* I read A Dance with Dragons. I liked it. If you’ve read it, come talk about it with me, artists Matt Wiegle and Sam Bosma, A Song of Ice and Fire superfans/megaexperts Elio & Linda, and other august personages.
* Last week I assembled a massive gallery of great Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire fanart from around the web for Robot 6. Do check it out; there’s something for everyone, or at least every ASoIaF fan. (This piece is by Rory Phillips.)
* Your top comics story: Peter Laird is discontinuing the Xeric Grants for self-published comics following one final round of grants in May 2012. This is terrible, terrible news. Laird says he’s doing that because digital publishing and digital fundraising have abrogated the need for the Xeric, but I think that’s a massive misreading of a) what kinds of comics are made feasible by webcomics; b) what kind of comics are capable of mounting successful Kickstarter campaigns without having first established a network of contacts in online comics fandom; c) the need North American comics have for one of the few awards that really is a mark of quality (for my money it’s the Xerics, the Ignatzes, and then perhaps the awards given by TCAF and Stumptown). This is going to make things a lot tougher on alternative comics creators — you need look no further than the list of past recipients to see how many noteworthy careers were made possible in part by the Xeric. That’s gone, now. It’s tough to object to Laird’s stated goal of transferring his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle millions from funnybooks to actual improving-people’s-lives charities, but I still think the Xerics will be sorely missed.
* Your other top comics story: Borders is dead.
* Your top nerd story: The Dwarves from The Hobbit look awesome. This is a fanmade photoshop of all the pictures released so far, and it fakes Thorin’s body based on the bust shot we’ve been given, but even so, my Hobbit enthusiasm has been officially awakened.
* Kiel Phegley talks to Grant Morrison about his new prose book about superheroes, Supergods. Superlawsuit watchers may want to note Morrison’s take on Siegel & Shuster.
* Marvel’s Tom Brevoort on what DC does and doesn’t do well: part one, part two. I doubt that many people reading this blog are Marvel or DC partisans, as is the case for the audience of those posts at Robot 6, so maybe you’ll be better capable of seeing just what a gift we readers of superhero comics have in a high-profile top-level editor who’s willing to say what he thinks about most anything, and can do so articulately and with ideas he’s actually thought through over the course of years in the industry, as opposed to regurgitating PR talking points. This is very, very, very rare.
* Speaking of Brevoort, he addresses a complaint I’ve had myself: Though all of his story has been told in Ed Brubaker’s Captain America series, Bucky’s death was relegated to Matt Fraction’s Fear Itself. Brevoort says Brubaker has written an epilogue one-shot that will address the death in the context of his excellent Cap run, which is good news.
* Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons. ‘Nuff said!
* The hardcover for Jesse Moynihan’s Forming Vol. 1 looks terrific.
* Dan White has launched a new Cindy & Biscuit website at Mindless Ones. I like that comic quite a bit.
* Paul Karasik reviews Joyce Farmer’s Special Exits for The Comics Journal. You, whoever you are, ought to read that book.
* Whoa, NeilAlien resurfaced! It’s like I’ve died and gone to earlier in 2011.
* I’ll admit it, I love this kind of crazy collector’s project: DC is releasing a $150, 1,216-page DC Comics: The New 52 hardcover containing all 52 first issues from its September relaunch. Speaking of which: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes! (Cf.) Elsewhere, Toronto’s The Beguiling comic shop is selling all 52 issues for a bundled price of $104; that strikes me as a great idea for retailers.
* Can you imagine getting a letter of praise from a master of your art like the letter Jim Woodring sent Hans Rickheit? Man oh man.
* I’m always up for a good look at James Cameron’s Aliens, a film that’s as good at what it does as any I can think of. This one comes courtesy of Edward Copeland.
* David Lynch made an animated video for Interpol’s very good song “Lights” called “I Touch a Red Button.” It’s like an exercise in how much creepy intensity he can wring out of four or five frames. He’s very good at making horrible faces, that’s for sure.
* Wow, watching this attempt to beat Super Mario Bros. with the lowest score possible without saving or cheating made for some pulse-pounding viewing. I was literally cringing and jumping in my seat. The Hammer Brothers sequence is like the 8-bit equivalent of the stairs of Khazad-Dûm.