Saturday, October 16, 2004
I hear tell from a little bird that it's AiT/Planetlar head honcho Larry Young's birthday today...so to help him celebrate the big 8-7*, let's dip back into that long-neglected box of review copies Big Larry sent me way back when and take a look at a book Larry himself wrote: True Facts: Comics' Righteous Anger.
Well, it would be kind of a crummy birthday present if I didn't like this book, so I'm glad to say that I enjoyed it a great deal. It's a collection of columns Larry wrote for the now defunct Savant website describing, in great detail, just what it takes to get a comic book published and put into the hands of potential readers. The volume is a slim 120 pages, but don't let that fool you -- it's stuffed with lots of good information for the aspiring comics creator/publisher. It's written in a casual and friendly tone...this isn't Mr. Young shoving numbers and addresses and instructions at you. This is Larry writing you a letter, telling you about his day, his friends, and, oh, yeah, how to decide on a printer for your comic, how to promote your material and yourself, how to run your business like a business, and so on. Also, it's not just hard numbers being discussed, but mindsets as well, particularly the kind of singleminded dedication you need to work in comics.
The information comes in a variety of forms, from straightforward instructions on how to put together and distribute a press release, from a San Diego panel interview, from an observation of a person in a bunny costume at a wedding (yes, that does have something to do with comics), and from his own days working at a comic store. All these methods of delivery keep your interest, and though some may not have an explicit connection to the main theme of getting your comic book published, some of Larry's stories (particularly the one about the person trying to sell his "valuable" comic book collection) go a long way to giving hopeful self-publishers a sense of perspective regarding their work and the industry they're in.
The columns originally date from 2000, so for this 2002 edition Larry thoughtfully adds updates when necessary, sometimes correcting some outdated information, or occasionally just adding a tad more discussion borne of an extra couple years of hindsight.
This is a nicely done book, and a valuable resource to anyone thinking about entering the industry. I would even recommend it to comic fans who have no intention of publishing their own books, because 1) who knows, maybe it'll spark some interest, and 2) maybe it'll give them a little more empathy towards the people who actually have to work to provide them with a little entertainment. Anyway, file this with Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics, as well as Will Eisner's Comics and Sequential Art...it's a nice supplement to the material presented in those highly-regarded volumes.
My only real quibble...please, no more use of the term "cha-cha" -- Dennis Miller has ruined it for everybody!
In other news:
Smallville's latest episode says "so long" to Lois, at least for the time being, and puts an end to the Lex/Clark rift, also for the time being. About the latter...that's too bad, because as the story was working out, it seemed very much to me that Lex's eventual enmity with Superman would have its roots in Clark treating Lex like absolute crap. I suppose that would be going a little too far off model, even for the producers of Smallville. The less said about this week's adversaries (cheerleaders with mind-control Kryptonite punch? Wha--?) the better, though I did like Lois' confused reaction to Clark's reference to "meteor rock." Really, it's the appealing cast that make this show fun to watch...goodness knows it's not plots like this episode's.
Pal Ian discusses Howard Chaykin's Scorpion. I really liked most Atlas Comics...yes, even Morlock 2001.
The Shatner totally name-checks the city of Ventura in "That's Me Trying," a track off his new album Has Been (listen for free here). Therefore, for no more reason than that, I hereby dub the Shatner an honorary member of the Associated Comics And Pop Culture Webloggers of Ventura County, CA And Outlying Environs**, with all rights and privileges thereof.
* Please don't kill me, Larry.