aljazeera

Al Jazeera releases free online graphic novella by Michael Keller and Josh Neufeld (Apparently)

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Al Jazeera America, the U.S. arm of the international newsgathering and reporting agency, today released its first graphic novella, about ‘Big Data’ and our interaction with companies . It’s called Terms of Service, it’s by Michael Keller and Josh Neufeld, and it’s free to read online at http://projects.aljazeera.com/2014/terms-of-service/index.html.

I’ve read the first few chapters and it’s neat stuff, definitely worth your time. I’m kind of surprised because I got a PR about this at noon today, and I can’t find any record of this announcement at the major comic sites. So, uh, I guess I will break this news…? Enjoy.

Edit: Full Press Release under the cut below.

– Chris @ The Beguiling

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A few changes…

Although most people seem to have missed it, I mentioned here on the blog about three years ago that I had come on board as the Marketing Director of Canadian Publisher UDON Entertainment. For the past three years I’ve been happy to work with a Publisher like UDON, doing great work, producing comics, manga, and anime and video game artbooks, both original and licensed from Japan. I’ve worked with some very dedicated folks, and I’ve learned a tremendous amount from being on the “other side” of the industry for a few years.

However, as of September 30th, 2014, I’ve unfortunately had to step down from that position. I’ve continued to work with The Beguiling and TCAF–The Toronto Comic Arts Festival–during my time with UDON, and recently those organizations have started to demand more of my time and attention. TCAF in particular has some big stuff on the horizon, and ultimately, something had to give (before I did!). I’m proud that UDON’s output increased significantly, to more than 30 books a year during the past few years, and I was happy to be there for some of the company’s greatest publishing successes. I’ll still be working with UDON a little at some of their convention appearances, particularly the two PAX shows, and helping to organize their presence at San Diego Comic-Con. I’m even maybe editing a special project for late next year…? But the day to day is pretty much done.  :)

I’d like to thank my friend and UDON Chief Erik Ko for the tremendous opportunity to step in to support the company in this way. I’d also like to thank all of my co-workers for providing new learning opportunities, and for busting their buts to put out great work, and to all of the great members of the press I’ve gotten to work with too. Finally, to UDON’s fantastically passionate fans, thanks for all of your support.

UDON has a tremendous 2015 in store, with Street Fighter, Manga Classics, Kill la Kill, Osamu Tezuka, Robotech, Professor Layton, and so much more on the horizon. I’m leaving UDON with quite possibly the strongest line-up of books in the history of the company ahead of them, and so much more that hasn’t been announced. ;)

As for me, I’m looking forward to reinvesting my energies back into The Beguiling and into The Toronto Comic Arts Festival, and all the great stuff ahead.

Thanks for reading,

– Christopher Butcher
P.S.: If you’re looking to contact UDON about their projects, the best way to do so is via fans@udonentertainment.com. Someone will get back to you tout de suite!

Header image from my favourite UDON book published during my time at the company, the beautiful Midori Foo’s Book of Pictures.  Available wherever great books are sold!

 

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Brewery Arts Centre

Report: The Lakes International Comic Art Fest 2013

In October of 2013, I headed out on my first trip to The United Kingdom as a guest of inaugural Lakes International Comic Arts Festival – http://www.comicartfestival.com/. Held in the village of Kendal, the gateway to the Lake District (and about 2 hours North of Manchester), I was glad to be on hand to witness the birth of a new comics event and especially one of such great ambition and vision. The festival took place October 18th through 20th, and I was on hand from the 17th to the 21st to observe the goings on.

I’ve been meaning to write a little report on the Festival for, oh, about a year now, but I wasn’t writing very much and things just sort of came up in the general. However, I’m set to be headed back to the second iteration of the event which is taking place THIS WEEKEND, from October 16th through the 20th, and hopefully you are too. Again, more details at http://www.comicartfestival.com/.

I’ve basically taken a whole year to write this and I’m literally on my way out the door…Apologies for spelling, grammar, forgotten names, and for taking so long!

Now, on with the show:

Kendal

First things first: Kendal, and so far as I can tell, The Lake District, is gorgeous. However when I was down in Manchester for the few days before the event, when people could immediately tell I was from out of town (and I immediately had to say “I’m from Canada” to get those frowns to turn upside down), people would be like “Oh you’re going up to the Lake District? Oh it’s lovely up there…” like a mantra. You get the sense that it’s ‘cottage country’, that nothing’s thought to be going on… and that was an idea that the organizers of this festival were desperately fighting back against.

The Box

The festival takes place in the old buildings scattered around town, in the city hall clocktower, in the mall, and in the art school with its beautiful modern buildings. The town was energetic, decorated, and full of unique buildings and spaces. As I was saying, they really are trying for a very ambitious program.

Luke Pearson

Speaking of, I was happy to host this drawing demonstration with Luke Pearson, creator of the Hilda series of books. Luke was sweet and charming and drew like magic, for an hour, for the standing-room-only crowd. It’s only just filling up in this photo…

Luke Pearson

Afterwards, Luke stayed and signed and sketched for fans for another hour as well, what a gentleman! His presentation, as most, took place in one of the large classroom buildings and the signing in an anterior building. Despite the drizzle, people had no problem showing up adequately attired, and spirits were very high.

Fest Merch

Book Sales

I think things like decorating and branding the spaces with pennants, posters, and merchandise, make a huge difference for these sorts of events. What might be a somewhat boring classroom becomes a “Festival Space”, and it’s one of the things that I thought LICAF did very well indeed.

Seen above is some of the custom merchandise, and a few of the wonderful volunteers who helped for the weekend.

Comics Clock Tower

One of the two main spaces was “The Comics Clocktower”, or city hall, and you can see the decoration continued throughout the whole town and into all spaces. Banners and signage, both hung and freestanding, dotted all of the festival spaces and the spaces in between, and it really did lift the atmosphere wonderfully. Of course, when you have as naturally photogenic a town as this, that doesn’t hurt either.

The Map

The comics clock tower featured multiple floors of exhibitors, including a special room for an on-site show store and sponsor. The space reminded me very-much of TCAF 2007, which was held in Victoria College, with exhibitors lining the walls of smaller rooms and customers invited to explore both the lovely old building and all of the wonderful art on display.

Exhibition Area

Of course I may be biased, but my favourite space was the large, high-ceilinged main room, held for town meetings, plays, and presentations, and repurposed to hold a number of wonderful artists and their creations.

Adam Cadwell

There’s my friend Adam Cadwell, chatting up a potentional customer.

NoBrow

The fine folks of Nobrow, including Luke Pearson on the left, Sam in the middle, and you’ll have to pardon me as I forgotten then chap on the right’s name.

Comics

Of course it isn’t a comic show without back issue bins… I guess? I found it hilarious to come across this on the first floor, but a few quid for an old issue of Sandman is hard to argue with at a comics festival.

Mantle!

Also, that fireplace is something else? That’s the best part of repurposing existing buildings.

Canadians

Look! Another Canadian! It’s Anthony Del Col of Kill Shakespeare.

Exhibitor

Kristina Baczynski selling some amazingly lovely comics and art…!

Exhibitors

Stephen Robson

Fanfare/Ponent Mon Books

Here’s Stephen Robson from Fanfare UK, and a wonderful selection of his new projects (well, new a year ago, heh). He’s also started distributing some other wonderful works, very exciting!

Darryl Cunningham

And of course TCAF exhibitor Darryl Cunningham!

Exhibitors

Exhibitors

Exhibitors

Paul Gravett

Friend of TCAF Paul Gravett, showing of his newest survey of the medium, Comics Art.

Comics Clock Tower

Comics Clock Tower

Really, the town is quite lovely, and even with a bit of rain it was marvelous to walk through the spaces, from venue to venue, and see all of the great sites along the way.

Brewery Arts Centre

Brewery Arts Centre

Speaking of, the other major venue is the Brewery Arts Centre, a massive arts complex converted from a brewery! Featuring several restaurants, theatre screens/auditorium, and a gorgeous outdoor space, BAC is where many of the large-scale and keynote events were held, and the town and the Festival are certainly lucky to have such a large and gorgeous space to use. You could pop by any time of the weekend (or to the bar round the corner) to meet many of the participating cartoonists as they grabbed a beer or a bite, and that greatly contributed to the warm and positive feeling of the event.

Brewery Arts Centre

And we’ve reached the end, more or less.

I’ve probably got another few thousand words in me about the first Lakes International Comic Arts Festival, but I’m actually now just about to head to the airport in time to attend the second. I will say that the show was very well organized and really took advantage of its locale in the way that very few shows do. I think it’s a sterling and necessary addition to a comics scene that already includes wonderful events like Thoughtbubble, and I hope to see it continue a long and healthy life.

If you’re within a few hours of Kendal (2 or 3 hours from either Manchester or Glasgow, 4 hours from London), I’d strongly recommend attending. Comics events are so far apart and expensive to get to in the U.S. and Canada… for us 3 or 4 hours away IS considered a local show.

Congrats to the organizers and volunteers on an excellent event, and I look forward to the next one with great anticipation… in about 48 hours.

– Christopher

 

 

My great big attention-whoring, histrionic-filled blog post about ello, and you won’t believe what happens next

THIS BETA PIECE OF SOFTWARE DOES NOT LIVE UP TO MY BASELESS EXPECTATIONS.

AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE, I BELIEVE IT IS LIKELY THAT THIS SOFTWARE WILL DISAPPOINT ME, AND SO I AM LEAVING IT NOW.

THE FUNDING MECHANISM OF THIS BETA PIECE OF SOFTWARE IS NON-EXISTENT! BY WHICH I MEAN IT HAS NOT YET BEEN IMPLEMENTED OR TESTED. THEREFORE, IT WILL FAIL AND I AM LEAVING IT.

OH, AND IT’S UGLY, TOO.

ello.com/comics212

 

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An interview with my friend Jocelyne Allen

My friend Jocelyne Allen is a translator and interpreter, and I’m fortunate enough to work with her a bunch on TCAF. One of her favourite things to say about her job is that “Translation should be invisible, the translator should be invisible,” meaning that the job of the translator is to bring the strongest version of the original author’s words and intent to the focus in this secondary language, and the translator should use the lightest touch possible… which is why I chuckled to myself when I saw that she consented to be the subject of a (very) long interview over at Tofugu. There’s even a lovely illustrated portrait!

I thought Allen-san offered some nice insight into her profession, though having spent many long conversations over a pint with her I know that this interview just scratches the surface of the intricacies of translation and her own thoughts on the art of it. I’d like to interview her myself one day, I think… For now though, go check it out! :)

– Chris

Illustration by ??? I couldn’t find any credit at the Tofugu site…!

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ShootTokyo

I’m enjoying this photo blog, ShootTokyo. I actually discovered it through Kickstarter, the proprietor was Kickstarting a book of his photos and it looked cool and so I backed it. As I spend more time on his site, I become ever more impressed with his shots and how evocative they are of the city, and its many moods.

Photo from http://shoottokyo.com/.

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America X England X Japan X France

Shockingly, I’ll be travelling soon.

I know, I know, I’m always travelling, it seems, but I’m really excited about these next 4-5 months, as there’s gonna be a lot of cool stuff happening. Basically, all of my dreams for TCAF, of repping awesome Canadian comics to the world are coming true, and it’s great and I’m stoked.

Next weekend I’m off to SPX – The Small Press Expo in Maryland for the first time since 2005. I’m running Coach House’s table, and they are the publishers of a very important ‘lost’ classic called THE CAGE by Martin Vaughn James as well as a book of writing by critic Jeet Heer called IN LOVE WITH ART, about Art Spiegelman. We’ll also have some cool TCAF books there, so if you’ll be at the show please stop by and say hi! I’ll be at table J2.

Then in October, I’m headed back for the second year of The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival, in Kendal, England, which runs from the 17th through the 19th. I got to attend last year and it was great fun (I still have to write up that trip…) and I’m excited to head back for another go. I’ll be hosting a few panels at the event, shaking hands, kissing babies, and hopefully inviting a few folks over to TCAF.

Moving along to November, and TCAF will once again be exhibiting at Kagai Manga Festa / International Comic Festival, Japan’s only event for international comics. TCAF will have 3-4 tables, repping Canadian cartoonists and books, and it should be great fun. The event is on Sunday, November 23rd, but we’ll be there for a few days before and about a week after. We’re still open to Cartoonists who want to exhibit with us at the show, head over to the TCAF site to read about it.

Then, I’m quite pleased to announce that TCAF will make its first showing at the Angouleme International Comics Festival in Angouleme, France, January 27 to Feb 1. Angouleme is one of the bigger and more important comics events in the world, it’s quite exciting to finally get to attend! I’m honestly not sure of the shape of the trip just yet, we’re still working out the finer points. ;)

Anyway, now you’re up to date! If you want to say hello while I’m in your neck of the woods, drop me a line!

Best,

– Christopher

Image by Gary Sherman

adidas

R.I.P.: Awesome Sneakers,
2011-2014

I found you in 2011, in Tokyo.

You were a replacement; I was on the rebound from my last love… You were busier, flashier, but still the same beautiful shade, like a cheap glass of red wine. You were a compromise, I admit.

I didn’t love you at first.

As I sit in this hotel room in Seattle, my flight home inching ever closer and the good night’s sleep I’d promised myself getting ever-more-distant, I feel I owe you more than simply leaving you behind in the morning.

adidas

This isn’t the first time we’ve broken up. Or tried to. 4 or 5 others have come into my life, and each time I thought they were the one, but I always came back to you. You were comfortable, even at the beginning, but now you’re like a second skin. Whenever I was given the choice, I chose you. I hated myself for it, as you fell further and further apart.

This time, we’re done. For real.

You finally gave out on me, and gave up on me. I ended up getting hurt (and wet), so I’m getting over you. Getting rid of you, for good.

Despite it all, what we had is special. I mean, we traveled, we did amazing things, we met wonderful people. We’ve been back to Tokyo 5 times together, and to England, and all over America. It was real. I’ll miss it. But I’d rather fondly remember the good times than sully those memories with what you’ve become.

So thank you, and goodbye.

– Christopher

P.S.: I found someone new—they’re Japanese too, what’re the odds? XOXO

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Furuya Usumaru
X Inio Asano

In my absence, a great blog sprung up called Mangabrog, the proprietor of which has been translating Japanese-language interviews with manga into English for us poor non-Japanese-reading fans. Truly, God’s Work.

I’ve now availed myself of all of the site’s treasures, but I gotta say I loved this just-posted interview between Furuya Usamaru (Lychee Light Club, Genkaku Picasso) and Inio Asano (Solanin, Nijigahara Holograph) from Erotics F magazine volume 79.  Here’s a great bit:

Asano: If you were to ask me what my aim has been with the manga I’ve made up until now, I’d say that I’ve inevitably been making stuff that I myself like — but since I imagine there are a lot of people like me, I figured I could count on there being a decent number of people out there who’ll be able to “get” my manga. The problem, though, is if my readers are people are like me, and I don’t really like people who are similar to me, then that means that I dislike my readers.

Furuya: They do say that people tend to dislike people similar to themselves.

Asano: That’s what it is—it’s hard to like someone when you can see through them like that. I understand the reason people read my manga, what they like about it and what they’re going to eventually dislike about it, so I just can’t fully accept my readers. Hence my urge to mess with them.

The whole interview is fantastic–it’s very honest, and goes into great detail on the creative side of things too.

As for the rest of the site, I’m absolutely loving the two Taiyo Matsumoto interviews that are there, two more interviews with Asano, Daisuke Igarashi, Hiroki Samura, the dude who does Gantz… haha. It’s an awesome site that seems to exist solely for me to enjoy, so I hope you’ll make it more-real by sharing it with me.

http://mangabrog.wordpress.com/

– Chris

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Never Safe For Work