Sara Varon is a cartoonist who can be hard to pin down. Since her debut Sweaterweather she’s made a series of award-winning graphic novels like Robot Dreams and Bake Sale, and picture books like Chicken and Cat and President Squid. Her stories feature animals and other characters, the art is playful, with stylistic influences ranging from animation to ligne claire. Her stories manage to tackle complex issues in thoughtful nuanced ways. It’s easy to describe her work as designed for young readers, but they’re layered stories with stories and themes that aren’t inappropriate for young readers. Robot Dreams for example might appeal to children because of the style and some elements of the story, but I think it remains a story best appreciated and ultimately understood by adults.
Her new book New Shoes is very much a part of this tradition. Set in Guyana – or at least a Guyana in a world with anthropomorphic animals – it tells the story of Francis the donkey, a shoemaker who is forced to leave his village for the first time. It’s a story about friendship and work, problem solving and crises. It also features Varon drawing capybaras and sloths, manatees and anteaters, among many other creatures. It’s a funny and beautifully drawn book about work and life, and it is the work of a great cartoonist at the height of her powers.
Robyn Chapman will edit the line that taps into “DIY energy.”
Graphic novel publisher First Secondannounced today a new series of “DIY”-type books called Maker Comics.
“Comics is THE medium for visual instruction—there is no better way to offer step-by-step directions for complex tasks,” their Tumbler post reads. “For perfect examples, look no farther than the safety brochure on your next flight or the instructions that come with your IKEA furniture. With Maker Comics, we pair visual instruction with narrative. Each volume has its own characters and story. And seamlessly woven into that story are instructions for five to ten fun projects that readers can complete themselves.”
Eisner Award-nominated comic comes to print in 2018.
Tillie Walden’s Spinning, released last month, has been racking up good reviews lately, so it’s no surprise that First Second would want to publish more of her work. And lucky for them Walden already has a completed story ready to go — her excellent “On a Sunbeam” webcomic.
DC announces their Writers Workshop participants, First Second unveils their Spring 2018 books, Viz licenses some new media, and Mimi Pond talks about her new book—and getting dropped from ‘The Simpsons’ because she was a woman
The Big Reveal: DC announced the names of the six writers who will take part in this year’s DC Writers Workshop: Magdalene Visaggio (Kim & Kim, Quantum Teens Are Go), Sanya Anwar (1001), Joey Esposito (Pawn Shop, Captain Ultimate), Phillip Kennedy Johnson (Last Sons of America, Warlords of Appalachia), Robert Jeffrey (Route 3, Radio Free Amerika) and Ryan Cady (Big Moose). Batman writer Scott Snyder will lead the workshop.
“It’s 13 weeks, and we meet for two, two-and-a-half hours online in a Brady Bunch-style box of windows. I teach it in such a way that it’s all superhero writing for DC. I try and make each week a lesson about a particular technique,” Snyder told Heat Vision. “My job is not to teach you how to write by formula for DC. It’s for you to come in and write the stuff you’re passionate about in your own way. I don’t care if that’s funny political, light-hearted, dark, whatever. Your job is to come in and have something to say. My job is to help you fit it into the rubric of superhero calculus and to help you maximize that story: look at where you should beef things up, slow it down, be aware of pacing. You need to come here and have something to say.”
At the end of the workshop, DC works with the writers to place them in writing slots for DC comics.
Plus: ‘Check Please’ goes to First Second, ‘Infini-T’ Force goes to Udon, Jill Thompson, Red Planet and more.
A Pirate’s Life… Ain’t what it used to be. Cecilia D’Anastasio talks to several former scanlators (including NJT, who set up MangaHelpers back in the day) about their struggles to go legit, and she also talks to some legitimate translators about what they do. While scanlators defend what they do as providing a service by fans, for fans—no ugly profit involved—it’s also true that publishers may not want to license a series that is already being widely read on bootleg sites. Also, they are finding that publishers don’t want to hire them, and the pay isn’t enough to let them quit their day jobs. Because, as Kodansha Comics’ Ben Applegate observed, “Whenever there’s a large group of people giving away their labor for free, it’s going to depress pay for those who are trying to do things legitimately.”
The man who finished ‘Omaha the Cat Dancer’ passes away, Frank Quitely finally gets that degree, and more.
Passings:James Vance, the author (with artist Dan Burr) of the graphic novels Kings in Disguise and On the Ropes, died on June 5 at the age of 64. Kings in Disguise was first published as a limited series by Kitchen Sink Press in 1988 and in 1989 won the Eisner and Harvey awards for Best New Series, and the first issue won the Eisner for Best Single Issue. W.W. Norton published a collected edition in 2006, with an introduction by Alan Moore. The sequel, On the Ropes, was published by Norton in 2013. Vance was married to Omaha the Cat Dancer writer Kate Worley from 1994 to 2004, and many years later he collaborated with Omaha artist Reed Waller to complete the story, which was left unfinished at Worley’s death; it was published in 2013. Vance, who was also a playwright, talked about his work with Alex Dueben at CBR in 2013. His illness and death leaves his family in a difficult financial situation, so a GoFundMe has been set up to help.