumenreich Webcomic – https://gumroad.com/l/aXcO#
I Am A Hero 5 Kengo Hanazawa Kengo Hanazawa Dark Horse Comics
Band for Life 5 Anya Davidson Anya Davidson Fantagraphics
Neil Gaiman’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties 5 Neil Gaiman Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon Dark Horse Comics
A City Inside 5 Tillie Walden Tillie Walden Avery Hill Publishing
How to Survive in the North 5 Luke Healy Luke Healy Nobrow
Black Magick 5 Greg Rucka Nicola Scott Image Comics
Animosity 5 Marguerite Bennett Rafael de Latorre Aftershock Comics
Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay 5 Ben Katchor Ben Katchor Drawn and Quarterly
On a Sunbeam 5 Tillie Walden Tillie Walden Webcomic – http://www.onasunbeam.com/
Deadly Class 5 Rick Remender Wes Craig and Jordan Boyd Image Comics
Deathstroke 5 Christopher Priest Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz and Jeromy Cox DC Comics
Highbone Theater 5 Joe Daly Joe Daly Fantagraphics

Also of note, a handful of reviewers included a webcomic within it’s best books lists. There was a tie for 1st spot between Spidey-Zine by Hannah Blumenreich and Tilly Walden’s On A Sunbeam (5 picks each). A close 2nd was The Nib (4) as a general site, but also nominated was Nib hosted Bianca Xunise’s work and Melanie Gillman’s Witch Camp.

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

Regarding Publishers:

Image was the most popular with 73 different titles.

Fantagraphics was 2nd with 62 different titles.

DC has 58 and Vertigo has 16 books.

Marvel has 51 titles.

Dark Horse has 33 titles.

53 Self-Published books made the list too.

 

Caveats:

Where a 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 did not include lists that were a mixed of prose books and graphic novels, with 1 exception (New York Public Library) because they had over 10 Graphic Novels on their list.

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 for upcoming awards.

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 2015 and at least 1 just listed best books they read that year, but the vast majority of those lists were 2016 books. The number of non 2016 books in the spreadsheet is very tiny and insignificant to the overall list.

Most of the lists were general ‘best/favourite books’ of 2016, 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.

Here are the websites I used, including the ones with lists broken up into multiple pages.
A.V. Club – http://www.avclub.com/article/best-comics-2016-247013
Adventures In Poor Taste – http://www.adventuresinpoortaste.com/2017/01/05/the-15-best-manga-series-of-2016/
All The Wonders – http://www.allthewonders.com/books/best-of-2016-comics/
Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=as_li_ss_tl?fst=as:off&rh=n:283155,n:!2334088011,n:!2334119011,n:10207069011,n:10207117011&bbn=10207069011&sort=review-count-rank&ie=UTF8&qid=1479311361&rnid=10207069011&linkCode=sl2&tag=thebeat0b-20&linkId=29e69bcf1db7acc87ad1ccf25f740094
Audiences Everywhere – http://www.audienceseverywhere.net/best-comics-read-2016/
Austin Public Library – http://library.austintexas.gov/list/best-graphic-novels-2016
Autostraddle – https://www.autostraddle.com/drawn-to-comics-the-10-best-comics-of-2016-364541/
Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/best-comics-graphic-novels-2016/
Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/best-continuing-manga-series-2016/
Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/best-new-manga-series-2016/
Benzilla – http://www.benzilla.com/?p=6040
Bleeding Cool – https://www.bleedingcool.com/2016/12/31/bleeding-cools-11-favourite-graphic-novelscollections-2016/
Bleeding Cool – https://www.bleedingcool.com/2016/12/31/bleeding-cools-11-favourite-single-comics-2016/
Book Minx – https://bookminx.net/2017/01/03/2016-in-review/#more-12194
Book Riot – http://bookriot.com/2016/12/14/best-comics-of-2016/
CBR – http://www.cbr.com/cbrs-top-100-comics-of-2016-100-76/
Chicago Public Library – https://chipublib.bibliocommons.com/list/share/200121216_chipublib_teens/684190077_best_teen_graphic_novels_and_manga_of_2016
Comic Alliance – http://comicsalliance.com/comicsalliances-best-of-2016-all-the-winners/
Comic Bastards – https://comicbastards.com/comics/best-of-2016-the-entire-list?rq=Best%202016
Comicosity – http://www.comicosity.com/best-of-2016-graphic-novel/
Comicosity – http://www.comicosity.com/best-of-2016-series/
Comicosity – http://www.comicosity.com/best-of-2016-single-issue/
Comics Alternative – http://comicsalternative.com/episode-220-our-favorite-comics-of-2016/
Comics Bulletin – http://comicsbulletin.com/11-comics-improved-2016/
Comics Bulletin – http://comicsbulletin.com/jams-top-10-2016/
Comics Bulletin – http://comicsbulletin.com/top-15-comics-elkin-reviewed-2016/
ComicsBeat – http://www.comicsbeat.com/the-beats-best-comics-of-2016/
Crave Online – http://www.craveonline.com/entertainment/1189005-10-best-comics-2016
Critical Hit – http://www.criticalhit.net/entertainment/ten-best-comic-books-2016/
Den of Geek – http://www.denofgeek.com/us/books-comics/best-comics-of-2016/261139/the-best-comics-of-2016
Entertainment Weekly – http://ew.com/gallery/best-comic-books-2016/the-best-comic-books-of-2016/
Fantagraphics – http://fantagraphics.com/flog/whats-store-top-ten-2016/
Five Books – http://fivebooks.com/interview/best-comics-2016/
Flying Colors – http://flyingcolorscomics.blogspot.ca/2017/01/flying-colors-retailing-brigade-best-of.html
Forbes – http://www.forbes.com/sites/robsalkowitz/2016/12/08/the-best-graphic-literature-of-2016/#4d66f12114f2
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-andrew-girdwood/
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-andy-luke/
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-andy-oliver/
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-james-lovegrove/
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-joe-decie/
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-julian-hanshaw/
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-krent-able/
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-metaphrog/
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-robin-etherington/
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-supplemental-sarah-mcintyre/
Forces of Geek – http://www.forcesofgeek.com/2017/01/best-of-2016-part-one.html
Forces of Geek – http://www.forcesofgeek.com/2017/01/best-of-2016-part-three.html
Forces of Geek – http://www.forcesofgeek.com/2017/01/best-of-2016-part-two.html
Forces of Geek – http://www.forcesofgeek.com/2017/01/graphic-breakdown-best-comics-and-graphic-novels-of-2016.html
Game Spot – http://www.gamespot.com/gallery/best-comics-of-2016/2900-1044/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-graphic-novels-comics-2016
Graphixia – http://www.graphixia.ca/2016/12/260-the-annual-graphixia-year-end-spectacular/
Heroic Girls – http://www.heroicgirls.com/best-comics-2016-kids-teens/
High-Low – http://highlowcomics.blogspot.ca/2017/01/top-thirty-long-form-comics-of-2016.html
Hollywood In Toto – http://www.hollywoodintoto.com/the-years-best-comic-books-and-graphic-novels/
How to Love Comics – http://www.howtolovecomics.com/2016/12/06/10-best-comics-2016/
io9 – http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-20-best-comics-of-2016-1790283155
Just Indie Comics – http://justindiecomics.com/2017/01/16/best-16-comics-2016/
Lazygamer – http://www.lazygamer.net/comics-2/ten-best-comic-books-2016/
Library Journal – http://lj.libraryjournal.com/bestbooks2016/graphicnovels.php
Mental Floss – http://mentalfloss.com/article/89562/30-most-interesting-comics-2016
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2016-yir-anthology/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2016-yir-digital/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2016-yir-limited/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2016-yir-new-series/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2016-yir-ogn/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2016-yir-reprint/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2016-yir-single-issue/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2016-yir-translation/
Nerdist – http://nerdist.com/the-16-best-comics-of-2016/
New York Times – https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/02/books/review/the-seasons-best-new-graphic-novels.html?_r=1
NPR – http://apps.npr.org/best-books-2016/#/tag/comics-and-graphic-novels
Odyssey – https://www.theodysseyonline.com/top-5-creator-owned-comics-2016
Olathe Downtown & Olathe Indian Creek Libraries – http://www.olathelibrary.org/kids/blog/staff-picks-2016
Omnivoracious – http://www.omnivoracious.com/2016/11/graphic-novel-friday-best-of-2016.html
Panel Platter – http://www.panelpatter.com/2016/12/james-2016-favorites-part-1-favorite.html
Paste Magazine – https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/12/10-amazing-indie-self-published-comics-you-might-h.html
Paste Magazine – https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/12/the-best-comics-of-2016.html?a=1
Print Mag – http://www.printmag.com/comics-and-animation/best-comic-books-year-designer-guide/
Publishers Weekly – http://best-books.publishersweekly.com/pw/best-books/2016/comics
Publishers Weekly – http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/comics/article/72373-march-book-three-tops-10th-annual-pw-graphic-novel-critics-poll.html
Random Thoughts – https://lars.ingebrigtsen.no/2016/12/21/the-best-comics-of-2016/
Richland Library – http://www.richlandlibrary.com/recommend/top-ten-great-graphic-novels-teens-2017
Rob Kirby – http://robkirbycomics.com/RobKirbyComics/Blog/Entries/2016/12/12_Robs_6th_Annual_Top_20_Comics_List__the_2016_Edition.html
Savage Critic – http://www.savagecritic.com/uncategorized/abhay-2016-another-year-that-i-mindlessly-consumed-oh-god-oh-god-make-it-stop-uncle-uncle/
School Library Journal – http://www.slj.com/2016/11/reviews/best-of/top-10-graphic-novels-2016#_
Slate – http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2016/12/top_10_best_comics_and_graphic_novels_of_2016.html
Study Group Comics – http://studygroupcomics.com/main/process-party-episode-12-the-best-of-2016/
TCJ – http://www.tcj.com/the-best-comics-of-2016-according-to-some/
The Comics Reporter – http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/fff_results_post_467_best_of_2017/
The Daily Dot – http://www.dailydot.com/parsec/best-superhero-sci-fi-comics-2016/
The Globe and Mail – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/the-globe-100-the-best-books-of-2016/article33132356/#collection/comicsfive2016/
The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/dec/04/observer-graphic-books-of-year-2016-stan-nan-hundred-nights-hero-lost-time-proust-irmina-mooncop
The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/dec/19/best-comic-books-graphic-novels-2016-hellboy-wonder-woman
The Hollywood Reporter – http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/best-comic-books-2016-series-read-959653
Under the Radar – http://www.undertheradarmag.com/lists/under_the_radars_top_25_comic_books_and_graphic_novels_of_2016/
Unwinnable – http://www.unwinnable.com/2016/12/28/the-best-comics-of-2016/
Uproxx – http://uproxx.com/hitfix/2016-best-comics/
Vox – http://www.vox.com/culture/2016/12/21/13919580/best-new-comics-2016
Vox – http://www.vox.com/culture/2016/12/28/14009216/the-best-comic-books-of-the-year
Vu Weekly – http://www.vueweekly.com/148643-2/
Vulture – http://www.vulture.com/2016/12/best-comic-books-of-2016.html
Washington Post – https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/best-graphic-novels-of-2016/2016/11/17/684ef15c-9dde-11e6-9980-50913d68eacb_story.html
Wired – https://www.wired.com/2016/12/best-comics-2016/
Women Write About Comics – http://womenwriteaboutcomics.com/2016/12/27/wwacs-favorite-big-press-comics-of-2016/?utm_content=bufferc7199&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
Your Chicken Enemy – http://www.danielelkin.com/2016/12/top-15-comics-i-reviewed-in-2016.html (Duplicate List)
Bomb Magazine – http://bombmagazine.org/article/42281213/just-a-few-of-the-best-comics-of-2016
Calgary Public Library – https://calgary.bibliocommons.com/list/share/393989767_calgarylibrary_adults/777209168
CBC – http://www.cbc.ca/books/bestbooks2016/
Guide Live – http://www.guidelive.com/comic-books/2016/12/27/perfect-panels-10-best-comic-books-2016
Everett Public Library – A Reading Life – https://areadinglife.com/2016/11/28/best-of-2016-adult-fiction-graphic-novels/
Flood Magazine – http://floodmagazine.com/42168/flood-presents-the-year-in-arts-and-culture/
The Hundreds – https://thehundreds.com/blog/only-built-4-true-believers-the-best-5-comics-of-2016/
ICPL – http://blog.icpl.org/2016/12/30/icpl-top-staff-picks-for-2016-graphic-novels/
Irish Examiner – https://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/artsfilmtv/truth-is-stranger-than-these-comic-fictions-437019.html
Lafayette Public Library – https://lplbooksandbeyond.com/2016/11/30/dont-miss-list-great-graphic-novels-of-2016/
NewsOK – The Oklahoman – http://newsok.com/article/5532325
Pierce County Library System – http://www.piercecountylibrary.org/books-materials/best-2016.htm
The Herald – http://www.heraldscotland.com/arts_ents/books_and_poetry/14971551.Graphic_Content__The_Best_Graphic_Novels_of_the_Year/
New York Public Library – https://www.nypl.org/books-music-dvds/recommendations/award-winners/ya
San Jose Public Library – https://www.sjpl.org/blog/best-new-graphic-novels-2016

Colleen Doran Interview

Colleen Doran – 2008 San Diego Comic Con

This interview was originally published in January 2003.

Colleen Doran is one of many creators I “knew” via online for many years before getting to meet her in real life. In this interview I ask her about the Warren Ellis Form and I think enough years have gone by that I should probably explain what that was and why it was important.

In the 1990’s most “comic book” talk on the internet happened on Usenet, which was a pre-world wide web and pre-web browser message board. You needed a software like FreeAgent and know your ISP’s Usenet server details to access it (like POP3 e-mail). Outside of that there was the CompuServ forums, but you needed to be a CompuServ customer to access them. One of the flaws of Usenet is that it was open to everybody and there wasn’t anybody in charge that could ban trolls. The most you could do was put somebody on ignore, but if they replied to a comment of somebody else, you’d see their comments (and their insulting and or lying about you). There was plenty of abuse, up to and including an asshole making a death threat against Peter David.

Warren Ellis created a Warren Ellis Forum on Delphi and nicknamed himself Stalin. He made it crystal clear that trollish or even bad behaviour would not be tolerated and anybody engaging in it would be banned from the forum. This lead to a popular forum with lots of comic creators and well behaved and often intelligent fans communicating regularly. A number of those fans are well known comic creators today. Other comic creators followed Warren’s lead and went on to create their own message board/forums.

Back to Colleen, she saved my bacon with this interview. CollectorTimes was a monthly web magazine and I needed an interview before the end of the month. I had an interview set up with another creator but because of Christmas stuff getting in the way, they bailed on doing the interview with apologies. Desperate, I took a chance and e-mailed Colleen to see if she would agree to an interview and get it done between Christmas and New Years. She agreed and came through for me. I would later meet Colleen in person at my first San Diego in 2008 and took this picture of her.

 


Colleen Doran Interview

Colleen Doran has been working professionally since the age of 15. Throughout her career she’s worked for all the major publishers as either an artist and/or writer. She has also worked for Lucas Film and Disney, among other companies. These days she is mainly known for doing A Distant Soil through Image Comics, a story she’s been wanting to do since she was a teenager. In this interview Colleen talks to us about A Distant Soil, her success outside of the traditional comic industry and other topics.

 

Jamie: You have been doing A Distant Soil (a.k.a. ADS) for a number of years now. How long do you see yourself going with the series?

Colleen Doran: I started doing this book professionally when I was in high school, which is hard for me to believe now! In fact, some of the pages in the current edition are actually from the original pencils samples I was showing publishers when I was a kid! It is very strange, I suppose, to be doing the same book all these years, but I am determined, if nothing else. I intend to go until the story is told and then it will be over. However long it takes. I imagine another year or so.

 

Jamie: Do you have a definite end for it planned out?

Colleen Doran: Oh, yes. The current storyline has about five issues left. I have two other, much shorter, story arcs, but I know the ultimate ending of every character and plotline. I have it all planned out.

 

Jamie: Among some creators there is a movement to do quick, cheap, thin graphic novels. But when you collect ADS you do more issues than usual, creating thick books. Why?

Colleen Doran: As a reader, I am not satisfied with thin, expensive books. They look cheap and cheesy. I hate them, always have. I want to give the reader real value for their money and a sufficient chunk of story to give them hours of entertainment. That is what I want as a reader, too.

From a purely commercial standpoint, a thin graphic novel disappears on the stands when it is spine out. It doesn’t have a satisfying heft and feel and less perceived value.

 

Jamie: Have you considered going straight to graphic novel with ADS? You’ve mentioned before that you lose money on the single issues and it’s the TPB royalty cheques that keep the series going.

Colleen Doran: The comic books don’t lose money, they just don’t make any. If it takes me two months to do an issue and I only earn $1,000, for all intents and purposes, I have lost all the money it took me to live on for that time.

I am afraid of getting bogged down while working on a huge chunk of story, so I would rather produce it in installments, even if it doesn’t really bring in any income. It is an enormous undertaking to do a 200 page book and to work in a vacuum for all that time with no feedback. I would prefer to just dole it out to those who want to see it. Those who don’t can wait for the trades.

 

Jamie: I recently bought a full color ADS graphic novel published by  StarBlaze Graphics, I also noticed they published some of Matt Wagner’s Mage books as well. What happened to them?

Colleen Doran: Donning was a bit of a mess. They were having financial problems for years before I signed on with them and had been bought out by their printer, so they weren’t an independent publisher like I thought when I went to them. They were very badly managed. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the books they were publishing. Some of them were very good, but many were downright amateurish. Some of the books like Gate of Ivrel and later volumes of the Thieves World graphic novels had terrible sales, only a couple thousand each, and that was for color original graphic novels at a time when the comic book market was doing very well. Many other companies had GN’s selling tens of thousands of copies.

Eventually, Donning decided to close its trade publishing division. They sold our contracts to another publisher and there was a big class action lawsuit. Many of the authors ended up suing them, including me. It was a nightmare. We all settled out of court, but Donning has disappeared off the radar for good, I think.

It’s not uncommon for small publishers to be badly managed, particularly when they start to get big and expand. They don’t have the expertise to handle it. Donning was yet another example of that. They just weren’t qualified to do the business they were doing and yet wouldn’t go out of their way to get people with real expertise in the market. They had very limited knowledge of the direct market and they weren’t too savvy in the trades, either. In fact, their whole foray into graphic novels was something of a fluke. Before Donning began publishing graphic novels, they were really a kind of vanity press. They did subsidized books, pictorial histories. Cities and towns paid Donning to publish these things. So, when they did get the idea to begin publishing graphic novels and they sort of took off, they weren’t prepared to handle it, and they botched it pretty badly. They lasted as a graphic novels publisher for only about seven or eight years.

Donning had had some mild success doing science fiction books for a few years before they got into graphic novels. The Starblaze line was created by science fiction artist Frank Kelly Freas. They published a few books that did very well and that is how they got their feet wet in trade publishing, but they were complete know-nothings when it came to the direct market. They pretty much ignored it. It was weird.

 

Jamie: I understand you sell a lot of ADS books outside the traditional comic bookstores. Can you give us a rough estimate, percentage wise, of where your books get sold?

Colleen Doran: My orders on the third graphic novel came in and showed that more than 50% of my sales on the new trade were outside the direct market. A big chunk of those go to libraries, too. I wish I had more market penetration in major bookstores, but that is slow in coming. However, libraries love my books!

 

Jamie: You also attend Sci-Fi conventions and sell many books there do you not?

Colleen Doran: Yes, I do a number of them, though I have cut way back in the last couple of years because my work schedule is really brutal and I am just not doing many conventions anymore. I could expect to see much higher numbers at the World Science Fiction Convention than I would at San Diego Comic Con even though Worldcon would have only about 10% the attendance as San Diego. My take would be 100% higher at Worldcon.

 

Jamie: There was a rumor that CrossGen was going to try and “poach” some creators/books from Image Comics in order to grow their own creator owned line. Have you been approached yet?

Colleen Doran: I am committed to Image.

 

Jamie: Once ADS is completed, will you put the whole thing on CD Rom and sell it?

Colleen Doran: I hadn’t even thought about that! Maybe.

 

Jamie: You did a small web comic with Warren Ellis called SUPERIDOL for Artbomb.net. What was it like working with Warren?

Colleen Doran: I love working with Warren. I was thrilled when he chose me to do Super Idol. He has such great ideas and he is an exciting writer. I am working with Warren on a new graphic novel for Vertigo called Orbiter as well. I am penciling and inking it and am painting the cover. I am almost finished. I think I will be finished in a couple of weeks. It is 100 pages! I also worked with Warren on an animated project called Distance. I was the principal conceptual designer. It was optioned by Sony, but they shelved it after Final Fantasy tanked and the option has returned. I don’t know what’s going on with it now.

 

Jamie: Did you do SUPERIDOL on paper or did you work on a computer?

Colleen Doran: Oh, Super Idol is entirely hand painted. Each panel was a separate painting.

 

Jamie: Was getting it scanned in and looking right a big pain?

Colleen Doran: It really wasn’t too much trouble. Looked pretty good to me right off.

 

Jamie: The art and storytelling style in SUPERIDOL was very different from ADS. Had I not seen your name I would not have guessed it was you. What influenced you to draw in that manner?

Colleen Doran: I choose to do every project in a different style. I try to come up with something that suits the book. I believe that a cartoonist’s job is to create a unique look for each book and do what is necessary to tell the story in the manner that is most appropriate to the story, to the best of their ability. I don’t try to twist each project to suit me, I try to suit the project. I approach my work in much the same manner that an actor approaches a role. I want to disappear into the work. I don’t want to leave any stamp on the work except the stamp that gives the reader a feeling of satisfaction that they have thoroughly entered the world of the story. My job is world building. Some artists complain about having to change their style to suit a project, but no one complains if an actor changes his entire personality to fit a role. That is what I think I do best with my work: I change to suit the role, and the role is the story.

 

Jamie: Do you see yourself doing more “freebee” webcomics in the future?

Colleen Doran: Well, I didn’t do it for free! I got paid. But if someone wants to pay me to do another, sure!

 

Jamie: Do you see yourself trying to make a serious go at web comics like some artists do?

Colleen Doran: Not unless there is income to be derived from it, though I may do a couple of comics for A Distant Soil on my own website, just for kicks. Unlike a lot of artists, I am a pro and do this for a living, so the prospect of making my web comic an expensive hobby has little appeal. Some web comics pay, but most do not. If I want to do something for fun, my impulse is to go skydiving, not drawing! I need to get away from the board once in awhile!

 

Jamie: You were a frequent visitor to the Warren Ellis Forum. Has it’s demise affected you the same way it affected other people?

Colleen Doran: I don’t know how it affected other people because I am rarely online anymore. I didn’t really spend much time online before the forum and even before the forum went down, I drastically cut my online time. I am naturally introverted and while I enjoy communicating with other people, my desire to do so has a limit. Too much makes me nervous and upset. I have been very hermetic of late.

 

Jamie: These days it’s popular for some creators to say enough with the work for hire superhero comics! What do you think of them?

Colleen Doran: Well, whatever they want to do. But I don’t have any problem with it. I think about the project first. If it is a project I want to do, I will do it. I like superheroes and would gladly do them again.

 

Jamie: Legion fans tell me you had an Element Lad story done 10 years ago. Today the character is dead. Can you tell us about that story?

Colleen Doran: You know, I was a big Legion fan for many years. Everyone  knew that. But the last Legion editor flatly informed me that anyone who had been part of the previous Legion mythos was not welcome back on the book. In fact, I was slated to write and draw an issue of the Legion with Element Lad as the main character! My script had been approved by then editor KC Carlson, right before he left DC Comics, but when the new editor came along, he refused to go forward with the story and I didn’t get paid for my work. He wouldn’t even return my phone calls. I was very upset by that, so I stopped reading the Legion entirely. I didn’t even know Element Lad was dead until now! I guess I should be really upset! He was my favorite character!

The last time I was up at DC, I did show the Legion editor my new work on Orbiter and he completely changed his mind about me and asked if I might want to do some Legion work again sometime. However, he didn’t last another week at the company.

Anyway, that Legion story I did was written by Keith Giffen. I will never forget it. It was important to me in a lot of ways. It wasn’t my first Legion work, but it was my last. When I was in high school, Keith Giffen had seen my work in a fanzine and called to offer me a job on the Legion! I really wasn’t ready for it, but a few years later, I did get some small Legion jobs. Keith Giffen has always been very important to me. He was one of the first professionals to see my potential and he always treated me with absolute fairness and honesty. So, to get to work with him on a Legion tale with my favorite character Element Lad, was a real treat.

The story concerned Element Lad’s girlfriend Shvaughn Erin, who actually turns out to be a guy who has had a sex change! The fans went wild! Some of them really hated it! Politically correct gays got up in arms about it. Others were cool. I thought it was audacious and I loved it! However, there are about four pages in it that were drawn by Curt Swan. I became so sick with pnuemonia while working on that book I almost died. I’ll never forget it! I couldn’t even hold a pencil or speak. So, Curt finished the job. In a way, it was good, because I got to collaborate with Curt who was always one of my big heroes. Every year for Christmas and my birthday he would draw me a little picture of Element Lad with hearts and flowers or something. My agent would get him to do them for me. I loved Curt and I miss him terribly.

 

Jamie: What are you doing in the future?

Colleen Doran: Well, I am working on Orbiter as I said before. It is a science fiction tale about the space shuttle. The shuttle went on a mission and disappeared. Ten years later, it returns! Mayhem ensues. As a total space program geek, this is a dream project for me and I went gonzo on it. Frank Miller told me I was outdoing Geoff Darrow! The detail is out of control. I am loving it.

Also, I am doing a new series for DC with Keith Giffen. It is called Epoch of Zodiac or Zodiac for short. I am penciling and Bob Wiacek is inking, which is a blessing because I am very hard to ink and Wiacek is one of about three people who can pull it off. Zodiac is an epic fantasy about the warring houses of the Zodiac. It is very dramatic and political and is, in my humble opinion, Keith Giffen’s best work. People are going to go ape over this book. It is one of the most difficult things I have ever drawn in my life because each house of the Zodiac must have distinct looks, styles of architecture, clothing and props. Nothing can look comic-bookish or costumey. It is a monster task. The goal is to have the styles so distinctive that one look will tell you with which house someone is associated. That’s not at all easy. However, I think I am up to it because I am notoriously detail obsessed. Keith says I am the most fun he has ever had working with an obsessive compulsive!

I am also working on future issues of A Distant Soil. A Distant Soil is the story of a young girl who is born the heir to an alien religious dynasty. She is the center of a conflict between rival factions fighting for control of their world. It is extremely complex and highly character oriented. I adore working on this book. It is nearing the end of the principal story arc and we finally get to see who wins. But good guys are not always good guys in this story and things really don’t go in any one direction, so I am keeping people guessing. No one has correctly
pegged the ending.

I have only told one person what happens: Jeff Smith. I was pulling a marathon session on A Distant Soil one night and he was going berserk on Bone and we both just said “I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours!” During this eight hour phone call that went until about 5 AM one day, we both told each other everything about our books and where they were going and he had exactly the kind of reaction every author hopes for when he heard what I was up to, so now I am moving toward the end with confidence. If Jeff says it’s good, I’m okay!

I am also working on The Six Swans for Image. It is an adaptation of the old Brother’s Grimm tale of six brothers who were changed by their wicked stepmother into Swans, and the trials their sister must endure to save them. It is a very straightforward telling, but I have added some elements of my own. It will be a combination of illustration and graphic storytelling, much like Stardust, I imagine.

 

Jamie: Do you have any work lined up outside of the comic industry?

Colleen Doran: Actually, until this year, I have been doing a lot of illustration outside of comics, but this year I have so much comics work, I have cut back. however, I have been speaking to a major film studio for a few weeks about doing conceptual work on a feature film. It is up in the air. I am excited about it, but would have to live out of the country for awhile. I do not know if I will take it or not. It all depends.

 

Jamie: You have told a wide variety of interesting stories about your experiences in the comic industry, with crazy fans, bad publishers and other creators. Have you considered doing an autobiography comic?

Colleen Doran: I have thought about it, but actually, I have been working on an autobiographical screenplay with Keith Giffen. A publisher got buzz about the project and has approached us about doing it as a graphic novel first. We haven’t decided. The buzz on the screenplay is incredibly good. People who have read parts of it have laughed their heads off. Some of my experiences were horrific, but we have turned them into comedy gold. It’s the best revenge, really.

 

Jamie: I know in the past you had problems with crazy fans trying to break your hand and stalking you. Do you still have these problems today?

Colleen Doran: Very rarely. When I went pro, I was a very young girl. I was fifteen. I weighed 95 lbs and looked 12. Every creepy old pervert from coast to coast was chafing my trail. I got older, I got wiser and I learned to fight back. It has slowed down considerably.

Actually, Harlan Ellison took care of the stalker. This guy began creeping around when I was a teen. He used to write me letters saying I looked like a “little English schoolgirl”. He was in his thirties, I think, when he started, and here I was, a teenage girl. He would send me resumes and newspaper articles about him with his age scratched out so I wouldn’t know he was a middle aged perv. The guy was a total creep. This went on for a decade. One day I was boo-hooing to Harlan and he just said “Give me his number. I’ll take care of it.” Apparently, he made a phone call to this freak that scared the bejeezus out of him. We didn’t hear from him for two solid years. Then he started back up again and I went right to the police. Stalking laws have come a long way in the last decade and I think he finally got he message that if he didn’t stop his nonsense, he was going to end up in jail.

 

Jamie: Do you think the comic industry has matured since you began working in it?

Colleen Doran: Hell, yes. To be perfectly frank, I would like to blot out all of my early experiences and pretend they never happened. I am so enjoying my life in comics today, it is hard to believe it is the same business. My life now is the way I always dreamed it would be.

Kevin Nowlan Interview

Kevin Nowlan – 2007 HobbyStar Toronto ComiCON

This interview was originally published in July, 2007.

I have a horrible confession to make. When I was at a convention looking for somebody to interview, I was actually looking for Kevin Maguire. I did not know what he looked like so I was walking through the artists alley looking at names on the tables and saw a Kevin and immediately went over to introduce myself and ask for an interview.

Kevin Nowlan agreed, but said he had just done a long interview about his career that was now out in the TwoMorrows Publishing Modern Masters series. He asked me to pick it up and try to not ask him the same questions. This was a reasonable request and not unusual either. I usually try my best to avoid asking the same questions as I think one of the goals of an interview is to learn something new about the subject so I was glad Kevin made me aware of the Modern Master’s book on him.

Since Kevin agreed to the interview I felt I ought to go through with it. I was able to pick up the Modern Masters book right at the convention itself and took it home to read it. Little did I realize how great of an artist he was and felt dumb for not knowing who he was before. I came up with questions and did the interview via e-mail. Off to the interview.


Interview with Kevin Nowlan

Kevin Nowlan is a jack of all trades when it comes to comics. He’s known for penciling, inking, lettering, coloring and even color separations. He’s also done a bit of writing. Nowlan is probably best known for his work with Alan Moore on the Jack B. Quick stories within the ABC line of books, but he’s been working in the industry since the early 80s. Kevin answers questions about his early experiences in the industry, his art, Alan Moore, recent Witchblade & X-men work, and more.

 

Jamie: I imagine there wasn’t a lot of professional comic artists in Nebraska where you grew up. Who was the first comic professional you met?

Kevin Nowlan: No, Nebraska is pretty much a comic artist free zone. I think Gil Kane was the first professional artist I met. The Fantagraphics guys went out to eat with him when I was visiting them in Connecticut. I was too frightened to speak but I hung on his every word.

Later, I saw him again at conventions and inked a couple of stories that he penciled. For a while, I seemed to be his go-to inker at DC. They kept calling me every time he was scheduled to pencil something.

 

Jamie: I believe you inked both Gil Kane and John Buscema’s last work, which was in the comic Superman: Blood of my Ancestors (what a title, yeech!). Did you feel at all uneasy about inking another artist from the golden/silver age?

Kevin Nowlan: No, but I wasn’t as comfortable inking Buscema’s pencils as I had been with Kane’s. With Buscema, there was less information on the page. The book was in limbo for a year or more after Gil died. He’d penciled the first 24 pages but no one could think of an appropriate replacement penciler. There just aren’t any Gil Kane Juniors out there.

John Buscema seemed to make sense. Their styles couldn’t be more different but the book already resembled a Conan Annual so who better than John Buscema to finish it?

 

Jamie: Early in your career you worked for Fantagraphics. How did you first meet Gary Groth and work for him?

Kevin Nowlan: I sent them some sample drawings and they published them in The Comics Journal and Amazing Heroes. They were just starting to move toward publishing comics so Gary tried to get me involved in one of those projects.

 

Jamie: What projects was he trying to get you to do?

Kevin Nowlan: A Harlan Ellison story, “Eyes of Dust” and an adaptation of E. L. Doctorow’s “Welcome to Hard Times”. Those didn’t work out but “Grimwood’s Daughter” a 5-part back-up story in “Dalgoda” was one of my first assignments. It was written by Jan Strnad. I hope it will be collected one of these days.

 

Jamie: You said Al Milgom gave you some solid advice on your first work for Marvel. What advice did he give you?

Kevin Nowlan: He warned me about trying to draw faster and encouraged me to just work at drawing better. He said that many of the really fast artists who cut a lot of corners have trouble getting work when times get tough. I took it to heart but I’d still like to pick up a little speed. Some of my favorite artists work or worked incredibly fast: Owen Fitzgerald, Kirby, Buscema, Byrne.

 

Jamie: When you draw normal people they end up looking much more ‘real’ than the standard superhero comic artist. Where did you learn to add in those very human looking flaws to the characters and do them well?

Kevin Nowlan: I try to imagine how the characters and settings would look if they were real so that I’m not doing a new version of someone else’s drawing. Then I exaggerate the proportions or gestures or expressions to give the drawing a little punch. But I like to start with reality. For instance, when I was a kid I copied Superman drawings by Curt Swan and put the little parallel lines under Superman’s shoulder even though I didn’t really understand what they were. Later, I tried to draw a shoulder by looking at the way the deltoids connect with the triceps instead of just repeating someone else’s abstraction. But I never like to get too clinical about it. Those things evolve as you work on them until eventually you have your own abstraction.

 

Jamie: Another thing I really admire is your ability to draw detailed facial expressions. Do you have people pose for you and take pictures for reference?

Kevin Nowlan: I’ve done that before but I don’t make a habit of it. It depends upon the requirement of the job. I vacillate between realism and exaggeration. I went through a phase where I was taking lots of photos for reference. Nowadays I’m more likely to make stuff up and if it doesn’t look right at first I’ll keep sketching until it does.

 

Jamie: You mentioned in your Modern Masters interview that you go to the library to get reference material on things. Are you still doing that today or does Google take care of that?

Kevin Nowlan: Yeah, Google is a lot faster. You can find 50 photos of fire hydrants in two minutes. But there are still things that you’re more likely to find at the library.

 

Jamie: You were working when comics were printed on newsprint. Today the printing process is much different and comics are generally printed on much better paper. How did the upgrade in production qualities change the way you work?

Kevin Nowlan: It’s easier to be subtle now. The printing isn’t just better, it’s more consistent. Letterpress ink could look great or it could be run light and you’d lose half the color. The art has to be a little more refined than it did on newsprint. You see everything, whereas newsprint would soften the images up a bit.

 

Jamie: I have to wonder, your work in comics is often short stories, pin ups, inking and so on, all over the place. Do you make your living on comics alone or do you have outside work?

Kevin Nowlan: Mostly comics. I do a few commercial jobs from time to time but nothing steady.

 

Jamie: You spoke to Alan Moore on the telephone over the Jack B. Quick work for the ABC line. What was he like?

Kevin Nowlan: He was terrific. I had a little trouble with his accent but I got most of it. He was also surprisingly open to any of my concerns or preferences.

 

Jamie: You are the co-creator of Jack B. Quick. What did you contribute to the character?

Kevin Nowlan: The visuals. I don’t think Alan had anything specific in mind for the appearance of the main characters. Or if he did, he didn’t share it with me. It wasn’t until the third or fourth story that he described what someone would look like, and that was a secondary character, Mr. Murk from the Dairy.

 

Jamie: Will there be any new stories with the Jack B. Quick character?

Kevin Nowlan: There will if Alan decides to write them. I don’t know what his plans are but I don’t see much point in doing a Jack story without him.

 

Jamie: In X-Men First Class Special, you gave Jean Gray the smallest boobs I’ve seen on female superhero in a very long time. Did that sail through without any uh.. suggestions from editors?

Kevin Nowlan: Yes. The editors, Mark Paniccia and Nate Cosby were as
obliging and supportive as any I’ve worked for, almost to a fault. I think I needed someone to step in and point out that I’d drawn Jean Grey way too thin on the cover. But I was trying to suggest that all the characters were young, barely out of their teens. I think I was more successful with Bobby and Hank on the story inside. For some reason, exaggeration seems to work better when you’re drawing males. But females come in different shapes and sizes. I’m trying to avoid drawing them like they all have the same bodies.

 

Jamie: You’ve been inking Witchblade over different pencilers lately; Matt Haley, Stephen Sadowski, and Rick Leonardi. Are you supposed to keep it all looking similar?

Kevin Nowlan: No. I don’t think that would be possible. They’re three very different artists.

 

Jamie: Are you inking on paper or doing it on computer?

Kevin Nowlan: On paper.

 

Jamie: How many more issues of Witchblade are you doing?

Kevin Nowlan: Three.

 

Jamie: You have also worked with DRAW! magazine showing penciling and inking. Do you have any desire to teach comic art?

Kevin Nowlan: I’ve thought about that a little. In the right situation I think it could work.

 

Jamie: In your Modern Masters interview, you mentioned wanting to do a complete Graphic Novel. Are you any closer to doing that?

Kevin Nowlan: I hope so. The Man-Thing graphic novel is back in my hands now and I’m hoping I can clear my plate and finish the remaining pages later this year.

 

Jamie: Was that supposed to one of those thin 80s Graphic Novels with Steve Gerber?

Kevin Nowlan: Yes.

 

Jamie: How many pages are left to do?

Kevin Nowlan: Twelve — fifteen at the most.

Dave Sim Interview

This interview was originally published in July, 2007. With Dave the first thing many people think about is his controversial views. I read his writing in issue #186 and his Tangents series as well. I must admit, when I first thought about interviewing Dave I had envision getting him in room and going after him like a pissed off Mike Wallace on crack over those views.

But then I met him and discovered that in person Dave was extremely nice and courteous. He also had a “spider sense” for when somebody was taking a picture of him and he would turn and smile for the camera, even while he was in conversation with others. At TCAF 2005 I saw Dave squinting at a map looking for his table as he had a signing to go to. It was in another area that I had already been to so I offered to walk him over. Later on that convention was the first Doug Wright Awards, I showed up early as did Dave and he struck up a conversation with me. They had examples of Doug’s work on the walls and we looked at them with Dave describing what was great about Doug’s work. 

At another convention a female friend of mine wanted to get a sketch from Dave but was a apprehensions about meeting him for obvious reasons. I volunteered to get the sketch on her behalf and she stood line with me until we got close to Dave and then she left. She liked Dave’s work but didn’t want to have a bad experience meeting him. When I got to Dave he asked what I wanted and I said Cerebus and Jaka. He said he would only sketch 1 character and I chose Jaka.  Dave did the sketch, looked over to Gerhard who was still working on backgrounds on Dave’s sketches and then did a quick Cerebus sketch too. Both Gerhard and Dave noticed my friend who left the line. Gerhard left his table to have a talk with her and Dave told me later on he almost did this too, but he had a long line of fans wanting sketches.

I don’t think I could go as far as to say Dave and I were friends, but we were friendly to each other. I also didn’t have the heart to go after him regarding his views anymore, even though I disagreed with them. I also had doubts that Dave would allow/agree to that type of interview either as he had his rules. Instead I proposed doing an “introduction” type interview for comic readers who were online, but didn’t read much in the way of comic magazines. I was once one of those type of comic readers. That said, I did learn about his short stay in a psychiatric facility. I had heard other creators reference this but it was good to get the story from him. It was also interesting to get his story about DC’s attempt to buy Cerebus from him, with actual dollar figures and why he turned it down.

I should probably also say that it was once believed that Gene Day died because of how Marvel treated him. I’m friends with one of Gene’s brothers (they live about a half hour from me) and I was told while Marvel’s treatment didn’t help, Gene’s family has a history of heart problems and Gene put his love of work and greasy burgers over his own well being.

After this interview was done, Dave took all the typed questions, attempted to burn them on a CD and then mailed said CD with a sketch on it. Sadly, the burn did not go right, but Dave tried again and got it right the 2nd time. This wasn’t really necessary but Dave wanted to learn how to do it.

Dave Sim Interview

Dave Sim is the creator of Cerebus. He began self publishing the comic book in the late 70’s, promised to do 300 issues of the book and did so. It’s a feat few see anybody else repeating. Along the way he selflessly taught people how to self publish their own comic books, helping many to realize their dream of publishing their creations. A few of those self publishers managed to get rich or get better paying work afterwards. With this interview we talk about Dave’s start with comics, Cerebus, the help and difficulties he encountered along the way, what’s he doing now and a lot more.

Note: This interview was done via fax machine. Dave normally only allows interviews to be 5 questions, but let me ask him 20. So an extra thank you goes out to Dave for allowing the extra questions and for being a great interviewee.

 

Jamie: Assuming you read comics as a boy, which ones did you read regularly?

Dave Sim: I read the Mort Weisinger-edited Superman line of comic books, Superman, Action, World’s Finest, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, later branching out into the rest of the DC line and then Marvel Comics, Warren and then undergrounds by the time I was fifteen or sixteen.

 

Jamie: I take it you were a big fan of Conan during the 70’s?

Dave Sim: No, I wasn’t really a big fan of Conan in the 70s. I had read all of the Robert E. Howard material once and then-reading the lesser L. Sprague DeCamp knock-offs that came later-swiftly lost interest. I really should go back and find the Howard material at some time and re-read it. I would pick up the occasional issue of Conan if I liked what Barry Smith was doing on it-such as the “Frost Giant’s Daughter” issue that reprinted the black & white strip or the two-part “Red Nails” story as it originally appeared in Savage Tales magazine, but early on-with Dan Adkins and Sal Buscema inking-it just looked like a really bad Marvel comic to me. By that time I was starting to draw on my own, so a comic needed to have something more to it in order to get me excited creatively or make me want to swipe the style of the artist. Barry inking himself definitely had that effect on me. Barry inked by others definitely didn’t have that effect on me and most of his work at Marvel was inked by very incompatible talents.

 

Jamie: If you didn’t like Conan, why did you create Cerebus to be a parody of it?

Dave Sim: The decision to do Cerebus was based on my insight that what had made Howard the Duck successful was the “funny animal in the world of humans” motif whereas everyone doing work for Quack! (my intended market) was doing all funny animal strips. Since Howard had modern-day sown up that, to me, left the possibility of a science fiction “funny animal in the world of humans” or a sword ‘n’ sorcery “funny animal in the world of humans”. Science fiction required drawing a lot of straight edges and learning how to use French curves properly, so that left only one possibility. Coincidentally I had the unused mascot for Deni’s fanzine and I did a sample page for Mike Friedrich which turned out to be the splash page of issue 1. The fact that it was successful was a very hard lesson in what happens when you do something because you think it’s commercially viable rather than being what you want to do. I was stuck going through the checklist of sword ‘n’ sorcery clichés and was quickly running out of them.

 

Jamie: Considering Cerebus started off as something you believed would be commercially viable, if you were able to go back and re-do your comic career all over again what would you do differently?

Dave Sim: I’m afraid that one of my core beliefs is to never traffic in the hypothetical which I suspect is one of the reasons that it was possible to finish Cerebus. If you make a choice and then live with the consequences of that choice you are always moving forward. If you make a choice and then spend all of your time trying to assess the different choices you might have made and the possible outcomes of those hypothetical choices, then you just end up spending your life treading water and getting very little done. I conducted my comic-book career the way that I conducted it and it ended up the way that it ended up. I only see what happened, not what might have happened.

 

Jamie: How did you meet Gene Day?

Dave Sim: I met Gene Day in the summer of 1974. We had started corresponding in the fall of 1973 after John Balge and I had interviewed Augustine Funnel for Comic Art News & Reviews. Gus had started writing for Al Hewetson’s Skywald magazines and told us about his roommate, Gene Day, and that we should talk to him about doing some work for CANAR and that I should ask about doing some work for Gene’s Dark Fantasy. I had already arranged a bus trip up to see my aunt and uncle in Ottawa so I decided to make a side trip to Gananoque on the way and stay over for a couple of days. It ended up being the first of many such trips.

 

Jamie: I’ve always heard he was your mentor. What exactly did Gene do for you?

Dave Sim: Gene really showed me that success in a creative field is a matter of hard work and productivity and persistence. I had done a handful of strips and illustrations at that point mostly for various fanzines but I wasn’t very productive. I would do a strip or an illustration and send it off to a potential market and then wait to find out if they were going to use it before doing anything else. Or I’d wait for someone to write to me and ask me to draw something. Gene was producing artwork every day and putting it out in the mail and when it came back he’d send it out to someone else. He would draw work for money and then do work on spec if the paying markets dried up. He kept trying at places where he had been rejected. He did strips, cartoons, caricatures, covers, spot illos, anything that he might get paid for. He gave drawing lessons and produced his own fanzines. It was easy to see the difference, to see why he was a success and I was a failure. It was in the fall of 1975 that I bought a calendar and started filling the squares with whatever it was that I had produced that day and worked to put together months-long streaks where I produced work every day. The net result was that I started to get more paying work and a year later I was able to move out of my parents’ house into my own one-room apartment/studio downtown. I doubt that would ever have happened without Gene’s influence.

 

Jamie: Gene died an early death. Can you tell me about Gene sleeping at Marvel’s office to fulfill a deadline and the health problems that stemmed from that?

Dave Sim: Yes, Gene died at the age of 31 from a heart attack. He had been working for Marvel for several years at that point. He started as an inker which was the thing that he was the fastest at, so he built up a really good reputation as a guy who could turn a late job around in a hurry. He was so fast, the people at Marvel were convinced that he had a whole studio of Gene Day clones working night and day, but it was just him. When I’d go and visit him, he’d have piles of 11×17 photocopies of the jobs he had done-he traded his weekly Cap’n Riverrat cartoon to the local weekly newspaper, The Gananoque Reporter for free photocopying.

When Mike Zeck left Master of Kung Fu to work on Captain America, Marvel was left without a penciller for the title and the editor persuaded Gene to step in which instantly cut his revenue by a substantial amount-he was a much slower penciller than he was an inker. He also ran afoul of then editor-in-chief Jim Shooter’s strict rules about storytelling-that you needed to do the basic six panels to a page method with occasional lapses if you had a good reason for it. Gene, of course was a major fan of Jim Steranko-style storytelling which was exactly what Jim Shooter was opposed to and they locked horns over the subject many times with Gene doing continuous backgrounds in his panel-to-panel continuity (one large background on the page with the action taking place in individual panels set against the one background). Shooter would tell him not to do it and Gene would do it, finally doing I think a five-page sequence that was all one background. At the same time he was doing outside assignments at Marvel including a story for one of the black-and-white magazines (I think it was) which Gene was supposed to pencil and ink.

The deadline got moved up or something and they told Gene on the phone that they were going to have the story “gang inked” over a few days. This was something that Marvel did pretty regularly in the 70s to keep books on schedule. They’d get five or six guys to sit in the bullpen and ink a job to get it done faster. As you would expect, the results were usually horrible. One of P. Craig Russell’s first jobs for Marvel was part of a gang-inking on an issue of Barry’s Conan. For the longest time, my impression of the story was that they had phoned Gene and wanted him to come down and ink the job and that Gene had done so out of loyalty to Marvel even taking the train to Manhattan because he was afraid to fly. It was years later that his brother Dan mentioned to me that what Gene was concerned about was doing as much of the inking himself as he could to keep the job from being a total abomination. The more I think about that, the more it explains what happened. Gene showed up at Marvel and they gave him the address of the hotel he would be staying at. He went there and the place was covered in cockroaches so Gene went back to Marvel and asked to be put up in a better hotel. Nothing fancy, just a place without cockroaches. That was when Tom DeFalco gave him the choice of the roach-infested hotel or sleeping on the couch in Marvel’s reception area. Gene chose the latter, not realizing that they turned the heat off in the building overnight (this was in the dead of winter). So he slept there with his coat pulled over him and developed as a result a kidney infection which stuck with him the rest of his life.

In retrospect, I think the problem Marvel had was that they had no policy for the situation. They had found their solution, they were going to get the job gang-inked. When Gene insisted on coming down to work on it, it just didn’t make sense to them editorially to pay for a hotel room for him given what that was going to add to their costs on the story. For Gene, it was an obvious plus-by coming down and working on the story it would be that much better looking than it would be being inked by whoever happened to be around at the time. But, how the job looked wasn’t as big a priority for Marvel as having the job done. What to Gene looked like a sensible improvement solution looked to Marvel like a needless expense and intrusion by a troublemaker. The same could be said of Gene locking horns with Jim Shooter. To Gene, he was trying to make the book better and more interesting. To Shooter he was making it unreadable and therefore uncommercial.

On Gene’s side of the argument, sales were up on Master of Kung Fu-it had always been a marginal title since Paul Gulacy had left, on the verge of cancellation and now it was turning into a fan favourite again. On Jim Shooter’s side of the argument, good nuts-and-bolts six-panels-to-the-page storytelling always sold better in the long run for Marvel. John Buscema’s Conan outsold Barry Smith’s by a wide margin, as an example. Eventually Shooter fired Gene and I think that, as much as anything, killed Gene Day. His heart and soul were at Marvel Comics. His lifelong dream was to work in the House that Jack Built. Of course, what he failed to see was that working in the House that Jack Built even became an untenable prospect for Jack. And, of course, interviewing as many professionals as I had in my fanzine days, I had a much clearer idea of what Marvel and DC were actually like and just how ruthless the editors could be when the situation seemed to call for ruthlessness (which, as they saw it, it usually did). I knew that in a lot of ways the worst thing you could bring to the table as a freelancer was unwavering company loyalty. For many of the editors at the time, that was just inviting them to rip your heart out. Which, to me, is exactly what Gene did. And exactly what Marvel did.

Dave Sim – 2007 Paradise Comics Toronto Comic Con

Jamie: Prior to Cerebus you did work for other comics. What happened that made you want to self publish instead?

Dave Sim: That was a combination of things. Everyone that I did work for I was either a minor guy on their roster and so didn’t get the attention that I thought I needed or I was a major guy on their roster only because they were too small to get anywhere. They’d announce that the new issue would be out in July and then write you in August saying they hope to get it out by November. There was a sense of time slipping away while I waiting for everyone to get to the project that I was in. Gene was more interested in getting Dark Fantasy out than Hellhound, his proposed comics title. And then he acquired the rights to do an adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s Pigeons from Hell and I knew that was going to push Hellhound even further back. I had printed samples in Quack and Oktoberfest Comics and Phantacea No.1 which I had drawn from someone else’s script, colour covers with black & white interiors and what I figured I needed was a few more samples like that where it was all or mostly my work inside the book. So that was why I decided to do three issues of Cerebus, do it bi-monthly and make sure it came out on time, keep the price the same, keep the format the same, keep the logo the same, have a letters page, keep it to twenty-two pages-basically do all the things right that I thought the other guys were doing wrong and if I fell on my face, well fine, I’d fall on my face and I’d stop complaining about what a lousy job everyone else was doing and just go back to doing it their way. But, at least I’d have three issues of my own comic book to put with Oktoberfest Comics and Phantacea so that editors could see what I was capable of. And as it turned out I was right. To this day, I try to emphasize how important it is to come out on time and everyone just ignores me. They want to know the secret to self-publishing but they don’t want that secret. That secret just sounds like a lot of hard work. Which it is.

 

Jamie: I understand you worked for Harry Kremer at Now and Again Books, in what years did you do that?

Dave Sim: I worked for Harry beginning December 1st of 1976 when he opened up the downstairs at 103 Queen St. S. which is across the street from where Now & Then Book is now. The hours were 10 am to 9 pm Thursday and Friday and 10 am to 6 pm Saturday and for that I got a grand total of $75 a month. It was all Harry could afford. And I rented my one-room apartment at 379 Queen St. S. for $120 a month which meant that I had to make $45 a month from drawing and writing just to keep a roof over my head. I had about $1,000 in the bank from selling Harry my comic-book collection to help buy some time, but it was definitely sink or swim. As it turns out it was sink, swim or move in with your girlfriend which Deni and I did in April of 1977 so I only had to come up with half of the rent which I think still worked out to about $120 a month.

 

Jamie: How did Harry help with Cerebus?

Dave Sim: Harry helped in a lot of ways with Cerebus. For starters, he was running the comic-book store that I was living in (it was really my first home, my parents house was just where I slept and stored my comic books) when the direct market started and he was stocking new comic books as well as back issues, new comic books which included ground level titles like Star*Reach which showed me that there was room on the shelves next to Marvel and DC. Then he agreed to publish Oktoberfest Comics in 1976. Through that experience, I found out roughly what it cost to do a black-and-white comic on newsprint with a colour cover and realized that it was a lot more affordable with the new high-speed web offset presses than I had suspected which started me thinking about doing one of my own. And before the first issue was published, he agreed to take 500 copies which, when you consider that our two distributors-Jim Friel of Big Rapids Distribution and Phil Seuling of Sea Gate Distributors-were taking 500 and 1,000 copies respectively tells you what a great vote of confidence and commitment that was from a single comic book store. And then he would also buy artwork from time to time. He bought the complete issue 4 for $220, $10 a page. It may not sound like much, but it definitely paid for a lot of Kraft Dinners which Deni and I pretty much lived on for months at a time. We had our ups and downs over the years-he got seriously offended when I started charging $100 a page U.S. He liked my artwork but he really didn’t think it belonged in that price range. But there’s no question that Cerebus couldn’t have made it through the first few years without his help and, particularly, without the existence of Now & Then Books. Today (6 June 05) would have been his fifty-ninth birthday if he had lived.

 

Jamie: Is it true that Cerebus was supposed to be titled Cerberus? If so, how did it change?

Dave Sim: What happened was that Deni-before I knew her-had decided to put out a fanzine modeled on Gene Day’s Dark Fantasy. When I met her, in December of 1976, that was what she had come into the store to find out-would Harry be willing to carry copies of her fanzine if she published it? I volunteered to help and wrote down my name which she recognized from the work I had had published in Dark Fantasy. The name she had come up with for her fanzine was Cerebus. So I did a logo for her, the one that was on the first forty-nine issues and told her she really should have a name for her publishing company in the same way that Dark Fantasy was published by Gene Day’s House of Shadows. Her sister came up with Aardvark Press and her brother came up with Vanaheim Press, so I put them together and made it Aardvark-Vanaheim Press. And then I drew a cartoon aardvark with a sword as a mascot. At that point someone realized that the name of the magazine was misspelled. What she had intended to call the magazine was Cerberus, the name of the three-headed dog in Greek mythology who guarded Hades. So I suggested that we just say that Cerebus was the name of the cartoon mascot. The printer in California ran off with the originals and the money for the first issue, so the fanzine never did come out. And that was when I started thinking about my own “funny animal in the world of humans” for Quack! so I decided to draw a sample page of Cerebus the cartoon mascot in my best Barry Windsor-Smith style (see question 6 above).

 

Jamie: Somebody made counterfeit copies of Cerebus #1. Can you tell us the difference between the two so the online buyers won’t be fooled?

Dave Sim: The easiest way to distinguish the real Cerebus No.1 from the counterfeit is that the inside covers are glossy black on the counterfeit and a flat black on the real ones. The next easiest way is that if you look at the areas of solid black on pages 9, 10 and 11, they look “dusty”. That’s because the counterfeit was shot from a printed copy where there was already a slightly speckled quality because it was printed on cheap newsprint, so when that slightly speckled quality was photographed, the-now doubled-slightly speckled quality ended up looking like a fine layer of dust over the entire page because there is so much solid black on those three pages.

 

Jamie: Did you ever discover who made the counterfeits?

Dave Sim: I have my suspicions as to who did the counterfeit but, no, the FBI never managed to catch the guys who were selling them-the “mules” folded their operation as soon as word started to spread-and therefore there was no route to anyone who was behind the scam. I certainly wasn’t about to accuse anyone publicly without evidence to support it but, yes, I’m pretty sure I knew who did it.

 

Jamie: I hear that after issue #11 you over-worked yourself into a nervous breakdown. What were you doing at the time?

Dave Sim: Twenty-six years later on, I think it would be more accurate to say that I had achieved a false level of transcendence that I had been looking to achieve through LSD-the psychic equivalent of a massive and pleasurable electric shock-that left me incapable of reassuring my wife (within her own very limited frames of reference) that I was okay: with the result that she freaked out at one point and called my mother and she and my mother locked me up in a psych ward at the local hospital for a couple of days.

 

Jamie: How did you recover from a nervous breakdown and continue on?

Dave Sim: There really wasn’t anything to “recover” from. I had gone through the false transcendent state and come out the other side. The only thing I really needed to recover from was the massive doses of depressants they had given me in the psych ward. That took two or three days during which all of my muscles and motor functions were seriously malfunctioning-it felt as if I had pulled every muscle in my body so that just speaking and walking required Herculean forces of will in order to achieve. Essentially, at that point-never again wanting to experience that severe crippling effect-I began to live two different lives simultaneously. I learned how to portray myself as a normal person in order to keep my wife and parents from locking me up in any more psych wards while at the same time I began to explore all of the thoughts and experiences that I had had over the period of the false transcendent state and began to work towards putting them all down on paper in the Cerebus storyline. When I realized, a month or two later, how large and difficult a task that was going to be, I decided to make Cerebus into a 300-issue project in order to encompass it all and leave room for my own best assessment of the aftermath. The documentation of the state itself went from about issue 20 to about issue 186. I was able to stop leading my double life once I was divorced in 1983 and I no longer had the on-going threat hanging over my head that my freedom depended on my wife and mother believing me to be sane.

 

Jamie: How did you meet Gerhard?

Dave Sim: I had heard a great deal about Gerhard because he was the “golden boy” of his high school clique, one of whose members was Deni’s high-school aged sister, Karen. He was the chief set designer and star of a high-school production “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” and also an illustrator and the high-school clique was his major support group. They collectively believed in him and his prodigious abilities to the same extent to which he didn’t believe in himself: which is to say thoroughly and completely. At one point the high-school clique was having a Halloween party and Karen, Deni’s sister, and Bob her boyfriend and later husband came by the apartment to smoke a joint with Gerhard and his (then) girlfriend Laurel. So far as we know that was how I met Gerhard. It would’ve been Halloween of 1981 or 1982.

 

Jamie: I’m surprised more artists don’t try and pair up with somebody to help out with backgrounds. Why do you think you and Gerhard have worked so well together for the past 20 years?

Dave Sim: I’m surprised, as well, that more artists don’t pair up with background artists. The history of the comic-book field is filled with things that worked really well that no one else ever attempted. Look at Will Eisner’s The Spirit-what a great idea to do a comic-book supplement for newspapers and yet no one ever tried it again. It’s certainly something that I would recommend. I suspect fine arts courses and architectural schools are filled with guys who just have a love of drawing still-life’s, which is all that backgrounds are. Of course Gerhard grew to hate pen-and-ink drawing which had been one of his abiding passions when he had to do the volume of drawing required, so you won’t be seeing him recommending it as a career choice anytime soon. But, yes, I do think that guys who love writing and lettering and drawing people should look around for guys who like to draw inanimate objects. Mutual tolerance would, I think, best describe how the collaboration worked and how it continues to work. If I really needed something to go in the background, I’d be specific with Gerhard but if not, I let him do whatever he thought would look best. I always got my own best results by doing what I thought was best and always got second-rate results when someone was telling me what to do, so it just seemed natural to me to treat Gerhard the same way. If you want the best results let the guy call his own shots.

 

Jamie: I recently read that DC made an offer to buy Cerebus from you at one point. When did that happen and how much did they offer?

Dave Sim: Those negotiations took place over the course of 1985 to 1988, I think it was. Ultimately they offered $100,000 and 10% of all licensing and merchandising and that I would be allowed to keep doing the monthly black-and-white and Swords of Cerebus on my own. In the middle of the negotiations I came up with the idea of the High Society trade paperback and selling it direct to the readers which brought in $150,000 in the space of a few weeks and made their offer look kind of puny by comparison. What I wanted to develop was a Superman contract-a contract that would have been fair to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster-where DC could pick the revenue thresholds, but at some point we would split all revenues 50-50 just as is done with syndicated comic strips. No go. They made a final offer to give me the whole $100,000 all at once or half now and half later on which, to me, completely missed the point. You start with a dollar amount and negotiate upward, you don’t say “You can put it all in your right front pocket or you can put half in your right front pocket and half in your back pocket.” When I realized that Paul Levitz wasn’t going to budge, I packed it in.

 

Jamie: Now that Cerebus is done are you more open to selling it?

Dave Sim: No, not really. The difficult part is done now-actually writing and drawing the 6,000 pages so it’s more like it’s nice that the book still keeps us busy, me with answering the mail and Ger doing the business side and renovating the house and both of us working on Following Cerebus and developing a website for selling the artwork and putting together a First Half package of the first six volumes in a boxed set for Christmas, 2006. If we sold it we’d just have a pile of money and nothing to do. I really like being one of the two Cerebus custodians. Part of the fun of sculpting a statue over twenty-six years is spending the rest of your life washing the pigeon droppings off of it every day.

 

[Note: Following Cerebus is a magazine that Dave and Gerhard work on. You can find more info about it here: http://spectrummagazines.bizland.com/]

 

Jamie: I understand that since Cerebus ended, you are now organizing your archives and this will likely take another few years. What do you plan to do with your archives when you are done?

Dave Sim: Actually I have a lot of help from the Cerebus Newsgroup readers at Yahoo.com who are working out all the computer technicalities and Margaret Liss of the www.cerebusfangirl.com website who has started scanning in all of my notebooks. After that it will be all of my comics material starting with my first fanzine in 1970 through until the present day, all of the paperwork and correspondence, interviews, reviews, etc. in chronological order. As she scans that, she’ll be “key-wording” each document so that it can be indexed for content and you’ll be able to type in, say, “Kevin Eastman” and it will call up every document that mentions him. The idea is to arrive at a point where that becomes the primary research resource for Cerebus. Someone wanting to do an interview like this, I can just go through and check off the questions that they can find answers to in the Cerebus Archive so that I don’t have to keep answering the same questions over and over and over. Basically the same thing that I did with the Guide to Self-Publishing where I went out and promoted self-publishing through the Spirits of Independence stops for a couple of years and then wrote down everything I had been telling people and now I can just give them a copy of the Guide to Self-Publishing if they come to me for advice. I almost never get asked about self-publishing anymore for that reason.

 

Richard Kyle Interview

Mike Royer, Richard Kyle and Erik Larsen. From San Diego Comic Con 2011, Jack Kirby Tribute Panel.

From about 1998 to 2012 I did interviews off and on for CollectorTimes.com under the column name Coville’s Clubhouse. The website stopped updating in 2014 and has since gone off line. I’ll be reposting my interviews here one at a time in no particular order and in some cases be talking a bit about the interview. This one is was published online in the July 2012 edition of Collector Times.

This interview with Richard Kyle was the last one I done. I was “retired” from doing interviews but this was an opportunity that I could not resist. I had learned from Bob Beerbohm that the first person to use/create the term “Graphic Novel” was Richard Kyle. In 2011 San Diego Comic Con was celebrating 50 Years of Comic Fandom and brought in a number of people involved with the earliest comic fanzines and Richard Kyle was one of them.

After a panel he was on, I asked him about doing an interview some time after the con was over. He agreed and we exchanged phone numbers. I called him, we did the interview, I transcribed it and mailed it to him for review. Then I broke my right foot. Richard mailed back an altered transcription which I read, I knew would want to make changes to but didn’t do anything about it for a while. My office was upstairs and I was living downstairs on a lazy boy chair as my foot needed to be elevated at all times otherwise it would swell.

After my foot healed somewhat and with some prodding from Richard, I got back to the interview and we worked out an mutually agreed upon transcription of the interview. I also got Richard to give me permission to post the original column, giving his definition of the Graphic Novel. He also had another column that he wanted posted as well about his theory on comics, which I happily did.

Some of the interview goes into more detail about what he meant by Graphic Novel. Around this time there was much discussion online about what a Graphic Novel was by people in the industry. Some would say it had to be an original story, not a collection of previously printed comics and that Maus & Watchmen weren’t really Graphic Novels. I heard Will Eisner on a panel insist it wasn’t about “two mutants smashing each other” not long before he passed away. Others felt it had to be a complete story that ended and books like The Walking Dead series didn’t fit the definition. One creator believed it was the story that mattered and not the format. Some creators still have animosity towards the term and only have it on their books begrudgingly, in part due to what could be incorrect assumptions of what the term is supposed to represent.

I thought the best thing to do was to go to the source, Richard Kyle and get his take on what he meant when he created the term Graphic Novel. The interview covers more than just his definition of the term Graphic Novel, but I’ll let you read about the other things Richard has done within comics in the interview itself.

Richard Kyle came up with the term “graphic novel” in a 1964 article titled “The Future of Comics.” He was a contributor to early comic fanzines and often argued that the comics industry should publish more sophisticated stories for an older audience. He was also a comics retailer and in 1976 co-published the first book identified as a “graphic novel,” Beyond Time and Again by George Metzger. I met Richard at the San Diego Comic Con 2011 and he agreed to be interviewed about his thoughts on the graphic novel.

 

Jamie: I guess we’ll get started with your background. Where abouts were you born?

Richard Kyle: Oakland, California in 1929. A couple of months later the stock market crashed.

 

Jamie: Did your family go through hardship during the Great Depression?

Richard Kyle: Not the Depression itself, initially. My father had tuberculosis and was on 100% medical disability from the Navy, so there was enough money to get by. He’d been in the submarine service – I think he served on the D-1 – and a chlorine gas accident had seriously damaged his lungs. Tuberculosis set in. He died when I was four years old, and although my mother remarried, the years afterward were not easy. It wasn’t until the war came along that things began to get better. Then there were jobs for everyone. So after my mother and stepfather divorced, I left school to work. I got my education from science fiction magazines, pulp magazines, detective stories, and comic books. On balance, they were no worse teachers than the ones in public schools.

 

Jamie: When did you get interested in comic books?

Richard Kyle: Apparently with comic books with the first regularly published comic book – Famous Funnies. Maybe its first issue. At the time, there weren’t any others for me to see. Now I know it was made of up of newspaper comic strip reprints. Then, I didn’t have a clue.

One evening I went to the corner grocery with my stepfather to get milk and bread. Right beside the cash register was a pile of comic books. I’d never seen anything like them. They cost a dime, the equivalent of two dollars in today’s money, and that was a lot in the Depression – so I knew better than to ask for a copy. Especially since I couldn’t read worth beans. But, read ’em or not, I was in love with comic books the minute I saw them. They were something new, and I’ve always been in love with new.

I haven’t any memory of actually buying a comic book early on. I know I must’ve read practically everything that was being printed, however, because I have scraps of memories of so many of them. From New Comics to Pioneer Picture Stories to the early Funny Pages, to the newspaper strip reprint comic books and so on. Although I don’t remember most of them in detail, I do remember individual strips. Siegel and Shuster’s “Dr. Occult,” and “Radio Squad,” “The Clock,” “The Wake of the Wander,” and others. The Clock was probably the first masked character in comic books, although his mask was just a square black cloth with slits cut out for the eyes. He left a card behind, something like The Saint. It said “The Clock Strikes,” or something like that. He had his own private torture chamber –really-that he used to get the truth out of bad guys [laughter]. As near as I recall, there was an episode where he had a guy hanging up by his hands, trying to keep his bare feet off broken glass.

“The Clock” was created by George Brenner who later would take him over to Quality, where Brenner became editor. At Quality he would also do “Bozo, the Robot,” about a guy fighting crime inside a giant, rocket-propelled hot water heater with arms and legs and lots of rivets-an early-day Iron Man-and a strip called “711,” about a guy – inmate #711 – who escaped jail every episode to fight crime. And then broke back in at night to hide his secret identity. Something like that.

But they’re only pieces of memories until just a little while before Superman appeared. Then I-and the other kids-suddenly became conscious of comic books as something unlike anything else. Guys stopped collecting Big Little Books and started collecting comic books. We got them used from a nearby Salvation Army store.

I loved Siegel and Shuster’s “Slam Bradley,” in Detective Comics. As long as it was drawn by Shuster, I liked it more than “Superman.” Then there was Paul Gustavson’s great “Fantom of the Fair,” for Amazing Mystery Funnies, about a caped crime-fighter who lived in the catacombs under the New York World’s Fair. It was produced by Funnies Inc., one of the original comic book art studios. And over at Blue Bolt, from Novelty Press, Funnies Inc. had Bob Davis’ terrific, and now virtually forgotten “Dick Cole, Wonder Boy.” He wasn’t a costumed character, but the strip was a great favorite of mine. Funnies, Inc. also produced “The Human Torch” and “Sub-Mariner” for Timely/Marvel, along with Tarpé Mills’ forgotten “Fantastic Feature Films,” another favorite.

In fact, I guess it was Funnies Incorporated that I was a fan of more than any single publisher, including DC-although I was a great Batman fan. I’d initially been a full-on fan of “Superman,” then Joe started doing halfhearted layouts. But when it was Siegel and Shuster together it was a great strip.

 

Jamie: Yes, they put together a studio and were asked to crank out a bunch of work quickly and the quality of it went downhill.

Richard Kyle: Still, they also had a unique touch. Take “Slam Bradley.” Slam was a detective, he had a partner named Shorty. He was Slam Bradley’s pal. The little guy rode around on Slam’s shoulder a lot of times. He was ridiculous when you think about it, but as a kid without a father, I identified with Shorty. A lot of other kids my age did too. There were a lot of ’em in orphanages in those days. But, Joe left to produce “Superman,” even though Jerry was still writing the stories, it wasn’t the same. There was a magic between Jerry and Joe that made their work together unforgettable.

Once, I was talking with Jerry about how much I liked “Slam Bradley,” and he said that it was created after “Superman” but published first. That it was a more realistic development of the “Superman” idea, which the publishers of the day thought was too far-fetched for the customers. And if you think about it, Fawcett’s “Captain Marvel” has the same structure as “Slam Bradley”-in one, a young boy is literally transformed into a strongman, in the other a little guy gets to ride around on his shoulder, almost becoming him.

 

Jamie: Jumping ahead, how did you discover comic fanzines?

Richard Kyle: A science fiction fanzine I subscribed to mentioned Dick Lupoff’s fanzine Xero and praised its comics coverage. I subscribed, and Dick asked me to write a piece about the Fox line of comics for him. [Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego #101 has just reprinted it.] At the same time, comics fandom was forming, and because of the Fox article I became a part of it. I’m not an organizer, so my contribution to the creation of comics fandom was mainly the comics stuff I wrote.

 

Jamie: From what I’m reading, you came up with the terms “graphic novel” and “graphic story” in Capa Alpha #2. This was in 1964. How did you come up with those terms?

Richard Kyle: It’s curious. Until recently, I thought I’d invented them solely for Capa Alpha. But a while back, I discovered an earlier remark in an old letter of mine where I said “there ought to be a name for more serious comic book stories.” So it must have been in the back of my mind.

I was aware that Lev Gleason’s editor Charles Biro–Daredevil, Boy, and Crime Does Not Pay–called his more grown-up comics “illustories.” And, as I’ve mentioned, in the mid-’30s a few comic books tried putting “picture-stories” in their title. And then Picture Stories from the Bible, of course. (And that in the ’50s, EC had identified their new and lame half-text, half-comics stories as “picto-fiction.”) But they were really “shame names,” except Biro’s, that tried to avoid the perceived semi-literacy of “comic book,” not names created to describe the form accurately and to celebrate comic books for what they really are.

I wanted a name to match the kinds of stories I wanted to read-that is, stories for guys in their late teens to their mid-forties that used all the conventions of the “comic book” without apology, sound effects, motion lines and all the other devices that a lot of editors and writers and artists were ashamed of. I was aware of how careful I would have to be, given the failure of earlier attempts. So I thought of basic words and terms. “Novel” and “story” were about as basic as you could get. And “graphic”-my dictionary told me-was exactly right. [I used the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Fifth Edition, definitions 1, 2 and 3.] The words felt good in my mouth, too, and that was important.

So, “graphic story” and “graphic novel” were it. And why these commonplace words were called pretentious, or why comics for grown-ups were, too, I’ll never know.

However, no one in Capa Alpha commented on this column-nor any other column of mine. So when Bill Spicer, the publisher of Fantasy Illustrated, invited me to take “Graphic Story Review” over to FI, I jumped at the chance. His magazine, which would be renamed Graphic Story Magazine, was the single most important and influential fan magazine of that time.

I soon realized no professional would take the advice of a fan. I had thought the comic book publishers would be smart enough to at least test a comics magazine in a good-looking, uncontaminated format that had only grown-up stories in it. But none of them ever did-except Lev Gleason, Charles Biro’s publisher on Boy, Daredevil and Crime Does Not Pay–and he chickened-out before Tops’ first sales figures came in. Tops was the same size as Life magazine and was displayed with the grown-up periodicals, so it had a job penetrating the market. However, its final sales figures for Tops weren’t that bad at all. I know because I was working for a major San Francisco magazine distributor at the time. A lot of the big newsstands sold out three or four times.

It is amazing how conservative comic book publishers have been over the years. Even in the days when they were taking in money hand-over-fist they were afraid to do anything new. The publishers needed a demo. They’ve always needed a demo.

Years later, in 1976, there was an opportunity to provide that demo, and when Denis Wheary and I published George Metzger’s Beyond Time and Again in hardback we subtitled it “A Graphic Novel.” It had taken its time, but once that demo stared the publishers in the face they finally accepted it-after Will Eisner legitimized the term, with a book that wasn’t a novel. The publishers were afraid to the end.

 

Jamie: Now did you see Graphic Novels as a literary designation, for stories that were more sophisticated regardless of how they were published or more of a format, like a think hardcover book?

Richard Kyle: Both. Because one requires the other. In the literary world “short story” and “novel” don’t just describe the length, they also describe the complexity of the material and suggest the seriousness of it. So I saw the graphic novel as having content that was as complex and serious as a motion picture or a text novel.

 

Jamie: You weren’t thinking about the Europeans-?

Richard Kyle: No. The Wikipedia entry for “graphic novel” says that I created it to describe European comics, and that I regarded them as superior to American comics. That’s wrong. Some were, some weren’t. At the time I came up with the term “graphic novel” in 1964, I hadn’t seen-or heard about-any of the European albums except “Tin-Tin”. I was introduced to the others in ’70 or ’71 by Fred Patten, a comics fan and member of LASFS, the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, who became my partner in an international comics and fiction bookstore. We carried only new, in-print, books and magazines. No back issues. Fred wrote and spoke French, so we had access to everything, fan and professional, that was being published in Europe. But that was years after I introduced “graphic novel.”

It’s true enough that up to that time, with few exceptions-say a piece by Jack Cole, or Will Eisner or Kurtzman or Krigstein or Kirby or Alex Toth or-very soon-Jim Steranko, American comics seldom presented what I would regard as serious graphic novels or graphic stories. And, even when the exception came along, it was almost always presented in a format that made it seem shoddy and cheesy until you took a second look.

Actually, I shouldn’t say “serious” in this connection. I should say “grown-up.” I didn’t demand that the stories be thoughtful and profound and grim and all that. Just something that would interest and entertain me as a grown-up. But despite exceptions, despite superior packaging, the Europeans weren’t doing that much better than we were. They had brilliant layouts by Guido Crepax, Hugo Pratt, Druillet, and Mobius, but we had the guys I mentioned, Cole, Eisner, Kurtzman, Krigstein, Kirby, Toth, and Steranko, and others, who were admired by the Europeans.

Anyway, despite the refusal of the American comic books publishers to experiment with a fan-created term and format, “graphic novel” eventually caught on, and the professionals were forced to accept it. Even public libraries have a graphic novel section now. And it turns out that despite all the professional resistance here in the U.S., they’d been using the term in Portuguese for years-as “novela grafica,” or something similar. I wish I had known. It would have been a lot easier to talk professionals here into using the term if professionals there, even in another language, were using it.

 

Jamie: Some people think a graphic novel needs to have a beginning, middle, and an end. That it can’t continue on, book after book, with an endless narrative. Do you have an opinion on that?

Richard Kyle: You can do anything with a graphic novel that you can do with a text novel – good or bad. Somebody once described a novel as a full-length portrait of the author’s universe, and a short story as a detail from that portrait. That applies to the “graphic novel” and the “graphic story” too.

 

Jamie: Something sequential-like?

Richard Kyle: No, not sequential. At least, not completely. I’d say “Narrative Art.” “Sequential” is a beautiful, important-sounding word that seems to describe comic book art at large. But it doesn’t. It only describes newspaper strip art. Reality isn’t merely a series of so-called “still” pictures strung end-to-end, like a movie or newspaper strip. It’s endlessly complex, and the comic book story – the graphic novel and the graphic story – has the capacity to portray that world more fully, more realistically, than the simplistic cause-and-effect world of the daily newspaper strip.

 

Jamie: In what way?

Richard Kyle: The comic book story couldn’t develop in newspapers. There was only a limited amount of space, three or four panels, except on Sundays, where the best they had to work with was a page. And newspapers were in the news business, not the comic strip business. They hired news editors, not full-time comic editors. Comics were tolerated because they brought in readers, not because they wanted comic strips defiling their newspapers, taking the place of real news — and the newspaper syndicates served those papers. Many editors were openly hostile to comics. And still are. They’ve never understood that just as newspapers cover current news, comics in those same newspapers cover current emotions. The syndicates are no better.

A sort of exception was Will Eisner’s “Spirit Section,” and it was inadequate. Despite Eisner’s best intentions, there was the short story limitation. Not much room fro growth there.

 

Jamie: What kind of growth?

Richard Kyle: The panels of comic book stories – graphic stories and graphic novels – relate not only to the frame behind and the frame ahead, as the frames of newspaper strips and movies do, but, like a hologram, they relate to everything – not only the frame in front and the frame behind, but to the whole page or spread or book, just the way we relate to the universe around us. Our modern conception of “time” hasn’t been with us very long. Just a few years ago, before the invention of the movies, the ordinary person would describe “time” as an endlessly flowing river, formless, without boundaries. Then, after the invention of movies, he’d describe time as something like a movie reel that could be run backward into the past and forward into the future, like H.G. Wells’ brand-new Time Machine. It was natural, then, that people would see newspaper comic strips as analogs of movies-as “paper movies.” We accepted that conception of time as real because we could easily visualize it, correct or not. But movies don’t report reality, they represent it. We can’t run life backwards and forwards like a reel of film in a movie projector.

We’re part of the universe, and the universe is a part of us. Somehow or another, like waves and particles in physics, comic book stories combine a serial view of time with another view – a hologram that embraces everything, from a “full-length portrait of the authors universe” to “a detail from the portrait.”

It’s a matter of time. The thing about both newspaper strips and comic book stories that differentiates them from other forms of pictorial storytelling, is their conception of time. When you put a border around a comic book illustration, it becomes a new universe. And that frame contains all of the conventions of the comic book story within it. If, say, you take all the borders off a Hal Foster “Prince Valiant,” something goes wrong. And if you put frames around the pictures in a New Yorker spot cartoon spread, that seems equally wrong. Why?

“Prince Valiant” which used no word balloons or sound effects, but it’s clearly a comic strip. It has the frame around its panels. Occasionally Foster uses the vignette without the frame, but it’s understood to be there. Within those frames is another universe, complete in itself, like an equation. However, “before-and-after” is good enough for a cartoon spread.

A panel may represent any amount of time. I remember a lecture given by Burne Hogarth, who drew the Sunday “Tarzan” strip and taught drawing and anatomy. He showed one panel from his Sunday “Tarzan,” and explained how that single panel represented 15 minutes. And it did. He had crammed 15 minutes of time into this one panel. His inspiration was Michelangelo and the Renaissance artists.

If you look at photos of the Sistine Chapel you can see that Michelangelo’s use of the idea of painting a picture in time. And Jack Kirby’s Silver Surfer may have had his origin in a panel of the Last Judgement. The figure is in extreme perspective, so that as your eye tracks from the back of a panel to the foreground it gives a sense of dynamic movement. The seemingly broad exaggerations that people see in Jack’s work are Jack’s way of telling a story in time. Instead of having a dozen little frames, as Krigstein might, he would have one large and powerful frame containing the same information.

But the thing about the so-called “still” picture is that it isn’t still. The nearest thing you can find is that represents a still picture is a terrific blur. We live in a world of blurs. The whole universe is moving at incredible speed, in every direction. But we’ve so accustomed ourselves to the blurs, to the selective seeing, that we don’t see them. They merely provide fodder for comic book critics, along with the sound effects, thought balloons, and the rest of the conventions. Jack knew this, and he drew the blurs.

You take a picture of somebody, even with a good camera and they can be alive and dead in the same photograph because the camera hasn’t stopped time, it hasn’t slowed down the bullet, it has just made reality a little less blurry. If you’ve seen photographs of insects that are taken by electronic microscopes you see them in extraordinary detail because you are seeing them almost completely frozen in time, close to absolute zero. Truly “still.” they look unreal, alien.

The impressionists re-saw the way we looked at things. Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” was painted while he was in a mental hospital, true enough, but consciously or unconsciously, Van Gogh was painting a picture of the blazing Einsteinian universe – before Einstein.

The graphic novel has the potential to re-examine the world and see it on fresh terms. You do that by seeing something other than a river flowing by. There is something else that time is. It’s doing something sequentially and not sequentially at the same time. In Eastern philosophy, there is a sense of the world being a gestalt, that it’s all happening everywhere, all at once, right now. There isn’t a past, present or future, There is now. The conception of time is seen as an artifice.

But you asked about “sequential.” I think Eisner successfully applied this sequential terminology to his own work, the post-“Spirit” stuff when he started doing his self-described “graphic novels.” But the sequential universe is entirely cause-and-effect, before-and-after. It doesn’t see the other side of anything. You need enough pages to do that.

 

Jamie: With graphic novels, do you think they need to be a minimum number of pages?

Richard Kyle: They need enough to fully exploit a complex storyline. If it’s just an incident of something of that kind, no matter how long it is, it’s still not a novel.

There are short graphic stories that have done it – Steranko’s “At the Stroke of Midnight,” Krigstein’s “The Master Race,” Metzger’s “Möbius Tripp,” and work by Cole and Kurtzman and others – so it clearly can be done.

 

Jamie: Nowadays, it seems the graphic novel term applies to the physical format. They really don’t care about the content. Do you agree with how the term has evolved over the years?

Richard Kyle: Probably not. As near as I can tell, the term is made to describe something thick that has some sort of pictorial narrative. But if you notice, people-including the news media-also confuse matters with straight novels. They’ll still describe, say, a non-fiction book by a well-known non-fiction writer as a “novel”-either because it’s thick or because all thick books are novels. Or because all bestselling books are novels. Or something. But some genuine graphic novels are being done, I think, and that’s what counts. It’s always that way in the arts.

 

Jamie: I’m not sure if you are aware of some thicker books that were published prior to George Metzger’s Beyond Time and Again–Lynd Ward’s novels-in-woodcuts, Obadiah Oldbuck by Rodolphe Töpffer, Milt Gross’ He Done Her Wrong. Dell did a couple of paperbacks that were all comics and St. John published another, The Case of the Winking Buddha. Have you seen any of those things?

Richard Kyle: I don’t know anything about Obadiah Oldbuck. Lynd Ward’s books are novels-in-wood-cuts, pantomimes on paper, one picture to a page, wordless, soundless, with time presented as simple before-and-after. They are fine books, but they’re not comics. Some interesting novels-in-woodcuts were also done in France during the ’30s.

In the case of the novels-in-woodcuts there is no delineation of time except before-and-after, and very little of that. So, although I enjoy them, they don’t deal with time satisfactorily.

As for the paperback-size comic books, I thought they were pretty lame, with disappointing breakdown. I read a couple of them. The writing was pretty poor. They were over the top, caricatures of private eye novels with smart-ass remarks and that kind of stuff. But none of them were labeled graphic novels. The publishers called them comic novels or something.

 

Jamie: Would this be The Case of the Winking Buddha that St. John put out?

Richard Kyle: I don’t know. Probably another one. There were three or four different companies. I never thought they were serious works. It was kinda like doing a deliberately lame motion picture. A near-inadvertent “Airplane.”

In any case they weren’t called “graphic novels” which is what the argument seems to be about. So the answer is that there may have been comic book stories that people might have called “graphic novels”- but they weren’t labeled that on the book itself. Which could be true of a lot of the stuff like that Milt Gross book.

 

Jamie: He Done Her Wrong?

Richard Kyle: Yeah, that was a parody – a funny one, I recall – of the woodcut novels, which was very popular at the time. It was a spoof.

 

Jamie: What do you consider to be the first graphic novel? There are a number of claims to the first one.

Richard Kyle: The only thing I’ve ever said was that Denis Wheary and I – he was my partner in publishing George Metzger’s Beyond Time and Again – published the first book labeled a “graphic novel.” It was a hardback, bound in blue cloth, with silver stamping. The term “graphic novel” appears on the dust jacket copy and the title page.

You can call things anything, however. In Eisner’s case, he called a collection of short stories a graphic novel. But before he did that, Joe Orlando who had access to Bill Spicer’s Graphic Story Magazine, where there was a discussion of graphic novels, used the term on a romance comic. [Jamie’s Note: Sinister House of Secret Love #2 (1972) was called a “graphic novel”].

 

Jamie: For a while there Eisner was saying he had created the term and that he even published the first one, but he would correct this towards the end of his career.

Richard Kyle: At that point I hadn’t paid much attention to inside-comics for several years. But there was an article in the local Los Angeles Times. They used the term with Eisner’s name on it, and it was obvious that they were working from material supplied by DC Comics. I wrote letter to DC and included a copy of Metzger’s book, published two years before Eisner used it. They talked to Eisner and Eisner ran a quote about having come up with the term independently, which is not implausible.

However, he also used the term “graphic storytelling” which isn’t the best coinage I ever made but it was mine. Then Eisner then came up with a book title Graphic Storytelling and there were some other things. It was clear that whether consciously or subconsciously, directly or indirectly, Eisner picked up the title from our reviews of “The Spirit” in Graphic Story Magazine.

In the beginning I didn’t make any effort to identify myself with the creation of the term. I was certain that the pros, being what they are, pros, weren’t going to take suggestions from some fan in the jillikins. That turned out to be the case, and when Eisner began producing his collections and calling them “graphic novels,” well, then, the professionals had finally spoken. I only made an issue of it when Eisner began to lay claim to the term. If it was important enough for Eisner, then it was important enough for me. Eisner had read my reviews of his work. He knew me.

 

Jamie: I believe they’ve just discovered some letters between Eisner and Jack Katz where Katz was talking about The First Kingdom as a graphic novel, this was before Eisner even started A Contract With God so some people think he might have picked it up from there.

Richard Kyle: He could have. But Beyond Time and Again was the first book labeled a graphic novel.

 

Jamie: With Metzger’s Beyond Time and Again, you said you published over a thousand of them?

Richard Kyle: A hair over or under 1,000 copies. Somewhere in that range. The records are packed away.

 

Jamie: Do you recall the markets it was sold in? Was it in both what would be become the direct market and in bookstores as well?

Richard Kyle: No. Remember there was no direct market. And the regular bookstores regarded every kind of comics except Disney reprints as something out of a sewer. We sold a lot of books pre-publication. We sold them retail at conventions. And to large dealer-wholesalers like Bud Plant and Bob Sidebottom. We sold a lot of copies at my own bookstore. And through my Graphic Story World / Wonderworld magazine, which had a circulation of almost 3,000-a big circulation before the direct market.

 

Jamie: Over the years the term “trade paperback” has become interchangeable with the word “graphic novel.” Do you know how that came about?

Richard Kyle: I don’t know. I haven’t been in touch with inside-comics stuff since I closed my bookstore. But I imagine they borrowed the term from mainstream publishing-mainly to avoid calling them some fan name, I expect. However, the thin and flat 8 ½ x 11 format doesn’t really lend itself to commercial success-it resists bookstore display. It’s too tall. It doesn’t shelve well. It doesn’t “show spine” at all well. We’ll see. People seem to like saying “graphic novel.”

 

Jamie:  Jim Steranko did a book called Chandler: Red Tide and people consider it a proto-graphic novel because there was a lot of text and some panels with some word balloons. Do you consider a book like that to be a graphic novel?

Richard Kyle: I’ve only read the original book and Jim was dissatisfied with that. He seems to feel much happier about this one. I’ll have to see what the new Red Tide looks like to make any judgment. I’m looking forward to it.

 

Jamie:  Okay, with the term “graphic novel,” some people feel the term diminishes comic books. Was that the intention?

Richard Kyle: No. I’ve never had anything against comic books. I read ’em.

My objection is that comic book publishers have seldom published anything for grown-ups. And when they do, they try to hide it. If adults want to read comic books mainly directed towards much younger people, fine. In fact, of course they do. And among text novels, Treasure Island is a favorite of mine, and Tom Sawyer, and there are a whole slew of children’s books are among my favorites, not just comic books.

My argument is quite simple. If you want to reach a five-year-old child, you publish five-year-old child stories. If you want to reach ten-year-old children, then you publish stories a ten-year-old would be interested in, and so on. If you want to sell to a thirty-year-old or an eighty-year-old then you publish a book that a thirty-year-old or an eighty-year-old would want to read. It seems simple. But, no.

Most comic book publishers will tell you they’re not in it for the art, they’re in it for the money. Well, if they’re in it for the money, then why don’t they test the market, so they can make more money? Why don’t they find out if they can sell something to sixteen-year-olds in addition to the fourteen-year-olds that they already have? And so on.

And if they are only interested in the money, then why don’t they go where the money is-to young adults with a lot of disposable income? There is something wrong with the comic book “industry.”

For a time, Marvel was so successful they could have easily have tested the market with a good-looking, magazine-size, graphic story magazine of at least 100 pages of new stories, in full color and priced right for an older, more affluent, audience-a good solid magazine that published in the same issue every month, on a running basis Smith’s or Buscema’s “Conan,” Archie Goodwin’s and Gene Colan’s “Dracula,” the Englehart/Starlin “Master of Kung Fu,” and Jim Steranko’s great “SHIELD,” which was always too sophisticated for little kids but a hit with adults.

They didn’t. And it’s strange, because Marvel did publish the next thing to it, the first issue of the Savage Sword of Conan, 8 ½ x 11, in full process color, and it sold out and had to be reprinted. But they never did it again. The rest of the industry did no better – except for one shining moment-when Dick Giordano gave the go ahead for The Dark Knight Returns and The Watchmen books. Heavy Metal has always been too esoteric for a general audience. Marvel’s Epic was simply lame.

And then look at the case of The Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. They came out, they were a huge success, they made an unbelievable amount of money. It may have saved DC Comics from just being folded up and written off. And what did DC do? They got in a silly argument about censorship with Frank Miller and Alan Moore, the creators of all that money-and the guys who had made a great success with a new format. So Miller and Moore quit and went to other companies, more or less permanently. It’s just dumbness, it’s incredible that these people could have been so foolish. Many years have passed, but I don’t know of anything dumber in the business.

DC couldn’t experiment intelligently. They came out with tabloid-sized comic books in a brand-new format. You remember ’em? And what did they put in them? Reprints. I recall standing in a line at a grocery store, and they had the tabloid-sized comics displayed by the cash register. There were two guys behind me. One of them said, “Hey, Tarzan!” and the other said, “Forget it. It’s just a reprint.”

And on top of that, because of the format DC was using, they couldn’t publish the complete original comic book story. So they dropped four pages or so. Instead of offering more, they offered less. What a way to promote a new format. Then they came out with Action Comics Weekly, a sure disaster from 3000 miles away. It was, I suppose, DC’s idea of testing.

 

Jamie: Any last words, Richard?

Richard Kyle: Yes. The idea of the graphic novel, and the graphic novel itself, did not originate with the professional comic book writers or the professional comic book artists or the professional comic book editors or the professional comic book publishers – it originated from the demand by comic book fans themselves for grown-up comic book stories.

And even though many years have passed, every comics fan should remember the industry’s folly, because it is waiting to happen again.

The iPad Plus is on the way.

Richard Kyle also supplied us with his theory on comics titled “The Graphic Narrative.”

Review: Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus

mary_wept_over_feet_jesus_chester_brown_drawn_quarterly_cover-580x1024

Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus by Chester Brown. Published by Drawn and Quarterly.

Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus

By Chester Brown

Published by Drawn and Quarterly

Format: Hardcover

Price: 21.95 USD, 24.95 CAD

 

This is Chester Brown’s new book that was published earlier this year. The book contains a number of biblical stories that reinterpret the stories of women in the bible and specifically the women mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy. Chester’s last book, Paying For It was about his experience being a John and using the services of prostitutes. Chester believes prostitution should be legalized and uses these biblical stories to further that goal. This might seem odd because laws and moral disapproval of prostitution comes from Abrahamic religions, but Chester backs up the reinterpretations with research. Within a lengthy notes section Chester goes into detail to which biblical scholars, their books and earlier versions of biblical scripture he used to come to his conclusions.

 

I suspect this book will be more interesting to those who are into Christianity and biblical studies. Fundamental Christians who view the Bible that absolute truth and the word of god will likely be upset, but reading the notes section (if they get that far) may awaken them to the reality that the bible as we know today is heavily edited. There are earlier scriptures that tell different versions of the stories, issues with how certain words were mistranslated among other things (google Bart D. Ehrman if you want to know more). People who have no interest in religion or prostitution may not find this book all that interesting.

 

While I did enjoy this book and do have an interest in this stuff, I suspect people who are expecting another Louis Riel or Paying For It might be disappointed in this book.  This collection of short stories doesn’t provide the satisfying feeling of Chester’s longer stories.

You can learn more about the book and read an except at the Drawn and Quarterly website.

TCAF & DWA 2016

Steven Twigg at TCAF

Steven Twigg at TCAF

So I went to TCAF a week ago. I did my usual audio recording of panels and took some pictures of creators. Normally I try and get pics of all of the creators there, but I was unable to this time due to recovering from a cold and dealing with back pain.

This year’s TCAF was a little different in that the ground floor wasn’t so crammed with creators and publishers. One of the back rooms was being renovated so they weren’t able to use it. Other areas where they would normally have tables on both sides of the isle only had tables on the 1 side. This made walking around and browsing much more pleasurable. I also noticed a lot of new faces this year as well. I think having a bunch of different creators with new (thus more popular books) is good for the overall vibe of the convention. Seeing so many new/good things to buy I think gets people spending money and enjoying the event more. I imagine it leads a more positive conversations among creators after the event if they all sold a lot of books.

They were able to more effectively use the 2nd and 3rd floors in terms of putting creators up there. I doubt they got as much foot traffic as the usual places creators were but when I was there people were there browsing and shopping so I hope they did okay. They also put most of their big mainstream creators in a new spot (the Masonic Temple) which was about a block away from the Library. I never got to visit there but I’m told it was really nice. My understanding is the place was mainly used for signings and wasn’t a place where creators sat all day selling their stuff.

One panel I attended for myself was about dealing with back pain. It was aimed at creators who are at their drawing tables (or computers) all day. I did not record it because 1. I came in late after the panel started and 2. It was a very visual panel with lots of slides showing drawing of bodies and things you can do prevent and manage back pain. Personally it was a very useful panel and I’ll be seeking out Kriota Willberg for more information.

One of the oddest things I saw while in Toronto was a homeless person sitting on the sidewalk selling back issue sets of comics. I only got to do a bit of shopping myself and I did the majority of it in the last 10 minutes of the show. I bought Mary Wept at the Feet of Jesus by Chester Brown and Bernie by Ted Rall. I’m about half way through the Bernie book now and I’m enjoying it. The book is like comic version of a Bernie Sanders speech, but with historical and economic information to back up the points he makes. So far it’s covered income inequality and the move of the US Democratic Party to the Center/Right in the 1970s and how it doesn’t represent progressive Liberal voters.

I did something else I very rarely do at panels and that is ask questions. I did this at the Chester Brown panel that quickly went from being about the book to being about sex workers and how/why the Catholic church has worked to criminalize their profession. I don’t disagree with anything that was said but I think room started getting tense as not everybody was comfortable with the criticism of the Catholic church. I tried to steer the panel back to talking about the book. That said, Chester might want to consider making a book about the history of prostitution and how/why it’s illegal. I think much of what was said at the panel would make for some interesting reading.

The Doug Wright Awards were a bit different this year. For starters Brad Mackay wasn’t there due to a family emergency. Dustin Harbin stepped in to host the awards. Usually they get some celebrity involvement in the awards but there was none of that this year, which was fine as it wasn’t needed. The awards ran a bit quicker than usual which was good as they got off to a late start.

I feel I should note that I’m not that happy with my camera. Last year I bought a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS40 that had multiple review sites saying it was the best point and shoot camera out there. Those sites are wrong. The biggest problem with the camera is the Auto Intelligent Scene picker setting. The camera examines the shot you want to take and then picks the scene mode best for that shot. Sounds great doesn’t it? Problem is, nearly half of all the scene modes say it should be used with the camera on a tripod. So when you’re taking pictures by hand you get blurry or bad pictures and you normally have no way of knowing what you’re going to get.

I took the majority of the pictures at the show at either Portrait or “Food” setting, but still wasn’t happy with the results. Some of it is because the camera takes the shot right when the flash is shooting, which leads to wicked shadows behind the people and flash light washed out faces.  I plan on buying a new camera before San Diego Comic Con and I think I’m going to sell this one on Ebay. My previous camera took much better pictures but I stopped using it because of increasing delays between pressing the shutter button and getting the shot and also inconsistent flash settings. Also, it took 4 AA batteries, which increased the cameras weight and my backpack weight due to me having spares.

The Combined Best Graphic Novels of 2015!

Excel

Over the last few months there have been many, many websites with “Best of 2015” 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 94 different “Best Of” Lists regarding comic books and graphic novels and combined them into a spreadsheet. There are 1,822 different listings of books from these websites. I should note that I 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 or more recommendations, starting with a tie for the top spot with 25 recommendations:

 

Book Title Count Writer Artist Publisher
Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection 25 Kate Beaton Kate Beaton Drawn & Quarterly
Ms. Marvel 25 G. Willow Wilson Adrian Alphona Marvel Comics
SuperMutant Magic Academy 24 Jillian Tamaki Jillian Tamaki Drawn & Quarterly
Nimona 24 Noelle Stevenson Noelle Stevenson Harper Collins
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 23 Ryan North Erica Henderson Marvel Comics
March: Book Two 21 John Robert Lewis, Andrew Aydin Nate Powell Top Shelf
Killing and Dying 21 Adrian Tomine Adrian Tomine Drawn & Quarterly
Bitch Planet 20 Kelly Sue DeConnick Valentine De Landro Image Comics
The Wicked + The Divine 20 Kieron Gillen Jamie McKelvie Image Comics
Paper Girls 20 Brian K. Vaughan Cliff Chiang Image Comics
Saga 20 Brian K. Vaughan Fiona Staples Image Comics
Southern Bastards 19 Jason Aaron Jason Latour Image Comics
Lumberjanes 16 Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson Brooke Allen Boom!
The Sculptor 15 Scott McCloud Scott McCloud First Second
Descender 15 Jeff Lemire Dustin Nguyen Image Comics
The Story of My Tits 15 Jennifer Hayden Jennifer Hayden Top Shelf
The Sandman: Overture 14 Neil Gaiman J.H. Williams III DC Comics/Vertigo
Two Brothers 14 Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá Dark Horse Comics
Archie 13 Mark Waid Fiona Staples, Annie Wu Archie Comics
Secret Wars 13 Jonathan Hickman Esad Ribic Marvel Comics
The Fade Out 12 Ed Brubaker Sean Phillips Image Comics
The Divine 12 Boaz Lavie Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka First Second
The Multiversity 12 Grant Morrison Frank Quitely, Ivan Reis and Jim Lee DC Comics/Vertigo
Black River 11 Josh Simmons Josh Simmons Fantagraphics Books
Batgirl 11 Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart Babs Tarr DC Comics/Vertigo
The Omega Men 11 Tom King Barnaby Bagenda and Toby Cypress DC Comics/Vertigo
Invisible Ink: My Mother’s Love Affair With A Famous Cartoonist 11 Bill Griffith Bill Griffith Fantagraphics Books
Wytches 11 Scott Snyder Jock Image Comics
Sacred Heart 10 Liz Suburbia Liz Suburbia Fantagraphics Books
The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984: A Graphic Memoir 10 Riad Sattouf Riad Sattouf Metropolitan Books
Airboy 10 James Robinson Greg Hinkle Image Comics
Midnighter 10 Steve Orlando ACO, Alec Morgan, Stephen Mooney DC Comics/Vertigo
Fante Bukowski 10 Noah Van Sciver Noah Van Sciver Fantagraphics Books
Jem and The Holograms 9 Kelly Thompson Sophie Campbell IDW Publishing
Harrow County 9 Cullen Bunn Tyler Crook Dark Horse Comics
Drawn & Quarterly: Twenty-five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics and Graphic Novels 9 Various Various Drawn & Quarterly
Russian Olive To Red King 8 Kathryn Immonen Stuart Immonen Adhouse Books
Giant Days 8 John Allison Lissa Treiman Boom!
Frontier 8 Various Various Youth in Decline
Hawkeye 8 Matt Fraction David Aja, Francesco Francavilla Marvel Comics
Ruins 8 Peter Kuper Peter Kuper Abrams
Nanjing: The Burning City 8 Ethan Young Ethan Young Random House
Hellboy in Hell 8 Mike Mignola Mike Mignola Dark Horse Comics
Star Wars 7 Jason Aaron John Cassaday and Stuart Immonen Marvel Comics
One-Punch Man 7 ONE Yusuke Murata Viz Media
Sexcastle 7 Kyle Starks Kyle Starks Image Comics
Lazarus 7 Greg Rucka Michael Lark Image Comics
Providence 7 Alan Moore Jacen Burrows Avatar Press
Mowgli’s Mirror 7 Olivier Schrauwen Olivier Schrauwen Retrofit Comics
The Autumnlands 7 Kurt Busiek Benjamin Dewey Image Comics
Silver Surfer 7 Dan Slott Mike Allred Marvel Comics
Monstress 7 Marjorie Liu Sana Takeda Image Comics
Terror Assaulter (O.M.W.O.T.) 7 Benjamin Marra Benjamin Marra Fantagraphics Books
Displacement: A Travelogue 7 Lucy Knisley Lucy Knisley Fantagraphics Books
COPRA 7 Michel Fiffe Michel Fiffe Self-Published
Rat Queens 6 Kurtis J. Wiebe Roc Upchurch and Stjepan Šejić Image Comics
MIND MGMT 6 Matt Kindt Matt Kindt Dark Horse Comics
Trashed 6 Derf Backderf Derf Backderf Abrams
Star Wars: Darth Vader 6 Kieron Gillen Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado Marvel Comics
Unflattening 6 Nick Sousanis Nick Sousanis Harvard University Press
The Oven 6 Sophie Goldstein Sophie Goldstein AdHouse Books
Sex Criminals 6 Matt Fraction Chip Zdarsky Image Comics
Wuvable Oaf 6 Ed Luce Ed Luce Fantagraphics Books
Roller Girl 6 Victoria Jamieson Victoria Jamieson Dial Books
Grayson 6 Tim Seeley and Tom King Mikel Janin, Stephen Mooney DC Comics/Vertigo
The Eternaut 6 Héctor Germán Oesterheld Francisco Solano López Fantagraphics Books
Borb 6 Jason Little Jason Little Uncivilized Books
Alex + Ada 5 Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn Jonathan Luna Image Comics
Sky In Stereo 5 Mardou Mardou Revival House/Alternative Comics
I Hate Fairyland 5 Skottie Young Skottie Young Image Comics
Pablo 5 Julie Birmant & Clément Oubrerie Clément Oubrerie SelfMadeHero
Exquisite Corpse 5 Penelope Bagieu Penelope Bagieu First Second
The Age of Selfishness 5 Darryl Cunningham Darryl Cunningham Abrams
Not Funny Ha-Ha 5 Leah Hayes Leah Hayes Fantagraphics Books
Private Eye: Deluxe Edition 5 Brian K. Vaughan Marcos Martin Image Comics
Generous Bosom 5 Conor Stechschulte Conor Stechschulte Breakdown Press
Bright-Eyed at Midnight 5 Leslie Stein Leslie Stein Fantagraphics Books
The Humans 5 Keenan Marshall Keller Tom Neely Image Comics
Fütchi Perf 5 Kevin Czap Kevin Czap Czap Books
Gotham Academy 5 Brenden Fletcher and Becky Cloonan Karl Kerschl DC Comics/Vertigo
Island 5 Various Various Image Comics
Lady Killer 5 Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich Joëlle Jones Dark Horse Comics
Prez 5 Mark Russell Ben Caldwell DC Comics/Vertigo
East of West 5 Jonathan Hickman Nick Dragotta Image Comics
Daredevil 5 Mark Waid Chris Samnee Marvel Comics
We Can Never Go Home 5 Matthew Rosenberg and Patrick Kindlon Josh Hood Black Mask Studios
Space Dumplins 5 Craig Thompson Craig Thompson Scholastic
Bacchus Omnibus Edition, Vol. 1 5 Eddie Campbell Eddie Campbell Top Shelf
Stray Bullets: Sunshine & Roses 5 David Lapham David Lapham Image Comics
The Last Man 5 Bastien Vivès, Michaël Sanlaville, Balak Bastien Vivès, Michaël Sanlaville, Balak First Second
Kaijumax 5 Zander Cannon Zander Cannon Oni Press
Fantasy Sports 5 Sam Bosma Sam Bosma Nobrow Press
Huck 5 Mark Millar Rafael Albuquerque Image Comics
Melody: Story Of A Nude Dancer 5 Sylvie Rancourt Sylvie Rancourt Drawn & Quarterly

Also of note, a handful of reviewers included a webcomic within it’s best books lists. There was a clear winner with Lighten Up by Ronald Wimberly getting picked by 4 websites. Every other webcomic was only picked once.

 
 

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

 

 

Regarding Publishers:

Image was the most popular with 87 different titles.

Marvel and DC tied for 2nd with 50 titles each.

Fantagraphics and Dark Horse tied for 3rd with 33 titles.

Viz Media was 4th with 20 titles.

Drawn and Quarterly was 5th with 17 titles.

45 Self-Published books made the lists too.

 

Caveats:

Where websites broke up their lists into parts, I’ve counted that as 1 list.

Where a website does more than 1 list (say best Comic Books and best Graphic Novels) I’ve counted that as two separate lists.

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

I did not use nominations for upcoming awards.

There were also a couple of “Best Books for 2016” lists that I did not include.

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. Apologies to the reviewers of those books.

Some writers included books that were technically published in 2014 and at least 1 just listed best books they read that year, but the vast majority of those lists were 2015 books. The number of non 2015 books in the spreadsheet is very tiny and insignificant to the overall list.

Most of the lists were general ‘best/favourite books’ of 2015, 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.

Here are the websites I used, including the ones with lists broken up into multiple pages.

Robert Boyd – http://www.thegreatgodpanisdead.com/2015/12/my-favorite-comics-of-2015.html
Slate – http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2015/12/adrian_tomine_kate_beaton_jillian_tamaki_best_comics_and_graphic_novels.html
Good Reads – https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-graphic-novels-comics-2015
Tech Times – http://www.techtimes.com/articles/107899/20151203/best-comics-of-2015.htm
Kirkus – https://www.kirkusreviews.com/lists/best-middle-grade-graphic-novels-of-2015/ also on http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kirkus/best-middlegrade-graphic-_b_8690024.html
A.V. Club – http://www.avclub.com/article/our-favorite-graphic-novels-one-shots-and-archives-229423
Rob Kirby Comics – http://robkirbycomics.com/Rob_Kirby_Comics/Blog/Entries/2015/12/15_Robs_Top_30_Comics_and_Comics-related_Things_of_2015_%28see_2014_list_here%29.html
Vulture – http://www.vulture.com/2015/12/10-best-comic-books-of-2015.html
Vulture – http://www.vulture.com/2015/11/10-best-graphic-novels-2015.html
Paste Magazine – http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/12/10-small-press-and-self-published-comics-you-shoul.html
Amazon.com – http://www.amazon.com/b/ref=s9_acss_bw_cg_boty15_3a1?_encoding=UTF8&node=13127711011&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-6&pf_rd_r=100NMR6DKYNC4X3J66V2&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=2325173882&pf_rd_i=13108091011
The Comic Reporter 5 For Friday – http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/fff_results_post_441_the_year_in_comics/
Forbes – http://www.forbes.com/sites/robsalkowitz/2015/12/21/ten-best-graphic-novels-of-2015/
The Beat – http://www.comicsbeat.com/the-best-comics-of-2015/
CBR – http://www.comicbookresources.com/article/cbrs-top-100-comics-of-2015-100-76
CBR – http://www.comicbookresources.com/article/cbrs-top-100-comics-of-2015-75-51
CBR – http://www.comicbookresources.com/article/cbrs-top-100-comics-of-2015-50-26
CBR – http://www.comicbookresources.com/article/cbrs-top-100-comics-of-2015-25-11
CBR – http://www.comicbookresources.com/article/cbrs-top-100-comics-of-2015-10-1
Bleeding Cool – http://www.bleedingcool.com/2015/12/30/bleeding-cools-11-best-graphic-novels-of-2015/
Mental Floss – http://mentalfloss.com/article/72457/25-best-comics-and-graphic-novels-2015
i09 – http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-20-best-comics-and-graphic-novels-of-2015-1748709046
Comicosity – http://www.comicosity.com/best-of-2015-graphic-novel/
Comicosity – http://www.comicosity.com/best-of-2015-indie-comics/
Entropy Mag – http://entropymag.org/best-of-2015-comics-graphic-novels/
Barnes & Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/the-best-new-manga-series-of-2015/
Comics and Cola – http://www.comicsandcola.com/2015/12/2015-in-comics-reading-guide.html
Comics Alternative – http://comicsalternative.com/episode-168-our-favorite-comics-of-2015/
CBC – http://www.cbc.ca/books/bestbooks2015/
Savage Critic – http://www.savagecritic.com/uncategorized/abhay-2015-another-year-that-i-mindlessly-consumed-entertainment-almost/
Comics for Grownups – http://comicsforgrownups.tumblr.com/post/136118333648/episode-54-best-of-2015
Journeys in Darkness and Light – https://journeysindarknessandlight.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/best-comics-of-2015-my-top-10/
Publishers Weekly – http://best-books.publishersweekly.com/pw/best-books/2015/comics
Nerdist – http://nerdist.com/the-10-best-comics-of-2015/
Polygon – http://www.polygon.com/comics/2015/12/23/10636552/best-comics-2015
Vox – http://www.vox.com/2015/12/11/9890256/12-best-comic-books-2015
CBR – http://www.comicbookresources.com/article/in-your-face-jam-top-10-series-of-2015
Bleeding Cool – http://www.bleedingcool.com/2015/12/31/bleeding-cools-11-best-comics-of-2015/
ComicBook.com – http://comicbook.com/2015/12/15/the-best-comics-of-2015-part-one/
ComicBook.com – http://comicbook.com/2015/12/15/the-best-comics-of-2015-part-two-/
Paul Gravett – http://www.paulgravett.com/articles/article/my_top_ten_comics_of_2015
The Factual Opinion – http://www.factualopinion.com/the_factual_opinion/2015/12/the-best-comics-of-2015-sure-why-not.html
popOptiq – http://www.popoptiq.com/best-comics-of-2015-part-one/
popOptiq – http://www.popoptiq.com/best-comics-of-2015-part-two/
Paste Magazine – http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/12/the-best-comic-books-of-2015.html?a=1
Guide Live – http://www.guidelive.com/comic-books/2015/12/30/top-10-comics-2015-year-newcomers-indies-took-reins
Mutha Magazine – http://muthamagazine.com/2015/12/ask-a-mutha-whats-the-good-stuff-a-readingwatching-picks-list-for-2015/
Just Indie Comics – http://justindiecomics.com/2016/01/09/best-comics-of-2015-part-one/
Just Indy Comics – http://justindiecomics.com/2016/01/12/best-comics-of-2015-part-two/
Vice – http://www.vice.com/read/vices-top-ten-comics-of-2015
CBR – Comics Can Be Good – http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2016/01/12/my-top-ten-comics-of-2015/
ABS-CBN – http://news.abs-cbn.com/lifestyle/12/30/15/the-top-comic-books-of-2015
Anime News Network – http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/feature/2015-12-11/the-best-and-most-memorable-manga-of-2015/.96203
App.com – http://www.app.com/story/entertainment/books/2015/12/25/exciting-new-comics/77875946/
A.V. Club – http://www.avclub.com/article/our-favorite-ongoing-and-serial-comics-2015-229119
Comic Bastards – http://comicbastards.com/comics/best-of-2015-best-comic-of-the-year/
American Library Association – http://www.ala.org/news/member-news/2016/01/yalsa-names-2016-great-graphic-novels-teens
CBR Comics Should Be Good – http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2016/01/16/dont-worry-about-those-other-best-comics-of-the-year-lists-because-this-is-the-one-youve-been-waiting-for/
Comics Anonymous – https://comicsanonymous2015.wordpress.com/tag/best-of-2015/
Your Chicken Enemy – http://danielrelkin.blogspot.ca/2015/12/top-10-comics-i-reviewed-of-2015.html
Entertainment Weekly – http://www.ew.com/article/2015/12/22/best-comics-2015
GQ – http://www.gq.com/story/the-10-best-graphic-novels-of-2015
The Hollywood Reporter – http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/top-10-comics-2015-851021
ICV2.com – http://icv2.com/articles/columns/view/33360/2015-comics-favorites-delights-guilty-pleasures
The Independent – http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/the-best-graphic-novels-of-2015-a6750376.html
Longbox Coffin – http://arecomicsevengood.tumblr.com/post/136186593959/top-comics-of-2015
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/columns/2015-best-new-series/
Existential Ennui – http://www.existentialennui.com/2015/12/the-ten-best-graphic-novels-and-comics.html
NPR – http://apps.npr.org/best-books-2015/#/tag/comics-and-graphic-novels
Panel Platter – http://www.panelpatter.com/2016/01/james-2015-favorites.html
Panel Platter – http://www.panelpatter.com/2016/01/scotts-year-of-comics-or-his-favorite.html
Panel Platter – http://www.panelpatter.com/2016/01/guy-thomass-top-ten-favorite-comics-of.html
Publishers Weekly – http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/comics/article/69024-the-sculptor-tops-pw-s-10th-annual-graphic-novel-critics-poll.html
Sequential – http://www.sequential.cc/2015/12/top-ten-graphic-novels-of-2015.html
sktchd – http://sktchd.com/column/creators-share-their-favorite-comics-of-2015/
sktchd – http://sktchd.com/column/the-sktchies-favorite-comics-of-2015/
School Library Journal – http://www.slj.com/2015/11/feature-articles/top-10-graphic-novels-2015/
School Library Journal – http://blogs.slj.com/goodcomicsforkids/2015/12/15/the-good-comics-for-kids-2015-gift-guide/
Forward.com – http://forward.com/culture/books/328162/from-ira-glass-to-ultra-orthodox-ya-heroines-the-best-jewish-graphic-novels/?attribution=home-hero-item-img-4
Smoo Comics – http://www.smoo-comics.com/2015/12/five-great-comics-i-read-this-year/
The Gaurdian – http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/dec/07/best-graphic-books-2015-adrian-tomine-rachael-ball-jillian-tamaki-andy-hixon?CMP=twt_gu
The Village Voice – http://www.villagevoice.com/arts/the-outstanding-comics-of-2015-bring-it-all-back-home-7957185
Washington Post – https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/best-graphic-novels-of-2015/2015/11/18/89086376-7902-11e5-b9c1-f03c48c96ac2_story.html
Creative Bloq – http://www.creativebloq.com/comics/best-graphic-novels-2015-121518520
Comic Alliance – http://comicsalliance.com/comics-alliance-best-of-2015-winners/
The Kansas City Star – http://www.kansascity.com/entertainment/books/article49301710.html
The Alligators Mouth – http://www.thealligatorsmouth.co.uk/#!Books-of-the-Year-2015-Comics-Graphic-Novels/co3i/56571c7f0cf22d6285177161
Library Journal – http://reviews.libraryjournal.com/2015/11/best-of/best-books-2015-graphic-novels/
Panels – http://panels.net/bestof2015/
Richland Library – http://www.richlandlibrary.com/recommend/best-comics-2015-biased-selection
Under the Radar – http://www.undertheradarmag.com/lists/under_the_radars_top_25_comic_books_and_graphic_novels_of_2015/
Clear Eyes Full Shelves – http://cleareyesfullshelves.com/blog/2015-list-of-awesome-comics-graphic-novels
News OK – http://newsok.com/article/5469978
ConTV – http://blog.contv.com/best-new-comic-series-and-graphic-novels-of-2015/
Harris County Public Library – http://www.hcpl.net/content/2015-staff-favorites-graphic-novels-part-one
Harris County Public Library – http://www.hcpl.net/content/2015-staff-favorites-graphic-novels-part-two
The Globe & Mail – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/the-globe-100-the-best-books-of-2015/article27607992/#collection/comicsfive/
The Mary Sue – http://www.themarysue.com/the-best-of-pull-wisely-2015/
Heroic Girls – http://www.heroicgirls.com/the-best-all-ages-comics-for-girls-in-2015/
Vertigology – http://vertigology.net/2015/12/23/the-top-30-comics-of-2015/
Outlandish Lit – http://outlandishlit.blogspot.ca/2016/01/best-comics-of-2015.html
Book Minx Reads – https://bookminxreads.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/top-ten-week-best-comicsgraphic-novels-read-in-2015/

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