4/30/09

FCBD: Free Comic Books Day 2009

Free Comic Book DayImage by technochick via Flickr
You already know what FCBD is right? No? Well, Free Comic Book Day is pretty much what it sounds like: a dream come true. You head out to a comic book store, and if they're participating then they'll have some free (yes! totally free) comics that have the FCBD logo on them. If you want the full details, click here for the FAQ.

There's no catch, except it's a gimmick staged by comic book publishers and distributors to get people hooked on reading comics. So, if you're already hooked on comics you're in!

I can't decide whether to go to Excalibur Comics, or Cosmic Monkey Comics. I'm sure Things From Another World (TFAW), Dark Horse's flagship store will also have FCBD as well, but I prefer the others. I'll definitely check out the Archie and the Bongo Comics offerings.

Here's a rundown on the titles available for Free Comics Book Day 2009 (Click here to see the covers):
Gold Sponsor Comics
  • Avengers
  • Blackest Night #0
  • Bongo Comics Free-For-All!
  • Disney/Pixar's Cars #1
  • Resurrection #0
  • Savage Dragon #148
  • Shonen Jump Presents: Ultimo
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars
  • The Mighty Archie Art Players
  • Transformers Animated/G.I. Joe

Silver Sponsor Comics
  • Aliens/Predator
  • APE Cartoonapalooza #2
  • Arcana Studio Presents
  • Atomic Robo And Friends
  • Attack Of The Alterna-Zombies!
  • Comics Festival! 2009 Volume 3
  • Contract #1
  • Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer Preview
  • Dabel Bros. Showcase
  • DC Kids Mega Sampler
  • FCHS
  • Fist Of Justice #1
  • Gold Digger #101/Prince Of Heroes
  • IMPACT University Volume 5
  • Love & Capes
  • Love & Rockets Sampler
  • Mercy Sparx: Under New Management
  • Nancy & Melvin Monster
  • NASCAR Heroes: Origins #1
  • Owly And Friends
  • Radical 2009 Preview
  • Sonic The Hedgehog: Evolution Of A Hero
  • Studio 407 Sampler
  • The Stuff of Legend
  • The Wizard Hot List
  • TMNT #1 25th Anniversary Reprint
  • Warhammer Fantasy
  • William Shatner Presents #1
  • Wolverine: Origin Og An X-Man
  • Worlds Of Aspen #4

Additional Items
FCBD 2009 Minimate
Magic The Gathering: Agents Of Artifice Sampler


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4/26/09

Stumptown Comics Fest 2009- Part 2



On the second day of the Stumptown Comics fest I went to two exciting panels, both featuring Dark Horse Comics editor Diana Shutz. I considered the talks exciting because they both dealt with bringing some realism into the comics industry. The first was “Teaching Comics,” and it focused on learning the nuts and bolts of making comics, while the second was “Editing for Comics,” and it explained the role of the editor in large or small productions.

The “Teaching Comics” panel was hosted by Diana, Robyn Chapman from the Center for Cartoon Studies, as well as Alec Longstreth and Jesse Wrecklaw. They talked about ways to teach a class when asked “can you talk to my class about comics?” Shutz handed out her course description for a class she teaches at PCC called "Art 217: Undertanding Comics Art". Reklaw also handed out a sample sheet from his course “Making Comics Art” that described and showed types of shots (medium, close-up, long shot, establishing shot..), emanata (the iconic lines you see coming out of people in comics, eg: speed lines, emotions, motion), and a set of example facial expressions. They also gave out some secrets if you want to teach comics: keep an open mind about doodling in class, urge your students to tell their own stories, and always finish your workshops with a publication. As Diana Shutz said, comics are “a space to use your imagination.” Visit teachingcomics.org for more ideas on teaching comics to students of all ages.

If the “Teaching” panel inspired anyone to go out and make a comic, they may have missed the “Editing for Comics” panel, which brought everyone back down to reality. The talk featured Diana Shutz, former DC editor Bob Schreck, and was hosted by Jeff Parker, a writer from Marvel.

Ms. Shutz likened editors at Dark Horse to project managers: they stay on the story from inspiration to publication. She said she’s always editing for quality, and mentioned that she’d recently scrapped a the first print run of Larry Marder’s Beanworld reprint because, after 20 years out of print, and with a meticulous restoration job on the original scans, the printer had done a poor job on the printing.

Mr. Schreck mentioned some of the other tasks he’d had to do while editing for DC. One time he was having problems with an artist getting the pages in on time, and he ended up calling the artists mother to get the 8 pages of black and white drawings that were holding up production. He also talked about when Comico went under. DC had partnered with Comico, and they had original art from some creators. Schreck had to tell people they were out of a job, but he said he worked hard to retrieve their original art for the artists.

A couple secrets may have been given away in this seminar, too. Jeff Parker wondered if monthly comics will go away in the next couple of years due to costs. He theorized that they monthlies will eventually be entirely online, and the only tangible printings will be TPBs or anthologies. And Shutz told the ultimate secret: how to get into comics. She said: don’t write up a typed manuscript, or an outline. Instead, make an actual comic. If you can’t draw, partner with someone who can, it will show the editors that you can work with people. She gave a brief summary of her assistant Brendan who took her class, started a comic review website, and worked to create some comics. Now he’s working at Dark Horse.




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4/23/09

Stumptown Comics Fest 2009 - Part 1


Stumptown Comics Fest isn't a comic book show. At a comic book show it's all about filling out a collection, and trying to pick up a reasonably cheap copy of the new issue of Dark Avengers, or whatever's hot at the moment (remember Danger Girl?). And Stumptown isn't a comic convention either. A convention is where the fans get the chance to show their adoration to the creator in person, rather than just with their dollars.

No, the Stumptown Comics Fest is more like a chance for creators to talk amongst themselves, while sharing their creative experience with the fans. It's a place where anyone who has the guts can put their own comic on display and see how's it's received by people on a face-to-face perspective. The front of the program describes the Fest as "Workshops, Creators, Awards, Contests and hundreds of other things that astound the imagination!"

I spent two days at the Fest ($10 for a weekend pass), with my kids tagging along. The headliner for the show was Bone creator Jeff Smith, which was a magnet for munchkins of all sorts. The organizers even put together a sheet detailing which talks and comics were appropriate for which ages (although they unfortunately didn't include it in the program so I didn't find it until late Sunday). So, here are my notes from the talks I attended.

The first talk I attended was the "Spotlight on Jeff Smith", moderated by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's Charles Brownstein. Smith has a new comic he's working on called RASL, about a guy who discovers how to slide between parallel universes and uses this to become an inter dimensional art thief. Of course the audience was there to hear about Bone, especially the younger members. Bone is Smith's 12-year magnum opus. He created, scripted and drew 55 issues (1350 pages!) of the story of Fone Bone and his cousins as they accompany a girl named Thorn on an epic quest and eventually save the world.

Smith said that he didn't draw Bone as a kid's book, but he was surprised after binding the 55 issues into a single paperback and self publishing it, it became the single most requested book at libraries by younger readers. The book is so thick that when Smith made a special hard-cover edition, the only publisher that could handle it was one that dealt with bible bindings. Scholastic heard how popular Bone was and acquired the rights to re-release Bone, publishing it in multiple countries. Smith says that in Angouleme, France, or in Mumbai, India, his comic readers are the same throughout the world. He added that thanks to Scholastic there's enough weight behind the book to have a faithful movie adaptation.

He spoke how the three cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone are archetypes also found in other stories: Harpo, Chico and Groucho; Jerry, George and Kramer; and also Mickey, Donald and Goofy. He also answered a question from my son on the tone of the book: why it started out light and then got much darker in the second half. Smith explained that he wanted to hook the reader into the story, and as Thorn matured, she had to confront darker and more "real" problems. When Smith started to write Bone he already had the plot for all 55 issues outlined on paper. Check out boneville.com for more info.

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