Pay Attention! Comics News Round-Up 05/10/10

Here's Some Hints Kate Dacey of The Manga Critic is a great reviewer and pretty prolific. So when she drops some hints based on her experiences reviewing, that's something that's worth listening to. She structures her post as the seven deadly sins of reviewing, and offers quick fixes for each of them. Reviewing is pretty simple, but there are several easy pitfalls that reviewers can fall into when discussing books. While I'm usually wary of hard and fast rules for writing, someone going "Hey, this is where I messed up, you might want to watch out" is pretty good. Her point about not writing a book report is fantastic. Due to the nature of a lot of comic books, reviews tend to focus on what happened in the book, rather than the craft involved in it. It is all well and good that Cyclops shot a dude in the face and all, but what about, y'know, how good the book is? Did it succeed at its goal? Was the art any good? How was the color? All of that stuff matters.

Time Is Money Hey, you know what's fun? Making a living as a freelance anything. It's sort of like doing a high-wire trapeze act, only there's no net and no guarantee that there is even a rope six inches in front of you. And tax time? Whooo, it is the most wonderful time of the year. These ten tips for freelance writers and artists is must-reading, and good advice for anyone, really. I would've killed to have this advice when I got started, but it is what it is. Creating comics seems to be a largely solitary exercise. While you have editors and co-creators, in the end, it all comes down to you, a blank screen, and a looming deadline. Being able to cook for yourself, budgeting personal time, and having a regular schedule have been invaluable in terms of both improving the quality of my writing and my overall mental state. The stereotype of the depressed artist is a tried and true one and all, but there's something to be said for an artist who goes for long walks in the sun and enjoys life. If you're thinking of making books, or becoming a writer or artist or ______, read this list.

Juan Bobillo Draws She-Hulk

Bring Back Juan Bobillo Michael Fiffe interviews Juan Bobillo at The Beat and the result is awesome. Bobillo is pretty self-deprecating, but has a good sense of humor about himself. You probably know his work from She-Hulk with Dan Slott, but he has a had a long career outside of the Big Two, too. It's kind of interesting to see how he thought that American fans didn't appreciate his approach. Personally, I thought it was a breath of fresh air. It's easy to used to the swing and language of cape comics and the way the stories are presented. Having someone come in and shake it up some, whether through a cartoonier approach than before, intricately designed layouts, or just not treating the characters with an obscene amount of reverence and respect can have a great result. Chris Bachalo is a good example, and so are Frank Quitely and Humberto Ramos. They bring something to the book and characters that either weren't there before or were downplayed, and the vagaries of their style feels like a look into an entirely different world. I guess what I'm saying I want more comics by Juan Bobillo.

Critiques The general position of most creative types when confronted with critics is "You're not the boss of me." It's a protective stance, and I can see how it makes sense for a lot of people to have. I can't really hate on it at all. Gerry Alanguilan, longtime comics vet and my favorite person to ink Leinil Francis Yu, has a differing opinion, as he revealed on his blog a little while ago. In this two-part chat on Philippine Online Chronicles, he goes into further detail. I found this part fascinating:

"A critic therefore, takes the place of the editor. A critic can be a mentor, who can teach these young artists what skills they need to sharpen and which lessons they need to learn. A 7 year old kid creating a comic book needs to be guided in order to help that kid create comics properly. A 7 year old kid cannot absolutely know how to create comics from the get go. That's impossible. He has to be taught. He has to be guided. His work has to be critiqued."

I don't necessarily agree (my own views on criticism run in the "a critic is only there for himself, and maybe a reader who is interested in the book" vein), but that is an interesting position for an artist to take. Alanguilan is no rookie on the scene, someone fresh out of college and eager for feedback and ready to kick down the walls of the System. He's a vet. He's been around. If he'd been of the "Critics? Who cares?" opinion, I wouldn't have blinked an eye, but his eagerness to support a system of real comics criticism, as in movies or music, is great. I also agree with his position on anonymous critics, but that's an entirely different kettle of fish.

Strand Videos Strand is a great bookstore in New York City, and careful shoppers can often find graphic novels on sale ahead of their street date. They also do normal bookstore things there, like signings and author chats, which they have begun putting online. Comics fans may way to check out the Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly chats, but there are several authors of regular books up there that are worth listening to.

Random Acts of Violence

Random Acts of Under-ordering? Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Giancarlo Caracuzzo, and Paul Mounts have a book out called Random Acts of Violence. On Saturday, Palmiotti blogged about some of his frustrations with the orders on the book. (Be careful when clicking around the rest of the site. There be boobs in them thar hills.) We don't have enough information to make any broad proclamations ("Down with Diamond! Death to Amazon!" etc), but we can look and see kind of a sad situation. Palmiotti and crew tried to keep the price down and put it out in a graphic novel format, two things that fans say that they want, but had trouble finding traction. Selling comics is an interesting business, since there are very few chain comic shops to be found. Each store has its own needs and audience, and each owner orders according to his business needs and whims. The only way to predictably get a shop to order a book is to slap a Superman logo on it. He mentions that he can't make a living off just creator-owned books yet, because the audience and the market isn't there, which is kind of sad. Palmiotti and Gray are workhorses and are definitely good enough to have a solid stock of fans waiting to buy their books. So what's the deal? Where's the bottleneck? When their book with Amanda Conner comes out, will its sales equal or surpass Power Girl's? I'd like to think so, but my opinions of those of the masses tend to differ, to understate it a little.

Jog Likes Comics Joe "Jog" McCulloch is one of those critics you should be paying attention to. So, in the interest of bettering your internet experience, check out these reviews of some comics he bought. He hits a lot of demographics on this one–Eurocomics, manga, Spider-Man/X-Men crossover books… read it. Especially the review of Diamond Girl. That kind of insight is why Joe gets paid the big bucks. But really–pay attention to this guy. He's a monster when it comes to insight and talking about formula.

Luffy is endearingly stupid!

-Does That Make Sanji Tony Stark? David Welsh wants to show you how Eiichiro Oda's One Piece is pretty similar to a good Avengers line-up. I love One Piece more than most comics, and Welsh's post is short, sweet, and insightful.

David Brothers player hates on a daily basis at 4thletter! and spends all his time on Twitter talking about comics, rap, food, and shoes. He gets so much writing done by not sleeping at night.


  1. I second what David said about Strand Bookstore, I manage to get a copy of Flash Rebirth and Adventure Comics: Superboy almost four week before it came out. And also for half the price.

  2. I’m going to ask my store if they can order Random Acts of Violence.  I heard the guys talk about it on the show, and it sounds great.  There weren’t any copies when I went last week.  It’s a shame it’s not selling so well though.

  3. When I asked the owner at my shop to order Random Acts(a week after it came out, mind you)… He said he hadn’t even hear of it.  Crazy.  He knows me as the guy who buys all the weird, cool, unknown stuff though, but still…its Palmiotti and Gray right?!?

  4. Boy, I’d run down a bunny rabbit to get some more Juan Bobillo.