Comic: meeting the Monkees' Davy Jones

At Spin, cult cartoonist Ward Sutton illustrates a memorable encounter with the Monkees' Davy Jones. Read the rest

Friends With Boys: graphic novel about fitting in at high school, seeing ghosts

Faith Erin Hicks's new graphic novel Friends With Boys launches today. It's the story of Maggie, who is about to follow her three older brothers to the town high-school after a lifetime of home-schooling. Maggie is understandably nervous, because everything in her life is unsettled: her mother mysteriously left the family at the start of the summer, her twin brothers have begun to fight with unprecedented viciousness, and the ghost that she's seen off and on all her life has begun a much more persistent haunting than ever before.

What follows is, in some ways, a classic story about misfits in big schools, but it is handled with such deftness and charm by Hicks that it feels fresh. In any event, the fitting-in-at-school plot is just a skeleton which Hicks hangs with fresh tissue: a series of mysteries about simmering rivalries, her missing mother and the ghost that haunts her are the real tale.

As with Hicks's earlier work, Friends With Boys shines in part due to the engaging and lovable character work, personified with a fine and expressive illustration style. Maggie's best friend, a daffy punk girl called Lucy, has my vote for one of the great punk comic characters, right up with Tank Girl. This is a great comic for young people and grownups alike.

I've been a fan of Hicks's work since I picked up her graphic novel Zombies Calling, and it's a pleasure to find her continuing to produce top-notch work. You can preview Friends With Boys in its webcomic incarnation. Read the rest

Kickstarter success for DRM-free webcomics, reader-funded long-form journalism

Some heartwarming news on the Kickstarter front: fans of the Diesel Sweeties webcomic have oversubscribed R. Stevens's DRM-free ebook, for which he was hoping to raise $3,000, and brought the total up to nearly $40K. Meanwhile, Matter, the startup that wants to fund long-form journalism online, blew past its $50K target in two days, and is now sitting at 81K. Read the rest

Batman matrioshke

Russian sculptor Katya Malakhova created a set of Batman matrioshkes that -- judging from the description -- actually nest. I wonder if the ears are hollow?

Batman doll (via Neatorama) Read the rest

Goats webcomic book IV: the Kickstarter edition

Jon Rosenberg, creator of the entirely demented Goats webcomic sez, "Just wanted to let you know that it looks like I'm going to be able to do a fourth Goats book, and I'm doing it without a publisher -- this one is going to be wholly funded by the readers themselves. The Goats Book IV Kickstarter met its fundraising goal only eighteen hours after it launched, which has made me a bit giddy. The money is nice, but the ability to do projects without big companies backing them is superb." (Thanks, Jon!) Read the rest

Marvel Comics to US gov't: mutants are not human (and should not be taxed as such)

Radiolab covers the strange saga of Marvel Comics's fight against the US customs authority over whether X-Men dollies were "dolls" or "toys" -- the difference being that dolls (which are defined as characters that represent humans) are taxed at twice the rate of "toys." The case turned on whether a mutant was, indeed, human, or whether they were monsters. Despite Professor X's long advocacy for the essential humanity of mutants, his corporate owners argued that he and his cohort were mere monsters (for tax purposes).

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Reporter Ike Sriskandarajah tells Jad and Robert a story about two international trade lawyers, Sherry Singer and Indie Singh, who noticed something interesting while looking at a book of tariff classifications. "Dolls," which represent human beings, are taxed at almost twice the rate of "toys," which represent something not human - such as robots, monsters, or demons. As soon as they read that, Sherry and Indie saw dollar signs. it just so happened that one of their clients, Marvel Comics, was importing its action figures as dolls. And one set of action figures really piqued Sherry and Indie's interest: The XMEN, normal humans who, at around puberty, start to change in ways that give them strange powers.

Here's the actual court opinion (PDF).

The solomonic court divided the mutants into varying degrees of humanness. In the human camp were the Invisible Woman, Punisher, Daredevil, U.S. Agent, Peter Parker, and Jumpsie were humans. The remainder (including the Fantastic Four) were mutants.

Mutant Rights (via MeFi) Read the rest

Polygon Heroes: low poly-count 3D superhero posters

James, a photo retoucher in New Zealand, makes these "de-touched" "polygon hero" posters, 3D representations of familiar comics icons, downrezzed to abstract jaggie forms.

Polygon Heroes (Thanks, danielpresling!) Read the rest

Tank Girl vodka

Absolut has commissioned Jamie Hewlitt (co-creator of Tank Girl and Gorillaz) to do a limited edition vodka bottle celebrating London's public drunkenness. It's a rather nice piece of work, too -- suitably grotesque. All it's missing is the grimy, mutilated pigeons squabbling over puddles of last night's binge-drinking lad and ladette vom.

ABSOLUT London Read the rest

The Incal: classic, weird-ass French space-opera comic drawn by Moebius, reprinted in English

In 1981, comics writer Alejandro Jodorowsky teamed up with French comic artist legend Moebius and created a new French comic serial called The Incal, (allegedly salvaging a bunch of material Jodorowsky created for an aborted film adaptation of Dune). The Incal's story is barely comprehensible, a mystical, satirical space-opera that anticipates many of cyberpunk's tropes. But the story isn't the point of The Incal. Reading Self-Made Hero's new English edition of Incal is an exciting and delightful experience for reasons having nothing at all to do with the consistency or comprehensibility of its plot.

Rather, The Incal is a triumph of glorious, self-indulgent, eyeball-kicking science fiction high weirdness. Jodorowsky's plotting strategy seems to have consisted of making up the weirdest stuff he could think of, getting bored, chucking in a bunch of new, weirder stuff, and repeating as necessary. New plot elements are conjured up from thin air without explanation or rhyme or reason. No pretense is made to any kind of underlying physics or poleconomy or philosophy.

Instead, Moebius just draws the hell out of Jodorowsky's fevered notions, producing a strong and curious aesthetic sensation that is quite pleasing and a little freaky. The creators of The Incal sued The Fifth Element for allegedly ripping it off (they lost), and Fifth Element is a pretty good point of reference for what goes on in The Incal: innumerable stylish, semi-erotic, high-tech incoherencies sprayed at the reader at a furious pace, fast enough that the fact that none of it makes much sense hardly has time to sink in. Read the rest

Marvel/Disney wages petty, vicious war against Ghost Rider creator

This much is certain: Gary Friedrich created the Marvel comics character Ghost Rider. Freidrich sued Marvel (and its new owners, Disney) because he claims that he never signed away the rights to his character, and thus the feature film based on the comic was illegal. Freidrich also apparently launched his own, rival line of authorized Ghost Rider merchandise.

Disney/Marvel has countersued Freidrich, claiming that the boilerplate legalese on the back of his paychecks were all the assignment they needed to assert ownership of his character. What's more, Misney has broken with the industry-standard practice of turning a blind eye to creators doing sketches of their own characters for money at conventions, and singled out Freidrich for punitive, retaliatory legal claims for doing what every artist in the field does.

Finally, Misney has sought to prohibit Freidrich from publicly identifying or marketing himself as the creator of Ghost Rider, on the basis of the ancient legal principle of fuck you I said so and I can afford more lawyers than you so shut up.

As payback, not only can Friedrich no longer sell his own Ghost Rider merchandise, he can’t even represent himself as its co-creator, thereby robbing him of any potential financial gain he might accrue from convention appearances and the like. (He will, however, still be able to sign officially licensed Marvel merchandise, either with ink or bitter tear stains.) In addition, Marvel is also demanding $17,000 from the unemployed, financially destitute 68-year-old, which Comic Book Resources surmises will serve as a warning to all others who currently enjoy the privilege of selling their own unlicensed merchandise, and should maybe just keep their mouths shut then.

Read the rest

Webcomic artists uses version control software to produce automated "making of" videos of his workflow

Mark V sez, "Electric Puppet Theatre is a web comic that I draw in Inkscape, using git for version control. A neat side effect of using git is that I can make a 'making of' video for each 24 page issue by playing the git repository through ffmpeg. The linked page contains animations for the first two issues as well as instructions on creating this type of animation (touching on how to make both ogg and youtube-compatible webm animations)."

Git is an incredibly powerful tool for keeping track of the changes of files. It is the version control software used to maintain the Linux kernel, managing and merging code written by many contributors around the world. But it's also useful for individuals to keep track of their own work. I use Thomas Gideon's Flashbake scripts to log all the changes to the novels and stories I work on, automatically saving any edits every 15 minutes and noting a bunch of easy-to-automate "context" (the local timezone and weather, the music I'm listening to, my most recent Boing Boing posts).

This is a wonderfully geeky example of how git can be combined with other powerful free/open tools, like ffmpeg (which makes and converts audio and video files) to capture your personal workflow and package it in ways that illuminate your process for other people who want to compare notes.

Animating a Git Repository (Thanks, Mark!) Read the rest

Alan Moore explains the Guy Fawkes mask, Occupy, Anonymous and anti-ACTA protests

Alan Moore, writer of V for Vendetta and enigmatic wizard of comicology, describes the relationship between the Guy Fawkes mask and Anonymous, anti-ACTA protests, and the Occupy movement. Beginning with the Moore-ish phrase, "Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire, and the adoption of the V for Vendetta mask as a multipurpose icon by the emerging global protest movements is no exception," Moore goes on to semi-seriously condemn the ugly reality of post-capitalist winner-take-all economics and explain why V for Vendetta has found such fertile soil in this decade.

It also seems that our character's charismatic grin has provided a ready-made identity for these highly motivated protesters, one embodying resonances of anarchy, romance, and theatre that are clearly well-suited to contemporary activism, from Madrid's Indignados to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Neglect

Our present financial ethos no longer even resembles conventional capitalism, which at least implies a brutal Darwinian free-for-all, however one-sided and unfair. Instead, we have a situation where the banks seem to be an untouchable monarchy beyond the reach of governmental restraint, much like the profligate court of Charles I.

Then, a depraved neglect of the poor and the "squeezed middle" led inexorably to an unanticipated reaction in the horrific form of Oliver Cromwell and the English Civil War which, as it happens, was bloodily concluded in Northamptonshire.

Today's response to similar oppressions seems to be one that is intelligent, constantly evolving and considerably more humane, and yet our character's borrowed Catholic revolutionary visage and his incongruously Puritan apparel are perhaps a reminder that unjust institutions may always be haunted by volatile 17th century spectres, even if today's uprisings are fuelled more by social networks than by gunpowder.

Read the rest

Fables Super Team: turning the Silver Age superhero inside out to find the fables within

The sixteenth collected volume in Bill Willingham's long-running Fables series is Fables Super Team, and Willingham uses the volume to demonstrate his absolutely catholic approach to mythmaking and storytelling. The Fables, faced with an impossible fight, decide to plumb new mythologies to find ways of overcoming the odds, and hit on the idea of creating an archetypal, X-Men style Super Team. They hold tryouts, locate their miniature person, their giant, their vulpine berserker, and all the other necessary personas for completing the Silver Age formula. This is a lovely bit of inside-out storytelling, a sly way of calling our attention to the ways in which the earlier comics creators filed the serial numbers off the Old Stories for the raw materials to make their spandex-clad heroes. But it's more than a conceit -- because this is Willingham, who never lets it rest at a mere conceit -- and Super Team is actually a suspenseful and sometimes scary story about hopeless bravery and impossible choices. The literal Deus Ex Machina is a rather nice touch, too.

I wouldn't try to read this until you've read the other fifteen volumes in the series. But if you haven't read those, you should.

Fables Super Team Read the rest

Watchmen prequels: the fallout

Ty Templeton has a strangely appealing and plausible look at the likely fallout from the DC comics' decision to produce a line of Watchmen prequels. Click through below for the punchline.

Who Watches the Bun Toons! YAY! (via Forbidden Planet) Read the rest

Sweet 24-hour comic about a dangerously moody roommate

Zack sez, "24-hour comics -- comic books written, drawn and finished in 24 hours -- have been around for more than 20 years, but rarely have the results been as polished or charming as 'Darkness,' the 24-hour comic by the French cartoonist Boulet. The tale of a very, very moody roommate, the result is better than many comics the creators had a full month to finish."

This really is funny stuff -- a bit predictable, but fully sweet and extremely well-told.

The Bouletcorp » Darkness:Bouletcor (Thanks, Zack!) Read the rest

Order of the Stick D&D webcomic breaking Kickstarter records

Courtney sez, "The D&D themed webcomic Order of the Stick has been running a Kickstarter campaign to get some of its out-of-print books back onto shelves. It's now broken $350,000 and is one of the top 10 funded projects of all time on Kickstarter and the most funded comics project of all time."

I've been self-publishing my comedy-fantasy-adventure webcomic The Order of the Stick in paper format since 2005, but one of the hardest parts about doing it all on my own is keeping the older books available. This project is designed to get at least one of those books back into print. The Order of the Stick: War and XPs was the third compilation of the color webcomic, covering a bunch of cool battle scenes like this and this and even this.

Comic "Order of the Stick" Kickstarter campaign breaks $350,000 (Thanks, Courtney!) Read the rest

Patrick Farley is back: "The First Word" webcomic explains language's origin

Patrick Farley is one of the greatest and most maddeningly irregular webcomics artists working today. We've been covering his work for a decade, and a new Farley is always cause for celebration. His latest, "The First Word," is no exception -- a fine, odd, beautifully realized story about the invention of language, one that tries to invent a new user interface and visual language for live, animated comics that is, by and large, very successful.

The First Word | nsfw | an electric sheep comic (Thanks, Jetse!) Read the rest

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