Month: April 2009

Questions for the Week: 4/20/2009

Posted by – April 20, 2009

I’ve been linking like mad the last week on Twitter and Facebook, so it seemed high time to do another rundown.

• Why are there still intelligent people out there laughing at brilliant webcomics creators’ self-publishing and distribution models? Over at The Beat, one my regular quadro-daily blog stops, there was a comment thread flowing full force today about Randall Munroe’s decision to self-publish his new volume of xkcd strips. Four years ago, I could at least understand industry-savvy folks with nothing but the dot-com crash as a reference point guffawing out criticisms like, “Year, but how do they make money?” Now, though, they just aren’t paying attention to any number of amazing creators out there from Jon Rosenberg to Dave Kellett, Ryan North and R. Stevens, who have been making these models work as viable livelihoods. It’s the future of indie publishing right now for a variety of comics formats, and the truth is, sometimes it just makes more sense from a dollar perspective to go it alone now.

Can Alan Moore please be called to the stand for this case? Because there is a sky high amount of money I would pay to hear his testimony.

• Are we alone in the universe? Not according to Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell.

• How lucky are Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong that they didn’t have to be eulogized on national TV by Richard Nixon? Nixon was prepared to do it.

• Was Gordon Lightfoot singing about a zombie infestation? Possibly.

Warmoth on Webcomics: Cameron Stewart

Posted by – April 16, 2009

[Editor's Note: This is the seventh in a series of some of my favorite webcomics creator interviews that previously ran on WizardUniverse.com and were a part of the site's archives that are no longer hosted there. Cameron Stewart, of Sin Titulo and Seaguy fame for me is still one of the most interesting and versatile creators working in comics right now, and the Transmission-X project he put together with his fellow creators is one of the best examples I've seen of how to put an ongoing webcomics anthology together. This interview was originally posted on November 9, 2007.]

Cameron Stewart is already a respected and Eisner-nominated name in comic book artwork coming out of his Vertigo series Other Side. He’s also worked with A-list names like Grant Morrison and Brian Azzarello. Stewart has further aspirations, however. Right now, he’s writing and drawing his own webcomic serial Sin Titulo as part of his Toronto based collective Transmission-X with Karl Kerschl and Ramón Pérez.

Sin Titulo follows a main character searching for answers about his grandfather’s death after he goes to visit the nursing home and discovers that no one notified him that his grandpa died. The story takes some screeching and unsettling turns as Stewart has honed his scripting talents, which as I found out speaking with him, dealt with some issues very close to home.

I caught him in the middle of the day at his Canadian studio and asked him about his writing aspirations, as well as where autobiography helped shape Sin Titulo, and he was remarkably forthcoming.

BRIAN WARMOTH: How’s stuff going at the studio right now? Is everyone still on schedule?

STEWART: Amazingly, yes. We set it up so that everyone has a week to do one page. We want one update a week from everybody, and everybody’s stuck to it so far. We have a little informal penalty system. Every week, we all go for brunch on Saturday, and whoever fails to update their strip has to buy brunch for everybody—and there’s eight people, so that’s going to be expensive. That’s kept everybody motivated.

It’s a bold endeavor putting that many people together for a webcomic project. Virtually no one can publish for a year without missing a single deadline. But with that many creators together, there’s a lot of inter-reliance. 

STEWART: When you’re doing it alone there’s no sense of consequence if you fail. If nothing else, even if we didn’t buy each other brunch we’d just mock each other terribly if anyone failed to do it. We’ve been up since July, and no one’s missed a day yet, though. There have been some close calls, but everyone’s managed to—like Indiana Jones pulling his cap as the stone wall’s coming down—just make it.
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Comics’ Pollock or Hendrix

Posted by – April 10, 2009

So this Paul Pope video interview on Graphic NYC: Pope’s work has always had strange ways of getting me to re-evaluate everyday aspects of comics, whether it’s plot conventions or line functions. He had this great quote at the end of the interview here:

“The great thing with comics is we haven’t really found our Jackson Pollock yet or our Hendrix. We haven’t hit the end of it.”

It got me wondering what exactly that type of creator would look like for comics. For Pollock, I feel like some of Chris Ware’s massive pieces come the closest — distilling the page’s contents down to an experience based more on the overwhelming bombardment of visual stimuli and mechanics, like what Pollock did with the painter’s stroke. I feel like there’s a case there.

As for Hendrix, I’m a little more inclined to agree that that hasn’t occurred yet for comics. He took the electric guitar to a new level in popular culture, shedding its context as a derivative instrument and means of expression through the vocabulary of sonic landscapes and sounds that were uniquely and necessarily generated through amplifiers. This is probably where you have to decide, what does comics need to be parsed from to stand alone? Cartoons? Movies? Novels? Childrens’ illustration? I’m going to have to point to Alan Moore and Watchmen for accomplishing that and the world missing the point with the movie this year. I hope someone does make that work in my lifetime though, that finally succeeds in bringing what Watchmen did for me the first time I read it to the masses.

The ultimate conclusion that should be stated as well is comics probably doesn’t need a Pollock or a Hendrix, as it is its own medium that will continue to evolve in its own way and have its own standard-setters. I’d like to think Gaiman is its Bergman, though, thrusting hefty literary bundles onto the form and upping the ante for depth of storytelling.

Simon Cowell’s face

Posted by – April 4, 2009

I’m as big of a supporter of schadenfreude as anyone, but I’ve never really latched on to American Idle. That said the character of Simon Cowell does fascinate me, mainly from the absurd polarization between critic and performer that the show creates with him. Sky News has this moderately aesthetically interesting masks gallery up right now; I was engaging in some standard Internet surf-zombie behavior ruffling through them when I came upon Cowell’s. Celebrities painted their own faces to sell on eBay for charity. Anyway, I had to stop and look at this one just to figure out if I thought Simon Cowell had any reason to presume himself a painter. It seemed so simple at first glance — then I realized the facepalm symbolism at work here. And you know what, Simon Cowell? You made me laugh.

 

Clicking on the mask goes to the full Sky News gallery.

Clicking on the mask goes to the full Sky News gallery.