The Mix : What are people talking about today?

Webslinger

Webslinger

Books about comic books and comic book characters have grown in volume over the past few years. While some, such as Bob Handelman’s biography of Will Eisner, have received mainstream notice, many others fly under the radar.

Texas-based publisher BenBella Books has begun including comic book characters in their SmartPop series of essay collections. They dipped into the world of four-color heroes last year with collections pondering the X-Men and Superman.

Just out, in plenty of time for May 3’s release of Spider-Man 3, is their latest volume Webslinger: Unauthorized Essays on Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Essayists include comic professionals, science fiction authors and other pop culture mavens. Guest editing is television writer and former DC and Marvel Comics editor Gerry Conway, who wrote a long, celebrated run of Amazing Spider-Man and provides some personal insights into the character in his introduction. The other writers are Darren Hudson Hick, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Robert B. Taylor, Lou Anders, Richard Hanley, Matthew Pustz, Michael A. Burstein, Joseph McCabe, Keith DeCandido, Robert Greenberger, Brett Chandler Patterson, J.R. Fettinger, Adam-Troy Castro, Paul Lytle, David Hopkins, Robert Burke Richardson, and Michael Marano.

SmartPop will also devote volumes to Wonder Woman and Batman, although neither are scheduled.

Nat Turner done deal

Kyle Baker is bursting with pride upon the completion of his latest work. Quoth he on his blog, "It took longer than I expected, but it’s only THE MOST IMPORTANT GRAPHIC NOVEL OF ALL TIME BY THE GREATEST CARTOONIST EVER! Yeah, I said it. What! We’ll be putting together some preview pages and interactive e-goodies with our new publisher, Image Comics, over the next weeks in order to prepare humanity to withstand my wonders!"

Not that he has an opinion or anything. Of course, in Baker’s case it’s well justified.

She’s Spartacus

She’s Spartacus

Former DC editorial assistant Valerie D’Orazio, who caused quite the stir late last year with her multi-post series "Goodbye to Comics," has written her second post about Supergirl wherein she expounds upon her belief that the best way to change a System for the better is from without, not within, particularly if the System perpetuates institutionalized sexism (and she does a nice job of differentiating between that and actual individual sexism).

One of the more eloquent voices working on changing institutionalized sexism from without belongs to Mely of Coffee and Ink (hat tip to Michelle Bacon for the pointer), who’s worth quoting in full (beneath the fold).

Kirby books by Evanier

Kirby books by Evanier

On the anniversary of the day Jack Kirby left this world, his longtime friend and colleague Mark Evanier has announced his planned two-volume biography of the King. The first volume, says Evanier, "will be a very nicely printed art book with a simpler but quite complete version of the Kirby biography. The volume will also be loaded with rare Kirby art, all of it in reproduced in full color, much of it shot from the original artwork.

That needs a bit of explanation. Many of the pieces will consist of black-and-white artwork in pencil or ink but we’ll be printing them in color so that you can see all the pencil marks, corrections, smudges and in some cases, notes in the margins. There will also be plenty of pages that print Jack’s art in pencil form and, of course, color pieces and some things you’ve seen before but not in the way we’re going to present them. This book will be called Kirby: King of Comics and it will be released in October of this year by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., which is one of the world’s most prestigious publishers of high quality art and illustrated books. It’ll be a hardcover volume, 9" by 12-1/2", all in color and with a gatefold and all sorts of nifty features that we hope will make it worthy of its subject."

Mark is also seeking "interesting and special Kirby art to include in the book… I’m most interested in pieces that are either historic or early… I’d like to locate the original art to some early pieces and especially to things that weren’t done for Marvel, or were done for DC in the forties or fifties. I’m also trying to find intricate pencil pieces and one or two really spectacular pages from the Fourth World material."  Please contact Mark if you have anything along those lines.

The Dark Tower: interview with Peter David

Dark Tower 1Peter David, writer of stuff, was able to take a few minutes between bowling, barfing babies, and boarding a plane to Maine to explain what’s germaine and urbane (and other words in the same vein) about the new Dark Tower series, going on sale tonight at midnight. Oddly, even though I’ve known Peter for over two decades and have been his webmaster for almost five years, this is the first time I’ve ever interviewed him…

Q. Assume I know nothing (always a fair assumption) about The Dark Tower. For those folks out there who’ve never read The Dark Tower or any other works by Stephen King, or just know his works from the movies, can you sum up what the heck’s going on here? What things do I need to know about the story that will make it accessible to me? Or will the comic be fully accessible to those who know nothing about The Dark Tower or even Stephen King?

A. You don’t really need to know anything about the series (well, aside from how to read) than anyone required when the very first Gunslinger novel was published. Basically, Dark Tower is a blend of fantasy and iconic western heroes, detailing the life’s story of Roland, the last of the Gunslingers of a long-ago city called Gilead, and the circumstances that forged him into the hero he eventually became.

Q. So this is more of a true dark fantasy than King’s usual horror?

(more…)

Len Wein – Thumbs up on 300

300Len Wein went to a preview of the movie based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel 300, and has a very positive review of it up on his blog. "The story is one of history’s great tales of heroism and sacrifice and this film definitely does it justice… One word of caution, though: this film is as graphically violent as any I’ve seen."

Graphic violence, from a Frank Miller graphic novel? How unexpected!

A bissel schmoozing at NYCC

A bissel schmoozing at NYCC

Neil Kleid reports on the panel in which he’ll be participating at the New York Comic Con, "The Jewish Side of Comics." Guess what they’ll be talking about? Don’t worry, it’s not on shabbos. On the other hand, nu, would it hurt them to have bagels? Or a maidele or two like Leela Corman (to talk about Unterzachen, her graphic novel in progress about twin sisters in the turn-of-the-last-century Lower East Side)?

Conventional Wisdom

Conventional Wisdom

As we all gear up for the 2007 convention season, what with Len Wein’s Phoenix Cactus Comicon report and Heidi MacDonald’s heads-up regarding a rumor of limited NYCC publisher passes for pros and the news that the San Diego Comic Con International’s Artist’s Alley is already at capacity, the one post I found most buoying was Kathleen David’s about appreciating all the effort that goes into organizing a convention. Granted, Kath is more likely discussing smaller, non-professional cons, but it’s a good set of rules to remember no matter where you find yourself traveling this year.

Warren Ellis and Tom Spurgeon talk about certain instances where there’s no love lost between attendees and organizers, particularly regarding a certain upcoming event.

Comics companies gear up for Toy Fair

Comics companies gear up for Toy Fair

Prior to becoming the center of the comic book world with the New York Comic Con, the Javits Center plays host to the 2007 American International Toy Fair this week (from February 11-14), and companies with comic-book tie-in toys are gearing up for their presentations. Hasbro has various Marvel-related offerings, Diamond and Dark Horse have exhibiting booths, but curiously the Toy Fair website makes no mention of McFarlane’s vast array of merchandise.

Could Todd & co. be a no-show? 

The Beat has Day 1 pictures.