Category Archives: Comics

A Return to Physical Comics

I’ve been a comic book fan since I was a very young child. They have been such a mainstay in my life, that it’s hard to think of a life without them. Growing up, they were a refuge from bullies and a place to see characters that had become friends of a sort, offering comfort and escape from reality when I needed it. As I got older, they were a source of inspiration that I used in my own creative endeavors.

My wife says I got a lot of my morals from comic books, and I can’t disagree with her. When Spider-Man learned “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”, I took that phrase to heart. No, I’m not more special than anyone else, but I’ve always believed that if you have the opportunity and ability to help someone, you should do it.

My friends and family equate me with comic knowledge, and I wholeheartedly accept that assertion. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast last week, but I can tell you who the creative team on Superman #16 from 1986 was.

I read Marvel and DC equally over the years, with indies thrown in as time went on. From Secret Wars and Crisis on Infinite Earths, to Civil War and Flashpoint, I was there for every major event. Eventually, some things changed.

First off, I had a daughter. Wouldn’t change anything about having her, but the reality of a dual income household becoming a single income with an extra boarder, made our finances change. No longer was the disposable income there for buying lots of comics. Diapers aren’t cheap!

Second, DC Comics began ‘The New 52’. They restarted everything over again after Flashpoint. What came before was no more. This was a new DC Universe. I signed up for all 52 DC series in September 2011, cautious but excited to see what we as readers were in store for.

Within 3 months, I had cancelled nearly every DC comic from my pull list. These new books didn’t ring a bell for me. They weren’t the same characters I had known for years, and my interest went away quickly. When it came time to decide to cancel my pull list entirely, I was sad. This was the first time since the 1980s I would not be buying comics. My Marvel portion of the list had been going down as well; things just weren’t interesting me like they used to. I was sad, but when the pull list was closed, I was more disappointed than anything else. That’s when I realized that I was wanting quality over quantity.

A couple of years later, I did subscribe to Marvel Unlimited. It is six months behind on issue releases and there is no ownership, but it allowed me to keep up on Marvel on a budget. Marvel had a lot of things going on, but what got my interest was Jonathan Hickman and his work on the Avengers. I went back and read his Fantastic Four and other work. I was amazed at the world building and long game he played in all his work. He was writing the kind of comics I wanted to read.

Jonathan Hickman’s talent at world building and his interest in telling long stories within his series is likely one of the reasons why Marvel hired him to orchestrate a revival of the X-Men.

I heard in 2019 Hickman had taken on the X-Men, so my interest was piqued. I read the House of X / Powers of X lead-in series and couldn’t believe it… Hickman had found a way to completely reinvent the X-Men. He had done it with the Fantastic Four; he had done it with the Avengers. I should not have been surprised. His work blew me away. I needed to get back in the normal habit of reading his work. Thus, I started a pull list again for the first time in years. All of the X-titles are on it, and Chad & Comicreaders were great in getting me caught up on the back issues I was behind on.

X of Swords is an epic in 22 parts that runs through most of the X-Men comics.

I’m getting into X of Swords, the latest X-event, and am loving it. I’ve loved each of the series to date and the entire tapestry Hickman and Co. have made is fantastic. If Marvel simply put Hickman in charge of all of their publishing, I would be a happy camper.

I’m glad to be back reading physical comics and making that trek to the comic store several times a month. It’s a good time to be an X-Men fan, and I’m loving every minute of it. (Mike Hintze)

2020 Eisner Awards Winners

The 2020 Eisner Awards winners were announced at the end of July. I had missed the opportunity to post this when announced because I was still thinking about how to redesign ComicReaders’ Web site, but I knew it would be one of the first things I wanted to write about when the Web site had been re-designed.

What I personally enjoy about the Eisners is the variety of subject matter and the diversity of the creators represented in the nominees and winners. I also like that award-winning books come from a variety of publishers and, likewise, that award-winning creators create material for a wide variety of publishers. There is never one creator or one publisher that racks up all the awards. I think people who follow the Eisners already follow the comics industry more closely than a casual reader, but I like to think that the Eisner seal of approval exposes all readers to books, creators, and publishers with which they might not be overly familiar.

I know an Oscar-winning movie can enjoy a larger audience. I hope that is the same for Eisner winners.

The list of winners is below, with some personal comments from me where applicable.

Best Short Story
“Hot Comb,” by Ebony Flowers, in Hot Comb (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Single Issue/One-Shot
Our Favorite Thing Is My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, by Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)

Best Continuing Series
Bitter Root, by David Walker, Chuck Brown, and Sanford Greene (Image)
I have to admit that Bitter Root has been on my “to read” list for many, many months. I am attracted to its art style. I’ll have to bump it up the list now that it has won this prestigious award.

Best Limited Series
Little Bird by Darcy Van Poelgeest and Ian Bertram (Image)
Gorgeous art really drives the story home.

Best New Series
Invisible Kingdom, by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward (Berger Books/Dark Horse)
Dark Horse has had a rough couple of years with the loss of the Star Wars, Conan, Aliens, and Predator licenses, controversy around one of its leading editors, and now a slow start to releasing material during the pandemic. In light on those things it can sometimes be easy to forget what a creative force Dark Horse has been in the industry for 30+ years. Awards like this for creators is a good reminder that Dark Horse is a company that takes risks on new creators, takes the time curate a diverse line of comics across numerous genres, and is still a relevant and welcome publisher in the industry.

Best Publication for Early Readers
Comics: Easy as ABC, by Ivan Brunetti (TOON)

Best Publication for Kids
Guts, by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic Graphix)
Anything with the Telgemeier name on it is going to be a hit in schools, libaries, book stores and comic shops.

Best Publication for Teens
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (First Second/Macmillan)
Here is a read that has had great success at ComicReaders Downtown.

Best Humor Publication
The Way of the Househusband, vol. 1, by Kousuke Oono, translation by Sheldon Drzka (VIZ Media)
I stocked this manga because the description sounded like it could be a bizarre read. I did not realize at the time that it was a straight up comedy.

Best Anthology
Drawing Power: Women’s Stories of Sexual Violence, Harassment, and Survival, edited by Diane Noomin (Abrams)

Best Reality-Based Work
They Called Us Enemy, by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker (Top Shelf)

Best Graphic Album – New
Are You Listening? by Tillie Walden (First Second/Macmillan)
Here is another one that keeps finding new readers at ComicReaders Downtown.

Best Graphic Album – Reprint
LaGuardia, by Nnedi Okorafor and Tana Ford (Berger Books/Dark Horse)

Best Adaptation from Another Medium
Snow, Glass, Apples, by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran (Dark Horse Books)
I have to be honest and say I missed ordering this one. I’ve had a few customers ask for it and I was quick to bring it in for them. Neil Gaiman still has a following.

Best U.S. Edition of International Material
The House, by Paco Roca, translation by Andrea Rosenberg (Fantagraphics)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia
Tie: Cats of the Louvre, by Taiyo Matsumoto, translation by Michael Arias (VIZ Media) and Witch Hat Atelier, by Kamome Shirahama, translation by Stephen Kohler (Kodansha)

Best Archival Collection/Project – Strips
Krazy Kat: The Complete Color Sundays, by George Herriman, edited by Alexander Braun (TASCHEN)

Best Archival Collection/Project – Comic Books
Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo: The Complete Grasscutter Artist Select, by Stan Sakai, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)

Best Writer
Mariko Tamaki, Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass (DC); Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me (First Second/Macmillan); Archie (Archie)
I remember many years ago when Dana from ComicReaders South invited Mariko Tamaki to the store to promote and sign her graphic novel Skim. Dana was devastated by the low turnout. Now Mariko Tamaki is one of the biggest named in comics, but even then she was a talent.

Best Writer/Artist
Raina Telgemeier, Guts (Scholastic Graphix)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me (First Second/Macmillan)

Best Painter/Digital Artist
Christian Ward, Invisible Kingdom (Berger Books/Dark Horse)

Best Cover Artist
Emma Rios, Pretty Deadly (Image)

Best Coloring
Dave Stewart, Black Hammer, B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know, Hellboy and the BPRD (Dark Horse); Gideon Falls (Image); Silver Surfer Black, Spider-Man (Marvel)
I’m pretty sure Dave Stewart has won this award every year since he got into colouring comics. I’m not going to fact check that though.

Best Lettering
Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo (IDW)
A year or so ago I had a really good conversation with a customer about the art of hand lettering comics. I wish I had a transcript of that conversation. Also related to lettering— since I’ve been involved in some comic projects as a writer I’ve worked with letterers and I’ve learned a lot about the craft of lettering, including placement of dialogue to ensure the proper flow for the reader. Lettering is one of those things you won’t notice when it’s done correctly.

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism
Women Write About Comics, edited by Nola Pfau and Wendy Browne, www.WomenWriteAboutComics.com

Best Academic/Scholarly Work
EC Comics: Race, Shock, and Social Protest, by Qiana Whitted (Rutgers University Press)

Best Publication Design
Making Comics, designed by Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Digital Comic
Afterlift, by Chip Zdarsky and Jason Loo (comiXology Originals)

Best Webcomic
Fried Rice Comic, by Erica Eng