We don’t feature a lot of single issues of comic books in this column, mostly sticking to the more meaty reads of graphic novels and manga. But when the extraordinary Matt Kindt puts out a comic book, you’d do well to check it out. Who is Matt Kindt? Read on to discover one of our modern master storytellers. If you’d rather learn more about past master storytellers, there’s an informative and funny history of comic books in comic book form you can get. And if you’d rather step out of reality, there’s a new release where you can explore your dreams… at a price.
Wednesday is New Comics Day! Each week, The Comics Observer picks three brand new releases out today worth checking out that should be suitable for someone who has never read comic books, graphic novels or manga before.
If you like what you see here, click the links to see previews and learn more about them. Then head to your local comic book store, or check out online retailers like Things From Another World and Amazon. Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook.
Matt Kindt, the most original voice in genre comics, outdoes himself in this bold new espionage series!
Reporting on a commercial flight where everyone aboard lost their memories, a young journalist stumbles onto a much bigger story, the top-secret Mind Management program. Her ensuing journey involves weaponized psychics, hypnotic advertising, talking dolphins, and seemingly immortal pursuers, as she attempts to find the flight’s missing passenger, the man who was Mind MGMT’s greatest success – and its most devastating failure. But in a world where people can rewrite reality itself, can she trust anything she sees?
* From the creator of 3 Story and Super Spy!
* Akira meets Heart of Darkness by way of 100 Bullets!
For the first time ever, the inspiring, infuriating, and utterly insane story of comics, graphic novels, and manga is presented in comic book form!
The award-winning Action Philosophers team of Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey turn their irreverent-but-accurate eye to the stories of Jack Kirby, R. Crumb, Harvey Kurtzman, Alan Moore, Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Fredric Wertham, Roy Lichtenstein, Art Spiegelman, Hergé, Osamu Tezuka — and more!
“Done with wit, energy, a healthy dose of insolence and a dedication to getting it right.” — NPR.
Collects Comic Book Comics #1-6.
A young boy named Colby Reynolds searches for meaning in the world around him and discovers a place where dreams can come true, if he’s willing to pay the price.
Along the way he’ll see sights he’s never fathomed and encounter hidden truths about himself that he’ll wish he never knew. The hit online comic is now a beautiful high-quality hardcover graphic novel, perfect for teen readers and manga fans, with a durable library-quality binding.
Discover the story Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics, Zot!) calls an ‘enchantingly drawn meditation on imagination and yearning.’
A new Facebook page is tracking a recent trend in the creation of comic books and graphic novels. ComicKick describes itself as “a community dedicated to promoting comic book and graphic novel projects on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo!”
Both of those sites help creators turn to their potential audiences for help in financing their creations. In exchange for the help, the creators offer their supporters signed copies, original art, and other unique incentives. It’s a model that traditional outlets never thought would work, and while it’s not a fool-proof method of getting published, there have been some startling success stories.
Rick Burlew wanted to raise about $15,000 to re-release a print collection of his popular webcomic The Order of the Stick. “Popular” is putting it lightly. Not only did fans contribute $250,000 within a week, the project raised over $1 million from almost 15,000 backers! The money was enough for Burlew to reprint the webcomic’s entire 7-book library. As of now, it is the second most successful Kickstarter project, eclipsed only by the over $3 million raised for the video game Double Fine Adventure. Burlew’s incentives included a new prequel story delivered as a PDF to everyone who pledged $10 or more, a walk-on cameo in a future strip for one person that donated $5,000, exclusive magnets, original crayon drawings, and even a coloring book. During the fundraising period, he amped up his production to release a new installment of The Order of the Stick every day to help generate extra excitement and energy around the event.
Renae De Liz‘s all-female comics anthology Womanthology also had similar success, as reported last year. Their Kickstarter page met their goal of $25,000 within just 18 hours, and finished with over $100,000. The buzz around the project garnered the attention of IDW Publishing, which helped distribute the anthology and has agreed to publish a 5-issue mini-series for a second graphic novel.
Not everyone is making such huge bank. Using Kickstarter or IndieGoGo (or another crowd-sourcing platform) takes a serious commitment to promotion, and of course a pre-existing audience helps. But more and more comics projects are matching their goal, like LA cartoonist Keith Knight (The K Chronicles, The Knight Life), who brought in over $40,000 to produce his original graphic novel I Was A Teenage Michael Jackson Impersonator.
According to the Kickstarter Blog, the Comics category in 2011 raised over $1.7 million from over 27,000 backers of 267 successful projects. It’s important to note that with Kickstarter, only projects that match their goal receive funds pledged. Considering that The Order of the Stick nearly eclipsed that total dollar figure by itself earlier this year, the 2012 figures should see a remarkable increase.
With these success stories, others are turning to this method to try to publish their own comics and graphic novels, or books and films about comics. To keep them all straight, enter ComicKick on Facebook. Only about a week old, these fans are posting about a variety of new projects by creators trying to bring their dreams to reality.
Aimed at grades 3-6, The Graphic Textbook features a dozen short stories (both fiction and non-fiction) that address topics in a variety of disciplines (Social Studies, Math, Language Arts, Science) drawn from the list of Common Core Standards used in classrooms countrywide. The accompanying Teacher’s Guide will include Standards-correlated lesson plans customized to each story, research-based justifications for using comics in the classroom, a guide to establishing best classroom practices and a comprehensive listing of additional educational resources.
The Graphic Textbook will prove once and for all that comics belong in the classroom by creating a comic that every teacher will actually want to use and a textbook that every student will actually want to read!
It includes chapters from professional creators of comic books and graphic novels, such as Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey, who produced the educational series Action Philosophers, plus Roger Langridge (The Muppet Show Comic Book, Snarked!, Popeye), Chris Schweizer (Crogan’s Vengeance), Katie Cook (Fraggle Rock, Gronk: A Monster’s Story) and more. The cover to the right is by Ben Caldwell.
The comics projects on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are often unique and different from what is being produced by the bigger comics publishers, so it’s worth it to “Like” ComicKick on Facebook to find out about what could be a future hit.
As a preview to their upcoming Comic Book Comics #5 by Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey, Evil Twin Comics has posted a 6-page excerpt titled “The Grabbers”. It does an excellent job encapsulating and presenting copyright law and how it has effected the history of comic books. The piece focuses on Superman, so this is a great prequel to that BBC Superman documentary where we see Superman’s creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster a few years after the events depicted at the end of this comic.
The comic also covers the legal shenanigans involving Bob Kane (Batman co-creator), Bill Finger (Batman, Robin and Joker co-creator), Jerry Robinson (Robin and Joker co-creator), Joe Simon (Captain America co-creator), and Jack Kirby (co-creator of Captain America and half of the rest of the Marvel Comics superhero universe).
What’s amazing (and kind of sad) is that a lot of these legal battles are still being fought.
I say it a lot because it’s true. Comics can be anything. Public perception of comic books has significantly improved just in the last 10 years, but for the Average Joe & Jane, comics are still just superheroes and/or funny animals – kids stuff.
Well sure, they can be that. But superheroes and funny animals are two genres, like romantic comedy and political thriller are to books and movies. Comic books as a form can be about anything. And there are hundreds of examples out there to support this argument. (Comics can be romantic comedies and political thrillers, too.)
Here’s the latest example that has me excited: A comic book cookbook! Or a graphic novel cookbook. Or as the artist calls it, a cartoon cookbook. That last one has the best ring to it but isn’t entirely accurate. (I’m sure I’ll get around to my post about comic books vs. cartoons vs caricatures vs illustrated books at some point).
However you describe it, it may be the first of it’s kind. (There is a popular manga genre about food but I don’t think any of those are actual manga cookbooks. Let me know in the comments section, if I’m wrong.)
The Dirt Candy Cookbook (working title) written by chef and New York City-based Dirt Candy restaurant owner Amanda Cohen and drawn by Ryan Dunlavey is scheduled for a Summer 2012 release from Random House/Clarkson Potter.
Dunlavey has a knack for these kinds of projects where he injects a fun appealing energy to information, so I’m thrilled to see him get this kind of gig. He’s probably best known for Action Philosophers with writer Fred Van Lente, where the two ripped through the lives and schools of thought of some of the world’s most brilliant minds. The two also teamed up for a similarly frenetic yet informed look at the history of comic books with Comic Book Comics. What? Comics can be used to teach us about history and philosophy?
Why, it’s as if comics can be anything!