March 2012


My 2012 convention season will start up this weekend with the phenomenal Emerald City Comicon in Seattle.  This will be my third time attending the con since 2009 (I had to skip 2010, otherwise I’d definitely be four for four.)  Emerald City is one of the cons on the circuit that’s totally focused on comics (very little in the way of video games, movies, etc., unlike some of the other huge conventions, which have become pop-culture adventures instead of comic conventions).  Artist’s Alley is always filled with some of my favorite creators, and the setting can’t be beat.  I’m actually going to stick around for a few days after the con to check out Seattle.  In years past, I’ve flown in for the con and then left right after, which provides limited opportunities for seeing much of anything beyond the convention center and downtown.  This time, hopefully, I’ll get out into the wilderness around the city.  I understand that if you drive half an hour out of Seattle in any direction, civilization disappears (except for, presumably, the road you’re on.)  For a guy from NYC, that sounds pretty appealing.

I can be found at table C-10, sharing it with the super-talented Kurtis Wiebe, and next to the marvelous Jim Zub.  I will have a bunch of stuff available, including all my previous work (Strongman, Strongman 2, 27 First and Second Sets) as well as a convention debut of a beautiful promo for my upcoming Archaia OGN Strange Attractors, and whatever else I can fit on the table.  Ask me about The Spark, and I’ll show you some killer art for something new I’m working on that hasn’t been discussed anywhere yet.

I’ll be on at least one panel for sure, the “Writers Unite!” panel at 3 PM on Saturday in room 201.  It should be fantastic – the panel includes me, Jim Zub, Kurtis, Joe Keatinge and Ray Fawkes, and we’ll spend the hour talking about how we approach pitching creator-owned projects.  We’ve all had success in that world with various publishers (within that group, we’ve got projects with Image (both Central and Shadowline), Oni, Archaia, SLG, UDON, Marvel and probably others I’m not aware of yet.)  So, it should be a great chance to get some informed perspectives on getting your projects out there in the world.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I drop in to the Archaia panel from 2-3 on Saturday, also in room 201 (after all, it’s right before the writers’ panel, in the same room, so why not?)  Archaia’s putting out Strange Attractors, as I mentioned, and while we haven’t started the full-court promotional press, it might be a good time to start chatting it up a little.

Beyond that, it’ll be about meeting and greeting, trying to get occasional bits of sleep, and reacquainting myself with the insane world of comic conventions.  There’s nothing quite like them.

Apparently I like it, though, because my convention schedule for this year is shaping up pretty nicely.  I’m finding a balance between local conventions and bigger, cross-country cons.  At the moment, here’s my list:

Emerald City (Seattle) – March 30-April 2

C2E2 (Chicago) – April 13-14 (I’ll just be in for a Friday panel, and not tabling, but I’ll be around Saturday for a bit.)

MoCCA (NYC) – April 28-29

Asbury Park Comicon (Asbury Park, NJ) – May 12

Granite State Comicon (Manchester, NH) – June 10

Heroes Con (Charlotte, NC) – June 22-24

That’s “all” I have for the next few months, but SDCC is still a possibility and NYCC’s a certainty.  I’m also thinking about Toronto FanExpo in August and Baltimore in September.  I have a bunch of new stuff hitting in the fall, and I’ll want to make sure that I have some cons at which to show it off!

Oh, and while this post has been con-focused, man, do I have lots of cool news to share.  The final cover and release date for the 27 Second Set trade.  Brand-new Strongman material (not Strongman 2 – that’s done – this is something else, a super cool something else).  27′s first tentative steps out into the world of film.  Info about Strange Attractors and lots of delicate teases for the other stuff I have in the works… but all of that’s for another post.

See you in Seattle.

 

Just a quickie – I’m very pleased to be able to announce the ongoing serialization of 27 over at Keenspot, one of the web’s best homes for original webcomic material.  We’ll be joining some truly top-notch series like Skullkickers and Green Wake, and I think it should be a lot of fun.  We’ll put up one new page every weekday, and the plan is to add new, never-before-published material over time, assuming the audience grows like we think it will.

Here’s the direct link to the page: http://twenty-seven.keenspot.com/d/20120227.html .  That’s the first page that went up – I think as of this writing there are nine pages posted, which is pretty appropriate, if you ask me.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out 27 yet, head on over and give it a spin.  Keenspot has some of the best ongoing webcomics around, and you’re sure to see something you like.  We’re hoping that this will be a way to get a lot of new eyeballs on the series, so if you want more 27, one way to ensure it is to spread the word far and wide!

There’s a lot going on at the moment, enough that I expect this little blog to get much busier over the next few weeks as I figure out how to start sharing the news about some of the cool things being added to the mix.  In the meantime, I wanted to write up a quick post on my thoughts with respect to reading comic series in floppy vs. trade.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read on – I’ll make it clear.  This is a favorite topic of debate for people who read a lot of comics, not quite as prevalent as the evergreen “Who would win in a fight between…” discussions, but it’s up there.

For those who don’t already know, a “floppy” is one of several comic industry terms for the 22-page pamphlet that many of us think of as the classic “comic book.”  In most cases, they’re published for their respective series on a monthly basis (like magazines), and you can find them in comics specialty shops and at some newsstands and bookstores.

“Trades,” on the other hand, are the collected editions of the floppies, pulling together a run of comics into one cohesive whole.  The term is short for “trade paperback.”  They usually collect 4-6 issues of a given series, and often include some backup material (sketches, essays, even new stories) that weren’t part of the original floppies as published.  A trade will often tell a complete story from beginning to end (with the original floppies representing chapters in that story).  Trades generally come out well after the original floppy run has been completed – at least three months, but often more.  Trades are seen as the definitive edition of a given story, and can be reprinted once an initial press run sells out, while the floppies will almost never be seen again past their initial run.  You can find trades everywhere – comics shops, bookstores, Amazon, etc.

So, which is better?  First of all, they’re both great, and as long as you’re reading comics in one form or another, you’re okay by me.  The real answer is that both have their perks.  These days, I read most of what I read in floppy form, because I want to support the industry (especially creators I either know personally, particularly enjoy or both), and floppy sales still drive a lot of publisher decisions (even though I think they really shouldn’t, considering the much wider market for trades.)  That said, there are a few series I read in trade (Unwritten, Scalped, a few others), and a few more that I read in floppies and then buy in trade (which, to me, is the highest possible endorsement – it says that I can’t wait to read a given installment of the series, and then the pleasure I’ll get from owning the collected edition is worth the added expense.  I do that with Locke & Key, one of my favorite books running, and I expect it to be that way with Saga as well.  It certainly happened with Y the Last Man and Ex Machina.)

If you’ve got a series with detailed, nuanced storytelling (like Scalped), where something that happens in issue 2 might resonate all the way through issue 50, give me trades every time.  On the other hand, I truly enjoy floppies if the book is more about the reality presented in the book than it is the continuity or the overarching story being told (Walking Dead, Orc Stain, for example.)  With those, it doesn’t matter if you’re getting 22 pages or 132.  The experience of being in the universe is good enough that even a small amount works.  (Also known as the Ice Cream Principle.)  I’ve recently been enjoying a book that’s the perfect example of what I’m talking about – Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s Spaceman.

Cover for the wonderful Vertigo series Spaceman.

The book is hard sci-fi, set in a fully-realized post global warming world where the seas have risen and mankind has (apparently) engineered a small race of individuals tailored for space travel and life on Mars.  The dialogue is filled with elaborate future slang, and phrases or exchanges can occasionally require some puzzling out before it’s clear what’s actually being said.  It reminds me a bit of William Gibson’s Neuromancer or Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash – which are both novels, of course.  I don’t have many precedents in the comics world for what Azzarello and Risso are doing.  Fluorescent Black (the gorgeous dystopic fantasy from Nathan Fox and M.F. Wilson) was in the ballpark, but that wasn’t published in floppies as far as I know.

Anyway, the reason I like Spaceman so much, and I can’t wait to get any given issue, is that it brings me into its world so well.  The experience of reading a Spaceman issue is about immersion into that alternate reality (which is something you would think would happen constantly in comics, but really doesn’t, especially once you’ve read a lot of them).  When you read an issue, you are THERE, for better or for worse.  That is certainly due to the phenomenal level of craft the creators bring to the book, but again, not every comic works this way.

My favorite series to read as floppies act like little vacations.  If you can find a series that does that for you, then by all means, read it that way.  Other than those, though, I think I come down on the side of trades – for me, it’s a more complete experience.  It’s rare to find a series written so that it works as single issues and as a part of a comprehensive whole.  This makes sense, of course, because writers generally write for the trade, knowing that’s the version that will last (floppies are, and always will be, pretty transient.)

Every comics reader has a position on this “issue,” and most of those positions make sense (that’s why it’s the sort of thing comics fans love to debate).  As I said above, it doesn’t matter too much whether you go for floppies, trades, digital editions, webcomics or any other way comics might find their way to you, as long as you read them.

Coming soon – news on 27, Strongman (yes, finally!), Strange Attractors, and other titles that you don’t know yet… but you will.

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