Category Archives: Canadian Cartooning

Our Digital Comics Strategy is an Evolutionary Dead-end

Our Digital Comics Strategy is an Evolutionary Dead-end
Why the current digital comics paradigm is no good for comics companies, retailers, or consumers.

Hi, my name is Christopher Butcher, and I’m the manager of The Beguiling Books & Art in Toronto, Canada. We’ll be celebrating our 25th year in business in 2012, and I personally am in the midst of my 17th year working in comic stores. I started out buying my comics from the corner store—Transformers and G.I. Joe before discovering comic book stores, X-Men, Vertigo, and eventually the wide world of art comix afterwards. Comic book stores opened my eyes to the wide variety of material available in comics, and because of that I’d always thought that the point of them, really, was to carry a diversity of material… and, when budget allows, the widest possible diversity of material.

When I started working in stores Diamond did not have a monopoly on the comics market, we ordered new comic books from a bunch of distributors for a bunch of years… Andromeda, Multibook, Grosner, then Capital, Diamond, and Heroes World. While all of those distributors (save Diamond) and many more have subsequently gone the way of the dodo, in my day-to-day at The Beguiling we deal with dozens of distributors in a given month. Comics, books, art, and more. Most retailers are also dealing with toy distributors, t-shirt distributors, supplies distributors, and all kinds of niche and specialty product distributors.

(Can I drop in a shout-out to Last Gasp here? They’re phenomenal at stocking a wider variety of art and alt-culture books. Investigate opening an account with Last Gasp post-haste. )

Anyway, the point of all of this (other than to introduce myself) is to say that as comic retailers, we have options and we have responsibilities. More responsibilities than we often want, not as many options as we’d like, but we’ve got some elbow room and it’s our job to use it. We’ve all suffered under a series of poor distribution decisions that have made things difficult for us, but if we’re willing to put the leg work in we can have the kind of store we want, carry the products we want, and have the kind of industry we want, and on something resembling a level playing field as well.

The problems come in when we are excluded from certain areas of what should be our business, by forces beyond our direct control… and that’s my biggest issue with the current crop of digital comics and distributors of same.

Currently, there is only one digital comics purveyor that has an ‘open’ affiliate program for comics retailers to participate financially in the sale of digital comics, Comixology. I will go on record as saying that the terms are horrible for retailer participation in Comixology’s program in almost every way; in terms of the percentage of the sale we make, in the information that we need to give up to Comixology, in providing that company with access to our customers, and most aggravatingly of all that we receive no information about the customers who are buying from us through Comixology. Compared to an affiliates program like Amazon’s the terms are kind of awful; compared to even a consignment agreement in a brick-and-mortar establishment it is gross.

And that’s even if you can participate—the program is only currently open to American retailers. While I as a Canadian retailer can sell all manner of physical comic books, I am completely excluded from selling digital versions of the same… and to reiterate, none amongst their competition doesn’t seem to have an accessible affiliate program at all.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s not a level playing field. Excluded economically, through bad terms and bad finances; excluded regionally; excluded completely; digital comics don’t have much (if anything) to offer brick and mortar retailers. Just recently, when brick and mortar book retailers Books a Million and Barnes and Noble were excluded from DC’s digital offerings, they boycotted the publisher by removing from store shelves every single book that was digitally exclusive with another publisher. I don’t mention this to incite comic retailers to do the same, I mention it merely to point out that this is Serious Business, and something every retailer should be aware of.

Here’s the most important part though: The whole system is utterly broken anyhow, and we should be demanding not only better access to digital comics sales, but better sales methods for digital comics.

Let me break this down for you as simply as possible: No one who is “buying” digital comics is actually buying digital comics. What they are doing is renting them for an indeterminate period of time, and they’re renting them in an extremely inconvenient format. If you buy a comic book from a comic book retailer, you own it; you can read in whenever you want, however you want, for as long as you physically possess it. If you want to ‘purchase’ a digital comic, you’re merely gaining access to that content on a specific device and in a way that can’t generally be transferred between devices, that may or may not be available without a live internet connection, and your permission to read that comic book might be revoked at any time, with no recourse.

It’s a closed system, it’s full of hoops you have to jump through, and ultimately the content provider is in charge of what the consumer has purchased: the consumer is cut entirely out of the loop. Digital downloads, at least in this instance, aren’t ownership, they’re rental, and that’s not our business model.

We as comic book retailers should be pushing for a new system, and a forefront-inclusion in that new system: A standard-format digital comic that can be read on every device and on any format, a download that exists independently of the store that sold it, and that can be sold by us (rather than just marketing someone else who’s selling it, and being paid a pittance to do so).

There are dozens of arguments against a ubiquitous, copyright-free, non-locked file format, most having to do with the spectre of digital piracy, but it’s my contention that locking down this content so tightly, and so expensively, with “DRM” or “Digital Restrictions Management” ultimately drives more consumers to piracy than not. Even Apple’s iTunes eventually caved and let you download music that you could freely copy and share amongst any device you owned; and while an app store is an attractive option for content providers, it is a needlessly restrictive, censorious, and anti-equality system. A closed system is never a fair system, and as independent business owners it’s not in any of our best interests to support such a system.

In the end what I’m saying is that if a digital comics distributor comes along offering consumers actual purchases, and is willing to work with the Direct Maket—which has direct access to hundreds of thousands of comic fans—and that person offers to treat me fairly and with respect? That’s someone I will happily work with, and an enterprise I will recommend supporting. But I don’t see anything resembling that in the current marketplace and that’s a damned shame and a missed opportunity.

– Christopher Butcher

This article was written in October 2011, and ran in the fall issue of C&G Monthly Magazine

Edit: I’ve been contacted by a representative of Comixology, to let me know that the reporting of Comixology to retailers about sales has been significantly improved. Unfortunately I didn’t have access to this info at the time, and I am interested to read the new contract terms. 

 

Glad Day in Toronto – New Owners, Now Hiring

Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto now has the honour of being the longest-lived gay bookstore in the world, and there was news last year that the owner was looking to get out of the business–which has normally meant the end of such endeavours. Luckily a coalition of 20-or-so Torontonians have stepped up to the plate and purchased the business, which means that a new board of directors will oversee the bookstore going forward. Included amongst them is my good friend Scott Robins, who, amongst myriad other responsibilities, also works with me on TCAF. Fun times!

The board of directors is looking for a full-time store manager for the location, to help in revitalizing the business and the space, and they’ve posted the job in various spots. I thought that the least I could do was post it up here, so those of you who might be looking for a great, challenging, rewarding job in the book field might apply.

– Chris

POSITION AVAILABLE
Glad Day Bookshop Store Manager

Glad Day Bookshop is now the oldest LGBTQ bookstore in the world and is under new ownership. We are seeking an individual who meets challenges with a creative mind and a fierce heart – someone who can balance imagination and concrete results.

This position will be a phenomenal amount of work but training will be available and you will have a skilled Board of Directors who are able to support you in every aspect of the job.

POSITION OBJECTIVES
Sales
-Increase revenues and profitability
-Actively market and merchandise to meet sales targets
-Create positive relationships with vendors and suppliers
-Manage online sales including inventory, shipping, etc.
-Track revenues and expenditures and report these to the Board
-Improve daily processes and systems to maximize profitability
-Work to ensure fiscal stability and longevity of the business

Direction
-Revitalize Glad Day as a cultural institution in Toronto and Canada and
as the world’s oldest bookstore dedicated to the LGBTQ community
-Provide the highest level of customer service to the public
-Procure and replenish the most robust selection of queer books and media in Toronto
-Know what’s current in LGBTQ print and media, and respond to trends and market demands
-Develop a roster of event programming and promotions that engages the community and that generates short- and long-term sales
-Embrace new technological opportunities as they become available
-Manage website and social media
-Develop positive relationships with queer authors/artists and organizations
-Foster a sex-positive, anti-racist and anti-oppressive environment
– Other duties as assigned

People
-Recruit, develop and sustain a team capable of doing the work
-Hire, train, and manage the performance of part-time employees
-Work with the Board of Directors to meet organizational priorities
-Work with the Board and staff to facilitate special projects & events
-Meet with the Board and staff regularly

QUALIFICATIONS
– Retail management experience or related experience that prioritizes multi-tasking, delegation and flexibility
– Experience in book retail, or another facet of the book industry
– Demonstrable knowledge of LGBTQ literature
– Microsoft Word, Excel
– Familiarity with internet and internet applications including social media and database-driven applications
– Excellent spoken and written communication skills in English
– Understanding and connection to the LGBTQ community
– Professional or volunteer experience within the LGBTQ community is an asset

CONDITIONS
– Full-Time Salaried Position
– Evening and Weekend Shifts Required
– Salary, Benefits and Bonus options will be discussed with successful applicants

Please reply with a resume and cover letter by 9pm on Wednesday February 15th.

Send resumes and inquiries to: gladdayhiring@gmail.com

Saga Shennanigans

I was quite happy to see Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ new comic SAGA on the cover of this month’s PREVIEWS catalogue for a couple of different reasons. For one it’s an independent, fully creator-owned series from Vaughan, whose “Y The Last Man” and “Ex Machina” are at least partially owned by DC, despite him creating them from whole cloth. For another it’s the highest-profile work Canadian Fiona Staples has ever done, and she’s wonderfully talented and deserves all the accolades sent her way. It’s another high-profile book for Image and I’m always happy to see them in the spotlight. And the cover features two action/adventure heroes, one with a sword and one with a gun, a man and a woman standing shoulder-to-shoulder, and the woman’s even breastfeeding her baby. If there’s a better “our family against the whole universe” image I can’t really think of what it might be.

Then I thought “Maybe I should point this out on the blog, this is a cool thing.” Then I thought “If I’m the first one to point out breastfeeding on the cover of Previews and the cover of a comic book, it’s just going to tip-off some neanderthal who objects to a woman’s breasts (but covers that up with some other sort of rationalization).” Then I thought “I’ll just enjoy that it’s happening, let those who would object discover it for themselves.”

Cut to: Vaughn and Staples end up with a feature in USA Today! As expected, the wide release/distribution of said image did bring an unsavoury objection from someone in comics, in the form of a nasty little screed from Dave Dorman, since deleted. I had a list of awful conservative comics ‘pundits’ who I thought would be the first to take a swipe at the image… Dave Dorman though, who’da thunk? His objections mostly centered around the fact that the image of a baby being breast-fed was inappropriate for children to see (think about that for a moment), and that the act of breast-feeding on a comic cover was exploitative, but unspecifically exploitative, as the rest of his post seemed concerned with “women having it all” and what not… it was a muddled and confused thing, that post, very irrational and for someone like me an absolute joy to read. Basically, whatever point he may have thought he logically had was so totally obfusticated by his puffery and indignation that he came off, rightly, like an ass.

Now of course the reactions/round-ups have been posted (I’ll link to my friend Andrew Wheeler’s because maybe he gets paid by the hit or something: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2012/01/09/saga-fiona-staples-dave-dorman-breastfeeding/), and people on the internet have torn a strip off of Dorman. As I’ve noted, Dorman has pulled down his post and is doubtlessly going to follow-up explaining that he was ‘misunderstood’ doesn’t find breastfeeding objectionable, just that it’s been exploited for this comic, yadda yadda yadda. Same old bullshit internet spin cycle, no one is accountable for anything, everything’s misunderstood, and it all gets swept under the rug as soon as Marvel makes an announcement about a new variant cover or some other such bullshit.

I’m just saying, congrats to Vaughan and especially Staples, on a great-sounding new series, on a lovely piece of promotional artwork, and on the boost to your sales that will surely follow a 10s of thousands of people being made aware of your series that might have missed it otherwise, even on the cover of Previews.

– Chris
P.S.: If Dave Dorman is reading this, hey, I like your work. Sorry you said something stupid on the internet. As someone who was there for the ‘birth’ of internet comics journalism, which you now find yourself trapped in, I strongly suggest you just flat-out apologize, with no conditions or ‘explanations’. Anything else will just be incessantly picked apart by blogs/websites/angry fans, who honestly have nothing better to do until Marvel makes that variant cover announcement. Just “I’m absolutely sorry, I spoke entirely in haste without thinking, my apologies to the creative team, I wish them well.”  That will placate all but the craziest of commenters. Then spend a few days and figure out where all of that anger is coming from inside you about breastfeeding and maybe try and work that out, because… yeesh.

UDON at San Diego Comic Con

As mentioned, I’m booth-managing Toronto’s own UDON Entertainment, Booth #5037, at Comic-Con 2011 this year (in addition to a half-dozen other things). It’s gonna be a fun time, and I really dig a lot of their books. I’m particularly chuffed to see them launching their first creator-owned, original IP, original graphic novel this year. I totes want that to be a success, because encouraging a Toronto pub with international distribution to do original work? Well that’s right up on the top of my to do list. Anyway, here’s a PR I wrote about what they’ve got going on at SDCC. Lemmie know whatcha think!

All images link to hi-res versions suitable for use online. For interior art or previews, or to follow-up on any of the listed debut books, please contact us at mattmoylan@udonentertainment.com

2011 marks the beginning of Publisher and Creative Studio UDON Entertainment‘s second decade of operations, and one of its biggest San Diego Comic-Con outtings ever! With three new books debuting at Comic-Con International and more than 16 creators in attendance signing and sketching for fans across all five days of the show, no comics, video game, or art fan is going to want to miss out on all the great stuff going down at UDON, booth #5037!

Art Books and Graphic Novels Debuting at Comic-Con:

MEGA MAN TRIBUTE HC

Celebrating over 20 years of the ‘blue bomber!’

Hundreds of artists from around the world join forces to pay homage to one of the most iconic figures in gaming with Mega Man Tribute! This 300+ page, full-colour art book is the ultimate celebration of the blue bomber, featuring the characters of Mega Man classic, Mega Man X, Mega Man Zero, Mega Man ZX, and Mega Man Legends in every style you can imagine! Includes original pieces by comics superstars Hitoshi Ariga (Mega Man: Megamix), Sean “Cheeks” Galloway (Teen Titans: GO!), Sanford Greene (Dark Horse Presents), and many more!

Premiering at Comic-Con, this limited edition hardcover version features exclusive cover art by Mega Man manga artist Hitoshi Ariga (Megamix, Gigamix), and is only available direct from UDON! Limited to 500 copies. SRP $80.

COMIC-CON EXCLUSIVE: Meet the artists featured in Mega Man Tribute at the UDON Booth #5037 every day from 1:30-3pm for a special signing! Participating artists are scheduled to include Joe Bluhm, Andrew Dickman, Sean “Cheeks” Galloway, Sanford Greene, Edwin Huang, Ryan Odagawa, editor Matt Moylan, and UDON members Jeffrey Cruz, Omar Dogan, Joe Ng, Eric Vedder, Long Vo, and Jim Zub.

RANDOMVEUS VOL.1 HC

By Jeffrey “Chamba” Cruz! UDON’s first original graphic novel!

All-out action meets off-the-wall wackiness in RandomVeus Volume 1, an original graphic novel from the mind of artist Jeffrey “Chamba” Cruz! Join bouffant-sporting hero Raimundo and the team of One-Dimensional Couriers as they deliver mysterious packages to every corner of the wild world known as the RandomVeus! Octopus ninjas, jazz playing demons, robot gorillas, samurai mushrooms, and giant furry squid monsters are all on tap in this zaniest of zany adventures!

RandomVeus Volume 1 is UDON’s first-ever original graphic novel, featuring an entirely original story and characters in a beautiful and unique artistic style! The hardcover graphic novel will debut at Comic-Con with an SRP of $29.99.

COMIC-CON EXCLUSIVE: RandomVeus creator Jeffrey “Chamba” Cruz will be signing at the UDON booth #5037 every day of Comic-Con! Come meet the artist, and get your copy of RandomVeus Volume 1 signed and sketched-in by the author!

STREET FIGHTER LEGENDS: THE ULTIMATE EDITION HC

By Omar Dogan, Ken Siu-Chong, Jim Zub, and more!

It’s the entire Street Fighter Legends series in a gorgeous, oversized format to catch every detail! Collecting the complete Sakura, Chun-li, and Ibuki comic series, this ultimate collection shows why the lovely ladies of Street Fighter deserve to be called Legends! Plus appearances from Ryu, Sagat, Dan, M.Bison, Karin, Makoto, Elena, and more of your favorites!

This is a beautiful companion to UDON’s smash-hit Street Fighter Ultimate Edition v1 and v2, featuring 350+ pages of comics! Entirely drawn by UDON artist Omar Dogan, and written by Ken Siu-Chong (Street Fighter) and Jim Zub (Skullkickers), this limited edition hardcover version features exclusive cover art by Omar Dogan. Limited to 200 copies! Debuting at Comic-Con with an SRP of $80.

COMIC-CON EXCLUSIVE: Street Fighter Legends creators Omar Dogan and Jim Zub will be signing at the UDON booth every day of Comic-Con! In addition, Street Fighter Legends variant and pin-up artists including Adam Warren, Alvin Lee, and Jo Chen will also be doing select signings at the UDON Booth!

More great creator signings!

Here’s the complete list of creators who will be signing at UDON Entertainment, booth #5037:

Joe Bluhm (Mega Man Tribute), Jo Chen (Street Fighter Legends, Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Jeffrey “Chamba” Cruz (RandomVeus), Andrew Dickman (Mega Man Tribute), Omar Dogan (Street Fighter Legends), Sean “Cheeks” Galloway (Mega Man Tribute), Sanford Greene (Mega Man Tribute), Alvin Lee (Street Fighter Legends, Hatsune Miku), Matt Moylan (Mega Man Tribute), Joe Ng (Street Fighter), Ryan Odagawa (Mega Man Tribute), Arnold Tsang (Street Fighter), Eric Vedder (Darkstalkers), Long Vo (Street Fighter, Inception), Adam Warren (Street Fighter Legends, Empowered), Jim Zub (Mega Man Tribute). Plus one very special guest that will be announced closer to Comic-Con!

Please see the UDON Website or the UDON booth #5037 on-site at Comic Con for complete schedule and signing times.

Come to the UDON Entertainment Panel!

UDON will be taking you behind the scenes on some of their best and most high-profile video game, comics, and art book projects. In addition, several MAJOR announcements about forthcoming projects will be made at this panel! Don’t miss it!

UDON and the Art of Comic & Game Design.

Friday, July 22

Room: 4, 7:00-8:00 PM

UDON create great comics, translate your favourite Japanese art books, and design some amazing video games! Join them as they share their trade secrets, learned from working with a host of different comics and game companies over the past 10 years! Take a tour of winning design elements through UDON’s vast portfolio of works, and get ready for special announcements of which comics, manga, artbooks, and video game properties they’ll be working on next! Featuring Jim Zub (Skullkickers), Jeffrey Cruz (RandomVeus), Long Vo (Inception), Matt Moylan (Mega Man Tribute), and more!

PRESS

If you have any inquiries or questions about UDON Entertainment or to arrange follow-up interviews, please contact UDON Managing Editor Matt Moylan at mattmoylan@udonentertainment.com.

ABOUT UDON ENTERTAINMENT

UDON Entertainment is a Canada-based publisher of original comic books, graphic novels, and art books. UDON’s best-known projects are those based on popular video game franchises such as Street Fighter®, Darkstalkers®, Okami®, Resident Evil® and Mega Man®. The publisher’s ever-growing library also includes English editions of several Japanese manga titles, the anthology art book series APPLE, and the Manga for Kids line for children ages 7-12.

ARTISTS HELP JAPAN: TORONTO FUNDRAISER APRIL 17

Hey everyone, this is an event I’m helping to organize here in Toronto on April 17th. I would love it if you could attend, and help us spread the word!

Artists Help Japan: Toronto
Toronto’s Illustration Community Fundraiser for Quake and Tsunami Relief
At REVIVAL, 783 College Street, Toronto
…Sunday April 17th, 12 Noon to 12 Midnight
Free To Attend – All Ages

http://artistshelpjapan.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=208247572520178

FEATURING LIVE ART BY:
Kei Acedera [Alice In Wonderland]  –  Kalman Andrasofszky [X-23]  –  Jason Bradshaw [Boredom Pays]  –  Bobby Chiu [Alice In Wonderland]  –  Svetlana Chmakova [Nightschool, Dramacon]  –  Julie Faulkner [Promises Press]  –  Ray Fawkes [Possessions]  –  Agnes Garbowska [Girl Comics, Marvel Comics]  –  Scott Hepburn [Star Wars]  –  Stuart Immonen [Fear Itself]  –  Dale Keown [Pitt]  –  Eric Kim [Oni Press]  –  Ken Lashley [Black Panther]  –  Alvin Lee [Street Fighter, Marvel Vs. Capcom]  –  Jeff Lemire [Sweet Tooth]  –  Francis Manapul [The Flash]  –  Kagan Mcleod [Infinite Kung-Fu]  –  Alex Milne [Transformers]  –  Joe Ng [Street Fighter]  –  Ramon Perez [Captain America]  –  Marcio Takara [The Incredibles]  –  Marcus To [Red Robin]  –  Eric Vedder [Darkstalkers]  –  Chip Zdarsky [Prison Funnies] – Jim Zub [Skullkickers]  +  More To Be Announced!DJ SETS + MUSIC PROVIDED BY:
RIVIERA [PERFECTO,MYTH, KINETIKA NYC], LAZY RAY [NIGHTTRACKIN’], GERRENCE [NIGHTTRAKKIN’], ALVARO G [KINGS OF LATE NIGHT], ROLAND GONZALES [STUDIO+], CARLOVEGA [STUDIO+], JASON ULRICH [LAB.OUR UNION],SHINGO [HOT SAUCE], UNCLE MATTY & DUTTY MAUS [THE BEACS]

TORONTO—Toronto’s Illustration and Artistic Community comes together on April 17th in a 12 hour art-event at Revival. The unique event will raise money to aid relief efforts in Japan following the devastating recent earthquake and tsunami there. Spearheaded by a consortium of Toronto illustration studios, the Artists Help Japan: Toronto event is the local iteration of a charity movement begun by Pixar Art Director Dice Tsutsumi. The Toronto edition will feature live art shows, a silent auction, and dozens of artists and illustrators selling commissioned drawings, with all proceeds benefiting the Canadian Red Cross.

“As artists we are tremendously inspired by Japan and Japanese culture,” says Bobby Chiu, the illustrator, teacher and founder of Toronto’s Imaginism studios behind the Artists Help Japan: Toronto event. “We were all personally affected by the quake, tsunami, and resulting damage. It is important to give back for all that Japan has given us, and we can think of no better way to do so than with our art.”

Artists Help Japan: Toronto will feature more than 24 artists and illustrators from the Greater Toronto Area creating original drawings for 12 hours! This is an unprecedented opportunity for the general public to commission an original drawing from a professional artist and watch its creation in process; the artist’s fee will be donated entirely to the Canadian Red Cross.

In addition:
– Dozens more cartoonists will donate original art, books, and other rare items to be featured in a silent-auction on-site at Revival Bar.
– Live art demonstrations from Toronto Illustrators on stage, with the final pieces to be auctioned off live at the event
– $1 from the sale of every drink at Revival Bar will be donated to the Canadian Red Cross.

Admission to the ARTISTS HELP JAPAN: TORONTO event is free, and all ages are welcome. The event will run from 12 Noon to 12 Midnight.

ABOUT:

Artists Help Japan is a charity movement initiated by Dice Tsutsumi, an art director at Pixar Animation Studios, who was also behind 2008 Totoro Forest Project to help preserve Sayama Forest in Japan and Sketchtravel Project, to gather the force of communities of artists and creative minds around the world. We believe artists have special roles to contribute to the society. http://artistshelpjapan.blogspot.com/

Artists Help Japan: Toronto is spearheaded by Imaginism Studios President and illustrator Bobby Chiu, who was contacted by Dice Tsutsumi to run the Toronto event. Working with Illustrator Alvin Lee, Udon Entertainment CEO Erik Ko, writer/artist Jim Zubkavich, and Christopher Butcher of Toronto comic book store The Beguiling and the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, the team hopes to bring together Toronto’s diverse and exciting artistic community to engage the public in an unprecedented fundraising endeavour.

All proceeds from Artists Help Japan: Toronto will be donated to the Canadian Red Cross, specifically earmarked to aid in Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief.http://www.redcross.ca/

SPONSORS:

Revival Bar has been entertaining guests, visitors and fans as a premium event space since 2002. Revival has generously donated the use of their main space for the Artists Help Japan: Toronto event, and will be donating $1 from the cost of every drink to the fundraising efforts.http://www.revivalbar.com/


Happy, Smiling Faces

I forgot to note it on the “Where’s Chris?” widget there, but this week I moderated a discussion for about 20 kids aged 8-14 on comics and graphic novels, and stuff they might like. Joining me were Willow Dawson (left) and Evan Munday (right), who spent the day running through awesome comics creation workshops with the kids.

I was just emailed this picture and thought I’d share, because it was a fun time and because Willow and Evan are great, and you should check out their stuff:

Willow Dawson, artist of the book No Girls Allowed and creator of the how-to-make-comics-guide Lila and Ecco’s DIY Comics Clubhttp://willowdawson.com/

Evan Munday, Marketing dude for Coach House Books and creator of the graphic novel series Quarter-Life Crisishttp://www.idontlikemundays.com/

– Chris

New Maurice Vellekoop Comic on the way!

The World Of Gloria Badcock, coming this summer from Koyama Press.

Fabulous news! The incredibly talented cartoonist and illustrator Maurice Vellekoop has announced that he’s working on a brand new comic book, his first in many years! Fans of his work may remember the adventures of Ms. Gloria Badcock from the anthology collection of Maurice’s work, Vellevision, published many, many years ago by the good folks at Drawn & Quarterly. Perhaps if you’re of a certain age you might even remember her appearance from the Fabulous Babes comic book before that?

Well Maurice announced on his blog this weekend that he’d be bringing back Gloria Badcock in three sexy new adventures in a new 24 page comic book from Koyama Press this spring. For the bargain price of $5, you get a healthy dose of funny new comics, filled to the brim with the outrageous and erotic, all beautifully illustrated to boot.

I’d really been hoping that the book would be ready to debut at TCAF, but alas, it will not. I’m still incredibly excited about it though, and while Maurice will still be exhibiting at TCAF, we’re just going to need to throw another big party for this book when it arrives this summer. Clear your social calendars now…

Oh, and I was talking to Maurice the other day and he’d mentioned that he hadn’t gotten a lot of feedback on his blog since he launched it. With the advent of RSS feeds and Twitter taking up most of the conversation now, I said it was likely that lots of people were reading and enjoying and just silent in his comments section… But if you’ve been lurking and would like to offer a kind word or two I’m sure he’d appreciate it. He even has a great new illustration of “The 8 Circles Of Gay Hell!” for you to enjoy! http://www.mauricevellekoop.com/blog/

– Christopher

Stuff

I just had curry for lunch so this seemed appropriate. This is the mozzarella cheese curry Andrew had in the curry-shop behind the comic book store (Nakano Shoten) in Jimbocho. Japanese curry and cheese–two great tastes that go great together! Not shown: boiled new potatoes, also delicious.

I forgot to post the MURDER CAN BE FUN strips until right now (sorry!) cuz I was out all day on Sunday, my normal “do your internet work” day. And then yesterday was an amazing, productive meeting with The Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa (Gatineau, actually) who I’m doing some consulting work for, and getting ready all of the stuff for our Natsume Ono announcement today (awesome) and then I went for ramen, had a few beers with friends, and fell asleep for 14 hours (ugh).

What I’m trying to say is, things are busy and good, and I’m apparently not as sick of talking about myself as I thought I was… :-/

For balance, here are some cool things that people I know are doing:

ITEM! A bunch of my friends were nominated for Shuster Awards, which recognize excellent Canadian contributions to the medium of comics. I personally know 95% of the nominees, so I will refrain from congratulating them individually. Instead: Congrats to all of you! Full nominees list at http://joeshusterawards.com/.

ITEM! The lovely Erika Moen and the cubby Jeff Parker have launched a new webcomic venture: Bucko. Verdict: First three pages are awesome. http://www.buckocomic.com/

ITEM! Heidi MacDonald is celebrating a year of independent blogging at The Beat today. Congratulations, Heidi! http://comicsbeat.com/

ITEM! UDON is doing an open-call for Mega Man Fan Art, for their new Mega Man Tribute art book. It’s a contest that I’d enter myself, if I had time to sit down and draw something, so I feel like all y’all should go enter it too. Seriously, it’s hype. Head over to http://www.megamantribute.com/ to see the rules and details. Contest closes February 4th at 1pm!

Peace out!

Christopher