RASL and the documentary The Cartoonist appeared on a few year end lists around the internet. Here is a fun link I liked… RASL: The Drift made the Top 5 Continuing Books of the Year over at Stumptown Trade Review. I did a podcast interview with these guys earlier in the year when I was at the Stumptown Comics Fest, and enjoyed it very much. Thanks, Brian & Thor! Good time to mention that the new issue, RASL #6 will be in stores on Jan. 20! There is a preview of RASL #6 here.
We had heard that PBS stations might start running the doc sometime next year, but it looks like some are starting now. Apparently individual stations don’t report when they run something. We find out if someone tells us. We’ll post any times we hear about, and hopefully you will let us know if the doc runs in your town. Be sure to check your local PBS listings.
Just got back from the Retailer Summit in Baltimore on Tuesday where I met and talked with over three hundred comic shop owners and managers from all over North America. Got a lot of great feedback on RASL, which was nice. Above is the art for the cover of #7, which will be in the Diamond catalog for items shipping in Feb. Starting with #7 next year RASL will begin shipping bimonthly. The second collection, RASL 2: The Fire of St. George should drop in April. Amazing color from Steve, huh? Wild!
One surprise for me at the summit was learning that so many comic shops were doing well with the BONE color editions from Scholastic. For some reason, I thought those were mostly being sold into bookstores, schools and libraries, but I heard differently this week! So thank you, retailers, for continuing to support for BONE.
Another happy event last weekend was Terry Moore’s win at the Harveys. ECHO won for best new series! Much deserved! Terry has worked hard to bring that story to life, and we’re all crazy proud of him!
The first four issues of RASL were 32 pages and were published on a fairly relaxed 3 issue-a-year plan. When I came up with this format, I thought the extra pages would make up for a slower release schedule, but the demand for more issues gets louder every time a new chapter comes out. I think everyone I heard from liked the extra pages, but they’d rather have less time between issues.
So, starting with RASL no.5, the black & white comic books will be 24 pages, and in the Fall begin a bimonthly schedule.
I have to admit it makes sense to me too, especially at deadline/crunch time when instead of dealing with18 to 22 page stories which is standard, I suddenly found myself wrangling an extra 10 to 14 pages which almost made my brain explode!
I still have to make room for some scheduling conflicts this summer (for a couple of projects that I’m not ready to announce yet,) but, here’s the schedule for the next few issues:
RASL no.5 July [secret project over the summer months]
RASL no.6 October
RASL no.7 December
RASL no.8 March 2010
We’re very excited to announce that RASL volume one: The Drift is shipping this week!
To prepare for the release of the first RASL trade collection, Jeff gave an interview to Jennifer Contino over at the Pulse. You can read it here. It’s all about the inspirations for the characters and the wild science behind the story!
Not too long ago, a team from PBS NEWSHOUR came out to Columbus to visit with me and check out the exhibit at The Wexner Center. The segment is going to air tonight, July 21, 2008 on The NEWSHOUR with Jim Lehrer.
There will also be a live on-line forum next week on Wednesday, July 30 @ 11:30 EST. Check local listings for times.
Janna, who works with Diamond Book Distributors, organized the event and chose the panelists: Art Spiegelman, Mike Mignola, Jeph Loeb, and me. Four artists with very different styles and areas of expertise, ranging from the Underground to Mainstream, All ages to Hollywood. The thing we all had in common was an early desire to explore long form comics; comics that people now refer to almost off handedly as graphic novels.
In the days leading up to the breakfast, Art told me he had a power point presentation that briefly covered the history of comics and the things that led him to the art form. Sounded perfect, so we worked it into the panel.
Here we are going over the order of events and making sure I could follow his power point during my introductions.
People began to crowd into the room, and at one point, Mike Mignola wandered up to the podium and cracked us up as we fumbled with our technology.
The panel begins and Janna introduces us to the audience.
I start by stating my theory that 1986 was the Big Bang of graphic novels, a year that saw the release of MAUS by art spiegelman, THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS by Frank Miller, and WATCHMEN by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Also, I turned to the other guys and asked if any of them used the term graphic novel to describe what they do, or if they just call them comic books. Not sursprisingly (to me, anyway), they all answered "comic books."
Then I introduced Art’s power point.
Art’s talk was funny, personal and really informative. It included some historical background as well as some breakdowns on how the art form itself works. Art’s really good at this, and the audience, mostly made up of bookstore people and librarians who have never heard of Dr. Wertham or Basil Wolverton, were eating it up. And as Spiegelman interwove his own formative experiences with comics, you could see the whole thing was going over really well.
Next we heard from Mike Mignola who talked about the joy of working in his studio at his desk, weaving folklore into his Hellboy tales, and his less than compelling (for him) experiences working with Hollywood.
Jeph Loeb on the other hand came from Hollywood and was delighted when he was first given the chance to work on comic books. His work with long time collaborator Tim Sale on Batman: The Long Halloween was one of the turning points in the Direct Market’s interest in mainstream graphic novels.
At one point, as the moderator, I was trying to bridge the gap between Hollywood and comics, and I mentioned the similarity between the visual techniques of comics and film, the developement of camera angles and even saying that I disagreed with people who don’t believe you should use film terms to describe comics techniques. I was thinking of Alan Moore, but Art jumped in saying he was getting aggravated – - he pointed out that comics didn’t need films in order to innovate; Rudolf Toeffler was doing cross-cutting before D.W. Griffith was a gleam in his father’s eye! Or something like that.
(I mention this because it gets a lot of play in almost every article written about the event. I think it was a really interesting and memorable moment – - in my defense, Art actually makes my point for me by using the term "cross-cutting" – - a word that comes from the movie industry and refers to the physical cutting of the film during editing – - but I let it go, because his larger point that comics are not a derivative or lesser art form was a good one for a broader non-comics audience. Also, Art and I argue like that just for fun even when we’re not on a panel!)
Anyway, the breakfast was a huge success. You can read more indepth coverage by clicking on the links at the end of this blog.
Afterwards, folks lined up to get some of their books signed to chat up the panelists. That’s PW’s Calvin Reid talking to Jeph Loeb.
During my signing at the Scholastic booth, Dick Robinson, President, Chairman and CEO of Scholastic stopped by.
Above, I’m recording a podcast for Ingram Book Group, the world’s largest wholesale book distributors. Once I get a link to the podcast, I’ll post it for anyone interested. Below, one of my favorite interviews of the weekend was this one for younger readers, but I’ve lost my notes on who this little girl was – - doesn’t matter, she was adorable. Again, if I get some more info, I’ll pass it on.
And last, but not least, signing right next to me during the official BEA autograph session was master guitarist Slash. Only at Book Expo…or, well, maybe Comic-Con International in San Diego, now that I think about it.
Don’t forget that RASL is for mature readers. I’m actually printing that on the book this time because at the last few events I’ve attended (BONE & BEYOND at the Wexner Center, and Book Expo America) a lot of parents and librarians were picking up copies of RASL for their kids. I thought I’d done enough interviews over the last year to spread the word about the more grown-up noir aspects of this title, but maybe not.
Anyway, I’m glad #2 is here. It’s 32 pages of comics… and here is a preview of the first three pages to wet your appetite. You can click on the images to view them larger.