A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Monday, January 31, 2011


Like I said last time: Nile's Law. It's time to start spreading the word about good comics out there.

To begin, I have three comics created by my neighbors here in Portland, OR. Two webcomics you can read for free, and one awesome hardcover book being released by those jerkbags at Oni Press. Basically quick plugs today, though I will try to post more regular full reviews when I have something to say.

1. BUCKO by Jeff Parker and Erika Moen

Jeff Parker is one of the top writers at Marvel Comics, as well as half the team behind the awesome spelunking adventure Underground; Erika Moen is the diary comics superstar and web pioneer behind DAR.

Bucko is their first collaboration, and it launched online today. You can get in this load of fun right from the start. Free weekly comics! Humorous adventures abound!

2. GINGERBREAD GIRL by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover

Paul and Colleen have done a lot of different comics separately, but you might have seen their excellent work together on the series Banana Sunday. Their latest longform creation is being serialized at Top Shelf 2.0, free to read twice a week. Four chapters are up now. It's been really fun so far, like a modern day Dan DeCarlo romance comic for grown-ups.

Go here and add Gingerbread Girl to your weekly reads. You should also follow Colleen's awesome sketch blog, and then you can get her regular updates telling you a new chapter has been posted via your RSS feed.

3. IVY by Sarah Oleksyk (Oni Press)

* Interview with Sarah at CBR
* Huge Ivy Preview at Oni

Sarah has been working on Ivy for several years now, self-publishing the chapters as minicomics as she compeleted each one. I once was lucky enough to see her read from one of those chapters at Powell's Books, projecting the panels on a screen and doing all the voices and sound effects herself.

Sarah's writing is tender and insightful, capturing both the foibles of youth and the powerful emotions that growing pains inspire. Her cartooning manages to convey the various moods of her narrative, be it joy or disappointment or anything in between, with an exquisite attention to detail. Her exterior landscapes are as experlty observed as the interior landscape of her main character. I can't wait to read all of Ivy in one go.

Sarah will be appearing at Floating World Comics this Thursday, displaying art from the book and signing copies of the newly released hardcovers. Come out and say hi! More details here.

Current Soundtrack: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: "Dee Reynolds: Shaping America's Youth"

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2011 Jamie S. Rich

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Words: Evan Dorkin; Art: Stephen Destefano; (c) DC Comics

Yesterday, there was quite a flurry across the internet regarding some rather bold and decisive statements being made about creator-owned comics. First Steve Niles posted an excellent follow-up to his previous essay about a shift in his own thinking: that he was going to first promote quality creator-owned comics that might not being given the same push without a big publishing monolith backing them. It's a fair idea, and one that many of us, including myself, don't often think about. As much as we may have enjoyed the latest Uncanny X-Men, that comic doesn't really have a problem getting attention. On the other hand, no one is giving all that much play to the fact that Ted McKeever is doing serialized comics again, even though there are already four issues of Meta 4. Or maybe pushing something like the hardcover collection of Sarah Oleksyk's Ivy, the culmination of years of work on her part, would be a better use of our energy than wringing our hands over the amount of miniseries being put out alongside the latest big DC crossover.

Sounds fair enough, right?

On the heels of Steve's editorial came Eric Powell's very funny and provocative video. Watch it for yourself (though, note, there is some humor that is not entirely safe for all audiences; send your grandmother out of the room unless she likes a ribald joke):

I don't know about you, but I laughed. Eric is being extreme, sure, but that's why we love him and The Goon. And there is something to be said for pushing buttons in this manner; as Steve pointed out, his quiet and reasoned statements didn't get people riled up enough to really spread the gospel. Within hours, Eric's video was everywhere.

The reaction was mixed, to say the least, but again, that's to be expected. Yet, I think Steve was right again in that there is a dismissive attitude that many are bringing to the debate. It is easier to throw away the points being made by twisting everything in an anti-superhero or anti-DC/Marvel axe grind, when no one is really saying that. There's always been this misconception that people have to be either/or, when most people I know in comics read all kinds of comics, we don't limit ourselves to one type of material any more than we limit ourselves to one type of movie. Life gets pretty dull if you only watch subtitled foreign films, and so too would I get bored if I read diary comics all day. If you look at my early Previews order for April, I am adding books to my buy pile from DC, Dynamite, Marvel, and Top Shelf. You'd have to really strain your argument to claim that any of them are from the same genre. They go in order: horror, sword & sorcery, superheroes, and the Top Shelf book is Liar's Kiss, a crime comic by Erik Skillman and Jhomar Soriano [information here].

And you see what I did there? The one I told you about was the creator-owned book. Doesn't mean I won't tell you about the others eventually, but I'm following Niles' Law: I'm lending support to the book that may need the boost.

It's not as simple as saying, "Buy good comics, and they will survive," either. That's being considered the "reasonable response," and it's a right-on philosophy, that's to be sure. I can't stand when I hear of someone who keeps buying an ongoing title only because he or she has been buying that title since childhood and refuses to give up on the run, despite not having enjoyed it for a long time.

Free market capitalism is currently its own hot topic of debate in all corners of economics, and that's what the "buy good comics" defense reminds me of. I'd be more than happy to see a level playing field where we can all battle it out on our merits, but an underlying point of both Eric's and Steve's is that it's not level ground, the opportunities aren't the same. Thus, we need to rally like-minded individuals in all aspects of the field to give that extra push. There doesn't need to be a sacrifice of one thing for another, but at the same time, if we want all aspects of the industry to thrive, we need to start shifting the weight. Right now, everything is lop-sided toward one facet of the U.S. comic book business.

Or, at least, it's lopsided on the promotion and distribution levels. It's not creatively lopsided. I am with the people who believe comics have never been more diverse and exciting, and I say that as someone who grew up reading comics in the 1980s, when independents and creator-ownership came up from the underground and joined the mainstream. My first comic book store made no distinction between DC, Comico, Marvel, First, or Eclipse. They stocked it all, and it never seemed strange that I might buy an issue of Alpha Flight and then move my hand one slot over and buy American Flagg! As a reader back then, I could have it all, and I think as a creator today, you can do the same. Who doesn't want a world where Matt Fraction can write both Invincible Iron Man and Casanova? Even better, Matt does both because he wants to.

What I have seen in the last two decades, though, is a shift in attitude. I think there is a fan perception that values a comic book creator doing work-for-hire over the stuff they own themselves. It used to be that you had to earn your way through the work-for-hire system and get big enough to maybe get a shot at doing your creator-owned project. Look at all the different books Mike Mignola worked on before he got the opportunity to do Hellboy. In the long run, Hellboy is not only his most remembered and best-loved work, but it's the work that paid off the most for him. Why? Because he owns it!

On the other hand, if you were a guy like Matt Wagner or Steve Rude who got your start doing indies, it was a coup when the larger company got you to work on their properties. DC earned the prestige by getting Matt Wagner to create a miniseries starring Kirby's Demon, it wasn't that Matt Wagner was being validated by being "called up to the majors."

Which is how too many people look at it these days--including many creators. Indie comics is a place where they slum it to earn their shot writing one of the big corporate characters. I don't begrudge anyone wanting to try on the capes and tights. Make no mistake, I want to try it myself one of these days and have made and will continue to make active efforts to do so. (Hell, I'm working on pitches right now.) If that's your goal, then go for it. But don't denigrate or abuse the honest work other people are doing by treating the other side of the industry as a means to an end. Creator-owned and indie comics are only a means to an end unto themselves, they aren't your stepping stone or training ground. Make no mistake, I don't work in the minor leagues.

Evan Dorkin summed it up best in a series of tweets:

Just remember, kids -- comics isn't a second-rate medium. It's a second-rate industry. Maybe even third-rate. Anyway, don't confuse the two. Telling a comics creator they should work on Batman or Spider-Man is like telling a musician they should cover Green Day. Who does that? Yes, it can be fun to play in the Marvel/DC/whatever sandbox, but it's an insult to imply a creator needs to do that to really be something.

We have diversity in comics. More so now than ever before. What we don't have is meaningful support of diversity. Or a means to develop it.

Evan Dorkin spot illo for Mad Magazine.

I see this kind of thing all the time. For instance, Mike Allred's fans regularly play a game of, "Hey, Mike, wouldn't it be great if you did this character...?" In their case, it's always well meaning, they want to see what Mike would do with these toys, and they are fans of Madman; however, there seems to be a disconnect, they don't consider if Mike was doing all these projects, it would be at the expense of Madman or iZombie, his own creations.

In a way, I think it's because there isn't a lot of thought given to what ownership means, of why it's important to an artist. Hell, there is an insidious undertone to a lot of the objections to discussions like this that suggests that it shouldn't even be brought up, that we should sit down and shut up and get back to work, how dare we taint the funnybook waters. It's practically a class issue at this point: artists and writers should accept their place as servants. We are laborers and should not have a piece of the pie. Thankfully, I don't think this is a majority opinion, but it's there.

Don't think of creator-ownership in abstract terms. Think of it in the concrete. It's the difference of being your own boss and taking orders from someone else. If we were chefs, would you begrudge us leaving a popular restaurant to start our own? Or think of it in terms of shelter: I can keep renting my home, or I can go and not just buy my own place, but I can build my dream house from scratch. Even better, I can live there forever and if I take care of it, the value of it will only go up.

I also want to be clear: I don't think there is anything evil about work-for-hire. If you don't like the terms of a contract, don't sign a contract, but I don't begrudge a company for saying "This is how we do things, and this is what you have to do to get paid." I do work-for-hire all the time, and I will do it again, and when I do, I do it to the best of my abilities. (And, I might add, done for its own sake, not as a means to another end.)There is nothing wrong with that side of business. I don't think you should have to give up your Batman or Spider-Man comics so I can read The Killer or The Sixth Gun, and I doubt that will happen any time soon. But as shelf space in this industry becomes all the more scarce, even as we explore new models for delivery, the reverse could be true, and you may not be able to find the new self-published Michael Deforge comic because your local decided to order the latest movie tie-in instead. And that's a very sad thing.

No one's asking you to change your buying habits. No one is criticizing your reading choices. We're just suggesting that, as a whole, we all change how we think and how we talk about comics. That's all. If that leads you to broaden your reading horizons, great! It's one big leaky boat we're in, and we hope by identifying and plugging the holes, we can actually get to the other side together.

All art copyright the respective artists, unless otherwise indicated. Used with respect but mostly without permission. Please buy all of their books!

Current Soundtrack: Wanda Jackson, The Party Ain't Over

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2011 Jamie S. Rich, excepting quotes from other sources.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Oni Press announced a Spell Checkers contest today. The details were posted on their blog.

Here’s the skinny: Go to the Spell Checkers page on Amazon. Write a review for the book. Tweet to @OniPress with a link to YOUR review. We’ll randomly select a winner from all the entires on Monday, January 31. The winner will receive a copy of the book signed by the ENTIRE creative team, a Spell Checkers t-shirt and an 11X17 print of the art from the cover to book one.

So, get writing. This is your chance! Don't make us cry by not entering!

Current Soundtrack: The Elegants, "Little Star"


Black Gate has a new blog post about hardboiled stories in comics form, titled "Graphic Noir: A Random Sample." William Patrick Maynard places You Have Killed Me in some awfully cool company, and though not all his assumptions about the inspiration aren't correct, they are none I object to. So, everybody wins!

Seriously, it's a great blurb, check it:

Veteran graphic novel writer Jamie S. Rich channeled his love of legendary songwriter Johnny Mercer into the creation of Tony Mercer, the hardboiled private eye hero of his modern noir masterpiece, You Have Killed Me (2009; Oni Press).

Joelle Jones’ artwork is dead-on perfect and a cut above most graphic noir. Rich’s script, a nice spin on Chandler’s The Big Sleep with bits and pieces reminiscent of both Mike Hammer and Peter Gunn, centers on two sisters and the men in their lives. The locked room mystery is rarely a good match with hardboiled fare and presents an obvious giveaway to seasoned readers, but Mercer isn’t the brightest bulb although he is likeable and the plot twists and dialogue keep the reader engaged.

Rich’s variation on the usual Marxist bent in hardboiled fiction is particularly intriguing. He may profess not to be an expert on hardboiled detectives, but Rich understands people and combined with Jones’ stunning artwork they create a combination that makes one look forward to Mercer’s promised return. You Have Killed Me comes highly recommended.

Current Soundtrack: The Clash, Sandinista!

Thursday, January 27, 2011



* Another Year, Mike Leigh's incisive take on the ups and downs of a year in the life of a particular group of friends.

* Biutiful, Javier Bardem is here to help, but Alejandro González Iñárritu's movie is still absolutely dreadful.

* The Illusionist, Sylvain Chomet's charming, bittersweet animated adaptation of Jacques Tati. Playing this week at Cinema 21 in Portland.

If I were an Academy voter, I'd give The Illusionist the Oscar for Best Animated Film, no question. (Though, I still haven't seen How To Train Your Dragon. I plan to by Oscar night, though.)

* On the Bowery, Lionel Rogosin's 1957 Neorealist look at life on skid row.


In recent weeks, there has been a slew of Criterion's re-released on Blu-Ray: The Naked Kiss, Shock Corridor, and Robinson Crusoe on Mars. I have a summary article on all three, plus a longer review of Shock Corridor at DVD Talk.

I also reviewed the BD of Crumb, Terry Zwigoff's amazing profile of cartoonist Robert Crumb.

Of course, there is a connection between a lot of these. Daniel Clowes drew the covers for the Fuller movies, and Terry Zwigoff adapted Clowes' Ghost World to film. There is apparently a Criterion version of that movie in the works, and this fan version of what that might look like, taken from this Tumblr blog, is one of the best Fake Criterions I've seen, even coming after that meme had already played itself into a predictable corner.


* The Color Purple, Steven Spielberg's unlikely adaptation of Alice Walker is still surprisingly effective.

* Inspector Bellamy, the final film from Claude Chabrol feels strangely unfinished. Starring Gerard Depardieu.

* Looney Tunes Super Stars: Foghorn Leghorn & Friends, a collection of farmyard shorts centered around the talkative rooster.

* Red Hill, a modern western from Australia, starring the guy who plays Jason Stackhouse on True Blood as a city sheriff stuck in a small-town revenge plot.

Speaking of True Blood...

* The Romantics, Anna Paquin shines next to a bunch of TV refugees doing their best with an underdeveloped script.

* Welcome to the Rileys, a middling indie drama given significant heft by accomplished performances from James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo. (Not so fast, Kristen Stewart...)

* A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop, Zhang Yimou's remake of Blood Simple is now on DVD.

Current Soundtrack: Talib Kweli, Gutter Rainbows

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2011 Jamie S. Rich

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Spell Checkers vol. 2 is in really great shape right now. If you follow Nico's blog, then you've probably seen this photo of all the completed pages stacked up.

I think that's about 3/4 of the book right there.

I've dug into the script for the 3rd book, and it's starting to take shape. The hardest part is getting the rhythm back. It usually takes a scene or two of the girls talking to each other to find their voices again. It comes pretty naturally, it's just a matter of finding that sweet spot where I am not trying to be funny and I'm just letting the lines come on their own.

It's an exciting, busy time. I had three books go into production this month, so in addition to Spell Checkers being ongoing, the comics should hopefully be coming pretty regularly over the next couple of years. These and the movie reviews are taking most of my brainpower, so the lack of chattiness on the blog will likely continue. I'm sure you're heartbroken.

Current Soundtrack: Social Distortion, Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes (Deluxe Edition)

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Teasers from art that showed up in my e-mail this week.

Current Soundtrack: Curve, The Way of Curve disc 1

Thursday, January 13, 2011



* All Good Things, a true-ish crime story that is fine despite its distanced point of view.

* The Green Hornet, the odd pairing of Michel Gondry and Seth Rogen gives us too much and yet not enough.


* Army of Shadows, a second pass at the Jean-Pierre Melville spy story via the new Blu-Ray. (Also at DVD Talk.)

* Kagemusha, Akira Kurosawa's "Prince and the Pauper" historical epic. Since it's playing at Cinema 21 here in Portland this week, I also did a shorter review for the Portland Mercury.

* The Night of the Hunter, the evil preacher as Disney villain, utilizing a theory advanced by Scott Morse--who just got his own Criterion Top 10.

* When a Woman Ascends the Stairs: Japanese actress Hideko Takamine passed away recently, making it a good time to watch one of her most famous roles.


* Backdraft, examining my past enjoyment of Ron Howard movies by watching the BD of the movie that started it all going wrong.

* Denis Leary & Friends Present: Douchebags & Donuts, a charity concert that underperforms.

* Generator Rex, vol. 1, the first 9 episode of this fun boy-centric adventure series.

Current Soundtrack: Ricky Gervais on Ellen; Top Chef on On Demand

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2011 Jamie S. Rich

Thursday, January 06, 2011


I was on the Hamfisted Radio at the last minute today, part of Portland's Cascadia online station. I'm sure I wasn't very amusing, but if you are one of those "so bad, it's good" people, you might enjoy hearing me cut up with Fatboy Roberts and Erik Henriksen.

You can download/listen to the recording here.

In other news, this is the reference photo I sent Nico today to show him what I was thinking for something in Spell Checkers vol. 2.

Current Soundtrack: Pogo, Broken Beats (free downloads)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


A couple of more year-end links.

* First, the Online Film Critics Society has posted the final results of our voting. No big surprises. This is a pretty solid list of movies you should have seen last year.

Read the winners...

* Ultimate Spider-Man #150 was ranked #6 Single Issue of 2010 by iFanboy. This was, of course, the issue Joëlle Jones was a part of.

Ultimate Spider-Man had its best year in years, and this was the jewel on top of the crown, featuring spectacular guest art from Joelle Jones, Skottie Young, and Jamie McKelvie, in addition to regular artists David LaFuente and Sara Pichelli. The issue set the stage for the next stage in Peter's life, and did it in grand fashion.

By the way, if you aren't keeping up with Joëlle's blog, you should start. Her latest routine of doing Daily Doodles is yielding some pretty cool drawings.

Current Soundtrack: Discodeine, featuring Jarvis Cocker - "Synchronize [Extended]


Two good reasons to go to the comic book store today:



In this volume collecting issues #16-21, a '50s Manhattan socialite's life takes a grotesque turn, and only Madame Xanadu can help. Then, take a look at Xanadu's early days in ancient England as her rivalry with her evil sister begins.

* Vertigo * 200pg. * $17.99 US

PLEASE NOTE: You can still see Joëlle's pencils online here. Most of the original art for these stories is still available. You can see the prices in the link.


Written by CHRIS ROBERSON; Art and cover by MICHAEL ALLRED

While Gwen and Horatio get to know each other better at the miniature golf park, Diogenes the monster hunter is left to face the leader of the Blood Sports vampires all on his own. The mad scientist Galatea begins revealing her larger scheme to her new assistant, ghost girl Ellie decides that it's high time she did something about her whole "intangible" problem, and were-terrier Scott and his friends spend a thrilling evening embroiled in role-playing games.

* Vertigo * 32pg. * $2.99 US

Current Sountrack: OMD, The History of Modern

Monday, January 03, 2011


Current Soundtrack: Eagle Seagull at Daytrotter

Sunday, January 02, 2011


* The fine folks over at Robot 6 have posed their annual year-end roundtable, asking different comics professionals what they thought of the past year, and also what we are doing next year. I joined in, praising some books, being stealthily incendiary about other stuff, and then plugging what I have coming over the next couple of years.

Read over the whole thing here.

The only mentions that may be "news" come in my last paragraph.

"Not much else is scheduled to be out from me in the immediate future. I have two Oni projects approved and they have artists attached, including one I’ve teased about on my blog that I created with Natalie Nourigat. The other is with an awesome artist named Dan Christensen that Oni brought to my attention. That news will likely be winnowing its way out as we have more artwork to show. They are both right in line with the kind of stories people like from me, but they also go in whole new territories, they won’t just be the same old thing. I want to keep surprising my readers–and myself! That should mean an even bigger 2012!"

* The DVD Talk crew have posted their picks of the best DVDs and Blu-Rays for the year, as well. It's a pretty good list, with some surprises and other not-so-surprises. I am not even sure there was a contest for what would win--Edgar Wright had it pretty well sewed up.

The full list of the Top Discs of 2010 here.

For anyone who keeps track of such things, I wrote the blurbs for the Alien Anthology, America Lost and Found: The BBS Story, Red Riding Trilogy, Roberto Rossellini's War Trilogy, and 3 Silent Classics By Josef Von Sternberg.

Current Soundtrack: Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited