Tag Archives: independent comics

Black Comic Book Festival Kicks Off the Season

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Con season for comics starts with the Black Comic Book Festival, held January 12-13, at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, located in Harlem, NYC. Now in its 6th year, BCBF is a free event that has grown into one of the premier destinations for creators and fans of Black Comic Culture to come together.

While Friday is a subdued day, it started the con by welcoming local schools for a morning trip to come experience Black and Latino geek culture, where they learned a bit about the craft and got some insight to the source materials of their favorite comics and cartoons. In their opening remarks BCBF Founders Jerry Craft and Diedre Holdman told the kids that they created this event because “We wanted you to know that there are people like you creating Heroes.“

Like most cons, there were vendors, two full days of panels and colorful cosplayers strutting about, but this celebration was extra special with all the excitement around the upcoming Black Panther movie and Black Lightning tv show. And with that excitement, many panels that address diversity, and not just the problems, but the solutions and benefits of proper representation in media. Speakers gave solid reasoning and understanding of the needs for more diversity behind the scenes, on the page, on the screen, and the power to help shape that goal with our purchasing power.

BCBF also had a lighter side, with more space for independent creators fans had plenty of opportunities to cop some great reads, I know I spent a pretty nickel. Friday capped off with a special featurette from the makers of the Black Panther and BCBF sponsor Lexus, which was followed by Schomburg Director Kevin Young interviewing one of the cast from Black Panther, actress Florence Kasumba, check out GP contributor Elana Brooklyn’s video after this. And Saturday saw the fan favorite Cosplay Showcase, a colorful expression from the Fans who are passionate about their favorite mediums.

This small con still has some growing pains, but it keeps pushing in attendance and star power, spilling out of those marginalized shadows, and making a space for all creators and fans to truly let their blerd flag fly, and I’ll be there to salute next year.

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George Carmona III, is an Artist/Designer/Writer, former Milestone Media Intern, former DC Comics paper pusher, book lover, lifelong comic geek, and is the author of the DC Super Friends Joke Book from Penguin Random House. Follow him on Twitter @GCarmona3.

Review: Farlaine The Goblin #5

A couple of years ago, a comic fell into my lap from an independent studio that was, up until that time, nowhere near my radar. And then I met Farlaine.Farlaine5-Normal-Cover.jpg

Published by Studio Farlaine, Farlaine The Goblin is a series that can (and should) be read by anybody, regardless of what issue is your first. Each comic is a standalone story that follows a goblin tree shaman by the name of Farlaine (pronounced Far-lin) and his companions, a robot named Tink and Farlaines’ friend Ehrenwort the tree as they travel the lands looking for a forest to call home for Ehrenwort. After years of searching, there is only a few lands left in order to find a forest within which to plant Ehrenwort. The brilliance of this premise lays in its innocent simplicity; even though Farlain The Goblin #5 isn’t the first part of this story, it can still be read and enjoyed regardless of whether you’re steeped in the series history, or if you just want to check out something new and different.

The comic clocks in at just under fifty pages, and is as effortlessly charming as the goblin himself, with Pug Grumble’s joyous delivery and willingness to explore concepts that are wonders of the imagination; this book reminds of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series in that some of the ideas within this world shouldn’t make a lick of sense, but under Grumble’s masterful hand not only do they (still not really) make sense, but you don’t want to worry too hard about how they’d work. There’s a sense of innocent wonder here, with the author’s willingness to embrace the magical fantasy worlds created in his mind without over explaining irrelevant things like time and space the reader is free to just let their mind wander through this glorious black and white masterpiece.

The challenge with any black and white art is to convey the detail, texture and shade through only two colours – and that’s especially true with a book that has such a vividly imaginative story. Thankfully, the art is incredible. The way Grumble is able to make the subtlest of changes in the way the little goblin’s eyebrows are drawn to give him an entirely different emotional response is always a joy to see. Yeah, I love this series. It’s always such a pleasure to read.

If you do want to start the series from the begining, or you’re not sure this wonderful comic is for you, then there is a free pdf of the first issue available at Farlaine‘s websitehere. Once you’ve read that, you can also order the previous issues online, here.

Farlaine The Goblin #5 is another brilliant chapter in the goblin’s journey to find a home, and it’s one that you really need to check out. There is no reason for you not to be reading this. This issue is available now, with the sixth on the way soon

Story: Pug Grumble Art: Pug Grumble
Story: 9 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5
 Recommendation: Buy

Studio Farlaine provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Emerald Comics Distro Gives an Update on their 2017

In March 2017 we brought you the news of Emerald Comics Distro, a new indie comic distributor. Started by Anne Bean, Emerald Comics Distribution hopes to fill a “much-needed distribution gap” for independent creators in Seattle.

To kick off 2018, Emerald Comics Distro sent out an email with an update as to where they stand… and things seem to be good!

In 2017, Emerald Comics Distro served 49 creators and ended the year with 122 items in its catalog and worked with 20 shops in Seattle, Tacoma, Mill Creek, Shoreline, and Portland. You can find a map of all of the shops online.

In 2017, the distributor announced in their annual report that in 7 months of operation it has 49 clients, 122 items in their catalog, 20 shops, 1,477 total books put into shops, and $5,680 given to creators. Not bad at all.

In 2018, the distributor plans to expand into a few more bookstores and comic shops in the Pacific Northwest and also continue to accept work into the ECD catalog.

However, the big project is working on a sustainable mail-order worldwide distribution. This is still in the planning phases.

Fantom Comics Launches InkBot: A Monthly Indie Comics Subscription Box

Washington, DC’s Fantom Comics has launched a new comic subscription box focused on indie comics, InkBot! InkBot is a monthly subscription service that delivers small press and self-published comics directly to your door. The Fantom Comics staff scout out the best small press comics they can find, package them up, and ship them off to subscribers each month so you don’t have to spend your money and time hunting for them.

The store is hoping to get 500 subscribers to get the “kind of low printing costs that will make this work.” Once that number is reached, they’ll move forward and to make it happen, they’re offering a big discount through Indiegogo.

The box will provide the type of comics usually not found in comic shops and will give about 50 small press creators each year the exposure in front of the box’s subscribers. The box also will provide small press creators and helps the Fantom staff through a profit-sharing venture.

We’ve already backed it ourselves, so expect an unboxing video when we get the first one in our hands.

The Comichaus App Has Launched

The Comichaus App is dedicated to indie comics. For a subscription fee of £3 a month (£30 a year) you can:

  • Get access to stream and discover all the indie comics in their catalog
  • Save as many of the comic books offline as your device storage will allow
  • Search by title, creator, genre, and publisher
  • Discover more about creators
  • Support creators – 50% of advertising and subscription revenue will be split with creators based on how many times their books are read

The Comichaus App will work on Apple/iOS devices listed here, and Android/Amazon handsets and tablets running android version 4.4 and above. Kindle store availability will be very soon!

Comichaus wanted to create a model that was beneficial to the creators/publishers and one that would also be self sustaining. The adverts on the app are non intrusive but will mean they can generate income to go back to the creators and publishers, whilst also covering the running costs of the app itself. Members can opt for the £5 a month ‘No Ads’ subscription if they wish.

Anyone can contribute to the Comichaus database. Whether you want to add/amend data on your favourite mainstream books – or you are an indie creator/publisher wanting to add your own. For any new additions simply go to the top right hand corner of this page and click ‘add to database’. Once this database listing is approved your comic book can be uploaded to the Comichaus App.

Small Press Expo Announces Programming Schedule for SPX 2017

Small Press Expo has announced the Programming Schedule for SPX 2017. 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 16 and 17.

Here are some highlights:

  • Tillie Walden discusses her new work, Spinning, focusing on her decade spent in competitive figure skating, with Small Press Expo executive director Warren Bernard.
  • Jillian Tamaki (Boundless) and Eleanor Davis (You And A Bike And The Road) are two of our generation’s greatest cartoonists. Both create beautiful imagery while telling incredibly poignant stories which are thoughtful and evocative. With moderator Jim Rugg.
  • Moderator L.Nichols will explore the recent movement in comics toward exploring genderfluidity within a science-fiction context, with an emphasis on technology and utopian ideals. Panelists Jeremy Sorese (Curveball), Carta Monir (Secure Connect), Kevin Czap (Futchi Perf) and Rio Aubry Taylor (Jetty) will each discuss how their own work fits into this bold new vision of comics,
  • Gene Luen Yang has distinguished himself as a prominent voice in youth-friendly literature through his books American Born Chinese and Boxers and Saints. He continues to inspire young readers by championing diversity as the recently appointed National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Join us for a very special conversation with Gene as we spotlight Reading Without Walls. Moderated by Johanna Draper Carlson.
  • Join moderator Jared Gardner, publisher Raighne Hogan and an array of 2dcloud artists as they celebrate and recount the history of this cutting-edge indy publisher and look toward its future.

Additionally, several panels will focus on the cartooning into today’s political climate:

  • Tom Spurgeon moderates political cartoonists Ann Telnaes, Matt Wuerker, Keith Knight and Ben Passmore as they explore the role and responsibility of being a political cartoonist in a time when the freedom of the press is under attack.
  • In a world that seems increasingly difficult to satirize, come see how cartoonists Tommi Musturi (Simply Samuel), Aaron Lange (Trim), Sabin Cauldron (Maleficium), and Katie Fricas (The New Yorker) use different comedic tools to address the absurd, the awful and the just plain ridiculous. Moderated by Heidi MacDonald.
  • Celebrants and detractors alike are chewing on the fact that Donald Trump was elected president. Shannon Wheeler and Robert Sikoryak will help you swallow. In their books Sh*t My President Says from Top Shelf and The Unquotable Trump from Drawn & Quarterly (respectively), these two cartoonists illustrate Trump’s words for comedic effect and insight.

The complete schedule with times and descriptions can be found online.

 

Books Debuting at Small Press Expo 2017

SPX will see over 170 different graphic novels and comics making their publishing debut at this year’s show to start off the fall book buying season. This year, SPX will be held September 16 and 17, 2017 at the North Bethesda Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. A complete list of debuts, including cover images and publishing information, can be found on the SPX web site.

Here are some highlights of the new releases to debut at SPX 2017:

Language Barrier shows real meaning behind emojis, the subtext of sexts, the financial cryptography of flats and pumps, and more are revealed in this witty and wonderfully drawn collection. Hannah K. Lee‘s first book from Koyama Press melds elegant typography, beautiful illustration and trenchant text to make an acerbic art book.

House of Women from Fantagraphics is Sophie Goldstein’s second solo graphic novel, following 2015’s The Oven (AdHouse Books), which appeared on many year-end “Best of” lists, including Publisher’s Weekly and Slate. In this graphic novel, science fiction meets psychosexual drama when four women try to bring “civilization” to the natives of a remote planet on the fringes of the known universe.

The penultimate issue of Jason Lutes long-running series from Drawn & Quarterly finds Silvia Braun and David Schwartz joining forces to sabotage a neighborhood National Socialist outpost, while Marthe Müller says her final farewells to the city where she has come of age. And as darkness manifests in the alleyways of the underclass and estates of the elite, Kurt Severing glimpses the worst of all possible futures.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Behind is the 3rd collection of Keith Knight‘s nationally-syndicated comic strip the Knight Life. The hilarious new book follows the trials and tribulations of America’s foremost Gentleman Cartoonist and Star Wars Prequel-Denier, as he navigates family life, racism, giant spiders, and comic nerds.  Seen in such fine papers as the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Diego Union Tribune and the Boston Herald.

Acclaimed cartoonist Shannon Wheeler (The New YorkerGod Is Disappointed in YouToo Much Coffee Man) transforms Donald Trump’s most revealing tweets into razor-sharp cartoons, offering a subversive and illuminating insight into the mind of the most divisive political figure of our time. Whether you love him or hate him, this take on Trump will help you come to grips with the man and his ideas thanks to Wheeler’s signature mix of slapstick and sophistication.

Laura Terry‘s adorable woodland creatures return in Adorable Empire Vol. 2.  In their second adventure, they fend for themselves on the mean streets of Manhattan. Will they survive? Can they make it on their own? Will they be taken to the underworld by an army of giant roaches? The only thing for certain is that there will be destruction and it will be chockfull of cuteness.

Small Press Expo (SPX) is the preeminent showcase for the exhibition of independent comics, graphic novels, and alternative political cartoons. SPX is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit that brings together more than 650 artists and publishers to meet their readers, booksellers, and distributors each year. Graphic novels, mini comics, and alternative comics will all be on display and for sale by their authors and illustrators. The expo includes a series of panel discussions and interviews with this year’s guests.

The Ignatz Award is a festival prize held every year at SPX recognizing outstanding achievement in comics and cartooning, with the winners chosen by attendees at the show.

As in previous years, profits from the SPX will go to support the SPX Graphic Novel Gift Program, which funds graphic novel purchases for public and academic libraries, as well as the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), which protects the First Amendment rights of comic book readers and professionals.

Small Press Expo Celebrates 10 Years of Koyama Press

Koyama Press has been making comics and art books for a decade, and Small Press Expo is helping to celebrate their anniversary year with them with an incredible slate of comics, programming and a number of other celebration surprises. Koyama Press guests will include Connor Willumsen, Noel Freibert, Eleanor Davis, Sophia Foster-Dimino and more.

Founded in 2007, Koyama Press is a Toronto-based small press. Our mandate is to promote and support a wide range of emerging and established artists. Projects include comics, graphic novels, art books, and zines. We are known for our alternative edge and diverse range of titles that include a myriad of genres from autobiography to photography, from horror to humour, and more.Small Press Expo is proud to present the following programs highlighting the 10 years of Koyama Press:

Small Press Expo is proud to present the following programs highlighting the 10 years of Koyama Press:Kick Ass Annie-

 

Kick Ass Annie-versary: Koyama Press Turns 10
Annie Koyama has championed the work of emerging cartoonists for 10 years. As a leading publisher of underground comix, her roster features the work of many of today’s top names in the indie comics scene, including Michael DeForge, Aidan Koch, Alex Schubert, Daryl Seitchik, and many more. Join KP alumni, new and old, in a very special panel spotlighting one our favorite curators of small press cartoonists and their work. Moderated by Rob Clough of High-Low.

Koyama & DeForge: Lose, Everybody Wins
For nearly a decade, Annie Koyama (Koyama Press) and Michael DeForge (Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero) have been wowing readers with their strange and darkly humorous, ongoing anthology series, Lose. Join us for a special conversation with a celebrated, master cartoonist and an award winning publisher as we take an insightful look at one of small press publishing’s greatest partnerships. Moderated by Ryan Sands of Youth in Decline.Full lineup as well as times and locations to be announced in the coming weeks.

Full lineup as well as times and locations to be announced in the coming weeks.

 

Additionally, Koyama Press will be debuting its Fall 2017 releases at Small Press Expo, including Sophia Foster-Dimino‘s Sex Fantasy, GGs I’m Not Here, and Patrick Kyle‘s Everywhere Disappeared.

Sophia Foster-Dimino’s Sex Fantasy began as a loose, ephemeral zine that was produced in limited editions. These small comics in both size and length are esoteric and immensely personal. Covering a span of four years, the comics collected here build a relationship that is deeper than their elegantly drawn surfaces.In GG’s I’m Not Here, a young, second-generation woman wanders through her city and memories encountering the world through a camera’s lens; her independence pulled by the gravity of familial responsibility. She drifts until she encounters what could possibly be her potential self.

In GG’s I’m Not Here, a young, second-generation woman wanders through her city and memories encountering the world through a camera’s lens; her independence pulled by the gravity of familial responsibility. She drifts until she encounters what could possibly be her potential self.A keen observer of the absurd, Patrick Kyle’s stories in Everywhere Disappeared defamiliarize the machinations of life, work and art with droll dialogue and his angular, humanely geometric drawing and sci-fi settings that recall set design more than satellite images. Kyle’s figures may be foreign, his settings strange, but his stories resonate deeply.

A keen observer of the absurd, Patrick Kyle’s stories in Everywhere Disappeared defamiliarize the machinations of life, work and art with droll dialogue and his angular, humanely geometric drawing and sci-fi settings that recall set design more than satellite images. Kyle’s figures may be foreign, his settings strange, but his stories resonate deeply.

Underrated: Comic Book Contributors – Colourists

This week’s Underrated originally ran on Ramblings Of A Comics Fan in October 2015

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:  Colourists.



When it comes to the names attached to comics usually you know who the writer and artist is, whether that’s because of previews, or even just general talk around the Internets water cooler or your local comic shop. Recently I’ve noticed that  there are some very good comic book contributors that don’t get the same level of attention as those who write or draw the comics, such as the colourists.

A few things before we start; firstly, there is no way I’ll ever be able to list every talented colourist out there. Just no way. Secondly, if you take nothing else from this post, at least be aware of just how much colourists add to a comic. Thirdly this post will only contain a select few examples of some great colouring work from comics released within the not too distant past, or stories that should be easy to find in trade format. It is not meant to be an exhaustive, or complete, list of great colourists, and there will only be a select few examples here (and even then, only covers).

Because, frankly, if I tried to do that I would miss too many.

Sometimes a colourist can make an already great comic book into something that’s truly a work of art, where the same rai11ccomic in black and white would feel incomplete, hampering the enjoyment of the reader. As an example of this, take a look at the work of Clayton Crane: Rai #10 and #11 from Valiant. Although Rai may not be your cup of tea story wise – an android samurai from the year 4001, but you cannot deny that the artwork of Clayton Crane is something special here. He does full duties here, but it’s the colouring that really helps this comic stand above the others. The story in the two issues I mentioned takes place between a utopia and a barren planet, and just look at the way the colours allow you to tell which is which without even thinking about it.

ztcThe thing is, colourists are almost always unappreciated, but if it weren’t for their contributions to a comic some scenes would be borderline unintelligible.Zachariah Thorn‘s Robert Reichert is an example of this. The opening scene from Indigo Comics first publication has a brilliant dreamlike quality to it that would fall completely flat if not for the way the colouring brings out the detail (if you want to check it out, you can read it for free at their website.

There are occasions where the colourist will capture the feel of the comic so well that it’sbatman-44-cover almost uncanny. Lee Loughbridge did just that in DC‘s Batman #44. In what was probably the best comic featuring Batman released this year (certainly that I have read), the art was provided by guest artist Jock, and as talented as Jock is, it’s the colours that really make his artwork shine elevating the comic to the next level (although credit should also go to letterer Deron Bennett, too, but that’s another post for another day). Batman #44 is an example of the creative team firing on all cylinders, so it can be easy to overlook  the at times minimalist colouring work.

And that brings us to another point.

Colourists are often overlooked because their work can be so integral to a comic that you often don’t even notice how great it is. Now I’m not intending to say anything negative about black and white comics here, some of the best comics I’ve read are black and white, but there’s a difference between an intentionally black and white comic and one that’s missing the colour (Maus is an excellent example of a black and white comic that would probably not work quite as well if it had colours added). In a time when adult colouring books are seeing a stratospheric rise in popularity as people use them as a relaxaton method, maybe it’s time we stop taking the work of a comic book colourist for granted.


There we have it – an all too brief homage to an underrated art form that can sometimes make, or break, a comic. Are there other contributors to comic that are also underrated and under-appreciated?

Absolutely.

For that reason expect a second or third part to this post in the future. In the meantime, Underrated will probably return next week to highlight more comic book related stuff  that either gets ignored despite it’s high quality, or maybe isn’t quite as bad as we tend to think it is.

Until next time!

Demo-Graphics: The State of Indie/Small Press Comics

Earlier this week I brought you demographic reports based off of Facebook data for Marvel, and DC. Up next is independent/small press comics! Basically, everyone not the “big two.”

For this report I looked at comic book publisher likes that are not the big two or part of the big two. For this report, Vertigo, Zuda, Icon, are not included though they share similar comics as to other in this report. For this report, terms like IDW Publishing, BOOM! Studios, Fantagraphics were included. Manga was left out of this as well.

You can check out the stats for 2014 as well as those for 2015, and 2016.

Facebook Population: Over 4,200,000 in the United States

The indie/small press population has dropped about 2.6 million individuals. The previous year gained 2.4 million. With explosive growth for both DC and Marvel it’s interesting to see this drop and especially drop that much.

In 2014 and 2015 Spanish speakers accounted for 12.50%. In 2016 the percentage increased to 16.18%. 2017 sees the percent drop to 14.76%.

Gender and Age

In 2014 men accounted for 57.50% of the population and women 40.63%. A year later, that shifted with men accounting for 59.09% and women 40.91%. 2016 saw women account for 51.47% and men 48.53%.

It looks like women have mainly dropped interest accounting for 40.48% in 2017 while men increased to 59.52%. Men decreased about 800,000 while women decreased 1.8 million.

With men being a majority again things have shifted once again. Women are a majority age 17 and under but it looks like the 20s and 30s is where there’s the greatest loss in women.

Relationship Status

With a smaller populate, every demographic took a dive, though there’s a larger percentage that are “unspecified,” a trend we’ve seen elsewhere. “Single” also saw an increase in percentage.

Education

With such a change in gender breakdowns, there’s absolutely shifts here.

Gender Interest

“Men interested in men” and “men interested in men and women” both remained steady since last year as far as percentage. Women is where things dropped but that’s expected due to the overall population decrease.

Ethnicity

Compared to last year all ethnicities decreased in overall population but precentage is mixed. African Americans and Asian Americans both increased as a percentage while Hispanics dropped. Interestingly, English-dominant Hispanics increased slightly in percentage.

Generation

And not shockingly populations dropped here too. Generation X and Millennials saw a slight increase in percentage while Baby Boomers saw a loss.

Join us tomorrow when we look at comicdom as a whole!

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