TIME Magazine Adds Comics Section, No One Notices

You’d think that when a magazine with a weekly circulation of over four million copies (that’s about 240 times the monthly numbers of, say, an issue of Batman, for example) adds a comics section there’d be some talk about it in the usual comics circles…. but I sure haven’t noticed any.  This actually isn’t that surprising since most of us comics folk often exhibit a peculiar myopia when it comes to comics that aren’t of the variety you can purchase at your local Android’s Dungeon.  Case in point: when Parade magazine ditched all of their then-current comics features and replaced them, there was nary a peep from most of the comics press–despite the fact that the gag panels in Parade are probably the most widely read comics in the U.S.

Anyway… about a month ago, TIME magazine gave itself a bit of a design revamp and among the few substantive changes to content was the addition of a comics page, called “The Drawing Room.”  In deference to the comics press, you’ll realize once you have a look at the comics page in question that perhaps one of the reasons that there’s not been more of a hubbub about it is that it’s not really very good.  Here’s a scan of this week’s page (strips copyright their respective creators, I guess… or maybe copyright TIME):


As you can see, they seem to be going for topical, news-related stuff… which makes sense.  The choice of the gag panel format, though, is predictable and uninspired, and the other ancillary bits (usually little charts or graphs) aren’t really pulling a whole lot of weight themselves.  Also, none of it’s very funny.   Actually, this third installment of the feature is substantially funnier than the previous two, but still not exactly side-splitting.

The problem here is that you can’t really out-New Yorker the New Yorker–not even the modern version.  Obviously, a magazine with the editorial bent of TIME isn’t going to pick up something like Get Your War On for its new comics page, but with the wealth of great cartoonists out there either explicitly doing “comics reportage” or something close to it, the current TIME comics page seems to really stand out as a lost opportunity to do something really interesting.  Imagine what a magazine like TIME could do with, say, a serialized story by Joe Sacco–or even Peter Bagge.    This is only the third week of the feature, though, so perhaps things will change.  As noted, this week’s batch are better than the previous two, so at least one can perhaps expect continued improvement of this sort, but something as bold as running some Sacco-esque work is probably not in the cards I’m guessing.


Drawing Words & Writing Pictures: Week 5 Exercise 1

So here’s week five’s in-class exercise.  The idea is to select a panel from the “Jack and Jill” story and re-thumbnail it three different ways–in this case, I’ve used the penultimate panel from the second page.  I don’t think I got as adventurous here as the directions really suggested, and I probably should have experimented with more formal elements instead of just changing up the reader’s viewpoint as I did.

I think the assignment this week is to fully develop one of these into a pencilled panel and I’m thinking that I’ll settle on some combination of the first and second panel below.  The first is pretty much what’s in the original thumbnailed page; the second is drawn as if we’re seeing it from above–which I like–but, I haven’t done a very good job rendering the perspective; and the third has a lot of graphic design appeal, but it’s pretty much the same panel arrangement as the first couple of panels from the second row of the same page.



Glactus Pinup

I received some good-natured ribbing from friend Isaac Cates about my half-assed thumbnail drawing of Galactus from my last Drawing Words & Writing Pictures post and so I figured in an attempt to redeem myself (and to start building up some artwork to sell on the convention circuit next year) I’d do a decent drawing of Galactus.  And, of course, it’s always fun to draw any Kirby-designed characters… although, I probably should have drawn this a little bigger so I could have done a better job with the Silver Surfer.



My “Stay TOONed” Interview


As mentioned a few posts back, an interview with me is appearing in the newest issue of Stay TOONed magazine.  The issue (issue #2) is now available and can be ordered from the Stay TOONed site.  The interview was conducted by comics writer, professor and friend Craig Fischer and as we’re wont to do in person, we tended to yammer on and on about all things comics… and as a result a number of odds and ends of the interview didn’t wind up making the printed version.  Craig, though, has posted those few excised bits over at ThoughtBalloonists.com, so if you’re interested, please wander over there for the full scoop–and of course, be sure to pick up the magazine, it’s chock full of cartoony goodness.


SPX Sketch

Vy’s got a sketch I did at this year’s SPX posted over on her Flickr account along with a ton of other great sketches and photos from the show.  The theme of the sketchbook was “dreams” and most folks were doing visual interpretations of their dreams.  I, though, rarely remember any of my dreams and so I had to take another route.

Fortunately, one of my favorite songs to play on the Ukulele is “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” which has been recorded by a ton of folks since its original heyday in the mid-twenties.  As my wife can attest (and my daughter would as well, were she able to speak yet) I have a terrible singing voice, but I certainly don’t let that stop me from singing to the dog, the cat, my daughter, myself, etc.  “I’ll See You in My Dreams” has the (dis)honor of also being one of my worst numbers, as it’s just slightly out of my range at a number of key points in the song.

At any rate, instead of drawing one of my dreams, I drew myself here playing and singing “I’ll See You in My Dreams” with predictable results from both the moon and a nearby cat:

Here’s a great version of the same song, by someone who actually can sing:


Drawing Words & Writing Pictures: Week 4 Homework

Yikes!  I’ve been busy, busy and then out of town for first SPX, then a vacation, and I’ve fallen way behind on my Drawing Words and Writing Pictures project.  I’m going to try to catch up this week, though.  So here goes…

Week four’s homework was to thumbnail a two-page version of “Jack and Jill” using all seven of the panel-to-panel transition types listed in the book–the six Scott McCloud transitions, plus their new “symbolic” transition type.

Mainly in order to facilitate the “scene-to-scene” transition type, I’ve added a parallel story going on here that I’ve pretty much stolen whole hog from Toy Story: the waves of water at the bottom of the well believe that the people who come to the well to get water are gods, and the waves hope that they will be “rewarded” by being selected and hauled up to the surface in a bucket.  It worked nicely as well since I was able to parallel the boastful wave who ultimately isn’t rewarded with the boastful Jack who ultimately fails to fetch the pail of water.  I also played a bit on the anachronistic term “crown” in the original rhyme by using a visual of a literal broken crown to represent Jack’s failure and to take care of the symbolic transition that the assignment calls for.

Now that I look at these, I think I should have reversed tiers two and three on page two, so that Jack falls first, then we see what’s going on from the wave’s view.  Even though each tier shows action that’s occuring pretty much simultaneously, it seems to make more sense from a cause and effect consideration to have them flipped.

Anyway, it’s a pretty silly story, but hopefully I’ve successfully gotten one each of the required transtition types.  Here’s where they are:

  • A) subject to subject
  • B) aspect to aspect
  • C) scene to scene
  • D) action to action
  • E) non-sequitur
  • F) moment to moment
  • G) Symbolic



Midnight Sun 20% off, w/ Free Shipping in October

Yeah, that’s right: if you want to get a copy of Midnight Sun for only 11.95, instead of the cover price of $14.95, just go to the SLG web store and enter the promo code msunpromo, you’ll get:

  • 20% off cover price
  • Free shipping
  • A free copy of the anthology Strange Eggs #1

“Graphic novels” are all the rage these days!  Don’t you read the NY Times book review section?!  They make great Christmas gifts.  Order one now!


Con Report: SPX 2008


Much as with Heroes Con earlier this summer, I’ve once again proved to be too lazy and disorganized to do a nightly roundup post during the show… but, frankly, there were plenty of press folks floating around the place who will most certainly do a better job covering the show than I could–especially since I spent my time behind a table, not taking in all the other good stuff going on.  Just for starters I noted Heidi MacDonald, Johanna Draper Carlson, and Whitney Matheson making the rounds–as well as a number of folks from Newsarama, at least one from The Pulse, someone who appeared to be Mr. Phil from Indie Spinner Rack but who didn’t turn around when I screamed “Hey, Mister Phil!!!” and a person (oddly enough) from The Wall Street Journal.

So there’ll be no lack of coverage from this year’s event from the usual sources, online and otherwise.

What I can probably provide some insight on, though, are what the general vibe among exhibitors was, and since I keep track of what I sell at shows, I’ll maybe do a comparison with this year’s Heroes Con.

First, the general vibe and goings on:

This was the first year for the Saturday/Sunday (as opposed to Friday/Saturday, and even Friday/Saturday/Sunday of previous years) and I think there were some kinks getting worked through as a result, as exhibitors and the event organizers got a feel for this new schedule.  A couple of my friends that had come down from New England and had arrived pre-dinner Friday night went to the Friday evening reception and said it wasn’t very well attended, speculating that there maybe weren’t really that many folks in town yet.  That theory seemed to be confirmed as I noted that as I unloaded my luggage later in the evening–around ten or so–people were beginning to come into the lobby in a pretty steady stream with their luggage, probably just arriving either from evening flights or off the road.

We checked out the hotel bar and found a strange mingling of a few SPX stragglers and some sort of wedding party there hanging out.  We wound up joining some friends from the Triangle area of North Carolina out on the back porch for drinks, but no sooner were we settled in with a few cold beers, than the manager of the bar told us we’d have to leave.  Somehow he’d figured out that some of the beers we were drinking hadn’t actually been purchased at the bar.  How could he have known?  Hmmm… Maybe it’s because the Hellcar guys we were hanging out with were drinking beer out of AN ENORMOUS IGLOO COOLER that they had just set beside their table IN PLAIN VIEW.  At any rate, we eventually left, feeling like elementary school kids caught wandering without a hall pass, and found a peaceful haven “below-decks” on some comfy couches downstairs in the conference area of the hotel where we found some peace and could engage in gentlemanly discussion of timely topics of interest, such as whether Underdog really got his powers from popping some sort of a pill.  (Apparently, yes.  Now that you can just look that kind of crap up on your %&$#@in’ iPhone it doesn’t stay unsettled for long.)

Pretty much everyone I talked to agreed that the first day of the show, Saturday, was an amazing zoo.  One person aptly described it as the “old” Friday and Saturday rolled into one.  I was genuinely surprised by my sales that day, especially considering the newest thing I had available was Midnight Sun, which has been out for about nine months now and is available through bookstores like Barnes and Noble.  On the other hand, I suppose this is the first SPX I’ve had it at.  I’ll get into more hard numbers in a minute, but I think I sold somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty of them on Saturday, along with maybe ten copies of my older SLG book, Farwell, Georgia.

Post-show on Saturday was, of course, the Ignatz awards.  I skipped them in favor of a few minutes of peace in my hotel room and a grilled shrimp Caesar salad that, once ordered via room service and including tip, cost something like $300.00.  I returned in time for the post-show booze-fest, which was, as usual, a lot of fun.  Again, pretty much everyone I talked to had nothing but great stuff to say sales-wise about Saturday.  The cheery mood led to much merriment of course.  In some strange manifestation of “six degrees of separation,” I wound up sitting at a table with a bunch of comics bigwigs far, far out of my league–including novelist and professor Tom DeHaven and his wife,  and Fantagraphics/Comics Journal founder Gary Groth.  I mostly talked to that guy that always comes to SPX in drag… who was curiously also sitting at this same table with us.

Sunday got rolling a little bit later–at noon, rather than eleven–than Saturday and, although it seemed like a pretty good crowd for a Sunday, my sales and the sales of those around me definitely seemed substantially slower than the day before.  I noted a number of folks starting to pack up and go as early as 4:00 or so, even though the show didn’t close until 6:00.  It’s worth noting, though, that this isn’t necessarily any indication of slow sales, but rather is likely just that many folks were heading home on Sunday and probably looking to get an earlier start.

…Which brings up: It definitely felt weird to just close down at the end of the day and go home.  In years past, even with Saturday as the last day of the show, everyone stuck around Saturday night to hang out, go to the Ignatz Awards and socialize.  The unpleasant prospect of hitting the road didn’t rear its ugly head until the following day.

All in all, though, a great show, especially considering the current economic woes.

Now, sales…

First, a disclaimer: I don’t attend events like SPX to generate money; I go to generally stay in the loop with what’s going on in the art form, to get my books out there for folks who buy stuff mainly in person at events like these, to catch up with friends I see only at conventions, to make new friends and most of all just to have fun.

That said, going to one of these things as an exhibitor entails a substantial financial outlay, and I remember the first time I considered getting a table at SPX there seemed to be a curious lack of information online with any hard numbers indicating what folks were selling.  Occasionally a big publisher will declare that they sold out of this book or that book and will give a number of copies that they brought, but few if any regular folks seem to put out there what they brought in.  I certainly hope I’m not breaking some unwritten rule of comicsdom by publishing such things, but certainly in the past I’ve posted numbers from various shows mainly for comparison’s sake, and I’ll do so again here with the hope that it’ll provide some useful info for other relatively small-time comics creators trying to decide which shows to attend, if any.

Comparing conventions to one another is definitely difficult to do, owing to differences in various things, but this year’s SPX and Heroes cons are a reasonable point of comparison for me since I had essentially the exact same stuff for sale at both–the only real difference being that, since I’m not making minis any more, I had even fewer minis available at SPX than at Heroes.  For these comparisons I’ve modified a bit what I’m listing as my take for original art at Heroes, since part of my original number included a commission that I didn’t actually do at the convention as well as an original art purchase that had been arranged in advance and only ocurred at Heroes con because both I and the purchaser were going to be there.  So here’s the breakdown:

SPX 2008




Interestingly, as far as cash-in-hand goes, I wound up with almost exactly the same amount of money walking out the door at both shows.  It says a lot about how brisk SPX was, though, that it’s a two day show and Heroes is a three day show.  On the other hand, the hotel at SPX costs about 160% of the hotel at Heroes.  A huge factor for me personally, though, is that I’m usually a guest at Heroes, but have to pay for a table at SPX–and of course Heroes is just down the road from me, whereas I have a long drive and one extra day in a hotel for SPX.

My brain really starts to hurt when I try to figure out how I did at this convention or that, especially when I begin to factor in things that are and aren’t tax deductible, etc.  I find this stuff more interesting mainly just as an indicator of the general health of the market for the sorts of comics that I’m most interested in making and reading.

Speaking of reading books…

The Books

I’m notoriously bad at calling the “buzz books” at shows like these, but I didn’t really note any single book that seemed to be in everyone’s hand.  I’d maybe put Chris Schweizer‘s Crogan’s Vengeance (Oni) in the running as it seemed to be getting a lot of well-deserved attention.  I saw a number of folks as well with some great-looking new releases from Fantagraphics including John Kerschbaum’s Peety & Pussy and the collected Fuzz & Pluck hardcover from Ted Stearn.

I was a bit surprised that Adhouse didn’t have a big onslaught of stuff debuting at the show, but I did get to see preview copies of not one, but two, really beautiful Scott Morse books that are apparently forthcoming from them.  One is, I think, entirely new stuff; the other is a couple of previously published anthology pieces.

Apparently repeating an event from last year, John McNamee started a narrative corpse-style jam comic that was drawn on a spool of cash register paper.  You can find the strip itself, as well as a list of participants, here.

I haven’t had time to even unpack yet, much less go through my purchases from the show, but one item I’ll feature here is this onesie that was given to me by Paul Friedrich of Onion Head Monster fame.  I’ve made a deliberate effort not to plaster my blog with pictures of my daughter, but in this case since it’s apropos to comics, I can’t resist:


(Caption on shirt: “Onion Head Monster takes a great big pea.”)


Orignal Comics Art on Display in Winston Friday

The “5” Royales strip that I built a “frame” for in a recent post will be on display starting Friday at the 5ive and 40rty gallery here in Winston as part of the exhibit Seeing Winston-Salem: Contemporary Artists’ View of the City. Unfortunately, I’ll not be at the opening, since I’ll be en route to SPX, but here’s the skinny:

5IVE & 40RTY brings together works by more than a dozen contemporary artists living in or near the city in Seeing Winston-Salem: Contemporary Artists’ View of the City. The exhibition opens Friday, October 3 and will remain on view through November 29, 2008. A reception will be held Friday, October 3 from 5:40 until 8:40pm.

The show is presented in collaboration with Reynolda House, Museum of American Art’s Seeing the City: Sloan’s New York Seeing Winston-Salem: Contemporary Artists View the City consists of works that depict or otherwise reference Winston-Salem, individuals who live and work here, and/or other aspects of the city’s life. Artists represented include Shawn Beard, Scott Betz, John Blackburn, Carlos Gustavo, Hieronymus, Laura Lashley, Trena McNabb, Leo Morrissey, Phil Morrison and Angus MacLachlan, Elsie Dinsmore Popkin, Juie Rattley, Liz Simmons, Peter Spivak, Ben Towle, Holly Wilbur,  and Mary Ann Zotto. The show includes naturalistic cityscape renderings, boldly graphic image-and-text paintings, street photography, miniature architectural sketches, a mural-scale collage-based work, comic-strip imagery, and digital video. The exhibition is being curated by writer and independent curator, Tom Patterson.

This exhibition doesn’t attempt to illustrate or editorialize on the myriad issues that characterize contemporary life in Winston-Salem, but it does touch on at least a few of those issues. More importantly, it represents the singular, “on-the-ground” views of a few of the artists who live here and contribute to the city’s reputation as a “city of the arts.”


Certainly the Germans Have a Word for this

Everyone knows the famous Andy Warhol concept of “fifteen minutes of fame,” but surely there needs to be some sort of phrase applicable when you’re mentioned in a list of people or entities that are so utterly out of your league that your only reaction can be: “Well, that makes no kind of sense at all, but I almost feel famous by accident!”

In my case, that list would come from MAD artist extraorinaire Tom Richmond’s blog, where he’s hyping the new issue of Stay Tooned magazine and notes that it will feature, “Interviews with Jules Feiffer, Berke Brethed and Ben Towle.”

In other recent news, I recenty purchased a bottle of 1998 Dom Pérignon Rosé, a 1945 Mouton Rothschild and some Night Train.

Older posts «

» Newer posts