I HAVE A DREAM. And it Involves Elvira. And Skottie Young. And The Hero Initiative . Look, just read it, will you?
No, this isn’t the weirdest slash fiction ever.
Here are some concepts people LOVE: Elvira. Variant Covers, Buying Stuff To Do A Good Deed. And laughing at really, REALLY bad old comics. Like Mystery Science Theatre 3K but with bad colouring instead of terrible cinematography
There are a plethora of bad comics out there, many of them in the public domain. IDW reprinted quite a couple for their ‘What Were They Thinking.’ line. Lots, LOTS more can be found here, for your perusal, enjoyment and/or general mockery. Just bear the sheer amount of this material available in the back of your head for a couple of minutes.
So, there have been a few attempts at Elvira comics over the years. They’ve been ….ok, but the covers were usually the best thing about them, after that, they would descend into poorly written slapstick, and it would never read nor be as funny as the real thing. The mistake was that Elvira is her best when she’s either mocking the thing she’s watching OR she’s doing the Fourth Wall breaking thing in her own story. When she was written as part of a comic story, she didn’t have the chance to address the reader as well as she would in her films ‘Mistress Of The Dark’ or ‘Haunted Hills’ as she wasn’t doing her own act, but being written by people who didn’t quite get it. This style CAN be done well in comics, though. As proven by John Byrne’s groundbreaking run on She-Hulk run from the 90’s. Which at one point featured The Jen skipping naked as a result of an argument Byrne was having in the letters page. As Meta-Textual as comics could get back then without involving 3-D technology or Smell-O-Rama.
So here’s what I’m thinking:
An Elvira hosted ‘So Bad It’s Good’ Comics Anthology. The comic runs two or three of those clunkers from yesteryear, but each strip has a new two page bookend sequence where Elvira introduces and closes the story, and also pops in to the story via captions or a cut-away panel by the likes of Kaluta, Wrightson, Adam Hughes, Jason Pearson,Adam Warren, Tula Lotay, Adam Hughes, Kyle Baker, Amanda Connor, Hilary Barta, Becky Cloonan, Kevin Maguire, Jaime Hernandez, Tara McPherson, Adam Warren, Ty Templeton, : Gals and Guys who give good boob but also know how to draw their funny.
Stick in a reprint from the DC or Claypool days which can lead to new trade paperbacks of the older material they created. Then the comic finishes with an original short story by contemporary writers and artists, like a behind the scenes skit, interviews with comic characters or just some satirical commentary on the stories of the time. If this whole idea means at some point there would be an Elvira strip written by Alex DeCampi and drawn by Frank Cho, I would die happy. (more…)
So, well, blimey. I’m interviewing Alan Martin for the release of The Power Of Tank Girl HC being published by Titan Comics, then.
There isn’t much I can add to the story of Tank Girl that a million 90’s teenagers haven’t said already. Bunked off school, sniffed glue and read Tank Girl collections in the park when I should have been at Double P.E alongside Paradax, Love & Rockets and A-1. An empowering comic icon who spoke like us, vomiting out a bile of rage mixed in with Pop Culture hatred, starting on the adventures of Tank Girl and her Kangaroo Boyfriend, Booga, onto experiments in Burroughs cut up technique, transcendence and love letters to the English countryside, Greek mythology and even the heady heights of having her own magazine launched on the UK newsstands with free gifts and everything, chums. The world was the oyster belonging to Clown Princes Hewlett and Martin.
Then the movie happened. That wasn’t an oyster, after all. That was a glass full of Hollywood cum and the boys had to swallow.
Stories abounded. Jamie’s working on a graphic novel with Alan Moore, Jamie’s taking over Spider-Man, Alan’s joined a cult, Alan’s writing for Image under a false name. The Face published ‘Get The Freebies’. Nothing more was said. We figured Tank Girl had gone the way of Plaistow Patricia, but without the happy ending.
Then IDW announced they were launching a Tank Girl series. There was a story of novelizations being sold on eBay from a pub somewhere in England, but they were like sightings of Richey Manic in India. And IDW? As in ‘Selling you your childhood at $3:99 a time IDW? Had Chris Ryall swapped the rights to Tank Girl for a Daisy Chainsaw/Senseless Things rare split 7’? Why…why was Tank Girl dressed like a librarian? Had Alan read ‘Bonfire Of The Vanities’ one too many times? Maybe IDW would be promoting a Tank Girl/G.I. Joe crossover soon?
It was fine. The opening issue featured shit in a handbag. It was full of bile, anger and poems about eating meat. There was a nice touch with a Jamie Hewlett variant cover on issue 3. The spirit of two fingers up, a Carry On quote and a wank gag embroiled with the constant desire to kick the nearest Ukip member in the bollocks whilst downing a can of Tennants had survived, as drawn by Ashley Wood. It survived onto a run with Rufus Dayglo on art chores whilst being serialised in The Judge Dredd Megazine and has been featured in a number of mini-series from Image, IDW and Titan. ‘The Power Of Tank Girl’ is a collection of Tank Girl mini-series written by Alan, drawn by . It’s available in all the usual outlets soon. Hopefully scaring the shite out of Scott Pilgrim in the Graphic Novels section of Waterstone’s for Halloween.
Where..where were you in those intervening years between the film and the IDW launch, man? We missed you. Tell us all:
I was on a mountaintop in South Wales, meditating on a giant, spinning sliver mushroom that was hovering over the town of Cardigan. Also I went travelling with my wife, managed an ale house, wrote lots of stuff that went absolutely nowhere, and started a family.
Tell me about The Power Of Tank Girl. Why do our loyal readers want it on their Christmas or Halloween lists?
It’s a compilation of the three books that were produced for IDW – The Gifting, Visions of Booga, and The Royal Escape. They were drawn by Ashley Wood and Rufus Dayglo, and represent the comeback of Tank Girl after a thirteen year hiatus. The contracts expired with IDW and I decided to bring them all over to Titan – the UK home of Tank Girl’s back catalogue. Titan suggested compiling them into a single, fat book, which made perfect sense. I took the opportunity to head the book up with The Royal Escape story, which was my favourite of the original trio of books; I felt that it wasn’t well publicised on its initial release and the work that Rufus and I had put into deserved another chance in the spotlight. I really like the finished product, it’s a dense, never-ending ride of consummate stupidity.
Talk us through the Kickstarter you went through to make 21st CENTURY TANK GIRL :a reality. I’m taken aback that any publisher wouldn’t just see the proposal of ‘New Tank Girl. Hardcover By Jamie Hewlett.’ and have Iggy Azalea and Beyonce drive a truck full of money up to your front door. What was the appeal of going this route?
The STATE of comics today. What do you reckon to it?
Anyway,while I had a couple of questions for Alan myself, to be honest, there’s a whole generation of women who grew up with Tank Girl and I thought it was more apt to let the ask him some things they wanted to know about one of the men who helped define a generation, so it’s time to hand over to the women:
Saffron Spackling of both Republica and ‘Looters, Tooters And Sawn Off Shooters’ fame asks:
‘Do you have any other projects in the pipeline and will there be any more kickass women characters?’
Yes and Yes. I’m hatching a plan right now that involves a new breed of bollock-booting female characters. It’s top secret.
Fran Lock. Poet Genius type and author of both: ‘The Mystic And The Pig Thief’ and ‘Flatrock’ asks the following:
What are your thoughts on Tank Girl’s role in riot grrrl culture- how much was she reflecting and how much shaping that movement? Is Tank Girl a feminist or “post-feminist” character? Or are those terms a yawn-worthy irrelevance that suck the fun right out of writing? Who are Tank Girl’s spiritual successors? Do they even exist? Are they coming from the main-stream or from the fringes? Or even from comics at all?
We were quite unaware of the movement at the time, this was pre-internet days and we were two dumb shmucks living in a sleepy seaside town, it didn’t reach us until much later. Wikipedia gives the date of the birth of Riot Grrrl as 1991, by which time Tank Girl was already three years old and half way through her “golden age”. So there’s really no correlation. I would never claim that Tank Girl is a feminist character, she was never invented as such and is far too flawed to embody such aspirations. I can’t think of any spiritual successors, I know of some people who’d like to think they were her spiritual successors, but they couldn’t be further away if they tried. She doesn’t need successors – she still exists.
Sarah Taylor-Harman, Visiting Lecturer at Brunel Univeristy brings up the White Elephant with these words:
‘Here, in 2014, what do you now think of ‘Tank Girl’, the movie? Has time healed all or some wounds?
Deep down I really dislike the movie, all because of the script, it makes me cringe. There’s one incestuous joke in it that people keep on quoting at me, like I wrote the damned thing, and it makes me want to curl up and disappear. However, the movie has brought a whole new generation of readers to the comics, which has given them a whole new lease of life.
As a third wave feminist/riot grrl from an early age, Tank Girl really spoke to me as an icon. Her ownership of her sexual desire was clear to preteen me, as was her kickass attitude. As I grew older, I questioned whether that was my projection, or the intent- there’s certain throw-away gags that suggest some subtle racism and a lot of fatphobia. Due to this, there’s been a lot of debate whether Tank Girl is, in fact, feminist, or if she’s a violent, self-centered hedonist. Thoughts?
(The Power Of Tank Girl is released October the 1st, while 21st Century Tank Girl is released in Nov 2013)
On the list of ‘Damn it, I really wish I hadn’t sold that part of my collection to Jon Browne.’ includes my run of Viz Manga’s Pulp’ ‘Pulp’ was a life saver for me. I didn’t know anything about Manga when I started working in comics beyond watching a 3rd generation VHS of ‘Akira’ and had read a few issues of ‘Ghost In The Shell’, but ‘Pulp’ was a crash course in Manga that I sorely needed at the time. ‘Pulp’ was also fun, serialising the likes of ‘Uzumaki’, ‘Black And White’, ‘Cinderalla’ and the genre splitting study in violent deconstructionism that was ‘Even A Monkey Can Draw Manga;. ‘Pulp’ also featured interview with the people creating the work, essays on the culture pertaining to the strips and previews of stuff that Viz would be publishing.
So, Yeah, £4 a month, meant I could talk intelligently about Viz’s output and push their books through the shop, as I can sell a comic to anyone if I like it (And,by the way, The Goon, Sex Criminals, Shaolin Cowboy, Pretty Deadly, Afterlife With Archie, Eltingville Club, Batman ’66, Stray Bullets? You’re Welcome) Anything beyond five quid/$8 on a new concept is a bit more difficult, and if I know more about the comic, it’s an easier sell. Wanna know the reason Uzumaki was a big deal in London long before the Manga explosion happened? Wotcha!. I read ‘Pulp’, I explained why ‘Uzumaki’ was amazing to customers and it sold. Simple.
For new readers, this edition is a one colour super deluxe reprint of the original Barbarella strips, but with rewritten text by Kelly Sue DeConnick of Captain Marvel, Pretty Deadly and Ghost fame. The dialogue is suitably flirty and camp, and it reads like One Thousand and One Nights (Not the Green Lantern comic.) starring an intelligent and fun heroine in Barbarella, with one set up and storyline quickly shifting into another and another imaginative and fleshed out scenario with snappy, intelligent dialogue. I was rather worried when I read that the text was going to be ‘updated’ that Barbarella was going be referring to LOLcats, sending Snapchat messages and receiving awkward Tinder suitors but it just means that the previous awkward translations aren’t making the story unintentionally funny die to poor understanding of English.. (I particularly liked the Blind Angel and Cannibal toys bits, myself.) The original art by Jean-Claude Forest is a lush mash-up of Joe Kubert and Jim Holdaway.
Now, I enjoyed reading Barbarella. The difference between most of you and me is that I get to read this for free because I’m on Humanoids’s mailing list (Or I was when I wrote this, anyway.). Can I really, honestly recommend this to someone for the £50 you’d have to pay for a copy? No. I can’t. But that’s not a dig at the work in any way. I just couldn’t tell you that I thought any one graphic novel was worth £50. A deluxe edition HC of Liberty Meadows featuring the strips, the unreleased ending to The Wedding Story plus University Squared, any other bonuses or cameo appearances, all the covers, sketches and suchlike bonus features would still have me thinking ‘But it’s actually Fifty British pounds. Fifty pounds that is a bit more than what I get paid for a day’s work for some jobs I do. Just less than Unemployment benefit for a week. I could get a 500GB Hard Drive for my PS3 for that. That’s more expensive than a Triple A game being released at Christmas. Even if I bought it at Sainsbury’s, though.’
So as I try to be more of the solution than the current vogue of criticism that suggests ‘This is bad because I don’t approve of it.’ (COUGH SPIDER-WOMAN BY LAND & MANARA COUGH!) I’m sure there are people who are both well off enough and enamored of the things that they’re publishing to stump up the best part of £100 to buy 2 or 3 books, and that’s fine. I’m sure it does them well enough to coast off the good feeling people have towards Jodorowsky, Dodson, Jose Ladronn, .
But THEN what? Once those books are sold to people with fond memories of the authors or have a desire to own every edition of *something*, how do you expand your market, because I don’t think ‘Here, try this thing you know nothing of for £50.’ is going to work.
I own The Incal, (Ta, PM Buchan) because if pushed, I’d probably be tied between that and The Invisibles as the greatest story ever told. (Sandman? No.) in the comics medium. (Defining a story as something with a designed beginning, middle and end, not something wrapped up because of cancellation.) It took a fair bit of work to settle on one version of it, and almost to the day that I finally got the HC Trade edition , I was informed of the publication of Final Incal. being released. something I very much would like to read as a physical object, but I’m going to be waiting until the HC drops way below the £60 asking price it currently goes for.
One solution to this problem (And it IS a problem, I’ve already noticed these books starting to gather dust in shops and being remaindered at London Marts.) is for Humanoids is to put out a reasonably priced anthology aimed at the weekly/monthly comic market seriaiising the stronger parts of their output and then releasing those works in a softcover format, similar to what DC produced when they had the license to publish Humanoids’ output. Maybe get a new strip by Jodorowsky serialized in the mag as an incentive for those well off people who can actually had the money to buy the HCs in the first place.
If I’m not ripping into them as you might expect, it’s that I’ve found Humanoids to be one of the publishers whose work I can sell to real people because they don’t put out work that’s a quagmire of its own continuity, super-hero comics that don’t understand their own audience or such. ‘This is The Incal, it’s about a man who discovers who he really is. Oh, and it’s drawn by Moebius.’ I can do that kind of pitch with most of their books and it worked a treat with the Softcovers. I want them to thrive as a genuine publisher of comics for adults, who can be there to keep people reading the medium once they’re grown out of the superhero stuff. Basically, Humanoids here it is: serialise your work in a monthly anthology in something akin to Heavy Metal without the porn ads and put out softcover editions of your books and I’ll have something to work with as a retailer and a reviewer. As it stands, the quality of the output is overshadowed by the price points.
Since the original posting of this, Jo from @Humanoids has been in touch. He tells me two things
1) There will be a standard edition of Barbarella released after the HC. Price will run around $35/£22 or so. Humanoids are planning to make it standard practice to have the HC/SE editions released, spaced out by a few months like the book industry. Also, purchase of any physical edition of their books from their website gives you free access to the digital copy. If you haven’t checked out their huge range of stuff that ought to be on your bucket list of ‘Comics You Should REALLY Read Before Death’, their website is here. I’d start with ‘Madwoman Of The Sacred Heart.’ by Jodorowsky & Moebius.
2) Volume 2 will follow in the New Year, which has never been published in English previously. Translations will again be provided by Kelly Sue DeConnick.
Shoutout to Jo from Humanoids, by the way. I’ve had publishers blanket blacklist me from talking to their creators after a far less rough review of their product than what I said. Jo took in what was discussed and responded in a fair and intelligent fashion. So fair play to them for being able to take their ego and PR head out of the equation and be able to discuss the points I made rationally and even give me some good news, which I’m sadly sworn to secrecy about.
And on the extreme opposite, the right way to promote an old work being brought to a new generation of readers.,Little Nemo: Return To Slumberland by Eric Shanowar (Age Of Bronze, The Elsewhere Prince) and Gabriel Rodriguez (Locke & Key) brought to you by IDW. This is a bit of a year for the Little Nemo franchise. Not only is there this rather lovely ongoing series but also the Kickstarter project ‘Little Nemo:Dream Another Dream‘ produced by Locust Moon with probably the best line up on one comic you’re going to see in 2014. There’s also something called ‘Big Nemo’ by Alan Moore and Colleen Doran on the way via Electricomics. IDW could have taken the total piss with their new comic and only released it as a Popbot format hyper expensive thing, or maybe as an Artist’s Edition, hoping the faithful would show up with their $60 odd.
Instead, they put out a preview as part of Free Comic Book Day, and knocked out the regular comic as a $4 thing. You get a full story, a bunch of script and pencil art. It looks beautiful. If I have a regret about this title, it’s that IDW don’t have a cheaper priced Younger Readers line. This really ought to be sitting and shining next to the likes of Archie, The Muppets, Ben 10, Adventure Tome because, really, this is the top of the line children’s comic that we should be selling cheap to the next generation of readers. Little Nemo: Return To Slumberland is a gorgeous, charming comic, and a faithful continuation of the work of Windsor McCay. One of those rare moments where something so idiosyncratic as a strip like this is actually worth reading, even if you are a fan of the original. A simple story of a child lost in a dreamworld with incredible art. Order the inevitable 2nd printing (It was already sold out in various shops when I had to go hunting for it yesterday.) and lose yourself in imagination for a while. Here, see?
So, this is the Crash course Overview of Indie for you fine listeners, readers and otherwise general consumers of our Bamf!y product. Hello, everyone. Before we kick off, you might want to open a Comixology account, as I’m going to be recommending comics you may not have read. They are free. You are welcome to thank me with Groupies or issues of Harvey Kurtzman’s ‘Help’.
Let’s dispense with the misconception, 1st off, that ‘Indie’ is a genre or a style. People confused the liquid with the glass, so to speak, with Indie. All ‘Indie’ means, in this context, is ‘Comic published by a company that isn’t Marvel or DC.’ It has nothing to do with the content, the mood or style, whether the comic is a black and white, self published affair about biscuits the creator has eaten, or a major licensed project with Hollywood Movie tie-in with multiple covers. Again, content does not denote distribution network. The latest issue of G.I. Joe is more ‘indie’ than any Sandman collection.
People create Indie comics for various reasons. Maybe they want to have their work available so they can show various editors at Marvel their artwork in order to secure a job on Captain America. Others simply find the ‘Alleged’ culture of fear at The Big Two too much and want to create work more personal to themselves, without having to argue whether their material is appropriate for the publisher’s ethos and sensibilities. Maybe they just want to put out their work and like the challenge of doing the whole thing themselves. There are whole essays and websites dedicated to why people totally avoid putting their work through mainstream Comics channels. And there’s a lot of creators turning out work who’re more than sick of The Big Two.
So, obviously, the world and history of Independent Comics is vast and huge, and this is in no way meant to be an overview of the last 40 years of comics that have been published, more a series of recommendations of comics and magazines that lead me to the point where i could quite happily never read a DC comic again.
This is where I pretty much got started.
I wish i could remember when I got into The Comic Journal. Probably sometime in my early teens, and some of my favourite times would be taking a few cans of beer down to the park and soaking up all the rage of Gary Groth, the hilarious letters from Die-Hard Marvel Zombies, the ‘I Am Not Terry Beatty’s Girlfriend’ arguments.and the War on Marvel o get Kirby’s artwork back. Also, The Journal was a pretty good gateway into ‘Things you probably haven’t heard of.’ Fantagraphics started off as the name of the publishing company that put out The Journal, but then, brilliantly, they put their money where their mouth is by actually putting out the material that lived up to the high standards they demanded in their reviews. Los Bros Hernandez, Dan Clowes, Chris Ware, Drew Friedman and Peter Bagge all came to prominence via work produced for Fantagraphics. Nowadays, sadly, The Journal doesn’t have the attitude it did, and tends to be published every couple of years in giant hardbacks that cost £25 a pop, They are relentless about keeping classic work like Peanuts in print and you can pick up early issues here.And here’s a link to a sampler of my favourite of their publications
Essentially, if you want the real history of comics written by people who aren’t going to tell you that Secret Wars was seen as an instant classic back in 1986. Start reading those early Comics Journals.
Speaking of attitude…
Dave is one of the great pioneers of this business, he pretty much created the self publishing business model in Western comics as we understand it. His comics are deep, thoughtful, funny, and Cerebus is probably the 1st comic that attempted to create a full, serialised narrative. Also, if you’ve ever bought, sold, created or otherwise enjoyed anything resembling a Trade Paperback, you can pretty much thank Dave for that. He’s one of the great comics historians as well, as anyone who isn’t a total moron and tried reading Glamourpuss will testify.
Sadly, the comics community appears to have become hyper-sensitive in the early 21st Century, and since Dave’s points of view on women aren’t in sync with the majority, there are attempts to try and ostracize and retcon him from comics history every once in a while. Then everyone remembers that if the history of independent comics is built on Underground Comix, which is inherently about the notion of freedom of speech, not just ‘The concepts we want to hear and nothing else.’ and Dave just gets on with the work.
Oh, and if you have ANY aspirations of working in comics, you need to read ‘The Cerebus Guide To Self Publishing’. NEED to. It’ll open your eyes, explain the dynamics of exactly how creating a comics page work, how to talk to distributors and how you’ll be talking to Diamond. It badly needs updating for the digital comics era, but beyond that, again. you NEED to read it. The 1st issue of High Society (The 2nd book in the Cerebus Saga, or ‘Where it got going, Really.’ can be read for free here.)
Anyone who heard me go on about Transformers:All Hail Megatron on Bamf! recently may think I have a problem with IDW as a company. Actually, not at all. I think they’re genius. (Geni? Geniuses?) After the hilarious legal fall out of the Transformers license, IDW picked it up and started reprinting the early stuff, creating new work. Then they did the same thing with G.I Joe. And all of the nostalgia drones picked up their childhoods again but for $4 an issue
Having that built in-income (See Also: My Little Pony, and I’m willing to bet money that i will see IDW publish the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers revival before I die.) IDW used that money to turn themselves intot he greatest publishers of COOL comics history currently going. A lot of stuff gets reprinted, but it’s literally only for historical value, accompanied by a dull Roy Thomas essay telling us how important it is we care about this comic from 1952 for whatever reason. then you read the actual thing, and you realise why the original Mr monster got cancelled in the 1st place. IDW finds the cool stuff that has been lost in history for whatever reason and brings it back to the shelves. the Rocketeer, Starstruck, Bloom County, Mars Attacks,Maze Agency, Terry And the Pirates are all back in print thanks to those guys. they also do a hell of a line of new material like Tank Girl, Wormwood Corpse, Popbot, 30 Days Of Night, Zombies vs Robots and Zombies Vs Robots vs Amazons and such
30 Days Of Night can be read here. For free. I’m nice like this.
There is, apparently, a movie coming up written by one of the original Image Founders which covers the formation of Image, but as far as I can work out, Image was formed by various members talking to each other about how annoyed they were by their treatment by Marvel, went to Marvel Editor In Chief Tom Defalco and said they were leaving. Those founders then created Image, and caused a damn rollercoaster for the whole business in the mid 90’s. Late shipping comics, multiple spin-offs, pandering to the speculator crowd and all kinds of backstage chaos lead to comic shops closing down. Also Marvel put themselves into Chapter 11 Bankruptcy as a result of trying to compete with Image and DC ended up owning Diamond because of it, but that’s a story better covered by Marvel Comics: the Untold Story, which is the 2nd book on the ‘Books you should read before you ever draw one page of any comic ever.’ List.
Larry Marder came along and basically kicked them up the arse so they actually put out the comics they were soliciting rather than announcing a dozen spin-off books that would never be published for the ninth month in a row. Somewhere along the line, Image went from ‘Slick Team Books full of Ciphers beating each other up for no real reason. Bending over of Female Characters probably going to happen’ to being a smart, intelligent company that would take on all manner or interesting projects such as Kill City, The BulletProof Coffin, Infinite Vacation, Phonogram, Common Grounds, Puffed, Liberty Meadows, Black Kiss, and a little quirky book that you may have heard of called The Walking Dead.
As far as I’m aware, image offer the best deal in comics in that if they like your pitch, they’ll pay in advance for the printing of your title and advertise it, take back the printing costs and you keep EVERYTHING else. including the rights to the work, You don’t sign away character designs, the rights to printings in terrotites outside The U.S. and English language editions of your comic. You own everything and can take it anywhere you want, which is currently being put into practice with all of the Wildstorm characters now being part of the DC Universe and Angela (From Spawn.) about to become part of the Marvel Universe. Which probably wasn’t the point, but Walking Dead is still good.
‘If anybody ever said to me “Hi, I’m an alternative cartoonist,” I’d laugh in their face. What the hell does that mean? “Hi, I’m an alternative rocker. I’m an alternative eater.” What the hell is that. You do comics. You just don’t do those kind of comics. Relax.’
Evan Dorkin, The Comics Journal 214, 1999.
My main problem with the Indie scene has always been the preciousness of the creators involved. Some creators have their feet on the ground and are aware that they are, essentially, entertainers. I thought I was alone in this until I started reading Milk +Cheese via greatly lamented UK comics magazine, Deadline back in the 90’s. Milk + Cheese by Evan Dorkin is a Dairy Product based assault on, well, everything, really. It’s also extremely funny, although probably not for the sensitive, Evan also worked on amazing anthology ‘Instant Piano’, wrote one of the greatest thing DC ever published in World’s Funnest, outdid all the autobio darlings with the astonishing Dork (Issue 9 have one of the most truly soul bearing stories I’ve ever read, although issue 6 is highly recommended or those of you who ever had to deal with ArtistE types.) and, of course, there’s the Eltingville Club
Or US, as I like to call it….
Speaking of using brand names to fund more esoteric projects….
Dark Horse is the indie publisher that could. For a long, long time. Before Millarworld was turning every book it sneezed out into a movie, Dark Horse not only produced (and continues to) comic adaptions of Creature Of The Black Lagoon, Aliens, Star Wars, Buffy and countless others, they’ve also had a pretty good success rate in turning things they’ve published into Hollywood KerChing with properties such as Hellboy, The Mask, Sin City all making it to the Big Screen. On top of that, they’ve a pretty healthyManga reprint program, bringing Akira, Ghost In The Shell, Lone Wolf & Cub and more to a wider audience. They’ve also published some of my favourite comics such as The Goon, Nexus, Concrete, The Milkman Murders, Mr Monster and Resident Alien.
That’s probably more than enough to be getting started with, but I’ll be back soon with more on the likes of Oni,Tony Millionaire, Elaine Lee, Shannon Wheeler, Roberta Gregory, Stephen Bissette, Colleen Doran, Avatar, Frank Cho and what Alan Moore did after he got really pissed off with DC*
*Before Spawn 8, I mean.