Carnival of souls: Special “Best of 2010/Robot 6 turns 2” edition

* Happy New Year!

* In case you missed it over the holiday weekend, I posted my list of The 20 Best Comics of 2010. It was really some year.

* I also uploaded a three-part mix of the Best Songs of 2010. That’s always one of my favorite projects to do.

* Meanwhile, my blog-away-from-home Robot 6 celebrated its 2nd anniversary yesterday with a slew of sweet stories…

* Obviously, none was sweeter than the announcement that Fantagraphics will be publishing the complete Carl Barks Disney duck comics. That announcement was a long time coming, so kudos to everyone on both ends who made it happen, especially Chris Mautner and Jacq Cohen. And kudos to Gary Groth and Fantagraphics for landing not one but two of the most anticipated projects of the year, between this and the Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse comics. I can’t wait!

* Also on Robot 6, I interviewed Brecht Evens about his eye-catching new book The Wrong Place. There’s an anecdote about a disco ball you really want to read. And you really want to read the book, too — Evens is clearly one to watch.

* I also interviewed the great Ben Katchor about his upcoming book The Cardboard Valise. This was one of the great thrills of my cartooning-interviewing career. I say it over and over, I know, but there’s nothing else in the world like Katchor’s comics.

* My colleague JK Parkin interviews Chris Pitzer, publisher extraordinaire of AdHouse Books. Between Afrodisiac, Duncan the Wonder Dog, its publishing and charitable efforts on behalf of Josh Cotter, and the creation of AdDistro, AdHouse had a hell of a year. Actually I think you can say that on behalf of just about every alternative comics publisher of note, which speaks to just how strong a comics year it was. Also, I either forgot or never knew that AdDistro is picking up Birchfield Close and Benjamin Marra, so that’s good/old news.

* You see a lot of jaw-jaw about comics “selling out,” i.e. going through all their available copies at the distributor level. You basically never see a publisher explain what that means with hard numbers. So a round of applause is due to Archaia Editor-in-Chief Stephen Christy for doing exactly that in this intriguing interview with Michael May. The authors of the books in question, Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard‘s David Petersen and Return of the Dapper Men‘s Jim McCann, chime in as well. Another independent publisher with a rock-solid year, but that’s likely to be true any time you have the combined PR clout of McCann and Mel Caylo behind you.

* Brigid Alverson runs down the year in digital comics. Her opening paragraph reflects everything I’ve heard unofficially from the big publishers, which is that the iPad completely changed how they see digital comics.

* I caught a couple of newsy bits in Robot 6’s survey of creators on the year that was and the year to come:

* Dan Nadel says PictureBox is collecting Tales of Greenfuzz by Will Sweeney and has a new Yuichi Yokoyama graphic novel called Garden on the way;

* James Kochalka says Top Shelf is working on an iPad app;

* and John Rogers says Vertigo recently changed its residual structure to the implied detriment of creators.

* I also liked Gail Simone’s analysis of the effect that high price points for individual monthly comics had on consumers’ reading and purchasing habits.

* The whole Robot 6 crew lists our respective favorite/best comics of 2010. Chris Mautner and I may be the same person; I’ll get back to you on that.

* Meanwhile, you can see what pretty much everyone who works for Robot 6, Comic Book Resources, and Comics Should Be Good has been reading lately in our latest, giant-sized What Are You Reading column. The big news there on my end is that I’ve got enough of a comics-review cushion right now to dig back into Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising Sequence. Fantasy books whose big confrontations consist almost solely of infodumps have no right to be that evocative.

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7 Responses to Carnival of souls: Special “Best of 2010/Robot 6 turns 2” edition

  1. I’ve heard a bit about the Cooper series myself. So you’d recommend it? I’m on a bit of a fantasy kick myself right now, working my way through Steven Erikson’s Mazalan Book of the Fallen series and really digging it. Its petty gods-and-magic meets politics-and-war fantasy, which is fun. Erikson’s plotting is clunky at times, but his language is compelling; he creates some really memorable and epic visuals, a prerequisite for any good fantasy in my book.

    • I’d definitely recommend it. I mean, it’s a YA series, not so much in language or tone but in structure/logistics–things happen very quickly as befits a youngster’s attention span. But I think there’s some enormously evocative stuff in there about England/Cornwall/Wales and the Arthurian legend. It’s a huge influence on Destructor as well, albeit not in any way you’re going to see for a long while.

      Note that the first book in the cycle, Over Sea, Under Stone, was written a decade before the remaining four and reads more like a children’s/YA mystery with gradually mounting fantasy elements. From The Dark Is Rising (Book Two) onwards, it’s high fantasy from the jump. For some reason my local library didn’t have Book One–I think there might have been a decision by the publisher not to include it in the set for a while–so I actually started with Book Two and had no problem doing so. You might prefer doing it that way, then going back and reading Book One prior to Book Three. Or not, I dunno.

      They’re very good, is the long and the short of it.

  2. Sean–related to what we were talking about recently on Twitter, in terms of blind-spots or don’t-gets, where should I start with Ben Katchor? I’ve flipped through his books before, but I’ve never read anything by him.

    • Start at the beginning with Cheap Novelties. That’s the first Julius Knipl collection. His stuff demands attention, but also rewards it. As I say in my interview, it conjures up very specific associations for me, but I think anyone (certainly any cartoonist) can appreciate, say, the way he constructs three-dimensional space in rooms or streets.

  3. Matt W says:

    Katchor, like Chirs Ware, is one of those cartoonists whom I constantly have to be reminding myself to read more slowly. Once I’ve adjusted my pace accordingly though, he’s super super good.

    I’m really excited about The Cardboard Valise. I’d read the first little bits of it in college, then had completely forgotten about it until I saw your post here, Sean. Yay!

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