Signing: Dame Darcy at Vacation and Escapist Comics

Panel from Dame Darcy's "Meat Cake"Dame Darcy will be returning to the Bay Area this month for two events showcasing her new book Handbook for Hot Witches and her long running Fantagraphic’s title Meat Cake. Her first stop will be in the West Bay at vintage clothing shop and art gallery, Vacation. Her illustrations will be featured in Vacation’s gallery space for the entire month with a kick-off reception on September 6 at 7 p.m. The reception will feature music from DD and the Bronze and she’ll additionally be drawing illustrations in all purchased books.

On September 15 she’ll be in the East Bay for a 5 p.m. signing at Escapist Comics on Telegraph.

In addition to Meat Space, Dame Darcy has published a number of graphic novels including Frightful Fairytales, The Illustrated Jane Eyre, Dollerium, and Gasoline. Many of those titles will be available at Escapist.

Escapist Comics
3090 Claremont Ave.
Berkeley, CA
(510) 652-6642
Website: www.escapistcomics.com
Tumblr: escapistpodcast
Twitter:
@escapistcomics
Facebook: EscapistComics
Mon-Sat: 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun 16-6 p.m.

Vacation
651 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
Website: www.vacation-sf.com
Wed – Sun: 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Publishing kerfuffle du jour

Lit Reactor has a great précis of yet another thieving publisher.

Image of alleged stolen Ghost Rider art.

Image of alleged stolen Ghost Rider art.

In addition to using an unregistered company with a name derived from a legitimate small press, this one is made particularly salacious by Trestle Press’s clearly non-sanctioned use of Ghost Rider images as cover art (among myriad other artistic infringements.)

Check out examples of Trestle’s artistic theft here.

 

Opening Reception: The Art of Angela Dominguez at TR!CKSTER

Angela Dominguez's new book "Santiago Stays"

Angela Dominguez’s new book “Santiago Stays”

San Francisco-based illustrator and writer Angela Dominguez will be TR!CKSTER’s featured artist starting September 3. The shop will showcase art from two of her three new children’s books: Let’s Go, Hugo! and Santiago Says. Dominguez will be in store on September 8 for a reception where she’ll be singing her books. Signings start at 4 p.m. with the reception officially kicking off at 5:30 p.m. Her newest of the new books is Santiago Says which will be released on Tuesday. The book’s description:

Santiago stays. He does not budge when offered a walk. He does not budge when offered a treat. Not even a hamburger can lure this stubborn French bulldog away from his post, much to the disappointment of the little boy trying to engage him. When the boy’s frustration bubbles over into a yell, it wakes the baby and the reader realises whom it was that Santiago was guarding in the first place. This familiar theme of an attention-seeking older sibling paired with the comically and characteristically stubborn French bulldog makes for a humorous and charming tale. All ends well with the boy and his dog playing together with the baby in a final joyous scene.

TR!CKSTER
2631 Ashby Ave
Berkeley, CA
(510) 665-8900
Tumblr: trickstertrickster
Twitter: @thetrickstore
Facebook: TheTRICKSTORE
Tue-Sun: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Superior Spider-Man is better than you

This post originally appeared on my personal blog on April 8, 2013.

Alternate cover for Amazing Spider-Man #700

Alternate cover for Amazing Spider-Man #700

If I were to rely solely on the comments sections of comic book industry news sites I’d be led to believe that Superior Spider-Man is the worst thing to happen to Marvel – ever. In truth, it’s one of the best titles the company currently has, which is saying quite a bit, because Marvel’s certainly been hitting it out of the park in terms of storytelling and character development.

I like Peter Parker. When I was a wee lad I’d consume anything that featured “Spider-Man” in the title. I wanted to be Spidey and I related to Peter. That said, one thing I like more than Peter Parker is when comic book publishers take risks with legacy characters in the name of telling an ambitious and well-written story. For all the complaining fanboys do about the state of the industry it’s always puzzling to me that they complain just as much when companies try to do exciting things. Sacred cows are boring if all they do is stand in a field all day.

What Superior Spider-Man does well is play with emotions. It’s sad to know that Peter’s not simply dead, but that his body has been inhabited by one of his greatest enemies, Doctor Octopus. It’s torture to see a flicker of the hero still frustrated and screaming in the background of his body’s consciousness.

It’s creepy to know it’s Otto Octavius flirting with Mary Jane. It’s even creepier on a whole other level to know he’s pining inside for the woman he once almost married, Peter’s Aunt May.

It’s frustrating to finally see J. Jonah Jameson approve of the actions of the wall crawler, but only because Otto is sullying Spidey’s name by crossing the hard ethical lines set by Peter.

It’s humiliating to watch Doc Ock mock Peter, one of the smarter people on Earth-616, for not completing his doctorate and actually pledge to do what Peter could not by finishing school. To add to that humiliation Doc builds dozens of spider cameras to monitor the city, so he can more effectively fight crime while also finishing his degree.

The storyline Dan Slott is writing for Spider-Man is providing the character of Peter Parker the opportunity to take a vacation. It is, essentially, a way to eventually relaunch a fresh Peter Parker as the spectacular Spider-Man without the need to relaunch the entire Marvel Universe. At this point it appears when Parker comes back Spider-Man’s reputation will have been reset to where the public is wary of the wall crawler. It’ll be like the good old days when J. Jonah Jameson was a one man propaganda machine vilifying Spidey no matter how much good he did. Assuming the world doesn’t learn that Spider-Man was occupied by Doc Ock there’s going to be a serious need for Parker to rebuild not only his brand, but relationships.

Of course, I was one of those in the minority who felt DC and Grant Morrison were too quick to bring back Bruce Wayne as Batman. Dick Grayson trying to live up to the legend, and cope with a scowling Damian Wayne, was far more interesting than yet another Bruce Wayne as Batman vs. “fill-in-the-blank” from his rogues gallery story. Due to the necessity to bring back Bruce Wayne we never had the opportunity to learn, for example, how would Dick Grayson as Batman handle the Riddler while carrying on the charade that it’s the same Batman?

I know how Peter Parker as Spider-Man will handle villains like Electro or Chameleon. I’ve read versions of those stories for years. I don’t know how Otto Octavius as Spider-Man will handle those villains, especially without letting on too much that he isn’t the same person inside the Peter Parker flesh suit.

Dan Slott has received a great deal of venom for his decision to “kill” Peter Parker, but the angry comments from the “don’t change the status quo” crowd are mere whispers when held up against the numbers. Superior is a success, because Slott, with the blessing of his editors, decided to have faith that readers wanted to read new stories and not just remixes of the old.

Cartoon Art Museum Curator Andrew Farago profiled in Washington City Paper

Neal Adams cover for Action Comics 419

Neal Adams cover for Action Comics 419

Want to know more about what goes into curating San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum? Curator Andrew Farago was recently profiled by DC’s alt-weekly Washington City Paper. Farago gives insight into what it means to be the curator at one of the few museums in the country dedicated specifically to the medium of comics. Next weekend the museum will be closing out it’s 75th anniversary celebration of Superman and during the interview Farago cited his exposure to the Smithsonian’s exhibit during Superman’s 50th anniversary as possible panting the seeds for the possibilities of comics in museums.

“As a kid who grew up near Cleveland, Superman’s hometown, that’s always been an important connection for me. And my first exposure to comics in a museum setting was when my sixth grade class visited Washington, D.C. during Superman’s 50th anniversary, where we saw the Smithsonian’s Superman exhibition, and that must have planted the seeds for me going into museum work. I made sure to include the “I Am Curious—Black!” comic book in our current Superman: A 75th Anniversary Celebration show,  since I saw that as a kid and was thoroughly confused by it. I felt an obligation to baffle the next generation of Superman fans with it, too.”

The full interview can be read at Washington City Paper.

The Superman exhibit runs until September 8. While at the museum be sure to check out the exhibits dedicated to Will Eisner and San Francisco-based illustrator Roman Muradov.

Comic Art Museum
655 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94105

morrisoncon: speed. madness. flying saucers.

It seems nearly impossible to go to a comic book convention and not come back without at least one person you attended with coming down with “Con Plague.” I was one of those lucky individuals at MorrisonCon, but I’m pretending the phlegm in my chest is actually a magic mirror trying to find it’s way out through my mouth, nose, and eyes. I’m pleased to report, however, that “Con Plague” is one of the only things MorrisonCon has in common with a traditional comic book convention.

To call MorrisonCon a convention actually seems to betray the spirit of the event. I wasn’t at a con, I was spending a weekend at a house party with more than 400 wickedly smart people who were also spitfire conversationalists in topics of my interest. We’d all hangout in the living room with various people coming and going and as they came and went the conversation would fluidly shift based on the personalities in the room.

Are the couches full of artists? The conversation shifts to art. Some folks who dabble in film are in the room? The conversation shifts to film. So on and so forth.

What never happened was a boring moment in any of those conversations. Tangents were not only welcome but encouraged.

Due to how casual the panels were at MorrisonCon and the seeming willingness of attendees to allow the creators to riff and not stick to subjects it felt much more personal. I wasn’t asking questions or directly involved with the discussions, just watching, but I somehow felt more engaged than I typically do at conventions.

There was also a great deal of respect, not only between the creators who took the stage, but also between those creators and the audience, and those creators and others in the industry who weren’t there. It was amazingly positive, which is a credit to the personalities we were there to see. It also pierced the veil of the alleged egoism of comic book creators.

The one time the conversation could have turned negative was when an attendee brought up Rob Liefeld, often the brunt of jokes in spite of what he’s done for the industry, but aside from Darick Robertson making a friendly comment about Liefeld stealing “tiny feet” from him the moderator quickly shut down and shifted the direction of the topic.

It’s easy for comic fans, especially in this day of age, to get caught up in the celebrity of comics and the rumormongers who feed on drama. Jim Lee, for example, has been made out to be a bad guy in some circles for taking the gamble of relaunching the DC Universe. If you read comic forums he comes off as a conniving figure who only cares about dollar signs and not the books.

Jim Lee cares about the industry and he cares about the fans. Even though his adorable baby girl and wife were waiting for him he spent three hours signing books and drawing sketches for fans even if they weren’t on the advance list for signing.

I used my opportunity across the table from Lee to thank him for the relaunch and what it’s meant for the industry as a whole. Comic book sales have been on the rise, especially in comparison to where the numbers were a decade ago. There are many factors for the increase (especially so much talent), but I can’t help but credit DC’s relaunch for playing an important role. Whether one likes the relaunch or not the company managed to make comics a big topic in the country for a few months and, I believe, got more people in the stores to see all of the other great titles coming out from indie publishers.

It was that access to these individuals who have been important in creating the culture I love that was the second best part of MorrisonCon. Each attendee was only offered two guaranteed signing slots, but it didn’t really matter, because creators were constantly just hanging out in the hallway, convention lounge, and art gallery. I went home with autographs or sketches from every special guest except for Max Landis and James Gunn. They were approachable and friendly.

I wrote that the access to special guests was the second best part because the first best part was the attendees. I love those people. They seemed to hold comics to a higher standard than I’ve seen at some cons. While we could get the signatures from everybody it didn’t really seem like the goal. It also didn’t seem to matter that the only exclusive announcement we heard was about Multiversity. We weren’t at MorrisonCon for scoops or to be able to yell “FIRST!” over getting something on Twitter .00001 seconds before anyone else at the con.

This was a celebration of everything we love about comics without the long lines and bureaucracy of bigger conventions. I felt like it was designed specifically for me with Morrison and the other creators putting it together as an opportunity to thank us for supporting them. It may have been called MorrisonCon, but I came out of it feeling like it was FanCon.

Speed. Madness. Flying saucers.

 

This post originally appeared on October 5, 2012, on my long-defunct tumblr: earth-1.tumblr.com.

Madison’s Westfield Comics prepares for the new DCU

On Wednesday the San Diego Comic-Con kicks off. In recent years the focus has been less on the form of media in the event’s name and more about television shows, video gaming, and film. This year Comic-Con could be much more old school as the main point of discussion for many attendees will likely be the controversial decision by DC comics to reset all of it’s titles to #1 and, in a sense, relaunch the Universe. On Saturday, fans are planning a protest to express how “utterly baffled, disappointed and just ANGRY” they are about DC’s decision.

That protest is in solidarity with “Harleypalooza” where cosplayers who like to dress as The Joker’s lady friend, Harley Quinn, plan to show their outrage at the new DC version of Harley. The previous incarnation of Harley sported a modest clown suit and the new DCU (or DCnU) has her sporting a loosely tied corset and very, very short shorts (here’s some commentary on the new look).

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