Q+As and Spotlights
Nick Abadzis Spotlight
London-based cartoonist Nick Abadzis has worked in various areas of comics, including the British small press, Vertigo Comics, and 2000 AD, and has also drawn several children’s books. Most recently he wrote and drew the graphic novel Laika, about the first living being to be sent into space. Abadzis will discuss the research intensive process behind his latest work.
Rutu Modan Spotlight
Israeli cartoonist Rutu Modan is a co-founder of the Actus Tragicus comics collective, a group of Israeli cartoonists seeking to reach an international audience with accomplished, personal comics work. Her first graphic novel, Nobody Said It Was Going to Be Fun, was a collaboration with author and Actus associate Etgar Keret. Exit Wounds is her first full-length graphic novel to be published domestically in the United States.
Paul Karasik on Fletcher Hanks
Paul Karasik examines the life and work of Fletcher Hanks, the obscure cartoonist whose mad visions of grim superheroic retribution saw print in the pages of second-rate comics in the earliest years of the comic book industry. Karasik will delve into the themes and imagery of Hanks’ work and will answer the burning question: What ever happened to Fletcher Hanks?
Gilbert Hernandez Q+A
In 1982 Gilbert Hernandez and his brothers Jaime and Mario burst onto the comics scene with the publication of Love and Rockets #1. Since then Gilbert has spun out a vast, intergenerational saga detailing the lives, loves, and heartbreaks of the citizens of Palomar, a fictional Central American town, as well as challenging short-form work and a variety of stand-alone stories for various publishers. The prolific artist continues to challenge himself and his audience with new work in a variety of formats and genres, including the self-contained graphic novel Chance in Hell. Long-time friend and publisher Gary Groth will lead a discussion with the seminal artist.
Underground comix veteran Kim Deitch continues to produce the best work of his career, most recently the graphic novels Alias the Cat and Shadowlands. His other books include The Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Hollywoodland, and A Shroud for Waldo, and he has contributed to RAW, Weirdo, Zero Zero, Arcade, McSweeney’s and Details. Over the course of an hour Deitch will discuss his most recent books, his career, his thoughts about art and comics, and his current works-in-progress.
C.F. (aka Christopher Forgues) is the creator of the mini-comics series Low Tides and also performs musically as “Kites.” His work has appeared in numerous anthologies including Paper Rodeo, Free Radicals and Kramers Ergot (including the wrap-around cover for that anthology’s fifth volume). Dan Nadel, whose PictureBox publishing company has just published C.F.’s book Powr Mastrs, will lead a discussion with the artist.
Jeff Smith Q+A
Jeff Smith’s Bone – a beautifully drawn black and white synthesis of Carl Barks and J. R. R. Tolkein – began as a self-publishing success story, drawing raves from all corners of the comics world. The series is now an international hit for young readers in its new incarnation as a series of full-color graphic novels from Scholastic. The artist will discuss his work in a special spotlight session with moderator Heidi MacDonald.
As an underground cartoonist, Bill Griffith created such characters as Mr. The Toad and Zippy the Pinhead, while co-editing the anthologies Young Lust and Arcade. Zippy has since “escaped into the real world” as the star of a syndicated daily newspaper strip, surely the oddest character to still roam that now staid realm. Over the course of an hour Griffith will deliver a heavily illustrated slideshow talk about his life and work to date.
Panels and Presentations
Top Shelf Panel
Ten years ago Chris Staros and Brett Warnock joined forces at SPX to form Top Shelf Productions. Since then the pair have published work by Tom Hart, Alan Moore, Jeffrey Brown, Craig Thompson, Nicholas Mahler, Alex Robinson, Steve Lafler, Renée French, and many others. On the occasion of Top Shelf’s tenth anniversary, Staros and Warnock will reflect on their shared history. Long-time Top Shelf artist James Kochalka will ask the questions.
Comics and animated cartoons are two distinct media which are often conflated. And yet, the two forms do share similarities and influences – including undeniable influences upon one another. Douglas Wolk will lead a discussion with Kim Deitch, Roger Langridge, Tom Neely and Jeff Smith that aims to negotiate the points of overlap and the points of distinction between these two media.
Center for Cartoon Studies: Presentation and Workshop
Robyn Chapman joins us from the Center for Cartoon Studies, a two-year educational institution for budding cartoonists in White River Junction, Vermont. Robyn will talk about this unique school and will lead a hands-on cartooning workshop. No matter how little experience you have, you will leave this panel having drawn a comics page!
Nemo’s Wake: Comic Stripping Today
More than 100 years after comics emerged as a mass medium in American newspapers, the comic strip survives. Bill Griffith (Zippy the Pinhead), Nicholas Gurewitch (The Perry Bible Fellowship), Keith Knight (The K Chronicles) and Ted Rall (Search and Destroy) discuss the strengths and struggles of drawing personal work in the comic strip form today, in venues ranging from the web to alternative newsweeklies to the traditional daily comics page. Josh Fruhlinger (The Comics Curmudgeon) moderates.
As the term “graphic novel” becomes a label for comics both serious and trivial, what might we lose by unconsciously adopting the novel as a model? Should comics aspire to the novelistic form? Might some comics be better understood in terms of poetry, painting, or the essay? How “novelistic” is a “graphic novel,” anyway? Isaac Cates leads a discussion about these and other questions with Austin English, John Hankiewicz, Tom Kaczynski and Lauren Weinstein.
The Generic And The Particular
For decades comics were dominated by a handful of genres (most notably superheroes) that became strongly identified with the medium. Since the Undergrounds, ambitious independent cartoonists have often rejected traditional genres. More recently, however, cartoonists have begun to incorporate generic tropes into their art, while some critics have begun to reclaim older genre comics. Tim Hodler leads a discussion with Gilbert Hernandez, Jon Lewis, Frank Santoro and Matt Wagner.
How much truth is there in fiction? Especially when that fiction purports to incorporate some kind of documented truth? Nick Abadzis, Nick Bertozzi, and Rutu Modan have recently produced graphic novels that depict true historical and contemporary milieus, personages and events, but rely on levels of invention that range from the incidental to the fantastic. Marc Singer leads the discussion.
The State of Comics Criticism
Comics are getting more press than ever, but how good is the press? Is it too good? Do comics suffer from the lack of a vibrant critical milieu? Gary Groth (The Comics Journal), Tim Hodler (Comics Comics), Dan Nadel (Picturebox/Comics Comics), and Douglas Wolk (Reading Comics) discuss in a conversation led by Bill Kartalopoulos.
Publicity and Media
Mainstream press about comics used to be rare, but today articles about comics flood print venues and the internet. How does the media approach comics? How does one get the attention of the press? Who’s reading this press, and what can it do for a book? Heidi MacDonald (The Beat, Publishers Weekly), Whitney Matheson (USA Today) and Douglas Wolk (Reading Comics) will discuss and answer questions.
Working with Mainstream Publishers
Opportunities and options abound for cartoonists seeking publication of their work, but with those options come hazards. What does a cartoonist need to consider when negotiating publication of their work? What kind of support can a publisher provide? What are the trade-offs? A panel of cartoonists including Nick Abadzis (Laika), Ed Piskor (Macedonia) and Raina Telgemeier (The Babysitters Club) will share their experiences and answer questions.
Changes in Comics Publishing and Distribution
Received wisdom has it that the bookstore market has been the site of a great publishing boom for comics in the form of “graphic novels.” How well are comics publishers doing in bookstores? How well are they doing in comic book shops, for that matter? How has distribution and publishing changed in the long term – and recently – for comics publishers? Gary Groth (Fantagraphics), Brett Warnock (Top Shelf) and Dylan Williams (Sparkplug Books) discuss.