Twitter—Comic Book Writers

Next up on the twitter list is comic book writers. Often these guys and gals write in multiple mediums, but they have all produced a comic or few that I’ve enjoyed.

http://twitter.com/warrenellis
Warren Ellis has one of my favourite brains. He’s written a number of comics I’ve quite enjoyed, top series being Transmetropolitan and Fell. He did a webcomic, FreakAngels, with Avatar press, which was subsequently released in print, but that had a large, interactive web presence. His blog is also a great place to find new artists of all sorts. He likes supporting and promoting the people whose work he likes, which is great. He also will expound at length about his thoughts on what digital comics are, could and should be. Personally, I like his sense of humour, although I know it’s not for everyone. [Like re-branding Valentine’s Day as Horney Werewolf Day]

http://twitter.com/neilhimself
Neil Gaiman. Probably one of the best known comic writers of the current generation. Although, he’s not just a comic writer. He’s a novelist (American Gods, Anansi Boys, etc), TV scriptwriter (Neverwhere, Dr. Who, etc), children’s book writer (Coraline, The Wolves in the Wall, etc), and his stories have been adapted by others into movies, plays, musicals and I’m sure much more. Sandman brought people into comics who would have never considered themselves comics readers. While it was not my entry point, I do remember one of my best friends in high school being really interested it and trying to get me to read it too. [It took me about another 5 years to become a comics reader]. Everyone seems to love him, and his work, and he seems like a genuinely nice guy who likes his fans and wants to be accessible.

http://twitter.com/brianwood
I like Brian Wood. I like his politics and his taste in music as well as his comic books. I have maybe debated which is the best Ted Leo & the Pharmacists album with him. (I still claim that Shake the Sheets is a damn fun record, although Tell Balgeary Balgury is Dead is a fine choice too, just don’t go all Hearts of Oak on me and we’re cool.) He also writes some of the best female protagonists I’ve read. Local and New York 4 (and it’s sequel New York 5) are terrific. I’m also a big fan of his two Demo series—single stand-alone issues that all revolve around a central issue. His take on a distopian future of NYC embroiled in a civil war, DMZ, is good, although I often find myself wanting to smack the main character Matty Roth. I’ve not had a chance to read Northlanders, his Norse series, but I’ve heard only good things, and it’s had an amazing cast of artists. As for twitter, as you might have guessed, he’s pretty open to discussions with fans, which is awesome.

http://twitter.com/scottmccloud
Scott McCloud needs little introduction. The writer of Understanding Comics, Making Comics, and Reinventing Comics. As well as writing some of the most recognized books about the medium itself, he is a comics creator in his own right, including Zot!. He’s also the mind behind 24-hour comics day, which has taken off and become an international event. His website, scottmccloud.com, is also a useful source of comics insight and news.

http://twitter.com/antonyjohnston
I seem to have gotten a bit verbose, so I’ll try to cut back to a more readable length again… Antony Johnston writes the post-apocalyptic comic Wasteland. He’s got a new comic, The Coldest City, about spies in Berlin in the days leading up to the fall of the Berlin wall, coming out in a few months. He also has two greyhounds. He likes the Miami Dolphins, but I try not to hold that against him.

http://twitter.com/kierongillen
Phonogram, created by Gillen and McKelvie, ticks just about all the boxes for me. In a nutshell, it’s about the emotional power music has over us. This power is harnessed in the Phonogram world by phonomancers in order to cast spells. The first series is about the death of Brit-pop, and those who try to resurrect it. The second series, the singles, takes place in one night, each issue follows a different character as they go to a club night run by fellow phonomancers. (The tracklist is available here. All pop and all female vocalists). A third series has just been announced—squeeeee.

http://twitter.com/BenMcCool
Yes, that’s his actual name. I first encountered McCool’s writing when he teamed up with Ben Templesmith on Choker. Due to lots of issues beyond Ben T’s control, the last issue of Choker has been on hold for a while, and in the meantime, Ben McC has also released Memoir with artist Nikki Cook, to much critical acclaim. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more from both Ben’s soon.

http://twitter.com/GWillowWilson
The one and only female writer on this list, which is an absolute shame. But, if you’re going to have one, might as well make it an American who converted to Islam, moved to Egypt for a number of years and then re-settled in Seattle with her husband and now their new baby girl. The two titles of hers I am most fond of, the graphic novel Cairo and the recently finished series Air, were collaborations with artist M K Perker.

http://twitter.com/mrmarkmillar
Being based in Glasgow, I didn’t feel I could make this list in good faith without including Mark Millar. Like him or loathe him, you can’t deny he’s one of the strongest, or at least loudest, voices in comics right now. Author of Wanted, Kick Ass, Nemesis, Superior, American Jesus, The Authority, War Heroes and now Jupiter’s Children, along with several other DC and Marvel titles.

http://twitter.com/themightylayman
Chew is a very peculiar comic, written by an equally peculiar man, John Layman. Chew follows a detective, Tony Chu, who has a psychic link to everything he puts in his mouth. As you can imagine, this can make eating a very harrowing experience. And in order to solve murders, a rather nasty meal indeed. As gross as that all may sound, it’s quite a fun title and deserves all the awards and praise it’s received.

http://twitter.com/sispurrier
Si Spurrier has written for a number of comic titles, getting his start at 2000AD, and then moving on to mostly Marvel properties. I come upon him via his involvement with BleedingCool.com, and his friendship with a number of other creators on these lists. He just published the second of his crime novels, A Serpent Uncoiled.

http://twitter.com/BillWillingham
What if there was another world where all the characters from fairy tales were real? That’s the conceit behind Fables, one of Vertigo’s longest-running titles. Their world was invaded and they fled to a corner of NYC. Fables has spawned a spin-off, Jack of the Fables, co-written with Matthew Sturges. They also conspired to create House of Mystery, which has recently wrapped up.

http://twitter.com/matt_sturges
Matthew Sturges, as mentioned above, has co-created a couple of comics with Bill Willingham. He’s worked with him as part of a writing collective called Clockwork Storybook.

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Twitter—Comic Book Artists

I’ve found twitter to be a great way to find out info on the creators I love to read, as ell as occasionally interact with them. This is by no means an exhaustive list, there are tons that I’ve missed out; I’ve not even listed everyone I follow on here. But these are the ones who are my favourites, engage with their audience, talk shop in an interesting manner, or just generally have good chat. Feel free to point out your favs in the comments!

[Being overly thorough, as is my foible, this started to take an awful long time to write, so I am breaking it up into manageable chunks. Here are the comic book artists. I’ve included writer/artists in this list, rather than the writers list, just so’s you know]

http://twitter.com/McKelvie
Jamie McKelvie, artists of the once and future Phonogram, among other books, like his self-written Suburban Glamour. See also: http://mckelvie.tumblr.com

http://twitter.com/karlkerschl
Karl Kerschl writes and draws the Abominable Charles Christopher, mentioned in the Webcomics post

http://twitter.com/cameronMstewart
Cameron Stewart writes and draws Sin Titulo and has also worked on a number of other titles, including Batman and Robin with Grant Morrison

http://twitter.com/funrama
Ryan Kelly, who has collaborated with Brian Wood on some of my favourite comics, like Local and the New York 4 & 5, among other things

http://twitter.com/DaveMcKean
Most people know Dave McKean collaborated with Neil Gaiman on a number of projects: Violent Cases, Mr. Punch, Black Orchid, Signal to Noise, the covers for Sandman, more recently the film Mirrormask, etc. But he’s also written comics of his own, graphic novels like Cages and shorter-form work, such as those collected in Pictures that Tick. He also created a comic as installation as part of the Hypercomics exhibition at the Pumphouse Gallery in London

http://twitter.com/Templesmith
Ben Templesmith is an Australian artist and writer, most famous for working on the original 30 Days of Night series. I got to know his work through his collaboration with Warren Ellis on Fell, although he also writes his own work, including the series Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse

http://twitter.com/AllredMD
While MadMan is probably Mike Allred’s best-known work, I’m really enjoying his current book I, Zombie too.

http://twitter.com/MKupperman
You may remember the strip at the back of the first course handout was from Tales Designed To Thrizzle by Michael Kupperman. Some of his current work is being serialized on the web by Fantagraphics. You can find a link to that in the Webcomics post.

http://twitter.com/JeffLemire
Essex County put Jeff Lemire on the map, getting him nominated for Eisner and Harvey Awards. He then moved to writing for Vertigo, including the great series Sweet Tooth. More recently, he’s moved onto DC proper, writing titles such as the Animal Man reboot.

http://twitter.com/JeremyBastian
Jeremy Bastian has created an amazing Art Noveau inspired tale of pirates and adventure called Cursed Pirate Girl. It takes him around a week to create each densely illustrated page of his comic. His obsessive line work reminds me of Edward Gorey, but the tone is much more Terry Gilliam

http://twitter.com/evandorkin
Evan Dorkin works on books like Beasts of Burden with Jill Thompson now, but my first encouter with his work was via the ultra-violent Milk & Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad. There’s just something inherently hilarious about an anthropomorphic carton of milk running after a crawling infant with a broken beer bottle. Seriously.

http://twitter.com/mouseguard
David Petersen writes and draws Mouse Guard, an endearing, epic tale of mice defending their homes from dangers such as hungry owls, plotting ferrets and burrowing snakes. The art is gorgeous, and it’s not published in the usual TPB format, but instead as square issues, making it distinctive, and a pain to file in with my other comics.

http://twitter.com/davidmackkabuki
Kabuki is David Mack’s best known work. His style is quite unlike other artists, using collage and eschewing digital technology. The result is a gorgeous, multi-layered comic. He also worked with Bill Sienkiewicz on an animated Dexter prequel last year.

http://twitter.com/Chris_Mitten
I know Chris Mitten’s work from the beginning of the Wasteland series, written by Antony Johnston. He’s worked on a number of other titles from Oni, Dark Horse, Wildstorm and the like.

http://twitter.com/skottieyoung
Skottie Young’s adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for Marvel won him recognition and numerous awards. There’s something fun about his quirky style, somewhere between Johen Vasquez and Tim Burton, being applied to L. Frank Baum’s work.

http://twitter.com/Julia_Wertz
Julia Wertz is the author of the Eisner award nominated Drinking at the Movies, along with Fart Party and Museum of Mistakes.

Webcomics

The web has been a boon for independent comic creators. Anyone who has the impulse and impetus to create a comic can do so and have an instant publishing platform. This is a bit of a double edged sword, as the signal to noise ratio can make it a bit daunting to get started. Here’s a list of webcomics, some funny, some autobiographical, some on-going and some as discreet stories.

(This list is a bit long, and I’ve included a bit about each comic as well, so click through to read on) Continue reading

Links from Last Year

Passing on some more link love from last year, here’s an amalgamation of info on a bunch of different topics. Hopefully some of this will spark some interesting ideas and discussions.

4 Color Process is a blog that pulls out small details from comic books and celebrates the beauty in the dots that made up comics, especially the cheaply produced comics of the past. They put together their missions statement, so to speak here: In Defense of Dots: The lost art of comic books. (They also get credit as where I found all the images for the banners. Thanks 4CP!)

We’ve already mentioned Chris Ware in class. His book, Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth won the Guardian First Book Award in 2001, marking the first time a comic won a major UK literary award. Here’s an interview he did at the International Copenhagen Comics Festival: http://www.tcj.com/alternative/interview-with-chris-ware-part-1-of-2/. He discusses his approach to pacing and whether he feels applying filmic structural techniques are appropriate for comics.

Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics, Making Comics and Reinventing Comics, gave a TED talk on comics in 2005: http://www.ted.com/talks/scott_mccloud_on_comics.html

Last year, the local comic team of Metaphrog did a workshop in association with the GSA Library and a number of us attended. Here’s a video of the workshop: http://vimeo.com/21636444. And if you’re interested in learning more about them, here’s an interview with metaphrog: http://www.tcj.com/the-metaphrog-interview/

Grant Morrison has written any number of groundbreaking comics, among them Arkham Asylum, The Invisibles, Animal Man, We3, All-Star Superman and recently, on Batman and Robin,  and Batman Incorporated. He just published a non-fiction work about superheroes called Supergods. Here’s an AV Club interview with him from 2010: http://www.avclub.com/articles/grant-morrison,41311/

I feel like Alan Moore and Grant Morrison are different sides of the same coin. Both of them write the craziest, tripiest comics you will ever read. But one is obsessed with futurism and the other with pagan roots in the past. Alan Moore broke into the US consciousness with his run on Swamp Thing, and has been responsible for seminal works like V for Vendetta, The League of Extrodinary Gentlemen, From Hell, and Watchmen. Here’s an interview with him: Hipster Priest: A Quietus Interview With Alan Moore

Mike Mignola is probably most famous for creating Hellboy. If you’re only familiar with the movie, it’s worth seeing out the comic, if just to get a sense of his very stylized drawing style. It’s a bit reminiscent of Frank Miller’s use of deep blacks and highly contrasted edges, but the tone feels different to Miller. Bldgblog interviewed Mignola about the worlds he’s created for his characters: RUIN, SPACE, AND SHADOW: AN INTERVIEW WITH MIKE MIGNOLA

Artists like Chris Ware emphasize how important layout and design can be to comics, but he’s not the only one who blurs the line between illustrator and designer. This article talks about a number of artists whose comic work can be seen in terms of graphic design as well as fine art: Portraits of Comic Book Artists as Graphic Designers. And there are graphic designers who are involved in the publication, marketing and branding side of comic book distribution. Tom Muller has worked in comics, as well as other mediums. Here’s a piece by him on the subject: Tom Muller on the “Rise & Fall” of Design in Comic Books

Glyn’s given us a great list of comics to start out with, but here are a couple of other taken on the *must read* comics list:
100 Comics to Read Before You Die
Reading list for Art of the Graphic Novel: A Visual Bibliography (at Mississippi State’s College of Architecture and Design)

How comics can promote social consciousness: http://www.un-eu.org/cartooning-for-peace.html and http://www.cartooningforpeace.org/?lang=en

From a fine artist, Mark Newport creates full-size superhero costumes that are hand knitted. “They push the image of the hero by highlighting knitting materials, textures, and traditions (cables and the use of “ends” to make a sweater) in the form of the costume.”

50 creators, 43 years, 1 narrative. Nelson is a very different take on an anthology. By asking artists to each take 1 year of a person’s life, the finished book is a patchwork quit, each piece could stand alone, but together creates something far richer than if it had been crafted out of a single fabric.

Here are a couple video pieces:

Animated work based on Michael Kupperman: http://www.veoh.com/browse/videos/category/animation/watch/v18919734H2s3xwHm

Quimby Mouse and Andrew Bird:

And some funny bits to top it all off:

How not to write a comic book. Deconstructing the Complete and Utter Insanity of ‘Batman: Odyssey’.

A brief history of Lex Luthor’s cake-stealing antics.

The Misadventures of Moore and Morrison

Dress for the Job You Want, Not The One You Have

Links for Specific Topics

Hey guys! I’ve got some links that we passed around last year that you might find of use. Some of them were more general, but there were a few that specifically related to discussions within the class. Those links I’ve posted below, noting which class they related to. I’ll post the rest of the general links soon, but thought these might be handy to have separately.

Week 1—Introduction to Course: The Language of Comics

Since we looked a little bit at what could be considered the precursors to comics, this article posits that the very first comic might have come from right here in Scotland. http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/02/20/did-scotland-invent-the-comic-book/ 

Speaking of Scotland and comic books, last year BBC2 Scotland produced Scotland’s Amazing Comic Book Heroes. Info on the show and some clips are here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b012c5n2. I know the BBC is going to expand the iPlayer archives soon, so it would be worth keeping an eye out for it. The production value is a bit on the cheesy side, but there are some good interviews in it regardless.

Week 2—Workshop

Not being a trained artist or illustrator, I found this really useful. It talks about facial expressions, which is something I know myself and a number of other people found a bit daunting: http://lackadaisy.foxprints.com/exhibit.php?exhibitid=333.

Another useful tutorial, albeit one that’s been kicking around for far longer is, 22 Panels That Always Work (direct link to image: http://joeljohnson.com/images2/wallywood22panel1600.jpg)

Week 5—Superheroes and funny animals: character design

We got talking about the cultural cache superheroes have and what place they have within our society.

Reality takes a bit of a Kick-Ass turn when someone decides that they’re going to become a vigilante on the streets of Seattle: Seattle Superhero ‘Phoenix Jones’ Patrols Streets, Fights Crime.

While others use the archetype to find strength within themselves. One child’s Make-a-Wish was to spend a day as a super hero: Local boy with cancer turns into a superhero for a day.

Week 7—Seduction of the Innocent: Wertham, EC, and the ‘value’ of comics

The Comics Code, which is discussed in this class, was finally put to rest last year. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund then went out and bought the rights to the logo, in a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek move to raise money: The CBLDF Gets The Rights To The Comics Code Seal. Heads Explode.

Week 8—Adaptation and appropriation: comic books and other cultural forms

These two links came up during a discussion after an exhibition about comics in the Market Gallery, but they certainly have relevance to the topic:
Brian Bolland Takes On Erró… And Wins!
Swipe File: Gardar Eide Einarsson and Mike McMahon

Week 10—Comics and autobiography

I’ll be posting a blog with links to webcomics in the next few days and there’s a sub-category of autobiographical and diary comics within that list that would be handy to refer to.

Week 11—Forms of distribution

The internet can open up lots of new distribution channels, as well as many new ways of creating comics.

One person who harnessed Twitter to crowd-source a comic: Stewart K. Moore sends word of a new experiment, via Twitter, to create 100 parallel interpretations of the same story. http://scottmccloud.com/2011/05/16/atwomic-a-twitter-comic/. Which is a bit like the online version of Exercises in Style.

Solipsistic Pop, an anthology of indie UK artists, funded their last comic via IndieGoGo.

We Are Words and Pictures, another indie UK-based venture, distributes their anthology, Paper Science, via Newspaper Club.

Additional Starting Links

Hello comics pals! Here are a few links to add to the collection of links Glyn passed out. (All links open in a new window)

Glyn mentioned www.bleedingcool.com as a good general comics website. Other good blogs I’d point you in the direction of would be http://www.inkstuds.org/ and http://www.avoidthefuture.com/. Thedailycrosshatch.com was good, but they’re currently on hiatus, and http://comicscomicsmag.com is another page that’s been closed to new content, but has some good things in the archives which may be of interest/use.

www.warrenellis.com is a personal favourite. This is the website of comic book writer Warren Ellis, not to be confused with the member of Nick Cave’s band. He always has really interesting links, both comic-related and not. If you’re just interested in his comics chat, that’s here: http://www.warrenellis.com/?cat=20.

One topic he has discussed at length, which has particular relevance to this class, is the future of comics consumption and distribution. A couple good posts to start with: The Broadcast Of Comics, A Collection Of Rambling On The Subject Of Digital Comics, DC And Digital Comics Strategies, and A Few Notes On Marvel Comics’ Digital Strategy.

With Avatar Press, Warren worked on a web series called Freakangels. Avatar really wanted to engage the readers of the series, so they set up a message board, WhiteChappel, that would be curated and moderated by those involved in the writing, art and design of the comic. Topics weren’t restricted to the comic, and often the talk was about comics in general, as well as art, culture, politics, etc. A regular feature was something called “Remake/Remodel”, where Ellis took an established character, boiled their essence down to a line or two, and then asked people to re-imagine them solely on the description he gave. Three of my favourites were: Fantastic 4, Dr. Who and Black Orchid. When Freakangels ended, Avatar started a new web series, written by Si Spurrier, and the reigns of WhiteChappel were handed to him.

I’m sure there are many more sites we’re both missing, so if there are any you can think of or want me to add, drop a link in the comments and I’ll add them in! I’ve got some more links coming your way soon that I hope you’ll like and find useful.