Comics and Graphic Novels
December 03, 2013
Webcomics on paper. UMD Follow-up.
We're in an era of an explosion of creativity in comics. Technology often seems to drive innovations in comics. The information era has proven a great boon for comics artists finding a new voice for themselves. The good and bad of this is that it now costs nothing to put your work in front of the public. The trick lies in finding ways to get noticed and to get paid for it. Still, artists are developing their work directly online and many find this as the easy on-ramp to success.
Whether finding a jumpstart through crowdsourcing websites, or philanthropic organizations like Kickstarter, or recognition via awards like the Eisner or Ignatz awards that now recognize webcomics, artists no longer need to please an editorial board to show that their work has value, their portfolio need not be vetted by a jaded pro at one of the big houses, nor do they need to staple a zine together and spend a few hundred dollars at Kinkos copying their pages them selling them to friends. The wide open nature of the web means all they need to do is put in the work of developing a great property, then find some way of drawing attention to it.
Selling their strips as apps or funding their work via advertising space on their pages and publishing online alone are two ways artists make money without even printing books. Fortunately for those of us folks who are still living in "the 1900's" (as my students say) much of the best work does find its way into print. Many savvy publishers buy properties that have already garnered an audience via webcomics. Some publishers even give a free taste of the books online before publishing in print knowing there is a crossover between the various media.
As a buyer the ability to see snippets of content before publication helps in the selection process. There are few reliable sources of reviews of comics and so much of what makes a comic valuable is whether the art works to tell the story (more than to add supporting detail). To be able to do more than glance through a few pages allows library and school buyers to confidently buy a book with the limited budget they may have for comics.
After the jump we'll see a few titles that first found their audience online before jumping to the page.Continue reading "Webcomics on paper. UMD Follow-up."
November 27, 2013
Mental Health in Comics, Recommended Books list, and follow up to our UMD College of Information Studies visit.
We had another great visit with Professor Ching's evening class in Children's Literature and Materials at the University of Maryland's graduate College of Information Studies. We tend to haul a few boxes of books up there to show examples of great books, but spend more time discussing the history and relevance of comics. I always enjoy the back and forth with the students that follows since its fun to talk comics with bright and interested people.
Here I'm circling back to follow-up on a few questions raised or books we discussed, as well as to offer resources helping you find other great books we recommend, especially those in our collection.
As promised our Recommended Graphic Novel List is available as a Google doc that we periodically edit to add more titles that make it into our various collections.
After the jump (and in following blog entries) I'll suggest books that relate to some of the topics we discussed, starting with 3 books on mental illness.
Continue reading "Mental Health in Comics, Recommended Books list, and follow up to our UMD College of Information Studies visit."
November 14, 2013
Smash: Trial by Fire, by Chris & Kyle Bolton
Good-hearted but impulsive kid contracts super-powers, tries his best -- but being a hero is never easy.
Continue reading "Smash: Trial by Fire, by Chris & Kyle Bolton"
We featured this book at our most recent Comics Jam, projecting the book up on the screen to read with the kiddies of the after-school crowd. A fun read-aloud, the dialogue is clever and funny, the story lopes along at an easy pace once it gets rolling. The feel is something of a cross between Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Spider-man -- though unlike Greg Heffler (protagonist of the Wimpy Kid series) fun-sized hero Andrew Ryan isn't, you know, a jerk. He's a good kid who idolizes the local superhero named Defender, trying to live up to his example. Even without powers Andrew attempts to make his world a better place, to confront bullies or help kids in need (in one sequence attempting some dashing derring-do involving a tire swing to rescue Halloween candy from the greedy clutches of sidewalk goons -- with the usual disastrous results).
November 08, 2013
Graphics Memoir and Realistic Fiction
I recently had a chance to visit Emerson high school in Washington DC to talk with students about their graphic novel memoir projects. I brought with me a stack of great books to provide examples of what can be done with the format. Here's a selection of the best of them:Continue reading "Graphics Memoir and Realistic Fiction"
October 31, 2013
Local Artist Gareth Hinds. Thursday Nov 7th, 7:30
Local comics artist Gareth Hinds sits to discuss various projects, his process, etc. Signing his latest: Romeo & Juliet. Thurs 11/7 7:30PM
Librarians discovered Gareth Hinds in the guise of his shuffling slouching inky and murderous monster Grendel. Hinds' 2007 interpretation of the Beowulf saga won fans and strong reviews with his lush and muscular reworking of the hero's tale. His Grendel steals the show from the title character though, leaving his greasy imprint and bloody footsteps through out the first half of the story.
Beautifully painted, rich in color and mood, Beowulf became a must-have for public libraries, with a story strong enough to capture the interest of reluctant readers, (with plenty of gore and conflict) yet adding the gravitas of classic literature to the collection. It is the broccoli of the library shelves: it's good for you! And if mom makes you eat it, hey, it can be pretty good! If you add some of this to your plate mom might let you also have some (modern era) superheroes as well.
Subsequently Mr Hinds has adapted The Odyssey, King Lear, The Merchant of Venice, and now Shakespeare's iconic tragic love story. He's now working on Shakespeare's 'Scottish Play'. Come talk with him about process, materials, inspirations etc. -- in our Children's room at 7:30, Thursday 11/7. Our friends at Politics and Prose will be selling books if you want a signed copy.