This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Your Local Comics Scene
In a slightly different than normal entry to this column (read I forgot to write one and am instead repurposing something else) I wanted to take a look at something that most of us either ignore or are blissfully unaware of, and that’s the comics being published in your local area. Obviously your definition of “local area” will vary depending on where you live; New York City may have a much smaller local sphere than my hometown of Exmouth in the South of Devon, England. The local scene there could more reasonably stretch across the entirety of the county of Devon, much like how I’d consider Atlantic Canada to be my current local comics scene now rather than any specific city or province within the region simply due to the volume of independent comics that I come across. But regardless of the size of your local area, my question to you, dear reader, is how active is your local comics scene, and when was the last time you actively sought out local-to-you comics at your Local Comic Shop?
I’ve found a couple of really interesting stories that way (some are also available as webcomics – such as this one), and some… less interesting. But the thing is, because they’re created by people who visit the same shops as I do across the region, I wanted to give them a shot. And I don’t regret doing that with any of the comics I’ve picked up over the years, whether they are from my region or local to an area I have traveled to.
There’s a chance that your local area may not have anybody actively creating comics for the mass market, but you can probably find a small pamphlet like comic produced locally in a small corner of the shop or a local convention. And if you do find one, then why not check it out? You’ll be supporting local talent, and who knows? Maybe you’ll find your next favourite series…
That’s all we have for this week, folks. Come back next time when there’s something else Underrated to talk about.
In addition to its sponsorship of the 2019 Ignatz Awards, Kickstarter is also directly supporting creators at SPX’s 25th Anniversary. SPX is honored to have Camilla Zhang, Kickstarter’s Comics Outreach Lead, along with Product Designer Jenna Leonardo and Senior Engineer Pritika N. on site to provide SPX creators with dedicated consultation as to how to design and launch the best Kickstarter campaigns possible.
Kickstarter is also directing part of its sponsorship to subsidize tables for a selected group of exhibitors at SPX 2019, which was developed in consultation with members of the SPX Executive Committee.
The following SPX exhibitors will have their tables paid for by this most generous Kickstarter sponsorship, with any monies already paid to SPX to be refunded after this years show:
While you’re waiting for Small Press Expo, celebrate the show’s 25th anniversary with these additional events in the Washington, D.C., area.
Small Press Expo takes place on Saturday and Sunday, September 14-15, at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center and will have over 650 creators, 280 exhibitor tables, 22 programming panels and 14 hands-on workshops to introduce attendees to the amazing world of independent and small press comics.
Curated by SPX Executive Director Warren Bernard, the show traces the history of comics on newsprint from Little Nemo in Slumberland to such indie comics publications as Smoke Signals, Magic Bullet and LAAB. See works on newsprint by SPX creators such as Chris Ware, Charles Burns, Lilli Carre, and Ron Wimberly, as well as those by George Herriman, Will Eisner, and Frank King. The show runs through September 27.
Wednesday, September 11
Book signing Yann Kebbi and his graphic novel The Structure is Rotten, Comrade
French artist and illustrator Yann Kebbi, who is a Special Guest at SPX 2019, will give a talk about his collaboration with author Viken Berberian and the story behind their book, The Structure is Rotten, Comrades.
Thursday, September 12
Opening of Comic Art: 120 years of Panels and Pages
In conjunction with the 25th Anniversary of SPX, the Library of Congress is holding a year-long retrospective of the history of comics. Works from the SPX Collection at the Library of Congress will be displayed from Jaime Hernandez, Bill Griffith, and Raina Telgemeier among others. These works will be shown alongside those of George Herriman, Walt Kelly, Richard Outcault and other historically distinguished comics creators.
Conversation with comic artist Jaime Hernandez, co-creator of the alternative comic Love and Rockets. Hernandez was the winner of the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for best graphic novel/comic and the 2014 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award for Best Writer/Artist. He will be interviewed by Gary Groth, founder and president of Fantagraphics, about his work and creative process, representing Latinx experiences in comic art, and changes in the field over the course of his career.
Join SPX 2019 Special Guest Jérôme Tubiana in for a book talk and panel discussion about Mohammad El-Gharani, who as a child went to Pakistan to study and ended up as one of the youngest prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. Mohammed’s experiences are documented in Tubiana’s book, Guantanamo Kid. This event is hosted by Amnesty International and the Justice for Muslims Collective.
Small Press Expo has announced that over 100 books and comics will debut at the 2019 festival. The festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday, September 14-15, at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center and will have over 650 creators, 280 exhibitor tables, 22 programming panels, and 14 hands-on workshops to introduce attendees to the amazing world of independent and small press comics.
A complete list of debuts, including cover images and publishing information, can be found on the SPX web site.
Check out some of books debuting this year:
Chris Ware’s Rusty Brown is a fully interactive, full-color articulation of the time-space interrelationships of a couple people in the first half of a single midwestern American day and the tiny piece of human grit about which they involuntarily orbit. Published by Pantheon.
For Hannah Templer’s ragtag band of space gays, liberation means beating the patriarchy at its own game.
In CosmoKnights, Pan’s life used to be very small. Work in her dad’s body shop, sneak out with her friend Tara to go dancing, and watch the skies for freighter ships. On the run and off the galactic grid, Pan discovers the astonishing secrets of her neo-medieval world… and the intoxicating possibility of burning it all down. Published by Top Shelf.
The Hard Tomorrow
Told with tenderness and care in an undefined near future, Eleanor Davis’s The Hard Tomorrow blazes unrestrained, as moments of human connection are doused in fear and threats. Her astute projections probe at current anxieties in a cautionary tale that begs the question: What will happen after tomorrow? Published by Drawn & Quarterly.
Joel Orff’sTwice Shy tells the story of two strangers who have shut themselves down emotionally as a way to cope with their lives. Bob is an artist with a creative block who loses himself in an aimless existence; while Casey suffers from deep-seated anxiety and feelings of abandonment. As they tentatively try to build a life together, the harsh realities of the outside world begin to intrude on their happiness, but the experience changes them both in fundamental ways. Published By Alternative Comics.
Sports Is Hell
For Ben Passmore, some wars are for religion and some are for political belief, but this one is for football. After her city wins the Super Bowl for the first time, Tea is separated from her friend during a riot and joins a small clique fighting its way through armed groups of football fanatics to meet a star receiver that just might end the civil war or become the city’s new oppressive leader. Published by Koyama Press.
Cathy G. Johnson’sThe Breakaways is a middle-grade graphic novel about a rebellious girls’ soccer team. It is a portrait of friendship in its many forms, and a raw and beautifully honest look into the lives of a diverse and defiantly independent group of kids learning to make room for themselves in the world. Published by First Second.
So Buttons #10
How does Jonathan Baylis celebrate his 10th-anniversary issue of So Buttons? With friends of course! This all-new issue features cover art by Thomas Boatwright in tribute to Jim Aparo’s cover for Detective Comics #469 (my first Batman comic). It includes new, funny toddler stories by Summer Pierre, heartwarming tributes to my passed dog Mocha by Haley Boros and New Yorker cartoonist Emily Flake. Plus art & stories by T.J. Hirsch, Princess Pamela, Nicole Miles, Jeremy Nguyen and Paul Westover. Published by Jonathan Baylis.
Henni In the Lowlands
Miss-Lasko Gross’Henni In The Lowlands continues the heroines adventures as an anti-authoritarian protagonist in this special edition only available at SPX 2019. Self-published.
Small Press Expohas announced the Programming Schedule for SPX 2019. SPX is continuing the festival’s established tradition of rich, thought-provoking programming featuring leading comics artists and critics in conversation. As in previous years, the Programming Schedule features 22 sessions with two simultaneous tracks on both Saturday and Sunday, September 14 and 15.
See Raina Telgemeier, Eleanor Davis, Keith Knight, Chris Ware and Emily Carroll, along with all of the other Special Guests, in a wide variety of engaging panel discussions as part of SPX 2019.
In addition to the program panels, there are also 14 workshops with Special Guests and exhibitors being conducted by Pittsburgh-based Comics Workbook, you can sign up for the workshops here.
Here are some highlights:
Chris Ware And Eddie Campbell In Conversation:Chris Ware (Rusty Brown) and Eddie Campbell (The Goat Getters) are not only two of the most accomplished cartoonists in the world, they are also experts on its history. Moderator Craig Fischer (Appalachian State University) will join them in a wide-ranging conversation about comics’ roots, their current work, being a cartoonist in Chicago, and whatever else strikes their fancy.
Jaime Hernandez and Katie Skelly In Conversation:Jaime Hernandez (Love And Rockets) and Katie Skelly (My Pretty Vampire, Maids) are known for their pulp roots, drawing beautiful & fashionable women, and creating memorable characters that have a profound impact on their readers. Rachel S. Miller (Ohio State University) will join them in a discussion delving into their unique drawing styles, inspirations, and shared cultural fascinations.
Racial Illiteracy: Harvey, Glyph and Inkpot award-winning indie cartoonist Keith Knight crashes SPX with an all-new slideshow addressing America’s Racial Illiteracy. Using comix, story-telling, and humor, ye olde Gentleman Cartoonist gets to the heart of the matter when it comes to America’s biggest problem. Tea will be served.
Libraries And Comics: Past, Present, And Future:Over the past twenty years, libraries and the comics industry at all levels have been working together to forge bonds that have benefited both. Comics and graphic novels have become a huge draw for libraries, who also use their resources for comics festivals and workshops. Libraries have become an essential client for publishers at all levels, emerging as a crucial part of their bottom line. Critic Chris Mautner explores the evolving nature of this relationship with Kathy Schalk-Green (of the American Library Association), Megan Halsband (from the Library of Congress), Jacq Cohen (representing Fantagraphics Books), and cartoonist Raina Telgemeier (award-winning and best-selling author of Smile, Drama, Sisters and her newest book, Guts).
Queer Science Fiction And World Building: Science fiction has long been used as a means to address any number of society’s ills through the use of alien settings and advanced technology. Many cartoonists address queer-specific issues in the way that they actually create the foundations of their worlds. Critic and publisherCarta Monir will moderate Hannah Templer (Cosmoknights), Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (What Is Left), Shing Yin Khor (Salvage Station No. 8), and Alison Wilgus (Chronin) as they discuss how their settings create explicitly and implicitly relate queer themes.
Birthing Stories: There have been a number of extraordinary comics published about pregnancy and motherhood in recent years. Carol Tyler (Late Bloomer, Soldier’s Heart) blazed the trail in this regard thirty years ago, and she will moderate an all-star assemblage of cartoonists to discuss the experience of giving birth. Join Lucy Knisley (Kid Gloves), Marnie Galloway (Slightly Plural), Meghan Turbitt (Laughter Birth), Lauren Weinstein (Mother’s Walk), and Rachel Masilamani (We Conceive) as they offer a wide variety of perspectives on their own birthing stories.
Small Press Expo has announced a series of comic book making workshops, featuring hands-on instruction from some of the most talented makers of independent comics. The workshops will occur at SPX 2019, to be held Saturday, September 14 and Sunday, September 15.
Educators from Pittsburgh, PA-based Comics Workbook will host workshops with Eisner-nominated Master Cartoonist Carol Tyler, animator Scott Morse,teacher/graphic novelist Jessica Abel and other experts of the form.
Participants will have the opportunity to hone their storytelling and drawing skills – whether they are a beginner or expert. The popular clay figurine workshop with Liz Reed returns this year, and Camilla Zhang will offer two workshops on getting the most out of your Kickstarter campaign! Due to popular demand, this year’s SPX has a full slate of 14 different workshops, with the complete schedule of Comics Workshop sessions on the SPX web site.
Panels for SPX 2019 will be announced next week.
Sign up here for a session (or two) to Learn to Draw Comic from the Pros!
Confirmation emails will be sent out Tuesday September 10. All Saturday workshops will be held in the Glen Echo room. All Sunday workshops will be held in the Oakley room. Both rooms are downstairs at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, right across from the White Flint Metro stop on the Red Line.
You must have an Attendee badge to participate. Admission to SPX 2019 is $15 Saturday, $10 Sunday and $20 both days. Admission gets you into the class, access to 22 slots of programming panels and the Exhibitor Hall with over 600 creators selling the finest in indie comics, mini-comics, graphic novels, posters and other cool stuff.
Walk-ins will be welcome, however, space permitting. Seating to all sessions are limited to 50 people.
LOCATION: Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center 5701 Marinelli Road Rockville, Maryland20852 METRO STOP: White Flint Station on the Red Line
Small Press Expo has announced Danish International Special Guests for SPX 2019. The festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday, September 14-15, at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center and will have over 650 creators, 280 exhibitor tables, over 20 programming slots, and additional hands-on workshops to introduce attendees to the amazing world of independent and small press comics. Additional Special Guests will be announced soon.
Craig Frank was born (1961) in St. Louis, Missouri. In his early years he had various jobs that helped form his character, among them, a gardener at a retired Nun convent, an asst. to an alcoholic carpenter, a trash collector in a ghetto north of St. Louis, a bellman in the Adolphus Hotel and a printer at a chemical infested T-Shirt Factory. He graduated from Columbia College with a Cum Laude in BFA. A multi-talented artist, Craig moved to Denmark in the late 80’s and later joined the world of animation and directed his debut film Journey to Saturn, and created his debut Graphic Novel, JFK Secret Ops.
Craig Frank has created the graphic novel COOL VALLEY, a coming of age story set in the 70’s in a small town outside St. Louis. As one reader wrote: I read it without stopping and laughed many times; it kept me wanting more of both our pasts.
Emil Friis Ernst (b. 1994) is a danish cartoonist, illustrator and comics teacher living and working in Viborg, Denmark. He has previously had journalistic comics work published on The Nib and exhibited at Erlangen International Comic Salon.
He’s into big robots and cinema from around the world.
Emil’s forthcoming books “Dr. Murder and the Island of Death” and “Reservat” (the latter written in collaboration with Dennis Gade Kofod) are equal parts spandex-clad pulp and dystopia, dealing with loss and longing in a world on the brink of destruction.
Halfdan Pisket‘sgraphic novel debut, the highly acclaimed Cockroach Trilogy (2014-2016) has been applauded by the pressand awarded numerous prizes.
“My father’s story is similar to so many others, who travel away in an attempt to put the past behind them, but who eventually fall apart in the new country.”
The Cockroach Trilogy is about the life of Pisket’s father, an Armenian immigrant escaping opression and trying to make himself a new home in Denmark. It is a story about not belonging anywhere and about losing everything. The trilogy is heavy awarded and sold for publication in The Netherlands (SubQ), France (Présque Lune), Sweden (Kartago) and Mexico (La Cifra editorial). Recently the French edition of the last volume of the trilogy won Série de la Prix Angoulême in France.
Ida Rørholm Davidsen is a Danish illustrator educated at The Royal Danish Academy of Design in Copenhagen. Ida works independently with illustration, art and book projects, besides being part of the design collective and shop GunGun. Her drawing style is light and feminine, and mixes the analogue pen drawings with digital pastel colouring.
Ida Rørholm Davidsen won the Ping prize (the official comic award in Denmark) for “Best young-adult comic” 2019. for her comic debut: Lonely journey.
Lonely journey is a a modern fairytale about the young girl Anna, her obsession with computer games, her loneliness and the every day struggle to fit in.
John Kenn Mortensen says “It warms my heart when I am able to scare people or just give them the sense of having experienced a small adventure from something so simple as a drawing on a post-it note. People will always be afraid of monsters. For some people spiders are monsters… just very small monsters.
There is this very fine moment right before you realize you are gonna be eaten by something you never thought existed. It is like when you get bad news and you think ‘I never thought this was gonna happen to me.'”
From dinosaur evading cats in a post apocalyptic world to pinball playing teenage lizards in the early nineties, Rune Ryberg (1979), turns his characters to life with his dynamic, color saturated, rough style. In 2014 he made his debut as a comic book artist with the award winning Gigant published by AdHouse Books.
Rikke Villadsen is a comic book artist living and working in Copenhagen. Since her 2011 debut, she has been defying artistic conventions and surprising readers with her stories’ surreal twists. Her work questions gender as a social construct, embracing the complexity of being feminist and human.
The Sea is Rikke Villadsen’s English-language debut graphic novel, released January 2019 by Fantagraphics Books. The tale of a sailor lost at sea is full of evocative symbolism that doesn’t just bubble beneath the surface of the water, but drenches the sailor—and reader—like a tidal wave.
Paw Krogsbæk Mathiasen is the founder, editor and publisher of Danish publishing house Fahrenheit (established 1991), the Danish publisher of the works by Craig Thompson, Miles Hyman, Gilbert Shelton, Robert Crumb and Charles Burns and Danish artist like Peter Snejbjerg and Rikke Villadsen among many.
Paw Mathiasen will take part in SPX searching for material to publish at the Danish market.
Pernille Arvedsen is an editor at the Danish publishing house COBOLT
Small Press Expo has announced another group of guests of Special Guests for SPX 2019. The festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday, September 14-15, at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center and will have over 650 creators, 280 exhibitor tables, over 20 programming slots and additional hands-on workshops to introduce attendees to the amazing world of independent and small press comics. Additional Special Guests will be announced soon.
Keith Knight, winner of the Glyph, Harvey, and Inkpot Awards, is a spectacular and amazing cartoonist whose Knight Life comic strip is read nationwide in such newspapers as the Washington Post. Knight Life was optioned for a television series and is currently under development by Hulu with the title Woke. Keef’s funny yet hard-hitting cartoons in his webcomic series, (th)ink and The K Chronicles, led him to be named one of the 2015NAACP History Makers. Knight is the illustrator of the critically acclaimed tween book, Jake the Fake Keeps It Real. Keef has a new collection coming out this Fall called (th)ink: It’s the Racism, Stupid!
Craig Thompson is a cartoonist and the author of the award-winning books Blankets; Good-bye, Chunky Rice; and Habibi. He was born in Michigan in 1975, and grew up in a rural farming community in central Wisconsin. His graphic novel Blankets won numerous industry awards and has been published in nearly twenty languages. Thompson lives in Portland, Oregon.
Now, for the first time in his career, Thompson is working in serial form, in a bimonthly comic book series. Part memoir, part travelogue, part essay—all comic book—Ginseng Roots explores class divide, agriculture, holistic healing, the 300 year long trade relationship between China and North America, childhood labor, and the bond between two brothers.
Ebony Flowers was born and raised in Maryland. She holds a BA in Biological Anthropology from the University of Maryland College Park and a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she wrote her dissertation as a comic (mostly). Ebony is a 2017 Rona Jaffe Award recipient. She lives in Denver, CO.Hot Comb is her first collection of short stories published by Drawn & Quarterly. Hot Comb offers a poignant glimpse into Black women’s lives and coming of age stories as seen across a crowded, ammonia-scented hair salon while ladies gossip and bond over the burn.
Hannah Templer is a queer cartoonist and graphic designer. In addition to writing and drawing Cosmoknights (Top Shelf Productions), they are the artist for GLOW (IDW Publishing, Netflix), and have also worked as a colorist, cover artist and interior artist on well-known titles such as Samurai Jack, Tomb Raider, and Jem and the Holograms. They enjoy life with their trusty dog Thistle and grumpy cat Noodle, and play tabletop roleplaying games as often as they can.
Ben Passmore lives in Philly. His comics are about crime, monsters, anarchism, sexual dysfunction, police brutality, art theory, and his feels. Creator ofDAYGLOAYHOLE and Goodbye, his comicYour Black Friend won the 2017 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Comic, as well as being nominated for an Eisner Award. His illustrations have appeared in publications such as including the New York Times, Irene, Now: The New Comics Anthology, and Believer Magazine. Ben contributes political/social editorial comics to The Nib, and his latest book is Bttm Fdrs with Ezra Claytan Daniels.
Lucy Knisley is a critically acclaimed and award-winning comic creator. She lives in Chicago.
She specializes in personal, confessional graphic novels and travelogues.
Her last name is confusing and has a silent K. It’s pronounced kind-of like “nigh-slee.”
Independent comic publisher Arledge Comics has announced that they’re now open for creator-owned submissions.
Arledge Comics is seeking pitches that focus on inclusive, all-ages topics with a rating up to PG-13. Their goal is to continue to develop their family-friendly titles and expand their library to include creator-owned titles. Priority will be given to graphic novels, then collected webcomics, followed by serial comics.
Those interested in developing a pitch packet should view the website. Arledge Comics will continue to develop independent series such as Alex Priest and Black Gold as well as their anthologies.
It’s been 10 years since Zachariah Thorn inadvertently tore the veil between our world and the darkness beyond. Now his dark gift is his only weapon in his quest to banish the evil he has wrought.
Eli Merric has pulled Zach from his self imposed exile. The two returned home to aid in the banishment of a trio of Howlers who had taken root in the psyche of Cynthia, the young niece of their long time friend AJ Jordan.
With Cynthia now free of the Howlers’ thrall, Zach and his friends begin to shake loose the rust of their relationships…
…but old wounds have a habit of reopening.
It hasn’t quite been ten years since I read Indigo ComicsZachariah Thorn #1 (reviewed here), not even close if I’m being honest, but it has been some time (about three years if we look at the publication date of the first review). I am happy to say that even after all that time I was still able to pick up this long awaited second issue without the need to reread the first.
I was immediately drawn back into Scott Reichert‘s story as if I’d never left – but if this the first you’ve heard of Zachariah Thorn then fear not! You can get the entire first issue for free if you check out the link below, and the sequel is available for a steal of a deal right now (there’s another link below) on comiXology. And honestly, for 99cents, this is a fantastic deal for the two issues of Zachariah Thorn.
A comic that has echoes of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books in the setting (in that it’s a modern day magic based story with a well loved yet slight rogue star)Zachariah Thorn is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, with the world having a fully realized feel – even if the reader may not be totally aware of the history, it’s evident that Reichert has the details written down somewhere. We’re given exactly what we need to follow the story within the comic, and just enough to drive our interest further into the series with the subsequent issues.
Zachariah Thorn has a lot about it that I really enjoyed – and for the price you’ll pay for this book, there’s absolutely no reason not to check out the two comics in the series thus far.
Story: Scott Michael Reichert Art: Kristian Rossi Colours Robert John Reichert Letters: Toben Racicot Story: 8.3 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy