All stories relating to graphic novels
Comic-Con International has announced the shortlists for the 2013 Eisner Awards, with Toronto’s Koyama Press and Montreal’s Drawn & Quarterly each receiving multiple nominations.
The fourth instalment of Koyama artist Michael DeForge’s comic series Lose is nominated for best single issue. Julia Wertz’s collection of graphic novellas, The Infinite Wait and Other Stories, is nominated for best reality-based work.
D&Q received three nominations this year, including best graphic album for Tom Gauld’s graphic novel, Goliath. Originally published in 1989 by the defunct Vortex Comics, Chester Brown’s Ed the Happy Clown is up for best graphic album reprint. Brecht Evens’ The Making of is shortlisted for best U.S. edition of international material.
Other Canadian nominees include Nova Scotia–based artist Darwyn Cooke, whose work on Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score (IDW) is up for best adaptation from another medium. Comics Versus Art (University of Toronto Press), an essay collection by University of Calgary professor Bart Beaty, is nominated for best educational/academic work.
The 25-year-old Eisner Awards celebrate the best in comics production and artistry. The shortlists are selected by a committee of judges, with winners (announced July 19 at San Diego Comic-Con) chosen by industry professionals.
According to booksellers contacted by Q&Q, graphic novels continue their move into the mainstream.
Jason Grimmer, manager of Montreal’s Librairie Drawn & Quarterly, says, “People are starting to look at graphic novels as literature.”
Calum Johnston, owner of Halifax’s Strange Adventures, observes: “Libraries, bookstores, schools, and universities keep adding comics to their curriculum and shelves. So the chance of people coming into contact with graphic novels is improving.”
Click on the thumbnails below to explore booksellers’ picks for best graphic novels of the year.
While comics artists have tackled all manner of sex, drugs, and violence in their work, medicine – an area in which all these issues (and more) intersect – still seems to carry the stink of stigma. But if an upcoming conference at the University of Toronto is any indication, times are changing.
Comics and Medicine: Navigating the Margins, the third conference of its kind, will take place from July 22 to 24. Monday night, the conference will host a discussion with Joyce Farmer, author of 2010’s Special Exits (Fantagraphics Books), a graphic novel about caring for elderly parents, and Joyce Brabner, who wrote the graphic memoir Our Cancer Year (Running Press, 1994) with her late husband, Harvey Pekar. The talk, moderated by Paul Gravett and co-presented by the Beguiling bookshop, is free and open to non-delegates.
Shelley Wall, the driving force behind bringing the conference to U of T, spoke with Q&Q about the many relationships between comics and medicine, the depiction of health care and illness in Canadian graphic arts, and why the graphic medical memoir genre has gained momentum.
How did you develop an interest in comics and medicine?
I’m a medical illustrator and teach in the biomedical communications program at U of T, where we train professional medical illustrators. I came to comics and medicine when I was teaching an undergraduate course in written health care communication and became interested in different modes and combinations of modes to communicate about health.
It was through reading about this that I found Mom’s Cancer by cartoonist Brian Fies [also a conference organizer]. It’s the story of his mother’s diagnosis with metastatic lung cancer and the effect that it had on their family. That’s when I realized there was this whole world of people who were doing graphic novels about illness, and I started a comic of my own about someone very close to me who has early-onset Parkinson’s.
What relationships between medicine and comics will be explored at the conference?
Some people will be presenting on their own work dealing with illness, or the experience of someone they’ve known. Others will look at the use of comics in medical schools. Comics are a way of marrying the emphasis on evidence-based medicine – statistics, epidemiology, biological science – with the human element – what it’s like to experience sickness – to encourage empathy in medical students.
Some people are also encouraging medical students to create their own comics as an alternative way of thinking through experiences such as encountering ethical dilemmas, or their first dissection of a cadaver, to get at the sort of unquantifiable aspects of practicing medicine.
There’s also a look at using comics for public education and health promotion. They can be an alternative way to engage in patient education, and help overcome literacy and language barriers. Comics can bring in elements of playfulness, visual metaphor, or storytelling that can really help to get a message across in a clear way.
What are some of the challenges involved in putting these experiences on the page?
Ian Williams, another conference organizer who is a physician and an artist in Wales, tells stories about his interactions with patients. But these stories bring up the issue of confidentiality, so he fictionalizes the stories and publishes them under a pseudonym.
Also, we don’t often hear people speaking of medicine from stigmatized positions, like people who are inmates in mental hospitals. The title of the conference, Navigating the Margins, refers to the fact that a lot of these stories give perspective to people who don’t necessarily get their voices heard over the voice of medical authority.
What are some of your favourite examples of this genre?
One of the conference presenters, Sarafin, is writing a book called Asylum Squad: The Psychosis Diaries. The book is based on her webcomic series about her time as a patient at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. They’re very powerful stories because there are so many more stigmas and taboos associated with mental illness than with a lot of other health conditions. I think it takes a lot of bravery and clear-sightedness to deal with that issue.
Toronto’s Suley Fattah, who’s made and edited comics about being a cancer patient in the self-published book Drawing the Line, will give a workshop at the conference. And Sandra Bell-Lundy, who appears on a panel, has a hugely successful syndicated strip in Between Friends. Although the strip is not about health necessarily, there are a number of storylines about infertility, domestic abuse, and breast cancer. Her stories on mammograms are even used by the Canadian Cancer Society.
Yesterday at San Diego’s international Comic-Con convention, two generations of Canadian cartoonists, Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant) and Lynn Johnston (For Better or for Worse), shared the stage for a discussion about the craft of serialized comics.
Back at home, the Association of Canadian Editorial Cartoonists is hoping to put some cash and prizes in the pockets of artists like Beaton and Johnston. The group is petitioning the Canada Council for the Arts to make cartoonists and cartoon publishers eligible for its grants and the Governor General’s Literary Awards (graphic novels are eligible for funds but are excluded from the GG awards).
The petition states:
Given the artistic quality of Canadian cartooning, it’s cultural importance, its centrality to an understanding of Canadian society and history, and its appeal to readers of all ages, a strong argument can and should be made that the Canada Council should support the work of cartoonists and that of publishers interested in publishing their work. The Association of Canadian Editorial Cartoonists is ideally positioned to lobby for such a change in Canada Council policy. And we do know that ACEC members are good at getting their point across.
UPDATE: According to Tara Lapointe, head of marketing communications for the Canada Council: “There are no barriers for editorial cartoonists or other artists who bridge editorial and visual art to apply for support from the Canada Council. In fact, they are eligible in two different programs. Under our Publishing program, publications need to demonstrate editorial oversight and/or commentary as part of the collection of works. In our Visual Art program, all professional visual artists, regardless of medium, are eligible if they meet two criteria: firstly, they have produced an independent body of work (e.g. not commissioned) and have had their work presented in a professional context such as a curated exhibition.”
According to research conducted by Publishers Weekly, crowdsourcing website Kickstarter is now one of the top revenue-generating graphic-novel publishers in the U.S.
From February to April of this year, graphic novelists and comic artists who used the Kickstarter platform to raise funds for their projects brought in $2.2 million. By comparison, Marvel Comics brought in $6.9 million in gross revenue and DC Comics made $4.3 million. When PW compared the profits each publisher actually received, Kickstarter moved into second place with $1.9 million.
The comparison might seem like a head-scratcher, but PW calculated the amounts by multiplying Kickstarter’s pledges by 90 per cent (the website gives 90–92 per cent back to creators) and the other publishers’ sales by 40 per cent (most publishers keep that amount of a book’s list price).
Whatever this equation really means, there’s no denying crowdsourcing websites are changing the ways artists cover their creation and marketing costs. Even high-profile author and entrepreneur Margaret Atwood has seen the potential, raising almost $55,ooo on Indiegogo for her new Long Pen and interactive fan-club platform, Fanado.
Kobo users can now read ebooks like Alice in Wonderland, The Last of the Mohicans, and War of the Worlds as illustrated comics, through a content distribution deal between Kobo and the digital publisher Trajectory.
The Classics Illustrated series includes over 120 titles, which are also available for Apple devices and Barnes & Noble’s Nook.
Kobo’s promo of The Three Musketeers gives an idea of the series’ style.
Book links roundup: Canada’s best-selling graphic novels, Schnittman leaves Bloomsbury for Hachette, new Vonnegut e-single; and more
- Sequential lists 30 best-selling Canadian comics and graphic novels
- Evan Schnittman leaves Bloomsbury for executive post at Hachette
- Does capitalism trounce freedom of expression at the London Book Fair?
- Unpublished Kurt Vonnegut novella, Basic Training, gets the Kindle Singles treatment
- After selling more than a million copies of her self-published romance novels online, Barbara Freethy self-publishes foreign-language editions
- VIDEO: Eat your heart out Buffy — get a peek at the Tim Burton–backed adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Guy Delisle’s latest graphic novel, Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City, has been named best comic book of the year at the 39th Angoulême International Comics Festival. The Quebec-born artist was presented with the Fauve d’Or on Sunday as part of the closing festivities at the annual comics festival in the southwest of France, touted as the biggest comics convention in the world.
Delisle’s book, a memoir of the author’s time living in East Jerusalem, titled Chroniques de Jérusalem and published by Éditions Delcourt in France, was selected by the jury from among 58 comics published in French between December 2010 and November 2011. The English-language version of the graphic novel is forthcoming from Drawn & Quarterly in April.
- Thirteen 2012 Oscar-nominated movies adapted from books
- Toast Robbie Burns Day with the Toronto Star’s Scottish beer recommendations
- Amazon Publishing strikes print licensing agreement with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Knopf executive Paul Bogaards’s tongue-in-cheek list of top 100 players in book publishing
- Slideshow: Scott Pilgrim fan captures locations from the graphic novels on camera
- Wild turkey breaks into South Dakota library
We’ve given a fair bit of space in Q&Q to conversations about literary criticism, but we’ve heard relatively little about what it means to be a critic of comics. Considering how significant graphic novels have become in Canadian literature and publishing, perhaps it’s time to address the question.
Where better to start the conversation than the comics scene itself. Michael May, writer of Kill All Monsters! Webcomic, sparked an interesting conversation about comics criticism over on the Robot 6 blog at Comic Book Resources. In his first post in a series dedicated to sketching out some basic guidelines for engaging in comics criticism, May suggests all comics are not created equally and encourages critics to take their cues from “authorial intent”:
By “author” I don’t mean just the writer, but everyone involved in the creative process. In comics that might only be one person or it could be a huge team. The point is that the people who make the comics have something that they’re trying to accomplish and good criticism of the book should take that into account. It’s not fair for me to open Dan Clowes’ Death Ray expecting it to be like Fantastic Four…. [T]o judge [a work] correctly, critics need to focus on what it is they think that [the authors] are trying to accomplish and whether or not it succeeds on that level.
In his second post, May tackles the issue of amateur criticism versus professional criticism, and suggests a critics’ credentials matter only insofar as they help a reader get what she needs out of the review, whether it be reading recommendations, a deeper understanding of the craft, or both.
The latest post by May offers tips to readers for evaluating a review based again on authorial intent: was the point of the review to entertain? To provide a product review? To contribute to the development of the craft? To curate a canon?
These aren’t new concepts or questions by any means, but May (unintentionally) raises another issue. Is comics criticism the same as literary criticism, and do literary critics who aren’t well-versed in the world of comics have the chops to write an informed review of a graphic novel?