The Independents & the Graphic Novel

In the 1980s comics began to recognize that a long form comic’s story had potential, based in part on Eisner’s Contract with God & Jules Feiffer’s Tantrum. Various names for this longer comics story form were thrown around. Among them “Sequential Narrative” and “Picture Novella” gained some weight but the term that stuck was “Graphic Novel.”
The 1980s was also a time when Independent publishing flourished. One of the first big hits was Wendy & Richard Pini’s fantasy ElfQuest, which mixed Native American lore with fantasy tropes. Another was Dave Sim’s Cerebus, which began as a parody of Conan the Barbarian but then evolved into an ongoing storyline in its own right.

 

 

Possibly the independent hit of this period was The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird. Initially a parody of the ninja craze and a tribute to the work of Frank Miller, the Turtles charmed the country, and the black and white book originally financed by a family member became a sensation. In a fairly short time the turtles were everywhere, on school lunch boxes, on clothing, & on stationary.
Other cartoonists watched the success of the Turtles & saw possibilities. Soon the comic book market was running over with self published work. Some experienced success, but only the Turtles broke the dam between the comic book readership & the wider world of popular culture.

To learn more about the history of the graphic novel, read my book, Faster than a Speeding Bullet: the Rise of the Graphic Novel, available in October

Of Cats Past, Part Two

I’m going through my archives looking for comics I drew my cats in – and here’s one from 2003 featuring Tijger, a typical tabby: vibrant, affectionate, dominant and fierce.

 

(That’s me in the lower bit, consoling Johan. In 2003, I was a stepmother to three children and living in a small house with a garden.)

I experimented here with a non-linear flow of visuals, influenced by colleague Michiel van de Pol, who makes wonderfully free and wacky comics and cartoons. I still like the pace of this comic, and how I sort of successfully camouflaged the fact that I’m not good at drawing backgrounds by just adding a few props.

NBM Is Going To SPX and Bringing Stan Mack, Brooke Allen and ABELARD!

Next weekend, you can find some of the most prestigious names in comics at the 2012 Small Press Expo (aka SPX).

Unlike many conventions that are geared toward pop culture or corporately owned comics, SPX was created in 1994 to promote artists and publishers who produce independent comics. SPX hosts an annual festival that provides a forum for artists, writers and publishers of comic art in its various forms to present to the public comic art not normally accessible through normal commercial channels.

It’s one of NBM’s favorite shows and this year we’re proud to bring with us both two talented cartoonists and the debut of our newest title (six weeks before street date!)

Stan Mack will bring his new book, Taxes, The Tea Party and Those Revolting Rebels: A History in Comics of the American Revolution and will be signing throughout the weekend.

A cartoonist de-mythologizes the Founding Fathers and makes them more ‘like us'”says The New York Times. Uncannily relevant to today’’s world. Learn about the original revolt against taxes: the Boston Tea Party, and the original Occupy movement: the Rebels in revolt against the status quo. A whimsical and informative pictorial history featuring a chubby, insecure King George III, rebellious and misunderstood colonists, loudmouthed and insensitive aristocrats, and more. Updated from the original “Stan Mack’s Real Life American Revolution” published by Avon books in 1994 .

Stan will be appearing at the NBM booth throughout the weekend and can also be found on Sunday at the 4:00 PM panel, Images of America: Real and Imagined
 at the White Flint Auditorium alongside Nick Abadzis Dean Haspiel and Ben Towle. Isaac Cates will lead these four artists in a conversation about images of place in comics.


Also joining the festivities is Brooke A. Allen, creator of A Home For Mr. Easter, which remains one of comics’ strongest debuts in the last few years.

Tesana has never really fit into anything before but her daydreams. But when making an attempt to connect to her peers by joining in a pep rally planning committee she suddenly discovers a little white rabbit that lays brightly colored eggs. Realizing that she may have found the real life Easter bunny, Tesana embarks on an epic quest in an effort to get him back to his natural habitat and into safe hands. However as she progresses on her fanciful journey she gains more and more undesired attention until the quest becomes an increasingly madcap race to stay ahead of greedy pursuers and find a safe place for her new friend…wherever that place may be. It’s Tesana against the world!

If you haven’t checked it out yet, be sure to pick up a copy at the show.

And finally, we will be premiering Abelard, from artist Renaud Dillies and writer Régis Hautière!

 

The charm of Renaud Dillies strikes again: after the mouse of Bubbles and Gondola, here is another dreamer, little chick Abelard. To lure pretty Epily, Abelard sees only one solution: to catch the moon for her! So off he goes to America, the country which invented flying machines. Armed with his banjo and his proverb-sharing hat, he launches out on the country roads, meets Gypsies, then Gaston, a grumpy bear with whom he will share a good bit of his way… As opposed to dreamer Abelard, Gaston has his feet firmly planted on the ground. With this funny animal road-movie where the absurd becomes poetry, Régis Hautière and Renaud Dillies offer us another small jewel.

Throughout SPX, NBM can be found at tables A8-A9. For further details, visit the SPX website, www.spxpo.com

20% DISCOUNT with our end of summer sale!

Order at least $20 worth of our books, any books or magazines, enter code 912 in the coupon field in the cart and you’ll get 2o% off your order. This offer is valid until September 14th. Come on over and stock up on all our good stuff!

This can include books about to ship so you get ’em as soon as they come in to the warehouse such as:

ABELARD by Renaud “Bubbles & Gondola” Dillies.

Or just out:

Stan Mack’s fresh and topical look at our American Revolution, or:

Margreet de Heer’s fun intro to…well, thinking.

Or maybe you missed Craig Russell’s newest Oscar Wilde adaptation? Hey, even the rare signed & numbered edition is $10 off with this offer!

Howzabout Rick Geary’s latest:

In Eurotica too, you can get Liberatore’s stunning art book for $8 off!

We need cash and you need books at a good discount. Can’t go wrong.

Just make sure to enter that discount code 912 in the coupon box or you can call us at 800 886 1223 Mon.-Fri. 9-6 and mention this code.

Of Cats Past, Part One

I looked through my archive to see when I drew my first cat-comic – and it’s this one, from 1999, about my sweet albeit a bit grumpy Scottish kitty Djinn:

I’m pleasantly surprised with the way I drew Djinn, and I really like the dream-sequence. But I’m less enthusiastic about the way I drew myself, I was going for some funny abstract comic figure, but to me it now mostly reflects how I could not grasp my self-image in that period – both graphically and metaphysically.

This comic was originally in Dutch – I translated it just now and lettered it with my own handwriting font I made on www.myscriptfont.com. It’s a quick, easy and free way to make your own font!

 

Philosophical Cats

I like to write and draw about my own personal life – in fact, all of my comics have autobiographical elements in one way or another. I especially like to draw our cats, beautiful Siamese Boris and his dark sidekick Toto. They both appear in ‘Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics’. In fact, Boris’ dreaming sparks the chapter about what human consciousness is, compared to that of other animals.

From: ‘Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics’

 

After ten pages exploring different features that may define consciousness, such as Logical Thinking, Self-reflection, Use of Symbols and Language, I draw the following conclusion:

 

Our cats also make an appearance in the two books that follow the Philosophy book – about Religion and Science (both published in The Netherlands and not in translation – yet). I really like drawing them and us in our natural modus, which is: lying in our kingsize bed.

 

From: ‘Religie in Beeld’ (2011)

 

In the book about Science, I use the cats in a similar argument as in the Philosophy book: what makes a scientific mind? Why have animals no science?

 

Isn’t the natural curiosity in cats the same as in humans? And isn’t that curiosity the base of science…? Yet, humans like to experiment and categorize, and that is not something a lot of animals do. Still, that may be mostly due to their lack of opposable thumbs – not lack of intelligence.

So – wouldn’t our cats monitor the barking-frequency of our neighbor’s dog if they had a chance…?

From: ‘Wetenschappen in Beeld’ (2012)

 

More comic cats to follow in the coming weeks… so keep an eye on this spot!